Let’s hit pause for a second. When was the last time you asked yourself: “Am I ready to move to the next stage of my career?”
For some, there’s a lot of pressure to constantly chase after promotions or new roles and it can be overwhelming if you don’t feel like you’re ready for it. That’s completely okay. After over a year and a half since companies moved to remote work, when possible, some of us might feel like we’re ready for some change. So, here are some tips for evaluating when you or your employees might be ready for the next stage:
Review tangible data
You may have access to some or a lot of data points depending on your role and how your company is structured. While it’s important to look back on real data that represents how you’ve performed, understand that this isn’t the full picture (see: “Look to your people” section below for qualitative data).
Delve into the past and review your past performance. Start by taking a look at big projects and areas of your role that are administrative or strategic, and give yourself an honest review.
From there, peak back at actual performance reviews and see where you’ve excelled and where there is room for improvement, based on real feedback from your manager or team. Note that this can be a snapshot of your performance versus a full picture depending on how your company runs performance reviews.
Remember, your past performance reviews aren’t 100% indicative of your performance. Sometimes, these can be snapshots of your time in the role. And, it’s also worth noting that there may be bias involved. For example, research has found that “men are more likely to be evaluated on potential whereas women are more likely to be evaluated against past performance.”
Visibility of work
Ask yourself who is impacted by your work on a frequent basis both internally (your team) and externally (your clients, partners, etc.).
Metrics are your best friend here. What projects do you own? Who reports to you? How many client relationships do you maintain? Make note of examples and their respective numbers and assess where you see potential for growth.
Look to your people
Mentorship is necessary in all stages of your career, not just when you’re starting out. Connecting with leaders within and outside of the industry will help evaluate and coach you into understanding if it’s time you should be thinking about your next career move (in your current role or with a new company).
Especially as you progress in your career, your mentor can keep you accountable for professional and personal goals and connect you to potential opportunities, to help you get there.
This may be an opportunity for some of you, especially those working in smaller startups. If you understand the needs of investors and how they coincide with the future vision of your startup, you may already be having these conversations organically.
Otherwise, if there is already an existing relationship with an investor – as many of them will also act as mentors or even be members of the Board – you can ask them for an assessment. This is a great way to understand how you’re managing stakeholder needs, if you need to level up in your role, or level up in your career.
Ask for formal and informal feedback if you aren’t already getting it, especially outside of your regular performance cycle. Insight from your peers enables you to better understand your work and how you can improve your performance and productivity as part of a team.
Assess your values
What areas of your role do you enjoy? What challenges you? What scares you? Are any of these aligned with what the company needs ‘next’?
It’s possible that you’re no longer a good fit, and that’s okay. It’s also possible that the growth you’re looking for isn’t realistic. There very well could be the need to back-fill roles or hire out to support your career growth. Is this doable or is it time to search elsewhere?
Don’t doubt yourself
Sometimes, your gut will tell you that you need to stay a little bit longer in your current role to really hone your skills. Other times, you’ll feel like you’ve been stagnant for too long and you just need some type of change.
To really understand if it’s time, it’s pivotal to get outside perspectives and tap into any data you have available to you. Who knows, you may know deep down that you’re ready, but imposter syndrome is holding you back.
Ask yourself, “Who can I learn from at my current company?”, “Can I be the person people lean on, and does that opportunity exist?” Utilize your people and data where you can, and you’re bound to make the best decision for you.