Career Development a Key to Employee Engagement

I read lots of stuff about how vital career development is in the employee engagement mix. I also read a lot of articles stating that people are in the main, not very happy with the career development on offer to them, our own research in partnership with Careergro earlier this year seems to back this up:

Career Development Satisfaction Levels

What is career development?

BlessingWhite say, ‘Most employees do not define career goals by traditional notions of advancement. That’s good news for employers facing workforce reductions and shifting priorities. When individual employees define what career success means to them, they’re better positioned to increase satisfaction and performance in their current jobs or make the lateral moves required by organizational redeployment of talent.’ Their research indicates nearly half of all employees are looking for interesting or meaningful work in their next career move.

Today’s post is an ask for help. If you have the time, I’d really appreciate your feedback on the following questions please.

How would you define career development?

What is the most valuable piece of career development advice you’ve received so far?

What is the worst piece of career development advice you’ve received so far?

Thanks in advance – I look forward to hearing from you, and in the meantime, here’s The Clash with their take on the matter:

Career Development – Are We Getting It Right?

How people create opportunities for career development, and growth through learning has aways fascinated me. I’ve previously undertaken research into the subject which has yielded some disappointing results.

For example, at a major UK charity I worked with, over half (53%) of 800 respondents said they did not have a development plan outlining agreed training and development needs for the coming year, and almost half (49%) said they did not meet regularly with their manager to discuss progress.

I also found that out of 1800 respondents working for a local authority, only 33% felt their career development aspirations are being met, and from a team of 400 graduates in a global company, only 35% felt they got regular, useful feedback from their manager.

These statistics are pretty uninspiring I think you’d agree, but so what?

Companies are always talking about the importance of attracting, retaining and engaging the best people, but these numbers show that these experiences are not always well delivered.

And employees are looking for personal involvement and more self determination in their work and career choices, yet these numbers show me that neither the company or the employee is well served by the processes currently in place.

What do you think?

How representative is the research I have? For sure the sample sizes are reasonable but is the approach to career and development planning really this bad across the board?

I’m currently doing some work with a company called Careergro, and we want to improve and share a broader understanding of how companies and employees perceive career development.

So we would like you to help us with this research and in order to do this, we’ve published two very short surveys, one for employers, and one for employees. Each survey takes only around three minutes to complete and will give us useful data which we will freely share.

The first cut of data will be available at the forthcoming CIPD learning and development event in London on 25th and 26th April, and we will also be sharing the results and reporting back here and on HRZone too.

Here is the link to the employer survey, and here is the link to the employee survey.

We would really appreciate your help in completing this and if you can share it with your colleagues too that would be great. Thanks in advance for your help and I look forward to sharing the results with you soon.

photo c/o heath_bar

Serious About Performance

Gareth and I have recently started working with an interesting company called Careergro. They are in the field of employee owned career development and as part of our initial working together, we’ve been discussing the similarities and differences between career development and performance appraisals.

So I’m grateful to Felix Wetzel for sharing a great talk from TEDxPortsmouth over on Google Plus. It’s called Serious About Performance, by the sports and business coach Dr Chris Shambrook. I’ve embedded the talk down below so you can take a look if the following observations from it interest you. And even if they don’t, it’s worth a watch for a fantastic sporting analogy (around five minutes into the film).

Defining Performance

Dr Chris says that in most companies, people wrongly think that performance = results. Wrong! Results are output, they are goals (usually set for you) and how you are doing against those goals. Performance is about doing the things you need to do to get out what you want. Performance is input and output. It is about understanding your potential and developing it so that you achieve the best results you can.


In the workplace, performance improvement is almost universally seen as a bad thing, as a problem. Dr Chris thinks everyone should have a performance improvement plan – that we should seek it out, demand it and use it as a way of helping us fulfil our potential. I think that’s a much healthier attitude and when practiced, quickly integrates performance and career development.

Static versus Flow

Usually, performance is appraised annually. I feel sick just writing that last sentence, performance needs evaluating all the time. The annual appraisal sucks – I know no one who looks forward to giving or receiving one. Feedback needs to be regular – and seek it out. Otherwise, Dr Chris says it’s just a euphemism for criticism.

Weakness versus Strength

Most people leave their performance reviews with a clear understanding of their inadequacies. To achieve high performance you must focus on strengths. How can I deliberately and consistently make strong into stronger. Then, and only then, should I address my weaknesses.

Money as a Motivator

Dr Chris says ‘we start incentivising people to do behaviours and start manipulating them by introducing money’. When money is used as a motivator for results in sport, it’s when corruption is present. He uses cricket and match fixing to illustrate this, and I’m reminded of Robin Schooling’s excellent blog post about the New Orleans Saints on the same subject.

Choose Your Attitude

Choosing your attitude towards high performance is critical. Choose to be the best you can be and show that attitude as a role model to others. Readers who have been with me for the long haul may recall a post I wrote back in September 2009 after meeting with Chris Boardman. He saw this as vital too.

Does your company confuse performance with results? And who is responsible for your performance?

I’d love to hear your views.

photo c/o Bertron8