10 Strategies for Career Success

10 Strategies for Career Success

 

I worked for seven years as an attorney in New York before joining ISB. At ISB, I discovered a passion for organisational development (OD) and change management and switched careers to work in talent management. In 2016, I co-founded TalentStrat, a talent management consulting firm in Singapore focussing on learning and development. I regularly coach executives and conduct workshops in both corporate and academic settings.

I am passionate about diversity and inclusion. Over the last 14 years, I have volunteered with organisations focussed on professional development for women. I find it deeply fulfilling to help women not just survive, but thrive and grow in organisations.

From my observations as a talent management practitioner and backed by industry research, here are 10 strategies for making a great start at your career and keeping the momentum going through various transitions across new jobs, roles, organisations and even geographies.


No matter what level you are at, your first three months can play a pivotal role in your eventual success or failure at a new role. Have a plan in place for your successful transition. Execute it well.

Business orientation checklist: As early as possible, get access to publicly available information about financials, products, strategy and brands. Identify additional sources of information, such as websites and analyst reports. If appropriate for your level, ask the business to assemble a briefing book. If possible, schedule familiarisation tours of key facilities before the formal start date. 

Stakeholder connection checklist: Ask your boss to identify and introduce you to the key people you should connect with early on. If possible, meet with some stakeholders before the formal start. Take control of your calendar, and schedule early meetings with key stakeholders. Be careful to focus on lateral relationships (peers, others) and not only vertical ones (boss, direct reports).

Expectations alignment checklist: Understand and engage in business planning and performance management. No matter how well you think you understand what you need to do, schedule a conversation with your boss about expectations in your first week. Have explicit conversations about working styles with bosses and direct reports as early as possible.

Cultural adaptation checklist: During recruiting, ask questions about the organisation’s culture. Schedule conversations with your new boss and HR to discuss work culture, and check back with them regularly. Identify people inside the organisation who could serve as culture interpreters. After 30 days, conduct an informal 360-degree check-in with your boss and peers to gauge how adaptation is proceeding.”

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Michael D. Watkins

 

There are many things you can’t control in your workplace. What you are completely in charge of are your own punctuality, grooming, responsiveness, pioneering spirit and collaborative skills.

I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.
Estée Lauder, Estée Lauder companies

 

This is especially relevant to younger professionals. Friction at the workplace is inevitable. Keep in mind that there will be a similar mix of people in almost any organisation. If you do need to escalate any situation to your boss, avoid personal attacks and focus on what support you need to deliver your work.

The better able team members are to engage, speak, listen, hear, interpret, and respond constructively, the more likely their teams are to leverage conflict rather than be levelled by it.”   
Runde and Flanagan

 

Setbacks and failures are unavoidable. Perseverance, resilience and grit relate to your ability to bounce back from failure and keep working on difficult tasks over sustained periods of time. Surround yourself with people who persevere.

Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity — and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.”  
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, Sheryl Sandberg

 

Learn constantly and learn especially from other people’s mistakes. There are a few key traits particularly relevant to the current challenge facing us all: How to future proof career development in a rapidly changing economy. The most important of these is a growth mindset — the willingness to learn and be agile.

With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Professor Carol S. Dweck

Take a look at this infographic from Accenture’s October 2017 report, New Skills Now:

Inclusion in the Digital Economy                                                               


To have a successful and impactful career, one has to look beyond money and short-term success. It’s important to identify a passion or purpose. Every inspiring CEO — JRD Tata, Salman Khan of the Khan Academy, Elon Musk, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs —  is driven by a purpose beyond profit of their enterprise.

You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out.
Steve Jobs

 

Don’t allow a self-limiting mindset to lead you to set the bar too low. For example, research suggests that many women choose less challenging career options because they worry that family commitments may need them to have a flexible work schedule in the future. They shy away from opportunities that signify a leap forward.

Do not undersell yourself. Set lofty, long-term goals and put in place short-term plans with tiny steps that build towards the larger goal.

The gender stereotypes introduced in childhood are reinforced throughout our lives and become self-fulfilling prophesies. Most leadership positions are held by men, so women dont expect to achieve them, and that becomes one of the reasons they dont.
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg

 

All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you.”
The Brand Called You, Tom Peters

Become a mentor to others who could benefit from your experience or expertise. Take up speaking opportunities and write on relevant topics to build your brand as a subject matter expert. This is the best way to develop a personal brand and become a difficult-to-replace specialist. The trick for younger professionals is to recognise that you don’t have to be the greatest expert on the topic to contribute to a project, to give a talk on the subject or even to mentor someone. Peer-to-peer mentoring is now recognised as a huge value add in organisations the world over.

No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.
Peter F. Drucker, Author and Management Educator

 

Having a network of supporters and mentors from whom you can get candid feedback and guidance is critical. Building such a network requires patience and commitment. Get out of your own bubble to meet people outside your silo. I have found that volunteering at industry networks and in local communities is a great way to meet others and make meaningful connections. Identify a mentor, approach them with a clear ask, set goals and a schedule and make each meeting with your mentor count.

The best way to leapfrog in your career is to get advice from someone whos done what youre trying to accomplish. It helps clear all the doubt.
— Heather Anne Carson, Co-Founder, Repable

 

Too often, unconscious biases and gender stereotypes become self-limiting mental blocks for women professionals. Be fluid enough to develop into your best possible version. With that said, develop in a way that allows you to be as authentic as possible. Your background and your personal story are the most powerful foundation you have.

An important attribute of success is to be yourself. Never hide what makes you, you.

Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo

 

About the author: 

Kaumudi Goda is Co-Founder of TalentStrat and an alumnus from PGP Class of 2012. She is an attorney and HR strategist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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