Maximize Your Own Professional Growth and Development

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The meaning of Emerson’s profound quote extends to many aspects of life but it is particularly applicable to the workplace. Too often employees take a backseat to their own professional growth and development, thinking our career development is largely outside of our control. Not only is that perspective short-sighted, it is dangerous. By owning your professional growth, you can take actions now that will set you up to where you want to be in your career future. Here are five key strategies to help managers and employees alike to either support your team’s or own your own growth and development:

1.) Build upon your strengths. Evaluate yourself and have an honest conversation with others. Decide what separates you from the pack and decipher what you enjoy. Are you a detail-oriented person? Do you excel in projects that require out-of-the-box creativity? Whatever your unique skillset, focus on growing and developing it so you can maximize your contributions to your work. Don’t neglect your weaknesses entirely but be aware of additional areas for growth.

2.) Act on feedback. Consistently strive to receive real-time feedback from your colleagues. However, the true sweet spot that will aid your development is when you are taking that feedback and acting upon it. This performance piece is key to leverage other’s advice, perceptions, and opinions to better yourself. Learn from mistakes and own what you are excelling at.

3.) Lean on colleagues for help. It’s OK to ask for help. In fact, often your colleagues, both peers and leadership, will appreciate you reaching out. Seek others guidance and direction and learn from their experiences. Building a strong network of professional allies is an essential tool that will allow you to grow your career faster and more meaningfully than if you try to do it alone.

4.) Set goals to plan for success. Distance runners will sometimes say they focus on completing one mile at a time. Very large goals—such as marathons or even longer races—can be daunting and leave you feeling hopeless toward ever completing them. However, by breaking up large goals into more manageable milestones, you will position yourself for future success. So, ask yourself, “where do I want to be in my career five years from now?” Then sit down and plan out what steps need to happen to get you there. Be sure to hold yourself or have someone you trust hold you accountable.

5.) Continual development. Companies often offer their employees mentorship programs, learning training providers integrated into their learning management systems and career planning tools. Take advantage of these resources and use them to improve your set of skills as you pursue your career development goals. Just-in-time learning is often one of the most powerful tools to see quick wins in performance improvement.

As Emerson said, decide who you want to be in the workplace. Use these five strategies to take control of your professional growth and development. If you have other strategies you’ve found particularly helpful toward maximizing your professional development, please share them below in the comment section.

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