Change is inevitable. You either accept it, or you are swept away with the tide. The fact is that the choice is already made for you: you either do something to remain competitive in your field, or someone else will soon replace you. From that perspective, the decision is easy.
While any forward-moving action is helpful, there are some change strategies that are more effective. You need to know where you are going. Knowing the final destination will help you make the right decisions. Of course, that means you have a vision regarding your future and you are prepared to set concrete goals. Once those steps are taken, you must take action.
#1: Focus on the Soft Skills
Your technical skills will only take you so far. In other words, your ability to write a program, set up a computer network, or create a flashy PowerPoint will land you a job, but for how long? Technical knowledge is a purchasable commodity that is omnipresent in the marketplace. Your HR department has access to thousands of people who can do the everyday work you were hired to do.
The soft skills are in higher demand. For example, do you have the ability to create enthusiasm within your team? Are other people happy when you walk into the room? Do others take note when you voice an idea? Do you step up to the plate when a challenge arises? These are the skills that will keep you on the payroll, and make you a more valuable asset to the organization.
#2: Do Something from Start-to-Finish
You’ve all seen great ideas in meeting rooms. For some reason, when you walk out of the room, the idea or initiative is erased from your mind. You have other pressing work, and you know that tackling a new project takes a ton of hard work.
Be different. When you have a project that can improve your department or the company as a whole, do whatever it takes to create a plan, find the right resources, seek funding, and get started. By planning and taking action, you will make a difference, and you will create separation between you and the mediocre employees.
#3: Get a Seat at the Table
I remember Chris Matthews of MSNBC stating that you can only become a meaningful participant when you have a seat at the table. Standing on the sidelines generates zero results and is a quick recipe for obsolescence. You must be ready for opportunities. In many cases, you have to take the initiative and get in front of the decision-makers.
You should volunteer for projects in your company. Do whatever possible to remain visible. What appears to be difficult today will become easier as you gain experience. By assuming more responsibility, you will gain the confidence of your leadership team.
I understand that visibility will lead to more work. The goal, however, is to pursue leadership-type work, which means that you are responsible for finding the right resources to do the day-to-day work. This leadership skill is in high-demand today, and will improve your chances of controlling the direction of your career.