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07 August 2006  
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Home - Technology Life - Article


Career development impacts employee performance

Sudipta Dev on how employee career development initiatives boost organisational productivity.

It is a known fact that most professionals leave an organisation due to lack of career growth. Active career development initiatives by a company is a key retention tool to keep the best talent within its fold. It is one of the greatest motivators to keep an employee happy and engaged. But does career planning and development of employees actually make a difference to the productivity of a worker? Most organisations think so, and consider it a part of their critical human resource strategy. From the employees’ point of view career development initiatives gives them a clear focus about their career track, the blind spots that they have to overcome and the final goal to be reached. This focussed approach works to their advantage from their everyday work to long-term aspirations.

The impact of career development/ succession planning programmes can be seen through the productivity indicator, engagement surveys and reduction in attrition rate. It is in fact a win-win situation for all. “The typical employee views a career development programme as a path to upward mobility, the manager sees it as a retention and motivational tool, and the top management view it as a tool for succession planning,” explains Tarun Singh, Director, Kenexa Technologies (India). These career development efforts bring into focus high potential candidates who can be groomed for greater responsibilities in the future.

Understanding the significance

It has often been debated whether all organisations do understand the advantages of these initiatives in the process of accomplishing their business goals. Sreeram Kaviliga, AVP-HR, AppLabs Technologies states, “Yes to some extent they do understand. But, unfortunately due to factors like deliverables, tight deadlines, insufficient bandwidth to the reporting managers, nor coaching given to them, in practice there is not enough visible attention given to this area presently.”

"Aspects like what, when, why, where, and how, have to be clearly captured as a part of the development plan and communicated effectively"

- Anshuman Ray
HR, Country Manager
Synopsys (India)

It is not just enough to understand the significance of career development programmes but managing it well. The whole process should be well organised to receive full support from employees who will clearly see the advantages. It is mutually beneficial to the employee as well as the employer. “Aspects like what, when, why, where, who all and how, have to be clearly captured as a part of the development plan and communicated effectively,” says Anshuman Ray, HR, Country Manager, Synopsys (India). He adds that candid communication helps manage expectations better and once plans are finalised and rolled out, there should be zero tolerance around consistency, commitment, compliance and credibility; unless business encounters something unusual and things that could not be foreseen. Implementation of these plans helps companies earn credibility amongst employees and commitment towards building ‘intellectual capital’ which is the root for any IT organisation.

Affect on employee performance

"Possibility and hope for career development
motivates employees to
perform better. It is an ongoing, dynamic

- Ulhas Aher
Head HR
Compass Connections

Career development programmes enable a deeper focus on an employee’s aims and aspirations—from identification of the handicaps being faced by an employee in accomplishing his goals to the solutions in terms of re-skilling or reassignment. This focus acts as the significant motivator for an employee to excel and exceed the targets. “It facilitates powerful personal and professional development. As per the motivational theories, achievement orientation, growth and development are the basic human needs. Possibility and hope for career development motivates employees to perform better. It is an ongoing, dynamic process; employees may need encouragement and support in reviewing and re-assessing their goals and activities,” explains Ulhas Aher, Head HR, Compass Connections.

"A strong sense of direction coupled with responsibility, boosts
levels and hence

- Vishwas Mahajan,
CEO & Managing Director
Compulink Systems

An organisation focussed on developing the career path of its employees boosts the morale and ultimately the productivity of its staff. Vishwas Mahajan, CEO & Managing Director, Compulink Systems, points out that these organisations infuse a lot of confidence among its employees. “Besides helping employees get equipped with relevant skills and knowledge, it also facilitates the organisation’s objective of showing a well articulated, growth oriented yet flexible career path to its employees. A strong sense of direction coupled with responsibility, boosts motivational levels and hence performance,” adds Mahajan.

The viability

"Organisations have their own vision and individuals their own aspirations. Alignment and congruence of both create a win-win situation"

- Anand Talwar
VP, Talent Management
ITC Infotech

Then there is the question of long-term viability of investing time and resources into an initiative which might not actually pay in the long-term, taking into consideration short-term employee loyalty. This is a truth which no organisation can deny, but it cannot also give up its plans for employee development. “Career development is a continuous process. Incidents such as employees quitting the organisation should not stand as a barrier to this process. There is always a commitment of the top leadership towards such programmes as they see long-term value addition to the organisation,” states Mahajan.

