3 Things You Should Do While You Still Have a Job

Don’t be fooled by the recent small improvement in employment numbers. If you are in a company, division, industry, or type of job that is at risk for reduction, get moving NOW to be prepared if you are impacted. Current employees should get a “Plan B” ready now.

jobseeker

After coaching hundreds of people during my 30 year sales and marketing career and now as a professional coach, I have heard it all. Here are the top three excuses why they are not preparing for their next career move:

“It won’t happen to me; I’ve been here a long time.”

“I have no idea what I would do next.”

“Our business/company is doing just fine.”

Here are the top 3 things you should do right NOW, while you’re still employed:

1. AIM: Write out your “next job” goal with great precision, including target functions, industries, and companies. Avoid squishy goals such as “leverage my background in blah, blah, blah” or “I’m flexible so something in the retail space.” If you don’t have a list of 10 target companies, subscribe to your city’s local Business Journal and invest in their Book of Lists, as well. They have a jobs board, as well.

Why do I mention jobs boards when you aren’t even looking? Because they are the best resource to do your homework. Take your next-career-move goal statement and go and window shop on the jobs boards. Monster.com, Indeed.com , and many others are ideal for just checking out what is out there that meets your goal profile. If it doesn’t exist, then you’ve set a target on a unicorn. Change your goal so you are stating a target that exists as a real job.

2. UPDATE: Re-boot your résumé. Don’t just add your current position; give it a face-lift with keywords, power verbs, relevant skills, and metrics.

But, remember: résumés don’t get you jobs. It’s how you present yourself on top of the résumé, so prepare a draft cover letter and think about how you would position yourself to an executive of that company if you were looking.

3. NETWORK: Combine social media with face-to-face connections. Start attending industry or association events, alumni events, and any other relevant events you can identify. Use your local Business Journal to find the best events, job leads, fast-moving companies and much more.

It is more urgent now than ever before that you be ready today for something that could happen to you tomorrow. The job market is already highly competitive and job searches are taking much longer than in the past (an estimated one month for every $10K in annual pay).

We have car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, but no “Job Insurance”… build it now. There are things you should and could be doing to prepare for your next career move.

Don’t worry; you’re not sneaking behind anyone’s back. The activities you should be involved in are everyday business behavior and don’t have to be “hidden” from the public or your employer. For example, using LinkedIn. Many companies see the value of great LinkedIn profiles for their employees; they’re even teaching how to build one! However, you can still make huge progress by learning how to conduct a confidential career-building set of activities.

Don’t be caught without a “Plan B” for your career. It’s nobody’s responsibility but yours. – Dana Manciagli

Four Reasons to Quit Your Job

quit job

What criteria can you use to determine if you have been with the same company too long?

A friend of ours, an investment manager at a highly regarded company in the Midwest, who drove to work one morning, parked his car in the usual spot, and then found he simply could not bring himself to get out of the car. “I guess I stayed on the farm one day too long,” he joked later. When we asked him what went wrong, he answered, “It wasn’t one thing. It was everything.” No wonder he drove home and called in his resignation.

Obviously, most people don’t decide they’ve overstayed at their companies in such a dramatic fashion. Usually, angst about work creeps in, and then builds until it consumes you. And that can happen early or late in a career. Gone are the days when, after graduation, you took the best available job and stayed for as many years as you could possibly stand, frustration be damned. These days, it is not unusual to hear of perfectly legitimate careers built on multiple job stints.

So, to your question, how can you tell when it’s time to move on? We wouldn’t set out specific criteria as much as offer four questions to help sort out an answer.

The first is so simple it almost goes without saying, but the fact that a lot of people don’t confront it, including our friend who ended up stuck in his car—a Harvard MBA, by the way—suggests we should go ahead and put it out there: Do you want to go to work every morning?

This is not a matter to be over-brained. Does the prospect of going in each day excite you or fill you with dread? Does the work feel interesting and meaningful or are you just going through motions to pull a paycheck? Are you still learning and growing?

We know of a woman who worked in consulting for seven years. She loved her firm and had originally planned a career with it, but suddenly started noticing that she wished every weekend was five days long. “Basically, I felt like we were putting together massive books in order to make recommendations to people who knew more than we did,” she said. “Every day at the office, I felt a little bit more of a hypocrite.” She now happily works on the “front lines,” to use her phrase, in the marketing department of a retail company.

Second, do you enjoy spending time with your coworkers or do they generally bug the living daylights out of you? We’re not saying you should only stay at your company if you want to barbecue with your team every weekend, but if you don’t sincerely enjoy and respect the people you spend 10 hours a day with, you can be sure you will eventually decide to leave your organization. Why not make the break sooner rather than later and start cultivating relationships at a company where you might actually plant roots?

