Struggling to navigate the corporate world as a Gen Z professional?
In this episode, host David Rice is joined by Mei Phing Lim—Corporate Career Coach & Mentor at The Corporate Survivor™—to talk about the framework for career development, the challenges young people are facing in the workplace, and what leaders can do to create memorable workplace experiences for them.
- Mei Phing’s Journey to Career Coaching [01:19]
- Mei Phing is an accidental career coach with a background in the corporate world.
- She graduated in 2008, spent over 10 years in accounting, consulting, FinTech, and banking.
- She took a career break in 2019 due to her mother becoming terminally ill.
- People started reaching out on LinkedIn for career advice during her break.
- She started offering career coaching and consultation in response to the demand.
- She noticed common workplace and career problems among individuals.
- She transitioned from one-on-one sessions to a broader content suite, including YouTube, newsletter, and podcast.
- The Birth of ‘The Corporate Survivor’ Program [03:08]
- Mei Phing created “The Corporate Survivor” as a comprehensive career growth program.
- It includes training, mentoring, and coaching for success in the corporate world.
- She aims to provide a holistic framework for career development.
- The program focuses on career clarity, confidence, competence, and opportunities.
- The program is designed to benefit individuals in nine-to-five jobs.
- The Impact of Career Coaching [03:57]
- Mei Phing has learned the power of believing in possibilities through her career coaching.
- Clients initially felt hopeless and frustrated, but with coaching, many transformed into high performers.
- She witnessed mindset shifts, skill development, and increased confidence over time.
- She recognizes that career transformations are not overnight but sees the potential for positive change.
- Mei Phing finds inspiration in clients’ stories of overcoming challenges and achieving success.
- Emphasizes the importance of gaining clarity to see new perspectives and opportunities in one’s career.
- The Three-Step Framework for Career Development [05:39]
- Step 1: “Get Clear on the Corporate World”
- Focuses on understanding the company’s culture, structure, and managing expectations.
- Emphasizes adapting to people, personalities, and the culture of the new workplace.
- Step 2: “Get Confident with Corporate Skills”
- Involves four key skills groups: communication, relationship building, critical thinking, and productivity.
- Highlights the importance of these skills in working with others and contributing effectively.
- Step 3: “Get Visible with Personal Branding”
- Splits personal branding into on-the-job networking for workplace recognition and external visibility through platforms like LinkedIn.
- Stresses the need for bosses and networks to be aware of your skills and contributions.
- The framework is applicable throughout one’s career, providing a tool for self-assessment and improvement.
- Step 1: “Get Clear on the Corporate World”
Critical thinking is the art of mastering the job that you’re hired to do and where you can contribute and how you can communicate that contribution to the people around you.Mei Phing Lim
- Understanding the Challenges of Young Professionals in the Workplace [12:26]
- Mei Phing notes the excitement of fresh graduates and the mindset transition from college to the working world.
- Young workers may struggle as their college habits don’t seamlessly apply to the professional environment.
- Rise of social media contributes to a one-way street mentality—quit if unhappy—limiting self-reflection.
- Mei Phing encourages resetting expectations through communication and seeking guidance at the start of a job.
- She defines toxicity in the workplace using the 3P method: People, Personality, and Priorities.
- Suggests addressing issues through communication, alignment conversations, and seeking solutions before labeling situations as toxic.
- Encourages considering different perspectives and seeking advice beyond friends and family for a more balanced view.
- The Role of Emotional Readiness in the Workplace [19:29]
- Employers need to understand younger workers may need more guidance and a structured onboarding process.
- Mei Phing suggests onboarding programs that provide clarity, mentors, and support in the first 90 days.
- Young professionals should shift their mindset from college to the working world, open to continuous learning.
- Mei Phing advises against the immediate desire to impress, emphasizing the importance of the foundational steps: clarity, confidence, and competence.
- The 3-step framework (clarity, confidence, visibility) is essential, with visibility coming after building a strong foundation.
- Encourages a resilient attitude, grit, and the willingness to figure things out, fostering a positive and learning-oriented approach.
