How can you tell whose career advice you can trust? Is she a human resources expert who has written the book on creating attractive workplaces for top talent? Is she a personal development expert who’s written the book on acquiring new skills today for the office of tomorrow?
Karie Willyerd is. The SuccessFactors workplace futurist has co-authored The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today and Stretch: How to Future Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace — after co-founding what is now the SAP Jam platform and serving as the chief learning officer of Sun Microsystems.
1: Pick a Couple of Projects to Approach from a Development Stance
“Take the five to seven projects that you’ve got,” Willyerd said, “and think about, ‘What stage am I at?’”
Most of those projects will be stuff that just needs to get done, but one or two will deserve a Development Stance, Willyerd stated. That’s because they parallel our career trajectory, making us want to learn more about them via an in-depth certification course, a 15-minute conversation with an expert, or something in between.
Prioritizing what’s on your to-do list is the crucial first step.
“Just by thinking about it,” Willyerd said, “you will learn more.”
2: Get the Right Feedback — From the Right People
“The people who are full of the most feedback that you need are your peers,” Willyerd said. “That’s why peers rate you the hardest”
Create some distance between you and the peers you seek out, Willyerd stated. Make it safe for the people giving feedback to you — not safe for yourself.
“Ask for feedback of the perfect person doing the perfect job in your role,” Willyerd said. “You’ll get feedback you can use.”
3: Identify Your “Five to Thrive”
“This isn’t your mentor; this isn’t your boss,” Willyerd said. “These are just five people who make you a better person at work.”
It’s all right if you can’t think of five people right away, according to Willyerd. But once you’ve got your list, try to meet with each person on it at least four times per year.
4: Get In Over Your Head
“You need to feel like you’re in over your head,” Willyerd said. “If you’re not, you’re not stretching.” (Remember the name of Willyerd’s second book?)
In over your head feels like you’re not sure you can do the job, according to Willyerd. Staying in your comfort zone keeps you from moving to the next level of who and what you could be. So assume your Development Stance, and volunteer, travel or teach a seminar.
“There are all kinds of ways that you can gain experience,” Willyerd said. “There are lots of things you can do that could stretch you out beyond what you normally do.”
5: Ask your boss, “What do you hope I’ll learn from this assignment?”
“I don’t advocate that you stay working for bad bosses,” Willyerd said. “But I also don’t advocate that you stay working for comfortable bosses either because they will leave you stuck.”
Good bosses will push you to help develop your skills. Willyerd shared an example of a woman who had stayed in a role for a surprisingly long time because she liked that her manager continually took steps to help her grow. She didn’t think she’d find that anywhere else.
“It’s so easy, and it costs the company nothing if managers would just frame work in terms of what the person will learn,” Willyerd said. “If you’re on the receiving end, you can ask your boss if there’s anything he expects you to learn.”
6: Announce Your Goals, Gain Supporters
“Let’s say you decide to make a big change,” Willyerd said. “You have to help people shift their thinking about you.”
Willyerd knew a man who decided to shed his well-earned reputation for being late to meetings. But arriving early to every meeting for six months didn’t change his reputation. So he began announcing before every meeting that it was a few minutes before the start time, jovially suggesting that the meeting start early.
“Once people put you in a bucket of what your behavior is, they leave you in that bucket,” Willyerd said. “Help them get out of that bucket … announce your intent to change, and then follow through with it.”
Get What You Need
Willyerd expounded on point No. 2 after her breakout session. Watch the video below for more on how to get the feedback you need.
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