Rafi is a customer service representative (CSR) for a large, growing medical group. His department leadership team consists of a CSR lead, a supervisor, two managers, and a senior director. There are many eventual growth opportunities for Rafi, yet management turnover in his area is low.
Rafi’s daily responsibilities include assisting patients, physicians, health plan providers, and employees. He has depth and breadth of knowledge from varied points of view. His skills are valuable to many functional areas within the business.
After three years of working hard to master his position, Rafi is ready for more responsibility. Although he is engaged in his work and desires to stay within the company, he sees no current opportunities for advancement available within his department.
Rafi expresses his desired growth to his supervisor and is sent to participate in career development courses to further explore his career goals. He is also assigned a mentor from another functional area to increase his exposure to the business, and they jointly review a detailed competency model describing the workplace behaviors that will set up Rafi for long-term success.
In the company’s career development program, Rafi learns that “up is not the only way.” He warms to the idea that there may be ways for him to stretch his skills within his current role even while managerial opportunities are scarce.
Rafi is one of many CSRs. He answers and logs phone calls using a highly technical software system. He meets regulatory requirements with his average speed of answer and call volume metrics. His real talent lies in his ability to make each caller he addresses feel heard and cared for.
If Rafi can’t distinguish what sets him apart from others with similar educations, backgrounds, and skills, it will be hard for him to be the first employee thought of when opportunity eventually presents. Being able to articulate where he adds value to the workplace opens a world of possibilities for Rafi and his employer. Otherwise, repeatedly defined by his title or line of work, Rafi is likely to be overlooked.
Rafi doesn’t have to wait long for an open position to develop this critical skill. A few thought-provoking questions embedded into every career development program can make the difference between internal mobility that forms a succession plan versus spending thousands of dollars on external talent.
Rafi gains clarity of career direction through self-reflection coaching tools supplied early in his career development efforts. Understanding the effects of his having the most heard smile in the department, for example, allows Rafi to promote transferable skills to functional areas that might also encounter difficult conversations.
Help Rafi or other employees like him with expressing the unique ways they contribute to the organization. Whether a strategic thinker that sets new direction for a team, a planner who operationalizes details and keeps things on task, a problem solver who solves complex problems in an innovative way, or someone who helps synthesize thoughts to condense large amounts of complex information, the creation of strengths-based, personal-value propositions is a skill no career development program should be without.