Making the MOVE. How to manage your career development!
I love this topic! In fact, during my Masters Degree program, my dissertation was based on an extensive research on career progression and personal development. At that point, I was looking at why the Black Minority employees in big organizations were under-represented at management or leadership positions. I further developed in this area by working with one of the largest employers in Europe (Birmingham City Council) where my operational activities involved career advising. This experience coupled with my coaching activities has given me an insight into some of the aspects that can help you succeed in your chosen career.
After securing the job or salary you aimed for, the next questions that come naturally are “When is the right time to start looking for a promotion, a pay rise or a career change?” It is very easy to get comfortable when you start a new job. However, this is a clear sign that your next plan of action should be reviewed. Before starting a new job, you should draft a plan for your next move. This will make it easy for you to move up the ladder and perform excellently at work. Some people have a well-planned strategy on how to get from one end of their career to the other, while others just grow with the opportunities they find at work or around them. Either way, it is left for you to decide if you want to jump or be pushed.
There is no straight route to building one’s professional identity. This is managed differently by each individual, depending on personal objectives. Some people progress into different roles within the same organization while others move on to a totally different organization or industry. I share here with you six strong steps you could use to grow within the same organization. This guide is for those who need ethical strategies to develop, rather than those who just want to rise because they want to earn more. However, it is normal to use any opportunity to progress, as long as it does not affect others or put your reputation at stake.
Get going on day one!
Take your job seriously from the first day. Do not only try to fit in the company but try to deliver as assigned. One of the smartest ways to get management’s attention is to identify the company’s problems and be part of solving it. This will get you noticed immediately and land you in many happy books. Every company has a problem to be solved, what is yours? To find out, ask questions, make notes during meetings and follow up. In addition to your operational job description, find out what no one is doing to help these issues and make sure you develop strategies to fix them. Also develop a ‘’can do’’ attitude and support your manager by delivering on time, cost, quality. Remember, adding extra information that can help management identify some of your other skills is very useful. By asking or going the extra mile, you strongly position yourself and clearly show that you are someone they can count on.
Secure a strong Network
Some call it office politics, others call it building a net worth of people, and others call it cheating. Whatever you call it depends on what you want to get out of it. In this article, I will call it good stakeholder management. This first step everyone should do is to get known. What value can you add? Who are the key players in your organization? Who influence their decisions in or out of work? While networking, you should be able to identify if the person you aim at has someone he listens to. If the person is in the same office, then that is the person you want to secure a stronger relationship with. If not, then try attending corporate functions that will get you connected to their external family or friends. While building your network, bear in mind that the more people know your values, your principles and your abilities to fly the company’s flag, the more you will be thought of it an opportunity knocks. My top recommendation is for you to always thank of what you can do for someone, rather than what someone can do for you! If people remember you as a great problem solver, then guess what? Do not however, overdo this or try to be liked by everyone. This is where your major fall come from or people won’t consider you strong enough to lead-Simple!
Get a mentor or Coach
Mentors are great! Now that you have identified the key decision makers, how can you fit this in your personal development plan? Some organizations have a clear mentorship scheme while others do not. It is very important to know where you want to progress into and get the basic guides on how to get there, who can support you? What of who to avoid? How do you market your skills? Your mentor should not teach you everything, as this relationship is a learning opportunity for you. Discuss your past successes with him and get support on how to shape future challenges. Invest yourself through training and development or simply by working extra hard to acquire new skills. Develop a good relationship with people in the area you would like to grow into. Do not try to take their jobs, but try to learn how they do it in real life. Some companies offer opportunities for job rotations, this is just like testing the waters, to find out if truly this is something you might want to do. You might want to get a coach who is not working in the same company as you. Coaches are great listeners and they can ask you all the right questions. It is the best way to deeply analyze your needs or your problems. While at this, make sure you keep track, take note and implement!
Some people consider self-promotion as a negative action or bragging. This might be true but will depend on how you do this and what you do it for. In my opinion, I can testify that I have had most of my contracts by openly celebrating my successes and talking about my achievements through the right channels. A great technique to use in order to achieve recognition at work is to let your superior know about the projects you are working on and your level of achievement. I am not saying you should brag about how smart you are, but you should be able to find the right moment to inform him about your progress. Usually, some people wait until they have a review/progress meeting to discuss the difficulties or successes they have experienced. Although this might be the most formal way to do things, you should try and incorporate short meetings, brief chats, success emails or calls for help. By doing this, you clearly send out a message about your competency, your achievement and the need for more assignments. You must learn how to do this professionally by starting small and developing the skills. I remember I once had a very rough time of my previous jobs. Celebrating my success made the other members of my team to drift away from me. So often, they would ask me why I was doing my job as I appeared to be way too qualified for it. At first I thought this was great, but later realized they did not love the challenges I put them up to. During one of my discussions with my manager, he made it clear to me that my colleagues did not find me a great fit for the role- How sad, I lose the job as my level of motivation dropped beyond floor level!
It is very clear, that collaborative technique can earn you a very good recommendation. This might be either at work or out of work. Through collaboration, you place yourself in a position of trust. You should also know that, working with people from a diverse background is a hard game to play. So be genuine and do not try to impress just for the sake of it. Own your mistakes, do all you can to fix it and let others know you are truly sorry, especially if it affected their workload or a common project you are working on. Not taking responsibility or blaming others will make you very unreliable and unpopular. It is also one of the greatest attributes of good leadership.
Tried all? Not working?
Sometimes, you might work so hard and show so much passion into the things you do. Some companies do not get it. Some managers might be blinded by being in charge and do not share the vision of the company or the company might not have other roles to progress into. In such circumstances, there are 2 simple things to do- Ask your manager what is next for you or what you can do to help boost up your career or just walk out and look for a new company to work for!
While travelling through your career progression, remember to always have a goal, a vision and a plan B. If A fails, what would you need to do to skip to B? I hope you once again enjoy this editorial from Adeline and see you in the next issue!
Adeline Sede Kamga