Why is Professional Growth Stifled in IT?

/ October 13, 2015 in 

Recently TINYpulse did a survey to monitor employee engagement in technology.

Their results? Sad.

Only 19% of software engineers, developers, systems engineers, etc . . . gave a strongly positive answer when asked how happy they were on the job. That means more than 80% of the IT workforce wakes up every morning not looking forward to the place they spend most of their waking hours: work.

But that wasn’t the statistic that scared me. TINYpulse found that the Non-IT workforce felt they had more support and opportunity for professional growth than the IT workforce.

IT_Professionals_Graph

Really? IT professionals live in a world where technology changes rapidly. As a technologist, a failure to learn new technical skills will quickly put you behind the curve when advancing your career. In such an exciting profession where technology changes daily how is it that IT professionals do not feel their companies provide support and opportunity for professional growth?

It’s About Priorities

I believe that developing and growing your people is the most important endeavor for any organization. Investing in people leads to a culture of innovation and a drive to be better.

@BTI360 we have a saying that:

“While most companies use their people to grow their business – we use our business to grow our people.”

This passion for investing in our teammates is what defines us, it’s the cornerstone of our culture, it’s our true north.  So how do we help reverse this trend in our industry?

Make Professional Growth a Priority

I’ve had many people ask, where do I start with making professional growth a priority. Here are the steps we use.

  1. Share Vision and Strategy

    “Where there is no vision the people will perish” – King Solomon

    Whenever I meet someone from a new organization I often ask what their company does and why they’re different. It’s incredible how most have no answer. Here’s a typical response: “Oh, you know. We’re like everyone else. We do project management, software development, configuration management, software testing, system integration, etc . . . .”

    How compelling!

    Every person should know why their company exists. What makes it different. And where it’s going. Without these answers it’s difficult to take step 2.

  2. Create Personal Development Plans

    “If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time.”  – Zig Ziglar  

    Everyone in your organization should have a personal development plan. It’s a career roadmap that answers three questions:

    1. What are your long term career aspirations?
    2. What can you achieve this year that align with your career aspirations?
    3. How do your goals align with the organization’s strategy?

    This provides a personal vision (where they want to go) and a strategy (how they can get there) for every person in your organization.

    Here’s the key – it’s personal. It’s a personal development plan. Rather than a list of organizational goals. Each plan must be unique to that person and help achieve both personal and organizational objectives.

  3. Establish a Touchpoint Cadence

    “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

    The last step is to establish regular touchpoints throughout the year to review each person’s progress towards these goals. This is where most organizations fail. Goals are created, filed away, and not reviewed until the next annual review. #FAIL

    Predefined, regular touchpoints provide an opportunity to review progress, make adjustments, and commit to the personal development plan. It’s not particularly difficult, just rare.

It’s Not Too Late

TinyPulse’s results are scary, but it’s not too late. If you feel like professional growth is lacking in your organization be the one to change the tide. Regardless of where you sit, start the conversation. If you’re thinking it, others are too. You’ll be surprised how many co-workers will volunteer their ideas and time as you try to help those around you.

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