Third, does your company help you fulfill your personal mission? Essentially, this question asks whether your company jibes with your life’s goals and values. Does it require you, for instance, to travel more than you’d like, given your chosen work-life balance? Does it offer enough upward mobility, given your level of ambition? There are no right or wrong answers to such questions, only a sense of whether you are investing your time at the right or wrong company for you.

Fourth and finally, can you picture yourself at your company in a year? We use that time frame because that’s how long it usually takes to find a new, better job once you decide to move on. So peer, as best you can, into the future, and predict where you’ll be in the organization, what work you’ll be doing, whom you will be managing, and who will be managing you. If that scenario strikes you with anything short of excitement, then you’re spinning your wheels. Or put another way, you’re just about to stay too long.

To be clear: We’re not suggesting people quit at the first inkling of discontent. No matter where you work, at some point you will have to endure difficult times, and even a deadly dull assignment, to survive a crisis or move up. But it makes little sense to stay and stay at a company because of inertia. Unlock your door and get out. – Jack and Suzy Welch

The 7 Things Successful People Never Say

Successful people

 

 

You want to be successful. Everyone does. But your actual words might be undermining your chances of success. The things you say in the office, no matter how innocuous they seem to you, might be knocking you down the career ladder and putting the top position you dream about out of reach.

Your career is too important to be tanked by a few negative phrases. Here are the seven things you should strike from your workplace vocabulary if you want to achieve the success you richly deserve:

1. “That’s not in my job description.”

When you accepted your current position, you had a good idea of what the responsibilities and workload of the role would entail. Throughout the months or years since you settled into your job, however, your role has expanded and changed shape. Some of these changes have probably been good, while others have made you wish for simpler times. When a boss or manager piles another responsibility on your already sore shoulders, it might be tempting to pull out this classic gem of work avoidance.

The better option, however, is to schedule a time to talk to your boss about your role. A specific conversation about your place in the organization is a good time to bring up the particulars of your job description, not when you’re asked to get something accomplished. No matter how stressed you are or how valid the complaint, dropping this phrase only makes you look lazy and unmotivated.

2. “It can’t be done.”

Throwing in the towel makes you look like a quitter — and quitters don’t get promoted. Instead of giving up on a project entirely, frame your response in terms of alternative ways to get the work accomplished. Very little is truly impossible, and most managers and executives want forward-thinking problem solvers to climb the corporate ladder. If you offer solutions instead of giving up, you’ll be seen as a valuable member of the team.

3. “It’s not my fault.”

No one wants to work with a blame shifter. After all, it’s just a matter of time before this person eventually shifts the blame onto you. Take ownership of your mistakes instead of pointing out where others have fallen short. Admitting to a mistake shows character and the ability to learn and grow from problems. Pointing the finger at someone else strongly implies you’ll never truly learn from your errors.

4. “This will just take a minute.”

Unless something will literally take only 60 seconds, don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Saying something will only take “a minute” also has the side effect of undermining your efforts. Most likely the reason the particular task won’t take long is due to the benefit of your professional experience and acumen. By saying it will “just” take a minute, you’re shortchanging what you bring to the table.

5. “I don’t need any help.”

The rugged lone wolf type might be the hero of most action movies, but they’re unlikely to become the hero at your company. You might think you can go it alone on a project or in your career, but teamwork is essential. Being able to work with others is the hallmark of a good leader; you’re unlikely to climb your career ladder always flying solo.

6. “It’s not fair.”

Life isn’t fair, and often your career won’t be as well. Instead of complaining, you should look for specific and actionable workarounds to the problems you encounter. Is it unfair a coworker got to run point on the project you wanted? Maybe, but instead of complaining, work harder and go the extra mile. Finding a solution will always be preferable in your professional life to whining about a problem.

7. “This is the way it’s always been done.”

Doing things the way they’ve always been done is no way to run a business. Just ask some of the companies which toed the line, accepted the status quo, and went under. Adapting to an ever-changing marketplace is really the only way to survive in an economy constantly being disrupted by the next big thing.

You don’t have to be a slave to the trends, but you also can’t stick your head in the sand and hope things go back to normal. Instead, come up with creative solutions to new problems and innovate, and you’ll soon be in the driver’s seat taking your organization into the future.

Everyone wants to be successful, so make sure your words aren’t holding you back. These seven phrases are career kryptonite — by avoiding them, you can fly into your future and become a successful superstar.

Ilya Pozin, Columnist for Forbes

How NOT To Shake Hands

Hand shakes matter. They are an important part of our business (and personal) life. Getting it wrong can create awkward moments and distract from making a good first impression.

I am sure you have all been there when we meet someone new and as part of the initial introduction we shake their hands – but instead of the solid, firm and confident hand shake we expect, we get a limp fish, a crushing gripper, or a sweaty slip.

