This month, one of my successful career management clients, a Senior Human Resources professional, offered to share her insights gained through her own transition experience
Lessons from a Transition
Let’s call it for what it is….being in transition is a stressful experience that most people wouldn’t voluntarily choose. I now see a happy ending to my transition on the horizon. Here are a few lessons I learned along the way that may help you or those you know.
Cultivate a support network. I am fortunate that over the years I developed relationships with some amazing people. Without realizing it, I found myself creating my own board of directors. Some in my network were strategic advisors, while others were there to catch me at the end of a disappointing day. Having a diverse network enabled me to get what I needed without burning out a few people. I learned how much people cared about me.
Avoid toxic people. As strong as my network is, I learned that some were unable to support me in the way I needed. They either couldn’t understand the situation, felt threatened emotionally, or tried to make the story of why their career hasn’t progressed my story. After realizing that I didn’t feel better after connecting with them, I lessened my contact and learned how to protect myself when they did reach out.
Have a Plan B, C and D. Most people go on an interview with the outcome of securing the position, me included. When it doesn’t happen, you can be left disillusioned. Having several irons in the fire can help refocus you on what’s next. It enabled me to shake the dust off my shoes and move on to the next conversation…which leads me to…
Lower your expectations. I found myself in a situation where an influential manager was interested in meeting with me and suggested I chat with two of her direct reports first. One of her directs served up a real need on her team and indicated that she wanted to create a role….which matched my background perfectly. I went into my meeting with the influential manager with high expectations, only to have them dashed in the first 10 minutes when she told me she could not increase her headcount. I was devastated. What I took away was that I need to approach each discussion as an opportunity to learn information vs. being the one where I’ll be offered a job. It makes life easier and puts me in the position of being open to ideas vs. disappointed. Adopting this perspective sooner would have saved me pain.
Be an entrepreneur. Prior to my transition, I, like many others, had far too much work to do. Without having a defined role with a steady flow of work attached to it, I learned how to capitalize on my colleagues being overworked. Identifying a problem that was recognized and no one had the bandwidth to tackle was a winning strategy. Managers continued to view me as someone who makes a difference and kept a positive attitude while in a difficult situation.
If you are in transition now or experienced one recently, take time to consider what you learned. Likely you will come to know consciously that are stronger and smarter than you ever thought you were. For now, I hope that you found my reflections helpful. I wish you a happy ending.