By Kasey Fleisher Hickey
As a team lead, you’ve spent years honing your craft and internalizing lessons from mentors that have, no doubt, shaped your career. While your chances of going back in time are slim (unless you’re Marty McFly), you can help your less-experienced teammates better understand the decisions they have in front of them, and mentor them to choose the path that will ultimately help them succeed. A few weeks ago, we hosted a group of speakers at the Asana offices who shared their most valuable career lessons, including one that may surprise you.
Early in your career, you probably had no idea what your life would be like 5, 10, 20 years from then. Given how quickly technology evolves, your profession may not have even existed. Our panelists emphasized the importance of encouraging team members not to specialize early on — particularly in a field that is rapidly changing — so as not to find themselves trapped by their own specialization and pigeon-holed into a career they’re less excited by.
Being T-shaped in our approach to learning throughout our careers can be really valuable. When we’re first starting out in the ‘real world,’ it’s important to focus on acquiring knowledge horizontally — the kind that won’t become outdated as soon as the next programming language becomes the new ‘it’ thing. As we move down the vertical bar of the T and progress in our professions, we can begin to develop more niche skills — those that will help differentiate us in a crowded market.
Focus on acquiring a variety of horizontal skills in the beginning of your career. You’ll not only stay versatile, but also glean a better understanding of the work you naturally gravitate to, which you can specialize in later on.
In order to maximize early years on the job, figuring out the best way to learn a broad variety of skills is perhaps the best thing your mentee can do for their career. Everyone’s learning style is different but there are some ways all of us can train ourselves to learn more effectively and efficiently.
Spend your early days on the job trying to really understand what it is you’re passionate about. If you’re unsure, learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. If you find yourself gravitating to a particular area of focus, don’t neglect those feelings — dive in and dive deep, and know that there’s always a possibility you may need to start over.
Focus is underrated. There are not enough people getting deep enough, pushing the boundary of discovery forward in one area.
There is no one right path to success and many of our roads will meander. But these simple lessons can help teammates you’re mentoring find success, regardless of where their career may take them.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Originally published at wavelength.asana.com