Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Career Development in the GOC

Why should I grow my career horizontally? Or more importantly... why not?

These days, when you open the newspaper or click through your favourite news site, it's becoming more common to see articles about looming public sector layoffs, with predictions of more to come in the next several years.

With layoffs on this scale, opportunities for advancement may dry up or become fewer. And for the public servants who remain, it may be harder to remain positive, productive, and motivated.

One approach is to focus on developing your career horizontally, rather than vertically, at least for now. Exploring your chances of moving on or ahead horizontally opens a whole new world of possibilities.

Taking the time, for example, to develop your professional skills/competencies is one way you can build for the future now &mdash by thinking and acting horizontally.

What are competencies and why should I develop them?

Competencies are the skills, attributes and knowledge you may want to acquire as your career develops. In broadening your professional competencies you will also better understand your strengths &mdash and weaknesses &mdash thereby helping plan what you need to learn as your career develops. A strong breadth and depth of skills also demonstrates the range of abilities you have developed, which helps when applying for jobs or making career decisions.

In other words, to effectively build competencies you not only need to increase your knowledge and broaden your skill set, but also beef up your understanding of how these competencies can be used, your skills in applying them, and the right attitude to maximize their effectiveness in your career.

Furthermore, many organizations are focussing more on competencies in selection/competitive processes. Candidates who end up on top will most likely be those who can demonstrate the depth of their competency development at various stages of the assessment process. Beyond moving to a new position, competencies are also effective in analyzing and discussing your current job performance, and identifying professional development/training needs.

Identifying precisely what tasks you need to be competent at &mdash and at what level &mdash in both your current job and in your long-term career, can be difficult and time-consuming. Organizations like Y2 Consulting Psychologists can help with competency-based management &mdash simply, efficiently, and expertly.

It is also worth pointing out that, as a development tool for public service employees, Treasury Board has mapped core competencies to existing courses and other learning methods. Employees can use this list to select the most relevant courses that provide the knowledge and skills that address the competencies they wish to develop by clicking on the following link: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pd-pp/doc/ccls-pace/ccls-pace-eng.aspx

What are some other ways I can grow horizontally?

Of course, growing horizontally can also be accomplished through a number of other means. These include hiring a coach and looking into task rotations or job exchanges (secondments) and assignments. Ambitious and career-minded employees can also focus on learning new tasks, taking courses, consulting reference materials (e.g. videos, books), or talking with colleagues or supervisors about career planning and competency development.

We'll explore some of these in future issues of our blog. As always, your comments are most welcome.

Leaman Long, HRM Consultant
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

If you have any questions and/or comments, don't hesitate. Thank you!

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