Career Development Plan for a Newly Recruited MBA


By

Prof. Jayashree Sadri
Senior Visiting Faculty
Prof. Renu Bhargava
Professor of HR & Director
Indira School of Management Studies
Tathawade, Pune
 


Alice asked the March Hare in 'Alice in Wonderland'-"which road shall I take?" the March Hare asked in return "that depends upon where you want to go." Alice looked somewhat bewildered and said, "It doesn't matter." The March Hare looked at her intently and then said "Then it doesn't matter which road you take."

The anecdote stated above quite clearly brings out that one must know where one wants to head to i.e. the goal one wants to achieve before one makes a leap into this world. The same thing applies to one's career - a person must be aware as to what his ultimate ambition in life is and then accordingly work towards it. At our organization we help our managers identify their aim in life and provide guidance and support to them to help them achieve it by charting out a career development plan.

A career is a sequence of positions occupied by a person during the course of a lifetime. A well-managed career is the inherent need felt by each and every employee. Over the past few years the companies have been recruiting a lot of MBAs at various hierarchical levels in the organization. The career development holds importance not just for the individual involved but also for the company in order for it to effectively harness the human resources it has. In light of these, the company is proposing a career development plan of a newly recruited MBA and the career development process to be followed towards the successful accomplishment of that plan.

Career development, hence is an exercise ensuring enhancement of employees' capacity and capabilities, not only for the personal betterment of the employees but also to ensure the meeting of current and future business needs. Career development is an ongoing process and requires a sense of continued commitment from both the newly recruited MBAs and the top managers of the organization. The process of career development has hence, to be carried on a shared basis.

The process of Career development involves useful inputs from both senior level MBA and the person who has been recruited recently into the organization. The benefits of the programme would accordingly be available to the individual and to the organization. It is hence a programme for mutual benefit of the individual and the organization.

For formulating the career development plan the following assumptions have been taken into account:

ASSUMPTIONS

1. The hierarchical structure across various departments is more or less similar as can be gauged from the organization structure attached along with.

2.  The organization is a manufacturing organization dealing in various products and these products are grouped under various brands. At the Asst. Manager and Manager level, the persons are incharge of a product or at most two. The Senior Manager is responsible for a group of products that may fall under the same or different brands. Hence a Senior Manager has quite a few Managers and Asst. Managers under him.

3. The proposed career plan has been given for only one MBA who would be joining in at the Asst. Manager level in the Marketing division of the company. Similar plans for people joining in other departments of the company can be framed. This would not require much modification as the organization structure of the company across various departments has been taken to almost similar.

4. The HR Chief in conjunction with Senior Managers of all the departments would frame the proposed career development programme. This would help getting the coordination of all the departments in pursuing with the plan. Also the cross-functional transfers would become relatively easier once all the departments are serious about the programme and coordinate for its successful implementation. This would also help establishing a positive atmosphere in the company in favour of the programme.

5. The given plan is only a tentative one. Periodic modifications to the plan would be undertaken in light of any relevant changes. The diversification of the company would mean acquisition or start of new businesses. Based on such developments suitable changes would have to be incorporated in the plan.

6. The manager of the department, in which the MBA has joined at the Asst. Manager level, would frame the plan, in active consultation with the new MBA. He is the right person for initiating this process as he would be best aware of the performance of the MBA on the job and would be in a better position to assess his skills.

THE ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE


ADVANTAGES TO THE NEWLY RECRUITED MBA

Every individual would like to control his destiny. He would like to chart out a wonderful career for himself. At our organization we provide the MBAs with just that opportunity.

"Dive headlong and learn to swim, it is not just important, it is critical for survival."

In the competitive world of today, in order to remain a high performer and to best serve the organization, for which they are working, the MBAs today have to constantly keep themselves abreast of the changing requirements. The programme provides the MBAs with sufficient number of avenues from time to time to hone his skill and develop his competencies.

The programme would also enable the individual to realise some of his latent skills. The programme would serve as a means for the MBA to climb the organization hierarchy and take up higher posts in the company on a later date. The successful execution of the programme would help the MBA discharge his job responsibilities in a more effective manner.

Advantages to the company

The advantages the programme for the company are the following:

* With the corporate world undergoing rapid changes employee retention has become a very critical issue. Increasing competition within the industry has led to an increased demand for MBAs. The company has to strive hard to retain high performers. The company has to constantly look out for ways and means to recruit talented people and more importantly to retain them. A lure of better pay packets implies that these MBAs would be on the look out for jobs. A career development programme coupled with various other factors provides an effective means for attracting, retaining and developing the employees.

