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  • Frustrated At Work?

    How do you react when you are frustrated at work? Do you react emotionally, complain to others, and get angry, or do you find a way to make the best out of the situation? Remember Your Goals First, remember one of the basic elements to accelerating your career is to set goals. See our article on Setting Good Goals. Remembering your goals when you have difficult days or difficult situations will help you frame how you handle the situation. Maybe you want more money, or more work life balance, or maybe you want to find a better job. In any case, your goals should give you clarity on how you move forward. Problem Solving 101 We have seen many people simply express frustration over the difficulty of a situation or just complain adding new problems to the mix. Think about how you can help solve the problem. In most situations, problems offer you an opportunity to find a solution and help those around you as well. You are getting invaluable practice when you solve problems, so take the opportunity when problems arise to be a force for good change. 💡 Pro Tip: Ask yourself the following questions in writing to help frame the problem and possible solutions: You may have other ways of framing problems and solutions but try to use the same process each time so it becomes innate. Google how to solve problems for a plethora of other suggestions on problem solving or check out Harvard Business Review’s How to Solve Problems. Demonstrating Grace and Gratitude The next thing to remember is that you should not let one small moment in time or a small period in the course of your life define what people will say about you for the rest of your professional career. Those who are able to act with poise and grace during stressful events will be remembered. Don’t Panic Office work should not be a matter of life and death. If your situation is a matter of personal health contact the authorities and get the help you deserve. For those 99.99% less serious situations take a breath or go for a walk and focus on finding solutions. Who Do You Want To Be? When people think about you what do you want them to remember? Do you want them to remember a person who lost their temper, complained a lot, or quietly quit to get back at the company? Or do you want to be remembered as someone who took a bad situation in stride and found the best possible solution? It Could Be Worse Most of us are lucky enough to live in the western world where we enjoy freedom. We do not work in a gulag or toil away in fields with a shovel all day. Just remember there are those who are far less fortunate than us; so keep that perspective in mind. Reflect On The Good During times of difficulty reflect on the good part of your life. Write down what you are thankful for. 💡 Pro Tip: Once a week find a few minutes of quite time and write down what you are grateful for having in your life. Your relationships, your family, your career, or anything else. See NPR’s Tips for how to be grateful. This is not only helpful in general, but will help you ground yourself to the positives while you are dealing with the negatives. No One Said It Would Be Easy You already know this, but no one said making your career successful was going to be easy. Struggle and hard work usually pay off, but there are no free lunches. Don’t Complain This is simple, but very important. DO NOT JUST COMPLAIN. Leaders do not want to hear more problems. Leaders want solutions to problems. Even better if you can come to the table by defining the problem, defining possible solutions, and having joy at the opportunity to solve a problem. Final Thoughts If you are able to successfully exit a difficult situation or negative event those who see how you handle the situation will inevitably be proud, amazed, or even jealous. People will notice how you conducted yourself. Not every situation where you are frustrated will have great solutions. Sometimes you might have to pick the best least bad option. By remembering your goals, finding good solutions to the problem, keeping perspective on your situation, and having a positive attitude you will set the stage for accelerating your career.

