Training is an integral part to the success of an organization. But many managers and senior leaders don’t recognize the importance of getting an individual to care about their own career self-development.
In many ways career self-development is a lot like personal development. Personal development is any activity, habit or course that improves an individual’s awareness, identity, wellbeing, health, talents, skills, dreams or aspirations. Career self-development shifts the focus from holistic wellbeing, to a more career-based focus.
I like to think career self-development is the combination of these two quotes by well-regarded researchers;
“The total constellation of psychological, sociological, educational, physical, economic, and chance factors that combine to shape the career of any given individual over the life span.” - McDaniels and Gysbers
“An organized, planned effort comprised of structured activities or processes that result in a mutual career plotting effort between employees and the organization.” - Gilley and Eggland
We all dream about something we want to get or do in the future. Once we get it, we are satisfied. The same exists for one’s career self-development. Aspiring to something more has its challenges, but once you achieve them, you are sure to be satisfied!
Setting yourself goals and targets for your career development will increase your motivation to achieve them. Without any, you will trundle along as you have done before. With them, you will be motivated to achieve them.
By committing yourself to you career self-development, you are committing to improving your career prospects and achieving your ambitions.
Career self-development enables you to better learn different aspects and skills of your working life, both for your current job, but also for the places you want to go in your career. Career self-development helps you to identify the skills and experience needed to achieve what you seek.
Rapid change is inevitable in the modern professional workplace. Focusing on career self-development and as a by-product, widening your skills repertoire makes you more adaptable and malleable to change.
The internet is inundated with ideas and strategies on how to boost your career self-development. Here are the top five we think are the most important (and with all the useless jargon taken out).
Now this point may seem quite florid to begin with but bear with me. Visualization with respect to self-career development stems from Maslow’s theory on self-actualization. Maslow proposes that all individuals have an innate need for personal development. Wanting to improve and learn serves multiple purposes and it isn’t always going to be easy. The first step is to visualize where you want to be at the end of the development process. The next step is to begin thinking of goals you’ll need to achieve in order to reach the end of your career self-development journey.
Once you’ve visualized your goals, it’s time to get it down on paper. Create an actionable timeline with goals along the way. Setting deadlines along the way will motivate you to achieve them but will also make them easier to achieve. Breaking up your overall target into smaller ones is bound to make them easier. Adding smaller goals to your timeline will give you overall, realistic context.
Otherwise known as the ‘what’ element. The ‘what’ referring to what needs to be improved. Here, you may want to conduct a skills gap analysis, to ascertain what a person needs to improve, in order to achieve their stated ambitions. For example, one individual may want to enhance their knowledge of coding while one may want to improve their public speaking ability.
Feedback! Feedback! Feedback! Often talked about, often overlooked. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on your progress from your managers, mentors and leaders – it is likely these people have gone through something similar over the course of their career.
Researcher Dr Warner Burke recommends this approach, stating:
"Seeking feedback of how you’re doing regardless of how threatening the action might be to one’s self-esteem is vital to career development."
Seek out feedback, don’t worry if its positive or negative, often the best type of feedback is honest and constructive, as it offers you clarity on improvements and direction.
It is advisable to keep a record of your career self-development. It is important to keep track of key developments, breakthroughs, opportunities and challenges that come up along your journey. But recording your development is virtually useless without reviewing and revising how you are doing. Regularly reviewing your progress will not only enhance your motivation to achieve, but it will make sure that you are learning from your development, as opposed to glossing over it. Revising your development is important, but not always necessary. Revise your goals if they are unachievable. Don’t make them easier so you get an easy ride. You can revise your overall goal, or your goals along the timeline.
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