All by myself

All by myself

In doing a search on career management, I found the following page that looks at the: Best of 2016: Career Management. It’s worth having a look at some of the materials here.

In particular, I had a quick read of the following article: Voice of Experience: Melissa Goldman, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs and Head of Credit Risk, Collateral Management and Cross Divisional Projects, Technology

Now that’s a title!! I’d love to see her business card.

Here are a couple of the comments made in the article”

She continued, “Very often, we get caught up in our immediate goals. It’s really important to pace ourselves and not burn out, making good strategic decisions from a career perspective. A career needs to be managed and you need to be active in identifying where you want to go and what you want to do. But there is a patience aspect to it too. You shouldn’t just rush ahead with blinders on. You should wait for the right opportunity… and then just do it.”

“I try to live a life of little to no regret,” added Goldman. “I don’t want to look back and wonder why I did the things I did. I want my choices to be conscious decisions. I make sure that I define what is most important and adjust my schedule so that I can achieve those things most meaningful to me.”

I have referred to these kinds of statements in some of my previous postings. This, I believe, is a statement that we all know intuitively. These are all things that we should do in working our way through our careers. But this is what we should do, not how we should do it. It would be useful information for me if I could make it actionable. In the absence of how to do it, well it’s just a bunch of words.

The real steps in managing our careers

Trying to live a life of little or no regret is admirable, but Ms. Goldman is making that statement it seems from a position of having achieved her career goals. So setting the goals becomes important and understanding how to execute becomes even more important.

What are the steps? Here are a few things to think about:

  1. Manage upwards. In other words, your boss may think that he/she is managing you, but in reality, you are managing them. Having a good understanding of their goals will help you to achieve yours. If you don’t know what they are, you might very well be working at cross purposes. For example, I worked in a trading environment. Now you might think that it makes life pretty simple. Deals, deals, deals. But your boss’s objectives may be building market share, booking profitable deals as opposed to a lot of deals, establishing the firm as the number one in your market segment, etc.;
  2. Don’t become a “management problem”. Sometimes traders execute transactions without the proper credit approvals in place, without proper documentation, without meeting the organization’s goals. Believe it or not, these may or may not be a problem. I booked a lot of deals that were very profitable for the organization and I was still spinning my wheels. Who would have thought? And I can’t tell you why this wasn’t good enough. That was the problem. I was afraid to ask the questions. I often felt that I was adrift not knowing what I was doing right or wrong. I should have asked. In the absence of asking, how could I possibly know? I ended up at the bottom of the heap. A management problem. When I was terminated from one position my boss told me the reason: “I didn’t fit.”
  3. Be aware of the politics going on around you. The gang would always go out for a drink together on Fridays after work with the boss. I didn’t. I became disconnected from the group. They spent their time massaging the boss’s ego, being one of the “gang”. I spent my time trying to do a good job. Guess who won out? I should have joined the group. If it wasn’t for me, I should have been planning my next career move.

These are just a few of the things that I should have kept my eye on. Performance in and of itself was not sufficient. Fitting in is within the context of that organization’s culture. If you don’t understand it, you’ll end up being all by yourself. And where does that lead? Out the door.

I was out there all by myself and I didn’t know it.

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