Posts Tagged ‘organization’

Building Your Network from Scratch

Friday, January 27th, 2017

If you think you don’t know anyone who can help with your job search, then you need to look at this from a different angle.  In most cases we don’t know that actual hiring person.  But you may know someone who does, or can connect you to them.

Sally Forth

rather than just asking “Are you (your organization) hiring?”  Reach out inquiring about how your interests and experience could be of value to them.  Target your organizations to learn about specific roles and projects.

Here are 3 basic steps to get going.

 

Job Search Tips When You Don’t Know Anyone

 

 

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!

Career Conversations: Exploration and Visibility

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

In my last blog I wrote about creating a bridge to career conversations with your manager. Another bridge is for conversations with others in your organization or outside of your current profession.

A common reaction I hear is, “My boss will think that I”m being disloyal!”

In some organizations the silo walls between projects or functional areas are like a castle fortress. There are turfs and budgets to defend, as well as talent to keep. So you may need to tread carefully, but not silently. Let your manager know you are exploring to broaden your perspective to be more valuable to her. What you don’t want is for your manager to hear from someone else and think you are sneaking around behind her back. You will be having conversations that should enhance both your own and her value to the organization.

“How do I do that?”

There are lots of ways – create your strategy which may include:

  • Exploring how everything works and is related in your organization. Pay attention to which departments are key to your own department’s success. Take the initiative to ask for a short conversation to understand their perspectives.
  • Look at what’s working smoothly. Offer a sincere compliment and specific observation to start the conversation. Then ask about how this success has evolved.  From these conversations you can discern valuable  skills and abilities to develop.
  • Get a broader picture of your organization. Review an organization directory to identify key people. Attend open events/meetings to meet these people.
    1. Introduce yourself including where you work. In one sentence explain that you are interested in learning more about the organization.
    2. Ask for a brief description of their area and then how they see how your two departments or projects are interconnected.
    3. Ask what skills and talents are most helpful in their areas.
    4. Prepare to briefly explain how your role supports the project or organization. Share the skills and talents you most like to develop and use.
  • When attending an All Hands meeting, sit beside someone you don’t know and politely start a conversation to include as many of steps 1-4 as is appropriate.

These are just a few ways to jump start your thinking.  Most importantly, is to step out of your comfort zone and away from your computer. You don’t know if you don’t ask.

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.

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?

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?

How do I Become an Expert?

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Organizations depend on people who have “deep smarts”—business-critical expertise, built up through years of experience, which helps them make wise, swift decisions about both strategy and tactics. These mavens may be technical wizards, risk managers, top salespeople or operations troubleshooters, but they are all the “go-to” people for a given type of knowledge in their organizations.

Most Experts don’t even recognize that they are the experts. Because they’ve built their expertise on years of experience, research and sometimes just plain repetitiveness, it now is just part of “who I am” and “what I do.” Its second nature to them and they may be surprised that others don’t have the same level of knowledge. This makes them a bit testy at times. Yet Experts are usually generous in giving advice.

Their knowledge isn’t easy to pass on. Several professions build apprenticeships into their training systems: Doctors, for instance, learn on the job as interns and residents, under the close guidance of attending physicians, before practicing on their own. But many other professions have no such path. You’re responsible for your own development. You must acquire the knowledge in a different way to become the “go to” person.

  • Pay attention to what your organization and profession value. What are the trends that are impacting your organization and profession?
  • Hone your questions. Are you asking good diagnostic questions to understand complex problems?
  • Ask about and take steps to find out what you don’t know. Don’t wait for a training program; Create your own unique advisors and resources rather than the standard curriculum.
  • Listen more than you speak. Keep a log; don’t just rely on your memory.
  • Recognized patterns from experience of both successful and failed applied solutions.
  • Create your reputation by your willingness to share what you are learning.  Speak up at meetings. Engage others in the conversations. Ask for others’ perspectives to understand and deepen your own knowledge.

And most importantly, observe how experts present themselves, not as know-it-alls, but as perpetual learners.

 

 

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.

Should You Make a Lateral Move?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Its not unusual for us to make horizontal career moves. They may be a good strategy for a variety of reasons, the best of which is to gain knowledge and skills that will lead to your upward goal.  If your company is in a slow growth mode and promotions are stagnant, then a lateral move might better position you for your next promotion.  Kelly Eggers has a good blog on risk and reward considerations for this decision.

A few of my considerations to start with are:

Does it help you reach your ultimate goal? (You do have one, right?)

Does it build your skill and competencies set?  Not only do we need to keep our tech skills up-to-date, but also broaden our biz and industry knowledge.  This contributes to our abilities to use sound judgment and make better decisions that affect not only our careers (company), but our families and communities.

Does it help balance your work/life quality?

Does it make sense on your resume by adding breadth of knowledge and skills, as well as contributing to your accomplishment portfolio?

Will it expand your professional network? Never underestimate the value of the network; it’s not just for job hunting.  We reach out to people with different viewpoints to gain clarity and information in our daily work.

Many people have successfully used lateral moves to re-energize their careers. Some make a geographical (even global) move that has enriched their lives.  So it helps to look at all facets of a lateral option, and not make a snap decision based on the emotion of the moment.

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.