Overcome Your Objections to Helping Employees Career Plan

By Mark Swartz


You claim that your employees are your greatest asset. Programs are in place to promote from within. You strive to motivate staff in times of uncertainty.

One thing you can’t do is guarantee them job security beyond the short term. Not that people expect a job for life anymore. In fact personal career planning is a must for proactive workers.

That’s a perk to consider offering: career planning sessions for each of your employees. It’s a complement to your staffing succession efforts.

This should be a no-brainer. But employers have some common objections to the practice, each of which is addressed below.


The Essence of Career Planning

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” That question is at the heart of career planning. It’s a process wherein a person identifies their skills, aspirations and core values.

Professional strengths and weaknesses are examined. Gaps are acknowledged and ways to deal with them discussed. Goals are plotted over one, three and five year horizons.

The end result is a personal strategic plan for getting the most out of work (and life). That can be inspiring to people in terms of reaching their potential.


How It Benefits Employers

Companies typically only care about how employees will fit in to the company’s plans. You’d be offering a chance to look at that – and much more.

Doing so is in the employee’s best interest, not just yours. It shows that you care about people beyond their worth on the job. Programs like these foster loyalty when staff see how their personal goals align with your company’s objectives.

A side effect is that workers made aware of their deficits can begin to seek out professional development, hopefully with assistance from your firm.


Objection 1.  We Already Use An Outplacement Service

Most companies learn about career planning just before they let people go. That’s when they contact an employment lawyer to mitigate damages, then an outplacement service to help the downsized transition into their next job. This is different from taking a preventive approach with your other employees.


Objection 2.  It Might Encourage Top Performers To Leave

Why aid someone in exploring their dream career paths if it alerts them to greener pastures? Here’s a newsflash: your prime talent already knows how valuable they are to other employers. They may already be getting contacted by recruiters or contemplating moving on.

Career planning might actually assist in pruning the lesser performers. They’ll see more acutely how they might be wasting their real talents and choose to head out.


Objection 3.  We Have No One In-House Trained To Do This

Don’t scrimp by getting one of your employees conduct career sessions. Small businesses don’t normally have HR staff available for it. Even if they did the employees would balk. Career planning is, and should remain, a private endeavour where the results are confidential.

Third-party suppliers of these services abound. That outplacement provider you’ve contracted? Ask them if they also do “in-placement” sessions. They’ll know what you mean.

Thousands of independent career practitioners are available too. They may operate as a one-person company, as part of a career coaching business, or as a member of a collective.


Career consulting can be given to staff in the following ways:

  • One-on-one either in person, by skype, phone, email or other electronic means
  • One-to-many, by workshop either on-site or off-site
  • Software-to-each-person, via company server or cloud, available 24/7


Objection 4.  Only The Employee Will Know Their Results

The way for staff to be honest and open about their career thoughts is to ensure they remain confidential. Otherwise no one would admit they don’t want to work for you long-term.


our task is to harness the portions of discovery relating to your company. It’s fair to follow-up the coaching by asking everyone where their future goals fit in with current and prospective positions at your company, and what training or development needs you can support.

Done in this manner the questions tie directly to your succession planning. That way you preserve each employee’s right to privacy while making the good ones feel more wanted.