It is a common knowledge that many studies indicate that lack of career development opportunity is the best leading reason people leave their job. Who to blame?

A joint research study conducted by EdAssist and the University of Phoenix showed key disparities. Most workers (74percentof them, actually) believe their company or manager is responsible. On the other hand, most managers (98percentof them) said that employees are the ones whoshould take responsibility for their own career development.

Those statistics alone show why so many companies fail to keep their talented employees due to career development. Each party believes it’s the other one’s responsibility.

And where does HR take part in this mess?

A famous African proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child” sounds the best suit to this perplexity. Career development is responsibility of everyone around the employee: the manager, HR, and the entire company. However, even the whole village is still not enough if the “child” themselves does not take charge of their own career and development. Then here comes “it takes two to tango.” Both the employee and everyone around them ARE responsible.


Many managers claim that they support their team members’ career and development. The truth is, it takes a different level of leadership for a manager to be able to take care of it. This is beyond results and KPI achievements which are usually the most concerns of managers.

Managershould be a coach who can dig in what is beneath employee’s career aspiration. They should also be able to handle difficult conversation in order togiveemployee the right feedback. And the list goes on, it does not stop here. Once they know the employee’s career aspiration and strengths as well as development areas, they should provide career-advancement mentoring by identifying and discussing job opportunities and career paths with the employee.


Manager can be supportive in employee’s development. Company can provide a lot of learning interventions and job opportunities. But the one who should actively move thingsforward is the employee themselves.Gone is the day when employees are just passively waiting for the manager to tell them which trainingthey should go to, or complain “my manager never develops me” if they are not sent to any training for quite some time.

They are the ones who should know where they want to go, what they want to become, which paths they want to take.The study above indicated that most managers believe employees must take responsibility for their career development: 98percentsay workers should continually update and improve their skills, 85percentsay they should identify job opportunities and career paths, and 80percentsay they should be responsible for building their job-hunting and career-planning skills.

Even asking the manager “how is my career path?” no longer works in this fast-changing world. They can ask “what are the options?”, but in the end, they are the one who needs to make decision which options they need to take anddriving their own career advancement.

Sounds like common sense, right?

Unfortunately,common sense does not mean common practice. Not many employees are aware that their career is actually in their hand. This is why the study mentioned above resulted in disparities, and employees keep expecting company or their managers to take care of their career development.

And this is exactly HR’s big job.


Turning common sense into common practice is HR’s big job beyond providing all the career and development initiatives. As the hands of the company in employee matters, HR should become facilitator who stands between employees and their managers. And this takes another HR’s job called changing paradigm.

“HR needs to be able to change employees’ paradigm, from “the company does not care about my development” or “my manager is responsible for my career and development” to “my career is in my hand”.”

Changing paradigm is also common in HR terminology, it’s usually calledChange Management. However, HR practitioners also need to be aware thatChange Management is not only series of campaign with nice quotes, and expect a change of behavior.HR needs to think beyond usual practices and provide tools and system for employees to be able to change their ways of thinking and working.

As for changing paradigm in this career development mess, besides all the must-have learning opportunities,HR should also provide assistance in creating specific career plans, including timelines with milestones for achieving career goals.

But how can we provide such customized assistance in a company with 3000+ people?

My team and I had just launched this tool calledCareer Simulator. This tool works like Google Maps where you first input your destination, then the map will show you several route options and recommend the best route including the estimated time taken, but you can choose which one you like the best, then drive following the route you have chosen.

Our Career Simulator also allows each employee to input their career aspiration, then the tool calculates how long it takes to get there, which options of career paths they can choose to take, and what are the competencies gaps theyneed to close before going to the nextcareer milestones. The tool even recommends the type of learning interventions that employee should take to close each competencies gap.Learning interventions here does not always mean training, orlearning from thousands of our digitallearning contents. There are also guided coaching/mentoring, and projects or rotation andjob assignments. In our company, projects and job assignments take the biggest part of employees’ learning, in accordance with 70-20-10 Learning Model.

This Career Simulator tool is a big help during manager-employee one-on-one conversation. It helps the employee to know what they want and how to get it. It also helps the manager to guide their employee to achieve each milestone towards their career goal. Most of all, it helps both manager and employee to take part in this career developmentshared responsibilities.

Of course, it was not easy to change the habits of blaming and pointing others as responsible of employee’s career development. HR can have a lot of learning and development initiatives in the menu, we can even provide the most advanced or prestigious ones. But most of all,HR needs to be able to change employees’ paradigm, from “the company does not care about my development” or “my manager is responsible for my career and development” to “my career is in my hand”.

Changing paradigm is a lot harder than just laying out a lot of fun activities on career development, and posting it in social media so that people out there know how wonderful your company is.

Changing people paradigm is HR’s biggest homework today.