Recently, I was reading about the exodus of the Israelites from the land of Egypt and was struck by how often they complained about being taken from the land of Egypt to “die in this desert”. They had been delivered from slavery and oppression, shown miracles that aided in their deliverance, promised a land of their own, had been miraculously and amply provided for and yet complained bitterly about their circumstances. They longed for the former state of things, did not accept the change, only looked to the short term, and did not believe in the promises given to them by God. (Read Exodus chapters 14; 16; 17 and Numbers chapters 11; 14; 20 and 21) The price they paid for that was high. Ultimately the generation that escaped bondage in Egypt never came into possession of the Promised Land. They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years instead of making the two week trip to Canaan.
This struck me as how many people, perhaps you, react when you lose a job and are faced with transitioning to a new reality.
I know job loss can be difficult. I’ve been there a time or two myself. Job loss brings challenges you would rather not face. It bruises the ego and causes financial stress. It can place strains on personal relationships. In a job loss situation it is always tempting to curse your current circumstances while looking back upon what you have lost and wishing you still had it. Read the rest of this entry »
As I discuss the needs of the entry level workforce with employers and especially with hiring managers one theme keeps surfacing. Dependability. They need people who they define as dependable. When pressed to define “dependable” they end up defining it as a person who will show up, on time, every day, ready to work, and who can get along with others in the workplace. Sounds simple enough doesn’t? Seems as if most anyone who want to work could meet these few minimum requirements, but in many cases it isn’t that simple.
Let’s break it down:
Show Up: Go to work every day. Day in and day out. Week after week. Month after month. No last minute call offs. No excuses on why today just isn’t a good day to report for work. Even when you would rather not, show up.
On Time: Show up every day when you are supposed to show up. Not 15 minutes later, not five minutes later. Get to work at the scheduled time, all the time, so you do not negatively impact the flow of business. Do what you must to order your life and activities so that they do not interfere with getting to work on time.
Every Day: Showing up on time most days, or 4 out of 5 or even 9 out of 10 days is not good enough. Consistency (read every day) is the key here, occasionally will not do. This is not horseshoes or hand grenades. Close don’t count. Most don’t count. Every day counts.
Ready for Work: Personal business handled. Rested and ready to meet the tasks for the day. Mind focused on the task at hand not on your love life, your recreations, or your troubles. We all have them and we must learn to put them aside at work. Engage your mind and focus on your job.
Get Along with Others: Show some emotional maturity and use emotional intelligence to handle the annoyances you will encounter. Be cooperative and flexible with the people (and customers) you must deal with not quick to take offense at thoughtless actions and comments. Put aside self centeredness and think in terms of what is good for your team members or employer and not just for you. Believe it or not it is not all about you.
These few basic requirements, along with some basic ability to perform the tasks of the job, are really all it takes to be successful in the workplace.
Employers state that they are willing to invest in people who meet this idea of “dependable”. They will train you for other positions, provide opportunities for advancement, and tend to keep you around if you meet their idea of dependable.
If you are entering the job market from school or trying to re-enter it after a period of unemployment you need to project dependability. You need to sell the hiring manger on your ability to meet these few simple criteria. Hiring managers are looking for it; they want to find it in you. Use your answers in the interview so that they see you as that dependable one they are looking for.
The hard part will be to maintain, with consistancy, being dependable over time. You may talk a good game in the interview about being dependable but then you must be able to deliver on that over time.
When you were a child did you have a “piggy bank”? My guess is that you did or at least some type of bank in which you tried to save some of the money that you parent, grandparents, or tooth fairy gave you. But why did you save the money? Well, beside answering “My parents made me” you may have decided to save up in order to buy something that was going to cost more money than you had in you hot little hands.
As you dropped the coins into the slot you hear them “clink” against each other and the side of the bank and you dreamed of the special thing you were going to buy … when you had save enough. Week after week, month after month you squirreled away your nickel, dimes and quarters all the while thinking of that object you wanted.
But time passed, you grew impatient, and at some point you lost sight of goal of your saving. You may have stopped saving. The thing you were saving for seemed too distant. It was taking too long. Perhaps some other thing caught your eye and became the focus of you attention, something that you could get NOW with the money you all ready had.