- Strategies for Gaining Recognition at Work [24:41]
- Recognition and personal branding have evolved; waiting until year-end for acknowledgment is no longer effective.
- Mei Phing advises a proactive approach by reverse engineering the year, using a 12-month calendar.
- At the beginning of the year, reset expectations with your manager, align goals, and express your interest in growth opportunities.
- Consistent monthly check-ins are crucial for progress updates, sharing accomplishments, and seeking feedback.
- Mei Phing emphasizes the importance of adding value in your current role by excelling in your job, generating ideas, and volunteering for additional responsibilities.
- Mid-year and year-end performance reviews are more effective when supported by ongoing monthly conversations, building a gradual and consistent perception of your contributions.
The best way to add value is to do your job really well, and to add value based on the scope that you already have.Mei Phing Lim
Meet Our Guest
Mei Phing is a corporate career coach, LinkedIn Top Voice & ex-corporate leader who has led multimillion-dollar projects across 43 countries, and creator of the ultimate career course for 9-5 professionals, The Corporate Survivor™.
No matter how much daily motivation you can give yourself, at the end of the day, you need to have the right skills and expertise. That’s the core foundation.Mei Phing Lim
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Read The Transcript:
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David Rice: Retention of Gen Z talent has become a major issue for employers. Recent surveys have revealed that Gen Z is more likely than other generations in the workforce to say their work is frustrating and overwhelming. And 55% of them say they plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months. Of course these are generalizations, but the statistics tell a story of a group of people unfulfilled and wanting more. But why is it this generation feels this way more than others? And what are they and employers need to do differently to create a better working experience?
Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We're on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. I'm your host, David Rice.
My guest today is Mei Phing Lim. She is a creator of The Corporate Survivor, career coaching and mentoring. We're going to be chatting about her framework for career development, the challenges young people are facing in the workplace, and what leaders can do to create memorable workplace experiences for them.
Mei Phing, welcome!
Mei Phing Lim: Hi! Thanks for inviting me, David. Looking forward to share more about how we can work happier in our careers. Yeah.
David Rice: So first I want to talk about The Corporate Survivor though, what inspired you to start this career coaching business? Like YouTube channel, newsletter podcast - you have a whole content suite on offer.
Mei Phing Lim: Yeah. In fact, I'd say that I'm an accidental career coach, which is surprising to a lot of people because my background actually is in the corporate world. So I graduated in 2008, 2009 during a financial crisis, and I spent more than 10 years in the corporate world. So I've done accounting, consulting, FinTech, banking, and so forth.
So more than 10 years, you know, really learning the work skills and climbing the career ladder and really doing what it takes to really learn how to survive and thrive in the corporate world. Then in 2019, my mom was ill, actually she was terminally ill, so I decided that I wanted to take a career break.
And that was kind of like the end of the corporate world juncture of after a decade. So in 2019, when I was at home, you know, being a caregiver and everything, people started reaching out to me on LinkedIn. So I started getting messages like, Hey, maybe you're like not working right now. So what are you doing?
And can you give me some advice on like, all these workplace and career problems that I've been facing? I think it's kind of like accidental in a way. So as I went like more of those requests came in, I decided that, hey, let's just do some career coaching, career consultation, and I'll see how I can help.
And it kind of like transition into one-on-one sessions and stuff like that over the years. And I think after two years of just doing like one-on-one consultations, I realized that, Hey, everybody seems to have very similar problems. It's either problems with people at work or the high workload or just you know, low salary and feeling like they're lost and no opportunities that it started reaching a point where I felt that thematically I'm having similar conversations, but with different people.
And that was really when the idea of creating like a more full fledged program. So I call it The Corporate Survivor. It is basically a corporate world, career growth, training, mentoring, and coaching program. Kind of giving you the holistic framework and understanding of what it actually takes to have a better career and to really redefine like what career growth means to you.
So career clarity, confidence, competence, and opportunities, kind of like everything that you need to know in the corporate world. Bundle it up into a program that, would work for as long as that you were in a nine to five job, then definitely is designed to work for you. So that's really the inspiration around creating it.
I wouldn't say that it's on purpose per se, but I think that throughout, like many of the conversations and seeing the similar challenges and also reflected on my own career journey as well and things that I wish that someone would have told me at the start of my career inspired the program that I have right now.
