At the step door, we see potential and opportunities. We also anticipate a good deal of pressure and challenges. How can excitement quickly turn into a golden cage?
Six years ago, I stepped out of a ten years director position in pharma to start my executive search, consultancy, and coaching businesses. Today I'm sharing the first part of that journey. Whether you're in a senior manager or holding a leadership position, considering your next move or planning to become an entrepreneur, please take it to inspire your career.
On September 28th, I'll be holding a masterclass on Career Planning for Exceptional Senior Professionals. Get into the VIP list here.
I remember the excitement of my first corporate years. As a hyper achiever (in recovery), I saw considerable growth potential. Professionally, I projected myself toward an international career. I´ve always been a keen observer. Next to my business degree, I studied psychology and acted in a poetry theater group. So when I started my career, I reconducted those and committed to nurturing an excellent professional network.
Within a few years, the tone changed. Corporate feel powerful but not safe. Exceptional performers moved quickly from excitement for all they can achieve to feeling self-doubt and impostor syndrome. We´re all immersed in the corporate rat race.
Some 72% of job seekers say they’ve started a new job and felt a sense of surprise or regret that the role or company was very different from what they were led to believe, according to a January survey of more than 2,500 millennials and Gen Z job seekers conducted by The Muse.How to escape the rat race competition?
Corporate offers competition on a plate of potential opportunities, exposure, big projects, and international career, with the expectation to be promoted and grow your career up the ladder. It tasted like a mixture of excitement, growth, and the fear of not being enough.
We did everything for upward mobility in the job market.
Efforts were paired with expectations but not with the reward. Let me tweak a bit. We expected the promotion and the salary, but we also had expectations about managers being great mentors and leaders. It wasn't always the case.
As the clock ticks and things don't change, you feel trapped in a golden cage. Not wrong, but not what you expected, far from what you know you can achieve.
If you're experiencing these "symptoms," take them for what they're: warning signs for you to stop, calibrate and plan your next move:
You get used to that high performance and hyper achievement, as you get used to being a team player and monitoring who your team members are. I´m ambitious, I performed well, and I moved up the ladder, but voracity was draining for me.
I focused on my curiosity for people and invested much in self-development and continuous learning. This shift backed my ownership and gave me clarity about how to manage my career development. And that was a great thing. I encourage my clients to work on their career development.
Successful professionals keep striving and fiercely focus on growth. If they don´t get the promotion, they experience it as a failure, the interpretation being that they aren't a valuable talent for the company. Often, this interpretation is wrong; and it's due to the lack of good conversation between leaders, senior managers, and employees.
Discussions on performance, appraisals, and monetary compensation are one part. What that individual is missing is a clear career development plan.
Human Resources departments are doing great work around self-development and continuous learning. Corporate companies - even SMEs- offer much support for soft skills and self-development. The outcome is a safer space. Employees don't feel so scared anymore, but the feeling of competitiveness stays. They compare themselves to each other and ponder how to build their career within that company.
Companies should not overlook that — part of their employees' energy worries about their growth opportunities. The bigger the competition, the higher their concerns. Is that not positive? It's not. In my opinion, competitiveness doesn't guarantee better performance or delivery. The survival of the fittest is outdated.
I believe corporations must open the next conversation on career development and career management. If talent attraction and retention are high on your agenda, this is not an option but a must. This conversation needs to include senior managers and experienced leaders too.
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