  • Impressing The New Boss

    Leadership in your organization will change. You may get a new boss yourself or you may find yourself in the middle of a large scale corporate reorganization. In any circumstance, you must be intentional about using this opportunity to accelerate your career. It is critical you know how to remain focused on your personal outcomes, give the new leadership confidence to let you do your job, enable them to help you when you need senior level support, and ensure they do not feel the need to micromanage. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate leadership changes. Focus on Goals As we shared in our Accelerating Career Basics: Mastering the Interview you should already know the company’s goals, challenges, and opportunities for improvement. Regardless of the level of leadership change there will be new goals. One very easy way to show your competence is to ask a) what the new leaders see as changes to existing goals and b) how you can help support those new goals on a day to day basis. 💡 Pro Tip: If a new boss comes in and says they know exactly what needs to change after two weeks on the job be very careful around this new leader. Seasoned leaders know it takes time to see the root cause of problems and a good leader will have a well thought-out perspective before sharing it with their subordinates. One other consideration to remember while we are discussing goals is to make sure the organization’s new goals align with your goals. See item three in 7 Pillars for Accelerating Your Career. If your new leadership fails to ask you about your goals, then feel free to share your goals in one-on-one interactions, but you should also look for plan B. Be Humble Humility is a dying skill in the era of influencers. Many times humble people will get stepped on by others seeking to accelerate their career. We are not saying to be sheepish or cowardly, but this is not the time to be self-praising or grandiose. Focus on showing proof of your value based on facts, outcomes, and deliverables. 💡 Pro Tip: If you see people who do a lot of talking and hand waving, but they don’t actually produce anything, even senior leaders, be wary of them. If you have an opportunity, also take a genuine interest in your new leaders. They are people and want to be loved too. Ask them about their interests and background. Simple acts of kindness go a long way and you might be able to find something you share in common. Also please don’t talk shit about other people unless you are asked your opinion. It sounds simple, but there is an art form to sharing that someone else is bad at their job. Taking cheap shots without facts is dangerous business. Establish Your Value When new leaders arrive they are looking for inefficiencies, opportunities for improvements, throats to choke, ways to make a splash, or call it what you want. The point here is that you must establish your value early and often. Hopefully you are already one of the team’s top performers and you have been recognized for your contribution. However, it is important to always remember that the company is not loyal to you. See item two in 7 Pillars for Accelerating Your Career. Here are a few ways to make sure your contribution is visible: · Always show up early to meetings with your leaders · Summarize your work product in a dashboard on a weekly basis · Your summaries should be succinct and to the point; preferably one pagers · A simple summary can contain priorities, accomplishments, risks and issues with action plans, and status for upcoming deliverables · If you have a 12 month roadmap that is an extra bonus · Ask questions that demonstrate you are aware of the team’s goals · Do not ask nonsense questions that waste time · Ask how you can contribute to the team’s goals in group settings to set a good example · Ask what else you can do beyond your current work load to help the team The basic takeaway here is that if you act like a leader yourself, then you can establish your value; which will pay dividends as you seek to accelerate your career. You want you leaders to see how your work integrates into their objectives so as they set their priorities you are at the top of their list. 💡 Pro Tip: If you are seen as someone who is present to solve problems and drive good outcomes for the company your perceived value will increase. Set Limits If you are successful in establishing your value, then paradoxically you can also set limits without hurting your reputation. We all need to understand the priorities and vacation time to recharge the batteries doesn’t hurt. If a poor performer comes to a manager and says I can’t take on a new task or this existing task is too hard for me, but please also give me a raise, then that poor performer will be on the chopping block. However, if a solid performer comes to a manager and says look I am underwater and I am having a hard time with this situation, then the manager is more likely to have sympathy and help look for solutions without seeing the solid performer as a problem. If you are good at getting things done, then leaders will keep coming back to you to get more stuff done. It is hard to be successful at 100 things. You must help them understand the priorities. If they want to change the priorities then something has to be deprioritized. 💡 Pro Tip: Your job is to also help leaders learn and understand. The rising tide lifts all ships. Bad Leaders What if your new leader is just bad? It happens. The new leaders may be a friend of a friend. The new leader may have been good at one point and is riding their reputation. The new leader may have simply aged out of the current knowledge set. Whatever the cause, remember you are not stuck. See our articles on Finding Good Managers and Continuous Interviewing. We do not believe bad leaders become good leaders overnight and so it is best to find your next opportunity and preserve your sanity; all things being equal. Final Thoughts Regardless of whether you get a new leader who is bad or good the first few months will be bumpy. Please feel free to review out thoughts on Being Resilient in Your Career. If you focus on your goals, remain humble, show value, and set limits with your new leadership you will be well on your way to using a precarious situation to your advantage. It will never be as good as you hope or as bad as you fear, but always have an exit strategy and focus on your goals.

