In knowledge work, there is no line manager. Knowledge work involves professionals. Professionals are paid to solve problems and get results. Regardless of position, we are obligated to take ownership for our work and our personal development. Working for yourself, working for a startup, having an entrepreneurial drive and determination are helpful to understanding what professionals do, but there are other ways a person can acquire this level of understanding and accountability. There are no excuses in business. So how does a person go from being uncertain and needing significant guidance and oversight to being able to confidently handle all endeavors? Below are a few areas that may assist in self-development:
- Create Self-Awareness - The first step toward developing yourself is being in touch with your own level of knowledge and abilities and knowing where you need to grow. If you are weak in being able to self-identify, look at the traits and skills you admire in other leaders. How do you rate against these leaders? What sets you apart and where do you still need to develop?
- Research all Topics – To expand your knowledge repertoire, challenge yourself to be constantly intrigued and research all areas where there is any uncertainty. One research topic tends to leads to another and another. Keep a running listing of topics to explore and skills to develop.
- Find a Mentor – It can sometimes be tough to identify areas for improvement within ourselves. Utilize your manager or better yet, locate a respected professional outside your organization to help assess your development in a more open environment. Utilize this person’s expertise to provide unbiased guidance.
- Think through all Scenarios – When planning your work and brand new endeavors, identify all options, scenarios, benefits and challenges and the possible outcomes of each. Doing this will allow you to not only select the best solution for your assignment but will reinforce the rationale for your selection. This method will help build your ability to justify your approach, plan projects and will increase your reputation for being a thorough, thoughtful leader.
- Plan your Response – When working on something new, plan your approach and your plan for responding. Using all the insight gained from #4, you should be fully prepared to manage new situations.
Following steps 1-5 will better prepare you to handle a new situation and justify your response. These steps will provide you the necessary information to explain why you selected and stand behind a particular approach.
We have a professional obligation to assist individuals on our teams to be able to stand on their own. If you are a seasoned professional, also consider serving as a mentor. While many of you reading this blog directly manage resources, you may offer even more individualized, volunteer services to an aspiring project manager in your organization or professional community. With the New Year upon us, January serves as National Mentoring Month, so there is no better time to take on a mentor role.
~Ann E. Drinkwater