Career Management

Times are tough, while the future looks bright.  If you thought being comfortable was your goal, it’s time for a re-think. We’re in the 4th revolution. The job economy is hurtling towards automation, AI and robotics which impact the workplace, radically transforming every aspect of how work gets done.

Let’s take a reality check on what this means, just for a moment.  It’s going to impact stability. Right now, we’re experiencing a weeding out of talent and the number of workers needed to actually do a job. There’s a massive downsizing happening across the board. In contrast, a genuine talent shortage exists because few people possess the needed technical and social skills, plus all-important intellectual abilities, to really excel in today’s workforce environment.  The domino effect creates a lack of effective leaders that negatively impacts organizations and the people within them.

It’s quite the puzzle to solve, but one that’s full of potential for top tier talent!

For talent performing well in their organization, they’ve just gained a huge advantage. Employees that can proactively demonstrate their value while aggressively continuing their own professional development by keeping their skills are up to date and on par, or more advanced than the competition can win big in this environment. Don’t just sit and feel comfortable with what you have – be proactive, assertive, curious, and develop a continuous learning-centric attitude to continually develop your emotional intelligence to enable you to win.

Here’s a common scenario encountered by versatile talent today:

A hard-to-find innovation leader is a fantastic cultural fit in a very large technology company, and is actively pursued by competitors. The company she is currently working for has a reputation for offering bottom-of-the-bracket salaries. While she loves the company, the salary is not competitive with what she can make by moving somewhere else. She’s seriously considering a new adventure to enable her to give a better life to her family and save for the future. She hesitates to ask for a raise because of the company’s frugal attitude. At the same time, she’s not sure she should leave because she loves her work and the culture where she is.

It creates a difficult challenge. It’s clear she doesn’t want to leave, so what should she do?

First, she must determine what she likes about her present company versus other companies she’s considering moving to. She needs to perform a real analysis and decide what she wants to achieve over the next five to ten years, and which company will help her to get there.  She needs to critically review either scenario and how things could play out over the next few years. Only after she makes a decision that she wants to stay, does she approach her career manager or boss.  She sets up a time to meet with them, in an attempt to outline her thoughts, which go along the following lines:

“I love this company.  I am committed and see myself contributing in X, Y, and Z areas. I can see the company growing. I see myself managing these important projects over the next 18 months and want to drive the company forward in the following ways X, Y, Z. However, I need a salary or pay package review.’

She waits at this point to gather feedback from the listener.  She’s looking for acknowledgement of her contribution and ideally agreement that her boss wholeheartedly agrees with her, and is open to taking the next steps. If she’s hard-balled back, then she can argue her case on how she’s been headhunted from competitors with better offers, hence her requesting $X, which is in alignment with the other offers she’s receiving.  She reiterates that she’s turning them down because she’s committed to reaching <insert goals with company>.  She states though, that it’s time for a raise and asks her boss how they can help make it happen for her.

Here’s what this manager has just demonstrated to her boss:

  1. She’s done his analysis
  2. She’s demonstrated his value to date and anticipated long-term impact for the company
  3. She believes in the company and how he is an integral part of it
  4. She’s demonstrating she’s fully engaged and loves her work
  5. She’s stating the truth. The salary isn’t competitive in the market and she’s a desirable candidate by the competition the company respects.
  6. She’s restates her commitment
  7. She states what she wants
  8. She assumes it’s going to happen rather than it being a negotiation
  9. She enlists her boss as her ally instead of making them her adversary.

This above scenario will take place at least once in your career and often talent hesitates to ask for a raise, or goes about asking for one in the wrong way. Sometimes, the talent has seriously misdiagnosed their internal value and the situation does not work out in their favor. There is a lot of fear and job insecurity today among workers, but this needs to be overcome on an individual level to continue to climb the ladder.

Much of your career is about negotiation. Negotiation with yourself on what learning will feed both your passion and industry relevance, plus negotiation with the companies you work for.  I’m not advocating for everyone to ask for outrageous, uncompetitive and untimely pay raises; it’s about learning to manage your career well. The ability to navigate the pitfalls and difficult areas of work and personal relationships must be mastered in order to continue moving upward professionally.

Often people get locked into positions because they don’t feel as though they have alternatives or know how to create another option for themselves. Learning how to create options is a critical piece of your career development. Taking control of your career and navigating turbulent waters is a fundamental piece of mastering your career and leadership ability.

If you learn how to do this for yourself, you can expect your career to move FORWARD.

About the author: Caroline Stokes is the Founder of Forward Human Capital Solutions. She is an executive career coach and headhunter. 

Image: Shutterstock

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