What are the Challenges in Career Development

Wed, 08/24/2011 - 09:53 -- Umar Farooq

Before putting a career development plan into place, management needs to consider three major challenges.

Who Will Be Responsible for Career Development?

Many modern organizations have concluded that employee must take an active role in planning and implementing their own personal development plans for their career development. The mergers, acquisitions, and downsizing of 1980s and 1990s have led to layoffs in managerial ranks and managers’ realization that they cannot depend on their employers to plan their careers for them.

Emphasis on Career Development

Too great an emphasis on career development and enhancement can be detrimental to organizational effectiveness. Employees with an extreme careerist orientation can become more concerned about their image than their performance. There are certain warning signs managers should watch for:

  • Is the employee more interested in capitalizing on opportunities for advancement than in maintaining adequate performance?
  • Does the employee devote more attention to managing the impressions he or she makes on others than to reality?
  • Does the employee emphasize networking, flattery, and being seen at social gatherings over job performance? In the short run, people who engage in these tactics often enjoy advancement. However, sooner or later they run into workplace duties or issues they are not equipped to deal with.
  • Managers should be aware that a career development program can have serious side effects, including employees dissatisfaction, poor performance, and turnover if it fosters unrealistic expectations for advancement.

Diverse Work Force and Career Development

Because the barriers to advancement of women and minorities tend not to be obvious, they are difficult to identify and remove. The accounting firm Deloitte and Touche launched a long term initiative to lower the rate of turnover among female managers and to encourage the promotion of more women to partnership ranks. The initiative, prompted by the company’s Task Force on the Retention and Recruitment of Women, features company-wide training in workplace gender dynamics along with structured career planning and career development for women, succession planning, networking opportunities, and family-friendly work options.

Another employee group that may need special consideration is dual-career couples. The most common organizational approaches to dealing with the needs of dual-career couples are flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and the offering of child-care services. These practices are note prevalent, but they are increasing.

Some companies have also begun counseling couples in career development and career management. These proactive programs, which involve both the employee and his or her spouse or significant other, are usually reserved for executives and others who are considered key personnel in the organization.

First, each partner individually comes up with his or her goals and action plans. Then the partners are brought together to share their agendas and work through any conflicts. Professional counselors offer possible solutions and alternatives. The result of the process (joint career plan) is then provided to the organization. Employees and their partners benefit from this approach by formulating a mutually agreeable plan, and the organization benefits by increasing the probability of retaining key employees. While career management and career development  for couples is fairly new and costly, it is a very promising approach whose use is expected to increase. Indeed, recent findings underscore the importance of and potential benefits of dual-career counseling and spousal support service.