Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Defying the Downturn

From a sidebar on page 36 in the 9/14/2009 edition of BusinessWeek magazine, here are 5 tips for keeping your job (and my comments -- and Key Coaching Qs -- in green):
  1. Get Ambitious - be prepared to work long hours, take on difficult tasks, and relocate if necessary. A raise? Don't hold your breath. I like the 'get ambitious' point, but not sure that the flippancy of the last sentence is called for. Key Coaching Q: What absolutely and positively needs to get done today and what will it take to get it done before turning off the lights tonight?
  2. Get Positioned - Identify bosses who are moving up or are overwhelmed. then volunteer to help. Aligning yourself with an 'overwhelmed' boss is good, counter-intuitive, thinking. Coaching Q: Who could benefit most from having you apply your natural talents and skills to a problem they're grappling with?
  3. Get Creative - Suggest ways to save your company money or generate new revenue - and play a role in the effort. I've you haven't done -- that is, already aren't doing -- this, it you're likely already at significant risk. And there's nothing flip about that whatsoever so you better get those creative juices flowing ASAP. Coaching Q: What are 5 improvements that you know can be made without disrupting ongoing operations or processes?
  4. Get Noticed - Recessions are no time to fly under the radar. Tell bigwigs about achievements but avoid shameless self-promotion. I agree with the radar comment. Better than you telling bigwigs about your achievements, do such good work that others can't help but tell the bigwigs about what you've been up to. Coaching Q: How can you meaningfully increase your impact ... as in TODAY.
  5. Get Networked - Be indispensable. Work with other units and stay in touch with newfound allies -- you may need them later. Indeed, in the distant past, it' was "WHAT you know"; and more recently, it was "WHO you know." And, while those both are still important, it's "who knows YOU" that helps most these days. Coaching Q: How are you helping others get to know you better than they already do?!

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Odds for 10 Top Job-Finding Strategies

Advice from Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?, as reported in the September 1, 2009 issue of Bottom Line Personal newsletter:
  1. Mailing out resumes/submitting or posting resumes online -- odds of success: 7%*.
  2. Responding to ads in professional or trade journals -- odds of success: 7%.
  3. Responding to ads on Internet job sites -- odds of success: 10%.
  4. Responding to ads in the local newspaper -- odds of success: 5%-24% (the lower your salary requirements the better this works).
  5. Working with a private employment agency or search firm -- odds of success: 5%-28% (best with low-wage office positions, such as secretarial or clerical jobs).
  6. Networking for leads -- odds of success: 33%.
  7. Knocking on doors unannounced at employers of interest -- odds of success: 47% (especially effective with small businesses with 50 or fewer employees; mid afternoon is best).
  8. Calling companies of interest that are listed in the local Yellow Pages or White Pages Business section -- odds of success: 69% (ask for the owner, explain your background and relevant skills, then ask if s/he knows anyone in the industry in need of someone like you, or if you could come in and talk about the industry).
  9. Partnering with other job hunters -- odds of success: 70% (works best when partnering with those having different skills/career interests than you).
  10. Taking inventory of yourself, then targeting the employers where you ought to be working -- odds of success: 86% (yes, it takes time, but if you can define your skills and the type of work you want to do in as much detail as possible, you will be able to detail what you have to offer to a potential employer far more compellingly) .

* Based on industry studies/other sources.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interpersonal Networking - Holiday Style

This just in from the Name Tag Guy, creative thinker, and savvy networker, Scott Ginsberg -- 13 Ways to Network without Being a Nuisance. Here are a half-dozen of my favorites:
  • Identify why you’re there. Is this an opportunity for you to meet people, or is it an opportunity for them to meet YOU? This simple attitudinal change will alter your business forever.
  • Be The Observed, not The Observer. Lead the conversation. Invite new people to join your table or conversation. [C]onsider being a volunteer.
  • Remove the threat of rejection. If you’re afraid of starting conversations with strangers for fear of looking stupid or being rejected, approach people who HAVE to be nice to you. Leaders, volunteers, hosts, bartenders … these encounters are perfect opportunities to achieve small victories that will build your networking confidence.
  • Lead with your person; follow with your profession. Values before vocation. Personality before position. Realness before roles. Then, when the time is right, find a way to gently introduce how you deliver value. Don’t force it.
  • Stop asking people, “So, what do YOU do?” [N]ot everyone has a job. Nor are all people defined by their work. Instead, ask questions that enable the person to take the conversation in whatever direction makes them feel comfortable, i.e., “What keeps you busy all week?” “What’s been the best part about your week so far?”
  • Friendliness is underrated. I know it sounds dumb, but just be friendly. Friendliness is so rare; it’s become remarkable. Use it. Do it. BE it.

