6 Steps to Jumpstart Your Career Transition

In the past month, I have seen an increased demand for career transition coaching.

This tells me one of three things: either I’ve been farther off the grid than I realized (entirely possible!), or unemployment is actually higher than the reported 4% (US Bureau Labor Statistics), or significantly more people are disengaged and dissatisfied enough with their current jobs that they are considering alternatives. I believe it’s the latter. In my experience as an organizational development practitioner and executive coach, employees who are fully satisfied and fully engaged in what they see as meaningful work do not seek career transitions until circumstances change.

The good news is we can identify those areas of satisfaction and engagement that most closely align to our personal values and mission. If you or someone you know recognizes this situation to be true, there is hope for a fulfilling career ahead, whether in the current role or in a completely different space. The challenge, however, often comes in knowing what steps to take in pursuit of this path. These 6 Steps will assist you in jumpstarting the next phase of your career.

  1. Identify the Target: Sometimes the biggest obstacle is identifying what will bring increased satisfaction, engagement, fulfillment and joy in a career. There are many ways to accomplish this, including assessments, self-reflection, sabbaticals, conversations with trusted advisors, and exploring options with a coach. For some people, the change may be as simple as changing responsibilities or roles, while others may need to explore other organizations, even other professional fields. By knowing the target – what would actually bring joy, your aim will be true, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of your effort.
  2. Create (or Enhance) Your Personal Brand: If you don’t know what this means, run a web search on your name and see what comes up. Imagine yourself as a recruiter or hiring manager looking to hire you, what do the results say about you as a candidate? What do you want the recruiter or hiring manager to see, think, know about you, based on your online presence? In my workshop, participants are often surprised at perceptions about their virtual profiles, especially those who are just entering the workforce or early in career. On the other end of the spectrum, some clients are shocked at the potential effects of having no online presence. Be objective, and then be intentional.
  3. Update Your Profile: In addition to beefing up your online presence, it is imperative to have a current resume and cover letter template, which may be customized to highlight qualifications that address the target job description. In addition, the LinkedIn profile should be refreshed and consistent with the resume. It’s a small thing, but it matters. Think of the cover letter as your first impression. It’s your first opportunity to state clearly what attracts you to the position for which you are applying, what qualifies you for consideration, and then request further discussion in the interview.
  4. Practice Interviewing: There is no substitute for practicing interview skills. Once you know the target, launched an arrow in the form of your application package (including cover letter, resume and profile), and scheduled the interview, your focus will shift to how you will represent yourself, your qualifications and your differentiators. How will you stand out from other candidates? What narratives will you share to convey your expertise, your experience, and your values? By practicing potential interview questions, not only do you reduce (not eliminate!) the element of surprise, but the responses and stories become more fluid, more natural, more authentic, which may help you relax a bit during the actual interview.
  5. Create a Successful Transition Plan: Even when change is an improvement in one’s circumstances, it can still be challenging, messy and even painful. By creating a transition plan, you will think through, plan for and mitigate the inherent obstacles, as well as prepare for those unexpected surprises that inevitably pop up during times of change. My clients develop a 90-day Successful Transition Plan, in which they envision what a successful transition means to them, ensure those satisfaction criteria are met and reduce any anxiety associated with making the change. This includes bringing the current role to a mutually agreeable and beneficial conclusion, and setting oneself up for success in the future position.
  6. Live the Dream: Now that you have embarked into the next phase of your career journey, it is good and right to celebrate! Then reflect on what went well, what to improve and how to ensure those satisfaction criteria continue to be achieved. Make course corrections early. Maintain relationships that have been built and fostered over time, and of course, build new ones. You never know how important your network is until you need it.

During the month of October, I am offering my Career Compass Program at a special reduced rate, in response to the high volume demand for Career Coaching services. This program includes six weekly coaching sessions, which guide clients toward achieving their successful career transition objectives. This program is designed for recent college graduates starting a new career, entrepreneurs launching a business, mid-career professionals seeking greater satisfaction or making a complete career shift. This process will help participants to be intentional about their search, to polish up a resume and cover letter, to enhance social media presence, to practice interviewing skills and to create a successful transition plan, all in service to achieving that personal mission.

Click here or contact us today to learn more!

