Career planning is the responsibility of the employee. Of course, the organisation has to provide opportunities for development of the employees and their careers to meet the requirements of the organisation. This means assisting the employees to achieve a better match between personal goals and the opportunities that are available in the organisation.

Career Planning refers to the process of finding a suitable job based on your interest, personality, skill set etc., choosing an educational program, changing jobs within your industry or to a different one and also that helps you to climb the success ladder in your current job. The career planning system manifests its importance in attracting competent people, providing suitable promotional and advancement opportunities, providing challenging work, enabling to develop, boosting morale, increasing motivation, utilizing managerial reserves, and in retaining the talents. Career progression refers to making progress in one’s career through a series of right moves. Career develop­ment means actions undertaken by a person to achieve the career goals.

Career planning is important for the employees and the organisation. Every individual employee searches for opportunities to grow both in the hierarchy and in the performance level to excel. If the organisation does not provide opportunities for growth in the hierarchy and a clean career path, the employee cannot pursue his career goals and exploit his potential.

Learn about:- 1. Meaning of Career Planning 2. Concept  of Career Planning 3. Nature 4. Objectives 5. Need 6. Aims 7. Purpose 8. Factors Affecting 9. Process 10. Importance 11. Relation between Career Planning and Human Resource Planning 12. Workshop 13. Considerations in Implementation 14. Models 15. Problems in Employees Career Planning 16. Benefits 17. Limitations 18. Effective Career Planning 19. Trends and Best Practices.

Career Planning: Meaning, Objectives, Need, Process, Importance, Models, Benefits, Limitations, Trends, Practices and More…



  1. Meaning of Career Planning
  2. Concept of Career Planning
  3. Nature of Career Planning
  4. Objectives of Career Planning
  5. Need of Career Planning
  6. Aims of Career Planning
  7. Purpose of Career Planning
  8. Factors Affecting Career Planning
  9. Career Planning Process
  10. Importance of Career Planning
  11. Relation between Career Planning and Human Resource Planning
  12. Career Planning Workshop
  13. Considerations in Implementation of Career Planning
  14. Models of Career Planning
  15. Problems in Employees Career Planning
  16. Benefits of Career Planning
  17. Limitations of Career Planning
  18. Effective Career Planning
  19. Career Planning Trends and Best Practices

Career Planning – Meaning and Definition

Career planning is the process by which one selects career goals and the path to achieve these goals.

Career path shows the lines of progression through which employees typically move in his career. Career planning is a process for becoming aware of self, opportunities, constraints, choices, consequences, identifying career related’ goals and undertaking developmental activities to achieve the goals. It does not involve predicting what higher jobs will be available for promoting an executive.

Career planning is the responsibility of the employee. Of course, the organisation has to provide opportunities for development of the employees and their careers to meet the requirements of the organisation. This means assisting the employees to achieve a better match between personal goals and the opportunities that are available in the organisation.


Sometimes, there may not be enough positions at higher level for upward movement of even high performers. Therefore, career planning efforts need to focus on those areas that offer psychological success instead of vertical growth. Psychological success is basically a feeling of personal achievement and fulfillment. In the current business environment, the career of a person may cover many organisations and different positions compared to earlier years when the employees were less mobile and organisations were more stable.

A career planning system coordinated within an organisation’s staffing system fosters a well- integrated mechanism for meeting the present and future HR needs of an organisation. The system is designed to enhance the career satisfaction of employees and to improve the organisational effectiveness.

This will help the individual to explore, choose and strive to derive satisfaction from his/her own career. Career planning should not focus only on vertical hierarchical growth but should also offer psychological success. It is not an event or an end in itself, but a continuous process for developing human resource in order to achieve maximum result.

The career plan of an individual employee and the career path in the organisation should not have many differences. If the individual employee cannot convert his/her career plan into reality in the organisation, he/she may quit the organisation.


Therefore, organisations have the responsibility to provide support to the employee to plan his/her career, so that both their needs are satisfied. Career planning is not the same as human resource planning, as it only talks about the individual employee and his/her growth in the organisation. Of course, it assists in succession planning by giving a clear picture of the individual’s potentials.

HR planning is a broad concept which helps the organisation in performing all HR related activities, separately deciding sub plans for them. HR plan helps in analysing and estimating the need for and the availability of employees in an organisation. However, career planning assists in HR planning by providing information on the strength and willingness of employees

Career Planning refers to the process of finding a suitable job based on your interest, personality, skill set etc., choosing an educational program, changing jobs within your industry or to a different one and also that helps you to climb the success ladder in your current job.

A proper Career Planning can reward one to excel in their field, achieve their aims, and grab the lucrative/secured jobs including the higher positions. Individual career planning assumed greater significance with the unparalleled growth and speed of knowledge, phenomenal increase in educational and training facilities and widespread increase in job opportunities.


Career planning incorporates short-term and long-term career goals, personal goals and constraints. A career pertains to all the jobs that are held during one’s working life.