You may have taken the plug out of the bottom and took a little of the cash, you may have turned it upside down and slid a butter knife into the slot while shaking the bank to get some coins to drop out. After all, you thought, “I’ll only take a little of the money” and you wanted what you wanted NOW!
BUT …taking the money put you behind in your savings goal and now the thing you wanted was even farther away. It would take even more time to get it. You’d have to save more money. You’d have to wait longer to get what you wanted. So, in frustration, you gave up on the idea of saving up for something and just took money from the bank and spent it on anything and everything you wanted. Read the rest of this entry »
As a child you may have been sent to your room or made to “sit in the corner” to think about what you did to get you is such a sad position, so usually you were in trouble. While in your room, feeling isolated from all human contact and alone with your thoughts you were supposed to think about what you did, feel sorry for your actions and their consequences, apologize for what you did, make amends for what you did if possible, and promise never to do it again. Or at least that’s what you parents wanted you to do.
As much as we hated being sent to our rooms it was our earliest training on learning the importance of reflection about ourselves and our actions. These early efforts by the authority figures in our lives to get us to reflect actually laid the foundation and served to teach us the value of pausing to consider, ponder, question, think and reflect all in a critical way about our issues, problems, success, failures, and plans … our lives.
Unfortunately, since this learning was not taking place under pleasant circumstances. So if we participated in the process at all we did it grudgingly, but usually we feigned the response that was expected of us to get out of the circumstances we found ourselves in. This was also an early form of enlightened self interest … so that we could get back to our agenda, whatever we were doing before we were interrupted by this unreasonable demand to “think about what you have done”. Those demands placed upon us may be part of the reason so few people take the time to reflect and think about their lives, actions, and careers as adults. We don’t do it because it’s not easy, not fun, and we don’t see the benefit in doing it.
How does this relate to career development? Read the rest of this entry »
Impatience is a thing I thought I had conquered as I grew older. With the passing of the years and the gaining of new perspectives on things I believed that I had developed a certain degree of patience and was able to take the long view of things. Not pushing, not rushed but letting things develop and work themselves out as they would. Then the other day I was reminded how easy it is to fall back in to old habits. I caught myself in front to the microwave wishing it would “hurry up” and finish heating my beverage. I mean a minute and eleven seconds (1:11) was getting to be too long to wait. I caught myself doing the same thing when “nuking” a hotdog, reaching for the door and stopping the cooking cycle because a whole minute was just too long to wait. Impatience had reared its ugly head. Many of you have had the same experience. We want what we want when we want it, if not sooner! Then it dawned on me … people often treat their career expectations the same way. Read the rest of this entry »
Often people will ask me what the secret to success in making a move in career or life. They want that “secret knowledge” that will give them the edge they are seeking to get the thing they desire. These individuals are convinced that there is some knowledge; some technique, some phrase, or some task that they can use or perform that will put them over the top in their quest to obtain the thing they are going after. These folks are looking for what I call the “gnosis of success”.
The truth about the gnosis of success is this Read the rest of this entry »
Diversity: It’s Culture Not Race That Matters
In my practice as a consultant, trainer, and coach I have often had to address the subject of “Diversity”. It has been my experience that, when asked to consult or train on the topic and even in coaching situations, when people talk about “diversity”– the need to appreciate it; the need to value it—they really have no idea what they are asking for.
What invariably comes up are the issues of Racism, Stereotypes, Ethnocentrism and Political Correctness. In my opinion you cannot handle the topic of “diversity” appropriately unless you are going to take a long hard look at all these issues with an open mind.
In discussing, with my clients, their “needs” around diversity what often times becomes clear is this: they are not interested in “diversity”, true diversity, what they want is “political correctness” If that is what they settle on and I cannot move them off that idea I end the relationship with the client. To put it bluntly I don’t do “politically correct” and neither should you.
If however, the client is willing to explore the elements of diversity and desires to move towards a better understanding of true diversity, I’m willing to work with them on the subject and assist them in the implementation diversity initiatives in their organizations or, in the case of coaching clients, their lives.
When dealing in the realm of diversity whether in large or small businesses or private coaching session with individuals I try to educate them to define their terms to avoid confusion and so that they can gain an appreciation for the depths of the issues.
