You’re Not The Only One
4.3 million women became unemployed between 2019 and 2020 according to PWC’s Women in Work Index 2022. 4.3 million…..let that sink in for a moment.
This stat is dated ahead of the pandemic, so no effect from homeschooling, working from home or other ‘plate spinning’ activities that can add pressure.
In too many cases, women leave a role due to their professional relationships at work.
My Lifeless Job
Unfortunately, I have also left a role based in a Project Management Office, where I was responsible for processes and tools, due to a professional relationship at work. I can tell you I felt so dull, lifeless, undervalued and really rather low/frustrated.
As if I was banging my head against a wall, like an invisible force was holding me back – except this wasn’t invisible.
And here I turn to a phrase I now use so much – ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’…. I turned to my contacts. The people I was closest to at the time, and I had strong professional relationships with, that I thought could help me change my situation.
‘I need a new boss’ I told them.
A flurry of activity ensued – I had jobs shared with me, I interviewed and got a promotion! I got that new boss 🙂
I call my network my Tribe. They give me the power to feel strong in situations, and to believe in myself and who I am. I can ask them the ‘silly’ questions because they provide me with a safe place, and this encourages me to ask other questions outside of my Tribe.
At the head of my Tribe, like the head of a pride, is my mentor. The one I trust the most. Like the Elder of communities long before, the wise one, the experienced one. The one who can help me work through issues and guide my choices.
With this safe grounding, I have a strong foundation. A circle of trust. A safe place. And this encourages me to be bolder, brave, and to reach out to others and explore. To learn. It gives me the courage to grow wings. These wings can take me to better things.
And all because I nurture my Tribe.
My 5 Steps to Improve Your Professional Relationships
- Know yourself
If you have not already worked to understand yourself, your preferences and your personality, this is where to start. There may be people you will simply never get on with as you clash so strongly. Understanding this fact, and why you clash, can actually make you look at each other in a different light. It can make you realise why you clash and sometimes appreciate the other person.
If you know, for example, someone who has a different leadership style from you, that could be the reason you clash. There could be a middle ground where you can complement each other. So, knowing your own personality, values, learning style (and more) can help you navigate those trickier professional relationships and work out how you can make them work for you.
- Ask the questions
Having the courage to ask questions comes naturally to some people. Others ask so many it can derail a discussion! When you are new to a role, it is easy to exploit what I call your ‘newbie license’ and ask as many questions as you want. But when you are a long time into your role, it can feel harder to ask or re-ask those questions.
I was always told the only silly question is the one you don’t ask. I have also been known to people to ‘humour’ the fact I need to ask something again. Everyone has their own retention rate, and method of learning and sometimes we can forget.
Never lack the confidence to ask (for help, for a definition or anything else), showing you are engaged and filling knowledge gaps is key to success. The more people you ask and interact with, the deeper those professional relationships can go.
- Build your tribe
As the saying goes, you are the sum of the 6 people you hang around with. So think about that for a moment. Have you surrounded yourself with people who are mood vacuums? Or do you have people in your circle (your tribe) who lift you, encourage you, and inspire you? People you can go to for help whenever you need it? No matter what? Do you have that ‘elder’ in your tribe, the wise owl who can think logically through most situations?
This does not mean you wipe the slate clean and get a whole new support network, but you can consider adjusting, or at least recognising the role each plays in your life and the role you may be playing for others.
- Get a mentor
Do not wait for an official mentor programme to offer you a mentor. A mentor should be that wise owl, the elder, the more experienced and potentially more senior in role to you in the organisation. Someone you admire for how they have got to where they are and can help you do the same. They do not need to be a qualified mentor, but it helps to pick someone who you connect with, who you trust and would naturally go to in times of trouble.
Start by asking them if they would mind helping you, why you have chosen them and ask if they will help you. You may need to give context as to why you want the help and what you want to gain.
- Book 20-minute slots with key persons of influence
A newbie license comes in handy here, you can easily network around your role at the start and it is highly advisable to do so. But when you are longer in a role, it may seem odd to start reaching out to people. You can, therefore, consider the ‘I was settling in’ approach and now you are looking to further your connections with ‘key people’.
It may also flatter them if you think they are ‘key’ and get you that 20-minute slot. Be ready with your intro and some questions for those individuals. You could look them up on LinkedIn and ask about particular roles in their past or experience they can share related to a particular topic you are interested in. They may even have suggestions on who to build professional relationships with and how to improve others..
The 6 Stage Program
My tried and tested 6-stage programme was built due to my own experience. I wrote it after I had been through the Project Management job change I spoke of earlier. And in fact, I am applying all the same steps again as I go through this another time.
The programme takes you through stages of knowing yourself, assessing your ‘current state’, looking towards a ‘future state’ and then assessing the steps and plan to bridge the gap.
By knowing yourself, and building the confidence to reach out to those who can help influence your career, leaving no possibility ignored, no stone unturned and nothing to chance. YOU are working on yourself. On Project You. You are showing the universe what you want and you are not leaving it to chance that it will be delivered. So you can see the connection with better relationships and how this is deeply woven into the fabric of the programme.
The beauty of this programme is that anyone can use it to guide them to be happier at work, to change their career or to even retire!
Fast Track to The Solution
So if you are also feeling dull, held back and frustrated, I feel your pain. Click the link ‘here‘ and save yourself the hassle I had of navigating a path out of this. Allow me to help fast-track you to this positive, confident and happy place I now find myself in. I want to help you improve your professional relationships.
Let’s get you started on the 6 steps to success!