Career Planning


5 min read

Why have a career plan? Benefits of a career plan for employees Benefits of a career plan for employers Getting started with a career plan Developing a career plan Tips when writing a career plan

Career planning is the process of setting clear goals for the immediate, medium, and long-term future in a person's career, along with outlining how to achieve them. This page highlights the importance of having a career plan in the dairy sector, both for employees and employers. For employees, it can create clarity, demonstrate commitment, and increase the chances of finding suitable roles. For employers, it can lead to highly motivated, high-performing staff. The page also provides guidance on how to get started with and develop a career plan, and emphasizes the importance of employee ownership and support from family.

Career planning is setting out a clear understanding of what a person is looking to achieve in the immediate, medium, and longer-term future. Ideally, a career plan should also outline how that person expects to achieve their goals and by when.

Why have a career plan?

Having a career plan helps to focus people, and this generally results in faster progression to achieve stages or goals.

Most people keep their career plans in their heads and never get around to writing them down – that is if they have them at all. Thinking about, discussing, and then writing down career goals is a much bigger commitment mentally, and significantly increases the chance of working towards the end goal, and therefore success.

Benefits of a career plan for employees

  • Employers recognise that having a career plan creates clarity and demonstrates a commitment to a career in the dairy sector.
  • When looking to change roles, a career plan can give potential employers a clear understanding of what the person is looking to achieve in the immediate future, and how they will achieve their goals.
  • Having a career plan demonstrates a clear view of the person’s ideal farm role, and a realistic understanding of what is expected within that role, increasing the chance of a suitable role match.

Benefits of a career plan for employers

  • Highly motivated staff who are eager to learn and develop - high performing employees.
  • Depending on your farm business and the progression opportunities you can offer, it might mean an employee needs to leave your farm for a better opportunity, but in the interim you will have a highly engaged employee delivering good results.
  • Personal satisfaction for having been a part of your employees’ growth.

Getting started with a career plan

Discuss with your employee if they have a career plan or if they want to develop one, explain what it means and potential benefits.

Find out if your employee wants your help to develop their career plan. If they choose to develop it themselves, give them the tools i.e. explain how they might go about it, and then support from a distance. If your help is needed, sit down and work through the process together making sure it is your employees plan, with you supporting, challenging and encouraging.

Developing a career plan

Developing a career plan is the same as creating goals:

  1. Write down all ideas, in no particular order.
  2. Categorise the ideas into groups.
  3. Add timescales to the goals to give them order.

It is important for your employee to get their partner and family involved (not necessarily immediately but certainly once commitments are being made). Any plans for your employees’ future, will affect them too. Support and commitment from their partner/family will help them achieve their goals, especially around sharemilking or ownership.

For immediate goals:

  • Identify what skills the employee needs to develop.
  • Identify where the gaps are and how they can be filled – this could be through formal training or through experience on-farm.

For medium-term goals:

  • Identify what higher-level experience and training the employee needs.
  • Depending on the goals, you may need to work out some budgets to determine any investment needed before the goal can be achieved, for example to purchase animals, or to lease a farm.

Tips when writing a career plan

  • The employee needs to take ownership of the career plan.
  • It needs to be the employee’s goals – not the employer or anybody else.
  • If it is not meaningful and desirable to the owner then it will, almost certainly, not be followed.
  • Employers can show support by reviewing progress against the career plan at six-monthly or annual performance reviews.
Last updated: Sep 2023

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