Giving as good as I got

I have benefitted over the years from having people at work, more senior to me, notice what I am capable of and look out for opportunities for me to progress and get promotions.  They have been my cheerleader, mentioning me to others as someone who might be able to help solve their problems.  My last three positions were brought about through conversations with someone, who then prompted someone else, and an opportunity door opened for me.

Until yesterday, I didn’t really twig, that I am now that person for others.  I am the one cheerleading others into opportunities and finding ways for progression and promotion for others.  I am now that person who I had the benefit from.  It’s now my turn to support others.

In my previous two roles I managed large teams of people.  There were a few who showed a spark, who had something worth cultivating. I spent time with them helping them to consider whether a change in career would be good for them, whether they had the right skills and attributes for a different role. 

It seems a bit counter intuitive to be helping your staff to move to a different job, after all, it’s going to leave you short of experienced staff in your own area.  But I feel we shouldn’t be selfish in that regard.  Where people show an interest, a spark of enthusiasm, and indeed some level of competence, I feel its my job to nurture that.  To provide opportunities for them to experience other things, to have a go at something they may not otherwise get the chance to try.

I have sat with staff looking at job descriptions going through each one, line by line to explain where they have transferrable skills, or where they need to get some more exposure or experience.  Often, these people have the skills but lack the confidence to try.  Once you start to point out to them that it’s not all about knowing everything there is to know about a job before you get there. There will be things they can do that are similar, systems they’ve used that demonstrate they can learn a new system.  Even considering household chores as project planning.  How do you get the kids out to school every morning and then get to work on time?  Its all about planning and having things in place.  These are all skills that people don’t necessarily think about when they look at a job description.

Just lately I have given support to someone looking to get out of the role they are unhappy in.  One has come up that I think they could be capable of doing, but they lack the confidence because they’ve not done that sort of thing before.  Well, me neither.  My last two big teams I managed I knew nothing about their service, but I knew how to process map, I knew how to plan and how to deal with people.  The rest I learned along the way.

One of the most fun books I’ve read was Richard Branson’s ‘Screw It, Let’s Do It!’  The premise simply being do it anyway.  You don’t know if you can do it unless you try.  You might fail, many, many times, but you learn from those failures and build on them.  If you never try, you never learn.  There’ll be people there to help you along the way.

If you’re thinking of a new career move, or a change in direction in any part of your life, I say “screw it, just do it”. 


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