Death, Taxes, and Change

They're all inevitable.

Perhaps you took the job because the salary was perfect and the company is flexible about where you work. You may have interviewed and negotiated an offer at your current employer because of the marquee name of the company and you know you’ll stretch and grow there. Maybe you are reading this after a long day at work where the leader of your organization is the most wonderful human being and inspiring to all.  What happens if those variables change? Where does that leave you?

What happens when the person who extended the offer leaves the role before you start? What if the best boss you’ve ever had takes a better role in another company? What happens when your late stage start up is acquired by a huge corporation or an acquisition leaves your team on the chopping block?

Challenges are inevitable. How we adapt to them says a lot about who we are.

A senior member of a Consulting firm recently made an internal move to a fantastic role. After weeks of interviewing, she finally landed the perfect role while staying at the same firm, a huge benefit of working at a large corporation. As she was preparing to transition her team and ramp into the new role, the future boss moved to a completely different team, taking over in a way that made sense for the business but was chaos for the woman about to assume a role in her org.  

I’ve watched as women pledge their allegiance to one leader in the org, forming a strong bond bordering on mentorship only to feel gutted when that leader does what is best for his or her career, and moves to another company.  It happened to me at my last role in a large corporation- the leader at the very top of our organization left and the culture I wanted, the reasons I joined, were now no longer there.

We can control quite a few things in our lives but the decisions of others of the decisions of businesses are not on that list. What we can do is be grateful we are always networking and know deep in our bones that each challenge makes us a better future leader. Adaptability matters. Networking matters more.

So what does successful networking look like?

  1. Having coffee or a drink with former colleagues once a month.  Your former colleagues are a source of industry knowledge, may have moved on to another role or company or may be working with a company they think is a great fit for you. Never put yourself in a position to need a favor or ask for help if you’ve not been staying in touch.
  2. Having coffee, lunch or a 1:1 with current colleagues from another team or function. Sales and Operations, Finance, Legal, Engineering, Deployment, Facilities. If you form bonds with people from other teams or functions, you'll collaborate better, work smarter and faster, and expand your circle of influence across the company. Some of the most interesting opportunities ten years from now, will most likely come from someone not in the same field you share but who remembers working with you.
  3. Contributing or sharing articles on LinkedIn shows your network that you care about your industry, commenting on what others share will let your network know that you are interested in what they are reading, doing and where they are speaking.
  4. Making certain you are open to meeting people older than you or from a different industry. This could take the form of accepting an invitation to a party where you know only one person and the whole idea of being social with people ten years your senior or not in your field feels like the worst idea ever spoken aloud.  Diversity in a network is a HUGE Indicator of future success.   As I once told a 28 year old, “Twenty eight year olds who only hang around with other 28 year olds don’t get the best jobs. Your best opportunities will come from those in their mid to late thirties and older.”   One of the most wonderful places I ever worked was an opportunity that came to me from kitesurfing.  Kitesurfing is not my sport-water sports are my husband’s domain; but a friend of his from that sport knew of an opportunity on his team and my husband introduced us because it was a perfect fit for me.

This is also why managing your career matters. If your roles or successes are all tied to who you knew or how well you liked your boss, beware. Those people are managing their career too.

Dorothy JohnsonComment