Getting your handshake wrong is a sure-fire way of not making a good first impression. My favourite handshake mistakes are:

  • The sweaty slip – some people have a natural tendency to get sweaty hands and many get them when they are nervous, that’s just normal. It can make shaking hands tricky in stressful situations such as job interviews. However, I think there is no excuse for a wet handshake. I sometimes get sweaty hands but I simply dry them on a piece of clothing before shaking someone’s hand.
  • The limp fish – not gripping the other person’s hand firm enough and then shaking from your wrist is a big mistake because the messages I receive about the other person doing that include: ‘I am not confident’ or ‘I am a push-over’.
  • The pinch – when someone pinches your fingers with their fingers. This is maybe something the Queen does, but has no place in real life. Again, this half-hearted handshake sends me signals like ‘I am not bothered about shaking your hands properly’ or ‘I don’t think you deserve a proper handshake’.
  • The hand-holder – where the person shaking your hand keeps holding on and thinks he is actually holding hands with you rather than shaking hands. After anything more than 3 shakes my natural instinct tells me to pull my hand back and say ‘let go, why are we holding hands now?’ My mind is then suddenly preoccupied with forcing myself not to pull my hand away, which means I am no longer concentrating on the introduction or anything the other person is saying.
  • The avoider – someone that doesn’t make eye contact when they shake your hand or someone that pulls their hand away too quickly. This again signals to me that they are either under-confident, very shy, or they don’t really want to meet me or shake my hand.
  • The crushing gripper – when you shake someone’s hand and it feels like they are crushing every single bone in your hand. A hand shake that is too firm will make anyone feel uncomfortable. It makes you think ‘is the person trying to hurt me on purpose?’ and triggers a natural ‘I need to run away’ instinct.

For me, all of these show that the person shaking my hand is lacking basic social skills and emotional intelligence. It might be that people are not really aware of how they are shaking hands. The good news is, you can change it from today.

I believe, a handshake should be made with:

  • confident attitude,
  • where you stand up with good posture,
  • where you smile,
  • where your hands interlink at the web of your hands (the part between your thumb and your index finder),
  • where there is a firm grip (not too limp, and not too strong),
  • where you make eye contact throughout,
  • where you shake 2 or 3 times from your elbow,
  • and then let go,
  • done!

Even if we try, we sometimes get it wrong. For whatever reason you might end up with an awkward grip (maybe even an unintentional pinch). Or someone shakes your hand unexpectedly when you have sweaty hands. In that situation it is best to simply say ‘sorry, don’t think that was a proper handshake – let’s try again’ or ‘sorry, my hands seem really wet, let me quickly wipe them before shaking your hand’. Always remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

Last, but not least, there are cultural differences and customs to consider. What I have said here is appropriate for most of the Western World. However, I am regularly doing business in Asia and The Middle East where things can be different. What I have learnt is that people in China prefer a weaker handshake, that it is not always appropriate for a man to shake hands with a woman in most Islamic countries, and that people in Thailand don’t like shaking hands at all. – By Bernard Marr

Also, I found this little video from the Australian Government about the top 10 bad business handshakes amusing, hope you enjoy it too:

5 Things Super Lucky People Do

BY KEVIN DAUM Do you feel lucky? Here’s a clear-cut approach for improving your luck today.

lucky people

“The Luck of the Irish” is an American phrase that comes from the days of the gold rush in the 1800s.  Intolerant Americans figured the Irish people weren’t smart enough to find gold, and blamed their success on being lucky rather than skilled. In reality, America’s early immigrants have time and again proven themselves to be hardworking and smart enoughto generate their own good fortune consistently.

So often I have witnessed people excuse their own inadequacies by crediting the success of others to luck.  Salespeople I know disparage their more successful competitors as lucky. If those salespeople would make as many calls or work as many hours as their competitors, they would realize that their probability of closing is fairly equal. The competitors are simply swinging the bat more often.

The truth is that seemingly lucky people are opportunists. They do the things that allow them to take advantage of the world around them. For them, it’s not about being in the way of good luck or bad. It’s the actions they take to get what Jim Collins refers to as a high return on luck whichever way the pendulum swings. Follow these five tips and you can be as lucky as anyone, no four-leaf clover or rabbit’s foot required.

1. Play to your strengths. So much time and energy is wasted trying to do things you probably don’t do very well. Author and Inc. columnist Lewis Schiff learned from his survey of incredibly wealthy people that they got that way by focusing only on what they do best. Everything else you can delegate, or you could find a partner to compensate for your weaknesses. That way, you will shine where you excel and attract opportunity. Good things come to those who emanate success.

2. Prepare in advance. Unlucky people often get that way because they’re reactive and unprepared for whatever comes. People who have stored food and water in their basements aren’t lucky to find themselves prepared when disaster strikes, they used forethought to make sure they had what they might need just in case. I personally scoff at this horrible recent trend of disparaging business plans because things change constantly. The point of a business plan isn’t to follow it no matter what, it’s to establish a structure for smart decision making that allows you to succeed no matter what the future might bring.

