keys to a successful career

keys to a successful career

Issues of career growth and professional development are always relevant, especially in IT. HR specialists are often faced with the selection of candidates for management positions in IT and increasingly ask questions related to employee development methods. And this is good.

In this article, I do not aim to provide an in-depth academic analysis, but rather offer reflections based on personal experience and observations of the IT industry.

The purpose of the articleexplore what the concepts of “growth” and “development” really mean in the context of the professional life of an IT professional.

Introductory

Growth and development in one sense or another is a fundamental vector of any specialist, and they demonstrably express the success of a career. The concepts themselves complement each other.

Growth refers to a quantitative indicator (acquiring new skills, increasing knowledge or productivity). Development is a qualitative indicator: evolution or transformation of approaches, thinking, perception or relationships. This may mean improving the ability to solve complex problems, developing leadership skills, or deepening understanding of complex systems.

Please note that the article does not deal with the issue of finances (salaries, bonuses, etc.). The financial issue strongly depends on the “policy” and capabilities of one or another company. Most often, salary growth is not directly proportional to the employee’s development. Rather, it indirectly contributes to this and is highly dependent on the adequacy and maturity of all levels of the company’s management. To increase salaries in the company, several key points are needed:

  • Find out the forks by position.

  • Find out the dates when managers submit changes to the WP (usually it is once every six months to a year).

And then, if the ceiling for the position has not been reached, talk to the manager, find out what and when to do it (the dates must be guessed so that the manager has time to submit you for promotion). If it is already near the ceiling, that is, only within the framework of the position, here you must be prepared that the position will be available on another project. If there are no opportunities for growth, why aren’t you looking for a new job yet? Interesting fact: new employees with a lower grade are offered a higher salary than current employees with many years of experience. Hence all these rules not to disclose salary to colleagues in contracts.

There are many shades of gray among the types of IT professionals. Let’s summarize them into two:

  • Passive – employees who do not prioritize “growth and development” are sometimes retrospective at best.

  • Active – employees for whom “growth and development” is, if not the main, then one of the most important priorities that determines daily decisions.

With a group of “passive” employees, everything is very simple – they “go with the flow”. I do not condemn this approach, but I do not focus on it, since this thread of the discussion does not help us to reveal the topic of the article. Further, by employee we mean the “active” group. We will also immediately add that in today’s world, a sought-after specialist knows how to work in a team and has a decent level of soft skills, which allows him to interact with management. It is worth emphasizing that the distance between “passive” and “active” is one step, and “its name is desire.”

So we’ve set the definition, let’s look at the ways in which any gains in these metrics can be achieved.

Way

Reading articles, attending conferences, courses, pet-projects, books… Approximately such a list of ways of development comes to the mind of an average specialist. Let’s look at non-obvious methods.

Choice of company

In pursuit of happiness

The first and most important is the choice of the company. Yes, not everyone still perceives it as their conscious choice. Sometimes during the conversation, one gets the impression that serfdom is embedded somewhere in the subcortex of people. You choose where and how to work, and you choose when and for what reasons to leave. The IT market is so wide and constantly hungry that the possibilities are practically limitless. However, I recommend taking into account that due to the fashion for multi-stage interviews, one position can take a month, so I would invest 3-6 months in finding a suitable one.

Selection of projects and tasks

Talks

Many companies have more than one project, each with its own specifics, and most of them have different lines of tasks. An employee can always take the initiative, inform the management that he wants to work on a certain project or solve a certain nature of the task. Yes, it is not a fact that the wish will be fulfilled, but it significantly increases the probability. Also, being active in planning ceremonies allows you to pick up a more interesting pool of work and influence the development of approaches and project architecture. For example, you solve the interesting task of synchronizing a video stream and buffering data in real-time from a user on the other side of the planet, but you’ve always been curious about the machine vision used by a nearby team to generate the buffer you’re synchronizing. This can be told to a manager or technical director in a one-to-one meeting or at a retrospective, weekly meeting, PBR.

Decision-making

Responsibility

Increase the level of responsibility. There are situations when opportunities to make or influence decisions are limited to the area of ​​responsibility of the position. To overcome this obstacle, it is important to understand its contours. For this, you should contact the management and agree on specific indicators, the achievement of which will allow you to take another step on the way to success.

Example, DB specialists lose data every release; you propose optimizations or implement migrations, but your manager only pays attention to the project during firefighting. Then it is worth meeting with him or his manager and discuss the responsibilities and indicators that must be covered in order to transfer the decision-making function to you. If you are not listened to in such hopeless situations, then, most likely, it is better to look for another place of work. You can’t beat GBU (state budgetary institution) with management.

Environment

Surround yourself with people you grow with. It should not be forgotten that there is everything else besides a career; surround yourself with people with whom you can share experiences, keep the fire in your own eyes, and perhaps look up to. Many books have been written about this, so we will not stop here.

And what does the management do?

The head of the group of IT specialists SHOULD, in constant dialogue with the team, build individual plans for the development of employees. An IT manager in a company with mature processes is able to apply a product development strategy to an employee’s desire to grow in one direction or another. In this way, mutual benefit (of the company and the employee) is achieved. If the company does not have opportunities that satisfy the employee’s wishes, then you should say so at the next 1-to-1 meeting. Constantly conduct a retrospective, discuss the improvement or decline of indicators and identify the cause-and-effect relationship of changes, make forecasts.

The era of bosses has come to a sunset. In modern processes, teams are constantly striving for self-organization, and management accompanies and supports (regulates and guides) the team.

The world is very changeable, and the world of IT is even more so. Therefore, it is important to correct the vector in a timely manner and give an objective assessment of the results. An iterative approach helps to “not get lost in the dark”. It is optimal, in my opinion, to make quarterly and annual retrospectives.

Results

  • Growing means being proactive.

  • Knowing the processes and ceremonies of development is equivalent to knowing the tools of influence on the growth of an employee.

  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your manager about opportunities and ask him for a plan to achieve them (after all, it’s his job).

  • A manager must know his team and grow with it.

  • Retrospective should be clear and regular.

In conclusion: career growth and professional development in the field of information technologies is a dynamic and multifaceted process. We looked at how active efforts, strategic choice of workplace and projects, as well as constant self-learning and development of personal qualities can contribute not only to professional success, but also to personal satisfaction at work.

It is important to remember that the path to success in IT is not the same for everyone. It requires an individual approach, an understanding of one’s own goals and desires, as well as the ability to work in a team and constantly develop as a professional. Managers should not forget about creating conditions for the growth and development of their subordinates, because mutual benefit and support are the basis of successful and productive work.

I hope my thoughts will be useful for those who want to develop their careers in IT and for those who help others to move forward on this path. Feel free to share your success stories, ask questions, and discuss what strategies have worked for your growth and development. Your experience can be a valuable contribution to the development of the community and help others find their way to success in the IT world.

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