You know those cross-functional meetings that make you feel like you’ve landed on another planet? The ones punctuated by streams of industry-speak acronyms that sound like a whole other language? Where you’re afraid to ask questions because you figure everybody else knows the lingo but you?
Every department has them. So cracking the inter-departmental code is a great gift to your career – especially if you find yourself routinely on the other side of a particularly confounding brand of terminology. Ask a colleague for help (they won’t laugh – you’re not the only one); check out some micro-courses. No need to become an expert – just enough to feel up to speed at future meetings. So much better than smiling and nodding.
That’s just one way to get a leg up in the year ahead.
As the holiday season moves into high gear, what are five others gifts to give your career?
Get certified: Why go to the effort of proving competency in a job you’re already doing? Simple – credibility. In the same way you gravitate to outside service providers with a seal of approval, a certification brands you as an expert; plus it presents you in a new light with colleagues. Even better, it shows company leadership a hefty dose of commitment – a bonus if you’re looking to level up in your career.
Dust off your network: Professional groups have tons to offer: they keep you on top of developments in your field, they offer trainings (including the above certifications), and they introduce you to like-minded professionals outside your company who can commiserate, talk through problems, and push you outside your boundaries. The professional benefits are so strong, many companies will pay or subsidize dues. Live events (remember those?) will require stepping outside your comfort zone (and, you know -- wearing pants). But it’ll be worth it.
Improve your visibility: Got those colleagues that seem to always be in the spotlight? Chances are, it’s not an accident. Sure, a starting point is they’re probably really good at their jobs. But they’re also putting themselves out there -- volunteering for outside-of-the-department gigs; running discussion groups; planning events; raising their hand when someone asks, “Who wants to…?” Next time someone asks, say, “yes.”
Assess where you are in your career: How long have you been in your current role? Have you grown in it? Have you picked up a skill or two to add to your toolbox? Is it time to start a program? Time to take stock -- year-end is a great time to do it. Mindfully evaluating your current situation allows you to take charge before worries (or worse, feelings of stagnation) show up. Which leads us to….
Assess where you want to be: Career ascents have a way unfolding by themselves. That can pay off handsomely for some people. But it’s less of a happy surprise if the road unfurls on a path you’re not really excited about – but feel too far along to change (although really, it’s never too late). Goal-setting also gives you purpose while you’re slogging through some of the more difficult tasks on the way to what you want. In the meandering words of Yogi Berra, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”
So there you go, your year-end gifts to your career.
Make your list; check it twice; see where your career can take you.