As a consultant and one who has a passion for Compensation, I get asked about career pathing or career ladders regularly. Employers spend a great deal of time and effort to create career paths that demonstrate to employees the requirements for moving to the next level in their job track. Job descriptions play a huge part in this process because the bulk of the information differentiating the levels is found there: education, experience, skills, certifications, responsibilities that the employee must be able to perform, etc. Additionally, most career pathing includes competencies (I recommend that my clients also include these in the job description). Competencies disclose the level of skill required to be able to do well in a specific job role. In order to demonstrate competence, workers must be able to perform certain tasks or skills with a required level of proficiency. As you can imagine, developing all of this information is very time consuming.
I recently read an article that Millennials and Generation Z are more concerned with career development than pay. They care about professional development and desire opportunities to grow. Additionally, both groups want meaningful work where they can make a positive impact. Understanding those priorities would lead one to believe that career pathing would be important to these generations. However, it is actually viewed in a negative manner.
Millennials and Gen Z look at career pathing as an almost guarantee of a promotion and with their desire for rapid growth, it can be a demotivator if they do not progress through the career path quickly. Additionally, these two generations like flexibility so anything that appears rigid to them causes them to be weary of its benefits.
Should employers just do away with the laborious exercise of creating career paths? My answer is no. Overall, employees like to understand the different levels in their job track and the requirements for each level. However, I do think employees and managers should be involved in developing the paths. When I work on compensation design/re-design projects, I develop an initial architecture, but then I share my recommendations with managers/employees to provide feedback and tweak. The employees and managers actually using the “system” are those who understand best how their career progression works.
I had one client develop a career path for technical roles that had employees advance to a senior level individual contributor and then reach a decision point as to whether to go into a managerial role or move into a technical role focused on architecture. This example demonstrates that career pathing does not need to be linear. Your career paths should be molded to fit your organization and should not merely mimic a generic career path.
So don’t throw away all the work you have done on career pathing! Instead, make certain that they make sense for your organization and do not back you into a corner where employees expect to move to the next level without attaining the proficiencies required to perform the duties of that job. Bring employees and managers into the process when developing career paths because having their support and buy-in ensures that they will not only be utilized but valued as a resource.
Meet The Comp Chick
The Comp Chick, aka, Jennifer Peacock has more than 25 years of diverse experience in human resources ranging from consulting to corporate HR leadership. She started The Comp Chick blog as a way to show her peers that Compensation doesn't have to be boring or difficult.
The Comp Chick, aka, Jennifer Peacock has more than 25 years of diverse experience in human resources ranging from consulting to corporate HR leadership. She started The Comp Chick blog as a way to show her peers that Compensation doesn't have to be boring or difficult. All information included in this blog is opinion.