Positioning Yourself for Career Advancement

by Karen Kuebler


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Recently, watching the movie "Joe vs. the Volcano," I was reminded of the way many people start their workday. They plod through life, show up, and put in the required hours, but do not feel passionate about what they do or know why they are even doing it.

Guess What? It is possible to have an exciting career, and you can take control of your life to ensure this happens. The following are ideas to help you bring your goals, dreams, and plans to fruition:

  • Make your career plans and desires visible to your Manager. You might know where you want to go and what you want to do with your career, but the key to making it happen is sharing your vision and goals with your manager. First, schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss a personal development plan that will fit with the organization's future goals.

    Second, develop a joint written plan. It should address the skills and educational requirements necessary to advance in your position. Discuss a realistic timeline to achieve your next steps. Create a schedule to meet with your supervisor periodically, for example quarterly, to review your goals and progress. Ask for regular feedback on your performance, both overall performance as well as targeted feedback on specific projects and assignments. Receiving periodic verbal feedback from your manager will help you understand both your strengths and areas needing improvement. Managers often don't think to give feedback. It is up to you to make sure that you receive it before your annual performance appraisal is due!

If organizational changes occur and you find yourself working for a new manager, make it a point to meet and share the development plan you already have in place. You want the input and buy-in of your new manager in order to continue along a growth path. Incorporate the new manager's ideas and input into your plan. You have basically developed a simple form of contracting and you have taken charge of the process!

  • Partner with your co-workers. Too often employees view their colleagues as a threat to their own potential growth within an organization. Instead of viewing your co-workers as your competitors, choose to perceive them as colleagues and partners. The scarcity mentality (there are only a certain number of opportunities for advancement within an organization) will keep you from developing valuable relationships and limit your own growth and potential.

    Learn and practice communication skills that include careful listening, understanding another's perspective, and expressing yourself clearly and assertively without offending others. Consider the wealth of knowledge you can learn from colleagues by partnering and the synergy created while working in teams on projects. Your co-workers "are" your friends, teachers, and mentors.

  • Learn different jobs in the organization. Accomplish this by offering to provide back-up for a colleague going on vacation. You will have the opportunity to cross-train and broaden your skill base. Remember that the skills you develop become a part of you. This will position you as a marketable commodity within your own organization, as well as make you more competitive in the marketplace when seeking employment elsewhere.

  • Take additional classes to learn new skills. Enlist your supervisor's participation. Ask which courses would be the most beneficial to take now to position you for advancement. Ensure that your performance appraisals note all of your extracurricular course work, as many others in the organization can view your personnel file for advancement opportunities.

  • Join Toastmasters, or take a speaking course at your local college. Those who have become successful have learned to master their fear of speaking, and can express themselves clearly and fearlessly while standing in front of a group. To advance in your vocation, you will need to be able, at the bare minimum, to make presentations comfortably and succinctly. It helps even more to be able to do this with personality and humor! It takes practice to build your confidence and skills. Seek out opportunities to give presentations. As is true with most fears, the more you do it, the less intimidated you will feel.

By incorporating the ideas discussed here, you will be taking important steps to help ensure a promising future, and you will be spending your days enjoying your vocation, rather than just showing up for a job! Once you have determined to move forward with determination, dedication, and passion for your work, everybody you meet will share your vision. You will stand out as a shining star in the crowd!


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