Supply chain professionals that are coming up through the ranks today must create and proactively manage their careers by developing a solid career plan, seeking out opportunities to develop their skills and experience, growing and nurturing their networks, and positioning themselves for internal promotions or external career advances.
If you’re not proactively managing your career then you are reactively managing it. This isn’t ideal for anyone striving to accelerate their career in supply chain.
Let’s take a look at the differences between proactive and reactive career planning:
Proactive: Developing a long-term career plan that focuses on where they want to arrive at the height of their career, as well as the steps they need to take along the way to reach this destination. They are constantly seeking out opportunities to learn and enhance their skill set and marketability and they work on developing and growing their supply chain network at all times.
Reactive: Not developing a career plan. They might work just as hard as anyone else and focus on obtaining the next promotion but they do not think or act strategically when it comes to their long-term career plan. As for building and leveraging their supply chain network, they only do so when they’re ready to make a career move or find themselves unemployed.
The supply chain career planning process is very similar to setting goals. Without career goals, you will lack focus and direction when it comes to your career in supply chain.
Here are the fundamental steps for effective supply chain career planning:
1) Set Career Goals that Motivate You
Staying motivated is the key to achieving your career goals. When you set career goals for yourself, they must be deemed as “important” and there must be “value” associated with achieving them. Focus on establishing career goals that match the highest priorities within your career first – goals that you know will create a strong sense of urgency to fulfill and will add value once achieved.
2) Set SMART Career Goals
In order for a career goal to be deemed qualified, it needs to be a SMART goal. SMART stands for:
- Specific – the career goal must be very well defined and describe in precise detail what it is you want to achieve.
- Measurable – if your career goals don’t include numbers, dates, amounts or percentages you won’t be able to track and measure your progress.
- Achievable – avoid setting career goals that are near impossible to achieve or you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration. You also should avoid setting career goals that are too easy to achieve as well. The best approach is to set stretch goals – something that’s realistic yet challenging.
- Relevant – closely align your career goals with the direction you want your supply chain career to go in as this will help maintain the proper focus you’ll need to stay ahead.
- Timely – all career goals should have a deadline. Deadlines help to create a sense of urgency.
3) Write Down Your Career Goals!!!
If you fail to write down your career goals you simply won’t succeed (unless you get lucky). It is imperative that you not only write down your career goals but that you keep them in a highly visible place such as your desk, office, mirror, refrigerator, and/or glued to your laptop.
4) Develop Career Action Steps
Supply chain career planning involves creating career goals that are focused on achieving a desired outcome by an established deadline. Action steps are prioritized work tasks and milestones that you need to achieve in order to obtain your goal by the established deadline. Write down these action steps and embed them into your favorite task management system such as Outlook.
5) Review and Track your Progress
Working towards achieving your career goals is a steady, ongoing process that requires a lot of focus and commitment. I encourage you to set up recurring appointments/reminders on your calendar each week to track progress made towards achieving your career goals. Sometimes you’ll need to make adjustments to your career goals when unexpected events pop up in your life or career so know that this is okay and perfectly normal.
With that being said, always strive to keep your career goal deadlines in place as pushing them back can lead to bad habits such as procrastination. If you do miss a deadline then set aside some time to reevaluate what when wrong and put a corrective action plan in place.
6) Celebrate Career Goal Achievements
Your career goals will not be realized in one day. As you get close to accomplishing a career goal, start making a plan for celebrating your achievement. This will give you added energy and incentive plus something fun to look forward to when you cross the finish line.