Does the traditional career path still exist?
The average professional today will have 11.7 jobs in their career. Most recently, I held 4 jobs in 6.5 years with my company.
Organizations, technology, and strategies change rapidly in today’s state of play. This rapid change unlocks new career possibilities for the high performer.
It’s no longer perform in your role, and wait your turn to be promoted. It’s now perform and advance.
Advance to the next assignment, challenge, or opportunity that the company is chasing.
If you’re a high performer, you’re going to get asked this question:
“What do you want to do next?”
Wondering if you’re a High Performer?
If you are performing in your role and can take on more responsibility or workload, you qualify as a high performer.
Organizations want and need people like you because you create slack in the system. New initiatives or projects can get launched without the risk and time associated with bringing in new leaders to ramp on something that’s still early stage.
For the high performer, this creates more career possibilities than ever before. It lets you call your shot if you know what you want. However, it comes with a word of caution. It makes your career path more complex.
“No one ever drifted anywhere on purpose.” – Michael Hyatt
The Wrong Answer
I was coming off a very successful assignment. Our Chief Strategy Officer and my boss scheduled time with me to talk about my next role.
Our CSO asked me, “What do you want to do next?”
“Whatever the business needs. I’m a team player.” I said.
“Ok, we’ll get back to you.”
A little more casual conversation and the call was over. I couldn’t help but feel like something golden just slipped through my hands.
Debriefing afterward, my boss gave me this advice, “not many people get asked what they want to do next. When someone asks you that question, have an answer.”
Flipping The Script
You might disagree with me. Maybe you think my response was a safe maneuver. For a while, so did I.
Several months ago, I flipped the script. I went to a high performer on my team and said, “You’ve been excelling at your current role. I think you’re ready for more responsibility. “What do you want to do next?”
“I don’t know,” he replied.
And then I realized what that question is really asking…
The Question Behind The Question
The “What do you want to do next?” question isn’t only about you. It’s also about where you see opportunity in the business.
A senior leader could simply ask, “where do you see our biggest opportunity for growth, savings or efficiency?”
But if you want a serious answer, you ask someone where they want to spend their time. It’s the difference between asking someone if they would buy your product and actually asking them to buy it.
If you’re successfully executing, that means you have a clear view of how things are working (or not working) under the surface. That perspective is valuable to senior leaders.
The question isn’t only about what do you want to do next. It’s also about where do you see opportunity next. Why do you see opportunity there? What value can you create by tackling it?
High performers can answer that question, and when they do, they get to chart their own path.
Whether you’ve had an experience like mine or if this advice is getting to you just in time, don’t miss the opportunity to call your shot. So…
“What do you want to do next?”