Are You A Proactive Employee?

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Akindele Afolabi

We cannot continue to shy away from the truth and if we would be candid, it should be settled in our minds that the war for employability has never been this intense. We are more conversant with ‘war for talent’, a coinage for the competitive drive of organisations to attract the best employee due to perceived shortage of skilled individuals caused mostly by a dynamic business environment. It however appears that the same factors responsible for war for talent have created another war, the employability war, albeit, being fought by employees to keep their job.

Organisations do not promise career advancement but only provide opportunities for growth within the scope of achieving the business goals. As the business world is becoming more chaotic, job insecurity is further established and under this condition, ‘you expect lifelong learning and not lifelong employment’ quipped the former CEO of Cisco Systems, John Chambers.

Unfortunately, most employees expect their employers to manage their career for them, prompt them to learn and develop themselves, send them on training programmes etc. While many organisations do have learning plans for their employees, it should be noted that this is done for the best interest of the organisation. The fact that employees are vulnerable to career disruptions, which may be caused by factors both within and outside the organisations, necessitates taking a critical stance on career planning by employees.

Planning your career makes you anticipate problems and opportunities. By establishing your career objectives, you have a better understanding of self and you are able to identify your desired goals. This is also profitable for the organisation since the individual career planning and the organisation career management should typically align the interest and skills of employees with the needs of the organisation.

As much as organisations profit from career management, it does not in any way suggest that you should abdicate your career planning responsibility to the organisation. If you do that, you are limiting your chances of future employability and curtailing the possibility of attaining your career goals.

Employees who are proactive are in charge of their career and they are prone to less shock.

To know if you are a proactive employee, the following questions should serve as a checklist for you;

  • What do I really want to do?
  • What do I know how to do?
  • What career opportunities can I expect to be available?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • What do I need to get there?
  • How can I tell how well I am doing?
  • How marketable will my skills be in some years’ time (say five)?
  • Am I in an occupational growth area?
  • What opportunities do I have to learn and grow?
  • Who is there who will help and encourage my development?
  • How can I get out of the box I am in?
  • Is my organisation successful? Will it continue to grow?
  • Do I want to remain in this industry?
  • What can I do now?

If you cannot effectively answer these questions, then you have not been proactive with your career. You have left it to happen-stance.

Do not procrastinate on taking out time to think deeply and get your answers to these questions. You should not stop at that, you should create an action plan that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be. Do not be curative but preventive, times are changing and will never be the same again.

I believe this saying of Stephen Covey “Everyone must be proactive and do all they can to help themselves stay employed” is more relevant now than when he first said it.

Akindele Afolabi is a Career Management Consultant with Career Edge Limited. He helps organisations and individuals to take ownership of their career management initiatives.

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