Love Your Job But Feel Pressure To Advance?


There’s a lot of reasons why employees want promotions and to advance their career. Some want the prestige of the title that goes with a role, the increase in salary, some even crave the extra workload and responsibility involved while many cite the opportunity to influence and direct staff; “I really want to make a difference.”

We’ve come to a point in many organizations where if you don’t advance yourself within a few years, you’re cut loose; you’re not performing up to expectations. It’s true! There are organizations that promote from within and expect front-line staff to move up in seniority and stature, creating opportunities for new staff in entry level roles. The thinking is that employees are most effective when they started on the bottom and as they rise in the organization, they have the memories and experience of having been on the bottom, so they carry that knowledge first-hand as they advance.

So you might be feeling that in order to fit in, you’ve got to throw your name in the next job competition for a promotion – even when you’re perfectly happy in your current role. There’s advice out there to this effect too; “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Hold on. Go back to that very first line in this blog. Did you even notice how I used the words, “promotions” and “advance”? I bet you just read along taking both these words to mean the same thing. In other words, to advance your career you need a promotion. That’s a widely held assumption and belief that’s just not true. Here’s my personally held belief: If you want to make the biggest impact in an organization; make a real and lasting imprint on how your customers/clients/ etc. experience interacting with your company, work on the front line.

Now many people will argue that if you stay on the front line in an entry-level role, you’re not ambitious and you’re going to stagnate. I like to tell those people that while they are entitled to their opinion, I don’t share it. I myself have been an Employment Counsellor now for 12 years in the organization, 4 more before that as a Caseworker and those positions are at the same level on our organizational flow chart. So that’s 16 years employment at the same level in the same organization.

Now while I’ll happily admit I’ve not got a promotion in our organization, I’ll also tell you I’ve never sought one. Have I advanced myself though? Absolutely! I’ve evolved and developed my skills; worked on various committees and contributed fresh ideas and been open to change that’s happened and continues to happen where I work.

My reputation for competence, dependability, program development, creativity and service excellence has enriched my work life and I’m a much more effective Employment Counsellor now than I was not just 12 years ago when I started, but I like to think better than any of the years before. I’m advancing my knowledge, working to improve my service delivery, overhaul workshops and create new ones, stretch myself by learning best practices and sharing my knowledge.

Believe me, when I feel I’m just putting in time and stagnating, I’ll be aggressively seeking to move on – within or beyond the organization. I’m much more concerned about floating along and not developing personally than my employer could ever be. I never want to be, ‘that guy’; the one that everyone knows should be put out to pasture, riding off into retirement or let go because I’m flatlining. You think I’m not advancing? Just try and keep pace with me. Oh and that’s not arrogance by the way – that’s personal confidence and drive; two qualities you want in your employees no matter where they are in the hierarchy.

So now to you. When you’ve got your own performance review coming up, you may feel some expectation to indicate your plan for career advancement – in other words a promotion. I can’t tell you what you should say or how you should feel about that. I’d hate to contribute to your release from a position if the company’s policy is you only work in a role so long and up you go or out you go!

What I will say to you is this though; you can be incredibly effective and impactful on the front-line where you interact first-hand with those you’re in business to serve and interact with. You are the face of the organization, the ambassador for how they perceive the company; you hold that organizations reputation in your hands as much as your own. If you excel in your role, show up every day (well most days – we’re human after all) energized and work with drive and passion, why would you risk giving up what so many are longing for in their own careers?

Moving up doesn’t bring any guarantee of increased happiness and fulfillment. In fact, many a happy and productive employee has moved up and found the new job isn’t all they hoped it would be. They were happier and better suited to work on the front line, but in some companies, there’s no going back. That is the ultimate sign of failure in some places. What a shame.

If you love your role on the front line, show up happy, work with passion and deliver service excellence, my goodness feel validated in your present job!

 

 

Networking Basics


There are essentially two types of interviews you can be part of: the traditional interview you get invited to and the less popular but equally effective interview you arrange yourself. This second type is generally referred to as an informational interview; one you initiate and take the lead on, designed to gather information rather than apply for a job.

The problem for many people is that interviews are seen as a negative experience; only to be endured and tolerated as a means of getting a job, and the fewer the better. So the idea of voluntarily initiating further interviews with people – and taking the lead at conducting it, just isn’t remotely appealing.

Yet, more and more we hear the advice of experts that we should be out there networking. Not very often does the advice we get include who to talk to and how to get the conversations started; even less so on how to keep them going. So here’s a few ideas.

Think about the people who currently work in the jobs you’re interested in, and for the companies you find highly desirable. These are the people you’d likely benefit from having conversations with. The key is to approach them when there is no job currently advertised, for it’s likely they’ll decline any invitation to have a chat at that point out of a desire to avoid any conflict of interest.

