I’m constantly having a conversation with my clients about how we as women tend to focus all of our energy on doing a great job. Obviously, that’s necessary! But what I see happening is they do it at the expense of their career…I say they, but I was guilty of this earlier in my career too. All of their focus is on not letting others down, taking responsibility for all of the results for the team…you know you do it, but what about YOU? What about your rewards and results? Your next career steps?
So here’s the thing, your career is your responsibility and it’s part of your job to pay attention to it. Nobody else can do it for you! Your boss won’t fix it…they don’t have the time or desire to focus on it like only you can. And do you realise, it is actually part of your job to spend time on your career? Happy and productive employees are ones that feel recognised, rewarded, and have a future career path. Yes your company is partly responsible for making that happen, but you have to be the one that drives it forward!
When you are focussed on your career goals you are bringing benefit to the business by default. Your mindset changes and everything you do has intent. It stands to reason that the more focussed on your career goals you are the more you will succeed in your current role. When you are focussed on how to be more visible you can enjoy what you do more as you will feel more appreciated. When you concentrate on your strengths you will have more impact on the business and be better at your job. All of this has a snowball effect, you will perform better. And as a result, you will feel more valued and more energised to continue to do more.
If you are not sure what you should be doing. Here’s a few ideas to kickstart your career goals and maintain momentum to get to the next level. Some should be daily habits, others should be monthly but you need to keep doing them to get results.
Activities you should be doing daily
Keep a note of how and when you have added value. Keep it simple…what did you do? When did you do it? And most importantly what where the tangible results?
A great question to ask yourself is, what wouldn’t have happened without my input today? Referring to this journal when you have your performance review, your 121 with your manager, and of course a job/ promotion to apply for makes your life so much easier. You have a ready to go reference book of examples to wow your next employer. Plus it will help you value yourself and grow your confidence!
Communicate your brand
Every interaction with others is an opportunity to communicate your brand and help others see your value and potential. Look at your up-coming meetings and ask yourself ‘what do I want this person to think/ say/ do as a result of our meeting?’ Then think what do I need to share to make that happen? And how do I need to show up?
When you share stories of your experience, tell people about the work you’re doing and the results, and let them know what you’d ideally like to work on next…you’ll be amazed at what opportunities open up to you!
Posting on LinkedIn should become a daily habit. Share an article, comment on others posts. Become visible in your field. It’s a free way to advertise WHO and WHAT you are to your current employer, and potential new employers. Make connections in your own business if that’s where you want to be seen. AND connect with people externally to, especially in the fields you want to become known and where possible market yourself as an expert in your area.
Check in with your objectives
Each year you should agree objectives with your manager. Too often I think they get filed away and forgotten. These are what you’re measured against, so make sure you check in on them weekly and identify the progress you’ve made and what more you can do. This will mean 121’s and your performance review become a breeze. PLUS it makes it really clear when you’re going above and beyond! You can also use this time to think about your longer term objectives and set some new targets where you can (e.g. by the end of this quarter I will have applied for one job)
Plan time in your week to deepen a connection, or make a new one. Set up a networking call or coffee with someone in your internal or external network. Push yourself to move outside your comfort zone. These connections can make or break future moves and give you a fresh perspective.
Move from reactive to proactive by scheduling thinking and preparation time in your diary. It’s a great way to wrap up your week on a Friday so you’re ready for the week ahead. Or you can ease yourself into the week with some prep time. Look at your week ahead and identify key opportunities to have impact and influence. Prepare well for meetings, events and show up ready to be seen and heard.
Remember that performance review I keep mentioning? Make sure you set up time monthly to gather evidence of your results. Any feedback you receive, presentations you’ve given, and performance measures you’ve taken. Having all this information in one handy place will be a godsend later when you come to sell yourself at performance review or even interview.
Look for opportunities
Look ahead for opportunities to present, or meetings and projects to get involved in. What big meetings are happening (talk to people and find out)? Any networking events externally or internally that would be good for increasing your visibility? Are there any projects that you should be raising your hand for? Make sure that you are at the table when it benefits you and don’t miss out because of inaction or hesitancy.
Meet with your manager
Update them on your results and impact (particularly in relation to your objectives). Share your goals and get support for them where possible. Keep your manager informed of what you’re doing and what you want to do. This will help you achieve what you want and keep the lines of communication open with your manager, making their life easier too.
Ultimately spending time on your career is a habit to create. Schedule time for you and to do all of the above, and it won’t take as long as you think, yet the rewards can be huge. Your future self will thank you for it! Too many times I’ve spoken to coaching clients who are aimless and lacking confidence because they don’t take time to put their career goals first. Changing that can be the first step to career success.