It is important to actively drive our career development. But that should not be done alone. You should get the support from people who know you, who know your function and who know your industry. This article outlines how to set up a personal career advisory board and how to run it efficiently.
Your personal board will help you review your career strategy and it will be there to answer questions on how to best steer your professional development. The board will provide advice on important career decisions and you will be able to draw on the board member’s experience and expertise. Such a career advisory board can become a major success factor for your professional development. Don’t wait to set it up!
In this article I would like to describe the benefits of setting up a personal career advisory board, outline how it works, what topics it should cover and how to select the board members.
Why to set up your personal career advisory board?
We have a deep responsibility to actively drive our own career. I have outlined that is some of my previous articles (YOU are the CEO of your career). I think it is indeed a bit similar to a company where the board helps to review strategic decisions and provides external perspectives.
The career advisory board is also important for us when we are confronted to certain career decisions. It is very helpful in these situations to be able to draw on the views of others and to have sparing partners who we can really trust. The possibility to get support from people who know us and who know what we want to achieve can be a real success factor in our professional journey.
What is a personal career advisory board?
in my view, a personal career advisory board should be composed of 3 to 5 members. We will discuss the ideal profile of these board members below. It is of course your responsibility to choose them.
You will also agree with the board members when you meet. Usually that should be two times per year, but you can also have more frequent meetings, especially if you are in a situation where you need to make certain very important decisions. In that case you can invite board members to come together on an ad-hoc basis.
You will need to agree with your board members what schedule works best for them. You could for example agree to meet in the evenings, because that is when they are available. In other cases it might be more suitable to meet over the weekend, etc. These aspects need to be agreed upfront.
It is also your responsibility to prepare those board meetings in order to ensure that they are really fruitful for you.
What topics should cover during the board meetings?
When the board meets for the first time, you should share with the board members your career strategy. I have a number of articles where I outline how to define such a strategy (4 principles to define your career strategy).
1) Update on your career strategy
I would recommend starting each subsequent of the board meetings with a review of that career strategy. You should update the board members on where you stand in the implementation of your strategy and if there are any changes to that you plan.
2) Review recent achievements and challenges
Secondly, I would recommend to review the past couple of months since you have last met with your board.
- What have been your achievements?
- What difficulties or challenges did you encounter and what were the learnings you could draw from those?
- How have you been able to further expand your experience base?
3) Update on job opportunities
You should of course update the board on thoughts or perspectives you may have about your next career step, especially if certain concrete opportunities have come up inside or outside of your company.
You may for example have had discussions with headhunters who have contacted you in view of job opportunities. These are topics that the board should be aware of.
4) Time for questions
Finally, you should also make sure that there is time for questions and discussion. You any have questions. But you should also leave time for discussion where the board members can challenge you on certain aspects or ask the right coaching questions in order to stimulate your thinking.
That agenda should allow the board to best steer your career development in view of your ultimate career aspiration.
HOW TO SELECT THE BOARD MEMBERS?
Selecting the right board members is crucially important to make this personal career advisory board really useful for you.
I think you should have one person who really knows you very well. This could be a person who has been able to observe you over the past couple of years, who knows your personality and your profile, who knows your strengths and your areas for development. With other words, someone who has a deep understanding of who you are.
Furthermore, you should select one or two board members who have relevant industry experience. Either from the sector that you are currently working in, or a sector that you are interested in and where opportunities may exist for you in the future.
Finally, you should have people who understand your specific role or your function. This could be a person who had a similar responsibility in the past. It can also be someone who currently holds a similar role to yours, but in a different company. In that case you have a peer relationship, which can also be very useful for your career management.
So you see, that you will have in total 3 to 5 board members depending on your specific requirements. I believe that this is the right size of that group.
I hope you are now ready to set up YOUR personal career advisory board!
More information in my book:
Sven Sommerlatte : Successful Career Strategy – An HR Practitioner’s Guide to Reach Your Dream Job (Springer, June 2023). ISBN: 978-3-662-66790-3