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How to Handle Career Struggles that are holding you Back?

 

 

Bad Career Story
Struggling in your Career?

We often make up excuses to stay in jobs that make us unhappy, but regardless of what we tell ourselves, all of these stories boil down to FEAR. We want to debunk some of the myths we tell ourselves around staying in a bad job.

Do you feel stuck in a job you don’t like? We often make up excuses to stay in jobs that make us unhappy.

Leaving the security of a job, especially during tough economic times, is a frightening thought – but so is continuing to work in a place that leaves you unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

I want to debunk some of the myths we tell ourselves around staying in a bad job.

Myth: Things are tough, so I can’t make a career change right now.

Truth: Sometimes negative events can be a catalyst for positive change.

Whether you are experiencing tough times on a personal or global level, it can be difficult to think of adding a career change on top of those stresses. Sometimes however, tough times can reveal a new purpose or meaningful opportunity.

There are countless stories of people who have turned tragedy into something meaningful. It can be done. You just have to let yourself be open to the idea of change.

Right now we are all experiencing one of the most challenging periods in history. We have seen a downturn in the economy due to COVID-19. While it is true that fewer companies are hiring and there is more competition, the roles are still out there. There are companies that are innovating to adapt to the changing world. There are also companies who have seen an increase in demand during this time.

The key is making yourself stand out by highlighting your passions and skills. It may not be a quick or easy change, but don’t let fear be the thing that stops you from finding something better.

Myth: I’m just lucky to have a job.

Truth: It is possible to be grateful for a job, but still not love it.

As we see unemployment rise and more companies go through layoffs, it is normal to feel gratitude for what we do have. It is also a good thing. There are proven benefits to expressing gratitude and it is something that should be part of your daily routine.

But it is also okay to be grateful for what you have while admitting you long for something better. Accepting what is because you know it could be worse is twisting gratitude into an excuse to hold yourself back. Allow yourself to strive for more. Do you know what you want? Do you have a dream job?

Myth: I can’t afford to leave my job right now.

Truth: You don’t have to leave your job (yet) to start the career transformation process.

Make dreams come true
Make dreams come true

How to Handle Common Career Struggles

A career can be a source of great joy and great pain. If you relate more to the latter, chances are you have experienced one of these common career struggles. Fortunately, you do not have to continue suffering.

Do not settle in your career! If you are not happy, it is time for a career transition!

Here are some  solutions to some of the obstacles most frequently faced by professionals.

Problem: You hate your job and/or chosen career path.

Solution: If you know you are not happy and have yet to take steps to remedy it, you typically fall into one of two scenarios:

  1. ‍You are fearful of making a change. There are many stories we tell ourselves that can cause us to stifle our own success. “I’m not good enough.” “What if I fail?” “What if I make a change and it’s worse?” It is critical to recognize what story you are telling yourself so that you can start to isolate those thoughts and address them. Bringing your fears to the forefront of your consciousness is the first step in being able to overcome them. Once you recognize and acknowledge the fears, applying some simple but effective tools can render them powerless in holding you back.
  2. You do not know what will make you happy. You have recognized you are not happy, but you do not know what will bring you joy. This can be especially difficult when you have spent your entire career in one field. It is time to do some discovery work. Finding your purpose is a key place to start. Once you know your purpose, make a list of your strengths and passions. If you start to see some similarities between the lists, follow that path.

Problem: You are struggling to get to the next level in your career.

Solution: It is time to expand your network. You have got the experience and you need to highlight that to the right people – whether it is a decision maker or someone who can make a referral. They can be at your current company or at a potential new employer. Connecting with the right people can make all the difference. Expanding your network does not mean you have to attend in-person networking events, especially in the age of social distancing. There are great digital tools, such as LinkedIn and Shapr, that allow you to build relationships with other professionals. Find an authentic way to connect with others that is enjoyable to you.

Problem: You are not standing out to potential employers.

Solution: Most recruiters and hiring managers see hundreds of resumes for a single position. That number increases the more desirable the role and company are. Standing out is difficult, but possible. We recommend that every job seeker approach their career as if they were an entrepreneur building a company. Your career is your business. You must determine your product (your skillset), your unique selling proposition (your strengths and passions) and your target market (the companies YOU want to work for). Once you have defined your professional brand, you need to ensure that it is reflected everywhere – your resume, your cover letter, your online presence, and especially how you show up for interviews.

Now it is time to market yourself. You have to do more than just submit your resume to job posts and boards. Connect with the right people and make sure you are visible. Focus on your strengths and passions, especially if you do not have the requested experience.

If you need help defining and marketing your personal brand, we can help. Chat with one of our coaches here

It is time to transition in your career.

Career transitioning does not happen overnight. It is a process that takes time and commitment.

Deciding you want to find something better does not mean you have to quit your job tomorrow. It simply means you are ready to start the process of identifying what kind of career will bring you joy, and what kinds of companies will value who you are. THEN taking the steps to find them and go after them.

What can I do to find a career I love?

Ideal Careers offers several courses, for wherever you are in the process. If you are looking for total Career Transformation OR looking to Transition Into another Career, we offer programs, as well as coaching, to get you started. If you are already in process or looking to ease into career transitioning, we offer a single-modules that focuses on a particular area of making a career change. Book a chat with one of our advisors Its FREE. 

Do not let fear hold you back from finding happiness and fulfilment in your career!

Your career plays a major role in your life. Settling and being complacent in this area can leave you feeling unfulfilled. Find the right solution for you at Ideal Careers.co.za

Change your thinking

4 Short Stories that Will Change the Way You Think

The past week has been an interesting one, filled with both joy and sorrow.  As is want to happen the new week arrived in all its magnificence and serendipitously, I found these Four Stories that gave me pause to reflect. These are old familiar stories and you have probably read them before with slightly different people and contexts however the lessons remain the same.

Change your thinking
Change your Thinking

Story #1:  All the Difference in The World

Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home.  There’s a lake located in one corner of the park.  Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.

This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her.  As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap.  There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap.  She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.

“Hello,” I said.  “I see you here every Sunday morning.  If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”

She smiled.  “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied.  “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim.  It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”

“Wow!  That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.

She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out.  It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”

“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.

“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.

I scratched my head.  “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent?  I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are freshwater turtles living in lakes all around the world.  And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells.  So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”

The woman giggled aloud.  She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”

The moral:  You can change the world – maybe not all at once, but one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time.  Wake up every morning and pretend like what you do makes a difference.  It does.  (Read 29 Gifts.)

its all about Perspective
Perspective

Story #2:  The Weight of the Glass

Once upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students.  As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question.  Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The moral:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.  (Angel and I discuss this process of letting go in the Adversity and Self-Love chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

Story #3:  Shark Bait

During a research experiment a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank.

