People too often forget that it is your own choice how you want to spend the rest of your life
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Archive for February, 2017

What’s Next: Are You At A Career Junction?

February 27th, 2017

At some point in our careers you will inevitably arrive at a critical career junction. Not because something has gone wrong, but often because lots of things have gone right. You have worked hard, delivered great work and built great teams and then all too easily you can find yourself asking ‘what’s next?’ In the early stages of our career the what’s next is often easier to answer as there appears to be more options available. However when this happens midway through your career after significant investment has been made to get to where you are, these junctions can feel a bit confronting.

For me, my significant career juncture was in making the decision to globally relocate and return ‘home’ to Australia. After seven years in the UK I was offered a very attractive role that offered significant career progression with the consulting firm I had been working with. On paper, the career benefits were obvious – career progression, fantastic learning, regional leadership responsibilities and greater profile in both the organization and the industry. I had loved living in the UK but ultimately I knew that I wanted to live in Australia and accepting this next position – which I was absolutely ready for –also meant staying in the UK for probably another 2-3 years minimum if I was to derive the benefits of the role.  Given the organization did not have a presence in Australia there was no option of internal relocation so the decision was not a light one.

Career junctures are largely arrived at as a result of movement or from the desire for movement. Whilst my career juncture was driven by a decision to move locations, for others these junctures may be the result of decisions made about types of work or ways of working. For some people it is about internal movement such as secondment, promotion or sideways moves; whilst others are about external movement out of an organisation. Some are looking to expand their opportunities whilst others are looking to reduce it. Some of these situations are within our control whilst others are not (eg restructures and redundancies). Regardless of why you have arrived at the juncture all involve conscious decision-making and often a shift or movement of mindset, approach and engagement.

As individuals most of us recognize the challenges of moving from one path to the next can be challenging and yet very few of us take the time to invest in the planning for it. For many the failure of focusing on this phase means that their desires for movement never materialise and we stay exactly where we are. Needless to say this can be extremely dangerous as we risk not only fulfillment but a loss of momentum and impact in what we do. For others this failure to plan can prove costly in terms of time wasted, loss of opportunity and misplaced energy.

Like many things in life, the best learnings in life often occur because of hardship and failure. Personally for me, I completely under-estimated the challenge of relocation and as a result had no real plan. I returned to a new city with few networks and to a market that largely didn’t exist in Australia. The lack of planning proved costly in terms of how I positioned myself to the market and the level at which I re-entered.

Whilst we all appreciate that we are operating in times of unprecedented change and volatility we all need to develop long term career goals. This is not about defining the name of the role (for many there is a good chance that these roles may not exist and will almost certainly not exist in their current form) but rather about what you want from your career: what you want to contribute to; how you want to work; and what you want to gain from your career.

So what are the critical elements of establishing your critical career goals? I would strongly encourage you to consider the 3 following building blocks:

  1. Build Clarity: Around what you can do (Skills, Knowledge, Experience); what you want to do (Values, Career Anchors) and where you think you best fit (Personality, People, Culture).
  1. Build Demand: Become the expert in what it is that you do and the way in which you do it. Learn how to position yourself as the expert and give people and organisations a reason to want to engage with you.
  1. Build Transferability: Identify where your skills and capabilities also apply. Remain relevant to the future of your business, your industry, and your networks and become nimble enough to adapt and leverage with the inevitable changes ahead.

Ultimately we are all free to choose what we do, but we are not free from the consequences of our choices. Choosing great career paths that continue to grow, provide fulfillment and purpose takes careful consideration. If you would like to explore ways to build clarity, demand and transferability, why not get in touch today.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

If you are currently at a career junction and would like to explore your options with a focused and actionable plan please call Margot on 0400 336 318.

Keeping It Real: Why Authenticity Is The Key

February 21st, 2017

Given that we spend up to 70% of our waking time engaged in work related activities – week after week and year after year – it makes sense that we strive to seek out environments that allow us to show up and put our best foot forward. By that I mean really show up … as ’us’ and in our true colours.

Ask anyone about their experience in a great workplace, they will invariably describe an environment where leaders and colleagues had a knack for ‘keeping it real’. They refer to and describe real conversations and real connection and as a result talk about being trusted to just get on with things and deliver in a way that allowed them to apply the very best of their knowledge and skills.

