Career growth and its ownership

Growth is expected. We are born and then we naturally grow into adulthood through various phases. That’s the first growth cycle we experience. We then expand that to growth in every direction. Knowledge growth, muscle growth, maturity, and at some point career growth.

Having a career naturally triggers an expectation for that career to grow. We expect that we will not remain in the same place as our career starting point and that we will be somewhere different in the future. We expect that we will be at a higher position or a different company or holding a different role. We expect that attaining these goals will give us a sense of achievement. These sets of achievements are what we can then associate as growth in our careers.

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However, in so many organizations there are always employees who witness stagnant growth. There are always individuals who feel as if they are stuck and that they are unable to change their situation. This can look like not getting a promotion, not getting a good raise and eventually not finding a job elsewhere. For the organization, stuck employees with stagnant growth can result in low performing teams and lower results. For the employee, this can result in demotivation and lack of engagement.

All this can be avoided if there was a clear career plan with growth being defined and measured against set objectives. This plan can change from time to time and as priorities change but it needs to be there. The main responsibility for this plan lies on the employee, the individual, the person whose career is being planned.

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Organizations can participate and should actively be part of defining their staff’s career plans. Successful organizations are those who have an alignment between their growth plans and those of their staff. The more an organization dedicates towards creating clear career paths for its staff the more it can actually envision its own growth.

However, the career plan and its success is still ultimately the responsibility of the employee. Each person should be proactive in planning and executing his or her career plan. It’s not enough to have a plan in place. Individuals must be prepared to ask what they need to do to achieve their goals and they must actually go ahead and do it.

Many people fall in the trap of expecting certain matters from their superiors/bosses e.g. expecting to be given work or to be awarded a certain project. The main pitfall is that this expectation may not be known by the other party i.e. the boss. Individuals must communicate what they want to achieve and why. Then they must be prepared to communicate how they have achieved their goals. This is not a one-off exercise. This is a constant ongoing task.

The main takeaway here is that each person must take full ownership of his or her career. They must acknowledge that they are the ultimate driver, not the circumstances and not the organization they work for (or wish they worked for…). Once that is acknowledged, constant proactivity can be realized.

 

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