7 steps that will help you reach the next level in your career

According to research published by the University of Scranton, 92% of people set goals for the New Year but never actually achieve them.   

The first study of goal setting was carried out by British philosopher and industrial psychologist, Alec Mace, in 1935 and his work has informed many of the basic principles that we use today. Later on, researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham developed a theory of goal setting after finding that when people set specific and challenging goals, they achieved higher performance 90% of the time.

It seems clear that if you want success in your career, then goal setting is of critical importance. However, difference between the 92% of people that fail to achieve their goals and the 8% that do is a commitment to achieving them and doing everything possible until they get there. So, not only is it important to define your goals but also to take the action required to ensure you make progress towards them and continue doing so until the target has been reached.

Here are seven actions you can take to help you reach the next level in your career:

1. Be clear about where you are going – if you have a career goal, then you probably have thought through your aspirations and ambitions. However, I have come across a number of people in my work who know they want something but not sure exactly what. They might be frustrated about their situation and feel they have yet to reach their potential but have no idea what would make them feel more fulfilled. My point here is that if you do not know where you are going then how can you possibly get there? For help setting objectives which are specific and achievable, try mindtools.com – Personal Goal Setting.

2. Look at job descriptions and identify any gaps – once you are clear about where you want to go, you need to make a plan to get there. The best first step is to look at some job descriptions for the kind of roles you are interested in and identify any gaps in your knowledge, skills and experience.

3. Make a development plan – after you have identified the areas you need to work on to secure the kind of role you are interested in, then you can make a plan to gain more experience or develop skills in these areas. Practical ways to fill the gaps include courses or qualifications, voluntary work or job shadowing.

4. Become a charity Trustee – a great way to gain experience at a strategic level is taking on a Trustee role with a charitable organisation. Many charities require volunteers at this level who can contribute views on the direction of the organisation and make decisions about strategic direction. Trustee roles require knowledge across a range of areas such as finance, risk and governance so a great way to demonstrate the ability to think strategically. Recruit 3 is a good place to look for Trustee vacancies in Wales or Third Sector Jobs for UK-wide opportunities. 

5. Get some coaching or mentoring – all the best leaders have had a coach or mentor at some point during their career journey. Both are processes that can help you think about your skills, find a way to develop further and ultimately, help you to reach your potential. My recommendations include Empower’s Step Up programme which offers support for third sector professionals looking to secure a leadership role or Compass for professional coaching. 

6. Ask for feedback – this is absolutely key for me in making sure you are developing in the right way to achieve your career goals. Whether you have submitted and application and not been shortlisted, had a job interview and not been successful or looking to progress internally and facing barriers. Ask for feedback and act on what you find out.

7. Don’t give up – most of all, if you really want to take the next step, then whatever barriers or knock backs you face, do not give up because if you remain committed to following the previous steps, you will succeed in the end.

3minuteleadership.org

Why settle for mediocre? Aim to make your people outstanding

It’s that time of year for me when I’m talking to people about performance over the last six months. 

Committed to helping people be the best they can be and also to delivering maximum value with public funds, this is a process I’ve spent much time considering in order to ensure it delivers for the individuals I support.
My quest for perfection in performance management, has led to a number of steps that can provide a framework within which individuals can develop and deliver for your organisation.

Setting clear objectives is the first task if you want to create an environment where people can succeed. This step should provide clear direction in line with the organisation’s aims and ensure that person can meet their goals in a timely manner and know when the objective has been achieved. In particular, agreeing objectives which are SMART brings clarity to plans and ensures they can be completed within an agreed timeframe.

After this stage, it is important to work with the individual to agree what ‘good’ looks like. I’m not sure it’s possible for individuals to really excel in delivering their priorities if you haven’t discussed exactly what is required. Setting out expectations clearly from the beginning allows people to go the extra mile to ensure a high standard.

In observing performance management in a number of organisations, I’ve noticed that reviews too often become a process that people have to go through with little awareness of what they are about (see what’s wrong with performance management and annual reviews). In many cases, managers set objectives and sign off progress without much thought or discussion.

For me, it’s about creating a structure for people to succeed with a focus on encouraging and supporting them to exceed expectations. It seems to me that managers should consider it a priority to ensure their people are encouraged able to become ‘outstanding’ and concentrate their efforts on achieving this goal. I’m sure all organisations desire to have high performing teams so let’s stop thinking that mediocre is good enough and give people something to aim for.

Finally, I don’t believe that performance conversations looking back over a six month period go far enough to provide focus and motivation. Whilst my objectives might be set annually, I set out my plan to achieve them by looking forward over a three month period and reviewing progress on a monthly basis. This ensures the thinking time and prioritising which is necessary to make an impact. I’m then able to look back and see if I have achieved my goals, ensure my time is spent on the right things and to know if my objectives are the right ones.

As the year comes to a close, I wonder how your teams have performed over the last twelve months and offer a challenge to all of you to make a commitment for the new year to adopt a system that allows your people to shine in 2017.

3minuteleadership.org

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