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Conquering Your Career Challenges

Author : Dilip Saraf
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Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, but it is about learning to dance in the rain! "Unknown

Clients often come to me when they see storms gathering at their place of work, or often, when they are already in a storm created by a variety of management, marketing, or business problems. As a result what they face is hard work, frustrating setbacks, uncertainty, and lack of appreciation for their tireless efforts. When they come to me the popular refrain is how do I get out of this place and what can I do next to protect my career.

My experience has been that in most of these cases these storms are created by previous bad management decisions that have resulted in untenable situations that foster customer dissatisfaction, supplier ire, and employee morale problems, let alone financial and performance problems for the company. So, regardless of how hopeless the situation is or may be, you must not run away from it, but seize it to put a shine on your rsum.

But, how?

In the case of one client the company's product was causing users at both ends"its service was used by both the buyers and their suppliers"to rebel against it and wreak havoc in the marketplace. The defection rates were astronomical, yet, the time to onboard a new customer took forever. Also, the confusion in dealing with common customer complaints was everlasting. He was fed up with the stress all of this was putting on him as a newly-installed product manager, so he decided to leave the company and find some other place with better conditions. But, since he had just started working there less than a few months back, this quick change would not have reflected well on him.

After he finished venting off his frustrations and telling me how untenable his situation was, I decided to take an opposite view and told him that despite his woes he must stay where he was until he had created a viable recovery plan in his own area of work and until he was able to show some results, before moving on. I explained to him that such opportunities to show one's leadership were rare and if he could demonstrate how he turned things around in such a troubled company, even in his own area of work, he would be a very desirable employee for anyone in the market to go after. Such chaotic conditions are more common at companies than most realize. Besides, his company's woes were well known in the industry, so any success in their mitigation would place him as highly prized recruit by the company's competitors.

After he agreed to the plan we decided to change his work priorities, and, rather than the daily firefighting that was causing him the grief, we decided to create a recovery plan that allowed him to do the required firefighting, but by first placing priorities on his recovery plan. This recovery plan included a comprehensive change in many areas affected within his immediate span of work"starting with the onboarding of new customers, to dealing with defecting customers. Once the top brass jumped on this plan my client had a clear mandate to focus more on the recovery plan than to focus on the all-consuming daily firefighting, which he delegated to others in view of his newly sanctioned priorities.

Within about a month my client's daily priorities changed and he felt more in control of his work, since most of the work he was then doing entailed executing the plan that was already approved by his bosses, others were then given the work that he was finding detestable and enervating. He was now doing the work that truly energized him, particularly after he started seeing positive results in its wake.

About six months after this initiative took root, things in his own area started to improve. Customers started returning his calls using more polite language in dealing with him and in describing the problems that were still showing up. Overall, my client felt encouraged by what he was able to produce as a result of this shift. Although the initiative had now taken a bigger reach across the company he was ready to move on by getting ready with a campaign that had a great rsum. Within a short few months he was able to land an executive job in the same industry, mostly stemming from his success.

If he had not faced this challenge and walked away in search of a new job his prospects of finding a better job would have been limited and he would not have built his brand that got him the next great job within a short period.

So, the next time you are tempted to run away from a storm and take shelter, think again! Confront the challenge and find out what you're really made of!

Good luck!


About Author
Dilip has distinguished himself as LinkedIn’s #1 career coach from among a global pool of over 1,000 peers ever since LinkedIn started ranking them professionally (LinkedIn selected 23 categories of professionals for this ranking and published this ranking from 2006 until 2012). Having worked with over 6,000 clients from all walks of professions and having worked with nearly the entire spectrum of age groups—from high-school graduates about to enter college to those in their 70s, not knowing what to do with their retirement—Dilip has developed a unique approach to bringing meaning to their professional and personal lives. Dilip’s professional success lies in his ability to codify what he has learned in his own varied life (he has changed careers four times and is currently in his fifth) and from those of his clients, and to apply the essence of that learning to each coaching situation.

After getting his B.Tech. (Honors) from IIT-Bombay and Master’s in electrical engineering(MSEE) from Stanford University, Dilip worked at various organizations, starting as an individual contributor and then progressing to head an engineering organization of a division of a high-tech company, with $2B in sales, in California’s Silicon Valley. His current interest in coaching resulted from his career experiences spanning nearly four decades, at four very diverse organizations–and industries, including a major conglomerate in India, and from what it takes to re-invent oneself time and again, especially after a lay-off and with constraints that are beyond your control.

During the 45-plus years since his graduation, Dilip has reinvented himself time and again to explore new career horizons. When he left the corporate world, as head of engineering of a technology company, he started his own technology consulting business, helping high-tech and biotech companies streamline their product development processes. Dilip’s third career was working as a marketing consultant helping Fortune-500 companies dramatically improve their sales, based on a novel concept. It is during this work that Dilip realized that the greatest challenge most corporations face is available leadership resources and effectiveness; too many followers looking up to rudderless leadership.

Dilip then decided to work with corporations helping them understand the leadership process and how to increase leadership effectiveness at every level. Soon afterwards, when the job-market tanked in Silicon Valley in 2001, Dilip changed his career track yet again and decided to work initially with many high-tech refugees, who wanted expert guidance in their reinvention and reemployment. Quickly, Dilip expanded his practice to help professionals from all walks of life.

Now in his fifth career, Dilip works with professionals in the Silicon Valley and around the world helping with reinvention to get their dream jobs or vocations. As a career counselor and life coach, Dilip’s focus has been career transitions for professionals at all levels and engaging them in a purposeful pursuit. Working with them, he has developed many groundbreaking approaches to career transition that are now published in five books, his weekly blogs, and hundreds of articles. He has worked with those looking for a change in their careers–re-invention–and jobs at levels ranging from CEOs to hospital orderlies. He has developed numerous seminars and workshops to complement his individual coaching for helping others with making career and life transitions.

Dilip’s central theme in his practice is to help clients discover their latent genius and then build a value proposition around it to articulate a strong verbal brand.

Throughout this journey, Dilip has come up with many groundbreaking practices such as an Inductive Résumé and the Genius Extraction Tool. Dilip owns two patents, has two publications in the Harvard Business Review and has led a CEO roundtable for Chief Executive on Customer Loyalty. Both Amazon and B&N list numerous reviews on his five books. Dilip is also listed in Who’s Who, has appeared several times on CNN Headline News/Comcast Local Edition, as well as in the San Francisco Chronicle in its career columns. Dilip is a contributing writer to several publications. Dilip is a sought-after speaker at public and private forums on jobs, careers, leadership challenges, and how to be an effective leader.



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