Davis defined various terms of career planning as given under:

1. Career goals are the future positions one strive for as a part of a career.

2. It’s a process by which one selects career goals.


3. A career path is the sequential pattern of jobs that form a career.

4. Through career development one can achieve a personal career plan.

Concept and Role of Career Planning

In everyday parlance, the word ‘career’ is used in a number of different ways. People speak of ‘pursuing a career’, ‘career planning’, and attending ‘career workshops’. Job fairs are held where information is available about different career options for college students.

Career counsellors are also available on the spot or in colleges for advice and guidance. Webster’s dictionary defines the term career as ‘one’s lifework or employment pursuing the stated occupation as a lifework’.


A career then is a sequence of positions occupied by a person during the course of his or her life. This may be considered as an objective perspective of career. In a subjective sense, it refers to where one is going in one’s work life. The subjective viewpoint is more-or-less held together by a self-concept that consists of perceived inclinations and abilities, basic values, career motives, and needs.

In both the perspectives, we assume that individuals control their destiny and that available opportunities need to be manipulated to maximize the success and satisfaction in their careers. Further assumption is that HR personnel should recognize career stages and assist employees with the development tasks they face at each stage.

Career planning is important because the consequences of career success or failure are linked closely to each individual’s self-concept, identity, and satisfaction with career and life.

Despite downsizing and restructuring in organizations, career planning still plays a vital role in organizations for the following reasons:

(a) Increasing educational levels and occupational aspirations,

(b) Slow economic growth and reduced opportunities for advancement, and

(c) Increased concern for personal life planning and quality of work life.

Hence, one should never leave one’s career to chance. Moreover, it should be shaped and managed more by individuals than by the organization. A job is a position occupied by the individual, whereas career is a series of progressive jobs that an individual does during his work life.

Nature of Career Planning (With Features)

Following features illustrate the nature of career planning:

1. Process – Career planning is not an event, rather it is a process of developing human resources.

2. Dynamic – Due to the changes in the business environment, career planning becomes dynamic in nature. Individuals change or update their career plans according to the changes in the business environment.

3. Upward Movement – Career planning is concerned with the upward movement of the individual in his career and in the organisational hierarchy. It aims on the development of career of the individual inside or outside the organisation.

4. Mutuality of Interest – Career planning fulfils the interest of both, the individuals and the organisation. Through career planning, an individual is able to fulfil, his career needs and aspirations. Further, career planning helps in developing the human resources in the organisation who better contribute their efforts for the achievement of the overall organisational goals.

5. It is not an end in itself but a means of managing people to obtain results.

6. It is the responsibility of an organization to provide guidance and counselling to its employees in planning their careers and in developing and utilizing their knowledge and skills.

Main Objectives of Career Planning

The main objectives of career planning are as follows:

1. Offering Careers – The purpose of career planning is to offer careers, not jobs to the employees so that efficient talent can be attracted and retained in the organisation.

2. To Fulfil Individual and Organisational Goals – An employee values his career the most and his upward growth within the organisation, as it gives him the money, prestige and status on an increasing scale. It provides an employee with opportunities to achieve his ambition and at the same time enables him towards achievement of organisational goals.

3. Providing Professional Environment – The objective career planning is to provide environment for the effectiveness, efficiency and growth of its employees and to motivate them to contribute their best efforts for the achievement of the organisational objectives.

4. To Meet Manpower Needs – The objective of career planning is to meet the immediate and future human resource needs of the organisation on a timely basis.

5. To Reduce Labour Turnover – Career planning by reducing labour turnover and absenteeism aims for more stable workforce in the organisation.

6. Mapping Careers – The purpose of career planning is to map the careers of the employees suitable to their ability and their willingness to be trained and developed for higher positions.

7. Motivation and Morale – The objective of career planning is to improve employees’ morale and motivation by providing opportunities for promotion and matching their skills with the job requirements.

8. To Utilise Managerial Talent – Career planning aims to increasingly utilise the managerial talent available at all levels in the organisation.

Need for Career Planning

a. Career planning helps to develop internal supplies of promotable talent the increased attention and concern for individual careers generate more organizational loyalty.

b. Career planning encourages employees to tap more of their po­tential abilities because they have specific career goals.

c. Career plans and goals motivate employees to grow and develop

While it is absolutely essential to provide career development op­portunities for everyone in the organization, there must be an effective system of tracking down the high performing and high potential manag­ers.

The effective use of a mutually agreed work plan (between the supe­rior and the subordinated – call it MBO or any other title), the right combinations of on the job and class room inputs at the right time, chal­lenging individual and group task, a well thought out performance ap­praisal and potential appraisal system, a reward system which encourage excellence in work all are essential prerequisites.

Some organizations have effectively used the challenges within the organization as well as the tracking system most imaginatively which have helped in achieving individual and organizational objectives. In family managed business houses and professionally managed companies, the basic concerns are the same – that managers should be groomed to take higher level of responsibilities.

