Career planning is the process by which one selects career goals and the path to these goals. The major focus of career planning is on assisting the employees achieve a better match between personal goals and the opportunities that are realistically available in them organisation. Career programmes should not concentrate only on career growth opportunities. Practically speaking, there may not be enough high level positions to make upward mobility a reality for a large number of employees. Hence, career-planning efforts need to pin-point and highlight those areas that offer psychological success instead of vertical growth.
Career planning is not an event or end in itself, but a continuous process of developing human resources for achieving optimum results. It must, however, be noted that individual and organisational careers are not separate and distinct. A person who is not able to translate his career plan into action within the organisation may probably quit the job, if he has a choice. Organisations, therefore, should help employees in career planning so that both can satisfy each other’s needs.
Career Planning vs Human Resource Planning
Human Resource planning is the process of analysing and estimating the need for and
availability of employees. Through Human Resource planning, the Personnel department
is able to prepare a summary of skills and potentials available within the organisation.
Career planning assists in finding those employees who could be groomed for higher
level positions, on the strength of their performance.
Human Resource planning gives valuable information about the availability of human
resources for expansion, growth, etc. (expansion of facilities, construction of a new
plant, opening a new branch, launching a new product, etc.). On the other hand, career
planning only gives us a picture of who could succeed in case any major developments
leading to retirement, death, resignation of existing employees.
Human Resource planning is tied to the overall strategic planning efforts of the organisation.
There cannot be an effective manpower planning, if career planning is not carried out
Need for Career Planning
Every employee has a desire to grow and scale new heights in his workplace continuously. If there are enough opportunities, he can pursue his career goals and exploit his potential fully. He feels highly motivated when the organisation shows him a clear path as to how he can meet his personal ambitions while trying to realise corporate goals. Unfortunately, as pointed out by John Leach, organisations do not pay adequate attention to this aspect in actual practice for a variety of reasons. The demands of employees are not matched with organisational needs, no effort is made to show how the employees can grow within certain limits, what happens to an employee five years down the line if he does well, whether the organisation is trying to offer mere jobs or long-lasting careers, etc. When recognition does not come in time for meritorious performance and a certain amount of confusion prevails in the minds of employees whether they are ‘in’ with a chance to grow or not, they look for greener pastures outside. Key executives leave in frustration and the organisation suffers badly when turnover figures rise. Any recruitment effort
made in panic to fill the vacancies is not going to be effective. So, the absence of a career plan is going to make a big difference to both the employees and the organisation. Employees do not get right breaks at a right time; their morale will be low and they are always on their toes trying to find escape routes. Organisations are not going to benefit from high employee turnover. New employees mean additional selection and training costs. Bridging the gaps through short-term
i. Identifying individual needs and aspirations: Most individuals do not have a clear cut idea about their career aspirations, anchors and goals. The human resource professionals must, therefore, help an employee by providing as much information as possible showing what kind of work would suit the employee most, taking his skills, experience, and aptitude into account. Such an assistance is extended through workshops/seminars while the employees are subjected to psychological testing, simulation exercises, etc. The basic purpose of such an exercise is to help an employee form a clear view about what he should do to build his career within the
company. Workshops and seminars increase employee interest by showing the value of career planning. They help employees set career goals, identify career paths and uncover specific career development activities (discussed later). These individual efforts may be supplemented by printed or taped information. To assist employees in a better way, organisations construct a data bank consisting of information on the career histories, skill evaluations and career preferences of its employees (known as skill or talent inventory).
ii. Analysing career opportunities: Once career needs and aspirations of employees are known, the organisation has to provide career paths for each position. Career paths show career progression possibilities clearly. They indicate the various positions that one could hold over a period of time, if one is able to perform well. Career paths change over time, of course, in tune with employee’s needs and organisational requirements. While outlining career paths, the claims of experienced persons lacking professional degrees and that of young recruits with excellent degrees but without experience need to be balanced properly.
iii. Aligning needs and opportunities: After employees have identified their needs and have realised the existence of career opportunities the remaining problem is one of alignment. This process consists of two steps: first, identify the potential of employees and then undertake career development programmes (discussed later on elaborately) with a view to align employee needs and organisational opportunities. Through performance appraisal, the potential of employees can be assessed to some extent. Such an appraisal would help reveal employees who need further training, employees who can take up added responsibilities, etc. After identifying
the potential of employees certain developmental techniques such as special assignments, planned position rotation, supervisory coaching, job enrichment, understudy programmes can be undertaken to update employee knowledge and skills.

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