Wondering what direction to take in your career? 5 reflection questions to ask yourself.

Wondering what direction to take in your career? 5 reflection questions to ask yourself.

The journey towards a career that is fulfilling is one that involves a series of self-examination and honesty. Many of us have career goals we want to achieve and we have an idea of what our ‘dream’ career is. To get there, we have to be intentional, and we have to periodically question where we are now, and whether what we’re doing is leading us to our career goals/dreams. Do you ever take the time to check in with yourself and ask these questions? If not, you’re in luck. Below are 5 reflection questions you can use to evaluate where you are in your career journey and determine if you’re on the right track.

Am I satisfied with where I am? 

Admittedly, this is a broad question. It could further be categorized into; Am I excited about the work that I do? Do I feel like I’m adding meaningful value? Am I utilizing my strengths fully?  Do I enjoy working with the people that I work with? Am I growing? Do I feel excited going to work or do I dread it? All these questions and more, when truthfully answered, can help you recognize if you’re satisfied, or, if you need to disrupt what you have been used to. Sometimes, when we’re in a comfort zone, it can be easy to dismiss valid emotions about our careers because we worry that there may not be something better out there, or are afraid of putting ourselves in situations of discomfort. As the saying goes, “If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”

What am I doing or not doing, that is hindering my career progression? 

If you’re aware of where you want to be in your career in a few years, it’s worth asking yourself if you’re doing the right things that will get you there, and if you aren’t, how is this hindering your progression? For instance, if you’ve been thinking about venturing into a different career, are you seeking out professionals in that field who may guide you into that transition? Have you done your research to determine what skills you would need to thrive in that industry? Have you sought out additional support and resources that you would need? If you’re not doing these things, then you’re certainly not on the right track. On the contrary, there are also things you could be doing that can hinder your career progression, for instance; if you’re looking for a new job and you’re sending out job applications with unchecked grammar and spelling errors or are copy-pasting your CV details into application forms instead of customizing your responses, you’re doing things that go against what you want – a new job.

Are my values and needs being met? 

Because our values and needs evolve, it’s important to first ask yourself if you have the same values and needs when you first started your career. Along the way, we get to accumulate different experiences, meet new people, learn new things that may feed into new passions or interests, and sometimes, start disliking what we do, and therefore, want to seek out new things; be it a new job, a new career path, pursuing our hobbies monetarily and/or starting our own businesses. Our values and needs play a critical role in making these important life decisions.

In what ways have I grown? 

Reflecting on our career should also include monitoring our growth. Do you have a list of expectations or goals (learning, scale of projects, clients you want to work with, skills to develop, etc) that you wanted to have achieved by a certain time? If so, they should be included in your career check-in. You may discover that you have achieved what you set out to achieve and therefore decide that it is time to explore something new. Or, you may discover that you’ve achieved very little of your set goals, if at all, and therefore, decide to seek out opportunities where you are (if available) to achieve them or explore something new as well. Ultimately, this knowledge feeds into the decision making process.

What next steps should I take? 

After you have answered all the above questions, it’s time to decide what next steps you need to take. For instance, if you want a new career. This may mean coming up with a career transition plan, are you able to do this by yourself, or would you need additional professional support? If you decide you want to look for a new job, what are all the things you need to do to prepare you for this process? You can find some tools here. Further, are you willing to put in the work required to help you attain what you want? We can’t emphasize how important it is for you to be deliberate about your career goals.

Check out this article we wrote with eight questions you should ask yourself at the end of the year, though December is still far, many of these questions are timeless. We’d love to hear from you, what other questions do you include when reflecting on your careers? Tell us at happycareers@edgeperformance.co.ke, where you can also reach out to us about our career coaching services.

Thinking of transitioning into a new career? 3 ways to discover your core strengths.

Thinking of transitioning into a new career? 3 ways to discover your core strengths.

Your career does not have to be static. I wish the eighteen years old me struggling to figure out what degree to pursue would have known this, ha! Choosing a career path can and often does feel very binding, and while it is, to an extent, it’s important to know that the career path you start with doesn’t have to be what you do for the rest of your life. Our passions, interests, and strengths evolve, and sometimes, that informs our decision to pursue different careers.

Many of the clients we have coached to transit from one phase of their career to the next, agree that knowing your strengths and unique ways of contribution is a prerequisite of making this life-changing decision.

Today, we outline below 3 ways you can discover your core strengths and why it’s important to have this knowledge before embarking on a career transition journey. 

