Directing Your Career; Some Assembly Required

by Bornheimer, Kathy Thursday, July 06, 2006
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Some assembly required; dreaded words by most people when they purchase items. The easy to follow instructions are not always easy and some people struggle with this if there are more than three steps and seven components. The some assembly required is necessary to effectively manage your career and can have more than three steps and seven components. Remember your goal here is to be where you want to be when you want to be there. Satisfying employment is your target, not just having a job.

One of your major components is your immediate supervisor. This article focuses on this component and is an elaboration on the chapter with the same title in The Street Smart Approach to Job Search. The key area of this material is how to work with your supervisor so that he/she can be your best resource for the desired direction of your career. Here are some ideas to develop win-win scenarios:

    Remember to bring up your accomplishments. This is not “ain’t I wonderful” nagging. Provide your boss with update memos as to progress and achievements. This is actually a good tool for the boss. You have laid everything out for them to make their role in the annual performance review easier. Keep a hard copy for yourself as back up.

    Lead by example. Have your actions speak louder than words. Congratulate them on “their job well done”. They do not always hear it from their supervisor. Many managers/supervisors are sandwiched between those who report to them and their bosses. Often they’re susceptible to pressure from both ends.

    Commend your peers in front of the boss when they do well. Your success is often determined by team effort. You’ll be increasing their positive contributions by recognizing their achievements.

    Be direct. Women often struggle with this approach both as the sender and receiver. Don’t allude to the facts and then complain “I just don’t know why they don’t get it!”. There are very few good mind readers out there.

    Ask for guidance. If you approach your manager with specific requests or guidelines you will be asking for what you need to help everyone succeed. Often bosses are inherited not chosen. Retirements, company restructuring, promotions, etc. are factors in reporting to someone different than when you took the job. Some managers are not provided guidance or effectiveness training by the company. Yes, it’s up to you then to help them out. You are focusing on win-win situations.

    Go to lunch with the boss off premise. What you’re considering here is an atmosphere where both of you can be more relaxed and yourselves. You’ll also be able to get away with a longer lunch since they’re with you! Establish a relationship of mutual benefit and honesty for future situations. If you can rely on each other in hard times, you’ll both get what you want and need.

    Be sympathetic when they are on the receiving end of stress. Empathize with their plight and offer assistance. This could be workload or just morale support.

    Require honest feedback from your boss in writing and keep copies in your own “personnel file” at home. This is not paranoia! If it’s not in writing; it didn’t happen. You can not change or improve on your performance if you’re not aware of things. This feedback is necessary for the good and the not so good news.

    Keep refining your abilities to be an effective communicator. This skill definitely determines success. Discuss projects, provide updates and set goals on a regular basis.

    Find common ground on priorities and make sure that you and your boss are on the same page. This item is accumulative from several of the previous points.
Communication, honesty and an objective of mutual benefit for all are the goals here. No one succeeds completely on their own; someone else helped them (directly or indirectly). Having allies in your plan for career success increases the odds of you being where you want to be and when you want to be there.