Posts Tagged ‘management’

Career Conversation with My Team?

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

You have a great team! Routine things work smoothly and challenges are handled. There are occasional blips to CUEbaseballteam2manage, but overall, its business as usual. Great!

This is not the time to coast.  Its the very best time to build your team’s bench strength.

How well do you know each person on your team? Do you know what their goals and aspirations are?  Do you know what is important to them both as a person and as a team member. Ask each of them, “Who and what do you want to become?”   Give them a heads up for this to be a topic on your next tag-up. Ask them what types of opportunities they’d like.

Provide your perspective on their specific career enhancing options. If your organization has outlined competencies, you can use those as a starting point.

Help them create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to serve as a roadmap for you and themselves.  Activities to enhance or gain new skills aren’t limited to formal training or academic programs. Short-term projects, job shadowing, mentors, cross-training, communities of practice are just a few zero-low budget opportunities. Remember to ask them to think about who they could talk with and what activities would be help to enhance their value to your team and the organization.

Check in 1:1 more than once a year. Life and work changes quickly.

At least quarterly, update your team on the State of the Organization from your perspective. Show them explicitly how their day-to-day, and project work, relates directly to the organization’s strategy and mission.  Help them connect the dots by describing the value of their skills and contributions to your customers/client.

Keep an ear open for people moving or new projects in other departments. Not only might you learn of an opportunity to trade a team member (short or long term), you might just find an opportunity for yourself!

Career Conversations with your team will earn you points for being the “best boss ever!”

Career Conversations – 7 Tips for Managers

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

By definition, in most organizations managers are expected to develop people as well as get ‘the work’ done.

I can hear all the reasons why this is not a priority for you. The most common reason is lack of time; the urgency of the work takes precedent over long-term productivity. Do managers with high turn-over attract suspicion? I cringe when I hear,”I finally have my employees working like a well-oiled machine; I don’t want to mess with that?” Why do your employees have to “learn it the hard way, like I did?”

Or maybe you just don’t know how.

Career Conversations happen as you share your insights, offer constructive suggestions, helping people think about next steps in the project or work. Career Conversations don’t have to have formal time booked on your calendar. Some of the best ones occur walking between meetings, in the kitchen or an informal phone check-in if your team works virtually.

What’s in it for you to develop  your staff?

The investment of time and genuine interest in developing others pays off in both tangible and intangible ways. Staff development criteria may be a part of evaluating the managers’ performance. Is there an expectation (or even incentives) to provide well-trained talent to other parts of your organization?

Many managers talk about the pride they feel in seeing employees grow and be successful.

Bottom line: If you don’t offer development opportunities, your staff will find someone who will. That’s not the kind of turnover you want.

Here’s what you can do:

Check your assumptions. Do you want to be known as someone who grows and develops the best talent in your organization or someone who circles the wagons and fights to maintain turf (staff). Don’t get complacent with your staff.  Expect and encourage turn-over due to better job fit, new opportunities, etc. Everyone, not just Millennials, are hungry for training, career advancement and opportunities for growth. Keep your eye open for new talent and be ready to replace those that move on in their careers.

Help them connect the dots. Nothing is more important than doing work that matters. Rekindle the emotional connection [pride] that employees have with your company. Hold “trend” discussions to align individual goals with reality of your workplace, your profession and industry environment. Tell the stories about the people that make your business tick,. Remind them of the purpose your department serves. How does your organization make money or get funding? What deals are in the works? How are the economics of the organization evolving? Keep your team educated about ongoing business developments to directly improve their engagement and performance. The more resources you can give employees on how your company functions, the more loyal they’re likely to be.

Be a champion.  Develop your reputation as someone who offers opportunities rather than holding people back. Stay alert to opportunities where someone on your team could contribute or learn, and be willing to loan them out. They’ll return with valuable knowledge and relationships that can support your team. And if they move on, they will thank you. If you haven’t already, offer cross-training within your team to fill gaps.

Provide daily development opportunities. Use a micro-learning approach with employees’ everyday work. For example: Make mundane tasks into a game. Encourage and show them how to discover answers on their own and praise them when they do. Start or end your weekly meetings with anything they’ve learned to improve the task, their approach to it, about the impact of their work, relationships with others or developing competencies that your organization values.

