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How to Help Employees Navigate Career Advancement

Companies must empower employees to navigate their career paths and provide opportunities to advance and grow.

The massive workplace shift that has occurred over the past couple of years has many people seeking new opportunities that will empower them to grow in their careers while at the same time offering flexibility they may have not previously experienced. Successful companies understand that providing career advancement pathways for employees is crucial to recruiting and retaining talent.

However, while most firms understand the value of the development of their internal staff and promoting from within, many are deluding themselves about their capabilities. Over 88% believe they have strong career management programs in place, but in truth, most employees have never experienced them. In fact, only two in five workers say they have career conversations with their managers annually, and one in five workers never engage in these types of one-on-one conversations.[1]

While individual performance does play a major role in career growth, managers should play a key role in advocating for employees. Team leaders are responsible for offering support and providing constructive feedback to help employees realize their full potential. Here are three ways to equip leaders at all levels within your organization with the means they need to take charge of their careers.

Clearly understand workers’ goals and strengths

A key step in ensuring a productive, happy workforce is having a solid understanding of every team member’s career ambitions, needs, strengths, and pain points. Engaging in frequent, open, one-on-one discussions with team members is an essential way to assess where they want to be and where they may be struggling. It’s also important to have faith in workers’ capabilities and create an environment that welcomes ideas, demonstrates respect, and encourages collaboration.

Global technology company Hewlett Packard (HP) strongly believes that its world-renowned, innovative products are a direct result of its talented and diverse workforce. HP’s leaders and managers are advocates of empowering their staff to grow and develop at exceptional rates and fostering them to grasp opportunities that will create a better future for individual workers as well as the brand.[2] Antonio Neri, President and CEO of HP, started his career at a call center in Amsterdam and eventually advanced to the highest role in the organization – all within the course of 25 years.

“I challenge you to look at the complete person when you’re considering a new hire. Even if that person doesn’t check all the boxes, dig deeper,” Neri advises. “You may find a spark – in their personality, skill set or experience – but most importantly passion and attitude that could ignite a successful career.”[3]

Create a culture of career development

While many companies conduct annual performance evaluations, it’s time for leaders to move beyond these and provide more ongoing career development opportunities for employees. Whether working with human resources or an external expert like Right Management, organizations can leverage specialized tools to support the effort from customized education modules to technology portals and one-on-one coaching.

Global software giant Adobe offers a variety of educational resources on the company's practices for all new recent college graduates or individuals entering the workforce. The program is called Accelerate Adobe Life. Adobe employees receive regular check-ins, performance reviews, and training programs before starting their new positions. Additionally, employees are offered benefits such as educational reimbursement and leadership development courses. These benefits empower entry-level employees to achieve continual growth and advancement in the company from the beginning. Donna Morris, Executive Vice President of Customer and Employee Experience at Adobe, believes it is extremely important for those in the early stages of their career to understand there is a path for growth and career progression for everyone.[4]

Leverage resources and technology to enable career mobility

When people feel they are ready to search for a new role, they may not realize that moving to an entirely new company isn’t the only option. In fact, over 40% of people are unaware of available job opportunities within their own organizations, yet 51% of workers know of current openings at other organizations.[5] This is a result of companies not being fully transparent about available positions or leaders not informing qualified team members.

To retain talent pools and counteract turnover, companies need to be more candid about how team members can make departmental shifts. They can do this by including job postings in internal company newsletters or communication portals. Managers should also be encouraged by senior leaders to spread the word about openings and be alert to current team members who could fit into new internal roles.

"Many people leave their employer because they’re not sure they can advance their career, even though they’d like to stay,” says Dan Shapero, Vice President of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn. “That’s a problem that’s solvable with the right technology and cultural mindset.”[6]

Tools that use AI to support career searches for individuals can be helpful, especially for large organizations where opportunities can sometimes be hard to identify.  HR software like RightMap™ allow organizations to map out the competencies needed by the organization for current open, and  future roles. Benchmark your workforce against these competencies and align employees with the roles that best match their skill sets.[7] 

It’s estimated that companies can retain about 38% of their employees who would have otherwise departed by promoting them for a new role that fits their needs and meets the firm’s qualifications.[8] Nevertheless, some firms say that they don’t have all the information they need to understand the vital skills within their current talent pool.[9]

“There is a real need for greater transparency about what opportunities are available and what skills are untapped internally across organizations,” explains Amy Smyth, Head of the European Centre of Excellence for Career Management at Right Management.[10]

Organizations that take the time to understand employee goals, help them take control of their own career growth, and make them aware of internal opportunities are setting themselves up for long-term success.

To learn more about how to encourage workers to assertively navigate their career paths while providing them with the right resources, visit RightCoach.


[1] Uncharted Territory Report, ManpowerGroup 2021

[5] Uncharted Territory Report, ManpowerGroup 2021

[9] Uncharted Territory Report, ManpowerGroup 2021

[10] Uncharted Territory Report, ManpowerGroup 2021