Business and career coach Belinda Raitt has these tips to help you spring clean your career…

As a business and career coach, I work with business leaders who are managing and developing teams as much as with individuals who come to me for advice on how to find another job, or wanting to change direction. If they’re a good employer, they’ll be creating an environment where their employees can flourish, have room to grow, feel they contribute, they are listened to, and rewarded, perhaps even offering flexible working. If you’re lucky enough to be working for a company like that, you probably don’t need to read this article! However, for everyone else, here are my top ways to spring clean your career and keep you whistling while you work.

The way we live our lives is usually reflected by our values. They indicate the importance we attach to something. Sometimes though, we try to follow values we think we ‘ought’ to have, rather than the ones that truly resonate with us, which can mean we end up in jobs that are not right for us.
Organisations usually have a stated set of values too, that articulate what the company believes in. They work like a cultural glue to ‘connect’ the team and encourage employees to work together towards shared goals. However, if our personal values don’t match that of the organisation we’re working in, we will feel friction, dissatisfaction, and will not be able to perform to our full potential.
Working in a company whose values align with yours makes you happier and more productive.

There’s that familiar mantra, ‘work to live not live to work’. Do you have enough time in your life for the things that are important to you? Or do you seem to spend most of your life on a train or in the office? If so, then it’s time to make some changes! You are more productive at work if you have regular downtime too.
You could consider flexible working or job-sharing, for example, or even self-employment. An increasing number of women (and at a faster rate than men) are choosing to set up their own business after a maternity break, to allow them a more flexible working life. There are also many more stay-at-home-dads now who fit a home-based role around parenting.
It’s about examining your values, realising what’s important to you, and then finding a way to make it work for you. More employers are open to flexible working now, so ask and you may be pleasantly surprised!

“What a man can be, he must be”: Maslow published his Hierarchy of Needs in 1943, and it has held fast ever since. He
identified five sets of needs; for a person to feel complete, each must be met and in the right order. After the basic physiological, safety and social needs – which in a business context translate as decent work environment, job security, relationship with colleagues – a person craves esteem. This means status, recognition for achievements, managerial responsibility. The final stage is self-actualisation, i.e. fulfilling your inner talent or creativity.
Are all five sets of needs being met in your career? If not, how can you make it happen? What other things could you be doing that give you a sense of responsibility and achievement?

This can be the biggest obstacle holding people back from progressing in their career or growing their business. If you’re the type of person who finds it hard to say no, someone will always take advantage of that. It’s good to be in demand, but not if it’s affecting your performance in other areas.
The ability to delegate effectively benefits everyone. Delegation motivates and empowers your team to perform better, while giving you space to think and plan. Yes, it may require an investment of time that you feel you may not have in the beginning, but it’s exactly that – an investment – that will pay its own rewards.
If you’re the one doing most of the work, either your team is not up to scratch, or your communication and delegation skills could do with some attention. So practice saying no, and letting go!