Archive for September, 2018

Building Career Relevance

September 26th, 2018

‘Don’t count the days, make the days count.’ – Mohammed Ali

Over the last decade we have seen an unprecedented number of businesses pay the price of failing to remain relevant. Industries have been shaken up by creative disruption like never before; there is an increasing global competition for talent; a move towards flatter structures and the traditional concept of job security has almost entirely disappeared.

Failing to adapt is costly. The stories behind organisations such as Kodak, Dell and Blockbuster should serve as a timely reminder on the importance of relevance. Just as these businesses paid the ultimate price of losing not only market position but also their place in it, we too can face the same situation with our own careers if we fail to remain relevant with our own knowledge and skills and our teams, organization and industry.

With the majority of professionals working harder and smarter, as well as being more broadly skilled than at any other point in their professions it would be fair to assume that we are more strongly positioned to manage our careers than ever before. However with ever-increasing volatility on nearly all fronts – politically economically and in business – and technology advances occurring almost daily, individuals can face enormous challenges to remain relevant to the world around them. But these challenges can also provide enormous opportunity if we learn how to navigate them.

In their book The Start Up of You, Hoffman & Casnocha suggest that if we are to build long-term career success, individuals need to consider themselves as entrepreneurs and their careers as a start up business. As they note, ‘the skills that start-ups require are the very skills that professionals need in order to advance their careers: nimbleness, personal investment, strong networks and intelligent risk taking.”

It takes effort and energy to be relevant. Effort to invest in and apply the knowledge and skills required to do the job; and energy to connect and engage with others – to ask the right questions to find out what their thinking, understand their needs and offer meaningful support. As leaders, not only do we need to ensure that we remain relevant with our own careers but we need to support others do so as well. We need to genuinely connect with the needs of our people and help them align their careers with the ambitions of the organisation and industry they operate in.

So how do we best equip ourselves for career success and build relevance in what we do today and for the future? I would encourage you to consider the following six points:

Be ready for change: Change is here to stay! According to the Future Works Skills 2020 Report nearly one third of the workforce will be employed on a casual basis. Global connectivity, ‘smart machines’ – which will see a higher degree of automation in some roles and the complete redundancy of others – and new media are just some of the drivers that are reshaping the way think about work, what constitutes it and the skills we will require to be productive contributors to the future.

Understand your value: Understand what you need to ensure that you can act and react with nimbleness and agility. Ask yourself the following questions:
• Who uses my work and what they need most?
• What business outcomes drive my work?
• What is the cost of my work?
• What impacts the way I do my work and how has that recently changed?
• What are the opportunities to grow and scale what I do?
• How can I better help others in their role?

Become the expert: Invest in honing your knowledge and skills. Investigate key industry trends and challenges; recent business success stories and know who the key influencers and thought leaders are and why. Individuals who manage their own learning and development in partnership with their organisation are much more attractive to future employers and strongly positioned to remain in control of their own career and future opportunities.

Build a strategic network: Evaluate the strength of your current network and understand what support they offer Have you got the right people to support where you want to go or are you surrounded by people who are distracting you from your path. Invest in strengthening your professional support through the building of relevant alliances and ensuring that there is a diverse mix.

Challenge yourself: For many of us some of our richest experiences and greatest achievements have come from stepping outside our comfort zone. Pushing the boundaries and taking ‘intelligent risks’ brings new knowledge, new networks, new opportunities and lessons that sustain us well after the experience has ended. It also invariably generates energy and engagement in what we do.

Engage: Clarity comes through engagement. We need to take action to drive our career forward and engage through those around us so that we understand what ideas, projects and businesses are being discussed, celebrated and challenged.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Navigating The Six Zones Of Repatriation

September 19th, 2018

For those who have navigated the return journey of living and working overseas, you will know that sometimes it can feel just plain tough. Whilst the experience of returning ‘home’ is often not all bad, most of us are caught by surprise at just how many ‘little’ things can actually unnerve us or catch us unaware. The idea of navigating any form of lag time outside of jetlag just didn’t seem to occur to us and yet it is something that catches both individuals and the organisations that they work for by surprise.

As the demand for leaders with a global mindset continues to grow, the prospect of living and working abroad continues to remain a valuable opportunity for businesses and individuals alike. However all too often the benefits fail to fully materialise for both parties due to the difficulties experienced in navigating the return journey ‘home’.

For organisations these difficulties often result in the departure of key talent, which represents an enormous loss in ROI with knowledge, experience and relationships walking out the door. For individuals the lack of opportunity to reconnect purposefully on both a professional and personal front often translates to disengagement and frustration.

Positioning repatriation at the front of the global talent mobility cycle is critical if we are to ensure employees and their families return confidently. The Brookfield 2016 Global Mobility Trends Survey recently found that only 10% of organisations surveyed reported that the role of the global mobility function was aligned with the wider talent agenda and actively engaged in workforce planning and people effectiveness.

There is no doubt that this disconnection is hurting both businesses and individuals. As organisations recognise and actively work to build a pipeline of future leaders with global experience, how they support and integrate the personal and professional needs of an individual during the return phase will ultimately determine how strong their pipeline remains.

Successful expats grow not only their core business knowledge and skillset whilst away but also their personal perspectives. More often than not they return with different attitudes and views looking at the world through a different lens. Ultimately they return different people. To assume that they can and will simply ‘slot back in’ is dangerous and often costly.

