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Aligning Career Growth with Company Goals
An effective way of positively impacting more than one dimension of commitment is aligning career development with company goals. How can this be accomplished? When an enterprise assists a person in developing their expertise to further their professional and personal growth and development, it can build commitment. Under these circumstances, research suggests the employee generally feels a sense of obligation to support the organization to achieve its goals.6 If the learning opportunity is ongoing, the employee may also experience continuance commitment. In other words, the employee considers it a prohibitive cost to personally foot the bill for the remainder of the course. So they decide not to leave to work somewhere else before completing the program. As a result, a relevant organizationally-sponsored development program that supports career and company goals can assist in increasing an employee’s continuance and normative commitment levels.
How does a business leader confirm alignment between what the employee wants and what the company needs? The starting point is an open discussion between the manager and employee about their career aspirations. It’s also helpful to discuss any connection between the employee’s professional and personal goals and the company’s strategic direction. When people understand the larger picture, they can readily see how to advance (or not advance) their own careers with their current employer.
It should also be acknowledged that frank and frequent dialogue about careers can decrease—rather than increase—employee commitment. An employee with great promise may part ways with their current employer when they discover they can’t achieve their career aspirations where they are. But on balance, honest and regular dialogue between leaders and team members is more likely to benefit both the individual and organization.
More and more companies are seeing the benefits of using assessment tools and career coaches to identify employees’ strengths and decide how best to leverage those talents in their current job role. An increasing number of companies are also encouraging employees to discuss with their boss how their strengths and talents can be best used in their current and future positions within the business. I think this is a very positive move. When employees use more of their innate talents, they find their work more satisfying, and may well feel a greater sense of commitment to their current place of work.
Harriet is an accountant. The company she works for uses assessment tools and career coaching. When she expressed interest in a management position, her career coach reminded Harriet that her assessment indicated strengths in areas other than management. Harriet then admitted that her interest in management stemmed primarily from the managerial position’s earning potential. She couldn’t see any other way to increase her earning capacity beyond leaving to work somewhere else. Based on Harriet’s interest and commitment to furthering her career, the company offered her the position of revenue analyst. Based on Harriet’s educational background and strengths—including attention to detail and adherence to company policies and procedures—the position of revenue analyst was a logical fit. In this new role, she provided more value to the company and took on new challenges. Harriet also increased her earnings because the new position rated several grades higher than her former position as an accountant. So career and company alignment makes sense and can positively affect all three forms of commitment we’ve discussed.
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