Prof. Subba Rao described the need for career planning due to the following reasons:

1. To attract competent persons and to retain them in the organization.

2. To provide suitable promotional opportunities.

3. To enable the employees to develop and make them ready to meet future challenges.

4. To increase the utilization of managerial reserves within organization.

5. To correct employee placement.

6. To reduce employee dissatisfaction and turnover.

7. To improve motivation and morale.

Approaches to Career Planning Organisation Centric Approach and Person Centric Approach

Let us acknowledge that there are basically two approaches to career planning. One is the orga­nization centric approach and the other is the person centric approach.

1. The organization centric career planning aims at the following:

i. The diagnosis of human resource needs

ii. To improve the quality of human resources

iii. To increase productivity of employees

iv. To help employees develop their own career paths

v. Synchronization of organizational and individual career needs

vi. Career counselling of employees

vii. Helping employees strike a work and personal life balance

viii. Monitoring and managing of the planning and career development systems in the organization.

2. The person centric career planning aims at the following:

i. To identify one’s personality traits, professional skills and personal interests

ii. To identify the purpose of one’s life and his career goals

iii. To develop a tentative plan to achieve the set goals

iv. To seek the right opportunity to get oneself a great career start

v. To communicate one’s career plan directly to his manager or imme­diate boss

vi. To seek or initiate career guidance

vii. To be able to tap into right sources for internal and external opportunities’ assessment

viii. To proactively look for mentor support

ix. To promote positive self-image in front of significant others.

It is quintessential to determine which of the two parties (individuals and organizations) take what kind of and how much responsibility in career planning and development of employees. Primarily, every indi­vidual is ultimately responsible for managing his own career. The secondary responsibility lies on the business organization to create an enabling environment at work, which assists in positive career manage­ment.

Purpose of Career Planning

The term ‘career’ indicates all the jobs which an individual has held during his working life. In an organization, career planning of employees reduces the possibility of attrition. Career planning is a process that fixes the career goals and lays down the path to meet the goals, and provides answers to questions, ‘where shall I be after 5, 10, or 15 years?’

The purpose of career planning is to provide continuity, order, and meaning to a person’s work life. It is not an event or an end in itself. It tells the employees/prospects about ways of advancing in the company. Career aims to integrate an indi­vidual’s and an organization’s goals.

Traditionally, doctors, engineers, lawyers, ministers, statesmen, musicians, and the like, were con­sidered to have their respective careers. However, at present, the concept of career has been extended to include others’ work-related roles too. There are a number of commonly held views with regard to a career. A career does not necessarily imply upward mobility. Doctors and lawyers do not lead to pro­gression up a hierarchy. The careers of many doctors and lawyers are associated with an organization.

Many people spend their entire working life in a single organization; many others are highly mobile, and pursue their careers in different organizations. While one person may aspire to earn money in his career to lead a lavish lifestyle, another may find the earning just enough to lead his life. Individuals are akin to career events differently.

The career planning system manifests its importance in attracting competent people, providing suitable promotional and advancement opportunities, providing challenging work, enabling to develop, boosting morale, increasing motivation, utilizing managerial reserves, and in retaining the talents. Career progression refers to making progress in one’s career through a series of right moves. Career develop­ment means actions undertaken by a person to achieve the career goals.

Career counselling is the process of advising employees on setting career goals and assisting them to find suitable career paths. Career counselling helps employees to understand their careers more clearly, identify strengths and weaknesses, develop outlook, achieve and enjoy greater satisfaction, and realize the forces and dynamics in the career operating system. A career develops in various stages and follows multiple paths.

Career Planning Support, Goals, Reward the Performance, Placement, Career Paths, Continuous Tracking and Publicity

It is a fact that career plans brings innumerable benefits to the organisation and to the individual Employees.

To make it effective, the following steps may be adopted:

(i) Support – It should be supported by the top management;

(ii) Goals – Corporate goals must be clear in order to prepare the appropriate goals for HR;

(iii) Reward the Performance – Appropriate rewards for people who show their efficiency helps the employee to put his/her optimum efficiency at work;

(iv) Placement – Employees must be properly placed to use their talents;

(v) Career Paths – Career paths for different categories of employees must be laid down clearly;

(vi) Continuous Tracking – Continuous career planning, by accommodating the changing needs of the organisation and individuals, ensures proper career movement.

(vii) Publicity – Every individual employee should be aware of the career opportunities available within the organisation.

Career Planning Process (With 4 Steps)

Individuals differ in their career orientation. While some of them are interested to lead comfortable lives, some like to reach the highest position in the organisation.

The basic drives are called career anchors, some of which are:

(i) Managerial Competence – This is to seek managerial positions which have higher responsibilities, authorities, power, etc.

(ii) Technical Competence – This relates to professional satisfaction from continuous learning and expertise in the employee’s work area.

(iii) Security – This is related to employment security (secured job) with a stable income and a dependable future.

