Fire Your CEO: Reorganize The Business Of BrandYOU™
This post is part of the Professional Independence Project series.
Is it time to fire your CEO and reorganize the business of BrandYOU™? Find out!
Have you read any of the articles citing the repeated reinventions Joan Rivers achieved in her long career? Joan did an exemplary job of proactively managing her own brand and evolving her professional life in fresh directions without sacrificing her values, integrity, or passions. Are you managing your own career as effectively as she did?
Joan recognized that just as companies of all sizes need a mission statement, individuals need to clarify what they do what they do and what drives their focus. This career or life purpose underlies all effective career planning. Once you know what drives you, you’re ready to begin designing your Strategic Career Plan – a roadmap outlining your career progression over the next five to 20+ years. Your career plan serves as your AAA TripTik™, guiding your professional journey through a shifting landscape.
Keep your plan flexible, though. If you’re career path is to be continuous, it must enable you to adapt to the rapid-paced change we all face, from labor market ups and downs, disasters, economic shifts to corporate reorganizations, personal growth, and unexpected family events that demand rewrite your priorities.
An effective career plan encompasses six key elements:
- Your career values: What matters most to you in your career? Do you value challenge, responsibility, fairness, creativity or something else altogether? Make a list of your Top 10 career values and flush out your Top 3-5 so you can use them as a decision-making compass throughout your working life.
- Your Personality: What kind personality do you have? What kind of work environments, teams, and bosses best mesh with your character? Note 3-5 of your strongest traits and add them to your decision-making compass.
- Your Transferable Skills: What are your strongest and most universal skills – those that relevant in multiple industries or myriad sectors of the same industry? You’ll need a Top 10 list here, too, but note that you can develop new skills anytime you need them. As a consequence, you’ll see a lot of skills moving into and out of that list as the years unfold.
- Your Passions: What are you passionate about? Which causes get you riled up or drive you to influence and reshape the world around you? These may be harder to identify than the other elements listed here, but passions assume greater importance later in life so they deserve equal decision-making attention as you move into your 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and beyond.
- Your Gifts: What are you gifted at doing? Are there things you excel at that no one ever had to teach you? These gifts are yet another important facet of your decision-making compass that should be unearthed and leveraged fully throughout your working life.
- Your Credentials: What are your educational credentials and certifications? What credentials do want to attain next, and what role will they play in your career? Research suggests we return to school for another degree, additional training, or another certification every three to five years on average. It’s never too early to begin planning your next significant learning investment.
Most employers, especially mid-size to large ones, employ some sort of performance evaluation process to maximize the contributions of their employees. Why not create a Personal Performance Management Plan of your own? By regularly evaluating your own performance you’ll be better prepared to reflect key insights when your manager asks you to analyze your year in review. I suggest conducting such a review quarterly with a longer, more extensive introspective process on an annual basis.
This depth of self-reflection can be simplified by maintaining a Success Journal. Whether you write in an actual journal or simply keep a digital or physical folder filled with critical achievements matters not – the important thing is to constantly capture your successes in an organic way that keeps you constantly ready to update your resume or prepare for a surprise interview. By forming a habit of self-reflection about your accomplishments, your contributions, and your performance, you will enable yourself to capture more insights and brand attributes. Discover the Top 10 ways a career journal will benefit you.
Just as your career unfolds organically, so does your brand. Proactive brand management requires constant awareness of what makes you different than your peers at work and those with similar skills in your industry so you can seek out fresh challenges and enable yourself to master new capabilities as the need arises.
In a recent article on Yahoo Finance, Morgan Korn offered quotes from Reid Hoffman, the Co-Founder and Chairman of LinkedIn. First Hoffman noted that “individuals need to proactively invest in their career and take ‘intelligent risks’ to move up the corporate ladder.” He goes on to state that, “in a world that’s moving at a very fast rate, everyone must be adaptable and constantly reinvest and reexamine one’s professional progress. It’s essential to put yourself out there to expand your professional network and to learn new skills.” Paraphrasing Hoffman, Korn comments that, “you are a start-up entrepreneur and must approach your career with an entrepreneurial mindset, constantly finding and creating new opportunities for yourself.”
Lastly, consider the role that people play in your career success. How strong are your relationships with colleagues, direct reports, and managers? Are your interpersonal and communications skills helping to cultivate career success or derailing it? Don’t overlook non-work relationships – your family, social, and personal life can easily have a negative impact on your career longevity if not carefully tended. Hence a savvy career CEO invests in the people around him or her at home and at work.
Corporations have a board of directors to help run the company and provide critical oversight, so consider forming such a board to help guide your career. Select a handful or more of industry influencers, mentors, trusted advisors, and former managers to serve as a sounding board for major career decisions. This team of professionals can provide advice, of course, but they can also help you see facets of your personality, experience, and career brand that you may take for granted or overlook. Whether you convene your board in a formal face-to-face meeting or consult with them one-on-one, you’ll gain tremendous insight and confidence by availing yourself of their insights, perspectives, and recommendations.
To maximize the relationships in your life and your quality of life overall, you may also want to consider creating a Life Balance Plan. CNN’s iReport recently ranked the Top 10 healthiest cities globally. The number one city, Copenhagen, was no surprise since Denmark is the number one happiest nation in the world according to the U.N.’s annual World Happiness Report. According to an OECD report, a mere 2% of Copenhagen employees work 40 hours a week or more. By working so much less than the rest of us, these Danes have learned how to maximize their free time and create space for non-work passions and interests.
Examine your own balance by listing eight to 10 areas of your life that are important to you. Examples might include work/business/career, health, finances, marriage/significant other, family, social life, professional development, spirituality, and personal growth. Once you’ve listed the areas you want to measure, assign each a number based on the level of satisfaction each gives you at present (on a scale of one to 10 with one being zero satisfaction and 10 being extreme satisfaction). Let’s say even though your health might not be perfect, you may be satisfied with your progress and therefore rate this area an eight.
Review your ratings to see what changes may be needed. Is high satisfaction in one area (work?) causing low dissatisfaction in another (marriage?). Are there areas where you want to make significant changes for long-term balance? By considering life balance as a part and parcel of your overall career planning, you’ll dramatically improve the likelihood that you can sustain the quality of life you want and deserve.
Career planning is a lifelong process that demands constant attention. To paraphrase Cathy Benko, Harvard Business Review blogger and author of The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in the Changing World of Work, your “value in the talent marketplace isn’t static. Rather, it is dynamic and will fluctuate just like most goods and services. The only hedge is continual reinvention.” The time to plan your next reinvention is now.
Want to take control of your career?
If you want to take control of your career, check out our fall series, the Professional Independence Project. Throughout the month of October, we will be sharing expert advice and insight on how you can build a successful career you love.
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