Archive for April, 2016

Is Your Career On Autopilot?

April 28th, 2016

How often have we travelled home at the end of the day, only to arrive with no real sense of time or conscious thought to the direction we were taking? We simply found ourselves there before we knew it because it was something that we had done a million times before. We didn’t have to put any real effort into the directions or paths we needed to take. We could quite simply step out and zone out.

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Is Your Career On Autopilot?

April 26th, 2016

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“Your life is your story. Write well, edit often”

Susan Statham
How often have we travelled home at the end of the day, only to arrive with no real sense of time or conscious thought to the direction we were taking? We simply found ourselves there before we knew it because it was something that we had done a million times before. We didn’t have to put any real effort into the directions or paths we needed to take. We could quite simply step out and zone out.

Whilst most of us can travel on all to familiar paths in autopilot, we can’t afford to run our careers or businesses in this mode no matter how familiar or well worn the path before us has been. Yet all too often it is not until a jolt out of the blue occurs – a business restructure, the resignation of a key team member or the loss of a major client – that we seem to click back into an acute awareness of the landscape around us. All too often when this jolt happens we find that we have assumed way too much and responded way too little to the everyday events and things surrounding us.

Recently I have found myself working with several organisations navigating significant business change. For many individuals this has meant substantial changes to roles and the way they do business or at the other end of the spectrum, redundancy. What has been interesting is the varying way in which these individuals have responded to their situations. Whilst nearly all have found it initially difficult and confronting, some are navigating the changes with a strong sense of awareness about what the opportunity means for them and a feeling of control and ownership.  For others however the options are met with nothing short of significant loss and fear for the future.

Whilst the autopilot mode of going through the motions may yield results in the short term it can have a significant impact in the long term on how we think, assess, make decisions and move forward with our roles as leaders and in our careers. It can all too easily leave us feeling disempowered and lacking control. A key danger of the business and leadership autopilot mode is assuming that the past will ensure the future. The reality is the knowledge, skills and relationships that have got us to where we are today are not necessarily going to take us to where we want to go tomorrow.  What will is our ability to embrace new understandings, new solutions and new mastery. AND you can’t do this without being acutely aware of what is happening around you, how you respond and acknowledging that it is you who is sitting in the driver’s seat of your career. As is so often said, businesses own the roles whilst you own your career.

So before you find yourself in situations that see you calling out Mayday or sending off the emergency flares, I would encourage you to consider the following 6 steps that you can take to flick off the autopilot switch and regain a sense of career control:

  • Mix up your routine: Undertaking the same routine day in and day out often heightens the danger of ‘status quo’. It dulls our senses and ability to spot the opportunities and obstacles that lay before us. By changing up our everyday routine we are more likely to accurately recognise, assess and act on the current state of play in a more informed and timely manner.
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses: Gaining an accurate view of what our strengths and weaknesses are allows us to focus on what we do best, identify ways to collaborate with those whose knowledge and skills compliment ours and stay out of what we don’t do well.
  • Focus on honing your strengths: All too often we spend wasted energy and time on trying to ‘fix’ our weaknesses, when what we should be doing is focusing on how to hone and elevate our strengths. It is only when we do that we will be able to maximize our productivity, efficiency and levels of fulfillment in the tasks at hand.
  • Identify where they are most valued: To recognise where your knowledge and skills are best regarded – both immediately and in the long-term future – requires an investment of time, energy and planning.  Build a road map that identifies where they are currently being used, how and with whom you should be engaging with to ensure that you build future currency in your career.
  • Invest in your own learning: All too often we relegate our future learning and professional development opportunities to the organisation we work for. The danger is when business belts are tightened often the first thing that disappears is training. By taking proactive measures to invest in your own learning you will ensure that your skills, knowledge and networks remain up to date, fresh and relevant, which in turn sees you well positioned for your future preferred opportunities.
  • Build purposeful networks: Invest in the right networks – both internally and externally – and dedicate time and energy to them. If necessary conduct an audit to ensure that you have the right people to support where you want to go and you eliminate those that detract you from your path.

