One of the best ways to stay on a winning streak is by working with a career coach. Here, some top experts reveal eight ways to take matters into your own hands.
The Self Assessment
Complete the following exercises to discover how satisfied you are at work.
Answer yes or no to these statements to rate your overall satisfaction at work. The more nos, the more you’ll benefit from some DIY coaching.
- Are you happy in your job?
- Do you feel fulfilled in your current position?
- Is your role one that you aspire to?
- Do you feel motivated and enthusiastic on Monday mornings?
- Do you have a clear career plan?
- Does your role inspire you?
Consider how satisfied you are in your job on a daily, weekly and long-term basis.
Mark your daily, weekly and long-term satisfaction out of 10, thinking about how inspired and motivated you feel, your career prospects and where you’d like to be. (It’s important to look at your job on this basis as everyone can have a bad week, which would affect your score.)
If you score an average of eight or above, you’re doing well. Between five and seven, and a little bit of work could elevate your career.
If you score five or below, some DIY career coaching will be just the thing to shake up your nine-to-five.
The Strength Identifier
According to Jane Lowder, founder of Max Coaching, to advance your career you need to know your strengths. “If you ask yourself, ‘What are my top three skills?’ and draw a blank, then this activity is perfect,” advises Lowder. “Email five trusted work colleagues, past or present, and ask, ‘In your opinion, what are my top three strengths that will help advance my career?’” The answers may be surprising, but, explains Lowder, “There are three benefits from this activity. It builds self-awareness, it boosts confidence, and it provides content that can be added to your résumé and used at interview.”
The Thought Changer
We’ve all been guilty of self-limiting behaviour that can hinder job progress, but Rebecca Ryan, of consulting and coaching company Mindality, has a coping strategy: “Set a stopwatch for three minutes. Think about your working day and write down the thoughts that pop into your head. Identify those that cause you to doubt your ability to succeed.” Next to each, add a statement to challenge it. An example might be: “I don’t feel as if my boss likes me,” and “She chose me to run a new project.” And get into the habit of questioning your negative thoughts at work.
The Constant Calculator
"It’s important to capitalise on our strengths, but it’s equally important to be aware of the constraints that hold us back from reaching our goals,” explains career coach Sam Patterson. Identify two things that let down your performance at work – you can seek opinions from trusted colleagues. “Commit to some actions to overcome those constraints,” adds Patterson. “Set yourself a target of asking for weekly feedback from your colleagues so you can learn from your own behaviour, such as, ‘I’m working on my confidence/time-keeping/delegation skills. On a scale of one to 10, how am I doing?’”
The Leadership Challenge
“If you’ve ever wanted to be an amazing leader, the great news is that you can become that person now,” insists Patterson. To find your inner leader, he suggests thinking of the best leader you know. List seven characteristics that you believe make them outstanding in their role and score yourself out of 10 for each one. “Then, take the three characteristics you score lowest for and come up with one action (whether it’s taking a course on public speaking or mentoring a younger colleague) for each that you can put into place to help you become a better leader,” recommends Patterson.
The Profile Builder
Building a profile within your industry is integral to long-term work success. Lowder’s advice is to identify a book, a blog and a thought leader in your field, read them and follow that person on whichever social media forums they participate in. “Within a short amount of time, you will have increased your expertise substantially,” she confirms. “Leverage this expertise to build your profile – start a blog, or tweet on the subject, post comments on blogs, and contribute to related LinkedIn groups and online discussions. A strong public profile can create opportunities that may otherwise pass you by.”
The 10-Minute Test
You could change your career in 10 minutes if you use this technique, states Ryan. “Spend 10 minutes asking yourself about the past week. What worked well? What could you do differently? What did you discover about yourself? What can you do to take you outside your comfort zone?” Write down the things you’d like to work on for the week ahead and tick them off as you achieve them. “It’s important to ensure you don’t fall into a rut or become complacent – consistent reflection is important to ensure you continue to grow.”
The Action Plan
To identify which areas need attention, try this DIY career health check recommended by Ryan. “Divide a sheet of paper into three columns – ‘Where I am’, ‘Where I want to be’ and ‘Gaps’. Write down all the skills, abilities, knowledge and qualifications you have now in the first column, then those you require to be successful at the level you want to be in the second. Identify the differences and record them in the ‘Gaps’ column.” Use this information to create an action plan to steer your career towards your goals.