Three Ways to Make a Career Comeback
By Jack and Suzy Welch
Hit a wall in your career? Being passed over for promotions? If you don’t find out why soon and repair the damage, it won’t be long before you’re on your way out the door.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get the answers you need. Clearly, your managers haven’t been candid with you about your performance to this point. Perhaps they expected you to read the writing on the wall and draw your own dire conclusions. Appraisal avoidance shouldn’t happen, but it often does when the news is going to be bad.
Your job then is to gently initiate some kind of conversation with the boss you’re closest to, even if it is just to obtain a vague sense of what’s going on. But just as important, you need to start pouring energy into getting back on the radar screen.
The most effective way to do that, not surprisingly, is to over deliver. Whatever you’re doing, do it better and faster. Expand your job’s horizons to include bold new activities. Come up with a new concept or process that doesn’t just improve your results, but your unit’s results and the company’s overall performance. Surprise everyone.
A second powerful comeback technique is to raise your hand when the call goes out for people to sign up for major projects and initiatives, especially ones that don’t have a whole lot of popularity at the outset. Volunteer to work in a branch office in a tough competitive market or jump at the opportunity to be part of a big, new quality drive. A global assignment right now may take you too much out of the picture for your immediate purposes, but it is directionally correct. You need to prove you’re willing and able to go the extra mile.
Finally, if you are draining away political capital within the organization in any form, stem the flow immediately. That means you may need to stop disparaging fellow employees, even in jest, or acting in any form like a wet blanket. Right now, your attitude needs to shout one word: “Yes.”
Can we guarantee that these three “fixes” will revive your career? Of course not. The facts are, sometimes a person has been underperforming for so long that they get an embedded reputation. No matter how hard you try, you will always be seen as the same old you.
If, after a period of trying, you get the feeling that’s true in your case, we suggest you jump before you’re pushed. Find a company with a better fit, doing work you like. Then don’t wait for the silent treatment to alert you: From Day One, start building the results and reputation that will make you the new kid rising through the ranks.
Jack Welch is Executive Chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University.Through its onlineMBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute provides students and organizations with the proven methodologies, immediately actionable practices, and respected credentials needed to win in business.
Suzy Welch is a best-selling author, popular television commentator, and noted business journalist. Her New York Times bestselling book, 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea, presents a powerful decision-making strategy for success at work and in parenting, love and friendship. Together with her husband Jack Welch, Suzy is also co-author of the #1 international bestsellerWinning, and its companion volume, Winning: The Answers. Since 2005, they have written business columns for several publications, including Business Weekmagazine, Thomson Reuters digital platforms, Fortune magazine, and the New York Times syndicate.
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