David Rice: You know, I'm curious, since you started doing this, what are some things that you've learned or seen that have surprised you?
Mei Phing Lim: I think believing in possibilities, because when I was working, and I think with many of us as well we are fixated on our own career. In the most instances we kind of like think about our day to day work and everything, but I think creating the program and also spending time, you know, the lessons and like teaching, coaching, mentoring and everything, I've really seen clients who started out feeling hopeless, frustrated, and I feel miserable about my life.
And I don't know what to do to really seeing them from like poor performers being put on PIP helpless to really becoming a high performers in their role. And I've actually seen that transition and it's not an overnight thing, but you could really see that their mindset shifted, the skills that they're and really becoming more confident as well.
So I've seen so many of these instances that really gave me the feeling of like hope and possibilities. And sometimes I think when we think about our own careers, like we don't really see that, especially when we are still on the journey of getting there. But I think having done career coaching for a long time and even my course, The Corporate Survivor, it has been almost two years already.
And then plus decade long in the corporate world, I think I've seen so many instances that it's actually possible to overturn whatever situation that you're in right now. But I think sometimes it's like having that initial spark of like clarity. It gives you that new perspective and insight of like, Oh, I can do it this way.
Maybe there's just something I was missing and now that I've figured it out and it clicks and I'm good to go. I think to me, those are like the inspiring stories that really encourage me to continue on.
David Rice: So let's talk about this three step framework that you developed a little bit, because take me through that a little, because I'm curious, what are the issues that you saw that led you to put that together and then how's it all come together?
Mei Phing Lim: So one of the things that as I started talking to many more, like 9 to 5 professionals, one of the questions that they asked me is, Hey, Mei Phing, you know, you seem really young to be a senior director, head of governance and control at Study Chartered Bank, which was really my latest role before I transitioned into a career coach.
So they said that, hey, you seem really young to host such a fairly senior position. So what did you do that I think I need to learn how to do as well. Like, what are some of the skills or like knowledge that you have that like I need to learn also. So that got me reflecting and gradually I explain it in this three step framework.
And now this, we call it The Corporate Survivors three step framework. So I think there are basically three core components. So step one is get clear on the corporate world. Step two, get confident with corporate skills. And step three, get visible with personal branding. Now I think the triangle really works well together because the common challenges that I hear and things that I've also personally faced in my career is really starting a new role feeling lost.
And I've always said that, the day that you sign the job offer is the happiest day. Then it turns into a mix of anxiety and excitement. And I think one of the biggest challenges is really like starting a role and feeling lost and feeling unsure and also doubting your decision on whether, hey, should I have accepted this role or not?
And if that, is left unaddressed, then it can kind of like quickly turn into a downward spiral. So really, you know, step one around, getting clear is really all about understanding the new company's corporate culture and structure and basically where you fit in. It's like, Hey, I'm hired and this is how I can contribute and really focusing on managing expectations at the beginning, identify and managing expectations.
And the other element around that is learning also to adapt to the people, personality, and culture at the new place. So I think the clarity portion is really around expectations and people. So once you have that, at least you are clear on okay, this is like how I'm contributing.
This is how I can fit into the new company. And then you have that sense of hope and possibilities of like, Hey, I can do this. Then after that, no, once you have clarity, then we can move into step two and that's get confident with corporate skills. Now, the reality is that no matter how much daily motivation that you can give yourself, at the end of the day, you need to have skills, right skills, expertise, that's kind of like the core foundation.
So step two really focuses on four key skills groups. So that's communication, relationship building, critical thinking, and productivity. Now, the logic is this, right? We are working with people and that's why I really love like the People Managing People podcast, because I think it's like the heart of the issue itself. Because no matter where you're working, we need to be able to work with people.
So communication is that skill that you must have. So learning how to express yourself, learning how to actively listen and applying EQ, communication is really like that first group to upskill. Then once you are a good communicator, then we can focus on the next skills group, which is relationship building, because you can't work on your own.