If you were to ask managers and leaders about what great work environments look like, they will talk about times where they and their teams were delivering to key objectives and achieving success; their team members worked strongly together and where each individual gave it their all.

This doesn’t for one minute imply that everything is or was always rosy or that they had the perfect systems and processes; or the most ideal customers or clients. Invariably many of these things are not obvious or in place. What it does imply though is that people were allowed to be themselves, navigate the landscape in a way that allowed them to apply new approaches, solutions and strategies; fail if necessary and get up dust themselves off and go again; contribute from their place of strength; work collaboratively and enjoy success. It allowed them to quite simply be themselves.

We have all been caught in cycles where we are simply going through the motions. Occasions such as where we attend training simply because we should; attend sales meetings or networking events where conversations are held but no connection is formed; undertaken performance reviews that never address future career growth or opportunities and really are nothing more than a tick and flick exercise to satisfy a compliance measure. In many of these scenarios we show up in body but not spirit. And for that, businesses and individuals are all poorer for it.

So what is it about some workplaces that allow or in fact demand the ‘real you’ to show up, engage and operate? Allow your team to really banter, disagree, strategize, fail and succeed?

In a word it is Freedom: Freedom to think; freedom to do and freedom to speak.

Whilst it is important to note that with freedom comes responsibility, it is also worth noting that 99% of people when they see it in genuine action would rather rise to the standard than fall underneath it.

For many employees though, finding themselves in environments where this trust is genuinely given is new territory. This is largely due to the way our workplaces have evolved. Whilst pursuing greater productivity, efficiency and compliance we have faced the movement of standardization. We have sought to remove any variations in processes and behaviours and in doing so have lost the value that individual contribution can bring.

As a result, many people now don a work persona and a life persona and never the twain shall meet. Asking people to suddenly show up as themselves requires vulnerability, trust and courage. It also requires respect, encouragement and patience.  It may also mean that when these honest, transparent and bold conversations are had, there will be a period of discovery for many individuals and businesses where it will become apparent that there is a misalignment between employee and employer. Most individuals and organisations will however recognise the importance of coming to this realization in an open manner where transitions – be it internal or external – can be managed with dignity and respect.

To build authenticity in the workplace we need to build awareness of the value it brings and capability for individuals to own it. Below are 7 tips that you may wish to consider in creating authentic environments:

  • Align Values: To embrace individual contribution and styles we need to be anchored in our values. Failing to ‘get the fit right’ is costly on all levels and for all involved.
  • Be the role model: Live it, walk it, breathe it – seek feedback; tell the truth; share knowledge and skills. In doing so, you will provide the platform and expectation for others to follow.
  • Protect the space: Guard honesty and transparency with your life – encourage freedom to think, do and speak
  • Embrace difference: Difference in styles, outlooks, and skills and create opportunities to showcase their need and value.
  • Throw away the cookie cutter: In the words of Tony Robbins ‘If you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to get what you have always had’. For growth, innovation and competitive advantage to occur we need to continually seek out new ways of doing things whilst remaining relevant to our cause.
  • Don’t indulge or promote the game players: When we continue to give airtime to the, the ‘game-players’ and ‘self-players’ we chip away at the good work done by the greater team and devalue authenticity.
  • Get ready to learn: According to the saying it is pretty hard to ‘teach an old dog new tricks’ but what happens when the old tricks no longer apply? Learning how to manage and lead in a period of rapid change and innovation requires new thinking, conversations and approaches.

When we create truly authentic environments we all reap the rewards. Businesses and individuals achieve greater success, higher levels of collaboration and invariably discover new opportunities that continue the cycle of engagement, purpose and growth.

Each of us deserves to work in environments where individual style, strengths and skills are valued, sort after and encouraged. Where when ‘the rubber hits the road’, the environment demands that we step up and play our roles authentically and values and rewards us for doing so.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


If you would like to discuss ways to identify and harness your potential, please call Margot on 0400 336 318.

Managing the Expat Aftershock

February 7th, 2017

Recently I’ve caught up with a number of people who have returned to Australia after living and working abroad. Whilst some have relocated with their employers and others are independently managing their own transition, all have spoken about the mixed emotions of being ‘home’ and the restlessness they feel in learning how to blend what is often regarded as two worlds. Although it certainly isn’t always a negative experience it is nearly always a challenging one – and one that often surprises many who are trying to navigate it.

