4-Step Process to Managing Your Upward Advancement
© Stretch Goal Survey
Hi Bestie! Congratulations on deciding to invest in your success. Below I’ve provided you a brief script (conversation opener) and sample questions for the survey portion of your professional advancement process. You should always use your own words, and pick the questions that are relevant to your particular situation. I’m sure you’ll think of some of your own as well. That’s perfect.
Be authentic and gracious when asking others to invest their time in your success. Do your homework ahead of time and know the people you are surveying. Always use others’ time efficiently and you will be more likely to be able to tap into their wisdom again and again. If you have limited time with someone, prioritize your most important questions first, in case you run out of time. Take copious notes.
If you know your goal:
Conversation opener: “Hi. Thank you so much for meeting with me today. I wanted to meet with you to see if you would share some of your professional wisdom and insights with me. I’m working on advancing myself to the next professional level, and to do that, I’ve decided to tackle _____ as a stretch goal to learn, develop more skills and provide more value. I’m reaching out to you as a trusted colleague/professional to ask for your advice and thoughts on the best way to succeed.” (Ideally you’ve already conveyed this in your initial call or email to set up the meeting. However, it’s always good to reiterate. Again, convey this message in your own words.)
Sample Survey questions:
Do you think this is a good goal for me to pursue to elevate me professionally? And, if not, do you have other ideas?
What are your initial impressions of what I’m trying to accomplish?
Do you think this is a worthwhile goal? Why or why not?
What do you think it will take for me to reach this goal?
What resources do you think I need to reach this goal?
What do you think are the steps I should take to reaching this goal?
What do you think are some of the opportunities in pursuing this?
What positive outcomes can you see coming from this for my career?
Do you see any downsides to pursuing this goal?
Are there any people that would not want to see this happen? People that do want to see it happen?
What are some of the challenges that you think I’ll face? How can I best prepare myself to meet those challenges?
Are there any potential pitfalls that I should avoid?
Are there other people I should talk to, to get advice? If so, who and why do you think it would be important to reach out to them?
Is there any training, information or research you think I need to do to reach my goal?
Who will have to support this for it to be successful? And, what is the best way to approach those people?
Are there any new relationships I will need to build?
Who do you think will be impacted by this goal?
How much time / resources do you think it will take to reach this goal?
Is there anything you see that I haven’t thought of?
Is there anything you would change about my goal?
Do you see other opportunities or potential goals that may be better to pursue than the one I’ve shared with you? Why would they be better?
Who else do you think I should talk to?
Assuming I achieve success, what is the best way to make sure the right people know that I was responsible for this success/achievement?
How can I communicate about my accomplishments in a way that is professional and supports my advancement?
If you don’t know your goal:
Note: This conversation is different if you don’t have a set goal in mind. For this opener, you are going to have to give your “surveyee” some idea of your career hopes and dreams. You also want to have an idea of your specific interests and talents before you meet. I know it sounds weird, but many times people don’t know their own interests – they are on autopilot. If this is the case, you are wasting someone’s time. Do your homework on you. Ask yourself this question – “What would increase my career happiness by 10 times?” The answer to that may take you some time, but you’ll definitely cull out your interests and passions in the process.
Some additional questions you can ask yourself are: If I could do anything I wanted, what would it be? If you love where you are, ask do I want to influence or achieve something specific? Am I interested in having a place on a leadership team that is currently out of my reach? Do I want to develop more close ties with another department or organization? Or do I want to work on adding tangible benefits or products at my current company? Come prepared with a good synopsis of the general direction you think you want to go. This will give your “surveyee” something to work with in helping you brainstorm a good goal. They will likely have follow-on questions of you in order to give you the best guidance.
[If you cannot get to this step and you’re truly not sure about what you want to do next in life – then you will have to spend some time with yourself contemplating your hopes and dreams before you ask someone to sit down with you and spend their time giving you advice.]
Conversation opener: “Hi. Thank you so much for meeting with me today. I wanted to meet with you to see if you would share some of your professional wisdom and insights with me. I want to take the next step in my career and to do that, I want to tackle a goal or project that will expand my knowledge, skills and value. I’ve been thinking about what type of goal I can tackle that will do this for me. I have figured out that I want to go in the general direction of _____ (your career hopes and dreams.) I’m reaching out to you as a respected leader/professional to ask for your advice and thoughts on the best way to proactively manage my next steps in advancement.” (Ideally you’ve already conveyed this in your initial call or email to set up the meeting. However it’s always good to reiterate. Again, convey this message in your own words.)
Sample Survey questions:
I know that, long-term, I want to move in ____ direction (share hopes and dreams). What do you think I can do to start moving myself in that direction?
I’ve been with _____ for __ years now. What do you think is the next logical step in my advancement?
My current skill sets and accomplishments are ___. What do you think I would need to add to that to elevate to the next level of my career?
What value do you think I can add in the current environment that I’m in?
What problems do you see in this organization that I can tackle and solve for the company, by taking ownership of/responsibility for driving that to success?
What do you see missing in my department/organization that I can take on as a project to advance my value and skill?
Are there any areas in my performance that could use some shoring up, and what would be the best way to work on those to move myself to the next level?[To a boss] How can I help you achieve your goals? What can I take responsibility for that helps you focus on the most important things in your job?
How did you establish professional goals for yourself? How did you go about achieving them? What are some “best practices” that you have learned in advancing yourself?[To a trusted colleague] When you stand back and look at me as a professional, what do you think I could do to advance myself to the next level?[And if you are really brave – with a trusted professional, ask] When you look at me as a professional, what do you think are my blind spots that if I were to address them would skyrocket me to the next professional level?
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Remember, nobody succeeds without other people. Utilizing the right people who have achieved success beyond your level is a great way to design a roadmap to your own success that minimizes bumps in the road, and accelerates your ascent to the next level and to your goals.
If you have any questions, or would like some support, feel free to reach out to me at Lacy@lacyschoen.com
Good luck, Bestie!
CEO, Team Lead, Inc. / Real Women Real Success