Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Five tips for career growth

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There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward.” If you’re moving backward, who’s fault is it? Who is responsible? We all know the answer to this.

The people whose careers seem to grow the fastest follow similar patterns of behavior. They understand competition exists, they recognize the steps they need to take to succeed, and they understand who is responsible. They take charge of their career and accept full responsibility for their growth.

The following five actions will help accelerate your career growth:

  1. Improve skills and knowledge: Instead of hunkering down in your current state, take specific actions to improve your skills. Look for opportunities for training. Read books. Read blogs. Make an effort to learn new skills and practice them as much as you can in your current job. Remember these words from Eric Hoffer: “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”
  2. Develop trust: People naturally want to surround themselves with people they trust. Developing trust takes time and consistent effort. Trust goes two ways: you need to behave in such a way that people will trust you will do what you say. And equally important, you need to trust others.
  3. Help others: One of the keys to growth is helping others. When you make the effort to assist someone else to become better at what they do, you become better yourself.
  4. Believe in yourself: As your skills increase, you gain more experience and a clearer understanding your significance to your organization. Believing in yourself, your skills, and your ability to succeed — without becoming arrogant — is a good thing. And never forget the people who have helped you along the way.
  5. Work yourself out of the job: This one may not make sense on its face, but the idea is to work effectively and close the loop on what you are doing. Think in terms of projects: plan what you are going to do, work at it and when it’s finished move on to the next project. Work effectively and make it so that anyone could step in and take over. As you do that you will automatically make yourself more valuable to your company, and they will have no choice but to promote you or find something more challenging for you to do.

One of the Harvard Business Review management tips states it very clearly: “Responsibility for your professional development lies squarely on your shoulders.” Go out and make it happen.


The Product Management Perspective: Career growth is important to every product manager I know. The role lends itself to working with many people in different parts of the company and with customers and others external to the organization. Practicing the five actions listed above will increase your value to your company and accelerate your career growth. And when you work yourself out of the product management position, perhaps you’ll find yourself in an executive’s chair.

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6 thoughts on “Five tips for career growth

  1. There’s some excellent advice in this post.

    With so many candidates applying for available positions, standing out from the pack is more important than ever before. A top notch C.V (tailored specifically to each role) is a great place to start.

    When not in work, it’s important to stay productive. Volunteering or internships with relevant organisations are an excellent way to gain experience; whilst ensuring the are no gaps in your CV. If in doubt, why not consult a professional career coach who can help you to explore your options further?

    Best wishes, Alex.

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  4. I abosolutely agree with mostly everything in this post. Amazingly, over a year ago, I went searching for a job I could grow at and had an interview, in which I inquired my concerns with this potential job in regards to the training regimen, shadowing opportunities, and growth to balance my KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) to showcase my skills. They stated they could fulfill all my concerns and later in the same day of the interview, offered me the job and I accepted. Recently, I was contacted by one of the HR managers about my growth potential and career mapping. I named off 5 potential positions, none currently available; however, was realistic in reach. The HR manager stated to me to take a few days and think it through, which I did. I narrowed my career prospects and will meet with them in a few days. The place I work has few growth opportunities at best. Although mapping careers can change in the future, I knew that only I could make the investment in myself, not my manager, not even HR. They are tools to help, but the choice is truly up to the individual. I appreciate the statement about competition. Just as I may be the flavor of the week at my job, it is difficult for internal career management to be keen on honing out the best among us because the pool is filled with potential, but too shallow to display talents or tap into them. I believe this for most org’s to be true. I may have a BA, but as I grow, my education should also. I’m back in school for my MBA, not that it will help me gain a potential job here; yet I would rather my career be prepared for unknown transitions and the MBA or certifications along with project achievemnts compliment better job opportunities if downsizing or relocation is ever in the cards.

    Regards,
    Joey

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  6. Pingback: Career Solutions Africa Blog » Blog Archive » Take Charge of Your Own Career Planning

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