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Posts Tagged ‘career’

Create Your Life – Live the Life You Desire

It’s the time of year when people start to think about their goals for 2017 and make New Year’s resolutions. I won’t suggest you do either.  You likely have enough to do. My only suggestion (in this arena), is to ensure you’re doing what you really want to do.

There are lots of things we need to do and think we should be doing. And it’s really easy to get caught up in that long list of could and should do’s.  If that list brings you joy, do those things. If not, consider another path.

I’m pretty sure at least one person reading this blog has a magnet or card hung at her desk with the words, “What are you going to do with your one precious life?” As far as we know, we only get one go around. So while the question may be overused, what are you going to do to create your life with the time you’re given?life you desire

I have an existential friend who is trying to convince me that there is no such thing as time. I am not persuaded. All we have is time, and it’s the only thing we can’t get back. You can gain weight and lose weight, make money and lose it, make friends and lose them, but you can never get back your time. So what are you doing with your time?

You create your life.

A few questions to consider:

  • What do you love doing most? How often are you doing that?
  • What’s most important to you in life? Does what’s most important to you make up a majority of where your time and energy goes?
  • How much time do you spend doing things you think you should be doing, but don’t really want to be doing?
  • How much time do you spend doing things someone else wants you to do?

I’m not suggesting you live an indulgent life without compromise. If you’re in relationship with other people, you will, at times, do things you don’t want to do. But I’m hoping that doing things out of obligation is not what your life’s about.

Not everyone in your life will approve of your choices. That’s ok. This is your life. Don’t knowingly harm anyone or anything. Besides that, I don’t know of any rules, except for this, don’t get to the end of the road and wonder “what if.” Create your life.

Read How to Say Anything to Anyone and take charge of your career and life. The book is on sale for $15 to celebrate our 4th printing. It’s the perfect holiday gift. Get your copy now! Offer ends 12/31/16.

Book


Corporate Culture – I’m Not Invisible

I’ve always thought it was weird to sit next to someone on a plane and not say hello. I don’t mean a long chat, “Where are you going? Do you live there? What do you do for work,” merely a hello. Or to pass someone on the street or at the gym who pretends not to see me. It’s downright weird. And it’s even worse at work.

Passing someone in the hallway at work who you may or may not know and notcorporate culture saying hello can be off putting to many people. Admittedly, some people don’t care. But more do.

Many of the people you work with are affronted if you pass them in the hallway and don’t smile and/or say hello. They’ll never tell you they’re put off by the lack of social graces, they’ll just make decisions and assume they’re right. They’ll tell themselves, “We sit in multiple meetings together, and that guy doesn’t even know who I am.” Or, “I’ve walked past this woman every day for five years and it’s like she’s never seen me before.” Or, “Bob never says hello when he sees me in the hallway. I wonder why he doesn’t like me?”

Chances are you’re not thinking any of these things about the people you work with. You’re busy and focused on other things, and your mind is not on making small talk when you pass people in the hallway. But know that not saying hello can have an impact on the people around you and your corporate culture.

Start this simple practice: Smile and say hello to everyone you pass at work. Saying hello in the hallway won’t cost you anything or take any more time. And you never know the doors it might open. Maybe the person in accounts payable who’s been kicking back your expense reports will cut you a reimbursement check even when you fill out the wrong form. Or maybe IT will come to your desk first versus eighth when your laptop decides it’s taking a vacation day.

Get more simple ways to strengthen your corporate culture with a signed copy of How to Say Anything to Anyone. The book is on sale for $15 to celebrate our 4th printing. It’s the perfect holiday gift. Get your copy now! Offer ends 12/31/16.

 


Create Your Life – Life the Life You Desire

create your lifeI’m pretty sure at least one person reading this blog has a magnet or card hung at her desk with the words, “What are you going to do with your one precious life?” As far as we know, we only get one go around. So while the question may be overused, what are you going to do to create your life with the time you’re given?

