Taking Charge of Your Own Career Development

Identifying your career goals or the next role you want to take on is only the first step. If you want to advance in your career, you need to take charge of your career development. Fortunately, your organisation, and more specifically its employee performance and talent management programmes, likely have lots of resources available to help you. Here's a look at some of the ways they can help.

Identify the Requirements for the Role(s) You're Interested in

The first step to take, after you've identified one or more roles you'd like to advance to, is to identify the requirements for those roles. What education, knowledge, skills, experience, certifications, etc. are required? One easy way to uncover this is to look at the job descriptions for the roles.

You can also look at job postings for the roles, either from your company or from an outside organisation. Another way to identify the requirements for a role is to talk to the incumbent, an HR manager or even the role's superior.

Finally, if your organisation has online employee profiles that you can access, you may be able to simply look up the education, career paths, skills and experience of people in the roles you aspire to, and determine role requirements.

Identify Your Development Needs

The next important step is to identify your development needs. The job descriptions, job postings and other research you've done should give you a good idea. But you should also look at your past performance reviews for clues, and any other performance assessments you've had, like 360 degree reviews, talent assessments, etc.

Look at the feedback you've been given by your manager and others, and identify your strengths and weaknesses in light of the job requirements you've uncovered. Then make a list of all the areas where you need to develop to prepare yourself for career progression.

Develop the Skills You Need

Now that you've identified your learning needs, it's time to address them. You can start by leveraging any formal training opportunities your organisation offers. If your organisation has a succession development programme or talent pool development programme that you can take advantage of, do so.

But you should also look for work assignments, volunteer projects (both at work and outside), and other on-the-job learning opportunities to help you acquire the knowledge, skills, experience and expertise you need. Look for challenges and new experiences.

You may also want to seek out a mentor who can guide you, give you feedback on your performance, and coach you in developing the skills you need. Your organisation may have a programme in place to help you do this, but you can certainly do it on your own, or by leveraging your network of contacts.

Communicate Your Intentions

Finally, it's important to communicate your career intentions and aspirations. Start with your manager, but also talk to your HR representative, your manager's manager, and possibly even managers or executives in your area of interest.

You want to first get your manager's support for your development, but you also want to develop champions throughout the organisation and even outside, and get on the right people's "radar".

Communicating your intentions also makes them more real to you, and can bolster your commitment to the development you need to accomplish and to your career goals.

While responsibility for your career development and progression rests with you, your manager and your organisation's employee performance and talent management programmes should be there to help you. But you need to take charge of the actions and avail yourself of the opportunities.

Melany Gallant manages PR and social media for employee performance and talent management software provider Halogen Software. She's passionate about supporting her own career development and the development of others. You can read more of her thoughts on the Halogen Exploring talent management blog.


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