Develop each person individually. Too many employees get trained on things they don’t need, and fail to get the skills that will actually make them more productive. Assess each persons’ needs and provide targeted, relevant content, instead of one-size-fits-all training. People learn in different ways, so offer hands-on (discovery) as well as ‘read the manual’ options.

Use a coaching style to develop their thinking skills and become smarter. When they come to you with a problem, help them think through the logic to discover the best solutions. This will show them how to approach similar problems in the future, hopefully saving time for you.

Be available, but don’t hover. Set expectations and boundaries, provide resources then get out of the way.

PS – You can have your own career conversations with your peers and boss. Let me know what works for you!

You just had a Career Conversation

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Were you paying attention?

Not all career conversations are directly about you and getting ahead.  Getting personal feedback is great, but it is only one aspect of career conversations. Career Conversations come from many sources, not just bosses and mentors. They may be hiding in meetings and other conversations.

If you just had a hallway conversation about someone leaving or moving to another position, THAT was a Career Conversation. Note where they went and what gap that leaves. If the role is already back-filled, note what skills and expertise was selected. Another Career Conversation could be your follow-up with the perspn who moved.

Did you just leave a meeting about a persistent problem your department or a customer is facing? Add that to your journal of career impact information. Do you see a trend developing? Do you see a skill that you can offer (or that you need to acquire) to be part of the solution? And THAT was a Career Conversation, too.

We need many different sources and views to continuously manage our careers. In addition to the daily and on-going work we do, we need to pay attention to the business of the organization and the public served via budgets, customer needs, regulations and issues such as hacking, climate and demographics that effect how and where we work.

These make for fascinating and on-going Career Conversations. You can discover new tracks and ways to do what matters most.

Career Conversations, part 4 – Raise Your Hand

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

handsOne of the most effective career conversation you can have is asking to do something for your boss.

When my boss was sharing some of the company’s plans for re-structuring, we could see that there was a big piece missing (aka “opportunity”) in managing the transition. Turf protection was high and we knew that getting support would be difficult. Often these discussions end with a shaking of the head and an “oh well” sense of defeat. My boss was already overloaded. Knowing it was a risky endeavor I asked, “Could I take a shot at it?”  Incredulously he asked, “Why?” I had nearly hit the top of my job level and thought this could be a way to break through. At worst, it could be a great story to share at future job interviews. And I truly had a deep desire to do it. With his support, I was able to quickly do the due diligence, build the business case, offer a solution to the President and Council and roll out a successful change management initiative.

Encourage your boss to delegate more of her projects or tasks. Ask to attend meetings in her place. Perhaps she will be willing to share you with other leaders in the organization for a few hours a week to work on a project or add your expertise.  These will help to develop your leadership capability, visibility and relationships. Remember the WWIFYB (What’s In It For Your Boss): It shows her ability to develop her staff, her teamwork and you can make her look good.

Does a planning meeting for another meeting sound dull? It is ripe with opportunity! Consider who will be attending the big meeting. If it is decision-makers and thought leaders, just being in the room is valuable.  Does a speaker need someone to advance the slides during the talk? Raise your hand. You’ll get a ring-side seat at the discussions, hear the questions and learn what’s is important and not important to these influencers.

If you don’t ask, others won’t know that you are interested.

Ask For a Raise the Right Way

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

As many of us go into performance review season, we anticipate a monetary outcome. Yet 43% of us never ask for a raise.

You don’t know, if you don’t ask!!

Many performance reviews do not include a compensation conversation. Its important to discuss what’s going well, what to improve and what’s coming next to set goals.  Talking about money overshadows that conversation. Salary increases may happen only at the beginning of the fiscal year. Check your organization’s policy and procedure. Then see what type of exceptions are made.

Best case scenario – your boss wants to surprise you with the reward of a raise. Let her have that pleasure of showing how much she values your contributions.

The usual reality is your boss doesn’t want to discuss money any more than necessary.  Budgets have been tight – she had to fight to just get the minimum for her staff. High company profits don’t necessarily tie to salary increases due to business strategies.

