As a leader, I am excited to come to work every day and help our employees, who we call “Flyers,” achieve success in their roles. I am proud to work at a company where the phrase “I love my job” is not only an aspiration but a reality. My professional journey is grounded in the process of building my knowledge and getting to know myself as a leader so I can serve others. Every young professional will take a similar learning journey as they grow their career.
Early on in my career, I recall a time when I realized there were three types of knowledge I needed to master in order to navigate my own success: myself, my stuff, and the business. To perform well, I needed to understand my own strengths and weaknesses (know myself). To take on more responsibility, I had to build my technical Human Resources knowledge (know my stuff). To make an impact and influence other people, I had to understand how my work added value and impacted my customers and the business (know the business). Gaining a deep understanding of myself, my stuff, and the business has helped me lead my career development and guide others. Here are some best practices you can put into place to build your toolbox in these key areas.
You will be most successful if you are authentic and self-aware every day you show up at work. Knowing how you operate within your job is an important, learned skill and will be instrumental to your long-term career success. Self-insight and feedback will enable you to use your strengths to make an impact and continue to improve upon your weaknesses to achieve personal growth.One way you can become more self-aware is through a process known as “feedforward.” More proactive than feedback, feedforward creates a safe space for your coworkers to offer advice to help you work towards a goal. Marshall Goldsmith created this process as an executive coaching tool (learn more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlVZiZob37I) and this has been an important exercise for career building at Radio Flyer. Our team participates in a company-wide feedforward exercise at least once a year to help each other learn and grow.
To engage in this practice, you will first need to identify a specific area you are trying to get better at. Then, schedule a quick 15-minute meeting with a trusted colleague and ask: “I’m trying to get better at ______. Do you have any suggestions for me?” Ask for two suggestions on how you can get there and thank them for their input. This exercise will serve as a learning guide as you navigate the workplace. During the process, do not be afraid to uncover your weaknesses; rather, use this information to empower you to learn and grow throughout your career.
Know Your Stuff
Become a technical master at your craft. Identify your strengths, develop a unique skill, and leverage that expertise to make yourself stand out among other applicants. Are you an expert at copywriting? Can you use Excel to analyze data like no one else? Are you a SolidWorks master? Seek to become the go-to person in your company for that skill.
Develop your unique talents by attending training or participating in webinars or self-study. You can request training from your department leaders by connecting how this new knowledge and skill will benefit your team or company. To continue to build your technical toolbox, volunteer for stretch assignments, and identify mentors who can provide feedback along your development journey. Share your knowledge with others by leading a training session on the skill. Teaching others is a great way to deepen your knowledge and develop mastery of a topic.
Know the Business
In addition to knowing yourself and your stuff, you need to connect your work with the business. To build your business acumen, follow experts in your field, and learn from them. Create a bridge between you and your company leaders to seek out information and ask questions about the business. Add value to your organization by understanding how your work can accelerate the business or improve results. People who know how their work impacts the company goals are more engaged in their daily work.
Another way to build business knowledge is to attend company meetings and join cross-functional team discussions. Through these meetings, you will gain a deeper understanding of the key performance indicators (KPIs) you can influence. At Radio Flyer, we have monthly company-wide meetings to update Flyers about the business and where it is headed. Flyers learn how their role directly impacts results and these meetings provide an open dialogue for questions. If this isn’t common practice at your company, start by asking to sit in on meetings with other departments and take detailed notes that will encourage reflection of the material. Your leadership team will appreciate your initiative to learn the business and grow your professional skills.
These three areas have helped me grow my career, and I have used them as tools to help Flyers grow as well. These buckets combined are a strong foundation for any career. If you aspire to lead others, combine this knowledge with a deep commitment to knowing your team and learning how to unleash their potential.
As you begin your career, keep these three key areas in mind as you seek learning opportunities. By knowing yourself, knowing your stuff, and knowing the business, you set the groundwork for constant growth in your professional journey.
Looking to grow your career with our FUNomenal team? Check out our Radio Flyer internship opportunities here: https://bit.ly/3kzeJQE
Amy Bastuga is the Chief People Officer at Radio Flyer, No. 3 in Vault's 2021 Best Internships for Overall Diversity.
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