A 2017 Career Roadmap

Professional woman stands on a map leading forward
Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR Photo
Executive Coach/Consultant
Envision Excellence

9 minutes

Eight steps for helping employees reach their goals this year

If you don’t know what the career goals are for each of your employees, finding out should be one of your top priorities in 2017.

One of the most important competencies of leadership is facilitating employee learning and development. Yet most managers don’t spend nearly enough time understanding the values, needs and goals of their employees.

It is the responsibility of leaders to provide employees with meaningful feedback and frequent coaching that supports them in developing their skills. Various research studies point to growth opportunities and career development as an important factor for employee satisfaction. But career development is not just beneficial to employees. Consistently coaching and developing employees increases engagement, retention and productivity. And that contributes to the success of your leadership and the bottom line.

Retain the Top

According to CEB, a top reason employees leave is a lack of future career opportunities. A survey conducted by Deloitte found that 71 percent of millennials likely to leave their jobs in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed. And research by the Hay Group found that the biggest gap between employees planning to stay with a company and those planning to leave within two years was “confidence in ability to achieve my career objectives.”

Many organizations talk about retaining and engaging employees, but few put in the consistent effort and energy to create a plan for supporting and developing employees toward their future goals. Thinking that you don’t have time to develop your employees is a mistake that will be costly to the organization and your own leadership. Employees today expect their leaders to invest in them, and they will leave for better opportunities if they don’t receive the feedback, coaching and support they crave. 

If you want to compete for top talent and attract—and keep—the best employees, you need to be actively involved in supporting and helping your employees reach their career goals. Employees today want approachable leaders who will engage them at a deeper level and get to know them as people with desires, goals and needs. Exceptional employees want opportunities for growth and development, and they want to understand what the future holds for them at your CU.

The Leader’s Impact

As a leader, you have a big impact on employee engagement, recognition and career growth. Ideally, your efforts are augmented by a broader strategic approach to development spearheaded by the talent or HR department. Typically, HR is equipped to conduct a needs analysis to determine the future talent needs of the organization and a talent assessment to understand the skills and abilities of each employee. But even if your CU doesn’t take a strategic approach to development, you can still have a significant impact on developing and retaining your employees.

A way to successfully develop the skills of your employees is to create a career roadmap. A career roadmap is a plan that details the steps needed to reach the overall goals. It’s an effective way of taking a long-term goal that can often seem out of reach and creating a plan for achieving it.

Following are eight steps you can take to create a career roadmap for your credit union and each of your employees for 2017.

1. Assess Each Department

Creating a career roadmap should not be done in a vacuum. For your efforts to be effective, you should first look at the broader picture of your departments. Here are some questions for managers and department heads to consider:

  • What are the future needs of the department?
  • If the credit union is poised for growth, what additional positions and skills will be needed in the next one to five years?
  • What is the likelihood of attrition, through retirements or resignations?

It would be valuable to create a departmental chart that projects the talent needs for the next one to five years in your functional area. Having this broad perspective will help you to fill any talent gaps and better prepare your department.

2. Conduct a Talent Assessment

Next, assess the current skill level and talents of each of your employees. This information will be helpful for creating individual development plans as well as understanding the overall needs in each department.

  • How would you rate each employee on the required competencies and skills in the respective position?
  • Are any employees showing potential for a higher-level role or leadership position? Is anything currently being done to support this growth?
  • Are there any talent gaps in the department?
  • Are there any themes around skill gaps in the department? Do you need to provide additional training for skills that are lacking among several employees?

For example, if you notice that a number of your employees struggle with planning and prioritization, perhaps a training session on this topic would be valuable.

Taking a strategic approach to career development allows you to see the broader departmental and organizational needs and take these factors into account when creating individual development plans.

3. Hold an Initial Career Discussion

Once you have done some preliminary analysis of your needs and gaps, you can focus on individual employee development. If you typically conduct an annual performance evaluation in January, this may be a good time to hold an initial career discussion with each employee.

Set the stage by letting the employee know you want to spend some time during the evaluation meeting to talk about career growth. Ask each employee to come prepared to share their personal and professional goals, and specific areas or skills they would like to develop.

