If Your Boss Tells You to Get a Coach, Don’t Panic

coaching

 

How does it feel when you’re told that you need a coach, whether it’s your boss or someone else? For many managers it feels like a kick in the gut, a clear sign that you’re doing something wrong and your job might be in trouble. For others, who might be resistant to coaching in general, it raises questions about whether you really need the extra help.

Having worked with dozens of managers who’ve been in this situation, these reactions are completely natural, especially if the request to work with a coach comes as a surprise. In either case, before you get started with the coaching, you need to work through these feelings so that you can have a positive experience. Here’s how:

The first step is to recognize coaching for what it is: a fantastic opportunity for growth, development, self-insight, and career progression – and an endorsement that the company is willing to invest in you. After all, there are a number of reasons why your boss might want you to be coached, and some are quite positive. Your manager might think you have a great deal of potential and a coach would help you develop it. Your boss might also suggest coaching to fix a particular skill deficit. One of my clients, for example, was asked to work with a coach specifically to focus on presentation skills. Her senior manager planned to give her more exposure to the Board but wanted to make sure she had the confidence and capability to hold her own in that setting.

There are of course situations where coaching is given to a manager because of a performance issue – an inability to deliver certain results, poor project execution, or not getting along with other members of the team. But even in these cases, coaching is an investment, not a punishment. The boss isn’t giving up on you.

The second step is to understand the nature of your resistance or hesitation. Are you opposed to being coached because you’re not sure what you should focus on? Or because you don’t really understand what’s involved in the process? If these are your concerns, take control of the coaching process. Interview the potential coach (if it’s not going to be your boss) and make sure that there’s good chemistry between you two; if not, find someone else. Set clear goals with the coach about what you want to accomplish and how she can be helpful. Engage your boss in regular progress reviews so you get feedback about how you’re doing, and establish a time frame for the coaching (and the achievement of progress) so that it’s not an open-ended relationship. In other words, take the ownership away from your boss and make the coaching experience something that belongs to you. You can also talk to colleagues and friends who have worked with a coach and get a sense of their experience.

But if you still don’t think working with a coach is necessary, make a list of reasons why. For example, does your resistance actually stem from an underlying anxiety about what coaching will reveal? A common concern is that the process might uncover issues that people don’t know how to deal with or threaten their self-image. Or maybe these are the reasons running through your mind: “I don’t have time for coaching.” “I’ve been successful so far — why fix something that isn’t broken.” “Coaching often doesn’t work, I’d rather try another approach to development.” “What I really need is better feedback and guidance from my manager.”

Each of these might be a legitimate reason for not wanting to work with a coach. But before you try and make your case, ask your boss why she recommended coaching in the first place. If there are skills she wants you to work on, ask if she would be open to you pursuing a different development approach. For example, you could take a course, or tackle a stretch assignment, or pick up some new responsibilities. If time is an issue, negotiate a development schedule that works for you – or suggest a better time of the year to do the coaching, based on the rhythms of your workplace.

In the end, if your boss still thinks coaching is the best option for you, put aside your resistance and make the most of it. Use it as an opportunity to get more feedback from your boss, and from your subordinates and colleagues as well. Everyone has something to learn, no matter how successful they’ve been in the past and how much potential they have for the future. That’s not to say that coaching is the magic key to success for every manager, but it’s a tool that may be useful and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. The bottom line is to remember that coaching is an investment – and the more you put into it, the greater the chance that you (and your company) will get a positive return.

-Harvard Business Review

 

Preparing for Your New Position – Phase Three: Settling In and Taking Charge

taking charge2

You may see yourself as a warm, easy-going boss with a high level of concern for your people. Or you might picture your managerial style as hard-nosed and highly oriented to the tasks you’ve assigned to people. And you may be correct.

What counts most as you enter your new job is NOT how you see yourself, but rather how your people perceive you. Their reactions and job performance will be based on what THEY believe you want from them.

Let’s recognize up front that performance in any group is bound to show some slippage in a crisis situation, such as welcoming and getting used to a new boss. Even if your department was producing excellent results prior to your arrival, you can expect a temporary drop-off while everyone gets accustomed to your methods and standards.