* To be able to maintain a competitive edge in a constantly changing environment the organization needs to hone the skills and develop competencies of the newly recruited MBAs. The programme also helps the organization realise the latent talent of its MBAs. A well thought out career development programme serves that purpose.

* Having a well developed career development programme definitely improves the motivation level of the new MBAs. This helps improve their performance on the current jobs. Besides it ensures a much better performance for the organization both in the short and the long run. .

* The programme would help establish a transparent mechanism and a system of open communication in the organization. Such a transparent environment would help bring forth invaluable suggestions for any job/exercise carried out by the organization even though they may not be directly related to that job.

CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME AS A PART OF OVERALL SUCCESSION PLAN OF THE COMPANY

To ensure smooth running of business the companies have to adopt a proactive approach. Gone are the days of stable workforces. We are currently operating in a highly volatile environment wherein the companies have to strive hard to retain high performers. Earlier succession plans were merely replacement plans wherein whenever any key post fell vacant the organizations used to look at persons immediately below that level as possible successors. However, now the concept of succession plans has undergone a change. The main objective of the succession plan of the company is to ensure leadership continuity.

For achievement of this objective the following succession planning process has to followed:


As seen above the career development programme is a part of the overall succession programme of the company. A career development programme if successfully linked to a succession plan can help the organization in maintaining leadership continuity. A well conceived career development programme would form the basis for early identification, retention, and enhancement in capabilities of a potential future top level manager.

CAREER DEVELOPMENT A Process OF SHARED Responsibility

Any programme on career development cannot be a success unless and until a joint effort is made by both the company and the individual (in this case the new MBA). Wholehearted commitment from the top management is undoubtedly the starting point of this programme, one must remember that the programme would be an exercise in futility till the individual is also serious about the entire effort. The following are the essential prerequirites for the successful implementation of the programme:

* The objectives and purpose of the programme need to be spelt out right at the outset to ensure that all the parties involved in the programme are well aware of it.

* A wholehearted commitment from top management is needed not just in letter but in true spirit.

* An active participation from the MBAs (for whom the plan is being set up) needs to be secured. They must be convinced about the merits of the programme (personal as well as organizational for them to give their full cooperation.

* A system of open communication needs to be established throughout the organization so that all the involved parties are aware of the minutiae of the programme. Moreover, transparency needs to be built within the system to ensure that the programme carries out on a smooth and fair basis.

* Since the cross-functional development of employees is an inherent part of the programme a committed effort from all the departments to this effect has to come forth. To be able to successfully execute this, the programme has been framed by the Senior Managers of various departments. 

PROCESS OF CAREER DEVELOPMENT

A new MBA enters an organization with certain goals and aspirations. The first introduction that the person gets to an organization is through the induction programme. 

The induction programme must make the new MBA aware of the vision, mission, objectives, organization structure, communication channels, roles and tasks expected of him, organization culture, values etc. Having gone through the induction programme the new MBA feels a lot more comfortable in the organization and he can get started on his work with much more devotion and commitment.

The first question that needs to be addressed at this stage is when the career development programme should start for a newly recruited MBA. The first step towards career development plan for an MBA would start approximately 6 months after the date of joining the organization. This is just about the time when the first performance appraisal of the person would have been completed. Thereafter, performance appraisals every 6 months would provide information about the person's performance on the job.

The performance appraisal holds importance in this regard because there is a close linkage between the performance of the person and the initiation and continuation of his career development plan.


The career development exercise has to be taken up for those persons whose performance on the job is as per or exceeding established standards. These are the MBAs having high potential and hence a career development plan for such employees needs to be charted out. For the MBAs whose performance is for certain reasons below the expected standards, he/she needs to be motivated to improve the performance in his/ her current sphere of activities. As the performance of these MBAs improves on the current job, a career development plan for them would also have to be framed.

Having identified the MBAs for whom the career development plan needs to be charted out, the following process needs to be started.

Analysis of MBAs current skills and competency gaps

STEP 1:
The MBA and the manager separately assess MBA's skills and competencies.

STEP 2: The manager then analyses both the assessments.

STEP 3: The manager then arranges for a discussion with the MBA. He must set out quite clearly the purpose of the discussion. At this stage a two way discussion takes place between the Manager and the newly recruited MBA. During the course of the discussion the two exchange views and jointly try to find out MBAs skills, competencies, strengths and weaknesses. An effort to achieve a fit between organizational and individual goals is made.

