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Do You Have What It Takes to Move Ahead?

You’ve held the same position for some time now. You believe that you have performed your duties well (in fact, you’ve consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty) and that you’ve proven yourself a valuable member of your team and your organization. You’d like to move ahead, but how should you proceed? 

AMA’s seminar “Taking on Greater Responsibility: Step-up Skills for Non-Managers” recommends that you assess, then enhance your skills in five key areas:

  • Understanding your business and becoming business savvy
  • Managing change
  • Communicating strategically
  • Juggling new assignments and current responsibilities
  • Leading and working in teams

A good way to grasp how these key areas operate in your workplace is to assess your present ability to understand and use each of them. In doing so you will establish a baseline from which you can plan your development and, later, measure your professional growth and success.

The following self-assessment covers 25 skills—five for each of the key areas listed above. It will help you rate the skills that are essential to your job as well as your proficiency at those skills. It can also serve as the basis for a career development discussion with your manager.

How to Take the Assessment:
1. Rate each item on a scale of 1 to 5 for its importance to your current position (column A), with “1” being “of little importance” and “5” being “of great importance.”
2. Rate each item on a scale of 1 to 5 for your proficiency in that skill (column B), with “1” being “little skill” and “5” being “very proficient.”

FIVE KEYS TO SUCCESS                                                   A                                   B
                                                                                         Importance                  Proficiency
I. Understanding Your Business/Becoming
Business Savvy:
1.  Understand company vision and strategy
and be able to explain it to others; putting
meaning to the words for impact

2.  Define how your role fits into the
business strategy and how it impacts
business results

3.  Support the strategy by using your
current skills

4. Demonstrate knowledge of
basic business principles and trends

5.  Understand external and internal factors
which have an impact on your business

II. Managing Change
1. Understand your responses to change

2. Accept uncertainty and practice coping
skills to adapt to change: develop resiliency

3. Demonstrate the ability to remain
positive and proactive in a changing
business environment by encouraging
and accepting new and different
processes and ideas

4. Look for innovative solutions and
new approaches when it appears nothing
Else is working

5. Facilitate the change process by
influencing others to adapt their
behaviors and approaches

III. Communicating Strategically
1. Demonstrate an ability to effectively
communicate information to al levels

2. Recognize different styles of
communication and demonstrate
flexibility in your approaches

3. Apply techniques for feedback that
are appropriate to the situation

4. Use influence and persuasion with
confidence to present information

5. Employ Strategic Communication Skills

IV. Juggling new assignments and
current responsibilities

1. Prioritize your assignments and
reorganize your work to maximize
productivity

2. Balance multiple demands on your
time and resources

3. Use resources to support your priorities

4. Practice negotiating skills

5. Adapt to additional challenges and
responsibilities by identifying and
fulfilling your training needs

V. Leading and Working in Teams
1. Take a leadership role in team situations
and demonstrate the role with
knowledge, poise and confidence

2. Create an environment that fosters
cooperation and recognition

3. Motivate others to meet team goals and
achieve results for organizational success

4. Encourage active participation while
respecting others’ opinions and ideas

5. Facilitate group decision making

Interpreting Your Responses: Identify Your Strengths and Areas Needing Development

1. Identify your strengths: Review columns A and B. You will note that there are some skills that are very important to your job (rated “4” or “5” in column A) and at which you have a high proficiency (rated “4” or “5” in column B).  These skills are your strengths.

2. Identify your areas needing development: Note the skills that you have rated as being very important to your job (rated “4” or “5” in column A) but in which you’ve scored as “less skilled” (rated “1”, “2” or “3” in column B). These are your areas needing development. (Note: a true development need should show a gap of at least two points between a skill’s importance to you job and your proficiency level in that skill).

Next Steps
Now it’s up to you. Depending on how you scored on the self-assessment, your next steps might include:

  • Set up a meeting with your supervisor. Show him or her this assessment and use it as a springboard for a discussion about your career goals and training and development issues. Chances are your boss will be impressed that you took the initiative to analyze your responsibilities and your role in the organization.
  • If you have identified a gap between your job requirements and your skills, think about taking steps to bring your skills up to speed.
  • If you discover that you are so proficient in your job’s required skills that you have outgrown your current position, think about how you might move on to a higher-level job that takes best advantage of your strengths. 

Keep in mind that the time to think about your future is today. Remember the words of motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Ask yourself, “How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow I'm committed to?” Good luck!

© American Management Association. All rights reserved.

Learn more about AMA’s seminar Taking on Greater Responsibility: Step-up Skills for Nonmanagers.

About the Author(s)

Shari Lifland is Editorial Communications Manager for American Management Association.  She is editor of the eNewsletters "Moving Ahead," "Management Update," and "Administrative Excellence," and manages content for the Members-only section of AMA's Website.