3. Start early. Some people seem to have more hours in the day. I myself don’t need more than six hours of sleep and am constantly finding ways to be more efficient. I use that extra time to start my projects well in advance. My rewards aren’t dependent upon the time of day that I take action. (This column is being written at 3 a.m.) But it does matter that I’m beginning to explore projects I expect to complete months or years from now. So many people only want to put their energy into things that provide immediate gratification. The most fortunate people I know are the ones who planted seeds early and now reap thatharvest of happiness.

4. Connect with as many people as possible. The key to success is access to opportunity. Access comes from influence. If you’re influential, people will come and bring opportunities to you. The bigger your following, the more powerful your influence. The only way to build a big following is to provide value to many people. You have to provide the sort of value that will cause people to spread your thoughts far and wide, attributing credit to you when they do. Are you creating that kind of value? If not, figure how you can.

5. Follow up. Opportunities often come and go because people don’t respond in a timely manner. I’m always amazed when people ask me for something and I respond only to never hear from them again. Three months ago, a young woman asked me if I hire interns or assistants. I replied immediately saying I’m always willing to consider hiring people who bring value to my work. I asked her how she thought she could enhance what I could do. I never heard from her again. Perhaps she now considers herself unlucky that opportunity doesn’t come her way. I believe that following up is often more powerful and impressive than the act of initiating.

May you be so lucky to have people in your life that follow up. – Kevin Daum

How To Become A Great Negotiator

Negotiation, Win-Win, Trust

Negotiations are a fact of life. We constantly negotiate both in personal and professional areas of life.

Still, many people don´t like negotiating, and as such try avoiding it. As a result it could make resolving and/or progressing problematic.

Others, often success-driven managers and businesspeople, are so competitive that only “winning” would make them a great negotiator in their eyes. Causing, of course, the other person to “lose.” Helpful? Most likely not!

Applying below-listed four negotiation principles and executing the outlined three-phased negotiation process will significantly increase the quality of your future negotiations.

NEGOTIATION PRINCIPLES

Often negotiations fail when the following 4 key negotiation principles are not being taken into consideration:

Aim At Win-Win Outcomes
Those are the results which satisfy all stakeholders involved. They represent the basis for further business and sustainable relationships.

Stay Always Open-minded
Successful negotiators look at each major aspect from multiple perspectives. They´re prepared for anything.

Focus On Long-Term Business Relationships
With this in mind it´s rather impossible to fleece the other party.

Show Respect And Appreciation
Honoring the other person as equal is crucial to any successful negotiation.

NEGOTIATION PROCESS

A professional negotiation process consists of 3 stages: The preparation phase, the negotiation phase, and the follow-up phase. You need to excel in all three of them in order of becoming a master of negotiation.

Preparation Stage

If you think that negotiating only starts once you meet the other party, then most likely you´ll not chalk up the best possible outcome: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” (Benjamin Franklin).

In this very first phase define your negotiation targets, strategy and objective criteria based on which you later measure the achieved agreement. Be clear about your alternatives and fall back positions; also known as BATNA: Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement.

Crucial to collect all accessible information about the other party and your negotiation counterparts: What are their objectives and potential strategy, what might be their perspective, their motivations, and their opinion on relevant topics? Which is their interest and their reservation price (i.e. when would they walk away)?

Negotiation Stage

During the opening phase of the negotiation stage listen well and frequently ask (open-ended) questions. As a rule of thumb you should listen more than you talk. Use silence as a tactic and mimic your opponent. Sooner or later they will talk. Try to detect commonalitiesrather than differences to generate mutual engagement and to establish a first basis of trust. In general it is essential to separate the people from the issue. Don´t take things personal. Many people consider negotiations as a kind of game. So, stay relaxed and enjoy playing the game!

When you´re about to start the actual negotiation be brave and bring forward the first proposal. Why should you do that? The opening offer always serves as a reference point. It´s what I call an “unconscious anchor.“ In other words: If you’re selling, be first and start the bidding high. And if you’re buying, start the bidding low.

Often it might be appropriate making two to three equivalent, simultaneous offers. This shows that you understand and respect the other position and possible concerns. Even more importantly, it creates a variety of options and helps avoiding cornering the other side. You should ask for more than what you´re actually looking for. That gives you flexibility and room to maneuver.

Don´t be afraid to give in first. It´s an excellent opportunity to inject an additional layer of trust. When doing it in a pro-active manner you should be able choosing something which has significant meaning to the other party and is of low cost to you. Usually whenever you give you should also take. Every concession you make should involve a trade-off of some kind. By doing so focus on interests rather than positions.

