16 June 2016

Get a grip- Take your professional development into your own hands

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A massive 8.74 million Australians are disengaged from their job- that’s 76% of employees nationwide. We’ve all had that job. You clock-in on time, get the job done and clock-out not a second later than when you’re able. It turns out a lot of us are still in that job.

You probably feel like you’re in a slump. It’s been years since your last promotion or pay rise (or haven’t ever received on at all). The well-used, stained coffee cup you use every day (the one with a hairline fracture running down from the lip) seems to represent your soul in this place- used and abused because it does the job.

You’re on auto-pilot from the minute you walk in the door, simply going through the routine you know all too well. Your development became sluggish and eventually non-existent. After all, you get the job done so why would your managers spend any more time developing your skills?

It’s time for change- and I’m not just talking about getting a new coffee cup. You need to take your professional development into your own hands. You’ll become a better employee, maybe earn that promotion or raise and ultimately have greater job satisfaction.

Here’s how you do it:

Recognise your employees

Praising your colleagues may seem to be counter-productive to this goal but it will cultivate a more positive office atmosphere. Send an email, let someone know you’ve noticed they got a great deal or wrote a brilliant piece of copy. You won’t ingrain a new office culture with one comment but it will slowly become regular practice. Plus you’ll find yourself being a more positive person who repels negativity- think of a magnet.

Let’s talk about me

Your meetings should include discussion around the most important person in the room- you. Ask for feedback on you current projects. Whilst it’s a wonderful feeling to be praised, compliments aren’t what you want. Ask what you could do better and how to achieve higher goals. If your manager is aware that you’re keen to grow and explore your potential, you may be surprised at the energy they begin to dedicate to you.

Listen and learn

Use your daily commutes to your advantage. Download podcasts on areas you would like to develop. I suggest the Stanford Social Innovation Review which crosses sectors to cover social issues and solutions.

Grow your network

You’ve gotten to know everyone in the office, great job. But if you ever aspire to breach the confines of your prison- pardon, office- you need to branch out and make new contacts. Grow your LinkedIn network and socialise with people that you wouldn’t usually and watch your knowledge and professional knowledge blossom.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given came from a former boss. She said, “Take care of yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.”

Oh, and throw away that coffee cup- you deserve a new one.

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

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