The Future of Careers in a Complex and Fast Changing World (not to mention a more demanding and savvy workforce)

The Future of Careers in a Complex and Fast Changing World (not to mention a more demanding and savvy workforce)

Career development is a core component of “Total Rewards” – an organisation’s value proposition. Having a career framework can help organisations understand where their talent is concentrated; how prepared, or ill-prepared, they are to meet future resource challenges; and how key employees can be developed and retained whilst simultaneously improving the functioning of the organisation to support business needs.

Trend surveys consistently show that after Leadership Development and Employee Engagement, Employee Development is the third highest priority area needing urgent attention, yet little is done to look at this critical area for an organisation’s progress and well-being outside of the long standing practices that have been applied over many years. It’s time to look at this afresh in view of two significant drivers that are forcing leaders to take a different approach. First is the speed at which organisations are evolving today; leaner, constantly driving for agility, needing to ensure that they are resourced with the capability needed to deliver business success today as well as being skilled and able to deliver it tomorrow. The second is the evolution of the workforce which has become up in what is commonly known as ‘The war for Talent’, where today’s (and tomorrow’s) talent is shaped by the world they’ve been born into and have very different expectations of what a career is all about for them.

Today’s ‘Generation Z’ (born after 1995) is already vastly different from ‘Generation Y’. (1981 – 1995). Gen Y was the era of Playstation, social media, reality TV and Google Earth. Gen Z, on the other hand are shaped by economic downturn, global focus, mobile devices, cloud computing and energy crises. Their drivers and expectations are different and if they don’t find the opportunities where they are currently they will move somewhere they can be realised, or create them for themselves.

Therefore a career path is less about carefully plotted steps that must be taken in a particular order and more about exposure to, and opportunities for growing knowledge through multiple experiences that form the basis of a career portfolio. These experiences come from stretching yourself on a new project where you learn new skills, rotational assignments in a different part of the business or geography and of course, never underestimate the power of impactful coaching and mentoring from those who have the experience. This demands developing new career competencies; Knowing Why, Knowing How and Knowing Whom.

 career ladder Traditionally, when people talked about career paths, they were referring to promotions – often referred to as a “career ladder” or the “corporate ladder.” Employees either moved up or they stopped moving.


 train track …..or they got on a track that took them to their destination.
 Career Lattice The “career lattice” introduces lateral career moves, or non-promotion moves. The framework can be used by managers and employees to plan for upward, lateral, and sometimes downward movement in order to reach their long-term development goals, as well as gaining greater insight to the wider organizational needs.

In addition to the attraction, engagement, and retention effects, lateral moves give employees more opportunity to explore disparate parts of the business and, consequently, to understand it more fully and increase their contribution.

Creating a Career path framework isn’t easy or quick. If it was everyone would be doing it, but it’s worth it to help an organisation and its people see what is available and what is possible with some intelligent discussion about an individual’s aspirations and organisational goals that need to be met. The two are not mutually exclusive.

FTSE 100 Case Study from 2015

A FTSE100 global information services group with operations in 40 countries recognised the need for a consistent and disciplined approach to career management across the organisation to address talent planning challenges, low engagement and high turnover of critical talent. I was invited to consult and help develop a career path framework for a standardised, common approach across complex business lines and to support managers in career and performance discussions with their employees.

Leading a project team to analyse current state, I then worked across the business to design, develop and implement a Career Path Framework and technology solution to drive career progression in line with business objectives and workforce planning needs. Time consuming and detailed, but invaluable, was facilitating a number of working sessions with business stakeholders, subject matter experts and HR teams to build out solutions and pilot in live environments.

Having delivered a comprehensive methodology, processes and value adding resources for HR, business leaders and employees, I was able to ensure it was supported with a suite of change and communication plans. Working with key stakeholders, I developed KPI’s and metrics to measure both business and human capital outcomes. Finally, it was important for future success and sustainability that the client was left with a handover portfolio with the project documented for continued success.

The successful launch of the technology platform and toolset in EMEA was adopted as the model for global implementation across all global regions.


Setting measurable goals for developing a career path framework validates the need to take an innovate approach to an age old challenge and could include :

·       Recruiting higher quality candidates

·       Improving engagement of current employees

·       Reducing turnover of high value employees (e.g. ‘high potentials’)

·       Mining information for talent pipeline planning and/or succession planning and/or workforce planning

All of these measures have a direct impact on the bottom line for any organisation and keeping your best talent engaged.

STEP Forward Solutions LimitedEttie

Ettie McCormack has been a professional interim for the last 8 years with a key offering that has been built on business transformation projects and developing capability for sustainable growth in organisations going through change, transformation or disruption. She does this by ensuring that people, technology and processes are aligned as part of an integrated solution that she provides. Key results are achieved through workforce planning, capability audits for forward thinking organisations and integrated support for managing all aspects of the talent cycle – attracting, recruiting, progressing and engaging.

Ettie  has extensive experience of change and project management in complex organisations, including stakeholder management, cultural and organisational environment, coaching and engagement. Her expertise is HR with a very commercial slant on the investments made in acquiring, on-boarding, developing and progressing talent at all levels.





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