How Can You Be Pro-Active in a Reactive Job?

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A client recently asked:

If you spend all day putting out so-called fires at your job – in a very reactive environment – how can you possibly plan or address your career pro-actively?

Preliminaries:

First, let’s define some terms:

  1. Pro-active: creating a situation or causing something to happen
  2. Reactive: responding to a situation (rather than creating or controlling it)
  3. Fire alarm: a colloquial way to describe a frantic and urgent situation or deadline in a corporate environment, often one that is a “false alarm” created by lack of planning rather than a true emergency

As Randy Pauch said, in the last few months of his life, “time is the only commodity that matters.” We need to manage our time just as we manage our money, and in fact the time management piece is even more important. In addition, as you may realize already, most leadership roles are only achieved by individuals who have learned to address matters pro-actively, yet most environments today are full of fire alarms that require us to react rather than plan our time.

Answer:

Here are some ways to manage your time, even in a pro-active environment:

  1. Stop the bleeding, then take care of the patient. Sometimes an emergency has pieces that need to be addressed immediately and other parts that can wait. Can you schedule your day so that you can still get the important things done while addressing what is urgent? Are there portions you can delegate?
  2. Block your calendar, and then block it again. In order to plan, you need to block out uninterrupted time on your calendar. If an emergency (real or otherwise) creeps up on you, the first thing to do is to move the blocked time on your calendar a few days out, so it stays scheduled and is not forgotten.
  3. Break things into small steps. While you may not be able to plan the next few months and what you would like to achieve, you can start to plan individual pieces of it. If you only have 10 minutes, you can empower yourself to do one thing that really matters.
  4. “Do the right things, rather than ‘doing things right.'” I owe this quote to Randy Pausch and the lecture I link above. As he said, “You don’t need to clean the underside of the bannister.” In other words, put your efforts where they pack a punch. For more about that generally, see my posts on the 80/20 rule and high profile/high need tasks.
  5. Know and remember the goal(s). Ask why. Start by asking yourself, and then (if appropriate) politely and directly ask the person who created the task. What are the intended benefits of the work you are doing? Don’t just do something because you are told to do it; think about what results you are individually and collectively trying to achieve. This will save you time if you can find more efficient ways to get to a solution – and avoid unnecessary iterations – rather than just following steps assigned (which may not have been well thought out in the first place). It will also keep you focused on the point in #4 above.
  6. Stop wasting time during your day. Be more organized and match your workload to meet your peak energy levels. Also, eliminate distractions. I’ll talk about all of this more in a future post.

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, author and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. Her first book, Master the Interview, is available on Amazon.com

Image above from Adobe Images.

 

Working On (vs. In) Your Career

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Working On Your Career vs. In Your Career – What is the Difference?

If you have ever spent time in an entrepreneurial role, you have likely heard the phrase “working on your business” (versus “working in your business”). Working on your business means investing time in activities that will build the business over the long term,  such as marketing, streamlining of activities and professional development. While these activities may serve your immediate clients, they also are critical to assure that your business is headed in the direction that you determine will best position you for growth. In fact, a crucial part of working on your business is figuring out where the future growth lies, aside from how to achieve it.

Employees at companies, as well as new graduates, often do not have the lens of working on their careers as well as in them. In fact, a large part of my work with my own clients is helping them understand the importance of also lifting their heads up, rather than always keeping their heads down. To rise to the higher-level (and more interesting) roles, you need to lift your head above the fray of everyday life and activities to see the bigger picture. We know this intuitively, but we are often too busy to stop and do it.

In addition, it is only the fortunate few who are encouraged to think beyond the box. In a minority of workplaces (and sometimes only for a minority of employees in them), leadership is expected and part of one’s contributions is to develop that presence and state of mind, which can only be achieved when there is time and space to work on developing that goal rather than letting the days go by consumed by urgent deadlines and ill-defined projects whose benefits have not been fully vetted.

Instead, we are often taught in school and tacitly (or openly) encouraged in jobs to keep plugging along, rather than being strategic about where to place our efforts. We move from academia where assignments are determined by a professor or instructor to the workplace where tasks are doled out by bosses or leadership teams.

Due to this constant source of new projects from above, it is not hard to understand why many people go through their careers expecting the decisions to be made for them, rather than seeking out leadership and decision-making opportunities themselves. I often call this “gotta make the donuts” after a commercial by Dunkin’ Donuts in which an beleaguered store employee kept running back to the store every few hours so that his customers (you and me) could have fresh donuts to eat. How different are many of us in our jobs, running from task to task, so harried and hurried that we almost forget why we are doing what we are doing?

