We often have clients who are looking at their career readiness – mostly from push factors in their current role. When we start our sessions, whatever causes them to be disgruntled in their current role overshadows everything else but after a healthy career discussion they either have mapped out a way forward to find the next opportunity or go away with renewed vigour around their current jobs. This article focuses on the latter group of clients.
Now I’m not saying that they plan to stay where they are forever but having renewed energy and commitment must be valuable to their organisations, particularly when the engagement statistics paint such gloomy pictures of lack of employee engagement. When the client admits that it’s not the right time for a career move due to their other responsibilities and commitments but instead of feeling resentful and hemmed in, she is excited for what she can still achieve, that’s an all round win.
So what creates this kind of turnaround? Well firstly having done some visioning work with these clients around what could be their next job – dreamtime work – it became apparent that there were plenty of ways in which they could optimise where they were now to position themselves for that better role.
The first thing was identifying learningthat would enhance performance, skills development and preparation for the next career move and how to negotiate for that. It’s usually easier to get the support for training or mentoring where you already have credibility and a reputation.
Secondly, there is the notion of ‘job shaping’which simply put is making the current job better fit the person’s aspirations. ‘Job shaping’ works more easily in teams where you have a team discussion around who is doing what and allocate tasks around what people in the team most enjoy doing rather than what it says in the job description. There will be tasks that no-body likes to do but then you try to divide those up fairly evenly. It creates a whole new level of commitment to team goals.
If you are focusing only on your own role, job shaping takes on a different meaning and can be a platform for practising into a new role. One of my clients was facing a situation where a role in the organisation that affected her delivery had been pitched at too low a level for the demands made and the reporting lines were confused. The encumbent resigned in frustration. We discussed how this was an opportunity for my client to take the initiative to influence the organisation structure even though it was not theoretically her responsibility. She could step in and facilitate defining the role and positioning it more appropriately in the structure before filling the vacancy. This could showcase her in a completely different light, allow her to engage with more senior managers and give her the opportunity to practice skills that she would need in the more senior role that was her own long term goal.
This leads to two practice areas that are always available in organisations: self development and relationship development. Stepping up to take on higher level tasks or putting yourself out there in any way usually involves some anxiety that is a learning opportunity in self management and will involve more complex relationship management. Both skills are invaluable when looking to take on a higher level career role.
Finally, we looked at how clients could better manage their reputationsoutside the organisation through targeted networking and online personal branding. These are generally longer term strategies so creating a footprint before you actually need your networks to work for you in a job search makes a lot of sense.
When you are frustrated in your career but it is definitely not a good time to move, reframing your current role in these ways can give you a new lease on life and sensitise you to the opportunities that come up to make you career ready when the time is ripe.