How To Stop Being So Shortsighted

I’m meeting with a new team member. Now, this employee wasn’t new to the company, they’d been with the company for several years, but they were new to my team. We were discussing their future goals and ambitions. This employee was extremely focused on a particular job promotion. In fact, they had been wanting this promotion to this particular job for quite some time – even with previous leaders. And they hadn’t received it. They’d watched many of their peers receive this promotion before them, yet they felt like they were as qualified, if not more qualified, to have received it. And so now they’re sitting across the table from me, wondering, “Colleen, are you going to be the leader who FINALLY helps me get this promotion?”  

Well, that wasn’t really where we were going. It was really the question I asked next, which is…

“WHY do you want this promotion?”

And after I broke down the additional requirements of that particular position, things such as moving from an individual contributor to a people-leader, I found out they really didn’t want those responsibilities that were in that other job.

So again, WHY do you want this promotion?

I discovered it was for recognition, an increase in salary, and it was the logical next step. Yet, this job wasn’t really what they wanted to be doing day in and day out.

And here they had been so fixated – everything they were doing was focusing on that one particular job. Spending all of this time and energy, becoming frustrated, when in reality that’s not even what they wanted!

Where are you looking at things from this very logical, “that’s how everybody’s done it,” near-in thinking, versus thinking about the long game?

When I started talking to this employee about the long game, like if they could create their ideal role, what would it look like? Where would they be working? What type of work would they be doing? Who would they be working with? What did that look like? That’s when we were able to say, “There are ways to create those within your current job and maybe get you an increase in salary.” Or maybe there was a completely different job in a different department, a different location, that they didn’t know about that I could recommend.

Stop focusing on that “logical” next step. Start thinking about the long game.

Where are you most excited? What really drives you? What is that ideal world? In the long-distance future, what does that look like for you? Get in tune with that, start talking about that, and that’ll help you create what that next step will be. And it may not seem to be the logical place, but it’s going to be the logical place for you based on the long game.

All right, no more near-in; think long term. And then work backwards from there.

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