There has always been a special place in my heart for those just beginning to cement their careers
in the corporate world. So idealistic, full of potential, and ready to take on the universe…right up until the first time they realize the corporate world can sometimes resemble the Hunger Games.
Sound harsh? It absolutely does. But its REAL. As much as I believe the majority of us attempt to create a performance-driven culture that celebrates success, encourages engagemen
t in the process, and stresses continuous improvement, there are unique instances where it can be polar opposite. Like it or not, at one time or another in our career, we all feel like Tributes.
But what if I told you that it’s not about the battle as much as it is about you? How do you navigate yourself to the Victor's Village?
Over the course of my career, I've witnessed amazing and talented women fail themselves trying to to navigate the corporate minefield.
One thing I have come to appreciate is that we’ve all struggled at times to find our own inner Katniss or Peeta. From that, I’d like to offer you a Cornucopia that’s been fortified over the years:
Get an Escort and/or a Sponsor: Seek out and develop relationships with people who can help guide you through the jungle, give you honest feedback, and provide unbiased guidance. Later in your career, it will be these individuals you mention most when discussing your accomplishments as well as your hard won battles.
Activate Your Force Field: Not all is fair in the Corporate Hunger Games. People will not always be professional and/or directed by a strong moral compass. They may see you as competition in their career. It may feel personal. Trust me, it ispersonal – to THEM. Don’t let it be to you.
Practice Your Archery: You know that thing you were really good at that landed you this job? It’s not enough to survive, even if you were hired yesterday. Seek to learn and build multiple skills. Refuse to rest on temporary success. Strive for excellence. Stock your orange backpack daily. Your survival depends on it.
Be Polished in All Interviews: It is not fair, but perception does mean everything. It can accelerate you or deflate you in the eyes of others. The person you don’t think is important enough to warrant your best and most professional behavior today could be your boss tomorrow.
Avoid Gamemakers: Some of those managing others may not be in the right seat on the bus. They can create a culture of fear and purposefully keep their team off balance and struggling to survive to maintain control. Unfortunately, they rarely change. Appreciate the lessons. Stay just long enough to learn what you don’t want to be, and move on.
Find Your Water Source: Simply said: know what keeps you sane and healthy in times of stress. The Games aren’t always easy, but being grounded in who you are and staying consistent in your approach during these times is priceless.
Beware of Jabberjays: They may come to you under the guise of friendship, inviting you to happy hours and friending you on Facebook. Unfortunately, some are driven by a need to be known for being “in the know” and by a love of sharing information with others. Trust is like water you need for survival. Don’t give it away freely.
Be Careful of the Universe: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook…three things that when not managed properly can ruin your professional image and your career. Develop a personal policy on where and how you share your personal life with colleagues and stick to it.
Share your Bread: Build your reputation as someone who demonstrates humility despite their success. Become an innovative leader and pay your best learning forward to others. In the rare instance that the highly self-centered and Machiavellian types end up in the Victors Village, there are very few cheering for them.
Rep your District Well: Every day you are representing yourself, your team, and your boss. So build a strong brand and be consistent and reliable in your approach. Encourage professional behavior from others. When you encounter complainers, empower yourself to either elevate or leave the conversation. Pretend every opinion you share ends up up with your boss, because it very well could.
Most importantly, remember that you are the CEO of your own career. Earn your success and encourage others to do the same. Now go out into the arena and SHINE. As Effie Trinket would say, “…and may the odds be evaaahhh in your favahhhh”.