Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360

Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360

Retain and Gain
Career Management for the Public Sector

                                   for career
Lisa Taylor, Challenge Factory   conversations
                                   that grow
Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360
Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360

                                           This Playbook is published by CERIC, a
                                           charitable organization that advances
Retain and Gain: Career Management         education and research in career
for the Public Sector                      counselling and career development to
                                           increase the economic and social well-
Copyright 2021 by Lisa Taylor, Challenge   being of Canadians.
                                           The first two editions in the Retain and
No part of this publication may be         Gain series focused on how small busi-
reproduced, distributed, or transmitted    ness and non-profit managers can use
in any form or by any means, including     career management activities and tools
photocopying, recording, or other          to engage their teams. I am excited that
electronic or mechanical methods,          CERIC saw the potential to expand the
without the prior written permission       series to include this edition, focused
of the publisher, except in the case       on executives and managers in the
of brief quotations embodied in            public sector (encompassing all levels
critical reviews and certain other         of government and jurisdictions across
non-commercial uses permitted by           Canada). In researching this edition,
copyright law. Wholesale discounts         some of the challenges that public
for book orders are available through      sector leaders face resembled those I
Ingram Distributors.                       had heard from executives and manag-
                                           ers in other sectors. In other cases, the
Published by:                              very nature of the work that is done
CERIC                                      within the public sector, the size of this
2 St Clair Avenue East, Suite 300          workforce and the way career progress
Toronto, Ontario                           and success is measured create unique
M4T 2T5                                    conditions not seen in small businesses
Canada                                     or non-profits. In this Playbook, I have
                                           tried to focus on those elements
Website:                      unique to the public sector while also
Email:                      sharing common tools and information
                                           useful to any executive or manager,
ISBN                                       regardless of their sector, seniority or
Paperback: 978-1-988066-64-6               team size.
ePUB: 978-1-988066-65-3
ePDF: 978-1-988066-66-0                    No resource focused on the careers
                                           of employees would be complete
                                           without the provision of tools to
                                           assist leaders in the pursuit of
Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360
greater diversity, equity and inclusion
(DEI) in the workplace. DEI is not a
“special situation” to be addressed as
something unique or optional and so,
wherever possible, we have integrated
these resources and activities into the
main sections. DEI is a foundational
part of an organization’s culture and
inseparable from fundamental human
rights. As such, while there are special
situations listed in Section 4, these
are intended to address unique
circumstances that may sometimes
(but not necessarily always) arise.

This edition of the Playbook does
have one very unique feature that
only applies to public sector leaders:
this is our “Careers and Canadians”
callouts. As you will read, we believe       led by Taryn Blanchard and including
it is essential to address not only          Ben Martin, Nicole Hou, Sage Duquette
the impact that career management            and Justin Doran.
can have on the engagement of
staff within the public sector, but          This project was guided by a
also the significant impact a career         fantastic Advisory Committee,
development mindset can have on              with many thanks for their insight,
the framing and shaping of public            guidance and generosity:
policies, programs and operations. A
public sector workforce that is aware        Tricia Berry, Learning Specialist
of career management practices and           for Universal Design for Career
tools can lead to broader benefit for all    Education, Education Support Services,
Canadians.                                   Department of Education & Early
                                             Childhood Development, Government
Finally, as always, I am grateful to all     of New Brunswick
who have provided their time, expertise
and commitment to the Retain and             Patti Edwards, Manager, Climate
Gain series and this specific edition. For   Research Data Products, Environment
now, I’d like to provide sincere thanks      and Climate Change Canada
and admiration to CERIC for its vision,
support and leadership, as well as to
my incredible Challenge Factory team,
Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360
Chris Fernlund, Manager, Student           Thank you also to the following
Support, eCampusOntario                    research participants and reviewers
                                           who generously shared their
Raquel Fragoso, Director General,          experiences and expertise about
Human Resources, Federal Economic          the public sector and career
Development Agency for Southern            management:
                                           • Aderonke Akande
Rachel Haché, Co-President,
Interdepartmental Careers Community        • Judy Brown
of Practice, Government of Canada and
Human Resources Corporate Manager,         • Martine Cantin
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
                                           • Adam Eckhart
Alastair MacFadden, Executive in
Residence, Johnson Shoyama Graduate        • Paul Keller
School of Public Policy
                                           • Shelley Kilbride
Sabrina J.C. Persaud, Researcher and
Policy Analyst, Privy Council Office       • Kyla McKenzie
(Public Service Renewal Secretariat,
Beyond2020 Team)                           • Susan Osborne

Christa Ross, Assistant Deputy Minister,   • Valérie Plourde
Immigration, Employment & Career
Development Division, Ministry of          • Paul Saad
Immigration and Career Training,
Government of Saskatchewan                 • Milly Sywanyk

Nathalie Thériault, Co-President,          • Michel Turcotte
Interdepartmental Careers Community
of Practice, Government of Canada and      • Anne Walker
Senior Career Management Advisor,
Public Services and Procurement            • Johanna Wolf
                                           To all other anonymous research
Charlie Tsao, Advisor, Privy Council       participants, thank you very much.
Office (Public Service Renewal
Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360
       Section 1: Introduction                              6
          Note to Public Sector Leaders                     7
          How to Use the Playbook’s “Travel Guide”          8
       Section 2: Why Career Management Matters            14
       to Your Organization
          Preparing for Your Career Management Journey      15
          What “Good” Career Management Looks Like          19
       Section 3: Building Your Career Management          24
          Tips to Get You Started                          25
          Itinerary A: 10 minutes to spare                 27
          Itinerary B: One hour a week                     32
          Itinerary C: Half-day every few months           38
          Template to Build a Career Management            46
          Itinerary – Your Action Plan
          Sample Career Management Itinerary               47
       Section 4: Special Situations                       48
          When Managers Are Not Comfortable or             49
          Capable of Having Career Conversations
          Dealing with Life Events and Leaves of Absence   52
          Precarious Employment Practices                  54
          Career Considerations for New Graduates          56
          Career Considerations for the 50+ Workforce      58
          When There Are Few Opportunities for             60
          Knowledge Specialist Advancement
          Navigating Employee Investment and a Public      62
          Service Mandate
       Section 5: Careers and Canadians                    64
       Section 6: Listed and Additional Resources          72
       Notes and References                                84
       Endorsements for Retain and Gain: Career            90
       Management for the Public Sector
Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360
Section 1: Introduction
Note to Public Sector Leaders   7
How to Use the Playbook’s       10
“Travel Guide” Format
Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360
Retain and Gain
                                                                                  Section 1

Note to Public Sector Leaders
Welcome to the Retain and Gain Career Management
Playbook, designed for you: smart, engaged and curious
leaders in the public sector.