20 – 30 minutes is what your after. Less than 20 minutes just isn’t sufficient and anything longer should be entirely up to them to extend their time voluntarily. So how do you get to meet? Initiate a phone call, explain you’re doing some research into the field in general, the position they hold in particular, and you’d love to have 20 minutes of their time. Make yourself available on their schedule by the way, not yours.

Okay so you’ve got a meeting set up and now it’s up to you to come prepared with questions. Have these down on paper and come prepared to take notes; bring along your resume to share and get some feedback on as well.

What to ask? This is the hardest part in the beginning and why some people refuse to try; they simply get anxious wondering what they should say. Well, think about what you want to know; what’s important to you. You might want to ask about what their worst day looks like. Not as an opening question of course, but at some point, finding out what the worst day they experience looks like can reveal if you’re up for it or not. Of course, finding out what success looks like is key too.

What keeps them up at night? This question gets at problems and concerns they have in the job that might spell an opportunity for you. First and foremost, will you worry about the same things they do if you’re in the job and can you handle what the job would have you potentially taking home? The thing they worry about most might be something you can address or at the very least prepare yourself for. Keep in mind that just because they hold the job you’d like, they are a different person than you, and their worries need not be yours. You might be creative and innovative whereas they aren’t, and their biggest worry might be something your ingenuity has an answer for.

Asking what advice they’d give themselves were they in your situation is a thought-provoking question because they have inside knowledge of the role, and they know now what they’d do differently. As you’re entering the field, you have the opportunity to bypass mistakes they’ve made, maybe concentrate on some key aspect of the business that is emerging or trending.

The biggest and best thing you can do is listen with crystal clear focus. If they sense you’re asking questions but not really engaging in what they say, they’ll shut down, give you surface, predictable answers and send you packing quickly. If however, you listen intently and with a peaked interest, they may extend the time, give you sincere help and drop a nugget or two for you that they didn’t plan on doing when you first walked in. These nuggets are golden opportunities and will help you strengthen a future interview.

An unusual question but a good one is to ask what you should be asking but aren’t. You know, that one thing that might be the make or break factor to getting hired or rejected. Only they will instantly think of whatever it is that’s essential when you ask this question. What immediately comes to their mind is what you’re after.

Networking is about creating and nurturing ongoing relationships and something you want to leave with is another person to potentially meet; someone you’ve been referred to by the person you’re now meeting. Ask for a name and see if they’d be willing to introduce you or at the minimum, allow you to mention their name as referring you on. This referral is a pass that gets you in where your competition might be blocked.

By the way, when you’re done, leave them with a handshake, a smile, a word of gratitude for their time and follow up with a short thank-you card – not an email.

Networking is having conversations and it’s these that may help you; it is still often who you know.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts


Let me ask you a simple question if I may. What’s holding you back?

Whether you’re not getting interviews, not getting job offers, getting passed over for promotions or not even looking seriously for work when you’ve no job at all, what’s holding you back?

Some of you know exactly what the answer is. You haven’t even paused as continue to read because you know yourself so well, the answer is constantly in your self-consciousness. For others, to really answer this question intelligently, you’d have to pause after reading the opening line and really think about it because honestly, you’re just not sure. Of course another possibility is the list is longer than you’d like.

So what are you thinking? Age? Outdated education? Expired certifications? A lack of experience? A growing gap on your resume? Uncertainty over what to pursue? Lack of drive and personal motivation? Weaker skills in some areas than those of your competitors? Having such a small circle of friends and contacts you don’t have anyone to provide you with leads, support, tips and advice? Low self-worth and/or self-perception? What’s holding you back?

Without sitting down together and having a personal conversation, let me nonetheless offer up a broad generalization; I’ll bet the true answer is more about what’s going on inside you than the world around you. How we see ourselves determines in large part how we interact with the world around us. How we are perceived by others is how we project ourselves when we interact with one another. When we see ourselves as qualified, assertive, prepared and competent, we move and talk with inner confidence that projects outward. Conversely, when doubt about our abilities and qualifications is on our minds, when we wonder if we could ever be prepared enough, worrying ourselves to the point of being nervous and full of anxiety, these inner feelings manifest themselves in our behaviour, come out in the language we use and the overall impression we leave on others is less appealing. In short, when we doubt ourselves, we give others reason to doubt us too.

So how is it that over years, some people developed inner self-confidence and others didn’t? Much more important is what can we do NOW to grow some confidence and belief in our core that we are competent; that we are qualified and more than just deserving of a shot at something? For if we could transform our self-perception deep down in our core, we’d move forward; we would no longer be held back, we’d reach our goals with increasingly regularity and feel entirely more confident. How does that sound to you?