Just as the physical journey home invariably requires individuals to cross often multiple time zones, so too does the repatriation journey. To reduce the lag time associated with these zones, organisations need to ensure that their repatriation planning pays attention to each area that individuals find themselves having to navigate.

The six zones of repatriation:

Physical: Regarded as the base line of support, most organisations are well equipped to manage this ‘zone’ effectively through partnerships with outsourced mobility partners and interim accommodation providers. Ensuring that this component is not just part of the initial assignment phase but also the homeward bound journey though is essential.

Financial: Given that most people don’t move in tandem with the financial or tax year, offering tailored financial guidance is critical to helping individuals and their families’ kick start their lives back ‘home’. Foreign bank accounts; managing off-shore investments; navigating compliance formalities and simply shifting finances home all require timely advice.

Business: With significant business changes – be it in structure or people – often occurring whilst the expat has been off shore, a ‘re-boarding’ process is strongly advised. These programs need to reflect any key market, political or relationship changes that may impact the way in which the employee may carry out their role.

Career: For repatriates the number one frustration with their return is the lack of meaningful opportunity to leverage recently acquired knowledge, skills and experience. Whilst robust career planning should occur prior to the assignment commencing so that realistic expectations are established, it is vital that career planning is made an integral part of the returning phase.

Social: It is not uncommon for individuals to experience and enjoy the connection of a tight knit expat community whilst off shore. For many, returning ‘home’ is an intensely isolating experience that can significantly impact the level of fulfillment and engagement in the workplace. Welcome home events, internal mentor programs and repatriate networks that include spouses and children are proven strategies to help support social reintegration.

Emotional: Whilst stress and anxiety are a well-known side effect of any move, it is often most underestimated on the journey ‘home’. When the so-called familiar no longer feels that way the emotional impact can be overwhelming. Understanding some of the key triggers and the subsequent support offerings should be a critical part of any employee well being program.

Have you returned home after living abroad, or are planning to in the near future? I invite you to comment and share your experiences below.

Leveraging Your Career Story

September 12th, 2018

“People without leverage work for those with leverage” – Robert Kiyosaki

In talking with many professionals about their career, I often hear them reflecting and saying ‘I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time’. For many, this right time and right place afforded them rapid career progression, opened the door to key networks and positioned them for next steps in their career journey. Invariably they were exciting and challenging times that were rich in reward and stimulation. Confidence, clarity and choice seemed to abound.

What happens though when it’s time to consider your next career step and this ‘luck’ doesn’t seem to be quite so apparent? Or when you face the need to relocate as part of your role to a new part of the business or in a different location and you are required to effectively start anew? How do you take proactive action to leverage your career background, knowledge, skills and networks to support ongoing career success and fulfillment?

Too often these career scenarios can leave individuals feeling irrelevant, trapped and without choice or control. If we aren’t careful these feelings can all too easily lead to moments of apathy where because we don’t know what to do, we do nothing; or they can sabotage prospective opportunities because we fail to understand what they truly are. Learning how to not only identify the right opportunities but also translate what you have in your own toolkit to match the business or market requirements is critical.

As George Bradt notes in his Forbes article Creating Leverage When None Seems To Exist we all run into roadblocks however it is our ability to adapt, adjust and create leverage in times when there doesn’t appear to be any. The key word here is ‘create’ and not just merely identify. As he notes this comes down to attitude about roadblocks and the need to ask am I simply accepting them as the status quo or am I looking for ways around them?

Like many things, creating leverage in our career requires planning and time. One of the most dangerous things we can do is to not take consistent action whilst we are in a role and business that we enjoy. Leaving it until we want to embark upon change or worse still when it is forced upon sees us trying to create leverage in a time that is often highly emotive, stressful and time pressured.

As part of creating leverage in your own career, I would encourage you to take action with the following 6 factors in mind:

1. Identify what you stand for: Today we are increasingly being asked to know what it is that we stand for in our careers. It is essentially your over arching career mission – what do you hope to impact, who and how. Is it tied to an industry, a key challenge, leading through core business cycles; innovation, empowerment or other?

2. Define your core expertise: Clarity on exactly what your core strengths, knowledge and leadership styles are, is essential in identifying and attracting the next opportunity.

3. Understand how you are regarded: Knowing how others perceive and regard you and your expertise is essential if you are to know what you can leverage or conversely need to overcome.

4. Educate yourself on the market: In order to understand what is transferable you need to know how what the market /business wants and needs. Failing to do so limits your opportunities to tailor your story and create interest and demand in your background.

5. Hone your positioning: All too often people fail to succinctly articulate their knowledge, capabilities and ambitions are. It is essential to gain clarity on each of these areas if you are to engage in meaningful conversations and explorations of an opportunity.

6. Connect & reconnect: As noted by Adam Grant, Wharton Business leader and author of Give and Take 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. To support our success we need to understand who and how to connect and reconnect with if we are to gain an accurate insight into what opportunities exist and how we can align ourselves to them.

Creating leverage requires a whole lot more than ‘luck’. As the Roman philosopher Seneca notes ‘luck is the moment when preparation meets opportunity’. With this in mind the big question to ask yourself is what are you doing to prepare for that next meaningful opportunity?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

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