Career Management – Definition and Meaning

Career is a general course of action, an individual chooses to pursue, all through his or her employment life. It may be represented as occupational positions a person has hold over so many years. Many people feel satisfied by achieving their career goals. At the same time, others have a strong feeling that, their careers, their lives and their potential has undergone unfulfilled. Employers too have a profound effect on employees’ careers. Some organisations have very formal career management processes, while others are very little concern about it. Career management is defined as the ongoing process of preparing, implementing and monitoring career plans. It can be undertaken either by the individual alone or can be a concerted activity along with the organisation’s career systems.

Career Management

Career management is a process that enables the employees to better understand their career skills, develop and give direction to it and to use those skills and interests most effectively both within and outside the organisation. Specific career management activities provide realistic career oriented appraisals, posting open jobs and offering formal career development activities. Career development involves the lifelong series of activities that contribute to a person’s career exploration, establishment, growth, success, and fulfillment. Career planning is the deliberate process by which an individual becomes aware of his or her personal skills, interests, motivations, knowledge and other such characteristics. He also seeks and acquires information about the opportunities and choices, identifies career-related goals and establishes action plans to attain specific goals. Career management and career planning activities are complementary and can reinforce each other.

Career management can also be regarded as lifelong, self-monitored process of career planning. That involves choosing and setting personal goals and formulating strategies for achieving those. However, in an organisational context, the focus is on taking actions to meet the anticipated HR needs.

Objectives of Career Management

Career management programmes encompass a large number of these human resource management practices with the following objectives:

  1. Assisting employees to improve their performance: Career management programmes strive to involve employees in setting their own goals and recognizing their strengths and weaknesses. It assists employees with the identification and facilitation of training needs and opportunities. This is mainly achieved by building a process of feedback and discussion into the performance management systems of institutions.
  2. Clarifying available career options: Through career management programmes employees are informed of career options available within the institution. It assists employees with the identification of skills and other qualities required for current and future jobs. Most career management programmes seek to focus employees career plans upon the institution, thereby enhancing their commitment to the institution. In doing this, career paths are developed that indicate mobility in different directions in the institution for employees.
  3. Aligning the aspiration of employees with organizational objectives: Many organizations attempt to assist employees in their career planning through career management programmes. Career management programmes furthermore seek to improve the matching of jobs with the right employees. An assessment of the skills and competencies of employees could assist in accommodating them in positions that suit them better. Through the application of practices such as transfers and rotation, an institution’s operational effectiveness can be improved. Career management programmes can also result in a reduction in the need to recruit externally as employees with the required capabilities are revealed through their career planning

Purely from the employer’s perspective the purpose of its career management programme should be to ensure the availability of competent and skilled employees within its organization.

Benefits of Career Management

  • Staffing inventories: Effective career management ensure a continuous supply of professional, technical and managerial talent for the fulfillment of organisational goal.
  • Staffing from within: Most organisations like to promote employees from within for available positions because of the many potential advantages. In order to recruit from within, it requires a strong career management programme that ensures effective performance of employees in their new jobs.
  • Solving staffing problems: Effective career management may serve as a remedy for certain staffing problems. Rate of employee turnover can be slashed because of the feeling that there is existence of opportunity within the organisation. It may be easier to go for new recruitment as the company develops its employees and provides better career opportunities.
  • Satisfying employee needs: The current generation of employees are very different from those of past generation in terms of their set of needs. Again higher levels of education have raised their career expectations and many of the employees hold their employers directly responsible in providing better opportunities for realization of their career expectations.
  • Enhanced motivation: Since, progression along the career path is directly related to job performance, an employee is likely to be motivated and perform at peak levels to accomplish career goals.
  • Employment equity: Effective career management demand fair and equitable recruitment, selection and placement and try to eliminate discriminatory practices concerning promotions and career mobility. Such type of affirmative programmes contains formal provisions that become helpful for enhancement of the career mobility of women and other minorities groups emphasizing employment equity.

Elements of Career Management

The three elements common to most career management programmes are the following:

  1. Career Planning: Career planning is a deliberate process of becoming aware of opportunities, constraints, choices and consequences identifying career related goals and programming work, education and related development experiences to provide the direction, timing and sequence of steps to attain a specific career goal. Career planning is also a process undertaken by employees and their supervisors. The employee is responsible for self-assessment, identifying career interests and development needs. As part of the process of self-assessment the employee analyze his or her skills and experience as well as his or her strengths and weaknesses. Career planning is also more effective if done jointly by the individual and the organization. The organization has a stake in successful career planning as it needs a steady supply of adequately trained people to do jobs at every level of the organization.
  2. Career Pathing: Based on the career expectations identified in the process of career planning, possible career paths are mapped out for employees. Career paths set out a sequence of posts to which employees can be promoted, transferred and rotated. It should however be noted that each employee could have a multitude of career pathing options. career paths should be established by an organization’s career development system. The existence of such career paths communicates to employees specific step-by-step objectives and identifies possible role models in the organization. In setting career paths, employees and their supervisors must be realistic in terms of their potential and the time frames in which the career goals captured in the career paths can be achieved.
  3. Career Development: Career development refers to a planned effort to link the individual’s career needs with the organization’s workforce requirements. It could furthermore be seen as a process for helping individuals plan their careers in concert with an organization’s business requirements and strategic direction. It is also important to note that, along the concept of alignment between the individual and the organization, career development is an ongoing process. One of the organization’s roles is to provide training and development opportunities to meet the requirements for movement along the career path.

Whilst these three elements are identified as separate practices, they complement and inform each other during the process of career management.

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