How to accelerate your career!

Have you ever felt that your colleagues were doing well in their careers, being recognised and promoted and you, on the other hand, weren’t going anywhere? If you want to make a decision about your next career step, read on. Today, I’m sharing a self-help tool, which I like to call the sweet spot. If you find your sweet spot, you can accelerate your career.

The sweet spot is an objective way to assess your own perspective vs. that of your peers, manager or stakeholders. It’s based on 360-degree feedback which can be used constructively to hear what you and others, recognize as your strengths and weaknesses. N.B. Not everything you are good at doing, you may actually like doing and not everything you like doing, you may not actually be good at.

  • Use your C.V./Resume and write down all of your skills and expertise in a list e.g. project management, financial management, PowerPoint, strategy, events management, etc. Include all of your skills; not just the ones that you like doing or are good at.
  • Give yourself a score from 1 to 5 for each skill that you’ve listed. 1 is the worst score and 5 is the best. So if you believe you are good at a task, give yourself a score of 4 or 5 and if you believe you’re not so good give yourself a score of 1 or 2. A neutral score is 3.
  • Using the same list, give yourself a score, from 1 to 5, if you like or dislike doing the task. There may not necessarily be a correlation between the tasks that you’re good at doing and those that you actually like doing.
  • Next, ask three or four people that you trust, and who know you well enough (from a business perspective), to use the same list and to score you on what they believe you’re good or bad at. They should use the same scoring system 1 to 5. Do not however let them see your own scores. These people do not need to score you on how you ‘like or dislike’ a task.
  • Once you have correlated all the scores i.e. your own score and those of your (ex) colleagues, highlight those scores where there is more than a two point difference between your personal score and that of your (ex)colleague. e.g. if you have scored yourself 5 and a colleague has scored you 3, then you should ask this person to explain why they gave you this score and ask for concrete examples of when you worked ‘well’ or ‘not so well’. Remember perception is reality.
  • Listen to their feedback and write it down. Do not however challenge their feedback or defend yourself.
  • Hopefully, you will start seeing a trend in their answers i.e. what people perceive you to be good or bad at.
  • Your ‘sweet spots’, are those skills/expertise that you love doing, you believe you are good at doing and, that other people recognize that you’re good at.

Using this knowledge, create your future career plan:

  • Once you have determined your ‘sweet spots’, reflect on what, how much or how little you’ve learned from jobs you have had in the past.
  • Which jobs inspired you the most, which one’s were you passionate about and happy doing and why?. You may find that there is a correlation between your sweet spots and the jobs that you’ve loved doing.
  • Using your sweet spot feedback, scan the internet for more senior positions which require your ‘sweet spot’ skills.
  • If you’re unsure about transferable skills, talk to your peers, your manager, an HR manager or recruiters.
  • If you’re planning for a more senior role (3 to 5 years into the future) you may need to learn new skills. Which skills, will you still need to develop to be offered that ‘senior role’?
  • Enrol for courses or training and use the time to up-skill.
  • Tell your peers, your manager, recruiters, your HR manager about your dreams and aspirations and what you are doing to make these dreams come true e.g. discuss your 360- degree feedback and your career and/or learning plan.
  • Develop any additional skills over your specified period (in bite-sized chunks) and grow (year-by-year) towards the next step in your career.
  • Your personal growth and development should be in your hands and in your control. Don’t outsource decisions that you need to make yourself, to the company you work for!

Good Luck! If you need any help in this regard, please contact me.

Helen Martin is a coach and trainer and is based in London.

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