Career development is something employees scream for and management rarely has time for. And the huge different between the two schools of thought is that employees view career development as the company's responsibility and management views it as the employee's responsibility.
So who's right here? Both and neither.
First, it starts with having something that defines the job the employee currently does. Yes, that means the dreaded job descriptions. For the most part these seem like a waste of time, but in reality it is taking the "subjective" and making it "objective."
How is this job done? What skills, abilities, and knowledge is needed for this job? What are the requirements to be able to do this job? Once that's defined, the employee has the opportunity to meet (and hopefully exceed) those definitions. This sets the expectations.
So what happens next? The employee has performed this skills to the best of his/her ability. They have exceeded expectations going above and beyond the job description. They should be happy and feel successful, right? Chances are, you'll have a few who want more. Your "go-getters," your "achievers" they know they do more than asked and they will be looking for that next step. Does your company have it?
My recommendation is when the employee signs that job description and gets their tasks, to also create "goals and expectations."
The issue here is that we equate career development with change in money and status instead of viewing career development as the development of the employee's goals and new expectations. An employee shouldn't have to "move up the ladder" to progress within the company. But most employees just want to feel like their part of something.
Give them the big picture. And then break it down into small chucks they are capable of completing. Let them know the future, let them know the ultimate plan. Ask what their plans are. And every so often (either formally or informally) revisit these goals and expectations. Does the employee still want them? Do they need to be revised? Are they going the right direction?
Employees want management to give them some direction. And management wants employees who work hard. Both can be solved by setting goals and expectations that are measurable, specific and attainable. It's management's job to ask, and the employee's job to deliver.
Does your company set individual career goals for each employee? If so, how?