If you read my previous blog on ‘3 sure signs that your career is in neutral gear’ and you are reading this one, then you are in the right place.
Most people will go through the period of being in a career sinkhole at some time or another by their own yardsticks. One man’s morass may look like an oasis to someone one worse off but that’s not likely to be of solace to you.
You know you need to change the status quo, which is one of those imaginary places like the unicorn, but which is talked about only when it’s in the negative! No one mentions the status quo when it’s all hunky dory.
The good news is that you can get back your career on track soon enough with these 3 steps if you do them right:
1. Identify where you need to be compared to where you are now
– Rewrite your curriculum vitae as it should look ideally at this stage of your career. Make it realistic as Alice in Wonderland stuff won’t move you forward!
– Observe and talk to people who you consider successful peers in your organization and industry and find out what they do on their jobs. Remember sometimes the grass is greener on the other side.
– Talk to well wishers and mentors who know you and your industry well for a professional, unbiased opinion about self and what you should be doing about it
2. List the gaps between real and ideal role in concrete terms
– You need to spell out the gaps with specifics here as what can’t be measured can’t be managed. These could be in terms of decision making authority, span of control, size of revenues handled or others specific to your function, company or industry. For example, I am unable to make independent decisions on issues with cost impact of more than X $ while I should be able to decide up to 3X $ at my stage.
– Be realistic and objective about the ones which stem from you and what comes from the organization. Taking the same example of decision making authority as above – is this an explicit organizationally imposed restriction on you or a self imposed one out of fear of failure?
– Repeat step 3 of 1.
3. Explore within, then your organization before looking outside
– Unless you are like Caesar’s wife, you might want to take a realistic look at your own past actions, decisions, communications, skills and see if any of those could have caused the current situation and then go about taking corrective steps on those. Most of us find it tough to be honest with ourselves and family and friends maybe too close to see or be unaware of our organizational personas.
– Talk to non-competing colleagues and subordinates for their views on you. It’s best to avoid people who will give you platitudes. Then talk to your direct boss and other senior managers of the company. Share what you think about yourself honestly based on your analysis and your current role and where you think you should be. Jointly enumerate a go-forward plan which the organization and you are both committed to for getting to your enhanced role in a defined time frame.
– If you don’t find any interest or willingness from your organization’s management during or after the previous discussions, then you might want to explore options outside. Do keep in mind that while you can exit an organization you can’t change your future unless you change yourself! If you have reached this stage in your present organization, then do read my earlier blog on ‘Landing your dream job in 3 easy steps’. Good luck!