Transforming the career Personal skills, goals should guide any journey
AS a columnist and public speaker, I have spoken and written about accountability from several perspectives.
For instance, I shared with readers that taking personal responsibility means to focus on one’s work and doing one’s assigned work efficiently versus “sneaking” work time to text friends, keep tabs on your Facebook account or continually checking for personal phone messages.
I’ve also talked about accountability being a personal value that helps people prioritize the where, when, what, why and how of one’s actions and behaviour. And finally, I’ve written that personal accountability is something that can and should be learned and practised every day of your life.
Yet I’m surprised people don’t apply the concept of personal accountability to their own career. Yes, I can see personal accountability in the early stages of a career when individuals select their courses and focus their studies. However, I often hear from individuals who feel trapped in their current jobs and feel powerless to do anything about it. Instead of taking personal responsibility, they blame the situation on a bad boss, poor interpersonal relationships or mergers and acquisitions. Everything seems to be “outside” of themselves and therefore, out of their control.
Frankly, I recall experiencing these same powerless feelings in two unhappy work situations in which I was engaged. Yet I realized the only person in charge of my career was “me,” and, therefore, I was the one who had to do something about it. And I did. Thus, my overriding message is so can you, dear reader. It’s called engaging in personal transformation. Yes, indeed, this is a journey, rather than something that can be rushed. In other words, don’t just quit a job and run to another one without examining the reasons for your discontent beyond those external factors you are complaining about. After all, you may quickly find out the proverbial saying that the “grass is not always so green on the other side of the fence!” is more true than you had imagined.
As I indicated, personal and career transformation is a journey, so the question is, where does one start or restart their journey? But, first of all, I want to remind you not to fall into the trap of feeling guilty about your discomforting situation. There is nothing wrong with questioning yourself about your goals and objectives and career path at any stage of life.
To be honest, if you asked any of your colleagues how many career changes they’ve had, you would be surprised. In fact, I think it’s quite rare today to have individuals stay in a single occupation their entire lives, and work for a single employer. So, there is nothing to feel guilty about; heck, life changes, circumstances change and people change, but life goes on.
However, once you unpack the guilt trip, take time to really assess just exactly what your discomfort is all about. Instead of blaming a bad boss, take a look at his/her leadership style versus the work style that best suits you. Yes, you can hold your breath until he/she passes, however, it might be some time before you are assigned a new boss. There are just two things you can do. First you can try to understand the new boss and their leadership style and adapt to working with their approach. Or, you can determine you may no longer be in the best place to gain job satisfaction and seek employment elsewhere.
Yet, seeking employment elsewhere doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your current employer. Look for other opportunities within your company and perhaps transfer to a similar role in another department. Check out the possibility of taking a new position in which you will learn new skills. This will benefit you in the long run.
If none of these opportunities is available to you, then you need to start exploring opportunities outside your current employer. At this point, you need to really know yourself well or else you may go from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak. So, how do you go about this frightful task? And, yes, it can be frightening, because don’t forget you are leaving a lot of yourself behind and starting a new career life.
But once again, I advise taking the slower journey to career change. That’s because there are many aspects of career management you need to pay attention to. With regard to the issue of boss relationships, I suggested a good look at leadership/management styles and what suits you the best, but that’s just the start of self-analysis. You also need to examine elements such as personality and communication style and personal values. You need to delve deeply into your psyche and determine what motivates you. And finally, you need to examine what you are really good at and what you like to do. Once you identify and confirm these personal career elements, then you can begin solving the career puzzle. Let me explain these elements more thoroughly.
Personality and communication style: This refers to how you make sense of things and how you interact and communicate with others. Personality and communication style greatly impact your choice of jobs and where you are best suited to work. For instance, if you are the quiet, introverted type of person, then being in large teams where you need to speak up and be actively engaged is not comfortable. You are best suited to working alone and/or with small teams.
Personal values: Personal values are your core beliefs; they tell you what you like in life and guide your everyday behaviour. Your values could include elements such as ambition, openness, fairness, making a difference by helping others as well as honesty and integrity. When personal and work values are the same, you’ll experience job satisfaction. When you sense discomfort, it’s often because there is a psychological disconnect between your values and those of your employer.
Personal motivators: Personal motivators mobilize you to take action and set goals. Motivators include such things as independence and autonomy, the motivation to manage people or to be a technical expert of some kind. You could be motivated by social service, a specific cause and/or the need for lifework balance. All of these motivators direct you toward certain jobs.
Transferable skills: These are skills that transcend a number of jobs and enable you to stretch your experience and career goals beyond one single occupation. Most people fail to realize they have transferable skills. Take time to do a skills assessment. Analyze every paid/non-paid job, then categorize and classify your skills into three themes. These themes help to create your identify beyond a job title and enable you to envision your skills being applied to different jobs.
Managing your career is your job and no one else’s. Employers can provide work opportunities but it is up to you to make sure your job and career path best suit your personality and communication style, your personal values and motivators and your transferable skills.