How to get the support you need at work

Years ago, Nat found herself in a tricky situation. She was consulting with a Government agency alongside, well, a bully. The undermining and dismissing started to impact her life, knocking her confidence and making her dread going into the office. Eventually, she couldn’t stand it any longer and quit.  

The moral of the story may not be what you expect. We all know it’s a good idea to leave a bad situation – but what many of us forget is all the opportunities we have to address problems before they become unbearable. The truth is, Nat had chosen to suffer in silence. She assumed the bad behaviour was obvious and confused her colleague’s inaction for complicity. 

How wrong she was. The news came as a real shock to the team. They had no idea there was a problem and took immediate action. But, after months of suffering, it was too late to convince Nat to stay, and she walked away from a rewarding, well-paid job. 

That was the first and last time she sacrificed her career in order to solve a problem.

On the path to burnout?

A recent study found that while men report feeling less lonely as they progress up the career ladder, it’s a different story for women. The research reinforces what we’ve witnessed: in recent Powrsessions, lack of support is one of the biggest challenges facing Powrsuiters. It’s also a primary reason why women leaders are quitting their jobs at the highest rate ever

Organisations are often guilty of providing a less-than-great working environment. People are busy, mismatched expectations aren’t addressed, and bad habits set in. However. The impact of these issues can be surprisingly invisible – especially to a manager who is also struggling. So this week, why not try a new approach? Here are three things you can do right now to seek out what you need to be successful:

1. Tell people what you need

If you don’t tell people what you need, they won’t know you need it.

In a post-covid world, organisations are grappling with a new normal. Because of the gender leadership gap, most people making decisions about flexible work, professional development, diversity, inclusion, and leave are men. Even with thorough consultation, some of the challenges facing you will likely be overlooked

So, take control. Book a 30-minute slot in your calendar. Spend the first half listing the specific examples of situations that cause you stress, overwhelm or confusion. Then, flip the script and spend the final 15 minutes brainstorming all the things that could give you the support you need – from regular one-on-ones to establishing boundaries to professional development. Chances are, you’ll be able to spot one or two easy ways to improve your work life. 

The next step? Tell the people who can help you get what you need – set up a time to chat and ask them for support. Remember the power of storytelling – give context, use a recent example, and most importantly, offer up a solution. 

2. Use your professional development allowance

Good organisations don’t just care about deadlines; they want to help you develop and grow. Many offer individual professional development allowances, while others have buckets you can access simply by asking for it. Women often don’t use theirs. 🤔

If you’re serious about your career, it’s time to get serious about equipping yourself with the skills you need to succeed. Remember that list you just created above? Ask your LinkedIn network (and colleagues!) for professional development recommendations to help you fill capability gaps, navigate challenges and build confidence. Find a course, conference or coach, and submit a request for funding (bonus points if you join us at a Powrsession 😉)

3. Take time off

It’s really hard to take a step back and work on your career while still working in it. When was the last time you stopped and thought about where you’re at and where you want to go? One smart Powrsuiter recently used a few days’ leave to have coffee with interesting people and learn about different organisations and roles. When we left Hatch, we did the same and took the time to really reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what we wanted to do differently.

We’ve talked about the importance of building your personal board of directors, but let’s take that ‘you as a business’ analogy even further: take a day or two to work on the strategic plan for your career. It could be as simple as networking or as complex as dedicated deep work to map out where you want to go and what you need to get there. Once you know your plan, you’ll be much stronger positioned to put your hand up for strategic opportunities and say no to the noise.

You don’t need to do it on your own

If you’re doing it tough, it’s ok to ask for help – or just have a good old vent! A lack of support can lead to a drop in confidence, increased stress and overwhelm. If you’re not feeling up to taking action, tap into your professional support crew. Make sure you regularly take time out for lunch or a walk and ask a friend to join you when you can. You may find they’ve experienced a similar situation and have a wealth of support to share. ❤️

30 second action:

Find out what your professional development allowance is.

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