Have a good view of where you want to be, when you want to get there, and why.
In order to articulate where you want to be in an organisation, ask yourself when and why so that you can formulate the “vision” for your career. Without this you will be unable to identify development needs and those “tipping points” which take you nearer to your ambition. You should also identify key jobs in your organisation that could help you get there.
Know your STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is essential to self-development. Obtain regular 360 degree feedback on performance and behaviour from different levels in the business, such as direct reports, colleagues and your boss / director. This will help you identify what comes naturally to you and what you have to work on. You will have to be open to both constructive praise and criticism, which isn’t easy to do. Knowing this will help you work out the essential skills to achieve your ambition, and the gaps you need to fill. This can be fulfilled through formal business education plus behavioural development such as influencing and team management skills.
Tell others of your AMBITION
Be open and honest by telling your boss about your ambition – if they don’t know your goals how can they help you to reach them? Team members who express their clear interest and ambition are more likely to influence management and gain support in their career development. Ensure you have one to one meetings with your boss to agree and discuss achievements in your work, the results from your 360 degree feedback session(s) and how each can help develop your career. Agree on a Personal Development Plan.
Design and deliver your Personal Development Plan
Based on your ambition, identify jobs and feedback, identify 5 or 6 key areas of development and put in place plans to fill any gaps. There’s likely to be a mix of technical and behavioural issues which can be tackled in different ways. Identify the best way to overcome these gaps. Ask for development solutions such as mentoring, coaching, formal training and any specialist knowledge related to your plan.
Do some FACT FINDING
Find out what makes your manager / director tick. Most people have preferred ways of working and making decisions. It is more likely that your manager / director will find greater value in team members who plan their work and use measures to articulate how their actions deliver value and make a difference to the business. By asking your manager “what does success look like” in your work, it will help you highlight the key success criteria to deliver on both hard and soft factors.
Manage your STAKEHOLDERS to achieve third party endorsement
Key stakeholders can greatly influence your manager / director, and also how others see you in the business. Identify the key stakeholders in the business (often referred to as stakeholder mapping) and find ways to access and influence them. One way this can be achieved is on cross functional projects – these are normally great opportunities to show your skills to the executive sponsor. After delivery of the project get constructive feedback from the sponsor and share it with your manager.
Record and provide EVIDENCE of delivery
Agree to put in place with your manager clear and measurable objectives. Regularly report against these and ask for one to one updates where possible. Always share successes based on hard facts on where you have directly contributed to the top and bottom line (or organisational goal).
Know where your are on the SUCCESSION PLAN
If there is a published or discreet succession plan, know where you are, and why you are there. A succession plan indicates who has the potential to move up and across the organisation to fill opportunities / gaps as they arise. Ask your boss why you are where you are, so you can understand the pecking order in terms of future roles. If you feel you should be doing better, ask why, and include it your PDP, as mentioned above.
Demonstrate your BUSINESS ACUMEN
It is expected that a senior manager / director will have a strong understanding of issues such as strategic planning, project management, finance and so on. To be considered for more senior roles it is essential for you to demonstrate general business and policy awareness. This can be achieved by being involved in projects outside your everyday responsibilities and which stretch your skills. Work with your boss to identify these opportunities. Moving outside your comfort zone will help you develop as well as demonstrate that you are prepared to take on new challenges and that you’re not resting on any laurels.
Look to INFLUENCE the DIRECTION of the organisation
Have a genuine interest in driving the organisation forward with an eye on internal and external stakeholder opportunities. Always look for new and better ways of doing things, and not settling for the status quo. Make sure your ideas are clearly articulated to your manager, and the stakeholders when the time is right.
Identify and make the most of TIPPING POINTS
Over your career there are changes that crop up that can be referred to as “tipping points” – those events that occur which can be used to your advantage, including restructures, new roles and reporting lines. Look to identify these and use them to your best advantage. You will need to be open to CHANGE.
Take every opportunity to expand your knowledge base using professional, academic and in-house courses wherever and whenever you can. Often you will gain as much from other participants as they explain the issues they face in their organisations, as you will gain from the formal part of the course. Some of your best ideas might be “born” here – there is every reason to use other people’s ideas to benefit your organisation – and your career.
IT’S YOUR CAREER, YOUR CHOICES AND YOUR REPONSIBILITY
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