Career Planning Framework - Next Steps

If you’ve decided to use the Career Planning Framework discussed previously to think about setting up your career goals, one of the questions that you may have is how to add details to the defined segments. For example, if you’re using the People / Processes / Tools framework, how do you actually go about breaking it down further?

As always, there are a number of options. Here are some thoughts.

Tools

This is probably the easiest segment to think about. Essentially, Tools refers to what you use to do your work. It’s important not to get too tied down into the specific tool at this point, but rather think about it in general terms first. Once you’ve got some ideas down, the specifics can be used to set up the SMART goals.

For example, if you’re a software developer, your tools might consist of the programming languages you use, the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) application you use, the testing harness you apply to verify the integrity of your code, etc. Tools can also consist of the way you think about your code, including application and system architecture patterns and anti-patterns, or the way requirements are articulated (e.g. User Stories or Functional Specifications).

If your role revolves around project delivery – usually manifested as Project / Delivery / Iteration Manager or Scrum Master – your tools would include planning, tracking and reporting artefacts as they relate to an outcome’s functional components, finances, risks, etc. They would also include how you approach release management, communication strategies, etc.

Again, the point of this exercise is to think about and create a list of tools that are used in your field of work, which can then be used as a basis to set up SMART improvement plans.

Processes

Processes refers to how you do your work. This is important because while there’s value in getting good at what you do, you should always be looking to improve how you do it too. Yes, some things require painstaking attention to detail and will always take time, but generally the more skilled you get at something the more efficient you get at doing it. Explicitly thinking about the processes involved in doing your work makes you stop and factor in how to be more effective.

Generally, there are two broad areas within processes that you might want to consider:

  • the methods that you apply to get things done
  • the number of people involved

Methods

Method refers to the steps or sequence of activities that you use to do your work. You might also refer to it as your workflow or way of working, but it essentially describes how you take one or more inputs and turn them into an outcome.

When thinking about methods, include both macro-level approaches (such as Agile or Human Centred Design) as well as micro / personal ones which make you more productive (such as Getting Things Gone or the FranklinCovey planning system).

Number of people

The second aspect to consider when thinking about processes is how effective you are when dealing with other people. Micro methods generally only involve you, but as your circle of influence increases, you will need to increasingly collaborate with others to get things done. Think about how good you are – or need to be – within processes that involve others in your team, and then others outside your team. On a maturity continuum, your process effectiveness should be increasing from singular (yourself) to multiple (many others).

People

Last, but most definitely not least, is the People component. People refers to the individuals you may interact with to get your work done. Sometimes, there might only be one individual involved: you. But more often than not, you will also need to collaborate with others to get to desired outcomes.

When decomposing the People segment, it is useful to consider at least a couple of perspectives:

  • Personal – the personal behavioural characteristics that you want to develop
  • Social – the soft skills you need to effectively work with others

Personal

Personal skills are internally focussed and will not only make you work better, in most cases help out in other areas of your life as well. These can include both values that you want to develop as well as specific skills:

Examples of Values

  • Resilience
  • Mindfulness
  • Tenacity
  • Courage

Examples of Skills

  • Speed reading
  • Sketching
  • Meditating

Social

Social skills are externally focussed and are aimed at improving your effectiveness to communicate and collaborate with others. Like personal skills, development of social skills lends itself to improvements in both work and personal situations. Examples of social skills include:

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Communication (verbal and written)
  • Negotiation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership
  • Management

Together, these skills define how you behave when working alone or with others, and can be a useful way to organise the People component of your development framework.

Hopefully this is helpful in fleshing out the Career Planning Framework and getting you a step closer to creating some SMART goals. If you have any thoughts or other approaches, I’d love to hear about them in the comments or via email.