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Goal-Setting and Career-Planning Checklist
Establishing measurable and relevant career goals is important to your success.
But discussing your potential career growth with your manager can be intimidating.
This checklist can make the goal-setting process simpler and a career discussion about your professional future more productive by helping you:
Examine your current role.
Consider potential career paths.
Organize your thoughts.
Be straightforward and precise in describing your goals.
Explain how your goals tie to your success and the company’s mission.
Have a productive discussion about your professional future.
Tips for Career Growth Discussions
BEFORE the discussion
Think about your goals and what you hope to accomplish during the year. Consider dividing any large goals into smaller measurements. Create talking points to share with your manager about how your goals tie to your success and that of the company. Complete any planning documents your company provides so that they can be used during the discussion with your manager.
Think about your core business interests and ask yourself:
Which stage of projects excites you the most?
Do any of your colleagues have jobs that you wish you had?
What kinds of activities do you gravitate toward?
Consider what really motivates you at work:
Security and stability.
Intellectual challenges and mental stimulation.
Chance to work with colleagues you like and admire.
New opportunities and advancement.
Take stock of your existing skills and weaknesses:
Which skills are your strongest?
Which areas could stand improvement?
What new skills would you like to develop?
Review your current position profile and others that interest you.
Draft a Development Plan by outlining your goals and how you plan to attain them.
DURING the discussion
Share your goal-setting documents and Development Plan with your manager. Confirm next-step actions both of you will take to help you reach your goals.
Discuss your past performance: both good and bad. Be sure to inquire about areas in which you can improve.
Share where you are in your career-planning process, including an assessment of your situation, goals and possible actions.
Discuss your development needs based on your current career level and career path, and compare those to your target career level and career path.
Specify what kind of actions you would like from your manager:
Feedback on your goals and career path.
Perspective on your development and current performance.
Recommendations on building competencies.
Introductions to people who can provide insight and serve as skill coaches.
More access to tools and resources.
Support for new assignments and stretch experiences.
Help with fostering relationships with other mentors and leaders.
Discuss, listen, take notes and confirm next steps.
Set a date for achieving each goal so that you have a target to work toward.
AFTER the discussion
Refer to your goals often as a reminder of how you’re doing. Track your goals progress on a regular basis. Discuss the results with your manager at least once every quarter — preferably more often.
Document your Development Plan and the actions you and your manager will take.
Write down all agreed-upon career goals immediately following your talk.
Track your goals progress and periodically provide updates on activities, milestones and timing to your manager.
Think long term and look beyond just the coming year.
Select learning activities — both internal and external — that will help you achieve your goals and address skill development gaps.
Plan to revise your Development Plan and goals as needed during ongoing conversations with your manager throughout the year.
Seek opportunities to take initiative in areas outside your day-to-day job activities, such as leading a meeting, organizing a committee to launch a new product or mentoring new employees.
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Finding the Right Child Care
When it comes to balancing one’s personal and professional life, working parents face the added challenge of attending to their children’s needs while also meeting their occupational obligations. In fact, 56% of working moms and 50% of working dads say they find it difficult to balance the responsibilities of work and family.1
Beyond finding enough time to spend with their family, parents of younger children also must figure out how to ensure their children are well-cared-for during the workday. And this is no easy task — 62% of parents with one or more children under age 6 say it is hard to find affordable, high-quality child care.2
Child care is a growing issue for American workers. Today, all parents in six out of every 10 households with children work out of the house, compared to only four out of every 10 households with children in 1965.3 At the same time, child care costs have steadily increased over the past 25 years.3
Child Care Options
If you’re struggling to find a child care option that meets your family’s needs while also fitting your budget, here are some tips to help you.
Do your homework. Before selecting a child care center, be sure to ask a lot of questions, such as if there are extra charges to drop off your child early or pick up late. Find out how many children will be shared per caregiver so you know exactly what kind of attention your child will get. Ask about the day’s schedule and activities to be sure they fit your child’s personality.
Consider in-home care. You might be able to bring a lot of sanity to your life if you hire someone to come to your home. The person you hire can care for your children, do some light housework and prepare dinner — all for a negotiated rate. And, in-home care often offers more flexibility than formal centers.
Get creative when looking for candidates. Take advantage of online sites like sittercity.com, care.com or craigslist. Contact local colleges and universities to see if you can post an ad for a babysitting job. Ask neighbors or friends with similarly aged children if they would consider sharing a babysitter and having your children watched together. Or you may find a stay-at-home mom looking to make some extra money who would want to care for your child while caring for her own. And don’t forget to ask around at work — your colleagues may have day care recommendations or may be looking to share a sitter.
Think about your backup plan. There will inevitably be days when your sitter is sick or your child care center is closed due to weather or a holiday. Your company may offer a backup child care program as a benefit to employees. Be sure to check with your Human Resources department for any child care benefits or discounts available to you.
Above all, make sure you check references before hiring a caregiver to be sure you feel confident in your decision. The less you worry about your children while at work, the more focused, productive, and successful you can be on the job.
1Pew Research Center, 2012 2Pew Research Center, 2015 3"Nine Facts About American Families and Work," The Council of Economic Advisers, 2014