Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Career Turning Point

The first twelve years of my career were mediocre at best. I was doing good work and I had advanced the required one level to maintain employment.  I was definitely a journeyman.  I liked what I did and could do the work my entire career at the company.   Or so I thought.

I did a mental test of my hypothesis.  I imagined being 55 and doing the exact same work I was doing in my thirties.   Although, I liked my work at the time, I couldn't imagine doing it for another 20 years.   In addition, if I continued to do the same job, I would likely be reporting to someone in their thirties when I was in my fifties.  I definitely didn't want to be training new managers to whom I reported when I was in my fifties. 

So I decided to change my approach to working.   Here's what I did:
  • Communicated my goal.    Previously, my approach had been to work hard and hope to be recognized and rewarded.  It wasn't working.  I had a conversation with my department manager and shared my goal of promotion. Management now knew my career goals.
  • Focused on results.  I realized my job was more than showing up and doing the work.  My job was to commit to and deliver outstanding business results.  My supervisors needed workers that developed and executed solutions to the issues that were identified.  With the attitude change, I delivered more projects successfully.
  • Accepted tough assignments.   Management's confidence in me grew and  they gave me more responsibility. I received several tough (and undesirable) assignments.  Although these assignments were always presented to me as a choice, I knew that the right answer was an unqualified "yes."
  • Expanded influence.  As my credibility grew, I began to expand my influence beyond the are of my direct control.  I effectively began to do the work of the level to which I wanted to be promoted.
That mental experiment I did at year twelve made a big difference.  Four years later, I was promoted to a first line manager.  Three years after that I was promoted to the next level, which was part of the top 5% of our organization, and. I was able to take early retirement from this position seven years later. I am definitely glad the changes made to how I did my job had such a significant impact.
For more on Reflections and Musings, check back every Saturday for a new segment.
This is not financial or career advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2012 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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