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Cognizing your career

· career happiness,self-actualization,management,career progression,human resources

Deep awareness and understanding into your career is an imperative part towards career happiness.

Having spoken to countless employees in my HR professional life, this have led me to help others realize the importance of how one needs to manage his or her career in today's’ business environment as priority to career self-actualization.

Linking back to business strategic insights, one’s career should also take on the same approach to leverage on career growth opportunities in today’s environment. We have seen how businesses are thriving, surviving and dying in the tough business environment and if we apply the same concept to our careers, this will allow us to better navigate in a multiple faceted career landscape. Gone are the days where businesses are readily giving “golden handshakes” with employees, or even talking about employee loyalty is a key business imperatives. The context of retention and specifically retaining critical talents becomes consistently discussed business language for leaders. But what and how exactly can one actually become the “talk” in leadership discussions. This post explores how one can continue to revolutionize the way one’s career navigates the changing business parameters.

From the time we enter the workforce, there’s multiple parameters that will help us to navigate the volatile career landscape that we are operating in, businesses are continually looking at growth parameters to help survive or thrive in the challenging times. Many of us may see how technology recreates that way we operate, but the truth is how we are reinventing the business models to be on the forefront in today's’ world. Take for example: Kodak’s shortfall is not because of digital technology replacing film photography but rather, they were not looking at reinventing themselves to address the way how their business model operates in today’s market. The question is how we can continually reinvent our careers’ model to suit today’s demands on employees.

Cost Leadership – How much should I be paid when there are others willing to be paid much lesser to deliver more.

Coming out in the workforce, one of the first question is always how much am I worth in today’s business environment. Seeing fresh graduates coming out of institutions, one common question is how much is it that I will be paid with a piece of institutional paper that describes the grades that one have attained during a 3 or 4 year learning journey. I have seen many out-priced themselves, although there are many large multinationals readily waving stacks of cash in front of them to attract them. But come to think of it, how much a company is paying you, the translation to “returns of investments” (ROI) always becomes a continuous key discussions in many companies. Hence, before asking for “top graduate dollars” the question is how you can translate the investments that companies’ are placing on you with real business results that are able to help solve their problems and prepare them for the future.

The reality is that the market is always flooded with many graduates that are willing to lower their salary expectations in exchange with a role in any given company. So if you think that even if you are willing to lower salary expectations, there are others that are hungrier, more willing to give more in exchange of lesser salary. Ignoring the macro trend of workforce mobility will sometimes put employees in an out-priced situation. Economies are opening up with mobility of people that will make a significant difference in today’s uncertain economy. Hence, thinking that one’s salary expectations may be low, there’s always someone’s expectations that are lower and better than what you perceive.

I have gone through this phase in my career that I have made myself to learn this important fundamental in today’s career survival: “Always bring in more value than what you are worth to an organization”. The reevaluation of how much is my work and efforts means to an organization today is key to determine the cost derivatives. This stage is relatively simple to solve, the simple question always to ask is where in the business are the “pain points” that I am able to solve and make the situation turn in an opposite direction that even creates business opportunities that are valuable and unique in being a differentiator for the business operating model. Consistently, I have to reflect on what I am doing and how much is my efforts worth to the organization. In my professional life, I have consistently see many professionals repeating and working on efforts that have less or no value which can be easily replicated and sped up with the use of technology. Recall my earlier statement, it is not technology that placed Kodak out of business but the ignorance of reinventing themselves to address a changing market shift have kept them out. Hence, the fundamental questions to professionals are “How are we re-inventing ourselves to adapt and thrive in today's’ companies expectations of our roles”. Reading multiple articles on what roles will not be available in the foreseeable future, or what roles will be replaced with technology and even what roles can be easily outsourced, comes to remind me that we are not in a business environment that is in constant steady state. I recall speaking to my seniors in the field when HR work involves, “writing memos, delivering pigeon mails, using typewriters, filing of huge volume of paper work”, the truth is that these are no longer needed in today’s business environment. Skills of having the fastest shorthand and typing the most number of words per minute no longer is valuable, because of a simple technology: “Speech to text recognition”. So we no longer need to type fast, we just need to speak clearly for technology to recognize what we are saying.

Professional Differentiator – Delivering efforts that are hard to replicate and replace

Leading from the point above, we have explored how cost, speed and technology is able to easily replace our professional roles, the question leading from here is that: “How am I able to produce efforts that are different?” Businesses are not just looking for a “warm body” to be in place in any given position, but how will one actually be able to make a significant difference in present and future context of the business? Highlighting the two words above, with an intention to share that I have always come across of employees too focusing on the past and losing traction on what is needed in the business to survive and thrive. In other words, the consistent “living in the past” mindset is not be helping one be different as the past is predictable and not the present or future. We are living in a knowledge economy that information and experiences are readily available in split seconds (Don’t believe? Ask my good friend Mr Google). The reality is that information and experience is readily available that one’s historical knowledge and experience is no longer significant anymore. The differentiator is when one can be a reliable future predictor to help business navigate and thrive. With the speed of artificial intelligence coming to our daily lives, we will have to consistently stay ahead of the game to make sure that what we are performing in any given organization is never easily replicated. In the near future, we may even have our roles eliminated because of artificial intelligence. Let’s take HR analytics for example, time and effort spent on making sense of data can be easily replicated with technology and artificial intelligence. The scary part is that even artificial intelligence are becoming predictive with high accuracy that we no longer need people to maintain data or make sense of business data. The reality is disruptive technologies are becoming a part of our way of life and HR professionalism will not be spared as well. Hence, the question is how are we embracing technology to shape the way we continue to become a valuable profession to today’s business. Will we be able to be different from other professionals or be different from technology that continues to put us in an “in-demand” profession? This evaluation needs to be consistently challenged in our professional careers.

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