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.

Slideshow illustrations: Michael Meier

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