Hold yourself accountable for your career. Here's how you can take control and advance.
I'll never forget a conversation I had with a slightly disgruntled employee who was frustrated that he was being looked over for advancement by his supervisor. I asked the employee the question, "Have you had a conversation with your supervisor about the fact that you're interested in advancement or leadership?"
His response was "No."
What I wanted to say would not have been 'appropriate' for an HR Manager, so I responded with something along the lines of, "Career Management is a joint effort between an employee and a supervisor, but most importantly, it's up to an employee to let his supervisor know what he wants. Supervisors are human, and can't read your mind."
As an HR Manager and Consultant with more than 15 years of HR experience, the one mistake I see many individuals make around career management is waiting for someone else, usually their supervisor, to help them advance in their career. I wasn't surprised when I read on BenefitsPros' website that a 2013 Talent Management and Rewards survey by Towers Watson showed 37 percent of the 160 Canadian and U.S. based businesses surveyed said they didn't believe their employees knew how to influence their own career paths. This is disheartening to me. I know there are so many employees with a lot of potential, and to not see that potential fulfilled would be tough.
All of us, each and everyone, are accountable for our careers. And though it is important for effective supervisors to play an active role in their employees' career advancement, only the employee can do what it takes to prove oneself, ask for what they need, and move forward. No one else can do it for them.
So how does one take control of his or her career? Below are seven tips to help you take charge and be accountable for your career advancement and growth.
1. Have a clear picture of what your career goals are
It's hard to know how to get where you want to go if you don't know where you're going. Goals will likely change over your career, but if you stay focused on your future path, you'll still be moving in the right direction—forward.
2. Have an honest conversation with your supervisor
Addressyour career goals with your supervisor and ask for feedback on your performance.Remember, supervisors can't read your mind. If your supervisor doesn't approach you or have an annual review where you have the opportunity to discuss your goals and performance with him/her, then schedule a time to do so. Without this type of conversation, they won't know what you're thinking, and vice versa.
3. Take action
If you're given feedback by your supervisor or superior that provides areas of improvement, ask for a development plan and take action while continuing to focus on the positives.
If you find out your supervisor doesn't think you're leadership material, and that's your goal, now you know. This information gives you the opportunity to move on if you choose (see the last tip below).
4. Ask for opportunities
If a project, task force, etc. comes up at work and you think you'd be perfect for it, or it would be a great learning experience for you, then ask to be a part of it! Doing so shows initiative, your areas of interest, and gives you the opportunity to prove yourself.
5. Choose to be a perpetual learner and continuously educate yourself
Read, read, read (or listen to educational CDs if you're not a reader). Also, take advantage of educational reimbursement, training programs, and courses supported by your employer.
Network with everyone,with professionals at work, at networking events and professional organizations. Networking events are a great way to meet contacts who may help you find your next job or may simply be a good resource when needed.
7. If the shoe does not fit, move on
Job fit is critical to your success. If you realize the position you're in is not a good fit for you (or the company) then move on and find the right fit for you. Life it too short to be in a position you do not enjoy. At the same time, see every job as an opportunity while you're in it, even if it's learning how to
work with a difficult supervisor or simply finding out what you don't want to do for the rest of your life. You can always find value.
Though I wish it were otherwise, it's true that not all managers or supervisors are good at supporting their employees in the career development arena. This point makes it even more critical for an employee to take responsibility for his or her career development to move forward. No one else can do it for you.
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