[Post by Chuck Krugh, August 25, 2023]
Welcome back! You made it through the last four blogs: What Do You Want To Do When You Grow Up?, Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?, How Are You Going To Get to Where You Want in Your Career, and So, You Got the Next Job in Your Journey – Now What? I hope you found them useful and informational. Now it’s time for the last topic in this series.
In the previous four blogs, I offered some practical advice from my personal experience regarding career management. I am certainly no expert on the topic, but I have learned a few things in managing my own career and have also helped a few others along the way. My goal in those blogs was to impress upon you a few things: you have to manage your own career; you must think about how you are going to navigate it; and you need time to think and to plan where you are heading.
In this blog, I want to discuss our company – Bath Iron Works – and you!
Over the course of my career, I really didn’t have anyone guiding me on what I will call the “ways of the world at work.” When we join a company, we come to our own individual interpretation of how things function at work; sometimes, however, we discover later that our company works a little differently than we expected or believed. One of those areas for me was managing my career at work.
Early on in my career, I was never comfortable talking to my management about my career aspirations. I was more worried about keeping my job and supporting my young family. I was raised – probably like you were – to go to work, to work hard and to keep my nose clean. Those directions were pretty clear from Mom. I didn’t want to do anything that I thought might affect my job.
But in reality, the company has a vested interest in not only knowing what you want to do, but also in keeping its talented employees working for the company. Retaining good people creates stability and an experienced workforce, making it easier to hire other talented people. Therefore, if this is truly what the company wants, then it is important for me, as an individual employee, to share my career aspirations with my management.
The more I grew in my different management roles, the more I began to see how important it was to help my team achieve what was important for them as individual employees. I have seen and helped many employees, both on my team and other teams, move into roles that were either a better fit or were in line with their career plans. As these workers moved into new roles, it also benefitted the company as each individual was doing something that person had desired to do. Win-win for both!
It is important for you to have a conversation about your career aspirations. To make that conversation most effective, please keep three key ingredients in mind: timing, trust and persistence.
Timing is everything when you want to have a conversation with your boss about your career plan. For example, you may not get a good result if you choose to have the conversation at shift startup or shift end, two very busy times. Scheduling a time for that conversation is best.
You have to trust the person who you will talk with. You must trust that the person will keep your plans to themselves and will treat the conversation with the respect that it deserves, you must also trust that this is the right person for a meaningful conversation or conversations required to help you on your way.
As for persistence, this will not be a one and done conversation. Remember, it’s your career and you need to drive it. Your persistence will be the propellant that drives your career plan. Don’t get discouraged. It’s a long game, not a short game. It will take time; be patient and persistent to get where you want to go.
Not having this conversation has a downside. I know many people are like I was in that they have not established, or don’t feel like they have established the level of trust with someone in their leadership required for such a candid conversation about their career goals. Others may be hesitant to try again because their first attempt at a conversation didn’t go well. The result is an unsatisfied employee who ultimately decides to quit while working – just going through the motions – or who leaves the company. Either case is terrible for both the company and employee.
The company isn’t interested in having unhappy employees. Unhappy employees have lower productivity, less focus on the job (huge safety risk), and greater attendance problems. None of those things help the company! On the employee side, they may be less motivated, get frustrated easily and may have home- or work-related problems causing extra stress in their lives. No one needs that…so it is worth having this conversation, and if you tried and it did not help, try having the conversation with a different individual in leadership.
I also want all our employees to consider our company as a whole when thinking about career growth. BIW is a big company with lots of opportunities for our team. If you think about the breadth of our company, it’s huge! We have career fields in all the trades, engineering, facilities, planning, operations, business planning, finance, accounting, training, human resources, firefighting, security – and the list goes on. You can choose to grow your career in the trades, or in management – YOU have options! Those options are greater if we know what you want to do. That’s another good reason to have a conversation with your leadership about working on your career.
Building a career is a long game, so treat it that way. Your career will most likely run 30 to 40 years or more. Don’t let one rejection along the way discourage you or take you off your plan. Follow the plan for success!
See you on the deckplates!
Safely Execute High-Quality Work
President, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works
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