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Motivation by Career Development: Part II

By: James M. Wilmott
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 4 of 5

In the proposed model, a greater percentage of employees are involved with the activities that will make the organization successful in the market. The ultimate reward of this success goes to the employees, the stockholders and the community. Therefore, it is imperative that the upper levels of the professional ladder be considered of equal value with the managerial ladder. There should be commensurate salary ranges and perks (such as bonuses and stock options) in order to create the appropriate level of prestige to induce the best professionals to continue in their professional career rather than automatically selecting the management ladder.

By Department

Each department—with the help of human resources, industry consultants or other sources of expertise—should identify what skills are relevant to execute the corporate mission and strategic plan. The expectations for each of these skills should be designed to progress in a five- to six-step evolution, ranging from early application of a skill to its ultimate mastery. This evolution should be based on the key factors such as productivity, influence and job knowledge, for each skill identified as essential to each department. The expected level of competency in manifesting each skill should then be assigned to each position in the career ladder. Clearly, the rate of progression will differ for each skill as individuals ascend the corporate ladder. This readily can be reflected in the periodic skill level assessment and assignment.

Once the ladder and appropriate titles have been developed, the skills identified and the progression assigned, the program needs to be reviewed with HR and corporate management to ensure that all departments are coordinated effectively. This is critical so that departments are not at cross-purpose with one another. This complication should be minimized if all departments are using the corporate mission and strategic plan as a guide. However, it is always best to recheck with HR in order to confirm interdepartmental compatibility. Ultimately, upper management must approve and support these descriptions of skills assignment since they will become the basis of career development and succession planning throughout the organization and inevitably guide the progression of qualified, growing individuals to upper management positions.

For the purpose of clarifying this new employee development concept, it may be useful at this time to review a specific example of the procedure in practice. Assume that the company is a manufacturer of products for the retail market, for example, personal care. Its mission might read:“To be the leading supplier of innovation and high quality beauty and health aids to men and women around the world.”

Because new products are important to the success of the organization, the company will either have to develop them internally or contract this development externally. If the company elects the former route, then a research and development group is likely to be an integral part of the company. An appropriate model should identify five to six levels of competence in order to provide sufficient opportunity for advancement without having so many layers that an unmanageable, overly expensive bureaucracy results. Fewer layers or additional layers can be considered, depending upon the philosophy and decision-making structure of the organization. However, it is important that the number of levels be the same in every department within R&D to ensure inter-departmental equality.