A new Insala survey sought, among other things, to determine if there is a discrepancy between the popularity of career development methods and their effectiveness. Additionally, the survey sought to determine the difference in development method effectiveness targeted to two groups: director level and above and all other employees.

The survey found that traditional training courses, mentoring and special projects and situational challenges are the most effective career development methods used by organizations in 2013, although they weren’t necessarily the most-used methods.

Mentoring Effective But Not Used

What's most notable is that mentoring does not rank in the top five most-used career development methods, but ranks as the most effective method for all employees who are not director level and above, and as third-most effective for director level and above.

Conversely, E-learning ranks as the second most-used method, but is not one of the top five most-effective methods for either population.

Holding steady in the top five most-used methods, as well as in both top five most-effective lists, are traditional training courses and special projects or situational challenges.  The most-used career development methods overall are:

  • Traditional training courses (78 percent)
  • E-Learning (70 percent)
  • Special projects or situational challenges (58 percent)
  • 360 feedback and/or assessments (51.5 percent)
  • Continuing education (51.5 percent)

For director level and above, nearly half (46 percent) felt that 360 feedback or assessments was the most effective career-development method (read “Is 360 Feedback Measuring the Wrong Stuff?” for a different perspective on the efficacy of this type of assessment). Special projects or situational challenges also ranked high on the list, with 37 percent of people at the director level or above indicating it was an effective career-development method. The final three methods – mentoring for high performers (17 percent), coaching for high performers (17 percent) and networking events (16 percent) were not as effective, according to respondents.

For all other employees, the most effective methods were:

  1. Mentoring for all employees (36 percent)
  2. Traditional training courses (31 percent)
  3. Special projects or situational challenges (30 percent)
  4. Coaching for all employees (30 percent)
  5. Employee initiated career discussions (23 percent)

A white paper detailing all findings will be released by Insala in early 2014.