(iv) Creativity – The desire to do something new and satisfaction in owning the same.

(v) Autonomy – This relates to freedom at work enjoyed by the employees.

(vi) Dedication – This is about the desire to dedicate the career to a cause.

Because individuals differ in their career anchors, organisations need to address the basic drives. It is a fact that organisations differ in terms of the career paths and opportunities, as the career system depends on the organisation’s values, growth potential, priorities and objectives. This brings a conflicting situation which, if allowed to persist, brings employees frustration, dissatisfaction, and a withdrawal tendency and affects the productivity, which as a negative impact on the organisational processes.

This conflict can be avoided or minimized by developing a proper career planning process in the organisation. This is the process of matching the rewards and incentives offered by the career path and system with the individual’s hopes and aspirations.

The career planning process involves the following four steps:

1. Identifying Career Aspirations:

Most individuals are confused about their career aspirations, objectives and goals. Individuals must consciously attempt at exploring work experiences to understand their career aspirations. Sometimes organizations may take lead in this by organizing workshops, etc., but in case the organization does not initiate any intervention, the employee must proactively seek some assistance.

Downloading free material from the internet, networking with profes­sionals in the field and soliciting their suggestions, reading up latest career related information through magazines, undertaking psycho­metric tests to understand one’s aptitude and acumen are few of the many things employees can do to understand career aspirations.

2. Analysing Career Opportunities:

Once an employee opens up to the organization by confiding about his/her personal and professional aspi­rations, the organization, usually the HR department needs to work on a realistic career plan for all its employees. HR departments need to communicate with the employees, possible upward mobility assuming superior on the job performance.

For e.g., a management trainee can move on to become an assistant manager and then a general manager before becoming the director of the division. All this could take the candidate anything from ten to twelve years depending on his talent and organizational needs.

3. Aligning Employee Needs to Available Career Opportunities:

Once employees are aware of their career aspirations and are comfortable in sharing it with the organization and the organization has created career opportunities in the system, the key challenge lies in aligning the two. This can happen in two stages. The first stage comprises understanding the talent of the employee.

Talent can be understood as competencies expressed through current performance levels and competencies for future roles that can be tapped into through potential appraisals and assessment centres. The second stage is that of creating interventions for employees for enhancing their competencies to make them ready for future roles. These are often clubbed under the umbrella – Career devel­opment interventions.

4. Review and Evaluation:

Any managerial process is incomplete without review and evaluation. The success or failure of such people heavy processes lies in close monitoring and handholding. The process owner of such a system needs to be diligent, meticulous, alert, dedi­cated and passionate about driving this. Career planning cannot be of one size that fits all policies at the same time. It can’t be so extensively customized on individual basis that it gets perceived and interpreted as unfair. This very sensitive balance has to be struck through the review stage of career planning.

Importance of Career Planning

Career planning is important for the employees and the organisation. Every individual employee searches for opportunities to grow both in the hierarchy and in the performance level to excel. If the organisation does not provide opportunities for growth in the hierarchy and a clean career path, the employee cannot pursue his career goals and exploit his potential.

If the needs of employees do not match with organisational needs, and the organisation does not care for its employees’ growth in time, employees will not continue in the organisation with interest. They would, instead, search for other opportunities. Similarly, if recognition and reward does not come in time for meritorious employees, it leads to frustration. Confusion in the minds of employees may not allow them to continue in the organisation.

Thus, when people leave the organisation frequently, the turnover rate increases. Immediate recruitment of new brains is not easy and frequent recruitment also involves huge costs and affects the image of the organisation.

The absence of a career planning system in organisations not only affects the employees, but also goes against the interest of the organisation. If employees get promoted and recognized in right time, their morale and motivation will increase. This ultimately brings commitment and involvement of employees in the organisational processes.

It is also the responsibility of the organisations to educate employees on the career/growth opportunities available to them, so that they generate an interest in continuing their relationship with ‘the organisation and put excellence in their performance.

Relation between Career Planning and Human Resource Planning

Human resource Planning is the process of analysing and estimating the need for and availability of employees. Through Human Resource planning, the Personnel Department is able to prepare a summary of skills and potentials available within the organisation. Career planning assists in finding those employees who could be groomed for higher level positions, on the strength of their performance.

Human resource Planning gives valuable information about the availability of human resources for expansion, growth, etc., (expansion of facilities, construction of a new plant, opening a new branch, launching a new product, etc.). On the other hand, career planning only gives us a picture of who could succeed in case any major developments leading to retirement, death and resignation of existing employees.

Human resource Planning is tied to the overall strategic planning efforts of the organisation. There cannot be an effective manpower planning, if career planning is not carried out properly.

Career planning is an integral part of manpower planning which in turn is an important part of corporate planning but they are different from each other as –

i. Manpower Planning provides an inventory of skills and potentials available in the organisation. On the other hand, career planning determines who could be groomed for higher level assignments.

ii. Manpower Planning provides information on the human resources available within the organisation for expansion, growth and technological innovations. But career planning can only tell who could succeed in case of resignation, etc., of existing employees.

