Diversity Woman Magazine

WIN 2017

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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We Mean Business > 26 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N W i n t e r 2 0 1 7 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m passionate about, what you're good at, and what challenges your company is grappling with. Although shaking up your work rou- tine benefits you personally, there's a professional benefit as well, says Lisa Skeete Tatum, cofounder of Landit, an online community that connects profes- sional women. "Not only will you reener- gize yourself but you can also get bonus points for taking the initiative, being a proactive leader, and increasing the ca- pacity of your team." Even if you don't see a clear path for- ward with your employer, you could use your current job to help you better pre- pare for the next one. "Take a step back and look at the broader vision for your career," Lowman Smith says. Identify the skills you'll need to advance some- place else and look around for ways in which you can get experience where you currently are. "Think where do I want to go long-term, and how I can make the best use of this time that I'm here to move me closer to that goal?" Lowman Smith adds. Selling your new role Of course, it's one thing to want to take on additional duties and quite another to get your manager to buy into the idea. Once you figure out what you want to do and why you're the person to do it, you have to convince others that it will ben- efit them. Focus on explaining how you will make your boss's job easier and add value to the team. Pay close attention to the culture of your organization and the personal- ity and preferences of your managers, says Lowman Smith. For example, if your boss isn't keen on change, you might sug- gest several meetings to keep her or him abreast of your progress. Also, try to quantify how your contri- bution can help to solve the company's problem. For example, you might show how your actions could save the company money or bring in more revenue. If your manager seems hesitant, offer to try things out temporarily to see how they work, Hannon says. Finally, make it clear that your current work obligations won't suffer. In fact, use your past per- formance to your advantage by making the case that you've already been suc- cessful doing X, so you have the chops to succeed at Y. A backup plan for happiness While crafting a more appealing job de- scription is ideal, that's not always pos- sible. However, career experts point to other ways you can infuse more happi- ness into a job that gets you down. Gain some clarity. Journal about what you like about your job, suggests Han- non. It doesn't have to be the work itself; it could be your relationships with your coworkers, the company's mission, or the fact that you get to learn new things or travel. en, write down what you don't like. Once you know where you stand, you can think of some possible solutions, Hannon says. Change your mind-set. When you're feeling overworked or undervalued, it's easy to think of yourself as just a cog in the machine. However, take a page from the Oprah Winfreys of the world. "ink of yourself as an entrepreneur and your employer as your biggest cli- ent," Hannon says. "It gives you a sense of empowerment and autonomy." Get- ting out from behind your desk can also make a big difference in your mind-set and energy level, says Skeete Tatum. Try shifting to walking meetings or setting your fitness monitor to remind you to THINKSTOCKPHOTOS move every hour. You may even need a bit more time off to recharge. A vacation can leave you rested and with a new per- spective. Improve your relationships. If you find yourself in an environment that has no team spirit, that can provoke feelings of frustration, says Michael Owhoko, au- thor of Career Frustration in the Workplace. A 2014 study by LinkedIn found that 46 percent of professionals said their work friends were important to their happi- ness at work. Look for ways to bond with colleagues by starting a walking group at lunch or inviting a different colleague to coffee every week. Learn something new. Boredom is one of the biggest reasons people feel frustrat- ed at work, Hannon says. Sign up for con- tinuing education courses or professional development programs offered by your employer. When you start to acquire new knowledge—even if it's not directly relat- ed to your job—it recharges you. "Remain focused on your personal dreams beyond the company," Owhoko says. Set better boundaries. When you take on too much, you are overwhelmed and you may make more mistakes, Lowman Smith says. To avoid that, learn to say no and to let your manager know if your workload gets to be intolerable. Don't be afraid to ask for a more reasonable dead- line or to suggest a more efficient way to get a project done. In some circumstances, it could be better to leave a job. For example, if you work in a hostile environment or the job is beginning to affect your health, mov- ing on might be the best option, Skeete Tatum says. But more often than not, you can do something not only to make a bad situa- tion better, but to turn it to your advan- tage. "It's a lot about believing in yourself and giving yourself a faith lift," Hannon says. "It's easy to get stuck in the mo- ment, but shake it up a little. Try some new things." DW Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC– based journalist who writes about diversity and careers. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur and your employer as your biggest client.

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