Career and Corporate Life Management Mentorship

Career and Corporate Life Management Mentorship is an integral part of the holistic human capital development, and yet most ignored by the working professionals. Over many years I have observed how so many professionals go through frustrations in corporate. Such could be avoided if they could engage corporate life mentors. We require mentors that have been there and seen it all. They will accompany corporate professionals through all the A to Z stages of their career lives. That is from deciding on the career direction, to the exiting stage.

What is concerning is that very few professionals see a need to have Career and Corporate Life Management Project that is informed by their life purpose. Many are caught napping when things do not go as expected. They find themselves reacting and in many cases the steps taken are misplaced.

A mentor will alert you, especially when everything seems to be happening smoothly and you are enjoying harmony. That is when you should be preparing for all the possibilities. This does not mean that we have to be paranoid. It is necessary to make our lives happen, rather than chasing after events when they have already happened. We must direct our lives as we wish them to be. There will be times when we do not succeed. But when we make a miss we will not fall far from our targets.

Career Management ought to be an activity from cradle to grave. The corporate life is just part of our bigger life journey. It should not be allowed to throw us out of balance and run havoc with our lives. It must add to our holistic life journey, and not become our journey by itself.

If we had a solid foundation early in our holistic human capital development, guided by our early life mentors, through to corporate and beyond, we ought to be victors in our journey. I have never heard of anyone who has succeeded in life without being assisted by others. We forget such mentors and supporters by choice and ignorance. But we are often reminded of such people when things fall apart. It is often difficult to go to them when we are in trouble, because we are ashamed that we cut connections with them. Mentorship must be a life-long practice, and be accessed through all our holistic human capital development stages.

The best gift for your mentors is to be successful in taking your life forward. The mistake you must not make is to think that you no longer need other people’s help, and you can make it on your own. Life will humble you. Everyone in your life is a gift and they matter until the end of your life.

Career and Corporate Life Management is not a straight line. However, we must master the following generic phases: career development education → enter first job → technician → admin → functional → specialist → supervisory → management → leadership → executive → directorship → board role → retirement → post retirement roles.

At any of the above stages one must be able to exit and take other opportunities that might present them. It is this detour that could throw one out of complete balance, or take one back and fro.

In many cases our career growth is disrupted by ourselves as a result of misreading unexpected developments. For example we resign from our current jobs thinking that we are accelerating our growth or maximizing our earnings, only to find that over a long-term we might have taken our growth ten steps backward.

On the other end the detour is necessary and could be a calling to enter entrepreneurship, self-employment, consultancy, academic, professional, and a complete career change. Such developments must be anticipated and find us ready when they happen. Sometimes the window of opportunity is so small and we must squeeze in momentarily.

Corporate life has its own dynamics. There are many sub-cultures that may not be obvious to us. We cannot be blind and naive to such complexities. Mentors are valuable in helping us deal with such dynamics.

Corporate savvy is what we all need to survive in corporate life. We must also know when we have become corporate change agents and play such roles with responsibility. Take strategic decision to influence the culture of your corporate progressively. If you are not cut out to handle corporate dynamics and complexities you must also be aware of your limitations. It is wise to accept your limitations and make decisive steps to take a different direction that enhances your career management project.

Do not leave your career and corporate life management to chances. Own up and be guided by your bigger purpose in life. Let your mentor be your daily partner. Invest personally in your mentorship program. The returns will surpass all the investments, efforts, and energies spend on your holistic career and corporate life management.

Your attitude to corporate politics, dynamics, and culture determines your success or failure. You decided to apply and join the corporate on your own. Nobody owes you anything. Be a player of the corporate game. Be the best at it. But remember you are not special. You owe it to yourself to be successful.

