Why Wait for Someone Else to Develop Your Career?

By Lori Dipprey – Director of Talent Development 

Most, if not all, professionals desire to continually develop their career, but they often lack confidence in the strategy they are using to do it. Career development is a lifelong process that takes into account a number of factors.
According to a recent Financial Times article, the best skill you can develop in your career is how to acquire another skill – learning how to be an effective and efficient learner. This is important in consulting since solving the complex business problems of our clients is not as simple as implementing the same system over and over again
Let’s start by identifying some traps we can fall into with our approach to career development:
I’m not given the right type of work
Often our career development follows an ad-hoc approach. If we get to work on the right project, in the right role, then we will have an opportunity to develop our career. Getting that perfect assignment may make things easier, but sometimes we don’t realize there is a lot that can be done where we are right now.
I’m too busy to do the extracurricular activities that develop my career
People are constantly being asked to juggle more responsibilities, which often leads to working more hours while still balancing a career and personal life. It’s easy to see why it’s difficult to attend training or read the books on your nightstand. You may choose some of the activities that contribute to your busyness, but often there are things – such as fast-approaching deadlines – that are beyond your control. The key to continually developing your career is integrating career advancement tasks into your daily activities so they are part of your normal routine and not “additions” to your current responsibilities.
My manager isn’t helping me grow my career
Part of every manager’s responsibility should be developing each member of the team, but statistics show there are more ineffective managers in the workforce than effective. There’s no guarantee you will always have a manager who shares your interest in your career growth. There could be multiple factors contributing your perceived lack of support, but one of the most common mistakes is assuming that your manager knows what you want and need in terms of career development. Be upfront and direct with your manager, communicating exactly what you want to work on in your career.
No news must be good news
Have you ever been surprised during your performance review? It’s not uncommon to receive feedback that no one has mentioned before. Frequent feedback is a crucial component in your career development and can help stop a bad habit before it’s formed. Feedback can come from anywhere; peers, subordinates, managers and friends. They need to be able to observe actions in the areas where you want feedback – and this is important – they must know you want the feedback. By not asking you are missing an opportunity.
Next time we will discuss a comprehensive strategy that can help you avoid these traps.
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Categories: Thought Leadership

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