Saying that, and in order to get around cognitive dissonances of your negotiation counterparts, you are well advised to engage in the theatrics of negotiation: e.g. when being attacked or confronted with unreasonable proposals and demands you should look visibly put off, or you even might want to flinch. By the way, that´s the only time when you get “emotional.“

Experienced negotiators are creative solution seekers, they enjoy thinking outside of the box, and they constantly look for ways to broaden the pie instead of haggling over every little detail. However, they also stand their ground, if the other party is not willing to move or if they were to become (too) aggressive. Temporary confrontations are a normal and stimulating ingredient of serious negotiations. That´s life. Consequently good negotiators take their time and let things cool off. They are not in a hurry to close the deal. And – when push comes to shove – they might walk away as they know that reaching no deal is better than a bad deal.

Follow-Up Stage

After you have closed the deal there is still some final – and very important – work to be taken care of. Write and send out the first draft of the minutes to the other party withing 24 hours after the negotiations have finished. Ask the other side for their input and feedback to your minutes and get them finalized by latest 3 days after having agreed on the deal. Minutes should be as short and as clear as possible. They contain what was agreed upon, and list what has to be executed by when and by whom. Finally, you need to walk your talk, i.e. you must stick to the agreed points and make sure that the other party will do so as well.

Final advice: Try to conduct important negotiations in a face-to-face setting. Sure, an excellent preparation, a clear negotiation strategy, and profound knowledge of key negotiation tactics are required to negotiate well. Of paramount importance, however, is the personality of the negotiator. And that´s delivered and reflected best when you can directly look in each others´eyes.

– By Andreas von der Heydt who is the Country Manager of Amazon BuyVIP in Germany.

10 Ways Companies Drive Away Talent

If there’s one word that’s almost certain to appear somewhere on every business’s website, that word is talent. Companies of every size love to talk about talent! They can talk about talent all day long.

It’s easy to talk about talent on a website or in a recruiting brochure. It’s easy to say “We value talent more than anything!”

Talk is cheap. Attracting talented people into an organization and hanging onto them — now that’s another story.

Most employers, sad to say, do a better job of driving talented people away than reeling them in, both during the selection process and after the talented person comes on board as a new employee. They don’t do it intentionally, of course. They can’t see how their systems, policies and attitudes frustrate and repel great people. It starts with the ugly and tedious, Black Hole processes by which new employees get hired.

black-holes-belong-in-space-not-recruiting

Those Applicant Tracking Systems are horrible talent repellents, but most of their owners don’t know they serve the same function as massive, barking, teeth-bared attack dogs at the gate.

Fearful people who believe they don’t have any power in their job search will submit to those awful systems. Switched-on people with alternatives will quickly say “Yikes, I’m not sticking around here” and apply for a job somewhere else.

Bring-Yourself-to-Work-Poster-from-Human-Workplace-poster-size

Once a newcomer starts the job, there are more talent repellents waiting. Some of them are cultural. Some of them are operational.

Here are our Top Ten favorite Talent Repellents — ten ways employers drive brilliant people away from their doors.

ZOMBIE-FIED JOB ADS

If your firm likes to talk about talent, first take a look at your company’s job ads. Most job ads do a better job of explaining what the candidate must have than of selling the job to a possible applicant! If your job ads don’t use a human voice and spend as much time selling the job as tossing around Essential Requirements, all the talent-talk is merely lip service.

BLACK HOLE RECRUITING PORTALS

If it takes a job-seeker an hour to complete all the mind-numbing fields in your Applicant Tracking System, the best people have already fled for greener pastures. If you’re a Recruiting Director or a curious CEO, ask your ATS vendor what the abandonment rate is on your recruiting site. How many people, in other words, start the process and then drop out of it? There’s your talent on the hoof, off to a friendlier welcome mat than you were able to lay out.

ROBOTIC COMMUNICATION

Once you start to communicate with applicants in the selection pipeline, what kinds of messages do you use? The evil Passive Voice type (“Your application has been received”) is a surefire talent barrier. Why not say “Wow! Thanks for applying for a job with us. Give us a few days to look at our openings and your background. We’ll be back in touch, either way!” Then, actually close the loop. None of this mealy-mouthed “If we want to call you, we will” stuff meets the Human Workplace test. You can do better than that.

INFLEXIBLE TIME OFF POLICIES

Once a new hire comes on board, he or she can only dive into the job whole-heartedly if the rest of his or life is attended to. A client of ours took a job and quit on the first day, during orientation, when she asked the orientation leader “How would it work if I have a court case three weeks from today, a half hour away in the city? I only need to leave an hour early.”

The orientation chickadee said “There’s no provision for that. You have to come in. You don’t get time off benefits for sixty days.”

The new employee, sensing danger, said “No problem, I’ll talk to my manager about it” and the orientation gal said “I’ve already noted your name and the date. You must change your personal schedule that day.”