There’s an effective three-step process for managing people during a period of transition. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Direction

Begin by letting your people know exactly what you expect of them. Tell them what’s to be done and (if necessary) how, when and where to do it. Supervise them closely to make certain their performance meets your expectations. Take corrective measures quickly if you see any evidence of performance drop-off or obstacles to specified accomplishments and deadlines.

Some managers think that being “directive” with their people requires a stern, unsmiling style that keeps them coldly distant from their subordinates. Nothing could be farther from the truth; you can be directive and warmly supportive at the same time. In fact, under normal circumstances you should be both. Your staff needs to feel that you have high standards….but also that you believe in their ability to produce the results you want. Expressing confidence in your people is usually a self-fulfilling prophesy.

However, you need to remember that smiles and pats on the back are rewards, and rewards should follow performance. If you appear a “softie” who gives rewards without first requiring satisfactory results from your people, you’ve lost one of your most powerful managerial techniques. In effect, you’ve rewarded non-performance instead of waiting until you see the results you’re looking for. When incentives are given away in advance with no need to be earned, they lose their power to stimulate performance.

You didn’t get this far without acquiring some ability to deal with people. With some forethought you can maintain a balance between friendly support and premature rewards. Once your people see that top-performers are treated differently from others, they’ll know exactly how they must perform if they want the same rewards from you.

Step 2: Relaxation

As each of your employees begins to show a willingness and ability to take responsibility for his/her actions, you can reward performance and stimulate further progress by relaxing your directive behavior. People who readily agree that you should involve yourself closely during the early stages will also become resentful if their satisfactory performance does not earn them some operating freedom.

This concept – called “positively reinforcing successive approximations” – is an effective strategy for helping your people develop professional skills and motivation. First you “lay on” the structure (direction); then, as soon as you notice the slightest step in the desired direction, you rewards the satisfactory performance by easing your close supervision. You praise them for their results. Continues progress brings more rewards, which generate more progress, and so forth.

Since your objective is to “accomplish organizational goals through the efforts of your people,” this relaxation phase is vital in developing your subordinates to the point where they can think and act for themselves.

Step 3: Delegation

Once your employees have demonstrated that they are able and willing to function on their own, your development strategy is nearly complete. Now it’s time to sit back and watch from a distance as your self-motivated and self-directed people run their own show.

To be sure, you still need to be informed and in control. The ultimate responsibility for their activities still belongs to you. Delegation is an excellent managing strategy as long as your people are functioning effectively, but you have to be ready to step in at the first sign of trouble. To an authoritative manager, delegation seems to be a risky way of doing things; but consider what happens when your people are operating on their own and producing satisfactory results:

  • You have less time required for close supervision and more time for thinking, planning and brainstorming new ideas for improving your operations or reaching for higher goals.
  • You have fewer “people” problems because your staff is motivated toward achievement rather than self-protection, unproductive competition, or other distracting behavior.
  • You’ve taken a giant step toward identifying a potential successor or two for the day when top management has another career jump in mind for you.

The three-step process can work for you, but it requires a careful distinction between group accomplishments and individual achievements. Not every member of your staff will develop at the same pace, or to the same degree. The “direction-relaxation-delegation” strategy only works with individuals and groups that are moving forward together. Be careful not to let your positive reinforcement spill over the non-performers as well as those who are delivering satisfactory results.

The COMPOSE Problem-Solving Model

Of course, the world won’t always rotate precisely as you want it to. Your attempts to “relax” your directive control of people’s activities, or to “delegate” tasks when your people appear ready to handle them, may not produce the results you expect. Performance problems can occur in the best-managed functions and, when they happen to you, you’re going to need a simple and quick method of deciding what’s wrong and providing a solution.

Further, you won’t always have the luxury of taking your time to analyze problems on the job and figure ways to get your people back on track. The COMPOSE Model is designed to help you identify quickly whatever performance problems have occurred, and then to develop “change” strategies aimed at solving them.

Acronyms are easy to remember. That’s why I’ve arranged the seven common sources of performance problems into the world “COMPOSE” (which happens to be synonymous with “putting things into proper order”):

Competence                – inability to perform as expected

Overload                     – too much workload

Motivation                   – lack of proper incentives

Perception                  – not understanding what’s required

Organization               – insufficient resources

Supervision                 – lack of direction from you

Environment               – problems with outside factors

If one of your people is having difficulties performing up to your expectations, the problem is probably associated with one of these seven factors.

