Posts Tagged ‘Change’

Your Personal Career BoD

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Should I move to take the next step in my career? Is now the time for me to launch my own business? Why should I invest in a Ph.D?

A personal Board of Directors (BoD) can facilitate your career decisions. Many of us have our friends, relatives, former teachers, or mentors  that we go to for advice or to test ideas. This network is essential if you are feeling stuck or looking for your next move.

Why a BoD?

Tom Peters first coined the phrase, “You, Inc.” to illustrate the type of control we need to take for our own careers. When you adopt the mindset that you work for yourself, although full-time within one organization, your perspective shifts to greater collaboration and accountability. As an employee, your manager and organization are also partners in your career.

We need others’ expertise to help us explore and make informed decisions for both our career and life. Your BoD serves not only as counsel, but will broaden your perspective. They provide critical reality checks and they point you towards resources or in directions you wouldn’t find on your own. They help you formulate and realize your goals.

What do they do?

They tell you the truth. This means you create and nourish the relationships around trust: trust that you will listen to, work to understand and consider their advice, especially when you don’t agree. They can help you see blind spots of both strengths and skills. They will tell you how others may perceive you.

They share their own experience and professional advice. At times, they may pave the way or refer you for an opportunity.

Your BoD can guide you to resources and help with decisions around career opportunities, formal education or certifications and other major investments of time, effort and money. They will encourage, help problem-solve and hold you accountable for your career decisions.

Who do you need on your BoD?

You’ll want people who know your profession and aspirations. You’ll need professional expertise in the areas that support your aspirations. A BoD is  comprised of people from outside your employer to give you a bigger picture.

A corporate board includes expertise from finance, marketing, legal, tax and technology to name a few. Your BoD should include mentors with experience and expertise in all the areas of your life such as these. Many people include spiritual guidance as well. Your family/partner also play an obvious role and need to be included in your decisions.

What’s in it for them?

They share their expertise and experience with you because they want you to succeed. It is that simple. As a bonus, through you and others on your BoD, they expand their own network of professionals and friends. You can pay it forward by referring business or contacts to them, as appropriate.

How does this work?

Initially, convene your BoD with an invitation to share breakfast (you pay) to meet each other and set an initial agenda. Meet as a group one to three times a year as you need them for planning and discussion. (Don’t wait for emergencies!) Keep them informed as to your progress and questions with a quarterly e-check-in. Meet with individuals as needed.

Decide if you want to provide a stipend for your BoD members. Be clear if you want this to be pro-bono. Use the initial discussion to outline how you want to work together and expectations – yours and theirs.

Your Board wants to see you succeed and may be with you for many years. Some may rotate off.  Do stay in touch and be grateful for this valuable person in your life.

 

Courageous Career Conversation

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Having a tough time at work? Do you see yourself in any of these scenarios:cnyntree

  • You are having more disagreements with your boss and or team mates.
  • You aren’t getting the assignments or work that you want; You see others getting more opportunities.
  • You’ve ‘paid your dues’ and now just want to do your job.
  • Its a struggle to get your staff/team to do their jobs, much less “excellent work”

If so, its time for a courageous career conversation…first with yourself.

What are you expecting? Our frustrations are rooted in an unmet need. Are your expectations realistic? By whose standard?  For people over 40, the standards by which you measure yourself have likely changed. Tenure and stamina have been eclipsed by contributions and accomplishments. No one can coast on their past track record for very long. We have to be able to use that experience to provide value today. What are you contributing now?

Feel like you’re not moving up fast enough, not challenged? It may not be the most stimulating, but your first priority is to make sure you are doing your current work well to satisfy your team and boss’s mission. If you are feeling stuck, look for a different approach to a nagging problem. Try an approach that moves you outside your comfort zone. Check in with others (someone objective or skilled in getting unstuck, such as a coach) to get a different point of view of the problem.

