Career challenges like reorganizations, layoffs, and lack of personal fulfillment can feel like big bumps in the road, but instead of seeing them as roadblocks, start looking for opportunities. Personal career development is essential for resilience in the face of uncertainty and change. The authors, who train more than 100,000 people a year in professional development, have identified four common challenges that get in the way of people’s growth. They classify them as when, who, whatY where challenges Here’s how you can think and act creatively to overcome these challenges and continually invest in your career development.
Change and uncertainty are now a given in our careers. As a result, people are reevaluating what they want out of their job. For many, the traditional career ladder has been replaced by “squiggly” careers: non-linear career movements where progression goes beyond promotion and allows people to develop in different directions. In the context of constant change, personal career development is now a necessity rather than something nice.
But the reality is that professional development is rarely prioritized. The demands of day-to-day take precedence over our improvement, and rarely does investing in our future feel as urgent as the problems in our inbox. This presents a long-term risk to our engagement and enjoyment at work, as putting ourselves last means our careers can stagnate and our skills start to stagnate. In the short term, not dedicating time to our personal development decreases our professional resilience in the face of external labor impacts such as layoffs and reorganizations.
At our company Amazing If we train more than 100,000 people a year in career development. We see four common challenges that get in the way of people’s growth. We classify them as when, who, whatY where challenges Here’s how you can think and act creatively to overcome these challenges and continually invest in your career development.
4 Common Professional Development Challenges
Reflect on which of these challenges sounds familiar to you. It is not uncommon to experience a combination of two, three, or even all at the same time.
The “when” challenge
Sounds like: I will contact professional development. when I have the time
Professional risk: Your development feels separate from your day job.
The “who” challenge
Sounds like: I have no one who It’s helping me develop my skills.
Occupational risk: your progression becomes dependent on other people.
The “what” challenge
Sounds like: I’m not sure than I want to develop in.
Occupational Hazard: Searching for the “right” answer prevents you from getting started.
The “where” challenge
Sounds like: There are no career development opportunities. where Worked.
Professional risk: You feel frustrated and lose motivation.
4 Creative Ways to Unlock Professional Development
Each of the following strategies has been tested with our students. They are designed to help you proactively respond to risk and put you back in control of your career development.
1. If your development challenge is when, start a five-minute mind map.
“I will spend some time on my development when…[this project is over] either [I get past this busy period].” Sounds familiar?
Reducing the time commitment required for development and increasing the regularity of your reflection can help you overcome this hurdle. Use “coach yourself” questions to increase your self-awareness and identify new opportunities for action:
- Create a recurring calendar invite for yourself titled “5 minute mind map.”
- Put yourself in a place where there are no technological temptations.
- Spend five minutes mentally mapping your thoughts in response to a question from the trainer. For example, if your own coach’s question is What do I want to build a reputation for?Your mind map can include relationship building, idea generation, and making a positive impact.
- At the end of time, summarize your reflections by writing a “so what, now what?” declaration. Continuing with the previous example, yours could look like this: In my next professional conversation with my manager, I’ll suggest how I could use my relationship-building strengths to help us stay better connected to other functions across the business.
2. If your development challenge is who, increase your side support.
In ladder careers, we assume that older people are the most valuable source of support and underestimate the importance of peer learning. Connecting with colleagues at a similar career stage inside and outside your organization is an opportunity to share challenges, generate new ideas, and learn together.
These groups can have five people or 50; what is important is that the shared purpose of the group is to support each other in development. Here’s how to get started:
- Start by setting up a group you’d like to be a part of using an app like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or WhatsApp. For example, one of us (Sarah) created a group for wavy career advocates.
- Share the purpose of the group with five people you know who share the same interest and invite them to join.
- Ask everyone to share something they have read, seen, or heard that has been helpful in their current role.
- Grow your group by giving everyone the option to invite someone.
3. If your development challenge is what, create your learning navigator.
There are more ways to learn than ever before, so the overwhelming amount of what to learn and how prevents many people from getting started.
using a learning browser helps you prioritize what you need to learn in a way that feels useful and personal. To help you find an approach, distinguish what I need to know of what is good to knowas well as what is relevant to your current role and what might be relevant to future roles.
The result of the learning browser is not Prioritize just the top right box based on “now” and “need” but rather define a range of learning objectives that reflect what is most important in your role today Y what matters for your future career. It also helps you spot common skills in the quadrants, which can help you determine where to start.
4. If your development challenge is where, prototype your progression.
It’s easy to feel defeatist about your development when the options available at work aren’t always obvious. As we wrote in a previous article, a lack of insight into internal roles, too much process around progression, and limited support from people in positions of influence can make leaving seem easier than staying. Instead of circumstances determining your development, prototype your progression to unlock new possibilities. Here is how to do it:
- Write an internal opportunity that you want to make happen.
- Respond to this notice: This opportunity is important to me because…
- Identify three other ways in which you could reach your important result in your organization.
- I would like to lead a team for the first time.
- This opportunity is important to me because I enjoy the opportunity to support others with their development.
- Three ways you could get to this result:
- Offer to support new hires in my organization
- Guiding people in their early career
- Introduce myself as the leader of a new project
This approach prevents you from getting stuck in one solution and helps you find different opportunities for your development within your current company.
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Career challenges like reorganizations, layoffs, and lack of personal fulfillment can feel like big bumps in the road, but instead of seeing them as roadblocks, start looking for opportunities. Take a creative approach to unlock many different directions for your development. Investing in its development today will pay dividends in those difficult times.