A Tale Of Two Careers

Blog Post created by susan.hodge Champion on Mar 9, 2017

Many of you have been going through reorganizations, staff reductions, mergers and general uncertainty in your jobs.  There’s been a lot of conversation about how to survive turbulent times.  It reminded me of two dichotomous examples of responses to a job disruption.  We can learn from each person’s story.

The Expert Behind the Scenes

The first person, I’ll call her Jane, was known as the expert in her job.  Her company was going through a reorganization and reassigning people to jobs.  She felt very confident that she would remain in her job.  It was obvious, right?  She was well known as a strong performer, she had more knowledge than anyone else and she worked hard.  Feeling confident about having the facts on her side, she kept her head down and continued working hard through the decision process.

However, someone else wanted Jane’s job.  I’ll call him John.   John had no experience in this area, but saw the job as a good development role. He proactively met with decision makers and influencers to let them know of his interest, showcase his strengths and be visible.

John got the job.  Jane ended up leaving the company.


The Flip Side:  Strategic, Intentional and Visible

The second example is a woman I’ll call Brenda.  Brenda’s company was going through staff reductions and in doing so making decisions on who should be in which jobs, with there being fewer “chairs” to sit in once the process was finished.  Like Jane, Brenda was also well regarded and well known for her expertise.

Like everyone potentially affected, Brenda had some nervousness about the process.  There were a lot of strong candidates in her department.  Brenda decided to be proactive.  She made it a point to gather information about the decision process.  She sought out feedback on her strengths and where others thought she would be a good fit.  She spent time considering what she wanted for herself and her next assignment and then conveyed that to her network of advocates and potential decision makers. She gained confidence when she explored external options.  She surrounded herself with a support network outside of work to keep her centered through this anxiety-filled situation.

In short, she managed herself and the job process intentionally and strategically.  She stayed visible and front of mind with decision makers.

Brenda got the job she wanted.

Is It Politics?

I often hear women speak with disdain about corporate “politics”.  To dismiss decisions we don’t like as “politics” does not serve us well.  Instead, let’s learn to take positive action to understand and manage the decisions that affect us.

The actions taken by John and Brenda provided information to those in decision making positions.  Yes, sometimes likeability, personal commonalities and other relationship characteristics will factor into decisions.  But managers are trying to make the best decisions they can. If you don’t provide them with information, they’ll rely on what they know about you or they’ll make up their own story. Even worse, they may forget about you.

We need to know what we want for ourselves.  When we know what we want for our career, what is important to us or what development opportunities we’d like to have, we can position ourselves accordingly.  We can then speak with authenticity and enthusiasm.

Be proactive and intentional in communicating what you want for your career.  You’re providing information for your company and empowerment for you.

If you'd like to build your skills at self advocacy, sign up for Communicate to Advance - a 1 day workshop on March 31 at Pink Petro offices.  Register by March 10 for $100 discount!