Top 5 Components of Career Planning – Self-Appraisal, Occupational Review, Goal Selection, Planning and Problem Solving

A 2-to 5-day career planning workshop is a basic approach. The focus here is on an organized internal programme; the basic elements of many comprehensive programme will be similar in purpose, while the activities pursued will usually vary substantially between programmes.

The framework employed is Crites’s five components of career competence:

a. Self-Appraisal:

The first step, the most crucial by far and the one most frequently overlooked, is self-appraisal. There are few occupations which provide opportunities for people to assess themselves systematically and most relationships at work are too impersonal to provide the candid, insightful feedback necessary to encourage self-appraisal.

The career planning programme, then, usually begins with some combination of occupational interest test and small-group interaction to generate the data needed for self- assessment. It is in this phase that professional counselling assistance is most essential. Interpreting scores, designing group experiences to facilitate open feedback and leading the group are all skills requiring professional expertise.

b. Occupational Review:

As participants pursue their self- appraisal, they develop a need to obtain occupational information. There are a few publications (the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and the Department of Labour’s Occupational Outlook Handbook) which may prove useful for persons seeking general vocational information.

Within the organization, job descriptions or discussions with job incumbents may be the most practical sources. Deciding which of these sources will be most suitable will largely depend upon management’s objectives in sponsoring the programme. General information may encourage people to consider career changes to jobs not available within the organization.

c. Goal Selection:

This is the central focus, once participants have achieved a tentative notion about the optimal job-person fit feasible. Argyris identified four key characteristics of goals which produce genuine personal development. Goals are more effective to the extent that they are- (1) challenging (but attainable), (2) related to more central psychological needs, (3) chosen by the person involved (rather than imposed) and (4) achieved by the person’s own efforts.

Setting such goals requires thorough self-awareness and knowledge of occupational opportunities. Goals should be chosen with the expectation that some will be achieve, some not and some changed as needs and the situation change. Hence, the career planning programme needs to be designed to encourage revision or setting new goals from time to time.

Several career planning exercises have been developed to facilitate the goal-setting process. Working with others is an important adjunct to the goals-setting activity. Making a public commitment to achieve the goals makes it more likely that the goals will be pursued. Furthermore, a support group can be developed to provide encouragement to persevere when the goal is truly challenging.

Coworkers can provide much of this support, but increasing recognition is being paid to the role of the participant’s family as the most crucial support group in most instances. Goal-setting modules in the career planning programme should be structured so that participants’ families can be active in the decision making.

d. Planning:

Having selected their goals, the participants next enter the planning phase, the development of action steps to achieve the goal. Again, working in a group is helpful for the same reasons that the group improves the goal-setting process. Moreover, the group can be a useful source of ideas for alternative strategies which might be otherwise overlooked.

Development of skills in planning, parse, is one of the most valuable things that participants may learn from the planning exercises usually assigned. Force-field analysis, a technique for identifying factors which discourage or encourage progress, is typical of the techniques employed at this point.

e. Problem Solving:

The resolution of problems encountered in achieving the career plan is the last step. Problem solving occurs largely after participants leave the career planning workship. The problem solving, however, should be based upon the self-awareness, job information and plans developed in the workshop.

The workshop can further subsequent problem solving to the extent that participants are encouraged to develop contingency plans, support groups are established and a system of progress charting is provided. Organizational superiors can also be of substantial assistance, where participants are encouraged to seek their aid in pursuing the career plan.

Considerations in Implementation of Career Planning

Organizations interested in sponsoring career planning need to be aware of several considerations:

1. Travellers Insurance, despite generally favourable results, found that some employees attending decided to leave to organization.

2. Out-of-pocket cost are determined largely by the number of employees participating, since the primary cost is usually the wages of the participants.

3. There is presently an almost total lack of empirical research on the effectiveness of career planning, save for a number of case sides reporting positive results in the sponsoring organizations.

4. Management must be willing to follow through and integrate the career planning programme with other related activities.

In order to assure that career planning does not become just another isolated programme advocated by the personnel department, management should at the very least (a) provide training in coaching skills for managers and supervisors and systematically reward those who encourage employees to pursue their career goals; (b) revise work force planning and performance appraisal systems to provide meaningful opportunities for employees to pursue and achieve their career goals; and (c) provide for periodic refresher activities at 2 or 3 year intervals to assure that employees reassess and revise their objectives.

Ideally, the programme should also tailored to the unique concerns of employees at different stages of their careers. New management trainees and older managers approaching retirement will have different interests and priorities.

5. A job-posting system may be appropriate to ensure that employees know when opportunities to achieve their career goals are available. The career planning process tends, to raise employee’s aspirations and if opportunities to fulfil these aspirations are not available in the organization, they may look elsewhere.