  • Don’t Be A Meeting Disruptor

    Have you ever been in a meeting where someone speaks up and everyone around the table groans? As you look to accelerate your career it is important that your participation in meetings demonstrates that you are a capable contributor, you have executive presence, and you are self-aware. We want to share a few thoughts about when you should speak and when you shouldn’t. Before we begin, telling people to “shut up” because they are a “Meeting Disruptor” may sound harsh, but better to hear it here than to be quietly pushed aside. Take this opportunity to reflect on your style in meetings, asking yourself am I doing everything in my control to accelerate my career? Why Knowing When To Speak Matters As leaders we regularly have thoughts and conversations about who to invite to important meetings. There are inevitably people who have genuinely good intentions, but who are also destructive when they participate in meetings. Some people link the conversation to their personal story, or they add facts that are unhelpful, or they create a whole new line of conversation that is not central to the point of the original meeting. Other people simply lack social awareness or have not had enough experience to know when to not speak. Believe it or not, leaders pay attention to those Meeting Disruptors and will, consciously or subconsciously, note these people as problematic. Know Your Role Ask yourself, am I here to lead the discussion, provide subject matter expertise, or to be informed? Leaders If you are leading the conversation, then it is your responsibility to use everyone’s time well. See the Harvard Business Review article on 10 Tactics to Keep Your Meeting on Track. Don’t let meeting disruptors steal everyone’s time. Have courage to tell people no, own the moment, and be a leader. Tips for meeting owners: · Ask yourself if the meeting is necessary · Only invite people who have a purpose for being there · Have a strict agenda and set expectations early in the meeting · Identify meeting disruptors and provide coaching to them if they must be present · If someone asks a bad question, then tell the group we will table that point and get back to it another time Leaders need to know how to manage a meeting when it is getting off track. Leaders need to be direct and exert control even if it is uncomfortable to prevent meeting disruptors from affecting the outcome of a meeting. 💡 Pro Tip: Check out this meeting cost calculator: Link Subject Matter Experts If you are there to be a subject matter expert, then pick your spots. You are not there to run the meeting or provide ancillary / tangential thoughts or questions. You are there to provide responses to specific questions or fill gaps in the group’s knowledge. Other Attendees If you are in a meeting as a non-leader or non-subject matter expert, then it may best to err on the side of listening unless your contribution is called upon. If you are there to listen, particularly if you are one of the more junior people on the call, then recognize your place in the hierarchy. It is true that culturally many believe “everyone’s opinion matters,” but we can tell you that there are dumb questions and there are opinions that should be held back. Businesses are not democracies; they are more like monarchies with an aristocracy, and it will benefit you to remember that. 💡 Pro Tip: If you are looking for an opportunity to get the good kind of notoriety, then only offer relevant, succinct, and problem-solving statements. Speak quickly and get to the point. Can I Drive Efficiency When you attend a meeting ask yourself what I can do to improve the efficiency of the meeting. · Do I need to ask this question or make this statement? · Will my contribution benefit others? · Is this something I can take offline in a one-on-one conversation? · Is my input important for this conversation? · Is my input contrary to the point my leadership is making? · Am I speaking to show everyone I am participating? · Am I offering opinions or facts? 💡 Pro Tip: Read the room and know when it is appropriate to engage and when you should not speak. If you are really paying attention, then you can read the vibe of the room based on nonverbal communication. See the Harvard’s Business Review on Your Body Language Speaks for You in Meetings Difficult Conversations Sometimes there will be difficult conversations. For instance, the company may be going through a round of layoffs or the company leaders are sharing changes in the policies about socially sensitive topics. If there is a large group meeting, an “All Hands” call, or a company-wide meeting really ask yourself is my question about me, is my question to get social credibility, or is my question important to ask at this point in time? Don’t get overwhelmed by your emotions during times of change. Ask questions that have answers that will help everyone. By asking personally beneficially, dare we say selfish, questions or making statements that disrupt the conversation these Meeting Disruptors are actually hurting their teammates and the company as a whole by wasting valuable time and by conflating the conversation that distracts from the main point of the meeting. A Note About Audit or Legal Meetings If you are leading a meeting as part of an audit or legal matter, then there are a few items leaders should consider. · Only have the smallest selection of the right people in the room who are well prepared and ready to engage in the conversation with facts and context · Create a light and friendly atmosphere when you can · Not everyone has to introduce themselves, do it for the room. You invited them and you should be able to explain why participants are there · Answer questions directly and based on facts. 💡 💡💡 Extra Pro Tip 💡 💡 💡 If you lead a sentence with the following you should probably not say it to begin with: · I know this is contrary · I am not sure but · To be honest · I could be wrong but · I know we discussed this but · I believe Think about your statements. Be direct. Provide context if you need to, but don’t hedge. Just get to the point. Everyone else will appreciate you saving their time. Final Thoughts If you get tagged as a Meeting Disruptor it will negatively affect your career. You want leaders to know you have executive presence. They want to know you can read the room. They want to know you understand how to solve problems efficiently. We all want our peers and leaders to know we are making contributions to the success of the team and the company. However, by speaking at the wrong moment or saying the wrong thing you can hurt your career.

  • Remote Work Best Practices

    Working remotely has become the norm and that is unlikely to change in the near future. In this article we will explore how to create competitive advantages in how you work remotely. Remote Work Does Not Equal Less Work A lot of people equate remote work to less work. As always if your goal is to work less then this is probably not the place for you. However, if your goal is to succeed in your career then working hard is a prerequisite. Therefore, one of the first things you need to remember is you are attempting to influence others’ perception of you. You want them to come away from a virtual meeting with you thinking “man this guy is killing it.” 💡 Pro Tip: Try to get to your meetings early so you can socialize a little with others before the call starts. The Home “Office” First, and we are begging you, have something similar to a real office setup. If possible don’t work out of your bedroom or your kitchen. It simply creates the wrong perception. It makes you appear as if you are working when you have free time from other household duties. “Oh I guess I will take this meeting since I am done folding laundry or washing dishes.” If you do need to work out of a common household space, then use a room divider as your background. Second, once you have your home “office” established make sure your environment is conducive to actually getting work done. Ask yourself these questions: - Does your home office limit distractions? - Does your home office make you efficient? - Does your home office convey a sense of professionalism to your colleagues? 💡 Pro Tip: Everyone says they don’t mind the background noises from your puppy or from the children, but in reality people will unconsciously sigh and think less of the other persons’ commitment to the conversation. Finally, treat your home office like an actual office. Try to establish physical barriers, like doors or room dividers, from work and home life as much as possible. Show Your Face This is simple: BE ON CAMERA DURING MEETINGS. Here are a few simple reasons: - Being on camera shows you are paying attention - Being on camera shows you are committed to the conversation - Being on camera establishes a deeper form of communication as you can see body language and facial expressions However, more importantly it supports the perception you are seeking to create that you are reliable and plugged into getting stuff done. Even if you are working in Costa Rica, show your face. 💡 Pro Tip: Review your Zoom, Teams, and WebEx settings when you first set up your computer. Know how to change your name, mute yourself, mute others, remove a participant, and change your camera settings to limit distractions. A final tip here is to use a real background. Try to avoid using the greenscreens. We all are suspicious of where you are working when you have the Deathstar in the background. Look The Part Just because you are working from home, or the Caribbean, doesn’t mean you should dress like you are going to the gym or just woke up. We are not saying that you need a full suit, but perceptions are established by the clothes you wear. Get yourself nice business casual attire and realize you are being paid to perform a function. Working is a privilege not a right. 💡 Pro Tip: Check out this article: Economic status cues from clothes affect perceived competence from faces The reality here is the same as everything else. People are going to judge you, consciously and subconsciously, based on how you present yourself. Tools of The Trade You may not think office workers have trade tools, but you do. Your computer, your audio-visual equipment, and your other office items are your tools and like any good tradesman you should have the best tools to get the job done. Here are a few of our favorite tools of the trade: Stand up desk: Curved monitors: Mouse: Docking station: Camera and microphone: Gel wrist rest pads: Link to Product Keyboard incline stand: Link to Product 💡 Pro Tip: Make sure to get the fastest internet speed you can get in your local area. Video conferencing, VPNs, and SharePoint sites use a lot of data. You don’t want to have glitches during your calls. As a side note we are huge fans of large desk spaces that allow you to have multiple monitors. We like the three monitor setup. Try setting up one of your monitors vertically and setting the monitor to portrait view. Use this monitor to view your Outlook or email application. The portrait view helps you read emails without having to open the actual email and is a more efficient way to use your monitors. Mental and Physical Health When working from home we can forget that we need to take care of our physical and mental needs. Check out Dr. Andrew Huberman’s podcasts on improving various aspects of your life: Remember that you need sunlight early in the morning, you need to get your body activated before working, and you need to get up and move around during the day. Final Thoughts Remember that working from home is a luxury and that perceptions still matter when you are working from home. Use every opportunity to demonstrate to others that you are reliable and trustworthy as you seek to accelerate your career.

