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Chapter 10 Career Planning and Development


Learning Objectives
• Understand the importance of career planning and development.
• Identify the responsibility for career planning and development.
• Discuss the HR department’s role in career planning and development.
• Discuss some of the major factors contributing to successful career development.
• Understand the preparation desirable for a career in HRM.

Chapter outline
Chapter 10 is divided into three main sections. Section one discusses the importance of career planning and
development in today’s rapidly changing business environment. The second section extends the ideas
presented in the first section and examines the relationship between HR planning and career planning and
development. It central focus is issues that are important for the development and maintenance of careers in
businesses today. The final section, section three, presents a number of factors that should be considered by
people considering Human Resource Management as a career.

Importance of career planning and development


Until recently, employees could join an organisation fully expecting to stay with it for their entire career.
Now, life-long careers are a thing of the past. Some naive employees still feel that they are immune to the
ongoing reductions because they are doing good work and adding value to the organisation. However,
increasing competition, rapid technological change, relentless restructuring and downsizing mean that high
performance no longer protects employees from dismissal. People increasingly will move from opportunity
to opportunity without regard for traditional job boundaries. Some experts predict that soon full-time careers
will no longer be the norm.

Realistic career planning forces employees to be proactive and to anticipate problems and opportunities. It
does this by making them establish and examine their career objectives. Career planning and development
involves two processes — career planning (employee centred) and career management (organisation
centred). Career management is integral to HR planning, but HR planning and/or career management do not
exist or are not integrated in some organisations.

Ideally, career planning and development should be seen as a process that aligns the interests and skills of
employees with the needs of the organisation. This means that careers must be managed strategically so the
skills demanded by the organisation’s strategic business objectives are understood and a work force with a
matching profile of skills is developed. Career planning and development play a major part in ensuring that
the organisation has a competitive and knowledgeable work force.

HR planning and career planning and development


Employees and organisations are paying more attention to career planning and development because:

• employees are increasingly concerned about their quality of life


• there are EEO legislation and AA pressures
• educational levels and employee aspirations are rising
• workers are making the transition from vertical careers to lateral careers
• organisations have an increasing sense of obligation to employees. ‘The most valuable thing that a
business can give its members,’ says Handy, ‘is no longer employment but employability, the
security of a saleable skill.’
• Shortages of skilled workers is producing a global talent war.
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Employee’s responsibility
Every employee should be concerned about his or her own career planning and development. Unfortunately,
many employees ignore this responsibility, preferring to leave it to the organisation. By adopting such a
passive stance, employees give up control of their career, limit their future employability and reduce their
chances of achieving their career goals.

Although some organisations provide in-house career planning and development, this is often geared to the
organisation’s needs and not those of the individual employee. Individual career planning means that the
employee must critically examine his or her personal and vocational interests, personal and career goals and
present skill and ability levels.

HR department’s responsibility
Proactive HR managers recognise the importance of career planning and development in satisfying
individual and organisational needs. If the HR department is fully aware of the organisation’s future HR
needs, career chances and training and development opportunities, then it is well placed to promote career
planning among employees.

Factors in career development


Individual employees must accept the responsibility for their own career development. Failure to do so will
prevent smooth and optimal career progression. Factors that are important to successful career development
and growth include:

Performance - Employees who perform badly are rarely considered for training and development
opportunities, international assignments or promotion.

Exposure - If an employee is to succeed, he or she must become known to senior management. Employees
can become known to the organisation’s decision makers through superior performance, report writing,
presentations,; and involvement in company training and development programs and social activities.

Qualifications - US research indicates that a strong correlation exists between graduate earnings and the
quality of the university they attended.

Employer reputation - Some organisations have a ‘star’ reputation as breeding grounds for high-potential
employees. Consequently, getting a job with the right company can be an important factor in career success
and long-term employability.

Nepotism - Thirty per cent of publicly listed companies in Hong Kong have boards of directors on which
half or more of the executive directors are related as family members.

Mentor - Successful managers usually have a mentor or sponsor who helps advance their career by offering
advice, giving instruction and opening up career opportunities.

