Tag: professional development
You’ve surely come to the conclusion, at many points in your career, that your job is one of the toughest jobs around. Managing people, or more rightly, inspiring and growing people, is what you do. You don’t really want to manage people, and understandably enough, no one wants to be managed.
So, you’re really caught between a rock and a hard place.
What is this realm of people management really about? Sure, there’s a lot of terminology floating around, lots of buzz words, to get caught up in. There are futurists predicting trends and surveys and reports on all kinds of data.
We are not short on data.
So, between you and me, let me tell you a little secret. It’s a secret because you don’t always want to admit this to anyone else, let alone yourself. But it’s a secret that needs to be let out.
You already know what to do
Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.
You have ideas
You just need to act on them. You cannot wait till you get enough people to see the vision you have for your team, for your organisation. If they all did see that vision, you wouldn’t be where you are right now. So stop waiting for inspiration or a big push to move forward. Give yourself the push you need. Bring that dream you have to life.
You are scared
You need to push through anyway. No one ever promised it would be easy and nothing worthwhile, strong, sacred or good ever is. But you cannot let the fear overwhelm you. As it grows, it will overtake anything else in its way and you will be a shadow of your former self.
This is what courage truly is – to be scared and to do it anyway. So embrace the fear. Accept it as part of the journey.
You already know what to do.
You don’t know what they think but you need only ask
There’s a fine balance between relying on your own intuition and and calling on the expertise of others. But the one thing you need to remember is that you do not have to have all the answers. You can ask, and if you do so, with compassion, integrity, honest determination and a real desire to know the truth, the answers will come to you.
Help may indeed come from the most unexpected places in your journey.
You don’t know where to start but that’s not your problem
There’s no guidebook for the trip you are about to take. There never will be. Even in situations where there are similarities in the journey or experience, there are still significant things that make the difference. So knowing there is no go-to manual, you are understandably nervous about starting this journey.
But this journey will be long and eventful. The problem does not lie in knowing where to start – the problem is simply getting started.
You already know what to do.
What’s in your bag of tricks?
Your journey – the years of experience cease to matter when compared to the lessons learnt so far. The ones you’ve held dear to you will help you. So keep your eyes and ears open to what comes your way.
Your determination – ask yourself how badly you want to bring your vision to life. And if its as strongly felt as I think it is, you just need to make a start. That first step is the hardest one to make yet it is pivotal.
Your curiosity – you have a goal, you have a plan for getting there. You know you will be checking everything, no stone left unturned.
Your consistent manner – this is not for the foolhardy. You’re going to get on this journey and you know what you need to do before you see the results you are gunning for. You are prepared to wait, to endure, to persevere.
Your flexibility – you know that the plan is merely one of the first few steps to beginning the journey. But plans can, and should, be changed as and when they need to. You understand that, you are happy to pivot.
Ultimately, you are the best person to bring the vision you have for your team, for your organisation, to reality. So, go forth and make it happen.
About the Author: Rowena Morais is the Editor of VerticalDistinct.com, helping individuals develop their professional abilities and career to the fullest in either Human Resources or Technology. She is also Editor of the quarterly human resource magazine, Accelerate. She graduated from the University of Glamorgan, Wales with an LL.B (Hons) and is a regular blogger on personal growth.
The 2015 edition of the SHRM Annual Conference and Expo is now just a little over a week away. As you begin your preparations to converge on Fabulous Las Vegas next weekend, amidst deciding which comfy shoes you’re going to bring (and maybe some not-so-comfy ones for the evening hours), packing sun block for the pool, choosing which Vegas attractions you’ll hit in your free time, and stashing away your cash for the blackjack tables, have you given any thought as to how you’re going to truly maximize your conference experience?
I’ve written about this topic in past years, but feel it’s worth revisiting each year. No matter if it’s your first, third, or tenth time attending, giving some thought to how you’re going to utilize your time can only work to your advantage. Because let’s face it, once you arrive and get swept up in the whirlwind that is SHRM Annual….especially with this year’s location being Las Vegas….it can be very easy to lose focus and find yourself on the plane ride home asking yourself, “what did I actually accomplish?”