Develop or Become Obsolete: Part III – Your Leadership Development

In my last post in this series, I wrote about Professional Development as an intentional focus on learning skills to be successful in business. Leadership Development, on the other hand, focuses on learning how to enlist, inspire, influence, guide and direct teams or individuals toward some predetermined result or outcome. This is not to be confused with Management, which is more focused on process and policy.  

Whether we are leading our teams, families, communities or ourselves, we can practice, practice, practice the skills of leadership. We can enlist people in our ideas. We can influence decisions and outcomes. We can inspire and motivate others to become their best selves. We in fact have an impact on performance, merely thru what we choose, say and do. One CEO refers to the “leader in everyone”, and in fact the leader expectations in his company are built around this idea.   

The good news is Leadership skills can be developed. Using the 70-20-10 model of development, only about 10% (or less) of leadership is learned through traditional modes: classroom, books, even videos or CBT’s. These traditional modes of learning serve as the seed of learning, whereas the 20% represents learning through others, such as networking, mentoring, coaching, offering good and bad examples of behavior. Ultimately, 70% of learning takes place on the job, in the role with real people on real teams with real consequences. This requires constant experimentation and feedback, followed by adjustment. It truly is the trial and error method of learning. The downside of this is that potential consequences of mistakes are also very real, especially to those on the receiving end of the impact. Leaders who are learning on the fly must also be incredibly humble, receptive to feedback, and sensitive to how their behaviors are experienced by others. At the bottom line is the leadership style building and creating trust or eroding and damaging it?

The reality is high performing individual contributors are often promoted to supervisory and management positions, long before they have developed a sense of their own leadership style, philosophy or approach. By contrast, professional athletes learn and perfect their skills and techniques on the practice field, years, even decades, before making it to “the big show”. It takes practice, practice, practice, with professional coaches, feedback from teammates, constant self-evaluation, experimentation and adjustment to perfect their skills. Can you imagine if professional athletes had to learn and hone their skills in the job in a real, high stakes competition when the scores count? 

For this reason, we all must develop leadership capability long before we have a supervisory position. Our choices, attitudes and behaviors reflect who we really are and how we will lead others in the future. Some of the most influential leaders in my life were not the people in positional power, but rather the people around me who cared enough to provide honest and candid feedback about my performance, my attitude, perceptions of others about me and challenged my thinking when I needed it.  

Whether we are leading our teams, families, communities or ourselves, we can practice, practice, practice the skills of leadership. We can enlist people in our ideas. We can influence decisions and outcomes. We can inspire and motivate others to become their best selves. We in fact have an impact on performance, merely thru what we choose, say and do. Further, we can invite and receive feedback graciously, by receiving it as an opportunity for becoming even more effective.

Regardless whether you are a new graduate just beginning your career, a mid-career professional transitioning to management or a seasoned executive, there is always improvement to be made in terms of how teams and organizations perceive and follow you. You can always be more effective, more impactful, more compassionate, more dynamic, more ….. (you fill in the blank). Feedback is the gift that helps you to identify what additional practice is necessary.

  • For those just entering the workforce, practice patience. Practice listening. Practice adapting your style to the needs of others. Practice inquiry. Practice giving clear, objective and caring feedback that helps others. All of these will serve you well. 
  • For all leaders at every level, be mindful of what your people need to remain motivated, inspired, engaged. Learn how to adapt your style to the needs of your team members in each situation. Be intentional about connecting your team’s contributions to the broader strategy. Reward good performance. Recognize and celebrate accomplishments. Say thank you. Keep learning. 
  • For executives, stay humble and remember what got you here will not get you to the next level. Whether by design or by default, you will have an impact. You will leave a legacy with those who follow. How do you want to be remembered? Take the opportunity to be intentional about how others experience you.

For more information on leadership development and coaching programs, visit Blue Horizon Solutions or schedule your complimentary coaching consultation today. 

Join our Leadership Mastermind Group: This special coaching group is designed especially for experienced business leaders to discuss complex business challenges with other like-minded executives for perspective, alternatives, insight and collaboration on a monthly basis. Sign up before April 15th and save 15%!

