The Power of Professional Growth

Ever wonder why baking a cake or putting together a model plane is easy? Now not to discredit bakers or toy designers, but the reason someone that’s not a baker can easily make a red velvet cake from a box is because they follow a well-developed guide to do so. The outcome seems more and more achievable with a clear step by step plan. These examples are fairly straight forward but reaching your career goals can be just as uncomplicated.

Career progression can be more streamlined with a clear and measurable professional growth plan. That being said, professional growth isn’t limited to the workplace – it’s the development or refinement of skills and talents, as well as gained work experience, that can help you reach a desired outcome. From the standpoint of an employee, this may be networking, starting online courses, developing systems to bridge your gaps or taking on activities that push you outside of your comfort zone, subsequently challenging you to think and act differently.

Building a plan for your professional growth consists of several steps, each one bringing you closer to your goals. Whether you’re looking to change careers or chase your next promotion, a clear growth strategies could be the win formula to get there.

Creating your Professional Growth Plan

1. Start with Why

In life we give reason to decisions and actions. The same principle is the key to driving a professional growth plan. You may already have some ideas of what you want to work on or to achieve, but you need to ask yourself, Why?

You may want many things that sound natural and reasonable, like getting a promotion or starting a new side hustle. The higher purpose of making more money can be for a variety of reasons, including saving for the future, closing debt or upgrading your lifestyle. Once you know the motivation for getting there, or your why, it will be easier to connect having to take these actions to your goals.

2. Set SMART Goals

Setting SMART goals ensures that your objectives are attainable. SMART goals are “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound”. They allow you to break down big ambitions into smaller measurable actions. Say your goal is to start a high quality sales team, you can specify your aim to learning and understanding sales, becoming a master of sales, having great quality, coaching sales, and then becoming replicable.

SMART is an effective tool that provides the clarity, focus and motivation you need to achieve your goals. It can also improve your ability to reach them by encouraging you to define your objectives and set a completion date.

3. Identify your Professional Strengths

Your strengths are tasks and actions you can do well – these could include knowledge, proficiencies, skills or talent that naturally give you an advantage in your desired field. People use their traits and abilities to complete work, relate with others, and achieve goals. Doubling down on your strengths will only allow you to better execute a professional growth plan and become a more valuable asset to your work environment.

Break down what your strengths are from your perspective and maybe that of a mentor, manager or colleague (someone that sees you in a professional environment). These strengths may be tasks or situations in which you excel, job responsibilities or projects that you have really enjoyed — now or in the past, or skills you’ve perfected and enjoyed in your personal life that could be applied at work.

Once you’ve put together a list, break down your multidimensional skills to a basic level; for example, if you’re great at customer service, your skills might be: making connections with people, learning deep product knowledge or conflict resolution. By doing so, you can pick the 20% of your strengths and really leverage off off your strengths to pull you closer to your goals.

4. Find the GAP

At some point in time you might have heard the saying “the GAP is where its at.” In any level of career progression there is room to grow and a margin of improvement that can be made by an individual or the entire business. When focusing on your professional growth, the GAP is the area that you may lack knowledge off or struggle to do consistently. When given the right attention, these area’s can be the catalyst to professional growth. Take the time to write of list of the necessary skills, knowledge and resources you have access to relevant to your career goal; for example, if your goal is to start coaching, the necessary skills may be: learning different styles of coaching, understanding how to communicate feedback and beginning leadership focused self development. From the list that you come up with, identify which of the areas you could gain the most traction and momentum from towards your goal, if you shifted your focus and doubled down on bridging the gap.

Originally Published

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