The Concept of Career Planning – Definition, Objectives and Process

Career is viewed as a bunch or collection of jobs or positions. Generally, it describes an applicable career path within the structure of the organization. Basically, it shows the principal personnel development paths within the organization. The etymology of the term derived from the Latin word career, which means race. All the jobs, that are held together during one’s working life, constitute career. It is also viewed as the sequence of positions held by an individual during the course of his employment life. Edwin B. Flippo defined a career, as a sequence of separate but related work activities that provide continuity, order and meaning in a person’s life. A career may be viewed as amalgamation of the changes in values, attitudes and motivation an individual embrace, as he or she grows older. This constitute subjective element of the concept “career”.

Career Planning

Greenhaus and Schein described several themes underlying different definition of career as:

  • The property of an occupation or organisation: In this way the career describes the occupation itself or an employee’s tenure within an organisation.
  • Advancement: It denotes the progression and increase in success an individual receives within an occupation or organisation.
  • Status of a profession: In this sense, career is used to distinguish different profession. Such as engineering, medical profession is different from other occupation like plumbing carpentry etc. The former is said to have a career where the latter does not have.
  • Involvement in one’s work: Sometimes career is used in a negative sense to describe being extremely involved in the task or job one is doing.
  • Stability of a person’s work pattern: Career describes a sequence of related jobs. While a sequence of unrelated jobs does not describe career.

Career is often defined as both external career and internal career. External career is defined as objective categories used by a given society and different organisations to describe the progression of steps of different occupation. Whereas internal career involves the set of steps and stages that makeup an individual’s own concept of career progression in a given occupation. Due to two different approaches, in organisational context, career is considered as an integrated pace of both vertical and lateral movements of an individual in an occupation during the span of his employment. Such integrated approach is basically intended to minimize diversity of hopes and expectations of employees by obtaining a match between individually perceived careers with that of organisational centered careers.

Career Planning

As both the individual and the organisation have interests in individual’s career, career planning is a deliberate process of being aware of self, available opportunities, existing constraints with the alternative choices and sequences. It also involves, identifying career related goals and undertaking work education and related developmental exercises to provide the right direction, proper timing and sequences to attain a specific career goal.

Essentially, Career planning helps the employees to plan for their careers in terms of their capacities and competencies within the context of organisational needs. It is concerned with devising an organisational system of career movement and growth. That provides opportunities for an individual to grow and develop progressively and consistently from the point of entry of an employment to the point of his or her retirement. It is also described as a process-of synthesizing and harmonizing the needs of the organisation with the innate aspirations of the employees, so that the latter realize self-fulfillment and the former’s effectiveness is improved.

Career planning is an ongoing process by which an individual sets his career goals and identifies the means and ways to achieve them. The way people plan for their life’s work is considered as career planning. It propels and sometimes compels an individual to explore, choose and strive in order to derive satisfaction with one’s career objective. Hence has significance in individual’s life.

Effective career planning is about finding a suitable job that matches to an individuals’ life. Career planning provides an answer to the question as to where a person will be in the organisation after five years or ten years or what the prospects of advancing and growing are in the organisation for building the scope of one’s career. Career planning is neither an event nor an end itself. It is an ongoing process for the development of human resources and an essential aspect of managing people to obtain optimal results.

Need for Career Planning

The need to plan for an employee’s career is basically caused by both economic and social forces. In an ever changing environment, the human resources of an organisation need to and must be in a constant state of development. A planned programme of internal human resource development pays more than relying upon outside recruitment to cater to the sudden need. Above all, too many employees retire on the job when there is no managerial concern for proper career progression. Further, the millennial day employees insist and expect their work demands to be effectively integrated with human needs for personal growth, match with family’s expectations and meet ethical requirements of society. However, it is most ironic that, what is most precious to the individual in so far as work is concerned is the career, is given least attention by the organisation. Most of the organizations do not give enough attention to this important aspect in real practice for a variety of reasons. As a result of which, the demands of employees are not adequately matched with organizational arrangements.

