Career Proofing

29.07.16 0

In the past one month, in my interactions with participants I noticed a roaring need to explore careers. Some wanted to save careers, some wanted to succeed in their respective careers whilst some were re-starting their careers in light of a rightsizing and restructuring. This was a trigger to an important question: How do we save our careers?

One thing was obvious in this question. We are not speaking of saving jobs, it is saving career. This means irrespective of what happens in the outside world, my career graph needs to go up. I may be a Assistant Marketing Manager today in an FMCG. Tomorrow if I am out, no issues. But I need to be minimum a Marketing Manager in another company – industry is irrelevant. Career Proofing means to succeed in these daring and challenging times.

‘Career Proofing’ is not about politicizing to protect your job, working around the boss, pulling the others down (those who have attended our training may recall monkey business from our recent team building events). If not, you know what you need to do !

This article is for anyone who want to grow in career and not necessarily in the same function or organization. As stated above it isanything but job protection. It is career development in its purest sense.

Four things to career proof yourself

1. Think values not job description

I was reading a small write up by Peter Drucker. The essence of this was that you must appraise employees on two things; performance andcharacter. Being part of OD now for almost 9 years, I have never really approved of the methodology of Performance Appraisals. No offense but often (exceptions exist) it is one idiot being evaluated by a relatively greater idiot!

But I never really spoke against it since I lacked solution. We all know how easy it is to criticize. Now Drucker triggered a solution .Evaluate & appraise people based on performance and character. Do not be surprised if over the next 6 years, most organizations begin appraising people on corporate values along with the conventional appraisal methodology. Only different is that the weightage tovalues will be much greater.

This means it is not only what you are doing, but also the how are you doing it. Things like communication skills, presentation skills, time management skills are too basic for today’s talented individuals – hopefully like you. In addition to focusing on your functional skills, see how it is optimally used for organizational strengthening. Couple it by practicing your organization’s corporate values. This is the character your organization dreams of. Practice it – Preach it

2) Read

This is perhaps what your parents always dreamt of you to do. If you are like most of us you probably found it the most powerful valium on earth. I used to feel like this. But not anymore.

Considering the flow of information and competitiveness, books are an amazing tool to stay updated. But here is the inner truth thatmany people may not tell you. ‘At the end of the day all books say the same thing that you know’. Then why read? , you may ask. It is because books give vocabulary. It gives words to my thought, it improves my impression in the eyes of my boss, gives me confidence and gives me an edge when communicating with others.

Here is an example. We have all grown up in the management world using the word efficiency and effectiveness. I remember when at times just to create an impression amongst other participants, people would use these words. It signified knowledge! However, these words have recently been replaced with ‘Greatness’. If you do not believe me check out ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins and 8th Habit by Stephen Covey (author of the bestselling ‘7 Habits of highly Effective People’). This 8th habit is all about ‘from effectiveness to greatness’.

If you are someone who already read a lot of books (averaging 5 books per annum), then don’t increase it but read magazines. My favorites include BusinessWeek, Forbes, & Fortune. And ofcourse Time Magazine whenever I check into PC or Marriott in cities of Pakistan. SerenaHotels expose me to Newsweek. THANK YOU HOTELS!

If you are working in an MNC – this is your key that will unlock expatriation opportunities. Knowledge is of value if you know when, where and how to use it. I am being very subtle but I am sure you are smartenough.

3) Use technology

Many people have said it in many different ways: Old methods – old results. NEW METHODS – NEW RESULTS

Love technology. Technology is not limited to typing skills. That is ‘key boarding competency’ and our youth, courtesy to MSN Messenger are brilliant at it.

Use mobiles, PDAs, and other gadgets to enhance your productivity. Many people complain about time. Here are simple questions. If the answer is “no”, ask yourself what you need to do.

a) Do you have GPRS activated on your mobile?
b) Do you check e-mails on mobile/PDA?
c) Do you have complete data of your customers on a mobile?
d) Do you have your calendar updated on MS Outlook or Lotus Notes?
e) Do you have a laptop or are planning to buy one? (remember, your company is not responsible for this in career proofing) do not go to restaurants for 6 months and buy a laptop on installments!
f) Does your mobile have an upgradeable memory?

4) Serve your Customers

No business is mad! I often tell corporate heads and senior management that they have nothing to fear if their organization is a ‘responsible corporate citizen’. A socially responsible organization would always have support by the society. They cannot be closed down easily. Period. This is organization proofing – (WOW new terminology!!)

Similarly, your career proofing happens if you are being a responsible customer servicing employee. Even if you are in back office there is no reason why you cannot reach out. Perhaps the “how” will be addressed about in my future articles.

My friend Clifford Lucas at ABN AMRO Karachi, Pakistan is an example of this. The guy leaves impact because of his genuinity, enthusiasm, sincerity and self happiness. PERIOD! Customers love him. PERIOD AGAIN!!!

At the end of the day, you cannot serve others if you are not delighting yourself in the process. Be happy and your customers will resonate that back to you!

There is no rocket science to appreciate this concept

People like Clifford have no fear of ‘career’. They are good – no they are great! Not only the boss but the customers say it.. He enjoys his work. Enjoys the working environment and most importantly, ENJOYS LIFE!.

Want to career proof! Do not wait. TAKE ACTION!

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