How to chart your career path

Many people dream about career and success.  They see successful people and start dreaming about how to the point where these successful people already reached.  And, unfortunately, most of the people, dreaming about great career stay only with their dreams.  They don’t accept the other part of the equation.  Everyone who has built a successful career has done this by carefully planning and executing a complex plan with several steps, different career moves, etc. 

There is also another group of people who think that the hard work is only enough to lead them to a successful career step. If you want to be different, from all those people you need to accept one truth: For your career to be fulfilling, it’s important to actively manage it.

Too often, people assume if they work hard, their career will unfold the way they hope. But that’s not necessarily true. Your career requires action and attention from you. Think of it like 90% your responsibility—and only 10% of your company’s.

You need to take the lead in managing your career. And you need to do it, because:

Your manager is responsible for so many things. He or she may only  have time to discuss your career aspirations during the performance review;

You may want to move ahead through a path that your manager is unfamiliar with. Don’t assume that managers know all the paths for development.

Your manager will highly  appreciate the initiative you are taking and will be more likely  to help  you;

You are the best supporter for your career growth. There is no one who can advocate better for you, then you.

And you need to understand that if you only want to get the next position at the next company then you are not planning for a career. When looking for how to build a successful career you might actively looking for a new position in a different company at some point in your life. Career management is a continuous process which helps you in several  directions to:

  • Discover your interests and values;
  • Cultivate new skills as  part of your change following the change of  your organization and industry;
  • Set clear goals for career and start tracking your accomplishments on a regular basis;
  • Forge supportive relationships within and outside your company;
  • To overcome setbacks coming in your career path;
  • Develop a “personal brand” that  will help  you  to better sell your skills;

As you think about your career development, you have to keep in mind that the career landscape is rapidly changing. In the20th century (the days of traditional bureaucracies) career ladders were something like a rule. In a career ladder, employees advance in their careers in a fixed, linear progression. They “climb” upward within a functional area and develop deep, specialized knowledge along the way.

In today’s team-based organizations, career latticesare predominating. In a career lattice, there is no fixed career path. There you will see many ways to advance. Individuals may move upward or laterally.  They follow the process of continuously broaden and renew skills to answer the changing environment.

Career lattices are more flexibility than career ladders. Navigating across lattices allows you to:

Diversify your skills.
When you consider multiple career paths you cultivate a broad range of expertise. This makes you more valuable to your current employer—and to the market as a whole.

Improve work/life fit.
On a ladder, you move up only when the position above you is free. In a lattice you have flexibility. You can determine how fast, in which direction, and when you move. You will have the opportunity to discuss with your manager several possible paths and implement creative approaches to plan your development steps.

Redefine success.
That means that you will stop measuring yourself by factors like salary, title, etc. and will move to measure your work by the level of meaningfulness.

But moving from the career ladder model to the career lattices will also put more responsibility on you to ensure success.
When you start  envisioning career paths trough career lattice, you will also  have to analyze  how a particular path  can help  you  in several  directions:

  • Develop cross-functional skills;
  • Broaden your understanding of the business;​
  • Improve your leadership skills;
  • Provide the visibility necessary for advancement;
  • Develop the skills necessary for the global economy;
  • Allow you to be flexible and balance between work life, family  and personal  interests;

One thing you should consider here is how you can best discuss this willing for a broader experience with your manager.  Still, some managers and even business leaders see employees moves outside of regular positions as distractions of the working atmosphere and processes.

But most of the business leaders and bigger part of the managers now are ready to accept the situation and start to believe that when an employee is committed to a secondary interest then its current role may become even stronger. You can use this argument in your discussion with your line manager, by pointing that this can broaden not only your skills and network of professional relationships but can also positively impact your regular job by bringing new insights in.

If you are ready to discuss the idea of a dual career with your manager, you may need some strong points you need to bring to the table to convince them. Some useful ideas are:

Capabilities and skills diversity.
The point that employees with several qualifications will be able to bring knowledge and insights to their regular job.

Talent retention.

Maybe one of the strongest points you can bring to the table is the one with the employee loyalty. Hen an employee feels supported and advances in several directions it is more likely to limit its searches for a new challenge or development opportunity outside the organization.

 Burnout protection.
With a different stimulus in your daily life, it is more likely to limit the effects of the burnout and replace them with more engagement,  commitment, and energy.

Another point you must consider is the one of how you define success and think on how to redefine it, according to the changing environment you are becoming part from.You need to understand that your career does not exist in isolation. It reflects other parts of your life like home, community, and even self. When you can satisfy your important priorities outside the office, you will be happier and more engaged at work.

To understand how successfully you manage your career you must answer to yourself honestly several questions about the specifics of the career you have chosen and how it reflects you. Ask  yourself:

Have you chosen a career that will resonate positively to people who mean a lot for you?

How do you feel in different areas of your life like home, community, work, and self?

Are there any discrepancies between what is important for you and how you spend your time and where you invest your energy?

Does the career goal help you develop new skills that are important or interesting to you?

IN CONCLUSION:

There was time,  back in the 20th  century,  when careers looked like one straight line. Your choices for career advancement moved in just one direction. The more expert you became, the higher up the corporate ladder you went. But with global innovation moving at an unprecedented pace, the bureaucratic structures that once drove business are giving way to flatter network structures.

Today, when cross-functional collaboration is the norm and lines have blurred both within and across organizations, careers are more likely to take shape within the broad, flexible framework of a lattice. For management careers built in today’s new order, you are in charge of your path to advancement.

You only need to understand your interests and values and the skills you need to guide your journey and forge networks and opportunities that may help you develop them. It is up to you and no one else to build your successful career path.

So stop waiting for someone to come and give you something and start building your future.

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