SHRM Annual puts an incredible amount of knowledge and resources at your disposal. Between the sessions, the Expo Hall, and the unlimited amount of networking opportunities available, if you leave without taking something of value with you, it really is your own fault. However, what you get out of it is largely based on what you put into it. Are you there going through the motions and playing it safe in your comfort zone, or are you making a concerted effort to obtain the maximum benefit from your experience? I encourage you to consider the following.
Take some time to plan out your schedule. Use the Session Planner to review the list of concurrent sessions available, and target the ones you know you want to attend that you think will provide you the most value. But leave yourself some flexibility to change your mind, and have back up plans in place: anyone who has attended before knows that some sessions will fill up, and you may need to move on to your second choice. Furthermore, if the session you choose doesn’t meet your expectations or isn’t what you thought it would be, don’t be afraid to walk out and join another session! This is your time, don’t waste it in a session that does nothing for you. And don’t feel guilty about it. And don’t forget to download the Conference App on your smart phone or tablet to keep information and your schedule at your fingertips.
Sure, you could choose to attend sessions on topics familiar to you and stick with your comfort zone. But with so many topics across 7 different tracks, why not expose yourself to something new? This is your chance to expand your horizons beyond the scope of your everyday job. Why not choose a mix of sessions that both enhance your current knowledge and also stretch your mind a bit?
Don’t Try To Do It All
This may seem to go against convention, but don’t feel as if you have to pack your schedule every day. It’s okay if you decide you don’t want to attend a session during one of the time frames. Figure out what works best for you. Perhaps you’re an early riser; get up and take advantage of the 7:00 AM sessions, and then maybe sneak away for a break in the later afternoon. Or if you prefer to rise a little later, take advantage of the sessions later in the day. Whatever your preference, don’t be afraid to allow yourself some downtime to process what you’ve learned and recharge when you need it.
Try Something Different
Sure, the primary reason for attending the conference is for the sessions. But there are a variety of happenings beyond the general and concurrent sessions that can provide just as much value. Visit the Expo Hall and talk to some vendors, or at least get a feel for the types of solutions that are out there. Check out some of the Smart Stage presentations for info in quick and actionable 15 minute blocks. Visit the SHRM Bookstore and pick up a few new titles to take home with you. There’s a lot to be experienced outside of traditional sessions!
Some of the most valuable takeaways from your conference experience could come from the connections you make in the hallways between sessions, in the expo hall, or at the multitude of social events that will take place over the course of the four days. Take advantage of the other HR pros that are there; there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared beyond the official sessions. Talk to people. Make new connections. You never know how valuable they could be some day. Instead of just going back to your hotel at the end of the day, attend some of the sponsored social events, or organize some outings of your own with new found friends; these are great ways to connect in a more meaningful way with people in a more relaxed atmosphere….and you may have a little fun while you’re at it!
Have Some Fun Too!
Let’s face it, it’s Vegas. There are a million and one things to do, even if you’re not a gambler. It’s okay to allow yourself to have some fun outside of the conference. I’m not suggesting all-nighters at the craps table or at Drai’s After Hours….but if you must, do yourself a favor and make sure you take your conference badge off first.
Most of all, enjoy your experience. Good luck, learn a lot, and have fun! See you in Vegas!
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
We’re just a few weeks out from the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference, happening this year from June 28th – July 1st in the mecca of all conference meccas, Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. Vegas tends to be rather polarizing as far as conference goers are concerned; most either love attending conferences there, or despise it. I’m personally in the “love it” camp, and am excited to be heading there for some learning, networking, reconnecting, and (of course) some fun on The Strip.
I’m also fortunate that for the third year in a row to be part of the official SHRM15 Blogging and Social Media Team. That means I have the distinct pleasure of attending as a voice for the conference, helping the spread the word about all of the great conference related happenings, learnings, and general goings on. I’ll be doing that through a combination of social media coverage and live tweeting of sessions, as well as coverage on this blog.
