Most people are familiar with the concept of return on investment (ROI) in a business context. When considering a new project, initiative or capital expenditure, leaders usually want to know what the costs to expect compared to the benefits anticipated over time. This equates to ROI.
But have you heard this same concept applied to your career? I recently attended training where all of us (as participants) were asked to actually, literally write down and figure out what personal return on investment we were receiving (or not) from our individual careers.
As a manager coaching an employee, I would take my team members through this type of an exercise by asking them to work through questions such as:
- What types of things do you feel like you are putting IN to your career at this time, in this particular role / assignment?
- What types of things do you feel like you are getting OUT of your career, in this particular role / assignment?
- When you write all of those things down side by side, what kind of picture does it paint? Do the puts outweigh the takes? or is it too heavily weighed on one side than the other?
Based on what you find in this exercise, another line of questioning emerges.
- What would you like to change?
- Do you feel like you are hitting a wall? If so, what needs to happen to remove the wall or bust through it?
- *How might you go about making those changes?
- Who can you work with to make those changes?
*I encourage you to NOT jump to the conclusion that you have to change companies, or even change jobs / roles to make the adjustments you may be seeking. Often times you can work with your manager (or your manager’s manager) to find opportunities for growth and development within your current organization. For examples, see the book Eighty-Eight Assignments for Development in Place by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger.
Finding the right balance between what you put in and what you get out of your career will ebb and flow over time. On any given day it may feel out of sync, so you have to look at it from a big picture perspective. So if you are struggling with answering some of the questions outlined above, discussing with other key stakeholders in your life may be helpful. For example, a dear friend, mentor, or your spouse/significant other may provide perspective you are too close to recognize in yourself.
Many assessments can help you identify your values, interests, strengths, and preferred work environment. Once you have this level of self-awareness, you can articulate how all of those things intersect with the job/role opportunities best suited for you in the long run.
Once you find what works for you, then you can work to help others do the same. Pay it forward.