I mean, you can, but you can't get far. So once you have worked on your communication skills, we can then focus on building your network, right? Relationship building. You're learning how to talk to your peers, talk to your boss, talk to stakeholders, talk to clients, and that's always really, really valuable.
Now after you have communication and relationships, then the next thing is critical thinking because nobody wants to talk to a person who is very friendly, but they can't really add value in terms of helping each other from a work perspective. So I think that's where critical thinking comes in because if you are very good at what you do, you must be able to explain it in a very logical perspective to really get support from other people as well.
So I think critical thinking is really the art of actually mastering the job that you're hired to do and where you can contribute and how you can also communicate that contribution to the people around you. So I say that the foundation definitely is, as we said, communication relationship building and critical thinking.
But all these three groups, you won't be able to maximize it if you don't have productivity. Because even if you have, you can do everything, but nobody wants to work with someone who cannot complete their work on time. So that's like the logic and then productivity kind of like maps out everything else.
It wraps it up nicely to be able to complete work on time, making sure that you're not such a perfectionist that your timelines get delayed and making sure that all the communications are done. So I think the four skills group is really something that if you want to, move to the next stage of getting visible to get recognized. Then we also want to make sure that we have a very solid foundation that you can go to your boss or your superior and say that, Hey, you know I'm contributing.
I know what I'm doing, and now let's talk about visibility. Let's talk about recognition. So having clarity, confidence, and competence that we can move into step three. And that's gets visible with personal branding. So I see personal branding as two parts, right?
That's the networking on the job, like getting recognized and visible at work, but also not to put all your eggs in one basket. And also making sure that you have a LinkedIn profile where you can attract new opportunities as they come by. So the visibility strategy is really making sure that you are good at what you do, but your boss needs to also be aware that you are good at what you do, that your network at your workplace should also be aware that you are very good at what you do.
So that's where, networking comes in, really making sure that you're preparing for monthly catch ups, performance reviews. And we can definitely talk about those a little bit more as well than the external part, which I think LinkedIn is definitely a very critical platform to make sure that you can be found with any new opportunities that you can grow your career as well. So I think the three step framework, get clear, get confident, get visible. It's something that you can use throughout your career, whether you're starting a new job, or even if you feel that you're struggling at your job.
It's one of those frameworks that you can go back and pinpoint and say, Hey, am I missing something in terms of the company culture and is there any specific issues as to why I can't communicate with this particular stakeholder? I think it's a framework that allows you to also pinpoint and assess which part you're missing and then tackle it, which kind of allows you to go on a circular basis to use and yeah, for you to improve your career as you go along as well.
David Rice: That second step is a big one because, we think of skills, we always think of my actual work skills, but the, it's the people's skills that are really gonna, and they help the other two areas, right? Like the, if you have those, the ability to communicate, the ability to relationship build, you will find more clarity, will be able to build a personal brand much easier and communicate what you're doing.
I really like this framework. So I'm curious, like with young people in the workplace, it's an interesting time to come into the workforce, right? It feels like their expectations for what work should be aren't necessarily being met. And it's at a time when there's all this automation talk and it feels like a crazy environment to be in.
And I wondered how in tune, like their expectations for the reality of work can actually be. And I'm not just saying this, like an old man, yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. You see like threads on social media with people complaining about their employers and using words like "toxic". And recently I did a show with an apprenticeship expert and I've been reading his book about the college disconnect, so to speak.
And I just see this stuff and I think, they're coming out of school, they're not ready. And then they essentially go through this period that probably feels a little bit like a hazing period. I guess that's what you would call it. They struggle to cope with the reality of work. So I'm curious, like, what do you think?
Because I don't think it's necessarily true that all these employers are toxic. I just think maybe they're not prepared for what young people are coming into the workplace with. Maybe their experience feels toxic so they're labeling it that, but employees are doing what they've always done and what they need to do to push the business forward.
I guess I'm just curious, how do you see all of that? Like what that experience is like for particularly younger workers as they enter the workplace right now?