Beautiful young woman working in her office.

A large part of my work with clients is helping them lift their heads up, rather than always keeping them down.

In yesterday’s post, I shared that there are 10 weeks until year end. I encourage you to spend a meaningful amount of uninterrupted time – and at least one or two hours – this week or next thinking about how you will spend them.

In the rush of holiday parties and vacations, it is tempting to go on autopilot, with the chief goal of just getting there, making it to year end, rather than actually achieving something meaningful in the time until the calendar turns over to the next January 1. You may have a rush of New Year’s resolutions, but don’t let this time be lost time. There’s a lot you can achieve even before 2017. Here are some ideas:

  • Set up 3-4 networking events or activities in the months of November and December
  • Write an article on a current topic in your field
  • Line up a public speaking event or, better yet, give one
  • Finish ONE project that has been nagging you all year
  • Start ONE project that you can (and will) complete by year end
  • Take the first step in a project that can complete by mid-year 2017
  • Attend a conference that is meaningful to your future
  • Learn a new skill that you need now or to grow in the future
  • Update your resume
  • Find a new mentor or sponsor who can help propel your career
  • Strengthen an existing relationship by a few acts of giving and kindness
  • Help mentor a younger person in whom you see great potential

When working on your career, it is not enough to just do something. Choose the best idea based on what will bring the most benefits to your career. If you don’t know what that would be, you have just identified your greatest area of need – figuring out what will benefit you based on where you want to take your career next (and, possibly, determine where exactly that is). Can you do that, or make significant progress toward that goal, by year end? Yes, but only if you work on it!

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, author and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. Her book on job interviews, Master the Interview, is available on Amazon.com. Her website is at www.annemariesegal.com.

Images above from Adobe Images.

 

6 Key Value-Proposition Questions to Understand Your Personal ROI

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Think beyond your current experience.

Have you ever defined your highest “value proposition” – both to your current company and in general? It is not always a simple thing to do.

Another way to think about value propositions is to borrow a concept from the investing world. What is your personal ROI? What return on an employer’s investment do you bring? If your total compensation is $50,000, $100,000 or $500,000 a year (plus benefits), for example, is the employer’s investment worth it, and why?

Think beyond your current ROI. Focus not only on the experience you bring and what you have done in the past, but also the greater value you can offer.

We often let our job titles and duties lead our thoughts about our professional net worth, but our true value add to a company is not best expressed by what department we are in or what tasks we have completed. We need to think beyond that and take a look at what problems we solve, what we have accomplished and how we do the job differently (and better) than anyone else who could have held the same role.

Key value-proposition questions include:

1)  How does my role fit into the organization’s big picture?

2) If I left my role tomorrow, what gaps would need to be filled?

3) What have I accomplished in the last 6, 12 and 24 months?

4) Where do I consistently receive positive feedback? Is the feedback meaningful to help me define my unique strengths and talents?

5) What basic needs of my employer do I meet? Providing vision, generating profit, supporting growth, managing risk or something else altogether? Be specific as to needs and how you meet them.

6) Where do I want to move next professionally and how can it benefit me and my current/future employer?

Beyond our current companies, we need to ask how our roles over time fit into our long-term vision for our careers, including our values, talents, strengths, interests, competencies and risk tolerances. Many of us lead careers that we have not fully examined, and therefore miss finding meaning in our careers, which leads to dissatisfaction and ultimately does not let us reach our potential. Defining your value proposition in this larger context helps you understand yourself and your role(s) better, so that not only do you find a better fit, but you are better able to communicate your worth.

This larger definition of value proposition takes more time than most of us are willing to invest, which is why those who do invest that time and energy have a distinct advantage. As you think about your career, what has made you stand out in each of your various roles? Can you tie these together or do you notice a trend?

Takeaway question: are you passionate about the things for which you are known, and if not, how can you become known for the things you are passionate about? 

Even if you are not passionate about all aspects of your job, you can tailor it to bring the role closer to what you do find challenging, interesting and meaningful.

Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. She is currently completing her first book, on job interviews, which will be available in early 2017. To join her monthly mailing list and receive a preview of the chapter on value propositions, please click here and write “Book Preview” in the comments section.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.
Image from Shutterstock.

