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How to Create Paths to Career Advancement That Matter to Your Employees You retain top talent by helping them climb to greater heights.

By Kes Thygesen

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It's no secret that offering professional development opportunities and career training appeals to job candidates. According to a 2014 Global Workforce Study conducted by Towers Watson, career advancement opportunities matter most to employees when deciding to join or leave an organization.

It's a great benefit to advertise, but how exactly are companies delivering on internal talent mobility?

Here's how companies can create and define specific career paths to retain top talent and attract the best of the best.

Establish training programs and criteria.

Before recruiting, define goals and expectations for each role. Knowing what is needed informs hiring and results in better cultural and competency fits.

Align each employee's goals with organizational goals. For example, if the goal is to improve customer service, incorporate training on conflict resolution for customer service representatives.

Cater modules to each individual employee. This requires an evaluation of everyone, looking at how their skills align with company expectations. The best way to develop career paths, tailored to each person, is by gathering feedback to create career development plans.

Related: Attract Top Talent: Show Them You Have What They Want

Encourage feedback.

Employees should have a voice in their career paths. If they're hired in product research and want to move over to sales, help them develop an action plan. A transition like this requires cross training.

Management needs to know about the potential they have in their hands. Unfortunately, most don't. According to a 2015 Talent Mobility Research Report, only 42 percent of the 257 companies surveyed understand their employee's unique skills and experience.

Incorporate regular evaluations where managers assess an employee's skills and experience and help them define their specific goals. When companies invest time and energy in listening to their talent, they're creating a trusting environment, which is crucial to retaining top talent and building a team dedicated to growing with the company.

Consider the employee experience. The employee experience is what an employee encounters during interactions with different career elements - everything from environment and customer base to coworkers and leadership - that affect their cognitions and influence their behaviors.

Employers need to step in their staff's shoes to see how they experience their day-to-day and how they perceive their role within the larger picture.

Help them draw that connection and see how they fit. Provide them with perspective through consistent feedback so they can both correct their mistakes and understand how they're succeeding.

Bottom line: When your employees understand their impact and see how they affect the growth and success of the company, they feel more important and engaged in their work.

Related: This is Why You Need to Let Your Best Employees Go

Create a trusting relationship.

Investing in an employee's development and career growth demonstrates a high level of respect and trust. The 2015 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study found that trust between employees and senior management was the second most important contributor to job satisfaction.

The same study also found that respectful treatment of all employees at all levels was rated as "very important" by 72 percent of employees, making it the top contributor to overall employee job satisfaction.

Keep employees satisfied by creating a relationship built on trust and respect. The best way to do this is to treat them like humans, providing them with guidance and emphasizing the value they bring to achieving organizational goals.

Be transparent and present. When management is visible, they're showing support and demonstrating they feel like a member of the team not a boss. Establish credibility as a leader by taking ownership when necessary, avoiding blaming others and being consistent. When managers do this, they are leading by example.

Related: Young Talent Demands These 6 Things for Their Loyalty

By reaching out and establishing an open communication channel, employers are not shrouding the business in secrecy. They're exercising transparency, encouraging employees to see their progress and develop a sense of ownership.

The ideal world consists of dedicated employees who respect their managers and feel comfortable discussing their goals. They want to learn and grow within the company, achieving organizational goals and taking steps toward that vision.

Help create this ideal by laying the framework for career paths and being explicit and open about expectations while celebrating successes. Develop a transparent culture where employees can provide feedback and speak their minds. Lead by example to guide talent to become a better version of themselves.

How are you defining career paths for your top talent?

Kes Thygesen

Co-founder and head of product at RolePoint

Kes Thygesen is the co-founder and head of product at RolePoint, a complete social recruiting suite that provides unrivaled access and reach to quality job candidates.

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