Are You Experiencing a “Crisis of Contribution”?

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No matter your age, area of expertise, breadth experience or career path — there are fundamental components of work life that cannot be negotiated.

When doubt surrounds these non-negotiable elements, we can experience a host of negative emotions. (Reading this post by Sally Blount helped my thoughts on the matter coalesce.)

One such component, is the belief that we are making a worthy contribution. Call this meaningfulness, call this worth, call this task significance, call it anything you like. When you feel as if you are not making a difference — key aspects of work life, such as energy and engagement can be threatened. (See this APA post about the “why” of our work.)

Let’s call this dynamic a “Crisis of Contribution”.

When you explore career paths that no longer motivate contributors, this dynamic is often expressed. On some level, the individual feels that their dedication and hard work fail to bring outcomes they deem valuable to their “work self”. This becomes quite draining — and forces their hand to pursue some kind of resolution or change.

You’ll find this dynamic rearing it’s ugly head in a number of situations. So — keep an eye out and explore possible adjustments.

Here are a few examples:

  • You do not have an effective voice. Whether you are holding back because of self-doubt, prevailing circumstances or you are hearing a clear message to “tone it down” and take a back seat — having the opportunity to express your perspective fully is crucial to a happy work life. When this path is stifled — feelings of frustration, resentment and disengagement likely follow.
  • What you bring cannot be applied. Sometimes your leading strengths, skill or ideas still cannot make a difference simply because the situation is inflexible. Whether there are extreme time, people or budget constraints — your solutions aren’t being considered. This can create a painful work-related depression, so to speak. At some point, you shut down entirely.
  • You have concerns that your skill set isn’t the right fit. When we start a new role, there is often doubt that we have the “right stuff” to make a difference. (Which is a completely normal thought.) Even with well established careers — contributors harbor doubts that they have the skills and experience to make a strong contribution.
  • Your work isn’t ringing true. When your contribution is valued by others, but no longer has meaning for you — it is time to pause and take stock. For example, I’ve spoken to individuals who realized they are now playing in the wrong “career field”. Either they had evolved, the field had evolved or a combination thereof. As a result, an adjustment was in order. (See more about career disruption here.)

Stay tuned for more on this topic.

For now ask the following questions and reflect on your answers:

  1. Have you noticed a decrease in opportunities to express your opinions or apply valued expertise to your work? How has this affected you?
  2. Have you sensed a shift in feeling connected to products or outcomes?
  3. Do you no longer identify with serving your customers or clients?
  4. Do you find another role appealing or intriguing? Why are to drawn to the role?

Have you experienced a “Crisis of Contribution”? Did you move on?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial & Organizational Psychologist. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared at The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum

How to Survive When Challenging People Knock You Off Your Game

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No one aspires to meet the client, colleague or supervisor whose mere mention is synonymous with pain. However, challenging people (and the situations they create) are a fact of work life. Chances are high that you will encounter one of these individuals along the way — and if you’ve landed in a tight spot with someone who just isn’t playing fair — it can feel like a tidal wave of emotions. The experience can leave us feeling off balance and not quite like ourselves.

Feeling undermined or attacked is traumatic, and emotions can run quite high. Most of us will immediately formulate an internal counter-attack or argument. However the opportunity for this play out in real life is often dependent on the existing power dynamic. In some cases, we simply have to process the situation to move through it.

If you are not in the position to openly respond  — or directly defend yourself — you can be left with disturbing after-effects. We might feel a little “hung-over” or dazed. Ultimately, encountering toxic people can affect our ability to thrive in the workplace.

This is a real and present danger. So we must address the situation quickly.

