Why is it Important to Think About Career Progression?

Picture this.  You have landed the job you love in an industry you want to work in.  Okay, great.  But even if this is the case, you probably don’t want to stay in the same position forever. 

Some careers have obvious and clear progression.  For those that don’t, you may need to take the front foot on this one.   If you push it to one side and don’t want to think about it because you don’t want to have the conversation with your boss, before you know it you will have been in the same role in the same company for 10+ years because you haven’t forward planned or thought about where you want to be.

In short, you should be thinking about where you can progress to with your role before you even start.  In the nicest way possible, your manager isn’t going to be thinking about this for you, they have their own job to do and their own progression to think about. Take ownership of it.  

From an employer’s perspective it’s also important to think about from a staff retention point of view – if employees have a clear progression path, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their jobs.

How to discuss it with your manager

Firstly, you need to prepare.  What are you good at?  What have you achieved?  How does that position you to be successful in your next role?  Write down your key accomplishments so you have them to hand – don’t rely on your brain to remember everything!  

Secondly, you should describe your personal vision.  Where do you see yourself in one year?  Three?  Five?  Do you want to run a team?  Do you want to travel with work?  Make sure you consider the skills and knowledge you would like to develop as well as showing what you have already developed and where your strengths lie.

Penultimately, make sure you ask for what you want.  Be direct and to the point, don’t be fluffy.  You want to make sure that it is absolutely clear and that it’s not going to be miscommunicated in any way.  In short, if you want a promotion or are interested in a new assignment, ASK!  Even if your boss doesn’t open every door, you can reasonably expect that they will assist you in opening them.  Promoting you will strengthen her reputation at the very least.   My advice would be to identify some next step possibilities – three to five – and then mutually agree on the best way forward.

Lastly, develop your own strategy.  Have a plan A, but always have a plan B – a contingency plan.  You know what your personal vision is, so make a plan around it.  

Practical tips for career progression 

There are a lot of tips that I could give you, but after thinking about it, the following are my top four.

1. Find a mentor
Mentors are great.  Amongst other things, they can help you to identify and work on the skills you need to succeed at work.  They can also support you through any difficulties or challenges you are having – everything ahead of you can feel quite daunting and overwhelming and a mentor will listen to your ideas and thoughts in a constructive and non-judgemental way.

2. Use your reviews – performance speaks for itself
Feedback really helps to understand what you are doing well and what you can improve.  It’s also an opportunity to set or keep track of development goals.  Performance generally does speak for itself and your boss is likely to judge you based on output.  

3. Make a plan and speak up – don’t ask, don’t get!
Consider creating your own personal development plan to help show clear objectives and actions.  No matter how motivated you re to move your career forward, if you don’t voice this to your boss, it’s possible that your career goals might never be fulfilled.  If you appear happy and are performing well in your career, it’s easy for your boss to presume that you feel satisfied in your career.  Discuss career progression opportunities with your manager and the potential ways that you could develop within the business.  After all, if they want to keep you on board, they will be happy to support your career, so you can keep moving in the right direction.

4. Stop, revive, survive 
Whether you are a long way ahead on your road or whether your road ahead is a long and winding one, don’t forget to stop once in a while to clear your head.  From personal experience, I come up with my best ideas when I take a step back and use the time to reflect.  Otherwise I would just drive myself crazy, overthinking and overcomplicating something that is in fact very simple.  So, don’t forget to take a breather every now and again and most importantly, don’t feel guilty about it!

Career progression is important to think about at every stage of your career.  You should have an idea in your head about where you want to be in one, three or five years.  Maybe you have a vision for the future that is ten years ahead.  Don’t waste time in worrying about what people will think if you voice your opinion – you know where you want to be so it’s important to speak up in order for it to happen.  Use my top tips to give you the kickstart you may need to start thinking about career progression.  Get yourself closer to the end goal!

About the Author:

Keeley Fitzsimmons
Training and Development Manager
Broadgate Search

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