Don’t Wait on Career Development

  • By: Tom McKeown
  • Blog
  • February 13, 2013

Career development plans should be an essential part of any company’s business strategy. By investing the time to train and mentor employees, organizations can put forth competent and accomplished professionals to meet the tough challenges ahead. This practice also provides companies with a significant edge against turnover of key employees who have a need to further their knowledge base. Highly productive individuals look to their employers for growth opportunities, and if they don’t get it in their current position, they will go elsewhere. However, as an employee in such a company, should you leave when career development is not aggressively offered, or should you take it upon yourself to start the process?

A 2010 survey by Right Management showed that 37% of employees never engage in career discussions with their managers, while a further 29% do so only once a year. An effective career development plan should typically start with the individual who aspires for more than the present offers. Great opportunity rarely comes knocking on your door; it must be pursued with diligence as well as passion. You need to present a compelling case, a plan to be executed, and have the backing of people who can mentor and provide resources.

The first step is to identify your strengths. Take an honest look at yourself and determine what you do well and what you enjoy doing. Next, assess whether you can leverage those strengths in a way that will benefit your company as well as yourself. After all, if the business or organization doesn’t see benefit from what you want to do, then why should they invest? This process will provide you with the value proposition that can be put to management as a win/win for everyone. Additionally, your presentation will show the company you have put some effort in making this assessment.

The last thing to do before arranging a meeting with your manager is to put everything into an easy to understand plan with timelines and commitments. Dave Ramsey the financial guru is fond of saying, “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” Your plan won’t be the final version accepted by your manager, but make sure that what you present spells out what training you think you will need so there are no surprises. List for your manager what other areas of expertise you would like exposure to –, possibly to be gained on a project team. You’ll find when you’ve presented a completed plan to a manager they are more willing to collaborate with you in putting your goals in motion. And why shouldn’t they since you’ve done most of the work and they will likely see benefit from it as well.

So don’t wait for success and opportunity to come find you. Write a plan and make your own future.

Connect with Tom

Tom McKeown was recently the CEO and Co-founder of TrenData, which was acquired by isolved HCM in 2021. He currently manages the product team and business unit for their People Analytics offering.

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