This is a great time for ambitious people. The acute staff shortage in many sectors makes a lot possible, at your current employer or elsewhere. But clearly formulating and communicating your ambitions is not that easy. Three pitfalls and tips.
Pitfall 1: not knowing what you want
“Where do you want to be in two years?” HR people love that question — and the panicked look that follows. Many people have no idea. To determine what you want in your work, you must author and coach Ron Carucci think about three building blocks: performance, growth and reward.
– Performance: what results do I want to achieve in my work? Which goals can I achieve myself and which with my colleagues? Find a realistic balance between challenge and feasibility.
– Growth: what skills do you want to develop? Which professional knowledge is important and which social and personal competences count? What do you need to set up your future achievements?
– Reward: what does the organization or my team gain with this? And what do I hope to get for myself? Think of opportunities, career steps and money. Again, aim for something that is motivating and realistic. In addition, your reward should not be at the expense of others.
According to Carucci, you should not only look for balance within, but also between these three elements. Example: anyone who wants to earn more, but cannot explain what performance they will deliver for it, is not a serious interlocutor. And those who formulate wonderful goals, but do not know which skills are required, come across as a fantasist.
Pitfall 2: the rose-colored glasses
Ambitious people in particular tend to overestimate what they are already capable of and how easy the next step in their career is. How do you avoid an overly rosy picture of yourself? According to author and consultant Marc Effron does this approach help:
– Formulate a critical, honest ‘from/to statement’. Example: I want to develop from a policy officer who mainly wants to score individually and sometimes comes across as arrogant, to a team leader who inspires others and gives opportunities.
– Ask colleagues and supervisors if they would like to help you formulate the from/to statement. Say that you like oversimplified, straightforward advice, because that’s what’s most helpful.
Pitfall 3: Thinking too much about yourself
We value colleagues with ambitions for the team, the department, the company, the sector, our country, the world, the universe. And we hate people who just go after their own careers. So make sure everyone wins in your plans. Not just you. This applies to job applications, but also to the next step at the organization where you now work.
Finally. Maybe you think: I don’t have to go forward or up, I’m fine here. Do not panic. Deepening your knowledge, and thus becoming a real expert in your profession, is also a valuable ambition. Or broaden your scope: just looking beyond the boundaries of your own profession. And it is not surprising to ask for some extra salary for this in these times.
Ben Tiggelaar writes weekly about personal leadership, work and management.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on 5 February 2022
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of February 5, 2022
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