You’re in a war against mediocrity.
Everyone else around you is satisfied with the status quo.
They have a job, but don’t enjoy their work. They’re satisfied with complaining that someone else got a promotion, but won’t take the time to position themselves for success.
You… You’re not like that.
You have vision.
You don’t want to be stuck in the same position for the next 30 years. You like growth. You like to invest in yourself. You want to increase your skills to advance your career.
You’re like the 20-something-year-old OJT (On-the-job trainee) who recently told me, “I want to be better for me.”
But if I asked you to tell me your career goals right now, could you?
Maybe you want to become a manager at one of Trinidad and Tobago’s top companies. Maybe you want to make a career switch. Do you know what you need to do to get there?
Determine your career goals. Write them down. Create a personal, training plan that will help you to achieve them.
Here are some tips to help you identify your training needs.
1. Gain skills that make you feel confident.
You know your weaknesses… the ones you won’t admit to anyone.
Maybe a public speaking course might give you the confidence to make a better impression at department meetings. Maybe writing better reports and proposals will boost your value in your manager’s and CEO’s eyes.
Sometimes the skills you identify may not be in your scope of work. If so, work with your line managers to incorporate these skills into your role, or volunteer for related projects.
2. Take advantage of in-house training.
When HR sends out a circular asking if you’re interested in an upcoming workshop, sign up… even if it’s on a Saturday. This is the kind of freebie you should run after.
At the same time…
3. Don’t wait on HR.
Don’t just wait until the Human Resources Department books in-house training. Look for one or two-day workshops that can help you, and approach HR first.
Don’t wait for your manager to complain to Human Resources about your skills and performance. Improve yourself before it becomes a problem.
Be proactive about your development.
If you work at a company that prioritises learning and employee development, you already have a 50-percent chance of them approving and paying for training. If you’re not so lucky, include one or two workshops in your personal budget.
4. Ask your boss.
Get your boss’ opinion about your strengths and weaknesses.
Don’t ask generic questions either. Ask about ways you could have improved your last project. Make a note of the issues you encountered during post-mortems. You’ll get ideas about which skills you need to improve.
5. Prepare for promotion.
Don’t wait until you’re feeling frustrated and start job-hunting to obtain new skills, or a new degree.
Look at job descriptions to see the mix of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills employers want.
Prepare beforehand, so that when you apply for the job you want, you already have what your prospective employer needs.
If you’re looking to make the jump to management, prepare for leadership. Prepare for delegation. Prepare for balancing decision-making and interpersonal relationships.
6. Get training for your team too.
If you’re a manager, especially a new manager, facilitate the career development of the people who report to you. It won’t just make you a nice boss… it will make your job easier, since you can rely on your staff even more.
7. Be an actively engaged employee.
What does this mean?
You don’t say, “Dais not my job.”
You even help in areas outside of your scope of work.
It means being interested in what’s going on at work. You do more than you’re expected to do.
How does this help you?
Volunteering to help with company events builds your organisational and event management skills. Learning about the work other departments do might even open you up to new passions.
For example, you could be working in IT, and – in providing support for your marketing or corporate communications department’s social media marketing – you may discover that you love marketing.
A year from now, you might switch departments, and become a social media manager.
Remember five years ago, this position didn’t exist. Now you’re finding more digital marketing specialists and social media managers in big, established companies in Trinidad and Tobago.
8. Create a personal training plan.
Based on tips one to seven, open Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Evernote, or a good ole notebook, and start your career development plan.
Write your goals, and the skills you need to achieve them.
Break your goals into the following columns – short-term, mid-term, and long-term.
In the short-term, you just want to be better in areas you need to improve now.
In the mid-term, you want the skills that will prepare you to get a new job, or promotion.
In the long-term, you want to elevate your knowledge, and be psychologically ready to be a great manager and leader.
In the row for skills, don’t just focus on hard skills like Microsoft certifications (MCSE) or ACCA. Include soft, but crucial, skills like interpersonal relations, networking, business writing, and public speaking.
You want to be able to do your job, but also communicate the value you add.
No one is going to care about your career and financial growth as much as you. Okay, your parents and spouse might. But you’re the one who has to shake off the busyness of work, and complacency of feeling like you’ve made it, and do more.
Ask yourself, “Have I reached the peak of my potential?”
Your answer will tell you which tip to implement first.
Image credit: sweetrelish.com