LinkedIn Career Expert says professionals can earn good ratings and strong appraisals even in a virtual setup
Like it or not, 'work from home' is here to stay, at least until the COVID-19 pandemic is completely behind us. Keeping this in mind, professionals have to find ways to scale their careers from a virtual set-up. We spoke to LinkedIn Careers expert Bhairavi Jhaveri, for insights on how we can do just that.
“Across the world, professionals are navigating a massive amount of change. It’s also been a challenging transition for professionals, especially those who may be juggling additional responsibilities at home taking care of children or elderly family members. Glint insights from more than 5 million survey responses and over 1.1 million professionals around the world have found that employees are feeling less connected to leaders (31 percent), teammates (37 percent), and even their friends (40 percent),” says Bhairavi.
Bhairavi says that as times remain unanticipated, our virtual world of work will also transition from ‘staying connected’ to a new workplace reality, where performance reviews, feedback loops, and manager reviews will all take place virtually. In this new work-from-home set-up, you are still in charge of your career progression, your annual review will still be important, and how you are assessed for your next promotion at this time is equally daunting as it is challenging.
Here are some tips from Bhairavi to take charge of your career in the virtual reality:
1. Own your career development
Open and honest conversations with your manager play a key role in helping you grow as a professional. No matter what the circumstance, it’s important to have honest conversations with your supervisors to address work pressures, discuss activity deadlines, and explore areas of growth.
In fact, asking for feedback and guidance can build a trustworthy relationship between you and your manager, which more than often becomes instrumental in charting your future in the firm or sector. Hence, engaging in such productive dialogues with your managers will help you define stronger professional goals, while also preparing you for the many new additions that are yet to show up in the new world of work.
Schedule regular check-ins with your manager and team to assess your career development and put in clear goals for you to achieve during this socially distant time.
2. Stay connected with your team
Be it a quick catch-up or a vital work call, fostering regular and transparent communication with your co-workers and your team has never been more important. A team player is most valuable during this time and your initiative to try different things will give you bonus points with your manager, who might be struggling to manage a team virtually.
If you’re not used to working remotely on a regular basis, you may start to feel disconnected from your colleagues and even lonely. Video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams and other platforms can come in to make meetings more engaging and we’re seeing coworkers and colleagues use other tools to replicate the office water cooler. Digitally checking-in with a coworker and asking them the type of support they need, or showing appreciation for a teammate’s work on a project is necessary.
If you’re leading a virtual meeting, be aware of all participants and give each a moment to chime in so they feel connected. If you are the one dialing in, announce yourself to let everyone know you’re on the line. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be about work. Consider hosting a fun icebreaker or play your favorite song before the start of each video conference.
3. Polish your skills to lead through change
‘Always be learning’ is an important mantra to adopt in this new reality. In the virtual set-up, we have all recognized areas of improvement or demands that the work-from-home has brought upon us. By investing in yourself and learning new skills, you commit to your own growth and that’s the first step to your success. If you are a new employee, a first time manager, or a manager managing a large team for the first time in a virtual set-up, short learning courses can help you upskill in a timely and efficient manner.
You can also opt to learn in groups, as a way to stay connected and productive. Since the onset of COVID-19 made us all socially distanced, LinkedIn has seen a 1,100 percent increase in people coming together in learning groups to learn new skills.
4. Be compassionate, resilient, adaptable
Many companies are looking for professionals with the right mix of technical know-how and soft/vocational skills to navigate today’s sensitive times. Skills like communication, problem-solving and compassion are gaining popularity among many employers who believe that while expanding your capabilities is a must, ‘empathy’ is the wonder drug that could help them brave through today’s challenges. Go the extra mile to showcase these softer strengths, create a safe space to allow your teammates to share, and provide support to those struggling in your team. How you respond to a crisis, how you manage your emotional well-being is also a sign of success and growth, and will be an important part of your performance review.
5. Draw clear boundaries to avoid burnout
It's important to establish boundaries when we work from home. You can do this by establishing a home base and crafting your schedule to optimize performance. Giving yourself a specific start and finish time each day will minimize the burden of meeting last-minute deadlines. It is also important to make sure you proactively let your manager know when you’re stepping away from your desk to take a breather.
Finally, stay well and take care of your mental health:
Stress management is important so that you bring your best self to work. Now that lockdown measures are being eased, one of the best ways to do this is by starting your day with a 30-minute walk outdoors. This will allow you to get in some exercise, while also giving you some time to reflect and ease your mind, before starting your day. However, if you are not yet comfortable going outdoors, you can sit near an open window, and practice 30-minutes of meditation and or mindfulness. This will give you an opportunity to clear your mind and get some time alone with your thoughts, away from any distractions.
While staying connected to your peers is important, ensure that you don’t fall victim to the ‘Zoom fatigue’ and are limiting virtual interactions to conserve energy. Having a ‘work buddy’ or ‘work friend’ helps in more ways than one as not only do you feel a sense of belonging at work but you also have a sounding board for anything that you might need advice on.