Competence

Sometimes the problem is caused by lack of ability to complete the task as assigned. It’s important to remember that employees are not universally competent: some have more skill and talent in certain areas than others. Usually, job competence is a function of education, experience on the job, or aptitudes which specifically qualify certain people for certain jobs.

If you employee has a competence problem, ask yourself first whether he/she is assigned to the proper tasks – that is, could his/her talents be better utilized elsewhere in your group. If the ability is present, you might spend more time giving the employee direction: specific instructions (from which he/she can learn how to deliver the results you want), and close supervision to assure success while the employee is learning. You might identify training or development courses that would contribute to employee’s competence in the future. At times it’s constructive to assign the employee to work closely with someone who already possesses the skills, and watch those abilities “rub off” on the person who’s having problems in that area.

 Overload

Managers often assume that “if I can handle the workload, so can anyone else.” That’s not always the case, and y our first clue comes when the employee’s work begins to suffer because of overload. People become disorganized, and lack timely answers to basic questions. Deadlines are missed even though the employee has the necessary abilities to perform the tasks.

Often a case of overload will show itself in a short temper, or even physical illness caused by the continuous tension of trying to handle too much work.

If your employee suffers from an overload problem, you’ll want to re-examine the delineation of duties throughout your group and re-assign tasks more evenly. If this cannot be done, check your staffing in general to determine whether more people are need to achieve the goals of your department.

Motivation

It’s difficult to succeed with tasks if there is no motivation or incentive to perform that task. It’s important to realize that not everyone is equally motivated to perform: some folks can see their personal goals being realized by accomplishing the task, where others cannot. Some employees have a problem with willingness – the desire to do something well. Others have problems with won’tness – “I don’t like the work and I won’t put forth my best efforts.”

If incentive problems exist within your organization, check your use of rewards. Your people should clearly understand that successful performance on this task will gain them the rewards they seek – more enjoyable assignments, more pay, opportunity for recognition among their peers, or promotion later on. Positive incentives often take the form of public praise for work well done, and all your people are sensitive to how you feel about sharing the credit and giving everyone a “boost” within the group and in the eyes of your boss.

Perception

Some people don’t really understand what’s required of them in a given situation. They may possess the competence to succeed, and the motivation to try their best, but find it difficult to interpret your directions or comprehend the results they’re striving for. To be fully effective, the employee needs to know (a) what the job consists of; (b) the objectives accomplished by the task; and (c) how you want the task accomplished. There’s also a need to clarify which tasks have priority over others – what should be done first, for example.

Usually a return to the “Action Plan” will remove questions of perception regarding an assignment. Make sure your instructions are given in specific ways, to avoid misinterpretations by others. Review instructions if necessary, so that every member of your team understands what to do and why it’s important.

Organization

Every employee needs some degree of organizational support to accomplish assigned tasks. If you expect your employees to return their tools to the supply room before leaving, you’d better make sure that the supply room is open at the proper times. If your employee needs to produce a typed report by Wednesday, be sure there’s a typist available between now and then.

If there’s a problem in getting the required support from the organization, you may find yourself talking with your boss or others to find the solution. In such cases, other priorities may prevent you from getting the help you need. When this happens, you’ll have to revise your expectations regarding the employee’s assignment to avoid holding someone responsible for circumstances beyond his/her control.

 Supervision

As mentioned earlier, different people require different levels of supervision. To some, your continuing attention is a reward, because they want to spend time with you in the course of their work. To others, your close supervision can appear threatening to their perception of their autonomy. Some employees react to supervision by saying “What’s the matter? Don’t you trust me to do a good job?” while others will wonder if you trust them out of your sight.

The balance between too little supervision and too much is a matter of judgment. You need to give people sufficient operating latitude if you want to stimulate their incentive, yet too much “rope” can cause you to lose control. The best strategy is to maintain open communication with each of your employees, paying attention to feedback and adjusting your supervising style according to their wishes and your evaluation of their ability to perform on their own.

Environment

If a problem exists, and none of the preceding factors seems to be the cause, take a look at the external factors that may be influencing your employee’s performance. In some “hourly” situations, peer pressures can limit output. Gas shortages or baby-sitting problems can hamper your employee’s ability to get to work on time. Personal beliefs or political sentiments can occupy a person’s mind and interfere with productivity.