Mei Phing Lim: Yeah, definitely. I think those areas are fairly interrelated as well. I mean, let's talk about the college part. I think the most exciting time is being a fresh graduate and finally completing, all your papers and getting the scroll and there was so much that was promised. Right? So the thing also is that, when you're a fresh graduate, and I think David, if we could both think back at the time that we were fresh graduate, I think we were really starry eyed and very excited, really want to get going.
And the thing is that that sort of like excitement mindset, and I guess the only mindset that young people have, as fresh graduates is how they have always behaved in college and university. I think that's the only thing that they know and, reasonably so. So when they start their first jobs and they go in, high excitement, but also expecting that just working hard is everything is going to be okay.
And that's what they've always done in university and college, right? As long as I'm excited I work hard, I focus on my papers, everything will be okay. But quickly, they noticed that, hey, this doesn't really work in the working world. I can't just sit alone and expect to work hard and people will come and guide me. That could be, I say that an expectation gap, like the transition from university to the working world. I think that's really the first part.
This can be easily tackled, right? As I said, in the three step framework I shared earlier, it's really getting clear on the corporate world, like knowing how you fit in and, identifying expectations and having an upfront conversation around, hey, I'm very excited to get started.
These are the three things that I understand that I had to contribute and maybe can we have a discussion or can I get some guidance as to how I can get started. So I think this one, you know, just a bit of a communication probably, we'll be able to reset expectations in a way and also to seek guidance at the start.
But I do think that, with the rise of social media also is that I try to think from a fresh graduate's perspectives and I hear many of these stories from my clients as well. So when you're feeling lost, you know, you're a young person, you're feeling lost, you're overwhelmed, what's the first thing that you do?
You talk to your friends and family. And your friends and family tell you, Oh, this is a bad job. Just quit. Right? Or you go to social media and you start looking at motivational content and all these content are really talking around in talks about, you know what? Just go, just go, right? If it's not suitable, just leave.
So I think that, being in those sort of environment, it kind of, it's like a one way street. If you don't like it, just quit. And we don't have to think about the future. We don't have to think about, hey, maybe are we missing some skills? Are we missing some clarity? What could we do to figure out, and to realign expectations?
I feel that those conversations we don't see a lot on social media. And with friends and family, I can totally understand. If you go to your friends and family, they want to be a listening ear. They want to take care of you. And I think that's really the role of friends and family. And when you go on social media, as I said that's just kind of like one narrative in a way.
So I think it does limit the opportunity to self reflect, to develop ourselves and to really think about, Hey, how can I improve and what else can I improve if I want to have a longer career? Cause I think all these steps, we can quit for sure. But if we are quitting every three to six months, and then I guess what is the future? Is this future scary if we were to take such actions? I mean, it's not scary to me and sometimes the regret does set in as well. So I do have clients after a couple of years in the workforce and really, being a job hopper and quitting every few months and blaming to everything else.
And after two, three years and they come to me and we have a very frank conversation about the future, about what's next. And it can be very scary. But I think that there is definitely a chance to reset. So I want to talk very quickly around the definition of toxic. So I think we are hearing a lot of the toxic workplaces and toxic jobs, toxic bosses.
And these conversations happen a lot amongst the younger professionals as well. I think my definition of toxic is that I like to look at things like fairly objectively. And I think that the reality is that if you are in the working world, you are dealing with people. And the reality is that, they, not everybody is like us, not everybody have the exact same personality like us and different departments and different companies or different stakeholders, they have their different priorities as well.
So I guess if I could like redefine, I'll maybe give you a quick framework to define whether it's something is toxic or not. Maybe we can use the 3P method. The people, personality, and priorities. Who exactly are you dealing with? Is there a personality clash to begin with just because like we are who we are?
And is there a priority difference as well? So that, all of it could be addressed with communication. It could be addressed with conversations around alignment and making sure they say, Hey, how can I help you? How can we work together? Instead of just throwing in the towel and quitting. So I'm not saying that, there are like no toxic instances, but I'd have seen many.
And I think that, if you were to take a step back and really reassess and say, Hey, is this a people problem? Is this a personality clash or is this a priority difference? I think it gives better perspective as to, Hey, maybe there's an opportunity to work together instead of, labeling everything as toxic.
