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Chevron Changes Focus From Career Development to Career Enrichment

April 1, 1994
Related Topics: Career Development, Employee Career Development, Featured Article
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Approximately seven years ago, San Francisco-based Chevron Corp. redesigned its performance-management system to focus on employee career development. Instead of evaluating employees based on past performance, the new system was designed to encourage employee growth by focusing on professional development.

Then, brutal economic realities forced Chevron to downsize, displacing 8,000 people in the process. The company realized at that point it could no longer promise career development because that implied upward growth. Furthermore, remaining employees who felt nervous about job security and advancement couldn't be reassured with the promise that once the economy turned around, so would their chances for promotion. Operating in a slow- to no-growth industry, Chevron would have to find ways to help employees grow in place.

For this reason, the company restructured its performance-management system in 1991 to emphasize career enrichment. "Through this program, we're helping employees who can't advance find meaning in their work," explains Sarah Clemens of the company's leadership planning and development department.

Chevron's career-enrichment process is designed to help employees enhance their effectiveness and job satisfaction, develop new skills and become better prepared to meet current and future business needs. Participation in the process is voluntary for all employees. As stated in a company brochure, "It doesn't guarantee higher salaries or promotion, but the process does enable employees to take more personal responsibility for their own career development."

Chevron's career-enrichment process involves the following key components:

Preparation.
During this first stage, employees complete a self assessment, an organizational assessment and a goal-setting process.

Joint planning.
Here, the employee and manager review the results of the preparation activities and agree on a career-enrichment plan for the coming year.

Plan review.
During the third stage, the manager presents the employee's career-enrichment plan to a group of supervisors who form the plan-review committee. Many options for career enrichment exist at Chevron, including growth in place, lateral moves, exploring new areas of interest, realignment and moving out of the organization entirely. This plan-review committee provides employees with feedback on these options.

Implementation.
The employee is ultimately responsible for implementing his or her career-enrichment plan, but supervisors and others may lend resources and support.

End-of-cycle review.
Once an employee's enrichment plan has been implemented, the employee and the supervisor review the results and prepare for the next year. This provides an opportunity to evaluate the career-enrichment process itself and monitor the quality of the communication between the supervisor and employee.

The career-enrichment process isn't only Chevron's way of encouraging its employees to take responsibility for their own career development, it's also a way for the company to support them in the process. "There's still the expectation that if employees are loyal, they will be assured a job with the company," Clemens says. "That's just not the case anymore."

Employees have to have an understanding of their own values and skills in order to contribute effectively, she says, and they have to understand the business in order to align their personal goals with organizational goals.

Says Clemens: "The career-enrichment process is our way of helping employees do both of these things."

Personnel Journal, April 1994, Vol.73, No. 4, p. 64P.

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