How Career Management and People Management Are Similar

Career management tends to be something that many people are guilty of neglecting.  We go to school, launch a job and the next thing we know, we’re on autopilot.  You perform your job, go home and that’s pretty much it.  No thought about the direction or how to manage your career until a problem arises.

If your career were one of your employees, they would have either left long ago or seriously derailed due to the lack of guidance.  Just like you manage people, your career requires your attention, thought and planning to produce desired results.  Let’s look at 5 critical things you need to do to manage your career:

Know what the goal is.  Yes, you hear about career goals; and that’s because you have those goals to help you get clear about your direction.  The same thing applies to management.  You have to be clear about the results your group must produce.  Just like group goals, your career goal should be specific and have time boundaries.

Know what will get you to the goal.  You may need to do some homework or at least study your place of business to understand what you need to do to get you to your career destination.  It may be a combination of learning new skills and delivering certain projects, or even taking a class you can apply to your job.

Watch for progress.  When you manage a group you have to monitor for issues and progress.  You have to pay attention, read or ask questions to know if your group is on track for getting the results.  You need to do the same thing with your career.  You can’t just set your goals and expect things to happen.  Action and results will tell you how you are doing. You need to pay attention to your career progress on some type of regular basis; twice a year is not overkill.  If you regularly check in on your career progress, it can’t go off course very quickly, because you’re paying attention to it.

Make adjustments. There will always be situations that arise that may cause you to adjust your plans.  Plans change; and you must be willing to look critically at your goals and plans for modifications.

Get feedback.  A big role for a manager is to communicate with the employees to let them know how well they are performing.  You need feedback on how well you are tracking to your career goals.  While monitoring them will give you some feedback, you also need feedback from the decision makers you work for.  This will help reinforce your progress and help you know where you need to do things differently to stay on course.

Your career needs planning, resourcing and reinforcement on an ongoing basis in order for it to be as deeply satisfying as it can be.

For more career tips and advice – FREE newsletter and eworkbook:  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from and

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a certified life and career coach. She works with aspiring professionals who are looking for career growth, advancement and entry into the “C” suite. As well, she works with people to overcome the sometimes daunting task of changing careers. With over 21 years in management, Dorothy has coached, trained and guided other professionals who have gone on to impressive and fulfilling careers. Her personal philosophy about careers is: “It’s not JUST a job; it’s half your life – so love your career”. You can check out her resources, blog and services at Next Chapter New Life and MBA Highway.

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  1. This is a great article & I needed it about 30 years ago. Now I’m 46 & plateaued. I think if I could go back in time I would have acquired a mentor early in my career to help me see the bigger picture and challenge my thinking. I accepted what came along my path. I changed a few things but never anything life-altering. Otherwise I am a byproduct of sitting on the sidelines & hoping for the best. It’s been an interesting journey & I have a decent reputation for what I do, but I know I am capable of higher levels. Anyway thanks for this article & hopefully someone like me but 30 years younger is reading it.

    • Ruth, you sound like you’ve given up on yourself and your career. At 46, you have one or two more great career paths in front of you. While you may not be crazy about your path up to this point, you can forge a new one. Wouldn’t you hate it if, when you’re in your 60′s you would have realized how great the previous 20 years of your career could have been? Let me be the mentor to you right now to say – get off that plateau and pursue a new path!

  2. This is a great post! It’s true, managing people and managing your career have a lot of the same elements. In fact, a lot of these elements also apply to managing your job hunt. For instance, you can watch the progress of how employers are responding to your resume and make adjustments based on this progress. For instance, maybe you want to record a video resume to enhance your paper resume. You can then get feedback from friends, family, and coworkers on your video resume. These management tips are helpful no matter what stage you’re currently at in your career search.

    • Josh, great input. Your message is about being flexible in what you’re doing and modifying what your process if you need to get different results. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. thx d

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