What is the best career advice you have ever been given?

Source: Flickr user ffaalumni

Source: Flickr user ffaalumni

That is one of the questions we ask in our in-depth interview with potential candidates.  Some candidates, quickly assessing the risk-reward of an off-the-mark answer, try to guess what we want to hear.   If you look at them, you can see the mental wheels working at high speed.

Something to consider, any time you start trying to figure what the recruiter wants to hear, versus the real best advice you have ever been given, you are in trouble.

And more advice, as important as the first:  be authentic.  We have all received guidance regarding our careers.  If you are ever asked that question, share what resonated with you.  The only thing worse than playing outguess the recruiter is to admit no one has offered you career counseling, or worse still, you can’t remember anything specific.

One of the best answers I have heard in recent years is this:

When you start a new job find a mentor or a coach, someone you respect who will tell you the truth and help you grow.

Simple and to the point, and it is probably the best advice that anyone can offer.

Whether you are a newly appointed CEO or a first year consultant, you need someone to help you maintain balance and perspective.

In this new era of healthcare, with the pace of change rapidly gaining momentum, the jobs we undertake, and the rules that govern what we do and how we do it, are also changing.

The smart organizations, that is to say those with the best chance of surviving healthcare reform, will be the ones, big or small,  that invest in helping their people grow — providing access to outside coaches, or producing this type of leadership development service internally.

At the end of the day, success will be driven by these factors

  1. Quality of care and patient safety
  2. The cost of care and the outcomes
  3. Patient satisfaction

To achieve these objectives, an organization must hire, develop and retain the best people.  At a time when organizations are focusing on expense reduction, not investing in developing employees is beyond pennywise and pound foolish.   More broadly, mediocre leaders and managers who see their work as a job not as a profession in which the highest standards of performance must be achieved, simply will not survive.

Organizations that do not invest in their people won’t fare much better.