Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuing learning experience.
A great leader is a continual learner. They never arrive at their final destination and are constantly looking for ways to grow their knowledge and experience. One of the most unfortunate interactions I have as a leader is with people who have been around for a while and think that there is nothing else that they can learn. Falling into the arrival trap can easily stall out your growth and career.
There are a number of ways to continue to gain the valuable experience needed to grow your career and salary. You only arrive and stop growing if you allow yourself to.
Gain experience right where you are
We looked at ways last week to grow your experience outside of your organization and regular routines. You can also grow your value experience right where you are as well.
- Deepen your current skills: What are the main skills needed for the role that you are in? Are there ways that you can grow those a little deeper? Are there certificates out there that you can get, Linkedin learning sessions that you can take, or perhaps a local or regional conference or workshop that you can attend? Look for opportunities to present at meetings or gatherings that will force you to know your area more and to hone your skills.
- Add responsibility: Adding responsibility is a great way to gain experience. Ask for opportunities to fill in for your boss when they are out or to shadow them in their activities when possible to learn their responsibilities. Once you understand those, ask to take on some of those responsibilities that make sense. An increase in responsibility could also look something like helping newer people in their roles, representing the team at meetings, and taking a role in more decision-making opportunities among others.
- Special projects: Special projects offer you a chance to gain experience without a long term commitment or permanent change. They also give you exposure to people that you sometimes would not interact with. You are growing your experience, networking, and social skills. Wins all around!
Moving up in your career
- Own it. Many people live under the misconception that their manager is in charge of their career and development. While they can be a good advocate for you, it is your responsibility for how your career turns out. Set your goals and aspirations and then let your leader know. It will help them in future planning and it should help them in looking out for opportunities for you to grow in experience.
- Be intentional in all your interactions. Once you take hold of your career path, be intentional in your interactions and actions what you do. Ask for opportunities to prove yourself. Sit at the table instead of along the wall in a big meeting. How you present yourself can give you a boost or take you out of the conversation. Do you come across as if you are engaged, willing to contribute and have insight that others should listen to?
- There is no ladder. The traditional sense of a ladder of responsibility is shifting in the workplace. Executives often move around to other areas in the same type of role to gain a depth of experience in a new area. Be prepared for there not to be a straight line to your dream job. Think of the value of the experience an opportunity may have to help you towards your ultimate goal instead of just a job title and position.
Continue to push yourself in your knowledge. You’ll find a more rewarding feeling in the job that you are doing. You’ll also be preparing yourself for that next step to move up and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Make a better tomorrow.