Employee development and career development are two distinct concepts that demand different approach. Employee development refers to an organization’s effort to develop it’s people for benefiting the business. Career development, on the other hand, refers to efforts by an employee to gain knowledge, skills and expertise to further their own career within or outside the organization they are currently associated with.
By enhancing and renewing organizational capability and excelling in existing ones, companies cope with change and leverage unfolding business opportunities. Organizations do so by continuously investing in growing and developing employees who in turn improve the overall capability of the organization. By learning new skills and behaviours, an employee becomes better equipped to take on greater responsibilities and more complex work. Induction programs, coaching programs, mentoring programs, Functional and technical training programs and business workshops are some examples of employee-development activities.
Employee development initiatives work best when the organization promotes a learning culture and gaining new skills and knowledge is rewarded. To enhance the overall capability, companies invest in employee development across the organization. They build leadership inventory and grow people internally rather than hiring laterally.
This approach has many advantages
- Growing internal employees improves general motivation as they see the opportunity to grow and
- Companies do not waste time inducting new people at the leadership level where familiarity with the organisation could be an advantage.
In the whole debate around Employee Development Vs Career Development, it is pertinent to point out that the employee development is driven by the organization and career development is driven by individuals. Career development programs emphasize opportunities for employees to develop themselves to fructify their personal aspirations. When employers provide opportunities where committed could invest in their own career development, employees feel motivated and secure. Organizations that motivate employees to invest time, effort and money in their own development ultimately benefit from having better skilled employees.
Many companies sponsor programs that assist employees to develop their careers. By paying for education programs such as executive business management courses and having a provision for employees to seek an education sabbatical, companies can contribute to the career development initiatives. This squarely benefits the organisation.
Because employees change jobs so frequently, many organizations may see a diminishing value in investing in people. This results in organizations leaving employees with sub-optimal skills and knowledge that derail organizational effectiveness and reduces employee morale. With workplaces become more agile, many managers are too busy coping with change and their own priorities rather than investing in developing their team members.
Organizations could do more to prioritize career development by providing timely feedback, creating a robust performance management system, setting clear goals and objectives and incentivising career development. However, this is easier said than done – employees must take responsibility to identify their talent, strengths and weaknesses, uncover blind spots and gain new skills based on available career opportunities.
Successful people prepare a proper career development plan. This includes developing a timeline for learning with milestones. By proactively discussing their career path, understanding the skills and knowledge required to pursue the aspirational path and assessing the gaps, employees can establish a timeline for learning and development. Employees must, ultimately, take charge of their own career and invest in developing their own career.