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3 Mistakes About Career Planning

In our many years of working with professionals in career planning workshops, these are the 3 common mistakes people make.

1. Assuming hard work and performance will lead to a promotion

Good performance does not necessarily lead to a promotion.

I learnt it the hard way. I had A ratings consistently in my appraisals years ago, but to my disappointment, I was passed over for a promotion.

A promotion means a bigger job with more responsibilities and more demands at work. We will need to develop and demonstrate our capabilities in the bigger job role first, so the decision-makers are more confident in their decisions. Ask yourself, have you developed and demonstrated the skills to be successful in a bigger job?

Next, a promotion is a competition with others for the same few positions. Our managers will need to justify why promote us over someone else. Is there a clear compelling case? What would make your case stronger?

2. Not managing our reputation

Sometimes decisions on our careers are made by a group of higher-ups who may or may not have worked with us. How would they decide then? Based on what they hear of us. So our reputation is key. Do you know what others think of you? Do you know what others say about you behind your back? Do you manage your reputation actively?

If not, start by asking your colleagues causally what 3 adjectives describe you, watch how they express themselves - candidly without hesitation or with some measured guardedness. This will give you some clues. If you don’t manage your reputation, it will be managed for you.

3. Not initiating a conversation with our managers

Depending on the organization culture and processes, some of you might talk to your managers about your aspirations. But in our experience, many do not. I remember when I was young in my career, I didn’t know if I could or should talk to my manager about my career aspirations. I didn’t feel I had the permission to do so. So I left it to him to take the lead, but of course, he is usually too busy.

So I talked to my friends. Invariably, we make comparisons and the grass seems greener on the other side. So I looked out for opportunities and left. What I didn’t know is my manager actually supported my growth and there were options for me to grow in my organization.

Don’t make these mistakes about your career. No one cares about your careers more than you. Learning how to manage your career is a skill that will pay off in the 45 years of your work life, yes, it’s that long!

Wendy Tan

Author, Keynote Speaker & Managing Partner of Flame Centre | Future Skills Institute

Updated 20 Dec 2022

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