Benefits of mentoring
• The protégé, by developing more skills and self-confidence, performs better and provides longer
service to the organisation.
• Mentoring, by identifying talent, helps companies encourage and capitalise on diversity.
• Mentoring provides a structure for the growth and development of all employees.
• Mentoring helps inculcate corporate values.
• Mentoring improves employee job satisfaction and motivation.
• Mentors can buffer women from discrimination and help them overcome gender-related barriers to
advancement.
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Unfortunately women and minorities often find themselves excluded from mentoring relationships. This is
because mentoring is frequently based on personal relationships built up outside working hours.

Ingratiation - Ingratiation may be an effective career strategy, especially when associated with competence.

Development - Ongoing expansion of skills and knowledge makes an employee more valuable and,
therefore, more attractive to the organisation.

International experience - International experience is increasingly a key to career success (particularly for
those aspiring to top management).

Language skills - The internationalisation of business and the development of global business centres
demand that fast-track managers possess not only good English skills but competency in a second (or
third) language.

Computer and Keyboard skills - To have a competitive advantage, computer literacy is a must. High skilled
employees must be “technology capable”.

Networking - It is extremely important for an employee to build a network of contacts who are likely to be
useful to his or her career development.

Goal setting - ‘successful career planners are self motivated, self starters who are hard working, and most
important of all, goal directed. They have established what goals they want to achieve and how to go
about it’.

Financial Planning Skills - Today savvy employees know there are no life long employment guarantees.

Golf - Golf is at the centre of business, especially in Asia where most major business deals are concluded on
the golf course. The golf course is now called the boardroom of the new millennium because
business discussions that start on the golf course often end up in the boardroom.

Appearance - There is ample evidence to indicate that appearance plays an important role in compensation
and career success.

Career plateau
A career plateau refers to that point in an employee’s career at which the probability of an additional
promotion is minimal. When this happens, employees find themselves blocked and unable to achieve further
advancement. If an employee is to avoid plateauing, it is critical that he or she have the ability to adapt and
develop in the face of change or transition.

Employees are now ‘reaching plateaus earlier in their careers than did their predecessors — and far earlier
than their own expectations — [so] it is important for organisations and individuals to prepare to cope with
the phenomenon successfully, particularly when the signs of an impending plateau are observed’. The risk of
obsolescence is less if organisations accept responsibility for employee development and if employees are
prepared to invest time in their development.

Dual careers
As more women enter the work force, HR managers must develop specific policies and programs designed
to accommodate the dual career aspirations of employees and their spouses. HR managers must be
particularly alert to the implications of an employed spouse when providing career counselling to an
employee. Dual career couples need to be flexible, to be mutually committed to both careers, to adopt
coping mechanisms (such as clearly separating work and non-work roles) and to develop the skills of career
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planning. Organisations, in turn, can provide flexible work schedules, counselling, effective career
management, child care and support with transfers and relocations.

Work-family conflict
Work family conflict is evidenced by the dual-income family and the single-parent family. People today are
faced with problems of redefining what is meant by success and how to balance work and family.
Particularly for women, the integration of work and family responsibilities can be difficult because job
demands compete with the traditional family demands of being mother, wife and housekeeper. Men who
place family first also face a problem with companies and co-workers. Family-responsive policies such as
provision of child care or assistance with child-care expenses and the introduction of flexible work
schedules, part-time work, home work, job sharing and flexible leave provisions not only help but result in
increased employee commitment.

Outplacement
Outplacement is a special type of counselling designed to help a terminated employee locate a new career.
Services provided by outplacement consultants vary but generally include: advice on termination
procedures; career evaluation; psychological appraisal; interview training; résumé preparation; job search
techniques, and the provision of office and secretarial services

Careers in human resource management


Those contemplating a career in HRM need to think carefully about their career objectives and how they
plan to achieve them. HRM offers many exciting opportunities but also has its limitations. Few HRM
practitioners, for example, become managing directors or achieve the same status and income as their
counterparts in line management. To enhance personal satisfaction and professional success, individuals
should thoroughly assess their own needs and expectations, and gather as much information as they can
about HR work, career paths, opportunities, rewards and so on.

Job variety - Job opportunities exist for both generalists and specialists in HRM.

