Thoughts on managing my career effectively
, February 14, 2020
Thank you to our favorite contributor Ken McKellar for his support and guidance. Check Ken’s company where he provides unbeatable career help. Many of my professional achievements were only made possible thanks to Ken’s wisdom and selfless leadership.
I’m at a very interesting stage in my career – in mid-career some people might say. As you’ll have seen from my previous blogs, it’s been a steep learning curve with many bumps and knocks as well as high points. The more I talk to my friends and peers though, the more I realise that my experience is the norm rather than the exception.
Even in the 14 years or so that I’ve been working, the organizational workplace has changed so much:
- Careers are no longer for life within a single company
- The pyramid to the top is steeper and narrower
- Employers are less paternalistic
- Employees are less loyal
- There is greater pressure to do more with less
- Internal support is still there but with less people and budget to deliver it
- What you know is less important than who you know
- Senior people have less time to assess people below them
How do I survive and thrive in this new normal environment? It’s harder than ever to get really good advice and mentoring on careers, since:
- The best-qualified people within their current organisation are often the busiest
- Internal support can have strings attached e.g. linkage to performance targets
- Confidentiality and objectivity of advice is not assured
- Conflicts of interest can occur: could I leave if I get honest career advice from someone internal and could they get into trouble because of this advice?
With or without a mentor, I have found it useful to ask myself these questions:
- Do I feel that, in my current role, my career is stuck?
- Have I moved from one role to another within my current organisation without much thought?
- Has progress so far within my current organisation been due more to luck than proper planning?
- Do feel I am being passed over for promotion because people do not know me and my strengths well enough?
- Where could I find career advice from someone who knows my current organisation well but is independent of it?
- Would it help me to have a structured plan for managing my career?
- If so, how do I find the motivation, discipline or time to achieve it?
- Could I be better at navigating the various stakeholders in my current organisation?
- Could I be better at building and maintaining my network of personal and business contacts to support me in my career?
- Do I find it difficult to tell people about my achievements in a concise and compelling way?
- Is it worth having a coach or mentor?
- If so, what would a good coach or mentor look like?
In trying to find the answers to these questions in my own mind, I have reached the conclusion that a number elements are important to any successful career. I wanted to share these with you.
- Before any conversations can take place with people who are key stakeholders in my career success, I have found it really important to identify my career success stories
- It is also important for me to message my successes in a concise and impactful way. This prepares me well to approach these stakeholders with greater confidence, making them aware of some of my achievements which may not have been obvious in earlier discussions about my performance.
- It has been really helpful for me to build a sustainable short- to long-term career strategy (considered from all perspectives) and to have a CV which expresses my career ambitions as well as my past achievements.
- Refreshing and building my networks of valuable contacts who understand my career objectives is critical. They can help me much better to identify further career opportunities within their own networks.
In subsequent blogs, I will explore each of these areas in more detail and how I have tackled them. I’d be interested in your comments. Let’s start building a forum to help each other. Stay tuned!