The concept of Johari Window needs a special mention out here. Every person has certain strengths and weaknesses, which are known to both the person and to the persons who come in contact with him. However, there will be such traits, which the individual is not aware of. But after going through this process of career development, the individual would become aware of such traits. At the same time the organization would also become aware of certain traits about the MBAs which had not been noticed by it so far. Thus the process would prove to be beneficial to both the individual and the organization.

At the end of the discussion the two arrive at an agreed set of level of skills and competencies of the MBA.


Career Planning

STEP 4:
The manager initiates efforts to set up a career development plan for the MBA. Also he explores various development opportunities for the MBA to be carried on during the course of MBAs stay with the organization. Various actions that need to be taken, to accomplish each of the identified plan steps, and the timeframe within which they are to be achieved. Also he tries and assesses how much resources would be required in finishing of various stages of the plan.

STEP 5: The manager at this stage also identifies various barriers that might disrupt the progress of the career development plan.

STEP 6: The manager then shows the proposed draft for career development plan prepared by him to the MBA. Any changes that might need to be incorporated are brought on at this stage and the development plan is finalized.

STEP 7: Follow up and review of the plan and the development process need to be done on a periodic basis (taken as 6 months in this case) in light of the changing circumstances.

THE PLAN

As per the company's induction policy, the MBA (who has just completed his post graduation in management) would join in the organization at the Asst. Manager level. The company has a practice of providing relevant and enriching job to the new MBAs.

Given below is the career plan for a person who joins in as an Asst. Manager in the Marketing Division of the company. As is clear from the structure of the company, an MBA could join in as an Asst. Mgr.- Sales or an Asst. Mgr.- Distribution or an Asst. Mgr.- Advertising

The job responsibilities of the Asst. Manager - Sales would include:

1. Achievement of sales target for the product of which he is incharge
2. Customer evaluation
3. Overall product promotion in the specified area of operations
4. Helping the top management in setting the credit policy. He will provide the inputs relating to his area of operation.

The job responsibilities of the Asst. Manager - Advertising would include:

1. Forming a media plan for the product under him
2. Formulation of the advertising budget for the product under him
3. Recognition of various promotional opportunities
4. Contacting advertising agencies and doing the necessary dealings with them

The job responsibilities of the Asst. Manager - Distribution would include:

1. Maintaining of dealer relations.
2. Establishment and constant review of channels of distribution for the product under him.
3. Ensuring timely delivery to wholesalers or retailers.

As stated above, the Asst. Manager's performance would be appraised from time to time. Based on the appraisal reports and the discussion of Manager with the MBA (Asst. Manager) his skills and competencies and his areas of interest would be identified. Based on all these the Asst. Manager would be provided with sufficient opportunities from time to time to take up responsibilities as Asst. Manager of some other operation within the same department. Like Asst. Manager sales could be given a chance to take up job as Asst. Manager Advertising or Asst. Manager distribution. This would enable the MBA to get a complete picture of the job in various operations within the marketing department.

Also to ensure the development of cross functional skills the Asst. Manager would be given opportunities to take up job responsibilities in other departments at the same level. This practice is in line with the company's policy of building managers with a general managerial perspective, as this would help them in performing their tasks in a much better way at the senior managerial levels.

The above plan of shifting the MBAs from one area to another including interdepartmental shifts would be followed up by periodic discussions with the MBA to build in a system of reviewing of career plan from time to time. The MBA would be given a choice to stick in the area of his interest.

The organization follows a system of merit based promotions. This helps building a healthy competitive atmosphere in the organization. The MBAs performance would be evaluated in light of the job responsibilities discharged by him and the skill enhancement undergone by him. The Asst. Manager would be promoted to the ranks of a manger in a period of 3 to 5 years. The Asst. Manager could become the Manager of either the department (Marketing in this case) in which he got his first appointment or if he so wishes and provided his performance and skills warrant, he could become a Manager in the department (other than Marketing), in which he has had sufficient exposure in the last year and a half.

As the Manager Marketing division (of a given product), the individual would be expected to carry out the following job responsibilities:

1. Setting up of target level of sales for Asst. Managers for the given product and ensuring that Asst. Managers working under him achieve the sales targets.
2. Reviewing and finalizing the advertising budget and media plan (for the product under his operation) prepared by the Asst. Manager and getting it approved.
3. Efforts to ensure a congruity between sales, distribution and advertising efforts of the product under his operation.
4. Looking out for opportunities for new or more efficient dealer networks and making continuous efforts for reduction in selling and distribution costs of the company.
5. Suggesting new means of promotion for the product.

