Do you have a career plan? Do those that you supervise or mentor have one?

One of the most interesting and value-oriented exercises that can be performed is to make a career plan. Sure, it can change at any time. A career plan is not at all static. It is a living, dynamic document that is ever-changing based on all kinds of factors both at home and at work. A career plan is one of those items that when reviewing it could take minutes or it could take hours depending on the changes, progress, and sometimes pure luck.

One of the people that I had the privilege of supervising was all in when it came to career planning. They wanted to grow and had a strong focus on skills and knowledge that would help them in the current company. One evening, we were having a discussion in my office, and they confided that they had a great chance of another position outside of our organization. Was I upset? Absolutely not. It would be absurd of me to think that the only possible way to advance would be to only focus on the organization that you are with.

I am a prime example of that same philosophy. If you look at my LinkedIn profile, 3-years is about average for me to be with a company. I am either growing with a company, or I am leaving. To be honest, each of my moves is more complex than just growth. It is about culture, the job market, the state of the business, and so much more. In other words, though, I am not averse to making a move. I also understand how tough that can be for others.

In the book ”Executive Warfare” by David D’Alessandro, he describes the factors that are in place to keep growing in an organization. It is admitted in the book that not everyone can be promoted because as you move up the opportunities to make another upward move are much fewer. It was interesting the way the book describes that our workplace should not only be a great place to grow but our workplace should also be a great place to come from. This means that other organizations want what we have been teaching to our teams. Our people should be in demand because they are being invested in.

So back to my story. When they came to my office to talk about the opportunity outside the organization I was sad to think I would lose a valuable employee but I was also excited as they would be fantastic in the new role they were going for. From that moment, we revised the career plan and started focusing on mock interviews and how to talk about their experience in a way that would show the new organization the person’s best traits. Ultimately, they took the new position, and I could not be prouder.

It is important that when evaluating a career plan with our teams that we are open, honest, and create trust. Sometimes, we have to let someone know that a role may not be good for them. I had a supervisor tell me one time that maybe I did not and would not fit the company culture. In other words, you are not moving up so you should start moving out. Not all career discussions are good ones. They should, though, be valuable ones. It all begins with having a plan and taking time to invest in that plan.