Make sure you’re happy with your direction
If you’re feeling uncertain about a career move, it’s time to think about why. If you feel like your current job isn’t a good fit, for instance, it might make you believe that it’s an issue with the company or the industry, so clarifying your career values can be an important step. Think about the kind of work you’re doing, the work you would be doing if you take that next step, and the kind of work you want to do. Does it take you closer or further away from your ideals? If it’s a management position, do you feel comfortable being responsible for others and are you an effective leader? If a move isn’t right, you don’t have to take it but it’s wise to identify that sooner rather than later.
Push for results
A good way to show yourself (and your bosses) that you’re ready for the next level is to show that you have already reached your peak in the position that you’re currently in. It’s true that some unwise superiors might see excellent results as a reason to keep you right where you are, but the better kind of boss will recognise that it means you have potential they can tap into more effectively. Try setting your own KPIs for your current work, and push for better and better results. If you’re able to reliably maintain great results, then it’s a sign you’re ready to learn new duties and new responsibilities.
As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The higher you rise in a business, the truer that this is. Building a network both within and outside the business can help you bring a lot more to the role. For one, there’s the advice and perspective that others can offer on your career. However, a good professional network is also a resource that you can use in a professional capacity as well. Having access to others within the industry shows that you have potential influence by creating the links that could potentially help the business form professional relationships in the future.
Find yourself a mentor
Getting prepared for what the next step entails, whether it’s a team leadership position, management position, or something else, is a lot easier with a little experience. A good way to build that experience is to volunteer and try a similar leadership position in a field that’s not quite as crucial as your career. Otherwise, a mentor could be a great help, as shown at Bplans. Not only are they are a great source of advice, but since they are likely to have experience in senior positions compared to you, they can provide insight on what you can expect when you take that step up. Tap into the network you have been building for yourself and don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who seems like they have taken a similar career path to you.
As you move on up, you need to know more not just about your own role or your own team. You also need to know more about the business. Do your own research on the organization, ensure that you understand their goals, values, and their own trajectory. Then learn to think from the perspective of a business owner rather than an employee. Getting a real business education, like the JCU MBA program, can help you develop that perspective. If you show that you’re able to think with the priorities of the business in mind first and foremost, it’s a good sign that you’re prepared to move up to the executive levels.
Practice your leadership skills
It’s not always true, but a move upwards in a business usually means that you’re going to be responsible for more people. For that reason, you need to develop not only the insight and business know-how to see beyond the individual level, but you also need the soft skills that make you an effective leader. Public speaking and confident verbal communication are a must if you’re taking the helm of a team. This includes learning how to delegate and manage the responsibilities and workloads of those on your team. You also need to be able to effectively manage and direct your own work, as the higher you rise, the less often you’re going to be told exactly what to do. Again, trying out leadership roles in other organizations like volunteer groups and charities can help you gain a lot of the experience you need.
Take feedback seriously
It’s easy to misconstrue feedback for non-constructive criticism. Just as often, it’s easy for those offering feedback to be bad at making it helpful. However, it can be hard to recognize your own strengths and be confident in your career growth, and it can be just as difficult to know what you need to work on without a little outside perspective. Glassdoor gives a few tips on how to formally ask for more valuable feedback. It’s not the same thing as asking for a pat on the back, you should go in with the idea of taking away insights you can use to further develop yourself for any future career moves.
Every career move, whether it’s to a new company or a straightforward promotion, is a risk. However, with the advice above, you can help minimize that risk and be prepared as possible. Don’t move faster than you need to, make sure you have the time to ensure you’re ready.