My answer to the question is I think you should reassess your career every couple of years no matter how well or how confident you are that things are going according to plan. It is far too easy to put your career and brand on autopilot and then suddenly realize you need to do something. Our minds love to create success habits. Unfortunately, those habits also blind us to changes that require adjustments for continued success.
Here are 7 situations where you may need a brand check-up.
- New boss: Every one brings with them a set of beliefs and expectations. Too easy for to have grown complacent because everyone knew you and what you are capable of delivering but a new boss doesn’t come with that knowledge. For them, they were hired to deliver results differently than what was achieved before. Make sure you’re not part of the problem they were hired to solve.
- The Fatal Mistake: Few mistakes are fatal. Everyone realizes that mistakes happen. Most can be forgiven but what will kill your brand is not recovering quickly and putting in place actions that will correct the mistake or reacting badly to the situation. Mistakes will happen if you take risks and in fact if you haven’t made any mistakes then you’re probably playing it too safe. But people will decide more about your character based upon your reaction than anything else you can do. This is especially true the higher your position or more power/influence you have in your organization.
- I changed my mind. Sometimes you start out pretty content with just where you are and then you get bored or what a new challenge in your life. Your heart is just not in it any longer and you desperately want to laugh again, dream again, believe in the magic that only happens when you’re taking risks and succeeding.
- Over promoted without a safety net: I’ve seen many careers get stuck because the person was promoted into a new position and no one told them success in the new position requires a different skill set.
- The rising star that has fallen off the cliff: You’re experiencing a combination of these things: no longer asked to give your opinion or sought after as an expert. Over the last 3 years you’ve gotten an average increase and promotions are coming slower or stopped all together. Or you’re known to play it too safe, you’re good at maintaining but don’t have the foresight to react in a timely manner and the business environment is uncertain.
- Life happens: More and more people, especially women, are stepping off the career fast track (or being thrown off) when they’ve decided to raise children, care for elderly parents or actively manage other family demands. Once those issues have passed, it can be nearly impossible to get back on track.
- Your eggs are broken: Many people hang their entire career on one boss or company. When the economy crashed they were laid off or sidetracked with no brand in the marketplace. If this is you, you’re scrambling to figure out how to get a job or avoid the next round of layoffs.
Final thoughts: There are a number of other situations where you’ll suddenly realize your brand is tarnished. My advice: Leadership matters! Your career is more like a labyrinth or maze. Leadership means influencing activities to foster progress toward a goal. In a labyrinth you need good navigation skills. They don’t come naturally so invest in your skill development so you achieve your career goals.
To avoid getting surprised, every year, I conduct my own career and brand assessment just to take stock and make course corrections. I take my lessons learned and offer them to others for a couple of reasons. 1) to calibrate my thinking, 2) by sharing it reaffirms my commitment to serving others in a big way and 3) the very act of sharing creates a network of people who want to collaborate on the navigating the labyrinth. It way more fun being with people who are like minded and willing to share their lessons so we all can be happy.