Drive Your Own Bus
Nailing the job is just the beginning. It’s always a great celebration when someone lands the role of their dreams. Then the real work begins: keeping it.
Sometimes the joy of securing the role clouds the need to pay attention to what is happening in the moment as time goes on. Complacency may set in. Things get overlooked. Verbal cues are missed. Then things can start to go downhill.
Working with my clients over the expanse of their careers allows the good, the bad and the ugly to surface. In the beginning, we are dedicated to identifying the fit with the best employer, best role and best culture. Unfortunately, things change, and all the ducks that were in a row in the beginning may be thrown completely out of kilter. The situation can turn into a damage control mission to maintain a stable footing in a company or end up in the next big search for an alternative.
It’s critical to keep your eye on the ball. The following are some key points to pay particular attention to if your goal is to stay with an employer and grow with a company.
Pay attention. Make sure that details regarding your deliverables are not slipping through the cracks. A series of little mistakes creates as much of a lasting impression as one BIG mistake. Watch for verbal and nonverbal cues from others when speaking or presenting information. Are people smiling? Are they responsive? If no, then ask what you have missed. Don’t pretend nothing happened.
Avoid complacency. Doing what you always do the same way you always have is no longer good enough. The really valued employees are those that learn, take risks and seek out process improvements. They are always on the lookout for new ways to get things done faster, cheaper. To stay ahead of the pack, you have to deliver more than just enough.
Ask for performance reviews. If your company doesn’t schedule regular performance reviews, ask for one. It is impossible to know what needs fixing if you are unaware that anything is broken. It is impossible to meet invisible expectations. Don’t rely on anyone else to be forthcoming with expectations- it may never happen. Ask!
Document your performance. Perception is everything. You may think you are doing a stellar job. You may even have been told you are doing a stellar job. But unless it is writing, or there is a record of on-time deliverables, perceptions/memories of others down the road can skew what really happened.
Be aware of your image or status with others. Do you know what people think of you? Do you have allies? If you are assuming that you are loved just because you have not been told otherwise, it could be a recipe for disaster. If others are being asked to complete special projects when you are just as capable, it’s time to learn why you are being passed over. If you are being shut out of conversations that lead to changes or decisions when you had previously been included, something is amiss.
Take the initiative to learn and grow. Don’t wait for others to point out mistakes or areas for improvement. Own your errors and make quick recoveries. Take the initiative to learn new skills if you need to. Find others outside of the company to serve as mentors if you need help.
Stay connected to your network. It is easy to get settled into a routine and believe you will never have to look for another job. Don’t be fooled by momentary comfort. The world continues to change and there are no guarantees for anyone’s job security. Your network will keep you on top of what’s new, what’s outdated, relevant needs in other arenas and in-demand skills. Don’t leave your network behind just because you think you have your “dream job”.