I want to thank you for your help over the last few months as it has been a inspiring, life-changing experience. Connecting with you helped me realize just how bad things were at my then present job and how important it was for me to take control of my career and develop a meaningful short-term and long-term plan. You logically walked me through the transition including the negotiation of an exit package and then deeply listened to me to understand my core beliefs. From there you put me in front of a mirror and reminded me who I was, what drove me and why what I had been doing was consistently tripping me up. Looking back the solution seems so simple but its harder to see the alligators when your in the water, that is why your coaching was so helpful. Thank you for all of your guidance, sometimes gentle, sometimes with a two by four between the eyes. It worked. You are a “career whisperer” and I’m grateful that for the experience.
All the best,
Vicksburg. The Civil War.
In case you missed it, we are “celebrating” the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, aka The Civil War, which was anything but “civil.” This was the culture war of culture wars. Those who live north of the Mason Dixon line will tell you the war was over slavery. Those who live south of that line will tell you it was about states’ rights. Historians’ views are more nuanced.
A couple of weeks ago, my spouse, Jim, and I took a few days off and decided to meander (he thinks any speeds under 75 are slow) south on the Natchez Trace. We stopped along the way at Meriwether Lewis’s murder site (a real cold case) and several Native American mounds. Our final destination? Vicksburg, the site of a long, grueling and determinative battle in this war.
Jim, who is writing a novel about female spies in this war, is an expert. Me, not so much. In fact, except for the local Civil War sites in the Franklin, TN, area, this was my first visit to a major battlefield. A century and a half later, the site is almost pastoral, with rolling, grassy knolls (if you can overlook the obvious cannon guns and bunker sites) with tall trees and beautiful memorial monuments. However, the Visitor’s Center film, and a gun (cannon) firing demonstration, set the context for our 16 mile drive tour of the site. Tens of thousands of men, on both sides, hunkered down for weeks. Air was acrid and ash laden — not breathable. People ate dogs, cats, and when necessary, rats. Vicksburg citizens vacated their lovely homes to “hole up” underground — literally.
Yes, we definitely do. I do, anyway. This morning, I duked it out with my partner of 20+ years, over where the fly spray was and why do we have bottles of something poisonous in our pantry that are unlabeled and at least two years old, and why does he want me to throw things away, but won’t let me get rid of his college (half-century old) clothes?
In the office I share, we duke it out (much more quietly) over which news channel should play in the lunch room. I tried to get the manager to rotate between Fox and CNN (the “liberal” station). I didn’t even try for MSNBC, but I wanted to! The stations are supposed to rotate every week, but mostly it’s on Fox, until a few of us can’t stand it anymore and complain.
At my client’s site, there’s a prominently posted sign “congratulating” ladies for flushing — and promising to tackle the men’s room next. Which makes me wonder — who wrote the sign? Who would care about flushing status of both genders’ toilets? I think I’ll call her (gotta be female, right?) the “potty” blogger!
Every office lunchroom I’ve ever been in has a sign saying “Please don’t leave your dishes in the sink!” It is prominently posted over a sink full of dirty dishes.
We love a good fight. We celebrate victories; we celebrate those who are brave enough to fight for us, now that we no longer have a draft; we play war games; we fight on Facebook™.
What we haven’t learned, is to channel our desire to tussle into something that will actually do some good.
What if, at home, we took those combative attitudes, worked with, instead of against, each other, to tackle our fitness programs? Our clutter? Our weeds?
What if, at work, instead of dueling over coffee cups, we worked on winning strategies to conquer our markets? Our processes? Our product quality?
What if, in our communities, instead of shout downs in our town hall meetings, we decided to compete with other communities to see who could be the best at educating our citizens, of all ages, races, and incomes?
What if, as countries, we decided to tackle the big things: corporate self-interests that don’t serve the greater good, runaway pollution, promoting tolerance and ending corruption?
Oh my goodness! I hear Jim calling me from the kitchen. He wants to know if he can throw away the extra blender top I’ve been saving! I can’t believe it. He’s going through the junk drawer! “Stop! I need those syringes for the horses!”
