So, you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone and applied for a role you don’t think you’ll get, after all you don’t meet all the required skills listed; you’ve worked for the same company for over 15 years, albeit in various roles; and the idea of changing industries seems more trouble than it’s worth. Whilst some might find this situation exciting and view it as an opportunity not to be passed up, finding myself in this exact position I was uncertain to say the least.
What I didn’t know at the time, as many of us don’t when making a big change, is that the subsequent 5 years would be full of growth, development, challenges, change and opportunities, and of course stepping out of my comfort zone a few more times! Whilst these are all mostly positive, in hindsight, there were things I can have done to make the transition easier for myself, my Director and my colleagues.
Some of my key learning over the years:
Change is good!
Be it a change in responsibilities, industry, role or all of the above, change is often a sign of progress and it takes far more energy to fight the change, than to embrace it and be a part of something better.
For myself, the hardest part was making the transition from HR and Administrative roles within a large retail organisation where I was one of thousands of employees, which was very structured and procedure-driven – to a specialised recruitment consultancy where I was one of three employees at the time, working alongside the MD to create processes and help build a business to where we are now with 10 employees and becoming an equity owner in the next FY.
I found that with change came personal and professional growth that I didn’t know I was capable of – make changes before you believe you are ready and you might surprise yourself!
We have all heard the statistic that women will wait to apply for a job until they are 100% qualified, whilst men will apply for a role if they satisfy 60% of the requirements. Why is this and how can we change it? I know from personal experience that I have looked at a job advert and almost NOT applied for this very reason – we often convince ourselves that we are not good enough, or ready for a role when the skills we are missing can be easily learnt.
Culture and team fit have become more highly regarded than skills and knowledge – skills can be taught to the right person; whilst core values and team fit cannot!
It’s okay to ask for help
Part of growth is learning – and I am yet to meet someone who knows it all from get go, or who doesn’t get flustered when the work piles up at end of year! We all have to start somewhere and build on our knowledge base and confidence as we go – absorbing and learning new skills over time.
Having said that, where it is a knowledge-gap issue, search for the simple solutions first – the obvious answers you know your manager will direct you to first! If, on the other hand it’s a problem you need help with – come armed with some possible solutions to your problem. This is something that works well within our organisation – it encourages strategic thinking, ideation and problem solving skills to be developed, and shows that you have taken the time to find a solution rather than looking for the easy way out.
Asking for help when overwhelmed with workload, or uncertain when decision-making obligations benefits the whole team. If you are having trouble managing your workload, or deciphering the latest office technology, chances are there are others struggling and in the same boat. Assisting others and being there to lend a helping hand goes a long way to building better functioning and stronger teams.
Prioritisation and Delegation
Yes, the dreaded P and D words – two of the hardest things to adopt successfully, particularly if you are somewhat fearful of letting go and fearful of failure (be it failure of yourself or your team). When it comes to prioritisation, things can be tricky – differentiating the “important” vs “urgent” can be difficult enough on your own; however, when dealing with other colleagues or stakeholders, their views on important vs urgent may differ.
Having a clear understanding of the company’s vision and goal, as well as a good understanding as to what drives your colleagues and stakeholders will go a long way in managing differences when it comes to prioritisation. Once priorities are set, there are a multitude of platforms and software that can assist in managing your time and projects to ensure priorities are met – Asana and Trello included, or simply use your work calendar and task features to maximise your time and priorities.
Delegation is essential if you are managing a team – you would think that it would come easily and naturally to us all – after all, by delegating, you are essentially lessening your workload, right? Well, in theory it is great, but if you are fearful of failure, or have other controlling tendencies, delegation can be your worst nightmare!
I have found the key is to successful delegation within my team is simple – train -> trust -> let go!
Although it may be hard to, at some point it is essential to your own development to let go and allow others to either succeed or fail – but even by failing we are learning and making headway (not easy to do, but an important lesson in life). Remember, if you have spent the time in training your team and sharing your knowledge with them, they will be better equipped to handle tasks you throw at them.
Look after yourself – define your balance
As workloads increase, responsibilities change and business pressures remain, it is important to find a balance for yourself – what can you commit to at work and what do you need to make you happy outside of work? Have this discussion with your manager and be completely open and honest about what a true work/life balance looks like to you.
With flexible work practices becoming the norm, rather than the exception, there are more opportunities for balance between work and home life (70% of the team at Parity work part-time and all have the opportunity to work flexibly when the needs arise). Balance might, on the other hand, mean:
- Organising a cleaner (one of the things I procrastinated over for way too long, but something that I needed to achieve my balance!);
- Having a monthly massage;
- No work phone calls on your days off (apart from urgent matters, this is my one “non-negotiable” in our office – we all have our “one non-negotiable”; something that we need/ask from the team that is communicated and respected by others);
- Spending quality time with friends – the important thing is to define this for yourself and be clear with your team.
Had I known then what I know now, I would tell my younger self to take that leap without an ounce of hesitation – finding the right fit in terms of team, role, challenges, career progression, family/work balance, values and work ethic is not easy to come by and I was fortunate to have found it. Reflecting upon my professional growth, inspiring boss and colleagues I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from, and how much I have contributed over the last 5 years, I am thankful that I took the leap of faith (although frightening at the time)!
Mirjana Males is the Business Manager at Parity Consulting; recruitment experts in Product, Marketing, Communications and Digital – creating parity by investing in ALL relationships. A self-confessed 80’s music enthusiast and master baker, Mirjana’s strengths lie in her attention to detail, contract negotiation and management.
For a confidential discussion, Mirjana can be contacted via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone +61 2 8068 2016