Advertising
Advertising

Published on February 3, 2020

How to Achieve the Career Success That You Want

How to Achieve the Career Success That You Want

Everybody wants to enjoy at least some aspect of the work they do. It could be the customers and colleagues you work with, the visible changes you see from the job, or the actual work itself. If there isn’t some aspect of satisfaction though, the chances of sticking with a particular job or career for long aren’t very good. A sense of satisfaction is crucial to building career success.

Here’s the thing when it comes to career success — there’s no clear-cut definition.

Now, of course, there are ideas of what career success looks like, but these are largely driven by our peers, family members, those within our chosen industry, and society at large. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for people to lack clarity when reaching for a definition of what career success looks like and how it aligns with their personal values.

Maybe that means a certain number of zeros on their paycheck, or perhaps it means making a living that’s comfortable but allows more room for time with family or hobbies. Those ideas are rather vague and really only scratch the surface.

Achieving the level of career success that you want really boils down to two simple things: defining what it looks like for you and forging a path to get there. There are obviously other factors that come into play, but those two things are paramount.

Define Your Idea of Career Success

We all need a purpose. It’s one of the characteristics that define us as human beings and without it, a person is at risk of aimlessly wandering through life depressed and very possibly broke.

Sorry to sound like a downer here, but what I’m getting at is that purpose is a huge part in defining and then achieving career success.

Advertising

If you were to ask the world’s top 50 CEOs what their purpose was, it’s a guarantee that they would each have precise answer, and their answers would likely be very different.

In order to define what success looks like to you, it’s a good idea to step back and cast aside what others have told you success is.

This is the part where a lot of people make the mistake of listing off accomplishments they want to hit such as making X amount of money or having X title beside their name on their resume. Accomplishments are great, but make no mistake, they don’t necessarily equal a lasting feeling of satisfaction and success.

Famed LA Lakers coach Pat Riley, a man who won five NBA championship titles, but said he was still never satisfied and called this the “disease of more.” Psychologists have long argued that it’s all too common for people to put too much of their self-worth on their accomplishments. At best, those accomplishments leave them with a fleeting sense of satisfaction that only results.

I’m going to get a little bit Zen on you here. When you attempt to define your idea of what career success looks like, include those goals you want to reach, but also ask why you want to achieve them. Perhaps it’s important to you that you make a lasting impact in your career field or carve out a career that continually presents new and exciting challenges. Maybe you want to achieve a level of success that combines both of those factors and allows you to work at your own set schedule.

Don’t be afraid to spend some time digging down asking yourself how the accomplishments you want to achieve align with your personal values and outlook on life. You’ll probably find that your idea of career success changes at different points in your life. It’s learning how to clearly define what that success looks, though, that will always be a key component to finding it.

Is Satisfaction a Part of Your Job?

According to a 2019 survey, a third of American workers thought about turning in their job resignation over the last year. Among that group, 57% said that they were “somewhat” or “very well paid” — meaning money wasn’t the issue.[1]

Advertising

The problem was that these people weren’t getting the level of satisfaction in their job that they needed. If you’re not satisfied with the work you’re doing or the job you’re at, then guess what, you’re probably not going to feel like you’re hitting it out of the park in terms of career success.

As for why a person may not feel a level of satisfaction, that could be a whole host of reasons ranging from unchallenging work to little room for job growth or simply an unpleasant office environment. The more aware of what your personal idea of career success is, then the more adept you’ll be at analyzing how your job satisfaction plays into it.

Truly successful professionals strive to make it a habit of looking for the best aspects of each job role they possess. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to land our dream job with our very first job, and even if the planets do align for you, there’s a good chance your idea of a dream job will change.

With every job you take on, however, you should be consciously looking for the aspects of it that you find the most rewarding. A person may take a job simply because the pay was decent and it aligned with their skill set, but surprise themselves to discover that the highest level of satisfaction resulted from the relationships built with customers.

