I electronically signed my performance review today. I found myself feeling grateful for the feedback–not hard when it’s favorable. I was evaluated on the typical competencies such as my ability to work with others, effectiveness in meeting deadlines, and how well I take direction or manage change. It sounds like a great opportunity to know exactly where I am in my professional development, right?
Whoa! Wait a minute…professional development? Early in my career, this term baffled me and it always seemed to be thrown around heavily during review season. I always wondered what exactly is professional development. My guess is there are as many ideas about what this means as there are people on this planet. But for me, I define it as:
The extent to which you are appropriately challenged and given an opportunity to showcase your talents, natural gifts, and constructive skills as it relates to your role and function in an organization on a regular basis.
So now we’ve got a definition of this buzzword—what’s next? The next step is to determine how to measure your professional development. In theory, the performance review is supposed to be the primary way to measure how well you are progressing in your current position. It is also designed to be a roadmap to the next step in your career. But in reality, most employees and managers dread the performance review process. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review April 2015 article, more than half of HR professionals believe the annual review process is not an accurate appraisal of an employee’s work.
Despite this statistic, we still have to go through this gut-wrenching process. But what if you took the time to assess your own professional growth? Ask yourself:
- How often are you challenged?
- How do you go about engaging your employer to challenge you to exceed your own expectations?
- How often do you have an opportunity to shine?
Unfortunately, for most of us the answers to these questions are: Never, I haven’t any idea, and…never! If that is the case, change it up! Ask yourself:
- How would I like to be challenged?
- What opportunities are available at my organization that would be projects where I can use my skills and talents?
- How often would I like to have the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone?
If you resolved to make this year your best work year yet, you’ll need to take some time to reflect honestly on where you are in your career and where you want to end up. No matter what your boss says about you, only you know what you are capable of and what makes you most fulfilled. Who knows maybe your big opportunity is right where you are now?