A DIY Guide to Career Growth
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Careers Innovation Leadership Nov 3, 2015

A DIY Guide to Career Growth

Eight ways to devel­op your poten­tial — instead of wait­ing for your man­ag­er to take the lead.

1. Develop goals and performance objectives. You can’t get to where you’re going if your destination is unclear. It’s your job to plot your goals and lay out your success metrics. Michael Meier

2. Solve for blind spots. Get feedback from everyone around you whenever you get the chance: your boss, your peers, and your subordinates. After key presentations and meetings, ask, “How did that go? What could have been done better?” Michael Meier

3. Reduce gaps. Create a personal report card of key skills required to do your job well. Assess your competency levels, and summarize ways you can improve. Michael Meier

4. Seek a mentor. Find someone you admire who shares your values and has skills and experiences in an area important to your career. While you're at it, create a personal board of directors. Michael Meier

5. Create a learning circle. Set up monthly calls with industry peers to share ideas, perspectives, and lessons learned. Be sure to share anxieties too. It releases them! Michael Meier

6. Codify your learning. Keep a journal; when you learn something new, jot it down. This helps you synthesize and reinforce what you know. Michael Meier

7. Increase your C-Suite visibility. Sign up for projects that allow you to interact with executives. Leaders promote people with whom they are comfortable. Michael Meier

8. Become an expert. Pick an area that is important to you and your company and go deep with it. When you become sought after for your specific knowledge, your value increases. Michael Meier

Giv­en today’s cor­po­rate envi­ron­ment of flat orga­ni­za­tions with tight bud­gets, the first thing cut — even before brand adver­tis­ing — is career devel­op­ment. To add insult to injury, boss­es are too wor­ried about their own hides to wor­ry about yours.

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With that in mind, you should adopt a do-it-your­self atti­tude. Based on my expe­ri­ence, I devel­oped DIY action steps to help you take charge of your career. Scroll through the illus­trat­ed slideshow above or read them below.

Devel­op goals and per­for­mance objec­tives. You can’t get to where you’re going if your des­ti­na­tion is unclear. It’s your job to plot your goals and lay out your suc­cess metrics.

Solve for blind spots. Get feed­back from every­one around you when­ev­er you get the chance: your boss, your peers, and your sub­or­di­nates. After key pre­sen­ta­tions and meet­ings, ask, How did that go? What could have been done better?”

Reduce gaps. Cre­ate a per­son­al report card of key skills required to do your job well. Assess your com­pe­ten­cy lev­els, and sum­ma­rize ways you can improve.

Seek a men­tor. Find some­one you admire who shares your val­ues and has skills and expe­ri­ences in an area impor­tant to your career. While you’re at it, cre­ate a per­son­al board of direc­tors — a few wise peo­ple who care and will give you career, and per­haps even life, advice. They may just save you from mak­ing big mistakes.

Cre­ate a learn­ing cir­cle. Set up month­ly calls with indus­try peers to share ideas, per­spec­tives, and lessons learned. Be sure to share anx­i­eties too. It releas­es them!

Cod­i­fy your learn­ing. Keep a jour­nal; when you learn some­thing new, jot it down. This helps you syn­the­size and rein­force what you know.

Increase your C-Suite vis­i­bil­i­ty. Sign up for projects that allow you to inter­act with exec­u­tives. Lead­ers pro­mote peo­ple with whom they are comfortable.

Become an expert. Pick an area that is impor­tant to you and your com­pa­ny and go deep with it. When you become sought after for your spe­cif­ic knowl­edge, your val­ue increases.

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Slideshow illus­tra­tions: Michael Meier

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