Despite over two decades of employers telling staff that there is no longer a ‘job for life’, many people continue to take too little responsibility for their careers. Here are 6 common assumptions heared during coaching sessions and these assumptions are limiting careers. Caroline Allen offers you some alternative perspectives.
Assumption number 1:
‘They’ will recognise my talents eventually
The trouble is ‘they’ are too busy managing their own careers to recognise all the hidden diamonds in your repertoire. Ploughing away with your head down is laudable but isn’t going necessarily mean that anyone will notice.
Assumption number 2:
You can’t have your cake and eat it
This is one of my favourites because this was an assumption a member of a team I led was holding. In her case, this meant that she believed that she would not be able to find the kind of work she really wanted to do and be paid as much as she was currently earning. I challenged this assumption and that challenge was enough to help her see that this very assumption was all that was stopping her finding out if this was true. Albeit that it was my loss, but within a few months she had found work that she loved and which actually paid her more than she was getting. She is now MD of the organisation she joined nearly 20 years ago.
Assumption number 3:
If I make a ‘wrong’ career move, my life will collapse
Many people get wrong-footed at some point during the course of their careers – sometimes more than once. And, you know what? They survived. In fact, as a result of the false move, some became much clearer about what they really wanted. And don’t forget, several Board level executives were sacked or paid off at some point in their history so a couple of atypical twists does not amount to a ruined career. Far from it.
Assumption number 4:
If I make a decision, it will be forever
No. If you make a decision, it will be for as long as you want it to be. I personally know many people who left the company they were working for only to return a few years later and usually in a more senior position. Few bridges are truly burnt.
Assumption number 5:
My work will speak for itself
Closely related to Assumption number 1, this is probably the most commonly held assumption I hear. Somewhere along the line, we learn to be too modest and in deciding that it is distasteful to ‘blow one’s own trumpet’, we mix this up with helping others to understand what we can do and what we have achieved. If you hold this assumption, you may want to think in terms of helping others (who are busy people with lots of things to think about in their day) better understand what you are contributing. You will actually make your line manager’s job easier!
Assumption number 6:
I have to play by the rules
Finally, whilst I am not advocating anarchy, be careful in assuming that the best way to manage your career is by waiting patiently and playing by traditional rules. It may be that the people who really get what they want make their own rules up as they go along!