Whether your career is going swimmingly or you are struggling with it, there are always ways to improve your career. However, I would say that for those of you who feel de-motivated at the moment the following tips might be more relevant. My recommendation to clients who want to seek a different career or job would always be to try your very best first; if that does not do the trick, take the next step and consider a career change as you must find how to improve your career effectively.
The following tips are aimed at those engaged in a “regular”, corporate job but can easily be applied to those who are self-employed; just think of any working relationship you engage in on a regular basis when I talk about “work relationships”.
Tip 1: Be very careful about the way you are communicating
Specially when giving feedback. How often do you sit through a presentation or a meeting, thinking: this is boring, irrelevant, poorly prepared, etc.? Do these emotions show when you provide feedback? I bet they do. While I don´t want to ask you to be dishonest and pretend you liked something you clearly didn´t, keep in mind that the presenters spent their time preparing and delivered to the best of their ability. The fact that it was not up your standards or liking does not mean the others viewed it the same way. To be a good communicator means to acknowledge everybody´s effort first and then express your disagreement or give honest feedback. If you manage to infuse even the most negative feedback with kindness, your opinions will be respected and appreciated. Being in this position on a consistent basis is a huge career enhancement.
Tip 2: Avoid taking on so much responsibility that you become a “martyr” in your job
For any career development it is important that you do your tasks diligently and don´t shy away from additional responsibilities. Be aware, though, to not take this willingness too far. When you start feeling that you do too much for others and that they take advantage of you, stop. Re-evaluate your position, re-define the responsibilities you are prepared to accept and then communicate your findings with those whom it might concern. If you do that in a very concise and non-defensive manner (see Tip 1), you will display nothing but pure leadership qualities and again, gain more respect than if you carry on, complain and eventually burn out.
Tip 3: Listening is as important as speaking
You might always be able to contribute with a relevant point and be “heard” in every discussion but if you don´t know how to listen, your career progression might be rather slow. Remember that most people like to be listened to and if you manage to satisfy that need, they will appreciate it. Beware, though, that you don´t overdo it (see Tip 2) and repeatedly miss your turn to talk. Finding the right balance between speaking and listening is a skill that requires mastering. Start by being aware of your ratio of talking versus listening and then proceed to balance it.