I have an existential friend who is trying to convince me that there is no such thing as time. I am not persuaded. All we have is time, and it’s the only thing we can’t get back. You can gain weight and lose weight, make money and lose it, make friends and lose them, but you can never get back your time. So what are you doing with your time?

I had the privilege of being interviewed by Greg Giesen, one of my graduate school professors, about my new book. During the interview Greg asked how I define success. I answered with, “If I am pursuing what’s most important to me, I am successful [living my desired life].” If I’m doing what I think I should be doing or what someone else wants me to do, then I’m living someone else’s life.

You create your life. A few questions to consider:

  • What do you love doing most? How often are you doing that?
  • What’s most important to you in life? Does what’s most important to you make up a majority of where your time and energy goes?
  • How much time do you spending doing things you think you should be doing, but don’t really want to be doing?
  • How much time do you spending doing things someone else wants you to do?

I’m not suggesting you live an indulgent life without compromise. If you’re in relationship with other people, you will, at times, do things you don’t want to do. But I’m hoping that doing things out of obligation is not what your life’s about.

Not everyone in your life will approve of your choices. That’s ok. This is your life. Don’t knowingly harm anyone or anything. Besides that, I don’t know of any rules, except for this, don’t get to the end of the road and wonder “what if.” Create your life.


Know Your Reputation and Advance Your Career

advance your careerUnfortunately you probably already know that people have a tendency to talk about you, not to you. It’s human nature. Sometimes it’s gossip. Other times senior leaders talk about your future with the organization. If you want to advance your career, you need to know what the people whose opinions you care about say about you when you’re not there.

Unfortunately most people get very little feedback at work. If today was the day of your performance appraisal and I asked how your boss and whoever else provides input on your review would rate you, you probably don’t know. This lack of knowledge prevents you from advancing your career.

Not knowing someone’s opinion doesn’t mean you’re not subject to it. Akin to getting a speeding ticket when you didn’t know you were speeding. The cop doesn’t care. He adds four points to your driving record, despite that you didn’t know the speed limit.

You may work for a manager who gives feedback. You may not. It doesn’t matter. There are people in your life who will tell you the truth (as they see it), if you ask.

I recommend assembling a core group of people who you count on to tell you the truth. These are the people who know you well and have your back. They can be friends, family members, past coworkers, customers, or managers.

You might wonder, “What can my mom or friends from high school or college tell me about how I behave at work?” The answer–a lot.

We don’t become different people when we arrive at work. We are who we are. If you’re often late, break commitments, or wear clothing that’s not your friend, you do those things at home and at work. Likewise, if you have great attention to detail, never break commitments, and always look great (in public), you friends and family know.

Identify a few people, personal and/or professional, who care about you and will tell you the truth.

Tell these folks you want to eliminate your blind spots. Ask them for specific feedback, and promise that no matter what they say and how hard it is to hear, you will say “thank you.” Then be sure to manage yourself.  It’s normal to become defensive when we get constructive feedback. But every time we become defensive, we train people it’s not safe to tell us the truth. If you want people to give you feedback, more than once, make it easy to tell you the truth.

You may be thinking that asking for feedback  is unrealistic. People won’t be honest. And you can’t take it.

The people who really care about you will be honest, and you can take it. You’ll be fine. In fact you’ll be better off than before you had the conversations. You might hear things that pleasantly surprise you. And the things you don’t like? Just because no one talked to you about them before you asked, doesn’t mean those behaviors didn’t impact you. Now you can do something about them.

Get out of the dark and into control. Discover your reputation and advance your career.


Corporate Culture – I’m Not Invisible

I’ve always thought it was weird to sit next to someone on a plane and not say hello. I don’t mean a long chat, “Where are you going? Do you live there? What do you do for work,” merely a hello. Or to pass someone on the street or at the gym who pretends not to see me. It’s downright weird. And it’s even worse at work.

Passing someone in the hallway at work who you may or may not know and not saying hello can be off putting to many people. Admittedly, some people don’t care. But more do.