 

Young Women Lawyers: Get Respect

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“Our outside counsel is always very condescending toward me. He takes time to make comments in front of my bosses that make me look very bad. I may not know a quarter of what he does as an expert, but I am still the client.

I am tired of it but don’t know how to deal with this.” 

This morning I received an email from a young client that outlined the scenario above. It is one of many inquiries I have received as a coach, and as a senior attorney beforehand, that revolve around a single, critical issue: As a young woman attorney (or, in some cases, a senior woman attorney), how can I get the respect I deserve?

Each scenario has its own fine details, but here are some of the points to consider when a situation like this affects you, and ways to achieve greater resolution and respect:

1.   Keep your cool, if possible. I have had senior women partners at major law firms tell me in person that the proverbial “they thought I was a secretary” has actually happened to them.

In one instance that I remember clearly, an attorney (let’s call her Isabel) told me that upon meeting a new partner (Kevin) randomly in an elevator one morning, after their firms merged, said that she was glad to meet him and be able to work with him. Kevin said hello and followed up question about her typing speed.

Isabel answered sweetly, “I am going to let that one slide, as it is clear that you didn’t realize I am one of your new partners.” Rather than being mortified, she let the news sink in and allowed him be mortified by his mistake. At the same time, she didn’t denigrate support staff as a role beneath her, which doesn’t help anyone either, just stated the facts. Isabel told me that to this day, Kevin is extra careful to be respectful around her.

While this may sound like something only a partner can pull off, associates can also keep their cool when asked to get coffee (while the male associates are working on a deal) and the like. The key is to stay calm, rather than sounding like you are annoyed or resentful, even though you may be. Humor works too.

“Sorry, I don’t do coffee. Or windows.”

2.  Enlist your superiors. The worst thing you can do is imagine that you will change someone’s behavior unless there is some real leverage over him/her. It is likely that attorneys and others who do not give you the respect you deserve will not be aware of how they are acting until someone they do respect points it out to them. If there is a consistent pattern of mistreatment, you need to find someone you trust who can try to remedy the situation. If you maintain good working relationships with people above you, that conversation is much easier. Remember not to accuse the person but focus instead on the behavior.

In some cases, rather than enlisting the person’s support, it might be a topic first broached as a request for advice, “Isabel, I have a question about Kevin. Last night while I was drafting your Shareholders’ Agreement, he asked me to get him coffee. Any ideas how to approach that if it happens again?”

If possible, avoid the words “problem” or “issue” if you can, at least in the first conversation. You are simply asking for input about how to improve the situation, not labeling it as a problem (which may stick in Isabel’s mind to your detriment, as unfair as that seems). Of course, if the lack of respect is much more serious, then it does need to be raised as such. 

3.  Understand that the institution may be broken. There are times – more than we wish to know about – that bad behavior is tolerated because an individual is otherwise valuable to the firm. Usually this means he/she is making the firm lots of money, but there are other reasons that someone may be able to consistently act poorly to others and remain in a seat of power. In these cases, you need to figure out if you can (generally) isolate yourself from the individual without harming your career, or if it is time to move on.

If you have determined that senior management will continue to allow certain individuals to undermine you and treat you poorly, it is important to free yourself of the toxicity that can result from being too long in that type of environment, which can have an affect on your overall health. 

4.  Embody confidence gracefully. If you are subject to condescension, be confident without doing a reverse power play. Know your strengths, and do not allow yourself to be “tripped up” by the fancy footwork of someone who thrives on always being right or in charge. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to do your homework, get up to speed or (at times) work hard to understand complicated things on your own. What is does mean is that people are much less likely to talk over you or give you short shrift if you make it clear that it is not in their best interest to do so.

For example, if I were in the same situation as my client above, I would probably say something like, “Thanks, Joe, I’m glad you understand all of this so well. What’s important for both of us right now is for me to understand the parts I need to advise Susan [the CEO] on this transaction. I don’t need to become an expert. I just need you to slow down and explain this one part again so I can get it right and anticipate her questions about it.”

If Joe still lords over you, you may need to speak up for yourself again, or call back for clarification. “You sent me to the statute, but when I read the statute, it isn’t exactly as I heard you explain it. Let me walk you through what I heard again. Yep, I want to make completely sure the rules haven’t changed and there is nothing else we are missing in this case…. Do you have the statute in front of you? OK, call me back when you have it open…”

What is crucial here is that you step into the role of power, without ever calling direct attention to that fact. You are the one advising the CEO (or other senior management). Joe is there to serve you and your company, which is why you are paying him in the first place. Don’t make him lose face by saying it directly, especially if you have no direct influence over whether to fire him and hire someone else. (Influence you should take pains to cultivate over time, by the way.)

