Careers need to be managed as much as people do. As a manager, you will need to take a pro-active approach and make career opportunities for yourself. Career management begins with you and not your employer. It involves looking at what is working in your career development strategy and what’s not.
Learn to manage your career with these 10 quick tips:
1. Know your boss’s expectations of you
Agree on SMART goals so that your achievements are indisputable. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. What are you trying to achieve in your role? What ambitions do you have for the company? How can your boss play a part in all of these? Sit down with your boss to discuss these issues in-depths and also the constraints that you must work within. Constraints could include stuff such as the budget, manpower or geographical focus of the job scope. When your boss sees you making the work goals a priority, they are likely to help you succeed too.
2. Acknowledge the help of others openly
Recognition and acknowledgement are those things that you don’t think about until you notice it’s missing. In the workplace, the leaders who acknowledge others in their existence and appreciate their work are the ones who are admired and followed. This will increase your network of supporters. We didn’t get to where we are without help from others. We need to do more than be grateful, we need to openly acknowledge the efforts of those employees who have one way or another helped us in our career. Give a shout-out during departmental meetings or send an appreciation email to them (and cc the human resources personnel) to express your gratitude.
3. Volunteer for high profile projects
Doing so will increase your exposure to people of more influence. Your boss might be willing to let you work on new responsibilities, but it is important to ensure that you maintain current standards on your existing job scope. Try something low-stakes first to build up your confidence so that if it doesn’t work out, it will not be a complete disaster. For instance, rather than volunteer to take on an entire role, ask to help out in certain areas of the project.
4. Work collaboratively with others
When you refuse to cooperate or try to run others down, people will have a negative impression of you. Your chances of being considered for senior positions could be undermined if you are a figure of controversy. Communicate openly and frequently with your team members. Very often, workplace success depends largely on the exchange of information among members. Demonstrate respect for other’s expertise and refrain from imposing your work style or work habits on others, especially if you are not their manager. Never take credit for someone else’s work or criticise. Be prepared to lend a hand to others if you have time to spare.
5. Conduct yourself with integrity both on and off the job
Everyone wants to work with people they can trust. Be open and honest when communicating to others. Avoid using company products for personal use and submit exact receipts for travel and entertainment expenses. Adhere to company policies and procedures as cutting corners or neglecting workplace rules can result in bad decision making and problematic situations. By exhibiting responsible behaviour, you do not give anyone the opportunity to question your integrity.
6. Never stop learning
Have you signed up for any training seminars in the past 6 months? Have you become involved in some community event that allows you to meet with an organisation that is related to your field? Sign up for workshops, courses and training which will enhance your skills. Knowledge is power. Self development requires an investment of personal time and businesses are constantly changing, so you will need to change to stay current.
7. Project a “can-do” attitude
Do not burden others with problems or doubts. Be the person who can offer solutions and opportunities to problems.
8. Find a mentor
Mentors can help you by providing access to insights, sharing information and experience. When you are faced with tough situations at work, mentors can help you evaluate your decisions. Partnering with someone who has “been there, done that” allows you to get the benefit of the senior employee’s experience and knowledge. While approaching senior management may not be easy, find an opportunity to speak with the individual, perhaps asking for help with a problem you have. If the conversation goes well, he may ask you about your career aspirations and offer to be available when you need help. It need not necessarily be a formal mentor relationship, but that is what it will evolve into.
9. Be willing to accept criticism
You’re not going to like what you hear. However, treat each criticism as a way to learn and grow. Rather than become defensive or emotional, put yourself in the critic’s shoes and question yourself if you would agree with that view. Thank the person for the feedback, even though you may disagree with him. When you listen to criticism with an open mind, you will be happier at your job. Be interested rather than defensive. Doing this will help you learn and improve.
10. Ask for more autonomy and authority
Take on more tasks beyond your usual job scope to prove to others and more importantly, yourself of your capability. When work slows down, it is critical that you stay in the mainstream of the remaining workflow. See out projects and ask people if they need help. Make it clear to everyone that you are ready for more responsibility.
We hope that this article is helpful. Do you have any tips you would like to add?
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