73 HR Disruptors Agree: Here's how to improve career path at your company an ebook by tembostatus


More than 20,000 responses from North American employees in the winter of 2016 revealed that a combined 42% were negative or very negative in response to the question: How much career potential does your job seem to have?

Source: TemboStatus - Winter 2016 Norms Report

The challenge to the attendees of SocialHRCamp 2016 was to leverage the collected wisdom and experience of more than 70 connectors, communicators and business thinkers to solve this problem for companies large and small.

Why does career path matter?

Career is about an individual’s path through the organization and focuses on issues such as training, career potential and development. Passionate and motivated individuals can lift the performance of an entire department and contribute to the success of an organization.

Career advancement is a big part of why individuals leave their current organizations. Southern Alpha reported that approximately 15 percent of people cite being passed over for a promotion as the reason they seek new jobs. Businesses that develop comprehensive career development programs could find success in maintaining top performers.

In particular, young workers are interested in knowing they have a future with their current company. Outlining potential career paths offers a way for people to see the big picture, but managers also need the ability to identify if specific skills have been learned and what interests individuals. As employees show proficiency in certain tasks, their supervisors should acknowledge their efforts so all team members gain visibility into what success looks like, helping them identify the skills that may be required to make them more viable candidates for a promotion or advancement.

These efforts keep workers motivated and engaged as they advance down their chosen career paths. Of course, employees may not always be seeking new titles or better pay. Zane Benefits stated that people are also increasingly interested in flexible work options that improve work-life balance.

Having regular conversations with staff members about their goals and expectations can help organizations engage and retain their talent. Companies may also find that employees have innovative suggestions about what skills will be needed in the future or the type of growth that employees value.

As this eBook will review, if an acceptable definition of engagement is an individual employee’s ongoing commitment to driving performance for the organization and in equal measure, an organization’s commitment to creating the condition for that to be possible, then both parties have some heavy lifting to do.

DID YOU KNOW that the ability to use personal skills and abilities is one of the top predictors of job satisfaction for 63% of employees?

The Process

This moderated collaboration session examined the issue of improving perceptions of career path in 5 steps:

  1. What is the Issue, Behavior or Mindset we are experiencing?
  2. What is being impacted?
  3. What drivers can be used to change course?
  4. What do we want employees to Think, Say or Do?
  5. What actions do we need to take for achieving our desired outcomes?

The aim was to interpret issues raised by employees in light of the issues of most concern to leadership and that are in line with current strategic initiatives.

DID YOU KNOW that 40% of new employees leave their role voluntarily within the first six months?

Situational analysis

Group Question: What is the Issue, Behavior or Mindset we are experiencing as it relates to negative perceptions of career path within a company?

Comments from attendees were grouped into the following categories


The most straightforward explanation may be that employees simply lack clarity about the opportunities available to them, how to advance and what success looks like. Many employees may also question, “Why does the work I do matter?” or “How does it help my organization?” It’s incumbent here for managers to articulate the path forward. That said, if managers themselves don’t know the path to success, it can’t be expected that employees will.

Sometimes a lack of creativity in job design can impact how employees feel about their career path. If it lacks flexibility, it can also play a factor.

Finally, many employees may hold negative perceptions of their career path because they lack clarity about the future of the organization itself. Is it a successful one?

DID YOU KNOW that 60% of HR leaders believe that their companies provide employees with a clear career path?


Even the most thriving, transparent cultures can find room to improve when it comes to communications. This is especially true when it comes to an individual employee’s path to success. A lack of transparency and communications between managers and employees about the opportunity that may exist will have a negative impact. The same is true if conversations about succession planning are avoided or if feedback about job postings and job descriptions is not shared with employees.

“There’s an absence of co-creation in the employee’s career path. People also think that advancing is only about moving up but growth can come from all sorts of different directions for an employee. That’s a conversation between an individual and their manager.” Tim Baker, CHRP


It’s incumbent upon any organization committed to retaining their talent to set the table for empowerment and career. One of the challenges here is that many organizations hire only externally, rather than looking internally. It’s also true that in many organizations roles and promotions are assigned rather than co-created.

While a company has accountability for creating room for their people to grow, the same can be said about employees accepting individual accountability for creating a career path for themselves.


It’s well established that culture is about more than fun at work; culture is really about the standards of behaviour that drive performance for your business. A key ingredient is trust and if there’s a lack of trust between managers and their people, an employee may feel negatively about career path because they don’t trust that their manager is invested in their future.

It’s also possible that while an employee has the technical competence to do their job, they are just not a culture fit for their organization.

Finally, when an organization as a whole does not grow, many people will be sitting around for too long doing the same thing over and over again. If your culture or your business is stuck, it’s hard for an individual to feel rosy about the path forward.

DID YOU KNOW that only 36% of employees believe their company provides them with a clear career path?

business impact

Group Question - What is being impacted when employees are negative about their career path?

Actively disengaged employees are a negative presence in the organization. They are not productive, and spread their detrimental attitude to other employees.

"If people are negative about the career opportunities you're offering them you may have a bit of a 'pee in the pool' situation." Charlyne Fothergill, HR Rockstar

It's also critical to ensure you have a succession plan in place in the event employees simply lack a desire to move forward with the company. If they feel the grass is greener somewhere else and leave this can have a material impact on your bottom line since the cost to replace an employee fluctuates between 30-80% of salary depending on role and tenure.