If there’s an environment problem, it’s useless to reprimand people for circumstances beyond their control. However, if outside factors are interfering with performance – and the control is clearly with the employee – a counseling session is called for. In any case, close communication with your people will create an atmosphere in which external problems can be identified and discussed so that each employee can perform without distractions.

Try the COMPOSE Model with your next managerial problem. It gives you a system for approaching problem identification and analysis during the first few months, even if you don’t have complete familiarity with the function or the people. Its orderly approach not only provides a basis for action – it also encourages your people to cooperate, since they can recognize the logical strategy you’re using.

Debriefing Your Boss debrief boss

No systematic approach to entering your new job would be complete without an official closing exercise. Earlier we discussed the need for a “no surprises” strategy of keeping your boss informed of your activities and progress. Presumably you’ve been maintaining this contact, and using the feedback to alter your direction and techniques.

Your contract for disclosure with your boss needs a wrap-up to signal your readiness to be your first opportunity to acquaint your boss with some of your operating methods, close observation has ended. One way to accomplish this is formal “debriefing” meeting at which all pertinent subjects are resolved. The objectives of this meeting are:

  • To bring your boss up to date regarding all phases of your transition into the new job;
  • To cross-check your conclusions about goals, and the resources available to achieve them;
  • To describe the improvements you’ve made since joining the organization;
  • To gain your boss’ confidence that you’re in control.

Your debriefing meeting should be scheduled within 90 days of your arrival on the job. It may be your first opportunity to acquaint your boss with some of your operating methods, Action Plans, personnel allocations, etcetera. It can lead to changes of strategy if certain approaches are not working as expected. It can be the basis for a review of staffing requirements for the future. In short, the debriefing meeting can be used to accomplish whatever purposes you’ve identified during your first few months on the job.

Most important, the meeting also establishes the potential of a long-term working relationship in which each of you can obtain the results you want.

The timing and length of the meeting are not half as important as being thoroughly prepared for it. Remember, you’re asking for your boss’ time, and a measure of your effectiveness is your ability to manage the time he/she will give you. Use charts, graphs, and other aids to clear communication. Leave materials behind to help your boss remember what was discussed.

Before departing from this meeting, get your boss’ reactions to everything presented. Set the stage for future meetings. Later, analyze what happened and plan for regular reviews and “no surprises” discussions. Identify suggested areas of improvement and make sure you’ve attended to them before the next meeting – at least to the point where you can show some progress.

Following is a “Debriefing” checklist to help you structure the meeting. Add whatever special items are necessary to customize the format to your situation.

  1. Give your boss some honest reactions to being involved in the organization, and express your appreciation of support received thus far (if applicable).
  2. Highlight major areas of concern.
  3. Review the contents of your “First Meeting” worksheets and report on progress to date.
  4. Review the subjects discussed at your “Ice-Breaker” meeting with employees.
  5. Present your Action Plans and explain your strategies for achieving results within the specified deadlines.
  6. Add any additional Items for your discussion.

Best of luck in your new position/job and enjoy the benefits of a great start!

-Sharon Jenks, CEO/President – The Jenks Group, Inc. http://www.thejenksgroup.com

 

Executives Learn from Navy SEALs – Game Changing Skill 1: Tip of the Spear

Tip of the Spear: Speed, Surprise, and Impact of Action Triangle

 

What constitutes speed in your organization? Do you have the advantage of surprise? Are you aware of the game-changing impact of your actions?

 

 

S.O.S.T. is an educational experience for executives who want a new, more effective approach to achieving corporate goals. Let us teach you how this can be applied in your organization.

 

 

http://sosttraining.com/

 

What US Navy SEALs can teach your Executive Teams

Strategic Operations Skills Training

Strategic Operations Skills Training

 

KFMB Channel 8 News reporter Alicia Summers filmed and participated in our S.O.S.T. training. Here is FAST Team 8, they were awesome!! Back row left to right, US Navy SEAL Steve Bailey, Master Chief Ret., Dave Sweeney, Room 5; David Foos, Meeting Match; Craig Goldberg, 6 Degrees Business Networking; US Navy SEAL Mike Cheswick; Faisal Kohgadai, Meeting Match; Matthew Arena, TGG Accounting; US Navy SEAL Kirby Horrell; Front row left to right, Sharon Jenks, The Jenks Group, Inc. and Alicia Summers, Reporter KFMB Channel 8 News. You can watch the video here:

Not Your Typical Corporate Classroom

To learn more about the Strategic Operations Skills Training (S.O.S.T.) go to http://www.sosttraining.com and find out how this unique program can improve your organization when your team learns the 6 Game-Changing Skills taught by the US Navy SEALs and The Jenks Group instructors.

