The workplace has changed dramatically in the 21st century. Surprised? Of course not. You’ve been hearing terms like empowerment, cross-training, entrepreneurship, reengineering, and downsizing, and so on for quite some time. Like most people who have spent even a minimum amount of time in the workplace, you’ve probably experienced and lived through one or more of the actions listed above.
But who is deciding how such actions affect you or your business? Believe it or not, most employees, managers, and business owners are still content to merely react to changes that impact them without really thinking about the long-term consequences. They are under the mistaken impression that the company, government, or someone else, will look out for them and their careers or business.
But the workplace has changed dramatically: unless you become proactive and self-reliant in your career or business, you will at some point get a surprise, and it probably won’t be a pleasant one.
Think back on the last few years of your work history. What have been the greatest changes and challenges? What has impacted your business or career the most? Have you received the raises, promotions, or profits you deserve? It is important to answer and take action on these questions to gain control of your destiny in the workplace.
Begin by taking a hard look at where you began in your career and where you intended to go from that point. To perform an effective self-assessment, you must be honest with yourself and ask yourself some tough questions.
Are you continuing to progress in your career? If you are a business owner, have you consistently met your projections? Are you serving clients and customers as well as you intended to when you began your business? Is your company growing and vital, or is it beginning to fall behind the competition? If you haven’t attained the position, salary, net profits, or status you had once hoped for, why not? What are the factors or influences holding you back? And perhaps the toughest question of all: Are you really doing the type of work that you want to do? Are you in the right field or industry? If not, it is time to begin evaluating what it would take to shift to an area that you really want to be in.
Once you know what your strengths or motivated skills are, that knowledge sticks with you. It gives you greater freedom to choose the activities you are willing to undertake. It also increases your ability to cope with things you have to do but don’t enjoy.
This type of self-evaluation is not easy to do, but it is vital in assessing where you are and where you want to be with regard to your career or business. It will give you a taste of so many different things that are available to you. By performing a rigorous self-assessment of what you can do and match those things with what you want to do, your options will increase dramatically and will be more attainable.
Once you have performed a career check up, you will have a clearer picture of where you currently are and you’ll have some ideas on where you want to go in your business career. The next stage in taking control of your career is renewing your personal quest toward what it is you really want to do.
Easier said than done, right? But it’s not as difficult as you might think. It comes back to simple goal setting techniques. Are your career or business goals, clear, realistic, and attainable? This isn’t the time to sabotage yourself with far-out ideas and impractical strategies. This is the planning stage where you can regain lost ground or continue to progress in your chosen direction.
Studies show that the minority of people who are sure of what they want to do, succeed at it. But the problem is that the majority of people, don’t know what they want to do in regard to their career or business endeavors. Most people entered fields they are currently in through a vague expectation of where it would lead them. Many people continue to get into fields or start businesses as a result of someone else’s suggestions, rather than basing such decisions on solid research and information of what to expect. The key in this stage of taking control of your career is to begin to take action on your own behalf.
Decide where you want to go within the company you work for or how you want your business to grow. Begin today to strategically plan for where and what you want to be tomorrow. Put together written plans for one, five, and ten years that are realistic, flexible, and attainable. For most people, it’s deciding what you want that is the hard part.
Simply performing a career check up and renewing your career quest is not enough to ensure that your business will prosper or that you will stay employed. Increasing competitiveness at the national and global levels makes it an employer’s, rather than an employee’s market. The Law of supply and demand suggests that there are many more qualified workers than there are attractive positions available. Therefore, employers are able to pick and choose which employees they will hire.
The same is true for business owners. As more new businesses enter the marketplace, competition for products and services increases in direct proportion. In other words, the business owner is faced with a buyer’s market for the products or services he or she is selling, which makes it that much more important to know where his or her business fits.
To remain marketable and competitive it is critical that employees and entrepreneurs maintain top-notch skills. This often means you must continue learning about every facet of your profession or business. Adopting a “learning how to learn" and “lifelong learning" mindset related to your career area or your business market is crucial in being able to take control of your career.
The dynamic nature of the workplace also encourages industry to hire employees who exhibit not only specific job-related abilities but also process “transitional" and “transferable skills". These are skills and abilities that a person can transfer from one job or activity to another. Whether you are an employee of a company or the owner of a company that hires employees, it is important to know what these transferable skills are and how they apply to your career or business area.
Interpersonal skills are important for you to possess. You must be able to work on teams, teach others, serve customers, lead, negotiate, and work well with people from culturally diverse backgrounds. You must have a good working knowledge of technology. We are living in the Information Age, so you must be able to work with computers, use different software, and be able to use the Internet.
Some other important skills that are transferable that you must possess are the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. You must also possess higher level thinking skills, such as the ability to critically learn, to reason, to think creatively, to make decisions, and to define and solve complex problems. Lastly, whether you are an employee, manager, or business owner; you won’t get very far in the workplace today without the personal qualities of individual responsibility, self-esteem, self-management, and integrity.
Keeping pace with the changes in the marketplace is a key element in insuring survival and success in the workplace for individuals and companies. The pace of change will only accelerate in the coming years. Businesses will only be able to differentiate themselves by their ability to provide quality services at competitive prices, and the pressure to provide quality at a low cost is going to increase every year. Organizations and individuals must adopt this mindset or they are going to have a very difficult time in future workplace.
Adding a component of personal and professional development into your career development plan will ensure that you gain or maintain the specific and transferable skills required to keep you or your company marketable in the changing business environment.
Taking control of your career will not only ensure that you or your business will survive the inevitable changes in the workplace, it will also increase your level of satisfaction in your chosen career. And since we spend a great amount of time working, what’s wrong with choosing what we want to do, being in control of our destiny, and being happy? Not a thing! Good luck.
Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many of America’s largest corporations, on the subjects of leadership, self-esteem, goals, achievement, and success psychology.
Reach Joe at: email@example.com
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