Finally, disengaged employees who are negative about their career opportunities can directly affect business outcomes such as profitability and customer satisfaction.

Drivers of discontent

GROUP QUESTION - What drivers can be used to change course when it comes to career path?

Comments from participants were grouped into the following categories

Communication & Visibility

  • Highlight success stories of other employees as examples of how they can move through the organization
  • Give employees exposure to what everyone else in the company does. Maybe another department is a better fit for their skills
  • Build a grid of the various levels of each position within the organization. Have managers sit down with their employees and find out their goals and which level they would like to get to
  • Know your internal candidate pool and their goals for success and a path forward. Actually map it out with them
  • Create an open feedback loop about career and growth at your company and ensure it’s an ongoing conversation that welcomes every voice
  • Ensure that each person knows their value in the company and how they contribute to its success
  • Define and openly communicate the company’s objectives and goals so employees are aware of why they show up for work everyday
"I worked with a company that deputized a Chief Storytelling Officer. A natural evangelist, part of their mandate was to use every channel available to ensure that employees were simply aware of what success looked like, whether the win was big or small." David Bator, TemboStatus


Empower your people to take responsibility for their actions and their role in the success of the company; this should be an ongoing conversation with their manager. Also look for quick wins. Figure out what opportunities there are for your people to accomplish something quickly. It's not always about moving on up!

DID YOU KNOW that 49% of employees prefer to work for organizations that “emphasize mentoring and nurture their career development”?

outcomes & action

Group Question - What do we want employees to Think, Say or Do? What actions do we need to take for achieving our desired outcomes?

  • Don’t fit an employee into a job description. If possible, tailor the role and job description to take advantage of the employee's’ strengths, where they can bring something tangible to the table
  • Give feedback to internal employees about why they weren’t successful in applying to internal positions. That way they know where to improve for next time and aren’t discouraged from chasing their goals
  • Each employee should set goals for themselves and the company, and make sure they are visible somewhere, whether it’s the intranet, a bulletin board, the break room
  • Have weekly manager and employee meetings to understand their goals and their needs, and to find out where things are going well for them
  • Recognize that not everyone will be in line for a promotion. These employees need to be managed. Sometime they need to be managed out of the business
“A common issue is that we all spend so much time trying to attract great talent but when they’re actually hired, we don’t treat them like adults and speak to them openly and truthfully like they are capable.”
  • Provide leadership and management training to improve their skillsets as managers, leaders and communicators. This is a strengthening exercise for the company as a whole
  • Define for new hires the answer to “What is in it for me?”; specifically outline what they’re going to get and make sure it’s an ongoing conversation for why they are valuable
  • Openly display your organizational chart on a whiteboard, with everyone’s headshot on a magnet - to be transparent and open
  • Prohibit closed door meetings to really ignite the culture and promote transparency
  • Give employees a development plan to fill out and follow it through!
  • Set up and promote a mentorship program where employees feel welcome to share their concerns and provides them with a safe place to go

tembostatus recommends

Dissatisfaction with employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits. Employees report that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development but they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching – things they also value highly.

  • Formalize a career development program for employees. Make sure the program aligns with corporate development goals AND employees personal career development goals.
  • Programs should include formalized training, coaching and mentoring.
  • If managers are conducting the training, coaching or mentoring, ensure that they receive proper education and supervision to ensure they are doing more good than harm.
  • Create a central place or web page where employees can learn about the Career Development program. This step forces you to create a compelling presentation of the opportunities available to employees.
  • Career success should not only be about promotions - especially if there are not many opportunities. Be sure to celebrate training, mentoring and coaching success as much as promotions.
  • Conduct “stay interviews” not just exit interviews to gain insight into what skills employees would like to develop. What type of projects would they like to work on? What would encourage them to stay with the company?

about tembostatus

about socialhrcamp

the authors

Monting Lin, Alison Brennan, Inga Cafe-Ruoff, Renita D'Souza, Iman Baldiwala, Angie Bjornson, Djina Pajkic, Stosh Fabricius, Celine Williams, Sueanne Pham, Cheyenne Alonzo, Heather McCarthy, Josie Martiniello, Elena Tonu, Eva Petreska, Joanne Serflek, Khushbu Chokshi, Mike Holwell, Julia Scott, Steven So, Thansha Sadacharam, Kamara Toffolo, Natasha Cotz, Retish Deshmukh, Bella Muretova, Monika Dillenberg, Jamie Soo, Kristen Nykanen, Khadeejah Aamir, Bradley Crouse, Melissa Heimpel, Mila Vukojevic, Tracey Both, Cheli Nolan, Rebecca Laramee, Romola Menon, Krisneyris Pena, Jason Meyer, Kim Lloyd, Mijay Pavon, Erin Ashton, Frank Zupan, Tammy Colson, Natalie Pedrosa, Martin Hauck, Jeff Waldman, Tara Werbin, Kathleen Teixeira, Tim Baker, Charlyne Fothergill, Keltie Neville, Ashley Dalziel, Jessica Cheung Goldfarb, Katie Purcell, Rob Catalano, Nadir Ebrahim, Salima Nathoo, David Bator, Dave Savory, Chris Leabeter, Rohan Nair, Ray Kanani, Emma Surich, Justina Dukelow, Andy Anthony, Patrick Farrar, Julie Brennan, Kenny Goldman, Darcie Cummings, Rana Al-Badran, Dave Burnett, Richard Tuck, Vishal Bhatia

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