The older baby boomers are retiring and the younger ones are next in line. Many organizations have found they aren’t prepared for the accompanying loss of technical knowledge, job skills and abilities. In many cases, the reasons why many decisions were made the way they were, may only be found between the ears of these departing, or soon-to-be-departing employees. Organizations are also finding that a significant number of their leaders and key employees are baby boomers who could retire now or within the next five years.
The challenge facing employers is to create and implement a process by which knowledge and job skills are developed in employees on an ongoing basis to ensure that the existing staff is always capable of performing the organization’s critical tasks. The answer to this dilemma is to create a staffing plan which allows an organization to identify career-track plans. These career-track plans can help the organization and its employees identify the knowledge, skills and abilities that need to be mastered to be considered for a specific position. A good career track identifies the technical skills and knowledge an individual lacks, as well as the educational requirements and people skills that the individual must develop to be successful. Like a good road map, the career-track plan gives the individual and the organization an overview of the rate of progression for each employee. This progression allows the organization to project a group of individuals’ readiness to move into their next position. This readiness report allows the organization to make more logical transfers and work assignments as part of an employee’s development.
Career-track plans play a significant role in boosting morale, and aid in reducing turnover as it shows which individual employees have a future with the organization. The career-track plan also can create a win-win relationship in that it places a large part of individual development in the hands of the employee. The organization should recognize its part in providing growth opportunities to meet an individual’s career plan by allowing job transfers or rotation as needed, and to provide employees the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills and abilities required to accomplish career needs.
One caveat in the development of career-track plans is that the leadership of the organization must provide honest and timely feedback to employees regarding their progress and the ultimate likelihood of promotion. If employees see others who are pursuing their career-track plans and being promoted, the process will typically be considered viable. If, however, people not in the career track are promoted, or the organization continues to hire from outside the firm when internal candidates are perceived to be qualified, the career-track process will likely lose credibility.