Take More Accountability For Your Career: 3 Questions I'm Commonly Asked
This article originally appeared on Forbes by Mark Murphy, Founder of Leadership IQ
If you’re not working on the right projects, heading in right directions and marshaling your best resources in the right places, a great career filled with growth and all the things that make you feel personally fulfilled is not going to happen. But it’s largely up to you, and not your boss or the organization, to change that.
It takes work to understand yourself so you can help yourself grow and become accountable and always in control of the career you want. The following are three questions I’m frequently asked by people caught in the struggle to control their professional lives.
What if my area of expertise and the work for which I have the most passion is outside the area I’m currently working in?
The first question I ask here is who at your organization knows you have these exceptional skills that you are not currently using in your work? Are letting the right people know what you can do for them? If the right people know and still nothing is happening, how much control are you allowing yourself over that situation? Are you getting in there learning all you can about where the company is going and how your area of expertise can help it get there? Or are you giving up your power to blame and/or excuses and/or anxiety? And if outside people are being hired to do the work you want to be doing, is it possible that’s because they also possess additional required skills that you do not currently have? And if so, are you willing to develop those skills?
How do I deal with continual rejection in pursuing new opportunities?
This sounds like an excuse, and excuses are no way to hold onto your power. The rejection may be very real and largely out of your control, but there are places within that rejection where you do have control.
Are the new opportunities you seek directly in line with where the company is going? If not, find new opportunities that interest you that will also directly benefit the company. Network within the company and let the right people know that you are interested in these opportunities and all the ways you doing so will help make their lives easier.
If the opportunities you seek are in line with the company direction, then it is time to stop and assess these rejections you have been experiencing. Are there any patterns where the same roadblock (or roadblocks) seems to be getting in your way? If so, what aspects of that roadblock do you have power over? Do you need additional skills, for example? Can you do a better job networking and letting the right people know how you can help them by gaining access to these new opportunities? Or are you just letting everyone know how awful it is that you keep meeting rejection?
Make sure you really listen to feedback you get from the people in the areas where the rejection you experience occurs. Take the free quiz to learn how you respond to constructive criticism. Remember, you may not be able to control a situation, but you can control how you respond to it. The next time you hear what sounds like rejection, instead of walking away with a negative emotion and thinking, “There I go getting shut down again,” change the way you respond.
What can I do when I am driven to get a promotion but am told there are no openings?
First of all, make sure you are not giving up your control over the situation to blame. This will run like a broken record in your head that says, “I can’t get promoted because there are no openings.” Take a good look at what is on horizon for your organization and how you can provide value to the people who are going to be where you want to be.
Also ask yourself, “Why do I want this promotion?” and go beyond the expected response of “because I’ve been with the company X number of years and it’s only logical that I get a promotion.” Don’t think too much about the financial gain a promotion might offer. Money is important, but money without personal fulfillment won’t keep you happy in your work for very long.
Instead, consider what this promotion will add to your life, perhaps pride, more responsibility, recognition or respect. These are all very real factors that can bring a lot of fulfillment, but is a promotion truly the only way you can get this fulfillment? Or are you using the excuse of “there are no openings” to give up your power and prevent yourself from getting the fulfillment you want?
Is a promotion and all it brings truly what you want? A lot of people get moved up in the ranks only to find they really dislike a lot of things about the new position. For example, if your boss’ job looks good, check out some of the time stamps on his emails. Are you sure you want to be up at 2 a.m. sending emails for work? If not, you may want to find ways outside a promotion to sate the areas in which you crave greater fulfillment. Being happy in your work needs to be considered just as carefully, if not more so, than just a better title or more money.
Taking control of your career means stepping aside from blame and excuses and asking yourself: “What aspect of this situation can I control?” You can control how you react to every situation. Of course, you can react by being angry and sullen, but you can also react by taking a harder look at where the company is going and what you can do to help it get there, making yourself a “favorite” by being accountable to creating for yourself a great career.