  • Stop Working From Home

    Is working from home helping you achieve your goals? As with everything we recommend thinking about your goals as you evaluate “remote work” or “work from home” benefits. If your goal is to work less, become an amateur golfer, or secretly have two jobs, well remote work is the ticket. However, if your goal is to accelerate your career then we believe you need to be in the office. See our article on Setting Good Goals. Before we go any further, we can acknowledge the benefits of remote work: · Better work life balance as you have more time at home · Cost savings on gas, clothes, food, parking, etc. · Potentially more hours in the day to be productive · Beautiful and idyllic work locations However, these remote wort benefits will also prevent you from realizing the benefits of working from the office that you should understand. 💡 Pro Tip: Analyze how researchers and reporters gather their data about remote work productivity. We are suspicious of those research articles that use surveys and self-reporting to support the notion that employees are more productive at home. Building Relationships There is no substitute for talking to people in person. See the Harvard Business Review articles Need a Favor? Research Suggests It’s Best to Ask In Person and What Email, IM, and the Phone Are Each Good For. Speaking to people in person is the richest way to express ideas and build trust. Those relationships are important when you need to get work done. If you have a good relationship with the people who you work with then they are more likely to help you when the time comes. 💡 Pro Tip: By being in the office you can hear about all the new rumors and gossip, which in our experience is often very valuable when it comes to understanding corporate politics. Executive Leadership If you are working from the office, then you are inevitably going to run into senior leaders at the company. Just like building relationships with those you work with on a regular basis, having the ear of your company’s leaders can help you immensely in getting work done and when it comes time to performance calibrations. Getting Work Done While you may be very productive from your remote work location, we can agree there are more distractions and opportunities to do other things when you are not in the office. If you have a question or a thought to share with a colleague, then you can usually simply walk right over and chat as opposed to sending an email or scheduling another meeting. 💡 Pro Tip: As a leader you should schedule “in office” meetings that force your team to come together in person. Limit exceptions and set the tone that being present and available is critical to their performance evaluations. The reality is that productivity always depends on the person and their situation. However, we have observed that many remote workers are doing other “work” or are hard to find from minute to minute with prolonged periods of being away from their computer. 💡 Pro Tip: If you are a leader in the HR department or a manager, then suggest adding a VPN monitoring control to determine the usage from each employee. We are willing to bet you will find a number of employees who aren’t actually doing much during the day. Building Your Brand If you are in the office, then you can build your brand as someone who is dependable and present. It may not seem like a lot but just the act of being present is critical. Thankfully, the Covid pandemic brought clarity to how much time you need to be at the office. By being in the office you establish yourself above those who are not in the office if all other things are equal between two employees. 💡 Pro Tip: While being in the office is important that doesn’t mean you need to be there for 50 hours a week. It is acceptable to have a hybrid approach where employees can work in the office on certain days or where you allow for people to leave before rush hour traffic. External Networking By being out in the ‘wild’ of the office environment you will inevitably run into new contacts, or old ones for that matter. These networking contacts cannot be made virtually as the very nature of new networking depends on being in the same place at the same time. Unknown Opportunities Beyond external networking there are other opportunities that can emerge. It is hard to say, but we know that just by being out and about and by being externally available you will find new opportunities to accelerate you career. Maybe you meet a friend of a friend, maybe you see something in the office that sparks a new idea or approach, or you are able to find quite time in the office where you can find inspiration. Final Thoughts Yes, working from home or Hawaii is great. Yes, there are benefits to the remote work lifestyle. However, if you are setting goals where you need to be promoted, where you want to build your network, or where you want to be better at your trade you need to go into the office.