1. Seek honest feedback – When considering transitioning into a new career, asking for honest feedback from people you have a trusting relationship with is key. This could be your supervisor, peers, clients, or anyone else who cares about seeing you grow in your career. You want to make sure you’re talking to people who care about your growth so that they’re honest about your strengths and areas of development. This is why it’s important to cultivate meaningful, trusting relationships with the people we engage within our professional lives. Usually, people around you will have observations that can give you additional data to use in making career transition decisions. Here is a guiding article you can use to get honest feedback, spoiler alert; it takes time, building trust and effort.

2. Follow what keeps you in-flow/energized – As explained here, “flow is the mental state in which a person is engaged in an activity where they are fully immersed with a feeling of energized focus, involvement, and success in the process of the activity”. What are these activities for you? How do they fit into the goals you have set for your career goals and the next career you’d like to have? Simply, what type of tasks do you enjoy doing and how can you tap further into those strengths to create a foundation that will help you begin the career transition process? This also makes it easier/smoother and you pick up things faster, which helps you identify what next steps you need to take, for instance, if you enjoy sharing knowledge and information, you could reach out to a coach in your area of interest who can be your mentor and hopefully connect you to learning opportunities, or you could start a blog or social media page where you share said content and seek engagement.

3. Work with a career coach – Working with a coach enables one to reassess their strengths through the provision of tools and resources customized for this very need and one is able to get an objective perception of their strengths. Further, one can also learn more about the skills needed for them to thrive in the next phase of their career and know which best next steps they should take to fill any gaps before or during the transition period; this usually will include setting clear goals, coming up with an action plan, and the confidence to pursue these goals. We wrote more about the importance of working with a career coach here. This is a good way to ensure you’re making informed decisions that will ultimately benefit you personally, and professionally.

Looking to transition into a new career and are not sure where to start? Reach out to us today; happycareers@edgeperformance.co.ke. Follow us on our social media for more similar content: LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Get a bad performance review? Here’s how to bounce back!

Get a bad performance review? Here’s how to bounce back!

If you’ve experienced a performance review, then you know how daunting it can be. This is especially exacerbated if the review does not go as well as you had hoped. Ever been told that your performance did not meet the expectations set for you at your job? It’s not a great feeling, is it?

However, it does not have to be the end of the world. There are certain things you can do to make sure you don’t end up losing your job, which is the worst-case scenario. So how do you work your way back to getting a glowing performance review?

1. Understand your blind spots – Take time to reflect on the feedback, don’t let your first reaction be defensiveness. Pay attention to the feedback and take time to internalize it without hurrying to point a finger to other factors. Then, ask for clarifications where need be, understand how your shortcomings may have affected expected outcomes and the impact they may have caused to your department or organization. This can all feel very uncomfortable, however, it’s a critical step that will feed into how you can work on improving your performance.

2. Create SMART goals – Once you have understood what past behaviors led to a bad performance review, it’s time to come up with clear goals that will meet set expectations, to improve. This should be a collaborative process, and so you should work with your supervisor to draft them, leaving no room for assumption. Ideally, you should take the initiative in coming up with these goals because this would make you feel in charge of your development plan, and also shows that you understand what areas you need to work on. Here is a guide to creating SMART goals you can use, which is also applicable to managers/supervisors, for any of you reading this.

3. Have your own Personal Improvement Plan (PIP) – What is a PIP? It’s a tool designed to help you work towards achieving specific goals. It’s a clear plan/strategy for how determined goals will be achieved; what resources will be needed, support required and from whom, expected performance outcomes (KPIs) and timelines, and should have an agreement on when reviews to track progress can be done. You can find multiple templates here. It’s important to point out that PIPs can also be used in other cases, such as when you’re transitioning into a new role, or you just began working in a new organization. In fact, we recommend you try this because it’s a good way of documenting your progress and assessing your performance on your own, in case this is not a standard practice where you work.

4. Put in the work – This simply means that you need to be intentional in the steps you take towards achieving expected goals. This could include but is not limited to; taking up online courses to improve on particular skills and setting aside time to do so, asking a peer to help you learn more about a certain area that you’re weak in, or even shadowing them in certain tasks, etc. If there are any resources that your supervisor should provide you with, make sure you ask of them early in advance, preferably, as soon as you have your PIP created and approved.

5. Ask for feedback periodically – Ideally, the onus is on you to request for feedback from your supervisor(s). Markup days on your calendar (informed by timelines on PIP) where you can talk to them about their views on your progress thus far. This will let you know whether you are on the right track, or if there needs to be a revision of set expectations. You can also request feedback from your peers, who may be helping you in this journey.

