How to Keep Growing at Work
Whenever the topic of getting ahead in your career comes up, you might hear a lot of advice along the lines of making sure you keep “adding value to your employer”. But the truth is that career growth is more than just helping your company grow! It’s also about you growing both as a professional and as a person, and seeing your own career prospects blossom in tandem with your personal journey as well.
So as you embark on your early career, how can you keep growing on the job while still “adding value” to your employer over time? Read on to find out.
Approach everything with the right attitude
So much of personal growth at work starts with having the right attitude or mind-set towards your role and its tasks. Learn to approach each task – no matter how big or small – with a positive, can-do mind-set and a commitment to delivering your best work at all times. It’s this first step that will pave the way towards being open to the other avenues of growth we will list here.
Granted, this is easier said than done! Especially once the reality of day-to-day work sets in and you have to contend with very real problems like a huge backlog of work, long hours, unfamiliar tasks, demanding clients, unsupportive (or just plain bad) superiors, or broader organisational issues. The real challenge lies in how you can maintain the right attitude even despite all these day-to-day setbacks.
Learning to approach your work with the right attitude day in and day out requires tremendous mental discipline – no two ways about it! The key is to own the work that you do. Approach every task with the intent of doing it for your own self-accomplishment, and treat every situation as an opportunity to learn something new or push yourself in ways you’ve never pushed before.
Everyone has ups and downs at work, even if they’re working at their dream job or for their ideal employer. The difference is in how well you can maintain the right attitude even when faced with all those ups and downs.
Deliver results and meet expectations
It should go without saying, but make sure you deliver results! As best as you are able, ensure that you don’t just fulfil what is expected of you, but instead deliver above and beyond the results you are required to give as well.
It is incredibly easy to find excuses for why you cannot deliver results once you are on the job. Don’t give in to that temptation! Set a zero-tolerance policy for yourself when it comes to delivering excellent results. Remember – this isn’t just about your current job. You’re building a reputation for yourself that will follow you throughout your career. (Your future employers will do reference checks, after all.)
That said, make sure you’re aiming your efforts towards the right kinds of results. Make time to sit down and talk with your manager or direct supervisor regularly in order to find out exactly what is expected of you. The results you deliver must align with your employer’s broader goals, after all.
Don’t be afraid to make use of your superiors as well. If you encounter obstacles on the way to your goal that you cannot overcome by yourself, raise it to your superiors and seek their help. It is in their interest to ensure that you get things done too, after all.
Seek feedback and act on it
The best way to keep growing is to seek external feedback. However, while positive feedback is always welcome, all of us will definitely find negative feedback a bitter pill to swallow. Yet, knowing what you need to do better is often more important than knowing what you’re good at if you intend to continue growing on the job.
Learn to detach yourself from the feedback you get instead of taking it as an assault on your character. Remember that if someone gives you positive criticism or honest feedback about how you can do better, they are directing it at your work and your tasks, not at you.
Of course, feedback only matters if you act on it. So make sure you do! Take time to regularly process any feedback you receive, and make active steps to ensure you do things differently the next time you’re placed in a similar situation.
Move out of your comfort zone
Another way you can continue to grow is to show your willingness to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar, whether it is through actively taking on new tasks you have no prior experience with, or perhaps even moving to an entirely different department!
While leaving the familiar may seem to be a scary experience, don’t let your fear or lack of knowledge hold you back – ask your colleagues or peers for help if you need it, and you may even find yourself expanding your network as well as developing new skills!
It is very rare for anyone to specialise in one field only in the early years of their career. So take the opportunity to keep trying new things then. This is how you’ll build a diverse range of experiences and skills which can be applied later on in your career to help you differentiate yourself. Having that breadth of skills could just give you a boost later on in very unexpected ways!
Find a good coach
One final point is, if possible, to find a more experienced person whom you trust who can serve as your coach or mentor. After all, it will make a huge difference if you have someone around to help you decipher the things you may not know through the lens of their own experiences.
Your coach/mentor may not even need to be in the same company or line of work as you are. What matters more is that they can offer you good advice that helps cover any blind spots you may have. You may even end up with multiple coaches who can each offer insight into a different area of your personal or professional growth, and that’s great too!
After all, at the end of the day, all us simply will not know what we don’t know. So having someone you trust in your life to help facilitate your journey of growth or show you a better way to do things will be key.