By taking an inner look at what is satisfying or unsatisfying about a particular job, you’re better prepared for taking the next step that leads you to the dream job and building your definition of a successful career.

Finding Career Success Involves Risk and Strategy

So you’ve blocked out what outside influences have told you career success looks like and carved out what it means to you. Fantastic!

You’ve made a habit of recognizing what areas of job satisfaction are important. Great!

Advertising

Now comes the hard part — taking some risks and blazing your path to career success.

Whatever your particular idea of career success looks like is, it’s not going to happen by accident. Successful careers are forged through a number of ways, but a certain amount of strategy is always going to factor in with a lot of hard work.

Some form of risk is almost always going to be involved in achieving your career success. This could be anything from moving to a new city for a job or taking a lower-paying position because it puts you on the right path to where you want to go.

You must overcome the fear of getting out of your comfort zone and embarking on a new challenge if you hope to find satisfaction and ultimately career success.

The good news to that discomfort is that more often than not, the benefit of doing so is greater than the risk of failure. Furthermore, taking those chances will give you some incredible insight into what you’re really made of. Keep in mind that never stepping out is far worse than falling down.

As far as creating some strategy for taking those risks and building a successful career, there are numerous ways of applying strategy to success:

1. Look at Those Whose Career You Want to Emulate

Doing this can provide some valuable knowledge on what to do and what not do as well as help you recognize what your own version of what career success looks like.

Advertising

2. Be Around the Right People

This doesn’t mean trying to suck up to the boss simply in hopes of getting something either. What I’m talking about here is putting yourself around people who have a positive outlook and can teach you, or at the very least encourage you.

Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger once told CNBC:

“I’ve always surrounded myself with the right people and people who are very bright, passionate and hard-working.”

For Hilfiger, this meant building up a strong circle of friends and mentors such as Terrence Lundgren, the CEO of Macy’s, who he could turn to for support and insight.

Get some inspirations from this article: The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Are You Ready?

Building a successful career you want is never going to be easy. Not everybody is going to have what it takes and a certain amount of mental fortitude is required. This isn’t meant to be discouraging but it’s simply a reality of life.

With the right mindset, however, and some strategy and sweat, you can carve out a personally rewarding successful career and find a deep level of purpose and satisfaction.

Keep in mind on your own journey what career success looks like for you and don’t be afraid to regularly ask yourself — are you’re making the moves and taking the risks necessary in order to find it?

More Tips on Career Success

Featured photo credit: Graeme Worsfold via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy is a lawyer and entrepreneur. He is the Senior Partner of Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, a national law firm based in Canada

How to Achieve the Career Success That You Want How to Prioritize Work When Everything Seems Important 9 Reasons Why Motivation Matters in Leadership How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

Trending in Smartcut

1 How to Run an Effective One on One Meeting with Team Members 2 8 Brain Exercises for Mental Strength and a Smarter Brain 3 How to Use the 5 Whys to Get to the Root Cause of Any Problem 4 What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide) 5 What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on February 11, 2020

How to Run an Effective One on One Meeting with Team Members

How to Run an Effective One on One Meeting with Team Members

The one on one meeting is a crucial and often underestimated management tool.

Not only is it an honest way to connect with employees and share the necessary information with them, but it is also a great way to hear their feedback.

What’s even more important – the one on one meeting is an opportunity to shape your employee’s experience and perception of you as a boss. In many cases, what they think about you and your management style will also be reflected in their opinion about the whole company or organization that you represent.

Running effective one on one meetings should be a priority for you as a manager or team leader. The 11 tips laid out in this article will help you make the most of this crucial time.

1. Get in the Right Mindset

A proper one on one session starts already before the meeting as you prepare your notes and your attitude for it.

Seeing the one on one meeting as an unwelcome distraction in your busy day won’t get you far.

Instead, take a few moments to clear your mind and focus on the person you are about to meet.

