Have you ever been in a situation when a friend of yours is in a terrible dating relationship that you can see clearly but they can’t? You can tell them precisely what is wrong with the person they are dating. Yet, they can’t see it? Why is that?
When something is troubling me, I often consult my inner circle and ask them what they would do in my situation. Why is that?
After I get a few opinions, I go through the Advice received and conclude how to resolve my problem. Because I don’t have the same perspectives my inner circle does, they help me uncover different ways of looking at the same situation. Often I’m grateful that I asked for their Advice because I would have made a big mistake had I not been able to see the same problem from a different perspective.
Advice provides you with a different perspective on the same situation.
4 Steps to Advance in your Career
There are four steps to advance in your career. Over the last two weeks, we reviewed Aspire and Assess. If you recall, Aspire is the first step to becoming a better version of yourself in your career. Assess is the second step where you learn to articulate your worth with massive confidence and conviction. Today, we concentrate on Advice.
Remember that friend in a bad relationship? Just as they can’t see the faults in the person they are dating; you can’t see your strengths or deficiencies. Sometimes you may not be giving yourself enough credit, and sometimes you may be giving yourself too much credit.
Seek Advice to view yourself in a new light.
Why focus on Advice? For two reasons:
- You want to gain insights into what other people did to advance their careers.
- You will request constructive criticism. In other words, you are collecting intel on yourself. You will interview a few people to uncover your blind spots.
Who exactly would you interview? People that know the quality of your work. This could include your manager, co-workers, and other leaders outside your department. Your goal is to learn about your leadership style, strengths, weaknesses, methods of operating, etc. You will be learning how other people see you that you can’t see for yourself. This exercise will help you uncover your blind spots.
The first thing you need to do is identify 8-10 people you trust and respect who are familiar with your work. If you meet regularly with your manager, you may not need to include them in this exercise because they would have already provided you with the feedback you need.
One terrific way to break the ice when you start the conversation is to ask the person to tell you how they got to their current position. Ask them to share the qualifications they think a good leader should have. People love talking about themselves. I can guarantee you that you will gain a golden nugget of information that you could apply to your career simply by listening.
These co-workers must be willing to help you by providing you with honest and constructive feedback. Most people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. Tell them that it’s perfectly ok for them to be candid, so they don’t hold back. By telling them that it’s ok to be direct, you grant them the permission they need to tell you the truth. You want to select people you respect because if you don’t, you may as well not do the exercise.
Schedule a meeting with at least one to two people per week so that it does not seem like an impossible task. Keep the session brief and respect the time limitation. The discussion should not be any longer than 20 minutes. Even if they tell you they can keep talking, let them know that you want to respect their time. They will certainly appreciate that.
Prepare for your conversation. Focus on developmental areas that you want to improve. Examples of developmental are leadership, communications, productivity, customer service, project management skills, conflict resolution, and organizational skills.
Make a list of questions that you can ask for each category. Three to five questions in each developmental area will be more than enough.
Here are some sample questions for leadership, communications, and productivity. Customize those sample questions to your specific situation.
Developmental Area – Leadership:
- What have you observed about my leadership skills with the team?
- Do you have any suggestions on how I can be more assertive?
Developmental Area – Productivity:
- How would you rate my productivity?
- How would you rate my problem-solving skills with the conversion project?
Developmental Area – Communications:
- Are my email communications with the customer effective?
- What part of my presenting skills could be more effective?
Be prepared to hear things that you may not like.
You need to employ a growth mindset in this situation. That means that any constructive criticism you receive will be turned into a tool for you to improve in that area of development.
Hence, the Advice you receive becomes an impactful tool that will help you advance in your career.
We are all human, and it always stings when someone tells us that we aren’t performing well. Fight against the urge to feel offended since you asked for the feedback. Brace yourself and be willing to hear whatever is thrown at you.
The biggest favor that you can do for yourself is to take action on the feedback that you receive.
Listen, receive and apply that feedback.
It will be essential for you to take notes. A great option is to ask permission to record the meeting so that you don’t have to worry about taking notes and you can be fully present with what they are saying. Then you can go back and listen to the recording carefully to digest the feedback in more detail.
After your meeting, make sure that you send your co-worker a thank you and recap what they said so they know that you were paying attention and that you didn’t waste their time.
Recap 8 action steps:
- Decide to seek Advice from co-workers.
- Identify 8-10 co-workers you trust and respect.
- Identify 2-3 developmental areas to focus on.
- Formulate several questions for each developmental area.
- Schedule the meeting for 20 minutes.
- Take notes or record the session.
- Listen, receive, and apply the feedback.
- Send a thank-you note to your co-worker with a brief recap of the feedback they provided you.
Rinse and repeat until you complete all your interviews.
You are now aware of the 8 steps on how advice can help you advance in your career. Remember that you are doing this to learn more about yourself and identify your blind spots.
I can guarantee you that you will learn a lot about yourself by doing this exercise. I’ll see you in the next and final installment of the 4 Steps to Advance in Your Career.
Be Brave. Be Bold. Take Action!