The Individual vs. the Whole

ChoicesHow do you make your career decisions?

Do you guide the planning for your career or are you letting your organization or company make those choices for you? Do you think about your personal goals and objectives, your organization’s goals and objectives, or a combination of both?

As an learning and training director, this is something I think about ALOT.  I want to know your real answer to what do you want to be when you grow up, because that helps me continue to answer the questions of  “How much continuing education and training do you want, do you need, can you afford, will your organization and company pay for, etc”, to help you get there. How do you want to grow so that you or your organization or company grows?

It should go without saying that career choices and the short and long term paths you tread to make those choices matter a lot. Collectively, humans need shelter, food, clothes. And a job makes obtaining those possible. In today’s career market, professional, though, most of us don’t just have jobs or rather want to just have jobs. We want to have callings, missions we have a heart or passion for, causes that compel us to take part. Many of us work 60-80 hours a week for peanuts, sometimes for little recognition, wearing multiple hats, and filling in the holes because that’s what needs to be done in order to meet the mission or embody the company values. We try to budget for professional development like conferences, workshops, or online classes, but resources, ever scarce, play a big role in whether or not we actually get to take part.

Some of us do the same crazy things because loyalty is important. My husband was raised by a 40+ year company man, who instilled in him that if you stick with it and see it through, you’ll be rewarded. He’s been at the same company for 10 years. It was his second job out of college. He’s followed this job to four different states, lived through three acquisitions, and is now faced with yet another reorganization and layoffs because of an executive transition. He continues to take on multiple roles to be the jack of all trades and filled holes because there’s no money for additional staff, but in 10 years, he has not been promoted or rewarded significantly in any other way. Yet, he stays because the work he does is important for him and he feels he’s making a difference.

Did you catch the latest from Steve Heye, who blogged about his career path and the challenging place he found himself in when he was laid off and had to find something else? It mirrors my husband’s story, which right now is semi-unfinished because the reorg isn’t complete but could easily head the same way as the first part of Steve’s story, in a way that I don’t think is talked about enough.

The question of the individual person vs. the whole. Loyalty, mission, passion, these are all important. You should want to make your organization proud, sustainable, effective. But be careful it’s not done at the expense of your own career. Continue and demand (as much as you can) the professional development, the extra compensation (whether its benefits, time off, extra cash, professional development) you need for YOU to be successful. Although this can be a very guns vs. butter conversation with your boss, you have to take the time to have it.

It makes it tough, whether we stay for mission, the core values, or for loyalty, to let go sometimes or to ask for the things we deserve because we don’t think that it’s good for the company or organization to be spending money on ourselves. Your company is stronger for the training and development you get. For every little bit of learning you now have, continues to make the customer experience a better one.

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