How To Broaden Your Perspective And Grow Your Career
What does career success mean to you? And do you have any idea how to position yourself to achieve it? We were fortunate enough recently to host Lucy Zucker, Senior Executive Advisor at CEB (previously Corporate Executive Board). During her fascinating talk, she shared some inspirational and valuable insight into how best to map our career plans and create clear professional goals for ourselves.
Lucy also identified some of the most common challenges we face today when it comes to our career development, discussed the kind of on-the-job training we should actively be pushing for, and highlighted practical strategies we can implement when making important decisions about our careers.
This included unpacking the complex concept of career development into three main areas:
- What does a good career look like today?
- How do I prioritise the right learning opportunities at work?
- How should I think about future career opportunities?
Here are a couple of the salient points from Lucy’s talk.
Traditional Employee-Employer Contracts Are Broken
Traditional employment contracts were written along the lines of “you work for me, I pay you, and if you do well, I’ll slowly promote you up the ranks.” Today, we’re seeing a huge shift in the way companies are structured. The organisation is flatter, there is little or no middle management, and as a result, no real promotions to hand out. Employees are, understandably, not as happy - lack of upward movement is the number one reason cited as their reason for changing companies. The traditional contract is broken, and most businesses are simply doing whatever it takes to attract and retain talent without necessarily solving the challenges created in the new world.
Managers are too busy to know what you want. As long as you’re performing well, your career progression is not at the top of their priority list. Lucy encourages taking the conversation about your career higher up and engaging in productive, mutually beneficial discussion. Investigate how you can change aspects of your job without completely changing what it is you were employed to do, maximising value for the company and positioning yourself for longer term success.
Three Golden Rules for Creating Your Own Version of Career Success
You need to get over worrying about your job title. Don’t define yourself by it, and don’t focus on job title progression. Focus instead on growth and employability. Don’t ask “what is my role?” because roles are constantly changing. Get creative. Ask yourself if there are other roles you can learn from. Work in different functions.
Gaining useful career experiences and taking advantage of opportunities that build skills ultimately increase your future employability. Employability, in turn, increases your job security and career satisfaction. It’s your capabilities, skills, knowledge, experiences, achievements and personal attributes that make you more valuable - and thus more likely to achieve success in your career.
Research shows that 25% of high potential employees are more likely to take calculated risks. This makes them more attractive to organisations. It makes sense, then, to do what you can to get into this group. But how?
Calculated risk implies only risking what you’re prepared to lose. So, firstly, ask yourself what you’re not prepared to lose. Like your salary. Fair enough. The second thing most people aren’t prepared to lose is their values. They won’t, for example, lie, steal, cheat and or at a more subtle level, settle for an environment that doesn't get the best out of them. Once you’ve established these things, the big question is: Beyond those things I’m not prepared to lose, what risks can I take? Try getting involved with things you never thought you would do. A big project that’s critical to the success of your organisation, giving a live presentation at a town hall or business function. Even if you fail, as long as you tried everything within your limits to make it work, it still makes a great story to tell.
In a recently survey, when employees were asked what it was that led them to the job they currently hold, 50% cited networks. When used properly, networks are a double win – you’re learning something from the people in your network, and they just might know someone who can help you with your career progression or who might even have the right job for you. However, networking does not mean just meeting people and making small talk in the hope that something useful to your career progression will crop up. People are busy – get to the point. Talk about what it is you want from the person you’re talking to, and what you can give back to them.
Network performance is critical not only for career development but for your leadership performance too. You can make your network work for you in two key ways:
- Build professional relationships with peers - from inside and outside your function, business unit and organisation - who have both similar and differing backgrounds and experiences.
- Leverage your network so you can do your job better, and support your network peers so they can do their job better.
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