By Margery Weinstein
While a main goal for corporate trainers traditionally has been to train employees to reach organizational goals, many trainers may find their roles expanding. With companies cutting back on staffing and consolidating multiple job roles into single positions, career development has taken on a much larger significance. Forward-thinking companies are developing employees with the big pictures of their careers in mind—and all the various roles they will need to inhabit.
Building from Day One
IMG College’s “Rookie Camp” process is the first experience its employees, or “team members,” as the company calls them, have with its corporate culture. Understanding the company’s culture ensures employees will think of their job as a long-term career rather than as a solitary job role, says Chief IDEAS Officer Kelli Hilliard. Giving new employees an overview of IMG’s big picture goals and values helps them to feel connected to the company as a whole. Once they feel connected to the company’s larger goals and culture, it is easier for them to see themselves building a career there.
Rookie Camp introduces new employees to IMG’s three tenants of the Total Team Member: Personal, Character, and Professional Development. “All team members are required to attend, regardless of position. This three-day/two-night program is conducted in a classroom-style environment using team members, management, and various outside consultants/industry experts as instructors,” says Hilliard.
To help employees immediately become immersed in the company, Rookie Camp introduces them to IMG’s customer relationship management system, KORE. Hilliard calls KORE the “bridge for all employees,” so new hire training includes approximately five hours of dedicated software training conducted in a classroom environment through internal and external facilitators and self-study. “Rookie Camp objectives include comprehensively familiarizing new team members with various operational processes; communication for results; conceptual sales training; understanding sports marketing and the collegiate licensing business through the ‘eyes of IMG College’; and customer-centric, solution-based service concepts and practices,’” says Hilliard.
At Automatic Data Processing, Inc., a focus also is kept on getting new employees up to speed as fast as possible. ADP’s onboarding processes are two-fold. “First, all our locations deliver consistent, standard information to new associates through technology (ADP’s associate portal, online orientations, etc.),” says Vice President of Learning and Talent Management Karen Kichline-Ruef. “Additionally, at our large locations, we supplement that with local programs that are more business specific.”
Just as career development requires an understanding of company culture and technology, it also requires the development of good relations with peers. For that reason, during IMG’s Rookie Camp’s planned breaks and meals, the corporate office team members meet and socialize with new employees. “This helps ease their transition, develops mentorships, and builds upon our culture,” says Hilliard. “To celebrate our unique niche industry, all team members compete in the ‘Three-Point Shoot Out’ in the lobby of our headquarters, which is also a regulation basketball court. Once new hires leave Rookie Camp, they are armed with the material, cultural knowledge, and internal relationships necessary to succeed within IMG College.”
Providing Career “Road Maps”
“To truly support and assist in one’s career development, there must be training initiatives established that provide coaching and growth where there are areas of weakness,” says Hilliard. “There must be a self-awareness of goals, desires, talents, abilities, and capabilities to determine one’s career development and then there must be training established in order to achieve those goals.”
IMG managers are guided to support and build a road map, or “me map,” for success for each employee, whether the employee desires to be in the same position/department in five or 10 years or somewhere else in the organization. “Managers are encouraged to support team members’ goals and invest in their professional well-being as they continue to grow and develop as professional businesspeople,” says Hilliard.
At ADP, giving employees career road map guidance just became easier with a revamped career development framework, says Kichline-Ruef. “With it, our associates will be able to create road maps for their careers and understand the ways ADP can support their long-term aspirations. Many of our local programs incorporate information about opportunities at the work site or in that business unit.”
ADP’s career management framework will:
“This framework,” says Kichline-Ruef, “also includes guiding principles of career management at ADP; roles that managers, associates, and the organization play in career management; and other resources such as mentorship and sponsorship that may be available.”
ADP employees also can leverage technology such as in-house portals and social media to help them navigate the organization and connect with others who can help them build a career, says Kichline-Ruef. “In today’s complex organizations, it is unrealistic to expect managers to be the fount of all information about careers—their role has to evolve into being coaches who help associates assess their strengths, development areas, and interests, and then encourage them to plan how best to use those talents and interests.”