As you would expect, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish.

The marine biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fiberglass and a new set of bait fish on the other.

Again, the shark quickly attacked.  This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off.  Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail.  Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition.  Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks.  Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack.  The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm.

The moral:  Many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark in the story, we believe that because we were unsuccessful in the past, we will always be unsuccessful. In other words, we continue to see a barrier in our heads, even when no ‘real’ barrier exists between where we are and where we want to go.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

Changing Seasons

Story #4:  Being and Breathing

One warm evening many years ago…

After spending nearly every waking minute with Angel for eight straight days, I knew that I had to tell her just one thing.  So late at night, just before she fell asleep, I whispered it in her ear.  She smiled – the kind of smile that makes me smile back –and she said, “When I’m seventy-five and I think about my life and what it was like to be young, I hope that I can remember this very moment.”

A few seconds later she closed her eyes and fell asleep.  The room was peaceful – almost silent.  All I could hear was the soft purr of her breathing.  I stayed awake thinking about the time we’d spent together and all the choices in our lives that made this moment possible.  And at some point, I realized that it didn’t matter what we’d done or where we’d gone.  Nor did the future hold any significance.

All that mattered was the serenity of the moment.

Just being with her and breathing with her.

The moral:  We must not allow the clock, the calendar, and external pressures to rule our lives and blind us to the fact that each individual moment of our lives is a beautiful mystery and a miracle – especially those moments we spend in the presence of a loved one.

Your turn…

How do you think differently today, than you once did?  What life experience or realization brought on a significant change in your way of thinking?  Please leave a comment below and share your story with us.

Make dreams come true

Goal Setting is the thing to do right…Wrong! – Part 2

Make dreams come true
Make dreams come true

Part 2…

So I am not saying that goals are bad things and you should avoid them. If goals work for you then go for it

For a lot of us, a goal can be the tool that sets our direction and inspires us to keep going.

But when I look back at the way my career change actually unfolded, it didn’t happen in a series of big tick-boxes.

It happened in micro-moments of consistent actions.

You could call them systems, or you could call them habits.

Here’s why they worked so well:

 

Habits have a ‘how’

“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).” – Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Have you ever thought to yourself: “I could make a career change in no time, if only I knew what steps to take”?

It’s the classic career change conundrum – you know the high-level result you want, but you do not know what each specific little step is or looks like, nor do you know the actions you need that is going to get you there.

So you end up with these gloriously intangible goals, much like the ones I listed out in my book, and then you sit and stare at them, and feel bad that you haven’t got there yet, and beat yourself up for not knowing how.

But you can get your hands on a Habit.

Because if it’s a habit, you know what it is and how to do it.

So we tend to get into the Habit of doing things, rather than just setting a goal.

 

If there’s only so much you can do, you can at least do a lot of that.

We have already established that you are not the boss of everything.

You can not control results, but you can control your actions.

So shifting your attention away from the lofty, the far-off and the at-least-50%-out-of-your-hands and toward the tangible, the manageable, the consistent and the completely-under-your-control is probably a smart move.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Steven Covey has a great way of explaining this.

Picture a circle.

Inside it, cram everything you care about: your declining eyesight, the refugee crisis, climate change, the housing market, whether your kid is having a good day at school, what the recruitment agent is going to say in your meeting tomorrow, how good your hair looks today, the location of your car keys, whether or not you’re happy in your future career… there’s a LOT in this circle.

Covey calls it your Circle of Concern.

Inside your Circle of Concern is another circle.

This one is called your Circle of Influence.

And inside your Circle of Influence are only the concerns you can directly impact or control.

Goals tend to live inside your Circle of Concern and outside your Circle of Influence. They rely on factors that are only partly in your control. And they are focused on outputs (what happens next) rather than inputs (what you actually do).

But your hairstyle? The house you choose to buy? The skills you develop or what you spend your Thursday evenings doing? Whether or not you try that new recipe that’s been rolling around in the back of your head for months?

 

In these matters, you are the boss.

When you operate within your Circle of Influence, you will make the biggest impact.

And the more time you spend working and playing inside of this circle, the larger it grows.

 

It’s hard to pick a fight with a mouse

Goals can tend to feel high-stakes and paralysing, habits can be as small as you need them to be. A Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg recommends starting with ‘tiny habits’, actions so small that they are almost laughable. Instead of trying to start a habit of flossing twice a day, for example, he suggests just starting by flossing one tooth.

Why?

You can find a lot of good reasons why the goal of quitting your job in 3 months’ time, regardless of what happens between now and then, might not be the best idea. You can argue your way in and out of that for hours.

It is much harder to argue with a habit of putting whatever coins you have in your pockets into a savings jar every day when you get home.

Insignificant though actions like this might sound, they are actually incredibly powerful. The hardest part of anything is just getting started, and once you have started getting into action with a habit, they have the capacity to snowball.

Maybe you want to write a novel. You decide to set up a tiny habit of writing just 300 words a day. You figure, to complete a book at that rate, it will take about 300 days. Except… it turns out that writing 300 words is really easy, and even on your busiest days, you are getting it done. In fact, on a lot of days, you find yourself overshooting the 300 word mark and just continuing to tap away, writing 800, 1,000, 2,000 words in a day.

You can’t argue with small.

 

Slow consistent progress is permanent Progress

Goals can set you up for a jerky journey with little traction.

You create a goal, circle it for a while, make a big leap forward, and then, once you have achieved it, you have to come up with the next one. If you don’t achieve it, you then have to deal with the emotional fallout. Mapped onto a piece of paper, your forward movement looks like a game of leapfrog with a very nervous teammate.

Habits on the other hand are by their very nature ongoing and consistent. They tell you what to do and when, and are active regardless of output. Small steps, taken consistently, move you forward faster.

“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.” – James Clear, author of Atomic Habits

And good news for your achy willpower muscle: once you have formed them, habits pretty much operate automatically.

In fact, once we have got going with a habit, our brains actually adapt to make it easier to complete. After about 30 days of practice, carrying out a habit becomes easier than not doing so.

As Charles Duhigg wrote in The Power Of Habit:

“Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realise – they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.”

 

The nature of your life is dependent on the nature of your habits

Philosopher William James described habits in this way:

“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits  practical, emotional, and intellectual  systematically organised for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”

Habits, not goals, shape your daily experience of the world.

 

The time of day you wake up. The way you brush your teeth. How you get to work, the turns of phrase you use, the way you automatically respond to certain events.

Goals are interruptions to your status quo.

Habits, on the other hand, build, shape and create the form and direction of your life.

And if that is true, then whether or not you shift into fulfilling work is entirely dependent on the habits and consistent behaviours you choose to cultivate.

