Are you where you are because of careful planning, accident or mistake?
Too often we get stuck in the routine of doing our job. With a 24/7 mentality in most work places it seems daunting enough to just get the work done well without having to think about the future. This behavior leads us to become reactive rather than proactive when it comes to making career decisions.
The work environment today is highly competitive, extremely fluid, change focused, results oriented, and value driven. If you don’t take control of your career, others will do it for you – for better or for worse.
You have to commit to managing your career, not to just doing your job. Get into the mindset that you have control and once you do that, you are ready to take on the tasks of taking control.
There are many ways to manage your career and here are a few “must do” steps to take.
1. Set goals with specific time frames for achieving them. You want to be able to have short and long term goals that provide you with direction. For some, those goals might be a promotion to a more senior level, for others, greater leadership responsibility or a new role within your organization. Setting achievable goals within a realistic time frame and keeping to it provides you with direction and structure. This lets you know where you want to go and how fast you need to move to get there on time.
Consider asking someone to hold you accountable for achieving these goals on a time schedule that you create. A coach, a friend, a colleague, a manager, a mentor – being held accountable is what will help you be successful.
2. Find a role model. If someone has the position or responsibilities you want it would be valuable to compare your offerings, abilities, experience, and talents with theirs. An honest and thorough analysis of the hard and soft skills they have and the behaviors they exhibit will enable you to see how you measure up, where your added value lies, and what areas need further growth and improvement.
And if you come up short on the comparison, make a plan to fill in those blank spaces with the skills, experiences, and contacts you need.
3. Manage your personal and leadership brand. Understand how others see you. Knowing how others view you is a great starting point for enhancing and managing your personal and leadership brand. If you’re not viewed as “leadership” or “front office” material, what achievements can you amplify to alter their perception of your skills and abilities.
A 360 assessment, asking for direct and honest feedback from those around you (colleagues, managers, friends), or a deeper dive into your performance evaluations, are ways in which you can complete this step.
4. Grow your tribe. Build your tribe of supporters and collaborate with them in their growth and development. Your tribe is your greatest asset. They can be relied upon as advisors as well as providers of information and contacts. Help them as much as you can as selflessly as you can. As with anything that grows, when you nurture these relationships, they can last a lifetime.
5. Find a mentor and/or a coach and ask for help. Find someone whose experience and wisdom in navigating his/her way to success can help you on the road to achieving your goals. Issues such as navigating the organization, dealing with generational differences and work/life issues, and structuring your career path can be daunting and any help along the way is always welcome.
6. Increase your visibility. Make sure the decision makers inside your organization are exposed to you, to the work you do and to your accomplishments. Take on or volunteer for projects or write articles for your company newsletter that spotlight your skills and abilities and have greater visibility across different areas within your company. It is a great way to “show rather than tell” that you are ready to take on greater responsibilities.
7. Communicate your goals. Let those in power know what your goals are so that when an opportunity arises you can be considered in the mix. Silence is not golden.
8. Find a Sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can help open doors and make introductions that will provide you with the visibility you need. To be successful at finding the right sponsor make sure you have the credibility and validity you need to gain their trust and their help. (More on Sponsors can be found here.)
So Make it Your Career by Design by taking control of your career.
Need help in defining and achieving your goals? Want a Career by Design and not by Mistake? Contact me.
Mary Rosenbaum is a Master Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Career Management Coach who works with professionals and entrepreneurs. Equipped with an MBA in Finance and with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a career professional and 10 years in business and finance, Mary helps clients define goals, identify and highlight relevant talents and skills, and ensure that past achievements connect directly with future rewards. Success is defined as clarity of vision, differentiation from competitors, and the visibility and credibility necessary to capitalize on opportunities.