The goal of this Playbook is to assist         shifts in technology and rising expec-
you in implementing career manage-             tations from citizens.2 Finding the
ment activities that will benefit you and      time, energy and resources to focus on
your employees – the people who are            career management, then, can also be
critical to the success of your organi-        very challenging.
zation, as well as to the economic and            Leading a team in the public sector
social well-being of Canadians. These          means constantly balancing internal
activities are designed to work with           staffing needs against the operational
free (or low-cost) resources that can          requirements that enable the execution
be applied on the job, as part of regular      or fulfilment of a public mandate.
work structures, starting today.               Associated with this is the struggle
  Canada’s public sector leaders               against negative public perception that
work hard to improve the lives and             investing in employees takes resources
well-being of Canadians while building         away from public goods and services.
strong and diverse workplaces.1 These          The public doesn’t always recognize
are no small tasks, and the stakes             the connection between internal
are high not only for public sector            investment in employees and external
employees but for all Canadians served         productivity or quality services.
by them. The challenges facing public             These challenges and balancing acts
servants across the country are com-           take place no matter what jurisdiction
plex – including financial constraints,        you are working in – federal, provincial,
high workloads, aging demographics,            territorial, municipal and First Nations –
                                                             or what type of leader you
                                                             are – in-scope or out-of-
                                                             scope manager, supervisor,
             TAKE ACTION                                     team lead, director and
   Throughout this Playbook you will see the “TAKE           executive.
   ACTION” headings that suggest ways to put                   A key component of
   the information being shared to immediate use.            fulfilling public mandates
   Don’t feel you have to incorporate all suggestions
                                                             and developing a skilled,
   or topics covered immediately. The aim of this
   Playbook is to be an ongoing resource you can             inclusive, agile and
   use over time. Return to it whenever you want to          equipped staff is effective
   learn more or take action.                                career management. While
                                                             employees have ultimate
Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360
Section 1: Introduction

ownership over and responsibility                   They are committed to meeting the
for their own careers, managers have                career needs and aspirations of their
an important duty to enable their                   employees, and they don’t need to
employees’ careers through support,                 be convinced of the good that career
empathy and openness. In some cases,                management can do. What they need
a manager’s decisions or actions can                is practical activities, tips and advice for
affect an entire career. This is especially         putting career management to use as
true for members of DEI groups, who                 they find themselves in a constant tug-
can face career advancement obstacles               of-war between competing priorities,
from many quarters. By cultivating this             constraints and other public sector
type of careers-focused environment,                challenges.
managers not only contribute to the                    This Playbook has something for
positive personal and professional                  every leader in Canada’s public sector.
growth of their employees but also lay              To our main audience: Consider
critical groundwork for operational                 yourself a traveller and this Playbook
success.                                            your travel guide. Both you and
  Canada’s public sector leaders know               your employees experience shifting
that in today’s changing world of                   demands and challenges over the
work, the status quo is not acceptable              course of your career in the public
or feasible anymore, especially in                  sector, and there’s no “one-size-fits-all”
relation to the COVID-19 pandemic                   approach to meeting them. The
and its permanent impact on public                  activities in this Playbook will help
sector work, careers and priorities.                facilitate dedicated career conver-
                                                                         sations, individual
                                                                         and organizational
                                                                         career planning
               DID YOU KNOW?                                             strategies and
     Career management can be a strategic lever for                      greater awareness
     stronger organizational performance and success. It is              of the career-related
     a foundational component of a range of workforce and                resources available
     workplace needs:
                                                                         in the public sector
     • Recruitment and retention of talented employees                   – and how to find
     • Transition support (e.g., onboarding, automation,                them. They will also
        retirement planning, etc.)
     • Development of new leadership candidates and
                                                                         help foster resilience
        skill sets                                                       and responsiveness
     • Knowledge transfer                                                to changing condi-
     • Career agility, resilience and mobility                           tions, which will only
     • Reskilling or upskilling that is increasingly needed              continue to accel-
        in the rapidly changing world of work
                                                                         erate in the years to
     • Safeguarding and improvement of mental health
        and well-being                                                   come.
     • Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion                           These types of
                                                                         activities will have a
Retain and Gain Career Management for the Public Sector - Equips managers for career - Contact 360
Retain and Gain
                                                                                    Section 1

           FROM THE SECTOR:

   In developing this          • L eading career conversations with employees is
   Playbook, we spoke             difficult due to a lack of training, structure, time
   with public sector             and allocated funding.
   leaders at various levels   • Employees often lack diverse advancement
   of government.4 From           opportunities that fit their skill sets and meet their
   coast to coast to coast,       career needs and goals.
   they showed us how          • It can be a struggle to undertake career management
   motivated they are             activities in the face of formal rules, frameworks,
   about addressing work-         policies and processes within the public sector.
   force and workplace         • Leaders have to be creative in where they get career
   challenges. They also          management tools, including looking outside their
   demonstrated certain           own organization or the public sector as a whole.
   consistencies in their      • There is confusion about the difference between
   own experiences. Do            career management, performance management
   these resonate with you?       and talent management.

