Recently I asked a senior leader what he’s noticing in his company’s Zoom and Slack community. What he said broke my heart a little. He said that of the 40 people he deals with on a regular basis, the same handful participate regularly in Slack or on Zoom meetings. Another handful almost never speak up and worse, they call in from a phone and no one sees their face. He said it seems like they’re using WFH to hide out.
In June another corporate client asked me to do a session for 100 mid-level managers ahead of their mid-year reviews. A lot of their managers were feeling uncomfortable asking about promotions and career advancement when there’s so much suffering going on. To that company’s credit, they wanted me to talk about how to have a career conversation with your boss — because they want their managers to keep growing.
The net-net of it is that the Great Pause doesn’t have to be a time to put career management or professional development on hold. Here are a few ideas to help keep you and your team on track:
Brand yourself: Keep sharing what you are up to and what you are focused on. It’s important that others in the organization now what you want and where you feel you can contribute. This year your organization might not be able to accommodate your request, but knowing your goals will help them help you when they can.
Executive presence and leadership: If there are areas of weakness or skill-building that you have wanted to work on, keep it up. One of my favorite sources for growing as a leader is The Next Level by Scott Elbin. Another great source is the Center for Creative Leadership. As ambiguity and uncertainty increase, your ability to work well in changing teams, or your ability to lead a highly collaborative team will be a huge factor in your success.
Know who the key decision makers are and build relationships with them: In Expect to Win, Carla Harris talks about the importance of mentors, sponsors and advisors. An important difference is that a mentor may help you with advice, but only a sponsor is in a position to make decisions on your behalf. That matters for your advancement.
Keep building your network: With change only accelerating, we all need to stay connected. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, do make an effort to check in with people.
Make sure to take care of yourself: When you’re feeling low energy, disconnected from friends or aren’t processing the sometimes heavy emotions that come with the times we’re living in, it can affect behavior. Defensiveness, protectiveness, procrastination. These are all behaviors that come up when we are out of sorts. We think the problem is with the situation or the person we’re dealing with, but so often it can be misdirected emotion.
Remember, we don’t help anyone by playing small. On the contrary, as we grow and show our best self, we offer others the opportunity to do the same.
All my best,