Anand Talwar, Vice-president, Talent Management, ITC Infotech, acknowledges that a large number of employees have the opportunity to change jobs, but it is imperative for professional organisations which are in business from a long-term perspective, to have a sound career management framework. “In fact the lack of it impacts productivity. In ITC Infotech, we believe that individuals must be provided growth and career advancement opportunities as we look forward to building them into thoroughbread professionals,” adds Talwar. The company has launched a career management framework built around the fulcrum of personal development plans and career mentoring. This framework is being instituted in the organisation during the current financial year.

Tarun Singh, Director, Kenexa Technologies (India), suggests a three-pronged approach to tackle long-term productivity issues:

  • The employee must have a degree of clarity on what he wants to pursue and achieve in life, so some degree of self-knowledge and self-introspection is essential for any person to find a job where he is the ‘correct fit’. Once this happens, then the employee is fully engaged and thus highly productive, and less likely to switch jobs if he perceives that the company is really interested in his career development.
  • Just as an individual must have a clear goal orientation, the organisation must show a high-level vision and goals which are clearly made known to employees, which would give them a lot of confidence about the organisation’s intent and the opportunities for progress within the company.
  • The goal of career development thus becomes a plan to retain and promote employees who are strategic to the company’s success.

The right approach

Organisations have today begun to understand the effectiveness of mentoring among all career development initiatives like promotion, job rotation, training, etc. The mentorship approach has proved to make a significant impact. Nirupama V G, Associate Director, TeamLease Services, informs, “Few companies assign career counsellors to employees, who act as a mentor and coach throughout the counselee’s career with the company. The counsellors take genuine interest in the counselee’s career and guide them to projects which will enable him/her to develop the skills and experience and hence employability. Review of the project handled by the employee is done with respect to the career plan at regular intervals.” This apart many companies have “communities” of knowledge comprising people involved in similar projects, business streams or domains. These communities act as knowledge banks/learning centres which help the employees to strengthen the skills pertaining to their career stream.

Biju S Nair, Vice-president (Finance & HR), Four Soft, lists the best approaches to developing careers:

  • Creating opportunities for the employees in the organisation.
  • Employee-friendly work environment with high learning curve and leadership mentoring.
  • Understanding broad corporate goals as well as industry requirements and aligning the career development initiatives.
  • Creating friendly work culture and transparent environment for better career growth.
  • Salary growth and benefits to match the role specific requirement and ability to perform as per the job requirement.
Common career development initiatives
  • Promotion
  • Training
  • Job rotation
  • Job enlargement
  • Succession planning
  • Mentoring
  • Assessment and development centres

Source: Compass Connections

Aligning with organisational goals

The growth of an individual is intrinsically linked with the growth of an organisation and vice versa. No organisation can develop without taking its employees on the growth path and an individual’s development is meaningless if it does not align with the organisational goals and strategies. When an individual’s aspirations is directed elsewhere from that of his organisation’s it can lead to absolute chaos.

“Organisations have their own vision and individuals their own aspirations. Alignment and congruence of both create a win-win situation and the lack of such alignment can create movement in haphazard directions leading to loss of productivity, morale, etc,” states Talwar.

Alignment of employees with organisational goals and strategies is a must. Shrikant Kulkarni, Senior Vice President, KPIT Cummins Infosystems, points out that this happens when organisations leverage home-grown talent which understands the company’s business, its challenges, customers, technology, its values and culture.

“Soft skills development is an integral part of career planning initiative. Team play, leadership skills, communication skills are key competencies for one who goes up the career in the IT industry,” adds Kulkarni.

Every organisation needs to retain people with the right skills and talent. This can be enabled by investing in their future growth and showing them the path to fulfil their dreams. In this process the effort put by employees gives a fillip to their performance and transforms into greater organisational productivity.



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