positive impact on employees’ engage-
ment and performance, as well as on              CAREERS AND CANADIANS
their mental health and well-being.              The world of work, Canadian society
As COVID-19 laid bare, the separation            and the challenges facing both are
between work and life is artificial,             changing. The public sector is adapting,
and trying to address them as such               and its leaders need new tools to ensure
                                                 they are developing and implementing
will not succeed. As the authors of              strong, effective programs, practices
Strengthening Mental Health Through              and policies – both as an employer and
Effective Career Development summa-              in service of all Canadians. The work
rize, “Mental health is now everyone’s           done by public servants at all levels of
business.”3                                      government and across jurisdictions
                                                 impacts the lives, livelihoods and
   Managers who help their employees
                                                 careers of every Canadian. As such,
find a sense of purpose, value and               throughout this Playbook, you’ll see
direction for their work also help to            “CAREERS AND CANADIANS”
mobilize those employees’ talent and             headings that provide concrete
more fully capture their commitment              examples of how career management
and discretionary efforts. By focusing           activities, principles and concepts
                                                 can also be taken up as a powerful
on practical career management activ-            lens and toolkit in the development,
ities, you will have a stronger platform         delivery and measurement of public
on which to engage and support your              goods and services.
employees through work and life
decisions, challenges and transitions.
In turn, this will lead to healthier, more     valuable opportunities to the public
engaged and more productive teams.             sector, and we are very excited to show
   Career management offers many               you what’s possible! P
Section 1: Introduction

How to Use
the Playbook’s
“Travel Guide”
This Playbook is structured as a travel
guide. We find this is a helpful framing
device, even in times when actual travel
is unlikely or impossible, and received
great feedback about its use in the first
two editions of this Playbook.
   First, travellers are limited by the
amount of time they can spend in
any one location or on any specific
activity. They need to make the hours
count and stretch their financial
resources as far as possible. As a result,
they tend to focus on what will deliver
the best experience.
   Second, many of the public sector
leaders who participated in our
research used the following analogies
to describe careers: a journey, trip,
roadway or roadmap. A career can
be a fun adventure sometimes,                   Third, time and money are critical
and a stressful slog of planning and          constraints for public sector leaders.
roadblocks other times. Navigating a          You know that recruitment, employee
career can alternate between feeling          engagement, employee retention
like you’re on a fast-moving highway          and productivity depend on positive
and feeling like you’re stalled in traffic.   employee experiences – including
Anyone can get lost at different              opportunities to learn, grow, feel
points in their career without a clear        appreciated, tackle challenges and
roadmap, and asking for help with             be rewarded. But how do you make
directions or planning can mean the           good on a great employee experience
difference between a trip spent making        while juggling tight budgets, limited
unforgettable memories and one spent          staff and not enough time to do all the
resenting your travel companion as you        things that “should” be done? How
try to rejoin your tour group.                can you customize and tailor a “Career
Retain and Gain
                                                                                    Section 1

Management Itinerary” to deliver
experiences that meet the needs of
both your staff and your organization?                      TAKE ACTION
   The travel guide format also lends             The templates, resources and tools
itself well thematically to the funda-            provided throughout this Playbook
                                                  are designed to guide you to action.
mental diversity in the public sector             If something doesn’t quite fit, feel
and Canada as a whole, and the need               free to modify and adapt it. We
to intentionally and continuously                 hope the ideas are a starting point
integrate practices that recognize                that inspire you to grow and build
diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as          your people through great career
foundational to a strong organizational           experiences. As a first step, consider
                                                  sharing this guide with your own
culture. DEI in the public sector serves          leadership (or have them get their
multiple overlapping purposes:                    own copy) and work through key
                                                  topics together.
• It reflects the diversity of the
  Canadian population and society,
  one of its core characteristics and          • It brings together worldviews
  strengths. This is a unique element            and experiences from a variety of
  of the public sector’s responsibility          backgrounds, leading to new ideas,
  to its citizens.                               critical thinking and problem solving.

            Travel often involves      “career development”     It embraces various
            learning new terms.        will be used inter-      concepts, including
            During our research,       changeably in this       self-awareness,
            we learned that            Playbook, although       career ownership,
            sometimes terms            some of the quoted       career planning and
            like “career develop-      sources may use other    exploration, lifelong/
            ment,” “professional       terms.                   continuous learning
            development” and              For those             and networking.
            “training” can be used     interested in formal     As such, career
            interchangeably in the     definitions, career      management is
            public sector, while the   management is a          1) a set of principles
            term “career manage-       lifelong process of      and practices that
            ment” is generally         investing in resources   every individual should
            understood to be           to accomplish your       be implementing
            broader – encompass-       future career goals,     throughout their
            ing many different         and a continuing         life, and 2) a field
            activities throughout      process that allows      with professional
            a person’s full working    you to adapt to the      practitioners and
            life. For our purposes,    changing demands         decades of evidence-
            the terms “career          of our dynamic           based research
            management” and            economy.6                behind it.

Section 1: Introduction

     This is a key driver of                      FROM THE SECTOR:
     innovation. Multiple
     studies show that diverse       “When we talk about DEI, it’s not just
     workforces, at all orga-         about individuals who are members
     nizational levels, have             of protected groups like visible
     positive financial and           minorities. What we’re talking about
     performance impacts.5            is everyone as an employee coming
                                        with unique skills and personality
• It helps break down                traits. Regardless of who you are, you
  systemic barriers and                will have very unique needs and it’s
  discrimination. Recog-              very important for managers to take
  nizing that we are on             those without any judgment, and really
  a journey allows us to              understand and support employees
  reflect on our choices and         with those needs…So if I’m a manager
  consider the underlying               and I need to have a conversation
  structures and impact               with an employee, what are some of
  of our language, actions             the questions I need to ask myself?
  and opportunities. In               What are some of the things I need
  this way, non-discrimina-          to keep in check to make sure I don’t
  tion – including but not           actually create a bias here and end up
  limited to anti-racism,             not being a support for this person’s
  anti-LGBTQ2+, anti-age-                career development, or end up
  ism, gender equality and            creating such a negative experience
  equality for persons with          for them that they end up leaving the
  disabilities – is integrated        organization. Which happens, right.”
  into every career conver-
  sation, activity and action             – Leader in a provincial government
  we take as an intrinsic,
  non-negotiable value.

