Career Development

Most people want to see a career path stretching in front them.

Career development, like monetary rewards, is something that is of concern to everybody in employment, particularly for staff in their early years with a company. Most people in work, with the exception of those nearing retirement age, like to feel that there is a career path stretching in front them. They want to know where this is leading and how they are going to progress along the route. It is the job of any Manager to recognise this desire and to meet the need, whilst ensuring that people's ambitions are realistic. Holding out the possibility of progress to someone when this at best seems doubtful, will only store up problems for the future and managerial reputation will suffer when nothing in fact happens.

The Industries offer many career opportunities for progression and change and a variety of entry points for the professionally qualified scientist. Some examples of these are listed below.

• New Product Research

• Analytical

• Process Development

• Technical Service and Marketing

• Plant Management and Production

• Health, Safety and Environment

• Regulatory Affairs

• Intellectual Property

• Information Services

In larger companies many of these disciplines still exist as separate departments or functions though increasingly aligned with individual business units. In smaller companies this is not possible and several of these jobs or responsibilities will often be rolled together under one manager, or outsourced to another company or consultant. As an example, in a smaller company it is unlikely that an individual will be employed to deal solely with the intellectual property issues of patents, copyright etc.

The professionally trained chemist working in a research function will be faced with a career dilemma. Carrying out research is an enjoyable and intellectually rewarding experience. Going into management to reap a higher financial reward and wider career opportunities will mean that this enjoyable activity has to be sacrificed. This move could also mean the loss of a dedicated and able researcher to the company and in order to try and resolve this conflict many operate what is called " a dual ladder system". The dual ladder is a method by which top scientists can stay within the R&D function, but in a non-managerial role, and still receive similar financial rewards. By this means companies are able to keep their top scientists carrying on with their research, without any feeling of frustration over lack of reward or career progression.

There are several questions that a Manager might ask of individuals who are at a turning point in their careers, to pose to themselves relating to the science versus the management pathway dilemma, [A-21]

• Do I like to focus on team or individual results? An academic leaning tends to focus on individual results

• Do I communicate effectively? Communicating scientific results to one's peers is one thing but convincing others of a plan of action, e.g. the board of directors, is quite another thing.

• Can I give constructive criticism? Criticising constructively others scientific results is okay but giving the same to non-scientific staff is a different skill.

• Will I be comfortable giving orders and constructive criticisms to my former peers? This puts a special strain on friendships, as a supervisor your colleagues will never view you in the same way again. • Will this bring stress into my life, and is that okay with me? There is a great deal of difference from being anxious about the results of experiments or personal goals to the stress from top management when a project timeframe slips.

Therefore, the performance management can help individuals to seek answers to questions on their career aspirations. Staff can be helped to think about alternatives for which they may be suited and thus their horizons broadened. The data from these discussions should always be logged for future reference.

When people are at the beginning of their careers they need to gain experience in several areas of the R&D activity of the company. This is especially true of those people in the technician grades where the primary knowledge is being gained by in house work. For these latter people regular rotation through jobs is a good practice. For professionals, any changes in their jobs will be governed by progress on their specific R&D topics as well as their need for broader experience. Similarly, the training plans for the individual should also be matching their planned or potential career pathway. A useful technique for assisting in this process involves the drawing up of possible career pathway maps for each level of staff with associated training inputs.

Figure A4 shows a typical career pathway for a person entering a process technology group directly from high school at say 18 years of age. This person continues in academic education through part time study for a BSc at the local university or college or by distance learning. Job experience in parallel to this education is achieved within the company in relevant areas. Training in practical organic chemistry is achieved by working on the process development of products to be manufactured on the plant, with the supervising chemist acting as a mentor; knowledge of analytical methods is gained either incrementally, by using the various techniques and instruments, or by direct transfer into an analytical support group for a period of time; experience of plant operation is gained by helping to run processes on the pilot plant or by being employed as part of a shift team during the experimental manufacture of a product by a new process. On completion of the degree course by part time study, this person should be ready for promotion to the position of development chemist; acting in a more independent manner than has previously been the case. Experience in this role is then gained over a period of time by working on a variety products, processes and plants, including periods acting as a shift team leader. This is coupled with personal development training that is aimed towards a future managerial role. After this time has passed, which may well take a few years, the person is ready for a job in the management of a manufacturing unit or plant.

The second example of a career pathway is for a postgraduate chemist entering as a new recruit into a research function (see Figure A5). The initial job is as part of a team working on new product research, the job holder responding directly to the Team Leader. After a period of time, say one to two years in this role, the Manager has planned a move into another group so that the chemist will gain wider experience. Other moves are possible, for instance into a role involving

Figure A4. Career Pathway Map for a Technician

process development and hence contact with the plant and manufacturing or into a technical service job to gain experience in dealing with customers and activities at the business interface. Alongside these moves, training in both technical and personal development aspects will be provided to assist in career progression. The next career move will be into the Team Leader role. A sideways move into a marketing job to create greater commercial awareness may at this stage be beneficial. Alternatively, the management of a team with a more interdisciplinary content could gain a broadening of experience. The process of personal development goes on with attendance on higher-level courses that are specifically geared towards management. At the end of these moves and training the person is ready, when the opportunity arises, for promotion into the job of an R&D Manager.

These are just two, relatively simple examples of possible career pathways but they both involve significant promotional steps. Not everybody employed within the R&D group is going to see such large changes during their careers. For the majority of employees a plateau is reached somewhere around the chronological mid point of a career. When this happens motivation can be a problem and it is something that needs to be recognised and action taken accordingly. Fortunately, R&D people remain very motivated generally by the technical aspects of the job. Ensuring that the technical challenges remain high for those people on a career plateau is a key managerial task. Performance related pay is also designed to encourage good performance from these people, offering the potential for high rewards within the same grade or role.

The method for matching these career aspirations, or suitability, to actual opportunities involves having a managerial process for a planned succession through a portfolio of jobs. This is known as succession planning and is covered in the next section below.

Database Data Flow Diagram
Figure A5. Career Pathway Map for a Postgraduate Chemist

54 | 2 Developing the People who form the Skills Base 2.1.7

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