No matter how long that process might seem before us, all progress – whether towards a short-term or long-term goal starts exactly the same way; taking a single step, then another, followed by more and before you know it, the distance grows from where you were to where you are now. So too does the distance shorten between where you were and where you’d like to be. A single step. Remember that…a single step. The journey might seem daunting or overwhelming if you look at the entire journey before you, but a single step is achievable.

Lest you wonder at where to start, what direction to take that single step in for fear of walking in the wrong direction etc., realize that even as you read this, you are mentally engaged in reading about the possibility of change. A seed is being planted that change is possible; that your future isn’t sealed based on your life choices up to now. Your past decisions and choices have led you to the present; but you must realize that your current choices and decisions can change, and changing these affects a change in where your headed in the future. Make the same choices as the past and yes, your future is similar. Make changes in your decisions and new choices and you shift your journey. You are therefore in more control of your destination than you might have realized.

I believe that acquiring skills and varying experiences is far more essential to a healthy future than fixating on a final destination and going all in to get that one job. You might envy the person who at 17 knows exactly what they want to be and by 24 has landed the job, but what’s the likelihood of that same job bringing the same degree of satisfaction when they are 50? Or even 29 for some? We evolve.

When you first begin to work on your inner view of yourself, you may not feel all that happy about how you see yourself. Expect this! When change is what you realize you want, assessing yourself now doesn’t mean this is you moving forward. This is just the starting inventory on the journey you are embarking on. Like any adventurer, you’ll acquire things moving forward, drop some excess baggage you no longer want or need. Your journey isn’t a quest taking you to far off lands necessarily; this quest is more for transforming your inner-self so that how you present yourself to others and therefore interact with others changes for the better.

If you’re hungry for this change; wanting to grow in confidence, to truly believe in yourself and feel better about who you are, you have already taken the first small step forward; expressing a private desire for change.

What’s holding you back?

 

 

The Workplace Workforce Inventory


As an individual, you should know your strengths and areas for improvement. These become essential when it comes to applying for a new job, making your case for a raise, competing for advancement or making your case for a lateral move into a new role. If you don’t know yourself well enough to accurately articulate your core assets, this my friend, is a major liability to which you are possibly unaware.

Now think beyond yourself; think of the broader workplace in which you contribute your skills, education and experience. Think of the other employees; your co-workers, and the talents they bring. If you look objectively at those around you, you’ll likely identify certain employees who are standouts in certain areas; people generally known to be the on-site experts in certain aspects of the organization. These are the ‘go-to’ people when specific problems and challenges arise. These are the ones recognized by most as having special skills, knowledge and advanced expertise.

In addition to skills, experience and education, there are other assets which people have in varying quantities. Softer skills such as attitude, work ethic, punctuality and attendance, genuine affinity for teamwork, leaders in action if not title and interpersonal skills. As you read each of these, perhaps certain people in your organization come to mind as the best examples; maybe you even see yourself has being at the forefront in a few areas.

Okay, now it’s not my job or yours in fact to actually put together a summary of the workforce in the organizations we work for. However, this is precisely what great organizations do, and they do it on a continuous basis. When an employer intimately knows the strengths of their workforce on an everyday basis, this knowledge positions them well to add whatever dimensions they believe they both want and lack when the individual pieces – you and I – move on or move out. Organizations that don’t assess the status of their workforces on a continuous basis are more reactionary when staffing needs arise, having then to make decisions about what they are lacking and need when time is pressing.

So how does this impact on you when you’re working as one of the front-line employees? Excellent question to ask and in answer let me ask you a question. How closely does how you perceive yourself align with how you are perceived by Senior Management? If the way you see yourself is mirrored by how decision-makers see you AND this is an overly positive assessment, you’re in good shape.

However, when the way you perceive yourself is not a shared view by others who are in decision-making roles with respect to staffing, you’d be wise to give this matter some attention now while you’ve the time to address things.

Suppose you see yourself as a team player. You can cite many examples from your experience where you have been involved in committees, projects and even covered the workload of absent co-workers. You assess yourself as I say, as a team player. Perhaps you’d find it surprising to learn however that your employer has been approached by several of your co-workers over the past year who have voiced concerns that while your part of these committees and projects, you actually contribute very little. Some might go so far as to say you’re more concerned with having your name attached to successful teams than actually putting in the work contributing to that team’s success. You’ve really been identified as more of a coat-tail rider. This causes the employer to recall the times when you’ve been asked to cover for absent co-workers and while you do it in the end, there’s always an unwelcome discussion to be had getting you to pitch in.