Career management is a powerful            – and tolerance for both – that gives
tool in the public sector’s DEI tool-      employees a sense of safety, connectiv-
kit. It has a positive impact on the       ity and purpose.
career advancement of marginalized            Diversity is often experienced in the
groups, as well as on the conditions       workplace through differences in per-
that lower their work satisfaction on a    sonalities, perspectives and even pol-
day-to-day basis and prevent fair and      itics. Managers who foster conditions
inclusive policies and practices from      in which employees feel safe bringing
being implemented. It also activates       their whole selves to work also reduce
the diversity of experience and thought    the pressure to “just go along to get

Retain and Gain
                                                                           Section 1

along” – to conform in order to
                                    CAREERS AND CANADIANS
avoid further marginalization.
This pressure suppresses useful     Career programs are typically considered
dissent, creative problem solving   the remit of departments of education
                                    and employment. But there is evidence
and sound risk management.
                                    that career development principles are
Not only does it contribute to      included and considered in many other
an insufficient understanding of    public sector portfolios. For example,
issues and inability to address     Health Canada’s social determinants of
complex challenges facing public    health include a broad range of personal,
sector organizations, but it also   social, economic and environmental
                                    factors that determine individual and
erodes employees’ well-being        population health.7 The main determi-
and trust in their employers.       nants of health are:
   Career management, then,
plays a critical role at the        1. Income and social status
intersection of DEI, employee
                                    2. Employment and working conditions
engagement and performance,
and mental health and well-         3. Education and literacy
being. If employees can’t be who    4. Childhood experiences
they truly are at work, they will   5. Physical environments
not want to be there – and they
will leave for better working       6. Social supports and coping skills
conditions elsewhere.               7. Healthy behaviours
   We want to show you that         8. Access to health services
career management is a high-
                                    9. Biology and genetic endowment
value, high-return, low-risk
organizational lever that will      10. Gender
carry your organization across      11. Culture
long distances. And, really,
                                    12. Race/Racism
who doesn’t love taking a “just
for you” custom-designed
                                    If one of the greatest challenges facing
trip? The next section offers       Canadians is their adaptation to an
an opportunity to learn more        ever-changing Future of Work ecosys-
about the benefits, methods         tem, is it time for the creation of a
and approaches of career            “Ministry of Career Development?”
management. If you are eager to     Alternatively, is there evidence of careers
                                    thinking in the programs and policies
jump right into the Playbook’s      emerging from departments such as
activities, skip to Section 3 on    energy, economic development, environ-
page 24. P                          ment, Veterans affairs, Indigenous affairs,
                                    immigration, housing, etc.?

Section 2:
Why Career
Management Matters
to Your Organization
Preparing for Your Career   15
Management Journey
What “Good” Career          19
Management Looks Like
Retain and Gain
                                                                              Section 2

Why Career Management
Matters to Your Organization
This section provides background information to help you become
familiar with the language, opportunities and options that career
management can offer your organization and staff.

In a real travel guide, this section
would give you an overview of the
city, region or country that you were
planning to visit. It would be the pitch
for why you should spend your money
and time there. In this Playbook, you’ll
be learning more about why career
management should be a priority (i.e., a
great journey and destination) in your
organization and leadership plan. If you
prefer to jump straight into planning
your Career Management Itinerary, skip
ahead to page 24 to find activities, tips
and templates.

Preparing for Your Career
Management Journey
Before preparing for a trip, most
people have a few specific questions:

• What can we afford?                         Similarly, your current and future
                                            employees go through the same type
• When is the best time to travel?          of process when deciding to apply,
                                            join or remain with your team or
• What type of experience do we want        organization. They consider the value
  to have?                                  of the work and how it aligns with
                                            their personal beliefs. They evaluate
   To answer these questions, you plan,     the salary and benefits offered, and
budget, scour online reviews and ask        whether now is the right time in their
friends about cities, hotels and tours.     career to take the role you offer or to
Then you make choices that best fit         take a new role elsewhere. They also
your criteria.                              consider what it’s like to work with you:
Section 2: Why Career Management Matters to Your Organization

• Does the daily and long-term                workplace culture and establish
  experience of being on your staff           your organization's reputation as an
  energize and build their career, or         employer of choice.
  does it drag them down?                       Anyone who’s been through
                                              a recruitment cycle knows how
• Do you foster a productive,                 time-consuming it can be and how
   enjoyable and inclusive workplace          important it is to make good hiring
   culture?                                   choices. And hiring is only the
                                              beginning. A complex challenge that
• Are other employees thriving under          public sector organizations face is
   your leadership?                           the combination of 1) poor retention
                                              and loss of great talent, and 2) high
In this Playbook, we provide tips and         retention despite under-engagement.
activities that enhance your employees’         There are many paths for people
career opportunities, build your              to grow their careers in meaningful
                                                         ways in the public sector.
                                                         The interconnectedness at
                                                         different levels of govern-
                         FROM                            ment often means building
                      THE SECTOR:
                                                         a career can be facilitated
        “A public service career [can be]                by the networks, on-the-job
       roughly 30 to 35 years. So, imagine               training, job mobility and
     if the skills you started with were the             lifelong learning opportu-
    same skills you had at retirement. You               nities that are available to
      would miss out on years of learning,               employees – if they know
   advancement, contribution and overall                 how to find and access
          impact benefitting Canadians.                  those career development
    You would be the one driving a horse                 tools.
      and buggy when others around you                      Because advancement
           are driving their electric cars.              in the public sector is
         Or maybe you would be driving                   often (though not always)
     your car when other cars are driving                possible only by moving
     themselves. Learning is an important                into people management
      part of career development. It helps               roles, the lack of diverse,
    us adapt to continuous change in our                 progressive career paths
      work realities. Investing in learning –            can result in strong tech-
   and especially in our people – is critical            nical employees or subject
          for a competitive and relevant                 matter experts being
                   public sector.”                       promoted into general
              – Taki Sarantakis, President,
                                                         managerial roles that are
            Canada School of Public Service 8            not a good fit or misaligned
                                                         with their interests, skill
Retain and Gain
                                                                                   Section 2