Career planning as a means of developing a more involved and committed work force appears to be a powerful tool. It should only be undertaken by a management willing to assume the added risks when employees begin to seek greater opportunists for achievement and personal growth in their work.

Career Planning Models Waterloo University Model and SODI Career Planning Model

There are many models one may use while career planning.

The two main models are:

1. Waterloo University Model:

The Waterloo University Model identified six stages of career as Self-Assessment, Research, Decision-making, Networks and Contacts, Work and Work-Life Planning.

2. The SODI Career Planning Model:

Given the complexity of career development and the fluidity of the world of work, we need to be able to navigate our career paths with purpose and clarity. Law and Watts (1977) devised a simple model of career education which has stood the test of time. This model has been changed slightly to become a career planning, rather than a career education model and named the SODI model where the last element is ‘implementation’ rather than ‘transition learning’, and ‘decision learning’ becomes ‘decision-making and planning’.

The model encapsulates four concepts which are:

(i) Self-awareness – an individual having knowledge about and understanding of their own personal development. Self-awareness in a career’s context involves an understanding of kind of personal resources (both actual and potential) they bring to world.

(ii) Opportunity awareness – an understanding of the general structures of the world of work, including career possibilities and alternative pathways.

(iii) Decision-making and planning – an understanding of how to make career decisions, and being aware of pressures, influences, styles, consequences and goal setting.

(iv) Implementing plans – having the appropriate skill level in a range of areas to be able to translate job and career planning into reality.

4 Major Problems of Career Planning

Despite planning the career, employees face certain career problems which are as follows:

1. Dual Career Families:

With the increase in career orientation among women, number of female employees is on the increase. With this the dual career families have also been on the increase. Consequently one of the family members might face the problem of transfer. This has become a complicated problem to organisations. Consequently other employees may be at a disadvantage.

2. Changing Family Needs:

Interaction of career issues with the issues of life stages of the employee and his family, changing needs of employee throughout his life cycle complicate the career issues.

3. Low Ceiling Careers:

Some careers do not have scope for much advancement. Employees cannot get promotions despite their career plans and development in such jobs.

4. Declining Career Opportunities:

Career opportunities for certain categories might reach the declining stage due to the influence of the technological or economic factors. Solution for such a problem is career shift. For example, career opportunities for ‘Statisticians’ declined due to computerisation. The existing statisticians could overcome this problem by acquiring skills in computer operations.

To handle the above problems, the management can take the following steps:

(a) Improving human resource planning and forecasting systems,

(b) Improving dissemination of career option information,

(c) Initiating career counselling,

(d) Developing effective internal and external assessment centres,

(e) Supporting educational and training programs, and

(f) Introducing more flexible reward and promotional systems.

Benefits of Career Planning to the Organisation and Individuals

A well designed career planning programme brings benefits to both the organisation and the individual.

These benefits are described below:

1. Benefits to Organisation:

The process brings the following positive results to the organisation:

(a) Ensures Availability of Resources for the Future – Career planning should be aligned with HR planning of the organisation. HR planning identifies changing HR requirements of the organisation and career planning helps in meeting its requirements by aligning individual assignments with organisational needs.

(b) Enhances Organisational Ability to Attract and Retain Talents – In a competitive market, every organisation needs talented employees, as they are assets. These employees always try to make the best of their career opportunities. If the organisation is concerned with growth of the employees, by exhibiting better career options for them, it can attract and retain talented employees.

(c) Ensures Growth Opportunities for All – A comprehensive planning exercise by the organisation ensures growth opportunities for all the employees, including the special categories of employees covered under government rules and regulations.

(d) Controls Employee Frustration – Today’s workers are more knowledgeable and have greater expectations. They desire more responsibilities and challenges along with faster growth, career-wise. If the organisation is not careful about this aspect, and employees’ needs are not taken into consideration, the employees may develop frustration. A good career plan, with opportunity for growth, helps reducing such frustration.

2. Benefits for Individuals:

Career planning offers the following benefits for individuals:

(a) It helps the employee understand his/her strengths and weaknesses vis-a-vis his/her career objectives;

(b) It helps the employee understand the career opportunities available for him/her;

(c) It enables him/her to choose a career path suitable for him, planning it with a long-term perspective;

(d) It gives him a sense of satisfaction and achievement, which motivates him.

Limitations of Career Planning

1. Not Suitable for Small Organisations:

Career planning can become a reality when opportunities for vertical mobility are available. Therefore, it is not suitable for a very small organisation where there are very few opportunities for career growth.

2. Environmental Factors Affect Career Development:

In a developing country like India, environmental factors such as Government policy, public sector development, growth of backward areas, etc., influence business and industry. Therefore, career plans for a period exceeding a decade may not be effective.

3. Career Planning is not an Effective Technique:

Career planning is not an effective technique for a large number of employees who work on the shop floor. In family business houses in India, members of the family expect to progress faster in their career than their professional colleagues. This upsets the career planning process.

