Control Your Career, Don’t Let Your Career Control You

March 14, 2016 at 8:50 am 1 comment


Frustrated with the fact that one of your peers got the promotion that you felt you deserved?

What about the guy two offices down from you who was recently hired to manage your team when you felt you were the best man for the job?

Would you rather JUMP out of bed in the morning excited for work rather than hitting snooze three times and gingerly rolling out from under the covers 27 minutes later?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this message is for you.  It is time for you to take control of your career!

Before I go any further, I am requesting your help:

I AM LOOKING FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ORDER TO HELP ENCOURAGE FUTURE CIVIL ENGINEERING LEADERS TO REACH HIGH LEVELS OF SUCCESS, SO YOUR COMMENTS WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!

Taking control of your civil engineering careerTaking control of one’s career is not a “one-and-done” event where you make some minor tweaks and see what happens; taking control of your career is a daily, ongoing, lifelong process.  Taking control, and then maintaining that control so that your career is forever on the upward curve is about making simple choices, on a consistent basis.  It is the compounding effect over time of making those simple, consistent choices, that will allow you take control of your career and advance to professional levels that you have thought previously unattainable.  BEWARE:  as easy as it is to make those choices, it is just as easy NOT to make them, and THAT is why so many fail to “grasp the bull by the horns” when it comes to their career.  If this concept sounds vaguely familiar to you, it comes from the Jeff Olson titled book, The Slight Edge.  If you are looking for a REALLY GOOD and IMPACTFUL read, I would highly recommend it.

In any event, it is that “compounding interest,” if you will, of the regular choices you make in your career that will lead to great things.  We live in a “now” world, where everyone expects immediate results NOW!  If this your mentality, then you are chasing your tail.  But if you are patient and understand the concept of “compound interest” where small actions today with seemingly minuscule  impact, compounded over time (done on a regular basis), you will find a path to growth filled with major accomplishments throughout the lifetime of your career.

Specific to your career as a civil engineer, here are some suggestions based upon my 19 years of experience in recruiting civil engineers:

**Keep a running list of clients and potential clients and dedicate time each day or week to reaching out to them.  Make notes of the conversations that are had so that you can refer back to them in future conversations or attempts to call.  Don’t just note the outcome of the call, but note any personal information that is divulged regarding family, hobbies, favorite sports teams, etc.

 

**Actively participate, on a regular basis, in the different industry associations that you are a part of.  It is a great way to meet new clients, gather valuable information that you can bring to your clients or potential clients in your business development activities, and it is a great way to shed light upon yourself as a professional, or the firm that you are working for.

 

**A good majority of hiring activities are a result of internal referrals.  That said, keep some sort of database of professionals that you have either met or witnessed in action that have made a positive impression.  These should be folks that you specifically target as you build your team.

 

**Provide and schedule regular doses of self improvement specific to your career.  Read regularly.  Attend seminars or webinars that will enhance your career.  Make presentations, whether at association meetings, client interviews, or internal “brown bag lunches.”  And if you are scared of public speaking go sign up for your local Toastmasters club (and ask your employer to pay for it – the worst they can say is “no” ).

 

**Identify a mentor.  Depending upon the career track that you are looking to take, find that one individual, either within your firm or elsewhere, that has experienced tremendous success that you would like to emulate, then sit back and learn.  Meet with them once a month to ask questions and share stories that will help facilitate career growth.

 

**There is an old saying, “good things come to those who wait, but only those things left behind by those who hustle.”  Hustle every day.  Ask questions. Document your success where you can tell your story to your current employer or potential employer and don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibility if you are ready.

 

**Don’t be afraid to fail.  Express your ideas and let your creativity flow freely.  This has a lot to do with the corporate culture you are in, as some companies are set in their ways and operate with an “if it ain’t broke don’t try and fix it” mentality.  That is, they do what has worked in the past and create a culture of idea suppression.  If it fits your style, find an organization that truly promotes an entrepreneurial culture where ideas are shared and cultivated and respected.  After all, part of the reason you became an engineer was because it allows you to be creative and solve problems in new and different ways.  They may not always work out, but if you are not being challenged or your creativity is being stifled by the company leadership or culture it may be time for a change.