Bored? Look around and offer/volunteer to work on something that has been on the back burner. It may mean you learn a new skill set or network with another part of the organization to improve your team’s work.

Want to be left alone to just do your job?  Its great to be the steady, dependable one. Just don’t get left in the dust because you didn’t pay attention to the trends and changes around you. We need to assess and sharpen our skills every month.

What are you bringing to the table today? Your experience and expertise are valuable, but only if you can connect with others’ experience and expertise. Don’t let your frustrations bleed and spoil valuable professional relationships. Find a safe place to vent. Look for opportunities to be a teacher or coach, rather than “right.”

No one cares more about your career than you. Every day is an opportunity to make a difference. Grab a dose of courage to check your assumptions against reality.

 

Bridges to Career Conversations

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

DSCN2151Career conversation can happen anytime and be about so much more than how to get a promotion. But I often hear people say they can’t initiate them without hitting a wall.

If your  manager doesn’t seem warm to the conversation…

  1. What’s your history with similar conversations? Is it always about more money or a promotion? Its good to let her know you want these, but  don’t wear it out.
  2.  Is your current work performance top notch?  If not, then the conversation needs to be about how to better use your skills, strengths or work processes so you can excel.
  3. What’s your timing? Pay attention to the issues and dynamics of the day.
  4. Would you be thought of disloyal?
  5. What is your goal of these conversations? You should have a plan, even if it is primarily exploration right now.

No matter what the barrier seems to be, you must consider what’s in it for her? Why would she want to help you to outgrow your current job?  Some organizations, but not enough, have staff development goals to meet. Generally your growth is not a high priority unless your organization tracks and measures talent development.  Your manager’s #1 priority is to get the work done, meeting/exceeding her own goals.

4 career conversation starters are:

  1. Am I doing everything you need me to do to meet your goals?
  2. How else can I help?
  3. What could I learn (software, process, procedure) that would help you focus on other things?
  4. Propose what you want to learn and outline how it could improve, streamline and achieve dept/organization goal.

In my next blog, I’ll explore starting career conversations with others, not your manager.

What are other barriers to your career conversations?

Coasting Through Your Career?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Do you have more days at work when you are bored than engaged?  Are you counting the days until the next big thing will be over?  What have you done to jump-start your career lately?

Check your career map. Oh, you don’t have one?  What happened to that plan you drafted, the professional development plan that is languishing in the system or an unopened folder? Have you accomplished or lost interest in your goals? Update them. You can’t move forward in your career without a bigger road map.

What type of project or work would you like to be doing a year from now? What’s happening in other departments and divisions of your organization. What jobs are opening up as people get promoted or re-assigned? Could they use your expertise while you’re broadening your knowledge? Look at volunteer opportunities that will challenge and help you develop communication and leadership skills. Add these to your professional development plan and then your resume and LinkedIn profile!

Ask yourself which new responsibilities you’d like to have. Do you have the technical skills? Look at similar job postings and the technical skills required for your current and the next role you want. If there’s a skill that keeps showing up but you don’t have it, you can add it to your professional development plan. Don’t stagnate in your career because of a critical skill gap with a new tool or technology. Let go of a piece of your “expertise” when its time to learn a new way or process.

No one cares more about your career than you. Be sure to feed and nurture it.

 

 

5T Approach for Career Conversations

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

In my MAnneHullcarch blog, I gave you 9 tips for starting career conversations.  Some of the most important career enhancing conversations are about getting meaningful feedback – observations of the impact of what you’re doing both successfully and things that could be done better. Do others share the same opinion of you and your work with you? Do you come across to others as you intend?  A recent conversation with a client revealed that his intention of improving his team’s work was coming across as judgmental and critical. As much as that hurt to hear, he can now adjust his approach to reduce alienating team members.

