career, interviewing, job search, unemployment

YOU are in charge of your career. Don’t ever think otherwise.

At one point in a former role, I had an employee who was under-performing. In talking with the employee about the situation, they provided reasons why they could not perform their job adequately:

  • They hadn’t received adequate training from the outgoing employee or their manager
  • Their manager didn’t give them enough face time/direction on how to compete their assigned projects
  • The team was dysfunctional/the work environment was difficult
  • The key stakeholder with whom this person needed to interface in order to complete their projects was buried in other work and hence not readily available.

In reply,  I said “There’s one major component missing from this.”

The employee asked, “What’s that?”

I said, “You.”

Everything they’d shared with me made it very clear that they took zero accountability for their current performance issues.

In gathering 360 feedback, it became very clear that the employee in question: had not taken advantage of the training time offered by the outgoing employee; wasn’t managing up to their manager effectively; and had not made an effective case to the key stakeholder as to why this project was worth them prioritizing.

When things don’t go like you want or expect, it’s easiest to place blame somewhere else. For instance, when you and your significant other have a fight, to think you’re in the right and they are wrong. As the example above illustrates, it happens in a professional context as well.

The more mature–and much more difficult–thing to do is to accept you have responsibility for a conflict or sub optimal outcome, and then spend some (often tough) time analyzing why. What did you do that contributed to that outcome or conflict? What did you do (or didn’t do) that caused something to fail?

Can’t find a job and are blaming the economy/your industry/the President/Congress/The Pentaverate? You need some remedial education–read this. If you’re still blaming the aforementioned? This blog isn’t going to help you. Sorry.

Didn’t get that interview? Go back and review the resume you submitted. How could it have been better tailored to that job?

Didn’t get the job? Review each conversation you had in turn. Did you represent yourself to the best of your skill and ability? Did you build effective rapport? Ask thought-provoking questions? Follow up with a great thank you note re-selling them on you?

You did get the job? Great. How long are you prepared to fail at it until you get to a base level of initial mastery? During that time, how are you going to learn from those failures (rather than deflecting them onto other people/circumstances)?

I leave you with this:

You are solely responsible for the success or failure of your career. Nobody and nothing else. It will be impacted by various people and circumstances, absolutely. But how you choose to react–and take action–is entirely up to you.

Own it. Always. People will respect you for it. And you will be far more successful.



3 thoughts on “YOU are in charge of your career. Don’t ever think otherwise.

  1. Great advice. I encounter this all the time.

    I’ve always encountered obstacles. I’ve worked with bad bosses. I’ve been successful anyway.

    Sometimes no matter what you do, you fail. That is still a time for me to review and consider what I could have done differently. I can’t fix what other people did or change events beyond my control. I can take a hard look at my own actions and carefully evaluate what I might have done differently.

    You did mention managing up and I think that’s a key skill too many fail to learn. It’s really awkward for me right now because I am having to really handle my current boss while also trying to teach some of my leads and managers how to “manage up” without “handling” me.

    Posted by Rob Aught | June 19, 2013, 8:35 am
    • Rob: Thanks for the comment and the follow.

      Managing up is not an innate skill; you need to learn how to do it effectively. Every manager wants/needs a different level of updates/input. Always useful to have a clarifying conversation on how you work/communicate together up front; doing so can avoid unpleasant learning lessons down the road.

      Posted by Jon J-B | June 19, 2013, 8:41 am


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