Sunday, September 18, 2011

To Move On or Not To Move On...That Is The Question

Okay, so I took a couple liberties on a famous quote. On the other hand, today this is the question - when is it time to move on in your career?

As is the case with most, we often struggle with balancing when we take a risk and move on to another position and/or company. Sometimes the decision is easy. For example, you're not happy in your current job, are not being rewarded appropriately, poor pay, bad atmosphere, weak job-fit match. Typically, these reasons make a job change a little easier to determine and take the risk. There could be several other contributing factors, but these are some high profile reasons that people change positions from a negative perspective.

On another, more positive note, the decision may not always be as easy. Sometimes we enjoy what we're doing, who we're working with/for, how we're being recognized, opportunities that come up, the team we lead, etc. When this is the case, loyalty to your current position and team can play a large part in your decision-making. When things are good, they're good.

As a good, loyal employee, you don't want to be seen as the "ladder climber" throwing all else aside, you don't want to be seen as a job hopper to future bosses/companies, and of course you don't want your team to feel abandoned.

I don't have any concrete answers on this question, but here are some things to take into consideration:
1. Communication. If your boss and other trusted people around you know your genuine goals, you can mitigate negative perceptions if you do decide to move on to another position.
2. Next Best Thing. Don't make a job change just to get the next best thing. Be conscious and deliberate about the decisions you're making.
3. Pros and Cons. Whether you like or dislike your current position, it is always helpful to put together a list of pros and cons for any changes under consideration. This will allow you to look more objectively at the possible changes to make a more informed decision.
4. Be selfish. At some point in your career, you will have to be selfish. Of course balancing out the opportunities in front of you with your current position is important. Sometimes, though, you will have to simply throw all else to the side and be selfish making the best decision for you, your career, and your future. You can't regret looking out for your own development.

This is the evolution of careers. It's the good, the bad and the ugly that must all be known to be successful on your career journey.

What do you think? Anything else that we should be considering when facing these decisions?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Cry of the Young Professional: I Want a Better Work-Life Balance

I’m not even sure what work-life balance is, but I’m pretty sure mine needs to be balanced. I know I work and I know that I have a life, but recently it just seems that I’m “working for the weekend”. And when I get there, it’s never long enough. During the week, I get up, go to work, come home, eat, go to sleep and then do it all over again. So boring, so routine. Makes me wonder how I’m ever supposed to change this routine – especially if I need to work so I can have money for the weekend!

Recently I heard about a concept called the Cycle of Sacrifice and Renewal1 that really stuck with me. When we go through a busy time at work (putting out fires all day, early mornings, late nights, dealing with sick kids, etc), we are in a period of “Sacrifice”. That is, we are sacrificing our emotions and “giving them up” and focusing all energy on the task at hand until it’s done. When we are done, we are exhausted, drained, and full of negative energy. Then the weekend comes along, and maybe we go out to dinner with friends, play with the kids, read a book for an hour (fat chance if you have kids!) or visit a relative. These are periods of “Renewal”. They are times when we are relaxed, having fun, laughing, and getting lots of positive energy. However, 2 Renewal days vs. 5 days of hardcore Sacrifice really don’t balance each other out, do they? This is why we walk around “stressed” and “exhausted” all the time. Makes sense, huh.

The theory is we need at least 3 periods of “Renewal” to counter-balance just 1 period of “Sacrifice”. I’m pretty sure the theory does NOT recommend that you work 1 day and then take 3 days off or anything like that (although that would be nice). Renewal periods are defined as events we participate in that last more than 15 minutes and contain positive energy- like happiness, hope, laughing, and feeling joy. These Renewal periods can actually come in bursts and you can even have them the same day that you have a Sacrifice period. A Renewal could be going to lunch with an old friend, having a brief but uplifting phone call with a relative, sharing a funny or positive story with a coworker, or sitting down to breakfast with your kids before work. What is important is that we are AWARE of when we are in a Sacrifice period and AWARE of when we are having a Renewal period so that we can help keep ourselves in balance.

Learning that these types of feelings that I have (working and feeling drained and then having fun on the weekends only to return to working and feeling drained), are actually defined and that there are professionals who spent all day long thinking about it really helped me understand that there is a bit of science to all of this. And that there is hope- there is a way to get out of the vicious daily stress cycle. The first step is realizing what you personally need to balance it all out, and then the second step is acting on it. So I wrote down the times I felt Sacrifice in one week and the times I felt Renewed. Then I counted them up…and it seems my work-life balance is indeed a little out of whack. I am currently working on this and acting on it….trying to get busy laughing, playing and “renewing”. This is just week one. Stay tuned for results!

1 Richard E. Boyatsis and Annie McKee, 2009, Resonant Leadership

Post created by Alexis Rizopulos

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Networking is a Necessity

Networking...AHHHH! Such an often fearful topic among young professionals. We like hanging out with our friends, shooting the breeze, very informal. In my opinion, networking is a very deliberate act. You have to seek out what events to go to and who you should be talking to. In our current busy lives trying to balance career, family and social lives seems to be enough, then we have to add this element of networking to help enhance our career. I think this gets pushed to the back burner more often than not because it takes work and is not that comfortable of a situation.

As a young professional, as a human, we consistently look at a situation and apply the WIIFM concept - What's In It For Me? Networking has huge benefits. Here are a few:
1. Make connections - This helps establish you in our industry or obtain new customers by getting leads.
2. Build knowledge and skills - You can learn from others in your field or parallel fields in order to boost your own knowledge and skill level.
3. Sounding board - By meeting new people, you have additional minds that you may leverage as a sounding board in your own career or situations with which you may be dealing.

These are just a few benefits with so many more to be named. Additionally, life is unexpected. You may have a planned or unplanned change in your career. By networking, you have a web of people to reach out to about new career opportunities.

A shameless plug - my cousin is a Career Coach and Counselor (I have attached her LinkedIn address). She is the one that inspired this blog as she recently posted an article about networking without wearing out your welcome. I have attached the article's link below as well. This includes great tips about how to leverage your network.

What networks are you a part of? How do you choose? What benefits have you gotten from these? Please comment! We can all use each other's insight on this topic.