As the founder of the Insync Network Group – a network supporting returning expats and their spouses – I hear almost daily about the challenges of reconnection. For many there is a feeling of angst as they attempt to ‘fit back in’ to a country and lifestyle that they know only too well but no longer feel as strongly connected to. Whilst many feel very strongly about ‘being Australian’ and recognise that they use to belong, there is a niggling fear of no longer knowing how to… or perhaps wanting to. This is invariably coupled with a realization that there is a whole lot more to navigate and not really knowing how to go about it.

Whilst most of us who have lived and worked abroad for any extended period of time are familiar with the term ‘reverse culture shock’, very few of us were (or are) prepared for the extent to which the effects can be felt. Sadly, neither are many of the organisations that expats find themselves working for. With research suggesting that up to 20% of returning employees leave their organization within the first 12 months of arriving home (and even more in the second), there is no doubt that the pain is a shared one. What we also know is the pain is only set to rise for organisations as companies increasingly use international assignments to grow their talent capability and respond to the demand for globally minded leadership.

In the case where individuals and organisations share the pain there also needs to be a shared solution with both parties recognizing what the potential challenges are, how to watch out for them and what action can and needs to be taken to help fast track the reconnection process. Aside from the obvious health and wellbeing issues that can all too easily arise (research suggests that up to a third of all repatriates suffer depression) the organisational cost of failing to reconnect in a meaningful manner also has huge impacts on careers, engagement, productivity and retention.

Most of us when we jump on a long haul flight, expect to experience some of the effects of jetlag.  What we don’t anticipate is that as well as crossing time zones there are a number of other zones we need to cross, each bringing with them their own form of lag if not managed well. Whilst this can be true at either end of the assignment, it is in the repatriation stage that the lag tends to occur for the longest.

With what I term the 3 primary zones of repatriation to navigate, individuals and organisations need to ensure that attention is given to each of them.  Consideration should also be given to how spouses and children navigate each of these zones, as they too will have their own unique experiences and challenges to overcome.

Three Primary Zones Of Repatriation:

  1. Professional: (Business + Career) Lack of meaningful ways to leverage international career experience is often cited as one of the primary challenges for repatriates. Robust internal and external networks are required to ensure that knowledge, skills and relationships are maximized and smooth integration into what is often a significantly changed business is key.
  1. Psychological: (Social + Emotional) Often the most under-estimated zone! At the heart of repatriation is reconnection – reconnection to people, lifestyles and ways of working. Working out where we best belong after such significant life changing experiences is no easy feat. How we re-engage with old ties and establish new circles of friends is instrumental to not only how we feel about being home but also how fulfilled we are by it.
  1. Logistics: (Physical + Financial) Too often the planning by both individuals and organisations starts and stops in this zone. Whilst there are numerous areas of compliance to attend to, flights to be booked and finances to be transferred, these areas when managed well don’t tend to produce too much lag time or long-term impact because of their transactional nature.

Just as jetlag generally requires time and a resetting of the body clock, the repatriation process requires time and a reset of mindsets, lifestyles and careers. It also takes planning – none of us get off a plane after a long haul flight ready to run a marathon and yet that’s essentially what many do when repatriating their lives and careers. Bursting head first into the logistics with very little time dedicated to planning for the other two critical zones.

The reality is living and working overseas changes us. It changes the way we think, live and work. It changes individuals; it changes friendship and family dynamics; and it changes work dynamics. Robin Pascoe, author of Homeward Bound, makes a great analogy when she writes “Re-entry shock is when you feel like you are wearing contact lenses in the wrong eyes. Everything looks almost right”.

It is possible to be a ‘happy repat’. It does take time, resetting and a whole lot of planning but when you find ways to leverage your experiences; you, your family and your career will all thrive.

If you have recently arrived home or find yourself still navigating the repatriate journey, why not connect with the Insync Network Group where you will meet other globally like minded professionals and adventurers.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

If you would like to know more about the Insync Network Group or how to manage significant location moves, please call Margot on 0400 336 318.

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