Here is a bit of advice to wade through the fall-out:

  • Psychologically separate. The first thing to protect is your work life well-being. This may require applying mindfulness techniques to observe the situation from a safer psychological distance. Most human beings have a powerful response to extreme negative feedback — so ensure that your emotions (and feelings of worth) are not hijacked or destroyed. Think of things this way: What if the situation happened to a friend or co-worker? What advice would you offer them?
  • Seek support. Touch base with a trusted colleague or supervisor to share your experience and gain some perspective. Knowing that you have support, will help your resolve and deter doubts from taking a foothold.
  • Learn from the experience. A post-mortem review might be challenging — especially when you feel you are not at fault. However, reviewing the entire story to identify where things may have gone off the rails (and to revise future strategy) is warranted. Subtle cues can provoke someone who is already difficult to work with. Protect yourself going forward.
  • Exit the battlefield. If you feel your reputation may be at stake, attempt to exit the dynamic entirely. Request another colleague to cover the client or complete unfinished project work. Sometimes, more exposure only breeds more trouble.
  • Focus on resilience-building. Learning strategies that help us bounce back are critical. Protecting our psychological resources should be an ever-present concern. Situations where we feel misunderstood or attacked can have long-standing effects.
  • Give things time. The surprise of the initial shock will fade. However, how you process the experience will matter longer-term. You will change as a contributor — but hopefully you will also emerge wiser, stronger and better prepared.

How have you dealt with unreasonable individuals in your work life? Share your strategies here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial & Organizational Psychologist. She is a Consulting Psychologist at Allied Talent. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared at The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum

The Essentials: Nothing Beats the Ever Trusted Notebook

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Throughout much of my career I’ve opted to carry a notebook.

Before that time, I would literally jot things down here, there and everywhere. This quickly became a problem. So, an executive decision to centralize my thoughts was in order. My own form of “idea GPS” has proven to be a wise insurance policy. (Moments of clarity deserve to be recorded before they vanish.)

Notebooks have so much to offer, including a dose of balance to our ever-growing online lives. They are easy companions and can accompany you on business trips, vacations and rare moments of solitude. I suppose other methods might prove to be superior in certain situations. However, there is nothing like putting pen to paper. The physical process of writing helps to commit information to long-term memory and can aid idea development. Any easily attainable advantage is worth the trouble.

Da Vinci utilized notebooks and that alone is good reason to employ one. He often used mirror-writing — but don’t let that deter you.

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I’ve carried standard spiral notebooks (I enjoy college logos). However, today there are so many interesting choices that I splurge on notebooks that catch my eye. They can become a “statement” piece. The purchase is an everyday luxury, not unlike a really great cup of coffee or a high-quality down blanket.

My notebook habit may seem old fashioned. However, it’s a habit I don’t intend to break. Recently I’ve been exploring Evernote, which seems to be a natural choice for an obsessive note taker such as myself. (So we’ll see what develops there.) However, I have some quirky habits that would have to be captured. For example, glancing at my current notebook “system”, there are project notes and “to do” lists at the front and interview notes toward the back, dated with contact phone numbers. On the very last page, I keep a running “playlist” of new songs to note on YouTube.

I’m sure your system is equally as quirky. However, notebooks are very forgiving.

Below you’ll find a list of interesting options.

I hope you find a notebook that can help your great ideas come to life.

Classic:

Moleskine: http://www.moleskine.com/en/

Rhodia:https://rhodiapads.com/brand.php

Fieldnotes: https://fieldnotesbrand.com/products/original-ruled

Updated:

Zazzle: https://www.zazzle.com/s/notebooks

esmie: http://www.esmie.co.uk/type/notebooks

Fabulous Cat Papers on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/174605052/blooming-branch-embroidered-a6-notebook?ref=shop_home_active_10

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Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Note: A form of this post appears at Linkedin.

What You Need to Know About Yourself to Help You With Workplace Change

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I’ve been told that I am not the best role model concerning change. I agree with the characterization. I initially balk at the mere idea of change — holding on to hope that the change won’t come to pass. In that case, adjusting my course will not be necessary. As you may have read in this post, I’ve sometimes struggled to cope with change — muddling along until the “new normal”finally appears.

However, regardless of my predisposition, I firmly acknowledge the value of flexing our workplace “change muscles”.

For better or worse, my “go to” reaction is to keep things frozen — until I can carefully consider every aspect of the situation. Unfortunately, holding time at bay usually isn’t an option.

I believe that we all have a leading predisposition when faced with change in our work environment — and this represents both our collected experiences and temperament. Of course, this influences our leading strategy when reacting to change as well. That’s where things get tricky. (If you manage others, just reflect on what this means for your team.) We need to come to an understanding of our own tendency and recognize how this affects our response.