IMG employees who understand company values and are proactive about planning where they want their careers to go next is just part of the picture. The other is the career development support a company needs to provide its workforce. It is in this area that Hilliard feels IMG still has some work to do. “I feel this is an area of development for our organization, and that we need more structured protocols and initiatives in place that help support our managers in facilitating career development with their direct reports,” she says. “I feel we need to place more emphasis on this during our yearly employee evaluations.”
At the same time, Hilliard says, this structure should be balanced by the employees’ understanding of their own strengths. “Encourage facilitated learning about self-awareness,” she says, “so young team members can become more knowledgeable about their true goals, aspirations, and talents.”
At ADP, employee evaluations and feedback often include career building. “Our leadership development programs include both development and career planning,” says Kichline-Ruef. “We do this mainly by integrating a 360-degree survey based on our established leadership expectations. The survey is specific to an associate’s level, with feedback and coaching to help build a development plan. A key part of the feedback focuses on the associate’s long-term career goals.”
ADP has developed a guide to help managers follow up on an individual basis with their associates. It helps
them discuss assessments of potential and career opportunities. The guide also encourages managers to regularly follow up on their associates’ development. “In fact, ADP managers are expected to have quarterly conversations with associates about their development and career,” Kichline-Ruef notes.
The guide is backed up with a recently implemented integrated system that includes performance management, individual development planning, and learning—all of it online and easily updatable by both the associate and his or her manager. “It allows associates to create a development plan and link it to performance feedback. It also enables associates to link their development goals directly to learning content relevant to the goal,” says Kichline-Ruef. “By making the process easier to navigate, we’re able to create more focus on the conversations that occur between associates and their managers.”
IMG’s approach of thinking long term about each employee’s time at the company not only creates a strong workforce, it reduces turnover, Hilliard points out. The company recently experienced structural changes, but career development goals were in some ways strengthened. “The organization recently went through an acquisition, which resulted in various significant changes, including, but not limited to, ownership, sales structure, compensation plan, and management. But some of that turnover has resulted in advancement and career development for various employees within the organization,” says Hilliard.
The culture and values the company has taught its employees encourages them to take the lead in their career development. “A majority of our employees consistently ask for ways to advance and move up in the organization,” says Hilliard. “They control some of their career development by being innovative within the roles they currently hold and expanding upon the position they are in.”
Hilliard says not to micromanage too much—that career development starts inside each employee: “Encourage innovation and listen and celebrate employees’ creativity and inner genius.”
Opening up career opportunities also is critical to keeping turnover down at ADP, says Kichline-Ruef. “Like all companies, we have pockets of turnover,” she says. “But we have a strong retention rate and a long-tenured workforce. We believe the career opportunities that our 60-plus years of business growth have created are critical components of that retention. In addition, in job groups where we have experienced higher than desirable turnover, we have been able to mitigate it by articulating career paths both within and across our business units.”
ADP helps employees find next career steps that are right for them. “Just as important, we have done it in a way that makes it easy for associates to find out when positions that are logical next steps for them are open,” says Kichline-Ruef. “Our associate portal, which is the engine of our internal communications, makes this information available to our people.”
Going further than simply directing employees to the next rung up is critical, says Kichline-Ruef: “Organizations have become flatter, often with matrix structures instead of traditional hierarchical structures. As a result, career management is more than just vertical movement—and organizations should encourage employees to take multi-directional career paths (i.e., moving across, moving up, and growing in place) vs. linear paths.”
Giving employees a say in their career development and a sense that the company cares about helping them find what is best for their talents goes a long way. “Associates should be encouraged to take ownership of their careers by seeking out diverse experiences,” says Kichline-Ruef. “This helps them gain a broader perspective and develop a portfolio of skills and work experiences.”
Career Development Checklist