Are You Still DIY'ing Your Career? - ZM Coach

Lots of people like DIY projects. They seem like a good way to save money – and the hassle of finding and hiring a professional. However, going the DIY route in your career, just like in your home, has hidden costs to keep in mind.

My husband is a real handyman, and we enjoy doing projects on our home. A recent experience, however, reminded me that although DIY can seem like a good idea, it doesn’t always save the time, money and hassle we think it will. In fact, sometimes it can have unintended consequences. That same thing is true when it comes to “DIY” in your career.

Whether you’re looking to clarify your overall career direction, land a new job, or take your leadership to the next level, going it alone can be risky. Let’s take a look at some of those risks:

Risk #1 – Thinking that you’re going to save time with DIY projects.

One of the things we love about DIY projects on our home is that we can get started right away, without having to wait to talk to a contractor. It seems like it will be so much faster to just jump in and do it! However, we’ve learned over the years that DIY doesn’t actually save us time in the long run. In fact, it can take much longer. We make progress sporadically on the weekends and in the evenings, working around our full-time jobs. There are days when we just don’t feel like it or we don’t get to it, or weekends where we’ve got other activities scheduled. In the end, a project that might take a contractor a few weeks may end up dragging on for months.

In your career, going it alone can create that same challenge. It can take longer to get the results. Checking job boards periodically without a clear sense of what you want, or sporadically sending off your resume, is not likely to get you that next role.  I see a lot of professionals lose steam or get distracted in ways that slow down their careers.  An established career and leadership coach can help you get focused, take action, and stay accountable for that steady momentum that will get you to your goals.

Risk #2 – Compromising the quality of the work.

Even with all of his experience as a handyman, there are things my husband hasn’t done before. Those new projects provide unanticipated challenges. We address them as best we can, but without the deep experience and detailed knowledge that comes from doing home improvements for 20 years, there’s a chance that our project won’t turn out as well as if we’d hired a professional. Professionals build implicit knowledge over time. When you bring in an expert, you’re taking advantage of their expertise, built over hundreds of projects. They know how to fit the pieces together, what order steps need to be taken in, and how to make a project come together professionally and beautifully.

The same thing holds true in your career. There are nuances to organizational life and team dynamics that can take decades to master. An experienced coach will know what to watch out for, and how to help you navigate them. In the end, you benefit from their expertise, gained from coaching hundreds of executives through all of their challenges.

Whether it’s in your home or your career, bringing in a professional improves your outcome.

Risk # 3Dealing with unintentional consequences.

During our recent remodeling project, my husband was lifting some heavy materials and tweaked his back. He was out of commission for several days. And even though he’s back on his feet and feeling better, he still has to be really careful. So now we need to hire a contractor, and the project is on pause until we do. We’re down a bathroom, in the meantime.  What’s worse, is that we’ve needed to make some adjustments to our summer vacation plans, to make sure he doesn’t aggravate the injury.  This is probably the biggest risk to DIY projects – that things can go wrong, and someone can get hurt.

The same can happen in your career.  Taking career or leadership advice from a book or article and implementing it on your own can carry unanticipated risks. There’s a nuance to fitting the advice to your situation, so that it doesn’t backfire and create unanticipated challenges. A coach can help you consider a wide range of strategies and choose the ones that will fit best for you and your organization. They’ll see where the risks and the pitfalls might be. They’ll know how to help you do the heavy lifting so no one gets hurt. This is important to consider when you’re thinking about taking your career to the next level.

If you’re facing the choice to DIY your career or hire a professional, take the time to think about that choice, and be on the lookout for the risks of going it alone.  Hiring a coach will help you accelerate your career, deliver to your potential, and avoid the missteps that can seriously derail your career along the way. Look for a good, ethical coach who has deep experience with teams, culture and organizational dynamics.

If you’d like to know more about the process that I use when working with my clients, feel free to book a call with me.  We’ll get on the phone for about 45 minutes. We’ll look at what’s happening in your career right now, and where you want to go. If I can help you get from here to there, we’ll talk about what that could look like. If I’m not the right resource, I’ll point you to someone who is. Either way, my goal is for you to get some real clarity about how to take your career to the next level. I look forward to talking with you soon!

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