One person’s trash is another’s treasure.
Under the radar opportunities present themselves when we train our observation skills to see them and play to our strengths when acting on them. The good news is that you can benefit from the missed, ignored, or discarded experiences of others.
Observing what’s around you and what’s behind you can yield rich rewards down the road. The next time you want to fly under the radar screen consider the following four opportunities:
- Political diplomat
- Turnaround artist
- Relationship handler
- Responsible risktaker
These days the workplace is filled with political hot potatoes; situations that if not handled with finesse can back fire at your expense and set back your project, team, and even your department.
If one of your strengths happens to be reading the political dynamics around you, then one person’s missed opportunity could be the thing that hums your heart.
Your skills might include creating bridges between disparate groups of people. You come across a tense situation where relationships are strained and getting in the way of business. You can step up and position yourself as an intermediary, establishing a reputation as a people problem solver and political diplomat.
Is one of your strengths handling chaos in organizations? Are you better at dealing with disorder and bringing people to the middle ground?
You could carve out a career as a project manager specializing in projects no one else will take on, but that you successfully turn around. Perhaps, you have good coaching skills with strengths that include helping people through challenges and getting them back on track. You might be an emerging leader with the ability to size up organizations going through disruptive change.
Whatever the specific area, if you consider this one of your core strengths you won’t likely have a shortage of opportunities waiting for you!
It’s important, though, that you develop a strategic career plan for not only the types of challenges you pursue, but also how you want to leverage the experience. You'll want to make your pain pay.
We’ve all been in situations where a relationship just never gelled. Sometimes we can work through it (and learn new skills along the way), but other times a clean break may be a healthier response for everyone.
What if you notice a similar situation as an outside observer that you feel you could handle differently? Perhaps, you’ve been wanting to build an influential relationship with this individual and you see an opportunity in front of you.
Someone else’s emotional baggage can become your fresh perspective. Are your emotional intelligence (EQ) and coaching skills solid enough to guide this individual through the changes needed to build effective relationships?
If so, this could open new doors for you as someone capable of building healthy relationships and creating positive workplace dynamics.
But be careful that you don’t become entangled in someone else’s old baggage lest you find yourself juggling the negative emotions of others instead of leading them out of the swamp!
Recently I wrote a post on how to take the risk out of high risk projects. In this instance, you’re in search of a project whose manager is now stuck with a pariah project and a reputation to match (see political hot potato).
Responsible risktaking is understanding the risk going into the project and knowing how to effectively manage it during the life of the project.
Resurfacing failed projects, particularly those considered high risk, is not for the meek. But it’s often a great way to gain quick visibility within an organization, while developing a reputation as a turnaround artist, e.g., “give it to Jenny, she’ll fix it or get rid of it”.
Do your field work and try to get answers to three critical questions before taking on this type of project.
1. Interview the project manager and as many team members, as possible. Dig below the surface to discover the real ‘why’ behind the failed project. Was it a leadership problem, funding issue, communication breakdown, political machination, or gaps in required team skills?
2. Speak with two or three influential individuals who can provide an outside-the-inner-circle perspective on the project. What’s their opinion on the reasons why the project failed?
3. Identify at least two decision-makers within the organization to better understand how decisions were made by the project team and how decisions should have been made by the project manager.
Be alert to these four opportunities as they come across your radar screen. Feel free to add your ideas to our comments section and grow the list!
© 2005 DA McCrorey