Take the microphone, as the saying goes, rather than telling Joe that he needs to give it to you.

5.  Invoke curiosity. Just as coming from a place of humor can work to diffuse a situation, so can curiosity. I will give you an example from my law firm days. I was representing a CEO who has just fired his COO. My guy claimed that the other guy just wasn’t doing any work, but there was an issue that the employment agreement (which thankfully I hadn’t drafted) did not explicitly list this as a reason the COO could be fired. The dispute was not only over regular compensation, but whether the COO should receive any future profits or be cut off on the date of termination.

The COO’s lawyer called me in a hot and bothered state. His guy was not going to budge. He would get 100% of what he was asking for or we were going to court. And what did I think about that?

I could have been offended along the lines of “Who was this person trying to crush me like a bug?” I could have gotten huffy in return. But I did not. Instead, I approached the comment with a posture of curiosity. “How interesting that you would take a hardline approach,” I said. “You obviously know that we will just do the same in return. [Which was true.] Our clients have some emotional skin in the game. Don’t you think as lawyers it is our job to keep clear heads?”

It worked. I had leveled the playing field. We were lawyers – equals – and it was our job to sort this out. The other attorney was so flabbergasted he had to get off the phone a few minutes later, flubbing his words. He was obviously used to turning the screws and getting his way, and I had made it clear in so many words that this negotiating tactic would not work with me.

He was mad on a second call. I was curious again. “Are we fighting with each other too now? I thought we were the lawyers.” I then walked him through my points one by one. Again, I threw him off his game, and he stopped talking down to me, because he could see it would get him nowhere. We won the dispute, and I kept my self-respect.

Lawyers and others, if you have your own ideas about how to gain respect in a particular workplace situation, feel free to leave a comment below.

Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit her website at www.segalcoaching.com.

© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.

 

Image above: Shutterstock.

 

 

 

I Don’t Want a Coach. I Just Want a Job.

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My daughter is nine. Lately, she wants to be an actress. She saw a casting call for Descendants 3, and she is ready to head to Vancouver (we live in Connecticut) to audition, if I will just say yes.

As we read through the requirements, among other things, you must submit a resume that lists your acting experience. My daughter has been in a few local shows at her school and the community center. It is “real” acting, but not necessarily the type that is valued by casting directors. I watch her scour the internet for information and other opportunities, quite devoted and pumped up (as only someone who is just reaching double digits in age can be).

An acting coach’s website pops up in one of her searches about whether a certain agency is a scam. “Oh, a coach could be helpful,” I tell her. “She could let you know how to prepare for your big break. What to learn, where to look for opportunities…”

My daughter turns to me, scoffs and delivers a classic line. “I don’t want a coach, Mom. I just want a job.” Other than the addition of my maternal moniker, she sounds like a few of my clients, if they would just be honest with themselves and me.

Yesterday a prospect pointedly asked me how fast my clients get jobs, as if that were a true measure of my success as a career coach. I gave her the honest answer, which is that “it depends.” I know there are some coaches who make promises – an interview in X weeks or a job in Y months. The truth is that I have clients who get an interview the same week we start working together, and I have others who struggle for some time after that. As I said to the prospect, there are three factors at play: (1) does the person have clarity on what he/she wants, (2) does he/she have skills that the marketplace needs and (3) is he/she ready to go?

Coaching is not a job placement service, but I do have prospective clients who contact me all the time wanting me to “find them a job” rather than help them do the tough but satisfying professional development to prepare themselves for their job search and interview process. They want a magic shot or shock to their system that will make the pain go away (pain of unemployment, pain of a toxic or numbing job, pain of not advancing, etc.) rather than being open to learning a better approach that will serve them in the short term and long term. By contrast, my clients who have the most success are the ones that have or can acquire the three points below.

Clarity. To be successful in a job search, you need clarity on what you are seeking and what roles will actually be a good match for you at the present moment. Notice I did not say “to find a job” you need clarity, but rather to be successful in your search. There are many people who are quite good at finding new jobs, only to be continually disappointed with the results, because they do not ask themselves what they really want to achieve in the short term and long term. There are others who struggle for months to find something, only to realize after starting a new role that it is not what they expected. In both cases, you are better able to find a match for your interests, talents and values if you have invested the time and energy (with or without a coach) to understand what those are.

