I once had someone tell me that I am the only one who owns my career. No one else is under any obligation to help me grow, to help me learn more, to do what it takes to get to the next step.
Those are words that are so true. I own my career.
Many times we feel that our organizations should offer us training, should help us with our career path, help us understand the expectations they have and the skills that they need us to have. One thing that I think gets forgotten is when an organization offers training and other sort of career help, they are solving problems for the organization. These problems may range from employee retention or ensuring that the workforce has the skills needed in the future. But they are focused on problem solving, not helping us progress in our careers.
While it is fantastic if an organization provides education opportunities and career growth, it is still up to us to make use of that training, to internalize it, to be receptive of it, to attend.
In working with a couple of customers in the past year who were establishing a center of excellence, managers have been frustrated by the lack of participation of their business analysts. Remember, they are solving problems for their organizations; at the same time, they are also excited about the opportunities that they are offering their staff.
These opportunities could be anywhere from training to educational forums and other benefits, yet the participation numbers are lower than desired. Care is taken to ensure the training is good, the forums are engaging and useful, yet people don’t attend. Offers are made to pay for membership for industry organizations such as IIBA or PMI, yet few take advantage of those offers.
In discussing with the managers, we look for ways to boost attendance. They can always make the events mandatory, but managers are reluctant to do that, and rightly so. Resentment builds when you force people to go, and that can sabotage all good intensions. So we look for other ways to entice people to attend…provide food of some fashion (baked goods, candy, lunch), giveaways and other such things. But to me, these feel like we are bribing people to attend. Shouldn’t we want to attend because we might learn something new?
I’m certainly not talking about attending every opportunity. Of course we all have those projects that require us to put in some extra effort. I’m more focused on those people who never attend.
Of course, because you are reading this blog, I’m preaching to the choir. If you are reading this, it’s likely because you do care about your career, you are attempting to learn more, expand your horizons. But why don’t more people do the same thing?
So why does this happen? Why do some people never want to grow or learn more? What else can we do to motivate these folks? Or, is it a waste of our time? Should we just acknowledge the fact that not everyone is interested in growth? They are happy where they are, they are comfortable, and just want to work.
Managers realize who is interested, who attends, who tries new things that they learn. This tends to get reflected in the recognition that they receive, the promotion opportunities that are presented, etc. And I think it is OK if people don’t want to put time into their career, as long as they don’t expect the same results as those who do put time in.