Karren Brady gives career advice — from leadership tips to proving yourself in a new role05/09/2021
APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.
Today she helps out a veterinary nurse looking for leadership advice and a new teaching assistant struggling to live up to her predecessor’s reputation.
Q) I’M a veterinary nurse and love working with animals.
However, the earning potential for a nurse is limited and my best option to advance both in my career and salary-wise is as a practice manager, which involves lots of clerical skills.
I’ve never had to use spreadsheets and databases before, and I also worry that I don’t have the leadership skills required, as I’ve been used to having my workload dictated to me by others.
What steps can I take to develop some of these skills before I start applying for any relevant vacancies?
Rebecca, via email
There are so many places you can get these additional skills. You can do courses online from the comfort of your own home, or attend a college course around your current job if that is practical.
But first, my advice is to find out exactly what kind of skills you need and software you’d be using so you ensure you enrol on the right course. When it comes to leadership skills, think about your own experiences of good – and bad – managers.
Good leadership is about clear communication of what is expected of the team, what everyone’s specific roles are, and the goals you are all working towards.
It is important to treat people with respect and to listen to them, plus you’ll need to be decisive and know how to delegate so that time is used efficiently.
It would be good to speak to people already in the kind of roles you are aiming for and ask them to mentor you if possible, or at least talk you through some of the issues they have faced and how they’ve dealt with them.
Put time into listening to others and learning the ropes and it will reap rewards.
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Q) I’ve just started a new job as a teaching assistant and I’m struggling to live up to my predecessor’s reputation.
Other teaching staff seem to refer to the person who left my role all the time, and her name even cropped up at parents’ evening.
It makes me feel rubbish constantly being compared to her and I just don’t know how to step out of her shadow. Please help.
Karen, via email
Even when you’re experienced, stepping into a popular person’s role can be difficult, but it’s not impossible.
It is natural that she would have good relationships, especially if she was in her role for a long time, but she isn’t there any more and you are!
So the most important advice I can give you is to be yourself, manage your own expectations and remember that change can be good for everyone involved.
Try to find out what your predecessor did so well, and not so well (so you can then improve on this).
It is fine to say to your co-workers things like: “What hasn’t worked so well before, and do you have any ideas about how I should address that?”
I think it is also vital that you communicate effectively with the people around you, let them know what you are working on and what your thoughts are – this builds relationships and trust.
The dust will settle soon and your predecessor will be forgotten. You cannot let her shadow stop you from achieving what you want, so my advice is to try not to let it get to you and move forward.
- Got a careers question you want Karren to answer? Email [email protected]
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