How can I work towards a role that involves more senior consultancy?

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Steven Ross, head of career development at Penna, answers a people development adviser’s career quandary on how to become an integral part of the strategic people agenda.

Question: I have recently stepped up from being a training coordinator to people development adviser. But despite being an ‘adviser’, I don’t seem to have made the leap to a more advisory role. I feel the opportunities to advise on issues such as strategic direction and performance management are limited in my organisation, so I’ve started to look for positions elsewhere.

However, I’ve found that I don’t have the skills or experience to apply for similar adviser roles. I am currently studying for the CIPD intermediate diploma in L&D, but I’d like to work for a company where I can be an integral part of the strategic people agenda. How can I work towards a role that involves consulting with more senior managers?

Ross says...

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It’s easy to think the best opportunities lie elsewhere but, before you start looking at external positions, examine your role in your current organisation.

As you have been appointed to a more senior role, your manager must see your capability – so start by discussing your new position with them. Talk about the best ways to make an impact: there might be specific projects you can focus on, either independently or with a colleague.

It would also be useful to conduct your own analysis of the business: identify a particular area or problem and suggest a solution. This shows initiative, and your commitment to the organisation.

A key aspect of becoming a genuine adviser and business manager is building credibility with senior managers and people on your team. Make sure any work you produce demonstrates your ability and your business understanding, and articulate how the performance of people in your business affects the whole organisation. The course you’re taking should provide plenty of opportunities to network, collaborate and forge relationships with like-minded peers.

Every interaction you have – whether it’s in your office, at your desk or on a course – will cause people to make judgements on your capability and credibility, so make sure you always give them a good sense of who you are and what you can do. This should help you achieve solid career progression, instead of simply taking a chance on an unfamiliar role.

This article was first published in People Management magazine (March 2016 edition).

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