TODAY: Filter advice.
Because not everyone who says they only want the very best for you really does!
A few weeks ago I had a long talk with a sister about a recent decision she had made about her career. This sister had been working for the same company in the pharmaceutical industry for exactly 10 years. During that time she had mastered her job, then set out to improve her job satisfaction by proactively finding ways to bring more of her talent and experience into the company. For example, she developed a job rotation plan that would allow her to gain valuable insight into the inner workings of the company’s human resources department (a department she was interested in segueing into) while still fulfilling her regular job assignments.
Although her own supervisor wasn’t very enthusiastic, the powers-that-be within the company were impressed by both her job performance and her initiative, and approved her plan. Unfortunately, the ensuing roller coaster ride caused by the economic crisis and an increase in her workload caused by the resulting inner-company personnel cuts, forced the company to put the plan on ice. A team player (and a realist) from the word “go”, this sister temporarily deferred her own career goals. Disappointed but not derailed, she switched over to “Plan B” and used her time wisely, taking classes after work several times a week to complete her degree. She graduated this summer magna cum laude.
Did I mention that this woman is married and the mother of four?
In a recent conversation with her (female) supervisor during a break at a women’s leadership event, this sister mentioned that she’d like to schedule an appointment to once again discuss the topic of her own career development aspirations. Her supervisor’s reaction both surprised and angered her:
“You know what your problem is? You expect everything to just fall into your lap!”
Maybe if this sister had been younger and less self-assured, these words would have thrown her off balance and intimidated her. But she was far from discouraged! Knowing what she had accomplished despite all adversity over the last few years had strengthened not only her CV, but also the faith she has in herself.
Within a few days after this fateful exchange, a company in the same industry once again approached this sister with a job offer. This time she didn’t think first about how difficult it would be for her colleagues to cover her workload if she left. She also didn’t let herself be dissuaded by the fear of starting over again in a new organization. Instead she made a “wish list” of the things she’d like to achieve professionally in the coming few years, and went to her interviews armed with that list. In the course of negotiations the company showed no difficulty in offering her a package that met the key criteria on her list. She, therefore, had no difficulty signing her name on the dotted line.
When this sister gave her two-week notice later in the week, her boss literally just stared at her with her mouth open. In her own mind’s eye, this supervisor considered herself supportive and realistic about this sister’s career opportunities within the company. But like Tara Sophia Mohr said in her article, there are several reasons why people who provide leadership, support or advice may be off the mark:
- They don’t understand what you want to achieve – or why.
- They feel threatened by you.
- They only offer support if your ideas/objectives further their agenda.
That’s why it’s essential to evaluate the feedback you get instead of swallowing it whole. Don’t let your respect for a person or their rank and title influence how you accept what they say. Instead, test their advice and evaluate what impact it will have on your plans and goals.
In other words: Depending on the person, take it with a (more or less large) pinch of salt!