Posts Tagged ‘competencies’

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?

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

Accomplishments: Meaning in the Mundane

Friday, February 14th, 2014

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The key to every self-performance appraisal, resume,and interview  is capturing our accomplishments.  Many of us don’t feel we have any because we just come in and do our jobs.  Others of us believe that our good work will get noticed by others and we don’t have to remind them. We are carefully taught not to brag or boast.

Over the year, does your boss remember your contributions to the team or organization? With 5 or more other peoples’ reviews to write, probably not.  Your boss needs a gentle reminder of what you do and how it helps to meet the goals of the unit.

For job applications and interviews, people don’t know if you don’t tell them. We will not get the job if we don’t distinguish how and, more importantly, why we do certain tasks better than our competition.

Too often we just list the activities or duties that can be found on a job description. We also to include the context or challenge, and the results. The context supplies the scope – why the activity is needed, how often, how many, etc.  Our actions need to call out the expertise, knowledge and skills we have to do this well. The result answers the question, “So what?”

This week I was helping a team of people identify and write their accomplishments. This was not just for self-appraisals, but to jump-start thinking about what actions the team could be doing to improve and further their goal.  Too often we only view our jobs as the mundane tasks to satisfy boring metrics, such as weekly reports.  We have to step back and remember what happens with the work we produce: What decisions are made based on the things we produce? What would happen if we didn’t do these tasks? [This could also be an exercise to streamline work processes.]

In the case of this team, their work not only raises awareness of diversity and inclusiveness, but illustrates and recognizes the success of others. This team supplies data and trends (aka weekly reports) which drive the ability of highly talented people to have the opportunity to contribute to answering the most important questions of our lives. Where would we be without Stephen Hawkings, Richard Pimentel, Percy Lavon Julian, Bath, Patricia and so many others? Suddenly they remembered that this job wasn’t just about the money.

Do your tasks align with and further the accomplishments of the goal of your department?  What would happen if you didn’t do them? If you don’t care, find a new job or encourage your team to create meaningful goals so you can contribute to something you care about.

I have the honor of helping people discover why their work matters. That’s enough to keep me going every day. And you won’t find it in the job description.

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.

“Future-Proof” Employee

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

In IBM’s report from interviewing over 1700 CEOs around the world three main themes emerged for the most successful organizations. At the highest level, none are news to us. But going deeper there are some critical nuggets worth exploring. I’m focusing on “Build future-proof employees.”

Because emerging capabilities are hard to define, hiring and equipping employees with the skills to close the gap becomes a guessing game. CEOs look for people  who are collaborative, communicative, creative and flexible.  They create an environment where these traits develop more naturally through:
•     Create unconventional teams.Intentionally mix specialties and expertise
•     Broaden the range of situations and experiences that employees are exposed to in their normal work. Incorporate external influences — like customers and partners — wherever possible.
•     Encourage employees to develop a diverse and extensive network of contacts as both potential
collaborators and prospective customers.

How do you demonstrate that you are collaborative, communicative, creative and flexible?  What do you do as an individual to become ‘future proof?”

New Course for Career Professionals Working with Mature Job Seekers

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Marvin Adams and I have teamed up to create a professional development course for career professionals, “Winning Strategies for the Mature Job Seeker,” at CEUOnestop.  This self-paced, online course looks at the unique issues that older clients face as more and more people are looking for work. Career professionals will find information, resources and links to websites that provide insight and tips for dealing with the perceptions, myths and realities of being over 50 and looking for work today. ( 4 CEUs)

Many people feel that age is just a state of mind, so there really aren’t any new challenges for the older job seeker.  And Age discrimination is illegal. So what’s the problem?  For most people, of any age, a well-defined job search strategy is the key to finding a great job.  Yet, people who have lost jobs after 20+ years or working are quite lost when it comes to present-day job search tools and strategies.  Fold in the assumptions and biases that both older and younger workers hold about people nearing retirement and you have a recipe for conflict and angst.

Career professionals can look at these assumptions and the research that provides facts and data to create their own strategies for coaching older clients.  Remembering that “perceptions are real,” too many people operate on their own limited knowledge, experience or relationships with older people.  Several reputable organizations have published research dispelling assumptions about low energy, poor health, technology averse or out-of-date skills, to name a few. We can help our clients leverage the benefits of a long work experience by reframing them in terms that meet employer’s needs today.  We can probe for the transferable skills of unpaid activities that employers now crave.  We can coach them to counter age discriminatory beliefs by developing examples of their work ethic, dependability, problem-solving and their results-oriented focus. Through understanding this generation cohorts’ resiliency, we can help them overcome self-limiting beliefs, create tenacious job seeking strategies and become valuable assets of the workforce.                    

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.

Critical Skills for our Future

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The more I learn, the more I need to learn.  And it doesn’t all take place in a formal educational setting.  As I watch our global economy and read Freidman’s latest book, “That Used To Be Us,”    it is clear that the Knowledge Sets are shifting.  Employers need people with the technical skills to get the work done. They also need these people to have communication and innovation abilities. The “AMA Critical Skills Survey” shows that executives had begun placing emphasis on a new set of skills that is neither intuitive for most people nor taught in school. “The Four Cs,” and they consist of:

Critical thinking and problem solving-the ability to make decisions, solve problems, and take actions as appropriate;
Effective communication-the ability to synthesize and transmit your ideas both in written and oral forms;
Collaboration and team building-the ability to work effectively with others, including those from diverse groups and with opposing points of view;
Creativity and innovation-the ability to see what’s NOT there and make something happen

In yet another survey, “Critical Skills for Workforce 2020,” the Institute for Future teamed up with University of Phoenix Research Institute finding the following similar categories:

Sense-making – Determining deeper meaning or significance of what’s being expressed
Social intelligence – connecting to others and sensing and stimulation reactions
Novel and adaptive thinking – thinking and coming up with creative solutions
Cross-cultural competency – operating in different cultural settings
Computational thinking – translating vast amounts of data into abstract conceepts and understanding data-based reasoning
New media literacy – leveraging, critically assessing and developing content using new media forms
Transdisciplinarity – understanding concepts across multiple disciplines

Each of these is a topic of discussion for identifying examples, how to learn (teach) it and then how to demonstrate it.