High Emotional Intelligence – Key to Career Advancement

Unknown and unrealized by many, emotional intelligence (EQ) is the foundation for most types of career advancement: pay raises, promotions, and new opportunities outside of your current company. EQ is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships with others. Very simply, if you don’t know what you are feeling and why you are feeling it, if you can’t control your feelings and corresponding behavior, if you can’t “read” people’s feelings, if you don’t interact appropriately with others, then be prepared to pay a big price. Studies show that, in general, persons with low EQ tend to be more stagnant in their careers.

Specifically, the quality of your relationships with others has the most significant impact upon career advancement. One way you can create high quality relationships is by bonding with people. Find a common denominator such as an interest, goal, or concern to both initiate and sustain a meaningful relationship with your boss, peers, and subordinates. Avoid being viewed as aloof. Separating yourself from others earns you a reputation of being a snob or antisocial. Keep in mind that folks find it difficult to relate to loners or individuals who appear to dismiss them.

You can enjoy quality relationships when you learn to make the most of all situations, no matter how challenging. Demonstrate that you are somebody others can count on to roll up your sleeves, dig in, and turn lemons into lemonade. Steer clear of chronic complaining. Instead, become a problem solver and a stress reliever. People notice this behavior and want to be around you. They view you as an asset rather than a liability.

Choosing to work with a colleague who annoys you shows that you are someone who can acknowledge your feelings but move beyond them for the sake of your company and the work that needs to get done. Prove to yourself and others that your priority is making excellent contributions, not serving as a slave to your emotions. Get in touch with what you need to do to manage your personal response to this colleague-and then do it. The point here is not to ignore your feelings but rather to control them. Try focusing on the talents and skills the other person brings to the table.

Quality relationships are also built by paying close attention to what you say and how you say it. Demeaning an employee who makes a mistake in front of a group of her peers is a quick way to kill several relationships all at once. While you may think you are right to correct someone, you are perceived as insensitive, rude, and pathetic by everybody watching the chastisement. Harsh words, profanity, verbal abuse, and an ugly tone generally sever whatever reasonable relationship you may have had prior to the incident.

If you navigate sticky interactions artfully, you are likely to strengthen the relationships you have with everyone in your work environment. Pause before responding to the other person’s remarks. Take time to understand the whole situation. Clarify what is still fuzzy. Ask appropriate questions. Express your own opinions with tact. Consider speaking more slowly, more softly, more evenly than usual. Be authentic, but respect the other individual whether or not you feel he deserves it.

It’s important to know that extreme outbursts of anger, envy, and frustration lessen your chances of any sort of career advancement. Learn to manage your fear, rage, stress and feelings of inadequacy. If you cannot do it on your own, then get the professional help you need. Inappropriate displays of strong emotion bring you nothing but pain and disappointment. Telling yourself that you will feel better if you “get it out of your system” is a message you ought to rethink. You may erupt and feel better, but those around you regard you as “out of control”. As a result, you lose their trust.

Another effective way to develop quality relationships is to communicate clearly and genuinely. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Be true to yourself while considering the other person at the same time. Avoid talking in circles. Avoid omitting necessary information. Avoid interjections of hurtful, unprofessional gossip. Remember that your communication represents YOU. What do you want it to say about you? What do you want others to think about you as they hear you talk all day long?

Finally, make a conscious effort to demonstrate empathy for the people around you. It’s not enough to care inwardly about their struggles, worries, and failures. You have to show them that you care. You have to tell them that their concerns matter to you. In short, let others see your humanity openly. A word of caution here: empathizing does not mean discussing a peer’s head cold for an hour in your office. It means acknowledging that the person doesn’t feel well today and perhaps asking how you may help to lighten her load until she recovers.

Employers are attracted to more than your technical skills and talents. Employers are attracted to your ability to establish rapport and build relationships that work. If you really think about it, quality relationships with people get your job done faster, easier, better in the long run. And when you can do that, you can bet that your career is on a track that moves you forward.

