Shape your career graph with minor mindset shifts
In the current working environment where ambiguity is the new normal, you may experience “free floating anxiety”. “What impact will automation have on my role?” “How do I reskill myself to be future ready ?”
While such concerns are natural, there is often not much you can do to influence the outcome. What you do have complete control over is your attitude and performance. Focus on a good attitude and performing to the best of your ability, and the rest usually follows. It might help, though, to update yourself on ways to achieve success within the workplace.
In India, growth is usually viewed as vertical i.e., promotions to the next level. So remember that growth has many dimensions. Learn to value horizontal growth—for instance, you are in financial control, consider moving to financial planning. If you are in recruitment, consider moving into a business partnering role to become a well-rounded HR professional. Remember, too, that getting promoted beyond your current capability can be debilitating. Too often I have seen people who are great at one level but can’t sustain that at the next level because they haven’t been ready for it.
In a world where everything is instant, learn to have patience when it comes to your career. Most of us will work for close to three decades. You’ll get to where you have to, and a couple of years here and there in that journey won’t make a big difference. Learn to pace yourself—like it takes 12 years to finish school or nine months to deliver a baby, there are no shortcuts when it comes to career building.
Remember that the person most invested in your development is you. Take ownership of your development and don’t assume that your performance is the responsibility of your manager or organization. Their role is to coach and develop you and provide adequate learning opportunities. Beyond that, you have to be the mover and shaker when it comes to your career.
When you leave a role, aspire to have performed at a level that people say, “Wow this person really maxed this role and set a benchmark.” Learn to take a role beyond its intended limits.
Be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Typically, if you want to attempt roles which are not related to your prior experience—for example, an operations professional wanting to move into a human resources role or a process excellence role—the best place would be your current organization. An external organization is unlikely to bet on you outside your core domain. If you have built credibility over time, your existing organization may be willing to take that chance on you.
As you go up the career ladder and move into leadership roles, always remain grounded and humble. In The Last Samurai, there was a great line: “It’s important to know where you are going, but never forget where you came from.” Don’t get lulled into thinking that your success is due only to your own capability. Sure, that has a big part to play, but no one gets anywhere without the help and support of numerous people: family, support from peers, senior leaders, your team.
To keep yourself grounded, ask, from time to time, “If I were to be elected by my team as their leader, would they still choose me?” An honest answer to that will tell you how much you still need to work on yourself.
Sameer Chadha is partner and CEO of KPMG Global Services (KGS), India