For Professionals who are Employed by a Firm/business, Self Employed or Unemployed
Whether you work alone or with others having a vision of where you are headed is important. Without that vision of the future you may end up in a work situation that you do not like. If you’ve let the business or practice move without your direction and input you may end up being very unhappy at work.
“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter .
If you want to become “something more” read on. I’ll share my career successes and mistakes as well as what I learned on my journey.
As a new sales professional for AT&T my job was to sell AT&T equipment to manufacturers. The job was one I was excited about and as soon as I got it I dreamed about being the very best sales person in the AT&T sales force. I knew that AT&T had something called the Council of Leaders for the top 3% of the sales force and I was determined to get there. I could visualize myself winning lots of sales and being congratulated by my peers. It took 3 years for it to happen but I succeeded. That vision was so strong I got promoted because of it. Read on to learn what happened.
Not Happy at Work?
In the last few years the business climate has been difficult for professionals. Practices and businesses have closed their doors. Whole departments have been outsourced. Layoffs have been unending. No one’s job is secure any more. How do you navigate through these troubled waters and stay true to your vision so you are happy at work? Is it even possible?
Are you watching the business climate in your practice or business area? The business environment changes very rapidly. You can be on top one day and the next, things are in a downward slide. Knowing what’s happening in your industry and your firm/practice helps you to figure out a strategy and find your place in a changing world. Where do you see yourself? You may need a new vision. What will you need to do to keep up with the changing world so that you continue to remain happy at work? Do you stay or move on? It takes time and energy to think it through. Does it sometimes feel like you just don’t have time for everything you need to do?
You own your own career!
To be happy at work now you must be responsible for your career. If you expect to the business or your manager to “take care of you” you are asking for trouble. Worse if you are just meandering along without any thought to your career then when hard times hit you will be totally unprepared. Isn’t it time for you to make time for yourself so you can be happy at work?
No Career Plan
Because of my promotion my new title was Senior Sales Professional. Needless to say I was very proud. I told a colleague my next goal was to become a large global account manager. “Oh” he said, if that is what you want you are headed in the wrong direction. Stay here and you will end up a manager in middle markets.” That meant managing a group of other sales people handling smaller accounts. I thought about what he said and realized he was right but I was doing well and was not unhappy so I continued in that role. I abandoned my vision. Where did I end up? Just as he predicted- a manager of people with smaller accounts. What happened then? Keep reading.
Focus on yourself
If you are someone who is determined to be happy at work, now is the time to develop a career plan. What is your vision of your future? Part of the work I do with my clients is to help them to envision the work and the life they want. It is important to see it clearly.
Not sure about what career or career path is right for you? I use lots of tools and exercises to help you really understand who you are, what your strengths and skills are and what is most important to you in life and in work. The first step is to clarify what it is you are aiming for- your vision of the future.
Employees of a business or firm/practice
Some professionals prefer to work for someone else. They like being part of a team working together. They see opportunity to learn and grow from other members of their work group. It is important for you to see what you contribute to the team. What strengths, skills and values do you have that will help you to realize your vision and the vision of the team?
Working for someone else may seem like the least risky way to earn a living. You have a guaranteed income, benefits and vacation time. Today however no one’s job is secure. Companies have become more and more demanding of their employees. You work long hours with little time for family life or outside activities. This in itself makes it difficult to take the time to think about a strategy for your own career success. Working for someone else became a problem for me too.
Values Conflict with Manger
I was promoted to sales manager in a Branch that focused on middle sized businesses. What do you do when the first question your new boss asks you is, “Can you fire someone?” I told her I could if I tried my best to help the person perform well and the person did not improve. Not the right answer!! She preferred decisive people who understood that being in sales was all about winning. She wanted to win at all costs and I was more interested in educating and training those that worked for me. She told me that our styles were different. I’d say we had a values conflict (winning versus teaching). I knew it was time to find another job but I found it difficult to change my course after so many years working toward being a manager. I stayed in the manager job until my manager forced me to find something else. Luckily I had a friend at AT&T who was putting together a team to support a new division focused on selling a new product. She offered me a job in that division and I accepted. It felt like she had thrown me a life preserver. The working environment was much better in the new division but there were other problems. Find out what happened next.