So what do we have in store for this year’s event, the ultimate annual gathering of HR practitioners and one of the crown jewels of the HR conference circuit?
Each day brings a different keynote speaker, typically big names who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends. They tend to fit into specific categories or types of speakers – usually the celebrity or political figure, CEO type, management/HR pundit (or author), and the motivational speaker (credit to fellow blogger Matthew Stollak for coining the archetypes). I’m not sure if this year’s fit exactly into those four categories, but it’s close. We’ll be hearing from legendary NCAA basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, New York Times bestselling author Marcus Buckingham, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Mika Brzezinski, and celebrity surgeon and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz. Reactions to the Dr. Oz choice have been very mixed, and there’s been debate on social media regarding his relevance, so we’ll see where that one goes. I’ll be highlighting key messages from these speakers throughout the conference.
On a side note, originally slated to speak was Sheryl Sandberg, but after the recent sudden and tragic passing of her husband Dave Goldberg, she was soon after replaced with Mika Brzezinski. Though I would have loved to have the opportunity to hear her speak, my heart (and I’m sure the hearts of all SHRM15 attendees) goes out to her and the grief she’s enduring.
SHRM Annual offers over 200 concurrent sessions in six different tracks. Though I never seem to be able to squeeze in as many as I’d like to attend, I always make a point to catch at least a few. These sessions are typically where many of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners or former practitioners. Two sessions of note involve speakers who are affiliated with the blog: Trish McFarlane, one of my co-founders, will be presenting with Steve Boese on “After the Contracts are Signed: Key to Successful HR Technology Implementation.” And contributing writer Donna Rogers will be teaming up with fellow SHRM15 blogger Dave Ryan to discuss “Running an HR Department of One.”
The Smart Stage
Making its debut last year at SHRM14 in Orlando, the Smart Stage (last year situated just outside of the Expo Hall) offers 15-18 minute TED-like talks given on a variety of topics, and conveniently grouped together in blocks of three to four sessions with breaks for Q&A in between. I had the opportunity to present on the Smart Stage last year, and feedback in general about the format was very positive. It was a quick and easy way to catch some very informative presentations on actionable topics; with the short talks grouped together, it’s an efficient way to soak in knowledge on various subjects all in one timeframe, helping you make the most of your time.
Conferences as large as SHRM Annual always offer numerous social opportunities, typically sponsored by various vendors. With this year’s conference location being Las Vegas, with its multitude of bars, restaurants, clubs, and other entertainment venues, I suspect it will be no exception. Information on such events tends to come out fast as furious in the weeks leading up to the conference, so inevitably we’ll begin to hear more soon. These events offer the perfect opportunity for additional networking, and a chance to get to know all of your new connections a little better outside the confines of a session room. I recommend seeking out the ones that sound most appealing to you and checking them out. And hey, you’ll probably even get a free drink and some appetizers as part of the deal!
So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you. If you’re on Twitter, tweet along with the #SHRM15 hashtag and join in the discussion. Connect with me and my fellow bloggers for in the moment updates. And if you’re not able to be there, you can still follow along with conference happenings by following the hashtag and checking out updates here and from all of the official SHRM15 bloggers.
See you in Vegas!
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
One of the most important functions of HR is to acquire and retain top talent. And since millennials, who will make up close to 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, rank mentoring as one of the most important factors they weigh when choosing between employers, many companies are turning to mentoring programs as a way to set themselves apart from the competition. In fact, three-quarters of Fortune Magazine’s top 25 companies have employee-mentoring programs.
Mentoring provides much more than just a “good feeling” among millennial workers. It also provides an avenue for honing and developing your employees’ talents and skills, while making them more confident in their abilities and more connected to the company. In addition, mentoring helps you discover which employees have leadership potential.
However, mentoring is only effective if it is properly planned and executed. According to How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program, a how-to guide produced from the research of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, mentoring should include six key components:
- Purpose: There should be a clear, strategic purpose that aligns with organizational goals and objectives. For example, the mentoring may be needed to fill a skills gap. Also, both the mentor and mentee must be committed to the importance of the mentoring process and make it a priority.