Skills. What are the hard and soft skills, from strategic thinking to asset-backed financing or from stakeholder engagement to Hadoop – or, as in my daughter’s case, the ability to act, sing and dance – that are required by the targeted roles? Can you demonstrate that you have what it takes or are able to quickly get up to speed, closing the gap? In some fields and roles, in which skills are easier to acquire and there is a huge demand for each open position, you will almost always need to demonstrate your accomplishments in advance. In other cases, and with forward-thinking hiring managers, what you need to demonstrate is an understanding of how the role contributes to the organization, the ability to solve problems and an immediate aptitude and readiness to acquire the needed skills to make that happen.

ReadinessLet’s return again to that last point, readiness. I sometimes describe it as having the “light turned on,” like a cab that is free to pick up passengers. The single most important indicator to job search success, which I notice every day among my clients, is an ability to stand ready for the opportunities that life presents. In fact, cultivating readiness is often a central element to the coaching process – whether we discuss, for example, how to prioritize networking opportunities or present one’s value proposition to the specific audience at hand – and it can be the one that yields the greatest results. Readiness includes openness, self-confidence, responsiveness and an ability to (leave one’s baggage at the curb and) live/work/be in the moment.

Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. 

© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.

Image above: Shutterstock.

 

Young Women & Interpersonal Cues: Missing Them Can Undermine Your Career

At my office recently, I was approached by someone in the hallway I had never met, a fellow tenant (let’s call him George) with a business complimentary to mine. In a few minutes, it became clear George wanted to sell me on something, an idea more than a product or service. He talked excitedly in a loud voice, as he got himself pumped up on a concept that was close to his heart – a local monthly networking group he leads that he wanted me to join. I mentioned that I knew someone from George’s office, a young woman who worked for him (let’s call her Julie), whom George called out to join us. Julie popped out into the hallway a minute later to say hello, as we continued our conversation.

Suddenly, the floor receptionist (let’s call her Clara) appeared. Clara beckoned Julie to come over and answer a question, oblivious to the fact that three people standing in the hallway deep in conversation could be a “meeting” that was just as momentous as a sit-down affair. It did not appear that Clara wanted to talk about anything important, just a routine matter, and I expected Julie to wave her off with a promise to catch up shortly.

And then a very odd thing happened. Something that I had almost forgotten young women can get wrong and how damaging it can be to their careers.

What happened is this: Julie left the conversation. Like the receptionist Clara, who had no skin in the game, Julie missed the cues. She did not grasp that this spontaneous 15-minute meeting in the hallway was important to George, that it’s the way he does business. George was very obviously giving me his elevator pitch, growing his base of support and relying on Julie to help him carry it to a close. And Julie missed the ball. Completely.

The fact was not lost on George, as he made very clear a moment later. “Julie, where are you going?” he asked, as Julie and Clara stood in the hallway, five feet from us, whispering back and forth in their own private conversation. I expected again for Julie to wave Clara off, reading the cues from George, or at least to try to do so, but again she did not.

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“Clara has a question for me,” Julie said flatly, turning her back on us and continuing the conversation. She did not excuse herself by mentioning anything about the relative importance of Clara’s question, that there was an emergency, that she would be “just 30 seconds” or anything to mitigate her allowing a seemingly unnecessary break in the flow of conversation. George continued to speak with me, although he was visibly annoyed by Julie’s absence, turning to glance at her out of the corner of his eye until she finally returned.

As the observer of this interchange, I wished I could communicate to Julie what I had witnessed from a third-party perspective. By bowing out, she had taken a backseat, undermining herself. Julie had made a decision, perhaps unconsciously, that she was not an important member of our makeshift meeting. She was not part of the sales conversation, she “happened” to be there, and could just as easily have been somewhere else without affecting the outcome. This is an error, in fact, because Julie was the link between George and me, as I had only just met George in the hallway and had known Julie for months. If I were to be persuaded to “buy” what George was offering, she certainly could have tipped the balance.

As a result of her stepping away at a critical point in the conversation, Julie gave away her power, allowing herself to deal with minor administrative tasks while a potentially profitable referral relationship was being made (or lost). Or, if there indeed was a pressing need to speak with Clara at that moment, Julie had not communicated that fact in a clear manner so that George (1) felt confident to rely on Julie’s judgment call to leave the meeting, and (2) had maintained focus on his train of thought and momentum, rather than being distracted from his intent. Julie’s actions subtly communicated the opposite: that she felt George did not need her. The key problem is that if George hears this message too many times at critical points in Julie’s career – he doesn’t need her – then, in fact, he won’t.

Have you witnessed a situation like the one I describe with Julie? As women, we want to be recognized as powerful, strong partners in the business world. There are unseen obstacles to our success, and we are denied opportunities based on our gender. And sometimes, we give the power away ourselves. We need to read, and give, helpful interpersonal cues. When we value our own worth and prioritize the more meaningful contributions we can make, we increase our engagement and opportunities in our careers. 

Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse as “How Young Women Can Undermine Themselves in the Business World by Missing Interpersonal Cues.”

 

Key Moments to Raise Your Hand (And Volunteer for New Projects During Your Career)

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When to say “I’ll do it!” and when to let an opportunity pass you by.

In the corporate world, and in other work environments, there are key moments at which you should raise your hand and volunteer for a new project or responsibility. These moments are critical to get right, because once you “own” a project that is going nowhere, it can be difficult or impossible to beg off at a later point. Knowing which moments are the right ones to volunteer is essentially a process of considering the end game: what are you hoping to get from the experience, and what value will it bring?

If you were always someone who raised your hand in school, eager to step up to the plate, you may volunteer too often and get stuck managing or completing projects that have minimal value to you and the organization. If you prefer instead to keep your head down and “get your work done,” you may miss some critical points to increase your leadership, reach and range. Striking a balance between appearing desperate to get noticed for doing a great job and disinterested in new work, here are three key factors to determine whether you should raise your hand when the boss is asking for volunteers.

  1. Is it high profile?
  2. Is it high need?
  3. Are you highly motivated to do it?

In general, if you have at least two out of the three hits above, you should probably be ready to go for it.

HIGH NEED / HIGH PROFILE

All things being equal, high need/high profile projects are, of course, the best projects to be on. You can increase your political capital within the organization by solving something mission-critical, and you can increase your visibility and level of responsibility for years to come.

If you are highly motivated to complete a high need/high profile project, you have the best of all worlds. On the other hand, if you do not initially feel motivated, brainstorm for possible motivators to get you going, including the obvious points I mention above. Generally, if you are in the right field and concerned about your career, you can generate the motivation to complete projects that meet the other two criteria by focusing on the initial and long-term results they will will bring to you and your company, whether or not the day-to-day tasks are always inspiring.

(Note: If you cannot muster up motivation despite the benefits, you may wish to keep your hand down and re-evaluate your commitment to your chosen role.)

HIGH PROFILE / LOW NEED

High profile projects can bring many benefits, but if they are not important to the organization, consider your motivation before volunteering. You may appear inauthentic, harming your credibility, and in the long run you may not have the commitment to do a good job (while on stage in front of the important individuals and teams within your organization). Examples of high profile/low need projects are the pet projects of senior management, which may allow you to rub elbows with the “right folks” but do not significantly advance (or redeem) the main profit drivers of your organization.

HIGH NEED / LOW PROFILE

Similar to high profile/low need projects, you may only wish to volunteer for high need/low profile projects when you are and can remain highly committed to them until completed. In addition, you should weigh the number of these types of projects that it makes sense to take on at one time.

If you do have strong (or sufficient) motivation to manage or participate in these projects, they could be a boon for your career, teaching you new substantive skills and helping you develop further leadership and self-reliance. You also will demonstrate your commitment to advance the goals of the company, even when being “in the trenches” does not yield an immediate gold star. That commitment can bridge the gap to yet another project that is more significant, if the earlier ones go well for you, and also give you a sense of accomplishment and meaning in your career.

LOW NEED / LOW PROFILE

In the case of a low need/low profile project, you likely should not volunteer regardless of how motivated you are to become engaged in something, unless your goals are no longer aligned with your company and current career path. These projects offer little in terms of advancing your career within a company, and in fact will present an opportunity cost, taking you away from more significant work. If you are tasked with one of these projects without volunteering for it, you may wish to accept it graciously and do your best to complete it (or, if appropriate, discuss your views on why it is not needed). If you are tasked with many of these projects and at the same time wondering why you cannot get traction in your career, you may wish to revisit your career goals and standing within the organization.

Copyright 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.