And a few additional ideas of my own:

  • Get yourself ready. If you need to rest a bit beforehand, then do so. If you need to do something physical, do that. Do what you need so that you can show up 100% as the True and Authentic YOU.
  • Set a goal. Decide, in advance, how many new people you want to meet. Don't overwhelm yourself, but do stretch. And know that without setting a number, you're likely to meet far fewer people than you would otherwise.
  • Let your conversations swerve. Don't just stick to the facts, tell stories, share tidbits, ask some light-hearted questions, digress, welcome more detail. Superfluousness is often a handle that others can grab ahold of to engage more vibrantly in their conversations with YOU.
  • Go to the gratitude place. Okay, maybe this is a bit heavy for most networking events, but it is the Holiday Season so you most certainly can get away with asking people what they're most grateful for this year. And don't be surprised if much of what you hear is wonderful and heartwarming.
  • Identify a reason to follow-up. Build on what you've learned and continue your conversations afterwards. Did you talk with someone about great vacations? Share your itinerary from that trip to Banff and Jasper you took last year. Did you find a music buff? Let them know that Phish is getting back together. (Yes, it's true!) Did you talk sushi? Ask for the name of that great restaurant you talked about. Have a lead to share? By all means, share it.
  • Leave on a high note. Allow for the serendipity that the person you'll connect most with is someone you meet on the way out. And if not, no matter. You'll still have left the event with a spring in your step and a smile on your face. The memory of that alone will surely help you get yourself ready the next time.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Networking: Another Good Reason For It

I've got an idea!
We've talked about the importance - and value - of networking ... for your own benefit (and those you network with), but here's another reason:

When the boss asks for your thoughts on something, it helps to have something new and useful to say!

This is but one of the implications gleaned from a summary of "Emergent Processes in Group Behavior," an article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, by Robert L. Goldstone, Michael E. Robers, and Todd M. Gureckis.

Think it through: If people on your team, or in your immediate work group, tend to interact primarily with each other, everyone is going to start to know the same things about the same things. And while this is helpful to a certain extent, it doesn't do much to expand the conversation beyond the obvious.

When issues are relatively isolated and/or straight-forward, this is typically not a problem. But, as task-complexity and solution-ambiguity increase - and more nuanced responses are required -, the similarity of everyone's viewpoint will likely severely limit what creativity and ingenuity is put into play.

"There is a hazard in connectivity. If everyone ends up knowing exactly the same thing, you have a world of like-minded people, and this homogeneous group ends up acting like a single explorer rather than a federation of ideas."
Better to "federate" your contributions with new and varied ideas from outside the fold. Better to purposefully stoke your imagination and inventiveness. How?!

Through the new and different conversations you're likely to have through networking, of course!
So what's something interesting and applicable that you've learned through your networking conversations?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Allowing H-I-STORY to Unfold

Back in March of 2007, I suggested a method for putting your best foot forward in an interview by sharing your Success Stories using the P-A-R framework:

  • P - Start by stating a PROBLEM you've dealt with that is relevant to one that your prospective employer might have and/or want you to be able to address.
  • A - Next, explain the APPROACH you took to meaningfully, if not eloquently, resolve the problem.
  • R - Then share how the RESULTS you achieved not only solved the immediate problem, but enabled additional downstream benefits as well.
As an alternative to P-A-R, you might also use the H-I-STORY approach:

  • H - Crisply state the HEADLINE for the story you're about to tell.
  • I - Assert just how IMPOSSIBLE the achievement would typically be given the circumstances your about to share.
  • STORY - After asking if they'd like to hear more, share your STORY.

Customer Crisis Example:

"Share a particularly challenging situation you faced when managing an client account."

Sure, I'd be happy to. I guess you could say that the HEADLINE for this example would be: "Client Account Saved through Amazing Teamwork!"

The situation was pretty IMPOSSIBLE, actually. Client satisfaction was at an all-time low, they already told us contract renewal would be delayed pending RFP results, and some of our team members had pretty much checked out because of all the complaining about them.

Would you like to hear the rest of the STORY?

