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Share Your Small Successes In Your Day to Day Work

Share Your Small Successes In Your Day to Day Work

You know those colleagues who seem to define their work responsibilities by email forwarding and conference call attendance? Their actual contribution to the business is zilch, but they manage to advance their careers, and you hate them for it! But don’t be fooled—they have an important lesson to teach you, and you can take advantage of what they teach without joining them.

These people are generally losers who have found little tricks to manage their “careers”. I call them them hyenas; corporate hyenas, because they hang around the lions and leopards—people who do real work—and live off their kills. Only occasionally will they hunt and kill themselves, and when they get pressured, they may chase off the lions and leopards to get a fresh piece of meat.

How to Spot a Hyena

Corporate hyenas pop up in email threads by forwarding them to new people (they “reach out”) suggesting that they connect and alert higher management of progress on various topics. They also keep busy with meetings and conference calls, listening in what’s being said and then repeat it in “corporate speak”. They are easy to spot if you look for them, but it can be notoriously difficult to call them out.

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They have fully adopted the corporate cynicism of: In corporation, it’s not about what you do, it’s about what you tell people you do.

corporate asshole 1

    This behavior can really only be played out in large corporations; there’s nowhere to hide in small organizations. In companies in general, small and large, the pressure on productivity per employee is increasing. This leads to pressure on managers to deliver results, and people management is de-prioritized in turn. Too often, the regular performance review is reduced to a formal HR requirement, so rather than managers actively engaging in the work their reports perform, they rely on the stories about their reports, the stories they are being told by their reports themselves, and the stories they’re told by their management peers. In a small company, poor performance is quickly brought to light and reflected in the stories. In a large corporation there’s plenty of room to hide behind your stories because there are more people around to live off.

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    Corporate hyenas tell their world how great they are and how they are key to a number of different projects, making sure that they keep reminding colleagues (and in particular their direct and matrix managers) thereof. You and I know that their contribution to these projects is negligible, but they look busy!

    Every now and then, typically when new manager is hired from outside the organization, the corporate hyena gets a wake-up call. They either shape up for the time it takes to lull the new manager into their stories, or they are caught out and make a face plant.

    The One Thing You Must Learn From Them:

    Despite these people being nothing but hyenas in suits, they actually have one important lesson to teach you.

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    They make it easy for people to think well of them because that’s the story they tell!

    With the pressure on productivity and the de-prioritization of people management, it’s not enough to do good ol’ honest work: you must promote your work. I am notoriously bad at this. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, being Swedish with the yoke of the Law of Jante (Don’t think you’re better than us) on my shoulders, but having worked in large American corporations for most of my career, and having met more corporate hyenas than I can remember, I was taught early in my career of two good rules to promote my brand as the guy doing that good ol’ honest work.

    1. Make a habit of sharing your small successes in your day-to-day work.

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    • Keep your manager updated about the work you do and ask for feedback to engage him/her.
    • Add your manager and/or other stakeholder on cc: to updates sent to your team and peers.
    • Reach out proactively to a stakeholder whose business your work is impacting, and ask them for feedback.
    • State and show that you’ve come to meetings prepared .

    2. Dedicate 2% of your time—that’s 3 hours per month—to promoting your brand.

    • Review the work you’ve done in the past month, extract the items where you made a difference, and tell the people who benefited from them in an email.
      Example: Let’s say that last month you prepared an ROI-analysis to help a sales guy pitch your company’s new fancy solution to a customer. You know from talking to the sales guy that your analysis was very well-received by the customer, and he’s expecting an order next month. Write an email to the sales guy with his and your manager on cc, saying something along the lines of: “Hi, I’m just checking in to see if the ROI-analysis I did for [customer] helped you progress the sale and if there’s anything else I can assist with to help you win the deal.”
    • Post work that could be of general interest on the corporate intranet.
      Example: If you spent time reviewing what the press says about your and your competitors’ products to prepare for a presentation at an event, post it—that’s certainly info that other people may find useful, so be sure to share it and make sure it has your name in the on front page, and in the footer.
    • Review the key work tasks you’ll be doing in the next month and think about which tasks are relevant to which stakeholders. Make  note of these so you remember to include them in your day-to-day promotion (point 1 above).

