Are you ready to take the next step in your career? But not sure what the next step is?
It used to be so simple. One rung after another on a clearly defined career ladder. Junior clerk to senior clerk to department manager. In return for loyalty, experience and tenacity.
These days there are so many more choices of direction. Things are more fluid, more uncertain, more challenging.
And gone are the days when development and progression was something that was done to you.
These days your career path is in your hands. But it can be difficult to know where to start. How do you know which is the right opportunity for you? How can you become more promotable in the eyes of your manager? How do you know whether you’ve got it in you to succeed in a new position?
Well, never fear. I’m here to help. Here’s my guide to:
- Working out what it is you want to do next
- Spotting the opportunities that will enable you to make that move
- Making yourself the obvious choice for that next promotion.
The first and most important thing to realise is that you need to take ownership of your own development and progression. Of your own career.
Don’t wait for your next PDP.
Don’t expect opportunities to fall into your lap.
Don’t expect your manager to signpost opportunities to you.
It is up to you to be proactive. To seek and find your next role.
But to do that of course, you need to know what it is you’re looking to do. And sometimes that’s the really hard bit.
Well, there is a solution. Find out what it is you love to do
So often when we’re talking about development, we focus on identifying and addressing our weaknesses, believing that by improving on those, we will perform better in our roles – and therefore become more promotable.
Thing is, our weak areas are usually those bits of our job that we enjoy the least.
Research shows you perform better if you focus on what you enjoy doing. Those tasks and activities that really energise us, that we happily give our total attention to, that absorb us completely. Those activities where we experience ‘flow’. These are our strengths.
By understanding what it is that energises and interests you at work, it becomes easier to identify what might be a good thing for you to do to develop and progress.
How to identify the things you love to do
Over the course of a few weeks, jot down every task and activity you perform at work and put each into one of two columns – the ones you enjoyed doing and those you didn’t as much (or hated all together!).
Then drill down into the detail of each activity you enjoyed – what was it specifically that you liked about it? Perhaps it gave you the opportunity to work in a team, or because you got to solve challenges facing your business, or were able to mentor a colleague.
Is there a pattern emerging?
These are the behaviours that are your strengths – whether that’s collaboration, critical thinking or developing others.
However, just because they are strengths doesn’t make you an expert in them. So the next step is to get more experience, to develop those behaviours.
Get better at the things you love doing
It’s so much easier and more enjoyable to get better at the things you love than trying to get better at the things you don’t.
Think about how you could get involved in projects with different departments or teams to develop and stretch those strengths you’ve identified. Enlist your manager’s help in finding activities that will enable you to put your strengths into practice and seek out learning and training opportunities that will take your strengths to the next level.
Spot opportunities to do more of what you love
By understanding yourself at a deeper level, you’ll be in a much better position to choose the right direction for your career. And, having identified what it is that you love doing, you’ll find it much easier to spot opportunities to do more of it.
It’s like when you buy a car. Once you’ve decided on the make and model of the car you want, you start to see them all the time. It’s because your brain has become attuned to that model of car and therefore registers them more.
It’s the same with development and promotional opportunities. Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll spot them all over the place.
It also means, of course, you know much better what you’re not looking for. So when an opportunity comes along that looks like a natural career progression for you – in the eyes of your manager at least – but it doesn’t play to any of your strengths, you’ll know instantly that it’s not for you.
Be seen as more promotable
Of course all this hard work will also demonstrate how eminently promotable you are. You’re positioning yourself as someone engaged in the business, focused on improving their performance and proactive about their development.
You become more known for what you’re great at – it becomes your ‘brand,’ so to speak.
So when opportunities come along your name will be at the top of the list.
And you’ll be ready to take that next step.