- Communication: There are two types of communication involved. The first communication is to introduce employees to the mentoring program and ensure that they know what the mentoring is for and who can participate. With proper communication, even the employees who don’t participate can support the company’s efforts. The second type of communication is between the mentor and mentee. They may meet one-on-one, in groups, by email or videoconference, or by other means, but the meetings should be regular.
- Trust: The relationship must be built on trust. For both parties to feel comfortable sharing at the level that can truly be effective, there must be an understanding and commitment to maintain the confidentiality of the communication.
- Process: The process may be formal or informal. However, there should be a way to match the mentor and mentee, and it’s also important to determine such things as the length of the mentoring and the meeting dates and times. In addition, both parties must be actively engaged to move at an appropriate speed.
- Progress: HR should establish check-in points (two months, four months, six months, eight months and then a final meeting) to ensure that both parties are reaching their goals and milestones. This includes having metrics for measuring the progress of the mentoring sessions.
- Feedback: Both participants must provide constructive feedback and be open to receiving feedback from each other.
Following these tips will help you plan and carry out an effective mentoring program that creates engaged, confident employees, leading to a more unified and productive workforce.
About the Author: Alison Napolitano is the community manager for MBA@UNC, UNC Kenan-Flagler’s online MBA degree. Alison has a background in digital marketing, and account management. As a former college athlete, Napolitano is goal-driven has a passion for helping people and brands succeed online. Her other interests include content marketing, any form of athletics, and family.
Leadership skills are one of the many traits needed to be a successful leader. Women have closed the gender gap in entry and mid level positions, but have yet to reach that in top leadership skills. Susan Colantuono calls this the missing 33%, as women still need to be taught business, financial and strategic acumen to fill this gap. These leadership skills enable people to easily and confidently lead others, skills including but not limited to: ease of communication, natural flexibility, an ability to visualize a goal, thinking critically, and the ability to delegate responsibility effectively.
The ability to communicate effectively is absolutely critical in positions of power in an organization, a small team of people, and even for those not in a leadership position. In organizations, effective communication can save time, can prevent misunderstandings, and oftentimes can relax workers beneath you and above you. We’d all like to think we’re the perfect manager but there is always room for improvement. In a small team of people, the ability to communicate effectively can prevent misunderstandings, assist with visualization of objectives, and make things easier to achieve. Individuals who aren’t in leadership positions can use these skills to better present their needs to management. This skill can be developed through regular practice, and doing things to lessen anxiety felt by the speaker.
Leaders who are naturally flexible in a business are able to naturally shift objectives and methods used to achieve objectives. Flexibility is also vital for those not currently in a leadership position. This skill will allow them to be teachable, and always in line with the end goal of management. Overall, employees with flexibility will become an essential element to the business, increasing their job security. Flexibility prevents all employees from getting terribly stressed in a world where plans change, and where things tend to be less simple than they might have appeared initially.
Visualization of objectives enables leaders to have a set destination. It’s also the first thing a good leader should do, so he or she can recognize when they’ve accomplished a goal. How does this benefit those outside leadership positions? Well, visualization enables these people know where they want to go within their professional lives. Do they see themselves as a manager, or even the next CMO? Visualizing this will help them take the steps necessary to get there. This aligns with the known method of focusing on a single large objective and devoting energy to achieving that goal, while taking other factors into account but not losing sight of the overarching goal.
Thinking critically is a useful skill for it enables an intelligent leader to take factors into account. Leaders use critical thinking to troubleshoot in the moment, and to come up with reasonable solutions. Critical thinking is a skill for all members of an organization. When given new tasks and assignments learning the new process quickly is essential for keeping up with the ongoing business. This is a situation where critical thinking skills will help employees be a quick learner. Ultimately this can lead to an increase in trust from management, leading to more responsibilities.