Cause I think when it reaches a certain point of if every single person around you is toxic, then what is going on? Maybe some new perspectives might help, maybe a different perspective, maybe talking to someone who's not your friends or family might give you a bit of perspective as well. So it's not the popular answer, but I guess that's how I see it.
David Rice: You know, it's interesting. I saw a stat that said something like almost half of recent grad, college grads who entered the workforce that they weren't emotionally ready for work. And I wasn't sure like how to understand that sentiment at first, like, what do you feel they mean by emotionally ready? Cause I'm not sure when any of us first start out that we're necessarily emotionally ready for what the reality of work is.
I can remember being, me coming out as a young journalist and the first time I had a really harsh editor, I don't know if I was really ready for that. But no matter how what my teachers had done before that, it wasn't quite like that. So I kind of understand, but I'm wondering, is there something that we can do differently to help prepare them or to welcome them in and help them emotionally acclimate to the workplace?
Mei Phing Lim: I guess there are two areas to it, right? I think from an employer's standpoint, for sure, it's really understanding that the younger generation probably want and need more guidance on what's going to happen next.
Because I think in that digital era, the beauty is that we have access to information and we can have whatever information that we want pretty much at our fingertips. And I think that this is what Gen Z has grown up with, right? If I want to know something, I'm curious about something, I can just Google it.
I can go online and get the answers. But when it comes to the working world, when it comes to their first job, it's different. So in a way, they're like taking that leap of faith and having not much of an idea of what to expect. So the only thing that they know is to go in with the mindset that they had in college or university.
And as we discussed earlier, it's quite different. So I think from an employee standpoint, I think onboarding of fresh graduates is going to be really, really critical, really understanding of like, Hey, this is what you can expect in your first 90 days. And here's a buddy, here's a mentor, or here's your boss that you can ask questions and, we are here to support you and so forth.
I think having that initial validation gives the younger professionals a better idea of like, okay, it's not that if I face a roadblock, I'm going to quit. It's like, if I face a roadblock, this is in the 90 day plan and there's a buddy, there's a mentor or there's a manager I can always speak to.
I think that kind of gives them more clarity and confidence of knowing that there's somewhere that they can go to get help. However, I think for the cases of like younger professionals themselves, I think it's also that mindset shift of, I'm no longer in college or university. I'm in the working world and I need to be open to learning new things.
I think one challenge I've also seen, I've also heard a lot of it is more of going into a new job, wanting to add value immediately. So I hear these things on, Hey, maybe I'm starting my new job, I want to impress. So what I usually tell them is more like, Hey, if you think about my 3 step framework, get visible is step 3.
So the first thing we need to figure out is, Hey, what exactly is my job? That's step one, gaining clarity, right? What exactly is my job, right? What is the expectation? And then this is my first job. What are some of the skills that I need to work on? You know, communication and critical thinking, relationship building, all the things that we talked about, right?
Where am I in terms of that skill set? If I could rate myself from 1 to 10. What are the skills that do I need to succeed in this job? And what are some of the skills that would be good to hone as I continue on my career journey? So I think that's step one, step two, right? Clarity, confidence, and competence needs to come first before going into impress because I needed the danger of going into impress. And I think this could be a social media thing as well. If you want it, you have it, right? It's the gratification is going in immediately wanting to impress actually that will put you in a situation of saying yes to everything over promising and maybe having a bit of a incorrect expectation as well, or maybe too high of an expectation that any workplace would not be able to fulfill.
I think any company will not be able to give you that imaginary, that perfect workplace in your mind. So I think if we could tie back to the three step framework, I think that if you're going into impress, you're going into succeed immediately, you going in for a promotion within three months and to go for the rah, rah, rah, that I think we are already on step three.
But what we haven't gone through is really step one, getting clarity, step two, confidence, competence. All those have not, I think that those are like the foundation that we need to address first. Then yeah then when you're ready, I think opportunities will come, right? It's actually very easy to gain visibility, but the foundation is really the difficult part to build.
It's as you said, David, the resilience, right? The grit, the idea of like, Hey, I can figure it out. I need to know what's wrong. And I'm going to try and see how it goes. I think that kind of attitude is something that we need to encourage.