Now honestly, very few people who would benefit from checking in with how they are perceived by others actually ask for such feedback. Some don’t care what others think of them (as long as they get paid to work), and some are perceptive enough to guess that they aren’t going to like what they might hear.

Here’s the thing though: whether you check on how you are perceived or you don’t, you’re still being evaluated and assessed for your attitude, work ethic, strengths you bring to the team, shortcomings, etc. You are assessed by co-workers, Supervisors and/or Upper Management just as you assess their strengths and areas you see for improvement in them.

You can help yourself to keep the job you have now as well as position yourself for your next challenge in an organization if you give these matters some serious attention. Starting with a co-worker you feel will give you some honest feedback and generally be positive, ask them to share how they see you. Don’t get defensive, be a listener and express appreciation for their opinion. Now repeat this with some others, and include the boss.

What you don’t want to do is put this off until how others see you is cemented in any kind of negative way. If enough people tell you they see you in ways you don’t, you’ve got a choice to either carry on and not care, or make the necessary changes to how you go about your work day to alter their perception, bringing theirs more in line with how you wish to be seen.

May your work days be good days.

Where Do You See Yourself In 5 years?


When you’re looking for a new job; whether now or at some point in your future, how much does advancing within the organization play a part in determining what positions you apply to?

The extent to which a company promotes from within, and the increased probability of advancing beyond the role you’re applying for seems to be a big attraction for some. Somewhat ironically, many of those same people when I’m preparing them for upcoming job interviews express anxiety over how to answer one question in particular; “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Their dilemma is that while they want to advance, they haven’t got any idea of what the next job might be. Therefore, intelligently answering this question when asked by a company employee who knows the job titles next up on the organization’s hierarchy seems awkward. They also worry that choosing to say they expect to be in the place they are applying for now would be the wrong answer because it might show a lack of drive or commitment.

Consider that this interview question has remained exactly the same over many decades. The job market as well as both employer and employee loyalty however, have evolved. In other words, where a company might have in the past kept an employee on for 40 years, they now see frequent turnover as a norm. The same is true of employees. Years past a person would typically take a job in their early 20’s and they would be happy and content to stay, working day in and day out with predictability in their daily work and changing employers would be abnormal and something to remark on. In 2018, a person may go through 6 – 8 jobs and even switch careers completely 2 or 3 times on average.

So what’s behind this rather traditional question of where you expect to be 5 years down the road?

First let’s acknowledge that like every other field, there are excellent interviewers good ones, poor ones and there are rookies. So you might get asked this question by someone who doesn’t really even know WHY they are asking or what a good answer looks like. It’s unlikely with a seasoned interviewer; as they’ll have a definitive reason for asking all the questions they pose, even if it doesn’t seem immediately clear to you what they’d ask a certain question for.

The question of where you’ll be in 5 years isn’t actually fixed on 5 years anymore; think of the 5 years as representing the future you who has come to master the job you are only applying for now. By the time 5 years has passed, you’ll not only have the job down, you’ll have come to know and understand the company brand, culture and value system. So what’s really be asked is this: To what do you aspire once you’ve got a solid, working knowledge of this job and the organization itself? Do you have any ambition beyond this job? Do you want more responsibility? More stimulation and challenge? There’s also a strong belief among some employers that your personal value will rise substantially if you move into senior roles having worked in ground floor jobs within the organization.

There’s a trap in this innocent question however, and you can easily fall into it and remove yourself from the competition if you’re not careful. If you come across as so set on advancing that you’re already looking well beyond the job you are applying for now, you could cause the interviewer to fear they’ll be going through this same hiring process in less than 6 months’ time. They don’t want to constantly be hiring for this position, so they might pull you out of the competition, tell you you’re overqualified and suggest you reapply when other jobs come up that would be a better fit. Of course, if the next position up is theirs, you might also be denied a job to preserve their own!

So what to do? One option is to show that your first priority is to focus on the job you are applying to now; to make sure the company gets a good return on their faith in hiring you. At the same time, you’d like to place yourself within the organization to take advantage of opportunities as they arise through training, development and any recommended networking or project contributions.

After all, a lot can happen in 5 years time. Your priorities might shift in ways you cannot possibly imagine in the present. An organization might contract, expand, take over a rival, add a new division, promote an early retirement incentive to change over it’s working force. Who knows?

Personally, I prefer looking 2 years down the road. I think 2 years fits better in our current climate and fits better with job market trends. 5 years is almost abstract to most people.

The other thing to consider is that not everyone wants a promotion or to advance. Excellent employees who find their motivation within and not from external sources can continue to be engaged, motivated and challenged in the same jobs for long periods of time. They might not be understood by those who have to climb the corporate ladders to feel successful but their aspirations are just as valid.

