Sometimes we wake up and find we are loathe to throw off the covers because what lays ahead at work is yet another day of going through the motions. You’ve raised your hand for specialist leadership programs, put forth your name for a promotion, but you keep getting passed over. You have been categorised, branded, pigeonholed by your peers and unless you can prove there is more to you than meets the eye, you are never going to achieve your ultimate career goal. Ever consider you may need to reinvent yourself?
Within the working environment we are often given nicknames associated with our key talents; the Tax Deduction King, the Switchboard Master, the Cheesecake Whisperer. We don’t give ourselves these labels. Our co-workers do. And they have the ability to box us into our positions. This is not ideal for those who wish to develop and move up the corporate ladder. Yet do we even realise we are being placed in a niche? Often how we perceive ourselves is not how our work colleagues, clients and customers recognise us.
If you are considering switching careers, transferring to a different department or simply advancing within your current team, it may help to first understand how other people view you. Ask those colleagues closest to you to describe you in three words. What you will discover is what others consider to be your strengths, what they count on you to deliver. This revealing word exercise can help you to identify qualities you did not recognise within yourself. Well certainly not as strengths. Yet these may just form the foundation for you to repackage a new identity. You will have heard it before; brand yourself for the career you want, not the job you have.
Reinvention will increase your value as an employee. Don’t undertake this step and it is possible you will become less relevant at work. Thus to remain important and appreciated, you need to maintain a fresh working persona. How are you going to achieve this? Shifting your own professional paradigm will take commitment, motivation and a clear, strategic vision. Let me ask you, when was the last time you defined your steps towards success?
Reinvention is something to be managed in stages. When you know where you want to go, you will understand the missing links that are presently suppressing your efforts to move forward. It may be that you are lacking a key skill. Perhaps you are a wiz at MYOB, but haven’t a clue about completing a BASS statement. If the opportunity to expand your skill base doesn’t exist at your present place of employment, seek out a new role that will allow you to learn and grow. How are you ever going to open and manage your own accounting firm if you don’t have the full repertoire of accounting competencies?
The people you associate with at work may be those that are presently barricading you from moving forward in your career. And perhaps unconsciously so. Consider broadening your circle. A senior associate who is already enjoying the spoils of the career you hope to achieve can be a valuable source of information in explaining what you need to do to get from point A to point B. So show an interest, ask questions about their pathway to success and share your own knowledge and aspirations. Publicly stating your goals can improve your chances of success dramatically. And if others are aware of the ‘new’ you, you may find an accountability partner to coach you and keep you on track. The right mentor and professional relationships can guide you to a stronger personal brand.
There are other ways to cultivate your career of choice and that is to connect and network with others who inspire you. You may find these people in other professions and industries, but they can give you the insight you need to learn about the skills you require to make your transition. If you’re looking to switch trades entirely, these connections may make the transition a lot smoother. Or you could identify the high achiever in the office and aspire to surpass their achievements. It will certainly get you noticed, along with the hard work that it takes to excel. And you want to be noticed. Not be seen as irrelevant.
Some people state that you should quit or be exceptional. If mediocrity is not what you are striving for, then this may be the motto for you. And you will need a motivational statement because reinventing yourself in the workplace is not a feat that will be achieved overnight. It will take hard work and time. And throughout that time, you will find a hundred excuses not to do something. So take small steps and maintain your focus. Before you know it those promotions will be offered freely.