Here a few ways you can power through a difficult patch at work
Career paths within organizations may not always reflect the realities of the marketplace and that is why it is crucial you shape your career path yourself.
If you are currently in a tough spot in your job, here are five things you can do to boost your career growth
Build your own path since corporate track may not always reflect the realities of the marketplace
Strive to become the go-to person even for things that are beyond your scope of work
When nine to five quickly become nine to forever. When disconnecting from work even during the weekend becomes a pipe dream. This is when most people start thinking that perhaps a change in job is in order. But will that really solve the problem?
While carrying out daily tasks diligently and being seen as a high potential employee is important, sometimes it can be difficult to find the time, energy and motivation to drive your corporate career in the direction you want. When this happens, it is time to start working in a new way. This might not necessarily reduce the work hours or work week by much, but it could make the efforts put in worth a lot more to you - both personally and professionally.
Forget the corporate track, create your own growth expectations and strategy: Career paths within organizations may not always reflect the realities of the marketplace. This is why you must be aware of how your plan for career growth within the organization should shape up, irrespective of the organization you work for. This is where your growth strategy comes in. Ask yourself: what do I want to achieve professionally in the next 3/5/10 years? If you are not sure of external benchmarks, do a bit of research on your industry - either on your own or consult a professional career advisor. If you are not able to achieve this growth despite your best efforts in your current organization, then perhaps you can think of moving elsewhere or even pursuing further education.
Adaptability is the new discipline, keep your ear to the ground: Most organizations have career matrices and detailed promotion parameters, and your annual/semi-annual appraisal usually provides an incomplete picture of how you have really performed. Sometimes, bosses and HR managers will not even put on paper some of the things that may be playing a big role in preventing you from growing faster. This is where informal feedback can help. Try to regularly gauge your boss's opinion on things you do well and also things you could do better - not only during formal meetings but also through informal queries. Further, don't act on every piece of feedback you get but focus on areas you feel are more crucial. Then, when you begin to address the feedback, act on the highest impact, highest frequency items first. This will ensure that you are making the most of the feedback you get.
Value your specialization, but also learn to be a generalist: Every unit or division in every office has a 'go-to person' - the woman or man that everyone approaches for advice and for helping solve challenging problems. This person despite having a core area of expertise, is also usually a generalist - she or he can understand cross-functional problems and provide solutions. A good strategy could often be to build skills in adjacent areas beyond the specific job description you have. For example, perhaps you could analyze sales patterns in a sales role and then suggest new ways to target existing customers based on your analysis. Doing this will not only highlight your skills beyond your current role but will also help you move into other areas with a stronger basis. A quick caveat, however, while trying to add value in other areas, ensure that your core area of work is not neglected.
Master, not just the processes but also the relationships: The days of slogging away in your cubicle are gone. While effectiveness in functional skills matters, the ability to be seen as being the right fit for a role, for the team and your boss is important. Do not discount the value of being seen as not just a great functional fit for a role, but also the person other people would like to work with.
Don't just work hard also learn to build your personal brand: If you are waiting for your work to speak for itself, you may be waiting a long time. The people who progress the fastest in corporate organizations are often those who are perceived to be performing better than others. However, visibility should never take the form of bragging, else it will erode your credibility. So, how can you credibly build visibility for yourself?
- The first is by scheduling regular (say, monthly) meetings with your boss to ensure that he/she is aware of the steps you took to deliver results.
- Another could be ensuring that you are presenting a summary of the work of your team in town halls and office meetings.
- A third method is to volunteer for organizing firm-wide events (CSR events or employee engagement events). Competition for this is surprisingly low as most people feel that these activities will not contribute to their growth or their promotion. However, contributing to these activities will not only show you up in a good light but it will also get you much required PR since many of these activities are reported at a firm-wide level by HR (to show its contribution in enabling them in turn).
Rishabh Gupta is a Partner and a Consultant at GyanOne Universal, a premium career advisory, admissions consulting, and test preparation firm that works with high-potential clients in helping them achieve career outcomes.
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