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Steps for Developing an Effective Progression Plan

​To attract and retain talent in today’s competitive job market, employers must think beyond benefits and salary packages. Candidates want to feel valued, and supported and know their employer is thinking about their future.

A recent report by McKinsey showed the top reasons people left a job without another in hand was uncaring leaders, unsuitable work performance expectations and lack of career development and advancement potential.

To overcome these factors, it is crucial to develop an effective progression plan for your employees. Follow these proven steps to support your Automotive Engineers with their career planning and development.

Understand Your Employees’ Career Goals

Before you can begin to develop a plan for your team, you need to know what they want for themselves. No employee will share the same goals as their colleagues – some may want greater responsibility and rapid career progression, while others will be content to stay in their role and master their current duties.

Instead of leaping ahead and devising a plan that might not work, you should take the time to consult with your employees and discuss their career aspirations.

  • Do they have specific goals in mind?

  • Are there any projects they want to be involved with?

  • Any specific skills or certifications they hope to gain?

Use this as an opportunity to also discuss how they envision themselves achieving those goals and what they feel you can do as an employer to help them get there.

Engaging with your employees in this manner will not only give you a better starting point for developing their progression plan but will allow them to feel heard and supported.

Encourage Employees to Assess Their Strengths and Weaknesses

To begin developing an employee progression plan, it is important to know where your employees currently stand. Encouraging your employees to make an honest assessment of their strengths and weaknesses will give you both a clearer idea of what steps need to be taken to achieve their overall career goals.

Strengths and weaknesses will vary wildly between employees, and they won’t all have an equal impact on an individual’s career progression. A Mechanical or Software Engineer’s progression is going to depend more heavily on their technical skills and knowledge compared with someone in a managerial position.

However, having effective communication, teamwork and time management skills will be essential for anyone that wants to progress in their career, regardless of their position within your organisation.

While your employees may be aware of some of their strengths and weaknesses, your perspective as their employer will offer valuable insight. Take some time to sit down together and look objectively at where their talents and areas for improvement lay. Doing this will allow you to see how these align with an individual’s chosen goals and help you to develop a plan for making any necessary improvements.

Encourage and Enable Mentoring

The phrase ‘it takes a village’ doesn’t just refer to raising children. Mentoring is one of the most important components of career progression but, unfortunately, one of the most overlooked. No matter the industry, individuals who have successfully progressed in their careers will acknowledge the difference that having a mentor makes.

Mentoring is frequently informal and often occurs unnoticed in standard day-to-day workplace interactions. To realise the true benefits of mentoring you should formally incorporate it into your culture by dedicating appropriate time and resources. Some mentor choices are obvious and will arise naturally but others will need to be identified and actively supported.

Again, take the time to engage with your employees and gain their input. Are there any colleagues they admire or want to learn from in particular? Is there someone that they feel could benefit their chosen goals or career path?

It is also worth remembering the benefits of mentoring aren’t just one way. Mentors can benefit from the process too by strengthening their leadership skills and exposing themselves to new people and perspectives. Look at matching mentors with mentees who can benefit them and you will be supporting progression at all levels of your business.

Embrace Variety and Avoid Pigeonholing People

As we referenced previously, career progression is not strictly linear and is always focused on an upwards trajectory. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that an employee is only capable of what their job title suggests. Sometimes the greatest opportunities for progression lie in areas neither you nor they would suspect.

Listen to your employees about what they feel they need. If they are interested in a division or project that is outside of their wheelhouse, find a way to support this interest and enable them to explore it. Similarly, if you think an individual has potential in a role or area that they don’t recognise, don’t be afraid to stretch their abilities and present them with new challenges.

People succeed best when they are given space to pursue their passions. The more that you can support employees in doing this, even when it’s out of the ordinary, the easier it will be to develop a progression plan and the more your business will benefit.


Developing an effective progression plan requires a focused effort as an employer, but the most important thing is just to listen. Your employees have been thinking about their career goals for most of their life and all they want is for an employer to understand and support them in achieving those goals.

For more tips on how to develop a career progression plan for Automotive Engineers, reach out to us at Fields & Rudd. As specialists in automotive engineering recruitment, we understand the complex challenges of the industry and can help you maximise the potential of your employees. Our unmatched network of jobseekers can help connect your business with quality candidates throughout the UK who are searching for Automotive Engineering jobs. Get in touch today to find out what we can do.