Ever received a not so stellar performance review? How did things go?

For more tactical content, follow us on social media; LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
Interested in working with a career coach? Contact us today; happycareers@edgeperformance.co.ke!

 

 

The future of work; the 5 skills you will need this new decade!

The future of work; the 5 skills you will need this new decade!

In recent years, we have seen companies let go of hundreds, probably thousands of employees because their skills were no longer required. We are in an exciting era where businesses are stretched every day to think about how they can deliver their goals faster and effectively. As a result; technology uptake, process optimization to cut costs, and outsourcing are strategies that will only keep accelerating in the business world.

Unfortunately, for us job seekers, there will be ultimately a huge impact on how we approach work and the skills needed in this futuristic world. So how can you ensure you are ahead of the game and stay relevant in the job market?

1. Unlearning and relearning – With the rapidly changing delivery models, technology adaptation, increased need for creativity and collaboration, there is a strong need to unlearn several skills and mindsets that are becoming irrelevant. And as we drop these, we will also need to adopt a whole new mindset and skillset to thrive in these new workplaces.  Self-driven learning will become not a luxury but a significant differentiator between those who meet the changes prepared and those who don’t. Read our article on 5 tips you can use to accelerate your learning with online courses

2. Cognitive flexibility – While multitasking is the ability to switch between different tasks, often effectively, cognitive flexibility is described as the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously by Wikipedia. This article explores 7 ways you can develop your cognitive flexibility, have a read and learn more about this critical skill, and what it means for you and your future.

3. Complex problem-solving – Surprisingly it does seem like the social and economic problems are becoming more and more complex. We are also getting into a phase where change is more urgent to ensure our businesses, and planet survives. To drive value, businesses have to focus more on the human who is the consumer, and as we know the human is a complex being. And how about robots and artificial intelligence. A creative approach to solving complex human and technological problems at work and beyond is now vital.

4. Digital literacy – Ok maybe you don’t need to become the next best software developer. However, can you efficiently and effectively utilize different project management tools at work? How about collaboration tools such as Asana or Google Drive?  If you wish to reap the joys of remote working then get your A-game on some of these!

5. Innovation & Creativity – The one key skill we are guaranteed technology will never touch is creativity. How are you developing this muscle? This article further expounds why AI may never match human creativity in a more nuanced way, dig in and research more.

We live you with these two insightful articles for further reading;

9 ideas that summarize the future of work (and how you can prepare for it)

–  How digital trends are moulding your future workforce  (focusing on Africa); relevant to those employed, and employers alike

If you’re looking to learn more about the future of work, Google has plenty more information 🙂

Keep up with the trends and updates this decade, so that you’re not caught unawares. One way to do that is by visiting our Career Happiness Center which we are constantly updating with insightful information on all things careers!

5 reasons you need to work with a Career Coach.

5 reasons you need to work with a Career Coach.

For most people who feel stuck in their careers; whether it’s being in a job they don’t like, job applications making little to no progress, or, wanting to switch careers and not knowing where to start, it can seem daunting to want to ask for help. And this can lead one to question their abilities, sense of worth and suffer from imposter syndrome. This is where a Career Coach should come in.  

Jobs and careers occupy a big chunk of our lives, so it’s critical that we invest time, and sometimes our resources to figure out what we can’t seem to do on our own, that is impeding us from progressing further, or feeling fulfilled.

So we compiled a list of reasons as to why you need a career coach:

1. Tailor-made solutions – Sure, Google is great, but the articles you’re reading are unlikely offering solutions tailored to your needs, personality, and maybe, current confusion, and they may not define your problem as you’d like. A Career Coach exists exactly for this purpose; to help you define your challenges, provide you with clarity, and help you map out what you want to do. Not only that, but working with a Career Coach provides you with an opportunity to get real-time feedback on the progress of action steps agreed upon.

2. Increased self-awareness – Because Career Coaches use a variety of tools to assess your needs and help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, interests, goals and so much more, the result is an increased awareness of self, which enables one to make informed decisions about their jobs and careers.

3. Improved accountability – Because life can get really busy, or, procrastination can get in the way of progress, a Career Coach helps you to become more accountable to yourself. With agreed-upon action plans, whether it’s revising your CV, creating an elevator pitch, looking for volunteering opportunities to transition careers, and so forth, it’s hard to avoid accountability when you’re investing to improve your current situation.

