I’ve been taking down lots of notes on career development, just from hearing a lot of good stuff on podcasts (shout out to Lenny’s podcast).

I was like, “Hmmm…this could make a great blog post”.

So here I am sharing with you, as I always do when I learned new stuff.

How to find a manager who is interested in developing people?

You probably have heard people (or your managers) say, “It’s your career, so you should own it”.

There’s truth to that, but not 100%.

Your manager is crucial to give you projects to help you develop various skills, to help you gain visibility across teams, and to lift as they lead. A good manager that cares about your career is the rocket fuel for your career growth.

However, while you date different people until you find the one to marry, you don’t get to choose your managers most of the time.

One way to solve this issue (own your career) is to look for a good manager.

Melissa Tan, the Head of Growth of Webflow, shared her tips on finding a manager that’s interested in developing talent during interviews:

1. Look for someone whose success will be tied to your success.

This means they need you to be successful in order for them to be successful. Your job should be considered critical on their team, not dispensable. This means bigger companies with bigger teams where team members are interchangeable, managers would be less incentivized to develop careers.

2.  Look for someone who brings in people from previous companies.

This is an obvious signal. They wouldn’t bring in or be able to bring in their previous team members if they don’t have a good relationship with them.

3. Look for someone who can answer these questions:

  • how are you thinking about managing folks & developing people on your team?
  • how are you thinking about the career path in your role?

If they don’t have an answer maybe they are not thinking about this that much.

How to get promoted and climb up to C-suite?

I think you first have to be clear on if you want to be in an executive position. Per Carilu Dietrich (CMO of Atlassian), you have to give up a lot of things to be in that position, and not everyone wants that life.

Alternatively, you can be an individual contributor, spend more time with your friends & family, and maybe have a side hustle that brings in some extra money.

But if you want to get promoted and aim for getting to the C-Suite, here’s what Carilu Dietrich did to get there:

  1. Work harder, increase your scope by taking on more responsibilities, and know more about a topic than others. The reality is, otherwise, there’s not much reason to promote you if you keep doing the same thing.
  2. Think & talk in terms of revenue. Take on responsibilities that tie to the revenue. This means aligning your goal with the C-Suite/executives’ goal before you officially become one of them.
  3. Build relationships with other teams by helping & supporting them (more scope & likely longer hours).
  4. Find a company that has momentum for you to grow alongside. Your ability to accelerate your career is dependent on the momentum of your company. If the team is not in accelerated growth mode and has mostly maintenance work, you wouldn’t have scope to increase, so you wouldn’t have room to grow or reason to reach the next level.

Carilu gave an example from her experience. While she was at Oracle, in 5 yrs her team grew from 5 to 7. When she moved to Atlassian, however, her team grew from 15 to 100 in 4 yrs! Think about the difference in experience and career growth in a similar number of years.

Finally, on finding a mentor.

A tip I read (from mentors’ perspective), it’s better to grow organically, from asking for help on a problem, compared to asking “Do you want to be my mentor?”. It’s just a lot of pressure from the beginning with nothing constructive.

P.S. I have more career advice in my other posts.