During the meeting, facilitate an engaging discussion around the employee’s career growth and goals. Below are some examples of questions you might ask to create a meaningful dialogue:

  • What are your career goals?
  • What do you want to be doing five years from now?
  • What is important to you in a position?
  • What do you like best about your position? Least?
  • What areas would you like to develop more skill in?

Once you understand the employee’s career goals, you can use coaching questions that lead to a more specific discussion around skill gaps and goals for the year. For example, if the employee wants to prepare for a leadership role, you can share the required competencies for a leadership position and facilitate a discussion around the employee’s strengths and development opportunities as related to the position. You might ask:

  • Of the competencies required for this leadership position, which do you feel are your strengths?
  • What competencies or skills do you need to develop to be successful in the leadership role?
  • Based on what we’ve talked about, what specific goals do you think would make sense for this year?

You can also share your perspective and suggestions of areas the employee should focus on developing.

4. Create an Individual Career Roadmap

Once you have a clear understanding of each employee’s career goals, you can create an individual career plan that provides specific steps that will lead the employee to achieve the goals. Creating this roadmap should be a dual responsibility and not left up to the manager.

Many employees mistakenly think their manager is in charge of their development. While the leader plays an important role, you want the employee to take ownership of the process with involvement and support from you.

Using the initial career discussion as a foundation, ask the employee to summarize his overall career goals and create an outline of a monthly career roadmap that includes actions or education that addresses skills gaps and goals.

You can coach the employee through this process by providing ideas and suggestions for the roadmap. For example, if the employee wants to prepare for a leadership role, you may suggest she enroll in a leadership training program, attend specific credit union networking events and lead an organizational project. Involve the employee in this discussion by asking for her ideas as well.

Breaking the roadmap down into monthly actions will ensure that the plan gets implemented, and doesn’t get put on the back burner.

5. Schedule Regular Coaching Sessions

This is one of the most important aspects of career development. Creating the plan is just the beginning; actually implementing a growth plan takes commitment and time from both the leader and the employee. Regular coaching sessions are an excellent way to have meaningful conversations with your employee throughout the year. This will ensure that progress is made and that the plan doesn’t lose importance.

Many managers mistakenly think meeting with employees is the same as coaching. Coaching is about asking the right questions to get to a deeper conversation, as well as providing support, encouragement and resources. Your goal in these monthly sessions is to lead the employee in taking ownership of her career roadmap by requiring her to come prepared to discuss challenges, successes and progress. 

6. Be an Engaged Leader

Employee development is a process, not an event. For development to be successful, both the employee and the manager need to be engaged in the process. As the leader, your job is to provide feedback, support and resources to your employee. Feedback should be timely, specific and meaningful. Telling the employee she is “doing a great job” is not helpful feedback. As a leader, you should look for opportunities to share positive as well as constructive feedback.

Being engaged in the development of your employee also means pointing out opportunities that reinforce her specific career goals and taking an active role in supporting her. Share articles, learning opportunities or other resources that would benefit the employee.

7. Create Experiences

Development doesn’t need to be limited to regular coaching sessions or formal training programs. Perhaps attending a weekly executive meeting or a board meeting would be a valuable experience for the employee. Delegating a high-profile project could provide an employee the opportunity to build leadership skills. Presenting a departmental initiative to the leadership team could give an employee an opportunity to polish her presentation skills. Create experiences that will support the development of key skills or competencies. 

8. Create a Mentoring Program

Pairing less experienced employees with more senior-level colleagues can be a valuable way to teach skills, provide support and keep employees engaged. Make sure you are clear about the goals of the program and you get buy-in from senior-level leaders and mentors.

As a leader, one of your most important key result areas is the coaching and development of your employees. It’s a privilege to be a leader, one that should not be taken lightly. Investing time in the growth, development and coaching of your employees will not only lead them to higher levels of success and engagement, but will contribute to your own leadership success as well.  

Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, leadership consultant and founder of Envision Excellence LLC in the Washington, D.C., area. Her mission is to create exceptional cultures by teaching leaders how to be exceptional. Maddalena facilitates management and executive training programs and team-building sessions and speaks at leadership events. Prior to starting her business, she was an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. She also writes the monthly “NextGen Know-How” column for Contact her at 240.605.7940 or

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