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10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself In 2017

10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself In 2017

If you are thinking about changing your career in 2017, then now more than ever you need to take charge. That means thinking about the direction of your career and its role in your life.

It’s important that you answer these 10 essential career change questions. They matter not only because now is a time to reflect but also because the world of work is changing rapidly and if you want to change or advance your career, you need to be prepared.

Changes in the workplace will make a difference in how we think about our work. Workplace trends in 2017 include jobs that “require human creativity, flexibility, judgment, and ‘soft skills.’ They don’t need skills that are repetitive or could be automated, so knowing how you fit in is key.

Early in 2016 Seth Godin wrote “Ten Questions for Work That Matters.” Those are helpful guidelines for creating work that matters to the world. Here are the 10 most up-to-date questions you need to ask yourself it you’re planning on changing careers in 2017.

1.What does your career do for you? 

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Some people work because they want the paycheck, some want the prestige, some have an end goal or level of advancement in mind. Some people believe in the mission they are working to accomplish. What does work do for you? Why do you get out of bed every day? Is it simply for the paycheck, or is there something more? Do you have career aspirations and goals?

2. Why are you making a change?

Sometimes people are sick of their boss, co-workers, office space, or the rut they’ve fallen into. In that case, what they might need is a new job. Sometimes they really do want to do something different. They are tired of the challenges at their current career and are ready to take on something new. Other times the industry they are in is no longer thriving and they want to do something that has more potential. Do you need a new job or new career? What is really motivating you to make a career change?

3. What matters to you?

Making a change to something you don’t care about might not be a great idea, but are there other things that matter to you? Maybe it is that fat bonus you bring home and your first priority is finding another job that you can tolerate that will replace it. Whatever matters most to you, define it, and then find a career that matches with these values.

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4. What makes you happy?

What matters to you might not be your happiness – it might be your family’s happiness or something else, so this question is separate. Still, you should stop and ask yourself what makes you happy. What motivates you at work? What would you bounce out of bed to do all day? You’ve likely thought about this and then dismissed it as a fantasy. Possibly only because you haven’t been able to see the path to get there, or how to take elements of that dream and make it a reality. You can find ways to have career happiness, even if it’s not exactly what you thought it would look like at first.

5. What makes you human?

When you’re a career changer, you’re likely competing against people who have been in the field and have experience you don’t. That means you have to stand out in a different way. Luckily, as we just learned, softer people skills are going to be essential while the technical skills of (almost) any career will be considered teachable. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to work your way up or that you can become a neurosurgeon tomorrow. It does mean that you have a shot at things you might not have had a few years ago.

6. What makes you stand out from the crowd at work?

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What’s your superpower? It’s essential that you know yourself well enough (and that you’re confident enough) to be able to nail down exactly what you can do better than anyone. If you don’t know, your potential employer won’t have a clue why they should hire you over the next guy.

7. What do you do that is essential?

I admit, I basically stole this question from Seth Godin, but it’s so awesome I couldn’t help it. I mean, how many times have you wanted to crush that alarm clock with your bare hands and go back to sleep but then thought, “No, I have to . . . “? Why do you do it? What do people miss if you don’t show up? Why can’t someone else just pick up the slack? Whatever your reason, THAT’s what makes you important my friend. And it’s not just that you happen to know everything about that project at that moment in time. There’s a reason you’re juggling all those balls. You’re a good juggler. Learn to talk about that and how awesome you are at it.

8. What do you do that a robot can’t do?

Automation could crush certain industries and tasks in the future, which is why focusing in on the things you do that a robot can’t, and building your skills in that direction is smart. Future-proof your career by doing something a robot can’t do.

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9. What are you learning from your work and what do you want to learn?

Your learning and creativity are key to keeping you interested and valuable in a career. Otherwise you become a disengaged worker. So, what fascinates you? What sparks your excitement? What courses do you want to take? Learn these skills and apply them to your new career.

10. Who are you serving or giving back to with your work?

Mission driven careers are not just about feelings. Did you know that conscious companies often outperform traditional companies? In fact, Firms of Endearment companies run in a specific, socially conscious way, have have out performed the S&P 500 by 14 times in a 15 year period. It matters to the success of the company that the mission matters to you. Find one you care about.

Remember, your resume isn’t a showcase of what you have done as much as it is a demonstration of how you can get the job done and why your future employer should hire you. When you have asked and answered these questions, you’ll be prepared to make a career change in 2017.

Featured photo credit: freephotocc via pixabay.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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