Posts Tagged ‘readiness’

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!

Do You Deserve a Raise?

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Last October I posted Ask for a Raise the Right Way  with good tips and infographic.  dollar-sign

You absolutely must do your homework to effectively leverage your value to your employer.  Start with your accomplishments – the stand out things you did this year.  But go further. Update your inventory of the  knowledge and skills you use to accomplish your assignments. Then, add what you did that was different than others and made it successful, quicker, cheaper, sustainable. Add all quantifiable results. Do this for every task. Now, go back over the list and mark which skills or knowledge you’ve acquired in the last year.  Show in quantifiable detail how you’ve overcome extenuating circumstances to achieve measurable results. That is what you want to discuss for a raise – how you’ve increased your value to your employer.

Know your organization’s policy and process for giving raises. Yes, there are exceptions, but it helps to know the basics.

Have a reality check conversation with your mentor and two other knowledgeable people about the percentage increase you can ask for without being laughed at. What is your organization’s current business environment? What is this year’s average salary increase?

Have you noticed all of this is about the organization, not about your personal financial needs?

Discuss with your boss how your work contributes to the organization’s growth. Talk about how your work helps your boss attain her goals. Alignment is key. It helps you focus and work on the high priority things.

If your boss hasn’t already offered you the raise, ask for it.  Make no assumptions.  You don’t know if you don’t ask!

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.

3 Reasons + 5 tips to Update Your Resume

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Here are 3 reasons why September is a good time to update your resumeFall trees:

  1. Its nearly time for your annual performance review and you want to position yourself or a raise.
  2. One of your contacts approaches you with a great job opportunity and needs your resume, now!
  3. You learn that your job is in the re-organization, or you are on the RIF list.

What you should include:

  1. Your accomplishments since your last update: Did you initiate or work on a special project  (both work or volunteer)? Be specific and quantify your results as much as possible. Did you surpass goals? Save time and/or money? Go above and beyond? Who benefited from your efforts?
  2. Awards or recognition you’ve received. Recall both the verbal and e-mail props.
  3.  Gain new skills? List training, conferences you attended or certifications you earned.
  4. Have your career goals shifted?  If your focus changed since your last update, go through your entire resume to be sure everything is strategic and relevant.
  5. Is your contact information up-to-date? Be sure you have a professional email address (not your employee email) and a mobile phone number that only you answer. Check that outgoing message. Is it something you’d want a prospective boss to hear?

Keep you resume or CV up-to-date to be ready for your next turn in your career!

 

Update Your References This Week

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

The first week of May is a great time to re-connect with people and enhance your career.  You don’t need to be in a job search at the moment to touch base with key people in your work-life.  A key element of effective career management is that we don’t wait until we’re in job hunt mode to reach out to people. We move around so much its easy to lose touch with people who can speak highly of you and your reputation.

If you are in job search mode, check your list of professional references to make sure you have selected appropriate individuals to maximize your candidacy and that all contacts are up-to-date. This will ensure they will be easy to locate, should you find yourself in need of an employment reference. Be sure you let your references know what type of work you would like to do next.  Let them know the companies or location you are targeting so they can assist with your networking.

Generally this includes former bosses. It also includes former professors, other managers, team members, customers/clients or vendors with whom you had a good work relationship. You know other people who know you and can speak for your good reputation from your community activities.

Check in with them to learn what they are doing and let them know what projects and initiatives are keeping you engaged. Who knows? You might discover there is a new opportunity in your future!

 

“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.                    

While You’re Unemployed…

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Jacqueline Smith has compiled a great Top 10-things-you-need-to-do-while-youre-unemployed I wanted to share with you.

If you do nine out of 10 of these, you won’t need to work for someone else!

 

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.