sets and expertise. When
employees come to this
type of crossroads in their
careers, some choose to
leave for other sectors that              DID YOU KNOW?
may be more fulfilling from               In the federal government’s 2016 Indigenous
a technical or knowledge                  workforce retention survey, 40% of
expertise perspective, while              employee respondents indicated they were
others may choose to stay for             planning to leave their current position.9 A
                                          significant reason for this was a lack of career
the job and financial security,
                                          progression opportunities and the view that
good benefits and pension.                some recruitment and promotion processes
This latter decision can result           in their organizations subjected them to bias
in decreased engagement and               and discrimination. It was also found that
productivity while they “wait             Indigenous employees were promoted at a
out their service for retire-             lower rate (19.9%) than employees who did
                                          not self-identify as Indigenous (25.4%), and
ment day.”                                Indigenous employees who have worked
   Engaged employees align                for the federal government for 5-10 years
their own career success with             have critical workplace needs (for example,
the success of the organiza-              regarding their professional development,
tions for which they work.                advancement and mobility beyond initial
How employees perceive
internal career opportunities             For more information on the hiring,
is linked to key organizational           retention and promotion of Indigenous
                                          employees in the federal government,
results and overall workplace
                                          see Many Voices One Mind: A Pathway to
culture. Turnover is expensive            Reconciliation:
and members of a disengaged         
workforce will struggle to be             government/publicservice/wellness-
the mission advocates that                inclusion-diversity-public-service/
leaders need.                             diversity-inclusion-public-service/
   This discussion of reten-
tion and engagement, as                   And for over 50 published sources related
well as the evaluation and                to Indigenous recruitment and retention:
decision-making process that
employees go through when
considering career moves,
is an important facet of our
understanding of careers as a journey          ensuring strong productivity and
or trip in need of a travel guide. Effec-      operational success.
tive career management is a key secret            Another important dimension of
weapon for organizations looking to            workforce retention and engagement
retain talented employees and leaders          is longevity. The average age of
looking to help their employees while          Canada’s workforce and the number
Section 2: Why Career Management Matters to Your Organization

of people working past the his-
torical age of retirement are both                  DID YOU KNOW?
increasing.11 As a result, the nature of            The financial ramifications
career journeys is changing, as well                of employee turnover are
as the career supports needed by                    enormous. According to
employees at different stages in their              Employee Benefit News
work life.                                          (EBN) and the Work Insti-
                                                    tute, replacing an employee
   Importantly, as employees get
                                                    can cost 33% of their annual
older or their careers in the public                salary in turnover-related
sector lengthen, the amount of                      costs and 74% of the causes
career support they need does not                   of employee turnover are
decrease – it instead changes. Many                 preventable.10
of the public sector leaders whom
we spoke to, however, identified
employees in their early careers
and those stepping into a new                          TRAVEL TIP:
leadership role as requiring more                      As you explore this
career management support. This                        Playbook, consider the
                                                       employment path your
misperception is also reflected in the                 organization is on. You
amount of career support (guidance,                    likely know what your
opportunities, challenges, etc.) they                  public service or mandate
indicated is provided to employees                     delivery goals are, but
by their organizations, with pro-                      what are your employee-
gressively less support available to                   related goals and invest-
                                                       ment plans? If you think
employees as they get older.                           about careers as a journey,
   If employees are remaining with                     what stage is each of your
the public sector for lengthy terms                    employees at and what
of service yet aren’t receiving the                    type of “trip planning”
career support they need, what type                    support do they need
                                                       from you?
of workforce and workplace culture
is being cultivated over the long
term? For more on this topic, see
“Career Considerations for the 50+         over the entirety of their lives, while
Workforce” in Section 4 – including        leaders will benefit from a fulsome
advice for leaders who find it uncom-      understanding of how to motivate,
fortable offering career support to        challenge and support their employees
employees who are older than them.         as they move through different stages
   Career development is a lifelong        of their work life. Leaders can’t do this
pursuit for everyone, regardless of        without having proper support of their
age, salary or seniority. Employees        own, and taking up practical career
will benefit from a broader under-         management activities is a great way
standing of their own career path          to start. P
Retain and Gain
                                                                              Section 2

What “Good” Career
Management Looks Like
Leaders in the public sector shared with us their concerns
about setting career management goals and having career
conversations with employees.

Of those leaders we spoke to, 51% think
managers find career conversations
difficult to initiate or lead with employ-
ees, while another 27% think managers
find them difficult “sometimes.” This
mirrors findings in other sectors and can
be traced to an absence in Canada of a
culture that prioritizes career literacy,
competence and lifelong learning.
   Leaders described several causes for
their reluctance to have career conver-
sations with employees, including their
worries that:

• They don’t have the skills or training
  to offer good suggestions to the
  challenges their employees face,
  often due to a lack of management
  resources that would prepare them
  to provide career support.                   either 1) decide to leave to pursue
                                               other opportunities, or 2) realize
• Having this type of conversation             their expected career progress
  may lead employees to request addi-          isn’t aligning with their current
  tional development opportunities,            opportunities.
  for which there is no funding.
                                             • Asking employees about their career
• Their employees may think a                  goals may be viewed as too personal
  punitive measure was being taken             or intrusive.
  against them, or be unable to accept
  constructive criticism or feedback.          Sometimes, leaders can resist having
                                             career conversations because they
• Encouraging broader career discus-         misinterpret them as performance
  sions may accelerate employees to          evaluations, which can entail difficult
Section 2: Why Career Management Matters to Your Organization