The realization that we tend toward one or the another, is a crucial step. I’m sure we moderate slightly with the nature of the change — but we all lean one way or another.

Here are the predispositions I’ve observed over the years:

  • Piners or Grievers. These individuals lament the coming of change, even when it is inevitable or necessary. They may grieve for the roles, policies, procedures and co-workers of days gone by. They do move on eventually — but often with decreased fulfillment, satisfaction and a measure of sadness.
  • Researchers. An unbridled penchant to gather information is the leading response for this group — as looking at the issue from all angles often helps them move on. Unfortunately, a leading by-product of this view is “analysis paralysis”. Another issue: time may not be a negotiable. (This would be where I fall.)
  • Supporters or Embracers. These individuals are generally open to change and feel excited to contemplate the future. They may not be the primary driver of change, yet are happy to see the possibilities and help things move forward.
  • Alarmists. For these individuals an impending change triggers intense feelings of urgency. This could lead to premature or risky career behaviors that negatively affect them longer-term. (Such as quitting on a whim, etc.)
  • Dreamers. This group always manages to see the best in the current situation, even when there is overwhelming evidence to move on and accept some kind of change. (I would add there is a mild level of complacency operating here). Because of this perspective, they might miss opportunities to properly plan a place for themselves in the new “order” of things.
  • Observers. Usually quiet and calm, these individuals take a solid “wait and see” approach. They rarely panic — and prefer to watch things unfold organically. They might superficially support the change, but may eventually exit if the change is perceived as negative.
  • Aggressors or Terminators. These individuals feel anger when they are faced with an unexpected change. They may become a strong “naysayer”, vehemently opposing a change and could exhibit negative behaviors without reflection.

After I drafted these, I searched for other frameworks that capture how we process change. I happened upon the Kubler-Ross Change Curve, which applies the seminal model of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross concerning grief, to change efforts within organizations. (This theory states that we all move through specified phases when dealing with change, rather than identifying a leading emotion that we deal with over time.) I thought it wise to mention it here.

Where do you fall? Have I missed your leading tendency? Share your style in comments.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial & Organizational Psychologist. She is a Consulting Psychologist at Allied Talent. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared at The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum

Recognizing Overload

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As human beings we often forget that we are fragile.

We push well beyond our limits, forgetting what we require to stay productive. We make promises we shouldn’t — and say “yes” far too often.

I think you’ll share my opinion that we all fall prey to this dynamic at one time or another. No one is immune. So, it is with great remorse that I admit that yesterday Power Point caused my “undoing”. (The details are unimportant. However, my response was another story.)

I’m not speaking of a brief moment of aggravation with an accompanying quick recovery. I refer to a full-blown toddler moment, where I fantasized about throwing down my pen, flipping my desk and slipping away into the madding crowd. It was an unusual reaction and I took note of it. (This reminded me of a holiday shopping trip with one of my boys. As the stroller passed the toy department, there were nearly 1000 Barney dinosaurs mounted on the store pillars. This provoked a fit of unchecked screaming like no other I can recall.)

To be fair, this is what I was feeling.

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But, hold on. I’m not going to move to guilt and outright embarrassment.

I’ve realized this auspicious moment had nothing to do with Power Point “un-saving” my work. It was delivered courtesy of the stress (both inside and outside of work) that had accumulated — much like peeling layers of toxic lead paint.

I’m sure this has happened to you. A response far out of sync with what has actually happened.

This begins with emotional and/or physical exhaustion. This comes with over-extending your nervous system. This is related to not feeding your ying or ego, or whatever part of your psyche that may be starving. It can come from trying your very hardest to ensure things will go well and they still go awry.

Yes, this is life.

However, it remains awfully difficult to digest at times.

Most of us fail to recognize when we are at the brink — much less take action to move away from that brink.