You can get useful feedback by doing one simple thing: Ask for it. But if you just ask for generic feedback you’re sure to make eyes roll.  Try the 5T approach:

1) Tactical: Outline the areas you currently know you want or should improve based on your current work. You can use your job description to get started. Perhaps your boss has mentioned something. Many organizations and professions have competencies that provide a wealth of direction for these conversations.  Look to the people who are considered the leaders in your division, profession, organization. What is it about them that you and others respect? Repeat this list for the kind of work you want to do next. The result should be a list of specific knowledge or behavior that you want feedback to validate or improve.

2) Target: Consider people you trust and respect for their perspectives. Who observes your work or is the recipient of it and can give you specific tips on what’s working and what could be better? Ask the people who have a stake in your work how you could do it more economically, better, or faster. When asking for feedback from your boss, what aspects of your work are most important to her? Establish an informal agreement with colleagues, mentors or others with whom you work to provide ongoing specific feedback. But how?

3) Timing:  Immediately following an incident while its fresh in their mind, ask for a their take on how you came across, or what went well or what you could have done differently.  Use the time walking from the conference room to your office, or an IM after the teleconference. Grab a cup of coffee the morning after or chat on the train  delivering a project, completing a task….you get the picture.

4) Take it: Ask for 1-2 things you could learn, improve, start doing, or stop doing that would enhance your credibility or professional reputation. Then respect their perspective, especially if it is different from your own. That’s the point in asking for it.  Avoid justifying or excusing your actions to get them to change their mind.  Ask for specific ways to improve, resources and commit to using their feedback.

5) Thanks:  Express your gratitude for their candor. Many people are uneasy in being honest and your graciousness will be appreciated.

We build our careers by our good work and our relationships with others. You can enhance your chances of doing the work you really want to do, and make a difference by paying attention to doing your work well and being open to making adjustments along the way.

Friends – What are you expecting?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

I’ve been hearing a theme from people and reading the advice columns of how often we are disappointed with our friends. It sounpupsds like this: “I always do [fill in the blank] for her, but she never reciprocates.”  “I was there for him, but now he’s too busy to help me.” Whether its remembering birthdays, helping with projects, initiating meet-ups, mutual griping, or asking for help there are many ways we depend on our friends. We are drawn to them because of the things we share in common and we like being around them.  When we’re in sync, everything is fine. Having strong social relationships at work and in life is fundamental to our happiness.

Have you noticed that you are the one that always initiates a lunch? What does that say to you? Unless you ask, its easy to assume that s/he doesn’t care as much. Or it could mean s/her knows you’ll do it and has fallen into the habit of waiting to hear from you.  The concept of reciprocation just doesn’t occur to them. But you really don’t know, unless you ask.

When you break your foot, your close friend is now too busy to help you get around.  It’s not convenient for her to pick you up. Should you break off the friendship? Or does it just redefine the boundaries?

In “Vital Friends,” Tom Rath takes a look at the roles our friendships have in our lives illustrating that not everyone can be the same kind of friend. This applies to our friends at work, family and others. Initially, I recoiled at categorizing my friendships into eight roles they play in my life. Then, it began to make sense that I expected to get from them the same thing I gave to them. Not everyone can do that. And I was often disappointed. For example, I found myself getting frustrated with a friend who took all the “air” time we had together and considered ending the friendship. When she told me how much my listening meant to her, I realized the friendship was my gift to her. What I got was knowing that I mead a difference in her life. Now I know to set my expectation of how to both give and get the most from our friendship. Friendships are rarely an even trade.

Friends take care of friends…sometimes.  Some people are just more attuned to what is needed in certain situations – a break-up, an illness, any loss, or opportunities for career advancement or fun. When you discover a friend didn’t include you on a project, you may hear, “I didn’t know you’d be interested.” Some don’t want to deal with the not-so-pretty side of the friendship. Many people really just don’t know what to do or say. Still others cannot be inconvenienced or don’t see anything in for them in the situation, so they avoid it.

