8 questions to ask yourself before you switch jobs

Questions

The end of the year is looming and you may be thinking about your next career move. But, how do you choose between ‘good’ and ‘good’, when you receive two ‘similar’ job offers? Will you be wooed by a larger package or a more senior job title?

The Job. Ask yourself:

  1. What do you love about your current role? Are these tasks even listed on the job description? To find out how to accelerate your career by determining your sweet spot click here.
  2. Will you have visibility to senior leaders to be recognized for your work or to learn from them?
  3. What is the new role offering you that’s new? How will it challenge you; if at all?

The People and Company. Once you’ve been for an interview, ask yourself:

  1. What do you like or dislike about the people who work at the new company? Remember they will not change for you!
  2. Could these people be overselling the job and the company, to lure you to work for them? You can often find information online about companies and what it is really like to work there e.g. Glassdoor.
  3. Are the company values aligned to your own?
  4. Are there opportunities to grow and develop; to study?
  5. Where is the company located? Will your travel time be acceptable?

Whatever you decide, remember that the job title, salary and benefits package are just the start. Don’t be wooed too quickly. Take everything into consideration and if it doesn’t feel right, listen to your instincts and carry on searching.

Good Luck!
Helen

If anything in this article has piqued your interest, please contact me.
Helen Martin is a qualified coach and trainer and lives in London. She is a member of the Association for Coaching and coaches individuals through change. She can be contacted here.

Redundancy: learning from the biggest taboo

“I understand what being made redundant feels like. I’ve been there. I knew change was on its way, but I never actually believed that it would affect me and when it did, my world stopped revolving. I felt angry, I felt sad, I felt happy, and then I felt angry all over again. I was surrounded by incompetent people, so why was I being made redundant?  I went through all the emotions on the change curve; one’s that I had learned as a manager; and I was gobsmacked that I was feeling the way that most text books described. I felt embarrassed by my predicament and having to explain my new situation to anyone was excruciating.

For me, talking to others, brought healing. My anger subsided, I felt less sorry for myself and I began to realise that while I was not entirely at fault, there may have been things that I could have done differently while I was employed. Talking to friends and family helped me to accept my situation. I became more self-aware and I explored new opportunities. It also helped me to articulate my story with a little more ease and taught me that showing this new vulnerable side of myself wasn’t as negative as I had led myself to believe. Redundancy is not a dirty word!” Published with permission from the author.

What can be learned from redundancy on the short term:

  • Talk about it. Talking is often a good way to soothe painful emotions. Talking to a friend, family member, health professional or coach can help the healing process.
  • Allow yourself to feel sad. It’s a healthy part of the ‘grieving’ process.
  • Keep up your routine. Keeping up simple things, like going for a run or walking the dog can help.
  • Sleep. Emotional strain can make you very tired. If you’re having trouble sleeping, please consult your GP.
  • Eat healthily. A healthy, well-balanced diet may help you cope better.
  • Avoid things that “numb” the pain, such as alcohol. It will make you feel worse once the numbness wears off.
  • Speak to a coach or counsellor – Only you will know if this is right for you.

What can be learned on the longer term:

  • Use the time to become more self-aware. No new organisation would go to market without a business plan and a strategy, so reflect on what you have learned from your situation, think about your own personal brand, what you are good at, what you love doing and create your own game plan. You may also want to read one of my latest blogs: How to accelerate your career.
  • Stop using the word ‘redundant’. There are many reasons why companies make employees redundant. For a prospective employer, hearing that a company has restructured, downsized or moved to another location and how any one of these changes affected your position, will make sense.
  • Update your CV.
  • Reach out to your network. By the time you do this, you should be able to articulate your story as positively as possible. Know what you want, and while I wouldn’t suggest that you ask everyone in your network for a job, you may ask them to consider you, if they hear of something.
  • Approach recruiters.

People who lose their jobs through redundancy don’t own this space. Similar feelings and emotions are described by people when they experience any massive change e.g. losing a loved one, going through a divorce, losing your home, becoming insolvent, moving to the other side of the world for work or study and leaving family and/or friends behind, etc. It’s often hard to look on the bright side and it’s almost impossible to learn from the experience while you’re in it. The future however, can be bright.

Helen Martin is a qualified coach and trainer and lives in London. She is a member of the Association for Coaching and coaches individuals through change. Helen coaches 2 people per month at no charge. She can be contacted here.

How do you compare?

Seeing the attached picture, prompted me to write again. I hope it presents you with some food for thought and some reflection.

As a child, my parents penciled how tall I was growing on a doorpost in our hallway. My growth was never compared to that of my brother. As I grew older, way too often, I found myself comparing myself to my colleagues, my friends or even celebrities. I wanted to be slimmer, wealthier or achieve the success that others had. I may even have pointed an imaginary finger at a colleague who had worked really hard to receive a promotion and I pondered why my colleague had received it and I had not.

Everyone has a different pace, different priorities, different challenges and different things that they are willing to compromise throughout their lives. Before comparing yourself to someone else, remember that when you point your index finger at someone, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you. I’ve come to realize that when I look at someone who has achieved success, that I may only be seeing the result of that success. The diet and early morning rises to exercise; the scrimping and saving to purchase the larger home; the stretch assignments, late night calls and weekends at work; all go unseen.

I’ve learned to be happy for the achievements of others and to be ecstatically happy with what I have achieved myself because as the old adage goes, ‘you reap what you sow’, and all that I have accomplished is what I have been willing to commit to; what I have been willing to sacrifice and the work that I have done.

So, next time you find yourself comparing your own efforts to someone else, you may want to stop yourself and reflect.

Helen Martin is a coach and trainer based in London.