4. Difficult to have Systematic Career Planning:

Systematic career planning becomes difficult due to favouritism and nepotism in promotion, political interventions in appointments and reservation of seats for scheduled castes and backward classes.

5. Technological Changes:

Due to the emerging changes in technology and economic factors, career opportunities for certain categories reach the declining stage.

6. Narrow Scope:

There are some careers where there is no scope for much advancement. Hence, employees cannot get promotions despite their career development in such jobs.

Other Problems:

Some other problems hamper career planning. These include lack of an integrated personnel policy and a rational salary structure, absence of adequate opportunities for vertical mobility, difficulties in identifying suitable persons for career planning, difficulties in forecasting replacement needs, opposition of trade unions to lack of a good performance reporting system, low ceiling careers, dual career couples, etc.

1. Unsuitable for smaller organisations.

2. Unsuitable for shop floor workers.

3. Family-dominated organisations may not provide conducive climate

4. Less effective for a period of more than a decade.

5. Job-hopping is an integral part of today’s professional individual career planning.

6. Reservations, extraneous considerations in recruitment, selection and promotion go against the spirit of career planning.

7. The trade-off between direct recruits and promotes is difficult to attain.

8. Indian organisations have yet to adopt suitable personnel policies. There are few opportunities for vertical rise. Performance proposal has become a routine exercise. These are no proper job descriptions. All this goes against the spirit of career planning.

Steps to be Taken for Effective Career Planning

Top management support goes a long way in making career planning effective. Career planning is suitable for a growing organisation with clear-cut goals, manned by diligent and motivated employees. Right selection is a prerequisite for career planning. The age-balance if maintained avoids rapid promotions and stagnation. Good management must help the employees to reduce career stress.

The organisation should have a fair promotion policy, which should be given enough internal publicity.

The systematic career planning efforts offer innumerable benefits to both the individuals and organisations. To ensure success here, a number of steps should be taken.

a. Support- Career planning efforts must receive consistent support and con­tinued blessings from the top management.

b. Goals- The corporate goals must be laid down clearly. It is not possible to develop appropriate goals for human resources if you are not very sure about your journey in the next 5 or 10 years.

c. Reward performance- Employees must be willing to expand their abilities; trainers must be willing to coach, counsel and share their knowledge with employees. There must be appropriate rewards for people from both sides who show promise.

d. Placement- Every effort must be made to put employees on jobs that are in tune with their capabilities. If a talented employee is put on a routine job, he will quit in frustration.

e. Career paths- The career paths for different types of employees must be laid down clearly. Fast track promotions should be available to talented people, seniors could be used on jobs requiring experience and judgment, juniors could be used for jobs that demand routine application of rules and procedures, etc.

f. Continuous tracking- Career planning efforts should be carried out on a continuing basis keeping the changing needs of employees and the organisa­tion in mind. A record of career movements of employees must be kept and periodic assessment of who has gone where should be made.

g. Publicity- Everyone should be aware of the career opportunities within the organisation.

Career Planning Trends and Best Practices (With Examples)

It would be interesting to start the segment on career planning trends by looking at an example. A data analysis service provider specializing in pricing optimization programmes for the retail space and derivative opera­tions solutions for the financial service market gave us an interview on succession planning as is understood in their organization.

The executive from the HR dept. of the company explained that theirs’ is a growing company with employee strength of about 1500. The key job roles at the organization ranged from junior analysts, senior analysts, process managers, and programme managers to the executive directors.

The objective of succession planning in this organization is to identify high potential employees, boost their morale and provide new opportuni­ties to them and retain talented employees. It was found that succession planning is carried out starting from the senior analysts’ level. Being in the BPO industry and the attrition rate being quite high, succession plan­ning is not given high priority at the junior levels.

At the analyst’s level, the high potential employees are nominated by the process managers or the programme managers to the HR department and are finalized by the executive managers. While selecting high potential employees, the organization considers the required qualifications, competency, and performance over a period of time and gives prime importance to loyalty to the organization.

The succession planning process begins after the employee has completed the probation period allotted to him/her. The list of potential employees from each department is listed and these employees undergo a rigorous development programme to consolidate their strengths.

The list of high potential employees is reviewed periodically once every six months by the HR department with the assistance of the respective senior executives. The degree of dissemination is closed. No special software is used apart from just maintaining a detailed database of the potential employees, the development modules that they take up and their performance at these programmes.

The challenges that the company faces are that the promotions are made keeping in mind the organization’s needs while not paying much attention to the individual’s aspirations.

To close the interview, the HR executive reinforced that the succession planning programme is formulated by the HR department with the assistance of executive directors and is approved by the management board.

A representative from the HR department, Megadata, another business entity based out of India, gave us an insight into the succession planning process at his firm but requested disguising the firm. The request to protect the identity of the company has been honoured.

Megadata, a division of GCR, offers powerful enterprise analytical tech­nologies. Companies use Megadata solutions to get a single, integrated view of their businesses so they can make better, faster decisions that drive growth and profitability.

