When we think about our careers most of us do not think past our current role or next promotion. Yet we spend around 40 hours at work each week, so naturally we all want to make our work better and develop as individuals. Here are some tips that will help broaden your short-term thinking:
- Engage your manager in a career discussion: Talk to your manager about your thoughts for the future, and come together to create a clearly defined career development plan. Involving your manager in the career planning process will help to clarify your visions for the future and may also help you focus.
- Learn about broader roles: It is always a good idea to increase your knowledge about career options and the other areas within your business, especially if you are unsure. To do so, request one-on-one meetings with colleagues and managers and ask them to share success stories and advice. You could always job shadow colleagues to learn about different roles, or seek a mentor from a different area of your business that you’d like to explore.
- Investigate the requirements: If your career goal is to become the Head of Sales, investigate and understand the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to achieve this. Develop interim career plans to achieve this goal.
- Attend courses to broaden your skills: Once you have investigated what is necessary to achieve your career goal, start broadening your knowledge immediately. Attend courses and workshops that help deepen your knowledge and naturally accelerate the process to achieving your goals.
- Identify and solve an organisational problem: A great way to advance your career is to identify a problem within your organisation and propose a solution for it. By offering to put your solution into effect you will increase your visibility as the problem-solver within your organisation, whilst expanding your skills along the way.
Finding and retaining great talent is difficult. Unless you frequently reinvest in developing your employees, and aid them in reaching their full potential, they might leave the company and search for opportunities elsewhere, and you’ll be back to square one. Here are some tips to help ensure you are continually reinvesting and developing your existing employees:
- Create a development plan for each individual employee: Creating a development plan is the first step in the development process, but individualising it for each member of staff is crucial. It is important to sit down with each employee and discuss their interests and goals for the future. It will help you identify the things that the employee should be doing to reach their goal, and will act as a roadmap to ensure they get there.
- Ensure feedback is constructive: Constructive feedback does not mean critical or reproachful feedback. Instead, it should applaud employees for good work whilst including specific suggestions for further improvement and development. It should be delivered regularly and tied to the individual development plan. This will help employees to know how they are doing in relation to their long term goals.
- Create an open working environment: If your organisation’s structure is rigid it can be more challenging to put cross-functional development and training into practice. Managers should remove barriers and design a more open system where learning is encouraged and facilitated. Open work environments come hand in hand with opportunities to explore and grow, so eradicate the organisational barriers and watch people thrive.
- Develop each employee’s professional network: Help employees access additional contacts that will enable them to grow. Introduce them to other professionals that could be their mentor, and research and attend networking events and talks with them. Connecting them to a broader professional network will provide them with extra opportunities to develop, and it shows to the employee that you care about their career.
- Help them to gain new skills: An employee is an investment, but to ensure they have opportunities to develop you should make further investments in them along the way. Research training opportunities, online learning programmes and workshops to send employees on. See these as investments too and thoughtfully align them with the organisation’s goals, and the individual employee’s development plan, to gain the most benefit from them.