If you didn’t get the plum assignment, let them know how you are feeling and how you’ll move forward. Especially in times of loss, its very helpful to let others know specifically what would comfort you: Let them know if you’ll need motivation to get some exercise – come take me for a walk or go to a class/gym. Bring cookies, but also stay and tell me what’s going on outside my painful universe. Get my list and pick up groceries.

Our friends reciprocate, just not in the same way.  Recognize the person who will keep a secret, but not necessarily give you guidance. Don’t ask for help in finding a new job from someone who doesn’t have a broad network. Share ideas with people who can broaden your perspective, not just agree with you. Be specific with easy-to-do requests to help others be a better friend to you. And let it be OK for them to say, ‘Sorry, I can’t do that.’

Check your assumptions about what others “should” know. We didn’t all learn the same lessons of courtesy nor know what’s unique for your happiness.

Aligning my expectations with what others are capable of bringing to the friendship helps me go to the right person for the friend I need. It also helps me be a better friend to others.

Career Management in 10 minutes or less

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

You can forge the direction of your career with short, strategic conversations. We often only think about our careers once a year as a new year resolution or a performance review.  Yet we know that frequent feedback, sharing information and asking for help are the keys to growing and developing our careers. If you keep a mindset of service to others its easier to find career help. While you may be looking for opportunities, you also are constantly creating how others see and remember you. Here are 8 ways to start a conversation that takes 10 minutes or less:

1) Ask your boss what you can help with to support her this week.

2) Attend a meeting of interest to you. Share your interest in the topic with at least 3 people, including the speaker.

3) Notice when a colleague is struggling and offer a shortcut that would save them some time.

4) Ask your friends, parents, siblings, or cousins to explain what they do at work and why its important. Explain what you do in a way they can relate to.

5) Chat with your boss about what’s going well and what you’re looking forward to doing.

6) Ask  about others’ interests, what resource or information they need and if you can help get it.

7) Notice the thought leaders in your organization.  Ask them about current trends and talk about the impact for your organization.

8) Ask your boss what skills or knowledge you could develop that would be helpful to your team.

9) Start a conversation by sending an article or website to your boss or colleague and request to discuss it for 10 minutes.

Did you notice that none of these involve sending your resume? That document is always handy to have up-to-date in case this 10 minute conversation leads to a chance to work on a committee, task force, project, etc. Getting to know and being known by others develops your relationships and [drum roll,please] your network.

I’m sure you can think of other ways to start career conversations and I’d love to hear them!

What’s Your Professional Development Strategy?

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Fall treesThe most frequent responses I get to this question is #1 Strategy: keep getting a paycheck and hope to get promoted;#2 Strategy for Free Agents: Keep current contract(s) or get new clients.

I consider these non-strategies. Too many people approach learning something work-related as a task they have to do to keep their jobs or maintain a profession credential. They need an external incentive and are not motivated by curiosity or a desire to improve processes, services or products.

For those that enjoy keeping up with trends and new thinking for the sake of contributing to making their work better, they often:

  • Surf the net for bright shiny topics
  • Read blogs, take webinars that look interesting
  • Join professional associations, attend occasional gatherings
  • Actually participate in professional associations by not only attending, but also volunteering for projects or committees.

OR…

You COULD spend a few minutes to think about your long term work/career goals and what professional credentials or skills and competencies you need to keep up-to-date. Do you need to create or update your brand? Using this as a foundation, you can select and focus on those activities and opportunities that will give you the best bang for your buck.

“My profession doesn’t outline specific continuing education requirements. How do I do that?”  There are a couple of options:

Pay attention to the issues and trends that are driving business decisions for your organization and department. Cost-cutting will always be a factor, so look at how you and others could achieve organizational objectives faster, better, cheaper? New laws, regulations and technology changes tend to change the way things get done. What could you become the go-to person for? What interpersonal skills could you develop to improve your professional relationships in an increasingly diverse workforce? Check both the internal and external websites to see what your organization values. Many organizations have resources that outline career competencies and for creating your personal development plan to contribute to their highly competitive knowledge bank.

