[Post by Chuck Krugh, August 18, 2023]
I’d planned for this series to be just four articles, but as I thought about the journey, I realized I needed to add another. I’ve talked about your plan and how to get there, but it struck me that I should talk a little about what to do to keep the job and/or prepare yourself for the next one.
So, you have identified where you want to go, made a plan and followed it. You find the next job you want, you meet the experience criteria for it and you have demonstrated skills and proficiency in your current role. You apply and qualify for an interview. After doing your homework and preparing for the interview, you knock it out of the park and get the job offer. Now what?
Getting the job is often far easier than keeping it. Let’s explore some universal truths about keeping the new job:
- Your attitude drives your performance (positively and negatively).
- If you believe you can do it, it will happen (confidence is different than your attitude).
- A can-do mindset will always find a way to win.
- You’re going to make a mistake (or two) along the way.
- If you think you’re ready, you may be a little overconfident (you don’t know what you don’t know).
- All jobs require work (there are no free rides).
Your attitude drives your performance – I am sure that you will agree with me on this one. People with positive outlooks will succeed faster and achieve more than people with a negative outlook.
Here’s a little tidbit that someone told me a long time ago, which stuck with me my entire career: The company doesn’t pay you to have a bad day! When you are in a leadership role, you are being paid to lead and accomplish a mission of some kind – not to bring your non-work problems to your job. In doing your job, you need to be positive. It’s hard because all of us have life happening, but what I have learned to do over the years is leave my problems at the gate. No one wants to hear my problems. After all, they have their own problems. My job is to make a difference in our company, and I can’t do it effectively with a negative attitude. Negative attitudes do not engender success! If you’re negative, then your team will turn negative as well. Lose-lose!
There is a lot of research in psychology related to the power of believing you can achieve something, and there are a lot of practical life situations where you can see it work. I’m sure in your life you have seen someone who overcame a situation or accomplished a goal because of their steadfast belief that they could. It is always amazing to see those examples of what people can achieve. As the saying goes – if you believe, you will achieve. To me it’s true and powerful.
A can-do mindset is so important in business and leadership. I know there is always a way to achieve a goal or objective even if the pathway is not visible. This is about how you approach the obstacles and challenges that inevitably get in our way. It often takes some focused thinking and looking at the problem from all sides, but there is a way. Having a can-do mindset equals results!
One of the biggest myths is that successful leaders don’t make mistakes – hogwash! I have made my fair share of mistakes along the way (and probably will make a few more). How you handle the mistakes you make determines the person you are. If you are working and learning, then mistakes may happen. When you make a mistake, own it and learn from it. (If you repeat the same mistake over and over, that’s a different problem – you may benefit from a problem-solving tool like we discussed in the blog Let’s Solve the Problem.)
So, you think you’re ready? The first few times that I was promoted into a new position, I was cocky and thought I knew everything. Such immaturity! I can remember at times looking at my boss and wondering: what does he do? After some time, when I got my boss’s job, I learned what he did, and it was always more involved and challenging than it had appeared. Fast forward 20 years – my attitude and thought process has matured.
When I got the call about coming to BIW, I had a solid track record in aviation and manufacturing, but I was nervous about coming to a shipyard. Not for the obvious reasons like the size of the company or having no experience in shipbuilding or government contracting, but because it was a big step for me personally and professionally. Most of all, I didn’t want to fail – for you or me.
I have learned to be more honored and humbled when taking on bigger levels of responsibility. It’s something that I wish I had a better understanding of earlier in my career. Whenever you get the opportunity to lead, it’s a gift, and – if done well – it’s an amazing sense of accomplishment!
Last, there is no such thing as a free lunch – all jobs take work. Forgetting this simple rule will cause you to exit your new job quickly. When you take on a new role, know that you have to prove yourself again, even if you were the best at what you did beforehand. Remember that those skills and proficiencies that you demonstrated in your previous role are what got you the opportunity to interview and win this new job. Make sure you put in the 110% effort needed to become the “go to” person. It will help you excel in your new position and show that you are preparing for the future.
I’ve tried to give you a lot to think about as you take on your next role or if you just want to keep the job you have. It really comes down to doing what it takes to be successful (do the work) with a good attitude. The great news is that YOU control both of these items. You control the throttle at which you work and the gear you cruise in – no one else can do it for you. In a similar way, you control your attitude – no one else determines that for you.
Your success is in your hands! Good luck and make it work…
See you on the deckplates!
Safely Execute High-Quality Work
President, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works
Click here to view more From the Helm blog posts.