Lead Change Group has a wonderful piece up about how managers can help their employees develop in role to address their engagement and retention issues in the absence of additional resources and/or the support of senior leadership. The logic goes that more in-role development is essential today because the traditional career paths of generation’s past – those with built in progression every 18 months that lead to a steady path up the corporate ladder – are fading away. Instead, career progression for many has become more of a winding road than an upward climb. I thought it was a pretty accurate snapshot of what progression looks like in many organizations today… good read. The piece from Julie Winkle Giulioni, and you can check it out here.

…So I have buy-in here on general principle. To Giulioni’s point, there are often many great developmental opportunities a manager can give to his/her employees within their department, and even more that open up if he or she partners with other managers to do talent swaps and/or joint projects that expand the competencies and capabilities of employees in both teams.

The challenge I keep coming back to here though is that most people don’t know what they want out of their careers because they haven’t really experienced enough to know what’s possibleAnd at lower levels often times one’s Manager doesn’t have a significantly wider awareness of potential career pathways (and the competences required to move into them) in an organization.

…This all comes back to learning and development for me. Meaningful progression can only happen when people know what they don’t know and have the tools to get it. Managers partnering with employees at a local level solves the tools problem, but not the awareness problem.

In this respect I am sold on the utility of a plugged in learning and development team that partners with HR Business Partners and / or Managers to deliver these tools to employees at all levels of the organization. Is there any research out there that makes the business case, though? I’m talking about before and after analyses of retention / engagement / performance etc. And for those organizations that have successfully built teams that serve this role across the enterprise, what were some of the challenges they faced along the way? How did they overcome them?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.