  • Continuous Interviewing

    One of the most overlooked strategies for accelerating your career is continuous interviewing. We do not mean you need to have a new interview every week, unless of course you are in an active job search. However, you need to network, practice your interviewing skills, and keep an open eye for that next career accelerating opportunity. Why Should I Interview Regularly? If you have a continuous interviewing mindset, then you will form habits that will naturally turn into meaningful interviews and those interviews will turn into new job opportunities that should help you grow and help you work towards achieving your goals. 💡 Pro Tip: You should have a story prepared to explain why you are interviewing. You don’t need to hate your job to look around for a better role. Most people will understand this perspective and if you can share your goals and why you are interested in evaluating new opportunities most recruiters and hiring managers will see that behavior as positive. There are a few other secondary benefits as well. Additional Benefits First, you will know your market value. By having conversations with recruiters and hiring managers you know where you stand in the marketplace and how much you could earn if you ever decided to leave your current role. 💡 Pro Tip: Remember you cannot rely on your current company to promote you or increase your compensation. Secondly, by consistently evaluating new roles you will have the ability to pivot into a new role quicker should the need arise. If you see signs of financial distress in your company, you have been overlooked for promotions even though you truly know you should have been selected, you do not seem to be progressing towards achieving your goals, or any other reason, then you need to be able to pivot quickly to a new role or company. Third, is simply having more joy. If you know your skill set and experience are valued in the market, then there is some form of emotional satisfaction that comes from that knowledge. If you see that your skill set is in decline, then it may be time to reevaluate your goals and focus on skills development. Finally, you might find that perfect job you have always wanted. The job that helps you be a better person, that gives you everything you ever wanted, that makes you complete as a person is out there, but you usually need to seek out those roles. We know the odds are small, but what if? If you see the benefits of continuous interviewing, then what strategies can you use? Recruiters Talk to recruiters when they reach out. 💡 Pro Tip: Be open and honest about where you are and what you are looking for. This is why you need to understand your goals. It is impossible for someone to help you if you do not know what you want yourself. Talking to recruiters gives you an opportunity to ask: · What am I worth in the market? · Does the recruiter see people with my skill set getting better jobs than I have now? · Is there a job out there that aligns more with helping me develop the skill sets I need to accelerate my career? The recruiter may, and often time does, ask if you still want to interview for the new opportunity even if you told them you are happy in your current role. This is especially true for senior roles where there are less qualified candidates. LinkedIn Keep an active search for new open roles on LinkedIn and on targeted company career websites that match your skill set. You can automate these searches to send you back new postings on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. 💡 Pro Tip: Keep an active search going for your company. See what roles they are posting so you can understand where the internal hiring dollars are going while also understanding the strategy of the company. Keep an eye out for your job getting posted too!! Stretch Roles Apply to roles that are a little outside of your comfort zone or experience level. Many times hiring managers are looking to develop new talent that will stay with the team for a while. Conclusion If you are honest with yourself, the recruiters, and hiring managers about your goals for evaluating new opportunities eventually you will find the conversations result in better opportunities for you to accelerate you career. You may find you are very happy where you are today, but by knowing the marketplace and possible options you have then you are making an informed decision instead of just treading water like so many other people do today.

  • Show Me The Money

    What if you could keep doing the same exact thing at work, but get paid more? You do not need to leave your current job to get a pay increase, but as with most things in life the devil is in the details. We are going to streamline the process to help you negotiate these nuanced conversations that will ultimately accelerate your career. Initial Assumptions Before we begin you should understand that not everyone will be able to ask for more money. You should make sure these criteria exist before asking for more. · You perform in the top 25% of your peers · You have not gotten more than 10% increases over the last few years · Your company is actively hiring · You have a goal to make more money 💡 Pro Tip: Increases of 3% to 5% are not enough to accelerate your income. The more money you make today the more you will have in the future by virtue of how interest on money compounds. (See Time Value of Money) What Are My Chances? The time to ask for more money is when you are performing well, other people know you are performing well, other people cannot do what you do, and there is a need in the marketplace for your skill set. Ask yourself these questions. · Am I working on projects or deliverables that are beyond the scope of my original job posting? · Are you managing other’s work even though you were hired to be an individual contributor? · Have you been mentioned as a contributor to the company’s success? · Are you working on critical projects or tasks that only you know how to perform? · Have you recently completed a large challenging task? · Can your manager do your job if they needed to? · Have other people recently left your immediate team? · Is your industry in need of more talent overall? · Are you ready to take on more responsibility? If you can answer yes to most of these questions AND you have not received significant percentage increases in your total take-home package in the last year, then it is time to ask for more money if the timing is right. When To Ask You want to time your request when you know there are no corporate restrictions on giving pay increases. Make sure you understand if HR has specific policies in place preventing off-cycle pay increases. However, if you are in a dominant position based on the questions above, then HR restrictions may be irrelevant. The key here is to understand the landscape and proceed with an understanding of the rules. 💡 Pro Tip: Make networking contacts with your internal HR team allowing insight into how compensation conversations work at your company before you ask for more money. What To Ask For You need to know your worth in the market. That is why we say you should always be interviewing. By actively interviewing you know how much the market is willing to pay you specifically for what you know how to do. You can also use resources like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Indeed to get a sense of the ranges; although we have less trust in those numbers. 💡 Pro Tip: Come into the conversation with a prepared, preferably in presentation form, explanation of what you have directly accomplished to help the team and the company. How To Ask You need to be able to explain how an increase in your pay will benefit the team, your manager, and the company. If you can make the argument that you are worthy of the pay increase, you will make it much easier for them to help you. When you go into these conversations you can go hard, or you can go softly. We prefer the soft approach. No need to threaten to walk out or quit if they do not meet your demands. Start by mentioning to your manager you want to discuss your compensation. Then explain why you think you warrant increase in pay citing your performance and industry norms for compensation. They will almost never say ‘yes’ on the spot. They will either say I will consider it, or they will tell you they need to ask their manager and/or consult with HR. Then you wait. What If They Say No You need to have a plan in place if you are told no by your manager or by HR. First, reflect on your goals and understand that hearing ‘no’ does not mean you have failed. Second, seek to understand who and why they said ‘no.’ Was it based on your performance or was it based on some other factor? Third, based on the rationale ask yourself what you can do differently during next time you ask for more money. 💡 Pro Tip: You may be able to negotiate another form of compensation like half days on Fridays or additional vacation time. Final Thoughts Regardless of the answer you get you have gotten something. If they said yes, then congratulations! You know the company values you and you are making more money. If they say no, then you know there are actions you need to take to get you to where you want to be.

