As the summer is approaching and you are starting to think about your new year’s resolutions and goals for the upcoming year, we know that many women and men struggle with challenges such as the glass ceiling, confidence building, and how to score that big promotion in the new year.
Mint Talent had a chance to catch up with Alison Shamir, Career and Life Coach, who was able to share some invaluable insights into some of these challenges.
After a tumultuous upbringing, Alison was able to overcome adversity to scale the corporate ladder and achieve success in the human resources Technology & Media sectors. She has now transitioned to focus her time on helping women build their confidence and achieve success on their own terms.
Here, she shares some nuggets of wisdom with us.
At what stage of people’s career is career coaching helpful?
I think career coaching is suitable for anyone who is committed to personal development, growth and is ready to step out of their comfort zone in order to reach their true potential.
This can be anyone from a leader of 10 people to a busy executive assistant to someone who is entering the workforce for the first time.
What are the best ways for someone to build their personal brand?
Open and honest communication is key to building your personal brand. This includes being clear in your messaging and delivery so that other people can connect with you.
Maintaining integrity is a key component of this. You have to remember that your reputation is everything. If someone shares a secret, keep it. If you say you will be somewhere, then turn up. If you say you will do something, then do it. When others can rely on you, they will trust you and when they trust you, they will respect you.
What are the most important characteristics that I should work on to move into a more senior role?
The key attributes hiring managers are looking for are confidence, open and honest communication, not being afraid to ask for help, empathy and required skills.
Here’s a breakdown in a little bit more detail:
- Confidence – If you’re wanting to grow, it will require you to back yourself. You will need to be confident in your ability, your decisions and your actions.
- Open and honest communication – This is not only important to your personal brand but how you perform, manage and influence others.
- Not being afraid to ask for help – As you reach new heights, there will be things that you cannot do. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s in fact a sign of strength.
- Empathy – You never truly know someone’s story or what they might be going through day-to-day. The ability to put yourself in their ‘shoes’ will go a long way to building trust and successful relationships with those around you.
- Skills and training (if applicable) – If you’re in an industry that does require specific credentials or training in order to move up the ranks then this is something to keep in mind. Have a clear vision on what you want to achieve so you can align your skills around this is not a barrier to promotion.
It seems like some people are just more confident than others. Is there a secret sauce?
Confidence is something a lot of people struggle with, especially women in business. In fact, during my 15-year corporate career, it was the number one thing I witnessed holding women back.
Confidence plays a vital role in so many stages of our lives, whether it’s entering the workforce for the first time, speaking up in a meeting, receiving a promotion, negotiating a deal or asking for a pay rise.
The secret to confidence is it is a learned and practised skill, not a personality trait. Confidence starts with positive thoughts and self-talk, followed by identifying what it is we really want and breaking it down into manageable action steps. The more action we take, the more confident & competent we become. You can’t sit back and wait for confidence. It is only built by doing.
What are some tips to rock a salary negotiation?
Even the thought of salary negotiation can be downright terrifying for some people. But the old adage of ‘you don’t ask, you don’t get’ really does ring true here.
No matter how great a company’s culture is, very few hand out annual pay rises. Usually, you will need to develop the confidence to ask.
The key to growing your confidence and calming your nerves is preparation. Often people see the actual conversation as the key moment, when in fact it’s the weeks or months of preparation leading into the conversation or review that play a vital role. You not only have to be prepared for what you’re going to ask for and why, but you have to be prepared for all other outcomes as well. Often people don’t ask because they are in fact not prepared for the feedback. When you are prepared, you feel more confident which makes you calmer and more composed.
How do you feel about mentorship? Is it valuable? Important?
I think mentorship is important and beneficial for everyone, but people do tend to overcomplicate it. Mentors can come in various forms, from a more formal arrangement with someone you see weekly and have structured sessions with to a casual coffee with your boss or colleague whom you admire. Both of these situations are beneficial, and both can be classed as mentoring.
If you think about it, you probably realise already have a few mentors. I know many successful people who have mentors or coaches they call on in specific times of need whereas I know others who have ongoing mentors or coaches. It isn’t a ‘one size fits all decision’ so trust your judgement and choose what works best for you.
What advice would you give to women looking to shatter the glass ceiling?
I am such a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg and love the book Lean In and draw inspiration from her. My advice to women is to continue to develop your confidence so you can back yourself under any circumstances.
We cannot control what others do but we can control our own personal growth and actions.
Women still face many external barriers like the gender pay gap and under-representation in many middle to senior leadership roles across various industry sectors and organisations.
The one thing we need to stop doing is holding ourselves back or letting our internal barriers like fear and self-doubt stop us from reaching our true potential.
Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will and one way to remove the self-doubt is to build confidence.
My second piece of advice is to give back by supporting and empowering the women around you. Women empowering women is a truly beautiful thing. We are stronger together.
And finally, what would you tell your 25-year-old self about building a career?
I would tell myself that I have plenty of time! I put myself under immense pressure in my early 20s as I lacked patience. I wanted it all and I wanted it now!
As much as ambition is a good thing, high stress is not! The reality is some things just take time. It’s important to have short term and long-term views and goals so you can be celebrating regular wins throughout the journey.