I'm about to give you the most honest, candid information you'll probably ever hear related to your career.
Consider it advice that has been accumulating for many years...which at this point might even qualify as wisdom. But, I'll leave that for you to decide.
I started my business wayyyyy back in 1988 as a career coach coming off the heels of being a recruiter at a top boutique firm in Chicago....man that 1988 number looks odd and old.
Anyway... now I am considered a global influencer and thought leader in the HR, management and leadership space and within that span of time, I've seen and experienced a lot and primarily look at all of the world of work through 2 lenses - the employee and the employer.
And though I now primarily work with the senior leadership of companies, I have felt compelled of late to offer help to those not among those ranks. I see that the best way I to do this is to first give candid career advice and second, share tools and personal support.
So this post is a list of what I call career truths to which I encourage you to give thoughtful consideration and from which I really hope you will act upon.
Career Truths...ignore at your peril:
- No one...and I mean no will ever care about your career and compensation as much as you will. Yes, your employer, your boss, internal or external mentors may care - to varying degrees - but rarely, if ever, as much as you (or as much as you should).
- And, because of #1, this means decisions made about your career, professional development and earning potential can not be left, or heavily dependent on your employer. I've observed some folks to be so dependent on their employer for their careers, including their professional development, that it seems almost parental or codependent.
- If you are wholly dependent on your employer for career success, you relegate it to the biased perceptions, convoluted performance management schemes and deficient business acumen of most managers - even senior managers. One person said to me on Twitter the other day, "I worked really hard...and still did not get the promotions and raises I deserved." My point exactly! And by deficient business acumen, I mean they do not know how to adequately assess and quantify the value (which I'm assuming) you provide. So your financial rewards are typically not aligned with or reflective of your contribution.
- And therefore, it is rare for a company to fully invest in providing adequate, customized professional development. So, for every day you are not growing, developing new knowledge, capabilities and skills, the farther behind your earning potential and compounded financial growth.
Your bank account will only grow as much as you do.
- I am not sure if this next one will shock you or not, but here goes: Most folks who make decisions about employee training have very little working knowledge about practical professional development. So, they follow the latest trends or see development through the typical narrow lens of "courses and programs" that result in very little if any trackable return on investment. Because of this, there are not adequate development opportunities created...which leads to #6.
- In reality, many employers see spending money on your professional development as a cost rather than an investment. Think about this for a moment...your career development is possibly in the hands of those who are reluctant to spend money for you to have a better career and to earn more money.
So, What's the Bottom Line?
You can probably see where I'm going with this. Truly, it is up to you to have a successful, lucrative career. Period. And the only way to do so, is to make sure your career management is intentional and you know how to be and stay in the driver's seat.
This means you must: Have a continuous plan, know how to calculate and articulate your value, negotiate raises, know to how "manage up" - work with and beyond any deficits or incompetencies of your direct report - partner with Human Resources, build an internal network of competent colleagues, a community of external advisors and a career growth network (of course LinkedIn makes this part easy) and be prepared to financially invest your professional and personal development (they are partners serving the same goals)...build it into your budget.
What's interesting is you'll never find these items in your job description, and yet they are essential and should be included in each!
If you happen to be in the early stages of career, particularly in management, consider becoming part of professional development community - The Distinct Leader. By the way, those in middle to upper-management are particularly vulnerable to these career truths. I've observed, the higher the level of responsibility the more ambiguous the expectations and ability to practically measure value...effective management seems diminished.
So, we've created a way to help serious leadership professionals turn their talent into measurable value with a 9 step blueprint. Consider our 90 day development cycle - The Emerging Executive - click here to learn more