"I'm really glad that year's over! 2009 was definitely one of the worst years I've had in my entire career. It looks like this year won't be as tough. Hopefully a decent raise could be in the cards, and some forward advancement in my career would sure be great."
The client who was telling me this noted that she was ready to get back to "normal." Like a lot of leaders, she'd seen her team cut down in size, was working longer hours, and had undergone budget cuts in 2009. Her boss had been let go and now she's reporting to another individual who seems more interested in personal survival than helping her get the job done.
It's not hard to see why she's ready for a better year. But, in all likelihood, this one won't be much different. And - unless she takes control of her situation - it may be just as bad, or even worse.
The economists are forecasting continuing high levels of unemployment, in the range of 9.5 to 10% for most of 2010. And even if it's not that bad in your sector or location, that factor will ultimately have an indirect impact your organization, your job, and your success.
Employer audits indicate that hiring is going to be minimal in comparison to past years. This will slow down the number of promotions in many organizations.
Consumers and businesses alike are still feeling the events of late 2008 and last year. The majority are focused on reducing debt and building reserves. Unless you're working on Wall Street, profit levels are unlikely to improve dramatically. That's going to affect business spending and consumer activity.
Translation: Most managers should not expect this to be a great year for a raise, promotion, or reduced workload.
So, what to do? How can you make the most out of 2010? Here are a few tips and strategies I recommend to anyone who wants to take control of their career:1. SWOT yourself - If you're not familiar with the term, which has been used by successful businesses for decades, it means doing an objective review of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I discussed it during an interview with ABC News last year. 2. Dust the resume off - and make sure it looks as good as possible. I'm often surprised at how some leaders neglect this. Keeping it up to date is good for a couple of reasons - first it helps to have one in the event someone is interested in hiring you. (Trying to pull one together ASAP rarely results in you being able to put your best face forward. Better to do it over time, with no pressure.) Second, it gives you a good audit about what you offer in regard to your expectations. It may point out that you need to focus on a few things. If you don't know how to do a good resume, I like this site. 3. Do at least one job interview a year - This activity is very valuable, especially if you've been with the same organization for a few years. It tells you more about the "real world" than any report could convey. It forces you into a "selling" mode that is uncomfortable - but important - in an era of high unemployment. Finally, it helps you understand if your existing job is as good as it gets today: you may become more satisfied with your current situation or you may realize you're more valuable than the boss gives you credit for. 4. Look after your body - How we feel and look impacts how others treat us. And, if you don't do enough physically, your performance erodes; however because it's incremental you don't notice. You'll run out of gas sooner than others who may be competing for resources or a promotion. I recommend yoga and, personally I like Bikram style because it helps both mind and body improve more quickly. Track your sleep. A lack (yes it's still eight hours) of good quality sleep will affect your ability to focus. Important stuff for any careerist or leader.
Here's to your Future!
John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.