We all have moments where we seek advice. This is a good practice.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a senior official in my organization for an hour, to seek career advice. I was grateful for the time he spent with me, and even more grateful for the advice he shared.
1- FIGURE OUT YOUR END GAME, AND THEN WORK BACKWARDS. I never gave much thought to retirement, but ultimately, we work to be able to retire comfortably. So in that light, it makes sense to determine your end goal – where you want to be when you’re ready for retirement – and then figure out what needs to happen in the remaining time span. For example, if you are 15 years away from retirement, and want to move up three levels in your organization, then you need a solid plan to make that happen. The 15 years pass quickly.
2- REFLECT ON WHAT CAUSES YOU STRESS vs. ADRENALINE. Adrenaline and stress are two sides of the same coin, with one being positive, and the other negative. But there is an awfully fine line between the two, and jobs that create stress or too much adrenaline cannot be sustained over a long period of time.
Our bodies simply cannot operate in that mode for an extended time period, without needing a break.
But short periods of adrenaline, and even short periods of stress can be helpful in one’s career. They teach us to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, which ultimately leads to some of our greatest learning opportunities.
3- CONSIDER A LATERAL MOVE TO ANOTHER ORGANIZATION BEFORE PROMOTION. It is tempting to accept a promotion to another organization, but often times, we are set up to fail in this scenario. Acclimating to a new organizational culture, set of processes and the like takes time and energy. Add to that increased responsibility, accountability, and entirely new job functions, and you can easily be in over your head.
If you are interested in advancing your career upwards, consider doing this within your current organization (the one you are already familiar with).
Or make a lateral move to another organization where you see potential for advancement, and get your feet wet, before taking the plunge. Once immersed in the new organization, you can then work towards a promotion.
4- DETERMINE WHAT YOUR BARRIERS TO PROMOTION ARE. The reasons for “non-promotion” are different for everyone. Know your reasons, and take action where possible. Some reasons are non-negotiable, for example, if you refuse to move to another city, or cannot work overtime hours because of family commitments. Some reasons can be addressed and improved upon, such as inter-personal relations with others, lack of specific skills, etc…it’s important to recognize what’s within your area of control to change, and what is not. Being clear with these barriers will help you figure out where to look for opportunities, what can be compromised, and ultimately, what cannot.