Are you an employer seeking to develop your employees in the workplace? We have a few career development tips and activities that would enable you build purposeful employees. The best form of investment they say, is human investment. This is why it is the sole responsibility of any organization to take care of its employees and give them a chance to grow, especially those who are career conscious.

We all need to understand that career in the 21st century is characterized by continuous learning of employees and identity changes in due course of time rather than changes in age and life stages. We also need to know that career development of employees is not just the responsibility of organizations; rather it is their obligation to address the ambition of their employees and create job positions where they can accommodate their growing career needs.

In this age, employees are now becoming career conscious and they will stick to an enterprise where they feel that they have a chance to showcase their talent, grow to the maximum possible level and achieve their objectives. Have it in mind that growth and achievement can mean different things to different people. Few might see it as a fat package, some may want to reach the topmost position, while some want to gain higher skills and competencies along with their growth as a human being.

But the fact remains that everyone has goals and will want to achieve them within a specified time. Career development is a continuous process where both employees and employers have to put efforts together so that they can achieve their objectives at the same time. It is very important to state that career development process includes both individuals and institutions.

Individuals plan their own careers whereas institutions or organizations manage the careers of their employees. We believe that career planning by an individual is made up of several sub processes such as occupational choices, organizational choices, job assignment choices and career self-development.

Career management is a constant process that considers a particular job title or designation while preparing, implementing and monitoring succession planning depending upon the future requirements of an organization. Also note that it takes human factors into consideration but the entire process is directed and operated as per the needs and convenience of an organization.

50 Career Development ideas for Employees

  1. Table of Content

    Learn Group Activities

If some of your employees have the same career objectives, you can set up a learning group as a career development activity. We believe that a learning group shares knowledge and skills in a supportive environment with no formal training. Literally, it might mean that your employees meet during lunch hours or early in the morning without interfering with work. By communicating through newsletters or email messages, all of your employees can gain from the opportunity of learning groups.

  1. Training Class

You should also know that external training classes give your employees a special setting outside the office to learn some new skills. We suggest you set aside funds each year to allow your employees to take a course or a training class somewhere to develop new skills. After the training, you can ask them to identify assignments that will allow them to apply their new skills.

  1. Build Executives or Manager’s passion to coach employees

It has always been the duties of managers to pass on knowledge, skills, and insights through coaching and mentoring. But in this complex and competitive world, the duties of the manager are changing drastically. Managers are now overburdened with duties that they rarely handle what they are supposed to, let alone offer coaching and mentoring. Organizations need to support and incentivize managers to perform this work.

  1. Hold Steady One on One Meetings

You need to understand that a steady one on one session with an employee serves as a deliberate, recurring check-in. We believe that by scheduling them on a periodic basis, employees can prepare topics for discussion in advance. Furthermore, planned sessions afford you as the manager the opportunity to gather any feedback and share it with your employees during the next one on one meeting.

  1. Career Paths

No matter how intensive your training is, without a career path, your employees do not have a plan for advancement within the company. This is why your human resources group and departmental managers should be working around the clock to note ongoing company needs and use those needs to establish career opportunities for your employees.

  1. Let Your Employee to state Their Career Highlight

You need to understand that no human is the same and every employee is different. We believe that by asking an employee about a professional experience that they felt was particularly rewarding can help you understand and point out other opportunities or projects that may aid them grow. What was it that made that experience so memorable? What was it that they learned?  Do they see opportunities to have such an experience again? Often times, the employee has never even thought about it, so the conversation itself can benefit them.

  1. Recognize Accomplishments

Experts believe that employee appreciation is greatly necessary and crucial for business growth. Reports have shown that 93% of employees who feel valued are more motivated to do their best. You need to know that keeping employees happy and appreciated is an easy way to encourage growth. They’ll feel excited about the prospect of learning more, because you recognize what they’ve already done.

  1. Let your Employee know about Your Own Career Highlight

Whether you believe it or not, one advantage you have over your employees is your experience. You shouldn’t be afraid to share a personal experience that you found helped you grow in your career. Doing so can give your employee a different perspective on their career trajectory, or offer insight into solving challenges they may be facing. Your younger staff has a lot to benefit from the experiences and things you’ve done in your career. Tell them about it.

  1. Let them fly solo

We believe that by reading books or blogs, listening to podcasts or audio books, watching educational videos on TED or YouTube, or apprenticing and trying to practice a new skill with a master or a role model, employees can use self-directed learning anytime and almost anywhere. Libraries, online resources, and other employees are all examples of freely available resources that are all around us. Let your employees assess their learning style, and choose some self-directed development goals to achieve.

