Our tested way of building a career plan
In the incredibly fast paced world we're living in with so much change, having a career plan might feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Whilst a plan set in stone isn’t a great use of your time, having a directional vision for where you want to head and knowing where you are currently, are both things that will set you up for success.
Over my 20-year corporate career working for some of the world’s largest companies like GE, PwC and IBM, and more than 15 years of coaching women on their careers and leadership development, I have developed key questions to consider when you want to build a career plan that’s helpful and relevant, no matter what level or type of position you are currently in.
So let's look at planning and career mastery together. If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to read about where you’re at on the career mastery curve and contemplate the following from a planning perspective.
If you identified that you’re at the novice phase of your career in your current role, then what you're going to be planning for and focusing on is building competence. At this phase you are going to be answering questions like:
- What skills and experiences do you need to build competence?
- Who are your best mentors for where you're at right now?
- What are the critical success factors in the role that you're in?
- Who are your key stakeholders?
When I was beginning a new management role at IBM, I had to very quickly identify what was going to be most critical for me to be successful in that role, and to move up that mastery curve. What were the skills and experiences that I needed quite quickly, and who were my key stakeholders that I needed to build relationships with and gain support from?
If you’re at the experienced phase, then you’re focusing on building confidence and exploring where you’re headed. At this phase you want to consider questions like:
- How do you leverage and build on your strengths?
- Is there a new role or opportunity that could be of interest in the future?
- Who are the mentors and sponsors you need for the next phase?
- What does success look like at the end of this role?
And then you have the mastery phase, where you’re the expert in your field. At this phase it’s important to check-in and ask yourself how you feel about where you’re at. Sometimes we get to the top of a mastery curve and we're happy to sit there a while as we've spent years building our expertise and working our way to the position that we're in.
And sometimes when we reach expert level, we’re starting to crave a new opportunity and to build a new mastery curve. If that’s where you find yourself, here are some questions to consider:
- What could your next mastery curve look like?
- What is interesting to you right now? What's exciting? What are you curious about?
- Is there a role or a different line of work entirely that you would really like to go and explore?
- How could you investigate that?
When you reach mastery, you want to remember to respect where you're at and respect the journey that you've been on to go from novice to experienced to mastery. This is a massive undertaking. Make sure you take the opportunity to savour where you are and celebrate it before moving too quickly to answering the ‘what’s next?’ question.