Sunday, December 12, 2010

Learning and Growing Professionally

For an individual it is important that he or she gets opportunities for learning and growing professionally in the place of work. It ensures that the individual improves upon existing competencies and acquires additional, related competencies. This helps an individual realize his or her full potential. 

Learning and Career Growth

Learning is not only essential for an individual to keep his or her career fit and healthy but it also enables career growth. Learning is a constant process and generally happens in one or more of the following ways:
  • Taking up higher responsibilities in certain work assignments and projects
  • Acquiring knowledge (through various modes like self-learning, classroom training, knowledge sharing sessions, seminars, etc.) and applying the knowledge gained in the work being performed
  • Becoming a trainer, coach or mentor for others
Performance, Career Growth and Role Enhancement

Performing to the desired expectations (and usually exceeding them) is needed for growing professionally. The most essential element of career progression is do with role enhancement. In many organizations, the practice of promotion is focused on changes to the salary band and/or the designation or title. This may or may not mean a role enhancement in the true sense. Though it may appear that the individual being promoted would taken up additional responsibilities, it is more on the papers and may not be the case in reality.

Career Growth Needs More than Performance

Opportunities to learn are easy to get in most organizations but opportunities to grow are limited in all organizations. More than actual performance on the job, growth has to do more with other factors like the following:
  • There is a vacant position available (can you get promoted to your manager's role if he seems to have got cemented to that forever)
  • Person's fitment and suitability for higher position as perceived by those who are supposed to award promotions (despite all the HR theories around this, personal egos and working relationships do matter a lot here)
  • Labeling of an individual as non-performer or poor performer due to the way the performance appraisal system is designed (it is however common to find a non-performer shifting into another company and becoming a top performer in no time - remember Amitabh Bachchan, the legendary Hindi cinema actor, was rejected by All India Radio with the reason that his voice is not good!)
Taking Career Growth Heads On

 So what should an individual do in a situation where he or she feels that a promotion (strictly in terms of role change) to them is deserved? There are basically two options. First, stay and sulk. Second, move to another organization with a role change. For an individual the following question should always be at the top of the mind - does my current role and / or organization fit into my career vision? One must be honest enough to admit that his or her current organization doesn't fit in with what they want to achieve in their professional career and move out of it at the earliest to contain the adverse impact on their professional growth.

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