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A career can be defined as a sequence of separate but relatedwork activities that provides continuity, order and meaning in person s life.' Career planning and development is a deliberate process through which a person becomes aware of personal career-related attributes and lifelong series of stages that contribute to his or her career fulfillment. Career planning and development is not a one-shot training programme. It has longer time frame and wider focus. It is an ongoing organised and formalized effort that recognizes people as a viral organisational resource.


The career planning process involves the following steps:

i. Identifying individual needs and aspirations:

Most individuals do not have a clear cut idea about their career aspirations, anchors and goals. The human resource professionals must, therefore, help an employee by providing as much information as possible showing what kind of work would suit the employee most, taking his skills, experience, and aptitude into account. Such assistance is extended through workshops/seminars while the employees are subjected to psychological testing, simulation exercises, etc. The basic purpose of such an exercise is to help an employee form a clear view about what he should do to build his career within the company. Workshops and seminars increase employee interest by showing the value of career planning. They help employees set career goals, identify career paths and uncover specific career development activities (discussed later). These individual efforts may be supplemented by printed or taped information. To assist employees in a better way, organizations construct a data bank consisting of information on the career histories, skill evaluations and career preferences of its employees (known as skill or talent inventory).

ii. Analyzing career opportunities:

Once career needs and aspirations of employees are known, the organization has to provide career paths for each position. Career paths show career progression possibilities clearly. They indicate the various positions that one could hold over a period of time, if one is able to perform well. Career paths change over time, of course, in tune with employees needs and organizational requirements. While outlining career paths, the claims of experienced persons lacking professional degrees and that of young recruits with excellent degrees but without experience need to be balanced properly.

iii. Aligning needs and opportunities:

After employees have identified their needs and have realized the existence of career opportunities the remaining problem is one of alignment. This process consists of two steps: first, identify the potential of employees and then undertake career development programmers (discussed later on elaborately) with a view to align employee needs and organizational opportunities. Through performance appraisal, the potential of employees can be assessed to some extent. Such an appraisal would help reveal employees who need further training, employees who can take up added responsibilities, etc. After identifying the potential of employees certain developmental techniques such as special assignments, planned position rotation, supervisory coaching, job enrichment, understudy programs can be undertaken to update employee knowledge and skills.

iv. Action plans and periodic review:

The matching process would uncover gaps. These need to be bridged through individual career development efforts and organization supported efforts from time to time. After initiating these steps, it is necessary to review the whole thing every now and then. This will help the employee know in which direction he is moving, what changes are likely to take place, what kind of skills are needed to face new and emerging organizational challenges. From an organizational standpoint also, it is necessary to find out how employees are doing, what are their goals and aspirations, whether the career paths are in tune with individual needs and serve the overall corporate objectives, etc.

The Need for Career Planning

Organizations can hope to achieve high quality of work from their employees and foster positive attitudes and loyalty among workers through career planning. Career planning ensures that goals of individuals and organizations are in synergy andconsequently tries to keep the motivation of managers high. This implies that once the individual becomes aware of his capabilities and opportunities within the organization, he chooses to develop himself in a direction that improves his chances of being able to handle new responsibilities.

Organizational Career Planning

Following activities should be included:

I. Human Resource Forecasting and Planning : This helps in identifying the number of people to be hired. Second. the organizations will be able to coordinate their selection procedure with the overall strategic goals. 2. Career information : This should he shared with employees and includes promotional policy and career paths. Role directions and critical attributes could he made available to employees for identifying possible career paths and competency requirements. 3. Career CounsellingSenior executives should have periodic discussions with their subordinatesand offer career counselling to them.

4. Career Pathing : Organizations nowadays plan job sequences for their employees by which transfers and promotions are done more systematically. 5. Skill Assessment Training : Three types of analyses should be performedorganizational analysis, job analysis and job manpower requirement analysis. Organizational analysis and job analysis are the first steps in the training process. 6. Succession Planning :Here organizations assure that competent candidates are available in succession for critical positions. HR subsystems like promotions, terminations, transfers, retirements, etc. also make succession planning necessary.

Limitations of Career Planning

Though career planning helps an organization in numerous ways, it has a few limitations that undermine the importance and relevance of Career planning. These are ::
Time Factor

Career planning is usually a long-term and time-consuming process. It is based on the logic of suffering short-term pain to get long-term gains. However, organizations may not be ready to spend a lot of time and resources on a process that would prove beneficial only in the long term.
Unsuitable for Large Workforce,

It may not be possible for organizations with a large workforce to develop individual career plans breach and every employee of the organizat ion. This is because the career plan process requires an in-depth analysis of each employee's strengths and weaknesses on a sustained basis.
Lack of Objectivity

Only those organizations which believe in strict observance of objectivity in promotion and transfers can succeed in career planning. In contrast, favouritism and nepotism inpromotions often make career planning an unsuccessful exercise.

External Interventions

Government rules and regulations can also affect the Greer planning options of an organization. For example, the government may make it mandatory for the organization to adopt reservations in promotions, especially iUl is a government organization or a public sector enterprise.
Lack of Knowledge and Awareness Career planning by an employee is essentially a self-management process. It requires the employees to be aware of the basics of career planning and management activities. However, the employees at the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy may not be familiar with the career planning process. Lack of Flexibility

Many organizations treat career planning as a ritualistic, rigid exercise. They often fail to consider the uncertainties caused to the career planning activities by the changes in the situation. In fact, the absence of dynamic career planning programmes may limit the applicability of the career plans in uncertain and changing situations.