In my role as a career coach, I meet many people who feel they are “stuck in a rut” in relation to their career. They are in a job where they feel they are not appreciated. In a recent survey, 79% of people who quit their jobs cite lack of appreciation as the main reason. Many people feel trapped in a career that is going nowhere. They may have been “passed over” for promotion. They believe they are in the wrong job.
What can they do to change this situation and mindset?
First of all, it’s a good time. There are plenty of opportunities out there. The challenge is to find what you are looking for. I am a great believer in the saying “Luck happens where preparation meets opportunity”.
It’s up to the individual to change things. They must take 100% responsibility for developing their career. Nobody else will do it for them. January is a great month for new beginnings and a time to give up all the excuses and start looking afresh at new possibilities and career options.
Coaching is all about enabling people to think better, to break out of self-limiting beliefs and habits and to come up with their own solutions. Asking the right questions is central to the process. Questions are by far the best way to support a person in the process of learning and discovery. The following are examples of key career coaching questions.
1. What kind of Career do you want?
What do you really love doing? I find many people do not know what they want in a career. There are a number of simple psychometric tests that will help in this regard.
2. What have you to offer?
How can you add value to an organisation?
What are your transferable skills?
What do you excel at? I find most people are blissfully unaware of their depth of knowledge, the skills they possess and their personal qualities or attributes. It is critical to have confidence in what you can offer. A good CV is an obvious staring point. The good news is that other organisations may value what a person can offer far more than the organisation the person works for at present.
3. What roles do people with you skill sets fill?
Be creative. Look around and see what other people with similar skills and qualifications are doing. What roles in particular would suit and energise you?
4. What organisations would value those skill sets?
What kind of organisation will provide the working environment for you to flourish in? Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, in a ground breaking study of successful people in the 1950’s, came up with a model called the Hierarchy of Needs. Table 1 shows the Maslow’s theory with the basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid. The model suggests our most basic need is for food and water. We care for little else until this need is met. Then we begin to concern ourselves with shelter, clothing and safety. As we climb up the pyramid – we begin to focus on our social needs, we begin to look for recognition. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualisation where we our focus is on setting and achieving goals, having choice in our work and having purpose and meaning in our lives.
This model is still relevant in the world of work and in the box on the left hand side of the pyramid; I have attempted to apply Maslow’s theory to the important motivators at work today.
5. Can you start working on your Career Plan?
Write it down!! The power of capturing our best thinking on paper should not be underestimated. We all have good ideas from time to time but most are in our heads and become dislodged easily with the daily challenge of life.
6. Who will support you?
When a person has finished writing down his/her vision, sharing the vision with a friend who will be positive and supportive is powerful - the plan will then appear more realistic and attainable. A good career coach is a valuable partner on the journey, offering guidance, support and encouragement.