Remuneration - Remuneration for HRM employees has lagged behind that paid to employees in functions
such as finance and marketing; Australian and US data suggest that the median earnings of full-time HR
professionals are in decline and that male HR professionals, on average, still earn more than their
female counterparts. However, as HRM moves away from its traditional status of cost centre to that of
profit contributor and strategic business partner, the magnitude of the monetary differential is reducing
(particularly in banking and financial services and hi-tech companies).

Working conditions - HR departments are frequented by applicants, employees, union officials,


government inspectors and visitors, so they need to present a favourable image of the organisation as
a place of employment. Consequently, most HR offices tend to be clean and pleasant places in which
to work.

Career preparation — education - Some people work in HRM without academic qualifications, but it is
evident that the increasing demands by employers for professional competence and know-how make
tertiary education essential.

Career preparation — competencies - Ulrich argues that the HR manager of the future should be a
strategic business partner, an administrative expert, a champion for employees and a change agent.
This, says Ulrich, demands competence in knowledge of the business, knowledge of HR, change
management, and credibility
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Career preparation — experience - Probably the most beneficial entry to HRM is from a line management
function such as marketing. This enables the individual to better understand the problems faced by
line managers and to appreciate the importance of bottom-line impact. It also promotes flexibility
and provides increased career opportunities outside HRM.

Accreditation - Admission to the AHRI is open to graduates and non-graduates.

HRM as a profession - Whether or not HRM is a profession has long been debated. What is not questioned
is or not that HR managers should be ‘professional’ in terms of their qualifications and performance.

Professional associations - The professional association with the largest membership is the AHRI.

Summary
Increasing competition, accelerating change and relentless restructuring have made career planning and
development critical for both organisations and employees. Effective career planning is essential for
employees if they are to fully achieve their career objectives. Organisations, in turn, must realise a better
match between employee career aspirations and job opportunities to obtain the supply of qualified human
resources needed to achieve strategic organisational objectives.

Although some HR departments provide assistance via information and counselling, the prime
responsibility for career planning is with the employee. Important factors contributing to successful career
development include performance, exposure, sponsorship, personal development, international experience,
networking and goal setting. A career plateau is reached at some stage in an employee’s career when further
promotions or opportunities are unavailable. At this stage, the employee may require outplacement
counselling. Conducted by specialists, this counselling is designed to help a terminated employee locate a
new career.

A career in HRM provides opportunities for both generalists and specialists. Remuneration for HRM
personnel is improving but has generally lagged behind that for other functions. Working conditions are
generally good. Increasingly employers are demanding tertiary qualifications for positions in HRM. It is also
desirable to have some experience in line management before entering a HRM position. Membership with
the AHRI provides accreditation and access to professional conferences, seminars, workshops and
publications.

Terms to identify
accreditation dual career outplacement
boundaryless careers employability professional association
career counselling exposure professional literature
career planning and development goal setting vertical career
career plateau lateral career work-family conflict
career transition mentor
networking

REVIEW QUESTIONS
Questions in bold print are recommended as exam questions

1. Why should the HR manager be concerned about career planning?

Pro-active HR managers recognise the importance of career planning and development in satisfying
individual and organisational needs. If the HR department is fully aware of the organisation's future human
resource needs, career chances, and training and development opportunities, then it is well placed to promote
career planning among employees. The HR department can do this by providing career education
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information, vocational guidance, career counselling information, on-job opportunities and career options
and by publicising training and development programs. By supporting career planning and development, the
HR manager can realise a number of benefits for her or his organisation.

2. You are interested in becoming HR director for a large multinational organisation. What types of
career goals would you set for yourself?

Career goals for a career in HRM should include the following:

• some experience in line management.


• involvement and training in strategic planning and policy development.
• skill in organisational development.
• formal qualifications in HRM; preferably at the graduate level.
• membership of the HRM professional Institute.
• knowledge of financial systems.

Every employee should be concerned about his or her own career planning and development. Pro-active
employees continually ask questions such as:

• What do I know how to do?


• What career opportunities can I expect to be available?
• What do I need to get there?
• How can I tell how well I am doing?
• How can I get out of the box I am in?