 

On other words, choosing and building a powerful set of habits can help you move into fulfilling work inevitable.

Now that sounds pretty good, no?

How to build helpful habits in career change

 

Create opportunities to be gloriously surprised

All you can control is what you do, not what happens next.

So, as you start designing some new habits and behaviours, let go of any thought of whether or not it will ‘work’ or be ‘worth it’.

Perhaps you consider starting a new habit of going to one new, interesting event per week.

But then the doubts come in: By the way these are also  know as Limiting Beliefs

“There probably won’t be anyone interesting there.”

“You don’t WANT to work at the circus – why go to a workshop?”

“You’ve had a tiring week – no point going if it’s just going to be a waste of time.”

Your job is not to make it worth it.

Your job is not to know the outcome.

Your job is just to keep opening the door to the possibility of something fantastic that you didn’t see coming.

You can’t control whether it happens or not.

But one thing is for sure: without an open door, it ain’t coming in.

How do we see Ourself

Choose pleasure, not pride

Intrinsic motivation is far more effective than extrinsic rewards.

In her book Better Than Before, author Gretchen Rubin uses this example:

“If I tell [my daughter] that she can watch an hour of TV if she reads for an hour, I don’t build her habit of reading. I teach her that watching TV is more fun than reading.”

So where possible, set up habits that will feel good to do and give you a sense of accomplishment when completed.

This does not mean it won’t take any effort to get started with them. Setting up a new habit involves some change, and it will take willpower to get the ball rolling.

Perhaps you know that talking to new people often feels a bit awkward to start with.

But once you’ve opened a dialogue, you always enjoy the conversation, and you are thrilled to have made a new friend you can learn from.

It will take some effort to push past the initial hump of always reaching out to people you encounter who do interesting work. But the more you do it, the smoother that initial hump will become, and the more enjoyment (and great conversations, and new insights) will follow.

Following a pleasurable feeling  and setting up a system to do more of it, is always going to reap greater rewards than fighting against an unpleasant one. Besides, if you want to find fulfilling work, doing a lot of things that feel unfulfilling is unlikely to get you there.

Follow the hints and the feelings that tell you what you love, what comes naturally, what elicits a sense of flow.

 

Do more of what works

Often times, habits are pitched as things to be changed, to quit, or to fix.

You are giving up your smoking habit.

You start running every morning (to fix your low fitness levels).

You stop drinking coffee in the mornings.

However, when you are trying to create a habit in order to fix or stop something, it takes more effort, and reminds you of the negative element you are trying to get away from.

Stopping something gives you the sense of having less of something in your life, but it does not necessarily replace it with anything else. You want the good stuff, and more of it.

The most effective habits start with the questions:

“What do I know works well for me?” and then: “How can I do more of it?”

So take a look at the things you have done in the past that have given you more clarity or more progress when it comes to your career change.

When have you found new insights to explore, and how did you find them?

What was different about that conversation that led to a new opportunity, from the other conversations that fizzled out?

Sure, you know that for extroverts, going to networking events works brilliantly. But you are way better in 1-1 environments. So how do you have more 1-1 interactions with people in your day-to-day?

Look for what works, and then focus on building a habit that has you do more of it.

 

If in doubt, change your environment

Stanford behaviour scientist BJ Fogg says he has learnt that only three things will change your life in the long term.

Option A. Have an epiphany

Option B. Change your environment (what surrounds you)

Option C. Take baby steps

Epiphanies are hard to come by, and they are out of your control.

Baby steps are the mouse-sized micro-habits you can build with very little effort over time.

And if you are not sure what baby steps to take, create the habit of taking them into new environments. If you are struggling for ideas on your future career, or struggling to find the right steps to take, remember one of the simplest principles of systems theory:

New inputs = new outputs.

If you want new ideas, new insights, new possibilities, build the habit of filling your environment with new experiences.

Widen your social circle by adding new people with new perspectives into your social circle.

Take yourself into new places and surroundings.

Giving yourself new experiences.

Build habits that change what surrounds you, and you will watch your perspective on the world, and the opportunities you can see, change along with it.

 

One thing at a time, and one thing only

Set yourself up for success.

Start small.

Overcommitting to a whole bunch of new habits has the same impact as setting yourself a scary goal. It feels overwhelming, paralysing, and invites fear of failure and procrastination.

Get into the habit of just one small, consistent new behaviour.

Get curious about it.

A tiny drip of water, over time, can crack open a whole boulder.

Do not underestimate the power of one thing done consistently over time.

“The best thing I ever did was to commit to one small action each day (less than five minutes). Sometimes this lead to further leaps, other times that was all I did. This might have been making a list, sending an email, commenting on a post, a bit of research, etc. When I combined that with trying to make the small action something that was slightly out of my comfort zone as well, good things started to happen.” – Amy G.

 

Get trigger-happy

New habits are often difficult to get going because they require  Two things #1 that you change your behaviours, #2. that you remember to do them.

According to Zen Habits writer Leo Babauta, the often-overlooked key to building a new habit is to tie it to a trigger – an event that will remind you (eventually automatically) to carry out your habit:

“Habits become automatic after we have created a bond between the trigger and the habit. The stronger the bond, the more ingrained the habit.”

Babauta recommends finding an action or event that is already ingrained into your routines in life.

For example, if you need to remember to take a daily medication, keeping the box on top of your toothbrush will help you tie the action of taking your pill to your already-automatic (we would hope) routine of brushing your teeth.

If you want to build a habit of staying in touch with old friends, use an already-ingrained habit (opening your email client for the first time in the morning, checking social media on your commute) to act as a trigger to send one checking-in message to someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while.

Need to start injecting your weekly routine with something fresh and new, to inspire new ideas and broaden your experience of the world? Every time you see a vaguely interesting event coming up in your local area, put it into your calendar.

Consistent triggers make new habits feel natural, faster.

 

Work with the way you work

A habit is an expectation you have set for yourself (or, sometimes, that someone else / society expects of you).

Gretchen Rubin suggests there are four primary ways, or ‘tendencies’ with which people respond to those expectations.

Knowing your ‘tendency’ (Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel), you can pre-empt the ways in which you might get stuck building or maintaining your habits, and set up systems and approaches that help you get things done.

You might, for example, need to rely on accountability more than others, and tell multiple people about the habits you are trying to build.

Reminding yourself of the greater good you are trying to achieve might be the primary kick you need.

Or perhaps deadlines are the only thing that will get you out of analysis paralysis and moving forward.

Take the Four Tendencies Test here, and use the results to craft your approach to habits in the way that works for you.

Finding fulfilling work is a revelatory process

It is what makes it magical. It is what makes it nerve-wracking, too.