Switching out of auto pilot mode and back into ‘go-mode’ requires a shift in both mindset and habits. Whilst it does take an up front investment of both energy and time the benefits are enormous and long lasting: career confidence, clarity and purpose. What can you do today to flick off the autopilot switch?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to reinvigorate your career with confidence, clarity and purpose, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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Remember Me? The Art Of Reconnecting

April 12th, 2016

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“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold”
– Joseph Parry
During a recent discussion I overheard the statement that ‘your net worth depends on your net-work’ which in turn sparked lots of commentary around what and how people were doing to build, approach and engage with their networks. Interestingly many found it easier to discuss what steps were being taken to tap into new networks rather than reconnecting with old ones.

When speaking of ‘old’ or past networks many referred to them with a disappointed sigh as a missed opportunity or simply placed them in the too hard basket when talk arose about how they would actually re-engage. At the heart of it was a fear of being perceived as disingenuous or as a ‘taker’ only reappearing because of a need or agenda.

This fear is no more evident than when individuals find themselves looking to take on a new role or relocate cities or countries. There is no denying that our networks are critical during these times and often are sources for new roles and / or play a key part in how smoothly we transition. However our past networks can also play a critical role in our immediate success simply because of the way we now do business. With a much stronger need to innovate, collaborate and identify key outsourced business partnerships, our networks can be powerful influencers on how we achieve our outcomes.

Learning how to genuinely re-engage with our past connections can prove not only to be a key determinant of our future success and career direction it can also be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. In fact it is in failing to reconnect that can all too easily be the real missed opportunity.

Adam Grant, Wharton Business leader and author of Give and Take explores how our success has become increasingly dependent on the interactions we have with others rather than on the individual drivers of success such as commitment, hard work and passion. In analyzing our networks he classifies them into three groups: strong, weak and dormant ties. It is this third group – defined as people you used to know but don’t keep in touch with – that he believes is the most easily dismissed and undervalued.

In a recent Inc. article he explained why he believes that dormant ties can be better for networking than weak (people we’ve met but don’t really know) or even strong ties. All too often our strong ties give us redundant knowledge – they are likely to know the same people, operate in similar environments and do similar things. Dormant ties however tend to give us better information because they have a much more diverse network with different thinking and experience. Invariably they have been meeting new people, learning different things and ways of operating so they can potentially open up whole new worlds you didn’t know existed. Reaching out to dormant ties rather than weak ones is generally more comfortable because of the shared experience and common history even if there has been a lot of water that has passed under the proverbial bridge.

So how do we re-engage with our past networks genuinely and with purpose? I would encourage you to consider the 7 tips below:

  1. Plan to reconnect: Get clear on who you want to reconnect with and why – the initial contact will always be made easier with a clear sense of purpose.
  1. Identify the best way to connect: Determine what is the most appropriate way to connect – do you pick up the phone, send an email or initially engage on social platforms such as LinkedIn? Consideration should also be given as to whether or not it is easier to leverage a reconnection through any other known networks.
  1. Embrace the awkwardness: It will feel a bit awkward and will require you to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’ Pretending that you are the best of friends and it is only natural that you would be making contact is inauthentic and can actually be more harmful than helpful.
  1. Acknowledge the lapse in time: As with all communication, honesty is imperative. Be up front about the lapse of time and provide some sort of context for that time period – studying, working abroad, family commitments, new roles etc. When you admit it’s been a while and you want to catch up, it ‘s more genuine and authentic.
  1. Explain ‘Why Now?’ Understand why you want to connect and be transparent about it. Draw a link between what has prompted you to get in touch and why eg: I have recently made the decision to relocate back to Australia and I know that you have successfully made that transition so was keen to hear what your tips and insights were.
  1. Ask how they are: Seeking to understand your connection’s story is critical. They will no doubt also have been developing new skills, knowledge and connections so it is important to build awareness on what they have been doing. It also makes it easier to create genuine dialogue and opens the door for you to reciprocate in kind.
  1. Offer to reciprocate: None of us like to feel as though we are doing all the asking or taking so it is important to offer your knowledge, skills and experience in return. You are also much more likely to want to engage when you work to establish a two-way benefit.

Reaching out to reconnect is often not easy – it requires an element of vulnerability and bravery to pick up the phone or push send on that email. Invariably though you will find that the person you are reconnecting with is delighted to learn that they their background and experience can offer support, insight and value to what you are now doing. Needless to say it is all in the way that you ask and approach but learning how to overcome our own fears and hesitations is the critical step.

Building and fostering your networks is an investment. As such it requires time and planning. Why not set yourself a challenge to re-engage with 3-5 people who you believe can add value to what you do today!

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways of building your own purposeful professional network including how to genuinely reconnect, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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