Doreen Coles

In Part 2 of this two-part series, ADP’s senior director of career growth and development discusses how employees can get the advancement they need to move along a career path without teams having to lose talent to career transitions. The option for career leveraging empowers employees to deepen their skills while staying in their roles.

Read more about how the career advancement concept of leverage differs from ladders and lattices in Part 1 of the series.

I had planned to stay in my previous job for two years before taking my next pre-calculated career transition step. So why did I end up staying in that role for four years?

It wasn’t for extraordinary compensation or an allegiance to the manager, although the pay and my boss were good enough. The key factor was my employer’s dedication to expanding the skills and knowledge I wanted and needed to hone while I technically remained within my role. Rather than having to ladder up or lattice elsewhere to seek those job advancements, this gave me leverage for a new career path forged by opportunity.

Why consider career leveraging over a career transition?

This “Why did I stay?” moment seems indicative of the current era of prioritizing employee engagement and retention. Career leveraging potentially represents a new paradigm, an evolution of the upward ladder and zigzag lattice paths that adds a factor of depth. Leveraging invites employees to deepen their expertise with different tasks and projects that can both benefit the organization and boost their careers to different levels without having to change jobs.

In today’s business environment, it’s worth considering how to use career leveraging for three key reasons:

  • Most everyone wants a job that aligns with and fulfills their goals, but not everyone wants to move up or out of their current role. Leveraged career growth allows you to provide growth opportunities for employees who want to develop and progress in their career but not move on.
  • Employees are more engaged and productive when they feel they’re using their strengths at work every day. Strategizing how to leverage a career rather than a series of career transitions not only lets employees focus on developing their particular talents and expertise but can be a boon for your team and organization. You’re developing employees to grow with you rather than having to replace them.
  • People can learn exponentially faster in areas where they have interest and strength. Leveraging empowers employees to take ownership in forming their career trajectory around what they’re most interested in and where they want to grow.

Laying the groundwork for successful career leveraging

Being the type of leader and manager who wants employees to bring dimension into their roles rather than just moving them through a series of career transitions can make all the difference. Here are three ways to start supporting a leveraged career path for your employees:

1. Have more conversations

As a leader, you’re expected to talk with your people about the quality and success of their work tasks. But you also need to have frequent conversations beyond tactical work check-ins. Real talk and thoughtful communication can help you uncover and identify their true strengths and know what job and career achievements they value for their short- and long-term futures.

Intentionally exploring your employees’ secret superpowers gives you the fuel to come up with creative ways to help them leverage their talents professionally. This approach provides you and your company with a greater potential to have engaged, productive employees grow into catered career paths with you and stay with you longer than they might have otherwise.

2. Factor in their interests

Career leveraging isn’t just about more deeply developing an employee’s skills, even though they traditionally feature heavily when it comes to evaluating advancement. Positioning your people to gain leverage should also involve exploring how you might connect their roles and responsibilities with their strengths and interests.

When you know what your employees care about and what they love doing, you can pivot aspects of their jobs to center on projects that are highly engaging for them. You may even be able to help them figure out how their career aligns with something they’re passionate about.

To get this kind of information from employees, you might ask follow-up questions during your regular check-ins. For example, if an employee mentions they enjoyed a recent collaboration, ask them to tell you more about it so you can figure out what about the process was most fulfilling for them. Get really specific about the details! Knowing that can lead you to design more leveraging opportunities together.

3. Create offshoots of the role

Leveraged career paths are an invitation to define growth differently for employees through offshoots of their main job — side projects that let them branch out and strengthen their expertise. The goal is to enable growth that can happen regularly within the role rather than outside it.

It could be coming up with new job-related tasks or responsibilities that exercise the employee’s specific talents or giving them a collaborative stretch assignment with another team where they either teach or learn something that benefits the wider organization. Offshoots allow people to realize that linear and upward job transitions aren’t the only way to advance and that a career can be defined by many types of achievements.

Empowering employees with career advancement options

All employees are valuable, not just those who want to move up, around or through the company in a predetermined way. For some, growth means setting their sights on a promotion or making a clearly defined career transition. For others, it means taking on new and interesting projects that expand their expertise within a role they can make their own.

By valuing and enabling career leverage the same way we celebrate and facilitate linear career movement, the organizational ecosystem may attract growth-minded employees who are glad to stick around and discover where their path leads.

This article originally appeared on SPARK powered by ADP.

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