Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Dos and Don'ts of Moving Forward in Your Career

by Nancy Dering Mock

As a management consultant and former HR Executive, I am often asked why some people seem to “get ahead” and others seem to “get stuck” in their careers.  This blog post will share some of my observations about what does and doesn't work.

First, my list of what doesn't work:

1) Hope 

There are those people who believe that if they show up and do a good job, someone will notice and they will be propelled up the corporate ladder.  In my experience, this alone doesn't work.  We all know many people who have been loyal, kept their nose clean and worked hard whose reward has been to languish in the same job.

2) Fate 

There are other people who subscribe to the “right person in the right place at the right time” theory. They believe that advancement is all a matter of timing and waiting for “their turn.” We all know people who have retired still waiting for their turn.

3) Dependence on Others 

These individuals believe that their boss or the HR Department will take interest and invest in their future. They defer and rely on others to enroll them in training or set their developmental goals.  In my experience, this places the responsibility with people who may not be that skilled or interested in helping others advance. 

Now, let’s explore a few things that do work. 

(These ideas are borrowed from two current Continuing Education workshops, “Charting Your Future,” and “14 Best Strategies for Being A Standout.”)

1) Get a Mentor.

Find someone outside your chain of command and challenge them to challenge you.   Set regular times to meet and set development goals. Pick his or her brain for ideas, contacts, professional groups and other ways to learn and grow. 

2) Keep a Journal.

Keep track of your accomplishments, at work and outside of work. Keep a running list of observations, networks and contacts for future reference. Use your journal to note issues and questions you’d like to explore with your mentor. This journal will be priceless in constructing your resume and preparing for job interviews.

3) Be the “Can-do” person.

Develop a reputation as the person who can get things done. Say “yes to the hard stuff,” those assignments others back away from. Do your homework; always arrive totally prepared and ready to be a contributor not merely an observer.  Find solutions to problems. Look for ways to improve current processes and propose changes.

4) Never, never, never stop learning.

It is often the people who challenge themselves to learn and grow who are tapped to move into more responsible work. Think about and ask for assignments and experiences that would give you new skills or networks. Think “breadth, not depth,” in broadening your experience and perspective. Set developmental goals for yourself and pursue them through workshops, on-line learning, college courses and professional organizations. Note your developmental goals and accomplishments in your journal.

5) If you want it, ask for it.

People are not mind-readers. If you have development and job goals, share them with people who have influence in your career. How does your boss know how you are doing? How do you know the requirements for that next promotion? How do you know what training and development opportunities are available to you? Does your boss know your career goals?  These questions can only be answered by your opening the conversation and sharing your goals and interests. After clarifying for yourself what you want, make sure that others are clear on what you want, too.

So, starting today, stop relying on hope, fate and reliance on others to advance your career. Start by adapting a few of these ideas that do work, take that next step and take control of your career and your future.

About Nancy:

Nancy Dering Mock is a management consultant, specializing in Strategic Planning, Leadership Development and Change Management.Her career has included founding two consulting firms, serving as HR Executive for an 80,000 employee organization and significant community leadership.She shares her experience with UNFCE workshop participants through interactive sessions which explore real-world challenges and offer real-world solutions. Learn more about Nancy at

Join Nancy at her upcoming one-day workshop "Demystifying HR: Human Resources Management for Non-HR Managers" to be held on April 9 from 9:00 until 4:30 p.m at UNF. Click here for information and registration.

Mystified by the jargon, acronyms and requirements of Human Resources Management? This full day session is designed for professional/technical managers with little or no background in managing human resources. It explores the roles and responsibilities of managers in managing other people.

Through discussion, the participants identify their most pressing Human Resource management challenges; formulate a plan for addressing them and for partnering with HR professionals in the process.