Training Needs 4: Career Development

Summary: Career development training needs relate to knowledge that’s necessary for employees to become mobile within the organization. Let’s take a look at this important needs assessment area.

Career development training needs typically fall outside of the black-and-white specifics of a particular job or job family. Or, they can be related to one job family such as managers and supervisors. Career development needs can be soft skills, skills that are needed to move to the next logical job or job family, or skills that may be needed to move to the next logical horizontal job or job family. Let’s look at each skill area and then discuss how you can best assess those needs.

Soft skills can be located both within a job and outside of a job. For example, customer service skills may almost certainly be required of customer service reps who face the customer population. But what about “back office” employees who never face customers but have their own internal customers? What about the overall customer service philosophy of the organization? Does this knowledge need to be imparted to all employees at all levels? The overall philosophy also leads to areas such as the organization’s mission, values, and overall goals. These types of skills and knowledge can be considered to be part of the overall career development plan for all employees. Soft skills can also include human resources, such as policies and organizational HR philosophy. Consider how all of these pieces of knowledge fit together: this could be your organization’s new-hire orientation program that goes out to all employees. Nonetheless, it should be part of the career development portion of your needs assessment.

Next logical job or job family skills can also fall outside of a particular job or task. For example, the organization may want an advanced customer relations and negotiation course to be required for anyone wishing to progress from customer service level 1 to customer service level 2. Next logical career level skills can also take the form of management knowledge to prepare a person for a supervisory position. These needs can be in areas such as interviewing, hiring, corrective action, payroll, etc. The overall key of next logical level assessment is that you should look at what may be missing from the job or task related level and add it to the training plan. This way, as a person plateaus in his or her job level, he or she can begin taking courses that apply to the next job.

Horizontal mobility may also be a part of career development related needs. For example, your organization may hire most of its population into the first level jobs, such as customer service. After time and proof of ability, the organization may begin to look for candidates who exhibit skills and interest in other areas, such as IT, human resources, or even training. If there is an established “track”, i.e. IT looks for its entry-level technicians in the customer service rep population, then training should be offered for those people. This doesn’t even have to be in house training – the IT management may point out the basic certifications they want a person to have, interview that person, and then pay for his or her certification. The point here is to include needs assessment for established or logical horizontal movement that makes someone in the organization mobile. Keep in mind that this possibility of mobility may even assist in retention. It’s easier to keep someone if they know that the organization is concerned about their future.

Assessing for these areas may be a little more complicated than job or task related needs assessment. One of the first places to start is a simple conversation with department or program managers. For example, some organizations have a customer relations program manager. This person can be very helpful in identifying career development needs that should go to all associates regardless of their position within the organization. Managers, such as the IT department managers, can help you determine what needs exist for horizontal mobility between departments. In addition, stakeholders such as human resources can be valuable in determining career development needs. And you may not even need to create elaborate surveys to conduct this type of assessments. Many times the needs are clear after a conversation with one of these managers or stakeholders.

Next, we will explore leadership, talent management, and succession planning needs.

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