If only a career you love was the output of a nice, neat algebraic formula, setting goals and project-managing, the whole thing would be smart and simple.

But it’s not.

It’s messy, and full of surprises, and it requires you to be in a space of not-knowing for far longer than most human beings are comfortable with.

What will anchor you, keep you grounded and making forward progress, are habits and systems.

Consistent, forward nudges that you actually do, that keep you feeling proud and motivated, and that opens the door, over and over again, to the possibility of being gloriously surprised, to the unexpected and the new.

What habit could you start cultivating in your own career change? Let me know in the comments below.

Goal Setting is the thing to do right…Wrong! – Part1

 

Dreams and Goals

This is Part 1 of 2

 

Goal-setting seems like a smart thing to do in a career change. However, this might actually be exactly what is keeping you stuck. Renata explains why big targets can be a false friend. Here is what she recommends doing to start making progress towards that Ideal Career instead.

Let me tell you a short story

A little while ago I was doing a cupboard purge something I had not done in a while.

I found a black hard cover notebook. I immediately recognise this old faithful companion that contain hundreds of lines of my handwriting and doodles, in different colours of ink and pencil.

Journal entries, to-do lists, thoughts I had jotted down. Pages and pages of confused, frustrated outpourings about my work, my life, my future. I took a moment to read those words and I was transported back to that year in a deeply visceral way that I haven’t felt for a long time. The desperate awkwardness of feeling like a fundamental misfit in a career and a life that was not for mine. The sense of being caged in and stuck, trapped by the very life choices I myself had made in the years before. The  dark emptiness ahead of me when I tried to imagine what else I could do.

As I flipped through the pages of that old book one page in particular hit me hard.

It was a list of goals.

Big, ambitious, hopeful goals. The only kind I had, back then.

And then next to them, in a different pen, clearly written later in a fit of irritation, a series of scrawled, pointy, sarcastic flippant questions…

      • “Have three reasonable career options I’m truly excited about.” LOVELY. HOW, EXACTLY?
      • “Start a side line income to make extra cash” WHICH YOU’LL DO IN WHAT SPARE TIME?
      • “Have  ($6000) saved by June.” WHAT FOR, GENIUS?
      • “Hand in my notice by September” YEAH, RIGHT!!

 

Reading the contents of that page was like watching a snippet of the perpetual state of the inside of my head – the never-ending back-and-forth of a hopeful, fierce optimist and an angry, hurt cynic.

I made a lot of lists like that.

I remember how painful and pointless those felt, once their initial balm wore off.

Unrealistic, hollow-feeling goals, created mostly because I didn’t know what else to do.

They sounded nice, but I rarely did much about them.

It wasn’t a question of what I wanted on a grand scale.

It was the specifics I had no clue about. I still did not know the steps to take to get there.

Sound familiar?

Goals are not very helpful in the day-to-day logistics of a career change.

YES goals can feel productive, and make yo feel good in the beginning. Perhaps these goals even feel good the day after you write them down.

But beyond that initial feel-good sensation you have initially it can actually have the opposite effect on you making any meaningful change.

Here’s why.

Fulfilment isn’t SMART

Anyone who has ever done any goal-setting has come into contact with the idea of SMART goals at some point:

We are told Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.

This is Fair enough however finding fulfilling work is not quite so neat.

Setting SMART goals is an organisational task – finding the logical pieces, breaking them into chunks, and putting them together in a way that leads you forward, step by step.

Finding fulfilling work however feels more like trying to jump off a jellyfish into an ocean you are not convinced actually exists.

You do not really know where you are going, so being specific i.t.o goals setting is laughable.

You are not sure how exactly to measure fulfilment (beyond ‘Makes me want to poke myself in the eye / Doesn’t make me want to poke myself in the eye’), so that’s a shaky one too.

You do not even completely believe it’s possible, so how can it be achievable or realistic?

And time-based… if ONLY a deadline could fix this mess.

So sitting down to write some goals for your career change… eerr if it feels ridiculous, that’s probably because it is, a little.

Extrinsic motivation is not effective

Imagine you have set yourself a goal to lose 10 kilos.

You start going to the gym every day, because someone told you that gym exercise gets faster weight-loss results than anything else.

You hate the gym. You hate the smell of the changing rooms, you hate the perky gym bunny types who take up all the machines, you hate the music they play, and you hate running towards your own reflection in a mirror for half an hour and traveling precisely nowhere.

You start taking a salad and a Thermos of cabbage soup to work every day. You hate salad. You hate cabbage soup. You are starting to hate your life.

But you would love to loose those 10 kilos.

So you put up with it. You eat the soup, holding your nose and visualising your life once you’ve hit your goal. You endure the gym, wishing you could just hit your goal and never have to go back there again.

What are the chances of you hitting your 10-kilo target – and, more importantly, maintaining it afterward? I would say Pretty low, no?

Goals that do not inspire you or give you that “hell yeah” feeling or rely on extrinsic motivation such as an external, tangible result or outcome you need to achieve will not be achieved.

These goals feel heavy, looming over you menacingly until you have hit them. The process of working toward them often doesn’t feel enjoyable and takes a lot of effort despite the rewards at the end.

So you’re less likely to take the steps you need to take to achieve them.

Extrinsic motivation has repeatedly been shown to be less effective than Intrinsic motivation, which is driven by enjoying the activity itself.

Extrinsic motivation: “If I walk five miles today, I can have that piece of chocolate cake.”

Intrinsic motivation: “I love dancing – I’m going to dance in the kitchen just because it feels great.”

Extrinsic motivation: “If I spend the next month learning about the political system in Uzbekistan I’ll look really smart at the university dinner party.”

Intrinsic motivation: “How DOES the inside of my remote control work? This is fascinating…”

In other words, given the choice between rewards or enjoyment, you are far more likely to do things you enjoy.

So, ironically, you are more likely to lose 10 kilos by throwing the scales in the bin and going dancing every weekend than you are by trying to haul yourself to the gym every day if going to the gym is not your thing.

In your career change, you are more likely to find fulfilling work  (albeit counter-intuitively) by doing things you enjoy than you are by setting yourself a goal to change career.

Pressure encourages procrastination

There is a fair amount of pressure involved in goal-setting.

Either you hit your goal, or you don’t.

There is no room for the grey area on the way.

And if you don’t hit it, you’ve ‘failed’. Unpleasant. Scary. Dunce hat. Ugh.

Procrastination is based in fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change: all fears that grow from an attachment to a specific outcome… otherwise known as ‘a goal’.

In career change, this often looks like vacillation, over-thinking, endlessly weighing up options, researching things to death…

Sound familiar?

What if you get it wrong? What if you don’t hit your target? What if it never happens?

High stakes creates high tension – and the higher the tension, the less likely you are to act.

