New role? New you!
Well... maybe a tweaked version of you.
Given how dynamic the employment market is, there is a very strong chance you will be moving to a new role, new team or an entirely new company this year.
We have a very quick exercise that takes a notebook, $6 and an hour of your time, so you can prepare yourself to be a freakin' superstar in your new situation.
Take yourself off to a café, use your $6 to buy that coffee, find some space and give yourself the opportunity to stop and think.
We suggest three key questions to ask yourself:
1. What did I do well in my last role, team, company?
There will be many things at work that you do really well. As humans, it's not the moments of handling it, doing well, things under control that we tend to remember. It's the criticisms, the embarrassments, the imposter syndrome moments that clang in our brains like a big old bell.
However, by stepping back regularly and making time to recognise the things you do well, you build self-confidence, clarity about what work you actually want to be doing and provide yourself with a fundamental human need for recognition. Don't rely on others to give you the pat on the back, you can and should do that for yourself. It's not about being big-headed, it's about taking the time to grow your self-awareness, an absolutely fundamental criteria for success at work (and in life, but that's another post).
So, write a list of the things you did well in your last role, team, company - think about the compliments from others but also the times you were in the flow, enjoying your work so much the time was flying by. Looking at that list, what's your go-to move? What's the thing that if you weren't good at anything else you would want to be good at and spend your time doing? It's almost certainly the thing that gives you the most pleasure at work and people come to you for. Highlight, bold, or whatever you need to do to make your go-to move stand out in your list of things you are good at.
Identifying and knowing this for yourself means you are more likely to pull your go-to move out more frequently, helping you to establish your place in your new role, team, company faster.
2. Where could I have been better?
As humans, we're inclined to point the finger somewhere else - my colleagues were too busy, my boss didn't listen to me, my company didn't give me any opportunities... However, you can't control any of that, so don't worry about it. What you can control is your own behaviour, that's the thing you want to think about. Consider yourself an athlete - everyone makes mistakes, but athletes take action to minimise how often they drop the ball, miss the tackle or react too slow.
Think about a recent situation at work where you weren't at your best and try imagining that you are observing yourself across the meeting room table. Be kind but firm with yourself, we are all imperfect. The trick is to be prepared to examine what you did in that situation and what you might have done differently to get a better outcome. Note down all of the options that were available to you in that situation.
The reality for most of us is that we are good at many things but we tend to repeat the things we are not so great at. The definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. Let's try doing something different. Of all the things you could have done differently, pick one and commit to a different action or behaviour you will take for the next month. For example, if you tend to deal with conflict by sending emails, commit that you will get up and go and talk to the person you are disagreeing with. See what happens as a consequence of taking a different action. It will feel uncomfortable, because you're not reacting, you're choosing. And that is where the growth comes from.
3. What's my brand?
Think about yourself as a brand. When people are talking about you (and people talk about you) what are three words you would like people to describe you as? If you're not sure, use some of that free café wifi and check out Martin Seligman's Values in Actions for ideas. Once you have worked out those three words you want to be associated with brand-you, list down the actions you take, the things you do that will demonstrate those words and build your brand. People like to have confidence that they know what they are going to get when they interact with their colleagues. When you are starting in a new role, team or company, helping your colleagues to work out who you are faster means that you also establish your place in role, team or company faster. Knowing your brand means you also know what you fundamentally, at the heart of you, contribute to your role, team and employer.
At the end of this exercise you should have three things listed:
My go-to move;
My athlete move; and
My three-word brand.
Type it up, draw it up in a notebook - it doesn't matter, just make sure it is somewhere that you will see all the time. We have short attention spans and we need frequent reminders. Finally, before you pack up and leave the café, pop a booking in your diary for a month's time, come back to these reflections and work out where you're making a difference to your success.
Careers are a 50 year road-trip and every now and again, we need to pull over, check the map and reset the journey.