Here is what you should do if you find yourself peering over the edge:

  1. Explore methods of self-support, which my clinical counterparts strongly recommend.
  2. Add a healthy dose of mindfulness to your daily routine.
  3. Feed your “musical” soul. Listen to the music that helps you feel “lifted” and inspired.
  4. Indulge a hobby. (I find hobbies a distraction from my core career goals. However, healthy distraction are just that — healthy!)
  5. Dwell on the positive signs of forward career evolution.
  6. Thoughtfully reminisce about the people that you have enjoyed working worked with recently (and why).
  7. Read for one hour each day. Getting lost in the thoughts and experiences of others can change our perspective.
  8. Learn from your mistakes. List the situations that didn’t end the way you had hoped. Develop strategies to to change that course, if presented again.
  9. Take a side path. Learn something new. (Scroll through the options Udemy or Lynda.com) We all have the capacity to evolve for the better.
  10. If you feel you need professional help, do so. Reach out. There are wonderful resources ou there that can serve on your career “Board of Directors”.

This is only a start — and personally I hope to avoid a repeat occurrence.

But, no guarantees.

I forget myself sometimes.

I’m only human.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.

What the Pollster’s Mistakes Can Teach Us About Predicting Behavior at Work

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I often wonder if I’m getting it right. Are we posing the right questions? Are the right employees responding? Are we obtaining a clear picture of what is really happening within an organization? Based upon the available data, will valuable employees remain engaged? Will they walk away?

What am I missing?

Each time I examine diagnostic results, I obsess over these questions.

When we consider how wrong the vast majority of pollsters were in predicting the outcome of the Presidential election, I quake in my boots. The Atlantic, skillfully takes us through why things went woefully wrong — and poses an unnerving question we must all contemplate when making data-based predictions concerning human behavior:

Did we all believe Clinton would win because of bad data, or did we ignore bad data because we believed Clinton would win?

Yes, confirmation bias may have played a role here. When we become too sure of any future outcome, we essentially stop considering the other potential end points.npr

We must also consider technique. One polling organization, the USC Dornslife/LA Times Election Poll seemed to have the ability to capture what was really happening. Interestingly, their methods were a departure from other polls, with a stable panel of 3200, from which daily polls were pulled. Moreover, they considered the likelihood of an individual actually voting. So, in essence, the poll attempted to measure both sentiment and behavior. This is how they explain it:

…we calculate a ratio of a person’s likelihood of voting for a specific candidate to his or her estimated chance of voting.

So, let’s jump to the business of predicting how employees feel and behave in the workplace. What we can learn from the inability of the polls (and the candidates) to predict voting behavior?

  • Bias abounds. There I said it. As human beings we are indeed flawed as decision-makers and we often see what we want to see. If you think your organization, or team, or employee is in a good place — do not think for even a moment that this comes with a long-term, “forever” guarantee. Try to build “bias” protection into your decision-making processes.
  • Explore the small shifts. I’ve learned that where there is smoke there is fire. If your organization is growing rapidly or is undergoing a significant change effort, pay particular attention to trending sentiments.
  • Consider who might be silent, but resolute. There are always individuals who have formed strong opinions and have already planned their future steps (and they do not feel the need to consider your opinion). This could be your star employee, who has observed over time that their path (or perceived value or respect) is “less than”.
  • Time can erode your core base. Consider how time and events might impact your core. Elements such as stress and burnout can influence just as many departures as a lack of engagement. Consider how history might affect even your most dependable people. (Consider Wisconsin. Or Michigan, for that matter.)

Have you ever been wrong when predicting behavior? Share your observations here.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.

What Type of Career Growth Are You Seeking?

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In today’s world, career paths have been described as “boundaryless“. We build careers and seek fulfillment by collecting varies experiences — across organizations, supervisors and work content. What we are seeking growth-wise at specific points will often guide our direction.

Ultimately, we seek situations that offer alignment with our current career vision.

Through years of speaking to individuals about work and career, I have observed combinations of elements (such as challenge vs. stability) that describe growth “states”. We flux in and out of these states, depending on our goals (both in and out of work). Some contributors seem comfortable remaining in one state for an extended period of time, while others might shift to meet their evolving needs.