So if you have set yourself a goal and you are getting stuck in procrastination-whirlpools, this might be why.

You are not the boss of everything

Unfortunate, but true.

No matter how hard you try, or how much effort you put in to achieving a goal, sometimes the world just gets in the way. Life happens.

Maybe you twist an ankle and can’t train for the marathon.

Maybe the taxman slings you an unexpected curveball and your savings goal hits the deck.

Maybe your company withdraws its plans to offer a round of voluntary redundancies next month, like you were expecting.

Maybe your kid gets sick and you spend your week curled up on the bathroom floor mopping brows and blowing noses and you don’t get your LinkedIn profile up to date like you said you would.

These moments hurt. Partly because they throw a spanner in the works and we have to deal with the possibility of failure.

Partly because it forces you to realise that you can’t control results.

You can ONLY control what you do, but not what happens next.

      • You can create a perfectly written LinkedIn profile, but you can’t control whether or not people will read it.
      • You can reach out to someone you admire, but you can’t control whether or not they will respond.
      • You can go to an event you have never been to before, but you can’t control whether or not it will spark a new career idea.

Trying to consistently hit your goals when you are only responsible for part of the process is a pretty heavy expectation.

Don’t just set goals, build habits.

Looking back at my notebook, I’m pretty proud to say that  I have achieved pretty much all l the goals I set back then and am working  on achieving the new ones I have set.

I found a way to visit amazing places met some truly amazing people and do work I am completely in love with.

That wouldn’t have happened without giving myself the space to dream ridiculously big and commit to consistently doing things I had no idea how to do BUT learnt that it was possible and I could them.

continue …

Read part 2 next

promotion problems

Transitioning back to work after lockdown

promotion problems

Staying mentally healthy as the country begins going back into workplaces.

Life as we knew it has changed and our reality is very different today than it was 100+ days ago. Many of us were in various stages of lockdown for extended periods of time. and even as many of the initial restrictions were lifted , many have still remained and will remain for the foreseeable future.

As we begin to emerge from what felt like hibernation for many, we are all to aware that life is very different and things will never go back to the way they were.

As we start to return to work, and our children return to school there is a lot to think about. Lockdown has affected us all in different ways, and it is normal to feel uncertain about what the future holds.

Many people feel confused, worried and apprehensive about going back to the workplace and even more feel anxious about sending children back to school. Amid this worry there is also the harsh realisation that indefinite lockdown is not sustainable and life still needs to carry on.

Organisations are considering a range of adjustments to the way work is done, to comply with government recommendations. These adjustments will depend on your job, and your individual circumstances.

Everyone’s situation is unique. However, as you  return to work, there are some general principles that will give you the best chance of getting back to work and staying mentally healthy over the coming months.

 

Talk and connect

It is important to keep in touch with colleagues and your line manager. You don’t need to talk about work, but a quick check-in will help you feel connected. We have all been impacted by the coronavirus in different ways. You may have been bereaved, felt overwhelmed or isolated, or been unwell. If you share this with others they will be better able to help you in the months ahead.

Plan and prepare

Think about your job and your situation. Does anything need to change to help you do your job well? If you haven’t been told what to expect, ask what provisions have been made to create a safe work environment. It can be helpful to think through what will happen on the first day back:

  • How will you get to work?
  • Will anything be different as you enter the building?
  • Who will be there?
  • Will you need to do things differently to get your job done?
  • Are you on a rotation schedule?

Have a return-to-work conversation with your line manager

If you have not received a return-to-work briefing from your line manager ask for one.

This is a chance to identify your work priorities and raise any concerns or questions that you have. If you have something important you want to talk about, make a note of it for when you have a briefing or perhaps drop your manager and email with your concerns. This is an unprecedented time for all of us and we are all trying to figure things out as we go along. NO one person has all the answers so raise your concerns and ask your questions – chances are you are not the only one who has the same concern.

Try not to panic and slip into a paranoid space

Take things one step at a time

The way we all work is likely to keep changing in the coming weeks and months so we will need to keep adjusting. Don’t expect everything to quickly return to normal. The life you knew and were familiar with prior to lockdown is gone and will very likely never return. We have a long journey ahead. We may never be able to go back to our old ways of working so this could give us an opportunity to do things very differently, and even better. Look out for yourself, look out for others and take one day at a time.

Monitor and review how you are getting on

It is important to have regular check-ins with yourself (How am I coping? Could I do more to help stay mentally healthy?) and check-ins with your team members and manager (How are we working? Is there anything we could do differently to work better together?). This way you can address issues as they come up and start to plan and prepare for the journey through COVID-19 together.

Be mindful of those who may have been directedly affected or infected by this virus. Be supportive and check-in if a team member has had to deal with the illness or loss of a family member due to COVID-19. many of those in  essential services have has to deal with unimaginable conditions from and emotional and psychological perspective. Many of them have brought these  traumas home and family have had to deal as best they could. so be gentle and be kind with those who are struggling you may not know what they have has to deal with on the home front.

Finally

Everyone is finding their own path and things might not always go to plan. It is important to be kind to yourself and to be kind to others as we all find our way. Returning to work is not always easy, but having support can make a huge difference. If you are finding it difficult, ask a trusted colleague or friend to help you work through the questions and identify some concrete actions that you, or they, can take to help you.

job search

5 important ways to get through job loss quickly

job search
Job search

I have Coached Over 200 Career Transitions — Here is A Routine That Helps People Bounce Back Faster

Losing your job takes a serious toll on your confidence and stirs up all kinds of unpleasant emotions.

Realistically though, it is likely that we’re going to face some kind of job loss or significant job change at one point or another in our careers.  Sometimes this change reaches far beyond the scope of our individual control and comes as a surprise to us. The best we can do is be prepared to manage this adversity and take some time to focus on ourselves. I’ve worked through over 200 career transitions over the years – including a couple of my own (most have been my clients’).  Self-care is critical to successfully getting through this time.  Here are five ways I practiced self-care after I was laid off — and I think you should try this routine, too

  1. I paused.

Losing your job can often be a big shock to your system.  Sometimes we know our organization is going through significant changes, but sometimes the change comes as a complete surprise.  Whatever the case, when the change impacts you personally, it can really hurt and take a toll on your confidence.

Depending on who we are and how we react to things, we might become emotional as we react to the news. The best advice I can give here is to take a breath.  If your employer is presenting you with a severance package, make sure you DO NOT sign anything in the heat of the moment. Take some time to  review the severance package offer after you get over the initial shock factor that will inevitably happen.

Reach out to a friend or colleague that you trust and get their input. Lean on your support system and let your feelings out in this safe environment. You don’t want to be embarrassed by emotional, irrational behavior in front of your former employer. Save the insanity for close family and friends (lucky them).

