Professional growth is critical to evolve your career to the next level. If you are like most professionals, including me, you might feel intimidated by how much perceived time an effective career action plan might absorb. How will you ever fit it all in??
The good news is: launching strategic growth in your career isn’t as difficult as you might think. Some of the steps below might surprise you. You don’t have to earn a new credential or even read a book! Most professionals do not realize how a few simple tweaks can significantly and positively alter their career trajectory. You will be relieved to know there are 5 simple steps to kickstart your professional growth.
Articulate Your Accomplishments
The first step for anyone wishing to move up the career ladder or seek new opportunities is to define and articulate your professional value. You are an asset to an organization. As such: you must understand how you impact the business. Consider your career thus far. What have you done to positively move the needle for the companies you have worked for? Even if it was simply doing your job well, that matters!
Ask yourself these questions:
- Have you taken an initiative to improve anything for the organization?
- Have you volunteered or been a part of an extracurricular work-sponsored activity?
- What challenges have you overcome that positively impacts the company you work for?
- Did you solve a problem (or multiple problems) to the benefit of your team or organization?
- Have you consistently performed well at your job and what is the positive impact?
- Were you a part of a project that added value to the organization? If so: how?
An accomplishment is anything you did to positively impact the organizations you have worked for. Even if your impact was simply doing your job well, the key is to articulate what that means for the company. Create an Impact Inventory. An Impact Inventory will allow you to propel forward with your career growth!
“Your work does not speak for you. You do!”
Leverage Your Impact
Articulating your accomplishments is not ‘bragging’. You are simply stating facts. Stay away from fluff words but quantify your impact if you are able. I recommend that every professional make the habit of developing and updating their Impact Inventory once a quarter. Defining and owning your impact has several benefits:
- You realize your own professional value and your impact.
- You can leverage these accomplishments to move up or make a career shift.
- Impact statements are critical in your resume to set you apart.
- Articulating your accomplishments come in handy during performance reviews!
- Your impact stories are important during interviews as examples of your professional value.
If you think that your manager knows your impact, think again. Your boss might have an idea, but no one understands your professional value like you do. This is particularly true if you work remotely or your immediate supervisor does not office in your geographic area. It’s your professional responsibility to articulate your accomplishments!
Develop Your Connections
Almost everyone I know cringes when they hear the word ‘network’. Networking is largely misunderstood. It’s not a card-collecting contest, networking is about making connections with others. Many professionals overlook valuable networking opportunities right under their noses: having a conversation at work.
You don’t have to be chatty and gregarious to have an occasional conversation. Introverts have a special super power that makes them great ‘connectors’: they ask questions. People who are comfortable allowing others to talk are the best at forming relationships! Here are a few tips to grow your professional connections:
- Set a goal to meet and speak to one new person a week.
- Volunteer for a work-related organization or committee.
- Skip the ‘reply’ to that email and go speak to someone instead.
- Ask someone who appears stressed how you can help.
Lighten Up for Likeability
The term ‘likeability’ is becoming more common in the workplace. Likeability does not mean that you must become a social butterfly or ignore your work responsibilities. Rather, it is important to establish a balanced working perspective and maintaining a largely positive attitude.
Think about it: do you want to be around someone that constantly complains or constantly boasts about themselves? Of course not! Likeability is simply becoming someone you would like to be around.
Write down some key attributes of your closest friends that you enjoy spending time with. Chances are, those attributes are positive, or ‘likable’. Here are a few tips to cultivate likeability:
- Positive Inputs. Be aware of your inputs during the day and how they affect you. If you listen to argumentative radio news in the morning on the way to work or music with angry lyrics, this impacts your mood. Books on tape, comedy or filtering your news feed can make a positive impact on your attitude.
- Smile, Sincerely. Smiling actually releases chemicals into your bloodstream that encourages a positive attitude. It’s tough to meet people’s eyes these days with the focus on smartphones, but greeting someone with a sincere smile makes a big difference.
- Listen First. You might have already figured out that being overly chatty isn’t the best way to present yourself. Most people connect better with those that listen well. Cultivate the art of asking appropriate questions and resisting the urge to interrupt.
Kickstart Your Professional Growth
“People won’t go along with you until they can get along with you.” – John Maxwell
Likeability is one of the major contributing factors to whether an individual is successful personally or professionally and will open the door to connecting with others. Understanding your value and leveraging your professional impact will make you stand out to the people that matter.
By making a habit out of these 5 simple steps to kickstart your professional growth, I bet you will see the positive change you are looking for! Professional development is about challenging yourself. While a comfort zone is a great place to be, no true growth is found there. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable to transform your life.