Although some organisations provide in-house career planning and development, this is often geared to the
organisation's needs and not those of the individual employee. Unless the employee is motivated to seek
ongoing personnel development, he or she increases the risk of declining performance and job loss because
of professional obsolescence. The above goals can be achieved by one who wishes to be an HR Director.
The responsibility for achieving those goals in the individual's. As the textbook suggests, the individual
should ask the following questions in relation to those goals:

• How hard am I prepared to work?


• What is important to me?
• What kind of trade-offs between work, family and leisure am I prepared to make?
• Am I prepared to undertake further study?
• Am I prepared to make the necessary sacrifices such as relocation overseas to achieve my career
goals?

3. What is the best preparation for a career in HRM?

Education and experience are the best preparation for a career in human resource management. It is
apparent that, while there are some people working in HRM without academic qualifications, the increasing
demands by employers for professional competence and know-how make tertiary education a must.
Accredited qualifications are now mandatory for practitioners seeking professional membership of the
AHRI. Although Australian practitioners have historically placed greater emphasis on practical experience,
a clear preference for academic qualifications is emerging with about 10 per cent of HR practitioners now
having post-graduate qualifications.

A question remains as to what tertiary qualifications are best for a career in HRM. There is no evidence to
suggest that specialist undergraduate courses in HRM better prepare aspiring HR practitioners for their
career than do other intellectually demanding courses of study. In one survey of senior HR managers, less
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than one-third believed that specialist HR courses provided the best preparation for a career in HRM.
Criticisms are also made that behavioural science backgrounds teach HR professionals to be reactive and
result in a glaring ignorance of other aspects of the business.

Such deficiencies explain in part why HR managers are the least likely to become chief executive officers
(CEOs). Most CEOs come from sales and marketing, finance and manufacturing and operations. HRM as a
source does not rate a mention. There is also some evidence to suggest that Australian HR managers
coming directly out of personnel positions earn considerably less than those coming from line or general
management positions.

Probably the most beneficial entry to HRM is from a line management function. This enables the individual
to better understand the problems faced by line managers and to appreciate the importance of bottom-line
impact. In fact, one practitioner advises that the person who joins a personnel function from school should
move into other career posts and return to personnel only if that is the best place for him or her.

The significance of this is emphasised by Andrews, who claims that young professionals working upward in
the human resources field are systematically trained, by a frequent and continuous series of experiences to
be reactive and rule oriented. As a consequence, too many HR practitioners prefer to be active in personnel
reporting in lieu of making profitable contributions to the business. Obviously, such people are not seen as
potential CEOs or given much status by their management peers To be successful, HR professionals must
make the effort to become business people who happen to work in HR, rather than HR people who happen
to find themselves in a business.

4. What should an employee do to avoid the problem of obsolescence?

Although some organisations provide in-house career planning and development, this is often geared to the
organisation’s needs and not those of the individual employee. Unless the employee is motivated to seek
ongoing personal development, he or she increases the risk of declining performance and job loss by
becoming professionally obsolescent. Individual career planning means that the employee must critically
examine his or her personal and vocational interests, personal and career goals and present skill and ability
levels. The HR department and the employee’s superior can both help with this process.

The employee has the ultimate responsibility for developing an action plan to achieve a particular career
objective. This is because only the employee can answer some key questions.

• How hard am I prepared to work?


• What is important to me?
• What kind of trade-offs between work, family and leisure am I prepared to make?
• Am I prepared to undertake further study?
• Am I prepared to make the necessary sacrifices such as relocation overseas to achieve my career
goals?

Career planning and development require a conscious effort on the part of the employee — the process does
not happen automatically. Effective career planning depends on the joint efforts of the employee, her or his
manager and the HR department. Moreover, the ongoing expansion of skills and knowledge makes an
employee more valuable and, therefore, more attractive to the organisation. According to one expert, ‘the
conscious acquisition of skills and experience improves the options available and the desirability of the
person to a prospective employer’. Self-development also overcomes the problems of career plateauing and
professional obsolescence. But it is critical that technological, managerial and other acquired skills relate to
the demands of the job market.

