One of the most important things you can do to grow in your career is to challenge yourself as much as possible. The simplest way to do this is to seek out projects or assignments that feel like a stretch. Of course, stretching means different things for different people, based on their experiences and skills. The key thing is to find positions, roles or teams that you are interested in, but that feel a little bit outside of your comfort zone. Raise your hand and volunteer for those roles. I know I am a better leader now because of the times I have done this in my career.
I see some employees hold themselves back from doing this because they are not sure they are ready for that next step. But I tell people If you think you are ready, you are probably ready. Raise your hand.
I did not do enough of this until later in my career, and I wish I had done it earlier. That is why I am such an advocate for it now. I often sit back and I think, Wow, what If I had figured this out a long time ago.
Develop soft skills
Do not think of professional growth only as accumulating more degrees, certificates or technical skills. It is the soft skills that you need to put effort into developing.
After all, you most likely arrived at your job with a certain set of technical skills already, that is why you were hired. I started my career as a finance professional, and had the basic skills that come with that. As I progressed in my career, I learned technical things that I did not know, mostly on the job. But in my professional development, I focused on learning, How do I communicate? How do I get others to hear what I am saying? The further in your career that you go, the more critically important these skills are.
As you progress, you will learn many more of the hard skills you need for your day to day work. But in addition to those, you need to make sure you learn to communicate effectively and to interact with people. Acquiring and honing those soft skills should make up 75 percent of your career development plan.
Find a mentor
I strongly believe in the value of mentoring. In my experience, mentors are key advocates who can be on your side and in your corner when you need them. For example, they can help you find and secure those stretch assignments that are so crucial to helping you grow as a leader.
Mentors can also serve as an outside voice who can give you an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, and where your skills and interests lie. That means they can help you come up with your professional development plan and see what holes in your skillset you need to fill in.
And if you ever find yourself in a place where you want to go down a different career path or reshape the one you are on, that outside perspective on your strengths, and where else they could be applied, can be extremely helpful. Because I believe that sometimes we have blinders on to our own skills.
I would love to hear what career development strategies have worked for you or your employees.
– See more at: http://3blmedia.com/News/Create-Your-Own-Professional-Development-Road-Map#sthash.wDHL5tvC.dpuf
Posted by Lorna Donatone