Sometimes a job doesn’t work out but it doesn’t mean your next job will also be a career disaster.
I was asked to provide my expert comment for GQ Magazine on what Brian Clough should have done following being sacked as manager of Leeds United and after Paul Gambaccini was dropped by the BBC after historical allegations. You can read my suggestions in July’s edition of GQ Magazine (pages 164/5).
Read the article here: How To Survive A Career Disaster
The process of reviewing what we did and learning from it is something that can be beneficial for all of us. Let’s look at what can be helpful:
Review performance on a regular basis
Ideally we get constructive feedback from other people as soon as we start in a job, but that doesn’t happen for different reasons. Some bosses are so busy that they don’t even notice how we are doing our job they just wait to see the results. Other times the feedback is so subtle that we don’t pick it up. Or we hear the feedback and don’t agree, so we ignore it. But this rarely is this best approach.
What happens is we think we are doing a good job, and look for evidence to support this. It could be that unless the feedback/ comments is provided in a very loud and obvious way we don’t pick it up and just concentrate on our interpretation of what we see/feel/hear. It could be something like saying to ourselves – “well, they never called me into the office, no one told me directly …” missing out on the subtler cues.
So we need to review our own performance.
I ask my clients who have got a new job to do a daily review of their work. What went well, what could have gone better. We often learn a smarter way of doing something (shortcuts on Excel, how to simplify a process, how to handle a challenging people situation). We can also consider our wider personal style considering questions such as
- How have I been tolerant?
- How have I been helpful?
- How have I been punctual?
- How have I anticipated?
- How have I been patient?
- How have I made suggestions?
- What I’ve learnt today (tasks, reading, people etc.)
And we can start this review before we start a new job
We have got the job offer, but we may know that some aspects may be more challenging – the presentations, being assertive, knowing we have sold ourselves as an Excel expert when we aren’t at that level. So between the job offer and the first day you can consider these 3 questions. I think it is useful to set up a table and make a note of anything we find difficult in column 1 and our suggestions in the next columns.
- What I find difficult to do?
- What action can I take?
- How can I increase my chance of success in this area?
We again can review our progress.
Sometimes the career disaster is about a lack of technical capability but often it is down to relationships.
Lisa was too nervous to speak up and say that she didn’t understand what to do. I worked with Lisa after she had been in her job for over 4 months, she was struggling, and was feeling anxious. If only she had asked for help in week 1 it would have been easy. Her boss or colleagues would have been happy to explain things to her, but so many months had gone by and to now ask the question …. It would make them question all the work she had already done.
Adam felt he should know everything so never asked for help. Pablo took a view that his way was best. Both of them would have kept their jobs if they had been more willing to communicate more. My work with both of them focused on understanding more about how to adapt to different people.
A knowledge of our own personality and the personality of others can be invaluable to understand how people differ and to use this to our advantage.
For example, the person who is more introverted will prefer to work quietly, and work through answers themselves. They are less likely to want to be interrupted and more likely to communicate by writing. It can be harder for them to pick up the phone in a noisy environment. The person who is more extraverted loves to talk and will prefer to sit and talk rather than reply to an email. Because they like to do their thinking out loud they will often want to talk with you right now and get you to provide your views there and then.
So this can lead to a miss-match of communication styles, and the more both people understand each other the easier it can be.
Evie the extravert needs to allow Ian the introvert time to digest a topic before talking, so to set up a time to talk so Ian can think things through. And Ian needs to be more ready to think on his feet and to be more open with a possible idea even if they would have rather taken a more considered view. So a good response could be “I’d like to give this some further thought, but a first idea could be …”
There are so many ways we can communicate better through knowledge of ourselves. One approach is to use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. Whilst you can get free versions these are at the ‘Step 1’ level. I use the more detailed ‘MBTI Step 2’ version.
The MBTI Step 2
The MBTI Step 1 provides details of your personal style and gives you one of 16 four letter codes, such as INTP.
If you hate the thought of being put in a box, the MBTI Step 2 helps you to understand the real depth of your MBTI results. I recommend it to everyone who is interested in personal development. There is nothing that compares to the richness of this assessment.
Each of the four scales has five subscales, resulting in over a million possible combinations. For example, Extravert-Introvert is made up of 5 sub-scales including Initiating-Receiving and Expressive-Contained. You need to take the MBTI Step 2 to see your subscale results.
MBTI Step 2 will help you understand more about yourself across these areas. The assessment comes with a 45-minute discussion and full colour report.
Interested? Then head over to my website to learn more and access details of all the subscales.