Changing workplace requires you to alter your career outlook

Remember all the lessons you learned about the workplace when you were just starting out? Things are changing fast and many old beliefs just don’t work anymore. Here is a new spin on some of the old favorites:

· Get a job in a safe, secure company and your career will be set.

There are no "secure" jobs or companies anymore. Every industry is changing, and you would be wise to work on becoming employable for life instead of worrying about being employed for life.

· Loyalty and dedication are what companies want.

Loyalty and dedication are nice but without up-to-date skills, the company won’t be gaining much. We all know people who have "retired" on the job and forgot to leave. Staying on a job a long time is only of value to a company if you continue to grow and contribute to the bottom line. If you aren’t, you’re only an overhead expense.

· Moving up is the career goal of choice.

Not anymore. In fact, many technical performers don’t want to move up to a manager’s job. They know that they are marketable as a technical specialist and they don’t want the added responsibility. There is growing awareness that moving sideways will broaden your skills and make you more valuable whether you move up or not. Task forces and committee work can add new dimensions to a job. And more companies are using job rotations to expand job responsibilities without upward promotions.

· Moving from technical specialist to manager is how you get ahead.

The big mistake most companies make is to take their best technical people and make them managers—whether they are suited for it or not. The result? The person who was promoted often wishes he or she could go back to the job they really liked. Unfortunately, their employees suffer, too. Enlightened companies are starting to create more technical promotions for people who want higher level projects or more project management experience but don’t want to manage people full-time.

· Your company will notice you and promote you after you’ve earned your stripes.

If you’re career philosophy is to keep your nose to the grindstone for years in the hopes someone will notice you, you will be sorely disappointed. Although earning your stripes still makes sense, it’s taken on new meaning. You need to take on as much responsibility as you can outside of your job description before you can expect to be promoted. Today, there is so much opportunity and companies are changing so fast, it’s unrealistic to sit tight and hope for the best.

· Be careful about coaching employees about their careers; they may leave.

They are going to leave anyway, so why not get the most out of them while you have them? If you spend time finding out what they want and helping them grow, you will likely create more motivated employees who might even stay longer. And if they do stay and go to work elsewhere in the company, you will have strong allies who can enhance your reputation as a leader.

· The best strategy in turbulent times is to keep your head down and try to protect your turf.

Duck and cover may be your instinct, but fight it. You need to be on target so you don’t become a target. And the best way to do it is to jump into the changes with a positive attitude and a nose for opportunity. Raise your hand for new projects and speak up in meetings. Look for ways you can help the company and yourself.

· Knowledge is power.

I think this is only partly true. I think sharing knowledge is power. If you hoard knowledge in the hope of becoming indispensable you will become a liability for your company. If you share what you know with others, you become an asset.

· The key to getting ahead is to know your job inside and out.

That is fine for starters, but you better know the big picture, too. Do you understand the company’s business process from front to back? Do you understand what the other departments do and how your department plays a part in the bigger scheme of things? If you do, you are in an excellent position to add value to the company and move up in the process.

· Find out what career path your company has and get on it.

What career path? Very few companies even talk about the proverbial career path anymore. They know that it can look different for each person. You need to make your own career path and build it from your own skills and interests.

· If there are changes in the company that don’t make sense to you, pretend to go along so you aren’t labeled "negative."

If you don’t understand the changes in your organization, don’t complain about it; find out what is going on. Keep asking until you have enough of the "why" to make up your own mind. Pretending is the coward’s way out and it seldom works anyway.

· It’s who you know, not what you know that counts.

While that still may be true in some circles, I think it’s who you know plus what you know, as well as who knows you. Worry less about being modest and focus more on letting people know what you are working on and the results you are achieving.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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