Rethinking the career experience

We recently took part in an online event run by our New Zealand partners Fuel50 and IBM to consider the disrupted career experience and how we might make work more rewarding for employees.

Career paths have changed and employees expect to take ownership of their career development rather than relying on traditional career models. The career ladder has disappeared and we expect a more flexible and tailored career path. The career landscape has changed and given that 81 percent of employees feel their skills are not put to best use at work the new employment model needs to offer a more rewarding employee experience.

As consumers we demand personalised services and product, tailored to our requirements, not one size fits all. The same applies to the work experience. We want careers that align with our values, talents and passions.

Josh Bersin talks about the ‘Uberization’ of jobs – we work when and for whom we want to work. Similarly, organisations are becoming much more project-focused, applying resources (people and capital) to specific opportunities, where agility is the name of the game. Gone are the traditional career paths, and CEB report that employees are spending more time at the coalface, with steeper rises in responsibility, less frequently and with consequent risks of failure.


Agile career development requires solutions that drive personalisation and implementation of careers that put employees in the driving seat. Business needs a career growth mind-set and to enable career growth should empower managers to become coaches and career champions who can craft an engaging career experience for their teams.

To repeat, this trend echoes the ways we do business now, the employee experience is viewed as being akin to the customer experience as we recognise that in the modern workplace our best staff want individual career propositions that allow them to play to their talents, values and passions.

Recognising employee needs

In the new environment breadth and depth of experience and development are more important than a vertical rise up the old-style career ladder. Employees seek roles that allow them to explore new avenues, to broaden their perspectives and to engage with fresh challenges. Interestingly, Fuel 50’s research shows that 81% of employees feel that they don’t make full use of their talents at work. Employees see lateral moves as facilitating their overall development and in a flatter organisation model they may spend longer runs of time in lateral moves and, from time to time, steeper upward rises where leadership balances a more complex workforce through a changing business environment.

In real terms this means following the advice of the Head of Employee Experience at General Electric and endeavouring to “See[ing] the world through the eyes of our employees”.

An emphasis on employee engagement means a focus on career strategies that work to develop and retain and engage the majority of your workforce.

Traditionally business has put the focus on hiring which is perceived as a bigger issue than a good work experience; it would be smart to refocus on leveraging the talents of what you have got. Research shows there is a much greater chance of success by promoting from within, than hiring externally. It may be dated, but SHL research showed the coefficient of correlation between successful interview and successful job performance 0.3, which is barely better than chance.

The new model is all about personal enablement not performance review. It is about giving employees the power to manage their development. The new workplace is forward looking, seeking out new opportunities rather than a focus on past performance I am minded to draw an analogy from the world of finance, management accounts only tell where you have come from, cash flow forecasts tell you what is going to happen in the future.

Engagement surveys consistently show that key drivers for employees are career opportunities closely followed by learning opportunities. Other engagement drivers such as feeling valued, open and honest communication, and trust in leadership are, it can be argued, about the personal agenda: “What will the organisation to do for me, how will it make me more employable?”

10Eighty and Fuel50 believe that world class career practices empower employees to maintain a career growth mindset, enabling self-directed growth aided by a manager who acts as a career coach.

Essentially, the organisation needs the technological infrastructure that enables employees to identify their values, talents and passions, allowing them to look across the organisation and identify fellow employees who share those traits so as to facilitate career conversations around opportunities and the development required to reach career goals.

Organisations should adopt this approach not just because their employees want it, but because this is how to ensure competitive advantage in today’s economy.

This is perfectly characterised by a quote from Marianne Jackson, CHRO at EBay: “individualised career propositions are for the purpose of business velocity”.

Aim to build a careers framework that provides a better sense of involvement and belonging and offers open and honest two-way communication. It’s a two-sided coin – if we can build career pathways that provide profitable growth for the employee in terms of their career development, and profitable growth for the business then we are getting it right

You can check out how just your organisation compares to these best class career practices. Take a look at the 10Eighty CareerCENTRE

Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees. Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions. He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy. Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty. Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching. Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.