Defining the Terms Read the rest of this entry »
One symbol widely adopted in the coaching community is the compass. It is a fitting representation of the role the coach plays in the development of the client.
The compass is a wonderful tool to use in gaining a sense of what direction to move in and when used properly is very reliable under most circumstances. The same is true of the coach. Through listening, questioning, and sometimes suggesting new ways of looking at things the coach can assist the client to gain or regain a sense of direction for their lives and careers.
The compass in the hands that know how to use it can help you determine bearings and headings. It can point you in the direction you want to go. When you’re lost it is a valuable tool to get you pointed in the right direction and keeps you on course. Again, the same is true of the coach. Once a direction is determined by the client the coach can assist the client in further refining the direction and steps needed to get moving, keep moving, and finally arrive at their desired destination.
A GPS on the other hand is the device of preference these days for the traveler. Plug in the information, the city, the street, the number and viola! Instant directions! Exact directions! Complete with the visual of a map, voice narration, and instructions on where and when to turn. Hard to get off course with one of these babies but if you do you’ll hear the device say “recalculating route” and soon your put right with visual and audio cues all adjusted to your route. Nice! And when, at long last I come to my destination it tells me I have arrived!
The comparison is stark. The compass, a centuries old mechanical device that was one time considered magical or a 21st century electronic gadget that makes use of satellites, triangulation, and other technology most of us don’t really understand. I know when given the choice I want to take the GPS on the road trips I take. The GPS is exact, precise, calculatingly keeping me on the straight and narrow even if the little voice seems unforgiving at times. The GPS adjusts to my errors in navigation and puts me back on course every time in ways designed to get me to my destination as quickly and directly as possible. It is user friendly and fairly idiot proof.
Sometimes our clients want a GPS for their career development tool. Clients who do not understand the coaching process or the idea of career development come to the coach seeking GPS like services. They desire exact direction, precise step by step instructions on what they should do and how they should go about doing it. As a coach it is sometimes tempting to provide them the direction they seek but that would be of no services to them. The coach must resist the temptation to be directive and instead help the client to discover for themselves what direction and course they should set for themselves.
For career coaching I’ll take the compass every time. Read the rest of this entry »
I have always liked using physical objects to illustrate my points. So in the photo attached to this article you will no doubt be able to recognize these two characters. They come from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. If you’re too young to remember you’ll need to do a little research on the ‘net or better yet get the collections of the show on DVD and watch them. The “fairy” or “Fairy Godmother” is from the Fractured Fairy Tales portion of the show. The rather stern looking chap is “Fearless Leader” the hardnosed boss of the villains Boris Badanov and Natasha Fatale who were constantly seeking to cause trouble for our heroes “moose and squirrel”.
I’ve spent time in the management ranks and have experienced the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” that all managers have when dealing with staff. After many conversations with staff, experimentation on keeping staff “engaged” (read happy), and much reflection on all those experiences and interactions I’ve come to the considered opinion that your staff will see you in either one of two ways. You will either be seen as the kindly and benevolent “fairy godmother” type or you will be seen as the dictatorial, unreasonable “Fearless Leader” type. Read the rest of this entry »
Gambling can be a fun and exciting proposition if you have an adventurous spirit and a tolerance for risking your assets. There are those brave souls that venture into the casinos, gaming halls, and private games that find the risk taking involved thrilling. They don’t mind the fact that the odds in every game favor the house and not them. These armature gamblers don’t mind the “sucker bet”. They fearlessly go against the odds in the hope that “lady luck” will smile on them. They get an adrenaline rush; their pulse quickens, the excitement builds for them from the thought of going against the odds, making a long shot and beating the house.
But the professional gambler does not trust in “luck”. When playing against the house the professional knows that the odds are against them. To play and play well in this arena the professional prepares. here is no “chance”. There is only skill. The professional plays the odds. They calculate the odds of their game of choice. They bet with intentionality. They watch each move carefully.
When playing against other gamblers the professional players track the cards played and look for “tells” from other players that might give them an edge in the game or insight into how others play it. They take all this information, formulate a plan, and play the game accordingly.
Your career development is a lot like gambling if you are not intentionally, actively, calculating your best moves and managing your career. Read the rest of this entry »