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Career Pathing. Is it the New Performance Appraisal?

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I wrote a blog post entitled, Dead Man Walking: The Annual Performance Review, jumping with both feet firmly planted on the growing bandwagon of CEOs and senior HR leaders predicating the end of the ineffective and universally despised annual performance review. Many have proposed throwing reviews out altogether. I’m not on that particular bandwagon. We all need feedback. Of course, we all prefer positive over negative feedback. Some of us have a hard time receiving negative feedback while others welcome it and see such feedback as means to an end: self-improvement.

In Dead Man Walking: The Annual Performance Review I proposed that the fix lies in creating a better appraisal, one that is tied to job role competencies. We can go a step further. Millennials, who now represent more than half the workforce and growing, view training and the opportunity to experience a variety of roles and responsibilities as the means to self-improvement. Relevant training and experiences that allow them to freely move up, across, or down the career lattice are highly desirable and promote both engagement and retention.

“Creating engagement strategies is one of management’s big goals. But managers who have developed successful strategies for retaining boomers are going to have put those strategies in the corporate archives” said Jay Gilbert in The Millennials: A new generation of employees, a new set of engagement policies. “Creating strategies to engage millennials requires a whole different approach – and strategy.”

While giving employees the ability to explore different career options by navigating a company’s career lattice whether on paper or by application, this alone is not sufficient to achieve a return on the investment in training, mentoring, and otherwise developing employees. There still needs to be a way to assess the efficacy of this investment on employee performance and ensure a positive return.

I contend that we must replace the current annual performance review with a systematic competency-based approach to talent management that blends performance, employee career aspirations, and development in one cohesive system putting the employee’s career aspirations at the center. There are a number of products on the market today that claim to improve employee engagement by providing a job role navigator and suggestions for training and experiences that an employee might follow to transition from one role to the next. However, these applications don’t relate the suggestions back to actual performance required to be successful or the employees future progression path.

The very best applications on the market effectively blend continuous feedback, goal management, competency-based assessments, 360 feedback, career path exploration, and development into a comprehensive and cohesive system designed to maximize returns on individual employee investments, driving improvements to the top and bottom lines, and dramatically improving engagement and retention.

When you are searching for a tool to assist in this process, be sure to:

  • find one that links assessment to an employee’s talent profile so that you can assess proficiency levels,
  • demonstrates all available next moves within their existing department and beyond, and
  • serves ups a personalized career development plan.

I’m open to your thoughts and insights.

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