The Importance of Career Progression Plans for CSMs

career progression plan

These days, success in most organizations is realized through team efforts. High performing organizations have learned that brainstorming, sharing, and collaborating on ideas and projects tends to bring the best results.

That being said, a lack of career progression options, less of an investment in professional development opportunities, and a failure to provide for skill growth  have also led to employee retention issues.

Right now, job-hopping is on the rise because of the strong economy and employees who’ve come to suspect that there’s no such thing as loyalty from employers anymore.

Like customer success, which requires good product/market fit, employee success requires good company/employee fit to retain talent within an organization. According to the North American Mercer Turnover Study of 2018, turnover rate in the United States was recorded at 22 percent—16 percent being voluntary separation.

The majority of reasons cited for this separation involved personal and family issues, but promotion opportunity came in second.

One of the reasons to pursue a career in customer success management or to invest in it at your company is that it sidesteps many of the issues, providing excellent growth opportunities, professional development, and the chance to learn new skills. Having a clearly defined career progression plan, especially for CSMs, is an excellent way to ensure employee retention and keep morale high.

This article will discuss:

  • A definition of career progression planning

  • Employer benefits to implementing career progression programs

  • Employee benefits to working with a career progression plan in place

  • The three types of career progression plans and how they operate

What is Career Progression?

Career progression programs are also known as career ladders or career paths.

These plans help to define an employees journey by clearly outlining an employees path as they move vertically within their own organization, transition horizontally into new areas in the company, or pick up a dual career path within an organization.

Benefits for the Employer

The benefits of offering career progression programs can reward both the organization and its workforce.

While training team members to perform specific tasks is a winning strategy for employees with a well-defined job roles in customer success are typically more dynamic. Companies that are looking to the future are focusing on building career progression plans for their most valuable assets, their team.

This places a level of confidence in—and also within—the employee. In turn, the employee feels motivated to contribute to the organization, which drives increased morale and profitability.

Best in class companies are using career progression plans as a way to attract top talent that meets the requirements of the job and has growth potential within the industry. Thus, the employer ends up attracting highly skilled candidates that provide value—not just fill a cubicle—for the company.

Benefits for Employees

Some of the benefits companies can offer employees in a career progression plan are monetary rewards, bigger job titles, educational and certification opportunities, work-from home options, flexible working hours and more.

Organizations like SuccessCOACHING can provide customer success manager certifications and career progression planning resources. Organizational educational training opportunities are on the rise and ensuring that you have a plan in place and a framework for how to begin is essential.

All of these benefits contribute to employee self-confidence and organizational motivation. When an employee feels valued, productivity and effectiveness increases while tardiness, absences, and harmful contributions to company morale decreases.

Building a Career Progression Plan

Successful career progression plans provide opportunities for additional training and other professional development opportunities.

Fully mature plans require a number of resources, and it is a necessity to implement each program from start to finish, but it is easy to get started, and your company can develop the plan over time.

There are three types of plans a company can choose from—vertical plans, dual career plans, and horizontal plans.

Vertical Career Progression Plans

Vertical progression plans are most commonly found in large organizations within the tech, science, engineering, government, professional, and vocational industries sectors, but CSMs in any industry may find this type of plan appealing.

Vertical progression programs follow a “do this, get rewarded” method where an employee is promoted after successfully performing job tasks for a period of time.

Employees experience increased motivation and morale is maintained. Monetary opportunities, more responsibility, and growth potentials are realized.

The company benefits by retaining the talent pool, feeding the bottom line, and minimizing monetary damages. By placing the right person in the right job from onset, costs for recruiting, hiring, and training go down.

Dual Career Progression Plans

A dual career progression plan also increases employee responsibility and motivation. It can either compensate monetarily or it can promote professional development opportunities, growth, benefits and/or improved job titles.

This plan allows employees to grow their skill-sets, maintain longevity within an organization, and earn a bigger job title. The company gains productivity while minimizing cost.

Horizontal Career Progression Plans

Horizontal progression plans are generally found in larger organizations or ones that favor a “tour of duty” approach to enabling the development of their talent. They hire employees and rotate them through different job functions for a set period of time.

This plan typically doesn’t focus on monetary rewards for an employee, but it exposes the employee to increased skill/trade training, a greater sense of organizational awareness, self-confidence, and opportunity for growth.

Horizontal progression plans work well for companies. They are able to retain a vast majority of employees integral to operations, while developing an in-house, talented workforce.

Plan for Succession, Plan for Success

A successful and clearly defined career progression plan is beneficial to both companies and employees.

Employees usually feel more engaged when they believe that their company is concerned about their growth and provides avenues to reach individual career goals while fulfilling the company's mission.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO, as an employer, have a career progression plan in place during the hiring process

  • DON’T, as an employer, limit opportunity for growth, promotions, and educational training

  • DO, as an employee, consider the opportunities for career advancement and the employer’s progression plan before accepting a job offer

  • DON’T, as an employee, disengage without having a discussion as to what provides you career motivation

Sarah Pike

Sarah Pike, M.B.A., is a freelance marketing copywriter based in San Diego. She enjoys writing about business, fashion, food, healthcare, leadership, motivation and technology.