Five-Year Plan — Who Has It? A Focus on the Future

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In theory, HR units and employees have a five-year plan.  But how important is a five-year plan and what does it mean in a chronically unstable marketplace? The answer is very.

Planning is a great thing.  Having a blueprint for life or business is a fine idea.  As a tabletop exercise, employment planning cannot be beaten for challenge and structural visualization.

A five-year plan can be developed by workers, by HR units, and between HR managers and talent working on career development to meet future needs and employee aspirations.

Taking stock—what makes a career plan

Whether you are planning for the next two, three, or five years, a career plan takes thought and effort.  While understanding your future needs and feelings is not easy, taking stock of the present is a good place to get started.

  1. List significant employers or projects to date.
  2. Start listing types of work that attracted you to these jobs or projects. Consider resources now that might help you design the life and career you want.
  3. Develop a list of tasks, situations, or stressors that drain your enthusiasm and that you feel block your potential.
  4. What do you believe are your goals right now, within the next year, and how do you plan to approach those goals?
  5. Realizing the future gets fuzzier the further out you go—what are the milestones you hope to meet within the next five years?
  6. State your five-year goals.

With the exercise accomplished, you have honestly evaluated what you believe to be your current priorities.  Life has a funny way of reordering priorities. However, a blueprint is a good thing to review when renovations are needed down the line because you can see what you were aiming for and why.

Basic ideas for department or unit planning

Here are some important points:

  1. Know your company and department goals for the next five years.
  2. Take a second or third look at the real talents and capabilities of your workforce.
  3. Talk to each worker to find out where they are and where they want to go.
  4. Consider staging team discussions about group development and goals.
  5. Give thoughtful consideration to how business, team, and individual goals mesh.
  6. Decide where you might need additional talent and which workers are interested in moving ahead with upskilling or company-assisted career training.
  7. Create business, team, individual, and recruiting action plans around your findings.

Some hiring managers and recruiters ask potential candidates about their five-year plan.  The idea is to understand if there is discipline involved with this job choice, if it fits any kind of strategy, or if the sought-after position is simply something your candidate is interested in trying out.

While some would say the lack of a career plan is a negative, others might say the volatility of the current geopolitical climate makes rigid planning ill-advised. Planning is good, as long as it is flexible, aims for realistic outcomes, take variables in stride, and can be adjusted when common sense dictates.

Our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, is credited with saying, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”  Making a plan gives you a map to places familiar, wild, and as-yet-undiscovered. Get started on yours today.

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