Career & Leadership Coach, Korn Ferry Advance
5 Ways to Reinvent Yourself at Work
Of all the people on the team, Mark seemed like he had the most to lose from the release of the new artificial-intelligence platform. At 50 years old, he was the Luddite of the group. But instead of resisting the new technology—his customary response—Mark embraced it. Six months later, he is the team’s expert on the new AI. He has earned the nickname “New Mark” from his teammates and has solidified his role with his manager.
There are a lot of Marks out there right now—people looking to reinvent themselves for a new world of work. “Over the last few years, people have had to change certain behaviors so they can get more visibility, recognition, and fulfillment,” says Val Olson, a career and leadership coach with Korn Ferry Advance. Not everyone wants to leave their company or find a new job. Many people just want security in the one they have.
That isn’t easy to come by nowadays. Companies are laying off workers by the thousands. Artificial intelligence and digital technology are changing how jobs are done. In times like these, Olson says, people need to actively shape their career identity to avoid being pigeonholed or stereotyped. Here are some ideas.
Understand how you are seen.
Before someone can reinvent themselves, they have to find out how their coworkers perceive them, says Tiffinee Swanson, a Korn Ferry Advance coach. Ask managers for candid feedback, review past 360-degree assessments, and pay attention to cues from co-workers, nonverbal and otherwise, that can provide insight into their view of you. Take ownership of that view, says Swanson—even if it isn’t how you see yourself. “Then you can strategize actions and behaviors to take,” she says.
Determine your objective.
What is motivating you to reinvent yourself? Are you seeking a promotion to a bigger role? Maybe you just want to communicate better, or develop more patience. “Reinvention starts with a vision or goal,” says Jacob Zabkowicz, vice president and general manager of the Recruitment Process Outsourcing practice at Korn Ferry. Identify the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and determine the steps needed to bridge it.
Think small changes.
Reinventing yourself doesn’t mean changing your entire personality or role. Small changes carried out consistently can make a big difference, says Zabkowicz. If you are an introvert, for instance, challenge yourself to get to know colleagues better or participate more in team meetings. Even something as basic as dressing differently or going into the office more often can go a long way. “Reinventing yourself takes a different attitude or mindset from what you are doing today,” Zabkowicz says.
Take on a new challenge.
One of the surest ways to reinvent yourself is to get out of your comfort zone. If you (like the fictional Mark) have an aversion to digital technology, try learning the company’s new customer-service management platform. Master a new skill that positions you differently. Better yet, advises Olson, volunteer for opportunities outside of your team or specific role that you would normally avoid. “Share who you are and what you bring to the table in a different way,” she says.
Be intentional about developing your new persona, says Korn Ferry career and leadership coach Sarah Williams. Network with coworkers on different teams or in different departments whom you normally wouldn’t interact with. Using social media and other forums, develop a consistent message around how you want to be viewed. “To reinvent yourself, you need exposure and a consistent message,” Williams says.
For more information, contact Korn Ferry’s Coaching practice.