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10 Signs It’s Time To Really Think About Your Career

10 Signs It’s Time To Really Think About Your Career

There’s nothing like the feeling of starting a job you love and going to work every day feeling excited and challenged. But what happens when a job that started out as a great step towards building a flourishing career takes a nose dive?

Suddenly, the song You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling becomes your new theme (not the cool Top Gun version covered by Maverick and Goose) and you feel unsure about your current career path.

When your job becomes just “a job,” a lot of things happen that you may not even realize. It can cause you to turn into a completely different person from the wide-eyed bushy tailed professional you were at the beginning of your career. You not only lose sight of your initial goals, but also jeopardize the future of your career without even knowing it.

Here are some warning signs that your job is ruining your career.

1. You are no longer excited about starting new projects.

Taking on new projects is a great way to learn and display leadership in your job. If you find that another project just means more work for you that’s not worth the kudus or mediocre salary, it may be a sign that you’ve withdrawn from your job.

Once you start losing interest in what you do, it will show and negatively impact your career.

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2. You are just going through the motions.

If wake up, go to work, drink coffee, answer emails, and go home sounds like your typical day, then there’s something missing: your active participation. Are you just getting through the day and can do your job with your eyes closed?

If the answer is “yes” then it’s time to reevaluate your job. A job where you just go through the motions without much thought is great if you’re a robot, but you’re not.

It’s important to have a job that challenges you daily and keeps your brain sharp or else you risk losing your ability to generate career-enhancing ideas that will help you grow.  

3. You are not making a competitive salary.

Staying in a dead-end job is not only bad for your career, but hurts your pockets too. Forbes contributor reporter Cameron Keng published an article regarding employees staying at the same company making 50% less than those who leave.

This means that you lose money over the course of your career the longer you stay at a job and receive the average 1.3% raise, if any. Sometimes the fear of being a “job hopper” makes the decision difficult.

But staying at the same job that doesn’t offer financial and professional growth puts you at a disadvantage and makes you less competitive in your industry.  

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4. You are doing the same thing that you’ve always done.

Your job should offer ongoing opportunities to be challenged. It’s hard to be considered a high-performer at work if you’re not challenged. Being comfortable will make you stagnant and not grow in your career.

Try to take on new tasks or see if there is a way to improve a current process. If you’re not learning new skills or taking on new roles, you risk being passed over for acknowledgement, raises, and promotions.  

5. You are always complaining.

Did you know that “grumpiness” is one of the side effects of being unhappy with your job? And that’s putting it in a nice way. You may not realize that you turned in to a different person, but your coworkers and friends do.

It’s normal to vent about work from time to time. But make sure your unhappiness with your job isn’t negatively affecting your business and personal relationships. Constantly complaining may deter others from wanting to work with you or refer you for a potential opportunity.

6. You are not on top of your industry.

When you have a flourishing career, it is more likely that you are current with new technology, standards, and principles because it’s an important part of doing your job effectively.

Look for opportunities to practice new things even if you have to do it outside of work. If your job doesn’t incorporate modern or new techniques in your field, you risk falling behind based on current industry standards.

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7. You are not using your best skills.

Your job should give you the opportunity to perform tasks that utilize and enhance your best skill set. For example, if you are a people person but work in front of a computer all day with minimal contact, it can be very unfulfilling.

There will always be some aspects of a job that you don’t like, but make sure they bring out the best of your skills, so that you can build an impressive list of career highlights in your role.

If not, you jeopardize your ability to build a strong portfolio of achievements based on showcasing your best qualities that make you unique.

8. You are making small mistakes with everyday tasks.

A tell-tale sign that you’re at your wits’ end with a job is making simple mistakes. Sure everybody makes mistakes, but if you’re frustrated you tend to make more. This could be because you hate tedious tasks and rather watch paint dry than to organize one more meeting or run one more report.

Although you may not put too much thought into it other than pure annoyance, these mistakes may negatively impact how your manager and colleagues view your ability to get the job done.  

9. You are fighting with your manager.

Your manager can make your job a breeze or a walk through hell. When your manager lacks good leadership skills, it can be a challenge to do your job right and be a great source of tension. Your manager is the one who gives directions and should guide you when help is needed.

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If you find that their lack of leadership leads to constant fighting, it could be a warning sign that your job performance will be questioned—whether rightfully so or not. Tension with your manager can impact your career when it comes to performance evaluations and recommendations.

10. You are doubting yourself.

The biggest impact of staying at the wrong job is that it eventually wears on your confidence. Over time you start questioning things about yourself that you would never question like saying the right thing or taking the right action.

It’s so easy to get caught up in a toxic situation whether it’s due to having a horrible manager, difficult coworkers, or just a dead-end job. This can affect your ability to effectively convey your personal brand in a way that will attract new opportunities.

When your job no longer lends to your growth and ability to feel good about yourself, it’s time to move on for the sake of your career.

Featured photo credit: confused man chooses road outdoor via shutterstock.com

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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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