Assuming your goal in the workplace is to grow and succeed, then maintaining a high level of motivation is crucial. One of the best ways to do this is to treat your current job like it’s a new one. How? By creating a plan to stay.
Shawnice Meador, the Director of Career Management & Leadership Development at MBA@UNC, comes to us today to share how to create, structure, and communicate your plan to stay.
How can creating a plan to stay help boost an employee’s motivation?
A well-designed plan puts you in the driver’s seat — it is something you can personally create and execute. The best thing you can do for your future career path is to do an amazing job in the current position you are in («Tweet this), and having a strategic approach to your performance and effectiveness is key. Oftentimes companies large or small have incredibly diverse roles and responsibilities within their own infrastructure. People within your organization will notice and want you to succeed and a plan can be a great tool to accomplish this.
In one-on-one consultative sessions, I often talk about how important it is to stay positive and proactive at work, and that focusing all of your energy on the negative “what if’s” and the things out of your control won’t get you very far. Not only do you lose confidence, you also could end up leaving others with the impression that you are complacent and reactive at work. These impressions are not the best way for current leaders to see you as a potential future leader at the company.
How can you incorporate ways to transition into a different role within your company in your plan to stay?
A key way to make a transition to a different type of job is to pursue a change within your existing company. Transitioning to a new role within the same company is an advantage to not only your personal development but also to your organization. For a company, it’s very low risk to move an internal employee into a new department, versus bringing in an “unknown” external candidate. The employer already knows what you bring to the table, is impressed by the type of work you can produce and sees the growth potential in you. All of these factors make you a very viable candidate for an internal move into a different type of role or department.
A few tips to keep in mind:
- Look at opportunities to join cross-function teams to get exposure and learn new things. You will have the chance to interact with others on the team who get to know your capabilities and career desires. This interaction will set the groundwork for people getting to know you so when your name crosses their plate regarding an opening, they will be excited to see that you’re interested.
- Incorporate a special assignment into your plan for a period of time. Make sure your manager agrees to this assignment and aim to work on the project for 6-9 months in addition your normal assignments you already have. Even though it will be extra work for you, this can give you valuable exposure to see if the department would be a fit from your perspective…and theirs.
- Examine your skill set to identify transferable skills that will make you attractive to new departments. If you’re looking to work in a certain department (like project management) but have not yet earned a certification, this is something you can incorporate into your action plan. If you’ve noticed a lot of people that have been successful in the role have earned MBA’s from a top school, look into ways you can still stay at your current company and pursue an MBA degree through an excellent online program like MBA@UNC.
How should you structure your action plan to stay and transition to a new role within the company?
When you’re looking to transition into a different role within a company, look to have a pronged approach. Think of two or three jobs across the company that you really would enjoy and be well-qualified for, and create your action plan with subset portions for each of those types of jobs you’re going after. Don’t overload yourself, however keep in mind it can be wise to not just focus on one job only because you never know the timing or competition for that same role. Having that plan B or plan C is important, however you want to make sure you have true interest in all areas you’re planning to pursue.
Timing is important in this sort of plan. You can’t control when a job is open but you can control how prepared you are when they do become available and how well you are positioned to give yourself the best shot at the offer.
What are the best ways to communicate your plan?
Before you start communicating your plan, determine who your key stakeholders and advocates are that will be influential in your career progression within your company. Those people have influence in your company and also have a positive impression of your abilities. They can include your manager, your mentor, your HR executives and/or leaders from different departments.
Once you identify your key stakeholders, meet with them individually to gain their feedback and support. You will know some of your advocates really well already so an informal meeting is appropriate, while other people require a more formal communication which may involve presenting a written action plan to them. A few tips to keep in mind:
- Remember your advocates are there to give you guidance; however don’t expect them to execute your plan for you. You ultimately need to take responsibility and be proactive as you listen to their feedback. Take their guidance seriously and work your plan as best as you can to be a strong candidate for the desired position.
- Make sure you break each goal into actionable steps that will help you increase your probability of achieving that goal. Describe the “big picture” goal to your advocate and explain the detailed personal steps you are taking to achieve that goal like resources, financial commitments, and time allocation in order to follow through.
- Also set up brief periodic action plan review meetings with each key stakeholder to keep them informed of your developmental progress, gain their feedback and continued support, and see if they are aware of any job vacancies that align well with your goals.
Have you created a plan to stay?
About the Expert
Shawnice Meador has more than fourteen years of progressive corporate and higher education experience, including leadership roles in career management, leadership development, strategic talent management, process improvement and engineering. In 2012, Shawnice joined the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School as the director of career management and leadership development — MBA@UNC. In this role, she designs and leads all programmatic and consultative career management and leadership development services for the MBA@UNC student population. As a member of the MBA@UNC leadership team for the newest Kenan-Flagler MBA program, Meador combines her strategic corporate leadership experience, her analytical consultative approach and her personal MBA student experiences to help others succeed professionally.
Meador earned her B.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan, and earned her MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business Weekend Executive Program. Connect on Twitter @MBAatUNC