Considering the changing scenarios of social and economic environment and the growing expectations and aspirations of employees, career planning is an essential prerequisite for effective man-management, for organisational growth and development and for obtaining optimum productivity. Usually, a person applies for a job in an organisation after making necessary enquiries about the prospects of the job and after taking up the job he or she starts enquiring about the job prospects and the future likely positions. Depriving of satisfactory answers, an individual feel de-motivated and frustrated, and starts looking outside of the organisation in search of some other prospective job. Generally, this is typical situation for persons holding senior supervisory, executive and managerial positions.

The personnel holding such positions are keen to know where they can rise from their present positions, in the organisation, and when. In order to attract and retain competent personnel for senior positions in an organisation, it is essential that, they must be assured of progressive careers. Thus, career planning has become a must for manning an organisation with efficient supervisors, higher technical and managerial personnel and for preventing such personnel leaving the organisation for lack of promotional avenues. Productive employees wish to seek careers rather than short duration jobs. Career planning, if properly designed and implemented, it benefits the managements as well as the employees and the absence of it make a big difference both for the employees and the organization.

Features of Career Planning

  1. A Process: Career planning is an ongoing process of developing human resources. It is neither an event nor a programme.
  2. Upward movement: It involves upward movement in the organisational hierarchy. It could also be special assignments, completing a project that requires better skills and abilities to handle recurring problems.
  3. Mutuality of Interest: Career planning serves mutuality of interest. It serves individual’s interest by taking care of his needs and aspirations to the required extent. Simultaneously it serves the organisation’s interest as the human resources of an organisation are provided with the opportunity to develop and contribute to the organisation’s goals for fulfillment of its objectives to the best of their ability and confidence.
  4. Dynamic: The dynamic nature of career planning is to cope and adjust with the ever changing environment.

Objectives of Career Planning

Generally, Career Planning aims at fulfilling the following objectives:

  • It provides and maintains appropriate human resources in an organisation by offering careers, not jobs.
  • It creates an able environment of effectiveness, efficiency and growth.
  • It maps out careers of different categories of employees, in accordance with their ability and willingness to be ‘trained and developed’ to take the responsibility of higher positions.
  • It seeks to maintain a stable workforce within an organisation by controlling absenteeism and reducing employee turnover.
  • It caters to the immediate and future human resource need of the organisation at appropriate time.
  • It increases proper utilization of managerial reserves within the organisation.

Career Planning Process

Career Planning involves different activities for successful organisations and generally, covers the following steps.

  1. Identifying individual needs and aspirations: Most individuals do not have a clear cut idea about their career aspirations, anchors and goals. Therefore, the human resource professionals must help an employee in this direction and provide as much information as possible. Taking into account his skills, experience, and aptitude, he is shown the kind of work, that would suit him most. Workshops, seminars can also be arranged with psychological testing, simulation exercises to extend such type of assistance. Such an exercise is basically meant to help an employee to form a clear view of his career of chosen occupation within the company. Workshops and seminars boost employee interest in career planning, as it help the employees set their career goals, identify career paths and uncover specific career development activities. Printed and other forms of information can also be provided to supplement individual efforts. To assist the employees in a better way, organizations construct a data bank or skill and talent inventory, consisting of information on the career histories, skill evaluations and career preferences of its employees.
  2. Analyzing career opportunities: Once career needs and aspirations of employees are known, the organization determines the career paths for each position, showing career progression possibilities clearly. That indicate the different positions, a good performer could hold over a period of time. Career paths change over time in tune with employee’s needs and organizational requirements.
  3. Aligning needs and opportunities: After employees have identified their needs and there is existence of career opportunities, the next step is to align the former with latter. This process involves identification of the potentiality of employees and then undertaking career development programme. The potentiality of employees can be assessed through performance appraisal. That would reveal employees who need further training, who can take added responsibilities, etc. Then certain developmental techniques are undertaken to update employees’ knowledge and skills taking into consideration of employee potentiality. It includes special assignments, planned position rotation, supervisory coaching, job enrichment, understudy programmes and so on.
  4. Action plans and periodic review: After initiating the above steps, it is necessary to review the whole things periodically to uncover the gaps. These gaps are to be bridged both by individual career development efforts and organization supported efforts from time to time. Periodic review will help the employees to know the direction in which he is moving, what changes are sought, what kind of skills are needed to face new and emerging organizational challenges. Organizations also find out how employees are doing, their goals and aspirations and whether the career paths are in tune with individual needs and serve the overall corporate.

