Fearing job loss?
The fear is real and it has no relationship to your abilities. The solution is staying outside of your comfort zone. Comfort means complacency and stagnation. So take ownership of your fears and control over your future. Look for incremental continuing improvements in your skill levels and competencies.
Look three months back, current situation, and three months forward and do this regularly. Ask yourself, “What new skill have I learned; how have they added value; what are the skill gaps? Growth requires work, often on your own time and this means sacrifice. Sacrifice encourages avoidance. Are your job challenges due to skill gaps? Are you given opportunities but avoiding them due to the difficulties and challenges? Do you feel you are not ready?
These questions are a signal for an opportunity that can be missed. I do this assessment daily rather than monthly and it has always resulted in opportunities, new knowledge, skills and promotions. Focus on stretch goals that are outside of your comfort zone.
Personal business model canvass
You can also use variations of business tools to help you. For example, why not adapt the Business Model Canvas from Alexander Osterwalder with your five key career areas and then update the canvas weekly to demonstrate progress. Topic areas could include:
1) SMART Career goals (SMART=Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound)
2) SMART Relationships (how will you grow your relationships?)
3) SMART Communications (how are you messaging in your social networks, journals, newsletters?)
4) SMART Skills (how are you assessing and then growing your skills?)
5) SMART Knowledge (how are you growing your business and domain knowledge?)
6) SMART Contributions (how are you contributing to the business, industry, education, society, profession)?
Using a self-SWOT analysis?
In organizations, a SWOT analysis is a mainstay of effective planning. Why not apply this process to your career?
A SWOT analysis is a process successful organizations do regularly to ensure growth, differentiation, and competitiveness. The same principles apply to personal career growth and make an effective tool as well.
Your personal Strengths, Weakness-this is the SW part of (SW)OT. Your personal Opportunities and Threats are the OT part of SW(OT). You can use the Personal Business Model Canvass as a starting point of assessment areas.
The terms Strengths, Weaknesses make sense. However external Opportunities and Threats require further explanation. First, “external” means coming from the environment around you. External opportunities are events, trends and changes that allow you to grow. For example, the trend towards big data, BYOD, mobile first, enterprise architecture and social media connection is an opportunity. The new technologies are opportunities. The importance of alignment with business processes, business benefit analysis, business architecture, innovation, overall business and industry knowledge is an opportunity. Large ongoing retirements in senior IT ranks are opportunities. Opportunities can appear as threats to you since they require involve change. However, “change” means staying away from job complacency.
Career stalling disruptive forces are threats and can be technological, economic, political, environmental … there are no limits. Cloud computing is a threat to technical specialists but also an opportunity to gain new skills. Economic downturns in certain industry sectors is a threat but an opportunity to focus on efficiencies. This can be a catalyst to move into other verticals.
The key is to match your personal strengths against new external opportunities. If there are new opportunities that you can’t take advantage of since you don’t have the required skills, then the skills you lack are weaknesses. I recommend working on overcoming these weaknesses so they become strengths. You should work on reducing or countering external threats. The prior shift to outsourcing was a threat. To reduce this, successful IT professionals acquired skills in areas that were difficult to outsource such as those that were mission critical to their organization.
A SWOT example
Mary, an IT pro, is great at acquiring new skills since she has to stay current with constantly evolving IT trends. This is a strength. Ethics is rapidly growing as a mandate and is evidenced in announcements from the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) and the United Nations in this area. There is rapid movement towards a business focus in IT roles. These are external opportunities. Mary takes courses in business and works towards her CIPS I.S.P. to take advantage of these new opportunities. Mary is reluctant to interface with business workers and has difficulty in making presentations. This is a weakness so she starts taking courses in communications, and joins a speaking club where she can improve her skills.
In her job when there’s a request to make a presentation before business managers, she volunteers. Mary is applying her newly conquered weakness to these opportunities so she can gain recognition outside of her specialist domain. She also gets recognition before management that she want to move into more senior roles. 60 per cent of IT specialist jobs are being eliminated. This is an eternal threat so Mary looks to broadening her skill set outside of the specialist area and starts studying business process management. Mary conducts this self-assessment every week and makes the necessary changes to move her closer to her goals.
I want to hear from you in the space below. What are your career tips, lessons and experiences? What are your job and career challenges?