Author: Susie Timlin, Global Director of People and Culture, Hays Talent Solutions
So, it’s time to think about the next year of your career. You may have a performance review coming up because it’s the end of the financial year for many businesses, or you might have reviews quite frequently within your business, as many businesses do. Maybe, you have set a meeting up with your manager of your own accord. Either way, there’s a meeting in your diary to discuss your career goals for the upcoming year. The problem is, you don’t even know where to begin.
If this sounds familiar, I urge to you stop and reflect upon the year just gone and the goals you have achieved during this time before you plan your next ones. As you do this, consider the below advice plus some insights from Manchester City Women’s team on how they reflect on their last season.
Is your career plan the same as it was last year?
Before you do anything else, check in with yourself that your wider career plan is still the same, and that you are striving towards the right objective. This time last year you may have had a fixed idea of the direction in which you wanted to take your career, but a lot could have changed since then; from your passions, priorities, and the tasks you enjoy doing in your day to day role. Check your career plan is still the best plan for you and ultimately where you want to get to, and if not, reassess the situation and craft a new one.
Step 1: Reflect on what you have achieved
Now you have your career plan clear in your mind, think about what you have you achieved over the past year which is conducive to your career plan, as well the objectives set out in your last performance review. Consider aspects like:
- Tangible objectives met
- Skills and knowledge learnt
- Training courses or qualifications completed
- New responsibilities taken on
- New relationships developed between yourself and internal/external stakeholders
- Occasions in which you have pushed yourself out of your comfort zone within this organisation
- Positive feedback from your colleagues or clients
Step 2: Document these achievements
It is important that you continuously update any formal career progression plans put in place by your manager or yourself, as well as your CV and profiles on professional social networks such as LinkedIn or Xing. Doing this ensures that you don’t forget of your achievements or undersell yourself when it comes to the next milestone in your career plan, from the upcoming meeting in your diary with your boss, to when you next ask for a promotion, or even interview for a new role.
Step 3: Give yourself the praise you deserve
You should also stop to acknowledge your achievements for the sake of your own morale. As Kiera Walsh, Women’s FA Cup Player of the Game explains, giving yourself a moment to recognise the fruits of your labour can do wonders for your motivation levels. Kiera describes how “Winning the Women’s FA Cup was testament to the hard work and dedication we’ve put in this season, and the entire team are able to appreciate how far we have come. With any victory, no matter how large or small, see this as living proof that that hard work will bring you closer to your goals-so never stop trying.”
Sometimes during the hustle and bustle of working life, we forget to give ourselves due credit for our achievements, or take a well-earned break. As my colleague Michael Jones points out in his recent blog “Just like in professional sport, you need to give yourself some time to recover before you start working towards your next goal”.
Step 4: Think about to maintain this momentum
As important as it is to acknowledge and celebrate success, it is also crucial that you don’t lose momentum or get complacent, so once you have given yourself a pat on the back for your achievements, think about how you can build on them.
Assess everything you have accomplished over the past year in more detail, and consider what was it in particular that you did well or differently to reach this achievement? More importantly, how can you go build upon each achievement, and move yourself even closer towards the next stage of your career plan?
Toni Duggan, Manchester City Women’s Top Scorer in the WSL Spring Series, tell us how at Manchester City “no matter what recent successes we’ve experienced each season, we always think of new ways to build on these. We are constantly setting ourselves new goals to drive the club even further.”
Take a leaf out of Toni’s book, never get too comfortable, and always aim to go from strength to strength in your career.
Step 5: Think about what you can improve
Now it’s time to think about what didn’t go so well. Out of the goals you set yourself this time last year, which didn’t you achieve? Now consider why this was and try to learn the lessons so you can improve on these points next year. You should also ask for feedback from your manager before you sit down with them, and prepare actionable solutions yourself to bring for discussion during the meeting.
For example, if your workload was so heavy last year that you didn’t give yourself enough time to focus on your career plan, and what you needed to do day-to-day to move it further along, you can review how efficient your time management skills are, and take steps to improve your productivity levels, and maybe look into some time management courses.
Speaking from her own personal experience, Steph Houghton, Manchester City Women’s Team Captain, explains how “I try not to dwell too much on missed opportunities. Instead, I learn from them. What can I do differently next season to achieve success? If you have this attitude, you will always develop as a person both on and off the pitch”
Step 6: Set your goals for next year
Now that you have taken the time for some honest self-reflection, you can take the lessons you have learnt to shape your career goals for next year, from the mistakes you will avoid, to the achievements that you can build upon and add to.
Set yourself realistic, yet ambitious targets, based on the progress you have made with your previous ones, and plan to share and agree these with your manager during your meeting.
You should also think about the resources you will need to support you in reaching these targets and perform better, whether it’s more support from other members of the team, certain tools such as a new piece of software for your computer, or particular educational courses. Research these, and have some options ready to take to your boss.
And finally – good luck!
Now it’s time for the meeting itself. If you have prepared well and followed my advice, then your manager should be supportive in helping you to reach your career goals. If there are certain goals that they cannot help you with, find out why this is. Maybe they don’t feel you are ready to pursue this career goal just yet, and if this is the case, you will need to listen carefully to their feedback and take it on board. Maybe the issue is resource, such as being understaffed or not having enough budget. If this is the case, perhaps you should start to weigh up your options and consider whether you need to find an environment which can support you in your career goals.
In short, take a moment to reflect on the year just gone, from the achievements which have benefited your career plan, to the obstacles which have got in the way. In doing this, you can take away some valuable lessons to shape you career goals for the upcoming year.
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