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What Impact Does Career Development Exert on Employee Performance?

05-Feb-2009

How can we make sure that our career development initiatives enhance our employees' performance? What impact does one usually have on the other?

Most businesspeople intuitively understand the connection between well-designed initiatives for career development and heightened employee performance, which in turn contributes to an organisation's succession planning and leadership development programs. Simply, career development plans allow individuals to realise their full potential.

Quantifying the direct impact of career development initiatives on employee performance is extremely difficult, however. Therefore, many organisations instead opt to assess the impact of career development through the use of broader organisation effectiveness measures: things such as employee retention, employee engagement, internal mobility, bench strength, percentage of skill/competency gaps closed and turnover rate of high potentials.

You should consider incorporating these measures into any assessment of the effectiveness of your career development initiatives. These are the areas that draw the attention of senior management, whose support is critical to your efforts. Determining the return on investment of any individual development initiative can be a waste of time and poor use of the company's resources.

You are more likely to enhance performance when you:

1. Target developmental spending toward closing key organisational competency gaps and addressing drivers of employee satisfaction and retention (i.e., engagement). Competency gaps are typically documented during business strategy/planning. Senior management then needs to prioritise the gaps that are most important to address, given their connection to critical business goals and the amount of investment required to close these gaps. If goals are not set for career development outcomes such as retention and engagement, you should take the opportunity to suggest that they be incorporated.

2. Align your development process with broad organisational goals and your HR strategy. This process should encompass career development planning, implementation and measurement. The development process needs to connect individual development planning to the key organisational competency gaps and goals. Performance management, as well as aligning your compensation accordingly, provides an effective mechanism for making this connection.

3. Use a reasonably broad spectrum of career development tactics that includes training, career paths, individual development planning, mentoring, developmental assignments and 360-degree feedback. Many organisations have instituted formal individual development planning and training. While these establish a strong foundation to build upon, their effectiveness in building competency is limited. True learning, and hopefully enhanced performance, comes only when an individual applies these new skills, gets feedback on performance and obtains coaching from those who are more proficient.

[Source: Don Haack, Capital H Group, New York City, 23 December, 2005]

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