In the old days, workers were likely to stay with one company their whole lives, and “career development” typically meant promotion up a single ladder.
Today, things have changed. Jobs change rapidly – many of the jobs people hold today did not exist 20 years ago – and we tend to change jobs numerous times throughout our career – sometimes jumping from ladder to ladder and sometimes starting up a new ladder. These changes make it imperative that today’s workers be highly flexible and open to different options and opportunities. Just as jobs evolve, we have to evolve to keep our skills current.
Although you should take control of your own career progression, you’re probably not alone in the effort. Your current manager, for one, should be helpful in giving you information, feedback, and support you need to grow and build your marketable skills. If, by chance, your manager is not very supportive in developing your job skills and professional growth, you can always find a mentor in or out of the organization to help you.
Here are some of your, and your manager’s, most common career development roles and responsibilities.
1) Identify short and long goals and plan how to reach them.
Ideally, your manager will work with you throughout the year to identify and execute career development goals. Regardless, you are ultimately responsible for planning your career and executing your plans. The alternative is to settle for where you are or wait for opportunities to come knocking, which they may never do.
Goals are much more likely to be achieved if they are written down. Employees often work jointly with their manager to draft career development plans. An effective plan might include:
– Specific Development Goal
– Skill / Knowledge Needed
– Activities to be Completed
– Completion Date
– Measure of Success
– Progress Attained
To reach your long-term career goals, you must start with shorter-term goals and actions. For example, if you want to be President of the Company one day, there is a lot you need to do between where you are and where you want to be.
2) Gather the resources you need.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe, you probably wouldn’t just book a flight and go. You will read books, go online, call travel agents, ask friends who have gone before, and on and on. The same is true of career development. To reach your goals, you need to be well informed and have the tools you need to make things happen.
3) Be patient.
Be prepared to spend a sufficient amount of time in a job before jumping to the next opportunity. Walk before you run, and allow yourself to learn valuable skills and knowledge at each stage of your career progression, even if your current stage is not completely desirable. Put your time in, put your heart into your work, and keep your eyes and ears open.
4) Stay vigilant.
Although you should be patient and get the most you can out of each job you have, don’t sit still and wait for opportunities to land in your lap. Continuously seek beneficial information, experiences, and relationships that might come your way unexpectedly. You won’t see them if you’re not looking.
1) Facilitate formal career discussions.
Typically, in annual performance reviews, managers will discuss career goals with the employee and often discuss a plan for the upcoming year.
2) Provide coaching and feedback.
Managers should coach and provide performance feedback throughout the year, not just in an annual meeting or whenever you do something wrong. This interaction is an integral part of your development and should be expected by every employee. If your manager does not take an interest in your development, there are a lot of managers out there who will.
3) Provide job challenges & development opportunities.
Managers should stretch employees’ skills and keep them stimulated as much as possible. They should be aware of their employees’ career goals and plans and help them identify opportunities in and outside the job. This doesn’t mean your manager will put your career goals above the needs of the business – they won’t be able to meet your every request or work around the clock on your behalf -, but you have a reasonable expectation of your manager to be in your career corner.
4) Be a career sponsor.
Being a career sponsor means managers should support their employees’ career efforts with others when appropriate. They can use their contacts to help employees network, recommend employees for special projects, publicly recognize employees for good work, provide job references, and so on.
Remember, you may not be alone in your career development efforts, but you are ultimately responsible to do what it takes to achieve your personal career goals in addition to the performance goals your employer expects from you every day. If you have a continuous plan for building marketable job and professional skills, your career should move in the direction you want. Keep at it.
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