Employees are now ‘reaching plateaus earlier in their careers than did their predecessors — and far earlier
than their own expectations — [so] it is important for organisations and individuals to prepare to cope with
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the phenomenon successfully, particularly when the signs of an impending plateau are observed’. Aryee, for
example, found that the risk of obsolescence is less if organisations accept responsibility for employee
development and if employees are prepared to invest time in their development. Similarly, if organisations
do not neglect plateaued employees, but instead provide feedback and challenging jobs, those employees
remain productive even when they do not receive any opportunities for promotion.

5. Why is international work experience becoming more important to an employee’s career


progression?

International experience is increasingly a key to career success (particularly for those aspiring to top
management). Companies’ growing realisation that business does not have geographic boundaries has
created a demand for global managers who understand how business is done in other countries and who feel
comfortable working at home or abroad. Leading companies continue to expand their international business
operations, so an expatriate assignment is becoming a dominant factor in career progression. Finally, an
overseas assignment can offer much greater responsibility, freedom and broader experience than can an
equivalent position in Australia.

6. Many potential HR managers say they want to work in HRM because they like working with people.
Is this characteristic the most important factor in becoming a successful HR manager?

It is important to realise that all managers work with people. Hence, a liking for working with people is not
confined to HRM managers as a prerequisite. HRM managers are managing the working relationship
between employees and the organisation. The questions above illustrate the criteria for being a successful
HR manager. One can see that a liking for people is well down the list. It certainly helps, however.

7. Why must individual employees manage their own careers?

Every employee should be concerned about his or her own career planning and development.
Unfortunately, most ignore this responsibility, preferring to leave it to the organisation. By adopting such a
passive attitude, employees give up control of their career and reduce their chances of achieving their career
goals. In contrast, pro-active employees continually ask questions such as:

• What do I really want to do?


• What do I know how to do?
• What career opportunities can I expect to be available?
• Where do I want to go?
• What do I need to do to get there?
• How can I tell how well I am doing?
• How can I get out of the box I am in?

The ultimate responsibility for developing an action plan to achieve a particular career objective is the
employee's. Career planning and development requires a conscious effort on the part of the employee ; it
does not happen automatically. Effective career planning depends on the joint efforts of the employee, her
or his manager and the HR department.

8. What are some problems faced by dual career couples? How may they be overcome?

As more women enter the workforce, HR managers will need to develop specific policies and programs
designed to accommodate the dual career aspirations of employees and their spouses. In particular, HR
managers need to be alert to the implications of an employed spouse when providing career counselling to
an employee. Problems may arise because each works different shifts, both have very strong identifications
with their chosen professions; or a relocation is incompatible with a spouse's career plans. Organisations
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and employees can therefore both lose flexibility because of dual career demands. Dual career couples need
to be flexible; mutually committed to both careers; adopt coping mechanisms (such as clearly separating
work and non work roles) and develop the skills to manage their careers through career planning.
Organisations in turn can provide flexible work schedules, counselling, effective career management, child
care and support with transfers and relocations.

9. Is the concept of career planning and development realistic in today’s rapidly changing environment?

Yes, it is. Until recently, employees could join an organisation fully expecting to stay with it for their entire
career. Times have changed. Life long careers are a thing of the past. Says one employee "You see all
these reductions going on around you. But if you are doing good work and adding value to the organisation
you somehow feel that you are immune". Not true. Increasing competition, rapid technological change and
relentless restructuring mean performance is no longer a defence. Employees are now on their own. The
paternalistic model of long term employment is dead and buried. In the pursuit of world best practice, the
workforce must be highly skilled motivated and prepared to undertake retraining, and change jobs. Part time
work will become more important. Some experts in fact predict by the turn of the century that full time
careers will no longer be the norm. Employees must begin to think of their careers as a sequence of jobs that
may or may not be in the same organisation. Employees today must look out for themselves because the
future is no longer guaranteed. Education in these circumstances he says becomes an investment and varied
experience an asset. The critical issue in educating young people is teaching them how to learn and acquire
skills; it is not to teach them an immutable platform of occupational skills to last a lifetime. As events
around us are showing, young people today must increasingly learn how to cope with discontinuities and
change, drawing on their own talents and self esteem rather more than upon a conception of themselves
derived from relatively stable and unchanging jobs. This ever-changing work environment means
employees are vulnerable to career disruption or stagnation and therefore makes career planning critical.

