Cultivating Your Own Career: Are you doing enough to grow your future?

Most people I know, including myself, dreamed of being a major player at the company that employs us. So, have you thought seriously about why you have not yet received that call to senior management? Could the reason have anything to do with your not taking enough initiative? Have you taken advantage of all the company has to offer to get a jump on your peers and achieve the promotion you really want?? If you plan to get ahead at work, start now to develop yourself. No one else will do that for you. Here are five steps you can take to cultivate your career advancement.

Increase your value. Make yourself indispensable by increasing your value in the workplace. Tell yourself that you want to learn as much as you can about your position and the entire department in terms of its direction. Tell yourself that you are not just going to play a role, but become a M.V.P.

Create momentum. What do I want? How am I going to get it? Who can help me? No matter what?s going on in the workplace, you should establish a strategic plan to enhance your development and your future with your company while you wait for your call-up. Once you establish the plan, do something to create momentum and to feel good about what your current position offers you. One way to do this is to reexamine all the benefits your company offers and make any necessary changes during open-enrollment periods. Tune up your 401(k), medical plan, dental plan, legal plan, vision plan, company insurance, disability plan and corporate discounts on common purchases. This can save as well as make you money while helping you to feel better about your company right away.

Involve others. If you want to move into senior management, your plan has to be even more strategic and you will have to involve others. Start by looking at past performance reviews and discussing with your supervisor where you can improve. Before your next review, demonstrate that you have made the suggested improvements so that senior management knows you are serious about moving up. Take on the assignments that no one else in the company wants. Ask your supervisor to sign off on your participating in a management-training program. For starters, consider asking for executive coaching sessions and business-writing classes.

Go back to school. Use the company?s tuition reimbursement program, or go to company-sponsored seminars to improve your credentials for future ad-vancement. In exchange, you may have to remain at the company for a predetermined period of time after graduation. Seminars offered by your company often will cost you nothing and you can attend meetings during working hours. Moreover, your superiors will see that you are developing yourself beyond your current position.

Network. Find a senior-level cheerleader who is willing to help you get promoted. Let the cheerleader know that you want him or her to be your mentor because you want to know what?s needed to advance to higher levels as he or she has. Who better to ask questions about what upper management is looking for than upper management? You may feel the top brass at your company is difficult to access, but you should try to get to know at least one person who can give you honest feedback on occasion to help you enhance your chances for career growth.

Implementing these measures will not guarantee advancement, but they will accelerate your personal and professional growth in your industry. Determine what skills you may need to grow, and increase your attention to detail every day in the workplace. Begin thinking and doing the things that can and will get you noticed. Know you have what it takes and you are not going to depend entirely on the company to cultivate your own career.???

Kevin D. Carr is senior director of player development for the NBA Development League and a Network Journal 2004 ?40 Under-Forty Achiever.?