Never mind. I have battles on the home front to fight. I’ll tackle the big questions — later!
The question of the “perfect” candidate is one that anyone who touches the recruiting process must eventually confront. I explained a few of the challenges in my previous blog post and I have been poking around to see what practical tools exist.
I began with a long conversation with Lucia Erwin, a Silicon Valley workforce planning pioneer and HR strategist. She said that one of her biggest consulting challenges is when she wants to conduct an environmental scan for talent. That’s because often, when companies are scanning the external environment, they are looking at competitors, industry trends, governmental regulations, not the talent pool. Managers often assume that whatever they need in the way of skills will be there. This reminds me of building The Field of Dreams, if you have the jobs, they will come.
This discovery prompted me to interview Greg Nicastro, CEO of My Perfect Gig. I first discovered MPG a couple of years ago while having coffee with a former colleague from SCO (The Santa Cruz Operation), John James. John listened to my impassioned rant about talent and how it’s the people who make the difference between winning and losing companies and that if you have the right team, you can solve any problem, etc., etc. Then John said, “You need to check out My Perfect Gig. They are doing something really interesting.”
Two years later, their model is even more intriguing than when I first discovered it, MPG gives companies real-time information about the supply of and demand for talent in a specific market. Rob Roberts, VP of Product for MPG, showed me how they can show employers the current available supply of specific skills and experience levels by geographic location. Additionally, they show who else is looking for those skills. He did a sample search for software developers with Ruby-on-Rails, SQL, and Java. There were several thousand candidates in the market he selected. Then, he added Python. Whoops! The pool shrank from thousands to a few hundred.
CEO Greg Nicastro explained that when he joined MPG, he was looking at the product from the perspective of the recruiter, but, as he talks to more and more companies, he’s realizing that the ability to have a current snapshot of talent can be enormously valuable for companies when formulating their talent strategies and workforce plans. MyPerfectGig is like Google Earth with street views for talent acquisition executives. He stressed, that while MPG gives companies a very clear picture of the current state of the talent supply and demand, equally important, “MPG leverages that data and our advanced search smarts to generate very well matched short lists of technical candidates—I like to think of it as the last mile or candidate ‘cull to quality.’ ”
MyPerfectGig’s solution is targeted to help talent acquisition leaders find the best available talent fast. However, I think the real opportunity for visionary HR strategists, is to use tools like theirs to form their talent management strategies. The value of accurate information cannot be overstated.
To gain competitive advantage based on a talent strategy, companies must be go beyond rhetoric to actual implementation. That requires actionable intelligence, the ability to look at trends, in order to make the most effective talent investments. Accurate information will help you answer questions like: Do I need to hire skills? Develop skills? Send people to training? Outsource? My next blog article will feature several thought leaders who are working to address the need to spot talent trends.
- “This position has been vacant for 9 months.”
- “We just can’t find the right person.”
- “HR hasn’t sent me any qualified people.”
- “I can’t find a good headhunter who can find me someone.”
- “We have hired the best search firm and they can’t find me anyone.”
Then, when I ask, “How many people do you think can do this job?” I get answers like, “Oh, there’s only a handful that I can think of” or “I have no idea” or “I can’t take time to train someone. They need to hit the ground running.”
If you don’t have a clear idea of the supply of available talent (possessing the required KSA’s, etc.) vs. the demand for that talent, you can’t possibly have an effective staffing strategy. You are basically crossing your fingers and rolling the dice. As far as I can tell, very few companies even think about it like that.
Some governments (i.e., Canada and Australia are two) think about the labor supply. Industries that need large quantities of similar skill sets (e.g., call centers, manufacturing, the medical industry with nurses and doctors) factor in supply and demand when doing workforce planning, but it seems like most companies are rather blind.
If the demand for a particular skill set is very high compared with the supply, you need to have a strategy to address the gap. Stephen Harvey, former naval intelligence officer and founder of Talent Intelligence, doesn’t understand how companies can think about business strategy without a coherent staffing strategy. Talent Intelligence works exclusively with a few select companies to map out the available talent pool for key positions. Their clients use their services for succession planning at the top layers, for key positions further down the hierarchy, and to do their workforce planning. I asked Stephen for his thoughts and got an earful.
