I recently gave a talk at Camp Digital on professional progression. I took the attendees through multiple aspects of what they should be doing in their careers in order to progress.
A section of the talk is dedicated to my own working theory about time, skill levels and focus.
This theory depends on a few things. I believe these things have to happen in order for the theory to be correct.
As a human you must;
- put the effort in
- lean in
I present amounts of experience in a time measurement which are linked to skill levels and areas of focus.
In most cases a person should be focusing on three things;
- the practice of what they do
- personal development
- professional development
The time measurements and skill levels look a bit like this.
What should your focus be in that, in order for you to keep progressing? Remember that you can progress personally, professionally (skill) or in your career (level). You’re aiming for a steady mix of all three.
The first two experience levels (junior and mid-weight) should be focused on 80% working on delivery and the practical side of your role and 20% on personal and professional development.
The third experience level should be focused on 70% on delivery and the practical side of your role, 20% on personal and professional development and 10% community building (support for recruitment / mentoring etc)
The fourth experience level should be 80% on leadership and community building and 20% personal and professional development
The fifth experience level should be 80% strategy and leadership and 20% personal and professional development.
Let’s take a look at the specifics of those percentages.
Junior to senior levels
Not a lot changes from Junior to Senior, you should be focusing a lot on the practitioner side of your role. This is your time to shine in terms of the what and how of the things you do. The personal development in these should be based around communication, listening and getting a mentor. Professional development in these levels should be making you a better practitioner and any learning which may support the business. Community building should be supporting the business in terms of building practices or communities of professions.
Leadership of the profession and making sure it is embedded across the business, leading the community in terms of quality and direction and building the community by leading on the hiring and structure of the team. An additional practical side of this level is working with the different businesses areas to embed user-centred design and identify any problems which could be solved with the support of a user-centred design approach.
Directorship of a business is a larger dynamic shift that other roles. Most of your role, an entire 80% will be focused on strategy. Strategy on capability build, cost-cutting and/or profit building. Leadership of all the professions you look after and director those lead positions in the quality, direction and how to build capability at the right time. Professional development in this level should learning more about those practical outcomes. I’ve found that it usually comes down to mentorships or speaking to as many people who have been there before. Personal development looks like a lot of communicating, prioritisation techniques and sitting down with a counsellor to support you with how to work with clarity as much as you can.