"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
That question is the first experience most of us have with career aptitude tests. As future members of the workforce, we answered things like veterinarian, famous athlete, princess, astronaut or Batman. And now, as an HR professional, you have the opportunity to bring back that imagination and agency to people at your organization.
While aptitude tests have grown more complicated than just one question — now including job-specific prompts like "Would you rather be a firefighter, a social worker or a researcher?" and personality questions like "Do you enjoy solving logic-based problems or more creative challenges?" — they're obsolete nearly the minute you enter the workforce. Then you're defined simply by a job title and what other people think that job is like.
The majority of us are doing things that kids have never even heard of because because once you start your career, the path it takes is dependent on skills development and growth opportunities made available to you.
Too often, your career development is focused on a narrow set of skills and infrequent growth conversations. Employees today report a lack of clarity about their career opportunities and are vocal about their desires to grow skills linked to their career development. But with the help of dynamic employee data, you, as an HR leader, have the opportunity to change that.
Data and analytics have already transformed key processes, from recruiting to performance management. The next step is to put this data in the hands of your people, giving them back control of their career path.
When people can put their skills in the context of career opportunities and connect with the learning content they need to work towards their goals, you can help them be anything when they grow up.
Investing in career development builds a stronger workforce
Providing your people with an employee experience that demonstrates an investment in career development hinges on one thing: Skills.
The traditional job hierarchies of the past are fading. Skills are a much more dynamic lens through which you can recognize the holistic capabilities of each employee.
Gathering data about everything from hard skills (e.g., coding, marketing, sales, etc.) and soft skills (e.g., communication, empathy, resilience, etc.) can be used to understand the needs of the workforce and organization. And when applied to this data set, artificial intelligence can understand the relationship between the two — matching individual employees to future roles and serving up learning content to close skills gaps.
Leveraging this data provides a balanced assessment of each employee's skill-readiness and behavioral competency.
With this new transparency around skills and performance, career development — an employee’s journey to evolving their skills aligned to a trajectory of future positions — can become a joint effort between your organization and people.
By sharing skills data, your people can align their development with future opportunities at your organization and remain engaged in their work, performing at their highest potential and your organization can dynamically leverage its workforce’s skills to meet the evolving needs of your industry.
Empowering employees with data to drive their development
As a talent leader, you're already able to use data points around employee skills and performance to recommend learning content for further development and to close skills gaps. And giving your people access to this same data and insights can immensely improve their development experience too.
Imagine, for example, a data scientist with five years of experience at your organization. She has a history of skills and contributions and knows what fulfills her in her current role. The next logical step for her career growth is a business analyst position, but she doesn’t want to work in Excel all day. Instead, she has a passion for education and wants to figure out how she can do more teaching in her next role. She might be inclined to look at a job board.
But with access to the right data, she could look first to the different career paths in your organization and what training she'd need to complete to get there. Instead of leaving the company, she could uncover the product manager role, which allows her to share educational videos with customers every day while still fitting her background with data
When your people have a clear understanding of what opportunities lie ahead, they're more likely to stay productive and motivated as they pursue the next step in their career journey. If an employee can easily see that the company has several openings for a role, they can feel confident that this position is valued within the company and worth their time to continue to learn and grow toward it (even if it takes 6 months or a year to get there).
The essential role of management teams
Talent leaders and managers still play an equally important and unique role in the development process. It’s up to your to define processes and facilitate employee development and engagement programs in-line with career opportunities.
But today, having a holistic view of every employee and their career aspirations isn’t scalable across an organization.
In fact, managers balance providing exceptional coaching and regular development conversations with demanding schedules and limited time, making the effectiveness of these experiences critical. When employees can access data about career opportunities, they can not only pursue the career exploration and growth they crave but also gain more autonomy to make a change when they need one.
Better people data means better people
When you provide an established, personalized career development path to your people, they feel empowered to identify an opportunity they want to work toward, enlisting your support and other manager's support to get there.
As a result, more employees will identify future roles that align with their skills. Using better people data to help your people better themselves give them the opportunity to continue developing new competencies that match their unique interests — cultivating an engaged, high performing workforce, ready to take on new opportunities.
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