Guest blog by Adrian Evans
I recall the time when I was a middle manager, responsible for ten people and managing a large client base. I was having to meet the demands of the board, my team and customers, as well as balance it all with a family life. The truth was, I was being squeezed from all sides. I felt like the 'meat in the sandwich'. All the responsibility and none of the autonomy.
The tipping point for me was when one of the board members said to me “your career is in these hands”. I felt trapped. For those who know me well, I don’t tend to lie down - I come out fighting. That was it, no single paymaster would ever again be responsible for my career and my family’s income. Companies spend much time and effort on developing their mission statement, brand and story. I have seen many, very talented professionals use story telling as a tool to engage their employees and stakeholders. But I regularly see the same individuals fail to be proud of their own back story and neglect to create their own forward story. I bet you have helped many other people create and improve their story.
What about your story? You don’t have the time?
Well if you don’t find the time, you’d best be prepared for the inevitable ‘tap on the shoulder’. I see it almost daily - over achieving professionals who are presented with a settlement agreement to shut up and leave an organisation for spurious business reasons.
I acknowledge this presents opportunity. But, does being let go hurt and knock your self-confidence?
I urge you to take the simple - but not so easy - steps to create your story, the one that stands outside of your employer. Just like the former me, I see many people gripped by fear and uncertainty. With a lifestyle to maintain and mortgage to pay, you can’t just follow your passion.
As Reid Hoffman (Venture Capitalist - early investor in Facebook and co-founder of LinkedIn) describes in the book ‘The Alliance’:
"the employer-employee relationship is based on a dishonest conversation... you're on a ninety-day probation period, and even after that, you'll be an 'at will' employee."
Employers expect: loyalty and flexibility in your approach to any change of circumstance, whilst you over deliver to their shareholders…In my experience, many leaders actually seem proud of their ability to be tough and not show any emotion (particularly in technology and finance). How brave of them. Well, don’t expect to build trust with employees.
How do you take control of your career destiny?
Many headlines have been made of George Osborne’s appointment as the editor of the Evening Standard. Some have questioned his ability to effectively multi-task this role with each of his others:
I remember the first time I saw Osborne speak, I felt sorry for him because he was so bad. He was mumbling words and was just incapable of engaging the audience. Watching him several years later at the IOD annual conference, the improvement was dramatic. He had been coached to this change. I don’t present this as a political statement but rather to highlight the fact he has a very successful portfolio career. He has more than one paymaster and is certainly in control of his career. The good news is that we are in 2017 and you don’t have to be one of the ‘privileged few’ to have the same level of control over your career. I have successfully worked with many of my clients to leverage their latent talents to create opportunities and additional income streams:
These clients now own their career destiny. Gaining the confidence to explore outside of your comfort zone is a priceless commodity.
Fed up of baking somebody else’s daily bread?
- Never have only one paymaster; it's the root of your fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Contributed by Adrian Evans - Career Agent and Founder of Accelerated Career Results