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Career Progression Coaching For Retainment.

I think the biggest problem is we hire for a position and forgetting a human is going to be doing it.

In a previous writing I went into detail on how to create and utilize an employee coaching program. This time I would like to dive into a very specific portion of the counseling, which is career progression.

This is such an important subject for me. In the past couple years so many people have decided to leave their jobs in search for something better. After talking to some of those folks I found the same thing came up in the discussion. Their company didn’t take an active interest in them, so to them the job was just a job.

What if your company could take an interest in each person by showing them exactly how they could progress within the organization? If a career path was shown to a person and the leadership took direct interest in moving them through that path, wouldn’t that individual build trust and loyalty to thier leadership and the organization?

Why define a career path?

This could be a powerful tool in employee retention that I believe is underutilized today. Career Path Progression gives a team member a way to envision their future within the organization. It can also show leadership gaps that exist in an individual’s ability to grow within the organization.

If you could show a new hire up front what skills they should be working on, then help them set goals for future responsibilities or position; you could then watch as they accomplish each goal and skill and grow in your organization.

These individuals then may become the leaders in the organization, and after having grown up in it, they understand the systems and take on a stronger ownership.

If you can show a person how they will fit in the organization and can get them to see themselves in the organization 5+ years it becomes easier for that employee to see themselves there for 5+ years.

Why Isn’t it done?

I think the two biggest reasons this is not done is because,

1. Leaders are trying to perform triage and fill positions quickly and not focusing on the longer effects.

2. Many leaders have a mindset of “nobody wants to work” instead of “people want a future.”

Let’s get better at this.

The first thing leaders need to do before offer a job, is to map out a career that can come from that specific position. If that position doesn’t offer any growth, you should ask yourself if you really need it filled by a person or could it be automated? Or maybe that job needs to be looked at a different way. Even hiring the kitchen dishwasher should be able to have career progression. I’ve heard stories of restaurant owners who say they started washing dishes. If that’s possible, why can’t we map that out in an initial counseling with the person we are hiring to wash the dishes?

Define the right type of person for the career progression not just for the single position you need right at this moment.

**Watch out for the pit fall of wanting people to be like you. Remember a team is made up of different types of people. From the previous example, not every dishwasher will be driven to want to run a restaurant, but there is a career path that individual wants. The thing we as leaders need to ensure is a potential to grow not necessarily change. For example, if there is an introverted person on your team it might not be wise to push them out of their “comfort zone” in an attempt to “improve” them. There may be a great way to career progress in the organization without having to change them into an extrovert.

How Do We Start?

The first thing to do is understanding the hierarchy of your organization and how those positions may change in the next few years.

How you envision someone growing within your team? Can they get promoted, can they gain more responsibilities, can they learn new skills? Think about this while interviewing candidates.

Define the strengths you would need for a person to progress in the position you need not just for the single job you need filled.

As leaders we need to identify what our team members strengths and weaknesses are. We should find out what they find motivating and allow the career progression to play off those strengths.

During the first initial coaching the team member should come out with an understanding of how they are going to progress in the company. This will set the stage for the team member and get them immediately thinking about this company as long term career. Remember to start with listening. This career progression should have input from the team member themselves.

Steps that should be taken before searching for you next employee.

  1. Look at the position needed and how that position may change in the future.

  2. Ensure you have a path that can at least move that team member into 3 increased levels of responsibility within 5 years.

  3. See what skills are going to be needed for that 3rd level and hire with that in mind.

  4. During the interview show them you’re interested in someone that will grow in the company.


A company needs a forklift operator. Most companies would look for someone with experience driving a forklift and use the person for that task. But your company decided to look at 3 levels of increased responsibility from that position which might be assistant warehouse manager. This changes the entire way you begin interviewing. You start looking for someone that communicates well and has potential leadership abilities.

In the short term you might say this will take to long and we just need a forklift driver. But if the wrong hire happens this could cost you just as much if not more time.

Your company take some time defining the career progression and makes the right hire and then takes them through that career progression and that Team Member that is hired ends up staying longer and increasing in responsibility. This has a positive affect on the team because they see people stick around and the team’s communication become better due to knowing and trusting each other.

**If you need further assistance in setting up a career progression model within your organization, we would love to help. Please feel free to reach out to our office to have a discussion on your organization’s specific needs.

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