By Sylvia D. Hepler

Take Control of Your Career and Future Employment

Do you feel that your career is stagnating and you’ve resigned yourself to the fact of hoping that your employer will retain you on payroll in these uncertain times? Do you find yourself laying fault with the job market, the economy, or your employer for not advancing as quickly as you anticipated? Maybe it’s time to take a very hard but objective look at your skills and your work ethic. “The Economy is Changing, Jobs are Changing and the Workforce is Changing. Is America Ready? Rethinking Work” was the cover page of the special 65th anniversary issue of Businessweek magazine in October 17, 1994, celebrating 65 years of the American work ethic and how it has evolved through the decades. That article seems dated now, but the trend is perhaps more applicable than ever today.

Just take a look at the 401K plan which was first approved by Congress in 1974 and enacted in January 1980. Prior to the 401K, administration of a company sponsored pension plan was their administrative responsibility. With the advent of the 401K, corporations provided an opportunity for their employees to invest in a tax deferred savings plan for retirement, but there’s a caveat, you must manage the fund options yourself and how well you perform financially in the plan is your responsibility, not the employer. If you’re passive with administration of fund allocations, it will be reflected in the overall financial performance.

Many parents of, and baby boomers themselves, may have worked for a single employer for a number of years and as long as they performed satisfactorily, it invariably assured them of earning a guaranteed pension funded by their employer upon retirement. Loyalty and longevity seems synonymous. Whereas Generation X and subsequent generation workers found themselves thrust into a changing job market environment where loyalty to an employer became secondary, conditional, or not at all. The burden of your career and employment future is your responsibility and not theirs.

The Business Week 65th anniversary issue summed up the following two important axioms to ensure your potential for being successful and staying gainfully employed. It is an easy path to settle in a work comfort zone, devoid of challenges. The first axiom, you must stay in tune with the business climate in your industry, as it changes constantly. New ways of doing business, new technology, new equipment, new hardware, new software, and a new mentality are all part of the business realm. Read up on periodicals, trade magazines, or the web, if you prefer. If you choose to ignore them, you will surely relegate yourself to being placed on the “chopping block” when the employer experiences a downturn or re-assesses economic operations for cost savings. If your resolute, try to understand and embrace the changes in a positive manner with constructive criticism. Even then, it is important to follow company protocol for submitting any concerns or grievances.

The second axiom, stay in tune with the business technology and this cannot be stressed enough in today’s rapidly changing market. For example, it is practically a prerequisite that new hires possess a fairly solid working knowledge in the use of Microsoft Office applications. If you’re still stumbling with Excel or Word, please take the time and effort to brush up on those skills. These two applications are fundamental for any type of administrative and managerial positions. It will pay off in more ways than you can imagine.

Confront your supervisor and request a meeting to discuss how you may improve your skills in your current position. Does the company offer in-house training for hardware/software? If so, sign up and take advantage of the free training. If you have a better idea or a more effective way of doing things, be prepared to back it up with facts and numbers that clearly illustrate cost effectiveness or savings to the company, the type of ammunition corporate management is accustomed to viewing. You may be pleasantly surprised by your superior’s response and furthermore, he may view it positively with your taking the initiative to improve yourself, and save the company money without being prodded.

Re-invent or create a new position within the company or department. You would be amazed at how something so simple is sometimes oblivious to upper management. They are often times preoccupied with their responsibilities and may not view it from your perspective or at their level. Perhaps your current responsibilities have increased to the point it warrants the creation of a new or more applicable job description.

You must accept and embrace the fact that the burden of ensuring your continuing employment is your responsibility and not the employer, and that means staying current with the business climate, technology, and training. Cheaper, better, faster with quality results is the byline for solid economics. Added value is another. It’s what you bring to the table that justifies your salary.

If you’re not content with your current employment position, please take a hard look at where you are with your career and ask yourself, “what can I do to ensure that my career going forward is challenging, successful, rewarding, and beneficial to both me as well as the company?” You have nothing to lose and perhaps both of you may have a lot to gain.