    Finally, what is the best way to deal with the corporate hyenas?  Ignore them. Don’t waste your energy on something you can’t control. Instead, put the two lessons above to use, and fight the corporate hyenas on your terms!

    Featured photo credit: Young gangster smoking a cigar in a luxury studio via Shutterstock

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2019

    How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Get Unstuck

    How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Get Unstuck

    There are plenty of people who successfully made a career change at the age of 40 or above:

    The Duncan Hines cake products you see in the grocery store are a good example. Hines did not write his first food guide until age 55 and he did not license his name for cake mixes until age 73.

    Samuel L. Jackson made a career change and starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46.

    Ray Kroc was age 59 when he bought his first McDonald’s.

    And Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart at the age of 44.

    I could keep going, but I think you get the point. If you have a sound mind and oxygen in your lungs, you have the ability to successfully make a career change.

    In this article, I’ll look into why making a career change at 40 seems so difficult for you, and how to make the change and get unstuck from your stagnant job.

    What’s Holding You Back from Making a Career Change?

    There are a flood of amazing reasons to make a career change at 40. Heck, you could argue the benefits of making a career change at any age. However, there is something a little different about making a career change at 40.

    When you are 40, you probably have lots of “responsibilities” that come into the decision-making process. What do I mean by responsibilities, you ask?

    Responsibilities tend to be our fears and self-doubt wrapped in a bow of logic and reason. You may say to yourself:

    • I have bills to pay and a family to support. Can I afford the risk associated with a career change?
    • What about the friends I have made over the years? I cannot just abandon them.
    • What if I do not like my career change as much as I thought I would? I could end up miserable and stuck in a worse situation.
    • My new career is so different than what I have been doing, I need additional training and certifications. Can I afford this additional expense and do I have the time recoup my investment?
    • The economy is not the best and there is so much uncertainty surrounding a new career. Maybe it would be better to wait until I retire from this company in 15 years, and then I can start something new.

    If you have experienced any of these thoughts, they will only pacify you for a short period of time. Whether that time is a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years.

    Since you know that you prefer to do something else for a living, you start to feel stagnant in your current position.

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    Your reasons for inaction that used to work are no longer doing the trick. What used to be a small fissure in your dissatisfaction in your current position is now a chasm.

    Ideally, you never stay in a situation until that point, but if you did, there is still hope.

    4 Tips To Change Your Career at 40

    You do not have to feel stagnant in your current role any longer. You can take steps to conquer your fears and self-doubt so you can accomplish your goal of changing your career.

    The challenge of changing your career is not knowing where to begin. That feeling of overwhelm and the fear of uncertainty is what keeps most people from moving forward.

    To help you successfully change your career at the age of 40, follow these four tips.

    1. Value Your Time Above Money

    There is nothing more valuable than your time. You are likely receiving a pay-check or two every month that is replenishing your income. Money is something you can always receive more of.

    When it comes to your time, when it is gone, it is gone. That is why waiting for the perfect situation to make a career change is the wrong mindset to have.

    Realistically, you will never find the perfect situation. There will always be something that could be better or a project you want to finish before you leave.

    By placing your time above money, you will maximize your opportunity to succeed and avoid stagnation.

    If you feel disconnected when you are at work, understand that you are not alone. According to a Gallup Poll, only 32% of U.S. employees said they were actively engaged at work.[1]

    Whether you think your talents are not being properly utilized, the politics of promotion stress you out, or you feel called to do something else with your life; the time to act is now.

    Do not wait until you retire in another 10 to 20 years to make a career change. Put a plan in place to make a career change now. You will thank yourself later.

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    2. Build a Network

    Making a career change is not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

    One benefit to being further along in your career is the people you associate with are further along in their career as well.

    Even if most of the people in your immediate network are not in your target industry, you never know the needs of the people with whom they associate.

    A friend of mine recently made a career change and entered the real estate industry. The first thing he did was tell everyone he knew that he was a licensed real estate agent.

    It was not as though he thought everyone he knew was getting ready to sell their home. He wanted to make sure he was in the front of our mind if we spoke to anyone purchasing or selling their home.

    You may have had a similar experience with a financial adviser canvasing the neighborhood. They wanted to let you know they were a local and licensed financial adviser. Whether you or someone you knew was shopping for an adviser, they wanted to make sure you thought of them first.

    The power of your network being further along in their career is they may be the hiring manager or decision-maker.

    You want to let people know you are considering a career move early in the process, so they are thinking of you when the need arises.

    Let me put it to you in the form of a question: When is the best time to let people know you have a snow shoveling business?

    In the summer when there is not a drop of snow on the ground.

    Let them know about your business in the summer. Then ask them if it is okay to keep in touch with them until the need arises. Then you want to spend the entire fall season cultivating and nurturing the relationship. As a result, when the winter comes around, they already know who is going to shovel their snow.

    If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, start throwing out those feelers before the need arises. Then you will be ahead of your competition who waited until the snow fell to start canvasing the neighborhood.

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    Learn about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

    3. Believe It Is Possible

    One of the greatest mistakes people make when they want to try something new, is they never talk to people living the life they want.

    If you only talk to friends who have not changed their career in 30 years, what kind of advice do you think they will give you? They are going to give you the advice that they live by. If they have spent 30 years in the same career, they most likely feel stability of career is essential to their life.

    In life, your actions often mirror your beliefs. Someone who wants to start a business should not ask for advice from someone who never started one.

    A person who never took the risk of starting a business is most likely risk adverse. Consequently, they are going to speak on the fact that most businesses fail within the first five years.

    Instead, if you talk to someone who is running a business, they will advice you on the difficulties of starting a business. However, they will also share with you how they overcame those difficulties, as well as the benefits of being a business owner.

    If you want to overcome your fears and self-doubt associated with changing your career at 40, you are going to need to talk to people who have successfully managed a career change.

    They are going to provide you a realistic perspective on the difficulties surrounding the endeavor, but they are also going to help you believe it is possible.

    Studies show the sources of your beliefs include,[2]

    “environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs.”

    By choosing to absorb the successes of others, you are choosing to believe you can change your career at 40. On the other hand, if you absorb the fears and doubts of others, you have chosen to succumb to your own fears and self-doubt.

    4. Put Yourself Out There

    You are most likely going to have to leave your comfort zone to make a career change at 40.

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    Reason-being, your comfort zone is built on the experiences you have lived thus far. So that means your current career is in your comfort zone.

    Even though you may be feeling stagnant and unproductive in your career, it is still your comfort zone. This helps explain why so many people are unwilling to pursue a career change.

    If you want to improve your prospects of launching your new career, you are going to need to attend industry events.

    Whether these events are local or a large conference that everyone attends, you want to make it a priority to go. Ideally you want to start with local events because they may be a more intimate setting.

    Many of these events have a professional development component where you can see what skill-sets, certification, and education people are looking for. Here you can find 17 best careers worth going back to school for at 40.

    You can almost survey the group and build your plan of action according to the responses you receive.

    The bonus of exposure to your new industry is you may find yourself getting lucky (when opportunity meets preparation) and creating a valuable relationship or landing an interview.

    Final Thoughts

    Whatever the reason, if you want to change your career, you owe it to yourself to do so. You have valuable in-sight from your current career that can help you position yourself above others.

    Start sharing your story and desire to change your career today. Attend industry events and build a mindset of belief. You have everything you need to accomplish your goal, you only need to take action.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/HY-Nr7GQs3k via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] News Gallup: Employee Engagement In US, Stagnant In 2015
    [2] Indian J Psychiatry: The Biochemistry Of Belief

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