Feedback and one’s career path

We all have heard it before…sitting down and making goals provides one with a “road map” of how to get where we think we need to be going.  In my profession (Human Resources), one of our duties is to assist our internal customers (employees) with identifying and providing opportunities for them to venture down a career path within the company.  However I wonder how many HR professionals actually do this exercise with themselves?

Last night, I participated in a “Career Development: Taking the Initiative” session with other HR professionals.  First time in a while I thought logically and systematically about my own career.  The icebreaker exercise was to think of our ideal situation in 5 years…sounds harmless enough (an interview question I use sometimes when interviewing others, but haven’t truly pondered it myself).  Then proceeded to a “Career Development Framework” has 5 components:

  • Person – know your own strengths
  • Performance – know your own reputation
  • Place – know your own environment
  • Possibilities – setting SMART goals
  • Plan – developing an action plan (with learning opportunities)

To understand which of these 5 areas we may want to concentrate on, at least initially, we took an assessment.  “Not an assessment” I thought…one of those exercises that tries to put one in a pre-defined “box”.  Although I’m not a fan of taking assessments, they can be revealing.  This assessment was very revealing to me! Of these 5 areas, I “scored” lowest in the performance area, notably in the “reputation” area.

On a scale of 1 (lowest extent) to 5 (highest extent), I answered (truthfully) a “1” on such questions as “I have discussed my reputation with my supervisor” and “I solicit specific suggestions on how to improve my performance & reputation” and “Within last 6 months, I have asked my supervisor what they most value in my work”.  Wow…getting feedback from others…what a novel concept?!  We often are quick to give feedback, but do we ask others (e.g. colleagues, managers, friends, family, etc.) these and similar hard questions?  The old saying of “we don’t know what we don’t know” is very true.  I may think I’m good at a certain skill, but have I really found out?

My goal now is to solicit feedback from others to learn more about me.  Then I can use that valuable info to help me to shape my career goals.  Perhaps you can as well?

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