How to Career Path Employees Who Don’t Want Upward Mobility

Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of career pathing and how it helps with employee engagement, and as a strategy in succession planning. It’s the way to identify high potentials and filling leadership positions that open up as Baby Boomers leave the organization.

But, I also mentioned that not everyone wants to move up the ladder into a leadership position. Some just want to come do the job and are comfortable with what they are dong now. Years ago, I was the Executive Director of an assisted living facility and had a nurses aide who was an extraordinary employee; many of us felt that this person would make a great nurse and encouraged them to do so, as the company would pay for their school. Surprisingly, they turned it down stating that they were happy doing the support work they did.

While it left some of us in administration wondering about their motives, it showed that one can be happy with the current work they do. So what would a career pathing plan look like for someone who doesn’t want to move up within an organization? How do you keep them engaged and satisfied to keep them, as these are loyalists who want to remain with the organization?


There really would be no difference in this employee’s career pathing plan; it still would consist of their wants and needs to keep them involved and satisfied in the job as well as benchmarks for where the employer wants them to be. Determining what will keep the worker excited about coming to work should be a top priority; other considerations could include:

  • skill development and trainings they desire; while they may not want to move, there may be another skill they could use to add to the job, such as a computer skill or enhancing their communication skills
  • job rotation – this involves working in another department, as this could give them more challenging work or responsibility. Their skill and experience could be a benefit to another departmental function, which could enhance those work outcomes
  • offering them other opportunities that aren’t managerial, such as helping with on-boarding new employees or being in charge of ordering supplies; this allows them to ‘try out’ more responsibility, which will raise their confidence and trust you have in them, and could also get them thinking that upward mobility might not be a bad thing
  • having them attend meetings, outside conferences, or to be a part of work teams in the organization, such as the safety or a diversity committee. This could get them more involved in the organization and develop/use their SKA’s in differing ways that are beneficial to all
  • identifying recognition, benefits, or other perks that will meet their needs and retain them, which can be done by having regular meetings with them to assess where they are and to provide feedback on their performance. These workers just want to know that their efforts are noticed and recognized; give verbal and written thanks (someone I know says their boss leaves small notes under their keyboards – what a nice surprise), provide lunch or take them to lunch, allow them to come in/leave late an hour, recognize them to their coworkers – there are many ways to show workers they are valued, many don’t involve money (these workers aren’t after the big bucks)

It’s important for leaders to recognize – and respect – that not every one of their employees wants to become a leader and get the corner office; there are many workers who are satisfied with where they are. It’s also important to still have a career pathing plan to ensure these worker’s satisfaction level stays high to  ensure their longevity. These are the workers who will get the ‘gold watch’ (longevity) and are there to show their loyalty and commitment to the organization. A career pathing plan will show them the same from their leader, thus reinforcing their commitment. The worker I mentioned earlier? They are still with that organization, a happy and involved worker who continues to make a difference every day.

Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! or



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: