and Development
In the High-Expectations Era

The information age is changing what employees expect from career development—at any stage. Nowadays, graduates quickly position themselves to become leaders early on in their careers. And that combination of ambition and rapid assimilation of new ideas is not unique to the so-called millennials.

Whether it’s middle management building its own skills and learning how to work collaboratively, or fast-track executives wondering what leadership looks like in a high-velocity business environment, HR has to step up and create clear career-development structures.

In this digibook, you’ll find an actionable expert guide to best practice for HR teams in managing this crucial task, from building a support system for rising stars to helping underdeveloped or poorly motivated employees create their own success.

Further reading.

If we seem to be missing three big-ticket items, it’s because they’re covered elsewhere in this series. Check out our three digibooks on HR Data and Analytics, Managing Organizational Culture, and HR Transformation.

Who will find this digibook useful?

HR leaders. Talent is impatient. So are line managers. They want to get ahead of their best people and ensure they can motivate them and build on their skills.

C-level execs. You want to move on one day, right? That means the leadership pipeline has never been more important, for succession management and for bringing new ideas and skills to the senior team. Building an HR function that spots, develops, and promotes the right people at the right time is also the best safeguard of shareholder value.

Line management. They say if you love someone, let them go. But that’s no good if you need their skills and experience to keep your team running brilliantly. We say: If you love someone, have a word with HR about the best ways to make them feel well rewarded, upskilled, and on a path to greatness. As Tom Peters says, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

To Hire or
to Develop?

“Buy and build” isn’t just for the M&A team…

Talent has never been scarcer or more costly, so organizations are naturally turning their attention to internal development—of skills (to meet their needs) and careers (to retain their best). This has always been the biggest opportunity for HR to demonstrate business alignment, strategic contribution, and frontline support.

Of course, there’s no real dilemma. Every organization should both hire smarter and put in place development programs to deliver the skills it needs and the progression its employees want.

But according to the latest CIPD HR Outlook survey, recruitment for skills is now a far, far lower priority than upskilling existing staff.1

FIGURE 1: CIPD Talent Survey 2016

Areas of focus to ensure your organization has the talent it needs for the future (%)

  • Upskilling existing staff with the skills we will need

  • Focusing on succession planning

  • Investing in young people to “grow our own” talent

  • Recruiting/hiring for the skills we need

  • Focusing on retention

  • 48
  • 33
  • 31
  • 30
  • 29
  • HR leaders (n=143)
  • Non-HR leaders (n=152)

The social dimension.

And there’s a third dimension: helping every employee to be not just the best worker, but also the best person they can be. That means:

  • Reaching out to the widest pool of talent
  • Supporting career progress within the employee’s lifestyle and skills needs
  • Empowering them to take control

Retention is a bigger issue for non-HR leaders—a message HR must heed. But neither group is overly concerned about investing in young people. This suggests that the industry’s current obsession with millennials is misplaced. (We’ll see why that’s a good thing in the next section.)

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