When we start a new job, we’re given a list of Key Performance Indicators (metrics and expectations) that we must meet. If we hit them, we get to keep our job, if we miss them then it’s bye-bye.
So, here’s the thing. We have KPIs for our jobs, so why don’t we set personal KPIs for our careers?
Failure to set targets and goals is why so many people tend to drift or stagnate in their professional lives. It also means it can take them longer than necessary to get to achieve success. This eventually leads to frustration and feelings of unfulfillment, which ultimately bleeds into their personal lives.
To put it bluntly, if you’re not working towards anything you are standing still and going nowhere fast! In fact many people just survive in their careers but often miss out on great opportunities to really thrive.
So where do we start when it comes to creating a strategic career management plan for our success?
It starts with a desire. A desire to achieve more and be more than we are already.
But a desire isn’t enough, although it’s a key driver.
If you want to enjoy a fulfilling and exciting career, then you need a strategy, an execution plan and a set of actions with key milestones and timeframes.
Below are my 6 Career Management Strategies to help you take the ultimate control over your professional destiny and design and achieve the career you truly deserve.
Are you ready? Here we go….
STRATEGY 1: SHIFTING YOUR PERCPETION
A CEO is responsible for making sure all the different business areas function like a well-oiled machine. They make strategic decisions that ensures the organisation remains profitable and drives the overall success of the business.
So where am I going with this?
If you want to achieve the highest degree of success then you need to treat and manage your career as if it were a business too.
Your boss, colleagues, family or friends are not responsible for driving and managing your career and its progression.
Only you! You are the CEO in charge of managing your reputation and Personal Brand, how much you earn (profitability), how you market yourself, your professional development, how you remain competitive and how you progress.
You need to shift your perception and reposition yourself from worker/employee to Career CEO and that means making strategic career management decisions to help you progress and maximise all your capabilities, value and potential.
At the end of the day, you are in the business of YOU!
STRATEGY 2: CREATING YOUR CAREER ROADMAP
DEFINING YOUR SPACE
As mentioned, when you don’t have a career goal, you end up drifting and stagnating. In fact, you’re actually robbing yourself of success. That’s why having a set of specific, measures goals are critical to helping you achieve a rewarding and fulfilling career.
Putting metrics round your goals, including key milestones and timeframes, enable to you effectively track your progression and stay on course. Think of it as project managing your career.
To help you determine your goals, you need to define the space you want to play in, your domain in other words. Think of it as your own sports field. Now think big – don’t be afraid and don’t worry about whether you have the right skills and experience just yet.
Your goals will be centred around that space, which means you need to be specific about your domain so can be specific about your goals. Being in command of your career means you live in the land of the specific and not the vague.
When defining your space and goals, you need to answer the following questions:
• What space do I want to be in (what is my zone or domain)?
• What do I want to do in this space exactly i.e. what function do I want to play within an organisation?
• What problems do I love to solve for business in this space because they challenge and excite me and they’re valuable to an organisation?
• What specific activities would I like to fill my day/week/month with in this space?
• In what timeframe do I want to achieve these goals?
• What salary do I want to earn?
• What capabilities do I already have to play in the space and what gaps in experience and skill do I need to fill?
DEFINING YOUR SPECIFIC CAREER GOALS AND ACTION PLAN
Next you need to create your strategy and roadmap on how you are going to achieve these goals. After all, there’s no point having goals without and execution strategy and roadmap.
So that you don’t get overwhelmed with your big, long-term goals, you need to break them down into manageable chunks. Think of it as reverse engineering your ultimate goal and working backwards. It could be a series of strategic career jumps through promotion or taking on specific roles, changing company, upskilling and gaining additional certifications, moving in the right circles with the right people etc…
What key actions and activities do you need to do daily, weekly and monthly that will lead to success? You need to get specific on these so you can get laser focused and fill your time doing the right things!
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you want to progress within your organisation and you know what position you want to work towards. It could even be your boss’s role eventually and there’s nothing wrong with that. Now you need to get tactical and obtain the position description of that role you want to progress into. Study the key responsibilities of the role as well as the skills and experience you need.
Which of them you already have? What are the gaps and what actions do you need to take to fill them? What opportunities do you have to step up and start taking on some of those responsibilities now?
So, when it comes to the promotion or applying for a role within the organisation, you will already have many of the skills and experience to seamlessly step into the role. You essentially want to gear it so that your promotion is the logical choice for the company to make.
