A client of mine was frustrated and demoralized by her professional position. She had a good run of nearly 15 years in a high-level marketing role with a fortune 100 company and an excellent track record of success. She had launched 2 products and managed a portfolio of products and a team of 5 marketers. She had always performed above expectations and received year-end reviews … and bonuses…that were typically stellar. She had risen from being an individual contributor to a manager, then director and now, as an executive director, her thoughts were on her next promotion and continuing her career for many years until she would happily retire from the company with her 401k, health benefits and pension plan.
Things Can Change Fast
Then, there were challenges in the market in the form of regulations, new competitors and patent issues that brought on generic competition. Her team was no longer meeting and exceeding goal, they were seeing their market share drop precipitously. The pressure was on and my client’s high stock in the company was tarnished as well. Quickly, her thoughts of her next promotion were replaced by fears of losing her job.
She needed to take charge of her career to protect herself and/or to find other opportunities both within her current company and externally. This is a challenge we should all take on. The question to answer is “How do I protect myself so that I am accomplishing as much as I can today to excel in my current role, while developing potential options for future possibilities?”
Take Control of Your Career
In your current role:
1) Document and learn the art of appropriate self-promotion.
a. Block off 15 minutes daily to journal the challenges faced that day, how you handled them and what the outcome was of your actions.
b. Schedule regular (weekly? Monthly?) meetings with your supervisor to “check in” on the bigger issues, to get input where needed and to make sure he/she is aware of your individual and team accomplishments and progress on key projects. These conversations take relationships to a different level and can reveal opportunity as well.
c. Focus on networking… both internally and externally. Set a goal to have a meeting with 1 person per month from different leadership roles throughout the company for information sharing and updates on the more impactful projects you and your team are working on. And, learn about other aspects of the business from the leaders.
2) External networking comes in different forms.
a. Utilize LinkedIn and other social media to connect with people in similar roles at different companies as well as with people at levels above your current role
b. Always personalize your LinkedIn invitation and expand your network in a purposeful way
c. Keep your network active by setting a goal to have one conversation with one connection each month. This will put you in a position to hear of opportunities sooner and to be more comfortable reaching out should you ever find herself in need.
d. Get engaged on social media through groups by posting articles you’ve written or by making substantive comments on articles posted by others.
The Bottom Line About your Career
Hopefully you love what you do, you love the company you work for and you’ll have a great, long and prosperous career with them. Regardless, you need to take charge of your career and proactively manage it so that you can grow with your current company, find great opportunities there or elsewhere or so you are prepared should things change for you unexpectedly.
Career management, whether voluntary or not, is a necessary part of a successful career and if you take control of your destiny you will find that you will survive and thrive in today’s challenging business world.
Ken Sher is President of Sher Coaching and he is a career transition and growth coach dedicated to improving individual and team performance by focusing on Executive Coaching, Leadership Development and Career management. If you would like to reach out to Ken to schedule a complimentary coaching session, please call him at (215) 262-0528 or email him at https://shercoaching.com/