If you want to make a career change, map your steps to making that change and set up your support system to achieve it. Updating your resume will be a part of it, but first, you might have to do some research beyond surfing job boards. Identify required credentials or knowledge through job descriptions and taking with people in the roles. Use your social media to connect with others in that line of work for a reality check and advice and to stay on their radar when opportunities come up. Build your experience by volunteering.

Is time that you invest in yourself to enjoy a more rewarding career?

3 Reasons + 5 tips to Update Your Resume

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Here are 3 reasons why September is a good time to update your resumeFall trees:

  1. Its nearly time for your annual performance review and you want to position yourself or a raise.
  2. One of your contacts approaches you with a great job opportunity and needs your resume, now!
  3. You learn that your job is in the re-organization, or you are on the RIF list.

What you should include:

  1. Your accomplishments since your last update: Did you initiate or work on a special project  (both work or volunteer)? Be specific and quantify your results as much as possible. Did you surpass goals? Save time and/or money? Go above and beyond? Who benefited from your efforts?
  2. Awards or recognition you’ve received. Recall both the verbal and e-mail props.
  3.  Gain new skills? List training, conferences you attended or certifications you earned.
  4. Have your career goals shifted?  If your focus changed since your last update, go through your entire resume to be sure everything is strategic and relevant.
  5. Is your contact information up-to-date? Be sure you have a professional email address (not your employee email) and a mobile phone number that only you answer. Check that outgoing message. Is it something you’d want a prospective boss to hear?

Keep you resume or CV up-to-date to be ready for your next turn in your career!

 

Cash or Cachet?

Friday, August 1st, 2014

You find a great job opportunity but discover the salary is lower than you expected.

Several years ago, I was thrilled when I could tell people I worked for The Washington Post because I no longer had to explain who, where or what they did. Then I moved briefly to a very large organization that will unfortunately always be cited for some of the executives’ egregious business dealings. Now I get to work with rocket scientists and engineers and others that make space exploration and earth’s climate knowledge possible at NASA.

For many organizations, there is a “wow” factor that lasts far beyond the initial on-boarding. Whether this is a name-brand organization, or one that has special significance to you, you have a warm sense of pride when people ask, “Where do you work?”

Would you be proud to tell people what your employer produces? Whether it’s financial services, diapers, or food safety policy, can you take pride in being a part of that business?

There is also the resume-building factor of working for an organization that is held in high esteem. Consider the organization’s reputation: There is the public opinion developed by news and public relations, its financial progress, awards and contributions, stories of what it’s like to work there, leadership, its professional thought leaders and more. Would that be important for your future career opportunities?

So how much is that cachet worth to you?

When weighing all the factors of a job offer – salary, benefits, vacation, type of work, etc., we also consider the career enhancing aspects.  I once turned down a job offer with a 20% hike in salary in a public utility because I would not continue learning my profession as well as if I stayed in my current role in a bank. The extra year I stayed in the current job gave me knowledge and experience I used to this day in my consulting business. That was more valuable to me at that time in my career than working for a high profile company.

If you are faced with an enticing job and employer  but the salary is lower than you want, double-check your expectations.  Your previous salary may not be relevant in this business decision. Make sure you’ve done your homework and know the salary range for this role in your profession, in the industry and in the location as well as your unique expertise and experience. There are several websites that can get your started. Then in your networking conversations, ask people to verify or correct what you think the range is based on your research.

Salary is important both now and in your future as it is the basis for benefits and future increases. But it isn’t the only thing to negotiate. Factor in the intangibles that are important to you such as work-life flexibility arrangements. If you need money now,  such as for a mortgage payment, ask about a signing bonus. Another common strategy is to get agreement to revisit salary in 3-6 months when you’ve proven your stellar value to the organization.  But get it in writing from not only your current boss, but also HR, in case your boss has moved on.

What’s more important to you – a high starting salary or working with a high profile organization for a lower salary that meets your overall career and work-life needs?