Who's Driving Your Career?

05/26/2010 02:39 pm 14:39:46 | Updated May 25, 2011

Dear Liz,

I loved your article "Is your job hurting your career?" although I don't love having something new to worry about! It's never occurred to me before that staying put in my job (but not growing professionally) could be a bad thing for me over the long term. I'm not going to job hunt, but I am going to look at building my skills, my contacts and my understanding of business (and people, and process) in this role, so that I don't go to sleep on the job. Thanks for a wake-up call!



Dear Gerry,

Some years ago, I was leading the HR function in a manufacturing company. The person in charge of Administration (copy centers, reception, facilities, security, safety) suggested that she come, function, team and all, into the HR department. She had been working under the VP of Operations but he was much more concerned with manufacturing than with her stuff. I talked to the VP of Ops and he was all for making the change. He had no interest in office furniture, lighting, training receptionists, and negotiating with travel vendors. I love that stuff!

So the VP of Ops and I went to the CEO together to suggest this organizational change, and our CEO said "Liz can't take this on. She is swamped with HR as it is." I gaped. I am swamped? Of course, I am swamped. All of us are swamped. He said, "If you want to take on this function, get some altitude, get out of the day-to-day." My defensive cells went on high alert. Easy for you to say! I have a huge workload, small staff, yada yada yada. These were all the thoughts that flooded through my brain.

Within 48 hours I realized my CEO was right on target. My job was running me, instead of the other way around. I made big changes in my routine. I began to let go of the I-must-fix-it mentality and the Superwoman persona. I started to focus on what was most important instead of what was right in front me, and above all I began to think "Where is my career going? Am I more skilled and more marketable now than I was six months ago?"

We call this perspective Career Altitude. Our workshop series has that name, because this is what we talk about in every workshop, whether the topic is using LinkedIn or becoming a consultant or getting a job now. From now on, we are driving the bus called My Career. Where will we take it?