Updated: Sep 8, 2020
I've learned a lot about myself in the most recent years throughout my career, and identified, some of my strengths and weaknesses over the past 6 years, working my way up the corporate latter. I’ve held 3 various sales roles and 7 leadership positions, and in every job I’ve learned what it truly means to be an effective leader, teammate, and a much more well-rounded individual. It hasn’t been easy that’s for sure, I’ve had my share of ups and downs, failures and successes but there's nothing I wouldn't change. It’s forced me to grow, discover my passions, and find myself. Here are 9 tips on navigating the workplace.
1. Money doesn’t bring happiness
While working my way up I soon found myself at the top, sitting alone in a beautiful apartment, with a great paying job, and all the materialistic “things” I thought I wanted. I didn’t necessarily love what I was doing, but the pay was great. Unfortunately, it left me feeling really unhappy.
Identify where you are and what you WANT to be doing. Sometimes where you “want” to be may leave you feeling conflicted, when trying to navigate how you bring that to life. I had to learn that in order to do what your'e passionate about, it may require you to take risk and make some sacrifices. For me, when figuring out what my next step was, I had to pick and choose the some of the recreational things I normally enjoyed doing. I spent more time cooking and staying in vs eating out, or limiting my travel plans, etc. This was a very uncomfortable and confusing time. To remind myself why I started in the first place, I stepped down and took some time for me. I set some new priorities for myself and re-discovered who I was and what I stood for.
2. Tearing others down won't benefit you
After working on some group projects, with some co-workers, I figured if I have my part covered I’m good.. well not quite. After the group project took a turn and went terribly wrong, the one person who wasn’t prepared made all of us look bad. Honestly, I didn't think care to check in and see if I could help because, I wanted my portion to be great so I could shine, and honestly I didn't think much of it because it was on them not me, but that wasn’t the point. We needed to work as a team, which meant we were to hold everyone accountable, nothing can fall through the cracks. Instead of allowing someone to fail, with the intent of thinking it'll make you look good. Collaborate.
“Collaborate vs Competition”
Whenever you feel like you’re doing all the work and someone is slacking miserably, see what you can to support the team (hint: this does not mean do the work for them) Of course if it's something that is completely unacceptable and you’ve addressed it with that person, take it to the supervisor simply looping them in. Remember someone is always watching, your hard work doesn't go unnoticed.
3. Teamwork really is the dream work
You actually can’t do it alone, I just wrapped up The Last Dance on Netflix and while MJ was the most skillful player in the NBA, he still couldn’t accomplish it alone. Everyone has plays a part and your way isn’t the only way (I had to be reminded of that) For example, If you’re creative in the group lead with that and allow for someone else to focus on the analytical portion of the project. Then if there's two creatives in the group, allow for both of you to share your ideas and collaborate. Sometimes your idea just isn’t the one for that assignment and that’s ok, you’ll have your chance a later time.
4. "Take risks and ask for forgiveness later"
It's a quote that we've all heard before, and it’s become one of my favorites. A lot of my career wins came from me pushing the standards and challenging the norms. It’s easy to follow the steps that were placed in front of you, while doing your job comfortably however; every now and then it’s good to switch it up. The worst thing that could happen is for you to be told no or that it didn't work.. but you wont know, if you don’t even try. Don't be afraid to make a mistake, learn from it and improve!
5. In a season of winter
Ever find yourself just over it? (I think that’s the best way to put it) it’s completely normal, maybe you’re in a season of winter. Anything can cause this, maybe you’re tired of the same routine, or you’re just not as passionate about your work anymore, it may be time for a change. All of these feelings are normal, I think it shows that you’re growing. My biggest advice is,
"You should never be comfortable in your role".
Your job should always keep you on your toes, it should challenge you, even if you’ve been doing the same job for 10+ years. Don’t allow yourself to remain comfortable for too long, it then becomes boring and repetitive and more so than likely you’ll start slacking, or just getting the job done with no extra effort. If you're going through this season, it could just be for a little while and you'll need to pick up something outside of work to keep you motivated and excited. It could just be you discovering your strengths and asking your boss to pursue more of that. You could also be going through a time where God is testing you, to pull you closer to him, "For he knows that plans that he has for you" Jeremiah 29:11 I’ve been in countless situations where I thought I was in charge of my next steps, and boy was there something better in store for me.
6. Be your own BOSS
You are in charge of your career, so be your own boss. You set the tone for what you want. You are also the biggest advocate for yourself, the only thing getting in the way of your career is You. Work as if you’re the boss of your company, treat your employees and co-workers how you'd like to be treated. Celebrate your own personal wins but more importantly celebrate the people who work under you. Lift them up, show that their work doesn't go unnoticed. Trust me, they’ll never forget that about you. Celebrate their successes no matter how big or small. How would you run your company? Is there anything that you wish your boss/company would implement? Try it out with your own team or pass along the idea to your boss.
7. Have a Mentor
The idea of having a mentor used to intimated me. For the longest time I didn’t think I had one (or so I thought) Turned out that it was the person that I was constantly going to for advice and asking questions to pick their brain. For me it's was a wise friend, who’s extremely knowledgeable, she holds me accountable and is constantly pushing me. For you, it could be a co-worker who really has your best interest at heart or an old boss who’s helped you navigate your career from the jump. It’s good to hear different perspectives, especially when you’re going through some conflicting times, a mentor will share their points of views and share what they’re hearing from the story. Don’t keep it all to yourself or spill all of this to your family or significant other.. the right person will keep you in check and want to help you succeed.
8. The most powerful thing you have is your voice
My voice has done more good for me than bad, and for that I'm thankful. For years I worried about saying the wrong thing (I still worry) Not saying that everything I say will ever be correct but not speaking up made me feel stuck like I wasn't getting anywhere. In the words of a good friend of mine,
“SPEAK UP SIS”
It’s still a challenge for me but when I vocalize my thoughts, idea, and opinions, I'm not the only one in the room with those thoughts. Speaking up has promoted me internally. I’ve been in many situations where I was shut down whenever I voiced my opinion and let me tell you, I finally stood up and (professionally) told the "Work Karens” to stay in your lane.
9. Put your mental health first
Sadly, it took a pandemic to occur for us to really talk about the importance of mental health in my workplace. We never know what others are going through and you won’t know, until maybe one day you are able to walk in their shoes. Until then we are to be reminded that we're all fighting our own battles. Just recently in the last 2 years, I started to built up a ton of anxiety. Enough for me to want to stay home and avoid everything. Mine centered around work, when I gained more responsibility and my teams needed more of my attention. It felt like they were sucking every little bit energy from me and I felt trapped. Between the pressure of performing at work, managing a team, and servicing the customers, I was overwhelmed and was looking for an EXIT sign everywhere I went.
“It’s about setting Boundaries”
Someone once told me, if anyone needs to chat with you and you know the conversation is going to go way over 10 mins, it may be best to schedule a meeting and put a time limit on it if needed. Block 20 mins out of your day ahead of time and connect with that individual. Take all the time you need for yourself, your body is your temple, a healthy and strong you is a healthy you. Don’t be afraid to take 15 minutes for yourself, use a portion of your lunch break to go for walk. Lastly, it’s ok to say No.
These are just a few tips that I swear by! Got any additional suggestions or advice? I'd love to hear and learn more, so don't forget to share!