01 Apr Career Pathing Lessons from the Supermoon
The current landscape of the Talent War is looking a bit lunar. What can the supermoon teach us about career pathing?
Imagine for a moment that your company and its employees are on the moon. We’ll assume your basic needs are taken care of. Food and water: check. The 400-degree temperature swing between day and night isn’t a problem. Customer demand is somehow stable. Getting work done in low gravity is challenging, but not impossible. More troubling is the lack of new talent… because there isn’t any. What if you could only build up the people who are currently part of the company? Your collective survival depends on your company’s ability to reskill and upskill everyone currently on the team. How do you inspire that guy in Shipping that seems to be phoning it in every day? Would that 20-year employee in Operations be happier in HR?
Such a scenario might sound a bit silly, but this thought experiment shines a bright light on your career pathing strategies. Where are all your employees headed? If you’re unsure, the answer is crystal clear: elsewhere.
The reasons for career pathing is crystal clear. A Gallup poll reports that an alarming 87% of employees are not engaged at work, but that companies with highly engaged employees outperform their peers by 147% per earnings share. And in a study by PWC, ‘opportunities for career progression’ was the number one answer as to what makes for an attractive employer.
Employers intent on a strong employer brand are pursuing career pathing with vigor, but having a dream job articulated that is of value for both employee and company is just half of the equation. As the saying goes, hope without a plan is just a dream: high-performing companies connect their employees to the resources and opportunities that will bring them closer to their desired job.
This particular moment strikes fear into the hearts of some HR specialists. Doesn’t career pathing create an expectation in the employee’s mind that someday they will occupy that job? And what if there’s inadequate capacity for helping employees realize their future job? This is where mentoring plays a highly valuable role.
The most valuable resource for an employee with a clear picture of their dream job isn’t a job opening. It’s someone who currently has that job. (Second in line for value is someone who recently had the dream job.) These individuals can provide insight into the position and illuminate aspects of the job that aren’t currently visible to the employee, and help them understand that some parts of the position may not be particularly dreamy. When a mentor has (or clearly understands) an employee’s dream job, they can also share their own career path and begin to explore with the employee how to craft their unique path to their desired role.
Mentoring is valuable for those with a clear path forward, but what about smaller companies and employees without a clear goal in mind? Not every company is going to have a beautiful staircase plan for every employee to reach their ideal position, and not every employee is going to have a crystal clear picture of what their dream job might be. A company’s workplace mentoring program bridges the unknowns by providing employees the opportunity to get acquainted with other positions at the company, and perhaps piquing their interest in a professional avenue that they may not be currently considering.
So career pathing marks the destination, and mentoring is the map. Employees typically respond to opportunities to learn and grow with increased loyalty and trust in the employer who is helping them to learn and grow. And while career options might not be your first priority while living on the moon, you’ll probably need lots of loyalty and trust in your team to realize your plan to return to Earth!