No Support For Career Development? 5 Ways To Succeed Anyway

Chances are, you want career development and advancement opportunities—and support from your manager for your growth. Unfortunately though, you’re probably not getting these—and you’re dissatisfied with the meager development opportunities you get and the lack of support you receive.

Low levels of support and growth are concerning, because career development is one of the most important factors that drives whether you take a job, stay with an organization, engage fully or enjoy what you do. Opportunities for learning, development and growth are drivers of your happiness, but also your performance and success.

But you can make things happen yourself—and create your own path forward.

Big Dissatisfaction, Big Effects

Dissatisfaction is significant—with only 22% of employees who describe their company’s learning and development benefits as excellent. In addition, 59% of employees say their company rarely or never helps them explore opportunities for growth outside their current department, and 40% say they lack support to explore within their current role or department, according to a poll conducted by INTOO and Workplace Intelligence.

Fully 65% of employees say their employer cares more about productivity than career development, and 44% say their employer doesn’t value career development. In addition, 54% feel completely on their own when it comes to career development, based on INTOO data.

The effects of being alone in the career journey are a big deal. Based on a lack of support for their career development, 25% of all employees are likely to quit in the next six months—and 44% of Gen Zs predict they’ll leave. All this is based on the INTOO data.

On the flipside, learning and development has positive effects. When workers feel at least somewhat supported by their managers, they are seven times as likely to say they’ve made career progress, and 80% of Gen Zs say having access to best in class learning and development opportunities would increase their engagement, job satisfaction, motivation and likelihood to stay at the company, according to INTOO.

And based on data from LinkedIn when companies do more internal hiring and promotion, employees stay 41% longer at that organization.

Lack of Manager Support

In addition to lacking company support, significant proportions of employees say their career development isn’t supported by their manager.

  • 45% say their manager has played only a small role or no role in helping them grow their career.
  • 39% say their manager has given them bad advice about their career development.

There are apparently a variety of reasons managers aren’t more helpful.

  • 47% believe their manager doesn’t help because they’re focused on their own career.
  • 46% believe their manager doesn’t know how to help.
  • 35% believe their manager doesn’t care about career development.
  • 53% believe their manager is too busy.

The good news: You may not be getting the support you need from your company or your manager, but you can empower yourself to take action and create your best future.

1. Take Initiative

One of the first actions you can take is advocate for yourself within your organization. Put time on the calendar with your boss to talk twice a year about your performance, your growth and your career ambitions. Give your manager a chance to provide support by letting them know it’s important to you.

Consider talking with HR to let them know about your career goals and obtain their input about the best ways to grow within your organization.

In addition, take classes and seek out the learning your company offers—within your own area or adjacent areas for development. Taking these steps will send a strong message about your commitment, your ambition and your potential—and your employer will take notice.

2. Explore Interests

Another way to develop your career is to explore more about your areas of interest. Conduct informational interviews with people who have intriguing careers to learn how they got where they are and to obtain advice about how you can take similar steps.

You can also leverage groups or associations within your current field or potential fields of interest. When you join an association, you’ll learn about the jobs it contains as well as the current challenges and future trends. You’ll be able to grow your network and take advantage of their programming (presentations, classes, events) to explore your interests and up your game in your chosen area.

3. Find Mentors

You need support from your manager to grow, but you need mentors as well. The best mentors are those who are outside your department or who are at least two levels removed from your own level in the organization. You can also consider a mentor who is outside your organization.

With a more distant vantage point, mentors can give you objective input and offer advice from their greater experience. Seek a mentor with whom you can build a high level of trust and share concerns, issues and challenges in confidence. Talk about topics you may not want to share with your direct manager—and get guidance about how to proceed and build your career.

4. Lean on Family and Friends

Another way to get input about your career is to lean on family and friends—41% of people look to parents, guardians or siblings as role models, according to a poll of almost 4,000 early-to-mid-career adults by Gallup and Amazon. And the INTOO poll found 62% of people got better advice from their friends and family than from their manager.

Rely on people you trust and ask for advice regularly—because your family and friends are likely to have valuable perspectives as well as your best interests at heart.

5. Use Caution With Tech

Sadly, 47% of Gen Zs said they get better career support from ChatGPT than from their managers. And many people of all generations seek career advice through the Google (44%), social media (36%) or AI (34%).

If you’re taking that path, use caution. Scrutinize the sources you find online and take advice only from credible experts or valid research—being careful not to believe everything you find. When looking to social media or AI, know that you may be hearing more about trends than best practices.

Bed rotting or quiet quitting are trending, but they’re not the best strategies to find happiness, fulfillment or career success. Likewise, AI is programmed to provide convincing, authoritative answers, but they may be wrong—so use it as a starting point only—and then vet the information you find, being sure to discern your own best path.

Create Your Own Success

Feeling a lack of support from your manager or working for a company that doesn’t value career development can be frustrating—or even a show stopper.

Become your own best advocate, and build relationships with those who can give you good advice and go to bat for you. Remind yourself of all the value you deliver, and put effort into making things work where you are. If you’ve done all you can in your current spot, empower yourself to choose a new role or company that will help you advance your career and achieve all that you deserve.

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