Career planning and Manpower Planning

Career Planning and Manpower Planning are not synonymous. The latter enables the personnel department of an organisation to report on the inventory of skills and potentials available in the organisation. The former enables the organisation to identify, who on the basis of performance and potentials appraised and evaluated, could be groomed for or fitted in higher level assignments, and where, when, and how. Again manpower planning provides human resources data that is immediately available within the organisation to meet change in conditions such as expansion of the existing business, a technological innovation, providing a new service or opening up new branches.

Career Planning and Succession Planning

Succession planning is a conscious and deliberate decision of an organization to foster and promote the continual development of employees in order to ensure that, key positions maintain some degree of stability, enabling an organization to achieve its business objectives. Succession planning ensures the availability right personnel to takeover in the event of departure and eventualities of key employees, in an organization. When vacancies occur in key positions in the organization, it is to be filled up either promoting internal people or by hiring externally. When this is done in accordance with an agreed upon and carefully-thought-out policy and process, it is a succession plan. Generally, succession or replacement planning programmes are implemented to ensure the development of sufficient number of qualified people to fill future vacancies in key managerial and professional positions.

Succession planning is essential for higher level executives. Whereas career planning covers executives at all levels including highly skilled employees and operatives. To develop succession plans based on current employees skill sets, organisations need to create and maintain current skills inventories by having a reinforced career system. It also identifies key employees for future openings which are critical to the company’s leadership and business success. Both have the same requirements and implications. Generally, career planning in an organisation moves with a succession plan for the higher-level executives.

The succession plan involves identification of likely vacancies in the higher echelons and to locate the probable successors. Career planning may have charts showing the career paths of different categories of workers and how they can advance up in the organisation.

Career planning is succession plan, when it gives the picture of the potentials for the development of those specific persons, who are already in positions and to cater to future manpower needs, caused by retirements and other casualties. An organisation has to build theoretical career ladders for all key and important employees so that hard working and capable employees can be retained and their aspirations for growth and development can be satisfied. Basically, succession management involves knowing the needs of the organization as well as its employees and developing their capacity and competencies, so that they can address emerging issues to ensure business continuity.

Career Planning and Career Development

Broadly, the term career is referred to an individual’s entire work life. In a narrow sense, it can be defined as the succession of jobs and or ranks held by a person in a particular organisation. An individual’s career begins with placement in a job and ends with departure from the organisation, may be in form of retirement, resignation or death. In between, the career progression consists of changing tasks, tenure in various jobs, temporary or permanent promotions, transfers etc.

Career planning and development includes all those events that is happening to or initiated by an individual affecting his/ her progress or promotion. It happens by widening and/or changing employment possibilities and is characterized by different and higher status, better conditions of service and increased satisfaction with the job. It revolves round events and occurrences an individual goes through while moving up the hierarchic ladder.

Career development is the process that enables an organisation to meet its current and projected manpower requirement through provisions of career opportunities for its employees. It aims at optimizing the effectiveness of human resources of an organisation through planned development of their knowledge, set of skills and potentialities for accomplishment of organisational objectives.

Essentially career development is an integral part of the holistic human resources management of an organisation. It is concerned with the growth of both individuals and the organisation. Individuals seek their total fulfillment within the organisation and the organisation in turn fulfills its charter of goals, only through its employees. This mutuality represents a commonality of concern in the development of career. Individual career and organisational careers are not separate from each other. for which, it becomes imperative on the part of the organisation to take the responsibility of assisting their employees in career planning, so that both individual and organisational goal can be met.

The basic character of career development is futuristic. For which, its policies and programmes are devoted for tomorrow. It envisions distant horizons and is multidimensional in nature. Broadly, all the functions of management and the multi-tiered aspects of personnel policy and practices from entry in the organisation to the point of separation are very closely connected with career development. Recruitment, probation, training, deployment, transfers, promotion, motivation etc have a bearing on career development. Career development is regarded as the ‘pivot’ around which the entire personnel management system revolves. It links each stage, phase, event of individual’s work life and acts as the ‘buckle’ that fastens an employee to the organisation. Career planning or development is primarily ‘proactive’ in the sense that, it must anticipate future, rather than be taken over by emerging situations.