Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Career

If you believe that it is your manager's responsibility to guide your career, think again. I had the same belief until I became a new manager several years ago and discovered how employees can sometimes become dependent upon the direction of a manager. It's easy to rely on the help of others to take the complexity out of decision-making and human nature underscores this when the risk is heightened. I realized that I could not be responsible for managing my employees' careers, but what I did want to instill in them was the importance of owning their career. Let's discuss this approach and the positive impact you can make when you embrace this concept.

While employees need the guidance of managers and mentors to sort through career challenges, owning the decision and being accountable for the potential failure is a risk some would rather avoid. Helping people understand where their performance needs improvement and partnering to provide insight for their choices is the role managers should be fulfilling, but don't be misled that training alone is career management and the only thing needed to advance. The larger challenge managers have is educating employees that their career is their responsibility. As an employee (which we all are who are not self employed), you are the owner your career. It is not wise to think someone else can make the best decisions for you. While some may already understand this, it's important to note that there is a holistic approach to career management, and the best thing you can do for your career is own it and continually plan for what's next.

Taking ownership can translate into a few key actions:

1) Keep your pulse on the trends in your industry - remember that nothing stays the same and you can gain competitive advantage by futuring your job.

2) Approach career planning holistically by incorporating relationship building and skills management - stay engaged with professional and non-profit organizations to help in this area.

3) Objectively gauge your performance and assess where you can enhance your delivery - schedule one on one sessions with your manager regularly.

4) Determine ultimately what you want to do and plot out a plan for how to get there - starting now with limited information will give you a goal to work towards.