Today, more than ever, career and individual development is in the hands of the employee. For years we’ve advocated for employees to “own” their career and take responsibility for the things that will help them grow and develop. Things have shifted on the employer side recently that make it even more important. HR plays less of a role than they had in the past in creating career paths or ladders and training budgets become the first things on the chopping block when times are tough. This means you, as the employee, can’t afford to leave career development to chance. You have to make it a priority.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to frequently ask yourself 3 questions. The answers to these questions will change periodically, and sometimes without you even knowing it. That’s why it is critical to make this a regular part of your development routine. Think of it as monitoring the dashboard of your career.
1. What am I good at? – As you progress in your career and job, certain skills will be sharpened and develop over time. The old adage that you get better at what you practice holds true here. The same goes for skills that don’t get used as often. When ignored, your capabilities begin to deteriorate. So ask yourself, what are the two or three things that you do today that you really excel at?
2. What information am I taking in? – This is a great way to measure learning that is taking place. What are you consuming in the form of information? Are there books or blogs that you have been reading that pertain to something that has caught your attention? If so, this may be a trigger that something is changing and/or intensifying as it relates to your interests. These interests or passions are the things that if pursued can lead to improved performance and a spark in your career development.
3. Who am I hanging out with? – Our networks are a living part of who we are from a career perspective. Your network needs to contain people who will challenge you intellectually and can help you achieve the things you want from a career perspective. Not to say that you should ever take advantage of a relationship, but mutually beneficial relationships where both parties can benefit from being connected are the key to reaching your goals. If your group of connections not where you think it should be, consider a network upgrade.
As you think through these questions and begin to plan for your future development, consider completing an individual development plan. This a great way to create a plan for your future. You can download a template here.