Career pathing for high performers
How can one provide effective career development for high performers in an industry that is in constant state of change? If you are working to figure out the future state, how can you best retain and engage the high performers to stick around (because there are career paths for them...even if you don't know what they are yet)?
Hi Megan, One way is to elevate "The Unknown" as the next step in the nurturance of personal excellence because it is the arena where creativity and innovation thrive, once the new directions start to emerge. Rather than expecting you to come up with their new directions, engage with deeper level questioning about their needs, dreams, passions, excitements, disappointments left over from past, etc. so that together you can 'seduce' the current unknown directions into the present. Openness and receptivity to the unseen and currently unknown directions rather than aggressively pursuing new directions that are still in the incubation stage.
I support Susan’s line of thinking and development. I have created one expression of this type of approach in an organisational program about 10 years ago. Its now an online offering that you can see outlined here if you wish. But its essence is to help people raise their awareness about their own strengths, values and self limiting thinking for them to become more aware of the ‘ideal’ opportunity they are looking for. Its more of an inside-out approach. Not career planning, but self awareness that enables the person to turn a stream of work (that they love and perform excellently within) into a river because that is where they will make their greatest contribution. (I hope that makes some sense ;) ).
Career pathing for high performers in any industry is incredibly important to ensure personal and professional growth as well as development of a “bench”. I might suggest starting with open and honest conversation with each of the individuals to gain an understanding of both short and long term goals, skills they would like to develop and cultivate as well as potential projects that would allow greater visibility in the organization. This will be beneficial both from an organizational and an individual standpoint.
In the past, I have found aspirational plans for these high performers with specific goals, objectives and timelines to be helpful. Generally done once per year with intentional discussion regarding progress and areas needing help 2-3 times per year ensures the individuals know you are invested in them and working to advance them individually or collectively as a team.
As you create the future path, involve them, use their skills, ask for their feedback and input and let them know you will personally do what you can to support their development. Open and honest dialogue allow the questions to rise to the surface and will minimize the stress caused by the constant state of change.
Before you put together a plan, examine the core strengths and abilities of (a) the industry and (b) the individuals you consider high performers or future talent.
Oftentimes people don't know why they are drawn to a specific industry, but there is something ingrained in them - their value system, their beliefs, their experiences thus far - that you can build upon. Done well, and articulated with those people's own words, it will not only give the industry a compelling attractiveness (that can lead to strong employer branding) but it will show the crossroads and some pattern of what kind of people are drawn to the industry and where you can find them (a natural way of nurturing your talent pipeline).
So think beyond a career path, there will be roles in 5 or 10 years we don't even have titles for, instead look for the connectors and give them meaning and words. And your target group will stay naturally, because it is what fits them. And they will be doing well.