Career Mapping – How to Take Charge of your Career

In this session, we helped our delegates to identify and set targets for their career progression.  We showed them how to plan where and how to take their careers to the next level without losing the flexibility to seize opportunity.

This event took place on Tuesday, 6 December, 2016 at WeWork Old Street, London.

Three key points covered:

  1. What is the reason for women continuing work? Why should women continue with work?
  2. How can you develop an effective strategy for your career?
  3. What limits the ‘belief’ that you can achieve what you want to in your career?

Why should women continue with work?

  • When companies are being audited it is becoming increasingly necessary for their boards to have women on them as it de-risks them hugely. This is all to do with the Athena Doctrine which is all about if you apply feminine traits to everything then everyone will prosper. The reason for this is that women naturally have a more collaborative style and they think in a different way to men and so if you have a board that is properly diverse they you will be able to see situations and problems from a variety of points of view and this will help you reached a more measured and sensible solution/strategy for building a business.
  • Also, the 21st Century Leadership concept is becoming increasingly prominent: this is the concept that the most effective way of leading is through being flexible and collaborative. This approach leads to more innovation in a business and in turn better results (UBS and Citibank have clear figures showing this).
  • For many, returning to work gives a sense of purpose after they have children – this point was not pushed hard though as obviously people have very different views on this and for many returning to work is not the right thing for them.
  • Nowadays careers are much longer – up to 40 years in some cases – so, if you want to take a year or 2 out do it. The world is becoming more flexible and open to such concepts. For many taking that time is the best thing to help them refocus and get back to a fulfilling career.

How can you develop an effective strategy for your career?

You should have a plan as the majority of successful women and men have a plan – not everyone sticks rigidly to it, but they all have one. It’s key for success.

The Strategy:

Think of yourself as a business, doing this makes strategy setting less personal and more focused on the career. So, think about several aspects that make up a company, and apply them to yourself:

  1. Brand: What are you about, what are your strengths – it’s important to give yourself a moment of reflection on this as this is the key starting point – how do you want to be perceived in your career by others.
  2. Products and services: What can you offer? Don’t just think of this in a work context, think also about what you do outside of work and what this could add to a team (e.g. if you’ve been out on maternity leave you have not been doing nothing (!), you have been learning skills of time management, task juggling and –to an extent – communication / if you are a musician you have been collaborative / if you play sport you have a strong team orientated approach and ability to motivate others etc.) Obviously think about things that you have learnt in the work context as well – but thinking about both will make you feel more fulfilled and give you a sense of purpose in everything you are doing.
  3. Who’s your customer: This is the idea of shareholder mapping: who influences you? Do you have a mentor? Again, most successful people have mentors so if you don’t have one, get one! Think about people you respect in your company or externally and ask them for a coffee – senior people generally love being mentors, but it’s the mentee’s responsibility to initiate the dialogue.
  4. How will you market yourself: What is your USP and how will you best put this forward?: Men sell themselves based on their potential, women sell themselves on the basis of their past achievements. Don’t shy away from something just because you have not done it before, think about how you will communicate your potential of developing into a role.
  5. What is your capex: this links to the marketing piece and effectively is a point around how you should invest in yourself and how far you are prepared to take risks. If you are confronted with an opportunity think ahead – if you think you don’t want to do it because you’re too nervous, how will you feel about it in 1 -2 -5 years’ time? Often missed opportunities lead to remorse and this can be a real hindrance as you continue to build your confidence career. As mark Zuckerberg famously said “not taking any risk is the biggest risk you will ever take”.
  6. What is the overall strategy: key here is time management. Always ensure you are driving your careerwhilst carrying out your day to day job… it’s all too easy to constantly think you are very busy, lose sight of the end goal, and end up feeling like you are drifting. You need to think about your role in 3 levels – the £10 job, the £100 job and the £1000 job:
    1. The £10 job: These are the parts of your role that you need to do, but they won’t drive yourcareer. Includes tasks like filling out expenses forms/filing etc.
    2. The £100 job: This is the day to day – the responsibilities on your job description that you do every day but which on their own will not excel you.
    3. The £1000 job: This is the part of the job you need to do to get a successful career. It’s not in your role spec necessarily, but it’s what will make the difference. The £1000 job includes things like networking and developing mentors, and more importantly sponsors; bringing in new business; taking initiative to run a project or new idea; getting involved socially in your company (easier in a big company); volunteering to work on ‘special projects’

What limits the ‘belief’ that you can achieve what you want to in your career?

  • The key word in this concept is belief – women typically more than men have an assumption that becomes a belief/truth to themselves. The way to tackle this is first of all to make yourself aware of what your limiting beliefs are: this could be the idea that you are not good enough, that your ideas are silly, that you will say something stupid in a meeting etc.
  • Speaking in public is a very common fear, but during our careers we will almost always have a situation where you have to speak publically. The first thing you need to keep thinking about yourself is the fact that when you are in front of a crowd it is extremely rare that there is someone in the audience that wants you to fail – this is against human nature. The crowd is there to listen to you and to learn, so make sure you are prepared, but get out of your head the concept that you are not going to do a good job and that people might laugh at you… they won’t!
  • Perfectionism is also a very common drawback – as Sheryl Sandberg said: “done is better than perfect” – always think to yourself “is it FFP (Fit For Purpose”. An email to your colleague for example does not need to be absolutely perfect, you are just getting your point across. Client facing work needs to be perfect – but will always need a second pair of eyes. If you think it’s all down to you that it is perfect this will limit you and cause unnecessary stress – it will also result in tasks taking far longer than they should.
  • Speak up! Often we have ideas in our head but we are nervous that we’ll say something silly… how many times do you wait just a bit too long and then someone says exactly what you’ve been thinking?! Probably often – change this by speaking when you have an idea – bring your voice to the table, it’s the best way of learning and developing
  • Finally – develop confidence through a physical technique first proposed by Amy Cuddy (Harvard Business School lecturer – does a good Ted Talk and has a book known as “Presence” which we should all read). The technique is about conquering nerves through body language. Apparently – though still to be proven fully – standing in a power stance for 2 minutes increases levels or testosterone and decreases levels of cortozone (the hormone that causes stress). If you are about to do a pitch/presentation or interview find a quiet space/loo cubicle and do that power stance for 2 minutes before entering the room. Similarly if you’re on a difficult call sit up straight/stand up and you instantly crush nerves and sound more confident. Apparently there are hundreds of people who swear by this technique!
By Hattie Robinson (mwiedner@rewomen.org)

Pictures from the session:

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