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10 Things You Shouldn’t be Afraid of When Changing Careers

10 Things You Shouldn’t be Afraid of When Changing Careers

It sounds amazing to quit a job you don’t like in order to do something you love – but doing it? That’s another matter entirely.

No one wants to spend years of their life tied to a job they hate, a boss they loathe or to work that makes them fall asleep in their carefully wrapped turkey and cheese sandwiches.

The problem is that the prospect of actually changing careers is a scary one.

But the truth is changing your career is a lot less scary than you thought. Here are 10 things you shouldn’t be afraid of when you’re changing careers.

10 Career Change Fears You Can Let Go Of Today

1. Being a beginner

Most career changers worry about starting their career over at the bottom. Once you’ve climbed the ladder, who wants to start all over? If your skills are highly transferable, then chances are you don’t have to start again.

If they don’t transfer well, don’t let it stop you. Being afraid of being a beginner is largely a fear of failure and a lack of confidence. The world is changing fast. In fact, 65% of kids in grade school today will have jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. And while you’re not in grade school, the truth is we’re all learners. People who stay in their comfort zone may wake up and find their comfort zone doesn’t even exist tomorrow.

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So get out there and do what you want to do with your career, because change is coming anyway.

2. What if I make a mistake?

Like any decision, making a mistake can have consequences. If you’re paralyzed about a career decision because you think that the consequences of getting it wrong are just too huge, there are things you can do.

First, do your very best to eliminate the possibility that you are making a mistake. You can talk to friends or get coaching to help you make the right decision, or start with some career quizzes or insightful questions. Before deciding on a career, consider the careers you aren’t choosing, and make peace with leaving those behind. Talk to people in your new field, or even do an internship.

Then, before you make a leap, minimize the impact of a wrong choice. Do you have a back-up plan? Have you been in recent communication with people in your network that could help you find a new job fast? Have you considered your financial situation?

Chances are, you will make a good decision. If you find that you hate your new career immediately, careful planning will help soften the blow. The off chance that you’ll end up in a bad career situation isn’t a reason that you should stay in a situation that you already know is bad.

3. Making less money

This is probably the biggest concern of all. First off, there’s no guarantee that you’ll make less money in a new career, but if that seems likely for you, there are a few things to consider.

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First, you are weighing money against happiness. While your old job makes you unhappy, so does being broke.You need both money and happiness, so only you can decide where the balance is for you.

If you decide to go for it and make your career change, prepare financially, and recognize that you are prioritizing your happiness. Focus on that rather than on the money.

4. Fear of the unknown

Sometimes just not knowing what’s next is enough to make us think twice about doing anything differently. Our comfort zones are called that for a reason.

At this point though, you might realize that you risk a lot by staying put – probably more than you do by doing something different. The only way forward is coping with the fear of what could happen  by realizing you can handle your worst fears.

5. Fear of failure

What happens if you make your mind up to leave your boring-as-dirt job, figure out what you truly love, go after it, and then find that no one wants to hire you because you have no experience in your new career field?

If you haven’t already gotten experience through an internship or volunteer position, you might find that many employers are able to see beyond your specific job functions. They are willing to hire for who you are and what you can learn more than what you already know.

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There are employers who realize that there are key qualities that can’t be taught and if you have them, you might be the right candidate regardless of your experience.

If you’re worried about getting the job and not being able to do the work, work on your skills and confidence so that you can keep doing the work you love!

6. Upsetting other people

Any time you do something different in your life, other people are going to have something to say about it. It’s your life and you have to live with the consequences, good or bad.

Decide how much influence anyone else has a right to have over your decisions. A friend might not have any, while a spouse might have more. In the end though, only you can decide what makes you happy.

7. Fear that it’s too late

Haven’t you heard? Career change is all the rage now. It’s not too late. You can be successful no matter how old you are, and you can figure out finances, health insurance and other practical matters as well.

You don’t have to sacrifice happiness – and years of your life – waiting to get to a place when making a move feels realistic.

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8. Fear that something is wrong with you

Worried that something is wrong with you because you don’t have this figured out already? Don’t be. It’s never too late to change your career, and even famous, successful people didn’t figure it out until later in life. It doesn’t mean anything bad about you that you aren’t finished growing yet. In fact, it’s a good thing!

9. Fear about handling your life

Your life is stressful and sometimes overwhelming as it is, and the thought of adding a career change on top of all that is daunting. Then when you think about what the career change means – new responsibilities, new people, a new environment, a possible change in income. . . it can be too much to handle.

The truth is, you can handle it.  You just need to take each change by itself and not let all of them gang up on you. When you do that, you’ll find you can deal with the changes and enjoy the reason you’re making the move in the first place.

10. Fear about wasting the education and experience you’ve already invested in

Don’t hang onto an education or experience that isn’t serving your goals anymore, no matter how hard you worked for it, or how much you paid for it.

You may not have to “waste” your education or experience at all. But if your new job doesn’t require the work you’ve already put into those things, you can still move forward. Use a skilled resume writer to help you position yourself better and to highlight the skills that do transfer. Also, use your network to land a job through someone you know rather than coming in cold. Finally let your feelings about putting your past education and experience behind you. Otherwise, you’ll stay tethered to work that you don’t want to be doing just because you’ve already invested there.

Bold Action

Fear is the biggest barrier between you and changing your career to something you love. You can figure out all the “what’s” and the “how’s” that may come up, but until you’re willing to take action on your plan and push through your fear, nothing can happen. Now is the time!

Featured photo credit: Lonely Foggy Road via picjumbo.com

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Jessica Sweet

Career Coach

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Last Updated on December 5, 2018

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

How do they do it?

By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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3. Demand Learning from Your Team

CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

“The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

“We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

  • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
  • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
  • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
  • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
  • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
  • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

  • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
  • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
  • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
  • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
  • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

    “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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  • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
  • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
  • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
  • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

10. Empower Your Employees

Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

11. Nurture Your Company Culture

Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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