Delegation in the context of leadership refers to the ability to divide labor intelligently and assigning people to the areas they are the most responsible and able to contribute. Make sure you are an effective delegator. Understanding yourself is a part of this skill, knowing your strengths, your weaknesses. This is an extremely useful skill in business and in the professional area, but in terms of the average employee it can also be used to mean the ability to manage time equally and effectively. Delegate your day and what time of the day will be devoted to specific tasks.
At the end of the day, leadership skills should be a part of your professional life in order to progress and lead effectively. Even those who don’t currently have a management position can be devoting time to the development of these skills. Practicing these skills will prepare employees to promotions and strengthen the organization as a whole.
About the Author: JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.
Editor’s Note: From time to time, we like to recognize some of the projects and accomplishments of our regular contributors beyond their work for the site. Kristin Kaufmann’s second book in her “Is This Seat Taken” series, “It’s Never Too Late To Find The Right Seat” was just recently published, and here she gives us a sneak peak.
As we ‘start again’ in this new year AND we are already 3 weeks into 2015, how can we make the most of the coming 12 months? The first step, from my perspective, is to HONESTLY assess where we are today and also gauge where we want to be tomorrow! We have to take a hard look in the mirror (not always easy) and ascertain ‘how we did in 2014’ AND if there is still room for improvement. There are a few questions, which I encourage my clients to ask themselves, as we embark on this new year…….
The 2014 year at a glance:
- How did I spend my time?
- What were my greatest accomplishments?
- What were my greatest disappointments?
- How did these experiences change me?
- How am I different now (December, 2014) than in December, 2013?
- How can I further integrate this awareness as I enter the 1st half of 2015?
- What am I tolerating? Why? What steps can I take to make a change?
- What am I trying to force to happen? What would happen if I ‘let go’?
What are my intentions for 2015?
- What will be my primary focus going forward?
- What do I really want? What is still holding me back?
- What do I want to contribute to the world?
- How will I hold myself accountable?
- What is working for me? How can I have ‘more of that’?
- What kind of partners do I want going forward into this next chapter?
- What may need to change? What are the first steps to make that change?
- At the end of 2015, where would I like to find myself? Physically? Spiritually? Professionally? Financially?
- What is my intention for my life in 2015?
Also, if you need further inspiration , and feel like ‘life is passing you by’ and you are not where you thought you would be at this stage in your life…..you may find inspiration is my latest books in the ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ book series. I personally was inspired by each and every one of these individuals who completely hit the ‘reset’ button in the last 15-20 years of their lives. What I know for sure is this – what we make of our lives is 100% our choice……what will you choose?
About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.
The New Year has been in full swing for several weeks now, and in my estimation that means it’s not too early to begin thinking about conference season. Though usually I don’t start making conference plans until closer to Spring, this year I’m kicking things off a little earlier with Brandon Hall Group’s 2105 HCM Excellence Conference, which is taking place later this month from January 28-30.
The good folks down at BHG graciously invited me to join them and their awesome team of analysts, as well as innovative HR executives and winners of their 2014 Excellence Awards for their inaugural human capital management conference. Along with a full slate of fantastic sessions and topics over the course of 3 days, did I mention that it’s in Ft. Lauderdale, FL? In January? Okay, twist my arm…
In all seriousness, though, I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the team down there to help cover the event. My good friend John Nykolaiszyn and I will be the official blogging team, helping the BHG analysts provide coverage of all of the great content and goings on during the 3 days. So in addition to the Florida sunshine (which is a nice bonus for this winter-weary Northern girl), I’ll have access to a whole variety of learning and HCM topics and research being presented and discussed by world class analysts and best in class HR executives and practitioners who have been recognized for their innovation and successes in implementing various HCM programs and solutions that directly impacted their organizations. We’ll be talking about everything from learning & development, to onboarding, technology implementation, leadership development, and HCM trends. I even heard a rumor that there’s going to be an HRevolution type unconference session to really kick attendee participation into high gear. Reviewing the agenda, it promises to be a highly interactive event with many real-life, actionable takeaways.
