Do you have the January heeby jeebies? If so, you are not alone. Q1 rolls in with its typical bluster of performance reviews, bonuses, promotions, and management changes. It also comes with agita. Some employees fret about reviews and raises that don’t reflect their hard work. Others are frustrated that they once again have been passed over for promotion. There may be a vague sense of unrest with an upcoming change in management. And the temptation to leave the company for greener pastures is strongest once the bonus checks are cut. “How can I advance?” and ” Is my job secure?” are common thoughts.
The Navigator has studied the heeby jeebies (his own and others) and has come to a conclusion that these demons of self-doubt will attack those with a lack of professional mobility. Are you professionally mobile? Do you feel overly dependent on your current employer? How well do you demonstrate mastery during internal and external interviews? How do you position yourself for a truly accurate performance review? How can you bolster your stature for promotion and advancement?
Passivity will not earn you your rightful place. There are 3 things you can do right now to gain professional mobility and prepare for your future role.
1. Create a Work Diary to Identify Your Strengths
A year is a long time in the frenzied environment of mid- to large-size organizations. It’s easy to forget your accomplishments outside of the major projects entered in your company’s performance management system. Keep notes of how you spend your day. You will be amazed at the end of the year what you have amassed.
How will a work diary help you?
- To inform your boss of ad-hoc accomplishments
- To bolster mid-year and year-end performance reviews
- To help you prepare for internal or external behavioral interviews
- To identify patterns and themes about your hidden strengths and career hindrances
- To defend your POV when others challenge your approach
- To justify your role and value during restructuring
Get a jump start by creating an outline of your past endeavors by looking at your archived Outlook work calendar. Consider adding these to your diary if they occurred:
- Training others (leadership, team player)
- Putting out fires (can think on my feet)
- Triage during emergencies (resourceful, can change course)
- Projects that emerged in the middle of the year
- Use of effective planning tools (good project manager)
- Compelling presentations or speaking (effective persuader)
- The time you laid out place settings for a lunch and learn (roll up your sleeves kind of player)
- Training and certifications achieved (increased skill set)
- Participation in professional organizations (current on trends in my discipline)
- Meetings with a difficult internal client (providing value on behalf of my department)
- Created a new process or procedure (innovative, out-of-the-box thinker)
- How you handled some significant dysfunction or challenge to your deliverable (interviewers like to hear that you have dimension to your answers, and how you acted when things did not go according to plan)
2. Keep Your Network HOT by Giving, Not Just Taking
To vie for a better position, you will likely need someone in your network to make an introduction or provide a referral. Don’t be that person who taps someone who they haven’t spoken to in years to ask for a favor.
- Reach out to everyone in your network by thanking them for a favor they may have done for you and how it helped you. Touch base with them before you need them for anything.
- Join professional associations and meet new people in your field. Provide your expertise to them. Make new connections who will help you when you need it. Don’t show up at a networking event appearing needy. Instead, be a provider.
3. Study Your Company’s Communication Assets
Some of the Navigator’s clients confide that they are frustrated at not having been promoted despite being in their role for a number of years. There is a passivity to their complaints as though they are waiting to be ‘recognized’ by a talent scout. To be recognized you need to sound and behave as though you have assumed a larger role with more responsibility even though you have not. The way to do this is to become aware of how your organization operates from the macro to micro level. If a senior manager stopped you in the hallway to determine your business acumen, could you pass the test? Can you articulate your organization’s business strategy? Do you know its distribution channels? What about the various product lines that have come and gone and why?
Review These Assets
- Company and departmental mission and value statements
- Company historical timelines
- Business strategies
- Quarterly reports
- Marketing and branding samples
- Organization charts
- Organization design configurations
- Distribution channel models
- Your company’s competitors
Understanding and speaking to these assets will transform your lexicon to be in line with those higher up in the org chart. Your self-confidence will grow and you will get noticed.
Don’t Squander Your Inheritance
Savvy organizations hire you to solve problems and expect that you come with your own toolkit of experience. To prepare for a future role, maximize your experience now. How? Your membership in a mid- to large-sized organization is the closest modern equivalent to taking up residence at Downton Abbey. You are surrounded by wealth in many forms. The people at the table are accomplished and smart and have expertise in a variety of disciplines. As a member of this privileged family, they will openly share their strategies with you if you ask them. Membership is for life because even if you leave to go to another organization, your prior affiliation would have afforded you the wealth of your experiences. It is your inheritance. Don’t squander it. Understand the assets that are available to you in your current role. There is an unspoken reciprocal arrangement among organizations. They expect to use your experience that you have gained elsewhere, and they in turn will provide experiences to you that you will use when you migrate to another company.
Prepare now by collecting the gifts of experience that you will bring to your next job.