 

10 Signs You’re Working Too Hard – And How to Stop

Vice grip on head

 

The signs of stress are easy to spot. It’s the solutions that can be hard to come by.

If you’ve stopped exercising, can’t sleep and are eating poorly, you’re heading down a road that could lead to a disastrous destination. And if you’re far enough along this destructive path that you’ve abandoned your hobbies and interests, can’t find time for friends or family and are obsessed with work day and night, you may actually need an outside intervention. Don’t be too surprised if it comes unsolicited at the hands of a doctor or lawyer.

It’s best to recognize the early warning signs and address them before someone else does. Here are 10 common signs you’re under too much stress – and suggestions for what to do about it.

1) You’re chained to your desk. An editor at the Chicago Sun-Times once said that he couldn’t take time off. He was afraid the place would fall apart without him – and he was terrified it wouldn’t. If you think the universe depends on you, you’re headed for a high-stress breakdown. Hire people who will do a better job than you ever could, and then celebrate their successes, get out of their way and recharge your batteries regularly.

2) You can’t play nice. A demanding attitude rarely reduces stress, so if you find yourself berating waiters, flight attendants or reservations agents, make a habit of taking an extra minute during every interaction to thank them – and be specific, if possible. In trying to cheer up those who are doing tough jobs, you might also boost your own spirits.

3) Your mind races in circles. You think the root of your stress is that you spend all of your time in a state of intense focus. But really, most people under stress are re-plowing the same field over and over. They confuse this obsessing with focus, but it’s really the opposite. Problems typically get simpler as you work your way through them, so make sure your solutions involve reducing complexity. Then work on execution in bite-sized pieces that are less demanding than the larger initial problem. When your stress is under control, focus will come more easily.

4) Your favorite phrase is “you’ve got mail.” Email may have become a mindless stress reliever for you; but like most things, it’s a two-edged sword. If you’re disciplined, it’s a time-saver. But if your use of it goes unchecked, it morphs into a constant interrupter, a pestering reminder of all you’re having a hard time responding to. So turn off your email – for hours at a time –and work on developing the discipline to check in on a regular schedule and not more frequently.

5) You wallow in self-pity. If you find yourself feeling under-appreciated, change your surroundings – or, at a minimum, change your attitude. Replace self-pity with gratitude, or better yet, find a way to serve those less fortunate than you. In the process, you’ll discover you have a lot to be grateful for, and you’ll be surprised at how transformative that realization can be.

6) You’re always running late. Make a commitment that you’ll be five minutes early to every meeting and every event, and then tell others about it as a way forcing you to curtail the activities that are making you late. This will rarely reduce the quality of your thinking or your work, and it will usually help you re-frame your priorities and focus on your accountability and deliverables.

7) You never take a mental break. I once had a set of partners who bought tickets for me and my wife to take a week’s vacation and promised that none of them would answer calls from me or report anything to me during the trip. At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself; but soon, I lost myself in a book. When I “woke up” I was in another century, as it were, reveling in language, culture and history – things I love, but had forgotten about. Taking mental breaks every once in a while creates opportunities for learning and enjoying new things. To incorporate them into your daily life, set up rules for yourself. One of mine is not to work on airplanes – and since I do a lot of flying, I now do a lot of reading.

8) Your phone has become an appendage. Never turning off your phone, or even worse, being unable to even put it down, leaves you open to constant interruptions. Although I can’t seem to do it, I know busy people who set “office hours” for themselves during which they even block out personal interruptions. The analog to the phone being on all the time is the office door that’s always open. Be sure to give yourself some quiet time to think, to plan, to reflect in a place where there’s no phone and no one walking through the door, even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day.

9) You’re impossible to please. The food isn’t good enough, the hotel’s not convenient enough, your income isn’t high enough. You don’t have enough resources, a strong-enough team, sufficient support from others. The solution to these seemingly external problems is to turn inward and change your mindset. One of my mantras, which I developed when I noticed this warning sign in myself, has become, “I have all I need.”

