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!

 

 

3 ways you can practice self-care at work, as an employee!

3 ways you can practice self-care at work, as an employee!

What comes to mind when you hear the words; self-care? A spa date? Expensive dinner? Vacation on the beach? All these examples include spending money and that can quickly distract us from taking any action. Luckily, not everything pertaining to self-care needs to be commodified. You can easily take care of yourself by taking up simple zero cost habits that can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. Given we spend most of our lives at work, it makes sense to weave in self-care habits and practices that make our lives easier. 

We’ve thus put together a few habits you can pick up, that can boost your overall wellness at work.

1. Establishing boundaries – A major way of doing this, is ensuring you’re not letting work spill over into your personal life, at least not to the extent where 99% of your life is work. As much as you can, don’t be pressured to respond to work emails or answer work phone calls when you’re taking time off for yourself. There’ll of course always be the super urgent moments, but it’s important to ensure that this does not become a constant in your life. If it’s absolutely urgent that you work outside working hours, set aside a time slot where you can do everything expected of you. If this is something you’d prefer not doing at all, it’s important that you communicate it to your supervisor, peers or clients as early on as possible. 

2. Take small breaks – Most of us are expected to work 40 or so hours a week, which means we’re required to be productive for at least 8 hours a day. Maintaining a constant state of productivity for 8 hours straight can be difficult,  which is why we advocate that you take periodic breaks. If you feel like you’ve been doing something for too long and you’re starting to become unproductive, taking a 10-15 minute break may help rejuvenate your energy and concentration level. You can also decide to switch tasks after the break unless you’re on a really tight deadline. 

3. Acknowledge your wins – Patting yourself on the back whenever you achieve something is a form of self-care. Recognizing that your contributions add value and that you matter in the large scheme of things can affirm your sense of self and worth. So don’t be afraid to congratulate yourself, even for the small wins. We encourage you to check in with yourself every once in a while and evaluate your successes. 

If you’re reading this as a manager, here is an article we wrote last year highlighting the importance of prioritizing your employee’s mental health and how you can create a conducive culture that ensures their well-being. 

What other ways have you practiced self-care at work? Share with us on our social media pages:  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Looking to create meaningful LinkedIn connections? Here are 3 tips you can use to achieve this!

Looking to create meaningful LinkedIn connections? Here are 3 tips you can use to achieve this!

Are you looking to forge more meaningful professional relationships? LinkedIn might be a good place to start. All you need is a smart device and internet to connect to as many people as you’d like, at the comfort of your living room, or wherever else you prefer. What are some of the ways you can create these meaningful relationships you ask? Here are three tips we highlighted for you that we hope will be helpful. 

1. Be specific – As recruiters, we often get a lot of messages from people who are looking for new job opportunities, mostly. Sometimes, someone gets lucky, when we happen to be hiring for an opportunity that they’re looking for. Some have even gotten hired as a result. However, a majority of these messages are usually lacking in specificity. The truth is, just sending a “hey”, “how are you?” won’t do the trick. Especially when your intention is to ask for help from the person you connected to; recruiter or otherwise. LinkedIn is a professional platform, you want to make sure that you’re communicating your need from the get-go. Here is a guiding article with 10 messaging templates you can use to connect to different people. 

2. Use common connections – Sometimes, you may need additional help connecting to someone you’re really interested in talking to. A smart way of doing this is using a mutual connection, especially if you know them personally, to help you access this person, which may be more efficient, especially if it’s a pressing matter. Here’s a template you can use if you’re unsure of how to go about this. 

3. Utilize LinkedIn groups – There are plenty of groups on LinkedIn that connect individuals who are in similar career paths, or in the same industries. You can use different keywords related to your industry or career path to find them and join them. Here, you can pose questions, share enlightening relevant content, interact with other people’s posts/content, and even find more people to connect with that may be of help in addressing a need you had or connecting you to more people or networks. Make sure you read the group’s rules to avoid doing something that may get you removed from the group. 

If you’re specifically looking to get a job through LinkedIn, here’s an article we wrote that can help you land your next job. Have a read and find out how your dream job may just be a few clicks away.

5 mistakes you should avoid after landing a new job!

5 mistakes you should avoid after landing a new job!

Landing a new job is an exciting chapter in most people’s lives. It brings forth an opportunity to learn new things, form new networks and hopefully, advance your career. The first few weeks of starting a new job can also be scary; you want to make sure that you’re doing your best at your job, while also fitting into a new organization seamlessly, and it’s not always an easy task. So what are some of the mistakes you can avoid?

1. Not seeking clarity on role deliverables and KPIs – Sure, you were hired because of your skills and competencies and you’ve talked over the role several times in the selection process. However, being on the ground doing the actual work is different, and of course, things are always changing in the workplace so every once in a while, you may be required to take up tasks, not in your JD. It is crucial to keep in mind that you will be assessed based on agreed KPIs. If this is not clear from day one, you may find yourself in a difficult situation at the end of your probation being assessed for areas you were not aware you were accountable for.

2. Isolating yourself from the team -Forming new relationships can be difficult for some of us, however, isolating yourself from the rest of the team and only choosing to focus on your work is not a great idea, as you think it might be. Team synergy is a critical element of most organizations’ success, and it’s important that you interact with the team to learn more about what areas you will need collaboration on, accelerate your adaptation into the culture and hey; this is also an opportunity to form new networks, who knows how they may come in handy in the future?

3. Setting unrealistic expectations –  Starting a new job can put you under pressure to want to overextend yourself to please your boss, thus making you agree to or come up with unrealistic expectations within a short period of time. Before committing to this, we advise that you understand from your supervisor and the team how long certain tasks or projects have taken so that you don’t set yourself up for failure.

4. Not observing organization culture –  Before you decide to do things like you were doing in your old job, or assume that they’re acceptable, take a few weeks to observe and become aware of how work is approached in your new workplace. What values are upheld often? What approaches seem non-negotiables?. Blasting loud music on your portable speaker, having casual Wednesdays or working from home may have been allowed in your previous company but doesn’t mean it’s standard for all organizations. Find out what the norms are, what processes are in place and ask as many questions as you can.

5. Criticizing everything without seeking to understand the context – When starting a new job, it can feel taxing to be trained all over again, on things you feel you already know. Therefore, you may feel the need to criticize the processes of your new organization because you find them tedious, or just different than what you were used to. This may then prompt you to suggest drastic changes that the organization may not be ready for at that particular time. Sure, new ideas are always welcome, however, suggesting them with a “been there done that” attitude comes across as a bit crass. Before suggesting new ideas, aim to learn more about how things have been done, how other team members feel about them and what impact they have on the organization so that you make informed opinions.

Here’s an insightful article with 5 questions you can ask when starting a new job that should help you if you just started working in a new job.

Find more exciting content about all things careers on our Career Happiness Center