Measuring up

7-steps to manage a difficult conversation

Whether you need to have a discussion with your manager or give advice to a friend, just the thought of some conversations may leave you feeling anxious and you may decide to avoid the subject altogether. Today, I’d like to share with you, a fairly simple 7-step method to manage difficult conversations.

Please consider the following:
A. What do you want to achieve by the end of the conversation for yourself and for the other party?

B. What do you really want? What are your feelings telling you about what you really want?

C. Why would smart, well-intentioned people be behaving in the way that they have been? Develop 3 hypotheses (use respect, empathy and curiosity).

Use the following 7 steps to structure the conversation. I have also included a completed example below:

Step 1. Name the issue. Give a neutral and concise description of the issue.

Step 2. Clarity – give a specific example of the issue.

(At this stage, you may need to break eye contact to stop the person interrupting you. If they still interrupt you, ask if they would kindly let you finish what you would like to say).

Step 3. State calmly how you feel about the issue. I feel ‘disappointed, annoyed, sad…..’ If you can substitute ‘I feel….’ with ‘I am…..’ you’re on the right track as this will prove that it’s a feeling.

Step 4. State why it matters…..’This matters because…’

Step 5.  Identify your own contribution to the problem.

Step 6. Reassure that you want to work with the person to resolve the issue.

Step 7. End with an open question.

Follow the steps and write down an issue of your own; then practice on someone as you may still need to work on your tone of voice and/or body language to achieve the best result.

Example:  Your statement should take under 60 seconds.

1. I would like to talk to you about the job application process in our company,

2. for example, the ‘senior’ position that was recently posted to the intranet.

3. I feel disappointed that this new position was posted without anyone in the department knowing that the job existed.

4. This matters because I would have liked to have applied for the position and the current way of doing things is perceived as unfair.

5. I understand that it’s my responsibility to manage my own career and therefore to keep an eye on job postings,

6. I would be happy to help build a new process so that everyone who is interested in new opportunities has a fair chance to apply.

7. What’s your take on this?

It may take a few test runs, to become comfortable with this process, but it’s one that has been found to work well.

Good luck!

Helen Martin is a coach and trainer and is based in London.

Managing yourself through Change

Some of my friends tell me that I am brave because I am not afraid of change, while others think I am crazy and that I take unnecessary risks; I would like to challenge them all.

Change is not comfortable; in fact it’s scary! But what’s scarier: Having the carpet pulled out from underneath you because you would rather ignore change; or, having your own plan in place, irrespective of what the world throws at you?

As a leadership coach, I have met many people who have become paralysed by change, even if they knew it was coming: from, company reorganisations in which they have been made redundant, divorce, to promotions, etc. Change paralyses! Or does it? What if you always had a plan?

Acting like the victim in ‘Karpman’s drama triangle‘, blaming the establishment, government, schools, your partner, your family, your manager, etc. for all of your woes, won’t make your problems go away. When you point your index finger at the world, there are three fingers on your hand pointing right back at YOU. Is there something YOU could have done to avoid a situation? And more importantly, how do you ensure that you take control in future?

Are you happy with your job? Is your organisation happy with you? Where do you see yourself in a few years? How would you need to develop yourself to get there? What are you doing to remain true to yourself? How can you ensure that you are always one step ahead? What’s your Plan B?

Don’t wait to be unpleasantly surprised and for change to happen to you. Be part of the change. But before you start, ask yourself how committed you are. If you want to lose weight: how committed are you to going to the gym, eating less and moving more? Work towards your own ideal future and towards your own goal, irrespective of what other people expect you to do.

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought and quiet reflection. Change need not be scary if you are following your own plan. I will close with a few words from someone much wiser than I am, “We, but mirror the world. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” – Mahatma Gandhi. Life changes are inevitable but when we initiate personal change, we rise to the challenge, ensuring a more positive result.

Helen Martin is a coach and trainer and is based in London.

Investing in your network

Eleven years ago I felt that my career had reached a stalemate. It seemed like everyone around me was making promotion and I couldn’t quite understand why I wasn’t. I followed a friend’s advice and I found a coach.

The coaching sessions were tough. Who really wants to garner 360 degree feedback, only to hear what you thought you were good at, you’re not? With the ‘bad’, also came the good and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the replies that I wasn’t expecting. I learned to separate what I loved doing, with what I thought I was good at. There’s often no relationship between what you excel at and what you actually enjoy; but perhaps more importantly, my coach taught me to build my network and to keep in regular contact with my friends and business acquaintances. She taught me to invest in my network and to help people as much as I could, whether there was a direct benefit for me or not.

I was reminded about this advice when the company that I work for, recently announced a major change in its strategy. Whilst I am unaffected by this change, many people that I have met over the past months are. It seems that the only constant in business is change, so what can you do in a situation like this?

1) Allow yourself to go through the emotional curve. Shock, anger, sadness and, where relevant, mourn your loss.
2) Reach out to your colleagues. It’s not all about you and you may be able to help one another.
3) Talk to your manager to determine the short and long term priorities for you and your team.
4) Take stock. Get that 360 degree feedback. Understand what you’re good at and how you are perceived by others.
5) Update your CV; also online.
6) Let family, friends and business acquaintances know about your situation. This is not a time to be proud! And, they may be able to help you.

Once you’ve determined what you would like your next step to be, let people know. Talking about your dreams and aspirations, helps you visualise them and this will help you to determine what you need to do, to make your dreams become a reality.

I’m a firm believer that we don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason. Combining this knowledge with the age old saying, ‘you reap what you sow’ is extremely powerful. A network is only as strong as you make it yourself. Invest in the people you know and they are sure to invest in you when you need them.