Oct 22 2015
Someone once said it was great to talk about maintaining work-life balance but you had to create that balance before you could maintain it. The same holds true for career management strategy and your executive career. You need to develop a strategy before you can execute it, and you can’t re-think it if you don’t have one to start with.
Interestingly, the concept of work-life balance shows up in Wikipedia’s definition of career management: “The outcome of successful career management should include personal fulfillment, work/life balance, goal achievement and financial security.”
Create a Career Management Strategy
Wikipedia defines strategy as “a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty.” Using that definition, your career management strategy needs a plan that takes a high-level view of your long-term career goals, as well as potentially significant shorter-term goals that fit into the larger framework. But it needs more than that.
It needs action. A plan without action isn’t much of a plan. It’s like a tiger with no teeth!
Regardless of whether you are poised to leap into the executive ranks in the near future or have occupied a senior position for quite a while, you need a workable career management strategy. Although there’s no “one size fits all” approach to developing that strategy, some good points to consider include the following:
- What have you done to identify or reassess your talents, interests, motivating forces, and potential marketability?
- Have you performed your due diligence regarding factors that might influence your choice of a career direction (including, but not limited to, economic factors and educational requirements)? If so, what decisions have you made based on the results of that activity?
- What kind of time-frame will you be looking at for executing your career management strategy once you have it? What could get in the way of that forward movement, and how will you overcome those obstacles if they occur?
Re-Think Your Career Management Strategy
So you’ve had a strategy in place for a while, maybe a few years. Are you confident this strategy is still as great as it seemed when you created it? Has there been any significant change that might suggest a re-think would be a good idea?
Particularly if your career management strategy has basically gathered dust for a few years—that is, you haven’t really taken a serious look at it and considered a possible need for change—you might find yourself in a spot where re-thinking your strategy is not only wise but imperative.
For example, do you still really want to be a CEO in your next gig, or are you concerned that such a role won’t leave you any time for the family you now have and cherish? Have you seen fellow executives forced to cut back or give up entirely on their high-level career goals due to ill health brought on by tremendous pressures in their jobs?
Sometimes re-thinking means making relatively minor alterations in your career management strategy. Other times, it involves a major revamping because so much has changed. As a Reader’s Digest quote said back in 1957, “Life is what happens to us while we're busy making other plans.” If you built in some flexibility and contingency elements when you created your strategy, you should find the re-think process easier to manage than if you started with a rigid approach.
Career Management Strategy = Career Roadmap
A well-thought-out career management strategy serves as a career roadmap. When you look at a roadmap, you see the starting-point and the destination you’ve selected for your journey. You might also see that you have more than one choice of routes to reach that destination—side roads you can take to explore places a bit off the beaten path, bypasses that let you avoid congested city centers, and more. You’ll find that your career management strategy can fulfill a similar purpose.
Create a strategy that fits your needs now and can be adjusted over the years as your career goals and circumstances change. Remember that it’s a tool, just as a printed or online roadmap is a tool. It works best for you when you actively use it and keep it up to date. The difference is that while mapmakers might update the maps from time to time, it’s up to you to keep your career management strategy current.
Our BlueSteps Executive Career Services team includes highly qualified coaches who can help you with every phase of your career management strategy—from assessments through branding, career research, informational interviewing, and active job search. Let us help you move to the career you want where you can make a difference!