Posts Tagged ‘Incentives’

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?

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

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?

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.

Adapt Your Career Following Nature’s Lead

Monday, May 7th, 2012

I heard Dr. Rafe Sagarin (University of Arizona) speak last week at the CBODN conference focusing on Resiliency. His book, “Learning form the Octopus” is just released.

Do you know someone who readily adapts to changing circumstances without planning, predicting the future, or striving for perfection? Plants, animals and humans face the same problem, which is that risk in the world is inevitable and unpredictable. Whether we are dealing with a hurricane, a stock market crash, a war or job loss we can learn from the way nature deals with uncertainty. Here are just a few points from what he’s learned:

1) Focus on the immediate problem.  First, don’t get eaten or die. Then we can figure out the next step.  This means its ok to just get a job to pay the bills. But let’s not get stuck there.

2) Like an octopus, seek out information from many sources and decentralize to respond immediately. When the octopus ‘feels’ danger on one tentacle, that tentacle changes color or shape right then. It doesn’t send a text to the home office and wait for permission to do something to survive.  Career-wise we need to always stay attuned to trends that can affect our work and be ready to learn new skills.

3) Look at the problem from a wide variety of perspectives, especially the “crazy” ones that others tend to disregard. There are thousands of different types of beetles because they have adapted their appendages into claws, wings, hooks, or whatever they need to survive. Not every career-move is going to make sense to others; but it may be exactly what you need to do to learn and position yourself for your perfect work.

4) Use unlikely partnerships to serve the mutual need. Look at the instances where predators are serviced by their prey, such the wasp fish which clean the teach of their predator.  Too many people look at teammates as competitors for the next promotion.  Look at what others bring to the table that qualifies them for the promotion and see what you can learn from them. Use it to add your own value!

5) Learn from and build stories of success by providing the right incentives.  Beach-born turtles, or sea lions find their way to the sea despite tremendous odds. Issue fewer orders and offer challenges for people to develop what they need to succeed.  What is your innate, driving incentive in your career?  Is there a need or problem you want to address?  Making money to support our selves and families is a huge incentive, but not the only one.

If you can, go hear him speak. It will keep you thinking for weeks afterwards…maybe a lifetime.

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.

Change at Work – Bring a friend

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Its  so much easier to do something different or scary if someone else does it too.  We used to dare each other to do something “dangerous.” But it wasn’t so bad if someone else did it first. Courage comes in many forms. Even as adults we often prefer to go somewhere new when we take a friend to explore with us.

When it comes to Change in the workplace, we often feel like we are alone in our fears. Leaders can encourage people to bring a colleague to the informational meetings, the training, and other change related events. Team up people for the training. Provide fun incentives for enrolling their friends.  When the going gets rough, encourage them to help each other, not compete, so everyone can get up the hill. As they see each others’ successes, a wedge of success is created. We reduce resistance the change when we experience success together. As others begin to see the success, they will be less resistant and join their friends.

How else can we build success in our Change projects?

Rethinking Retirement – Boomers and GenX

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Where do you fit into the workforce? Today’s organizations are facing challenges like never before with our current demographics. Check out this article for some interesting thoughts for both managing staff as well as your own career.