I attended an event last week in which HR Directors were sharing the challenges they have with staff engagement. One company told of the trouble they had in engaging mid-life professionals, men and women, who felt their career had stalled or even fallen off a cliff. What could be done to re-engage them and help them see possibilities for their careers.

Whether you are in your 40s or 50s, or whether you are younger or older, you don’t have to settle with where you are. You can continue to develop and grow. So this guide is to give you pointers on how to do that.

Step 1: Start with your own Goals and Values: what matters to you

What do you want from your career? What drives you? What’s interesting to you? Have a think about what you find satisfying in your work and what you care about.

Step 2: Determine Success Factors: what it takes to get what you want

This is about finding out from your manager what is necessary for you to be successful in your role, and if those factors are changing due to the disruption going on within this role and your industry. Observe – and ask about – the behaviours and qualities that senior leaders expect of someone in this role and beyond. Some kinds of people will be more successful and rewarded by your organisation and others won’t be. Competency frameworks, job descriptions and performance metrics will guide your thinking and conclusions.

Step 3: Consider your Abilities in light of 1 and 2

Do you know your strengths? Where do you see your weaknesses? What aspects of your skills or style will get in the way of accomplishing what matters? What has helped you get this far, and what do you need to unlearn or learn next to progress?

Step 4: Perceptions: How others see you

Lastly, how do your colleagues, clients and others perceive you? What do they say about your strengths, weaknesses, style and impact. To what do other people attribute your successes and failures?

Notice how I didn’t start with asking others for what they think you should do or their feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. That’s because your career needs to start with who you are and what matters most to you. If you don’t get clear about that, your manager, your organisation will find things for you to do that serves the organisation’s needs but which could be dull or unchallenging and/or keep you typecast in a particular way just as happens with some actors in dramas on TV.

It’s also important that you pay attention to the feed-back you give yourself and be wise about how it aligned (or doesn’t with others). People pleasers note! The views of others can be wildly out. Most jobs don’t have a right and wrong way of doing things and those you poll could have wildly differing views. Let’s liken this to speed-skating and figure-skating. In speed-skating, everyone can agree who has won. In figure skating the judges will all have different things they care about – like power, grace or a favourite move. Listen most closely to those who care about the same things you do, and then form your development goals and actions into a plan and seek out managers, mentors, coaches and others you admire to help you stay accountable to your commitment to succeed.

 

Perhaps you are reading this and wondering “but I don’t know what drives me anymore” or “I haven’t been given feedback in three years and I have no idea what my strengths and weaknesses are”. Maybe you can’t see an alignment between what interests you professionally and the roles existing in your current organisation. If this is you, you might benefit from a career review consultation with us.