I spoke to a group of NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) professionals today. The topic of my brief remarks was HR initiatives related to performance management and a global code of ethical conduct. Among the things I discussed with the group were the following Triple X's for career development.
- Experience. Whether you are an intern/co-op or experienced hire, make sure that your current position provides you with fulfilling experiences by way of your role, duties and responsibilities. Your job should have the proper balance of technical and behavioral competencies so that you can evaluate your readiness for increasing levels of responsibility. Seek out opportunities to develop your professional depth and breadth and don't fall victim to believing that being comfortable by doing a job that's easy will lead to greater responsibility. Stay comfortable for too long and you'll grow stagnant and be overlooked in favor of others who are constantly challenging themselves and willing to take on new developmental risks.
- Exposure. Visibility is key to your success. Your assignments and projects need to be significant enough to merit the attention of leaders and managers who will be able to reward you appropriately for your efforts. It's not enough to sit back and think that doing a great job will automatically pay off with expected recognition. You need to put yourself in situations where recognition is warranted by doing a good job in an area that is highly visible to people who make pay and promotional decisions.
- Expectations. Many people fail because they don't understand what their boss expects or their expectations about their performance are not aligned with those who have the final say on whether expectations have been met or not. Make sure that you have open and honest discussions with your leader–be willing to challenge what you believe are errors in perception with data and examples that support your point of view. Likewise, be willing to accept constructive criticism when you are advised of areas where you can improve. It's better to know where other believe you have deficiencies rather than not being told and missing opportunities to make career corrections.
Think about how the Triple X's apply to your current situation and consider making some fundamental changes related to your experience, exposure and expectations that will provide you with the greatest opportunities for enhanced professional development.