Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Stop blaming your manager for your lack of progression

By Allie Hunt, Sales Enablement Manager at Permutive

These articles have been written by the latest cohort of the Practice Makes UnPerfect programme – a course that helps women find and finesse their public voices

Your career is just that: yours. I can almost hear the symphony of groans as I reiterate something we’ve all heard a thousand times. But if everyone’s heard it a thousand times, why do 39% of us still blame our manager for something they have no ownership of?

What’s even worse is (according to the CIPD) one third of us claim that our careers have not lived up to our expectations. Let’s take a minute to appreciate how awful that is. Most of us spend 40+ hours a week at our jobs – that is just about a quarter of our time. That is way too much of your life to spend angry that your career progression didn’t magically exceed your expectations with no effort from you.

Okay – I’ll admit it, that was a little harsh. But that’s me giving you the kick in the ass you need to reclaim your role as ruler of your own professional destiny. I know that can be really hard to do sometimes (looking at you, low carb diet), but that’s where I can help!

Say it out loud: my manager does not own my career, I do

If you take nothing else from my soapbox monologue, remember that statement. You are the one and only owner of your career. So you see by that logic, your manager cannot own your career because they are too busy owning their own.

Let me be perfectly clear about something: your manager can and should still play a role in your growth and development, but they do not own it – you do. You should work with your manager to identify areas where they can assist you. Oh, and while you’re talking to them ask if your company has a dedicated learning budget for associates and then take advantage of it.

Now that we’re on the same page about that, it is time for you to shift away from passive commitment to your career development, and start being deliberate. Be intentional about your progression and professional growth.

And I have just the way to get you started! Once a quarter, enroll yourself in a training, seminar, conference, or workshop relevant to building your professional skills. 

If you’re feeling negative today, you may dismiss that challenge by saying one of two things:

  1. I don’t have the time
  2. I wouldn’t even know where to start

So let’s talk it out, shall we?

Stop saying there is no time

There IS time, I promise. We’ve just gotten really good at making excuses to avoid our own professional development.  

Here’s how you find it: open your calendar. No seriously, open your calendar. Go to next week and find a 30 minute open window. Did that? Great! Feel free to get creative with the title, but for those who simply do not have the creative gene “Development Block” will work just fine. Now make that calendar invite repeat every single week.

Take back that eye roll! You DO have 30 minutes a week to set aside to learn something new to further your own career. That’s 30 minutes out of a 40 hour work week. That is literally 1.25% of your work week. ONE PERCENT. So if you’re going to tell me you don’t value yourself enough to dedicate 1% of your time to self growth, I don’t know what to tell you.

In case my rant wasn’t enough to convince you, let me drop some facts. Salary.com conducted a survey in which 89% of workers admitted they waste time throughout the day. 61% of those say they’re wasting 30-60 minutes a day. That’s five full hours a work week, and all I’m asking you to do is set aside 30 minutes to focus on you. This way you get to progress your career intentionally and still waste four and a half hours a week! Joking aside, enough excuses. It’s time to take action.

Let’s say you still somehow find a way to convince me that you simply cannot dedicate 30 minutes a week solely to this. Might I suggest a little podcast multitasking action? Find a podcast that interests you and listen to it while you cook dinner, while you get ready for your day, even as you walk the dog. You’d be surprised how much you can learn while making your way through life’s demands.

So now that we’ve found you some time, we can finally dive into how you should get started. Drumroll please….

Just freaking start already

Seriously. Stop getting in your own head. It’s as simple as this: Open up your favorite search engine and go for it. Type a skill you want to learn about and add “conferences” to the end of it. Dive in. 

I seriously do this all the time. Whenever I get a break or feel inspired, I search for relevant learning and development and keep details in a spreadsheet so I can refer back to it when I am ready to take action.

There are more focused ways of finding these events as well. Many industries and roles have user groups dedicated to them, for instance because my field is Sales Enablement, I joined the Sales Enablement Collective. Many people post comments with events or relevant training others may see value in constantly. Additionally, you can (and should) start the conversation. Write a post introducing yourself, explain a bit about what you want to develop your skills in, and ask for recommendations from the group. It sounds much scarier than it really is, trust me.

Just promise me you’ll consider actually doing it. Well, promise yourself because you’re the one that would benefit from it, not me. Long story short, this is YOUR career – start acting like it.

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