“Our experience is that many companies struggle with workforce planning and understanding the talent supply chain. As a result they tend to be short term focused, reactive and hope that it all works out! This is a recipe for disaster really. There are numerous skill sets in short supply attached to high demand – this is particularly true in the oil & gas, resources/mining sector for example. Companies in this sector, large and small, are looking to attract and retain talent from a global talent pool that is nowhere big enough to satisfy everyone’s demand. As such they are adopting a range of innovative solutions to address this but at the end of the day they are still “fishing from the same pond” so competition is fierce.
To compete and outpace competitors (no matter what industry sector you operate in) an organization should have a strategy whereby they definitively know what their talent demands will be moving forward and then understand the depth and breadth of a particular talent pool with supporting real-time continuous intelligence on factors such as: location (current and preferences), mobility (and timing of any move), diversity, transferable competencies, compensation data, “getability” (likelihood of acquisition), etc. Having a constant and comprehensive quantified and qualified pool of global talent at your fingertips aligned to your key leadership and functional/technical roles will provide you with a competitive advantage.”
Talent Intelligence’s business model comes from the fundamental truth: you must know the target and the competition for that talent. Talent Acquisition (AKA “recruiting” or “staffing”) is a marketing problem. You must know the supply and demand.
Hiring managers often insist on waiting for the ideal candidate, one who meets their job spec, rather than a good candidate who can do the job. This may work if you are Google (with their strong preference for Stanford grads and PhD’s.) but the rest of us need a different plan. Don’t get hung up on finding the “right” fit. It’s more effective to be clear about the skills needed from Day One, vs. what can be learned, who can transfer the knowledge, and who can do the job quickly with some training.
Are you being shortsighted? Are you asking the right questions? Instead of asking, “What is the ideal candidate profile?” ask, “What work needs to be done? What skills are required to do the work? What is the available labor supply for this skill set?” and, most importantly, “Who else needs those skills?
Then, decide how to get the work done. It’s easy with unlimited funds. Most problems disappear if you throw enough money at them. However, if that is not the case, you need to get creative. Look at your own people. Often, there are bright, ambitious people who are eager to take on a stretch role. They want to learn new skills.
I have been astounded by the number of hiring managers who would rather wait 6-9 months (even longer) to get the “right person,” when they could have invested 90 days and a few thousand dollars in training. It’s a wonder more managers don’t lose their jobs, when you factor in relocation expenses, recruiting fees, and the opportunity costs of vacant positions. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a “talent scorecard” as part of the balanced scorecard?
My connection with the talent acquisition (AKA “recruiting”) process goes back several decades. My first recruiting challenges were the most difficult. I was an independent sales rep for Tupperware. Yep. I started out as a Tupperware lady. Everything I know about selling, and recruiting, stems from my early days in direct sales management with “party plan” sales models: Tupperware, Rubbermaid, Creative Circle, with a few stints in network marketing. Trying to recruit moms (in those days, there were no Mister Moms in my circle) to work part-time and stick with it was the toughest job I’ve ever had.
Stepping up to an office job as an account executive (‘recruiter’) with Sales Consultants was a dream come true. It came with a monthly minimum wage draw against commission, free coffee, and a receptionist! I had arrived.
Since those days, I have worked in retained executive search, within HR for Fortune 500 companies as a corporate recruiter, and externally as a talent acquisition consultant. I have worked with some of the top thought leaders in HR and talent acquisition. In over three decades, not much has changed.
We’ve shuffled the roles around. Now, you’re just as likely to find a “headhunter” inside a company as not; we call them “sourcers.” It sounds nicer. Their job is to find the ever-desirable “passive” candidate, that person who is not actively looking for a job.
