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4 Reasons Why Your Career Can Go From Sexy to Scary

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Enjoy the ride because your career will be a roller coaster. I sat with the psychologist asking him why I was stressed out after successfully speaking at a World Class Supply Chain Optimization and SAP Conference in Orlando. I expected doors to open, fantastic job offers and maybe even a throne made of gold to look down at my minions. I found it insufferable that I wasn’t being hailed as the next best thing since sliced bread. Then the psychologist said a few golden words. “Just enjoy your success for what it is.”  And there you have it. Careers are roller coasters, sometimes you are at the peak, planting your flag of success, and sometimes you are at the bottom wondering how you got there. Life constantly throws us curve balls, it’s how we react to them and dust ourselves off that counts. Enjoy the ride when you can.

You are going to have a Taker boss or Taker work colleague at one point. In the book – Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, there will always be Givers, Takers and Matchers in your career. Givers help others succeed, Matchers help but expect something in return, and Takers are always in the a**hole group. Takers impose their ideas, suck energy from the group, want favors but rarely reciprocate, and are generally blind to their self centered behavior. My new boss a few years back stormed out in the middle of a meeting leaving the chair spinning by itself like some ghost inhibited it. We tracked him down and asked him what happened. His response was “I decided to teach you a lesson because you guys were not listening!” Huh? This Taker behaviour did not bode well. He went on to belittle everyone and make sure we were never five minutes late to work. Eventually he and the senior manager were fired but the damage had been done. The challenge with having a Taker for a boss is he or she is in your face 8 hours a day. So you ride it out or decide to leave. Scary career can definitely go back to sexy once that situation clears up!

Your team is your lifeline. I just finished working with a terrific team of 4 consultants for 2 years under very difficult circumstances at a client. We complemented and pushed each other each day as well as keeping our sense of humor intact for 2 years. With your team you learn styles, strengths, weaknesses and build on them like a professional sports team. I would love to work with them again (and fortunately I am with one). This is an important point. Each time you switch careers, jobs or even departments you switch to a new team. In the complex world we live in it’s very important to have complementary skill-sets, because you can’t do it alone (like your wacky new boss thinks). A great team that you keep by your side (whether you are the boss or not) will keep your career sexy for many years.

Clients can be Takers as well. If you think clients are always right, they aren’t. I run a small web based business and if a client treats me with disrespect and attacks me personally, I delete him from the data base. Like that time Superman banishes his enemies to an outer space prison.  Bam! No creepy client wasting my time. But in the big business world it doesn’t always work like this. You can’t banish them to outer space – unfortunately. It isn’t good business practise.  As a consultant I expect my clients to collaborate with me on critical issues. I expect them to take time to at least provide clear business requirements and to run a few key tests before moving into production. At one recent client, we were working on a 2 Million dollar cost savings to increase the cycle time of making changes to business jets in production. Their own clients would want a new chessboard, stereo or shower installed in their fancy new jet. Our job was to make sure the data was clean in order to measure the cycle time of these changes. Our client was never available and we had to call or email constantly for requirements or testing information. It was frustrating and very disappointing and it was obvious the client was a taker. It took months instead of weeks to install the first phase of this mini-project. For each day of delay they were potentially losing $10,000 dollars in savings. It was a reflection of how the Business did not collaborate with IT at the highest levels, and we consultants were caught in the ugly middle. What a roller coaster ride! Definitely not sexy for my career!

Let’s Recap

Enjoy your career successes when you can, because another challenge is just around the corner.

You will have a Taker as a boss or colleague and you and your career will have to deal with it.

Your team around you is your lifeline and you build success, value and your careers together.

The client can make your job or career a roller coaster ride because they don’t even collaborate among themselves!

Hope your career stays sexy!

Terry Vermeylen is hell bent on rapidly transforming your business into a World Class Operation by major transformation or by eliminating one bad habit at a time.

Terry Vermeylen brings 30+ years of experience in SAP and Business Supply Chain Process improvement. He has consulted the US Navy and some of the world’s largest and most successful manufacturing companies focusing primarily on the Aerospace and Pharmaceutical industries.

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