The key is just that; to remain invested, challenged, motivated and to be productive. Convince an interviewer of this and you’ve answered the question well indeed.

As always, be good out there and please consider passing this on.

Learn New Skills On The Job


It’s wise to know when to take on more responsibility in your workplace and when to let those opportunities pass you by. I suppose what it boils down to is making sure you can take on new tasks that require expanding what you know without your present workload and performance standards suffering.

There will always be those who never voluntarily take on anything new, never volunteer to do anything more than they’ve done for years, and can’t understand why any of their co-workers would either if those new responsibilities don’t come with money attached.

Conversely, there are those who prior to mastering existing skills and performing their current roles to the best of their abilities are already clamoring for more.

It is as I say, wise to first master what you’ve now been assigned and then start looking at what else might be available. Often, those other things that might be available involve stretching yourself a bit; perhaps in your knowledge and skills, perhaps in your time commitments and your ability to multi-task.

Surely you’ve got people who come to mind who seem on the fast track in your workplace? You know, the ones who barely are into a job who then are already submitting applications and resumes for positions they know are promotions? The go-getters; the ladder-climbers. They’ve got ambition and they spend much of their time in the workplace networking with anyone they see as advancing their own careers. They smile often, might be taking some classes in school outside of their full-time jobs, and they’ve got favour with people in senior positions in ways you can only guess at.

Nothing right or wrong by the way for those that work hard to accelerate their own careers. For them, it may indeed be the right thing to be doing. A mistake you and I might make would be to judge them for their actions; which is odd because that is precisely what many people suggest isn’t it? Judging people for what they do not what they say.

You see, you and I, we might be very content in the jobs we have. We might one day hope to advance, look to get a promotion or two ourselves. Could be that we figure it takes time to fully comprehend and master the job we now do. Quite often how a job is performed in January isn’t how the job is done in December of the same year. It can take time in our opinion to really master all the fine points of the position and have that expertise.

Some however see things different. Yes, unlike you or I, they might have only taken a job as a stepping stone to the next one or the one after that. So mastering a job isn’t something they have any real investment in. No, they might only want a general knowledge of one job and be able to do it satisfactorily or maybe even well before they can move on. Their goal and your goal might be decidedly different. What’s important to note is that this is okay.

Now on the other end of the spectrum is the co-worker who has been at their job for decades with apparently no interest or motivation to move up or even laterally into another position. In some organizations this is frowned on. These organizations might indeed hope to leverage all that knowledge and ability by moving it around and bringing that person into regular contact with others where they can mentor or share what they’ve mastered. The companies that do this might even be concerned that they don’t want a person to grow listless and bored and then want to leave and take all their performance expertise with them.

You and I could look at them and just shake our heads and wonder at such people, wondering how on earth they could come in and do the same thing day after day, month after month, year after year for what seems like forever without new stimulation and new responsibilities. Yet again, we’re all different and motivated in different ways – and that’s a good thing.

I believe however that it’s impossible to know with certainty how you’ll actually feel 5, 10, 15 years down the road and what you’ll want to do – whether it’s to take on a new role or stay with what you’ve got. Of importance is putting yourself in a place to take advantage of future opportunities should they arise if we choose to do so; and this often means seizing training and stretching yourself to learn new things. After all, stay in a job for a length of time and you’ll likely know it very well. If you continue to love it and do it well then good for you. However if you decide at some point you need a change and you’ve not taken advantage of learning new things, you might find your position is the ceiling; you’re stuck and can’t move because they need the skills you lack. This is when you might experience regret over your decisions of the past.

As we have seen and continue to see these days, new jobs crop up all the time. Sometimes its existing jobs with obscure, fancy new titles. Sometimes however, the job is indeed new and could hold real excitement. Good for us if we’re in a position to go for it!

And You Are Building A Reputation For…?


Whether you know it or not, you and I are constantly building our reputations. The good news is that we have a great deal of control over the effort we put into this process; not always achieving the results we’d like perhaps but, the effort invested is entirely ours to give. Consistently delivering results is also a key factor for many in establishing their reputation.

Those we work with, those we come into contact with on a daily basis; we’re all building our individual reputations throughout the day. We may not always have our reputations foremost in our minds, but the words we speak and the actions we take which others observe adds to or diminishes how we are perceived. And it’s not just one or two things we become known for; we gain a reputation for numerous things. Hence we become known for always arriving early or being late, contributing our fair share in group projects or riding along on the strong work of others. We can have a reputation for having an optimistic outlook, being authentic, exercising patience, extending ourselves to help others or always saying, “Yes”.

