The Best Career Advice You Could Ever Receive
via Forbes : The Best Career Advice You Could Ever Receive
The best career advice I ever received came at an absolute career low point.
I was working for a total jerk. A classic “take credit for others’ work, sit in your cube and delegate, arrive late, take long lunches, egotistical” — you get the picture. I was working hard, making an impact, and believed that my good work would speak for itself. But that’s career mistake No. 1: No one will be as interested and invested in your career as you are. If you are waiting for others to recognize your brilliance — and to reward you accordingly — you’ll have a long wait. Learning to define and market yourself is a skill. And a topic for another article.
Recognition sure wasn’t going to happen for me with that guy.
Frustrated, and knowing I had a lot to offer to my employer, I started working on my resume. While having a networking meeting, a colleague shared the following advice: Never leave a good company because of a bad boss.
I stopped dead in my tracks. I did love the company that I worked for. I believed in the mission and trusted the senior leaders to execute. I knew we had good products, and we were making money. I’d lost sight of all of that in the throes of dealing with my current manager.
So, what can you do when you’re stuck working with an ineffective leader? Here are five ideas to get you moving in the right direction:
1. Always, always, take the high road.
Each of us is called to lead in place. This means that we are asked to step up, act professionally, and treat others with respect. Chances are, if you are unhappy, some of your co-workers are as well. Resist the urge to join hallway conversations about how ineffective your boss is. If others try to bring you into that conversation, redirect to something at work or last night’s baseball game — just about anything to keep you from going down the boss-bashing path.
2. Provide feedback.
Give your boss the benefit of the doubt: Maybe he has no idea of the true impact of his behavior. I have to believe he does not look in the mirror each day with a resolve to be the best jerk he can be.
Find a time to provide detailed, constructive and actionable insight to your leader on his behavior and its impact on you. Ask if he is open to receiving the feedback. It’s important to keep this personal: Your role is not to speak for others, but to give him examples of the behavior/comments that are decreasing rather than driving engagement and productivity.
3. Identify what is working.
Even amid chaos, there are bright spots. This is why I was so grateful for my friend’s advice. She reminded me to take stock of the many things I loved about our company. And great co-workers topped the list! I knew that others were working just as hard as I was to make the company successful. I had opportunities to learn and grow that peers at other companies would never have. Professionally and financially, the future was bright. I wasn’t ready to leave all that because of one bad leader.
4. Find a mentor.
If your leader isn’t providing the counsel and direction you need to grow, find someone else. Get clear about the things you would like from this mentor (Subject matter expertise? Technical knowledge? Career advice? Great presentation/communication skills?) and look for people who do this well. The more clear you are on what you would like in a mentor-mentee relationship, the more effective it will be. If you trust his/her advice, you could even have your leader help you identify a good mentor. (He may even get the less-than-subtle hint that you are looking for guidance externally.)
5. Keep your network active.
At some point, it will be time for you to leave, even if it’s not because of a bad leader. Making sure that your internal and external network is active is crucial, yet it’s an activity that I often see people neglect. Trying to activate your network at the time you need to initiate a job search is frustrating. And time-consuming. And stressful.
Take time each week to keep your network alive. Connect with at least two or three people via email or social media. Have lunch with colleagues once or twice each month. The groundwork you put in place in these small actions will have a big impact when you’re ready to launch your job search.
Finally, keep your sense of humor. Keep things in perspective. Keep doing great work, and focusing on delivering results to your company. Your reputation will be built on what you deliver, not on who you work for — that’s temporary; your character is not.
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