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The unfortunate mistake many of us make when it comes to career planning, apart from not having done any, is that we don’t consider the ‘what if’ scenarios – particularly those that may derail our prospects for career progression and job retention. 

Once we are ensconced in a role all too often our focus is on the day to day challenges in our job; and in particular meeting KPIs that will help determine our future prospects. It’s full steam ahead and there is little thought given to what could go wrong. 

Career planning, while intended to help you lay out a road map to assist you meet all your expectations, should also have a focus on critical risk management issues that can derail your career and relegate you to the sidelines. 

Over the course of the past 20years, I have interviewed a wide range of senior and middle management executives and business owners and the common thread running through the conversations is that they had a clear idea of where they wanted to take their careers, but no strategy to get them to where they wanted to be. When it came to risk management few if any had addressed this issue which they all agreed would have been useful in avoiding some of the pitfalls they encountered along the way.

What risks?

While it is possible to mitigate risk, there are some risks that you will find out of your control to the extent that some you will not even know about until they are brought to your attention and by then it is too late. But there are many risks that you can plan for and take action to control or at least effectively reduce their impact. 

Establishing a risk management framework requires taking a robust approach to risk assessment and includes a broad range of issues that are either related to your capabilities and approach to the work environment and the role of internal and external stakeholders can play in you being successful in your job.

Establishing a risk management framework is about you.

The starting point is to undertake a personal audit to ascertain a range of issues related to your capabilities and job fit. Once you have conducted the personal audit then you can look at how best you can arm yourself against the risks that are in your control. At the core is your ability to identify areas where you can capitalise on your capabilities and where required make real and sustainable changes to the way you manage your behaviour and approach to the work environment.

Communication or communicating?

If there is one skill most of us think we are good at is communication however many people lack a consistency in delivering the message or may come across as vague, double meaning or at worst abrasive. I know one general manager who prides himself on his communication skills. ‘I tell the way it is so my team knows what is expected of them’. 
However I also have known members of his teams who have another version of his approach which is bordering on belligerent. 

While the art of communication comes naturally to some it is challenging to others and like the general manager there are those who are clueless as to how their audience is hearing them. It is helpful for all of us to ensure that our communication skills are at a professional level and that those we are communicating with are comfortable with how we are communicating with them. Otherwise we face the risk that we are unable to get our message across effectively which will invariably impinge on our performance as judged by our managers and colleagues alike.

Stakeholder engagement

This is all about influencing people and involves not only communication skills but the ability to bring stakeholders on board with you. While you may be an effective communicator you may not have the skills to engage with stakeholders to the extent where they are comfortable in offering their commitment. 

Effective stakeholder engagement requires an understanding of what the person you are talking sees as hot and cold button issues. This requires an element of behavioural psychology and an ability to seek out the motivations of the party you are dealing with to get them on board. 

If you are working across divisions in your company to effect change or dealing with a client you want to influence then it is critical that you have the ability to have effective stakeholder management capabilities otherwise face the risk that you will not be considered for this role.

In part two we will discuss leadership, motivation and resilience and the role of adopting thoughtfulness in your risk management framework.

Courtesy of Peter Dawson