How many times have you ever felt that your career was being stifled because your boss either has not recognized your true potential and/or is not giving you the kind of coaching/training you need to be as successful as you know you could? It is a dilemma everybody faces sometime in his or her career and many people feel powerless to overcome it.
The truth is you are the CEO of Brand Called You. It is up to you to ensure you are getting the right opportunities to stretch and grow. You are the one who will need to be proactive if the situation is expected to change. Chances are your boss is either unaware or happy with the way things are and has no business reason to make exert energy in making the situation different. I appreciate that is a harsh statement, but too often it is absolutely true.
How Do You Know If You Have A Good Boss?
There are 7 questions you can ask to determine if your boss is an asset or a liability in developing Brand You. If he or she is great, then as the Aussies say “good on ya”. If not, then you have some work to do in order to change the situation.
- Can you access your boss when needed? Do you feel comfortable reaching out for help or asking for resources?
- Is your boss one of your personal mentors? Do you feel he or she really cares about your success and is an advocate?
- Does your boss teach you or does he/she simply throw you in the deep end to see if you will drown or survive?
- Do you have a clear understanding of what you need to do to be successful?
- Do you receive any personalized training to build your skill set?
- Is you boss a confidence builder or a confidence destroyer? Does he/she correct you in public or in private? Do you feel he/she has your back?
- Does your boss have a track record of prior reports that have gone on to become successful in your area of passion?
The questions are not hard to answer, but the answers may be uncomfortable to internalize. It is important to be objective when you answer them.
So If You Decide Your Boss Isn’t Good, What Can You Do?
First, be certain you know the expectations for what good performance looks like. You do not want to be working hard only to find you fell short because you didn’t fully understand what was required. A typical way to address this is to create a personal work plan that describes your most important projects and the expected outcomes. Have your boss comment on your plan to ensure alignment, and have a conversation about what his/her expectations are in both the way you get the work done and what the measurable outcomes are. You may be enlightened by the discussion.
Second, know which skills you want to improve in order to build your personal brand equity. Pick no more than 3 and then decide which projects will help you achieve your goal. I used to tell the marketers I managed that I could teach you everything you need to know from almost any project I assign. It all depended on the focus of our conversations about the project. If you needed to improve your financial management skills, we’d discuss the budgeting and forecasting aspect of your project. If you wanted to strengthen your leadership skills, we’d focus on how to apply the 5-E leadership model to your work; and so on. But it starts with you knowing what skills you want to develop.
As an exercise, create a table with the left hand column representing the 3 skills you most want to develop at this point in your career and the top row representing the projects you are working on. At each intersection, describe how the project will help you sharpen your identified skills. Not every project will help you develop all 3 skills, so it is okay to have some blanks. If you find a vertical or horizontal column that is completely blank, then you need to rethink (renegotiate) your work plan.
How Do I Know If I Am Part Of The Problem?
Relationships are a two way street. Being blessed with a good boss is only half of the equation. You need to be a good employee too; otherwise you will not be effective in developing your personal brand.
Since I gave you a set of questions to help you determine if you have a good boss or not, here is a set of questions to figure out if you are part of the problem.
- Do you know what motivates your boss or what he/she needs to be successful?
- Have you told your boss what motivates you and what skills you are trying to develop?
- Have you asked your boss what he/she expects from you?
- Do you ever give feedback to your boss on how well your development needs are being met? Or how your relationship might improve?
- Are you honest when talking with your boss or do you deflect difficult conversations because you are afraid?
- When your days are jammed, do you still make time to seek advice or help from your boss?
It is my experience that most people will find that there is room for personal improvement. I also find many people either do not want to admit it or are not sufficiently motivated to create the change they want to see. But, to unlock the full potential of any brand, you need to have and act on an improvement plan. Failure to do so creates the risk that the Brand Called You will become non-competitive or worse irrelevant.
I hope the sets of questions are helpful in your personal branding journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts and reaction to the above. Leave a comment and share your experience so other may benefit. If you want to learn more about self-branding, CLICK HERE.
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