I have at least one call a day from one of my career-coaching clients. They spot their dream job at a “name” company and want to know how they can land the job. What do I say first? “Don’t, repeat Do NOT, apply online. You will never be seen. You must find someone inside who will hand walk your resume to the hiring manager.” Those of you, who are in the industry, perhaps even inside those “name” companies, know this is true.
The recruiting process is no more effective than it was pre-Internet, pre-job boards, and pre-applicant tracking systems (ATS). In fact, two of my connections at one of the biggest ATS companies BOTH had their resumes hand delivered to the hiring managers. As any good systems architect will tell you, automating bad processes leads to accelerated chaos. The prime directive of applicant tracking systems is to make it easier for companies to protect themselves from lawsuits.
What do companies really need to compete in this complex, competitive, global business environment? They need people who can do the job, whether they are “passive” or hungry, ambitious job seekers. They need them quickly and with a minimum of fuss. The companies who do so will have their “name” company competitors eating their dust.
Now there are many naysayers who say that casual texting is keeping our youth from having higher levels of intimacy. In fact, the doom and gloom associated with such prognostications would indicate that we are on the verge of losing all semblance of humanity. After all, other primates have overdeveloped thumbs and we are well on our way to the same.
However, it is just so convenient to casually text one’s ETA, isn’t it? Also, to let your date know when you’re running late. With the proper settings, one can pick up all kinds of good vibrations without disturbing one’s neighbor.
Is it possible to engage in safe text? I think, if you observe a few rules of engagement, not only can you text safely, you may even reach greater levels of intimacy with your text partner. Here are the rules:
- Even in casual text, give your partner your undivided attention during the text.
- Don’t skip niceties of texting. Check to see if you’re interrupting anything. Make sure both parties are in a safe, private place.
- Do use a warm tone so that your partner won’t mistake dry wit for snarkiness.
- Observe the golden rule.
- Love the one you’re with. Don’t engage in casual text with another when you’re out on a date.
- Keep your sense of humor. As an example, if you find this blog post offensive, you’re probably not ready for casual text. Stick to your committed communications within email, Facebook, and other online communities.
Many thanks to my office colleague whom I caught red-handed engaging in casual texting for inspiring my first diatribe of the year. Also, to my teenage son who continually advises me on texting protocol. It’s rough when your vocabulary is restricted to OMG and LOL, but he is patient with me.
Happy New Year and may all your texting be safe.
I recently attended a workshop sponsored by my local SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) chapter on Employee Engagement and Retention. There were nearly 100 in attendance, including a prominent thought leader, Dr. Thomas Mahan, of The Work Institute. There was a particulary exciting (as these things go, anyway) exchange between the panelists who included Margaret Morford, President of the HR Edge, Inc., Gardiner Gruenewald, First Tennessee Bank, Sara McManigal, EMMA, and Gail Southwell, PhD., Belmont University. There was a lot of data tossed back and forth, and for someone like me, who wants to “confirm and verify,” I was trying hard to keep up and really wanting a handout with some reference citations.
The one thing everyone could agree on was that managers are key to engagement of employees. And, that engaged employees are productive employees.
It’s Management 101!
OK, most of you reading this already know about the 4 functions of management And, many of you, will challenge that there are only 4 or that these are the right 4, but, I hope we can all agree that leadership, or at the very least, interaction with our employees, is a fundamental element of the management function. If you don’t, then skip the rest of this article. If you do, then let’s look at how paying attention to our employees impacts productivity.
The very act of observing, noticing, paying attention to workers can increase productivity. There is much research to support this. The most familiar study came out of The Human Relations Movement of the 1930s, the “Hawthorne Effect”.
If you’ve never heard of this study, or if it’s been awhile, simply put, this study examined the effects of environment on worker production. So, they changed the conditions. When the conditions were improved or “nicer”, productivity went up. However, when work conditions worsened, productivity still went up. To conclude, being observed, noticed, seen, increased worker productivity.
Now, if you’re a science geek, you might want to ponder if the Observation Effect, in quantum physics, is behind all this, but, I think the real opportunity for the rest of us is to pay attention to whether we are paying attention to our employees.
