upstart thoughts on talent and leadership

Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

“In the Future, You Will Know Everything You Wish to Know”

In ! Jen, Careers, Development, Learn on Monday, April 19, 2010 at 11:11 pm

This is a Good article about information, and it has a heady title: “In the Future, You Will Know Everything You Wish to Know.”

Increasingly, those in the industrialized world who lament not knowing how to do X are going to be perceived as passive, whiny or unresourceful. The value and validity of resources on the interwebs will, of course, always be in question. That unknown factor and the need for critical skepticism will only grow.

But all the same, if we want to know something badly enough, we’ll be able to find it. And so it goes with development.

I recently met with someone outside work who had asked her manager for assistance on who to network with: she wanted to learn more about business development. The manager didn’t know. So the search stopped there. Firstly, great that the woman asked for help. But chances are, if the search stopped there, she’d self-selected herself out of who-knows-what opportunities.

With the luxury of so much information readily available, not to mention extensive people networks, comes empowerment. S’long, excuses!

Learning & Development: Current, Free & Fast at Your Fingertips

In ! Jen, Development, Employee Tips, General Work, Learn on Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 12:12 am

Training budgets everywhere are being cut. So make proverbial lemonade out of free resources found online. When you’re having a performance review or development planning discussion, highlight what you’re learning and how you’re planning to apply it. You’ll show you’re resourceful, keen on personal development, and savvy to know that the bulk of professional learning doesn’t happen in a formal classroom. (Well, to be fair, the bulk doesn’t happen with your nose in a book or looking at a computer either, but work with me here.)

This is a great site for knowledge junkies.

My favorites for business learning:

  1. MIT Open Courseware. Their goal? Every course, all course materials, online, for everyone. Amazing. This includes the Sloan School.
  2. TED. Short for Technology, Entertainment, Design. If this isn’t bookmarked on your computer, you should do it yesterday. Great lectures on a diversity of subjects, including plain simple inspiration for you to get started.
  3. Wall Street Journal. Tied with Wired and the Economist. If I had to choose only one paper periodical to subscribe to, it’d be the Economist.
  4. Seth Godin’s blog.
  5. Executive Board. Follow relevant tweets.
  6. Businessballs is a mishmash soup of links. You can easily get lost there, but the clickage is fun and frequently fruitful.

If your company doesn’t have free access to business periodicals like Harvard Business Review, check with your local public library–ask for EBSCO access.

We Are All Self Employed

In ! Kristy, Branding, Careers, Development, Employee Tips, Leaders, Learn, Listen on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 7:09 am
This quote floated by me recently and stuck with me. I’ve been re-quoting it to people, but I’ve completely forgotten who said it to me originally. (If it was you, please take credit!) While moodling over the concept for this post, I googled the phrase and found that it’s the title of a book by Cliff Hakim, who coined this phrase back in 1994. I’m going to read the book to see how Cliff defines this phrase, but in the meantime here’s how I’ve been thinking about this concept of self-employment and what it means in 2009.
 
Loyalty is dead
The era of lifetime employment has been over for years, but our thinking about careers and jobs still reflects this outdated mindset. We still worry about being seen as a job-hopper, and we still hang on for as long as we can in a terrible job because we’re waiting to be vested in the retirement plan. Here’s a hard question to ponder: Your organization does not have YOU as its top priority; why would you have the organization as YOUR top priority?  Fitness center and holiday luncheon aside, your organization would lay you off if it made financial sense, and many of us have now experienced the effects of that decision first-hand.
 
I’m not proposing that we all slack off and surf Monster at work. Integrity demands that we earn our paycheck and give our employer our best efforts. I’m also not saying that we should treat the organization as The Man who is out to get us at every turn. It’s great to work for a thriving company that values its employees and treats them well, and it’s great to feel that you are having a “great run,” as a good colleague of mine puts it.  I will go Zen for a moment and remind you that the bad times don’t last forever… and neither do the good times.
 
Being self-employed means proactively shaping the environment at your current employer, and not being afraid to move on if you’re not getting what you need.
 
Branding is Imperative
“And what do YOU do?” The quintessential cocktail party question reveals a great deal about a person’s professional self-concept.  Inevitably, a certain percentage of partygoers will respond to this question with the statement, “I work for Company X” — especially if Company X has a well-known, respected, sexy brand. 
 
A primary identification with an employer can work against you in two ways. First, when managing your career within the organization, it doesn’t differentiate you. Everyone around you can use the exact same line. You’ve got to be able to clearly articulate how you add value in order to market yourself for current and future opportunities. Second, when managing your career over the course of your working life, it limits your thinking about your career to a list of employers and positions.
 
Branding, on the other hand, is about what you decided to be when you grew up. It’s about your personal niche, your calling, your strengths, and how what you do brings measurable, differentiated value to your customers. Being self-employed involves growing your brand. It means being engaged in a constant process of evolving your unique skillset and applying it to a variety of customers, one of whom happens to be your current employer.
   
