Suzanne Savill meets Sarah Berry, a person convinced she can show you how to love work – even in the worst office
Sarah Berry has made a very successful career out of advising others how to make the most of their careers. She is bright, enthusiastic and perceptive and seems like the last person who would have any time for David Brent, the irritatingly self-important boss in the television comedy, The Office.
However, while she admits to simultaneously cringing and laughing at his boorish manner, she does not believe he is entirely to blame for the fact that most of his staff are unhappy in their jobs.
Take fictional sales rep Tim Canterbury, who is brighter than his boss is and yearns to improve himself by going to university, but gets deflected by Brunt’s spurious arguments. Sarah believes that – like many of the people she advises -Tim’s greatest problem is not his boss but his attitude.
‘He doesn’t have a clear picture of what he wants and how he’s going to achieve it’, she explains as we sit in her office in a converted barn on the outskirts of Cirencester.
‘He is asking his boss what he thinks, but instead of seeking someone else’s approval he should be honest with himself about his ambitions.
‘The thing about the David Brent character is that he gets away with so much because no one actually stands up to him. He tells Tim: ‘Look at me! I’m a self-made man! I didn’t go to university!’ and Tim backs down. What he should be replying is that, nevertheless, he feels that going to university is the right choice for him. ‘You feels that if someone like Tim were to read one of Sarah’s book, attend one of her seminars or log on to her Internet career consultancy www.careerconsultants.co.uk she would swiftly transform his career and attitude to life.
She has just had her latest book ‘How to Love The Job You Do’ published by Hodder and Stoughton. It is an interesting progression form her previous best-sellers ‘Write a Perfect CV in a Weekend’, ‘Win the Job at the Interview’, ‘How to Plan your Career’ and ‘How to be Headhunted’.
While the other books were aimed at people who wanted to move from their job, the emphasis of her new book is about finding success and enjoyment in the job you are already doing.
In it, she presents a 30-day, 7-step programme that aims to change your attitude to work by improving your relationships with colleagues, finding a purpose to your work, facing up to your strengths and weaknesses and overcoming the fear of failure that is the biggest barrier to taking action. Wouldn’t it just be easier for someone who is unhappy at work to move somewhere else?
‘When someone has children, a home, and maybe a wife who isn’t working, changing jobs is often not a simple matter’.
‘The key is for people to take responsibility for their career. So many people with whom I work as a career consultant talk about things in a slightly abstract way. They’re scared to talk about what they really want. When they start being specific and saying ‘what I want is …’ then I know they’ve taken the first step and have stopped distancing themselves from their career’.
With all her experience of advising people about their careers, does she have a single piece of advice that she believes could enable anyone to achieve greater professional success?
‘Become passionate about your job and do your best to give something extra to it. You’ll be amazed at how much you get back,’ she says.
Read Sarah Berry’s book How to Love the Job You do
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