Monday, April 03, 2006

Career Growth

I am approaching my 10th anniversary at my company (is it 10 years already???) and I've come to the conclusion that I'm in a little bit of a career funk. For over half of my time with McAfee, I've been on what I would call a fast track. I'd work hard, gather up some successes and get a promotion. This happened at least annually for the first 6 years or so. However, for the last several years this upward movement has all but ceased. Yes, I have more responsibility than I ever have, I'm largely responsible for over $10 million dollars in budget, and my salary hasn't suffered - but I'm basically in the same position I've had for a while.

Unless you think about why, the assumptions come pretty easy - and there's a good chance they're wrong...I say that because in my case it is mostly true. I look around, and look at all the external factors and reasons, but I really didn't turn my search inward. Instead, I've been thinking that perhaps my time at my company is coming to and end, and I should start looking for something else (and work on my degree while I'm at it).

I thought this way until pretty recently. I report to a new VP, and he's been coaching me on my career. His first question to me was a bit of a shock. It was, "where do you want to be next?" I've never been asked this question, and I've never considered it on my own. For far too long, I just assumed that where I would be had nothing to do with my plans. I gave that question some long and hard thought, and shared the answer with my boss. His next question was even more of a shock. He asked, "what's your plan to get there?".

I realized I didn't have one. Now he's helping me identify the areas that I need to improve in, and is helping me create a plan of progression in my company. It's amazing the effect it has had on me at work. I'm putting in more time, working smarter, and am generally more energized and motivated.

Come to think of it, that's how I worked when I was getting all those promotions. Makes you stop and think where the problem has been these last couple of years. Invariably, I have to turn inward and think about me and my responsibility for my career. Unlike that opportunistic youngster I once was, I now try to balance work and family. However, I still am motivated by achievement and want to provide as well as I can for my family. I'm just real thankful for a new boss who seems as interested in my growth as I am.


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