Best Practices For Professional Development

One of the biggest fears of the professional world is getting stuck at a point in a career. Working in the same position for years, with hardly anything to show for it is extremely common nowadays. This is because a lot of people fall into the mindset that their employer owes them, or that time alone should be enough of an investment. The truth is, just giving time will not get someone noticed every time. There must be a conscious effort and a display of certain practices that show that you want more.

Employers (Generally) Don’t Owe Their Employees

Accepting this mindset is the first step to getting that big promotion or pay raise. Just because it’s on the table, doesn’t mean it’s going to the person who might seem to deserve it the most. At the end of the day, it’s the manager, the boss, or the owner, who makes the call. If you want it, there can be no question that you should get it.

To stand out among peers, you have to be the embodiment of what higher ups are looking for in a business partner, not just an employee. Employees come and go and aren’t usually suited to advance far within a professional structure, and for a lot of people, that’s just fine. If you’re looking to advance though, you have to act the part.

Have The Right Attitude

Showing the willingness to learn and go the extra mile is the biggest step to ensuring professional advancement. If someone comes into work with a frown and gloomy lo work with a frown and gloomy look on their face, everyone notices. People might not say anything, but they will see it and make a note of it immediately. This goes for managers, coworkers, and customers alike.

Changing one’s attitude is a difficult step, but it’s the most important and that’s why it’s first. Being able to smile and show true passion about what you’re doing comes from within and can’t be faked. When team members see someone with a good attitude, it affects theirs as well, bringing the whole team together and making everyone stronger.

Manage Time Wisely

This step includes coming to work early, prepared, and with a smile. Entering the doors of the workplace 15 minutes early goes a long way in terms of mental health and reducing stress. Preparing work attire the night before as well as all the things needed for work, will help you feel prepared for the day ahead and overall make life easier.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, there is a direct relationship between proper planning and reducing stress while improving results. In their study, nursing students who had exceptional time management skills, were the ones who scored higher on exams and scored with the lowest values for stress. The same rings true in the professional world as well, if not even more so.

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Maximize On The Time You Have

Everyone has been to a restaurant, store, or any business and seen an employee standing around doing nothing. Those people are hard for customers to approach if they need help, and are often the only thing customers take away from an experience, even if everything else was good. The reason for this is because it is simply unprofessional. A team member who can’t pull their own weight is something anyone can relate to, and it’s something nobody wants to see.

On top of managing time, it’s imperative to make sure the time is used well. This isn’t to say that people must be making money every second of their day and working extremely hard. This is to say go into every task with a goal. There are genuine moments when you might not have something to do at work, but the person who is trying to grow will find something, and the normal employee will rest, knowing they’re getting paid anyways.

Communicate With Intent

Communicating with people above you, asking team members if they need help, or simply cleaning around the office will go a long way and get noticed very quickly. That’s how people become the ones others rely on, which makes them leaders in their actions, not just a title or promotion. The biggest take away from this is that it applies to time away from work as well.

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If the weekend is for time with a significant other or family, make sure they feel the attention is on them. Relaxing and bonding with loved ones is just as important as a good career, but that also means it must be done with intention. Hanging with friends and family but looking at a screen the whole time isn’t bonding, and the relationship would be just fine without it. Make sure intent is clear, and goals are established, even on days off.

Set Long-Term Goals

A common mistake people make is to say they want to succeed, but can’t even define what they personally mean by “succeed”. What is success to you? Is it to retire early on a ranch in Texas? Open up a sports arena in 25 years? There has to be some kind of concrete answer or else the inspiration won’t be as strong.

RELATED: How To Create Professional Development Plan

A great analogy is to imagine a situation where someone offers you $20 to cross a plank between to skyscrapers. That boils down to “will you risk your life for $20?” Most would say no. But, if you take that same situation and instead of $20 at the other end, it’s a loved one, and the only way to save them is to cross the plank. That question is a lot trickier because the motivation changed, not the process.

People without proper end goals do not have the same motivation to tackle a long term process as people with those goals. The best way to establish these goals is to create a professional development plan. Having a plan approved by a mentor, boss, or other professional in the same field is a great way to get started even if the long term goals aren’t decades down the line. Sometimes just have a goal 2-5 years out is all it takes to see major success.

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