New year, new ideas.
2023 brings with it continued uncertainty in the economy, hybrid work and continued labor shortages in many industries.
Given the lack of perceived control, workers will continue to push back against traditional corporate practices and create a more equitable workplace that works for most people, not just those with power and privilege.
Here are some key career strategies to try in 2023:
Set healthy boundaries between work and life. Gone are the days of people sacrificing their dignity, mental health and self-interests for the organization they work for. Boundaries are necessary to prioritize what is most important to you, communicate it proactively to those you work with and intentionally reinforce those boundaries when challenged without apology or self-deprecation. In a patriarchal society, women may find it difficult to push back against those in power. Having pre-defined boundaries helps alleviate conflicts and when reinforced over time, models it for the broader organization. Once boundary-setting becomes more normalized, people feel safer speaking up and sharing their boundaries.
- Focus on “will” over “skill”: Passions and sources of confidence are much more important than traditional technical skills and industry knowledge. Think about what you are doing on your very best work days – what are you doing? Who are you with? How do you feel? These questions give you clues as to what you are uniquely passionate about and should be spending 80% of your time focused on. When we do work that is not aligned with our passions, we are less productive and the work is of lower quality. Doing work aligned with your purpose not only helps you, but also helps the organization and team achieve more.
- Address burnout: The major causes of burnout are unsustainable workloads, perceived lack of control, insufficient rewards for effort, lack of a supportive community, and lack of fairness or mismatched values and skills. This can be addressed by resetting expectations about capacity, having intentional conversations with management about fairness and rewards and embracing saying “no” more to work outside of your job description.
- Test out a “gig”: Not sure you want to start your own business or don’t see yourself as an entrepreneur? Test it first. Offer to complete a small project for a friend, or former team member or apply on a freelance aggregator like Upwork Fiverr. If the work is aligned with your “will” and passions, you are likely to be more efficient and skilled at performing the task. Come up with a basket of tasks or problems you could help people solve and put out feelers to see if there is interest. Ideally, having a “skill,” “will” and marketplace need is the best place to focus.
- Ask for what want: What’s the worst that could happen by asking? Women often hold back and wait for others to come to them with a promotion, job opportunity or pay raise. Those that speak up and advocate for themselves, especially in a labor market where employees still have more power than employers in most industries, employers have to pay attention to employee needs. Even if you get a “no” it is better than not asking at all.
2023 will continue to be uncertain, yet employees have more power than ever before. How will you use your power in your career?
Julie Kratz is a highly-acclaimed TEDx speaker and inclusive leadership trainer who led teams and produced results in corporate America. After experiencing many career “pivot points” of her own, she started her own speaking business with the goal of helping leaders be more inclusive. Promoting diversity, inclusion, and allyship in the workplace, Julie helps organizations foster more inclusive environments. She is a frequent keynote speaker, podcast host, and executive coach. She holds an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, is a Certified Master Coach, and is a certified unconscious bias trainer.