Teri Currie: Plan your career development, not your promotion

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By Teri Currie
Group Head, Canadian Personal Banking

Most successful companies have defined approaches to career planning. At TD, things culminate in March, after colleagues have spoken with their leaders and are busy finalizing their career development plans. However, our career development plans are not a moment in time, but rather a guide to a year-round conversation between colleagues and their managers. 

As a member of TD's Senior Executive Team and as someone who has spent a fair bit of her career overseeing Human Resources, I'm often asked for my advice on career development – particularly around this time of year.

In subtle and not so subtle ways, a question I get a lot is "how do I get a promotion?"

I've spent over 35 years working in financial services, mostly with TD, and over that time I've honed my response down to this: if that's your approach to career development, you're asking the wrong question.

It may seem counterintuitive, but career development is not about getting promoted. It's about asking yourself what skills you need to build to do your current job better. It's a chance to think about and share what you're really good at, reflect on what motivates you, and determine what opportunities you should pursue to help you grow.

Careers don't move in a straight line. Mine certainly hasn't. In fact, over the course of my tenure at TD, I've made more lateral moves than I can count.  This wasn't me biding my time.  Moving to different businesses gave me new skills, perspectives, and abilities. Because I worked with so many people from different areas of the bank, I moved beyond simple networking and built a broad cohort of colleagues who understood my track record and could champion me when I needed it.

With my development plan in mind, I sought out good managers, built great teams and looked for ways to bridge gaps in my skills and add breadth to my experience. As a result, my career trajectory has been anything but linear—and I'm a better colleague and leader because of it.

When you think about your own career development plan, it's important to remember that people want to see you do great work and see you contribute to helping others. Your success and the success of those around you all contribute to the overall health and well-being of the organization. And a culture that prioritizes personal development has the added bonus of creating a competitive advantage by attracting and retaining the best talent.

At TD, developing our colleagues is one of our most important shared commitments and key to our inclusive culture.  Helping our people perform at their best is vital to our long-term success and anyone who chooses to invest their time and talent with us deserves work that matters.

With that in mind, here are some things to consider as you create or fine-tune your career development plans:

  1. Focus on what you can do today to develop the skills you want and need for the future. Think about what you'd like to experience in your current role, people you'd like to meet, and training you'd like to have.
  2. Say it out loud. Write it down. And review your plan regularly.
  3. Create and celebrate small milestones with your leader. This will help you stay on track and remain motivated.

The next opportunity may not be a move up, but with a good plan, it's much more likely to take you where you want to go.

 

Teri Currie

Group Head, Canadian Personal Banking

TD Bank Group