                                                discussions about shortcomings
                                                and consequences. Check out the
                  THE SECTOR:                   Travel Tip at the end of this section
                                                for the difference between career
         “Career development is one             management and performance
            of the human resources              management.
       practices that has changed the             It is good to be aware that
         most over the past 20 years.           personal and cultural differences
         Paternalistic organizations of         can inform contrasting understand-
        the past rewarded good work             ings of what topics are considered
           with lifetime employment,            intrusive. However, not having
           planned development and              career conversations at all will
       steady advancement. In today’s           be less helpful in the long run to
       rapidly changing organizations,          both employees and managers.
           employees recognize that             To navigate these differences,
       their jobs will continue only as         one tip is to focus on the tone
        long as their skills are relevant       you want to set for conversations
         to an evolving organizational          with your employees and for your
         mission. They know they are            organizational culture as a whole,
      responsible for their own career          emphasizing openness, empathy and
          development. Nevertheless,            support. Career conversations may
         the stresses and frustrations          be difficult to start or uncomfort-
       experienced by employees as a            able at times, but they will benefit
     result of changing career patterns         you, your employees and your
           can contribute to reduced            organization. Proceed with courage!
        productivity, poorer quality of           Explicit career management prin-
      decisions, increased absenteeism          ciples, theories and tools are often
          and turnover, and increased           not included in the learning and
         incidence of disability claims         training opportunities offered by
      related to stress. For employers,         organizations. Common examples
        understanding and addressing            of these are mandatory training
         employee career issues helps           courses for new managers or
         redress the above problems             leadership development courses
           and significantly enhances           for future leaders. These tend to
             organizational vitality.”          provide training and development
                                                for people management more
         – Lorraine Dyke, Linda Duxbury
     and Natalie Lam, “Career Development:      broadly but not for career manage-
     Taking the Pulse of the Public Service,”   ment specifically. With respect to
          The Journal of Public Sector          career management resources that
                  Management12                  do exist, the DEI lens is frequently
                                                absent, which only makes it more
Retain and Gain
                                                                                 Section 2

         DID YOU KNOW?
         During our interviews, we heard a variety of misconceptions about career
         management. These prevent organizations from establishing good career
         support and practices. To counter them, we’ve put together a list of key
         facts about career management that you should remember:

      1. Career                  6. Older employees           leaders with tough
         management and             often need to worry       career-related
         training are not the       about their career        situations.
         same thing, nor are        just as much as
                                                           10. Career
         career development         younger employees,
                                                                management is
         and advancement.           and many people
                                                                a useful tool for
                                    do make significant
      2. Employers are not                                      addressing systemic
                                    career changes
         in control of the                                      barriers and
                                    after the age of 50.
         career paths of                                        discrimination.
         their employees.        7. Career
                                                           11. Managers struggle
      3. Employees often                                       to provide
                                    is not costly
         don’t know how to                                     career support
                                    and delivers an
         manage their own                                      to employees
                                    immediate return
         careers.                                              from different
                                    on investment to
                                                               ethnic or cultural
      4. Managers often            the organization.
          don’t know how
                                 8. Career
          to help employees                                12. T
                                                                here is clear
                                     management is for
          with their careers.                                  evidence that
                                     everyone, not only
                                                               shows career
      5. Generational                professionals or
         cohorts do not              knowledge workers.
                                                               improves diversity,
         have homogeneous
                                 9. T
                                     here are proven          equity and inclusion
         career aspirations,
                                    practices, hard data       (DEI) in the
         qualities or
                                    and solid research         workplace.
                                    available to help

      You will find supporting evidence for these key facts throughout the
      Playbook. For a deeper dive, consider using the resources in Section 6
      as a starting point.

difficult for leaders to develop cultural     eight Guiding Principles of Career
competence for career conversations           Development to help clarify and define
with all employees.                           the scope of career-related work.14
  When good career management                 (Remember that we’re using the terms
takes place, managers and employees           “career management” and “career
work together to explore careers and          development” synonymously in this
career growth. CERIC has developed            Playbook). These principles can help
Section 2: Why Career Management Matters to Your Organization

ensure you have good career conversa-         2. Entails determining interests, beliefs,
tions, resources (like those listed at the       values, skills and competencies – and
end of this Playbook) and programs in            connecting those with market needs.
place with your staff.
                                              3. Involves understanding options,
Career Development:                              navigating with purpose and making
1. Is a lifelong process of blending and         informed choices.
   managing paid and unpaid activities:
   learning (education), work (employ-        4. Should be self-directed; an indi-
   ment, entrepreneurship), volunteer-           vidual is responsible for their own
   ism and leisure time.                         career, but is not alone – we all

                                 FROM THE SECTOR:

            “Up until my 40s, my career was on the rise. Then, different
         circumstances led to me being placed in positions where – long
       story short – I didn’t feel that I fit. Little by little, my self-confidence
        waned, and lassitude kicked in. I saw myself being under-exploited
      and my skills misaligned with my duties. But with 360,000 positions
        spread throughout tens of ministries and departments, I bet that
       there would be one in which I would be more effective and useful,
         and therefore happier. I began using my network and…[tried to]
       find a new job, better aligned with my profile, but without success.
                              I was going in circles. […]
      “When you wake up in the morning dragging your feet and you live
      for weekends and vacation, something is wrong. The worst was that
     the situation didn’t improve, despite my efforts. I realized how many
     of my colleagues were in similar situations. I really wished I had been
     supported by some kind of internal placement service. A flexible and
        dynamic (and why not profitable) organization with the mandate
           to put challenge-seekers in contact with talent-seekers. […]
        “Alas, no such “talent optimizer” exists within the federal govern-
          ment. What’s more, as I write, managers are not incentivized to
       support an employee who, in a genuine optimization effort, would
        like to change teams. In general, that’s left to their discretion and
     they do as they see fit for themselves or their team. Serving the best
      interests of the federal government is not systematically taken into
        account [and nor is the well-being of the individual in question].”
                      – Martin Houle, former federal public servant,
                              Le Devoir (January 9, 2020)15

Retain and Gain
                                                                                  Section 2

  influence and are influenced by our           7. Can be complex and complicated,
  environment.                                     so context is key – there may be
                                                   both internal constraints (finan-
5. Is often supported and shaped by                cial, cultural, health) or exter-
   educators, family, peers, managers              nal constraints (labour market,
   and the greater community.                      technology).

6. Means making the most of talent              8. Is dynamic, evolving and requires
   and potential, however you define               continuous adaptation and resilience
   growth and success – not necessarily            through multiple transitions. P
   linear advancement.