Start by reviewing your notes from the previous one-on-one with that employee, have a look at their latest performance stats, mark any complaints or praises you’ve received about them.

2. Make One on One Meetings a Regular Thing

The frequency of your one-on-ones largely depends on your company size and your management style. Some sources say that such meetings should be weekly, while others state that a bi-weekly or monthly schedule would do the trick.

A good idea is to set the next recurring meeting at the end of each current meeting so both parties can plan ahead for it.

Think about the frequency and length that would not seem too much for you or your employees, but would still be enough to keep everyone in the loop and maintain continuous contact.

Advertising

New employees should have one-on-ones more often, at least once every week or two weeks.

Recurring one on one sessions make feedback sharing a routine and encourage a culture of honesty. Besides, regular personal conversations make employees feel understood, trusted and valued in the company – thus boosting their intrinsic motivation.

3. Set a Time Limit for the Meetings

Schedule enough time for these conversations, but don’t make them too long either. Nobody will look forward to meetings that lose focus and just drag on forever.

The optimal length of each session also depends on the frequency of these meetings – for example, if you meet every week, a 30-minute session might be enough. If you meet once in a fortnight or a month, 60 minutes might be more effective.

Successful managers such as Andy Grove, Co-Founder and former CEO of Intel, have advised to do one-on-ones that last for at least one hour:’

“Anything less, in my experience, tends to make the subordinate confine himself to simple things that can be handled quickly.”

4. Make a List of Topics to Discuss

A general plan or structure for the meeting might help to get the conversation going – especially in the first few meetings. However, you don’t have to stick to the plan no matter what. See it rather as a reference that can help in case the conversation gets stuck or drifts too far from the topic.

A meeting agenda can also be helpful if the employee is introverted and won’t be likely to talk on his or her own.

For example, you can prepare three to five topics that you are most interested to know about. Or, you can keep a list of questions in front of you, but remember to be flexible – you don’t have to ask all of them if the conversation flows naturally.

Some ideas for questions that are likely to generate thorough answers:

  • Which part of the day do you feel most productive? Do you feel you’d need a different work schedule to improve your well-being and productivity?
  • What are your latest achievements that make you proud?
  • Do you have any suggestions that could help us work better as a team?
  • Is there anybody on the team you find hard to work with? Could you explain why?
  • Which of your tasks keep you engaged and inspired? Is there a way to make your daily tasks more engaging?
  • What are the main bottlenecks in your present project? Can I help in any way to move it along?
  • What are the things that worry you in your job or the office environment in general? Have you ever felt undervalued here?
  • Do you feel like you are learning enough at work? Which areas would you like to learn more about?
  • What can I do to improve my management style or to support you better?
  • What projects or tasks you would be interested in working on next?

Pro tip:

Advertising

Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt used to start his one-on-ones by comparing his lists with the ones his employees were asked to prepare before the meeting.[1] The items found on both lists were prioritized because they were likely to be the most pressing issues.

5. Keep It Casual and Change the Setting

If you aim to have an honest, relaxed and sincere conversation with your employee, think not only about your words and body language but also about the atmosphere at the meeting.

Your goal is to be professional and productive, but not necessarily awkward or stale.

First, find a relaxing place for a private conversation. Cozy furniture, warm colors, office plants or even a different view from the window has the potential of stirring up new ideas and suggestions. But you don’t even have to stick to a meeting room – why not go for a walk or have a coffee in a nearby cafe?

CEO of productivity tracking software DeskTime, Artis Rozentals, believes that one on one meetings should take place outside the usual constraints of the office:

“I find an opportunity to go on a longer one on one lunch with each of my team members to discuss everything in a casual atmosphere.”

He adds that informality doesn’t mean that the meeting takes place without preparation.

“Before the meeting, I draw up the topical questions and data, and share it with the respective employee, so that we both come prepared and have a fruitful conversation.”

