How to get on the right people's radar and get ahead when you're back
This isn't about keeping up with the Joneses but tapping into what the peers you admire are doing, in order to get your mind whirring about what's right for you. Which talks/lectures/blogs/people would you get something from following? Where are they contributing their thoughts/opinions? What courses gave them things they could usefully apply immediately at work? Do they have a personal development budget? How have they pitched for funding and time off to their line managers? What projects/cases are they working on that you could support?
Nicola Hogg, solicitor, West Lothian Council
Do you know what your strengths are? It’s highly likely you have some talents and abilities that are going untapped in your current role (and some strengths that have been overused to the point that you're de-energised using them). Once you identify your unrealised strengths, have a look at what's going on beyond your current role that could be a way for you to use them and raise your profile. The Centre for Applied Positive Psychology has a useful strengths-tool, Realise2, you could work through with a coach - see http://www.cappeu.com/realise2.aspx. Research tells us that focusing on using strengths, as opposed to fixing perceived weaknesses, is the key to greater performance and engagement.
In what situations can you advocate for someone else? There's a great story in Sheryl Sandberg's book ,Lean In, about women talking each other up and how that helps every woman with promotion and pay increase prospects. Additionally, when others seek your help and you feel too busy or unable to help, use the 'partial yes' technique: identify part of their challenge that you can easily assist with and do it rather than giving a flat 'no'. You'll be remembered positively for saying ‘yes’, even if you only assist in a small way, and it signals you as collaborative, which is particularly important to women's career progression (see research by Heilman and Chen, 2005). By saying ‘yes’ to only part of the othker person's 'ask', you also demonstrate you can be both flexible and firm.
Solicitor, private practice
Katy Wedderburn, partner, MacRoberts LLP
Carly Mason, solicitor, MacRoberts LLP
Kate Gillies, solicitor, Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
Spotted something that would be useful for you to do, have or be involved in that will enhance your performance, make you more appealing to clients, reduce costs and/or earn your organisation more income? Then you owe it to everyone to pitch for it. Think through what key words or reasons would help your line manager get to a ‘yes’ - or who you need to go through to influence him/her - and go for it. The worst result is you're turned down and remembered for being ballsy.
Karen Wilkie, solicitor, Peterkins
Anna McLaggan, associate, Brodies LLP
OVER TO YOU
Some thoughts to get your mind whirring about how you drive your career forward at the pace that's right for you.
- Who's mentor material in your eyes? In what ways do you think they could help you? When's a good time for you to approach him/her/them?
- If you’d prefer external mentoring, could you become involved with the Society’s mentoring project? Could you become a mentor yourself?
- Do you know how your peers are developing themselves? Who could you ask? What tools/courses/blogs would you recommend to them?
- Who needs to know about what you've delivered and what you're capable of now that you're back? What might some routes into those people be?
- If you could ask for anything and you knew the answer would be ‘yes’, what would you ask your line manager for? What are three steps you could take to make it happen?
- Also see the other 11 guides in our Parents in the Profession series
- Our mentoring project
- Chapter three, 'Success and Likeability' in Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. New York: Random House. Abridged text/audio versions of Lean In at http://talentkeepers.co.uk/sheryl-sandberg
- Heilman, M. E. and Chen, J. J. (2005). Same behavior, different consequences: reactions to men's and women's altruistic citizenship behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 431-41
- Executive coaching, including strengths identification
- Smart career and management blogs: