Roles Involved Career Management

In the March 2006 Spotlight Human Resources discussed the different kinds of developmental pay at Lehigh. Let’s discuss further the roles of staff members and supervisors in developmental pay and career management at Lehigh.

The Staff Member’s Role

Each staff member assumes primary responsibility for managing his or her own career planning and personal development. Development is fueled by the staff member's own ability and desire to grow. Each person is responsible for his or her own self-assessment of the current career status, knowledge and skills, mobility, accomplishments, and progress as a starting basis for determining individual career goals. Each person should assess his or her own personal interests, define personal success for him or her, and determine his or her own willingness to provide the investment of time, effort, and mobility needed to succeed, evaluate alternatives, and develop a timetable. Individuals are ultimately responsible for seeking information on what job or training is available, where it is available, and what training paths are necessary to obtain goals.

Learn the importance of development for each position held. This development is important for two reasons. Staff members will want to:

  1. Build a successful track record – growth must be visible in job accomplishments.
  1. Master current job responsibilities and strive to raise performance of these responsibilities to an above-average level. Don’t become so engrossed in preparing for some future job assignment that individuals cease to perform effectively in current jobs.

Drawing upon a variety of experiences will widen perspectives and apply a comprehensive outlook to later jobs. Look upon the current job as a building block for later opportunities.

The Supervisor's and Staff Member's Role

It’s helpful to remember that any type of employment change doesn’t just happen overnight. Staff members may be tempted to focus immediately on advancement and not on the changes necessary to prepare to play a more responsible role within the current position. Individuals and supervisors will discuss what the department’s needs are in relation to the staff member's own professional development and career aspirations. This process involves five different elements:

Direction – This involves career goals. Goal setting has two components. First, what the employee is able and wants to do, which consists of knowledge, interests, and needs. The second component is what the department or organization needs to have done. Goal setting focuses on both components through self-assessment if in current role and organizational/departmental assessment for other roles. Self-assessment refers to the staff member's role, relationships, personal attributes, personal limitations, and job identification.

Organizational or departmental assessment refers to the boundaries that are set by the department and Lehigh that influence your perception of available alternatives and the extent to which personal aspirations are realistic and timely.

Boundaries include the hierarchy or levels in an organization, the function of the staff member's department, the degree to which individuals are identified with a particular group or specialty, and the staff member's supervisor’s insights. Any combination of these factors and the norms of the organization may lead individuals to feel “boxed in” or frustrated. So, weigh the impact of organizational goals and values on individual plans. Take time to review the article in the May 2006 issue of LASER about Individual Development Plans (IDP).

Career Time– This relates to distance and speed factors, that is, how far individuals want to go on the career path and how fast each person expects to get there. Most of us think of career progress in terms of time, the distance we travel (typically upward), and the speed of advancement. Staff members gauge progress as being “on schedule,” “ahead of schedule,” or “behind schedule.” Supervisors may help by providing feedback as to whether or not these are reasonable timeframes within each department.

Transitions – Transitions relate to the changes expected (in knowledge, skills, and attitudes) en route to a career goal. Individuals may be inclined to focus immediately on advancement and salary increases and not on the changes necessary to prepare to play a more responsible role within Lehigh. At this point in the career planning process, the notion of investment is introduced. It refers to what price each person is prepared to pay in order to change positions (taking on more responsibility, more energy output, more time, and perhaps more money spent to prepare for a new position). It also concerns the degree of certainty that individuals will be happy and satisfied in the new assignment. There are people who ultimately learn to perform well in their new positions but, if they are absolutely honest with themselves, they may discover that the new role does not completely match their expectations.

Transitions involve the most thinking and planning. Setting goals and a timetable only initiates the career planning process. The transition factors are considered and analyzed in detail. Because it is very difficult to be absolutely objective about yourself, individuals require both information and feedback from others (supervisors, mentors, friends, and family) in order to calculate the transitions involved.

Career Planning Options –Many employees are unaware of all the options available to them for professional development/career management or reaching career goals:

  • Advancement – Moving to a position with a higher grade than the current position (which is the option to which most aspire)
  • Lateral – Moving across functions at the same grade to develop new skills or as a way to reach a career goal when one career path dead-ends
  • Change to lower grade – This may also be used for development or career goal attainment. Some individuals choose to take a step back to diversify their skills and job knowledge in order to move forward – an investment in future growth. A change to a lower grade may result in a loss of pay at first, but ultimately may lead to future career growth.
  • Job enrichment – For various reasons, a staff member may not desire advancement (he or she likes the present position or location). Career goals for such a person may be working toward greater accountability and variety in the present position, which requires use of enhanced knowledge or abilities. Accomplishment of these goals results from high motivation and provides personal growth. Where business needs and departmental structure allow, supervisors may be able to facilitate job enrichment by restructuring jobs or shifting duties.
  • Exploratory research – Actively investigating other options or taking temporary special projects or assignments to explore a new area are forms of exploratory research.

Projected Outcome– This relates to the probabilities that individual investments and sacrifices for career progress will pay off. When considering predicted or actual outcomes, individuals will calculate the risks attached to the various actions in the career plan. When attempting to predict outcome, seek feedback from colleagues and leadership to reinforce understanding of the organization.

As staff members think about professional development and career changes at Lehigh, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • For staff members:
    • Make professional development/career management an ongoing process
    • Work out agreements between staff members and supervisors about what is expected – performance outcomes, results, achievements, etc.
    • Seek opportunities and training programs to learn new skills and build or develop existing skills.
  • For supervisors:
    • Identify compelling business needs and discuss them with staff members to help them understand why workplace learning and performance are critical for Lehigh’s success – now and in the future
    • Make a personal commitment to help staff members grow
    • Keep staff members informed as to how they are doing in their current job – feedback is essential in any kind of development
    • Stay current with alternatives available at Lehigh for helping staff members develop, such as special assignments, coaching, and formal training
    • Provide a supportive atmosphere.

If you have questions about career management at Lehigh or are interested in learning more about your own individual career path, talk to your supervisor or contact Human Resources.

Where to go for more information...

Judith Zavalydriga ( - Extension 85165

Linda Parks ( - Extension 83897

Individuals can also go to the Campus Portal and select the “Employee” tab to see more information about the Job Family Compass. The Portal will also continue to house information on the staff compensation program.

©2007 Human Resources, Lehigh University, 428 Brodhead Ave., Bethlehem, PA 18015
Tel (610) 758-3900 Fax (610) 758-6226