David Rice: Absolutely. And, I've been with my fair share of employers. I can tell you, none of them are perfect. No, it's just the nature of when you get a large group of people together, there's going to be imperfection and things that are harder than they should be. It's just the nature of work. It's a part of working with human beings and you get used to it. And even the places, when you look back on it, as you get older, you're like, even the places where I was happy had its fair share of issues.
It's just that I was enjoying what I was doing and I was getting recognized. And that recognition piece does play a big part in employee satisfactions. And, we've talked about the framework obviously, but I'm curious what advice do you have for people about getting recognized at work specifically?
Because this goes for people young handle because the truth is recognition and how you get it has changed a lot over the years. Like it used to feel like if you work hard, pay off, someone will notice, but that's not necessarily true anymore. You have to, like, when you talk about personal brand, you really do have to gas yourself up a little bit and put yourself out there and say I did this, this has been the effect and have ways to measure it. In order to get that recognition, I guess I'm at, you know, what advice do you have around how you go about doing that?
Mei Phing Lim: Yeah, I agree. I think the traditional workplace is more like, Hey, let's just wait till the year end. And during my year end performance review, that's when I'll take out all the, the notepads and these are all the things that I've done. And I think definitely that has moved away. So right now the best way actually is to think about your full working year and do really reverse engineer. I think that's the approach that I teach to my students and I think this has actually worked really well for me.
So I like to look at the working year in the 12 month calendar. So in the 12 month calendar, the key milestones are going to be the mid year and year end, right? These are like the big sort of like goalposts to really track and, to convey to you, your managers or your bosses, say, Hey, this is what I'm looking for, for career growth.
But I think the path of getting there and also resetting is going to be important. So always start your year resetting expectations, right? This is, these are what I've done last year. And this year, these are going to be my key goals. Are we aligned on that? Does this work for, what you're expecting of me?
And these are maybe some of the opportunities that I'm looking for to get involved in, right? So whether it's new projects or new things, maybe expansion of scope, I think really conveying to your bosses that, I want to try out these things. And these are the areas that I think I can contribute further this year.
I think it sets the expectation at the beginning of, Hey, I'm ready. I want to do it. And let's track up my progress together. Then after that, I think progress updates are really important as well. I think when people think about personal branding, they think about making big presentations, going to Toastmasters and said, Hey, I know I could do all these things that, you know, volunteering for events and all those things. I personally don't see that way.
I think that the best way to add value is to do your job really, really well, and to add value based on the scope that you already have. Either you can come up with new ideas, maybe better ways of doing things, or you could even volunteer to help out with your managers, other priorities as well, right? So overall, you're contributing to the team's goals and the department's goals.
I think that's really like the best way of adding value and getting visible. So in terms of like your own performance at the beginning, setting expectations, I think, at the beginning of the year is something that everybody should do. Whatever performance rating and feedback you got last year doesn't matter.
Roll over and, beginning in the month of January, it's like, Hey, this is what I want to do. And this year I'm looking for promotion. I'm looking for a salary increment. What can I do? It's like, resetting the expectations and on a monthly basis, making sure that you are having one on one conversations with your manager, with your boss and going through your progress update, going through how you're tracking towards the goal, right?
Then we bring us to mid year and then bringing us to the year end. So I think having that consistent catch up session consistently also reminds your boss that you're doing a great job. Here are all those things that I've done in the past month that you may or may not be aware of, but I would like to share them with you.
I would like to also get some feedback from you as to these are the things that I've done. Do you have any feedback on how I can do better? These are some of the ideas that I have. Do you want me to explore more of these, right? What would you want more or less? So I think having that check in and checking in towards the goals that we have collectively agreed together, I think gives you that confidence that, yeah, I am progressing to achieve whatever that we have collectively set out to do.
And I think it gives you more confidence also to ask during your mid year or year end performance review, say, Hey boss, as we agreed at the year end, these are some of the goals that we achieve. And as of mid year and year end, I've exceeded expectations, right? I've done not only this, but I've also done ABCD, all the extra stuff, right?