6. Focus on the Employee

The employee should be the main focus of one on one conversations. The famous American businessman and author Ben Horowitz recommends that a manager should only talk for 10% of the time, leaving the rest of the talking to the team member.

Remember – as the person in the power position, you should set your ego aside and support your employee as well as you can.

Ideally, the conversation will flow naturally around whatever matters to him or her. If it doesn’t, ask open questions that could help them elaborate their position and express their feedback (see tip No 4).

Advertising

7. Listen like You Mean It

Your task is not only to let your employee talk. It’s also to listen – actively. This means you don’t listen just to be polite. You are actually trying to understand and remember everything that’s being shared.

Some active listening techniques:

  • Remain open-minded, confident, and listen to the person without drawing one-sided conclusions.
  • Show the employee you’re paying attention and occasionally summarize what they say.
  • Double-check if you understood some statements right to avoid misunderstandings (for example, ‘Did I get it right that you’d like the marketing team to join this project in order to avoid further delays?’).
  • Be receptive to everything you hear – even the criticism about your company or your own performance.

8. Share Relevant Information

We already mentioned that the employer should talk less and listen more. However, if you do have something important to say, and it affects this employee personally or professionally, the one on one meeting is the time to say it.

Are you preparing a new project or strategy that the employee should know about? Are you testing some new management tactics and would like them to be on board? Are new changes about to impact the company or your team in particular?

Make sure you keep each employee in the loop to avoid gossip and misinformation spreading in the office. If you tell them the news personally, they will also feel more valued and appreciated.

9. Write Down Notes

Most likely, you are in charge of more than one or two employees, so you shouldn’t rely on your memory to mark down all the important points every team member raises.

However, it is not recommended to write notes on your computer during the meeting. Why?

Having a laptop open can be easily interpreted as being distracted and not very interested in the conversation.

So you’ll have to take notes the old-fashioned way – by writing them down in a notebook, journal or a piece of paper.

Taking notes lets your team member see that you are actively engaged in the meeting and that the points laid out will be taken into account. In other words – that this is not just a waste of their time.

10. Leave with a Task or Takeaway

Just as everything else business-related, one on one meetings should have a purpose and an actionable outcome. In other words, make sure that you, your employee, or, ideally, both of you, leave with an action item or a task to be completed.

Advertising

To solidify this, send a quick email after the one on one meeting, rehashing the main things you went over. This will ensure that both of you are on the same page and aware of the next steps each side should take.

A recap email will take a few more minutes of your time but will undoubtedly prove worthwhile in the long run.

11. Don’t Neglect One-On-Ones with Your Remote Workers

Today, increasingly more managers work with a team that partly (or entirely) consists of remote workers. If you are one of them, know this:

One on one meetings are even more critical when it comes to your remote team.

Why? Because you can feel the sentiment of your in-house team every day in the office. At the same time, you might have no idea about how your outsourced or remote employees feel.

CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, manages a company with 500 employees spanning two continents. Besides having quarterly meetings for all employees, he requires managers to have regular one-on-ones with each of their team members,[2] in addition to bi-annual performance reviews.

He points out:

“It’s a great way to show that managers care about the performance and well-being of the employee. Topics come up that otherwise wouldn’t in a regular discussion, like the kind of music being played in the office, for instance.”

Santa Lice-Kruze, Director of HR at Printful Latvia, agrees with Davis and ads:

”Conversations have to be built upon a basis of transparency and mutual trust. This is the time to ask how the person is doing, about his or her work-life balance, health, out-of-work activities, etc. You certainly have to ask if and how you can help with anything.”

See Eye to Eye with Your Employees

As a manager, you need to be consistent in everything you do – and one on one meetings are no exception. They don’t have to take place every day or even every week, but you need to be committed to them every single time.

Remember – your primary goal is supporting your employee’s performance. Having a regular personal chat with each of the people who report to you will help you see an increase in employee engagement. And this will likely lead to improved company culture and higher productivity for the whole company.

More Leadership Tips

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next