Professional Development Best Practice 3 – Acquiring Experience Beyond that of Your Position

The StrategyDriven Professional recognizes that a critical combination of knowledge, skill, and experience is needed to ascend into positions of increasing authority and responsibility. Acquiring the prerequisite experiences, however, can be extremely difficult. While many organizations’ succession plan deliberately guides candidates to positions providing the needed experiences sought, these programs are often limited to senior executives and managers. Consequently, individuals with high potential residing lower within the organization or those not having been favored by inclusion within the program may find themselves lacking the immediately apparent means of acquiring the experiences needed to achieve their career goals. Thus, it is important for these individuals to find alternative ways of gaining the critical experiences necessary to achieve their goals.[wcm_restrict plans=”79702, 25542, 25653″]

The key to acquiring experience without occupying a specific organizational position is to isolation the specific experiences needed to achieve one’s goals. Once those experiences are identified, the professional should assess other opportunities, both internal and external to the organization, that offer highly similar if not the same experiences such that one or a collection of alternative positions can be used to collectively provide the individual with the needed capabilities. Such alternative positions may include:

Internal Positions

  • Leading an internal project, particularly for strategic or highly important divisional/departmental initiatives
  • Assisting or backing-up an executive/manager performance during times when the position holder is absent such as during sick leave, vacations, etcetera
  • Overseeing the organization’s internship program
  • Mentoring company interns
  • Assuming leadership positions within company outreach programs

External Opportunities

  • Sitting on not-for-profit boards
  • Holding senior leadership positions within not-for-profit organizations
  • Managing not-for-profit initiatives or projects
  • Serving in local government functions, panels, or committees
  • Teaching at local universities, colleges, and community colleges
  • Mentoring local college and high school students
  • Providing pro-bono services helping new business startups
  • Participating in university business planning teams, particularly on a competitive basis
  • Speaking at industry conferences/panels and local community events

Acquiring experience through alternative means is always of benefit to the StrategyDriven Professional. However, this benefit may not be fully realized if it is not subsequently communicated within one’s organization and demonstrated through one’s work. Consequently, the professional must share these experiences and the results achieved with his or her organization’s leadership team, particularly if the experience is gained through activities outside the organization. One method of gaining such attention is to include these experience-based opportunities in one’s annual development plan; giving the professional the opportunity to document and communicate the experiences gained in a formal manner. Letters of recommendation from respected members of the community and leaders of the supported organizations further bolster the professional’s experience gains assertions. Secondly, the professional can work with the organization’s internal communications group to have his or her achievements modestly featured within company newsletters and other publications. Lastly, the StrategyDriven Professional’s improved performance will clearly demonstrate the experience gained through alternative methods.


“Experience is worth nothing unless it is reflected in improved performance.”

StrategyDriven Contributors[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember plans=”79702, 25542, 25653″]

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