So check back here starting a week from tomorrow to read about what’s happening at this inaugural event. And if so inclined, follow along on Twitter and join in the conversation at the hashtag #Excellence15.
Looking forward to reporting in from the FLL!
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
It’s been said before that the problem with expecting Common Sense from others is that common sense just isn’t that common. It’s kind of a judgmental statement, right? It almost implies that there are general “rules” for life we should be following but most of us aren’t. What’s worse is that there are a lot of people out there who like to put HR down by saying “It’s just Common sense”. For those of us who actually work in HR, we know how untrue and unfair that statement is.
Forget about common sense, let’s talk about “HR Sense”. I often get the chance to chat with people looking to break into HR and sometimes I am surprised by what they think HR entails. It makes me wonder, is HR sense something you are born with, or is it something that you develop over time? Now, some things you obviously can’t know without experience and study. No one instinctively knows how to handle FMLA or navigate payroll. But what about the less technical aspects of the job?
Can you teach someone how to be empathetic and approachable while simultaneously being firm and direct? How about staying calm under the pressure of a workplace emergency or assisting an injured employee? Can you learn the level of professionalism HR truly requires?
Important questions all. But ultimately, those aren’t the questions we need to be asking. Instead, ask anyone who has worked in HR for a while: What keeps you in the profession? What excites you about what you do? I can almost guarantee that the HR Pros who truly love what they do will make the answer clear.
A lot of people think they can do HR. It’s just “common sense,” right? Which is why you can’t focus on why someone wants to get into HR; you have to find out why they’ve stayed and how they’ve been successful. Only then can you discern how a person’s natural talents meld beautifully with the skills only experience and education can develop and hone over time.
So the answer is: HR sense is both something you are born with and something you learn. A person’s natural HR sense is what helps them take an interest in HR and lead an individual to learn more and improve upon their abilities. For example, a natural willingness to communicate effectively and professionally can lead someone to take a business writing class or join Toastmasters. It’s the ability to know what you need to improve upon and being willing to try. This is what makes HR sense something both innate and learned.
So for all you aspiring HR pros out there, don’t give up. Trust your instincts but be willing to work on your skills. It’ll not only make you a better HR Pro, it’ll help you maintain your passion for HR for a long time to come.
As many companies and individuals face possible obsolescence or at a minimum becoming stale in their service offerings, their approach to their market, or perhaps in their own passions for how they are contributing, the concept of ‘reinvention’ is becoming more and more prevalent. Though this concept is certainly not new, this term has become a mainstay in our present vocabulary. Blame it on the Baby Boomers, who are seeking career longevity amidst the onslaught of the millennials and the ‘Gen X and Y’ populations. Regardless of the catalyst, reframing ourselves and our offerings – or perhaps just reframing the way we look at our companies and our own personal careers, has always been the key to survival.
Over the years, I have watched many mediocre business professionals carve out very successful careers by their ability to parlay their approach into attractive and ultimately lucrative options. No, these individuals are not the smartest nor the most successful in their prior roles, yet they honed the knack of marketing themselves. They have mastered the ability to show (and in most cases virtually create from nothing) a multi-faceted face – both in ‘real life’ and via social media – which puts forth the image they wish to create. Today’s social media enables these ambitious ones to paint the picture they wish to paint, associate with those they wish to align themselves online (primarily for the purpose of self-promotion), and to show only the sides they wish to show. It is a fascinating phenomenon. Of course, as my father has always taught me: “If you see it, everyone else probably sees it, too”. Thus, these social media mirages are indeed, just that. So, if one does want to ‘change the frame’ on their careers – and do so authentically and anchored in reality versus ‘social media hype’ – how does a person get started? If a person wants to ‘reinvent’ their focus areas for contribution, or perhaps even their lives – how do they this?!
As mentioned before, it is not luck (in which I am personally not a believer) or plain smarts or even hard work that most commonly leads to uber success (success, by the way, as defined by the individual). Ultimately I believe it is our intentions fed by our energy – consistently and genuinely – which will lead to our success. So, what are a few initial steps we can take to harness our intentions and ‘change our frame’ as we build our ‘second or third acts’?
