When it comes to career growth, it is important that one takes full responsibility of their career. It is important for one to set themselves a goal and then plan towards the goal and have a purposeful direction towards a successful career. Do not outsource your career to anyone! Ensure your career is in your own hands and not in the hands of your line manager, mentor, coach or organization.
Be clear on your career ambition and the road map to getting there.
I want to give a few tips that can help you when planning your career path.
An early stage assignment before one sets a goal is to research your future options on a platform like LinkedIn to see the top areas your qualifications can lead you to and can see the value chain of the capabilities at your level.
- Break your ambitions / aspirations into small milestones/goals based on your research on LinkedIn etc.
- Short term goals/milestones => 0 – 2 years
- Medium term goals / milestones => 3 – 5years
- Long term goals / milestones => 6+ years
Link those aspirations/ambitions to existing roles within your organization or other organizations you might want to work for.
If your long-term aspiration is to be a CFO, (CFO is used as an example, but the concept can be applied to other roles such as CEO’s, Marketing Directors). You must do the following
A. Speak to a couple of CFOs’ that you admire, that inspire you and that you think are doing well with their careers and are seen to be best in class in their industry.
B. Whilst speaking to them, try and understand their career journey: Although opportunities to talk to high level executives and senior managers might be daunting or impossible to get access to such people. Please use your networks and tap into annual conferences of your professional bodies to get access to such individuals.
What roles and responsibilities have they had to undertake in the past?
- What skills have they had to acquire in each role both from a technical and leadership perspective?
- What qualifications have helped them in their roles and to accelerate in their careers?
- What challenges have they faced in their career journey and how have they overcome them?
- How have they kept themselves relevant in their roles?
C. Once that has been done, you must then assess yourself, highlight your areas of competence and development. You need to be extremely brutal and honest with yourself. Do not overate yourself. Be humble and callout areas you think you need to improve on.
D. Do a 360-degree feedback with colleagues, peers, line managers (direct and indirect) – This is to ensure that you get a more robust feedback that would be valuable for your assessment and help you calibrate this feedback with your assessment of yourself.
E. Once the 360-degree feedback is completed make a robust list of skill gaps that have been called out both from your conversations with CFO’s and the 360-degree feedback session.
F. Have a robust conversation with your line-manager on possible roles that exist within your organization that can give you the right exposure to some of your developmental gaps.
Be careful not to think that such roles must lead to a promotion, they could be lateral moves!!!
G. If the roles are not available within the organization because someone is still in that role, what else can you do?
- You might want to volunteer to sit in for that person whenever they are going on vacation, leave, training etc.
- You should consider enrolling for trainings that can expose you to the skills in that role.
- You should look for books that can give you insights to those skills and capabilities.
- You could mention blended learning if their schedule is tight, podcasts, routes to Chartership i.e. ACCA, ICAN, ACA, CIMA, FA etc and networking opportunities through attending conferences and seminars such as:
- CIM – Marketing careers
- ADVAN – Advertising/Media careers
- GPM/HRCI – HR careers
- APICS – Supply chain careers
- CIPS – Procurement careers
- Continually train and educate yourself to ensure that once the job becomes available, you are ready for the challenge.
- Ensure you have the right conversations with the right people and let them know you have an interest in that job/position.
Be very deliberate with how you manage your career. Who you become in the next couple of years would be determined by the choices you make, how you respond to challenges and the setbacks you face, but most importantly how courageously you engage in the environment around you. You must take up all opportunities and be open to all challenges that would eventually get you the career path that you have chosen for yourself.
I hope that the after reading this article, the importance of setting out with a concrete plan for your career becomes clearer than before. I hope every reader, no matter what stage you are in your career, decides to draw up a road map for their career.