Happy New Year, Welcome to 2016.
Today that several of us, at least the ones who have a tendency to consider self-improvement, or who aren’t completely emotionally and physically exhausted by the holiday rush tend to use the first of the year as a period of review and reflect. We look at areas we wish to improve and then we do it, we improve them. The popular term is making new years resolutions and if you havne’t used that term at once in your life you shouldn’t be reading this. Yes, this generally New Years Resolutions devolves to ‘get to the gym more’ which lasts for about two to three months. But I think for the purposes of this blog, we can look at the subject of resolutions from a career perspective.
There is a theme in these resolutions,
can you see it?
Of course i’m not the first person to have this idea.. a quick google search brought up several (1,390,000) hits. Out of a hint of laziness, and in a desire to not reinvent the wheel, I’m just going to go to the first one on the list and provide commentary. I’m not going to rewrite eveything the monster article says. You should go here to read it: via 10 Career Resolutions | Monster.com
- Pay Attention in Class:
This is about learning everything you can. That’s true, but I would take it to the next level with a cautionary note. You need both lower and higher credentials you may not have. If your in management, well if your in management you most likely aren’t reading this, butif you are in management that means getting certified in every single thing every one of the people you work with does. You also have to get certifications (high level stuff like MBA’s, and PMP’s) to add to your name. The cautionary part about this is if you tell anyone in the management chain you are doing it, they may not like it. They may feel it’s a distraction to your core work load even if it’s an absolutely critical part of the mission of the organization. It’s scary that managers think like this but in this world of use them when you need them, this train of thought is much much much more common than you would think.
2. Look for the Next Rung.
This one is pretty obvious, and sadly the the article specifically promotes jumping organizations. that says allot about the world we live in. It’s easier to this if you keep adding different sets of letters to your signature. Yes, jumping organizations, on your terms or theirs is highly stressful, but again, this is the world we live in. Keep in mind that everything is temporary. I would say that ‘be prepared’ and start looking for your next job the day you get your new job.
3. Understand Company Goals.
I wold say your resolution is to be attuned to management goals. Not company goals. The two can be different and management can terminate. Amazon is ostensibly focused on great change.. what they are really focused on is beating their people to death with an entire culture developed around 24/7 working a-hole management for which nothing you do is good enough. So I guess the resolution would be, keep your eyes, ears, and everything else open to try and best understand your management chains goals and make sure you are continually helping meet them on top of meeting the goals set forth by your job and the company. There is a theme in these resolutions, can you see it?
4. Be Ethical
I would say the resolution should be “never push things too far”. Every organization has grey areas because the load is untenable. Doing personal email from the office or christmas shopping on cyber monday are required because you are expected to be doing company oriented work in the evening hours.
5. Stay Fit
On top of everything else you have to remain diligent. Diligent from the snack machine tempting you with salty snacks. Diligent from the 1940 calorie colossal burger no matter how hungry you are. So you have to stay diligent while you are being an ideal worker, working long hours, learning as much as you can inside the company and taking extra training at your own expense outside the company.
6. Stretch Your Role
On top of everything else, you have to take on more work that someone wouldn’t normally assign you. I think the key to do this, the real way to write this resolution is to ‘strategically stretch your roll’. Think about the biggest impact efforts… the biggest pain to the boss, the biggest wave in your industry. That’s where you need to put your time.. while you’re exercising, while your working late, while your learning more inside the office, while you’re learning more outside the office without letting anyone else know.
7. Manage Up.
My advice for a resolution, manage up, but not too often. On top of everything else that your trying to do, management may throw more on your plate if you check in to often. This can be especially challenging if you have a manager who doesn’t click with you on a social level. The key resolution here is to Manage up strategically. The occasional check in or check back. Check backs are very telling because usually if your checking back about something you’ve already brought up, then your manager will have had time to process it. Then they may have something valuable to contribute. Maybe the best resolution is to ‘check back on things more often’
8. Manage Across
I do agree that understanding your peer’s rolls and how they go about their jobs is critical. Be very careful of how you ‘manage across’ I would almost change the recommendation to ‘serve across’ or proactively provide innocuous or supportive services and information. Just add this to everything else on this list.
This is actually the easiest one on the list and this advice is pretty good without much modification. If there is one thing on this list I would really underscore as a weak resolution it’s this one. The resolution should be ‘over communicate’ I make it my personal goal (nearly never met) to have every single email out of my inbox every night. That’s difficult, but there has to be a follow up for everything.. add a note, make a connection, call someone back, provide information, and then once the follow up is completed, or scheduled, pull it out of the inbox. For example if someone sends you a request for info, call them, leave a message. Then send an email… then pull it out of your inbox. You did your part. In short you are done with a big read DONE STAMP and you can get it out of your que.. and you have a record of it. The best part is that you have communicated exactly as the way the resolution recommends. Plus if someone says they didn’t know, or didn’t get the email your behind is covered.
10. Make time for play
If you have been paying attention to these resolutions, then you realize that this last one is the least realistic. You can’t do everything on this list and make time for play.. well make time more than a few hours a week. I would say this resolution should be “continually reevaluate the work / life balance you need” It’s sort of like reenvisioning your career.. if your a welder, you get paid by the hour, then you are pretty much limited and you have time for work life balance.. if your a Professional Individual Contributor, then well, there is no limit. Burnout is real and the perfered outcome by most of today’s burn and churn employers. Another way to look at “Make time for Play” should be “Always consider balance and make plans to avoid burnout even if that means burning the candle until you get that next super in demand credential”
Maybe next year i’ll tackle resolutions our workforce should have for changing the system for the information age.
Either way, Happy New Year.