The career stage approach is one way to look at career development. One way to characterize a person’s life or career is by identifying common experiences, challenges, or tasks most people go through as their life or career progress.
As individuals have different career development needs at different stages in their careers, when an organisation recruits an employee in any of the grades of its cadre for a fairly long tenure, the employer must take interest in and take constructive steps for building up employees’ career from that point of time. Stage views of career development have their limitations. It is applicable to a typical individual. Since all individuals are unique, they may not have the same experiences. Therefore, career development stages differ from individual to individual due to obvious difference in perceived internal career. However, keeping in view of general requirements of people career development may be grouped under the following four categories.
1. Exploration Stage
This stage starts when a new employees joins an organisation. This career exploration stage is best described as the “information gathering” phase. This is a kind of ‘budding’ stage for a new employee and is considered as the formative phase of his/her career. Therefore, it is essential for an organisation to sustain the behavioral as well as operational deficiencies of new hire to help him to develop in the course of time. The organisation’s responsibility at this stage is to ensure that, the employee’s concerns are taken care of. He/she is helped out to settle down and establish himself/herself. At this stage, induction-training in the form of organisational work familiarization programmes, technical or professional training or on-the-job training at the institutions are imparted to the employees. Unfortunately many organizations experience high level of turnover at this trial and exploration stage. Employees in this stage need opportunities for self-exploration and experiment with a variety of job activities or assignments.
2. Establishment Stage
The next phase is the establishment and developmental stage. It is also known as blooming’ stage or advancement stage. This involves growing and getting established in one’s career. In this stage, the individual is concerned with achievement, performance, and advancement. This stage is marked by high employee productivity and career growth, as the individual is motivated to proceed and succeed in the organization in his or her chosen occupation.
This stage desires the employees to take the opportunities of higher responsibility and more challenging jobs for better use of special competencies. The employees strive hard for creativity and innovation by taking challenging job assignments. Organisations, at this stage, need to provide required degree of autonomy to the employees, so that they can experience feelings of individual achievement and personal success. During this period, employees must be oriented in a manner that will create maximum learning opportunities and favorable attitude towards the organisation. It should also be ensured that the assignments assigned to them are optimally challenging with a genuine test of their abilities and skill.
Suitable training and developmental opportunities could be provided to ensure an adequate and proper transition from technical work to management work particularly for those who posses all the management talent and want to occupy managerial positions. Usually, Management Development programmes are organised at this level to help those kinds of people. Some area-specialization input is also imparted to enable them to update their specialist skills. Therefore, a successful career development process is important at establishment stage, in order to retain more number of employees in the organisation and to develop a sense of loyalty and commitment.
3. Maintenance Stage
This is a mid-career stage for those employees, who strive hard to retain their established name and fame. The mid-career stage is generally typified and characterized by a sort of continuation of established patterns of work behavior. At this stage, the person seeks to maintain his or her established position in the organization. This stage is also viewed as a mid-career plateau in which very little new ground is broken. This is otherwise known as mid career crisis. People at this stage, often make a major reassessment of their progress relative to their original career ambitions and goals. The individuals at this stage is helped out and provided with some technical training to update their skill sets in their respective field.
In order to avoid early stagnation and decline, the employees are encouraged to develop and learn new job skills by renewing and updating their knowledge in the context of the changing environment. Only the stable and matured executives/managers from this point can progress and reach at the higher career stage which is known as ‘full bloom’ stage. At this stage people are in super time scale, holding senior management positions, involving high level policy and programming assignments. The organisation, at this stage, must help people to flourish to the maximum extent possible by providing them with wider range of responsibilities and broader opportunities for better performance and to adjust with their changing role as their career shifts from the specialized to generalize advisory role.
In this top level stage of policy-planning-advisory area, the organisation must see that people’s career interests are catered for and self actualization facilities are provided. That encourages the employees to devote their full time, attention, energy to the organisation. In this part of career, developmental strategy is then oriented towards policy making, programme planning and review and problem solving. For which, the focus should be on advanced study and education for enhancement of professionalized efficiency and total preparation for leadership. This career stage is also reflected with a kind of spiritual attitude, dedicated to public service and a stronger inner urge to work for a larger cause than oneself.
4. Late-Career/Decline Stage
This stage is characterized by lessen career importance and the employees plan for retirement and seek to develop a sense of identity outside the work environment. Employees at this stage get scared for the possible threat of reduced role and responsibilities in the organisation. Therefore, career development at this stage aims at helping the employees to get mentally prepared for retirement and to accept the reduced role and responsibilities, so that they can accommodate themselves in their family and in the society after retirement. Retirement rituals management without destroying the employee’s sense of self worth is the primary concern of the career development process at this stage. The retired employees can also be provided with new part-time roles both within and outside the parent organisation, so that people can use their knowledge, experience and wisdom for the cause of society.