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Elevating Success Skills Through Professional Development

Career growth looks different for everyone, but often the path to promotion is closely tied to employees’ technical abilities.

For example, if you excel at crunching numbers or software development, you’ll likely take on more responsibilities. That often includes leading projects and managing people.

But who prepares pre-managers and new managers for this immense responsibility?

“A lot of training opportunities skew toward technical positions,” said Emily Jarvis, Director of NextGen and Senior Events Manager at GovLoop. “But that’s only a part of the equation. If you can’t get along with your colleagues, if you can’t communicate clearly and if you can’t manage up or manage down, you’re not really developing into a well-rounded government employee.”

Jarvis leads the planning and execution of NextGen, a two-day virtual professional development summit for public servants. To better understand government’s training needs, her team met with chief human capital officers at all levels.

They shared similar sentiments about the void and need for training that empowers all employees to thrive — managers included.

Jarvis, who prefers the term “success” over “soft” skills, shared tips for elevating success skills through professional development and how NextGen can help.

Use Executive Core Qualifications to track professional development

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a system to help leaders learn and grow in a structured and measurable manner. For members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), OPM has established five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) that cover the various areas that SES members need to be competent in to lead effectively.

These areas are: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen and Building Coalitions. All NextGen workshops and sessions are intentionally mapped to ECQs to help attendees gain relevant, resume-enhancing experience and to help them effectively communicate their growth. Attendees can also earn a continuing professional education credit for each of the 24 NextGen sessions.

But what if you don’t aspire to be a senior executive, and what if you don’t work in the federal government?

“Whether you’re looking to be an SES or not, by aligning all of your training and making sure that you have different training opportunities in all of those categories, you will propel your career forward.”

Tap into the power of community to help you grow

A community is essential for developing in your career and for meeting mission objectives. That’s especially true now that many employees are remote, which can make community building difficult.

“We’re all learning and growing together,” Jarvis said. She endearingly refers to this community as NextGen Nation, which includes summit attendees and anyone who joins online trainings and book club events throughout the year, downloads content and engages via social media.

“The opportunity to bring together a diverse set of employees who can share best practices, insights and stories is critical,” Jarvis said. “That focus is at the heart of NextGen — helping employees map their career path and growth together.”

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Your Professional Development Playbook.” Download the full guide here.

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