What is the impact on performance when managers pay informed attention, when they observe and reinforce desired behaviors, or as Ken Blanchard describes it, “catch them doing something right?” Many companies outsource the “paying attention” element of the management function by hiring trainers as coaches to work with employees. However, observation, interaction, “coaching” needs to come from managers. This is not something that can be outsourced as it is directly tied to company production and impacts the bottom line.
Management, done by engaged managers, has a multiplier effect. In my thesis, Workforce Training and Development Evaluation Trends: is the grail in sight? I wrote, “For example, the function of management itself is noted by Bechtel (2007), Bassi, et al. (2001), and Charlton (2005) as having a considerable effect on training programs. They described how good management is able to multiply the training effect, thus having a synergistic effect on financial performance. In contrast to Ulrich and Smallwood (2005), who see organizational performance as a key responsibility of the Human Resources function, Bechtel (2007) emphasizes the importance of good management for effective resource utilization and shifts the responsibility for organizational performance from the HR function (p. 61).”
Management Development—a wise investment.
If you’re a manager, invest in getting better. Learn how to coach yourself. Don’t outsource it to someone else. If you want engaged workers, be an engaged manager. Don’t rely on sending your employees to a one day motivation seminar; they will come back all charged up, then become discouraged when they see the gap between your words and behavior. The best book I’ve ever read on coaching is “Coaching for improved Work Performance” by Ferdinand Fourneis. Another short, quick read is “The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard. They are classics for a reason.
Look at the old stuff from behaviorists. Get good at recognizing and acknowledging good work. Toastmasters is a great place to practice and see how powerful this can be. Schedule regular face-to-face meetings with your staff. If you’re a virtual manager, schedule regular phone calls. Get to know your people.
If you are responsible for hiring, training, or selecting management candidates, make sure they can understand and apply fundamental concepts. Use behavior based questions when interviewing managers.
C-Suite residents, manage your managers. Model good management and don’t hide out on executive row. In my experience, 90% of the managers I’ve known had the Planning, Organizing, and Controlling elements covered. The “leading” or coaching piece, the piece where they spend “quality” time with their direct reports, was something for which managers rarely make the time.
One of the nicest and smartest bosses I ever work for, didn’t have time to have coffee with me once a week. I was his only sales person. He needed me to be able to make his numbers. When he did spend time with me, I felt more energized and motivated to make things happen. I needed time with him. I needed to be observed, to feel seen. When I asked if we could schedule a 30 minute coffee time once a week, he asked me “Why? What do we need to talk about?” Because he didn’t spend time with me, I started looking for other opportunities. If you’re not spending time with your employees, then you’re not getting the full benefit of the multiplier effect.
So remember, pay attention, first to yourself. Ask for feedback from your staff. Do they feel they get enough time with you? Talk to your peers. Find the manager with the best reputation within your company, go out for coffee, and find out what she or he does to pay attention. Talk to your HR Business Partner. Discover what resources are available to help you step up your game. Buy (and READ) some books on the leadership element of management. Don’t be afraid to take a class. Believe it or not, academics actually have some good things to say on the subject. That’s why managers subscribe to the Harvard Business Review.
Then, begin to pay attention. Get out from behind your desk and walk around. Leave your ego in your office. Go “visit” your employees. Be prepared. They will wonder what they’ve done wrong. And, that should tell you more than anything I’ve written here. Talk to them. Listen to them. Ask them questions. Find out what they think. DON’T argue or disagree or debate. After all, your ego is in your office, right? Just listen and observe. Don’t judge. Do this for a week, then look at your metrics (which most managers track) and notice the changes. You know, there’s actually a term for this: “Management by Walking Around.” Remember?
Once your employees feel comfortable talking to you, once they know that offering their opinion won’t get them in trouble (and the kind of manager who would do that stopped reading this article in the first few paragraphs), then ask more probing questions and challenge their thinking. The goal is NOT to prove them wrong, but to help them think better. Remember your critical thinking class? We all need to challenge our assumptions and get better at thinking and problem solving.
