Have you ever met a person who wants a promotion, a new challenge....you know someone who wants "career development"? Most of us have...sometimes that person grumbles about what an employer should do for them and what their manager doesn't do to develop them. Usually that same person is the one that believes they deserved the position but it wasn't posted. There are also the folks who think that by sitting in the same job for umpteen (yeah, I said umpteen) years in the same department is the way to earn the promotion. I don't know about you, but I'm not interested on receiving my next promotion through inheritance. Don't get me wrong....every so often there's that one person that wants to take charge of their development and simply doesn't know where to begin. I say, keep it simple.
First and foremost, Don't overcomplicate it.
Don't be a victim - take charge. You have more control over what you do and how you go about doing it than any company or manager does. Take ownership over your own path. Figure out what you desire to achieve, weigh it with your personal and professional goals and develop a plan to achieve a balance. Break down a plan for next year with measurable milestones so that you can track your progress.
"You can't hit a target, if you don't have something to aim at." - Thoreau
Step One: Self awareness. Know your strengths and development areas. Having a level of awareness of You is a must if you are going to embark on a focused effort to improve yourself. And...this will help you in a range of life situations.
If you REALLY are serious about developing yourself, read further.
Get out of your comfort zone. Don't allow yourself to become complacent. You may not like it much, but the most effective way to develop yourself is to experience new things - this will likely require you to become uncomfortable and discontent. But try it.
Learn how to Team. Be open to working on new projects and new teams and don't try to solve the world's problems solo. The challenges you face are sometimes larger than one person can solve and solving them through collaboration will be rewarding and productive. You don't have to be the Lead to learn and gain new experiences. You will learn so much by working with different people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and styles. You will witness "what to do" and "what not to do". Develop the savy of being able to realize the positive attributes, methods and approaches of others and incorporate them into your own style. Collaborating with others also means helping others reach their goals and being easy to work with.
Don't hold back - Be transparent. Sir Francis Bacon can be credited for the saying, "Knowledge is Power"...in 1597. Well, it's 2007 and times have changed. You should share with people what you are doing as much as possible. Not only is it an opportunity to market "Brand YOU" but it creates and develops trust. It's okay to share ideas that are mere concepts. Let people know what you are thinking. Communicate openly and often.
Diversify your experiences. Take every opportunity to learn new things, work in new buildings, places....even the environments in which you work add a dynamic to your personal and professional development. This is something that can only be described through experience. Most importantly, diversifying your experiences = resume building. Think about it. Doing the same type of work year after year makes for a rather boring resume. Try something new and different and spice that resume up a bit.
Manage your brand. Your reputation is your brand. Learn how to market what you do and keep it fresh. Check out: http://www.fastcompany.com/online/10/brandyou.html.
Every day is an interview. I don't think a lot of people consider this. Every conversation, interaction, email communication, blog, meeting, etc. forms an impression that others have of You. What do YOU want that impression to be? The way you interact with others creates a perception of your brand image. And...you never know who your next boss, team member, customer or partner will be in the future. Create positive impressions and manage them well.
So what does your brand look like?