Then now we can have a conversation. And I think more importantly, you feel like you deserve it. You deserve to ask because you have already contributed. And I think it gives you better clarity on what career growth means to you, whether it's this company or maybe it's another company. Maybe you've outgrown the current role already.
So I think having that framework reduces the ad hoc manner of like, Hey, when should I tell my boss? Like, when is the best time to shout from the rooftop? Say, Hey, I'm doing a great job. Can I get the salary? And I think that's usually the point of confusion. Cause one of the questions I do get from my clients is, when do you think is the best time to tell my boss that I'm doing a great job?
I'm like, you should be telling your boss every single month through the progress update and your boss should consistently be knowing that you are contributing because I think perception is something that is ongoing, right? I mean, in the workplace, it's not that, you prepare for that one big conversation at the year end, then all the expectations and the perception is going to change.
I think it's a very gradual thing. And I've also been in positions of department head and team leader. I've been in those roles and how I assess my stuff is not from that one conversation at the year end. It's the day to day, it's the week to week, it's the month to month. Say, Hey, how are you doing? How are you adding value?
What are the things that you need to work on? And we work on it together. And I think like looking at it in the 12 month calendar and like putting in your goalposts and putting in your mouth. So I think that gives you a more structured way of thinking about your visibility strategy so you can focus on what needs to be done every week, every month, every year, and adjust your conversations accordingly.
David Rice: So before we go, there's just two things we need to do. First is I want to give you an opportunity to tell folks where they can find you and learn more about what you're doing.
Mei Phing Lim: Great. So if you are working in a corporate world, in an organization, MNCs, SMEs, startup, NGO, then I think you'll find a lot of value in the career programs and the free guides that I have.
So you can find me on LinkedIn and Instagram. Just search for Mei Phing Lim. Or you can go to my website at www.meiphing.com. So I do have a five day career growth guide. They will actually walk through the career clarity, confidence, competence value positioning and online branding that we talked about quite a bit in this podcast.
So you can just go to www.meiphing.com to download it. So I hope that you feel more confident in surviving and thriving in the corporate world and also to be able to grow your career with clarity and confidence. I think that is the goal.
David Rice: The last part is a new tradition that we started on the podcast. I haven't been trying to start. We're going to flip the dynamic a little bit and give you a chance to ask me a question. So what would you like to ask?
Mei Phing Lim: Yeah, since we're talking about the corporate world and like being a young professional and I guess the question I have for you is that, if you could restart your career as a fresh graduate in the corporate world, what is like the one big thing that you wish you would have done differently?
David Rice: So well, when I graduated in 2008, the economy collapsed like right afterwards and my field of choice essentially was just doing mass layoffs. And so I think if I could go back, what I would do differently is not, I was very idealistic in the beginning and I had these aspirations of being a journalist in a certain sort of setting. The content marketing wasn't what it was when I eventually entered it seven years later.
But I was also very closed off to what the possibilities for me could be, because I had this vision that I wanted to make come true. And I think that held me back for the first several years. There was being overly idealistic about what I could do. There was actually a lot of other options for me. I could have written advertising and I could have done all kinds of different types of work that my training prepared me for.
But I wasn't willing to see it and let it in because I felt like I was chasing this dream, essentially. If I could go back, I would talk to younger me and say like, remember a) you're starting out so you cannot make demands. You know, like you got to just get work and start getting paid and not be so idealistic.
I would shift things for me personally. And I don't know if that naivete is very common.
Mei Phing Lim: I love that because I think it ties into what we spoke about today around like transferable skills, right? And that's why we talked about the four key groups, because I think if I listen to what you're saying and it sounds like you had to have a lot of skills already, but it's just that, like having that one track mind to that one specific career is the part that told you, I guess, in today's world, career options are abundant.
And I think that the good people will always have great opportunities. So, if you ask me, what are the things that you need to focus on? I think, yeah, the three step framework for sure. Get clear, get confident, get visible. And I think once you have mastered every single component, then you'll find that there are more career options that will open up because you know that you can do it.
David Rice: Yeah, absolutely. See, young me just needed the three step framework. That's all it is. All right. Well, Mei Phing, it's been lovely chatting with you today and having you on the show. Thank you for coming on. I really appreciate it.
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