Next up in our series of articles exploring the application of strengths, we look at growth and learning:
How would you rate the statement: “I have the opportunity to grow and develop in my role”?
This leads us to the even more important question of what ‘growth’ and ‘development’ mean to us. Traditionally, and perhaps still for a lot of people, this means vertical progression. Moving up the ranks of corporate hierarchy with a job title reflecting seniority. However, the reality is that this type of vertical progression is not right or realistic for everyone all the time.
What if you love your organisation and don’t want to leave, but there are no upward opportunities available?
What if that ‘next’ role just isn’t for you because, come to think of it, you don’t want to be a manager or take on the type of role or responsibility that comes with it?
I think it is safe to say that people are more frequently veering from this traditional route of career progression, opting for different opportunities to grow and develop themselves. A recent survey suggests that, on average, Millennials (people born in the broad timeframe from the late 70s to 00s) expect to change jobs more than every three years, making career changes 15-20 times in a lifetime. In line with this desire for non-linear growth, I wanted to share some great ideas to consider in terms of how we can stretch ourselves, find more meaning and satisfaction, and be at our best both within our current roles/organisations and outside.
As we think through the below ideas, it’s worth considering not just the knowledge and skills required, but what our core strengths are, and how we can play to them. Some ideas are…
• Develop ‘mastery’ in your role, or an aspect of it (see more on this here)
• Mentor others
• Bring variety into your role by collaborating with other departments on projects
• Gain knowledge, skills and experience outside your organisation – i.e. through volunteering, qualifications, courses or a side project
• Identify an opportunity to carve out a new role
• Move across into a different area of the business
• Broaden your horizons to other companies and industries
Understanding and prioritising our growth and development in line with our strengths and interests is the most important thing, as this defines whether intrinsically we will be happy, engaged and able to be our best in our future work. This is because being able to use our strengths for more hours each day leads to greater happiness, optimism, gratitude, performance, and meaning, and lower stress, sadness, depression and anxiety2.
So, my challenge to you is this: when thinking about your career growth over the next day, week, month or year, first-and-foremost figure out ‘what are my strengths?’. Once you know your strengths, stretch and challenge yourself by playing to them in ways that allow you to be at your best and be happy.
To help individuals and organisations use their strengths most effectively, we’ve developed a series of six 45-minute workshops teaching people how to apply them in different workplace scenarios – find out more here.
1 2012 Future Workplace LLC, http://futureworkplace.com
2 Asplund, J. 2012; Harzer & Ruch 2012; Kashdan, Julian, Merritt, & Uswatte, 2006; Steen, Seligman, Peterson, & Park 2005