  1. Give them an Example of a Low Light in Your Career

When an employee is striving through a hard situation, a great way to coach and mentor them is to share a similar experience you may have had that is relatable to their circumstance. Having gone through it, your experience may help them reframe the issue or shed light on a potential solution.

  1. Never Assume

It’s your duty as a leader to make sure that the right messages are getting through to your employees. Always try not to assume that the messages are being interpreted the way you think they are. We suggest you probe and ask questions of your employees to make sure that you are in accordance with them and the messages are clear. Also try to encourage your employees to do the same with you and you’ll succeed in helping your team stay on the performance track.

  1. Always ask an Employee to Walk You Through Their Work

Whether or not you have concerns about an employee’s performance, having an employee walk you through what they are doing can serve as a great touch-point for both you and the employee. It can be during a one on one or simply by stopping by and asking how things are going on can reveal issues or difficulties the employee is facing, and gives you a chance to offer some thoughts. The key is to let them do most of the talking, so hold your comments until the end.

  1. Internship Activities

You need to understand that an internship program is a career building strategy for employee development. We believe that under the internship program, your employees develop new experiences and training in interpersonal skills to enable them handle issues such as conflict resolution. Upon completion of the internship, ask your employee to develop a special project for a presentation.

  1. Ask the Employee What They Want to Learn

It is a good idea to ask your employees what they want especially when you are struggling to identify development needs for your employee, or if they seem a little adrift in their career from a development standpoint. We believe that the answers you get in response to a question like “what opportunities or experiences are you looking for at this point in your career?” will likely surprise you and may identify opportunities you had not previously considered. An open conversation about learning will usually be received well.

  1. Deal with the short-shelf life of learning and development needs

Before, all we learn in all stages of life were priceless, but now the advent of technology has created that need for us to stay up to date in just months or become backward. It has made the need to learn rapidly and regularly more important than ever.

We believe that it creates a need for organizations to redefine how learning and development happens from a once-in-a-while activity, to a more continuous, ongoing campaign. Experts believe that avoiding information overload is vital, so organizations must strike a balance between giving the right information versus giving too much.

  1. Share Your Story

If you’ve hired the right people (and you’ve got the right attitude), your employees will be hungry to learn from you as their team leader. By sharing your own career story can give your employees great insight into learning opportunities they may want to consider or skills they may feel would help them develop. Personal stories are a great way to introduce your employees to new possibilities.

  1. Train them on how to deliver real-time feedback

While a lot of feedback comes from an employee’s manager, it is not the only place to receive valuable feedback. Every employee should be proficient in delivering relevant feedback, and trained in active listening to accept feedback from others.

  1. Challenge Their Ideas

Have it in mind that all employees, (you inclusive) should be able to handle a little heat. Whether or not you agree with an employee’s decision on how they do their work, it is always a good idea to challenge their thought process. You don’t have to make it so hard or disgraceful, but by simply offering a counter opinion that undermines an employee’s decision can help them uncover potential blind spots in their thought process.

Experts believe that challenging their ideas is also great training for them because he or she will ultimately encounter someone who really does disagree with their decision, and they will have to defend it.

  1. Set (and update) quarterly goals

Research has shown that the key to actively developing employees is to set important, achievable goals. Instead of setting and discussing employee goals on an annual basis, optimize the development and review process by creating quarterly goals.

Not only are these goals easier to set, but the results of those goals are easier to see. You should understand that quarterly goals are the quickest, easiest way for employees to get meaning from what they do every day, which is why establishing achievable goals and monitoring employee progress is very important.

  1. Document Something To Teach Accountability

Accountability is one of the hardest traits to teach employees, especially new and young ones. It is also almost impossible for managers to hold employees accountable because there are so many things going on in your department on any given day. Note that accountability can be taught by documenting things like actions, tasks and due dates and sharing them with the employee. Seeing one’s name show up with a due date on the boss’s list will get their attention.

  1. Build a foundation of trust and mutual respect

Employees need to know that a development discussion isn’t just a sneaky way to get an employee to admit their weaknesses. They need to trust you and be comfortable enough to state their weaknesses and goals. It is only when they can trust you can they be able to make their hearts bare for you to see and understand.

  1. Take An Employee on a Business Trip with You

A lot of employees learn a whole lot when they get to experience something new. If you are going to see a client, or you are attending a meeting with a supplier, bring an employee along as a learning opportunity. This can help him or her to learn a lot from your interaction with the other party and can gain an appreciation for things like negotiating with external counterparts. Indeed it might incur extra expenses but there are great benefits to it as well.

  1. Give space for Growth Within the Company

Everyone wants to work for a company that has upward mobility. If an employee is doing well, allow for promotion opportunities that will give them a sense of accomplishment. Have it in mind that even though your company doesn’t have any higher positions at the moment, consider assigning your employee additional responsibilities. It will make them feel like they are doing well.

