How many times throughout the course of your career have you uttered the words, “well, THAT wasn’t in the job description”? Frustrations on the career front have come to be expected. Very seldom do we encounter the person who is 100% satisfied with their gig 100% of the time and when we do, they immediately fall into the category of “love/hate.” Feeling unheard, incompetent or as if you are being completely misunderstood is not out of the ordinary and neither is feeling completely defeated by any of the above. It’s safe to assume we’ve all been there but I’d like to share with you the best career advice I’ve gotten in a while that has actually helped me to keep both my trajectory and self-worth intact.
Don’t Play the Victim
It’s so easy for us to throw our hands up when that email sits unanswered or that project takes an unexpected turn. What isn’t easy is to look to option b, c or even d to help us pivot and adjust the sails accordingly. Easier said than done, right? Below are a few tactics that we all have in our arsenal and help to keep this mindset at the forefront, even in the most defeating of scenarios.
Enlist Help Early On
No one likes to raise their hand admitting that they need help, especially not from their boss. Most of us approach projects with a self-deprecating expectation that asking for assistance will be perceived as a sign of incapability. That is not at all the case. Stay ahead of the pitfalls and maintain a transparent channel of communication with your manager. More often than not, they’ll have some really great advice or have access to a resource that you may not have considered. There is nothing worse than sitting in on your one on one late in the game and admitting that a detail has fallen by the wayside. Speak up and do it sooner than later.
Document and Recap
If it’s not on “paper” it didn’t happen. Be sure to document every detail and send out recaps following discussions, no matter how minor they might seem. You never know when you’ll need to refer back to that paper trail and if there is ever a question pertaining to accountability, you’ll want to be able to look back and quickly provide that documentation. It’s also important to keep your boss informed of progress, roadblocks, setbacks, plans for moving forward, etc. Send a progress report every so often so that they feel informed and can speak to their own contacts with surety.
Leverage Your Network
To be fair, this one depends heavily on your company culture. Not all employers cultivate an open door policy so it can be challenging to take action when waiting for a response or when escalation is in order. Do your homework early. Build your list of cross-functional contacts so that when the time arises, you are comfortable looping them in. Are you still waiting for that deliverable? Is that email sitting idly? Reach out to someone else on the team who can help keep the momentum moving. The concern may be a breaching of trust if you start pulling in additional points of contact so do it tactfully. Utilize that CC option when appropriate, start with a dose of gratitude for the help provided thus far and most importantly, stay persistent so that you have grounds for tapping into alternative options.
The most important component to staying confident in your role is taking control of the things you can and trusting your expertise. It’s so easy to cower when you’re feeling defeated. Keep the “don’t play victim in it” mantra at the forefront and you’ll notice your feeling of defeat quickly turn into one of empowerment.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career thus far?