Want to Recruit and Retain Superstars? Start Building Career Paths

“If you build it, they will come – and stay!”

As the title of this post suggests, we’re talking about career paths (not baseball fields). But, just as there’s a big difference between Wrigley field and a little league diamond, there’s a huge difference between a well-defined career path – and one that’s hastily slapped together (or non-existent).

When employees don’t see a clear progression from their current job to a better one within their employer, they’re more likely to leave for an organization that helps them take the next step in their career. In fact, this Harvard Business Review article states that allowing workers to stagnate is a major factor driving turnover.

So, if you want to attract and keep great workers, start building their “field of dreams”: clear career paths. Here’s how:

  • Make the process personal. While certain job titles may have defined advancement tracks, career growth plans should be individualized. Schedule formal, one-on-one meetings with employees to discuss and plan their future within your organization.
  • Do your homework. Before you meet with an employee, spend some time thinking about their career:
    – Define their unique strengths (and weaknesses, if appropriate).
    – Consider their ostensible career goals (but avoid making too many assumptions).
    – Write down your team’s or organization’s business objectives for the next three to five years.
    – Make note of your hiring needs and promotion opportunities.
    – Give your employee prework for the meeting (i.e., ask them to come prepared with a list of their strengths, weaknesses, career goals and areas of interest).

The purpose of this prework is to lay the groundwork for your conversation, so it’s as productive as possible. Ultimately, you should aim to find the intersection between providing the opportunity your superstar needs, while also achieving your business goals.

  • Meet with your employee. Set aside time for a private conversation to explain your commitment to their growth and success in your company. Then, discuss:

    – The individual’s career interests and goals: How does your assessment compare to theirs?
    – Possible career paths: Discuss the future of your organization and how the individual’s future could align with it. Map out a three-to-five-year to plan that aligns with your business objectives and meets your high performer’s need for growth.
    – Timeframes, milestones and performance standards: Be sure you both create realistic expectations of what will be required for the employee’s successful growth, including: training and education, mentoring activities, stretch assignments and periodic progress reviews.
    – The need for balance: Career advancement requires work over-and-above what your employee is doing now. Make sure your superstar isn’t setting themselves up for burnout in their quest to take the next step in their career.
    – Take the bull by the horns. Don’t wait until turnover becomes a big problem, and don’t wait for high performers to ask you about working toward a promotion. Be proactive!
    Make career planning a regular, formal management activity. If you lead other managers, be sure to train them on the process of developing career paths.
    – Promote your career path development activities as part of your employment brand. By advertising the fact that you’re committed to growth, you position yourself as an employer of choice – and will attract better talent.

Improve recruiting and retention with the right partner.

A national staffing firm like PrideStaff specializes in:

  • Recruiting superstars, even in industries or locations where they’re the hard to find.
  • Designing competitive compensation packages and actively selling the upsides of your opportunity.
  • Ensuring adequate staffing levels to prevent burnout, while keeping your best employees happy, focused and working at their peak.