           Career management is distinct          interventions and follow-on
           from but intersects with other         actions. Career management
           people management activities –         is a partnership: “Managers, by
           including talent management,           providing learning opportunities
           performance management,                and supporting career goals, help
           training and coaching. Talent          to empower their employees
           management is a formal disci-          and further their career
           pline for workforce planning that      development. The organization,
           is directed by the organization.       for its part, has a duty to help
           Performance management is a            develop employees’ career
           part of talent management activ-       management skills through
           ities and focuses on optimizing        human resources programs,
           employee performance based on          mentoring and networking.
           metrics and feedback. It focuses       Lastly, the employees themselves
           on how well employees have             must be accountable for their
           accomplished specific job-related      own development through self-
           activities in support of stated        assessment, skills updating and
           strategic objectives and organi-       setting career goals. When these
           zational goals. (For example, is       three work together, employees
           your service delivery program          become more engaged and
           meeting its targets? Is your proj-     retention improves.”13 Think of
           ect manager staying on time and        this partnership as a triangle,
           on budget?)                            with employees as the career
              This Playbook addresses topics      owner, managers as the career
           and actions that go beyond             enabler and organizations as the
           performance-related discussions,       career supporter.

Section 3: Building
Your Career
Management Itinerary
Tips to Get You Started            25
Itinerary A: 10 minutes to spare   27
Itinerary B: One hour a week       32
Itinerary C: Half-day every        38
few months
Template to Build a Career         46
Management Itinerary – Your
Action Plan
Sample Career Management           47
Retain and Gain
                                                                                   Section 3

Building Your Career
This far into the travel guide, you should
have a better understanding of what career
management is, its importance in the public
sector and how it can help leaders and
employees navigate their work, professional
growth and interpersonal relationships.

We’ve provided background about                should intrigue and encourage deeper
why career management is directly              learning while providing concrete,
connected to individual, workforce and         practical starting points.
organizational success (i.e., the “desti-
nation” of your journey). We’ve also           TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED
outlined the complex challenges facing
managers as they try to support their          1. Just as a travel guide about a place
employees, ensure strong engagement               or tourist attraction has different
and retention, and balance operational            categories of activities for visitors
requirements against their manage-                (e.g., what tours to take, where to
ment responsibilities.                            dine, which hotels to stay at, etc.),
   But we all know the most rewarding             we’ve also designed our recommen-
part of preparing for a trip takes place          dations around different categories
once the itinerary is set and the                 of activities that may interest you.
planning is done, when you know what              Consider the following:
to expect and can focus on how to
turn an already great schedule into a            • “ The Specialty Tour”: Some
terrific experience. As you explore the             managers may prefer to structure
activities in this section and choose               their activities around a single
those most useful to you, remember                  goal, like a foodie charting their
that this Playbook is not a comprehen-              movements through a city to dine
sive manual to career management. It                at all the best restaurants.

            TRAVEL TIP:
            Check out the template on page 46. You can use it to build your own
            “itinerary,” putting into action the career management activities that are
            recommended in this Playbook and modifying them as you see fit.

Section 3: Building Your Career Management Itinerary

  • “The Highlights Tour”: Some                 3. This section starts by challenging
    managers may want to get                       you to think differently, then
    exposure to a variety of ways                  drills down into specifics. Each
    that career management can be                  subsequent activity becomes
    usefully implemented across work               progressively more action-oriented
    activities, like a traveller immersing         and tied to organizational goals.
    themselves in an array of unfamiliar           We recommend starting by reading
    cultural beliefs, practices, events            all the activities and putting a star
    and histories.                                 beside those you want to begin
                                                   with. Next, review your “shortlisted”
  • “The Featured Tour”: Some                      activities and consider which are
    managers may skim a list of                    most important and in what order
    activities and only select those that          you want to tackle them. Then, fill in
    can help them navigate a current               the itinerary template provided.
    issue on their plate,
    such as a “featured
                                          DID YOU KNOW?
    trend” that’s popular in
    a given travel season.                Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice.
                                             Applying a diversity, equity and inclusion
                                             (DEI) lens in the workplace is not optional.
2. As with the research you                  Public sector leaders across Canada share
   do when planning a trip,                  this view, but may not know how to put
   we’ve listed far more                     it into practice. A DEI lens is essential to
   activities in this Playbook               creating equity and inclusion, upholding the
   than can reasonably be                    fundamental human rights of employees
                                             (and Canadians more broadly) and creating
   accomplished within                       an organizational culture in which a sense
   a short timeframe.                        of belonging extends to everyone.
   Don’t feel pressure to                        The first and best resource for leaders
   choose more than the                      is their employees. Leaders should ask
   number of activities                      employees who are directly impacted by
                                             DEI what they can do to help them, without
   you feel is realistic.                    creating an environment in which they are
   Just as you can’t see                     made to feel tokenized. The responsibility
   all the attractions in a                  for driving equity and inclusion, demysti-
   city or country in one                    fying inaccuracies and countering stereo-
   trip, prioritize those                    types about marginalized groups rests with
   activities you want to                    those who are not subjected to systemic
                                             barriers and discrimination.
   do first. Then plan to                        It’s important to be proactive and inten-
   come back and build                       tional about integrating career manage-
   new itineraries each trip                 ment and a DEI lens – rather than treating
   to broaden your career                    either as separate from each other or from
   management experience                     “regular work.” The activities in the itinerar-
                                             ies that follow aim to make this possible for
   and exposure.                             busy leaders.

Retain and Gain
                                                                                Section 3

40+ Career Management Activities
Itinerary A: 10 minutes to spare
If you can carve out 10 minutes daily, consider choosing
one activity to do each day. You can do the same activity
each day, or alternate between activities.

