Purposeful Talent Development: Career Paths Are More Important Now Than Ever

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Lesley Sears Photo
VP/Consulting Services

3 minutes

They've been a good idea for a long time; now there’s a new reason to give them a fresh look. 

Career paths create a way that employers can show employees that they are not stuck in a dead-end job and instead have opportunities to learn, develop and grow.

Career pathing starts with employees identifying their career goals, this information is then cross-referenced with their current position and the skills necessary for success in both positions.  What skills are they proficient in, what skills do they need to develop further? The answers to these development questions are then included in a development plan toward getting a promotion.  In other cases, career paths give employees opportunities to broaden themselves and potentially make a lateral career move. Career paths can also offer staff members a way to pursue something they are passionate about.

Some key reasons that your credit union might want to make the effort to create and maintain career paths for every team member include creating more career goal transparency in the organization, developing people so you’ll have the skills you need within the credit union, building your employer brand and supporting your succession planning efforts. Those ideas have been around for a long time but challenges around execution within these areas have also existed, and still do.

Another, newer reason your credit union might want to undertake a career pathing initiative is that it could at some point become law that you do so. (If you live in Colorado, it already is.)

Let’s look at each of these reasons to do career pathing in turn.

Create Career Goal Transparency

Having a career path for your employees is a good way to show them your big-picture plans for them. 

One staff member’s plan might include courses about managing people that would support them in moving up the hierarchy in your organization. So that person knows that you’re grooming them to lead.

Another staff member’s plan might include hands-on project work designed to boost their presentation skills. So that person knows you’re interested in having them speak.

Develop Skills Your Credit Union Needs

If you do a good job with your career pathing, the associated learning plans will be designed to develop the skills you need overall as an organization.  

Build Your Employer Brand

Identifying the skills associated with each position within the credit union not only creates consistency within the hiring process, but also supports your employer brand. How are you perceived in your community as an employer? Do your employees feel appreciated, developed and like they could receive an internal promotion? Would your employees recommend you to a friend as a good place to work? This is all a part of your larger employer brand. The more you know about needed skills and the better you are at initiating and supporting this intentional development, the more positive your overall employer brand will be.

Support Succession Planning

Having career paths for every person in your credit union from teller to CEO will help you see where you have—and where you are developing—key needed skills. This skills mindset can help feed your internal succession plan and help you ready candidates to move up or over into positions as they open up. It will also point to times when you might need to hire from outside.

Comply With the Law

A Colorado law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2024, requires employers to offer career paths to employees (“make available to all eligible employees the requirements for career progression.”)

This law is the first of its kind, and California is already looking at following suit. 

Career pathing isn’t new. Implementing it well is new—and there are lots of benefits to doing so. If you’d like to talk more about this, please reach out.

Stepping into the gap between corporate complacency and organizational excellence is where Lesley Sears strives to be. Now VP/consulting services for CUES. In her role at CUES, Lesley leads CUES Consulting, which provides talent strategy support to credit unions of all sizes. Lesley is passionate about helping leaders find their company’s superpowers in talent development through a holistic approach: identify–develop–document-repeat. She’s a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, a certified executive leadership coach and has over 20 years of experience consulting with organizations across many industries to strategically develop their talent’s best selves. When she’s not working to help organizations maximize their potential, you can find her digging in her flower beds, reading or watching classic movies. Maybe, on a good morning in the spring and fall, you’ll find her running—really slowly.

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