I contend that if you do this for 4 weeks, you will change. Your team will change. You will see things differently and see opportunities to have greater impact on your organization. I invite you to post your findings and comments to this blog. Let’s discover how you can unleash the power in yourself and the power in your people.
This posting was inspired by the number of responses I received to my February newsletter. I have had a record number of people taking the Career Catalyst Job Search classes and signing up for career coaching. What amazes me, though, is the number of people who are numbed by this recession. Many readers have forwarded my newsletter to friends who are unemployed after 12 months (or more) of looking. This blog posting is to help bring clarity to a very murky situation.
The good news is the recession is over. The bad news is that the job market sucks, even though it is improving. Employment is a lagging indicator and many economists think the job market will continue to be slow through the remainder of the year.
It takes, in a healthy economy, 1 month for every $10,000 you earn in salary, to find a job. In this economy, it can take 3 times that long. If you do the math, you’re looking at 8 (if you’re lucky) to 18 months or more looking for work.
Perhaps you are employed but dissatisfied. You may even hate your current job or there may be an impending layoff. You may need to relocate. Even worse is the situation where your employer’s increasing productivity demands are stressing you and possibly affecting your health. Even if you are working, it’s important to understand that most of your spare time will be spent on your job search. To see results, it must be a top priority.
There is lots of competition for open jobs. I’ve seen all kinds of numbers, depending on one’s location. In December, there were 6+ applicants for each job posting. I’ve seen numbers in high unemployment states, like California and Michigan, as high as 8-13 per posting. Now what’s important to know is that the official figures are averaged across all job types. If you’re in a market like the SF Bay area, applying for a job in HR, there could be hundreds of applicants for a really good opening. It’s all about supply and demand. And, as we all know, there is a greater supply of people than there are jobs.
So, what can you do? I see people working harder, but doing more of the same. And you know the old saw–Insanity is continuing the same action and expecting a different outcome. When you stand back and look at your actions, what can you do differently?
You must INVEST: Time, Energy, & Resources
If you’re unemployed, make job hunting your full time job. Do your homework. In fact, you need to spend a lot of time doing your homework. You also need to build your network. (More on this topic in my next blog posting) It requires serious self-analysis to become clear on what you want and your unique value. You will feel much more confident when you are clear about what sets you apart from your competitiong.
Of course, we must stay realistic. When one can barely pay the bills, or buy food, then the situation is dire. It may not be possible to avoid relocation. It may mean taking a lower salary. Contract or temporary work may be the best option to make ends meet. By the way, I’ve been in that predicament, so I’m not moralizing here.
You need to take time to take care of yourself, because so much of your energy will be used in your job search. You need to keep your health up, so spend more, not less, time working out. Take time to do something nice for yourself every single day. It can be simple, like taking a walk or eating your lunch in the park, or smelling the sweet peas in your neighbor’s garden, or making a new friend.
Invest in outside resources. In other words, don’t be too proud to ask for help! For example, most people I speak with think my career coaching programs are cheap. They think I should charge more, but I deliberately priced them so that if you want my help, you can find some way to get it.
However, there are many free resources, but you have to invest time to find them. You have to take time to participate. Your dream job is not going to knock on your door. You have to go find it.
There are multiple resources at your public library (when is the last time you were there?) and at your local unemployment department. Many churches and clubs have fabulous job search support groups. And, of course, there are resources on the web. Just don’t get distracted by applying for jobs online.
You need to be networking or your application will get lost. Over 75% of all jobs are filled by personal referrals. The Career Catalyst Community I started is one resource that is absolutely free. If you do join a support group, or even the Career Catalyst Community, you must get involved. You will only get from the group as much as you give. This is hard work. And on that note, are there places you can volunteer? This is a great time to support someone else’s efforts. You will be amazed at the resources that come your way.
It requires a significant investment on your part to make lemonade in this sour economy.
Finally, I want you to know that there is someone out there who needs your talent, someone who will pay you to help them. In fact, if all you can offer is to show up on time, follow directions, and do your best, then you are “hirable.” My son-in-law, a regional manager in the restaurant industry, told me that he has a terrible time finding people who will do just that. When I said, “but you would never hire me!” did he ever set me straight!
