As you grow as a working professional and your experience and career starts to take shape, the first thing Millennials start to think about is “what can I do to accelerate my growth, my earnings, and my path to leadership?”
Below are five important tips to remember:
Find a career you love and outperform every day.
The first, and perhaps most important advice, is to find a job you love. If you are doing work you truly enjoy, it will leverage your strengths and help you to outperform. If you like math and science, don’t be afraid to take a job in analytics or statistics. You may not think it’s the long term career you want, but it can help give you the power of success, which helps you move into other roles later.
Research shows that Millennials today are likely to have 7-8 different employers during their lives (many of you will have more). Your career today likely looks more like a series of “jumping off points,” where each job gives you the confidence, experience, and perspective to move to the next. If you aren’t doing something you like, you probably won’t be happy or successful and you won’t find the next step along the way. And remember, your reputation grows rapidly over time – when you’re having fun and succeeding, people see it.
Network as much as you can, and offer help to others.
According to our recently released Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report: the biggest trend was the shift away from “hierarchy” and “top down management” toward companies that operate as “networks of teams.”
What this means is that you, as a working professional, can thrive and succeed through your relationships, your access to specialists, and the people who know you both within and outside your organization. In each career opportunity you have, you will make friends, develop strong relationships with professional colleagues, and meet leaders who may play a role in your career down the line.
This doesn’t mean you should network only to find a job – it means genuinely taking an interest in others, helping them, and making sure you share information and support when others need it. If one of your friends or associates needs help at work, or help finding a job – take the time to listen and help. Not only is it good for your own karma, it means they in turn will more likely do the same for you.
And this approach is just as important within a company as it is externally. Our research shows that the new breed of leaders thrives through relationships, networks, and their ability to support, influence, and empower others. The sooner you learn to work this way, the faster you’ll see your career accelerate.
Challenge yourself to lead, even if it feels uncomfortable.
Not everyone is born to lead, but in the business world it’s a critical skill. 89 percent of respondents in our survey cite leadership gaps as one of their biggest problems (54% say it’s urgent), so there are leadership opportunities everywhere.
Leadership does not necessarily mean “management.” If you can lead a project, lead the solution to a customer problem, lead a team on an internal project, or simply help someone else lead a program that needs help – you can learn valuable skills.
Unless you want to be an independent consultant, each of us will end up working in organizations that operate like teams – and teams only work when people take the lead, support others, and push the organization in the direction it needs to go.
Early in your career, the idea of leadership may seem intimidating or difficult – but force yourself to take on leadership projects, and you’ll be surprised what you learn. An important lesson you’ll discover is that leaders must learn to “empower and enable” others – not just tell them what to do. This simple idea is much harder than it sounds, so give yourself opportunities to lead whenever you can.
This doesn’t mean you should be aggressive, domineering, or disrespectful of others. Great leaders lead through “followership” – people respect them and follow them because of how they behave. Leadership will be a journey for your entire life, the earlier you start figuring it out the faster your career will progress.
Never stop learning, regardless of how well educated you are.
No matter what you do – engineering, marketing, design, sales, or any other job – you should always be ready to learn. The business world is constantly changing, and no matter how well you did in school, you always have more to learn. 86 percent of respondents in our survey cite learning as an urgent or very important need. At an individual level, we can now find courses, videos, articles and technical education almost everywhere.
Many of you will be in jobs and roles that leverage your technical skills – so remember that, even as a technical professional, you must always continue to learn. People who learned software engineering tools in the 1980s have reinvented themselves for the internet, for the cloud, and now for mobile computing. Marketing, sales, engineering, finance, and HR are all evolving at a rapid pace – if you don’t spend a few hours each week “sharpening the saw” and you don’t go to a few conferences or take a class or two each year, you risk falling behind. Keep yourself current in your domain, and it will protect you from obsolescence as you grow.
As you take the time to educate yourself on trends, technologies, vendors, and tools in your career – you’ll suddenly see new career opportunities, new jobs, and new paths to success you never thought were possible. In HR, for example, the explosive growth in analytics and design thinking has created a whole new type of HR professional – enabling many of our clients to literally reinvent themselves in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Get up early, exercise, rest, and pace yourself.
It’s critical to take care of yourself. More than two-thirds of the organizations we surveyed told us their employees today feel “overwhelmed” by the rapid digital pace of work. You have to deal with this early in your career, as you learn to build patterns for your personal growth and well-being.
It can start with three simple principles: get up early, get exercise as often as you can, and take time to rest and pace yourself. It’s important to manage your “energy,” not your “time.” If you take the time to work as you feel best – at the time you feel best – and you take the time for yourself, you will feel better, perform better, and have a more sustainable career.
The world of business is moving faster every year. More than 92% of the companies we surveyed are trying to “redesign their organization” to meet the latest business needs, yet only 14% believe they know how. This means your career is somewhat unpredictable, and you have to be ready to jump at the next opportunity, regardless of how it hits you.
These five principles: find work you love, network and help others, take leadership opportunities, learn all the time, and take care of yourself, are virtually guaranteed to help your career grow.
Finally, remember that work today is a series of developmental experiences – each time you have an opportunity to do a project, give a presentation, or help a peer – you are advancing your own career in its own special way. Take the long term view and you’ll find yourself continuously moving forward. Even when things go sideways, you’ll recover. Looking back, you’ll realize your career progressed in a fulfilling way.