Build a new career model for a new age

How can organizations build career models that encourage continuous learning, improve individual mobility, and foster a growth mind-set in every employee, year after year? This is the opportunity for today; companies that figure this out will outperform, out-innovate, and out-execute their peers.

Offering employees a rewarding career used to be easy: You’d hire a bright young person out of college, plug him into an entry-level role, and then watch him climb the corporate ladder over the years as he progressed toward retirement. The company could plan for this continuous process—hire people based on their degrees, help them develop slowly and steadily, and expect some to become leaders, some to become specialists, and some to plateau. Today this model is being shattered.

The traditional idea of a career has three components:

  • A career represents our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity. It defines who we are and what we do. This form of self-identity makes changing careers dauntingly difficult: What if we switch careers and fail? Then who are we? 
  • A career is something that builds over time and endures. It gives us the opportunity to progress, advance, and continuously feel proud. When we are asked to change our career or path, what happens to all we have learned? Do we throw it all away? Or can we carry it forward? 
  • A career gives us financial and psychological rewards. It makes life meaningful, gives us purpose, and pays us enough to live well. What happens if our career suddenly becomes less valuable, even if we still enjoy it? Should we continue to make less money or jump to a new path?

The changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: expertise, duration, and rewards. And as scary as this may be for employees trying to stay ahead, it’s equally disruptive for employers who must try to hire and develop the workforce of today, tomorrow, and five years from now.

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