ERIC Identifier: ED308399
Publication Date: 1989-00-00
Author: Harrison, Cheryl
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Career Development in the Workplace. ERIC Digest No. 86.
Recent expansion of work-based career development programs has resulted in a
larger literature base. Because career development is increasingly regarded as
the shared responsibility of employee and employer, the importance of this topic
is likely to grow. Of interest to employers, human resource staff, and adult
educators, this ERIC Digest discusses the purposes of career development
programs in the workplace and describes the components of such programs.
Guidelines for the creation of an organizational career development program are
WHAT IS CAREER DEVELOPMENT?
Career development refers to "the outcomes of actions on career plans as viewed from both individual and
organizational perspectives" (Gutteridge 1986, p. 52). The outcomes desired by
organizations include achieving the best match between people and jobs.
Individuals' desired outcomes range from status to job flexibility to monetary
rewards, depending upon the situation.
Career development is just one component of human resource management in
organizations. Others include control and evaluation, organizational design, and
human resource planning (Gutteridge 1986).
WHY IS CAREER DEVELOPMENT NECESSARY?
Both external and
internal factors influence the need for career development. Among these factors,
Slavenski and Buckner (1988) list the following: o The need to identify and
forecast personnel needs o Social and demographic trends o The changing nature
of work o Changing types of jobs o Equity and a multicultural work force o
Worker productivity o Technological change and decreasing advancement
opportunities o Organizational philosophies
Employers are motivated to establish career development programs because such
programs are seen as an effective response to various personnel problems,
because top managers prefer to promote existing employees and to ensure a good
fit between the work and the worker, and because employees have expressed
interest in career development as a benefit (Gutteridge 1986). Above all, "most
organizations adopt career development programs in response to pragmatic human
resource concerns and because they believe it will help ensure a continued
supply of qualified, talented personnel" (Gutteridge 1986, p. 58).
WHAT IS THE MANAGEMENT CYCLE?
The management cycle provides
a framework for career development practice. Each of the steps in the management
cycle corresponds to career development strategies that help both manager and
employee maximize career growth (Slavenski and Buckner 1988). These steps, with
appropriate career development tasks, are the following:
HIRE OR PROMOTE
Strategies at this phase focus on assessing
job candidates and hiring or promoting the person whose skills and interests
best match the job.
ORIENT OR COMMUNICATE
This step involves making known to
the new employee what is expected, what the organizational culture is like, and
what the value systems are. Some companies establish mentoring programs to
assist with this task.
Employee performance is measured with
reference to expectations. Feedback is provided.
Employees are rewarded for their
strengths. Positive aspects of performance are emphasized.
Various tools can be used for staff
development, including inservice training, career planning workshops, and
counseling and assessment services. At this stage, managers may place employees
with high potential on the "fast track."
MAKE PERSONNEL SELECTION DECISIONS
As organizational needs
arise, potential employees are recruited and the cycle starts again with a job
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF A CAREER DEVELOPMENT
Slavenski and Buckner (1988) divide the career development process
into three distinct phases: (1) staffing and orientation, (2) evaluation, and
(3) development. Each of these phases is composed of strategies from which the
employer may choose to create a customized career development system.
The staffing and orientation phase is composed of providing career
information to the job candidate (whether internal or external) and using
selection techniques to match potential workers with the right job. The type of
career information provided may include knowledge of jobs within the
organization and possible career paths for the employee. Selection techniques
that are used to match employee and employment opportunity include assessment
center exercises and job posting systems even for positions that are to be
filled internally (a form of self-selection).
The next phase is the evaluating phase. Two key tasks in this phase are
performance review and succession planning. The purpose of performance review,
from a career development perspective, is to provide feedback to employees on
their skills and knowledge, both to increase job satisfaction and to help them
prepare for their next job. Succession planning, at the initiative of the
employer, links information from and about individual employees to the human
resource needs of the organization.
During the developing phase, more visible career development strategies are
employed. Tools used during this phase include career discussions between
employee and supervisor, career resource centers, self-assessment and career
counseling, and career planning workshops.
Career discussions between employee and supervisor form an integral part of
any career development system. Training supervisors for their career discussion
role is necessary for success; even more important and difficult is convincing
supervisors to apply that training.
Career resource centers have been found to be effective if they support a
larger career development system. According to Slavenski and Buckner, employees
view career resource centers as a concrete symbol of company support of career
development and openness of information.
Although career counseling does exist in organizations, self-assessment is a
more common tool. A trend appears to be the formal incorporation of career
counseling into employee assistance programs, as career issues become more
complex. Career workbooks and similar activities are currently among the most
popular self-assessment tools.
Recent policy trends have guided the design and use of career development
workshops. Among the most important are the following trends: o Emphasis on
teaching employees to feel more power o Less encouragement for employees to
explore other career fields; focus on employees experiencing success in their
current jobs o Emphasis on life career planning
For example, IBM's career planning workshop focuses on the interests, skills,
and contributions inherent in the individual's current job. Employees study
their jobs' components and learn how to make the work more challenging. In
addition, participants learn how jobs evolve from business needs (Bardsley
HOW IS A CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM ESTABLISHED?
step in establishing career development in the workplace is the assessment of
organizational needs and the needs of individual employees. Several ready-made
instruments exist to help organizations with this step, including "What's Your
Career Development Quotient?" by Farren, Kaye, and Leibowitz and the "Career
Development Opportunity Inventory" by Goldner, Hutcheson, and Otte. These
instruments assist the organization with determining what is already working in
career development and what is needed (Slavenski and Buckner 1988).
Leibowitz, Farren, and Kaye (1985) present a model for designing and
implementing a career development system. Their guidelines include the
following: o State specifics o Tie the program to overall human resource
development o Tailor the program to the culture o Build from a conceptual base o
Plan long-term approaches, short-term payoff o Design multiple approaches o
Co-design and manage the project o Ensure top management support o Publicize
Evaluating the system and improving it based on those evaluations are also
important steps in the creation process. Like employee career growth, program
growth should be continual.
Slavenski and Buckner (1988) conclude their paper with a list of
recommendations garnered from the literature and from their own experiences with
career development in the workplace. Among their recommendations for persons
designing and implementing career development are the following: o Link new
programs to other parts of the career development system o Design the program in
terms of the specific organizational culture o Think of career development as a
process, not a program o Involve line management
In summary, career development is now viewed as the shared responsibility of
employee and employer. Employers are implementing career development in order to
match work and workers for optimal productivity. Various tools exist that
organizations can use as part of their career development system. Employers
wishing to develop such a system should first assess organizational needs and
then decide which components of career development systems would work best in
their culture. Finally, it is important to evaluate and continue to improve the
career development system.
Bardsley, C. A. "Improving Employee Awareness of
Opportunity at IBM." PERSONNEL 64, no. 4 (April 1987): 58-63. (ERIC No. EJ 350
Gutteridge, T. G. "Organizational Career Development Systems: The State of
the Practice." In CAREER DEVELOPMENT IN ORGANIZATIONS, edited by D. T. Hall. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1986.
Leibowitz, Z. B.; Farren, C.; and Kaye, B. "The 12-Fold Path to CD
Enlightenment." TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT JOURNAL 35, no. 7 (July 1981): 72-79.
(ERIC No. EJ 248 156).
Slavenski, L., and Buckner, M. CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS IN THE WORKPLACE.
INFORMATION SERIES NO. 333. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and
Vocational Education, Center on Education and Training for Employment, The Ohio
State University, 1988. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 303 681).