  1. Allow employees share ideas and concerns

A lot of business organizations have a well-defined downward communication funnel. Companies need to have an equally well-defined upward communication process using both anonymous and face-to-face feedback. Because the only way that organizations will improve is through two-way communication.

  1. Have Employees Do a Dry Run

We believe that having the ability to deliver a basic presentation is a viable skill every employee should have. But before you put an employee in front of a room full of people, have them present their content to a smaller group of familiar faces. Note that it will not only let your employees learn the need of preparation, but they will also learn from the feedback you and the other team members offer.

  1. Advice your employees to own their career development

In this age, very well-structured, one-size-fits-all learning programs no longer work. Everyone needs to understand, self-direct, and control their learning futures. Yet they can’t do it alone, nor do you want them to. The development and growth of your talent is vital to your ongoing success, ability to innovate, and overall productivity.

  1. Let an Employee Present to an Executive

We believe that some experiences can be as intimidating for an employee as presenting to an executive within your firm who happens to be about 4 or 5 pay grades above them. But you need to understand that it is a necessary experience for those employees who want to advance because they need to get comfortable with the targeted and direct questions that executives tend to ask.

  1. Job Rotation Activities

Being in one place for so long helps no one. The idea of life is in change and constant growth. As a career development strategy, job rotation breaks the monotony by moving an employee, temporarily, into another position to gain exposure to another function.

As an activity, we suggest you let your employees participate in a series of job rotations based on their individual learning needs. Upon completion of the rotation, your employees are capable of applying what was learned to their current position and assisting in new functions within the organization.

  1. Make your Employee Present to a Customer

Indeed presenting and convincing a customer is where content and delivery really matter. We all can agree that a customer is relying on you to get the job done and giving employees a chance to experience that dynamic is extremely important. Note that customer feedback can indeed be harsh, but it is all part of the learning process.

  1. Hunt for hidden team treasure

Whether you believe it or not, your employees most certainly have hidden skills that, if inspired, could benefit your company. We suggest that you take a long hard look at the individuals in your organization. Who is your next executive leader? Who is going to answer the needs of your company during a growth phase? Who is the best candidate for a critical project?

Try to take note of each employee’s skills, accomplishments, demonstrated talents, goals, and potential for growth in key core areas such as leadership. What if great talents are hiding below the surface and you’re missing them? A team member may dream of a promotion. Make it a tangible goal, a potential reality with development of suitable skills for the job.

  1. Have an Employee Teach Someone Else

There is this saying that you don’t know what you know until you teach. We suggest you have your employee take someone else under his or her wing for a while and serve as a mentor to another employee. We believe that doing so is a great primer for developing leadership skills and knowing what it’s like to get results through other people.

  1. Build strong teams

Reports have shown that employees do better when they can work together and learn from each other. This is why we suggest you create strong teams where everyone’s strengths can shine and weaknesses can be improved. When paired in solid, supportive teams, your employees will be able to learn, grow and produce their best work.

  1. Let your employee Host A Meeting

You might think is not necessary but running a meeting can teach junior employees a number of important skills: preparation, organization, time management and the art of facilitating. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, just give them some responsibility and let them learn through the process.

  1. Encourage professional development

Taking an active role in the development of your team shows confidence and concern for the future of the organization. It also gives employees feelings of significance and value. High-potential employees are not satisfied with the status quo. If given the proper guidance in their development, they will become the future leaders of your organization.

  1. Take an Employee to Lunch

We all can agree that stepping out of the office into a more relaxed environment is a great way to mentor employees. We believe that it gives you and the employee a chance to talk in a setting that is more comfortable than a stuffy cubicle, and it enables you to talk to the employee on a more personal level than you can in the office. Informal conversations like this can identify potential challenges the employee might be facing that may be hard to pick up in the office.

  1. Offer opportunities for individual growth

Understand that providing coaching and development activities throughout the year are an employer’s best bet to create a culture of growth within the workplace. To ensure continuous growth and improve productivity, equip employees with the tools they need to function at peak performance.

We suggest that you create a mentorship program in which new hires work closely with a seasoned employee within their department. Doing so will get new employees on the right track sooner. You should also encourage employees to seek professional development opportunities outside of the workplace.

  1. Let an Employee Interview a Job Candidate With You

Facts and experience have shown that interviewing is a key managerial skill to have and it is something that takes a lot of practice to do well. This is why letting an employee into the room with you for a phone screen or an in-person interview and let them ask questions of their own will go a long way to teach them the path. It will not only give them a chance to learn how you conduct an interview and the types of questions you ask, but it gives them a chance to evaluate the candidate with you after the interview.