The company would continue introducing new products in future. Based on the manager's performance, he/she could be asked to undertake launch of the new product. This would provide a challenging opportunity to the manager and would prove to be useful when the person would be held incharge of various products as a Senior Manager. The performance of the manager would be reviewed on a periodic basis. A manger would take something like 5-8 years to become a Senior Manager.

The senior manager would be heading the various product managers. His job responsibilities would include:

1. Setting the overall sales targets for all the products under him and ensuring that the targets set are achieved.
2. Review and compilation of overall advertising budget and media plan for the various products under him.
3. He could even be held incharge of an entire brand depending upon the range of products in that brand.
4. Framing of dealer related and credit policies for all the products under him.
5. Setting up of price of various products in conjunction with Senior Manager of the Finance division.
6. Looking out for opportunities for market potential of products and setting out plans for which all products could be launched in future.

The job of Senior Manager provides enough opportunities to the person to develop his skills and competencies, as he would be exposed to variety of products whether under the same or different brands. This would help the person identify the strategic issues involved in marketing products of different kinds.

A senior manager would get promoted to the ranks of Vice President, Marketing in a span of 8 - 11 years.

The job responsibilities of a Vice President, Marketing would include the following:

1. Set/Approve the sales targets for all the products and ensuring that they are achieved.
2. Compilation of overall advertising budget and media plan for all the products.
3. Framing of overall distribution, pricing, credit policies for the company.
4. Taking strategic decisions on launch of new products and launch of existing products to new markets.

The Vice President would form part of the Board of Directors and would be involved in taking of various strategic decisions relating to overall company matters from time to time. The Vice President would get promoted to the ranks of CEO in around 6 - 8 years.

Besides the above stated plan it would be worthwhile mentioning that the above is only an indicative plan. A manager who consistently performs well on the job and who keeps acquiring new skills and competencies would obviously have an accelerated ascendancy up the organization. Also the company is planning to diversify in near future. A direct offshoot of the efforts of diversification of the company would be opening up of new avenues for promotion. It would also lead to more challenging job assignments.

PLANNED TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

Besides the normal job providing adequate learning opportunities, the company intends to hold the following development programmes from time to time for management cadre at all levels. Such programmes would quite obviously lead to enhancement of skills and competencies of managers besides keeping them up to date with the latest developments in the managerial arena and industry.

Conference Programmes: The company intends to hold various conferences and seminars from time to time. This would help the managers to get exposed to the ideas of speakers who are experts in the fields. The topics that might be covered under conference may range from specific managerial techniques to broad topics such as relationships between business and society. The conferences would be made absorbing by ensuring a careful selection of speakers and by introducing two way communications and discussions. Some of the conference programmes organized by the organization in the past few years include:

* Time and stress management
* Conference on inter personnel skills
* Conference on computer graphics

UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES: The company intends to stay in constant touch with major business schools for conducting various management development programmes. These programmes intend to expose the managers in theory, principles and new developments in management. Also such programmes a valuable interchange of experience among managers. The areas that have been covered in the last few executive programmes include:

* Managerial process and organisational behaviour.
* Modern methods for quantitative and qualitative decision making
* Assessment of personal values and goals

Every manager would be expected to attend Management Development Programmes of atleast 3 weeks every year. Out of these 3 weeks atleast 1 week should be in area other than the one in which the manager is working as part of his regular work schedule with the company.

LABORATORY TRAINING: Programmes involving case discussions, role plays, computer simulations, management games, problem solving exercises, group discussions have been organized by the company in the past and would continue to be organized in future to ensure that managers learn to apply various managerial techniques to decision making in simulated work situations.

TEAM BUILDING SKILLS: The company would lay special emphasis on building team skills in managers. The nature of work that a person would have to handle in the company would require people to come together and pool in their efforts for successful completion of tasks. Also individuals contribution as a team member would form an important part of his performance appraisal. Hence the company would organize special seminars, lectures, role plays for building and promoting team skills in managers at all levels.

Besides the above mentioned programmes the managers from time to time would be given opportunities to write proposals for new systems, procedures and policies that could help bring efficiency in organization's operations. They would also be encouraged to take up take up readings on various issues on a regular basis. For this purpose the company also has a well set up library that houses many interesting and enriching books, magazines and journals. The managers would also be free to use the CD-ROM and Internet facilities for widening the scope of their knowledge.

Last but not the least, it must be remembered that without the combined effort of the entire organization the programme would remain an exercise in futility.

************************
REFERENCES
 


Prof. Jayashree Sadri
Senior Visiting Faculty
Prof. Renu Bhargava
Professor of HR & Director
Indira School of Management Studies
Tathawade, Pune
 

Source: E-mail February 4, 2008

          

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