Your strategy needs to take both scenarios into account.  Take time now to prepare the justification for why your work merits increased compensation. Your manager will need this to go to bat for you. Unless you are covered by a contract, longevity isn’t necessarily a reason – that’s just stamina!

A salary increase is a business decision, not about your personal financial needs and wants.  Leave your anger and fears out of the conversation. Guilt trips don’t work either. Lead with the facts:

#1 When so many of us are now doing the work of formerly 2-3 jobs, documenting your efficiencies and how much money you are saving the company is the math that your boss needs to justify a raise. Remind her of the over and above things you’ve accomplished. Describe the challenge, what you did and the result, including who benefited and how. What potential problems did you prevent?

#2. Salaries are determined around a variety of factors: the industry standard for the skill sets (not just job title), what the competition pays, geographic area, value of the work in your organization and internal equity are the major ones. Here are a few ways to determine your worth:

  • Check professional associations which often do salary surveys.
  • Compare date on several online sites such as Career OnestopSalary.com, Vault.comGlassdoor.com and Jobstar.org 
  • Survey  job postings similar to your job and their salary levels. Check a variety of job boards to get the range.
  • Ask recruiters and other knowledgeable individuals:
“I’ve been researching ‘XXX’ positions in the ‘YYY’ industry, especially in the ‘ZZZ’ region. So far, I have been unable to find good recent information on the salary range for ‘AAA’ positions. From your experience, what is the salary range from ‘new-to-title/first-time hires’ to the ‘very experienced pros’? What would you say is the average salary? What factors determine where in the salary range a person is placed?”  ” Who else would you recommend I talk with?”

#3 Don’t wait until a performance review to start the discussion. Learn when budget negotiations happen in your organization, generally six months before a new fiscal year. That is when jockeying for scarce salary dollars begins.

This great infographic has additional tips from Florence Lewis on the critical salary discussion!

 8 Things to Discuss for Asking Salary Raise

5 Actions for Career Management

Monday, October 29th, 2012

“Career Management” makes some managers nervous; they might lose key staff or have to spend precious time training and mentoring people.  It raises expectations for many people that they will be promoted sooner, or that another round of lay-offs is coming. And for others, its just another bunch of buzzwords – a “key retention tool.”

Career management is seen as both highly personal, therefore self-initiated, as well as an organization’s responsibility to provide resources for professional and technical growth.  Some companies have a formal process and resources dedicated to career management.  In others, it just happens, or not.

1) What’s your expectation for enhancing your career, besides earning more money? How much more money?  This may be a job title, a level, learning a new skill or technology. It may be doing work that is more fulfilling to you.  Put it in writing to help get clarity.

2) Can your expectations be met in your current organization?  Our emotions can get in the way of realistic look at the opportunities.  You may need to creatively look at alternative roles or projects to provide stepping stones to your goal.

3) What resources are available in your organization right now to help you? If there are no formal programs, you can still take advantage of any tuition reimbursement for courses, or look for people who are doing what you want to do next.  Ask if they would chat with you over lunch or coffee to start learning from them.  (It’s good to have 4-5 specific questions to get the conversation going).

4) Make an weekly appointment with yourself  to assess your work – your accomplishments (skills used), your struggles (skills needed)

5) Don’t wait for annual performance review. Ask your boss or team mates to informally give you 1-2 minutes on what they see as going well and what you could improve. Asking for their observations following an event is great time for feedback.

These are just five actions anyone can take.  What have other people done to successfully manage their careers?

A Crystal Ball – Skills for Now and the Future

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

A research report from Apollo Research Institute gives us a crystal ball for looking towards 2020.  “Future Work Skills 2020”

I like the way this report takes the major global trends and matches them with the skills workers need to thrive now and going forward. Its very useful for  the many people needing to re-skill, re-career and generally upgrade their skills to get good jobs.   Its also useful for HR/OD professionals working on reducing the skills gaps in your organizations. It can add richness to your competencies buffet. More than technical skills, these are the abilities to think, analyze, empathize; the willingness to seek different perspectives, use logic meshed with creativity, and use a variety of means to communicate.