10. What special career problems do women face?

Increasing education, the liberation of women, the rising cost of living and increasing career opportunities
for women have led more and more women to enter the work force. This has eroded the traditional support
given by the wife to the husband and his career. Consequently, the demands of work have increasingly
intruded into family life (and vice versa). One managing director, for example, says he expects his
employees to be thinking about customers even when they are taking a shower. This trend is evidenced by
the dual-income family and the single-parent family. Thus, people are faced with problems of redefining
what is meant by success and how to balance work and family. Particularly for women, the integration of
work and family responsibilities can be difficult because job demands compete with the traditional family
demands of being mother, wife and housekeeper. A recent UK case, for example, involved a ‘high flying’
career woman who was sacked after she refused to have an abortion. Some companies, in turn, are
favouring young, unmarried people. Says Sun Microsystems Inc. Chief Executive Officer, ‘It’s really hard to
do a start up with two kids at home.’ This has led one writer to argue that women have to stop believing that
they can ‘have it all’. It is unrealistic, says McKenna, to expect to achieve success as it is traditionally
defined while serving as a family’s primary caregiver and housekeeper and in myriad of other domestic
roles. ‘Pursuit of this ideal,’ according to McKenna, ‘creates stress, depression, and ultimately burnout.’
Men who place family first also face a problem with companies and co-workers. Devoted dads irritate
colleagues (especially childless co-workers) who expect them to put the job first. Furthermore, the more
senior a man’s position, the more likely he is to feel the competing pressures of work and family. Family-
responsive policies such as provision of child care or assistance with child-care expenses and the
introduction of flexible work schedules, part-time work, home work, job sharing and flexible leave
provisions not only help but result in increased employee commitment. Yet the reality is that families are a
problem for companies. Says one writer, ‘More and more the business world seems to regard children not as
the future generation of workers but as luxuries you are entitled to after you’ve won your stripes. It’s fine to
have the kids’ pictures on your desk — just don’t let them cut into your billable hours’. In addition,
downsizing and the internationalisation of business have created demands for accomplishing more in less
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time with fewer people, for twenty-four-hour service and for frequent overseas travel. The result is increased
conflict between work and family, with the demands of the job becoming all consuming. ‘In a world that’s a
village,’ says Morris, ‘the corporate hero is the one free to fly to Singapore on a moment’s notice, not the
poor chump who has to get home to relieve the nanny.’ Peter Richie, McDonald’s Australia former Chief
Executive Officer, echoes this view: ‘There are too many people who are ready to talk about balance. If you
are going to excel in anything, be it business or sport, you can’t talk balance, you have to be overbalanced.
You have to dedicate your whole life and be the best at what you do.’ How to deal with the competing
demands of work and family is a major challenge now facing employees, employers and HR managers.

DIAGNOSTIC MODEL

1. Identify and discuss the key influences from the diagnostic model (figure 1.11) that have significance
for career planning and development.

Employees and organisations are paying more attention to career planning and development because of

• increasing cultural and social concerns by employees about their quality of life
• EEO legislation and affirmative action pressures
• cultural and social influences such as increasing educational levels and employee aspirations
• rising sense of obligation by organisations to employees

Finally, career planning and development should be important to every employee because the consequences
of career success or failure are so closely linked with social influences like each person's self concept,
identity and satisfaction with life.

2. Explain the impact of career planning and development on the acquisition, development, reward,
maintenance and departure of an organisation’s human resources.

Career planning and development involves two processes - career planning (employee centred) and career
management (organisation centred). Employee rewards include better self understanding and identification
of desired career goals while organisation benefits include the communication of career and developmental
opportunities to employees and obtaining a better match between employee career aspirations and
organisational opportunities. Although career management is integrally related to HR planning, the reality is
that in some organisations HR planning and/or career management do not exist or are not integrated. For
effective HRM it makes little sense to train and develop employees and then have no suitable positions
available or to forecast employee requirements but have no program to satisfy them. Such a scenario will
hasten departure to another organisation.

3. Discuss the impact that career planning and development policies and practices may have on
commitment, competence, cost effectiveness, congruence, adaptability, performance, job satisfaction
and employee motivation.

