We invest in property, in markets and in relationships with loved ones; we generally invest (or at least aspire to) in our health. But how many of us invest in our career development? For most Australians, our jobs are our prime source of income. Could you be getting a better return?
Let’s say we work for 55 years of our lives, less 2 weeks each year, that’s 12,925 days. Of course there will be some sick days, some extended holidays and perhaps a maternity / carers / study leave block. Consider your average hours spent at work, hours in transit and the hours spent awake at night or contemplating work over the weekend. We spend the majority of our waking hours either doing or thinking about our jobs. How many hours is that for you?
Lots of our time is consumed by work and our income is dependent upon it: let’s talk about some investments to help you maximise it.
Whatever your industry, and no matter your job discipline, you will need to speak with others to be effective. Those who can communicate effectively are better decision makers, managers, service providers, carers, influencers and are better at excelling in their careers.
Ideally you want to be a good listener and a great storyteller – with the ability to be concise when it’s called for! Jonathan Champ, one of the region’s leading communication experts is a stellar conduit to sound, practical tips – such this one on Manterruptions.
Powerful presentations of any length start and finish with great communication. Many organisations offer internal training programs on effective communication or public speaking courses. If yours does: take it up. Make the time.
The Magic of Mentors
Mentors are widely attributed as playing a central role in great successes (Oprah Winfrey and Sir Richard Branson spring to mind). That’s great for business owners and well-connected types, but how can a mentor help your career develop? A mentor is someone you can go to for objective, honest advice in a particular area. You don’t need to aspire to all of a person’s characteristics to mutually benefit from a mentor relationship.
Consider a great boss you have worked with in the past, or a cross-functional leader you’re inspired by. More broadly it’s worth the time to actively look for people who have great strengths either in areas that are gaps for you, or that share your areas of strength but have been better able to leverage them.
Get A Coach
What will a good coach do for you? First they’ll get you to identify your ideal and emerging skill sets, your happiness trends and your priorities.
When you’ve identified your bliss, it’s much easier to chase.
A Specialist Career Coach is excellent for helping with milestone skills, like setting your direction, resumes and interview preparation. Executive Coaches tend to specialise in capability-specific career development. In Performance, Development, Leadership or Communication Coaching, the focus is on helping you to close the gaps between where you are and where you would like to be, either through helping you bridge weaknesses or leverage your strengths. They will get you to tap into your past experience and collective learning, applying them to the situation at hand.
A coach is an objective supporter who can rapidly speed up specific skills development and keep your goals on track. The first coach I saw dramatically impacted my life for the better. In a working world of conflicting priorities and deadlines, I’ve seen first hand that a great coach can quickly and lastingly transport individuals from lost and frustrated, to focused, balanced and hungry.
Communication is a powerful career enhancer whatever role you’re in. Mentors and Coaches will help you find you path, identify your gaps and leverage points and keep you on track in chasing your career dreams. How different will your career be without that?
Many organisations offer these resources internally or have options to fund external programs. If they don’t, let me return you to my opening point. Your time is heavily consumed by your career and your income is reliant upon it. Invest a little time and money along the way and make your career work FOR you.
Catherine Nolan is Director and Principle Coach of CN Consulting. Working with organisations, with individuals and through key note speaking engagements across Australia, Catherine enables businesses to get the best from employees and people to live their best possible career. Catherine’s great passion is ‘a competitive edge’ for women through her new venture, Gender Gap Gone.