This has been a long time in gestation, so be kind readers (if you have read this far go on continue, I promise to make this worth your while) I have been musing on how to help people grow (rock) their careers in times of rapid change. In this post GFC rock star economy, you need to rock your career. We have blasted the protestant work ethic out of the stratosphere but what now, the idea of having a “purpose driven life” and to focus on a career that’s aligned to your capability and passion is something I’ve spent a lot of time reading, researching (yes I did a Masters in this) and thinking about…..crafting and refining. It has helped me forge a career path….ok, make that “paths”….and it’s also been an effective guide to saying no to opportunities that weren’t the right ones for me. I want to share this to help you.
It started for me when I began my career in IT and watched those that were both capable and obsessed (passionate doesn’t apply to IT) by what they were doing forge really successful careers. That wasn’t me, but observing that led me to research how to work out what I was good at. and then work out how to help people figure this out. That led me into the people function and career development. After completing a Masters in this I was invited by my buddies who were running businesses, to work out ways to help them attract the right talent, people whose careers where aligned to the strategy. When you get a group of capable and passionate people aligned together something extraordinary happens, they attract others like them and they create a really enabled vibe that equals productivity and revenue generation.
Sounds simple right, and it is with small groups but as soon as the business grows you get more people and more systems, processes, procedures and before you know it you’ve lost touch and things start to go wrong. Especially rapid growth, or a merger or acquisition and you need enough of those people whose careers are aligned to their passion and capability to influence the whole and then you have to set up a culture of enablement. So that led me to start playing around with engagement surveys, getting these groups to give us the feedback we needed.
I spent years working in small businesses, modelling ways to make sure the careers of the people in the business are aligned to the strategy and then enabling them by building a culture of engagement. Years earlier I had decided that I would only work for companies that value their people. That meant walking away from some very lucrative work but it’s been much more fulfilling and besides it’s led me to Leading Edge …. one of the best places to work in NZ two years running…BOOM!
So what about you, what are you awesome at, and what do you suck at? Me? I’m interested in the drivers of successful careers, how to build culture, enable the strategy, how to provide businesses and people with insights to enable engagement. I am happiest in a strong culture, passionate about sales people and love the challenge and can pull insights out of conflict, transition and even crisis. I also like to share what I’ve learnt about how to grow careers, how your brain works, work-shopping and love the back-and-forth of a debate. I’m not a full-on process person or a conventional-wisdom-follower (to put it mildly).
What is on your “good at” and “hate to do” lists?
Now think about what’s important to you? What do you care enough about that, once you get going on it, your friends shoot each other the “Here s/he goes again” look, and even start backing away? For a period of time, for me, it’s been how to improve employee engagement, punning and how to develop our people’s careers. My work on that led to a real interest in the impact of the development of leadership, promoting from within, enablement and engagement.
Your interest doesn’t have to be just one thing, and it will change and grow. Mine did, but when I look back it’s totally connected and you can join the dots…check out my crazy LinkedIn profile. Not saying I am at the top of my game, but I totally love what I get to do every day and even better, I get paid for it.
Now this is the really important question, ask yourself now what you’re awesome at and what you’re passionate about and how that can cross over? That is the point at which you can use your capability and skills to make a difference in something you get really excited about and that means enjoying what you do. Perhaps you can make everyone laugh or want to make things look good, or can sell the pants off the guy sitting next to you. Or you love to tweet or research social media trends. Or love fixing problems, taking the lead, or work out how to win in an impossible situation, or everyone comes to you to get their technology working…..the list is longer than you think. If you can’t answer this I have lots of tools to assist.
Note that your next career step might be right in front of your nose. Heck, it might be that your totally aligned already to what you’re doing now, if taken literally. For example, almost every commercial business in NZ, for as long as I can remember, has said they put clients first. At Leading Edge, we choose to ‘WOW customers for life’. This often means making one of our principals easier to deal with by taking away the pain points, or simply by focusing on what is inside our sphere of control and using the insights of the challenger sales model to grow our customers businesses, or delivering the best customer service ever, or supporting ours sales teams, leading our people, the list goes on. If what your doing fits in with that, then bingo you have alignment. If you aspire for more or it’s not quite aligned then at Leading Edge we want to grow your career.
I didn’t say that it would be that easy. Getting to these career insights sounds easy, but it’s often not. Experiment, and give yourself some time. For me, these insights involved lots of trial and error, lots of time googling, researching, lots of vino, and lots of discussion with mates and mentors. I did a masters in this and pulled together a whole pile of tools into a tool kit and I am happy to share what I learnt with you any time, just sing out, you know where to find me.
I didn’t realise I was totally obsessed (passionate) about career development and employee engagement until I was nearly 30 (yip, it took a wee while). I learnt a lot on that journey and I have even found some great short cuts that I can share with you.
Finding your ongoing career mojo is a never-ending process. Your interests change, you can become complacent, your skills and capabilities develop, your obsessions (passions) change, business changes and your exposure to things changes along with it. What you’re passionate (obsessed) about in your 20s may not be the same as in your 30s. It’s a journey not a destination.
At Leading Edge we want to keep enabling our people and growing their careers but it starts with the individual…..you, yes you need to activate that career development plan and at LE we keep working on how we can make this alive, over the last year we filled 76% of all our vacancies by promoting our people from within, and we want to do more of this. At Leading Edge we challenge our people to step up and get on board the engagement ride, it’s getting faster and so too is the speed of change. To stay change proof, keep rocking, growing and challenging yourself to be the best you yet!