The newbie bailed, her hiring manager called her to say “But I would have figured it out for you!” and the ex-employee said “Culture is everything. I’m not taking a job with a manager whose response to Godzilla process is to sneak around it.” If you don’t find your voice in a case like that, when will you ever do it?

HEAR NO EVIL FEEDBACK SYSTEMS

My science friends tell me that entropy is a feature of closed systems. When no new information comes in, things break down. So it is in corporations where there’s no upward feedback, such that executive leaders are spared the inconvenience of reacting to messy reality and permitted to bask in the awesomeness of their delusional plans undisturbed. If your employer doesn’t have robust, active, constant feedback mechanisms in place and an appetite for hearing about life on the street, you’re pushing away talent as we speak.

SCROOGETASTIC COMPENSATION PLANS

I was a corporate HR leader for decades. If you want to gauge an organization’s ability to snag and keep talent, look at its pay policies. When you knock the ball out of the park and your manager says “I’m really sorry, but I can only give you a two percent raise, because, you know, it’s our policy,” you’ve learned all you need to know about the importance of talent in your shop.

HEY, YOU STOLE MY IDEA

They say information is power. If people use information like a club to beat one another with, nothing good will happen for your clients or shareholders. If your organization is the kind where people keep quiet about their ideas to prevent them from being stolen, the universe wants you to hightail it out of there. If you’re in charge of a joint like that, you’ve got some trust-building work to do.

GODZILLA PROCESSES

Some processes are good, but lots of them are cumbersome, slow and stupid. Check out our Nine Signs of a Bad Process wheel below to see what I’m talking about. If people who come to work ready to rock it are prevented from doing their work because some fear-based process is gumming up the works, I guarantee you’re losing talent. People might be sitting at their desks when you walk by, but their hearts and brains are elsewhere.

nine-signs-bad-process

CONSTRUCTIVE SNIPING

Leaders who can coach and inspire employees are one in a million, and thank God for them! Leaders who pick and quibble and snipe are people who fear that a Mojofied team might threaten their own petty power. If your environment is a snipe-fest, good people won’t stay. How can you get anything important done in a place like that?

TRIUMPH OF THE BEST AND BROWN-NOSIEST

The last Talent Repellent on our list is a culture that rewards brown-nosing and punishes honest dissent. Most of us have seen organizations like this, where Yes Men and Women are exalted and passionate people asking tough questions are silenced. Life is too short to work in a place like that. The world is too big, there are too many meaty problems to solve, and too many brilliant people for you to collaborate with in trust-based, forward-looking organizations for you to waste another femtosecond among Godzilla’s handlers.

In your job search and on the job, only the people who get you deserve you. Your gut knows the difference. Can you listen to it? -Liz Ryan

Work Your Way into Better Habits for 2014

Work habits

 

 

 

 

It’s a new year – which means you’re probably contemplating resolutions for personal improvement and ways you can break bad habits. Because most positions often require an attention to detail, better habits can improve productivity and make it easier to focus on the task at hand. By taking small steps, you can break bad habits and replace them with productive behaviors.

Before you can change bad habits into good habits, you must identify the things that have prevented you from making progress in the past. At work, many professionals find a myriad of excuses to avoid making progress on personal development goals. Many people are held back by fear—that you might not succeed, that your goals will prevent you from getting your work done, or that you don’t have the resources to accomplish a personal improvement goal. Other roadblocks are related to the perceived hassle or stress of creating a new habit. Once you identify the things that hold you back from making progress, you can find ways around them.

Personal improvement can often feel like an uphill battle. One of the most important things to do when creating a positive habit at work is to start small. When you take on a large goal all at once, you create a high risk of failure. Instead, start with a large goal and break it down into smaller components. According to a recent Forbes article, a specific, organized plan with carefully delineated steps can make it easier to stick to your goals.

If you want to adopt more efficient filing habits, for example, start by identifying the things you want to change about your current system. Pick one item and focus on changing it for a full week. You might create a different naming convention and practice it for a week. The next week, you could work on renaming directories, and the next week, you might move files into more logical folders. The same process works for any habit; by focusing on small changes, the overall personal improvement process feels less daunting and overwhelming.

Chances are, in your quest for personal improvement, you will come across challenges. A big project at work can make it easy to lose focus on a goal. A stressful week might lead you to fall back into old habits, and a demanding boss can make it difficult to accomplish your small milestones. To reduce the impact on your personal development plan, make a list of potential challenges. For each item, create a plan that will enable you to accomplish your work without stalling your progress. In doing so, you can reinforce the positive habit.

Whether you are trying to revamp your professional image or finding ways to do your job more efficiently, better habits can increase your chances of success. By building positive, productive habits, you can make light work of the personal improvement process.

16 Basic Principles for Avoiding Stupidity

Don't be an idiot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early in my career, someone told me that “not being an idiot is a sustainable competitive advantage.” Unbelievably, it’s the truth. It’s easy to jump past the basics and focus on the challenging, and often confusing, topics that seemingly lead to success.

