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Playing To Your Staff's Strengths--Help them Develop a Career Plan

Yesterday, we talked about some great resources for identifying employee strengths and using them for more effective management. Today I want to follow up with some thoughts about how career planning can be used to make that process even more effective.

Why Should My Organization Care About My Employee's Career Plans?
When individuals prepare a career plan, they must start with an understanding of themselves. What are their values, passions and skills? What are their strengths that they can build on and what are their weaknesses that they need to manage around?

This process of self-discovery can provide two major benefits for the organization:

  1. Staff and managers get a clear picture of the staff person that can be used to redesign work responsibilities and find new avenues for staff to explore. In many cases you get a renewed sense of commitment to the job and greater excitement about exploring learning opportunities and new responsibilities.
  2. In some cases, people find out that they are really not well suited to the work they are currently doing. In my experience, the people who discover this are the ones who are considered to have "attitude problems" or to be "burnt out." On several occasions I've ended up counseling people out of their current professions and this has turned out to be a tremendous service both to the individual and to the organization that employed him/her.

Resources for Developing Staff Career Plans
In another post, I'll discuss a holistic process for working with staff to develop and implement their career plans. For now, I'm going to share a few resources that staff can use on their own or working with management.

Explore Values
Find Their Calling is a great article from Fast Company on how to identify and honor staff values. In most cases, job satisfaction and performance is tied to the extent to which the job and organization jibes with the worker's values. This article discusses how you can use this process with staff and describes some of the benefits.

Be Bold
The Be Bold Career Planning Journal is a nice piece geared specifically toward people in the nonprofit sector. Developed by the Be Bold Team,  this workbook helps staff:

  • "Find their Truest Self"
  • Identify their "Moment of Obligation" (what are their passions or sources of inspiration?)
  • Develop the "gall to think big"
  • Find Solutions that are New and Untested.

They also have an online quiz to help users figure out if they're "bold."

The advantage of this handy guide is that its focus on commitment and finding solutions can also fit in well with an organizational planning process. I'm a big believer in the idea that organizations run better when the goals of individuals are aligned with the goals of the organization. This provides a process for doing that.

If You Aren't Feeling Bold
Bold isn't for everyone, although I think it offers significant benefits when it comes to translating individual career plans into benefits for the organization. If it's not your style, though, you might want to have staff work their way through the Career Development e-Manual developed by the University of Waterloo. This great resource has been around for a while and provides step-by-step guidance for developing a plan.

We Want Your Feedback!
Drop us a line in the comments to let us know if your organization helps staff develop their own career plans. If you do, how's it working for you?



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