  • Finding Good Managers

    How much does having a good manager impact your ability to accelerate your career? The answer is a good manager will affect your career in enormous ways. Reflect First, reflect on some of your past managers. What were some of the impacts a bad manager had on you personally and professionally? · Did you dread coming into work? · Did you talk about the Sunday scaries? · Did you feel a sense of gratification at your job? · Did you catch yourself complaining about work in social settings? Now hopefully you have experienced a good manager as well. · What were some of the differences? · Where you happier? · Did you feel a sense of urgency and gratification in your work? While your direct manager may not have the ability to affect all of the circumstances that will help you find fulfillment in your job, they have a big impact. What Are Your Goals Now we do need to make one distinction before we move forward. If your goal is to maximize income or work at a company where you learn something critical to your future then having a good manager may be less important. See our article on Setting Good Goals. But all things being equal we can all agree that having a good manager is important. Then the question becomes what are the attributes of a good manager you can look for when making a decision about a new role? Can You Trust This Person For us, the first criteria is trustworthiness. Frankly this is difficult to evaluate in interviews and with limited interactions. There are a lot of sites, like the Harvard Business Review (link), who share their perspective on how to evaluate trust. But the basics are fairly universal. Is this person credible, reliable, and intimate? All of these attributes come together to help us derive a sense of a manager’s trustworthiness. If your manager is trustworthy and you are a solid performer you will be able to overcome a lot of problems. If your gut is telling you that your potential new manager is not trustworthy then R-U-N. Credibility Credibility can take many forms, but here we are focusing on professional credibility. Ask yourself: · Does the new manager answer questions with boilerplate answers or are they thoughtful and considerate in their responses? · Are they an expert at what they do? · Are they respected and/or a thought leader in the industry? · Can they help you learn and grow based on what they already know? · Do you think they will be there for you when you have a question? Reliability We all know what a reliable friend looks like. And then there are other friends we know wouldn’t help us unless it would help them. Think about these items: · Do I think my new manager will fight for me when it comes time for promotions or compensation increases or are they just trying to get by without rocking the boat? · Are they organized? · Will they pull their weight and create deliverables or will the act purely as a “manager” taking credit for other’s work? · Will they be consistent or will I get good then bad versions of the manager? Intimacy This attribute of trustworthiness may seem like a millennium talking point, but having a manager who is willing to act like a human instead of just a boss will directly affect your overall satisfaction with your next role. · Has the new manager shared anything about themselves or are they guarded? · Are they willing to take interest about who I am as a person? · Do they seem to have a connection with others on the team or are they just there for the paycheck? · Do they explain why the team is working on a deliverable or do they simply state the need without context? Time The reality is that you are making an educated guess about your new manager’s trustworthiness. You will need a make a judgement call and evaluate what you have learned in your direct conversations with the hiring manager. However, there are a few tricks you can use to get better informed. · Use the power of your network. Do you know anyone who has worked with this person in the past? Just remember to be careful. The shared connection may like the hiring manager more than they like you. · Ask to talk to previous team members and/or current team members. Ask probing questions about how the manager manages; but softly and discretely. · Ask the hiring manager the same question in slightly different ways in different settings to see if you get consistent answers. · Be open with yourself if you see red flags or have concerns. Depending on the circumstance you may need to address those concerns directly with the hiring manager before taking the role to set expectations. · Ask the recruiter if the hiring manager has experienced high turnover in staff or what they think about the hiring manager. You should be able to decern if they are giving you the ole “he’s a great guy” answer versus a genuine assessment. If you get the prior answer that is a red flag for sure! · Ask to speak to the hiring manager’s boss. Ultimately you will be working for that person as well. If they are unwilling to give you 30 minutes to ask a few questions then you already know where you stand. As an added benefit it never hurts for the bosses boss to know who you are. Final Thoughts Understanding if the manager is good or bad is really up to you. You should put in the work up front to understand what you should expect from a new manager. You need to consider how important having a good manager is relative to the opportunity the new job will give you as you consider your larger strategic goals. A great opportunity to learn a skill set you need even with a crappy boss may be worth the headache. Or if your goals are to seek joy and happiness having a bad boss will likely not help you along your way as you accelerate your career.

