Coach Shari: Soft Skills
85 Broads recently welcomed Jodi Allen to talk about her journey to finding personal and professional success. Jodi is currently Vice President of North America Marketing at Procter and Gamble and has grown her entire career there. Of course, one of the most important things we wanted to know from her was the secret to finding real success in your career. What truly separates the very successful individuals from all the rest?
The advice she shared was indispensable. You not only have to excel in your expertise area and consistently produce excellent work, but on top of that, you must master the soft skills needed. The two must be fully present in order for you to achieve your goals. The answer wasn’t actually that surprising to me.
In my opinion, one of the most important soft skills you must possess is your ability to articulate what you want and desire in your career. Often, recent graduates focus on getting a firm grasp on their job responsibilities and expect everything else to fall into place. That’s just not the way it works.
Lately, it seems as though I’ve come across many young people that are frustrated in their early careers. They don’t feel that they’re being challenged and they watch people get promoted above them when they feel deserving of that same opportunity. But, have they done everything they can possibly do to ensure that they find success and career happiness?
Not always. The young professional has a responsibility to take more control in their career. He or she needs to have a voice and be able to articulate what they need in order to be fulfilled in their position. They need to be able to voice what their goals are at the company and give feedback when feedback is needed. Although this is their first position, they need to have a clear understanding of what they want and develop a plan to go for it. They must believe that it is possible to control their universe and make things happen, until proven otherwise.
The reason that this is difficult is because many of us have been trained to keep our nose clean and not cause problems. Having your voice comes with a risk attached—you don’t know exactly how your opinion is going to be received. You might not be viewed in a positive light. However, you must take that risk to get what you want.
Just the other day, I had a conversation with my future daughter-in-law. She just graduated as a nurse practitioner and currently works at the hospital as a nurse. She had a brief conversation with a neurosurgeon and informed him that he hadn’t handled a situation according to protocol. She knew that the information could be received positively or negatively, but nevertheless, it needed to be said. Ten minutes later, he came up to her again and asked if she had graduated with her advanced degree yet. When she said yes, he suggested that she work for him.
It’s important to have your voice in your first position. This first position can be a template for every other job in your career. As humans, we tend to repeat our actions over and over unless we make a very conscious decision to change our behavior. If you refuse to take control, create possible alternatives and take action in your first situation, it’s possible that you will approach every position in your career the very same way.
Being able to have your voice, seize control and make things happen, regardless of your situation, is the foundation of career success. It’s a major part of being a Resilient Worker.