The key is to have a guideline on what you and your reportee should work towards.

How to create a career plan

Helping the people on their team grow should be one of the main focuses of managers.

However, very few managers take the time to understand where their reportees want to grow and how can that transition be beneficial for the company, the manager, and the individual.

Developing a career plan may seem difficult. Sometime we feel there’s no time to sit and do it, or that there’s no certainty of the future; so why bother with a career plan that we will never accomplish.

The beauty of a career plan is not following every step on it without question. The key is to have a guideline on what you and your reportee should work towards.

Chances are your reportee’s desires will change over time, your company will open positions they didn’t even imagine, or that a senior manager will leave the company sooner than expected.

We can’t predict how things will change, but we can try to be prepared for when they do.

Understand your reportee’s desires

You can use your 1:1 meetings to explicitly ask and discuss how your reportee imagines their future.

Make sure to ask a lot of questions and understand their motivation. Do they want to earn more money? Do they want more respect from the team? Do they want to have more fun projects? There might be many ways of fulfilling their motivations that may not necessarily be by growing in the direction that’s most obvious to them.

When you think you’ve got it, write down what your reportee’s ideal job would look like in a couple of years and check with them if that’s what they want. Once you’ve settled on an agreement (at least for now) you can move on.

Be clear about the gap in skills

The key question to be answered is: why is your reportee not in their desired role right now?

Make a list with them stating what they are missing to become a good candidate. Is it experience in a certain technology? Is it experience in management? Is it emotional maturity? A data-driven mindset? Do they need to be recommended by some senior manager?

Just list them all and be very clear on where you think they are in each skill and where they should be to be considered for the position. Make sure you both agree on these statements and take time to discuss until you are on the same page.

Define a course of action

For each skill they are missing, define next steps that will help your reportee grow in the desired direction.

It can be as simple as “start participating in the finance team meetings so you can learn about data driven decisions”, or “invest a couple of hours a week to improve the look of our campaigns”. The important thing is for those tasks to be clear and doable.

Every month you can review the tasks with your reportee and check how much they are advancing. Let them own the rhythm and help them clear obstacles that might be preventing them from taking up those new tasks.

Iterate when needed

By gaining experience doing new stuff, your reportee will probably understand better what they really want for their ideal job.

You might need to make large or small adjustments to the plan as you move forward. Just take it as a natural part of the process and make sure you keep track of all the progress.