The best feeling as a leader is to see your team succeed. If you’ve done your job as a leader well, your employees will likely be promoted, perhaps to another team within your organization, or they might even move on to another company. You’ve encouraged, led, and championed. Did you remember to set yourself up for success when your top performers move beyond their current roles?

Career pathing is a structured, comprehensive development planning process intended to help employees visualize their career potential within a company.  The process requires employees and their leaders to take an honest look at the employee’s career goals, skills, needed knowledge, experience and personal characteristics. Then together, the leader and the employee can make a plan for achieving what is necessary in each of these areas in. These types of conversations can be done in one-on-one meetings between leaders and employees. As leaders work through this process with employees, they can leverage an employee’s strengths and interests and know when to promote. Leaders also need to be thinking about their plan is for filling those roles as people move around the organization, or even move on to another company.

So much of your time is spent looking up, encouraging employees to improve. You also want to be sure you are looking down, too. Or across, or out. Are there people outside your team that would slip right into an open role well? Are there people under the people you promoted who are ready to make a move? What about people in other departments or those you know outside your company? If you’ve got a great plan in place, you know where people may fit and what the succession lines will look like.

As a leader in your organization, be sure you know the goals not only of your department and group, but the organization as a whole and how your people fit into that not just right now, but down the road. That map may change, it is fluid. People will move on and goals or plans may change. But the more you can create plans ahead of time, the easier it is to retain great employees.

Many organizations underestimate the total career opportunities available to their employees because their mindsets are about traditional career paths, based on hierarchy and experience instead of potential. However, that way of thinking limits the number of available career opportunities. Employers should make a practice of revisiting employees’ resumes and talk to employees about their goals to tap into their strengths and interests so they can maximize the potential of their talent base.