Taking ownership for your career is critical to your success whether you are brand new to the workforce or a seasoned veteran. As Full Potential Coach, I consistently see that people who lean in to embrace the empowerment that comes with taking the initiative to gain clarity, make choices and act on their career are more engaged and happy at work.
I recently had the pleasure of co-hosting a breakout session called What Does it Mean to Own My Career where nearly 100 HORNE team members at various levels came together to share best practices and actionable ideas for owning their careers. In this two-part blog, I’m going to share the takeaways we discussed and encourage you to use them to own your career.
- Create a feedback routine – be diligent about making time to give and receive feedback on a daily and weekly basis. At first, you may need to put a reminder on your calendar or to-do list but, eventually it will feel as natural as brushing your teeth!
- Include feedback in daily conversations – Feedback doesn't have to take extra time if we are including it in all the conversations we are already having throughout the day. Things like, "hey what ideas do you have for how I could have done that better?" Or, "what did you like about the way that report turned out?" are great examples of how to make feedback part of our day-to-day conversations. When the feedback we get or need to give requires additional exploration and discussion, set aside time somewhere free from distractions in order to maximize them. Consider scheduling recurring meetings when the person you need to give or get feedback from is not someone you see daily.
- Have the courage to ask/require feedback – As team members, it is our responsibility to get the feedback we need to grow. Sometimes team members shy away from asking for feedback. I hear things like, "my performance advisor is so busy," and "I guess everything is good since I haven't heard anything." Folks, these are cop outs! Asking for feedback takes courage to own your voice and to speak out. Just do it!
- Give and get diverse feedback – It's important to get different perspectives related to your performance. Make sure you are soliciting and providing feedback up, down and across the organization in order to gather information you might otherwise miss. In addition, be intentional about balancing between appreciation, coaching (constructive), and evaluation. If you need more of a certain type of feedback ask.
- Be a role model – even if you don't see others around you giving and receiving feedback continuously, you can (and should) choose to act.
- Envision your career over time – If you show up to work every day with no idea what you want your career to look like over time, it’s like pulling up Google Maps, not typing in a destination and driving for 30 years turning on whatever street looks good when that little blue arrow hits it. While you might have a scenic drive, you may not end up where you want to be and could even end back where you started! I suggest drawing a timeline horizontally on a piece of paper with two year time increments across for the next 10 years. Use the timeline to list skills you want to learn, projects and experiences you want to gain, and outcomes you want to achieve within each time period. As you create your visual career timeline, be sure to consider key personal milestones that relate your season of life such as wedding, babies, empty nest, aging parents, etc. because they may impact not only what you take on but when you do it.
- Be deliberate about meetings – In order to keep your career focus top of mind and communication flowing, every 6-8 weeks seems to be a good cadence for meeting with your performance advisor and other leader/mentors. In order to maximize time, be sure to begin with the end in mind by setting a mutually agreed upon agenda in advance. Ask the other party what he or she wants to discuss and make sure you have the adequate time and space to do it. Be brave and tackle difficult topics early in the agenda instead of waiting until the last five minutes to get into what you really want to talk about. Resist the urge to bring up day-to-day status type topics. The Coaching Forward conversation should be about your career. What is working? What is not working? What are your biggest challenges and obstacles? How will you overcome them? What’s the next brave thing you need to do to grow and how is your performance advisor going to help you?
- Work at the relationship with your performance advisor/leader – Sometimes it’s really hard to relate to a performance advisor who is different than us. If you are in this situation, I highly recommend you name the elephant in the room and talk directly with your performance advisor for how you can work together to bridge any real and/or perceived gaps. I know this is very, very awkward for many people and will require you to be extremely vulnerable. If you don’t know how to have this conversation, call your coach or another trusted advisor who can support you as you develop the skills to have difficult conversations.
- Reach out to other team members – Getting ideas for how to grow your career from other team members can be very insightful. At HORNE we believe collaboration makes us stronger. You could ask others for feedback on your performance, share great learning resources and tips, create an accountability squad, make a study group, or book club just to name a few ideas for how to tap into other team members for support in growing your career (and theirs).
- Use tools and resources available to you – There are an endless amount of things available on the internet. Seriously…want to know how to do just about anything? Type it into the search engine of your choice and find videos, blogs, books, infographics, etc. Owning your career requires you to be inquisitive and resourceful as you learn and grow. Take the initiative to search for what you need and then share them with others.
I encourage you to take a few of these tips that really stuck out to you and think about how to make those a reality in your daily life. Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series coming next week.
About the Author
Tara serves as the Full Potential Coach at HORNE LLP where she helps team members navigate through various stages of career and personal development to reach their full potential.