While this column addresses the corporate side of people management as opposed to the actual people themselves, there are times when exceptions can be made, like the start of a new year, when we are mostly optimistic and motivated to say some things about self-improvement.
So, happy new you everyone. Today let’s just think around what steps we could take to being recharged and rededicated to our career development and growth. Ordinarily we leave it to the employer to make the necessary assessments and send us to whichever program has been identified as being most suitable to our needs and most relevant to the business. But today we are taking this moment to acknowledge that we are part of that process, and for us to recognise, value and benefit from aforementioned programs, we need to be aware of ourselves.
Taking an active interest in your general career management is critically important if you expect to gain maximum success and fulfilment from the hours you invest in your work. But before you can map out what a successful career looks like for you, and before you can determine what is meaningful and relevant in your working life, you have to know who you are (values, interests, fears, likes and dislikes, etc.) It sounds so obtuse to say but you’d be surprised, and maybe even disappointed/alarmed to find how many people don’t know who they are. They know who they are supposed to think they are, but not really who they are, so they struggle to be authentic, intentional, engaged and committed. We have all met that kind of colleague somewhere along the way, in fact, we may even have been that colleague ourselves!
So, knowing who you are, and what you want from your working life, and discovering what you are talented at as well as what you need to improve, is the starting point. Once you have determined this baseline information about your Self, you are in a better position to identify opportunities, both in and out of the organisation, that will serve your purpose. You are also able to understand that not all opportunities are relevant to you, and be able to let go of those without any bitterness. For example, maybe you would not actually value a more senior role in the team. You just don’t want to be a supervisor or manager. What would enrich your experience and enable your delivery would be an improved environment. Imagine you work in a library or resource centre. You don’t want to be promoted anywhere. You just want to have the necessary technology
Who are you and what do you want? Once you know:
Set goals and create a plan to achieve them. Could your career development and management use help to gain momentum? What kind of help? An executive coach perhaps? People who are the most successful and satisfied in their careers have proactively determined what they want from work.
Articulate your timeline, including clear milestones. Manage your career like a project. What steps need to be fulfilled, by when, and what outcomes do you expect to see? Yes, some things are beyond our control and yes there will be disappointments here and there, but that should not stop you from defining your plan.
Utilise company programmes. Some employers have formal programmes to help employees develop their careers. Whether the employer initiates the development or reimburses the employee upon attainment of a new skill, there should be a programme in place. Find out what is available in your environment and use it. If there is nothing, then find another way to develop yourself. Shadow someone. Get a program online. There are several options to choose from.
Own your career path. Whether your employer is invested in your career development or not, you have to know where you are going professionally and have a clear picture of how you are going to get there. It is common to hear employees dismiss their employers as ‘hopeless’ when it comes to career management, because the employees feel disappointed that the employer is not doing more to develop them. Instead of complaining in the corridors, employees can build a business case and make a coherent proposal to their employer, supporting it with consistently good performance on the job. But employees must remember, and this is not going to be a popular remark, that the employer’s business is not your career management…that is your business.
Write it down. If you have your plans in writing, you can refer to them and benchmark your progress against them.
Have a productive and fulfilling year ahead.