We know the talent war is real, but now it has shifted internally. In the increasingly competitive employment landscape, it has become more challenging not only to attract but also to retain employees. That means for all your effort spent attracting outside talent, you should spend twice as much time engaging your current workforce.
In the days when hierarchical corporate structures prevailed, talent engagement and retention was less burdensome. Talent you wanted to retain were simply promoted to a new, higher position and title. In today’s flatter organizations, it is more challenging for employees to envision a clear career path for themselves within a single organization – and hence, more difficult for employers to retain talent.
When more companies had hierarchical structures, there were a lot of conversations about climbing the career ladder. Today conversations should be around the concept of career maps, which can also include horizontal segments. To adapt, employers should emphasize developing transferable skills and broadening work experiences – and de-emphasize titles – within their organizations.
Career development in a flat world
As with most relationships, communication is the cornerstone. The first step is to encourage a regular dialogue between managers and their team members about career paths and skill gaps.
Start by holding regular “stay” interviews with your staff. When you meet, ask questions about their career goals. But also be prepared to offer advice on the smart approach to a building a career in today’s environment.
Tips for career management
Here is some advice to emphasize with the talented individuals who work for you:
- Have a transparent relationship with your manager and enlist their help in identifying skill gaps to make sure you’re focusing on personal growth.
- Look at adjacent functions and roles to identify where you may want to be longer term and help keep yourself motivated.
- Don’t wait for a better title to open up. Look to broaden your experience instead.
- Lateral moves build on your experience and can be more beneficial for your career. For example, a director with a broad skill set may be more valuable to an organization than someone whose experience is siloed in just one area.
- Think about the story you want your resume to tell. Look beyond titles and position levels and focus on transferable skills instead.
- Aim to be a generalist rather than a specialist if you want greater responsibility within the organization. Remaining in the same function for too long can promote tunnel vision.
In today’s typical corporate structure, it can be difficult to get a clear view of career progression. Too much emphasis is still placed on titles and levels in organizations. To keep employees engaged and motivated to stay, reach out and help them value experience over titles.
Above all, let your employees know that you value them as people by showing interest in their career development. Encourage them to ask questions and invest in their own career path. They should feel empowered to take the initiative to schedule meetings about their career goals. Not only will they stay, but they will flourish and, ultimately, that helps your organization meet its goals.