How do you manage your career when you work for a non profit or community organization?
That was a question asked of me during a recent presentation at a conference for community health care professionals. No matter if you work in human services or business services, one thing is for sure…your career is your responsibility. Yes, of course your manager should have your best interests in mind, but your professional development is not at the top of his or her daily to-do list. It should be on the top of yours.
Here are 7 key strategies for moving up in the non profit world.
1. Develop strong competence in your specialty.
You need substance. Produce outstanding results that add major value in one of the big areas of your organization. Do it on time, under budget, and without a big hassle.
2. Build a web of contacts throughout your organization.
It’s difficult to survive on skills alone — you need a network of allies who know and appreciate your value. Join committees and task forces so that you can show your capabilities and make yourself known.
3. Listen to the talk around the water-cooler.
Most of it is gossip, but you’ll learn a lot about the politics in your organization. Focus your attention not so much on what gets said, but rather how it gets said.
4. Move in the direction the organization is going.
When change occurs, your energy is better spent on trying new things, not putting extra effort into old ways. Most of all, don’t waste time complaining about the change.
5. Develop broad management expertise.
Professionals, no matter what your expertise, will be of greater value if they develop a broad base of practical management skills including budgeting, grant writing supervision. Therefore, you will more likely be chosen for greater leadership responsibility.
6. Reorder your work priorities.
Meet the needs of your boss first, then co-workers and your personal ones last.. Treat them like customers. People may not always notice what you do for them, but they are well aware of what you don’t do. That means balancing the various demands on your time selectively.
7. Seek out a mentor and others who can help you.
You need people who will help you understand how they managed their careers so that you can learn how to manage yours. Also, find a coach who can build your skills and help develop your long term career strategy. The use of coaches has been commonplace in the business sector for many years and the practice has taken hold in nonprofit world.
Career Success Tip
It’s okay to have personal career goals and be ambitious in the non profit world. It doesn’t mean you have to climb over people but it does mean you have to have confidence, assertiveness, and of course integrity.
Do you want to develop Career Smarts?
- For more resources, see the Library topic Career Management.
- Start with the Career Success System.
- Sign up for Career Power: 101 success tips.
- Fast track your career. Be part of a Success Team.
- Need a speaker? Get the Edge Keynotes-webinars-workshops.
- Find career and leadership boosters in the Smart Moves Blog.
- Copyright © 2011 Marcia Zidle career and leadership coach.