Owning Your Power at Work

Special guest post by Beatriz Garcia

It’s the morning of your annual review. You’ve put so much time in at the office working late hours to exceed your supervisor’s expectations. As you walk into their office, you are confident that promotion is yours.

During the meeting your supervisor is complementary of all the great things you’ve accomplished over the year, explaining you’ve met expectations in most areas and perhaps in a few areas you’ve exceeded them. They see “a lot of growth potential for you in the organization”, BUT you haven’t shown the capacity to move to the next level.

The meeting concludes, you receive a cost of living raise but nothing more. Back at your desk, you are still trying to process the meeting and have so many open questions. “What went wrong? I was so confident I was going to be promoted. My supervisor has been telling me I’ve been doing a really great job, and that they wouldn’t know what to do without me.”

I see this happen frequently with young professionals, people of color, and especially women. You Give Your Power Away.

What does this mean? We believe that if we work hard, show up, and prove ourselves that we will be rewarded. Yes, we need to do all of those things but that isn’t enough.

Foremost, we believe that our supervisors have our best interests at heart, and are looking out for our careers. Although some supervisors are amazing (we need more of them!), there are also a lot more who either don’t make time for your growth or don’t know how to, but that’s a topic for another blog post. By relying on our supervisor, we are giving our power away and managing our careers passively. It leaves us vulnerable to be dismissed, overlooked and pigeon-holed.

So, how do you get your power back?

1. You Are Not Defined By Your Title

First, be willing to own that you are not your position or job title, you are what you bring to it. Your perspective, skill set, experience, and hard-earned wisdom are what you need to keep at the forefront of your supervisor’s mind. It is the intangible that makes you valuable. Aside from the tasks and projects completed, how do you elevate the work? Make sure you are able to communicate this clearly and don’t undersell yourself! This is what can impress your supervisor. Giving them what no one else can.

2. Always Be Curious

Second, learn to embrace the unknown with curiosity. This one evolves as you do but can be a career-changer if you learn to embrace it early on. Long ago are the days when you were handed a syllabus in school outlining everything ahead of you. Most of the time your position does not come with a manual on how to do your job and even if it does, I would still not use it! This is why: How do you elevate and enhance the outcome of a project if you rely on knowing the answers before you get started? Staying curious about the process of how to achieve the desired outcome is a powerful skill to learn. Asking questions throughout the process like, “What is the data showing us? Why do we continue to face the same challenge each year? Are we doing this with or for our stakeholders?” Practice this in your current role, when the stakes are not as high.

3. Know When To Walk Away

Third, know when to walk away when you are not valued. Easier said than done. Trust me, I’ve been there. You can make a conscious choice to stay at an organization that does not value you because of real life circumstances, but your light will slowly dim. Eventually, you will leave a place out of necessity versus a desire for growth. Or even worse, you might get stuck with years passing you by.

By integrating these three ideas can create the change you desire in your career. Embracing them leads you to be your own advocate, and be empowered to make the best decisions for yourself. This is how you level up. Are you ready to call your power back?

About the Author:
Beatriz has spent the last fourteen years as a leader in the nonprofit sector across operations and program management, including managing multimillion-dollar budgets and fundraising campaigns. She has expertise in building systemic change within nonprofits who work with underrepresented and underserved communities and an expert in guiding young professionals to meet their potential. Beatriz is now embarking on a new journey as a certified coach with women and young professionals of color, rooted in social justice. She has a Bachelors of Business Management from CSUN and a Masters in Nonprofit Management from Antioch University. You can find her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/beatriz-garcia-m-a-cnp-1633441b/

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