What we become known for and how we are perceived can have a tremendous impact on our success or lack thereof. If you’ve got aspirations of advancing in an organization, your reputation for the quality and/or quantity of work you produce will influence the decision-making process in whether to promote you. Have a good reputation and you’re impressing others while a tarnished reputation could leave you out of the running when you want to get ahead.

So when does building a reputation start? It starts when we first interact with others be that in-person, in writing or correspondence, by association with others and when we come into the awareness of those around us. Initially it starts as a first impression, then with each bit of information the other person takes in about us, their perception of us is reinforced or changed. This is why first impressions become of such critical importance in the hiring process for example. From the first inquiry, the cover letter and resume or CV, interview(s) and follow-up, we only have a limited amount of time and exposure to make a good impression on the decision-makers in the organizations we wish to work with. We do our best to build on that initial impression, all the while establishing our reputation with these people.

Making an error in a job interview therefore could be critical as we don’t have the benefit of time to give the interviewer(s) pause to re-evaluate us and see that error as out of character with our reputation. Anyone who has ever said something they realize they shouldn’t have, or who made a joke of something that didn’t go over well and wishes they could take back knows of what I speak. We don’t want the impression we create to be one of being flippant, insensitive, having poor judgement or not being a positive influence in the workplace. It is for this reason we feel anxiety in interviews; the slightest error we might make could negatively alter the other person’s perception of us and we fear not having the ability to change their initial impression which could ruin our reputation; leaving us ultimately rejected.

Those that  fear interviews and long to just be given a chance to show an employer what they can do are typically the kind of people who are banking on their ability to perform a job to enhance their chances. They know that the speed or quality of their work and adherence to safety on the job would impress the people seated across from them, but sitting and answering questions isn’t their strength. In such situations, the strategy they might be best to use than would be to provide tangible, concrete examples of what they’ve done, how others benefitted and yes, the reputation they’ve established for high quality work, a good attitude etc.

Providing references, sharing what others have said about us is another way we hope to transfer our good reputation to these people we are just meeting in the interview. So a Home Builder will for example invite a potential client to speak with the owners of homes he or she has constructed, show photos of work performed and the classic before and after shots. They home that their good work and good reputation with one home owner convinces another home owner to contract their work. Your reputation is something you can and should pay attention to. It’s a big part of your personal brand and with every interaction you have with others, that reputation is reinforced or possibly re-evaluated.

Suppose today you sat down on your 15 minute break and thought about what you’d like your reputation to be. What would you like to be known for? What are you doing that backs up and gives you credibility with respect to this goal? Now ask yourself if your actions, words and performance achievements enhance or detract from this reputation you’d like to have. If it’s important to you, you’ll do more of what builds your reputation and less of what works against it.

So what do you want as YOUR reputation? Expertise? Communication skills? Physical fitness? Helping others? Give some thought to this; you’re building one regardless so it makes sense to determine what you want.

 

 

Replaced When You’re A Top Perfomer


When an employer decides to part ways with an employee, it’s typically when the employee is underperforming; they fail to meet quota’s, miss too much time away from work or their behaviour is problematic. I suspect most of us would agree that these reasons lend justification when the parting comes. However, what is less immediately understood is why an employer would remove an employee from their position when they are excelling; performing at a high level.

Think it doesn’t happen? Well of course it does and furthermore, it’s not a bad thing. It’s often in the best interest of not only the company but the employee themselves. “Surely not” I can hear you thinking. “How could dismissing an employee who is performing at a high level of excellence be in the best interest of the employee themselves?”

Well, re-read my opening paragraph and you’ll notice I never said the employee was being dismissed at all. No, I said the employer might remove an employee from their position. The difference is significant and not just a play on words. Dismissing an employee means the employee and the employer part ways. Removing an employee from their position leaves open the possibility that the employee is retained by the employer but put into a new position; a position that makes better use of that employees knowledge, experience and qualifications. So yes, it can be in the best interests of the employer and the employee.

From an employers perspective, the worst time to replace an employee is when they are performing badly. This is the typical time when people are replaced not of their own choosing of course. You see the employer has a problem that can’t be allowed to continue in this case. There’s pressure to find the right replacement, someone with a better attitude, appropriate skills and who can quickly address the immediate needs of the company so production can return to full capacity.

The best time to replace an employee? An interesting way to look at things I admit, and not one the typical worker thinks much about. The best time to replace an employee is when things are running efficiently, there’s no crisis at hand, production is high, morale is good. As for the employee themselves, the employer; (the good employer I should say) sizes up the employee and while they appreciate the good work they do, wants to retain the employee over the long-term and seeks ways to both provide new personal challenges for them and seeks to leverage their excellence the best way they can to benefit more people in the organization.

