Posts Tagged ‘Motivation’

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.

 

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!

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?

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.

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.

Mid-Level Contentment – Is There a Problem?

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

“I love my job. I’m excited to get up and come to work every morning! Yet, I’m being pressure to move into management. I’ve taken the management courses and don’t want to do the administrative chores required in those roles. What should I do?”

Career management is a continuous cycle of assessment, exploration, planning and taking action.  It’s foundation is in cultivating your awareness and reality of the various elements that contribute to your own personal definition of career success.

You have reached your career goal in your late 30’s and would like to stay right where you are, doing the hands-on work.  Great! If you know a role is not a good fit for you, don’t create misery for yourself and others. What else helps you define success?

Moving “up” is not the only way. Fulfilling careers are often a series of lateral, exploratory and even a step down moves to learn a new function or skill set. Staying in the same role may have plenty of options as projects end, new ones begin and others need to be maintain. Short-term assignments, details or voluntary roles are ways to not only stay challenged, but also to develop new skills, enhance your visibility and value to your organization.

Meanwhile the world continues to spin:

Most managers are responsible for developing their employees and may be measured in terms of staff promotions. You’ll need to help her meet that requirement by demonstrating new skills and learning. Pay attention to conversations of new ideas and potential projects. Let your boss know that kind of assignments you really enjoy. Ask what you need to learn to continue being a key person on her team.

You will soon reach the ceiling of her pay grade/scale.  Are you comfortable with the lifestyle it provides you? Will it be enough to maintain you in the future? I don’t advocate chasing the dollar, but this reality check may shed a new light.

You may find that your skills erode with changing technologies and updating processes. Don’t get left out by not staying up to date.

Avoid being targeted for a downsizing: Be “indispensable” not by hoarding knowledge, but by feeding your passion for your work and mentoring others. You are a “go to” person who can lead an informal learning group to challenge and help them learn. Others may see you as “stuck” so show your contributions: historical knowledge of projects and systems that can prevent or fix problems and justify needed change. You also know “the ropes” which includes organizational and personal political savvy.

When you enjoy your work, you are a joy to be around!