10) You live in the past or the future. You reminisce, telling stories of past glories. Or you await the future, unable to really start living until a certain goal is behind you. Both of these are signals that you’re living outside the present, a habit that only leads to more stress. Being present in the moment, enjoying the conversation, the meeting, the people and the challenges as they come up will reduce stress.

Over the years, I’ve learned that we can intentionally change our attitudes, habits and self-talk. It’s not a matter of avoiding stress altogether – in fact, some stress can help keep us on our toes. The trick is to monitor our time and attention, to get feedback and to re-calibrate our schedules based on what we learn.

Like a recovering alcoholic, I have to commit every day to smelling the roses. I’ve concluded that to do otherwise will create a form of success at the cost of failing in what matters most: Finding peace from a life well lived – a peace that won’t come from promotions, status, fame or fortune. -Joel Peterson, Chairman, JetBlue Airways

 

Here’s What Really Motivates Your Employees (It’s Not What You Think)

Dangling a carrot

In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, the underlying message is that a leader can provide a motivating environment but can’t motivate his or her employees; motivation comes from within each individual.

This goes entirely against the common belief that given more carrots, an employee will be motivated to behave in ways that will increase the success of a company. Yet, time and again, leaders have found that providing more money and better benefits, extrinsic motivators, only provides a short-term effect on behavior. Extrinsic motivators are not sustainable.

In yesterday’s article Top 5 Leadership Mistakes, one of them was misunderstanding motivation.

I outlined the three attributes that, when implemented effectively within the organization, can increase the long-term behavioral changes the leader is looking to instill in the organization.

And what can a company expect from its employees when they provide an environment that provides for autonomy, mastery, and purpose?

An academic study by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci in 2000 issue of American Psychologist showed that focusing on internal motivators can lead to higher self-esteem and self-actualization, while a focus on external motivators, on average, leads to lower self-esteem and self-actualization.

In turn, employees driven by internal motivators demonstrated a greater level of persistence, creativity, energy, and well being, which increased the performance level of those employees.

So if, in fact, employee performance increases with intrinsic motivators, why aren’t more companies creating and implementing a plan to transition to a culture of autonomy, mastery and purpose? Because it is not easy! It is a massive shift in long-term beliefs and requires both employer and employees to change their mindset as well as the way they work.

What are the critical success factors to transitioning your workplace to an intrinsically motivated organization? They are the three C’s:

  1. Creativity: Be able to devise innovative ways of working outside the traditional mode. Bring in outside assistance if you don’t find you are making the progress you desire.
  2. Communication: Changes to the work process need to be communicated to all employees via multiple methods. Communication should be ongoing and frequent and provide employees with the opportunity to have their questions answered.
  3. Change Management: Demonstrate how the changes will positively affect employees, create methods to identify employees who may be struggling with the changes, and have resources available to help them adjust.

Beth Armknecht Miller, CMC

Author: Are You Talent Obsessed?, Leadership Development Advisor, Vistage Chair, Speaker, Executive Coach

Want to play and learn along side of Special Ops like the Navy SEALS?

Watch this video and find out!

http://www.10news.com/news/ceos-go-to-war-with-navy-seals-to-make-their-businesses-better-04302014

The Jenks Group, Inc., a Solana Beach based firm has launched their newest program,  Strategic Operations Skills Training (S.O.S.T.) that brings Special Forces such as the Navy Seals, CEO’s and their Executive Teams together through mission critical exercises including uniforms, gear, guns and simmunitions.

S.O.S.T. can be a rigorous two or three-day program. In the end, CEO’s and their executive teams come out the other side learning how to take chaos, which exists in all organizations, and make it organized chaos, such like the Navy Seals do when they are on a mission.

It is Hyper Realistic ™, down to hostiles, loud noises and smoke. In other words it’s not your grandmother’s team building session. And it is done right alongside the best team in the world, the Navy Seals. After each mission CEO’s and their team are debriefed on what they learned in combat and how that hard skill is transferred into their workplace specifically on carrying out their Strategic Plans.

This program is a win/win because it is employing veterans in a meaningful way, using their amazing skills and intelligence to help CEO’s positively affect their bottom-line.

For more information on this program tailored to your organization contact Sharon Jenks, President The Jenks Group, Inc. – 858-525-3163

jnkslogo2

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.