There are six categories from the report:

  • Transdisciplinarity: ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.
  • Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.
  • Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
  • Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.
  • Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings.
  • Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.
  • Novel and adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcome

This is not only a great read, but full of food for thought.

Learn to Learn

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

When I keep doing what I always do, why do I think it will have a different result?

This bit of insanity applies to  many aspects of our lives. But let’s look at just one. We do our jobs well and manage the constant winds of change. Like a sailing a boat we know how to stay upright and navigate the personalities and glitches of the day.  But we often don’t see the storm clouds on the horizon until it’s too late.   A common competency found in most public and private sector organizations involves being able to see what knowledge and skills will be needed to handle the future storms of opportunity.  If we don’t learn new skills (not only technology, but those related to your organization’s work and mission) then we’re not ready to step up to the new challenges.  I worked with several organizations that  are shifting from mechanical to digital arenas.  This means that the skill sets of  people working with machines and parts will need to include computer skills. Look at automobile maintenance that now requires a computer read-out.  Even our money is now being printed digitally now.

Don’t wait until your next performance assessment to have a conversation with your boss.  Tell her what types of interests or aspirations you have for moving up or around in your organization.  Ask her what she sees as the most valuable skills your organization needs. If your boss isn’t available to have this conversation, step back and take a look at the hot issues impacting your organization or profession. For example, if the demographics of your customer base changing, you could learn a second (or third) language. Take a course or seminar; get some training to contribute solving these issues.  Volunteer for committees or task forces to practice your skills and knowledge so you don’t lose what you just learned.  Technology has made a lot or resources available to us that we just have to tickle the keyboard to find. And many are free or low cost.  Your organization may have a training or tuition reimbursement budget you can tap.

Derrick Dortch talks to federal workers encouraging them to get some training in order to advance in their careers and offering some places to start.

 

Change Success – Initiate more conversations

Monday, May 9th, 2011

When there is an organizational change, a systems upgrade or change in policy/procedures or leadership, a common mis-belief is that if we give people the facts, they can handle the change.  Facts are important to answer the “why” question.  But it doesn’t get to a personal level – and that’s where the change must be successful. We search to answer, “What’s in it for me?”

And people don’t always know what questions to ask. So we have a workplace that has a heavy silence with no one saying what’s on their mind.  Denial is abundant.

An effective leader will initiate more conversations, not less, to uncover the concerns and questions.  There are many levels to the “why” and “how” questions. Some can be answered, must many cannot until later. And many of the best solutions come from the people who will do the hands-on work to implement the change. So when people ask pointed questions or just glare at you, ask them, “What is your concern?” and “What do you think would make this work?” Incorporate some craziness into developing new solutions (and let off a little steam). Allow them to vent without repercussions.

Emotions – anger, frustration, disappointment – are all a part of dealing with the change.  Help people be resilient by listening, without judgment and without trying to “fix” their concerns. Ask what they have done in the past that helped them through similar stressful times.  Ask them to think how they want to feel a month after the change is implemented. Visualizing positive outcomes helps reduce the current negative conversations.

What helps you be resilient?

WIIFM? First, Listen

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

People are so overwhelmed by things changing in their lives and their work that we can count on them begin distracted while we are trying to communicate. Whether you are leading a training session or a meeting, over half the people are preoccupied with other thoughts.  Some are already gearing up to argue with you.

Our tendency is to talk more and to talk louder to get their attention. We need to deliver our message realizing they hear it through their “What’s In It For Me?” filter.  Anything that will touch my wallet will elicit an emotional response.  We need to talk just enough to deliver your message, and then stop talking so we can listen.

Listen for the concerns behind the blunt or badly phrased question.  Listen for what they fear behind the sarcastic tone in their voice. Respond first by ensuring that you heard their question by summarizing and asking them to confirm that your summary is correct.  Then offer the  clarification or additional information they requested.  If the answer is unknown, say so and ask for their help in finding the best solution. Too many of us launch into a rebuttal which may add further anxiety rather than address their concern.

It takes courage to listen when Change impacts our comfort zones.  We stand a greater chance of reducing the resistance when we communicate honestly and encourage the dialogue.

More on encouraging the conversations in the next blog.

What are your thoughts?