How to Turn Potential Derailers into Career Advocates

How to Turn Potential Derailers into Career Advocates

June 10, 2015

As you continue to advance in your career as a retail dietitian, your success becomes more tied to the quality of your relationships. All leaders have to get things done with and through others, making strong relationships at all levels of the organization essential. The key to moving ahead is identifying your most important relationships and improving the ones that are a little rocky, according to executive coach Neena Newberry.

Where to start? First, identify the key people in your company and life who really impact your ability to get results. Remember that influencers can be both those with a formal title and those that might wield informal power such as a well-respected thought leader. Think about your colleagues, managers, senior leaders, and others at your store or corporate office. You might even consider someone in your field whom you've met at a conference or networking event. Make a list of these individuals, putting them into one of three categories of potential impact on your career growth: high, moderate or low impact. 

Next, consider their level of supportiveness toward you and your goals. Who is an advocate, who is neutral and who might be a derailer? Confirm your assessments with someone you trust in your organization, especially an individual who can give you insight based on direct interaction. This individual might even be one of the influencers on your list. If you identify several people, choose two or three to focus on first. 

Now, with your list of priority relationships, consider how do you make the rocky ones better. Newberry outlines three strategies for improving relationships with potential derailers:

  1. Have the right mindset. The number one thing you can do to improve a relationship is to start from a place of acceptance. This can be tough when you dislike certain things about someone’s behavior or how he or she deals with you. If you expect her to show up as she always has, it will be less of a derailer in your conversation. Just contemplate what it would be like if you approached the conversation with no expectations of change, and that she is doing her best and isn’t purposefully trying to make you feel a certain way. Assume positive intent. 
  2. Find common ground. Take time to consider what’s important to the other person. Look for clues in how they invest their time, what they say and do. What overlaps with what is important to you? Even if you dislike each other personally, you can improve your interactions by emphasizing where you are aligned, whether it’s your passion for helping others get healthy or interests you have outside of work.
  3. Last but not least, avoid triggers. Take a few minutes to consider the other person’s hot buttons. For example, if she gets defensive every time she hears "no” or other words that sound like resistance or disagreement, think about how you can rephrase your message. Here’s an example: "Yes, I understand, and let’s also consider …”

The goal is to think about your future career growth as a retail dietitian and who the potential influencers and derailers are in your path that you can turn into advocates. 

Neena Newberry is an executive coach, speaker and author who helps women "think and play big." A recognized expert with appearances on CBS, ABC, Fox News and Fortune Magazine, she received four Stevie Awards for Women in Business in 2014. A former Deloitte executive, Neena is president of Newberry Executive Solutions and teaches at Southern Methodist University Cox Executive Education.