Well, we realized that the only way to salvage the account was resolve about 85% of the client's outstanding concerns. (We didn't think we could solve all of their problems, but figured that if we resolved enough of them, we could show that we had 'rehabilitated' ourselves and were now back on the path.) To do so, we developed what we called an Expedited Three-Step:

  1. Step One - We conducted a series of 1-on-1 and group brainstorming sessions, both internally, and with our client contacts, to determine what we needed - and could count on - from everyone on both sides of the table - to complete our turnaround.
  2. Step Two - Armed with that insight, we sat down with our Big Boss and got authorization to establish an emergency SWAT team to assist us in our expedited efforts.
  3. Step Three - Implementation. The trick was getting people to step out of their comfort zones, take some risks, and really play full-out, like never before. It took a lot of give-and-take, late-night 'get-er-done' sessions, and way-too-much cold pizza, but, soon, we able to show the client some truly meaningful progress, enough to earn a no-bid extension of the contract in question.

Clearly, it never would've happened without some amazing teamwork to bring it all home and I'm so pleased to be able to say that I helped it all come together like that!


Many otherwise fully-qualified applicants take too long to get to the punch-line of their story. The value of the H-I-STORY approach, then, is that it puts the headline first. Then, and only then, is the story told - but even still, not until the interviewer agrees that it's a story worth hearing.

Do you see how good things are just more likely to naturally unfold when you've captured your interviewer's Undivided Attention, like that?! Try it and see for yourself.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Deciphering Priorities

It goes by a variety of last names, but its first name is always the same:
  • "Another" Number One Priority
  • "Another" hot-hot one
  • "Another" just get 'er done
  • "Another" by-end-of-day deliverable
  • "Another" rush request
  • "Another" gotta do to-do
  • "Another" can't-wait task
  • "Another" small thing
  • "Another" request from on-high
  • "Another" oh, just one more thing before you go

Whatever name you know it by, your boss just gave you "Another" one - and you're fit to be tied. Oh well, that's life!

Oh, sure, you can just refuse it, but that's not a great strategy this time of year - especially it you haven't had your mid-year performance review yet.

So what to do? I like to ask two key questions:

Key Question #1: Do you want this done before, or after, that?

Most people know to ask the "What's the Priority?" question, but the problem with that is that it's really hard to say those words without sounding particularly defensive - or dismissive. Plus, when asked, its typical response is an equally dismissive and defensive, "They're both important."

But, by asking your boss if s/he wants this done "before, or after that", you're not challenging his/her right to move work through the system. You're not questioning his/her ability to push back on his/her boss. And you're not allowing it to be inferred hat you're so bad at time management that virtually anything out of the blue would likely send you into a tizzy, and undermine your credibility as a value-added contributor to the cause even more.

No, by asking your boss if s/he wants this done "before, or after that", you're showing you understand that some Number One Priorities, some hot-hot ones ... some get 'er dones ... etc., need to get done before others even if they weren't assigned to you in that same order. Too, it allows the boss the opportunity to consider which s/he would like completed first, which is a very helpful - for the both of you - to know.

Key Question #2: What's the minimum you need to make this work for you?

Here's how it works: There's what the boss wants ideally; there's what the boss can realistically work with; what would be minimally acceptable; and what falls short. Your goal in such situations, is to provide what's minimally acceptable ... and maybe a bit more, but only if it's easier to just include more, not because you have to include more.

Think it through: You're busy, overloaded, slammed ... whatever. Now is not the time to luxuriate in your perfectionistic tendencies - it's time to just get 'er done.

So how will you know when done is done? By knowing what's the minimum that your boss needs to make it work for him or her and working to achieve that, ASAP.
Need a metaphor for these particular busy spells? Okay, assignments are like toll booths. Your job is to provide exactly what's required ... no more ... and certainly not a penny less.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Archived Topic: Fear

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More Needed than Good Work

On Friday, May 14th, the University of Chicago hosted its 52nd annual management conference. A major theme: It's not enough to do good work.

"Reputations flourish not simply because you do good work but because people tell stories about your good work," reported Ronald Burt, professor of sociology and strategy." Simply put, the more people talk about your good work, the better your performance reviews (and raises and bonuses) will be. This is especially true when others talk about your good work to people in different parts of the company. It seems that when this type of information crosses department boundaries, it's seen as significantly more credible and newsworthy and naturally boosts your reputation.

But how can you get someone else to talk about your achievements like that? Well according to Burt, it also seems that 'network entrepreneurs' - those who talk to people in many different areas of the company - are part of many different interpersonal networks and as a result, are thought to be smarter and more creative than most. That also tends to translate into better performance reviews (and raises and bonuses).

