Invest in a career development plan or risk becoming a liability

How valuable are you to your organisation? Employees are a big investment for the business, and you are measured on your performance, being either a workplace asset or liability. If you invest in your career development plan, you may be someone the company simply can't do without - a crucial cog in the wheel. Or if your attitude is that it makes little difference whether you actually come into work or not each morning, then you risk becoming a liability to your employer.

Looking into your career development plan once in a while can do you no harm as a professional. It's important to consider whether you are doing your job properly, as your employer expected when they hired you. No doubt you made various promises during an interview about the value you can add to the business, but are you really managing to deliver?

Investing in a career development plan

It's easy to simply turn up to work each day and achieve status quo, without coming close to achieving your potential. But if you're not pulling your weight at work, you can be sure everyone will notice, including your colleagues and managers. Employers are acutely conscious of the cost of a bad hire and may even be inclined to cut their losses if you fail to live up to expectations.

Negative perceptions of you as an employee can have direct implications on your goal of achieving career success, both internally and externally. Not only will you find it difficult to ask for a promotion and ask for a pay rise, but you'll be getting a reference from your employer should you look to leave.

It's important to remind yourself what employers expect - or at least, hope for - from the people they recruit. This sets the benchmark for performance, as you look to prove your worth to an organisation and build a great professional reputation. It also forms the basis of how you plan to develop your career, either getting by or making the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Whether it is your current job, or a future role you are in, if an employer doesn’t rate your performance there will be little chance of moving up the career ladder. As a benchmark, here are some signs of a valuable versus invaluable employee from an employer’s perspective:

Signs of a valuable employee who is an asset to the company

  • Regularly exceeds expectations and goes the extra mile to do so
  • Actively collaborates and assists colleagues with their jobs
  • Looks for opportunities to learn, develop new skills and improve
  • Embraces change and looks for opportunities to add value
  • Engages with company initiatives (including social events) and advocates its brands
  • Positive, well-mannered and enthusiastic
  • Receptive to constructive criticism and able to follow direction
  • Reliable and responsible, and loyal to the organisation

Signs of an invaluable employee who is a liability to the company

  • Fails to meet expected quality standards - either due to lack of effort or ability
  • Inflexible on tasks and working patterns, refuses to adapt
  • Reluctant to learn new skills, use new technologies, or consider new approaches
  • Prefers to work in silo on independent tasks; rejects input from others
  • Focuses attention and energy on low-priority tasks
  • Turns up late, fails to attend meetings, takes regular absences
  • Mistreats others and creates conflict in the office

Doing your career justice

If you display more of the traits in the second list than the first, then you may be more of a liability than an asset to the company you work for. Your employer may wish they had hired somebody else, and your colleagues may prefer you were on somebody else's team.

But you still have the chance to turn things around. While you remain with your current organisation, you can work hard to change people's perceptions of you - as a person and a professional. You need to give yourself a set of revised goals to form a career development plan or perhaps from your performance appraisal. Find your motivation and make a concerted effort to work on your weaknesses, seeking assistance from others where necessary.

This is important not only from a career development plan perspective, but also for your own personal pride. It may be that you are working in the wrong job, for the wrong organisation, and that you should be actively pursuing a change in career. But in the meantime, you should be investing time and effort trying to do a better job for your organisation and developing your career. This can ensure the people who matter view you in a positive light.