Delivering the Big Picture in Education and Employment

People don’t know what they don’t know—and that’s especially true of the people in today’s younger generations when it comes to education and careers. It’s not their fault; it’s just that no one has told them about the possibilities out there today.

Many don’t know where their education can lead or what it means beyond the diploma or degree. They go to school because it’s expected of them, not because they see the larger reasons and purpose behind the exercise.

When they move into the workforce, career growth can seem like a distant concept. Many are entirely unaware of the opportunities for career growth and advancement in their field. There’s no big-picture narrative to capture their imagination and spark their pursuit.

As educators, workforce development trainers, employers, and parents, we need to help young people know what they don’t know. The big picture is the story of how they can move through the ranks in their education and employment. This is so much more than the entry-level position they’re applying for today; it’s about where they can go in a year, two years, five years from now—and why they would want to go there.

Big-picture recruitment and retention

Showing the big picture is an effective recruitment strategy that invites the candidate to imagine where he or she can advance within the organization. Entry-level is just the beginning—that’s inspiring. It’s no accident that so many companies recruit with a simple slogan along the lines of “Grow With Us.”

But the big-picture narrative shouldn’t stop once the candidate accepts the position. Gallup recently reported that 66 percent of American workers feel “not engaged” or worse, “actively disengaged” in their current positions. Some 47 percent of workers are considering leaving their jobs right now, according to a recent survey. Would these numbers be so dire if these workers knew that there were good things ahead in their current organization?

It’s worthwhile to ask these questions about your organization’s big-picture narrative:

  • How clear are the pathways to success in this organization?
  • Do people have to ask about opportunities for promotion or is career advancement built into the employee experience?
  • Do substantive and constructive employee reviews take place on a regular basis?
  • When you recruit, are you selling entry-level careers or the larger view of growth and personal success?
  • Do people know what they need to do to move to the next level in their education and career?
  • Do people have the resources to grow professionally within the organization or must they look elsewhere to enhance their skills and abilities?
  • Is advancement perceived as a vague concept somewhere down the road or is there a clear roadmap for the positions and possibilities they can reach?

More than a flowchart

Delivering the big picture means more than circulating a flowchart showing the hierarchy of positions in the organization. A flowchart can be a start, but the narrative shouldn’t end there. Workers need to know the benchmarks and achievements that qualify them for the next level and formulate a plan to reach those goals. Successful organizations don’t just create a narrative of employee growth, but partner with their employees to actively pursue their own advancement. It’s a proactive commitment to help your workforce move forward in their careers—because when individuals are invested in their personal growth, they bring the organization with them. And that’s a big-picture win for everyone.