1. Know where you are today AND determine where you want to go NEXT.
While working with Dr. Noel Tichy over the past few decades in our transformational leadership work, we utilize a process which undoubtedly is one of the most impactful exercises for organizations to experience. It is the process of discerning ‘Our current state’ (facing the harsh reality of where we find ourselves today) and then, defining and projecting ‘Our desired state’, which is where we ultimately want to go. We can use this process for individuals just as we do for companies and organizations. The objective is to look in the mirror and determine – are we doing what we REALLY want to do? Are we good at what we are doing? Are we aligned as individuals, or if we are part of a team – is the team aligned around where we want to go? If not – that is the first awakening. We must determine where we are AND where we want to go.
One last and critical note on this – the ‘where I want to go’ does not have to be the FINAL destination. So many times, we think and think AND think…..which leads to ‘analysis paralyses’!! Nothing in this world is permanent; so your next step will probably not be your ‘last step’. Make the move. Forward momentum is how we determine if the direction is the ultimate ‘right’ direction!
2. Parlay your Gifts into the Market
This can be a tough step. Just because you love what you do AND you are good at it does NOT mean that anyone will want to buy it! What NEED are you filling? What is it that YOU offer that makes you different? Who are your potential clients….or hiring audiences? Learning how to take what we ‘do’ and apply it to a void in the market is a critical success factor. AND, remember, what folks wanted to buy 5 years ago is not what they will want to buy today….unless it has been modified for the market.
3. Creativity coupled with Agility is Key
We have to hone the ability to ‘think outside and inside the box’. It is hard to do this in solitary confinement! So – we need to build our posse of partners to help us. Retired executives, leadership coaches, prior professors, supportive customers, and even competitive business colleagues. Each will have a perspective or insights to offer. We have to be willing to ask for help – and to hear the brutal, honest truth. Does the market value what I bring? Is my approach outdated? Do my clients want more – or different – services from me? What do I NOT know – that I need to know – to truly thrive and survive in the market today? We have to be open to the answers….as hearing them and then ignoring them – does nothing! We need to hear (and listen) to the market and then be creative and AGILE in how we meet them where they are.
4. Build a game plan and be FOCUSED.
Every business has a game plan (and if they don’t – they will not be around for long!). Every one of us, for our careers, needs a game plan, too. Sure – it will change – yet, to not have any sense of where we want to go and HOW we are going to get there – results in mere folly. We need to lay out specific steps on how we are going to accomplish specific goals. Too many times, we become insular in our focus – meaning that we focus on stuff that will not REALLY move the dial. We need to determine where we want to go, what we want to contribute and THEN determine how we are going to get there. Then, become ruthlessly focused on these steps…..the other stuff is just noise.
5. Hang tight.
This is easy to say; yet, this is where the weak are separated from the strong. We have to exercise our muscles so that we do not give up too easily. As any company, organization, or individual introduces new approaches, new products and services, or a ‘new face’ to their markets and constituents – immediate acceptance and ‘manna from Heaven’ is not guaranteed.
There is always going to be a phase of education to the market; then a phase of ‘differentiation and selling’ and then – if we are diligent – we will secure our first proving ground. This may be a new job in our new field or a new customer for our new service offering or a product extension in an existing market. Yet, what I know for sure is that it will probably NOT come about instantly AND it will not happen without sweat equity. Yet, when we do ‘win’, our expended effort just makes our success that much sweeter.
My final thoughts are: we need to stop comparing this new chapter with the old chapter – good or bad. There is no comparison, thankfully. We (and the organizations for which we work) are a compilation of all our experiences, and this new chapter will be a completely new life in many ways. That concept can be quite liberating when we allow ourselves to embrace it. We need to simply embrace progress not perfection. Keep the forward momentum. Stay open. Be receptive to even what may appear to be an opportunity which is out of your wheel house. If you are attracted to it, explore what about the role turns you on. There is a reason – of this I am certain. Our intuition and inner voice does not lie. Ever. So listen to it. AND remember that nothing is permanent.
