Best Practice Lessons in Career Development

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By: Beverly Kaye, Founder, Career Systems International

As part of our TalentEdge™ consulting approach, we are hearing requests more and more from clients to work closely with them to build a system-wide initiative around the career development message.  Organizations that strive to truly build a development culture recognize that the effort usually calls for a sizable change management approach and long-term commitment to balancing the many needs and demands of a variety of stakeholder groups.

While every initiative is further complicated by the constant changing landscape inside and outside of the organization, and by pressures of time and resources, there are a few things we’ve learned to look for and ensure at start-up that also can make or break the power of the initiative itself.

Here are some lessons learned over three decades:

TEAM FROM THE GET-GO 
An external resource can never understand the culture and norms of the internal organization as well as a team of professionals who have lived within its boundaries.  The translation of the culture happens best when a team of internal and external resources remains central to the decisions and the design.  Externals, because of their deep expertise and experience, can move the process quickly, but the keen insights and learnings from internal learning and leadership professionals inside the organization are paramount to success.

CHOOSE THE INITIATIVE CHAMPION CAREFULLY
The organizational leader responsible for the entire initiative must have the respect and support of senior management and passion and commitment to the undertaking.  A systems perspective is essential and a clear understanding of the objectives and the success factors from all stakeholder viewpoints is critical.

PARTNER WITH KEY STAKEHOLDER GROUPS CONTINUALLY
Key stakeholder groups must vet the direction of the content development and learning models.  Although a great deal of data collection was often done prior to inviting the external resource, it would be important to revisit this data to be sure the design dimensions/requirements have been heard, translated and implemented.

IDENTIFY EXPERIENCED PROJECT MANAGEMENT SUPPORT
The key to a company-wide initiative lies with the abilities of project management leaders who would have oversight responsibility for all phases of the design and implementation. Project management experience is essential, and the ability to interact frequently with all those involved using the latest technology and communication systems is critical to meeting all deadlines and milestone requirements.

REVISIT THE BUSINESS CASE FREQUENTLY
Initiatives don’t usually get funded unless a sound business case can be made, metrics outlined, and bottom line expectations clarified.  To insure support throughout the life of the solution, be sure the business case stays relevant and modify regularly.  Changing dynamics will affect the original rationale and can either add more fuel to the fire, or see the effort end abruptly.

The list is by no means exhaustive. What are your lessons? Comment and share with others.

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