As a person, you may have thought about the future of your personal life. Plans about marriage, children or property likely form a part of this future.
However, as an employee of a company, you may not have thought past your current job or the next promotion you’d like to receive. A broadening of such short-term thinking is necessary to obtain value from and add value to your career by growing skills and experience both related to and outside your domain.
A career development plan can have an impact on a surprising area: happiness. On an average, you spend 40 hours a week at work. Planning how best to use those 40 hours in the many years of your work life can tremendously help your happiness and satisfaction in life.
Ask yourself questions like these: What career growth goals do you hope to achieve within the next two years? What about this year?
It is important to consider opportunities to accomplish such goals for which you can also ask your employer for recommendations. An organization that cares for you will discuss resources and support that it can provide you for the same. Development goes beyond simply taking a class; several additional options like mentorship, skill-coaching and job-shadowing are generally available. Keep in mind that your company’s growth, economic circumstances, priorities and goals will have an impact on your prospective career development.
Besides the above options, you can explore lateral moves to broaden and deepen your experience. It’s easy to get stuck in a career rut, where you simply repeat what you can do until the end. Staying up to date on your job and industry by sharing terminology, concepts, etc., through team building with coworkers also helps.
Remember, your career development plan belongs to you. Your employer can encourage its pursuit, facilitate its exploration and provide opportunities, but they cannot do it for you. Own your plan.
As you decide on what all you can do to develop your career and how, it is also crucial to think about the timing of your actions. Mistiming an action may lead to undesirable, and sometimes even disastrous effects.
Think about success and figure out how you would like to define it for yourself. What’s most important to you in your career now may not be the same thing in five or ten years. Thinking long term will help you not only understand what success means to you, but will also guide you in the timing of your endeavours.
It might be overwhelming to think about such complex matters and to make such huge decisions on your own. Confide in your partner/s, peers, friends or family about your plans, ask not for advice, but for feedback. Measure the efficacy of your plans and progress with their feedback and pace yourself accordingly.
When it comes to promotions, the right conversation held at the wrong time can be harmful. Pay attention to timing and use your instincts. Your employer may want you to indicate your interest in moving up when you sit down for your annual performance review. However, potential candidates may have already been identified to fill their superiors’ roles by that time. In such cases, six months before your review would be the ideal time to ask if your performance merited you a place in the succession pipeline.
Some underrated aspects
Working for the right leader is crucial, but often not realized by most. A good boss acts as a role model; employees can emulate them and capitalize on their strengths. Carefully consider your management chain and ensure you work for people you respect. Build strong relationships with them by demonstrating your value and gain their support. It is always tougher alone.
A narrow career path may also prove unfavourable. Most companies preach pre-set career tracks that are linear and with fewer opportunities the higher you climb. Keep yourself open to adjusting to such a plan and do not ignore good opportunities that come your way. Be flexible. However, choose one thing that is most important to you in a role – be it location, a certain function, a particular level, etc.
Statistically, the simplest way to get a promotion is to ask for one. Your employer will not tell you when or how to make that request; it is something you should do – with care.
Finally, take care of yourself. Studies have found that employees who believe they have good work-life balance work harder than those who do not. A healthy balance – like in all matters of life – is extremely important in career development.