Are you in control of your career path? Or are you looking to someone else to carry that weight for you? About five years ago, I realized there was a difference between looking for guidance from my manager and looking to them to handhold me through my career. The perspective shift through the lessons I will share below unlocked a new level to my career path.
I realized the missing piece was my contribution to my own career path.
Throughout my career, I have been intentional about figuring out what worked for me. I’ve tried everything my managers and mentors suggested, including reading books, building relationships, attending conferences, getting a mentor, taking on other projects, etc. I will admit that they all have enhanced my career path tremendously and still do. At the end of trying their suggestions, I still found myself looking to my manager to tell me which way to go in my career because something was missing. Through trial and error, I realized the missing piece was my contribution to my own career path. From that moment, I opened my mind up to receive lessons I needed to learn from others, identify my strengths and come up with a method to improve this process.
I have compiled three major lessons from that motivated me to increase my own contribution to my career path.
1) Understand How Your Skillset is Valuable to Your Team
I was introduced to this reality in a previous position. It wasn’t meant for me, but I took away a great lesson that I still use to date. I was in a meeting where we were on a tight deadline, everyone was operating at their max capacity and anxiety was high. My colleague was struggling with providing her honest feedback to our manager. My manager sensed the struggle and asked my colleague to get her struggle off of her chest. What my manager went on to say changed my perspective forever.
What my manager went on to say changed my perspective forever.
The question asked was “What value do you bring to the team and on the project?” As my colleague choked on the question, my manager explained to my colleague that she asked the question because my colleague needed to be able to answer that question for herself and that her career path is her responsibility.
2) Master Clear Communication with Multiple Audiences
I use this skill the most along my career path. I learned this concept at my first job in high school as a supervisor. I was tasked with communicating to our clients, my staff and team members to keep business running efficiently. In the beginning I ran into challenges because I thought communicating meant saying the same thing to everyone. I quickly learned that the way to keep the daily functions running smoothly is to communicate the same thing in a different way per audience.
The way to keep the daily functions running smoothly is to communicate the same thing in a different way per audience.
For example, my leadership wanted high level details on the function of the processes. My team wanted to know what they had to do to get to the end of the shift and the clients wanted quality experience. When you understand what each category of your audience desires from you, match the language to connect with them. This keeps everything flowing properly.
3) Document Your Career Path Progress
I would strongly encourage you to document the stage you are in your career from here on out – if you do not currently do it. You can track things like the projects you worked on or more specific measures like characteristics that need to be developed to be promoted. The two main reasons why I track my own career path is to reflect on my progress and to have tangible documentation to present during reviews and salary negotiations.
I encourage you to open your mind to receive lessons that you need to learn from others, identify your strengths and come up with a method to improve your career path.