From Cath Nolan, our CEO
It’s interesting. When I’m looking at résumés and asking what people have achieved, they’ll often list things that they’ve achieved personally, rather than things they’ve achieved for the business. Alternatively, they’ll list their responsibilities. That’s not an achievement, that’s doing your job.
Your work achievements are the projects or initiatives that you undertook above and beyond the expectations of your role. It’s blitzing your KPIs or creating new systems or bringing a project in on budget and on time under very difficult circumstances. Completing a course is not an achievement. It’s a benefit to you. Okay, of course all of your achievements are a benefit to your career.
But when it comes to our achievements most of us really have to be drawn to uncover what we’ve accomplished. We’re too busy getting on with doing the job to stop and evaluate our performance.
Please, may I encourage you to take stock? It’s only by doing so that you can evaluate your actions & adjust your course. Do it regularly & make it a priority. It doesn’t have to be a frequent activity, but certainly every 6 months is just plain sensible.
Your job pays you most of your income, right? So isn’t it then a good idea to be reflecting with some level of determination on how your career investment is performing?
Some questions you can ask to ‘take stock’:
- What’s important to me and how does this role deliver to that?
- How well have I performed against outlined expectations?
- What general direction would I like to move toward and what skills have I collected in the last 6 months that will be of benefit?
- What strengths am I most proud of and how much have I been able to flex those / leverage those / pass those skills on?
- What is important to this business / team / boss? How do my values align?
- What can I say that I have achieved for the business in the last 6 months and what would I LIKE to be able to say I’ve achieved over the next 6?
WHAT DOES YOUR CAREER INVESTMENT RETURN TO YOU?
We’re talking here about your time investment. The answer is highly personal.
What drives you? Are you motivated by money or association or work-life balance? Do you crave challenges and learning opportunities or thrive in a work-hard play-hard environment? Perhaps you loathe that idea and would prefer to spend your time in the pursuit of the greater good for all humanity?
You might choose to gear your career toward immediate returns (big bucks, flexibility or brilliant holiday perks), or you may be working toward a more long-term pay off (traditional role in a conservative organisation with a clear path to progression and more moderate short benefits).
There are times that you will make what feels like a career sacrifice, taking a role that sits outside your values or imposes a compromise on what you’d really prefer. That’s ok if it’s a considered choice. If you determine that you’re willing to forego X for a defined period of time or a specific purpose, then you will be empowered enough to make it work.
On the flip side, take a role that imposes a compromise without real clarity on what’s important to you and you will be miserable for the duration.
Of course it’s not always your choice. Most of us have at some time had the perfect job lose its lustre with a change in corporate direction or a new boss. If you’re unclear about what’s important to you that can be really tough. With clarity though, you can better navigate and certainly better negotiate. Your stay-or-go decision will be much better informed.
Your career SHOULD allow you to meet your financial commitments, aligned with your values and help you accrue the skills you need for your next step and the one beyond.
If you’re building toward the next role and the one beyond, your current boss is unlikely to benefit, right? So why do so many of us submit our entire development plans to the actions of our immediate boss?
If the financial return is all for you, what’s holding you back? Find a good solution for moving you forward and get your money working for you! You already invest A LOT in your career. Why wouldn’t you maximise that when you can?
WHAT DEVELOPMENT SHOULD YOU INVEST IN?
Know where you’re heading. Investigate the options for development and up-skilling.
You’re going to apply the same scrutiny that your boss would, only you’ll be evaluating the benefits against your bigger-picture plan not just your current role.
Questions for determining whether you should invest:
- What sort of return are you expecting from this development?
- How would you categorise the investment: is it a piece of technical expertise you’re looking to acquire or something more related to personal management / people management or business management?
- How will you evaluate the likely return?
- How will you determine if this development expense can benefit your potential future paths?
- Who can you speak with that has the insight or experience to add value?
WHO SHOULD DO THE INVESTING?
Of course it’s in an employer’s best interests to offer you targeted development opportunities. However, it may not be in your immediate boss’ best interests! After all, by doing a great job right where you are you’re saving them a whole lot of pain.
Your boss will be motivated to foot the development bill if you can demonstrate a likely improvement to your performance in your current role. Your employer will be motivated if it will prepare you for future roles and boost their leadership pipeline
This might seem obvious, but separating out ‘who benefits’, will help you to decide who’s likely to be prepared to pay for the course you want to do or the membership fees you want covered.
Feed this information into your planning when you’re determining how to pitch to the boss to get them to pay for that upcoming course. Keep “what’s in it for them” at the front of your mind – and the front and end of your argument.
Let’s say you decide there’s not much in it for the boss’s benefit. If you’re a high performer that should not stop you from asking – for time to study at the very least.
Don’t see yourself as a high performer? Go back to the first point. Schedule some diary time and a positive space with perhaps some affirmations to put you in a positive frame of mind. Then take stock! Evaluate what you’ve achieved. If you can’t name anything you should put plans together for what you’re going to achieve in the next 6 months so you can improve your position.
WHAT DEVELOPMENT SHOULD YOU SEEK?
There is no one who will be as proactive in determining your future direction as you can be. No one knows you better, your unique skills and interests, your pet hates and the secret yearning you’ve always had to be a … fire fighter? Jet pilot? Writer?
The development path you take will be determined entirely by your direction. Even if your career has been a zig-zag, with effective narrative you’ll be able to weave the common ground through it. With that narrative you can plan the best development options to springboard you to the next tie-it-all-together opportunity.
Not sure what development you could do with, or even where you might be headed? Check out our Career Empowerment Program.
Career Empowerment provides online access to resources for identifying career direction, closing gaps and leveraging strengths, building effective networks, self-promotion and setting and achieving career goals. And a bunch more! Gender Gap Gone Members also receive free monthly content webinars and access to the closed community forum for impartial advice, inspiration and encouragement on their career journeys.
Cath Nolan is CEO & Founder of Gender Gap Gone. A corporate coach and key note speaker, Cath has 15 years experience in organisational and individual development.