For me, the pause was critical because getting laid off was a very emotional experience. Taking time to breathe allowed me to have a rational and professional discussion with my employer about severance.

 

  1. I resolved the outstanding issues with my employer, A.S.A.P.

After the ‘pause’, it might still take you a few days to get your emotions back in check. Once you can get through thinking and discussing your new situation  without bursting into tears or fuming in anger, set your sites on closing the loop on outstanding items with your employer.

 

For your own mental health, you’ve got to get the details resolved as quickly as possible. Having the details of a severance looming over you for days, weeks or months is simply exhausting. You owe it to yourself to get closure so you can move on.

In most cases, your employer should appreciate that this is an emotional situation and provide an appropriate deadline (a week or so) for you to get back to them on their offer of severance. If they don’t give you some time to get your act together, count your blessings that you no longer work for them.

So, you have done your due diligence in terms of reviewing the details and terms of the severance offer, now you need to respond to them. I always suggest having this conversation via email so everything is documented. Avoid the phone if you can it can muddy the waters. You also don’t know what might set off potential emotional outbursts. Make sure you get all of the details from your employer such as how and when the severance will be paid, what happens to your benefits, what happens to any sort of other company programs and any additional amounts owing. Get all the information that you can to minimize any need for follow up contact. You likely won’t want to talk to them again.

 

  1. I didn’t try to find out why I was laid off.

I have heard people say time and time again that they need to understand why they have lost their job in order to move on. They want to know what they have done wrong, or how the employer decided that they should be the employee to exit.

The fact is, a lot of time, the reason that an employer provides a severance package for you is so that they don’t have to share this information with you. Quite frankly, it might even be none of your business, and part of some broader organizational plan.

For me, adopting an ‘I don’t need to know’ attitude was the key to self-care when I was laid off.  What value is there in knowing the organization’s point of view, anyways?  Would it really change the current situation? Probably not. If anything it would only serve to inflate your anger and frustration levels. So take time to  make peace with the reality that you are out the door and see it as an opportunity rather than a set back.

 

  1. I got into a routine.

I allowed myself some time to mourn the loss of my job. This is an important step many people seem to forget to do or chose not to do. Loosing a job is much like loosing a loved and the  lose needs to be mourned. For me, this was the end of the longest-term relationship I had ever had. Grieving was important, but I set myself a deadline to be sad. I cried and moped, but only for a week. At the end of the week, I started into a routine.

It was summer and I wanted to take advantage of the time away from work and focus on the positives of being away from work. I got up every single morning and planned an outing with my little guy. Every day we were up and dressed. You’d be surprised how therapeutic getting up and going outside can be.

Getting into a new routine is critical to your career transition success. Part of establishing this routine was knowing what I would say when people asked ‘How’s work?’ I actually practiced my response so I could answer confidently without stumbling or feeling insecure.

 

  1. I set an unemployment deadline.

While I only allowed myself a week to be sad about losing my job we all know the grieving process has no hard and fast deadline. The reality is that, sometimes, we have to work through the emotions of things , and that can take a while.  While I wasn’t sitting at home and moping, I was still going through all the feelings of job loss.  I wanted some time and space between that job and my next one.  Since I was laid off in the summer, I set myself a deadline of autumn (fall) to get on a structured job hunt. Setting parameters and clear goals for myself were really key parts of my self-care and managing my overall mental health.

Job loss is hard. Period. There is no magic formula to work through the grieving process and there are no standard timelines. When it comes to self-care and job loss, you’ve got to take a moment to reflect what will work for you.  Focus on those things that give you comfort, structure and a sense of purpose. It’s inside those things that you will find a transition process that is uniquely yours. On the other side of that transition is your future career success.

7 key benefits of Career Transition Coaching

Career Coach

Career transition at senior level is difficult as there are only a few available opportunities and plenty of very tough competition. More and more senior managers and executives are using career coaches to gain competitive advantage. Many of the best business leaders engage executive coaches. Career coaching can help executives navigate career transition quickly and effectively. Engaging a career coach will substantially improve competitiveness, marketability and ultimately the success of your job search and long-term career.

If your strategy is to send out hundreds of  copies of your Curriculum Vitae and hope for the best, you will quickly discover that this doesn’t work and is a futile use of your time.  Even if you have the best LinkedIn profile, it is not a guarantee of success.

A good career coach will help you articulate your best attributes and highest skills for a prospective employer to notice. A career coach will help you  develop an effective job search strategy to identify the best target companies and secure your ideal position.

It can significantly reduce the time it takes to find your ideal position by helping you develop a comprehensive job search strategy. Many people including senior manager and executives  find it difficult to articulate the value they can bring to an organisation and as a result how to pitch themselves effectively feels awkward. Many are also unsure what exactly they are looking for in terms of both position and type of company and this can be a significant disadvantage. If your vision is not clear, then you cannot develop an effective strategy to achieve it.

Get help to create a Vision. Vision guides you! In simple terms, if you are going on a business trip or holiday, you would not arrive at the airport without knowing what your destination is. Your destination guides your choice of airline and ultimately which terminal to arrive at. Your career transition journey is no different. If you don’t know where you are going to how will you know when you get there?

A career coach can help you create an impactful Curriculum Vitae (CV) / Resume and LinkedIn profile. Many people forget that the purpose of a CV / Resume is to get the interview and not the job, and as such this document must be carefully constructed to articulate just enough information to create interest and impact and encourage an employer or recruiter to reach out. BUT…. not too much information! At Renata Career Coach we sometimes see CV’s / Resumes that lack impact, are poorly written and in many cases are simply a cut and paste of a job description with little attention given to achievements. Remember that the attention given to each CV / Resume by a recruiter or potential employer is very short so making an impact quickly is essential!

Develop your networking skills. Some experts say that 70% of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking. Others say it’s more like 80-85%. Which ever statistic you believe what is clear this is substantial and as such incorporating a comprehensive networking strategy into your job search strategy is one of the most important actions you can. Effective networking provides a focused way to talk to people about your job search and can help you obtain leads, referrals, advice, information, support and most importantly uncover hidden promotion job opportunities. A good career coach will help you review various opportunities, networking events, existing contacts, developing new contacts and how to prioritise those that could generate the best results.

Preparation for interview and the overall assessment and selection process. Most organisations now have comprehensive recruitment and selection processes consisting not only of competency-based interviews, but also psychometric assessments as well as situation-based presentations. Having someone help you prepare for this puts you at a distinct advantage versus your competition. In our career coaching practice, we help you identify and segment your achievements across your entire career and then help you articulate them in a structured and impactful format. This process alone greatly assists Executives in interview preparation therefore it can also help you. Remember …. 90% preparation = 10% perspiration. 10% preparation = 90% perspiration!