In other words, if you’re doing great work, your employer might just want to put you in a position to best spread that performance excellence around, hoping to capitalize on the chance you’ll influence others to work similarly. This new work could result in a promotion, or a change in work duties to keep you stimulated, keep you motivated and satisfy your own needs for creativity or change.

Now not everyone realizes they need change when to those around them it’s obvious. Change is neither inherently good or bad, yet many people hear the word change and feel a rise in their own anxiety level. “Change? Oh, I don’t think I’m ready for change”, they say. Yet change is not only necessary but sometimes highly desirable. Many professional athletes reignite their careers and take their performance to new heights when they are traded to another team. They may not have wanted or asked for the change, but quickly adjust out of necessity to meeting new teammates, putting on a different sweater and learning how to contribute with their new co-workers.

An employer may as I say have an employees best interests at heart when they take a top performer out of their comfort zone and put new challenges before them. Perhaps an employer sees a bigger picture here; looks at past employees who excelled in their jobs but who, left too long in the same position, started to rot away. By moving the top performer around, they just might lend their expertise and improve performance in a long-standing low performance area, or they might have to take on the new responsibilities that come with a promotion.

The trick for an employer is to sell not only the employee affected but also the other workers affected by the change on the positive implications of such a move. If a great employee has a severe aversion to change; perhaps their one weak area, the intended reward could backfire. The high performance employee might be adversely impacted and a drop in productivity occurs in the short-term. Don’t explain the move to co-workers and they might get the wrong message; perform at your best and the company will move you to a job you didn’t ask for.

Not all leaders in an organization work on the top floors of the office towers; some of the best leaders are the people on factory floors with their shirt sleeves rolled up, steel-toed boots scuffed up and broad smiles on their faces. Being in a position of authority does not a leader make. It’s an intelligent organization that realizes leaders are needed at every level and so are top performers.

Perform to the best of your ability; see where it takes you. When you make yourself replaceable for the best reasons, opportunity may come knocking.

 

 

Yes, YOU Need To Read And Share This


It is the very best single thing you can do to stand out from your peers, and it’s also the single best thing you can do if you’re looking for job security. For employers, it’s the single thing they get most exasperated with and the source of almost all complaints by their customers. What is it? Customer service.

Think about it. What company doesn’t place a high value on satisfying their customers? When customers are treated properly, the experience they have is so positive it is only natural that they would like to repeat that sensation. If that same positive experience is repeated time after time, not only do they become loyal customers, they also tell their family and friends because they want the people they care for to share a similarly positive experience.

Customer service excellence shifts priorities from your needs to the needs of others.

It’s so obvious, it’s amazing to see so many people who don’t get it or understand it but choose not to act on it. Employers can give their employees product knowledge, design spaces that people enjoy being in, provide support and training, impart customer service expectations, but it often doesn’t result in sustained customer service excellence by the employees themselves.

Some people think customer service is exclusively reserved for the Retail sector. Not so. You expect great customer service when you go to the Dentist, meet with a Funeral Director, approach a Crossing Guard or visit a Police station to obtain a criminal reference check. We expect timely, courteous service.

Customers in fact aren’t exclusively the people who purchase or consume our products and services; they aren’t even always on the other side of the counter. If you are a Manager, consider your staff as customers. You have opportunities with each working day to show them respect, learn their likes and dislikes, listen to them express their needs and wants, and you have numerous opportunities to be helpful. Doesn’t that sound like the customer service experience?

Let’s break down the interaction with customers into these segments:

1)      Greeting

A customer should never feel they are disturbing you or holding you up. Yet how often do you see staff in a store chatting and entirely ignore the person who just walked in and is browsing merchandise? A common defence these employee use is that it’s not really all that busy so they were chatting. Why aren’t they busy? Customers are shopping elsewhere where the customer is valued and service is better! Acknowledge their presence, greet them with sincerity, extend an appreciation for their visit.

2)      Determining

They may be on an exploratory trip, learning with no immediate plans to use your services or purchase your products. It may also be someone on your team speaking with you who is trying to determine how much they can trust you with something sensitive. It may a customer checking out the store for the first time.

Focus your attention on that one person at that moment for how you act imprints the first impression. Extend an offer of assistance to determine your next steps. When they feel engaged, customers share more. If their instincts suggest you are not genuinely interested in helping them, they will go elsewhere or conceal what they really want to share.

3)      Responding

Having heard what they want or need, assess your own capacity to fulfill that need. If you can, do so and if not, state you’ll either locate that information for them or direct them where they can get what they want. While they may not remember the exact content of your words, they will remember the overall response they received and how your words and actions made them feel. They will seek you out again if your response creates a favourable impression and ignore or shun you if your response is indifferent or dismissive.

