Last week I delivered a presentation to 75 electricity professionals at a large electric utility conference in a neighbouring province.
These professionals are highly trained experts. They know about very complex and sophisticated things, such as protection relay testing, electromechanical and micro-processor based protective relays, circuit breakers, transformers, and switchgear. Their work is absolutely critical to the public because they keep the lights on.
What they didn’t know is that they—alone—can have a bigger impact on their careers than any manager, supervisor, or executive in their company. They own their own career.
The focus of the presentation was developing your career inside your current company. Let’s face it. It’s far easier to market yourself inside your current company rather than facing the daunting task of breaking into a new industry or organization where you are unknown.
The cornerstone focused on your unique value proposition based on the principle of “Differentiate or Die”, a book written by Jack Trout. What do you do that is uniquely different from your peers?
Here is a brief recap of my presentation that anyone can follow to achieve powerful results [pun intended].
Step 1 ⋙ Determine your value proposition:
- What do you do for your company? Do you make money for the organization (new customers, new revenue streams, new products)?
- Do you save money for the organization (process improvement, reduce time to market, faster coding)?
- What do you do that is different from others (your added value): Are you bilingual? Influential? Diplomatic?
- What are your credentials? Licenses? Education?
- What are you the go-to girl or go-to guy for?
Step 2 ⋙ Identify your top 3 career accomplishments (stories) using the CAR-I method.
C = Challenge. What challenge did you face?
A = Action. What action did you take?
R = Result. What was the result of the action?
BUT DON’T STOP HERE
I = Impact. What was the impact of the result on your, your team, your customer, etc.
Example: (this is an electricity example, but you can customize it to your own profession and industry).
Challenge: Substation X was suffering from voltage sag problems interrupting power supply to a major business center.
Action: I watched the patterns, isolated the problem, and using a unique tool that I created, fixed the problem.
Result: Reliability improved. I then created a standard operating procedure [SOP] to prevent this in the future.
Impact: Reduced outages by 15%. Customers loved it. Reliability improved. Boss was happy.
What are your top 3 CAR-I stories?
Step 3 ⋙ Have a conversation with your boss to position yourself for the next step
“Elon, I’m thinking about my career. I’d like to float the idea of my moving into a more responsible role. I believe I’m ready because” (value proposition):
Reason 1 – CAR-I story #1
Reason 2 – CAR-I story #2
Reason 3 – CAR-I story #3
“Elon is this something you would consider? Can I get your feedback on whether I look ready to you?”
AT THIS POINT STOP TALKING. Wait for Elon to consider your question. Resist the urge to over-explain yourself. This feels like a “social quicksand” but it’s not. Be patient with yourself.
If Elon gives a negative response, do not react. Remain emotionally neutral about this response. This is about the business needs of your company, not about you specifically.
Here is what you get to say to Elon if he resists:
“Elon, what do you think I need to do to get ready for the next step? What do you think is missing?”
[Do not be defensive.] Elon, what is your recommendation for the action I need to take?” Then stop talking. Wait for Elon to consider your response.
Regardless of the outcome of this conversation, you have just stepped on the next rung of the corporate ladder by articulating your value proposition and your intentions to management, executive, or Board of your organization.
This one simple conversation can break out your career and have a major impact on your job satisfaction, your personal life and your family.
If you are like many of my executive-level clients, you may feel a bit apprehensive about having this conversation. Here is a powerful tool to help you step up to the plate and have this critically important conversation with your boss.
Step 4 ⋙ You need a call to action!
The next step in this simple process is to ensure you follow up with your boss. This you can do by email:
“Elon, thank you for meeting with me yesterday to discuss my future role in the organization. I appreciate your input and am pleased that you are willing to discuss my goals with the senior leadership team. I will be patient as I wait to hear back from you and will follow up with you late next week to map out the next steps.”
Step 5 ⋙ You must follow up when you say you will.
Please realize that is critical that you follow up with your boss when you say you will. This will establish credibility and trust with your boss and will also hit home that you are committed to your career.
Warning! There is an opportunity cost to not doing this. Don’t expect him or her to guess what you want. There are costs to your wallet, to your family, and to your future by not taking action.
For unique tools, insight, and plans to grow your career inside your current organization, contact me today.