                                              showed career creativity when they
       Brainstorm                             helped [client/peer/me] solve a prob-
                                              lem. [Outline the problem and what it
Goal: Identify new, positive actions          meant to the person being helped and
to take                                       to your organization]. I look forward
                                              to [employee name] sharing what they
Think about yourself. Identify one            learned from the experience. Well done.
career-defining moment from your past.           Some organizations will send these
Write it down and consider sharing it as      types of messages out whenever there’s
part of an upcoming team event, call or       a success to celebrate. Others will set
communication. Why was it meaningful?         a more predictable schedule, perhaps
What did you learn? Does your story           including these messages as part of a
provide context to any career situations      broader monthly or quarterly commu-
that others may be experiencing? How          nication. In some organizations, sending
might your background, prior experi-          “yet another email” may be received
ences and different identities play a role?   poorly because of the high volume of
Consider sharing your story as part of a      emails already experienced. If this is the
broader employee communication.               case, consider including this type of
                                              one-line success message in an already
                                              existing email that is sent out regularly.
         Share                                Alternatively, consider sharing these
                                              success messages during a regular lunch-
Goal: Develop a culture of learning           and-learn session or team meeting.
and exploration that encourages                  Whatever frequency and medium of
employee development                          communication you decide to use, let
                                              your staff know what they can expect
Begin to regularly share one-line success     and ensure you spend 10 minutes
messages with your staff that highlight       every few weeks soliciting stories from
how an employee has grown or devel-           employees. On an ongoing basis, review
oped new skills. Consider using this          which employees are the subject of
format:                                       these messages. Are diverse voices being
Subject: Career Creativity                    recognized for their achievements and
Body: Last week, [employee name]              performance? If not, why might that be?
Section 3: Building Your Career Management Itinerary

                                                 see what’s new with them and see
         Discuss                                 how their day is going. Be clear that
                                                 you have about 10 minutes and, if a
Goal: Connect the dots to align                  longer conversation is needed, you will
organizational goals with your team’s            schedule a follow-up time to address
day-to-day experiences                           items in more detail. Let your staff
                                                 member spend a few minutes sharing
Call an employee and have a “check-in.”          whatever information is top of mind.
Let them know you are calling to                 What you discuss doesn’t have to be

  In addition to the “career     nature of today’s careers.      serve a specific purpose at
  journey” as a common           As a federal government         a particular time. But the
  metaphor or form of            report on the Future of         broader focus should be
  imagery, some of the           Work notes:                     on the dynamic relation-
  public sector leaders we          “Career ladders are          ship between Canadians
  interviewed also pointed to    becoming career lattices:       and labour markets, not
  the “career ladder.” Those     According to Barclays, 24%      on the imagery itself.
  who did described it as the    of workers under 34 have           A similar over-emphasis
  traditional analogy or the     already worked in four          on one magic bullet to
  analogy that best fits the     industries, while 59% over      address current chall-
  hierarchical structure of      65 retired with three or        enges may suppress the
  their organization. Analo-     less. The career lattice is     role each individual has in
  gies are helpful in describ-   characterized by constant       forging their own career
  ing employment structures      skills learning and updating,   in favour of a standard
  and relationships. They also   steeper learning                set of courses and
  ensure there is common         curves, and change              tasks that, if completed,
  language to describe core      management. Labour              will lead to success in
  elements of organizational     could become more tran-         emerging employment
  culture. As leaders, the way   sient, potentially impacting    structures. For example,
  you talk about careers is      community cohesion but          reskilling or upskilling are
  powerful in orienting your     perhaps raising under-          important methods of
  employees to expectations      standing between diverse        adapting to the changing
  and possibilities.             groups. The future of           world of work. However,
     Fixed analogies for         vulnerable groups may           too narrow a focus on
  careers are less useful in     worsen if governments           skills ignores the equally
  the development, deliv-        don’t adapt skills training,    important role that indi-
  ery and measurement of         redefine skilled immigra-       vidual interests, beliefs,
  public goods and services.     tion, and shift curricula to    values and other systemic
  An over-reliance on            prepare Canadians for the       elements play in ensuring
  describing employment,         career lattice and lifelong     career ownership, growth
  the workforce or labour        learning.” 16                   and readiness. How can
  markets with simple               A career ladder, lattice,    skills training and initia-
  imagery overlooks the          journey, spider web or          tives also include these
  dynamic and complex            other fixed image may           other elements?

Retain and Gain
                                                                                   Section 3

career-related – but know that there               Other organizations have few
are career implications for building this          resources, especially for managers,
type of casual rapport and relationship            leaving you to feel like you’re alone.
with your employees. After the discus-                Whether you are overwhelmed
sion, note priorities, topics or ques-             or underwhelmed, compile a list
tions that come up. Select a different             of the resources available to you
employee next time.                                (such as training opportunities) and
                                                   collect those materials that can be
                                                   gathered (in print or digital format).
         Do                                        Remember that your focus is on career
                                                   management resources. Not all of the
Goal: Take action that fosters career              professional development resources
opportunities for your team                        available to you will have an explicit
                                                   career management focus.
Are you committed to providing career                 Any resource focused on employee
support to your employees, but are                 management can become a career
having trouble getting started? Some-              management resource. Some are
times the best way to overcome that                already explicitly focused on careers
initial hump is to get organized.                  (such as this Playbook). For others,
   Some organizations have an abun-                you may need to use the Guiding
dance of resources for employee, pro-              Principles on page 22 as part of your
fessional or workforce development,                consideration of the topic at hand.
which can make navigating or taking                Gaining exposure to stories of diverse
advantage of them feel overwhelming.               experiences, operational successes and
                                                                    innovative practices
                                                                    can be good “door-
          DID YOU KNOW?                                             openers” to discuss
          In our research with public sector leaders, we            career interests, learn-
          delved into what they think makes for good                ings and opportunities.
          career conversations, coaching and support.                  Once you have an
          These are the qualities they identified:                  organized list, identify
          • Open, approachable                                      the gaps in your career
          • Non-threatening, non-judgmental                         management resources.
          • Empathy, patience, compassion                           If you aren’t sure where
          • Listening skills, observational skills                  those gaps are, ask
          • The ability to ask questions                            yourself what you find
          • Being interested, involved, encouraging                 especially interesting
          • Recognition of cultural differences and impacts         or challenging about
          • Self-awareness                                          providing career support
          • The willingness to make time available                  to your employees.
          • Experience and practice                                 Do you want to improve
                                                                    your coaching skills? Do
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