It'sYourCareerThe “It’s Your Career” Series at Management Excellence is intended to serve as a regular reminder that you are responsible for your professional development and career advancement.  Use the ideas in good career health!

I’m enjoying my interchanges with a number of great, early career professionals who are interested in developing and advancing. Aside from their excellent work on a day-to-day basis, what sets them apart from their peers is their hunger to learn, push and grow.

An employee interested in developing is like catnip for a conscientious boss. We’ll put in extra effort to support your development; find ways to relax our training budgets to push you along, and frankly, if you are genuinely, authentically pushing the envelope on your own development, you will gain access to the challenging assignments that set people up for advancement.

It’s fair, it’s genuine and it’s critical for you to leverage this psychology in your pursuit of development and advancement.

5 Ideas to Make Sure the Boss Knows You’re Pushing Yourself to Learn and Grow:

1. Read and share. An employee who visibly and actively remains abreast of the leading voices and practitioners in his/her field and then chooses to share those insights is a smart employee. What the boss sees and hears is someone who cares enough about their work and their firm to put in the time and expose themselves to new ideas. Kudos if you are able to apply the ideas in the workplace…that truly gets noticed.

2. Tell and show. Let the boss know you’re interested in development. I was approached recently by a young professional interested in advancing from individual contributor to a front-line manager. He wasn’t demanding and didn’t share a sense of entitlement (the kiss of death to gaining the boss’s support). Instead, he indicated his aspirations and offered his willingness to take on some relevant team leadership challenges to gain experience and better understand the demands of his aspirational role. Priceless.

3. Invest on your own time and your own dime. Seriously, nothing says “I’m interested in developing,” like someone willing to plunk down their own change and take their own time (even vacation time) to gain access to training and learning experiences. The lack of a training budget is not an excuse.

4. Share lessons learned along the way. Employees who learn and improve are golden in the eyes of the boss. Share your lessons learned with your stretch assignments. Own up to mistakes and offer insights on how you might tackle a similar challenge in the future. Instead of the typical dodge and deflect that the boss hears from others who make mistakes, your willingness to admit missteps and to learn from them is rare and valued by your boss.

5. Be authentic in expressing and displaying your interests in self-development. Experienced bosses can sniff out a con a mile away.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

You own your career and you own your professional development. Regardless of corporate culture, your current boss’s demeanor about your development or the circumstances that invade your daily life, no one can look out for you like you. If you’re genuine in your intent to get ahead, it’s all about exposing yourself to as many diverse and challenging learning opportunities as possible. Of course, it helps if you have the boss on your side as an active participant in your process. Use these ideas in genuine, authentic good career health!

More Professional Development Reads from Art Petty:book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

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For more ideas on professional development-one sound bite at a time, check out Art’s latest book: Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.

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