  • Should I Move To A Smaller Company?

    Should I move to a smaller company? It depends on the risks you are willing to take. Many of our readers work at large companies. After the COVID years employees realized they had more influence on their employers than they once thought. For those large companies that are not embracing change, employees are looking outside of their current employer’s open role list and finding that smaller companies may offer a better way to accelerate their career. We are here to share thoughts on the benefits and risks associated with moving down-market. Benefits: Generally, these smaller companies need to compete on a broad range of benefits. They are usually non-cash benefits, but important none-the-less. Let us start with the one big benefit everyone wants. Remote working. These small companies do not care if you are on the beach in Costa Rica or a mountain top in the Swiss Alps. If you have an internet connection and you are getting your work done, they could care less. You will likely have tons of paid time off. It costs the company very little in terms of cash, but everyone universally seems to like time away from work. Similarly, if you are moving to a technology, finance, consulting, or other professional services style company you will likely get equity as part of your compensation and if the company does well you can reap the massive upside. 💡 Pro Tip: When you are negotiating your offer, ask for more equity if you can. It costs the company very little and can really increase your overall take home compensation. You will be closer to the leadership team and decision makers at the top of the house. Access to senior leaders is a big deal; especially if you are a top performer looking to accelerate your career. Culturally, employees at smaller companies value getting to know each other and spending time with one another outside of work. These smaller companies will host more after-hours events, volunteering projects, and dinners (alcohol included). 💡 Pro Tip: Don’t get drunk at the company events; NEVER! Give a good reason, order water with a lime and act like it is boozy, or whatever but do not become an epicurean. And let’s not forget the awesome break room freebies in the form of all the snacks and drinks your inner child could imagine. Risks: Compensation may be lower and in the form of restricted stock units. So if the company does poorly you will earn less. There is an upside, but it comes with risk. People are highly mobile at small companies. It seems competitors and new contenders are constantly looking to poach talent who has already solved a problem the new company is struggling to resolve. This could be a benefit if you are the one with the right skill sets. However, if your colleague leaves, or even several people leave at the same time, then the team usually has to bear the burden for a long time until a replacement can be found as these companies usually run lean and mean with short staffed recruiting departments. 💡 Pro Tip: As a manager always have a replacement plan for people in those key spots or for those who have hard to replace skill sets. Support departments are less seasoned and less capable, especially in supporting senior leaders, but they are all responsive and very friendly. The new company could be bought, and new leadership could improve or decrease the value of your department or project. In general the expertise, professionalism, and pace of execution are not as good as you would find at a larger company. Smaller companies just don’t have the money to pay for nice-to-haves and focus on the core business in efforts to increase revenue. Thoughts on Managers We don’t talk about managers and bosses in terms of benefits vs. risks. The reality is managers are equally bad, or good, throughout the general population. Bosses and managers are people too. They have external factors determining how they interact with the world; including their job world. You are just a number when you work in a company of 50,000+ people. It is simply too hard to make sure that every manager in the company is good at their job. Ironically, smaller companies struggle as well. There are going to be a lot of first-time managers. The “leadership” training you get at a small company may be well intentioned, but there is no replacement for sending someone through the crucible of large company management training. It has been our experience that most managers and bosses are just not good at their job, or they were good once and life has beat them down so much they stopped caring. You can succeed in your role regardless of management, but always be considerate about your new manager when looking at a new role. 💡 Pro Tip: Always keep a lookout for good managers and hitch your wagon to that pony. Final Thoughts Moving to a smaller company can promote your personal well-being and make you happier as an employee. Remember our advice on Preparing For Your Job Search. You need to know what you are looking for in your new company. Just remember smaller companies are no better or worse than large companies, just different and those differences may just be the thing you need to accelerate your career.

  • Add A Presentation To Your Interview

    Everyone is always asking themselves “how can I distinguish myself in an interview?” Well, we have one method that is sure to help you stand out! Interviews were traditionally conducted in person or over the phone, but then COVID happened, and the world changed forever. Now we conduct interviews virtually and this give interviewees a new tool to use during the interview; A PowerPoint Presentation!! Why This Will Work Now you may think, no one makes a presentation or “deck” to take to an interview. But think about the message having a presentation gives the hiring manager or interview team: - This person is prepared - This person knows how to make a PowerPoint presentation - This person is committed to the role because they spent the time to prepare - This person is different than the other candidates 💡 Pro Tip: Look for the company’s latest investor presentation and use the same style and logos found in their presentation. It will save you a lot of formatting effort. There is another benefit; namely by creating the presentation you will be better prepared. Creating the presentation will force you to think about efficiently structuring your responses to questions. Check out this Harvard Business Review article on What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation Building Your Deck Now let us assume you do not know what the interviewer is going to ask. That is perfectly ok. As part of your preparation you can ask the recruiter about potential questions and you should also ask yourself what could the interviewer ask me? Of course, there are the basic interview questions; you can Google them. And then there are the job specific questions. You should focus you presentation on addressing the needs of the role and how you see the team solving the problem. Check out the information Accelerating Your Career Basics: Mastering The Interview 💡 Pro Tip: Do not just start the interview with telling them you have a presentation. Wait for a question to come up that you have built a slide to explain unless you absolutely know the questions in advance. That way if you do not have a slide that pertains to the interview questions then you can avoid the awkwardness of being prepared for the wrong question. Final Thoughts Building a PowerPoint deck is just one way to stand tall above the competition. Yes, it will feel different and strange. Yes, it is more work. However, when you get a question from the interviewer and you say “may I present a slide to explain my thinking on this subject” you will have an opportunity to impress the interviewer, stand out from the competition, and Accelerate Your Career!!

