You may want to start going for the next role or getting to the next rung on the career ladder, but first, you need a clear vision of what you want. How will it look and feel to achieve your vision? The creation of a Growth Plan starts with PLANNING!
There are 3 key areas that you need to make decisions in:
Progress - What is the desired progress you hope to achieve?
Action - What are the activities you need to implement or eliminate?
Resources - Who or what is needed to accomplish your desired result?
I call this your PAR. To create a Professional Growth Plan, a plan to rise in either your career or with your business, you’ll first need to answer each of the questions above. Let’s discuss each one in more detail.
Your progress is the outcome you want to achieve. For your Professional Growth Plan, it’s answering what the end goal is for your career or business. What position do you aspire to have within your organization? What do you want to accomplish with your business?
How do you define success in reaching your desired outcome? Some may define it by title, financial rewards, salary, profit, number of employees, or number of clients. A clear measure will help you easily check to see if you are making progress toward the result. Determine what you will track and measure on your journey to that result.
I also want you to get very clear on how you’ll feel when you achieve this goal. How you feel is going to be the internal measure of success. Success must be your own definition, not someone else’s.
Action involves two elements. What you will Eliminate and what you will Implement to make the desired level of progress.
Eliminating the unnecessary use of our key resources and the behaviors that are holding you back may be one of the hardest actions you have to take. What is it that you can control that’s currently holding you back?
First, consider looking at how you’re using your two key resources - your time and your money. Perform an inspection of your calendar to determine if it’s overrun with other people’s priorities or if there’s time wasted unnecessarily.
Now look at your budget, your personal and business if applicable. Where are you spending money? Are there unnecessary expenses?
Second, consider how does a person that has already achieved your goal behave? Make a list of the behaviors and if you do something that contradicts the list, eliminate that behavior. This list will be valuable when you decide next what to implement.
If you hope to grow your career within an organization, I highly recommend the first action you take is to request a meeting with your direct supervisor to discuss your intention. This initial meeting is extremely instrumental if they’re going to be part of the resources you’ll leverage.
Using your review of your calendar (and hopefully after finding some time in your elimination exercise), what actions or behaviors can you now plug in as your priorities to get you moving toward your goal?
Using your review of your budget, what funds can now be used or reserved to help you achieve your goal?
To grow professionally, your resources need to include a variety of support options. View your resources as the key who or what that will help you implement your plan and gain support along the way. Achieving your goal is more likely if you leverage others.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you’re part of an organization and you have a Training and Employee Development department, leverage them and any program that is already in place. During many years while working in corporate, I supported the internal career development program and mentored two individuals for several years.
Mentors can be found where you work or within other organizations. I have mentored new Toastmasters members and there’s a mentoring program with my local Junior League. Mentors can be found via formal programs or informally.
The relationship between mentor and mentee must be a win/win. As a mentee, you are asking for someone to invest some of their limited resource of time in you. It’s a win for the mentor when the mentee has demonstrated that they are eager for the help and use the time wisely by being prepared.
Sponsors can be instrumental on your rise within an organization. Sponsors are those in positions of power and influence that are willing to stake their reputation as they advocate for you. Sponsors must believe in your potential. It’s something that is most likely earned based on their knowledge of your skills and talent.
Coaches can be found within the formal structure of your organization as your direct leader who “coaches” you to help you perform or hired to support those in specific leadership roles. As a leader that coached team members within a corporate environment, I intentionally spent time discussing career pathing. This may not always be the case, as you may need to initiate the conversation of your career path during a meeting with your direct supervisor.
Coaches can also be found outside of your organization and can help you accomplish a specific objective such as growing in your leadership. For a more detailed look at coaching and leadership coaching, see this blog post.
Another possible need might be education or training, which will include courses, credentials, or formal degrees for you to be able to grow and achieve your professional goal. It might be a prerequisite for you to have a specific degree or education level to move to the next level in your career. Once identified, if you work for an organization, you’ll want to consult your benefits to see if you have tuition assistance available to you or if the training can be achieved internally within an established program.
Who Surrounds You?
“You are the Sum Total of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler
Resources include the people that surround you. Both quotes above remind us of the influence those around us have on how well we make progress or if we’re held back. Who do you spend time with? What groups or associations do you belong to? Who do you consult when you have a question or need support as you work to achieve your goals? Consider who you surround yourself with and how they influence you.
Now that we’ve reviewed the 3 elements of Progress, Action and Resources, I encourage you to use the below template to plan out your PAR and complete the plan for your professional growth. It’s your time to rise!