Many of the people you work with are affronted if you pass them in the hallway and don’t smile and/or say hello. They’ll never tell you they’re put off by the lack of social graces, they’ll just make decisions and assume they’re right. They’ll tell themselves, “We sit in multiple meetings together, and that guy doesn’t even know who I am.” Or, “I’ve walked past this woman every day for five years and it’s like she’s never seen me before.” Or, “Bob never says hello when he sees me in the hallway. I wonder why he doesn’t like me?”

Chances are you’re not thinking any of these things about the people you work with. You’re busy and focused on other things, and your mind is not on making small talk when you pass people in the hallway. But know that not saying hello can have an impact on the people around you and your corporate culture.

Start this simple practice: Smile and say hello to everyone you pass at work. Saying hello in the hallway won’t cost you anything or take any more time. And you never know the doors it might open. Maybe the person in accounts payable who’s been kicking back your expense reports will cut you a reimbursement check even when you fill out the wrong form. Or maybe IT will come to your desk first versus eighth when your laptop decides it’s taking a vacation day.


Professional Reputation: Who Talks About You at Work When You’re Not There?

Unless you work in a cave, you know that people have a tendency to talk about you, not to you.

Often employees have no idea where they stand performance-wise, in their organization, because for the most part, people don’t tell them. This lack of information leaves employees in the dark, not knowing what to do more, better, or differently.

Professional Reputation

People we interact with peripherally, if at all, talk about us to the powers that be in our organizations. And we have no idea.  We often don’t know what is said about us, by whom, and to whom.

Professional Reputation

I learned this lesson several years ago, before starting Candid Culture.The most senior woman at the company where I was working, the President of a division, told my boss she’d like to mentor me. Doesn’t that sound nice?  The funny thing is, beyond saying hello to me in the hallway, I didn’t even think she knew who I was. We never worked together, and our paths rarely crossed.

During our first meeting, the first thing my new mentor said to me was, “I think you’re checked out. So get in or get out. But decide.” Holy _____!!!!  I was shocked. She was right, of course. I was already planning to quit and start a business.  But I didn’t know that it showed.

I’m not telling you this as a lesson about how to manage your professional reputation, even when you may be looking for your next opportunity. Not that that isn’t important. It is. It’s just not my point here. The reason I’m telling you is this:  My new mentor was the most senior woman at the company. She reported to the CEO. My boss was her peer. She told me she thought I was checked out. Do we think she kept that observation to herself. It’s doubtful. I’m SURE it came up in a leadership meeting with all of her peers –the C-Suite.

If you don’t know who whispers in your boss’s and his/her boss’s ear about you, find out. And the person to ask is your boss. S/he knows and will most likely tell you, if you ask.

Here are a few questions you can ask your boss to help manage your professional reputation:

  • What skills do I have that the organization values most?
  • What contributions have I made that the organization values most?
  • What mistakes have I made from which I need to recover?
  • Who in the organization should I have a good relationship with?
  • Who/what departments should I work closely with?
  • Who impacts my reputation and the opportunities I have?

Yes, you can ask these questions. No, you won’t die. Yes, your boss will answer them. No s/he won’t be annoyed. I assure you, your boss has had few if any employees who asked him/her these questions.  It will be a refreshing change.

Just remember, the right answer to feedback is “thank you,” regardless of what you think in your head. The easier it is to give you feedback, the more  you’ll get.

Read more about how to manage your professional reputation and get more feedback in my new book.


Advil Free Performance Appraisal

I’ve never had a performance appraisal that didn’t make me want to quit. Throughout my 15-year corporate career, before starting Candid Culture,I had some great bosses. And I always got good ratings and positive reviews. But there was always some comment or piece of feedback, in every performance appraisal, that frustrated me or impacted my raise or bonus in a way that felt unfair.

And each time I got feedback that felt unfair, I looked for how I contributed to the situation.

