Career Progression Plan for Business Success

Career progression plan: Businesswoman standing on a red graph on concrete wall and drawing many business icons around. Back view of the woman. Concept of career growth with the red graph with an arrow at the top

Retaining talented employees is key for many businesses, career progression plans help in this area. The plan ensures the employer and employee are clear on where the employee sees themselves in the next 12 months and 5 years (usually). 

Take points to understand how the business may assist in helping the employee achieve this, alongside aligning with business objectives.

The plan isn’t simply a roadmap for employees to move up the corporate ladder, a career progression plan is a strategic tool for business growth and success.


What is a Career Progression Plan

A career progression plan is a structured roadmap created for employees to use for identifying their career goals and the steps required to achieve these goals. Usually will have a timeframe; 12 months and 5 years is common.

The plan will outline key milestones, training, and opportunities to progress in their career within the company.

Key elements of a career progression plan

    • Career goals
    • Evaluation of current skills, experience, and qualifications
    • Skill gap analysis
    • Action plan for obtaining essential skills and qualifications for future roles
    • Details of specific actions for progression i.e. mentorship.
    • A timeline to achieve each step
    • Resources needed for growth i.e. courses or professional associations
    • Mentorship
    • Metrics for measuring progression
    • Contingency plans

    Why Career Progression Planning is Important

    Asking employees to map out their careers, is the foundation of professional development. In turn, both the employer and employee will see the advantages of doing this exercise. For employees, it gives a sense of direction by outlining a path for professional development. They will be looking at their current role and how they will reach their next career milestone. The plan acts as a motivator to employees for continuous learning and development. In turn, it benefits business performance.

    From a business point of view, career progression planning is equally as essential.  As a strategic tool, career progression plans are used for talent retention – employees are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their future. Investing in employee growth boosts engagement within the workplace, directly impacting business productivity and performance. Furthermore, a career progression plan is fundamental for succession plans within the business.  These plans ensure the business has experienced and qualified individuals ready to take on leadership roles.

    Career progression plans act as a form of risk management. For example, if a senior employee hands in their notice, the business has an employee ready to take on their role. This will minimise the impact on business productivity or performance.

    The advantages of implementing career progression plans

    Implementing career progression plans has multiple benefits for both the employer and employee, these include:

    • Higher employee engagement as employees feel more valued and understood in the workplace.
    • Better retention rates as employees are more likely to stay with a business if they are investing in their professional development and providing growth opportunities.
    • Attracting top talent as employees are more inclined to apply to companies that invest in employee development.
    • Continuous professional development keeps the business ahead of competition.
    • Assists with succession planning strategies.
    • Aligning employee goals to business objectives and strategies for growth
    • Improved job satisfaction and morale, boosting positive workplace culture

    Implementing a career progression plan is a strategic business investment, creating a more motivated and skilled workforce. Also, a greater sense of loyalty to the business and a competitive edge over competitors. The plan will assist in driving business success.

    Example of a career progression plan structure

    The structure of a career progression plan takes the form of a document or roadmap outlining the employee’s ideal career development and aspirations alongside the necessary steps for achieving these goals.

    An example of structure includes;

    • Title and introduction page
      • Employee name, date, and title of document.
      • Outline the intention of the plan and the employees’ overall career objectives
    • Self-assessment summary
      • Details of the employee’s skills, qualifications, strengths, and weaknesses plus any specific interests or values.
      • Including any results from formal assessments or personality tests may be beneficial in this section.
    • Career goals
      • Including both short and long-term career goals, detailing what success looks for each goal.
      • Using the SMART metrics is highly recommended.
    • Analyse current role
      • Evaluating the employee’s current role in the business, looking at their job responsibilities, and achievements and detail any gaps in experience, qualifications, or skills.
    • Outline of desired role
      • A detailed description of the employee’s desired role, outlining the required qualifications, experience and skills for the role.
      • Detailing job titles and responsibilities gives a clearer picture.
    • Skill gap analysis
      • Reviewing the employees current skills and qualifications against the desired role to identify the gaps for training and development.
    • Development objectives
      • Detail particular learning objectives and the competencies involved in decreasing the skill gaps.
      • Reviewing technical skills, leadership abilities, and industry-specific knowledge
    • Action plan
      • Outline the activities and initiatives the employee needs to undertake in a step-by-step action plan to meet development objectives.
    • Resources needed
      • Detail the resources needed to complete the action plan, outlining the courses, books, webinars or professional associations i.e. CIPD.
      • Budget for training and development should be outlined in this section
    • Timeframe
      • Map out the timeframe for when each action will be completed and key milestones
      • A deadline for achieving specific goals and when reviews will happen
    • Success metrics
      • Outline the criteria and metrics for measuring the success of the career progression plan.
      • Metrics may include employee appraisals, achievements with qualifications and feedback from line managers.
    • Review and adjustment process
      • Create a process for regular reviews of the progression plan, adapting the plan to fit with any feedback, industry developments and changes in personal goals
      • The plan shouldn’t be set in stone but adaptable
    • Closing statement
      • Reaffirm both the employees’ and employers’ commitment to the career progression plan and that steps will be taken for success.

    Questions to include in the career progression plan

      1. Detail skills that come naturally to you within the job role
      2. What skills have you wanted to learn?
      3. Describe in one sentence your goal for the next 12 months… (same for 5 years time)
      4. What is stopping you from achieving your desired goals?
      5. What training and development do you believe you need to achieve this goal?
      6. What is your plan to keep yourself accountable to reach your goals?

      Overall, a career progression plan is a strategic tool used for employee growth and business success. Helping businesses hold onto key employees and assist with succession planning. This allows for greater consistency within the business.  These must be specific to the business and employee to see the most benefit from them.

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