4)      Concluding

A relationship is built on a series of interactions. It is imperative to conclude each conversation or interaction taking care to ensure that the customer has received the best service you are capable of providing. A series of positive experiences builds your brand. Often the best way of checking this is just to ask, “Is there anything else I can do?” We all want to feel appreciated and so it’s no surprise those who excel in customer service smile, make direct eye contact and thank customers for visiting, trusting them with their business, or in the case of a co-worker, thanking others for their help at the end of the day.

5)      Reference The Future

“Thank you come again.” “We have a sale starting next Thursday.” “Thanks for opening up, we made progress today. Let’s pick up here next week.” Whether you’re a Receptionist, Doctor, a Palliative Care professional or a Sales Clerk, leaving the customer with some anticipation of their future contact bridges this one experience with the next encounter.

Customer service excellence when done well can truly make you indispensable and a valued commodity not only in your current position, but also in positions of greater influence in the organizations you work with. Show some enthusiasm in your work, appreciate the ‘customers’ you interact with everyday, and never overlook your co-workers, boss, peers, and visitors as your customers.

Ask yourself, “What more can I offer?”, “How could I make their experience a better one?” You’ve experienced mandatory service and exemplary service and know the difference; choose to excel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transitioning To Management


It’s time to make the move into a supervisory role.

The first thing that’s essential is to know why you want to apply for a management position. Is it the increased salary that’s attractive, the opportunity to lead, a new challenge or is it just because there’s nowhere in your organization to go but up and you figure if you don’t apply it may appear to others that you have no ambition? In other words are you running away from your current position or embracing a role with more responsibility and authority?

I was speaking with someone recently who is in the process of transitioning into a supervisory position. When I asked her why she wanted a senior position in the company she works for now she started with, “I think I’m ready…” Whoa. Let’s stop right there. I asked her, “Are you ready or aren’t you? Can they afford to put you in a senior position where you would be an example to others if you only think you’re ready?” I took two short sentences and spoke each out loud to her; “I think I’m ready”, and “I’m ready.” The second of the two is more assertive while the first suggests there is some doubt in your mind.

When you are currently working in a front-line role and want to transition into a position of leadership, there is a lot more required than just submitting your application and going to an interview. One of the key things to realize is that on a daily basis, the people who may be in a position to advance your career; people who may in fact be on the interview and selection panel in the future, have to start seeing you differently in the here and now. The challenge becomes therefore how to go about your business and fulfill your current responsibilities yet at the same time be pegged as management material.

For starters, it might start with dressing yourself differently when you leave home each day. Do the people in the role you are going after wear clothing that differs from those in the role you have now? If so, you’d be well advised to notch your attire up a grade and start introducing new clothing choices into your wardrobe that reflect the position you want. Simple things like your choice of hairstyle and grooming require some attention too. If you’ve got long hair you wear down to the middle of your back and it has a tendency to fly around, you may want to consider getting it more under control; off your face and up or maybe even cut and styled in a new look. A sharp, crisp look.

Now while you shouldn’t abandon all your current co-workers and isolate yourself from the very people you might be supervising in the future, you should consider mingling with the people you want to become your peers in a position of higher authority. Start doing a little research now and find out what you have in common, and see if those things will help spark conversations.

One of the most obvious things you may need to do is start to be more assertive and confident about your decisions in the work you do now. Making a decision to take on greater responsibilities while working on joint projects might be something that up until now you’ve avoided. Leaders lead as they say, so now is the time to show others that you’re not intimidated by a greater workload, and you can handle additional responsibilities. These are the kind of decisions that will either provide you with the examples you’ll find extremely helpful in an interview or betray you with if you pass them up. Being able to cite examples of your leadership, successes you’ve brought to projects and your ability to take on additional work is critical.

It’s also a good idea to speak with your immediate supervisor and let him or her know that you have aspirations of advancement. Tell them how much their leadership has been helpful to you and follow with a request for their guidance, opportunities to learn such as approval to attend training sessions or be put in positions of leadership where you can hone your skills.

At the outset of this piece, I indicated it is critical to know WHY you want to advance into a management role. Not only are you going to be asked at the interview, but you can bet anyone you speak with such as your boss or a co-worker is going to be curious too. Good advice is to frame your answer not around what you want, but rather address how you see opportunities to positively influence how people go about doing business and add to the organization.

Focusing in on how your experience on the front-line has given you the necessary appreciation for how the customer or client relationship is  forged, but wanting to be in a position to positively guide and mentor people is far better than saying you’re ready for a change.

One last suggestion I have is to determine what’s in the way of your advancement and take the steps to remove that barrier. Whether it’s additional experience, credentials, your lack of ambition or effective writing skills, addressing those things now can greatly help you overcome flaws which otherwise might deem  you not ready.

All the best!