Performance Appraisal

Which means it’s our job to ask the expectations of the people we work with and collect their feedback throughout the year, so we’re not blind-sided at year end.

Below are some tips to ensure you give and receive a useful and trauma-free performance appraisal.

If you read my last blog post,you know that your boss may not know all the good and not-so-good things you do on a daily basis. It’s your job to let her know about your accomplishments.

Assemble a list of things you’ve accomplished this year. This list might include emails and feedback from people you work with both inside and outside your organization. Ask your boss’s permission to send her the list. And tell her the information is intended to make it easy to write your appraisal.

If you don’t have feedback from your peers and internal or external customers, ask for it. I define customers as anyone you need to get your job done and anyone who needs you to get their job done. Send a short email to five or six people with whom you work closely, and ask them to send your boss some feedback about your performance this past year. If they’re comfortable sending you the feedback directly, all the better. Guide your customers by asking specific questions. That way you’ll get specific feedback, versus, “Dave did a good job this year.”

Ask questions like:

  • What’s one thing I did this year that made the most difference to you or your department?
  • What’s one thing I could have done differently this past year?

Don’t be scared to ask for feedback from your customers. Most people are so hesitant to give negative feedback that they’ll typically be easier on you than you are on yourself.

Most performance appraisals only contain feedback from the last few months of the year. As managers sit in front of a blank appraisal form, it’s all they can remember. It’s your job to help your manager remember all the good things you did throughout the year. And I don’t know of a manager who won’t appreciate having written, bulleted data from which to write appraisals. Bullets are easier to read than paragraphs. Make it easy to scan your list of accomplishments.

Writing performance appraisals doesn’t have to give you a headache. Receiving appraisals doesn’t have to make you wish you stayed home that day. Plan specific, useful feedback conversations and then move on to planning for 2013.

Managers, here’s a video I created on how to give a useful performance appraisal. And my new book How to Say Anything to Anyoneis perfect preparation for both managers and employees. The book won’t be in bookstores or on Amazon until January, but we have advance copies on our website.

 


How to Ask For More Responsibility at Work – Be Careful

Most managers and career coaches will tell you that if you want to position yourself for advancement in your organization, you should ask for more –more work, more responsibility, and more exposure. And that’s true –sometimes.

Yes, if you want to develop new skills, learn, grow, and be seen in your company as someone who wants to and is capable of doing more, you should ask for more responsibility.

How to Ask For More Responsibility at Work

Before launching my business, I was a national director at a company headquarters. I led a department with 21 locations and 200 people. I had a big job. One of my peers who had an equally big job leading a different department left the company. He was not replaced. After several months of his role sitting vacant, it was clear that his job was not going to be filled.

I thought the department was important to the company’s success and needed a strong leader, so I offered to run it. I already had a big, time consuming job, and now I had another one that I had volunteered for.

There was lots of opportunity to make improvements in the department I was now leading. The department needed an overhaul – different jobs, different staff, different processes and procedures. And type-A, workaholic girl was just the person for the job.

I spent six months revamping every process, procedure, and job description and trying to get my recommended changes approved. After six months of trying to make change happen, I realized that my boss wasn’t going to support my recommended changes. He blocked everything I wanted to do because changes can cost money. And he didn’t want to spend money on this department. Let me clarify, the company didn’t want to spend money on the department. The company’s most senior leaders didn’t see the department as integral to the company’s financial performance, and thus the department was not important.

I should have realized that our senior leaders didn’t see the department as important BEFORE I asked to run it. A large job, led by a senior person, is not replaced, when there is no hiring freeze in place. When a company is creating new jobs and filling vacant jobs, but chooses not to backfill a senior leader, it’s because the job wasn’t seen as necessary.  I thought it was necessary. My boss and his boss disagreed. And I couldn’t get them to think otherwise.

I am a change agent. If you want to keep your status quo, I am not the person to bring in. We will both be frustrated. My old boss did not want me to make changes to the department I took on. He didn’t think the department was important. And I didn’t see it until after I’d invested six months of my time, passion, and energy.

