Today’s guest post comes from my good friend and fellow Facebooker Vito Scotello. Last week, when I had writer’s block after being at SHRM12 all week, I mentioned said “writer’s block” on Facebook, and Vito came up with this topic and I mentioned that he write a guest post and pass it on over. So he did. Thanks Vito. (Oh, did I mention he’s a fellow Chicagoan who lives in Miami and remains a loyal Bears fan?)
Photo Credit: CrochetingTheDayAway
As a Training and Development professional for the last twenty years, I have heard many common themes emerge. Some of these come up as I coach members of my team and others come up during the course of training. One theme that comes up repeatedly is the expectation that once someone joins a company, it becomes that company’s expectation to provide a career path. This expectation is trans-generational. It is just a strong today as it was years ago when individuals expected to remain with a company for a number of years or for a lifetime. So who is responsible for my career? It’s not the company.
There are certain responsibilities that an organization has in regard to your career growth. First and foremost, a company needs to provide you with the training to succeed in your current position. This includes specific job skills as well as tips on how to navigate the particularities of the given organization. In other words, once you know how to do your job, it is also the company’s responsibility to train and coach you on “how things work around here.” A smart company includes information on how promotions are made, whether open positions are posted, and any paperwork or electronic hoops that must be jumped through (plane and flaming). Many companies have certain career paths set out; many others paths are unique and building an individual guide is not the company’s job.
If it’s not the company’s job, it is logical to assume that it must be your job. There are two questions you must ask yourself: 1) how can I help my career? And, 2) how can I hurt my career? Some cheap advice follows.
1) How can you help your career?
Before you can help your career, you must know what you would like your career to be. If you answer this question the rest becomes easy. And yet, this is exactly where most people fail. People who do not take responsibility for their own careers often try to push that responsibility on to the company. (I was hired as a fry cook; my career path should lead me to district manager.) Within any organization, there are multiple paths with multiple ending points. Once you have a direction, you can start making the connections within your organization to get the journey underway. I suggest you go back to “What Color Is Your Parachute?” for some guidance. (Try an older version that didn’t spend so much time on social media. Sorry Susan.) The informational interview is a great tool that will help you learn what a Regional Marketing Manager actually does in a day, what education and experience are required, and if you can someday fill the requirements. It’s also an exceptional way to make contacts within your company and with the people who will ultimately be making hiring decisions. Now you can get to work getting the background and experience that will position you for the future and make those decisions easy. But don’t stop there. Be active with the organization and volunteer for projects and activities where you can shine.
2) How can you hurt your career?
Although this may seem like a tangent, it is important to consider your actions and how they affect your career path. Feelings of helplessness (this company is not promoting me) are often accompanied by behaviors that guarantee stagnation in position.
- Don’t feel that you are being considered for that next job? Why not? How is your performance?
- When your boss is challenged, are you the problem or the solution?
- Don’t feel like part of the team? Why not? What are you doing to fit in?
- People don’t respect you? Have you earned their respect?
Remember, your current supervisor could be your biggest ally in advancing your career. The obvious caveat is that she could also be your biggest obstacle.
I understand that there are real situations where your career is blocked or put off its course. Sometimes, your best choice is to move on; but, often your best choice is to look in the mirror. It’s not your company’s responsibility to prepare a career path for you, although it may be good business to do so. A clear, achievable path helps retain and motivate employees. But that path is also a “one-size-fits-all-solution.” So, whose responsibility is your career? The answer is in the mirror.
About the Author:
Vito Scotello, SPHR, is a human resource professional with over 20 years of experience. For the past eleven years he has worked for Norwegian Cruise Line and is currently the Director of Human Resources, Training and Development. In addition to Norwegian Cruise Line, Scotello’s experience includes time with Champs Sports, Tropicana Products, Hills Department Stores and Target Stores where he wrote and conducted management and operations training. He has also taught a variety of courses at the college level, including Business Communication, Organizational Communication, and Public Speaking.