Managing Your Career in Uncertain Times

Finding ways to successfully work during this pandemic has challenged many professionals. Working parents are now juggling virtual learning and completing their growing to-do lists. Meetings that used to happen organically as you passed by someone’s desk now occur via Slack or Zoom. With several months passing since the onset of remote work, many of us may be slowly but surely finding our groove. Our productivity may be back or has even surpassed its normal state.

When it comes to our careers, though, many of us may still feel a sense of stagnancy. Yes, we are getting our work done, but how do we grow our careers? With no clear end to remote work in sight for many of us, we have to be proactive in owning our career growth. During Relativity Fest’s Stellar Women takeover, I discussed tips for managing your career in uncertain times. 

Tip #1: Excel in What You are Doing Today

Planning for the future is essential. But that planning could be for naught if it impedes your ability to flourish in your current role. Be proactive, solutions-oriented, collaborative, and most importantly, deliver.

You also need to have someone advocate for your work. You may be delivering superior work, but if no one knows about it, you likely won’t get the accolades or opportunities you deserve. Work rarely speaks for itself. Work doesn’t have a voice. You speak for your work. Find networks, mentors, sponsors, and colleagues that will share your achievements with others.

Tip #2: Grow in New Areas

Building your expertise and knowledge is what I like to refer to as developing your range. To illustrate what this means, I would like to share a quote from the London Busines School’s Professor Herminia Ibarra, who noted: “The point is to do new and different work with new and different people, because that process represents an opportunity to learn about yourself, your preferences and dislikes, and the kinds of contexts and people that bring out the best in you.”

Professionals are increasingly expanding into new areas. Look at e-discovery attorneys; they are blending their legal and technology expertise to drive innovative ways of thinking in the legal industry. Exploring what is out there will allow you to forge new paths or continue navigating your current path. For those looking to develop range, shadow other professionals, look at online learning opportunities, volunteer to be a part of new projects, and talk to your manager about potential areas of interest.

By identifying your interests, you can also determine what’s next for you. You can then develop the narrative of what you want your future to entail. Once you figure that out, share your story with those who can help you get there. The more people you tell about your future goals, the more help you will have in inching closer to achieving them.

Tip #3: Hone Your Resilience

These times are testing the resilience of everyone. We are all dealing with a slew of changes. With so much on our plates, we may fail to make our physical, emotional, financial, and social wellbeing a priority. However, being resilient and prioritizing our holistic health is key. One way to position yourself well for this influx of change is to think through the envelope of time you can allocate to personal and professional tasks. And then, agree on this with your manager and follow through with this plan.

While sticking to your word is crucial, this is not to say you need to be perfect 100 percent of the time. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break. We are all human and sometimes, we just need to take a day to regroup. To do this, I would advise building your village who can be there to support you. These may be your advisors, therapists, sponsors, mentors, family, spouses—anyone who is additive to you and your wellbeing. Take the time to connect with them.

Tip #4: Thrive in the Remote World

Organizations are seeing that professionals can work well in this remote environment. This too may change how organizations are recruiting and hiring top talent. For many, they no longer will only consider candidates in a certain geographic location. Upskill yourself. Look at virtual tools that can increase efficiency in your role and build collaboration. As mentioned above, we have to be more strategic in how we interact with each other as we no longer have the natural, water cooler chats. Find innovative and new ways to engage your teammates—think book clubs with breakout Zoom features, or online costume parties.

Simply put, our roadmaps for getting from point A to point B are not as clear as they were a mere few months ago. However, we need to be innovative and find the opportunities present. There are so many silver linings present during this crazy time. When we look back at this period, it may prove to be the time in our life that provided the most opportunities for learning both as a professional, and as a human. 

With more than 20 years of human resources experience, Beth Clutterbuck joined the Relativity team as CHRO in 2020. She is passionate about employee experience and putting talent first as an organizational imperative.

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