How should you GROW your professional development?
One relationship at a time.
There are 3 topics that I think are key for a young professional’s development and whenever I partner with a new mentee, we spend most of our time exploring these:
1. Understanding Your Value - the company or organization that hired you is expecting that you can perform a series of tasks. You should invest some time understanding how you create value when completing those tasks.
2. Building Relationships - Your relationships and not talent alone will help you to accelerate your development and how you approach this concept will be a measure of how quickly you gain the respect of your peers.
3. Leveraging Your Strengths - Even though your resume is a work in progress, you have strengths that can be leveraged to harvest some quick wins.
Each of the three concepts are important and the one that has helped me the most is #2, building relationships. I remember many years ago, one of my mentors taking me to visit each of our customers before I was given any projects. He knew that after the first 90 days, I would be engulfed with work and that it would be more difficult to secure these foundational relationships. So as we met many clients over 20+ plants, the key stakeholders knew who I was and what I could offer. I observed him as he spent 20-30 minutes just talking about life outside of the plant before engaging in technical discussions. We would eventually get to the original purpose of why we were there (which he was also very good at) but he understood the importance of having a respectful relationship with his peers and clients.
Because of this, I advise young professionals to learn about the people before they learn about the process and their projects.
#1 is another story for another time however #3 ties directly into #2 because as you work towards establishing relationships, you also have an opportunity to learn about some of your teammates challenges. It’s very likely that you can use your strengths to address some of their needs.
In one job I started, I brought over a Six Sigma skillset and I was able to leverage my knowledge of the tools to help another peer complete a project. In turn, this teammate taught me everything he knew about Electrical Breaker and Switchgear. Even though I had only been there a few months, I developed a new relationship by solving a problem while also learning the technical aspects of my new job. It was a quick, win-win for both of us!