Young managers, working their way up the corporate ladder often find themselves alone. As the demands of the job increase, the support systems stay static.
While pressures to perform grow and responsibilities expand, there is little if any network to fall back on; the backstop is either too small or doesn’t exist. You begin to feel like you are flying on a trapeze without a net.
When you first start out in a career, it seems the world is large. Opportunities are tremendous. Then as you find a groove to grow into, responsibility gives rise to more pressure. As you add direct reports to your mix, the “people demands” grow exponentially.
In many organizations, mid-managers are treated as professional co-dependents, individuals who understand how to work harder, do more, and ask for less. But, unless we turn them into true leaders, we don’t need them and won’t keep them. Their departure, in many cases, represents a great loss of intellectual capital and another failure in teaching others how to change. –David Harder at InspiredWorkServices.com
When it was just you punching the clock and turning in your work, it was easy. Sure, the boss gave you some hassle from time to time, but you could go somewhere after work, blow off some steam, and be ready for tomorrow.
Now, problems linger. Things may not be resolved as quickly as they once did. You take work home. Mentally, you’re in gear at dinner, in the shower, and in bed at night. You wake up wondering if your idea for ways to fix things at work will work.
Anyone with any executive experience will tell you that it can be lonely at the top. So what is a person to do?
Here are 7 ways to build a good security net.
Faith – If you are a person of faith, be sure to grow closer to your faith. Exercise the disciplines of praying, reading, and meditating on the teachings of your faith. Stay connected to your community of faith.
Identify a close, reliable circle of friends – no you shouldn’t burden them with your problems, but you should be able to share your concerns and have them give you solid, honest feedback abut what you are thinking. If your thoughts start to go in the wrong direction, hopefully these guys can pull you back.
Physical condition – Pay close attention to your physical well-being. Whether that is a gym or nutrition or both, as pressures increase, this is not the area to abandon. Your health will determine a lot about your ability to sustain under the pressures you are facing.
Peer groups and masterminds – There is a growing trend toward more mastermind groups. These are small groupings of professionals with similar backgrounds and corporate status. The group meets regularly and is facilitated by a coach/mentor. Ideally, the coach is a proven professional with a respectable list of his/her own accomplishments who can guide and direct the sessions. Here individuals can share concerns and get feedback.
Individual coaching – Let’s face it, sports analogies abound. No player, regardless of natural talent, can move up to the big league without coaching. Once he’s there, he’s got to get additional coaching, often by a specialist, who can identify small adjustments needed for maximum performance.
Ability to prioritize – Find ways to get better at setting priorities. Not everything is critical and urgent. President and General Dwight Eisenhower made his 4–blocker decision chart famous.
Mental health – Yes, keeping your wits about you is critical too. Stress can produce very adverse effects that impact your ability to reason. Without proper attention to this important aspect of who and what you are, your decision making ability can fail. You must allow yourself ways to ‘chill’. Calming your brain. Give it a break. Divert the pressures of the day into more creative channels; music, books, movies, etc.
You’ll notice I did not list family. While family is the foundation of anyone’s support network, I have found that troubling your family with too many work related matters has a way of damaging that very important relationship.
The most successful executives I have ever known have managed to build a very healthy split between work and family thus letting the family be close, loving, and warm relationships that are protected from the trials at work.