The Great Opportunity. The Great Reshuffle. Whatever you call it, workers everywhere are reflecting upon their career paths and potential growth opportunities within their organizations.
We hear a lot about the people who have changed jobs or stepped back from the workforce completely. I talk to just as many people who would love to stay with their current company. They are open to learning new skills to enhance their current job or looking to advance internally in a new role. What is great about this is that organizations may offer opportunities for lateral growth or job enlargement.
Job enlargement is a way to broaden a role and add new skills, which gives an employee the ability to engage in new projects, learn new tools, and have more autonomy and responsibility.
— Ugochi Dinnea, HR Client Executive, OneDigital
So, how can you take charge of your career and professional growth at your current company?
Set Your Career Roadmap
Career planning and development is deeply personal. I always encourage people to start with a self-assessment as they think about what they want their journey to look like and consider their professional goals. Then, they can design a roadmap that includes “S.M.A.R.T.E.R.” goals – those that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timed, evaluated, and revised -- as well as short- and long-term strategies to accomplish those goals. It is important for individuals to know that they can, and should, take ownership and control of their career development. Their organization can provide support and help with career management.
Conduct Your Own STAY Interview
When someone leaves an organization, an employer will often conduct an “exit” interview. A “stay” interview for someone continuing at a company can be just as critical. These interviews may be initiated by Human Resources or a manager. However, employees can take the initiative to set up their own stay interviews, as part of their career development.
In a stay interview, employees have an open dialogue with their manager about what they enjoy in their current role what would make the job more satisfying, what untapped talents they can offer, and how the company can best support them. Following a stay interview, employees can make better, more informed decisions about how their skills align with different opportunities within the company. If skill gaps exist, employees can now create a plan and set goals to develop those skills for job enlargement or advancement.
Starting the Conversation
A stay interview can also serve as an opportunity to discuss career growth and development. It is impressive to see an employee take the initiative to set up and facilitate their own stay interview. However, employees may be fearful and anxious to start these conversations since they appear like a traditional performance review dialogue.
One way to make these conversations more effective and productive is to have continuous feedback sessions. Rather than waiting for cumulative performance feedback during the annual review, schedule monthly or quarterly feedback sessions with your manager. This format allows the employee to engage in career development discussions more than once a year, provides more consistent documentation of employee performance throughout the year, and minimizes the fear of constructive criticism associated with the annual review process.
It is helpful to have a specific “ask” of your manager in these situations. One way to initiate the conversation is to say, “I value your perspectives on my performance. Could we do a monthly (or quarterly) check-in so I can get your feedback on how I am doing on current projects?” Then, set a date for the meetings with a focused agenda on your current performance, growth opportunities, and skills development.
These conversations should be a two-way dialogue. By meeting more often to discuss your career development, it is important to take an active role and be clear about your professional goals and the areas you want to grow. You can play an active part in the discussion by listening to the feedback and asking your manager a few questions. For example:
- What have I done well in my current role?
- What is the best way that I can offer feedback and ideas to you and the team?
- What knowledge and skills do I need to enlarge my role or to advance within the organization?
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