Career Growth States

  • Future Forward. In this state, we may hold a role aligned with our education and experience — yet there is often another career step in your “back pocket” that serves as a  longer-term, motivating goal. Whether this entails preparation for a pivot or perhaps becoming an entrepreneur — we are firmly focused miles ahead. Gaining skills to ensure the dream comes alive is an imperative. Organizations can contribute by building foundation skills and an instrumental network.
  • Creative Calibration. This trajectory can involve a single direction or path, as long as we have the opportunity to add or delete tasks/content that meets our need for challenge. We might incorporate a constant flow of industry research or expand our “mission” to create more interest. Appropriate expansion of the horizon is critical to avoid disengagement — and multiple benefits can be realized.
  • Progressive State. While here, we desire build a new “morphed” career path, integrating novel or disruptive elements (such as technology) smack into our area of expertise. We allow skills to co-exist that others may never envision together and this helps drive us forward. A high tolerance for ambiguity likely co-exists here, with a healthy dose of “progressive ambition”— as the steps of this path reveal themselves only as time goes on.
  • Steady-State. Healthy stability is the name of the game here. Contributors desire a specific role, maintaining a strong, singular path for an extended period of time. We are less likely to job hop, but would move along with a specific group of contributors focused on an area of interest. Working on longer-term initiatives is often the hallmark.

Above all, knowing thyself is critical. Individual contributors (and organizations alike) should build awareness concerning how our own needs — and how individual needs can evolve over time.

To explore your growth state needs, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you leaning toward stability or challenge at this point in time?
  2. Recall a time when you were satisfied with your career growth. How did your growth needs align with your role?
  3. Think of a time when you were frustrated, overwhelmed or disappointed with your path. What was happening?
  4. Have your growth needs tended to shift significantly over time or have they remained constant?
  5. Do you lean towards being proactive or relatively passive where career growth is concerned?
  6. How might voicing your needs, affect your job choices?

So — where are you? Have I missed a growth state? Share your story.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.

5 Ideas to Improve Employee Engagement Today

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I’ve been reading a lot of James Altucher’s work lately. I’ve tried previously to connect with his posts, with little success. However, this time around his advice resonated. In one recent post, he posed a challenge to think of 10 ideas a day. Granted — he issued a warning that this exercise is more difficult than it seems. However, it’s pretty clear that flexing this skill is good for all of us.

His advice: “One thing to try is to write down 10 ideas a day. This exercises the idea muscle and gets you 100x more creative than the average person over time. They could be business ideas, ideas to help other businesses, book ideas, or even ideas to surprise your spouse.”

So, I have ideas — and thought I might offer a few suggestions on how to affect the less than stellar engagement levels in our today’s workplaces.

Unfortunately, I don’t have 10 ideas. However, I have 5.
So — I’ll begin there. (Feel free to add to this list in comments):

  1. Show gratitude. We talk endlessly about this, however there remains a huge gratitude “deficit” within organizations today. So — send 5 emails thanking others for whatever makes them great to work with. If you don’t work with 5 people — send a couple of notes to your friends. Just tell them why you think they are great.
  2. Share someone’s work. If you feel someone’s work is exceptional, pass it on and help it get noticed. Share a presentation. Re-tweet a post. Let others know. Be someone’s champion. It just feels good.
  3. Talk about purpose. It’s difficult to think your job matters if you don’t see a connection between who you are and the organization’s goals. Help someone see the connection between their career purpose and their work. This can make a huge difference.
  4. Build resilience. There are so many situations that feel like failure — and it can seem as if we’ll never bounce back. If a co-worker has had a setback, offer them avenues to regain their mojo. (It’s better to say something, than nothing at all.) Remember, the next time they attempt to tackle that challenge, just may be the time they succeed.
  5. Build solid ground. If you manage others, focus on neglected workplace elements that can create a solid foundation. Constructs such as psychological safety can help others feel freer to take risks and do their best work.

You can read more about Positive Psychology here. I believe its principles can affect engagement: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130411141931-128811924-the-hero-resources-and-positivity-in-the-workplace.

Meanwhile — start a movement within your organization.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.

4 Signs You’ve Already Left Your Job

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It’s been months. You’ve been unhappy at work and in spite of your efforts — things haven’t improved. Through all of the discussions with your manager, colleagues and friends, you still find yourself upset, unmotivated and unfulfilled.

You may not realize it — but you may already passed the threshold of “gone”. Simply put, you may not be getting enough from your current role to sustain a viable, healthy relationship.

