Who Owns Career Development: Employer or Employee?

Years ago, people went to a "service" station when they needed gas for their cars. It was usually a full-service operation where the attendant greeted you and asked what you needed. The attendant pumped the gas, cleaned the windshield, checked the oil and sometimes the tire pressure and then collected payment. If there was a mechanical problem with your car, the on-site garage could do the repair work. We never even had to leave the car.

Full Service to Self-Service

Fast forward to the present - today, you pull into a self-serve station. No one greets you, and you pump your own gas. You can pay at the pump with your credit card and never talk to a person. If you need to go inside, it's typically a convenience store filled with 25 flavors of coffee and enough sports and energy drinks to fill Lake Michigan.  If your car has a problem, it's up to you to figure out what to do.

Career Planning in the Self-Service World

A similar change has happened in career development and planning. When I first started my career at IBM, my manager scheduled time with me to review my development plan. It was a 10-year plan - that's right, 10 years, not months - that outlined potential paths forward in the organization and the skills I'd need to be considered for those roles.  My manager helped me understand my education options, on-the-job learning, and potential career paths within the company.  We regularly reviewed the plan and identified next actions I needed to undertake for advancement.  In a sense, my manager was my career development coach, at least within the IBM world.

Now consider today's world of rapid change. The pace at which job skills and even careers become obsolete has accelerated.  As a result, the need for regular career planning and continuous skill building is greater than ever.  If you are fortunate, your employer offers resources such as tuition assistance, internal education, and access to job postings within the company.  Most of these resources are accessible online and it's up to you, the employee, to understand and avail yourself of the options.  Career paths both inside and outside of the organization are less clear than they once were.  For the most part, managers are too busy or not equipped to provide career planning.  It is a strictly self-serve world. But where does one start? As an employer, is this the best approach for engaging and retaining employees?

Perceptions of Education and Career Development

EdAssist recently partnered with the University of Phoenix Research Institute to explore perceptions of the role of employers, workers, and educational institutions in career development.  Our intent is two-fold: to shed light on the perceived responsibilities for career planning and advancement and to explore solutions to this situation, including better collaboration between all players.

This week, I am co-presenting the results at Elliot Masie's Learning 2013 Conference.  Please join us; the discussion should be lively.  In January we will host a webinar on this topic, so stay tuned for registration information. Preliminary research results will also be released shortly.