Career planning and development thus involves two processes - career planning (employee centred) and
career management (organisation centred). Employee benefits include better self understanding and
identification of desired career goals while organisation benefits include the communication of career
opportunities to employees and obtaining a better match between employee career aspirations and
organisational opportunities. Outcomes like congruence and adaptability therefore are dependent upon a
balance of and match between career planning and career management.

Soapbox
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There are seldom clear answers to these questions. The idea is to stimulate debate as much as to determine
an answer.

Ethical dilemma

It’s your career!

1. If you were Stan what would you do? Why?

This is a personal decision matter. However, Stan has to negotiate the best possible deal for his family.

2. If you were Stan’s wife, how would you react? Why?

Again, a personal matter. She would expect Stan to negotiate the best possible deal for his family.

3. What ethical issues, if any, are raised in this case?

Both parties (employer and employee) have a responsibility to the employee’s needs. Career development is
an employee responsibility as much as an employer responsibility. Moreover, the importance of
international experience is recognised. However, this is probably an international HRM problem as much as
an ethical dilemma.

Case study

Albert Wong
(This case would be a good case for examination purposes)

1. What do you think of the career management practices of the company Albert Wong used to work
for? What would you do to improve them? Why do you think the organisation failed to address
career planning and development issues?

Employees of this company have careers. They just don't know what they are, and they may or may not
stumble upon opportunities to advance themselves.

The number of marketing trainees should reflect future need for marketing executives. The understudying
exercise was probably threatening to the senior person who feared that Albert may take over his or her job.
Whether it is an understudy exercise or a mentoring program, the senior person needs to be trained in the
process.

The assignment on customer relations should have been a boost to Albert's career. The rationale and
significance of the assignment should have been tightened up and communicated better. The same could be
said for the development of the new expense claim form. Similarly the rationale for checking expense
reports should have been communicated to Albert, as should the relationship between checking expense
reports and promotion. The organisation could also instigate some formalised training and development in
marketing for people like Albert. Remuneration should reflect and promote high performance. Promotion
in such a job should also reflect and promote high performance.

Students should also check through the organisational measures to counter career plateauing, and argue how
they could apply to Albert's organisation.
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• Create generalists.
• Pay for performance.
• Base career paths on skill and mastery.
• Set up job-rotation programs to create lateral movement and broaden skills.
• Work to change the organisational structure.
• Provide sabbaticals.
• Provide access and opportunity for mentoring.
• Recognise employees for their experience and knowledge, not just for time on the job.
• Use line people as instructors in programs.
• Set up communication channels to ask plateaued employees what would motivate them.

2. What career planning advice would you give to Albert Wong?

Through no fault of his own, Albert's career in this organisation is plateauing. He should implement some
of the following advice

• Develop special expertise.


• Ask for specific feedback.
• Increase visibility and reputation in the organisation.
• Look for what's missing in your job and try to change it.
• Seek training and skill upgrading.
• Build networks in other departments and divisions.
• Look for opportunities outside of work.

Role play

1. You are Albert Wong. Describe to your friends what you plan to do now. Two other students are
John Wright and Teresa Hayman. They must listen and give their advice.

This role play will be most effective if the people playing the parts of John and Theresa are given the
challenge of offering advice to Albert, who is quite desperate about the situation and contemplating leaving
the organisation. In effect, John and Theresa are playing the parts of the consultants who have to apply their
knowledge of Career Management to a client. This is a learning exercise for the people playing the parts of
John and Theresa. Facilitators and observers should provide feedback on the value and correctness of the
advice. A short preparation time should be given to "John" and "Theresa" so they are not advising "Albert"
cold.

2. You are Albert Wong. You have arranged a meeting with your HR manager to review your career
progress and aspirations. Your HR manager provides you with information regarding self-
assessment, information on career objectives and so on, and details of the company’s future needs
and career opportunities.

This is a case of the employee (Albert) taking responsibility for his own career. The organisation has the
facilities in place or providing careers for its employees. Albert now has to make the most of that which is
available. Value from this exercise will come when the students devise a series of questions for Albert to
ask the HR manager. Devising relevant questions is a learning exercise. Albert needs to know certain
information to give his career maximum advantage.

Questions should be based around the "Employee Responsibility" section of this chapter.
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