About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.
Let me begin with saying I’ve very new in my career. I’m 22 and I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in May of 2013 and started my current job six months ago.
There were some vital things I’ve learned since graduating. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been laid off from a small internet marketing company, was self-employed for four months and then recruited for my current job. All this, while not entirely knowing what exactly I wanted out of my career.
My current title is SEO Technical Specialist (click on the link if you have no idea what that is, many people I’ve met do not)! I had my first review and first promotion last week. The last six months have been intense and exciting. Also terrifying and frustrating. I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far with starting my career in the corporate world as a young, female millennial.
Perception is Reality
One of the hardest things I’ve learned (in a very hard way) is keeping my cool. Working in the corporate environment, being new and being young, it takes me a little bit more work to have my ideas considered. That can be very frustrating.
The most important thing is to be sure you keep calm, both your voice and face. Take a moment to walk away and think about. Consider bringing up the subject in a different way. How you react will either improve or damage your relationship with the person you are working with.
It’s important to build a “brand” around yourself. Create a professional Twitter account, grow your Linkedin profile and watch your posts on Facebook. Building a brand is one way you can control other’s perception of you.
I work in an industry that changes all of the time. With that, I’m constantly reading industry blogs. Sometimes I’ve even been the first one in my department to share important industry news. This matters. Not only is it important so that you can continue to improve your work, but becoming a person who is clearly knowledgeable will gain you respect and recognition.
Get certification in an aspect of your field. There are lots of options for online learning. I’m currently investigating a Mini MBA in Internet Marketing. I come from a writing background and ended up (happily) in the field of Search Engine Optimization. It’s very exciting but can be challenging because many of my co-workers have more experience in both marketing and the technical side of my field. Want to become a leader in your field? Keep learning!
Goals Matter…Sort of
As I mentioned earlier, I read a lot of articles. Not just in my industry though; I want to learn how to develop my career, not just do my job to the best of my ability. An article I read called “How Millennial Women Are Shaping Our Future” had a statistic that stood out to me, “Eighty-three percent of Millennial women say they believe they are expected to be more successful than women in previous generations.” That’s a lot of pressure.
I’m very guilty of two things, being a procrastinator and a perfectionist. I believe many of my peers can identify with this. Getting this job, I’ve kicked the procrastination aspect but I still put a lot of pressure on myself to do it perfect.
In theory this sounds like a great characteristic for an employee! But in reality the pressure becomes so intense your work ends up suffering in the long run. It’s important to keep the big picture in mind when setting out to accomplish something. Whether a project at work or a promotion you’re aiming for.
With that said, I did not plan to have a career as an SEO Technical Specialist. All I knew was that I wanted a job, and a good one. I let the chips fall in place. This is what I mean by the “sort of” aspect. It’s amazing what can happen if you allow yourself to have loose goals with your career. Allow opportunities to present them to you. This can be the most rewarding and exciting aspect of your career development.
I can’t emphasize this point enough! The most important lesson I have learned is to never be afraid to ask questions. I’m not just talking about questions on projects or about your industry. Ask on ways to you can do something better, how you can improve and how you can help.
Volunteering for projects goes a long way. Asking how you can improve makes an impact. Your supervisors or managers will notice if you ask before the review on what you can improve upon.
I have so much left to learn. When I think about how inexperienced I will consider myself at this point when I look back a year, 2 years, or 10 years from now. But I feel that I’ve made some key discoveries I wanted to share. Both to my peers and to those wondering, “what’s up with those Millennials anyways?” Most of us are working hard. More importantly, most of us are trying to figure it all out.
About the Author: Lauren graduated from the University of South Florida in May of 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She now works in the field of Internet Marketing. She loves to write and learn how to be better at her job. Self-improvement, leadership, marketing, social media and SEO are some of the topics she most enjoys writing about. She also currently publishes her own personal blog sharing gluten-free recipes.