If your organization doesn’t have a career management program in place, you should be. From local millennials to senior expats, ‘career progression’ is the number one criterion for candidates in their job search in the Middle East. Furthermore, Aon Hewitt’s research consistently shows that ‘career opportunities’ is a top engagement driver across all age groups and nationalities, all around the world.
Career management is not just down to an employee’s personal vision and ambition; organizations, too, have a responsibility to develop and implement programs to help their employees achieve their goals. Yet, only a small number of organizations in the Middle East have structured career programs in place. What talent issues will arise as a result of this?
Strategic moves could decimate your talent base
When it comes to strategic moves such as mergers and outsourcing, savvy employers don’t expect employees to put their careers on hold while the organization works itself out. They also don’t scramble to make offers (usually involving inflated pay packages and impressive job titles) when their most valued people resign.
As organizations go through strategic decision-making, they should:
- determine the likely impact this will have on their employees’ career objectives
- identify the key talent they want to retain, and draw up retention plans and packages that go beyond monetary incentives—including substantial new roles/projects that will energise ambitious employees
- take the first step in communicating a career vision to their valued employees, and supporting them in their transitions
- provide mentorship, rewards, development opportunities, and exposure to senior management, so as to affirm the value of the employee and maintain engagement even through difficult times
Managers hoard their high performers
High performing employees are naturally hungry for challenges. However, when career management doesn’t happen at the company level, but at the manager level, managers tend to make decisions that are first aimed at benefiting their business units—which narrows the development opportunities available to high performers.
This is why organizations should assign responsibility for the development of high performers to very senior managers or an influential human resources specialist. They will have the capability to assess high performers for development potential and support them in their career aspirations and progression.
Employees feel blocked in their career
High expectations of career progression are commonplace in the Middle East, even though demands for rapid promotions can often be unrealistic. Employers who implement systematic career management approaches will help employees develop realistic expectations and provide the support they need to gain the necessary skills and experience. This includes career pathways that clearly define promotion requirements, training, mentorship, job rotations and challenging assignments.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to organizational career management, but the basis lies in a structured approach, owned by the organization’s senior management and based on strong insights into each employee’s performance and career objectives. At the same time, ambitious employees need fire in their bellies as well as patience, persistence, and insight to make judicious choices that help them fulfil their career aspirations.