Your desire for career progression should never be kept a secret. Now, if your boss or HR department are reluctant to give you access to those job descriptions or to assist you in your progression, then that’s a clear indication that they are not really interested in your career progression, which means it’s time to start looking for a new role outside that company. It’s as simple as that really. Remember, you’re the only one responsible for driving your career.
Another way to ascertain you level of skill and capability it to imagine that your manager suddenly left and you were asked to step up. Do you feel you have enough of what it takes already? Many people when faced with this question suddenly realise that they could a large portion of what their manager does and then learn the rest on the job.
So, here’s my question to you. If the answer is, ‘yes, I could do that job’, then why aren’t you already doing it or working towards it? Why are you keeping yourself down and not playing at that level (space) now?
Remember, always be working towards something, whether it’s a promotion, a career change or pivot, a new certification, a new skill and so on. You don’t just want to ‘do’ your job – you want to OWN that ‘freakin’ space.
If you want to kick it up, then instead of just being a player in that space, become an authority and a commander in it. That means you own and dominate your domain.
To wrap up this strategy, decide what space you want to command and then be relentless in pursuing it.
STRATEGY 3: CREATING STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS
A critical strategy in managing and advancing your career is making sure you seek out and identify the key people in your organisation and wider industry to form strategic relationships with. You want to make sure you are also aligning yourself with the right people, namely the go-getters, the rapid climbers as well as the decisions makers.
Done consciously and strategically, you can effectively leverage off these relationships and progress where you want to go a lot quicker. Think of it as being on the inside and getting a leg up.
Look at it this way, who’s responsible for your promotion? Is it your manager or your boss’ manager? That’s who needs to know about you so you need to get on their radar!
But why limit yourself to just your department? Get to know the managers in other departments too. By leveraging off those relationships, you could take a sideway steps and then progress upwards or be pulled or seconded into other areas of the business.
Let me give you an example:
I was working with a client called Ben who was in a 3-month contact role in a large organisation that employed 100s of people. He was concerned what he was going to when his contract came to an end and he delivered the project. He loved working at the organisation and really wanted to stay.
So, we put a plan together that involved networking the hell out of the next few months to ensure he got on people’s radar.
Ben reached out to people in other departments, including managers, to invited them out for a coffee or lunch. He was able to find out about the work they were doing, what challenges they were experiencing and the goals they had for their department. He was also able to talk about himself, including his areas of expertise and experience. He made sure people knew about him and what he was doing as well as what he was looking for.
When a new role became available in another department, they already had their guy in mind and the role wasn’t even advertised. Ben is now even more embedded in the organisation due to strategically seeking out and forming the right relationships to advance his career.
Strategic career relationships are a two-way street. Remember to help others progress their careers too and the universes will reward you back. Treat those relationships respectfully and give back by being a contributor to your organisation and industry.
Here are three questions to think about as you create you career management strategy:
- Who needs to know about you?
- What circles do you need to be moving in?
- Who is in charge of promoting you or has influence in the organisation to help you advance your career?
STRATEGY 4: MANAGING YOUR PERFORMANCE REVIEW
Most people turn up to their annual performance review with a vague idea of how they are going to handle it. Just winging it and hoping for the best is not a strategy for success.
Not preparing for it is a wasted opportunity for career progression, especially if you want a promotion or raise.
If you really want to strategically manage your career like a boss, then you need to be fully prepared for it and that means planning for it pretty much after your last review.
Think of this as your own annual personal business plan. Remember, your aim is to manage your career like a CEO manages a business.
I’m going to borrow some excellent strategies from Scott Pape who wrote “The Barefoot Investor”.
When you start a role, you are typically given a position description. Now most people, once they are in their role, tend to ‘forget’ about this document and it ends up their bottom draw.
You need to be all over your Job Description like a rash right from the beginning. Know it inside and out as it’s your guide and blueprint for career progression.
Every role in the business plays a part, so it’s essential you understand yours! Make sure you know exactly what your function is within the organisation. In other words where you fit in the overall strategic plan.w, this is not a time to be modest or shy and downplay your successes. After all, a business does not hide how good it is. Doing that gives away its competitive edge and diminishes the power of its brand in the marketplace.
STRATEGY 5: BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND AND CREATING YOUR VISIBILITY STRATEGY
Finding that one amazing role that gets you excited to get out of bed on a Monday morning is something most of us dream about. In fact, I hear a lot of people saying, “I’m going out to find my dream role.” But here’s the thing, if you’re the one going out and doing all the work to find that role, that means you’re going down a one-lane street.
Instead, you want to transform that one-lane street into a multi-lane highway.
It starts by defining your Professional Identity, which means getting clear on who you are, what you do, what your areas of expertise are and what makes you valuable.
The next thing to do is create your Personal Brand message that captures your professional identity in a clear and compelling way.
Back in my days as a recruitment consultant, I realised that it’s not always the person who has the most skills, experience and education that climbs the ladder the quickest, but often the one who has the strongest Personal Brand and can market themselves the best.
Now a lot of people really struggle with the concept of self-promotion, their modesty gets in the way. But do successful businesses suffer from modesty? Hell No!
They’re shouting their brand from the rooftops. They are making sure their target audience knows they exist.
Your job is to do the same. No one else is responsible for marketing you other than YOU. Remember, once again, you’re treating your career like you are managing a high-performing business. That means you need to put your modesty aside if you want to grow your career. Now I don’t mean standing on the roof-tops shouting out how awesome you are. Instead, it’s about finding ways to communicate your value.
I believe a great Personal Brand doesn’t make the brand message about you. A brand message that truly connects and resonates, revolves around the people who have the problems you love to fix. Putting them at the centre of the message means you’re going to get noticed. By making it about them, you can get around the whole modesty thing.
Once you have figured out your core brand message, you now need to create a visibility strategy.
We live in such a fantastic era when it comes to getting your name out there and I don’t mean promoting yourself to be plastic, hollow ‘Insta-Famous’.
You want to be in a position where your name is passed around the table as an expert in helping businesses achieve the outcomes they need or can solve their problems they have.
So, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, find a platform that works for you. It could be networking, being a guest speaker, publishing articles and video on social media, podcasts, newsletters etc. There’s something out there for everyone.
All that great knowledge you have built up over the years has immense value. No point keeping it all to yourself. Your value lies in sharing it with others. Be a contributor to your industry.
If you want to attract those amazing career opportunities, then you need to raise your visibility and get known both within your organisation and the wider industry. The more people who know about you and how to can transform their pain to gain through solving the problems they have, the greater you value will be. Hiding that value away does no one any good at the end of the day.
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’, right? Well you could know all the people in the world but a fat lot of good it’s going to do for you if no one knows about you.
This is why my mantra is:
‘It’s not what you know and it’s not who you know that’s as important as who knows YOU!
I say build your Personal Brand, create a visibility strategy, get known and enjoy the rewards of having multiple dream jobs come and find you!
STRATEGY 6: PERCEPTION MANAGEMENT
A critical aspect of Personal Branding and Strategic Career management is being conscious of how people perceive you.
In the world of marketing, a business’s brand is not just what the business says it is but also what their customers perceive it to be. The way they interact and communicate with their customers will influence this perception, either in a positive or negative way.
These principles also apply to your Personal Brand and overall career too. You see, there are a number of crucial factors that influence people’s perception of you, either positively or adversely which can propel your careers forwards or hold it back.
- How you behave in your professional life and interact with others.
- The words and specific language you use.
- Your attitude and mindset.
To help you better manage and influence people’s perception of you, consider these 4 questions:
- If you have a specific career goal in mind, such as a promotion, how do you need to manage the perceptions of others around you to achieve that goal?
- Is the way you are currently perceived at work and in your industry bringing you closer to your goals or driving you away from them?
- Are your actions, interactions and the words you use reinforcing or detracting from your career goal and eventual success?
- What ‘experience’ do you want to create for people when they interact with you?
At the end of the day, you cannot completely control how people perceive you. That’s up to them. However, you can certainly influence the way they see you.
SO, LET'S WRAP IT UP...
If you want to take your career from survive to thrive, then you need start treating your career like a business and that means making strategic management decisions to maximise your career growth, opportunities and of course salary.
It means getting out of your comfort zone, drawing a line in the sand, deciding you deserve more and taking real control.
They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is now! So, get cracking.
Decide on the space you want to occupy; the domain you want to command, define your specific goals and work backwards to create a set of actions you need to take with milestones and timeframes. Study the jobs where you want to progress to and make a plan to develop and hone those necessary skills. Don’t just turn up to your performance review, rock it like a boss. Build that visibility get known and have those job opportunities come and find you.
Because, if you don’t have a strategy to manage your career, you’re literally leaving a pile of money and opportunities on the table that should be yours for the taking.
So, what’s your game plan? What’s your next move?