Everyone from apprentices and graduates to Executive Directors have an interest in career development and personal progression. Interestingly, I have often found that this conversation tends to focus on progression from one role to the next, or the 'route through/up' an organisation, and rarely on lateral moves at the same level, or more critically on the development stages of the role you are in. In order to broaden these career conversations I have developed this five-stage model to articulate career development in-role. The five stages are: New in role, Learning, Competent, Stretching and Excelling. Hopefully you, like many people I have shown this to, will recognise these stages, find it a fairly intuitive and simple model to understand. And yet, we rarely see this explained or used within organisations when we think about careers. So where have I found it most useful and how can you use it?
1. Early careers groups. Graduates in particular can perceive staying in one role as a frustration or lack of progression. Using this model can help them to gain a sense progress, rapid achievement and personal development as they progress through the five different stages within a role. This sense of achievement and progression is critical to graduate retention.
2. Supporting the transition into work. Students leave a structured educational system with a clear hierarchy, sense of progression and achievement from year to year. Moving from this environment into a normal job, or off a structured graduate/training scheme into the wider organisation, can leave people feeling lost and rudderless, asking questions like: What happens next for me? How do I know I am performing? Am I progressing? What do I need to do to move up/move on? These will be familiar questions to many graduate development managers I'm sure! This model can help them and their managers to prepare for and understand this process, taking control of their on-going development.
3. SMEs and rapidly growing organisations. Career paths and routes are not always clear in smaller and more rapidly growing organisations. Indeed they may not even exist yet! This model can give managers of small and rapidly changing organisations a structure to talk to people about careers and progression without need to have a career development path, structure or specific development programmes in place (often the preserve of much larger organisations).
4. Individual career coaching. This model can help individuals assess their current performance in role and plan their next steps. Specifically it is very useful to help them reflect upon the consistency of their performance in role, pro-actively identify new projects/work they could take on, or individuals they could be working with in order to prepare for any next step.
5. Team development. When working with a manager it can be a very useful to map the 'bench strength' of the team you are working with. A team development plan/activity will look very different for a group of 'Competent to Excelling' individuals that it will for a group who are dominated by 'New in role and Learning' individuals. As indeed will the demands, time and requirements of the manager for people at different stages.
6. Succession planning and promotion prep. Some of my previous organisations have had rules about performing or excelling in role before being considered for promotion, or a lateral move. These rules can be restrictive and don't work well for people who are a 'square peg in a round hole'. But, applied as a general guideline with some good management judgement thrown in, this model can be a useful tool to identify potential successors and inform any succession or promotions strategy.
7. Technical experts not leaders. Not everyone wants to be a leader or manager of people. And yet this is often seen as the only or main progression for people within organisations. For those who are technical experts this model allows you to explore their career development within their role and recognise/reward progression as well. Once at the Excelling stage it then allows you to have a constructive and objective career conversation about growing the role, maximising their expertise or, if necessary, moving on.
However you choose to use this model, with students, colleagues or managers, I hope you find it a useful tool to aide more meaningful career conversations and 'career development' in the round. Or if you'd like to know more about using and applying this model in your work please just give me a shout!
Rebecca Fielding, Managing Director, Gradconsult