There is no shame in taking an obviously temporary position. What is often surprising is just how satisfying such a position can be. I met a woman who works for a bank located in a major retail center. She helped me find the last heater in the store. Then, she invited me to learn more about the bank and its services. She was a real ambassador for her employer. She is an experienced professional, probably underemployed, BUT she made a real impression on me. She clearly enjoys her work and is passionate about doing her best. It is very likely that someone will see her and hire her away, if she isn’t promoted first.
There are ways to make a living without having a formal job. When I became unemployed two years ago, I decided to go back into consulting. Fortunately, I knew what the challenges would be. I invested in some outside advice from Alan Weiss. I have worked hard to build a sustainable business in a down economy. It hasn’t been easy. I want you to know that I apply to myself the advice I give to my clients.
Sometimes, the best way into a company is through a side door or a “lower” position than the one you had previously. Don’t let your pride (or fear) keep you from moving forward because, once you have movement, it’s easy to change direction. The hardest thing is to get moving.
If your job search is stalled, open your options.
Don’t be too quick to narrow your options. Try on (at least in your imagination) any option that is suggested. But while opening your options, narrow your focus. Don’t get trapped in trying to sell yourself as the person who can do everything. It dilutes your message. Focus on the one or two things about you that are unique, and then explore places (e.g. companies, non-profit agencies, volunteer opportunities) where you can use your strengths.
Refine your networking efforts.
I get many emails where I’m asked to help, but have no idea what the person wants. I give them feed back like: “as a networking partner, I can’t help you unless I know, specifically, what you want me to do…Your emails don’t really tell me anything, except ‘Help! I need to do something!’” I want to help, but I don’t know how, and unfortunately, I am the world’s worst mind reader. I do try to help by taking time to reply and ask what they need, but often, I get no response. How are you treating your networking partners? Are you making it easy for them to help you? Effective networking is the single biggest thing you can do for your career. Learn to be effective.
Discovering your unique strengths, how you contribute your unique value, and effective networking activities are just a few of the things we address in the Career Catalyst programs.
If you’re serious about getting traction on your job search, check out my new class that starts Saturday, April 24th.
In the mid-eighties, I was in a leadership role for a group of professional sales women in Phoenix, AZ. We put together a conference and were fortunate to have Rita Davenport, now Arbonne’s CEO, then, a local television personality, as our keynote speaker. Rita, a petite southern woman from Nashville, TN, has a dynamic personality. After decades, I still remember 3 things from her talk.
She told about her big dreams. She wanted to go to college and drive a new, blue Corvette. Her high school academic counselor told her, “Honey, I’m sorry, but you’re just not college material.” Well, that didn’t stop Rita. She did go to college, in Memphis, TN, and became a recognized TV personality and a best-selling author of Making Time, Making Money. She was quite clear. “When you come into a room, and there are a bunch of people standing in your way, just set your course and go. They will move. Try it.” I have, many times. She’s right. No one knows the name of that high school counselor, but many women know who Rita Davenport is.
She closed her talk by reminding us that we need to own our lives. If we don’t believe in ourselves enough to invest our time and money in our professional development, why should anyone else? As she said, “The best investment is the one you make in yourself.”
I have lived these words. I remind myself of their truth when I need to exercise, or get more sleep, or learn a new software program, or read a book on social media marketing. In my coaching practice, often I find many people waiting for someone else to recognize their potential. Many won’t go back to school and get their degree because their employer won’t pay for it. If we keep waiting on someone else to invest in us, we will wait a lifetime.
It’s never too late to learn something new, to become more fit, to spend time with a friend, until we find our time has run out. Today, and every day, take time to make one small investment in the most important person in your life: you.
Rita, wherever you are, you were the first Southern woman I’d encountered. Now, I live in your hometown and you live in the Phoenix Metro area, my home for over 20 years.
After all this time, your words still ring true and there is not a day that goes by when I don’t say, “The best investment is the one I make in myself.”