What this means for you as a professional
If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, take some time to figure that out. If you don’t want to decide that right now, at least decide what you want to give back to the world in the next 3-5 years. Create a statement of professional value that helps others understand what it is you bring to the table. 
 
Mine is in process, and it’s way too conceptual, but here it is in draft form: I am passionate about blowing up outdated notions about working and leading, and creating new ways to get good work done by good people. My next step is to take Judy Murdoch’s advice and articulate what this means in very practical, concrete terms. I welcome your feedback and I’ll post revisions as they happen.
 
What this means for you if you manage people or lead a function or business 
Become OK with being your employees’ current customer. Odds are they won’t retire from your company and they’ll have a long and satisfying career with several employers. So relax a little and do everything you can to help them have a “great run” at your company for as long as it’s mutually beneficial. Don’t throw the Loyalty Card if they decide to move on; instead, add them to your professional network and create a new post-employment relationship where you can support each others’ long-term success.
 
Branding resources & articles
Brett L. Simmons has created a set of videos that I’m currently working my way through
 
How about you?  Have you articulated your brand?  How has your professional identity changed over the past 1o years? 

Use your magic powers for good, not evil

In ! Kristy, Development, Manager Tips on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I spent two days last week becoming a certified facilitator of FranklinCovey’s The Speed of Trust materials. I’m a huge Covey fan; The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has majorly influenced how I go about my life, and The Speed of Trust is in that same vein. In short, it’s Good Stuff, and it’s now part of my toolkit along with other favorites like the MBTI and Right Management’s career development material.

I’m a proud OD geek, and I’m passionate about helping others find insight using these tools. But in the wrong situation, they can eff up a team or an organization like nobody’s business, worsening the dysfunction and creating a zombie army of cynical team members.  It all depends on how you use the magic powers.

These tools rock when:

  • The leader has done the hard work of getting self-aware, identifying how she contributes to the team dynamic, and demonstrating changed behavior as a result of the feedback she received
  • The leader has made some tough people decisions and removed team members who don’t play well in the sandbox; i.e., the leader has implemented the No Assholes Rule
  • The leader is committing to a long-term development process for her team, not just a one-hit wonder “teambuilding day”

These tools crash and burn spectacularly when:

  • The leader is checking a box, particularly on his own development plan
  • The leader is trying to fix the team without fixing himself
  • The leader is assuming that a one-day “training,” followed (god forbid) by some Whirlyball, is going to fix everything
  • The leader misuses the information shared by team members during the session

How do we avoid misuse?

Certified facilitators have an ethical obligation to ensure that each tool is used in the right circumstances with the right intent. It can be difficult to speak truth to power when a client “just wants you to come in for an hour” and run through some MBTI concepts. But you’ve got to do the true consulting work.  That’s why you get paid the big bucks and have such a nice cube.

Leaders have an ethical obligation to do the hard work of change, which starts with changing you, which starts with getting self-aware and becomes real when you show others you’ve listened to their feedback by changing how you act. Also, there are some tough conversations and decisions ahead of you if you really do want to help your team. But this is the true work of leadership. That’s why you get paid even more money and may even have wood furniture.

Use those magic powers wisely, peeps.

16 Questions to Ask Your Employees in Development Discussions (With Focus on Current Job)

In ! Jen, Development, Manager Tips on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 3:33 am

These are questions I’ve culled from exchanges with countless managers and personal coaches. There are so many good ones, but here are 16 favorites. They all require an earnest approach and sincere exchange. Respond to cockamamie answers with a “no, really, I want to know.” And stay curious about your employee–don’t take their responses at face value. What do they mean? what would this look like? what is stopping them? what barriers can you help remove? Keep the dialogue alive. It creates connection, and your employee will appreciate that you cared enough to invest in this time.

16. What risks would you take in the next year in your current role, if you knew that you could not fail?

15. If you could change one thing about your job today, what would it be?

14. If you could improve one process, which would it be? How would it be different?

13. What important-but-not-urgent task or project do you wish you had more time on which to work?

12. What do you want to be remembered for in this job?

11. What skills do you need to learn to excel in your job?

10. What skills do you feel you need to practice more?

9. Who do you wish you knew in our organization to be more effective in your job?

8. What’s a recent management decision you didn’t understand?

7. Do you understand how your work contributes to our department’s success? to our organization / company’s success?

6. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being “extremely,” how satisfied would you say you are in this job? What would make it an X+1? What would make it a 10?

5. Do you feel we meet frequently enough to enable you to do your job effectively? What communication would help?

4. Are there areas of your job you wish you could receive retraining?

3. In what areas of your job do you wish you had more support? (Support could mean so many different things here.)

2. What brings you joy in your work?

1. What do you need from me to help you in your development?

%d bloggers like this: