If there is any place where you shouldn’t have to guess about things, it should be your job. But, what happens at work is that not enough information is openly shared and the work in itself is done through a “system” versus tailored to us individually, and we end up having to guess on some very important areas.
Here’s how to take some of the guessing out of your job and career:
- Am I doing a good job or not? If there is one thing we all are entitled, it is to know where we stand in the eyes of our manager and the company. Yet, most companies run a performance system that provides for “annual” feedback. So for most of the year, we may never know where we stand in relation to our performance. To stop guessing, go ask! Ask to have a sit-down meeting with your manager for a snapshot view of your performance as if she/he were giving your appraisal rating today. FYI, you may need to explain that you are asking because you want to be sure and improve and not have anyone (yourself mostly) disappointed at the end of the year.
- What does it really take to get promoted? Again, you need to sit down with your manager, and in this case, with your HR Leader, and ask for the specifics on what it takes to get to the next level in the company. Don’t be satisfied with the rote answers of high-performance and experience. Also ask about the cultural norms and practices that lead to being accepted and promoted within the organization. If it helps you, bring in the career specifics of someone who you aspire to be like and ask what it was about this person that got them moved up, and then ask if your career arc can be the same? If you get an affirmative, then ask for help in mapping out your plan.
- My best friend at work got laid off and I don’t understand why! Companies are not very forthright on why one individual gets let go and another stays. Some of this is due to respecting the rights of the individual who has left, but lots of times it hard to understand how a lay off makes sense in the greater scheme of things. That being said, you can learn much about the company and what is valued by studying who gets let go. Asking about what it is that causes someone to get asked to leave versus asked to stay is a legitimate question with answers you can learn from.
- Am I managing my career to my best potential? This is where some outside help is beneficial. It’s not hard to make comparisons of your schoolmates and others and look at their careers and say, “they have done better than me”. But, that doesn’t really help much. What you need is a trusted confidant/mentor who can look objectively at your career and talent and try to guide you in the best direction. Some of career progression is being in the right place at the right time, but getting to the right place comes from guidance, wisdom, connections, and having a plan. Find yourself a coach, mentor, or advisor to help you see the bigger picture and get your plan in place today.