Managing Summer Time

Summer is a season of vacations, beaches, time with family and other distractions. However, you’ve still got business to manage and clients to satisfy. Perhaps more than any other time of the year, summer presents time management challenges for you and your team. It’s up to you to make sure work gets done. Here are some time management tips to help.

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Promote From Achievement, Not Longevity

“We should promote Ben. He’s been here the longest and we’ve passed over him twice.”

Leaders, ever hear a colleague say this? Too many times, people are promoted because they’ve simply stuck around even though they’ve not achieved results. This is not good for anyone, especially the one being promoted.

What’s Been the Plan?

In the example above and you are the leader of the group, speak with Ben’s manager and find out if Ben’s been orphaned developmentally.

Ask yourself, or the manager, these questions to find out where things stand for Ben:

  • Does Ben have a development plan? Did he agree to it?
  • When was he reviewed last? What was the outcome?

The greatest way you can contribute to Ben is to have a formalized conversation with him about his developmental areas. Let him know you appreciate his loyalty and you want to promote him if he raises his skills to a higher level. Next, mutually create his development plan with his manager so that you all own it.

Create Structure

Quite often leaders have development conversations on an ad hoc basis versus a structured basis.

Ben needs the structure…and so do you.

When you have the development conversation, bear in mind that you are contributing to Ben, NOT castigating him. Most leaders need coaching in how to deliver tough feedback.
There are many ways to be candid with Ben and retain his desire to grow.

Know Their Goals

Developing employees must include understanding what’s important to them. Ben will have personal goals, which you need to know as you map out his growth. You can also observe his actions and note towards what projects, actions, and clients he gravitates, a sure sign that this is where his passion lies and that a certain client type/group is where he finds satisfaction. Set him up for success by capitalizing on those while also creating a plan to develop skills that will help achieve the goals YOU have for him too.

Ben must buy into this plan or it will fail. Make sure you get agreement from him, and his manager, to create a covenant that will move his development, and your department, forward.

Have an employee like this? Use these tips and, let me know how it goes!

3 Tips for Changing Jobs…On Your Terms

Spring brings about many changes that are apparent all around us. It is a time for the earth to make a fresh start as winter becomes a distant memory. For many, it’s a time for contemplating their career and assessing whether where they are today is where they want to be for the long-term future. Several will decide that a new path is needed. But making a career change can be daunting.

At a certain point in your career, you reach a place of mastery in your field. You can also simultaneously reach a plateau. While you’re eager to remain challenged, the actual work you’re doing, well, it just isn’t doing it for you anymore.

Intuitively your spirit says its time to move on. But to where?

BEFORE you make a break from your organization review these three actions to take:

Define Your Reputation

Think about how you want people to view you as you re-enter the marketplace. What four adjectives should people use to describe you professionally? Bounce them off a few trusted people to see if they really capture your reputation. They might surprise you with attributes you didn’t know you had. Regardless, it is essential that you understand the reputation you want to put forth so that your new employer will see you as such.

Remember What You’ve Enjoyed Doing

Really think about this. No one enjoys EVERY aspect of their job. However, focusing on key elements with which you’ve had success in the past will help ensure that you land a position that will have you jumping out of bed in the morning. Life is too short to do work you don’t enjoy fully so, take this time to remember what you like to do and then find work that allows you to do it.

Make It Real

To back up your reputation, find three experiences from your career that highlight your acumen and expertise. What challenges were there? What did you conceive to solve these challenges and how did each play out? Make sure you complete each experience by saying, “what this required was…” Say this to link your professional skills to the result you catalyzed. Don’t make them connect the dots…do it for them.

Take your time choosing a new position or career path. The work you put into determining what job you really want, and then going out and finding it, will pay off in many ways. Use these tips to help. Give me a call if you need more guidance. And let me know how it goes!

Job Interviewing Tips: Just Like a Sales Call

Coaching my niece in succeeding with her job search is an important mission and one I take quite seriously. As I coached her, I realized how similar her job interview is to a sales call. Think about it; you have to establish a climate of interest and enthusiasm, ask insightful questions and present yourself (i.e. what you are selling) as the solution. In my 20+ years of leadership development, I often coach people through a job transition as they prepare to interview. Here are a few of my key interviewing strategies.

Learn Their Goals

With both a sales call and a job interview, it’s critical that you know what the company’s issues are so that you can present your solutions. In the case of an interview, YOU are the solution. When speaking with your potential employer, discern what your interviewer’s major goal is for the position by asking questions such as:

  • What is essential for the organization this year?
  • What is mission critical for this position to make that happen?
  • How would you define success in this position?

Discover the Challenges

Every job, and every customer, has challenges. When applying for a job, you need to be confident that your skills can help the company overcome those challenges. Otherwise, why would they hire you? Just like with a sales call, if you don’t know what challenges the company is facing, how can you possibly know if you are the right person to find a solution? Find out what “keeps them up at night” by asking these questions:

  • What challenges is the company facing?
  • What solutions have you tried without success?
  • What must the organization achieve by year end to overcome them?
  • What do you see as the biggest challenge for this position?

Demonstrate Understanding, Then Solutions

In an interview, it’s important that you demonstrate you understand the company and it’s key issues. When you restate what you’ve learned in the interview, it shows that you have been listening and comprehending what you have been told. This is when you start selling yourself as someone who can help.  Don’t rush to provide your solutions before you make sure you understand the problems. Present yourself and skills too soon and, you could find yourself talking about skills that don’t apply to the company’s situation. Play the stated goals and challenges back to your interviewer to prove you’ve heard them and are tuned in to their plight. You then get to tailor your comments about your solutions directly in line with what your interviewer most desires for the position.

By the close of business that day, send your thank you email to your potential employer, repeating their goals and challenges to further illustrate your alignment with them. Then remind them of your conversation about your solutions and your confidence in how you can help move their company forward.

Try it and let me know how it goes! I wish you great success!

Your Career Is Out of (Your) Control

Your career, like it or not, is not in your control. Sure, you can be extremely competent and even praised by your superiors. But in the end, you need your direct reports to be successful in order for your career to thrive. No leader ever accomplished anything without people to lead. You need their vote, it’s that plain and simple. Realize the opportunity here, not the threat. Read more

Dealing with Downsizing

“Good morning, boss, I’ve got an idea!”

“Yeah…well…sorry but we’ve eliminated your position.”

Yikes…blindsided by downsizing! What do you do?  How do you go about it?  Where is your head? Read more