  • Navigating Multiple Interviews

    Many times you will have multiple active interviews, but how do you maximize your outcomes? Be Honest First, be honest, open, and transparent with recruiters about where you are in the job search process. If they do ask you about other interviews, they will want to know if you have any other offers or conversations going on. If you tell them that you are indeed interviewing with other companies, then the recruiter may be able to speed up the process internally. Also, as an added benefit you can use this to your advantage when it comes to negotiating your offer. Check out our page on You Got An Offer! 💡 Pro Tip: People want you more when someone else also wants you. If you tell them you only have one conversation going on and you surprise them with a competing offer you will have eroded the trust. Remember you may run into this recruiter or company again one day and your reputation as a truthful person matters. Timing the Interviews Second, timing is critical. Try to make sure you are timing the interviews simultaneously. The goal is to get offer letters within a day or two of each other so you can compare the offers. Recruiters and hiring managers will likely have several other candidates that could be a good fit, but they chose you first. If you decline their offer, then they don’t want to loose out entirely on the other candidates. Because of this pressure, the recruiters may only give you a day or two to make a decision. 💡 Pro Tip: You can buy yourself some extra time by asking to meet with the hiring manager again to review the job expectations in more detail or ask to speak to potential peers in the new company, which will give you a better perspective on what you can expect in your new role. Just make sure it doesn’t look like you are stalling, but rather that you are deeply considering the role and making sure you have a solid understanding of the expectations. Comparing Offers Third, remember money isn’t everything, but we know it matters. See our article It’s Not All About the Benjamins. Consider all the benefits; money, vacation, work-life balance, reimbursement plans, educational opportunities, equity sharing, and promotional opportunities if you do well in the role. Try to reflect on your goals and compare the different companies and different offers versus your goals. Check out our article on Setting Good Goals. 💡 Pro Tip: Share your goals with the hiring manager and see where they seem to have the same goals or where they are supportive of your personal desires. Making Your Decision Finally, when you do make the decision to take an offer trust the process. Email the recruiter, get the offer letter, background check, and other administrative items going. Call the hiring manager and let them know your decision to take the offer personally instead of relying on the recruiter. Show up day one with positive energy and enthusiasm. For the roles that you did not accept personally send an email to the hiring manager(s) and share with them that you have taken another role, you appreciate the time they took during the interview process, and hope to see them again in the future. 💡 Pro Tip: Make sure you understand something personal about the hiring managers, write it down in your networking tracking log, and reference those notes when you interact with them; assuming it is positive and appropriate as you want to avoid touchy or emotionally negative subjects.

  • Be Loyal to Your Company

    We have already said in our 7 Pillars for Accelerating Your Career that companies and managers are loyal to you up to a point. However, you can still benefit by being perceived as loyal to the company. Background To see how much your company loves you and if you are a top performer tell your boss you have another offer coming in for 20% more and see how fast they find more money for you. Why didn’t they just pay you that money in the last annual pay review? The answer is simple. The company is all about helping the company maximize profits. Why Be Loyal First, let’s start with the assumption that companies mainly seek to maximize profits; especially publicly listed companies. Side Note: Sure, some companies are promoting their desire to promote ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) standards, but without profits and growth no one is promoting ESG. Second, if you know your company is there to maximize profits, then logic suggests in order to maximize your personal outcomes you should seek to help the company to maximize profits. Third, the most significant way you can help the company is by being part of teams that work on significant strategic projects or product offerings that help generate revenue, reduce expenses, or mitigate key risks. How To Be Loyal If you were a senior leader in the company with a big strategic project who would you choose to be on the team? Would you choose the person who is always complaining about the company and threatening to leave or would you choose the person who you believe will be loyal? The answer is obvious, but how do you create the perception you are loyal? First, create trust. · Volunteer to be part of new projects or tasks when the opportunity comes up · When there is change support the strategic vision · Do not criticize the company or its leaders when you are frustrated · Help train new team members as they come onboard Second, show company support outwardly. · Promote items from the company on your LinkedIn · Wear and use the company logos like cufflinks or lapel pins · Tell others in your network about the good things the company is doing · Be part of community volunteer efforts hosted by the company · Attend after hours company events Third, deliver good results. When you are doing your normal work do you best to perform at the highest level so that you are asked to work on those other more strategic projects. Top performers are usually those people leaders select to work on additional projects. Benefits of Loyalty If you want to accelerate your career being part of the big important projects in the company is a tired and true method for getting promoted and getting paid. Be open to the idea that being reliable and dependable will help you in your career. True, companies may not always be loyal to you, but they look for loyal people when important work needs to be done.

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