A good career coach will hold you accountable for the goals you have set, offer valuable advice and expertise, and help you acquire different perspectives. Inevitability, there will be setbacks throughout your job search journey and your coach will be there to pick you up and encourage you to keep focussed and face your next challenge with renewed confidence and enthusiasm.

On-boarding into your new position. Depending on the terms and duration of engagement, some career coaches provide on-boarding coaching. The first six months of any position can be critical for both the organisation and the new appointee. On the one hand the hiring organisation will need to see evidence of added value from you. On the other hand you  will need to feel that you have made the right career decision.

Various sources of research have shown that the average executive failure rate within the first 18 months is approximately 40%! A career coach can help with embedding and securing the success of the new relationship and provide a confidential environment to discuss goals, objectives and any potential issues that may arise.

In conclusion, you must remember that the role of a coach is to facilitate you to acquire different perspectives to get more out of work and life. The true value of the coaching process is gained from the work you put in between sessions.

At Renata Career Coaching we provide 1-2-1 coaching for people who are in career transition or planning to change jobs. We tailor a structured programme appropriate for the needs of each individual which results in a professional and effective job search campaign and improved confidence.

Our career coaching service can include:

  • Skills and competency assessment
  • Curriculum Vitae / Resume preparation
  • Development of a Comprehensive Achievements Profile Document
  • Development of a Job Search Marketing Plan
  • Effective networking
  • Engaging effectively with Executive Search Consultants
  • Interview training

For those people looking for an improved alternative to the traditional outplacement program, our Career Coaching programme provides unique and highly customised support on how to conduct a professional job search campaign. Ideal Careers Happen by Design let us at Renata Career Coaching help you find the ideal career that suits you

For a free no-obligation consultation please contact our office via email at renatafester@career-coach.co.za

Career Coach

promotion problems

5 Unexpected ways promotions make your life harder

promotion problemspromotion at work often brings status, power, and hopefully, a raise. However there are often unanticipated downsides to promotions, which we are seldom aware of until we are in the new position.

 

Here are 5 things that I did not expect to come with a job promotion.

We often think that a promotion will bring more money, success, and status, but there are drawbacks to almost every promotion.

Longer hours are pretty much inevitable. Issues that used to be someone else’s problem are now yours. Managing people can be tough.

I once received a promotion where I’d manage a new department at a small company. The change brought lots of interesting challenges and boosted my self-esteem, but there were some very hard moments, too.

 

Here are five ways that getting promoted made my life more difficult:

 

  1. I had to go to bat for myself

Before my promotion, I had a great manager. He protected me from the loose cannons in management, tooted my horn to the senior and executive management, supported me in my work, gave me opportunities, and generally had my back.

Now, he is my peer, and we could commiserate about the difficulty of being managers in the company, but he could no longer shield me. It was now up to me to stand up to the big shots and fight for my department.

 

  1. I was working more overtime

I was already working long hours with no overtime pay before I was promoted. Now the expectations for overtime seemed par for the course. When there was a problem, my weekend was blown and I was never off the clock. I needed to be there for the customer, at any time of the day, night, or weekend.

 

  1. I didn’t get to make my own decisions

I was now charged with managing people however I still did not get to decide exactly how my department was run. My decisions were sometimes overruled by upper management, and the fallout from those decisions ended up being my problem to sort  out.

When I anticipated problems and wanted to do things a different way, these were often management decision were often micromanaged, and I was still required to enforce upper management’s ideas and decision  while keeping “my” employees under control and performing well. This conflict can make middle-management positions stressful and exhausting.

 

  1. Co-workers undermined me

When I was promoted to middle management, some of my peers criticized me and got obstructive of projects. When trusted colleagues whisper in the bosses ear about you, it can be hard to get that negative impression out of the boss’s head. Suddenly, I needed to fight for my reputation.

 

  1. No one trained me for my new role

Some companies provide training to help workers transition into a new role, but many companies usually don’t. I didn’t always feel competent enough to manage things, never having managed a department before.

I had many good leadership qualities — creativity, passion, and honesty — that helped me “fake it,” but I didn’t really know what I was doing half the time in terms of organizing and managing. Some training or more support to negotiate new responsibilities would have certainly been hugely beneficial both to me and t the organisation.

Sometimes, a new job just doesn’t fit right, but you don’t always get to try on the new role before you take it. I was awesome at the job I had before the promotion, but I’d say I was mediocre at being a manager.

So consider the new position very carefully — if it doesn’t look like it will fit, consider passing up that promotion and waiting until the right position comes along. You may just be happier where you are!

10 Easy Tips To Make A Promotion Smooth Sailing-Guaranteed

Just Promoted

There are many professionals out there who stay in their jobs (even if they don’t like them) just because they are afraid to start a new role with a new employer.

It is understandable that applying for and accepting a new role [which may also be in a new organisation] can be overwhelming. Adapting to a new position, developing new relationships, and assimilating into a new culture can is a big ask. While each professional, position, and organization is unique, there are behaviours that can support you making the transition into your new role a smooth process:

 

  • Acclimate to the organization’s corporate culture: 

    The most important thing you can do during your first week, month, and even quarter is to assimilate into the culture and environment of the organization. Accomplish this by observing the behaviours and communication patterns of those around you.

  • Stay positive: 

    Show excitement for your new role and you will exude confidence. Your positivity and enthusiasm will make a great impression and may even bring a new energy to the organization.

  • Listen and learn:

     Show your willingness to learn about the company beyond your job and responsibilities. Become as knowledgeable as possible about the new organization and /or new role. Keep an open  mind to suggestions from colleagues who have been with the organization for a number of years. These people can provide invaluable insight and knowledge. By combining that understanding with your skills and experiences, can add significant value to a new employer. Lastly, I suggest they keep an open door policy. It is  one of the best management styles there is.

  • Remember that you are new: It’s critical to understand why you were hired and the skills that made you attractive. Keep in mind that while you may have the capabilities and talent to perform admirably, it’s best to wait until you thoroughly understand the company’s procedures and operations before bringing up new and improved ways of doing things. On another note, although it’s great to volunteer for extra responsibilities, in most organizations, it’s best to stick to your job description during your first few months. You want to make sure not to step on anyone’s toes. However, if you are asked to do something outside of your realm of responsibilities, take it as an opportunity to show that you are a team player and happily perform the task.

  • Be open to constructive criticism: 

    Again, remember that you are new so accept the fact that the potential for you to make mistakes in the beginning months will be  quite high. Use them as opportunities to learn and to do better the next time. Be open to constructive criticism and you will do well and you will be able to improve. You also want others to feel comfortable in expressing their thoughts.

