Manage your career, please!

This thought again came to my mind yesterday while talking to a relative of mine. She has great potential, good educational background, but she seems to be stuck in a company and gotten into a comfort zone she doesn’t want to come out of. I tried very hard to make a case for doing something different for her career, but I am sure she didn’t get convinced about it.

Here is the point I was trying to make: at least in the initial phases of one’s career, it is important to be very cognizant of the return one is getting from the time (and career investment) being made, and as soon as one feels that return is not good, some changes should be made in the career (changing manager, project, team, or company).

This raises the obvious question: how do you measure return on investment (ROI)?

In one of my previous posts on talent investment, I gave one way of measuring this return (salary) and made the point that it is a bad measure in initial years. So what is a good measure?

There are various dimensions that can be used for this measurement:

  • Learning as a measure: If you are not learning enough, it can be a good indicator that ‘change is needed’. A quick, subjective way of measuring this is to ask the question: what did I learn in last 1 year? 3 months? 1 month? last week? Answers to each of these questions should be something tangible, and in an ideal career growth situation, rate of learning should be healthy and going up. Learning could be technical, professional, any skills you think are useful to you.
  • Job complexity as measure: If your job is becoming complex, it is a good sign because typically complex jobs are given to those who do well in simpler ones. However, if job complexity stays the same or goes down (repetition tends to take the complexity away since you become expert), it is a good signal to change something. However, be careful in using this measure, jobs/projects change infrequently and hence the chance to measure may not come often.
  • Career Growth as measure: If you are disciplined enough to have figured out a career path for yourself (highly recommended) and know what you intend to achieve in next 1 year or so to be on track, measurement becomes easy because you can keep checking off accomplishments against your to-do list (or whatever other mechanism you employ to manage your career), and if you can’t find to check things off too long, it will be a signal to change something.

It is entirely possible to use more than one such measure, and there are more measures you can think of and use. However, using one is essential because it may make or mar your career.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you ensure you continue to get better return on your own talent investment? Post your comments or drop me a note.

PS: I posted 3 more articles on the topics raised here, I highly recommend going through those if you agreed with the thoughts in this one:

7 Replies to “Manage your career, please!”

  1. Your all posts are great..
    Learning is the biggest thing and if that stops that it means stoppage of carrer. I have gone through phase where I went into comfort zone and started feeling that I am too much learned !!!. Thanks to my wife for pulling me back from that..

    Be hungry Be fooish should be Mantra !!

    Thanks for motivating the Young India…

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