Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 4, no. 2
|Surveys of what employees most want from work consistently find that opportunities for career growth are near the top. But what does career advancement mean in today’s flatter organizations? What might get in your way?
Read this issue for 3 barriers to getting ahead in your career and what you can do to overcome them.
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The beginning of the year is often a time to consider the changes you want to make in your work or life? Is getting promoted on your list of things you want to accomplish?
In today’s flatter organizations, the path to advancing in your career is not always obvious. There may be fewer opportunities to move up the ladder in the traditional sense. That doesn’t mean that you should give up on your professional growth. Begin by considering these 3 obstacles that may be getting in your way.
1. You are Unclear about Your Priorities
What do you really want? This may seem like an obvious question, but it’s one that gets passed over. What type of change would really engage you? Do you want to manage others and have more influence? Do you want to broaden your skills or take on new responsibilities? Where can you have the most impact?
What about your desires for your life as a whole? Promotion comes with rewards. You may earn more, have more challenging work and new opportunities to learn. But promotion also brings new demands. How will a new role impact what is expected of you? Will there be longer hours or more travel? Will the additional demands be stimulating?
Change always includes both gains and losses. It’s tempting to ignore the losses especially if you feel you are moving on to “something bigger and better”. But paying attention to both sides of the coin can help you to make more informed decisions and to navigate your transition more effectively.
2. You Don’t Know the Options
Once you have decided that promotion is worth pursuing, it’s time to examine opportunities. As mentioned above, the path to career advancement may not be obvious. In a recent survey, World at Work found that only 16% of organizations communicate widely about their promotion and employee retention policies. But the same survey found that 63% shared information with employees when they asked. If the promotion process seems like a mystery in your organization, begin by asking some questions.
You may also be able to learn from others. Are you interested in creating a new role, or is there someone already in a position that appeals you? See what you can learn from them. Come up with a list of questions. Ask how they got to their current position. Were they involved in strategic projects? Did they do any additional training or development? Are there unwritten rules that you can learn about? Are there informal criteria? Examples might be succeeding in certain stretch assignments, completing a stint at head office, or working overseas?
3. You Don’t Have Persuasive Evidence
If you’re like many professionals, you invest a lot in your work. But are you clear about the value you bring? Can you talk about how your work contributes to the goals of the organization in a way that is easy to understand for someone without your specialist knowledge. Use story structure to enhance your career communication.
Gather information as part of your regular activities
It’s not easy to see what you do from an outside perspective. Make it a habit to get feedback and gather your own evidence. When you are planning your work and appointments, take a few minutes to add some notes about projects you are involved in and your role in them. What did you do that made a difference to the project? Supplement your own perspective with feedback from others.
Include non-work roles
Don’t limit yourself to your paid work. Where else do you use skills that are also of value in the workplace? You can demonstrate a range of desirable skills such as creativity, leadership, and communication through activities that you choose to do outside of work. Do you sit on an advisory board? Are you involved in professional or community organizations?
Career advancement may be more complex in today’s world of work. But if you clarify your priorities and interests, stay open to opportunities, and focus on how what you do contributes to the success of the organization as a whole, you are well placed for success.
Questions or Comments
What has helped you advance in your career?
Feel free to share your experience below.