Career Experience Management: Developing the Potential of Your Human Workforce


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Listen to our interview with Sophie Wade in the WorkHuman Radio episode embedded at the top of this post.

Traditional, linear careers are over. Comprehensive career design overhaul is an opportunity to take a new approach to developing employees’ careers to:

  • Adapt the fixed structure for new marketplace demands.
  • Use the contributions of employees themselves.
  • Effectively support new workplace policies and practices.
  • Recognize the role of independent contractors as part of the corporate workforce.

The result is a more fluid, responsive, and human organization.

The linear corporate ladder was a simple, yet ill-fitting structure for many. Now, employees are trying to understand and navigate an often uncharted corporate maze. Personalized, latticed careers – which have lateral, diagonal, as well as vertical options for progression – are filling the vacuum slowly, but require concerted attention to formulate.

Younger recruits are especially struggling, often being told to expect career tracks that actually no longer exist. One consequence is younger hires appear to be demanding early promotions, when all they want to know is if they have a future at their organization. Employers’ reactions to the proposition are often negative. The ask is misconceived as entitlement to unearned progress, rather than a desire to confirm the company’s commitment to their future.

Developing the potential of younger workers is especially important to fuel a company’s future growth. The opportunity and challenge is to nurture a more widely spread workforce and develop them individually.

Fortunately, technology-savvy, younger workers are particularly independent and entrepreneurial-minded, understanding the more self-directed nature of their new career realities. They can take a significant role in the design and development process. Most will happily share valuable insights about their potential interests and become actively involved in monitoring and managing progress over time. Just engaging them in the process as invested resources shows your company’s commitment in their future and deepens their loyalty in return.

What is Career Experience Management?

Career Experience Management is a proactive approach to developing employees’ careers, considering their positions and experiences over time holistically. It uses a framework design to be flexible enough to fully embrace latticed career movement, so employees can change jobs and have many different experiences without leaving your company.

Your company sets parameters for its unique framework, defining such details as: permissible movements between departments and divisions; which roles need which skills; and how specific skills may be augmented and rewarded.

Why it Matters

Role rotation allows human talent to flourish, enabling each person to develop their strengths, gain a better understanding of the business, and foster broad-based relationships. The result is a more well-rounded and valuable employee who stays longer.

Movement across the company can break down silos and give your company more agility to respond to rapidly evolving business needs.

How it Works

The digitization of business is shifting emphasis from years of experience to expertise. Responsibility is assigned more frequently on a project basis, leading to less hierarchy and a more fluid understanding of seniority. Metrics to capture temporary responsibility should be enabled to measure employees’ progress properly.

The 360 approach means enabling each person to work in as frictionless an environment as possible. This includes technology support – devices, platforms and applications – that allows them to communicate, collaborate, and perform at the highest level wherever they are working. Training is key for managers with dispersed workers so they increase oversight and communication, and shift to outcome-based evaluation.

Contractors need meaningful support as well, including access to tools and relevant confidential files. As the workforce mix changes to include a greater percentage of contractors, HR can consider overseeing them together with employees, once procurement has engaged them.

Another aspect of Career Experience Management is developing and nurturing an extended talent pool – former employees, almost-hires, and other contractors. These people are culturally-aligned and familiar resources to draw upon as business needs evolve.

As people ebb and flow on jobs and projects, the edges of your company will mirror the changing physical location of workers, becoming less defined, and more dotted.

Your organization will feel more like a living organism – a reflection of the combined personalities, careers, and experiences of your workforce population as they evolve over time. It will be more fluid, more responsive, and definitely more human.

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Sophie Wade (1 Posts)

Sophie is the founder and workforce innovation specialist at Flexcel Network. Sophie is an authority on future of work issues impacting companies – such as attracting, engaging, and retaining talent, workplace flexibility, millennial demands, and more. Flexcel Network provides consulting services to corporations to maximize the benefits and minimize the disruption in their transition to the new work environment. Flexcel Network also helps employees and independent workers adapt and start proactively managing their new, latticed corporate or diversified, independent careers.

Sophie has lived and worked in Asia, Europe, and the U.S., assisting entrepreneurs and major corporations identify, develop, and execute strategic initiatives, build teams and ventures, and create partnerships. She writes and speaks regularly about future of work issues. Her book Embracing Progress – Next Steps for the Future of Work was published in April 2017. Sophie is the 2015-17 President of the New York City chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). She has a BA from Oxford University in Oriental Studies (Chinese) and an MBA from INSEAD.