Working with women every day on their careers, I see certain things that are killing their careers time and time again. None of them are because they are bad people…quite the opposite! These things are borne out of being too nice, giving too much support, and putting yourself last.
Recently during a workshop for the Career Elevator, we were discussing how to have more impact in your career this year. The overriding realisation was that to be better this year it was important to get selfish.
1. Not being able to sell yourself
Are you always a ‘we’ person? Do you always report back the facts and gloss over your impact?
You have been trained to hide your light, but it’s really important that you shine it or guess what? It’s in danger of not being seen! So that means regularly highlighting your impact…which means your results and achievements.
That’s not just the big stuff (which is important of course), but the regular updating of your impact.
Here’s a simple format to do it:
- Context – Open the conversation with “you know how…” + the problem or situation.
- Action – “well what I did was…” – tell them the actions you took. And really think about the stuff you do well and highlight it.
- Result – “so now…” this is the opportunity to let them see how your actions have impacted the businesses and the people you serve, and the people you work with.
“You know how we were having a problem with our top supplier and we were at risk of losing a key contract? Well what I did was…(highlight your awesome actions), so now production is back on track, the customer is happy, and the team are under a lot less stress.”
Prepare your examples, get comfortable sharing them. And sprinkle liberally in conversations with senior people!
2. Not being comfortable with feedback
I totally get this one. I spent years avoiding feedback…I’m not sure what I thought I’d hear! The thought of it used to send my heart racing. But you know what? It was such a wasted opportunity. It’s the best way to understand how you’re perceived, identify gaps, where to focus your attention and energy. Maybe your manager can see exactly what you need to do to achieve your next step up, but avoids sharing this crucial feedback with you because you have the shutters up.
You’ve probably heard that feedback is a gift, and it may sound like a cliché, but there’s truth in it. When people give you feedback (even if it’s not that great), they’re offering a way for you to be even better. Now if you control the feedback by asking the right people and the right questions then that gift will be the best kind.
So think about asking people you respect, who you know have your best interests at heart. And really think about what you want to know.
- Make sure your questions are focused on a constructive outcome, so you may want to ask…
- What do you see as my main strengths?
- Where do you see me going next in my career?
- How can I have more impact?
- What relationships would it be beneficial for me to build?
- What do you think I need to work on to progress [and achieve my goal]?
Go forth and enjoy learning about yourself…and recognise that asking for feedback from the right people will not only help you grow, but will also increase your credibility and visibility with that person too!
3. Winging it in meetings
We’ve all done it. Too many meetings, rushing from one thing into another without catching a breath. The result? You have to wing it, and you go through the day not quite giving your best. Underwhelming yourself. It’s bad for your brand and it’s bad for your confidence!
You have to recognise that meetings are the ultimate way to represent yourself and your brand. Being prepared is important.
The simplest thing to do is start your week with a look ahead. What are the key meetings? Who will be there? What are my opportunities to have a positive impact?
So you prepare your content (of course), AND you think about how you’ll show up. What do you want people to think, say, or do as a result of your input? Your presence?
4. Not saying no
This is a biggie…when you do everything, nobody knows what you do. They don’t know what you’re great at. They can’t see how you add value. And most of all, they don’t appreciate you for it.
So it’s time to say NO!
Ask yourself – what will this do for me? For my career?
How is this using and demonstrating your strengths?
And with that you can set some boundaries. You can delegate, suggest someone else. Or just say no! “I’m currently focused on x priority so I won’t be able to take that on right now”. Done!
5. Not backing yourself!
Please realise this one thing if nothing else. Nobody will ever care as much about your career as you. Nobody can invest in it like you. That means you’ve got to back yourself if you want to make things happen.
I know it can be scary asking about that opportunity. Or putting yourself up for promotion. You’ve got to realise that not only are you missing out, but so is the business. So are your colleagues. Where’s the value in you working below your potential? And working for too little money is not just holding you back but other women in your business!
When you settle for too little, you’re sending a signal to say that’s acceptable.
So how about you focus on why you deserve that next step and payrise. Recognise your value. And that you’re taking a step forward for all women by making it happen!
If you want to know why you aren’t getting promoted, take this Quiz, it can offer you some clarity and strategies to make it happen!
And you really should check out my Career Audit, where I can help you get a clear plan for career success!