  • Build relationships: Connecting with your new team is imperative. Even if you don’t have an outgoing personality, do your best to get to know your colleagues, join them during lunches and team outings, and if you’re in an office, keep your door open.
  • Seek out a mentor: 

    The best way to familiarize yourself with a new role, company, and its culture is to develop a relationship with a professional who can be your mentor.

  • Create goals:

    Make sure there is clarity about your 3 and 6 month expectations and deliverables. While these were probably discussed during the interview process, confirm them during your first week on the job. In addition, develop your own goals for achieving success early on and fitting in with the company and your team. Make sure your objectives are appropriate and, if necessary, cover them with your direct report before spending time on them.

  • Keep your private life just that – private: While you will eventually make friends within your new company or your new role, it’s best to keep your personal life and opinions private until you get to know others better. Over sharing is a thing.

  • Jump-start the on-boarding process yourself:

    The on-boarding process can be a laborious task so ease into it by contacting your future employer prior to your first day to get any paperwork that could be completed in advance. Additionally, ask for any work or information that you can review or meetings that you can attend while finishing out your notice period with your previous employer. This can help ensure that you hit the ground running with your new employer. It also makes your transition into the company early on that much easier.

 

These recommendations are a great start for making your transition into a new role or   organization a smooth one. If however you are a senior executive, you could have more difficulty with career transitions. Senior executives who accept new offers are expected to go into an organization and start getting things done immediately, while at the same time, developing positive relationships with your team and colleagues. More on that later.

Do you have any other Tips for Making a Smooth Transition? Share them in the comments

The Problem with Promotions: 5 Tips for Moving into Management

promoted to Manager

Well done you have  been promoted! Congratulations! All that hard work and focus has finally paid off. You are in your first leadership role. It truly is something to be proud of.

A lot of people want to be promoted. They want the recognition that they have done a good job. However, a lot of challenges surface in a new leadership role. Leading people is very different from leading projects. Leading people taps into different aspects of your capabilities. The changes are also a little more subtle. Expectations from all levels in the company will also be different. What will be considered acceptable behaviour will also be very different. Relationships will be different. And no one gives you a handbook about what to expect.

Here are some of the changes that occur when you move into management and how to deal with them on an emotional, mental and physical level.

 

A Transition Model

A good way to think of transition is through the prism of William Bridges’ Transition Model.

It’s made up of three parts:

  1. Accept that the status quo has changed and say goodbye to what was.
  2. Expect discomfort and accept that when you start the change there will be many questions, but few answers. Understand that this is a temporary situation. It’s a period of time when you are going to be tested. Reflect, be flexible and move forward despite the uncertainty.
  3. Revere the past and welcome the new.

 

Mark the end of the chapter

It can be helpful to mark the end of the old chapter with some sort of ritual. Rituals help you understand that a shift has taken place. It could be simple like going down memory lane and remembering things you did well, having a final dinner with old colleagues or taking a trip. Find a ritual to signify the end. Then you can move on to the next level.

 

Changes With Your Relationship With Yourself

How you see yourself must change in order to be an effective new leader.

Emotionally: Explore your emotions. As you enter this new phase are you feeling confident? Ambitious? Hesitant? Curious?

Mentally: Examine the mindsets you have about yourself. Are you feeling equal to your peer group? Are you deserving of this promotion? Are you ready? If not, what do you need to do to get ready?

Physically: Are you fit enough for the role? Will you be traveling? If your new role involves travel, it can be difficult to exercise while on the road. Take an inventory of your physical health and how you can improve or maintain it.

 

Relationship with Your Team

People are often promoted because they have shown competence on a technical or skills level. However, when they get into leadership they may not have been primed for the way their former peers, as well as their news ones, may see them. If you are promoted from within the ranks, there may be growing pains from your former peer group. You may be the one who “changed” now that you are in management. It’s a common problem.

Remember, always, that you’re supposed to be in this role. Your former peers may not see it, but there have been few promotions where everyone in the company agreed with it.

If underlings are complaining, there is likely a need buried in there. Ask them, specifically, what they want. What can you do to make it work? If you don’t call it out, the team may inadvertently sabotage the decisions that are being made. Calling it out shows that you’re in control and that you want to hear what they have to say.

Mentally: Set a vision for how you want to work with your new team. Make deliberate choices about your relationship with them. Be clear with yourself what you do and don’t want.

Feel free to join them for drinks, but establish boundaries. Leave after two drinks, for example, or limit socializing to lunches, etc. Even though you are part of the team, you can’t be one of them. It can hurt when you have to give tough feedback, etc.

Emotionally: Continue to empathize. Make sure they know you hear them. You may not agree with every suggestion they make, but validate their opinions and thoughts.

Be aware that your direct reports will share more information with you than they ever did if they were a peer. Some of it will be personal. Anticipate this aspect of leadership.

Physically: Decide how physically close you want to be to your direct reports. Even if you’re in an open office, establish boundaries. Maybe private conversations have to be held outside of the open area.

 

Relationship with Your Work

You go into a specific field because you like doing the actual work. You like writing the code or recruiting candidates. In leadership, the relationship to your work changes. Your value-add shifts. The pace of work slows and it’s less about the day to day output. Use the pace to your advantage.

Mentally: Accept that you are in it for the long-haul. Embrace that your biggest contribution is to create a new set of leaders.

Emotionally: Learn more about the people on your team. Even if you came up with them and think you know them, there are likely aspects to them you don’t know. In order to manage people, you’ll have to know about their professional goals, etc.

Physically: Find a way to do what you used to do — in small doses. You can’t lead and do the day-to-day work and do both well. Your direct reports also don’t want you doing their job, since it will make them miss out on opportunities to grow.

 

Relationship with Your Peers

Mentally: Expectations have changed at every level. Your new peers expect you to perform at their level. It’s not just about the quality of your work, it is also your attitude towards work. Your former peers may not confide in you anymore now that you are in management, and that’s okay. Accept that you now represent the organization as a member of the management team.

Emotionally: You may have a feeling of aloneness. Expect less feedback the higher up you go in the organization. Your direct reports will give you feedback, but your peers and your boss may not. Trust in yourself that you’re doing all right, otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are.

On that note, don’t be afraid to take risks to grow your self-confidence. You won’t lose your position over one bad move.

Physically: Remember: you represent the organization at outside associations and clubs.

 

The Take Away

Promotions and change are part of your professional career, and should be welcomed. Above all, it’s important to accept that they are transitions, and setting expectations for transitions is the first step to managing them. When you expect that there will be periods of uncertainty and that relationships with people may change, it’ll be easier to move through the change while still being productive.

 

Have you experienced any of these in your promotion? How have you navigated it – share your experience .