These are some of my ideas.  The reality is though, I am on the outside looking in as I am not a civil engineer myself.  So here is where I am looking for a little bit of your help:

WHETHER YOU HOLD A POSITION OF EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP WITHIN THE CIVIL ENGINEERING COMMUNITY OR ARE AN EIT WITH JUST A COUPLE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE, PLEASE COMMENT BELOW WITH ANY WORDS OF WISDOM THAT YOU MAY HAVE.  WHAT ACTIONS WOULD YOU SUGGEST TAKING ON A REGULAR BASIS, THAT COMPOUNDED OVER TIME, WILL LEAD TO A HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN CIVIL ENGINEERING?

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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner :: CivilEngineeringCentral.com

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Missed Career Opportunities & Diminishing ROC 7 Tips To Beat Out The Competition In Hiring Great Candidates

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. bobgately  |  March 14, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Some employees don’t speak up because the powerful are often one or more of the following which creates the impression, real or imagined, that speaking up will be seen as a disloyal act which is to be punished: 



    Arrogant 

    Emotional, overly and inappropriately 

    Ignorant 

    Ill prepared for their job 

    Insecure 

    Insincere 

    Miss-educated 

    Narcissistic 

    Non-listener 

    Poor job suitability 

    Poor listener 

    Poor memory 

    Poor self-esteem 

    Unaware of their bad behaviors 

    Under educated
    Uneducated 

    Woefully unprepared for their job 



    Also, some employees are not moved to speak up. A fellow Associate told me when I asked him why he doesn’t offer his ideas at the Director-Associates meetings he replied, “When they care about what I think, they will ask me.” He was correct; they didn’t really care what we thought. I had thought that my fellow Associate was afraid to speak up but he wasn’t, he just needed to be asked and since he had a Master’s in engineering management he should have been asked. The Directors on the other hand thought that when we did not speak up we had nothing to offer. I know that because I asked a director what they thought of those of us who did not speak up.



    My Boss, a Director, was asked during our senior staff department meeting, “Why are we having senior staff meetings?” and he replied, “because we want to know what our employees are thinking.” The other Director replied, “That’s not the reason, the Associates have raised the issue of poor communications between the Directors and the employees.” I had lobbied my 14 fellow associates that we had to meet and figure out how to help the company avoid bankruptcy; we were all stockholders and I took my 1% ownership seriously. Our staff CPA had begged me to “get the Associates to do something to avoid bankruptcy.” I told him to tell the Directors and he replied. “I did but they are incapable of doing anything about it.” 


    Nine months into my Executive MBA program my boss heard that I was encouraging the Associates to do something and he was furious. After a three hour private meeting where he demonstrated his ignorance of good management practices we went to the first of six lectures by our management consultant who was hired to placate the bank that was about to shut us down, i.e., cancel our line of credit. The consultant would say to me, “Bob, you could finish this lecture,” which did not sit well with those on the Board. No one on the Board had a degree in management let alone an advanced degree in management.
    


    In the spring of the second year of the Executive MBA program the EMBA class went to England for a week of international studies. When I returned, six weeks before graduation, I was laid off.

    No good deed goes unpunished.

    Anyway, one of the methods used to help the board of directors understand the employees was employee interviews by the consultant of all the top people and most other employees. During the debriefing the consultant said he did know how to present their findings so for two hours he read employee comments. It was clear there was a major communications problem. A common thread among the directors was that, “employees complain when times are good and complain more when times are bad, employees just complain.” 



    The funny thing is the bank manager went to my brother (a CPA and well-versed in such problems) to ask him how to manage such a dysfunctional board. After listening to the symptoms for 20 minutes he told the bank manager that the company was the XYZ company. The bank manager was shocked since she never mentioned the company name, town, industry nor even the number of employees. He told her his brother had worked there for 20 years and told him the same story. The board didn’t seem to listen to each other let alone their bank manager or their employees.

    At the first ever directors/associates meeting (which was held after I conducted the first ever associates only meeting) all of the directors said they had good communications with their associates–they were stunned to learn we did not agree with them, one-way communications is not adequate but it is preferred by many executives. 



    Several months after I left a Director asked the Associates, “why are you all so quiet during Director-Associate meetings?” A future company president said, “Where’s Gately?” Truth to power is often punished, not rewarded. 

My advice to employees who sense that things should be better is to look around and find one of the top 20% of businesses to work for and apply there. 



    Self appointed change agents are not appreciated by the powerful.

    Reply

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