You are the CEO of your career. If you embrace that, you want to have a strategy. There’s always something you can do to develop your career. A teacher once advised me to live like an arrow, not a target. That is what’s involved here-setting a path and knowing where you are aiming. If your strategy is in your mind, it will positively influence the choices you make and the direction you take.
So, what’s your current strategy? Where are you heading in the next year of your career?
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The agendas people have in the work world can undo the best of your intentions. Uncovering an underlying agenda of a colleague is not an easy task. However, one thing you can do is to take off the rose-color glasses and develop your ability to “read” a situation accurately.
In my early career, I had the best of intentions and often gave people the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to get along and be a good team member. After several disappointing wake-up calls, when underlying agendas caused me harm, I worked at getting smart about agendas. I did not want to swing the pendulum to suspicion or cynicism. I wanted to balance the pendulum, by getting wiser about people and being able to spot their agendas.
I started a practice that helped me quite a bit. I first found my neutral gear in assessing people. Instead of seeing what I wanted to see in people and letting that skew my judgment, I let people show me who they were. I reserved judgment until they did. I also, when I encountered a problem with someone, would write a “What I Know” list about him or her. That list had only facts regarding a person’s actions, not opinions or suppositions. I was surprised how much this helped and how much, in actuality, people would reveal their agendas. By taking off my rose color glasses, I was much more able to see a situation clearly and determine my next steps.
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Managing is a challenging task. Sometimes, it seems as if it cannot get any more challenging then it already is. Then, one day you find yourself in a panic-you have been given notice and are walked out the door. What do you do?
First priority is to regain your center and accept what has occurred. An event such as this has a mighty force that you need to acknowledge. Give yourself space and time to regroup. Practice internal kindness-you do not have to add blame or self criticism to the mix. What’s needed next is a strategy and sense of place. Take some time to identify your options and challenges now that you are unemployed. Think out a strategy for what has to be handled immediately and what can be handled in the long run.
When you are ready, get back out in the world and get started on your strategy. Build new concepts for balance during this time. Be good to yourself. Change can be hard, but can also bring good things to your life. Be open to what this change can bring. If you are facing the loss of your job, please know that I wish you the very best and many good things to come.
Recently, a client described a business relationship that had a troubled history at his organization. He had inherited both the relationship, and its past, in his new position. After a particularly difficult interaction, he reevaluated his strategy for the relationship. What he came up with was brilliant. In the midst of an exchange, he said to the person, “Can we start over?” Simple, direct and effective. Turned out, that the other person was relieved and more than willing to give it a try. No drama, no games, no complexity; just the expression of a desire to end one energy and create a more productive one.
Managers make decisions within uncertainty daily. Sometimes, critical decisions made within uncertainty involve high risk for a manager. When I worked as a manager at The US Environmental Protection Agency, one of our team’s most challenging projects was to develop guidance for scientists and regulators addressing decision making under uncertainty. In the project, we put a lot of our focus on the assumptions scientists and regulators made for each decision. Good assumptions can mitigate the risks inherent in decision making within uncertainty. Ideally, you have the time to make solid, well-researched assumptions, but that is not always possible. So, what do you do? Fly by the seat of your pants? No, you do the best you can in the time available to you. Some strategies for making critical decisions in uncertainty: bring your team together and use all your brainpower to identify first the unknowns involved and then the risks; devise the best course of action in the time available to you; document the assumptions and identified risks involved in your decision; get the concurrence of upper management both on your decision and on going forward within uncertainty. The unknown can become a bit more known with time, but will often remain, and decisions must be made. Get as comfortable as you can with uncertainty. Create a strategy that helps you deal within it.
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