Career Strategy Tips - 'You' Vs 'Them'


Whether you are trying to advance, make a change, or accelerate your career, the following is intended to stimulate self-analysis and positive Career Action steps.  

The focus for this kick-off article is your Success Role in a company. . This is about how you present yourself and how you are perceived. Critical to your impact is to take a Pro-Active role in your career. Strategic Tips on Networking, Interviewing, Personal Brand, Cover Letters, etc. will follow in subsequent articles. So...     

   Who are you?

   What makes you special?   

   Where are you going?   

   How are you going to get there?  

If you have clear, concise answers to these questions then you are in the minority, and definitely on the road to greater career success. But even for you there is an important component to your career progress, momentum and success. That is, although these questions and your answers seem to be all about 'you', it really must be about 'them' -- whether they are clients, customers, bosses/superiors, interviewers, friends, business and professional associates. Always think about how you can best reach out to 'them', how you can help 'them' - with information, suggestions, ideas, knowledge, support, relationships, etc.. Do not worry, the pay-off to you will come.   

I am not suggesting that it is always one hundred percent about 'them'. However, even if it is about 'you' on one level, on another level it is or should be, about 'them'. For example, in a networking context, to establish an ally, you should communicate your accomplishments and professional success, things that you are proud about yourself. The outcome will be to provide the opportunity for the other person to be  knowledgeable about your accomplishments. Your objective, the outcome you are looking for, is their support and promotion of 'you'. Knowing 'you' makes 'them' look good. So, in any professional contact or association be very clear about 'them' outcomes, which translates into 'you' outcomes.  

In this case, as in most,  ask yourself the question: Has one of your objectives  been met -- to make or strengthen an ally? You want them to share in who you are which will give 'them' a reason to be supportive and helpful to 'you'. But, even in this case, you have made it about 'them'. About 'them' looking good in knowing 'you'.  

When you reach out to a business associate, your boss, or a networking contact, it puts you in control. But most of us tend to lose our control quickly. So, it is having a clear outcome which will effect how you handle and sustain that control that is important. Part of your outcome should be to bring added value to the relationship; i.e. 'you'. Of course there may be some exceptions - individuals who are so myopic, literal and shut off that they first need long term therapy. But, if possible, put yourself in the drivers seat, and stay there. Stay focused on your intended outcome and how to get there. And, being aware up front of the limitations of an individual or situation will force you to become creative and tailored with an individual-specific approach.  

To further illustrate the 'you' vs. 'them' equation, let's suppose that you think you should have a raise or promotion at your company, and you meet with your boss about this. Don't forget, this is your meeting, you scheduled it. Before the meeting, you are in the driver's seat -- don't lose it. How you express yourself, how you position yourself in the meeting will impact the outcome. So, should this be about 'you' or about 'them'; i.e. your boss? If you meet with your boss and focus the conversation on 'you' - "I want a raise", "I deserve a raise", etc. most likely you will turn-off your boss as well as lose control of the meeting. His/her response will be negative with excuses and/or legitimate reasons why now is a bad time - the economy, the economy's impact on the company, a salary freeze, etc. So, why hand over the meeting to your boss when it should  be about 'them'? Rather, a pro-active, 'them' approach might be to ask such questions as: Let's discuss how I can be of more help/support to you? Am I giving you all the support that you need and are looking for? How do you see my role here going forward? What about my assuming more responsibilities, such as... ? and it will make your life easier. I know that the Company is going through a tough period, but as things get better can we  discuss my role, growth and compensation? Does that make sense? So making it about 'them', enables you to manage 'them', rather than allowing 'them' to manage 'you'.   

I am only touching on the 'you' vs. 'them' equation with the idea of enhancing your greater self awareness, and to redirect your thinking about various professional encounters for more career clarity and self-confidence. When your emphasis is on 'you' it becomes a contest - 'you' vs. 'them'. It is usually a conflict of interests. When it is about 'them' it is about a desired or enhanced relationship with 'you', and about your added contribution and value to 'them'.


Marshal Backlar
424 273-1024