Over the years, career paths have changed from a steady ascent, to unique tracks adapted to each person. Whereas previously, the concept of career trajectory was upward progression on a preset track, today career paths are more flexible and adaptable to personal needs. Why is it important for leaders to understand this? Well, by doing so, they can drive personal and professional development in ways based on feasible flexibility, development-orientated relationships, visibility and transparency, and diversity management.
During the ‘80s and early ‘90s, the concept of careers was similar to a ‘race’, with each person in the race having the same time and energy to devote to reaching the same end goal. But now, careers cannot be conceived as a linear sprint, from crouching start to finishing line; instead of racing against others, it is more important to follow your own path and achieve the goals that you consider to be worthwhile depending on your particular circumstances.
The definition of career success has also changed. It is less dependent on earning the recognition of others, and more about setting individual goals with your own path to achieving those goals. The one-size-fits-all approach is no more relevant, and neither are immovable objectives. “The career track has had its day,” says Professor Mireia las Heras in this Idea, and recent economic and social changes have emphasized this point.
Referring to research at IESE into the development of career paths, Heras identifies two keys to employability:
Now, more than ever, companies must create environments that account for these two factors. Below are four ways in which they can do so.
As developing a career path is heavily influence by an organization’s environment, the presence of the following four features can favour, and absence hinder, the development of professional paths. By adopting these features, companies can provide necessary challenges and support to employees:
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