Whose Career Is It Anyway?

The author says there is a mindset in government organizations that it’s the organization’s job to figure out your best next career move. But did you ever stop to wonder if your idea of success and your organization’s idea of success are the same thing?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret (but I should warn you, you may not like it!) There’s no such thing as a problem employee…or a bad boss…or a lousy colleague.

These people just aren’t sitting in the right chair.

See, somewhere along the line, they failed to ask a very important question: Whose future is it anyway?

Because that leads to the uncomfortable question of “Am I in charge of my career or is my organization?”

There’s a mindset in government organizations that it’s the organization’s job to figure out your best next career move. That it’s somehow your organization’s responsibility to make sure you’re successful. But did you ever stop to wonder if your idea of success and your organization’s idea of success are the same thing?

You’re trying to do everything right: what your supervisor recommended, what your career development or HR officer suggested, what seems like the best next move. But let’s face it, in the current budget environment, jobs and promotions have little to do with performance. (I’m sorry.  It’s just the ugly truth.) It’s all about who’s a ROCK STAR – which loosely translates to: who is the person that people most LOVE to be around?

Are you one of the people who believe that their organization does want the best for them but something just isn’t working out quite right? Are you coming home every night wondering if your work even mattered?  Do you come home stressed out, burned out, frustrated, and exhausted?

If you are, it’s time to take a look at who is in charge of your career: you or your organization. Most of us have heard the old saying, “YOU are your best career development officer!” But what does that really mean and what are you supposed to do with that?

In an effort to decode this message, you go to your career development officer and get their advice. But here’s what happens:

They are very good at telling you what positons are available. They can tell you what a great career looks like for somebody else or what somebody in the past has done. They can look at what the org chart says would be a good fit and make a suggestion.

But even the most well-intentioned HR officer is really only looking at one thing: Can I FILL this position? Translation: Can I put a butt in this seat?

Notice that it isn’t, “Is this a great seat for this particular butt?”

(No offense intended to our HR professionals.  It’s simply the nature of their role.)

The only one who truly cares if your butt is in a comfortable seat for the long haul is YOU. The funny thing is that your organization really wants to care. And it recognizes that if your butt is in a comfy seat because you’re in the right position, you produce and accomplish things that even they wouldn’t have thought of.  Greatness just shows up.

Performance sky rockets. People start to know you, recognize you, and say “If you need THIS problem handled, call [Insert Your Name Here]. That’s what he/she does better than anyone else!”

That’s the kind of reputation that gets you hired and promoted – even with the budget concerns!

But the only person who can decide if the seat is comfy for you, is you! The most knowledgeable, caring, and helpful HR or Career Development officer in your organization can only take you so far. Ultimately, it’s up to you to take control and create the great life you’ve always wanted. It’s about you and not your organization!

When you take control of your career, and your future success, you get to make the difference you wanted to make when you came to your service. You’re “leaking happy” over people at home and in the workplace. And your name comes up as the go-to person for what you do best. You create Greatness In Government.

About the Author

Martha Wilson is a retired CIA Operations Officer, leadership instructor, transformational coach and the founder of Greatness In Government, a leadership and personal development firm that specializes in re-energizing mid-career government employees. Organizations that are struggling with complaints about bad leaders, discrimination, bullying and other symptoms of employee dissatisfaction hire her when they are ready for a fresh approach to leadership training. She also provides private coaching to high-potential government employees who have decided to assume responsibility for their own personal and professional development.