  1. Provide Performance Metrics

We also suggest that you set specific quantitative metrics to help an employee understand where they need to be or what they can realistically achieve. Then, as these performance metrics are met, the bar can be raised so the employee feels a continued sense of accomplishment.

Have it in mind that before running a marathon, a runner first sets shorter goals and then works their way up, running further and further and building the muscles and power needed to eventually get them to that marathon goal. Measuring progress also provides evidence of how these activities are working. Also performance metrics help drive accountability when paired with effective leadership.

  1. Give Your Employee a Special Assignment

We believe that one hard task leaders face is to keep the job engaging. Note that when employees process purchase orders or develop blue prints all day long, things can get pretty boring in a hurry. This is why we suggest you spice it up by giving an employee a chance to work on a special project, or something a little outside their normal duties, they will develop new skills and ideas by simply doing something different.

  1. Give stretch assignments

Instead of changing their jobs, stretch assignments are hands down the best way to learn and develop. As the leader or someone who is in charge of your employees, you are in a position to look for opportunities for your employees that are aligned with their development needs and career aspirations. Don’t think about picking the most qualified person for the assignment, instead think about picking the right developmental assignment for the person.

  1. Shadow Someone Else For a Day

It is very advisable that once in a while you let your employees shadow someone else in your organization for a day. We believe that one thing that restricts career development is lacking a true understanding of how the organization or the business operates at a macro level.

What is Supply Chain Management? What role does Customer Service really play? What does Finance really do? Give an employee one day every month to spend a few hours shadowing an experienced employee in another department to give the employee a glimpse of the big picture.

  1. Prioritize Professional Skill Development

As a successful entrepreneur, you need to always create time to focus on specific skills that could be useful at work, because working on them will help your team become better professionals. We also believe that your employees would gain from a public speaking expert coming in, or they could use a workshop to work on their writing skills.

  1. Have Your Employee Develop or Improve a Process

Every successful boss wants his or her employees to be able to analyse and identify ways to improve something. Therefore knowing how to improve or solve something using a process or procedure also helps the employee develop an appreciation for things like work flow and protocol. Also being given a chance to make something better is always rewarding.

  1. Provide flexible learning options

We believe that telling your employees they need to engage in more learning and development activities with their already heavy workload often leaves them feeling overwhelmed and consumed by the question, “When and how will I find the time?” This is why companies must respond by adopting on-demand and mobile solutions that make learning opportunities more readily accessible to people.

  1. Send Them to a Trade Show

Research has shown that trade shows offer a rare chance for employees to see what else is happening in the industry. For instance, such events give employees a chance to make business contacts, discuss common challenges, and obtain ideas from others in the field. Trade shows and conferences of all types take place on a regular basis. Ask your employee to identify one that is of particular interest to them.

  1. Push them out of their comfort zone

You shouldn’t let your employees become too complacent. Always try to shake things up now and then, and give them challenging new tasks. People don’t become great when working at status quo each day. Challenge them to help them grow.

  1. Go International

In today’s business atmosphere, your ability to work across cultural boundaries sets you apart in the industry. Getting the chance to work for an extended period overseas is therefore a great way for an employee to learn how to deal with cross-cultural issues in the work place. We believe that doing so will also give your employee a chance to experience working in a business environment that is unlike their own.

  1. Encourage Networking

A lot of individuals think of networking as a necessary evil for finding a new job. But you need to understand that staying connected and knowing others in the business will help your employees grow in their role over time. Note that your employees’ networks can benefit your company as well. Who knows when a certain connection will come in handy for a business deal, or to fill a needed position in the office.

  1. Use failure as a learning opportunity

You should learn not to see only the bad aspect of failure, but to see it as an opportunity to learn and teach. Go over where things went wrong. Talk about what could have been handled differently, and brainstorm for the future.

  1. Coach at Work and in Life

You need to understand that the best leaders in the industry are people who are personal coaches to their employees, in work and in life. We believe that a concrete relationship between a manager and an employee encourages employees to listen more, pay attention to details and give an extra 10% every day.

More importantly, when your employees are so highly in tune with you, they are more receptive to the feedback you give and open to constructive criticism that helps them improve their skills and widen their horizons.

Conclusion

The purpose of career development activities is to train, motivate and challenge employees for greater productivity in the workplace. Activities in job rotation, working with a mentor and internships provide opportunities for your employees to have individual exposure to many environments for their career development. This is why as leaders, we should know the value our learning and development programs bring to our organizations. By explicitly understanding the trends emerging in our learning and development programs, we’ll better position our companies to select the right targeted solutions to drive results, increase employee engagement, and increase innovation and productivity.

Ajaero Tony Martins