You Can’t Own Your Career Until You Buy Into It

There’s lots of talk about employees “owning” their careers. The idea being that employees are in the driver’s seat where their career development is concerned. Some of this stems from the fact that employees want more control over their future. Not just the jobs, but their work schedules, workspace, etc. I know I’ve heard plenty of people say they’ve watched colleagues and family members follow the path that the company asked of them only to see them subsequently struggle during the Great Recession. They’ve vowed it won’t happen to them.

On the flip side, organizations want employees to take some initiative to invest in their careers on their own. The expense for professional development should not be 100 percent the company’s responsibility. I honestly believe that employees having ownership of their career is a good thing for both of these reasons. Employees make an investment into their own destiny. Organizations see employees take initiative and responsibility.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Employees owning their career doesn’t mean that their career goals and the company’s goals have to be different. It’s very possible that the employee’s career goals align with organizational goals. In fact, that should be what everyone is striving for – employees and businesses that are on the same page where career development is concerned.

Which is why I wanted to talk about buy-in. I read an article in Training Magazine that drew a distinction between employee ownership and employee buy-in. They said that employees who buy-into their careers understand “how” to do the job, where employees who own their jobs appreciate why their doing it.

It made me wonder if getting employees to buy-into their job is the essential first step to having employees own their career. Organizations can’t simply say “Poof! You’re in charge of your career.” After years of telling employees what they need to do in order to be successful, organizations need to help employees reach buy-in where their job is concerned. Then, they need to support them by giving them the reigns to their career. How can organizations get employees to buy-in? Here are four ways:

In Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why”, he talks about why some organizations are great and others are simply good. It goes back to the concept of “why.” Good organizations know what they do and how they do it. Great organizations know why they do it.

Is it possible that good organizations have employees who have bought into their careers? They know what to do and how to do it. However, great organizations have employees who own their careers. They know why they do it. And the path to employee and company success revolves around not only being accountable but understanding why accountability is the key to success.

Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby