So what will 2011 bring - a slow, agonising climb out of global recession? Growth in job opportunities? Maybe, but don’t even think of a jobs boom; at best, recovery will be uneven, with some areas still shedding. So it won’t be the phoenix soaring from the ashes, more the Creature floundering from the Black Lagoon. It’ll be slow and painful, but at least it’ll be forward-looking and focused on the Future - because the rosy, money-coated Past has gone for good!
Here are my seven top tips to help get the best out of 2011:
The world of work is changing
Amid spending cuts and recession, work is now a foreign country: they do things differently there. In the words of one observer ‘the unit of work is no longer a whole job’ and it’s a change not confined to blue-collar workers. With the explosion of higher education in the Far East, white-collar knowledge workers elsewhere are being priced out of the market, maybe 40 million in a generation. Descriptions such as ‘permanent temporary worker’ and ‘fractional worker’ will become familiar, as will widespread job insecurity. Portfolio working and outsourcing will grow, and employees will be transformed into freelancers. My tip? Don’t wait until we’re back to normal; we’re there!
‘Work on the job, not just in the job’
The world of work is set to become more competitive than ever. It won’t do to say in 2010 that ‘I’ll find something in 2011’. You should already be planning your strategy. Step back from the day-to-day hurly-burly and consider how and where you’ll pursue employment in 2011, aiming at a specific goal. Do this even if you intend to remain in your present post.
Your online presence
If you’re not online, you should be! But let’s sort the wood from the social network trees. Twitter and Facebook are for fun. For business networking you need to be on LinkedIn. Why? Because worldwide over 65 million other professionals already are, exchanging ideas and opportunities. And don’t wait until you’re actually redundant to get connected; act now!
All work, no play...
If you don’t know about the Wheel of Life, find out now. The circle is divided into slices like a pie. Each slice represents part of your life: career, finance, health, family, fun, and so on. You decide how well you’re doing in each part: you’re filthy rich, for example, but you’re at death’s door and you hate having fun. If you’re doing well, you score on the scale near the rim of the wheel, if you’re pants you score near the hub. Obviously, the more balanced your wheel, the smoother your ride through life; the less balanced your wheel, the bumpier the ride. If you’re a workaholic, you probably accept the bumpy ride, but you should nonetheless stop and think. Consider those hugely successful people who value family above business, and whose spiritual health is as sound as their physical well-being. Then ask yourself where you’ll be on the Wheel of Life in 2011, whether your wheel needs balancing before the bumpy ride shakes it to bits!
Leverage your personal assets and play to your strengths
When savvy old Archimedes said that he’d move the world with a lever, he asked only for a fulcrum. He didn’t ask for more effort. So leveraging assets doesn’t imply more effort; it means better use of the same effort. Time, for instance, can’t really be ‘saved’ but it can be leveraged for more effective use of the same old 24 hours!
To achieve this, you play to your strengths; you don’t focus on eliminating your weaknesses. This isn’t an excuse for staying in your comfort zone and not stretching yourself, however. You should rather make full use of your strengths in your business role while ensuring your weaknesses aren’t fundamental to your job and your objectives. If you’re lucky, this is already the case; if you’re not, there’s a remedy.
The answer is to step back and audit your strengths, preferences and weaknesses. In particular itemise the things that can be done by and only by you, in effect do a personal SWOT. Then look closely at activities you dislike and that don’t play directly to your strengths. Finally, in my own phrase, ‘do what you do best and outsource the rest’. Either delegate inside your organisation, or find ways outside to cover weaknesses. This will yield far better results than tinkering with things you’re not good at.
Take control of CPD to make it work for you (not vice versa)
If you view CPD (Continuous Professional Development) as an add-on nuisance I suggest you alter your mindset pronto! CPD should be a core activity which benefits you by sharpening your skills; better communication, better negotiating, better prioritising. It’s much more than absorbing technical know-how by rote. Think of it instead as a means of seeing the whole picture, of working on the job rather than in the job and of enhancing both your professional and your personal life. Remember too that nowadays we can learn as we go, absorbing new ideas online and in the real world in a personalised manner that fits with our own preferred learning styles.
Smart phones, other technology, and pantomime
Wow, progress! Once, we went to work and our bully-boy boss gave us a hard time. Nowadays, with mobile phones and similar Wunder-gizmos, bully-boy bosses can give us a hard time 24/7.
It’s like washing-machines. Washing machines were supposed to unshackle women (of course women) from the chains that bound them to bleach, drudgery, tub and mangle. Nowadays, women are shackled to endless electrified washing as society demands endlessly clean clothes.
So, in our Magic Lamp world of IT, are you Aladdin the Master or Genie the Slave? Because you have a choice! If technology helps you achieve your vision, that’s fine; otherwise, it’s a pest. Personally, I just bin digital calendars. You can too!
Written by Carol McLachlan for www.CareersinAudit.com, the leading job site for auditing vacancies.