How to thrive in uncertain times

If there is one key skill all employees should develop further, it is the ability to adapt to change. With increasing amounts of economic uncertainty, automation, streamlining, restructuring and more - change is the new norm. Press play on the next phase of your career.

The change mindset

Many employees will be navigating change in their workplace right now - either due to staff cuts, future staff cuts, increasing costs, reduced budgets, moves to AI, supply issues or any of the other myriad pressures businesses are managing today. Many employees already know how important it is to set some personal change goals - and be a change advocate if they are that person - when a change program is announced in the workplace.

When this happens in your workplace, investing time in working out what makes you happy and if there is a way to make the change program work for you will be time well spent.  Many people take this a step further and actually thrive through a change program, using this time to reframe their thinking and consider it an opportunity to reflect on next steps and take control over their career.

The careers of today

Careers today are now less about following traditional career paths and more about developing oneself, learning new skills and having new experiences. Lateral moves, collaboration, stretch assignments, and non-traditional career paths are common. Someone might even take a step backwards to make a step forward later.

When deciding where to next, your manager is a good starting point for advice, but consider the type of relationship you have with them. If you are a strong performer with a good relationship with your manager, they are more likely to help you. Regardless of your relationship though, being a solid performer is always going to put you in a better position to discuss career aspirations. If you aren’t meeting expectations in your role today, then you need to work on building trust and credibility with your manager in the first instance.

Keep in mind before you meet with your manager that no one can tell you what your career should look like, so make sure you come with your own ideas of where you want to get to.  Ask for an honest assessment of your performance and discuss opportunities to bridge any gaps.

Your career as an evolution

Working out what you want to do is a constantly evolving process because you are always growing as a person. Remember it is OK not to know what you want to do, but by having an idea of your strengths, weaknesses, yours and the company’s values, and a good understanding of what satisfies you at work, your manager may be able to give you a fresh new perspective on your career that you had not considered. You are more likely to enjoy a role that plays to your strengths and if you are happier at work, then you will feel more fulfilled all round.

If you do have a fairly clear idea on where you see yourself going, then make sure you prepare for the conversation by thinking about your goals and aspirations over the next 12 months to five years. Your manager may be in a position to help you anticipate the longer term organisational goals and what the business might look like in the future. Because businesses are constantly evolving, the perfect opportunity for you might not even exist in the current ecosystem. So, work with your manager to anticipate requirements and look to fill any gaps in your experience that might be of use to the business in the future.

Take the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone

Rather than focusing on a promotion, work with your manager to look for opportunities to develop new skills, acquire new experiences, gain more responsibility, move out of your comfort zone, get exposure to different parts of the business and so on.

Being aware of your weaknesses empowers you to better manage them. This is an invaluable developmental opportunity. Being self-aware is difficult at times, but if you are, then you can continually seek to improve. Once you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, it will be much easier for you to identify how best to showcase your natural abilities and interests to leadership during any change program.  

Internal mobility

If you take this as an opportunity to look for a new role internally, know what makes you unique. By knowing what your value proposition is, you are in a much better position to secure the role of your choice. Practice what you might say until it feels natural.

To assist with this, find out what other people think of you. Share how you perceive yourself (your management style and areas for improvement, for instance) and ask them for their views to get things started. It’s a difficult conversation but will help you understand your characteristics and attributes, and how to frame them in a career discussion.

Being indispensable

It is also important during any change program for the leadership to see that you are indispensable to the company.  

If you are not already an identified high performer, then take the initiative and get involved in projects that will showcase your strengths, solve a problem, demonstrate that you are a change advocate, and show them that you are a professional and valued team player. If you are already an identified high performer, then continue what you are doing, but make sure your manager knows that you are willing to do what it takes to make the change program a success and commit to disrupting yourself.

Today’s workplace = change.

Work as a concept is changing at a rapid pace and regardless of the stage you are at in your career you need to stay ahead of the game.  If you can't keep up, you will get left behind and taking action to disrupt and learn is a strong signal of your commitment to stay in the race. Show you’re adaptable, aware of the changing nature of work and are more likely to be retained, promoted, moved or hired by others.

Find out more from one of our TQ people today.