So if you're looking to improve your reputation, it seems that there are three important steps to take:

Step One - Do good work.

Step Two - Start talking about your good work to those 'network entrepreneurs' so they can start talking about it too.

Step Three - Become a network entrepreneur yourself and start talking to people outside of your direct area of responsibility. You can easily start by asking others who they see as particularly smart and creative in the company and then go from there.

Mid-year reviews are coming. So don't delay.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

What Makes the Google Search Engine - and Leadership - So Good

Friday's post looked at what search engine optimization can can teach us about leadership. Today, let's look at what we can learn about leadership from Google and how it manages its search engine infrastructure.

First some perspective from John Dvorak's Inside Track (PC Magazine, April 2006):

"Anyone who runs a blog can clearly see the search engine bots as they roam through a Web site. The Google bots will show up and scan the site perhaps ten times as frequently as either the MSN or the Yahoo! bots. Combining the MSN and Yahoo! bots still does not even come close to the Google bots' level of activity.

"This is the real key to Google's success in search. Google is better because it works harder - or at least the computers work harder. Everybody wants to believe that there is some magical algorithm that makes Google the winner. That's not it. It's the relentless crawling of the Net that does the job.

"[And] Google continues to make this network of Web crawlers bigger by the day."

So what's this got to do with Leadership? I submit that if you increase your scanning of the world around you (as the Googlebots do) and incorporate what you find into:

  • the questions you ask
  • the answers you give
  • the views you hold
  • the directives you give
  • the conversations you have
  • the conclusions you reach
  • the 'pinging' you do
  • the activities you engage in

...you'll become a a better leader - a much better leader.

Try it this week and see for yourself.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

An SEO - that is, Leadership - Audit and Upgrade

How does SEO (search engine optimization) connect with you becoming a better leader?

Whether you know anything about getting better website rankings on Google, or not, let's take a closer look courtesy of Website Magazine, and author Dante A. Monteverde, as to commonalities between improving organic search engine placements and leadership excellence:

  • SEO Resolution: "Resolve to complete an SEO audit of your website." The idea here is that there are all sorts of things behind the scenes on a website (like meta tags, alt tags, keyword phrases, and h1, h2, and h3 tags, as example) that can affect search engine rankings. so too with your leadership style.

GGCI Leadership Corollary: "Resolve to complete an audit of your leadership infrastructure." That is, look behind the scenes at what helps you lead how you lead. How effectively do you keep track of (and hold others accountable for) the things you delegate?

How effectively do you keep track of (and honor) the commitments you make? How sufficiently do you prepare for difficult conversations? What tone and mood do you bring to work each day? Objectively audit such leadership infrastructure elements and upgrade, as necessary.

  • SEO Resolution: "Resolve to update your content." In website parlance, this refers to adding new materials to your website so that it's interesting enough for people come back to it to see what's new and what else they can learn from it. GottaGettaBlog! is an example of one way to do that.

GGCI Leadership Corollary: "Resolve to further your leadership discussions." What new aspects of leadership are you learning and sharing with your staff, colleagues, upper management, and vendor contacts, about leadership? What subtleties of human performance and motivation are you studying?

What questions do you have about effectively leading people that you can incorporate into your conversations with others? Objectively audit your leadership conversations and upgrade, as necessary.

  • SEO Resolution: "Resolve to obtain new incoming links." One of the ways that Google and the other search engines determine where a site should be placed on its rankings is by how many other sites have hyperlinks to that site. The basic idea is that as more and more sites refer to another site in its own content, the value of that other site is continually enhanced. (No wonder they call it link love!!)

GGCI Leadership Corollary: "Resolve to help others say good things about you." It's long been know that the more that people say good things about you - especially if they're people from other departments - the better raises and bonuses you'll likely get. (See More Needed Than Good Work, a blog posting I did on this topic almost four years ago!)

People who do this effectively are called network entrepreneurs as they recognize the value derived from building their personal and professional contacts and connections with an entrepreneurial zeal.

The thing to remember is that people can't say good things about you - even if they want to - if they don't know what good things you've been up to. Objectively audit how good of a network entrepreneur you are and upgrade, as necessary.

The article goes on to identify other key SEO Resolutions, as well, but I think you get the point:

It's probably a good time to audit - and upgrade - your Leadership Style, as necessary, yes?!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Interpersonal Networking - category archives

Follow this link to the GottaGettaBlog! archives for more postings from Barry Zweibel on the topic of: Interpersonal Networking.