Career planning is fairly regarded as one of the fundamental components of effective HRM practices within organizations. Companies develop robust succession planning frameworks to facilitate employee development and career growth, while keeping these patterns closely aligned to their strategic organizational goals. In many respects, effective career development systems have the potential to boost and sustain companies’ competitive advantage. For this reason alone, organizations should be particularly thorough monitoring and guiding employees’ career development. Universal Studios has a number of succession and career planning initiatives in place (Anonymous, n.d.). Their function is to empower employees to pursue continuous learning and seek promotion to higher positions. Unfortunately, based on the interview with a HR representative working in the Food and Beverage Department, the career development system at Universal Studios lacks a technological edge. Also, it does not seem to create an explicit picture of the performance and excellence criteria employees must meet, thus impeding their motivation to work better, faster, and more effectively.

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As mentioned earlier, career planning is one of the vital components of effective HRM in contemporary organizations. For the purpose of the present task, an interview with an HR representative at Universal Studios was organized. The representative confirmed that the company runs a distinct HR placement program, under which the company’s upper leaders gather together twice a year to make succession decisions. Individual development plans (IDPs) are in place, while employees keep working with their supervisors side by side. Training centers are available to workers as part of their pre-development efforts. The company has a performance appraisal system, under which each department is free to allocate limited rewards to employees, based on the quality of their performance. Unfortunately, the interviewee does not provide any information about the performance evaluation criteria used by the company. However, it is possible to assume that departments have sufficient freedom to set and manage these criteria, based on their tactical and strategic goals.

The information provided in the interview implies that the HR practice does not effectively facilitate the integration of employee career and succession planning. On the one hand, the company has a number of HR programs and strategies that exemplify a potent instrument of integrating employee career and succession planning into a single, coherent framework. These include recruitment and hiring, performance management, employee development plans, performance evaluation, and succession planning (Rothwell et al., 2005). On the other hand, the existing integration options do not operate in a manner that could ensure continuous growth of employees and the success of their career development attempts.

In essence, according to what the interviewee says about HRM at Universal Studios, its upper management treats career and succession planning as essential to effective organizational practice. Unfortunately, it does not seem to go beyond the conventional means of employee development and advancement (Workforce, 2013). According to Rothwell et al. (2005), “managers have identified the tools and flexibilities available to them and are using many of these to modernize their human capital approaches to help meet current and emerging needs” (p. 140). However, they are either reluctant or unwilling to cross the existing boundaries and explore the emerging career and succession opportunities, making them available to employees (Rothwell et al., 2005).

Universal Studios has achieved some successes in integrating career planning and succession into its strategic organizational activities. Mentoring and coaching, individual development plans, and performance appraisal mechanisms benefit the organization and its workers (Groves, 2006). Rothwell et al. (2005) confirm that developing individual development plans is one of the critical success factors in helping organizations and their workers meet the strategic goals set for them. What is still missing is the emphasis on technology and the Internet as the channels for delivering employee training, knowledge, learning, and information.

Apparently, Universal Studios emphasizes the human side of career development and succession planning, while neglecting the fundamental value of technologies in facilitating employee development and growth. The reasons for such emphasis are difficult to understand. It is possible to assume that the organization is not ready to give up the more traditional strategic priorities and adopt a more innovative stance. Another possible reason is that, with succession and career planning being effectively integrated, organizations are likely to undergo a profound structural shift. Under the influence of technologies, organizations become less hierarchical and more horizontally-oriented. Yet, Universal Studios keeps its loyalty to top-down approaches in succession planning and career development, with the upper management and department leaders bearing the primary responsibility for rewards and career development decisions affecting employees. Such approaches will hardly be sustainable in the long run, as long as “technology – especially the Internet – has redefined approaches to career education delivery through reducing costs, increasing availability, and leveraging on-site solutions” (Rothwell et al., 2005, p. 132). To succeed in the highly competitive entertainment industry, Universal Studios will have to become more receptive to new technologies and move one step ahead in bring together career development and succession planning initiatives.

To conclude, it is time for Universal Studios to give up outdated beliefs about career and succession planning and adopt an innovative, technology-oriented worldview. According to Rothwell et al. (2005), integrated career development solutions mark a new stage in the evolution of organizational HRM practices. The existing tools create a multidimensional environment that facilitates employee development. It is a model that can sustain itself in the long run, because the 21st century necessitates the implementation of relevant technologies in all HRM domains. Leaders who fail to appreciate the endless possibilities opened by technologies will also fail to make their organizations successful. Companies like Universal Studios should assume a more proactive role in integrating career development and succession planning solutions and customizing them to meet unique employee needs.

  • Groves, K.S. (2006). Integrating leadership development and succession planning best practices. Journal of Management Development, 26(3), 239-260.
  • Rothwell, W.J., Jackson, R.D., Ressler, C.L., & Jones, M.C. (2005). Career planning and succession management: Developing your organization’s talent. NY: ABC-CLIO.
  • Workforce. (2013). Succession planning roadmap. Retrieved from