Develop or Become Obsolete: Part I – Your Personal Development

personal development concept on blackboard

Earlier in my career, I worked for a VP, Human Resources, who was fond of saying, “Develop or Become Obsolete!” He meant this for our own professional development, as much as for business strategy execution. While this bold statement initially caught me off guard, I learned that he was fostering a culture of continuous learning. He was challenging us to learn and practice as much as possible to stay competitive and successful. This quote has since become a staple in my own mental model of what it takes for business professional (or athletes, for that matter) to remain competitive and successful contenders at the top of their game over time.

Let’s face it! The world changes. The market shifts. Our customer needs and demands evolve. If we as business people are not prepared and even proactive about continuing to learn, develop, grow and expand our skill sets, we will be outpaced not only by customer demands, but also by our competitors. Another colleague uses a different metaphor: “Even if you are moving forward on the train tracks, the train will overtake you if you don’t outpace it.”

The same is true in learning and development. My coaching clients are typically focused on development in one (or a combination) of four domains: Personal, Professional, Leadership or Business Development. Over the coming weeks, I’ll address each of these topics in a four part series on development. Let’s start this week with Personal Development.

Personal Development

As much as we may try to “leave our personal stuff at home” when we go to work, the reality is we are whole human beings. Who we are outside of work – parent, spouse, partner, sibling, child, neighbor, community member, volunteer – is reflective of our identity, our values, our mission and purpose in life. Interestingly, it always finds a way to show up in our work lives, our leadership style and in our work performance. Similarly, who we are at work – leader, business owner, entrepreneur, professional – is also reflective of these aspects of self, including personality and aspiration. We are the common denominator in our own experience. The better able to reconcile these two aspects of self, the more equipped we can be to show up with our most authentic self when it matters most.  In fact, it is when we become clear on these intrinsic motivators and drivers, that we are able truly to unlock our highest potential.

Personal Development has to do with who you are as a person.  It often shows up in things like New Years Resolutions – lose weight, learn Spanish, exercise more, eat healthy. All of these are designed to create a better quality of life based on some intrinsic motivator, some value. What I find to be most interesting with my coaching clients is how these same motivators and values make their way into professional and leadership development conversations. When we attempt to separate or bifurcate our identities, we not only diminish all the good and right qualities we can demonstrate, but it also arguably leans toward psychological disorders and becomes unhealthy at its extreme.

Suggestions for Personal Development:

  • Give yourself permission to be a whole human being. Experiment with integrating your whole self into multiple aspects of life.
  • Meditate. Reflect. Journal. Pray. Whatever practice or methodology you choose, our brains require some form of “time out” to process, reflect, assimilate learning and grow. Brain research shows that similar to muscle development after a hard workout, the learning actually sticks when we give our brains time to reflect and process.
  • Set more challenging stretch goals for yourself. Then go achieve them! It’s amazing how alive it feels to cross the finish line on accomplishments, especially when you never imagined you could do it. It also sets a beautiful example to those around you.
  • Write down your goals and say them out loud. There is no greater accountability than when someone says, “Hey, I remember you were going to (fill in the blank with your goal here). How’s that going?” Tell people your goals, so they will celebrate with you when you achieve them.
  • Team up with someone to accomplish goals together! Join a team, choose a workout buddy, find an accountability partner.
  • Consider our Courage, Risks and Rewards Program, which we are offering at a special low price through the month of February.

Next time, I will continue the discussion with a focus on Professional Development. Meanwhile, stay connected with us on social media, contact us with your suggestions and feedback, check out our workshops or schedule a Complimentary Coaching Consultation to determine which solution best fits your needs.

©2017 Blue Horizon Solutions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Top 10: Ways to Lead by Example

Good leaders must lead by example. Through their actions, which are aligned with what they say, they become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing but do another, they erode trust, a critical element of productive leadership. Here are 10 of the dozens of ways to lead by example.

1. Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.

2. Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.

3. Be courageous. Walk through fire (a crisis) first. Take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.

4. Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of becoming extraordinary.

5. Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your company or team.

6. Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team for more.

7. Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.

8. Delegate liberally. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths.

9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, don’t overwork, take a break. A balanced team, mentally and physically, is a successful team. Model it, encourage it, support it!

10. Roll up your sleeves. Like Alexander the Great leading his men into battle, you’ll inspire greatness in your company.

 Learn. Lead.  Leave a Legacy.

 

Author’s content used under license, © 2011 Claire Communications