Posted by Kathy Downs on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 08:30
Climbing the ladder in the financial world takes hard work, talent and drive. To get to the top, you’ll want to develop a strategy and set goals in the form of a solid career development plan.
It’s possible to create a plan on your own, of course. Most people probably do. But the most successful career development plans require the insight of someone who has experience in the upper levels of finance, someone who has observed you grow and overcome challenges.
Yes, we’re talking about your boss.
Your boss, or manager, will be well aware of your strengths and weaknesses, so who better to ask? Reaching out for help with your career development plan will not only benefit you in the future, it can improve your current performance, too. Specifically, it's a good idea for at least two clear-cut reasons:
It shows your interest
Sure, maybe you’re an excellent financial analyst. But your managers may have no idea that your goals are to build on your foundation and one day secure an operational analytics position. Once they know, they may be more likely to assign you to projects that can give you relevant experience.
It encourages coaching
Good bosses always push their teams to do their best. But when bosses have a clear picture of what roles their employees are aiming for, they can pay better attention to areas where they need to offer guidance. Remember that if you want this training to continue, you need to accept the feedback and be open to constructive criticism.
Kind in mind, too, that some companies are not just willing to help their employees grow professionally, but they are willing to provide financial assistance for your courses or licenses.
While your manager can help with your career development plan, it’s still your job to do the legwork. To get your boss on board with helping you design the best path possible, you need to be prepared with some basic questions.
1. Are my goals reachable?
Managers have an idea of the skills and abilities needed to reach certain positions and can tell you if you’re on the right path. You may or may not get the answer you want. But asking might lead to a discussion that could give you a dose of confidence regarding other career advancement options.
2. How can I improve?
This question shows your boss that you recognize you have weaknesses. He or she can highlight those for you and can benchmark your skill advancement in performance reviews so you can more readily see how you’re growing.
3. What opportunities are available?
Asking for additional training or education shows your drive to truly advance your finance career. Your boss can point you to certifications you may need to acquire and possible mentors. If circumstances permit, he or she may even set you up for cross-training or job shadowing.
Your bosses or managers will likely be happy to help you lay out a career development plan. But remember that time spent in this area can take away from their daily tasks. They’re giving a little extra effort on your behalf, so make sure you always express gratitude for the boost they’re providing to help you climb the career ladder.
Kathleen Downs, a vice president with Robert Half Finance & Accounting, started with the company in 2000. Before that, she was CEO of a recreation/retail/education organization in Bonn, Germany. Kathleen is actively involved with a number of professional organizations within the finance and accounting field and sits on several not-for-profit boards.