Now more than ever, we need to realize that, as individuals, we play a role in our own career development. But saying that and doing it are two separate things. It’s easy to tell ourselves that we need to take a more active role in managing our careers. The question becomes how we make that happen and be successful at it. After all, most of us need to be successful for many more years to come.
Regardless of where you are in your career, here are a few things to consider. You don’t have to do all of these at once. But think about how working on these activities could benefit your performance and help you to achieve your career goals.
- Understand how your individual performance impacts the organization’s mission, vision, and values. All organizations care about their performance. So, understanding how what we do on an individual level impacts the bottom-line is important. And if you don’t know…ask! Your manager should be able to discuss it with you.
- Set relevant, challenging but achievable goals. While your manager might have some suggestions for you in this area, you should want to have a say in your own goals. You will ultimately be held accountable for goal achievement. Don’t hesitate to include self-learning as a career goal.
- Always say “yes” to training. I’m of the mindset that I can always learn something, even from bad training. And what’s awesome today is there are so many free learning events available (i.e. webinars, podcasts, and massive open online courses [aka MOOCs] immediately come to mind). If the company offers training, take it. And if they don’t, find some free learning for yourself.
- Learn how technology can improve your performance. Today’s technology solutions can help us reduce bureaucracy and a duplication of effort. It’s often not about having more technology but simply knowing how to use the technology we have really well.
- Solicit feedback from your manager and coworkers. Sometimes our perception of our own performance isn’t the same as others. This doesn’t mean that we have an overinflated ego or that our performance is poor. It’s possible we’re being too hard on ourselves. Ask your manager and peers for feedback about your performance so you can develop yourself.
- Become proficient on how to deliver feedback. Your organization needs and wants feedback. Most of the time that feedback comes during performance conversations with your manager. Delivering specific feedback in a timely fashion can help the organization and make a difference in understanding your own performance and goals. That kind of feedback brings value.
- Congratulate yourself for a job well done. Your organization should recognize and reward your hard work. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it too. Consider attaching some rewards to your goals. When you meet a tough deadline or finish a big project, don’t hesitate to pat yourself on the back.
I’m not saying that organizations shouldn’t help with some of these activities. They should. But honestly, they need our help. Managers want to know your career goals. They want to know how you like to learn. Open honest two-way communications will help you and the company create a win for everyone.