How to Ask For More Responsibility at Work

Every company has non-strategic and not-so-interesting work. To some extent, all employees ‘wash windows’. But don’t ask to wash windows when you can put your energy into an area that is seen as integral to the success of the business.

Ask questions and be knowledgeable of your organization’s short and long term goals. Look around for juicy work that moves the company closer to those goals. Don’t take work that the people at the top don’t think is important. You’ll be tired and frustrated.


Indecision is Worse Than Making the Wrong Decision – Decide!

Indecision plagues many of us at work.

  • Hire the person or source additional candidates?
  • Let the employee go or keep him?
  • Launch the software implementation or wait?
  • Gather more technical requirements or move forward with the information you have?
  • Ask for different responsibilities or look for a job?
  • Announce upcoming organizational changes to all employees or just to the leadership team?

We meet and discuss, meet some more, discuss some more, and still don’t decide. Endless meetings, discussions, and indecision exhausts and discourages employees and costs money.

Indecision

Do your due diligence:

  • involve the people closest to the work in making the decision;
  • gather enough information to make an informed decision;
  • get key stakeholders’ buy in;
  • then decide and act.

And if it’s the wrong decision you’ll know soon enough and can course correct.

The indecision is often worse than making the wrong decision. My friend and colleague Steve Shapiro author of Goal Free Living would say that the only wrong decision is not making one.

But we know there are decisions that have negative consequences, which is why we’re often hesitant to make decisions. If we make the wrong decision families, careers, and companies are impacted.

So we wait and discuss, dialogue, and debate, over and over and over. Follow the steps above regarding due diligence and decide. Don’t wait too long or stay too long. It’s not good for anyone, especially you.

Indecision


Are You Annoying People at Work?

Unfortunately people taking phone calls via speaker phone, listening to music without headphones, and entertaining a posse’ of visitors in his/her cube is not limited to the movie Office Space, which should be required viewing for anyone who works with other people.

Cubeland can be loud. And most people are hesitant to ask our coworkers to quiet down. We’re afraid of the conflict. We don’t want our coworkers to dislike us, talk poorly about us when we’re not there, or kill us off. So we suffer in silence, hoping the person will get a clue that he’s making us crazy. He won’t. If he knew the phone calls bugged you, he would have already stopped making them.

You may find it incredulous that your coworkers don’t know how annoying noise in cubeland is. It’s an obvious, no brainer. How could they not know?

annoying people at work

Much of Candid Culture’s work is dedicated to people feeling more comfortable telling the truth at work. But even with books, and training on how to establish candid relationships and tell the truth, speaking up is often challenging. So know that if you are doing annoying people at work, they are not likely to tell you.

Here’s what you can do: Avoid annoying people at work.  For your convenience, I’ve made a short list.

  1. Conversations, music, and phone calls taken on speaker phone in cubicles. Take the meeting or conversation to an empty office or conference room.
  2. People who are late for meetings and text or email throughout meetings.
  3. People who start most sentences with, “No we can’t do that, and here’s why.”
  4. People who say they’ll do something and miss the deadline every time.
  5. People who borrow your stuff and don’t return it.

Look at how much stress I’ve saved you. Now you don’t need to give the people you work with feedback, you can just forward them this blog, which is a passive aggressive form of feedback. But it beats throwing their phone out the window or hiding out in an empty office so you can actually get some work done.

If you choose candor instead (which I, of course, prefer) simply say, “It’s hard to work when music is playing, or when you’re on your speaker phone, or you’ve got visitors in your cube. I know space is at a premium. But if you’d be willing to take the conversations elsewhere, I’d really appreciate it.” Done in twenty seconds or fewer. And no one died. You can do it. And if you can’t, call me, and I’ll do it. It’s always easier to have these conversations when they’re not your own. But it will cost you a bag of chocolate chip cookies or perhaps a Candor Bar.


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