I recently embarked on a path to leadership development. I was feeling unfulfilled in my assignment, I was bored, and I felt my opportunity for advancement was dissipating. I had chosen a career path that would afford me the possibility of being cross-trained in a different discipline, but I did not fully investigate this path.
I excitedly applied and received a promotion to an area of inspection that, in my geographical area, was the ONLY processing facility of its kind in my entire district. Distinguishing, right? Sure, but along with that distinction came a career plateau I had not foreseen or prepared for at all. The type of inspection I promoted to was light-years behind poultry inspection. Many of the processes and systems I was accustomed to simply did not exist in my new assignment.
I was sixteen months into that promotion when I realized that I had to have an action plan for the remainder of my career since the longer I stayed where I was assigned, the farther behind my knowledge, skills, and abilities were falling for the next assignment I wanted. Career stagnation was identifiable by those feelings of boredom and dissatisfaction that were produced when I realized my new discipline lacked opportunity for advancement. What next?
I began a 4-step process to correct my career mistakes. I did a honest self-evaluation to determine what energized, motivated, and interested me. Admittedly, there were several facets of my assignment that I reveled in and appreciated, but there were also parts of that assignment that I did not like, understand, or want to perform. I knew what motivated me and what was helping me grow, I also knew what I found discouraging as well.
I took an inventory of my present skills to determine what skills were lacking for the next assignment and I began to add those skills. For example, I began taking courses on conflict resolution and leadership to increase my interpersonal skills, a skill I noticed was decreasing due to the type of assignment I held (I was stationed in a remote area and only came in contact with the same small group of people daily).
I developed an effective plan of action. I created an individual development plan (IDP) with my supervisor that identified where I wanted to be and what steps I needed to take to get there.
Lastly, I committed to my plan of action. This is the most important aspect of development. The three tips I have for anyone who finds themselves in this place are:
- Model the behavior of someone who has done what you want to accomplish.
- Develop strong work habits. You really must love what you do to do it well!
- Keep a positive attitude. Every day won’t be a sunny day, so learn to dance in the rain.
Adrienne Nelson-Reynolds is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.