The organization hierarchy at Megadata is categorized as technical staff consultants- grade 1 to 9 and the executive directors.

The objective of succession planning at Megadata is to ensure replace­ment in technical and executive positions of the organization. The process is carried out at all levels in the organization, right from grade-1 to grade-9 and also the executive positions. The high potential employees are selected on basis of their seniority and performance record.

The HR department tracks the performance of employees on a regular basis and with the approval of senior executives the appropriate employees are selected. The HR department has the responsibility of keeping up with the paper work and keeping the process uniform.

The succession planning process at Megadata is differentiated for the technical staff consultants and executive directors. At the technical level, more emphasis is given to developing the technical capabilities of the indi­viduals along with team management skills. Special development modules and seminars are conducted. At the executive levels, emphasis is more towards coping with the challenges in IT industry.

No special software is used for succession planning at the organization, only detailed database and paperwork are maintained. The succession planning process is conducted continuously and also reviewed on a regular basis. The challenge that the company faces is that the individuals may be highly effective in technical terms but lack management capabilities.

Delta is yet another Indian multinational organization, which is well-equipped to provide knowledge based software and IT enabled services to customers across the world. Its principal activities are to manufacture and market computer workstations, network services, other hardware and software products. Delta has employee strength of about 2400. The organi­zation hierarchy consists of associative and senior executives, management associates I, II, III, executive directors, chairman and managing director.

The objective of having a succession plan at Delta is to have a replace­ment plan in place for all business critical positions in the company. The process is implemented for senior executive and above positions. The successors are identified on basis of their seniority in the organization, their competence and performance at different levels.

The potential candidates are sent for special certification programmes making them eligible for the future demands from the industry. They are also made to undergo specific management development modules conducted by the senior executives as well as professionals from the industry. Being a multinational company, prime importance is given to candidates working with other firms on off-shore projects and suitable successors are identified for healthy business relations.

No special software is being used for the process. The major challenge faced by the organization is that at higher levels the most eligible candidate might lack the strategic vision or ability to communicate effectively whereas at lower levels the candidates may not have the required competence and skills’ to execute the project successfully with relevant stakeholders.

Career planning trends and best practices include the following:

1. Career planning is performed at all levels of the organization, resulting in career plans for all employees. This is important as it ensures deploy­ment of the right talent at the right position at the right time. It creates a win-win situation for the employee and for the organization.

2. Individual development plans (IDPs) are clearly and strategically aligned with corporate mission, goals and objectives. Some orga­nizations do this more seriously than others. IDPs are mapped to VIMICO (Organization’s Vision, Mission and Corporate Objectives) for ensuring complete linkage of employee skills and organizational requirements.

3. Key people skills that contribute to obtaining and sustaining a leader­ship position for the company are being identified and are reassessed annually. It has been observed that it is the people skills more than the functional skills that have a larger impact on leadership and related behaviours. Organizations are now focusing their attention on these people skills to identify and groom leadership talent.

4. Clear career progression/career paths are defined by organizations and are regularly communicated to employees by the HR departments.

5. Specific training and development needs are defined and tied directly to current positions and career paths. Learning is beyond classrooms today. Organizations are creating special projects, stretch assignments, job rotations and other such opportunities to help employees learn specific skills for their career development.

6. Employees have direct access to training/qualification requirements for specific career paths/positions. Many companies have used the company intranet to give employees a quick exposure to online tools and software to upgrade their skillsets. These training programmes are also linked to career transitions and growth in the organization.

7. Employees receive handholding from the company’s competency model or framework perspective thereby ensuring they know and are prepared to build competencies for enhancing their careers. These competencies are both technical and behavioural.

8. Specific incentive and development plans are defined for key employees and individuals identified as “high potential”. Hi pots (high potential employees) are put on a separate fast track career path to ensure that their interest in the job role and organization is maintained and that the organization does not lose Hi pots to competitors.

9. Mentoring programmes are made available to all employees. Organizations are using both formal and informal mentoring relations at work to help young professionals to better plan their careers, groom them for higher roles and guide and advise them from time to time.

10. Career planning and succession planning are tightly integrated. One leads to the other, a thorough career planning effort on part of the organization often culminates into the succession planning process as well.

All individuals like to do well in their work lives. If the work environment is positive, it motivates people to give their very best effort into their job role and organization. Sadly, many organizations do not succeed in creating a positive work environment. Many organizations today use employees merely as hands to work and not as complete beings as crucial resources.

Companies do not plan career progression of employees, do not initiate career development discussions, do not give performance related feedback and sometimes do not even acknowledge growth needs of employees. Such tendencies lead to high employee turnover which does not benefit the orga­nization.

Thus engaging with employees in their respective work journeys, drafting their career paths, initiating their career development and all in all, handholding employees for overall career management go a long way in ensuring that your human resources are your assets and not your liabilities. People want to know how much you care before they care how much you know.