Business Owners/Practice Builders
Other professionals want to work for themselves. They see the advantage of not having a boss looking over their shoulder, making their own hours, and growing something uniquely their own. Starting a practice or business takes time, money, confidence and persistence.
While it may seem nice at first to not have a boss to report to, it is easy to make excuses to yourself and put off getting the necessary work done. Working to get a business up and running by a particular date means putting in far more hours than any business you worked for ever required. It is easy to get overwhelmed. Your vision for the future must be energizing enough that the pull is so great you actually want to work long hours to get it done and you are really excited to see the business take form. You must also really believe strongly that only you can deliver on the vision.
Lack of Meaningful Work Spells Disaster
I worked hard in the new division even though I did not like the product I was selling. It was a customized automated answering application. (You know press 1 for this and press 2 for that etc.) Despite my negative feelings about the product, I worked many hours trying to make the product successful. I guess too many others including customers didn’t like it either and the product failed for AT&T. When you are in a division that fails, you are vulnerable. The whole division was either laid off or redeployed within the company; I was one of the many who was laid off. What would be my next move? Stay with me to see how I found my path.
Finding your path
Everyone is working hard these days. Taking time out for yourself isn’t easy. If you want to be in control of your career, then it is important that you carve out time to work on developing and implementing your plan. Keeping the momentum going often becomes difficult. It’s easy to get side tracked. Want to stay on track and focused? I can help you to:
- Find and/or clarify your vision
- Identify your strengths, values and skills
- Understand your behavioral style and how to work with different styles.
- Find clues in your past that will be useful in the future
- Leverage your relationships both personal and professional
- Define what makes you standout?
- Write your plan and commit to take action
- Implement your plan
- Uncover and eliminate blocks, beliefs and inner voice messages that hold you back.
- Address and overcome fears
- Change habits that are getting in your way.
- Overcome challenges
- Improve cash flow
- Manage your time
- Delegate work
Becoming More Self-Aware
After I was laid off I struggled to figure out what was next for me. I had an outplacement counselor who helped me write my resume. Of course my resume could only help me get the kind of job I had with AT&T. It wasn’t what I wanted because I felt burnt out as a corporate employee. I wanted something new. I’d always wanted to run my own business but I could never figure out what kind of a business I wanted. As I reviewed my strengths and skills I realized I really wanted to help others succeed. It was the beginning of a new vision for me. It was something I knew I was good at and the idea excited me. When the counselor suggested career coaching to me, I was interested but doubtful. I wasn’t sure that kind of work existed. She said it was a relatively new profession so she gave me some resources to investigate. As I read about coaching, met a coach, and got coached myself, it seemed like a perfect fit to me. I could help others to succeed and have my own business! In October of 1997 I began my training to become a coach and in 1998 I officially started my coaching practice. I’ve never been sorry!
It takes time and thought to find out the career that is right for you. At different times in your life you want different things. While sales was right for me in my early life I was attracted to a different path later in my life. I always tried to make my job meaningful to me. At times I was successful and sometimes I was not. I could have used a coach when I was a manager to help me formulate a vision but there were only a few coaches at that time and I did not know about them.
When I was miserable at my job the person I was closest to at the time told me he was sick of hearing about my work. He told me I was getting boring! Without support at work or at home it was a difficult time for me. I felt closed off with no one to help me. Having someone to listen to me without judgment would have been such a gift.
What road do you want to travel? It is important to look at all your options. Do you want to work for someone or start your own business? Not sure? The first step is to become more self-aware. The more you know about yourself the easier it will be to find the work you were meant to do -meaningful work, fulfilling work, work that makes you happy. As you see the many possibilities to make your work more meaningful, a new vision will emerge – one that is exciting and one that you are convinced is right for you.
My invitation to you
Would it be useful to you to have a partner as you start to envision a life and work that is satisfying and meaningful? I have many useful tools to help you through the process so that your vision is totally in line with who you are and what is important to you. If you are serious about finding work that is engaging and meaningful so you can be happy at work, I invite you to engage in a complimentary coaching conversation to see if you are a good fit to partner with me. Feel free to call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at email@example.com. You can also text me at 617-240-5353. I look forward to hearing from you.
You’ll find more information about Alvah Parker’s coaching program here.