4. Honest feedback – Most of us ask for career advice from family, and friends because it’s easier and cheaper to do so. A career coach tells you what you NEED to hear. A friend may look at your CV and tell you it’s great, a career coach will look at it, and point out 10 mistakes. Why? Because that’s their expertise, and their opinions are not biased; their role is to point out your inconsistency, dismantle some of the myths you may have about jobs and careers, and pretty much give you a reality check of what needs to be done.  Who wouldn’t want that?

5. Build confidence – Unless you were not intentionally invested in your career coaching sessions, it’s hard to not build up your confidence as a result. One of the key roles career coaching plays is to identify some of the fears you have around pursuing your goals and providing you with the information and tools to conquer them and help you get out of that comfort zone. Career coaching helps you introspect, ask yourself difficult questions, and face some of your fears that bar you from achieving your potential.

Have you worked with a Career Coach before? What was your experience? 

If not, at edge, we have a number of Career Coaching Programs that aim to answer some of your most pressing career queries and provide you with the tools to navigate these challenges. If you’re interested, please email us at happycareers@edgeperformance.co.ke. 

Get a sneak peek our career coaching by watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvRnyw8_D7Q 

New Year, New Me – 5 Introspective Questions to Set the Tone for 2020!

New Year, New Me – 5 Introspective Questions to Set the Tone for 2020!

First and foremost, Happy New Year! 2020 has been dubbed as 20plenty, and we don’t know about you, but here at edge, this is the year we’re manifesting our visions, so please, get on board! 

Now, we all know that a new year is seen as an opportunity to start on a clean slate and making new year resolutions is a part of that. Some people prefer to make goals, instead of resolutions. Whatever term you decide on, having career resolutions or goals should be included in your list. 

If you haven’t already, please read our article containing  8 questions you need to ask yourself before the year ends as you do last year’s career reflections before proceeding to read the rest of the article. 

To guide you, we will outline below 5 introspective questions you should ask yourself when making these goals/resolutions: 

1. What distractions hindered me from achieving my career goals last year, and how can I change that this year?  Think about what you wanted to achieve in your career last year. What are the small, and even big things that prevented you from taking the required action to get there? Was it spending too much time on your phone? Going out too much, thus not finding time to update your resume? Were you clouded with self-doubt? Whatever the reason may be, note them all down and think about how you’ll get rid of some of these distractions that are not serving you. 

2. What new skills and knowledge do I want to acquire this year? If you’ve been employed for a while, think about the next level you want to achieve in your job, or career. Even if you’re thinking of switching careers; what are the required skills and knowledge that will propel you to get there? Research online and by asking industry experts what you need to do. There are plenty of virtual courses online that you can utilize as a start, volunteering on weekends and so much more. If you just entered the job market or are job hunting, now is a good time to identify your strengths and figure out what contribution you want to add to an organization, or even start your own venture. Tools such as the 16 personalities test or the Sparketype to help you develop self-awareness that is useful in identifying what areas you’re good at. 

3. What changes do I need to implement to improve my current situation? Admittedly, this could cover a wide range of things. Are you employed but looking for a new job? Are you in a hostile work environment and want out? Looking to transition into a different career? Wanting to get promoted this year? Whatever the case, none of these things can happen if you don’t intentionally put in the work to make these changes happen. Don’t just sit around and hope that something “comes up”. Hope is not a strategy. Solutions may range from; customizing your CV to fit different jobs you apply for, working with a career coach to help you identify what career path you want, reading up on what makes a good job application, updating your LinkedIn profile, and reaching out to recruiters for help; read our article on the right way to ask for help when job hunting and what not to do as a guide. As always, Google is your friend, you may be one search away from transforming your life!

4. What am I most afraid of? Aaah, fear; the biggest enemy of progress. In 2020, we’d like to call upon you to befriend your fear. Have you been in a comfort zone for far too long? Do you feel like you’re in survival mode? I think we can all agree that that is not an ideal way to live. Are you afraid of asking for a promotion? Leaving a job that you don’t like because it feels familiar and change is daunting? There’s a saying that goes; “Change begins at the end of your comfort zone”. If you’re not sure what it is that you’re afraid of, please consider working with a career coach who will help you articulate your fears and help you make the right steps to transform your career. 

5. When I look back at 2020 in January of 2021, what are the things I should be proud of? If you’ve been able to address the above questions, it should be easier to come up with milestones you want to achieve in 2020. List them all down, and come up with a way you want to track your progress. And if you hit a milestone, reward yourself.

We hope you found the above questions useful. We have plenty of resources on our Career Happiness Center that you can refer to when making your 2020career goals and resolutions. Please dive in. If you need additional assistance to get you out of a career rut, reach out to us through happycareers@edgeperformance.co.ke.