Research concerning the psychological contract in the workplace tells us that breaches of the exchange agreement between an employee and employer are common — yet mending these breaches can be challenging. In many cases we have already “left the building” and moved on — even if we remain physically present.

Here are signs you may have passed this critical point. If you recognize any of these (and have made an effort to affect the situation) —  I would begin to seriously consider a change:

  • You’ve withdrawn. Likened to depression, you may start cutting yourself off from workplace activities you would normally complete — even the tasks you previously found fulfilling. You may find yourself muttering,”What’s the difference if I respond to this e-mail?” or “Why bother following up with that customer?”.
  • You do not see a future. In some cases, you have already marked the “end of history” with your current job. One client described sitting in a training session and thinking: “Hopefully, I won’t be here to use this.” Enough said.
  • You’ve stopped sharing. We may have become reluctant to share ideas or opinions, as experience has shown they have not been respected or taken seriously. On another note, if you begin to “hoard” your best thoughts for your next employer, that speaks volumes about your frame of mind.
  • You have “divorce” fantasies. Is your exit already rehearsed? Are you envisioning the day you walk out forever? When you spend time with friends, are discussions about your next role central?

Ultimately, it may be high time to enrich your role or career — especially if you have already left psychologically. (By the way, you can read Whitney Johnson’s Disrupt Yourself for more guidance on attacking that change.)

Have you experienced the feeling it was “game over”in a role or career path? What happened next? Please share your experiences.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.

I’m Betting on “Weak Links” for My Next Career Move: You Should Too

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How we explore potential next steps in our career paths has changed over the years. Once resume driven — networks and the right kind of exposure have really taken center stage. I’ve just had a break-neck, jam-packed conversation with a very engaging family friend about that very topic. He works in Silicon Valley and careers can path evolve very quickly there — so I listened closely as he launched into a perfectly inspiring explanation about how he landed his latest role.

It was a very interesting chat.

We discussed “weak links” and “progressive ambition” (more on these below) — topics which will likely impact most of our career paths going forward. As he aptly pointed out, “Your connections/followers that you engage with at LinkedIn are your weak links. They will likely help you see (and gain) your next opportunity.” He is absolutely right. I can see that happening.

Social networks have affected my career in a manner that I never dreamed of, as compared to 10 years ago. Your extended network will likely play a much stronger role, as well. In this case, even though this individual is currently one of my “weak links” — as we communicate sporadically — we have the ability to support each other. We may never work together directly, however that matters little in the larger scheme. However, there is mutuality in the potential to enhance our paths, broaden our perspective and visualize the future.

Here are a few highlights of the conversation:

  • Progressive Ambition. To be frank, we need to stop viewing our career paths as set in stone. We should be open to viewing it as fluid, even a bit murky. We’ll only see what’s next as we move through the steps. As we stand on one step’s shoulders, only then will we see what might exist at the horizon.
  • The Power of Weak Links. We haven’t fully embraced the power of the weaker links or “nodes” within our social networks — and we must try to do so. These weak links can impact both how we work and our career paths. Here is what Gartner said about weak links and “work swarms” in this classic 2010 post:

In swarms, if individuals know each other at all, it may be just barely, via weak links. Weak links are the cues people can pick up from people who know the people they have to work with. They are indirect indicators and rely, in part, on the confidence others have in their knowledge of people. Navigating one’s own personal, professional and social networks helps people develop and exploit both strong and weak links and that, in turn, will be crucial to surviving and exploiting swarms for business benefit.

  • We can nurture organizations through weak links. We had a an interesting discussion about Andreesson & Horowitz, a Silicon Valley based VC firm that embraces this basic. They seek to support and develop the companies with an emphasis on building extended networks. In terms of meeting the talent needs, they view themselves as a talent agency (Think of Hollywood’s CAA) — providing research concerning potential candidates for the start-ups they represent. Ultimately, they understand that when their portfolio of companies flourish, so do stakeholders.

How have your “weak links” pushed you forward? How do you nurture this part of your network?

Recommended reading:

Simplify Networking: Apply the 70-20-10 Rule

How Andreessen Horowitz is disrupting Silicon Valley

Gartner Says the World of Work Will Witness 10 Changes During the Next 10 Years

How Leaders Create and Use Networks

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Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program, her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.