But the longer I live, the more I’m convinced that understanding and consistently practicing a handful of basic principles, like the 16 below, is the surest path to success. As Shane Parrishsaid, “Spend less time trying to be brilliant and more time trying to avoid obvious stupidity.”

1. Follow Through: Just do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. If you quoted a price, stick with it. If you promised something, deliver.

2. Say “Thank You”: The world doesn’t owe you anything, so don’t act like it does. When someone acts in your best interest, thank him. If you’re given a gift, thank the person who thought of you. If you’re particularly pleased with someone’s performance…you get the idea.

3. Be On Time: Circumstances occasionally cause a justified aberration. But most of the time, tardiness signals self-importance, a lack of respect, and disorganization. As the saying goes, “Five minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.”

4. Use Impeccable Grammar: This is the clearest canary in the mine. If someone can’t properly spell, punctuate, or structure a sentence, chances are he a) is not well-educated, b) lacks attention to detail, and c) doesn’t care. Any way you slice it, bad grammar is bad news.

5. Say “Sorry”: Being wrong is being human. Just own up to it, and everyone will move on. Apologizing conveys that you a) care, b) are humble, and c) are self-aware. It’s incredible how much a genuine “sorry” can make up for.

6. Be Intentional: We all have the same amount of time. You can choose to randomly stumble around, hoping to bump into money, meaning, love, friendships, and opportunities. Or you can be intentional. It’s your choice, every single day.

7. Question Why: The smartest people in the world know what they don’t know, and they aren’t scared to look ignorant. If you don’t understand, ask “Why?” until you get it. This simple technique is the greatest antidote for the illogical and inexplicable.

8. Default to SilenceThere’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth. If you don’t have something meaningful to say, keep your trap shut. This ensures that when a significant thought does arise, people might actually listen.

9. Set Expectations: The formula is simple: Happiness = Reality — Expectations. Changing reality is hard. Setting expectations is easy. Under-promise and fill reality with happiness.

10. Take Responsibility: We love to rationalize blame. While it feels good to play the victim, it’s incredibly destructive, leading to a cynical and jaded life. The far better approach is to say, “It’s all my fault.” It gives you control to change yourself and your circumstances.

11. Say “No”: Life is a game of opportunity costs. If you say “yes,” you’re saying “no” to something else. Have clear priorities, pursue opportunities that align, and say “no” to everything else.

12. Continuously Learn: If you wake up each day trying to get a little better, before long, you’ll find yourself ahead. Read, ask, and listen. If something conflicts with your worldview, dig deeper and determine whether you should embrace it or discard it.

13. Embrace Simplicity: Small bits of complexity add up quickly and exponentially. A little white lie can get you fired. A little gossip can ruin a friendship. A little kiss can end a marriage. Enough small splurges can lead to bankruptcy. Given a choice, always choose simplicity.

14. Gain Perspective: We measure ourselves by our intentions, but others by their actions. But you’re not a special snowflake. Everyone else, regardless of how convinced you are that they’re “doing fine,” is struggling with something. Remember that to have some perspective.

15. Check Yourself: As Warren Buffett says, “Negotiating with one’s self seldom produces a barroom brawl.” Surround yourself with people who will a) call you on your BS, b) thoughtfully help you reason, and c) genuinely understand your weaknesses.

16. Avoid Eating Crap: You were given exactly one container for this life, and the quickest way to damage it is by consistently eating lab-concocted, food-like substances pumped full of chemicals, hormones, and fake nutrition. Simply eat real food that came from something previously living in a recognizable form.

The truth is that 100 percent consistency is impossible, and I’m certainly no exception. In the past two weeks, I’ve been late to a meeting, parroted some gossip, and failed to say “sorry” to two  people who deserved to hear it — and that’s just what I can recall. But I’m constantly striving to walk the talk, and I encourage you to do the same. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” -Brent Beshore

The 12 Business Books to Read in 2014

Books

 

One of the highlights of becoming an author is getting to read some exciting books in advance, and hearing early buzz about others. It’s the book nerd’s version of seeing sneak previews of movies before they hit the silver screen.

Here are 12 books with big implications for the world of work that are likely to make a splash in the coming year:

1. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek (January 7)

After taking the world by storm with his captivating message about purpose in Start With Why, Simon Sinek has turned his attention to critical questions about the how. What does it take for leaders to transform paranoia and cynicism into safety and trust? Is a common enemy necessary for cooperation? I can’t wait to read about what he’s learned from military and corporate leaders.

2. Quick and Nimble by Adam Bryant (January 7)

In an increasingly competitive and dynamic economy, every organization is charged with building a culture that supports innovation. Whereas most books on innovation take a deep dive into one company’s success or failure, New York Times Corner Office columnist Adam Bryant casts a more comprehensive net, interviewing hundreds of executives to identify what’s effective across industries. Bryant offers an expert guided tour through the minds of the world’s most innovative CEOs, sharing insights that are both enlightening and immensely practical.

3. Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold (January 16)

When I go to bookstores, I usually steer clear of the self-help section. In this case, I would have missed a gem. Small Move, Big Change is a rare self-improvement book that actually works. With the right mix of research evidence and practical examples from her experience as a technology leader on Wall Street, Caroline Arnold provides compelling advice for motivating ourselves to save more, eat less, get organized, boost our willpower, and even keep our New Year’s resolutions. It’s the most useful guide to getting things done sinceGetting Things Done.

4. Scaling Up Excellence by Robert Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao (February 4)

When I work with leaders, I often ask them about the biggest challenge that they face. The most common response, by far, focuses on spreading and multiplying success. If you have one team that’s thriving while others are sinking, how do you export their best practices to other teams across your organization? This pair of eminent Stanford professors is the first to shed systematic light on the pervasive problem of scaling with a landmark book full of rich case studies, powerful research evidence, and actionable ideas for anyone who cares about making groups or organizations more effective.

5. Everything Connects by Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer (February 21)

Philosophy, business, and history come together in this look at leadership, creativity, innovation, and sustainability from a successful serial entrepreneur and a cutting-edge journalist. With takeaways for large global companies and small startups, this book examines what leaders can learn from Eastern wisdom, Da Vinci, and contemporary psychology.

6. Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen (March 4)

This is a potentially life-changing look at one of the toughest but most important parts of life: receiving feedback. Doug Stone and Sheila Heen, coauthors of Difficult Conversations, show how to take an honest look in the mirror, and gain invaluable insights about the person staring back at you. I’ve already taught the principles in the classroom and applied them in my own life, and the payoffs include less defensiveness, more self-awareness, deeper learning, and richer relationships.

7. Thrive by Arianna Huffington (March 25)

In the quest for success, many people end up taking paths that they come to regret. Climbing up the ladder in pursuit of money and power, leaders and managers sacrifice their health and well-being, and miss out on meaningful opportunities to give back. Building on her celebrated Third Metric conferenceHuffington Post cofounder and president Arianna Huffington is on a mission to redefine success beyond money and power to enhance well-being, giving, wisdom, and creativity. This book may be the Lean In of 2014—for women and for men.

8. The Humor Code by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner (April 1)

Humor is an invaluable resource at work: it helps leaders defuse the tension in moments of crisis, managers temper the sting of tough feedback, and employees generate creative ideas in brainstorming sessions. Thanks to the global adventures of a zany social scientist and a perceptive journalist, we can all figure out how to become funnier, and laugh out loud along the way. This book is so good that I wish I wrote it. In fact, I’ve already started telling people I did. Luckily, Peter McGraw and Joel Warner are givers, so they won’t mind. They’ve given us a remarkable look at what makes us laugh, with the perfect blend of science, stories, satire, and sweater vests.

9. Brilliant by Annie Murphy Paul (April 8)

You’re either born smart or you’re not. Most people hate this notion, but never question whether it’s true. Science journalist Annie Murphy Paul shows us that it’s false: intelligence is a renewable resource. In Origins, she revealed that the nature-nurture debate has overlooked the formative nine months that we spend in the womb. Now, she marshals two decades of evidence from psychology and neuroscience to explain how we can make ourselves and our kids smarter. This book is poised to shake up our parenting habits, our schools, and our workplaces.

10. Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (May 13)

It’s one thing to admire the genius of the rogue economist and perceptive journalist who brought us Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomicsIt’s another thing entirely to understand how they come up with their brilliant ideas. Their latest book takes us behind the curtain with studies, stories, and illustrations that enrich our abilities to solve problems in our personal and professional lives.

11. Invisibles by David Zweig (May 15)

Why do some of the world’s most talented, accomplished people choose to fly under the radar, hiding in the shadows rather than clamoring for the spotlight? In his nonfiction debut, journalist David Zweig introduces us to some of the most successful people we’ve never heard of, from cinematographers to skyscraper engineers to United Nations interpreters. It’s a clarion call for work as a craft: for carefully honing expertise without hogging attention, for generously contributing knowledge without claiming credit, and for prizing meaningful work above public recognition.

12. Smartcuts by Shane Snow (September)

Although details are still under wraps, this book by journalist and tech entrepreneur Shane Snow promises to uncover unconventional patterns among rapidly successful businesses and people, from innovators and hackers to daredevils and revolutionaries. Snow is one of my favorite writers, a maven of creative productivity who holds the keys to becoming an expert in less than 10,000 hours.

Adam Grant is a Wharton professor and the author of Give and TakeNew York Times andWall Street Journal bestseller on the hidden power of helping others. Follow him here by clicking the yellow FOLLOW above and on Twitter @AdamMGrant