I’m 25 and got my start in marketing right out of college with an internship. I was full of excitement when I started my career, but after a few years into it I feel stunted. Bosses and colleagues say I have talent and potential, but I’m not progressing. I’m desperate to escape my rut but don’t know which moves to make. I have tried networking, but so far it only leads to a bunch of connections that build pleasant, but superficial, friendships. None of them have helped me advance to the next stage of my career. I want more than just a paycheck; I want to find the on-ramp that connects to the career fast track. The problem is I’m lacking the GPS that other people seem to have. I don’t know how to map the route from “Here” to “Success”. What am I doing wrong?
Lost on the Road to Success,
The good news is you are aware of your stagnation and you possess the “drive” to surpass mediocrity and arrive at greatness. Those are strong indicators that you are the type of person who will accomplish the goals you set for yourself.
The primary distinction between under-earners and successful people is not talent, skill or even opportunity—it’s having a clear purpose, perseverance and follow-through. That you yearn for advancement and are seeking guidance speaks volume about your initiative, and that passion—fueled by a strong belief in yourself and dedication to your goals—will get you wherever it is you program your mind to go.
So, you have the vision, enthusiasm and work ethic, now you need the game plan. A mentor, or multiple mentors, can provide the support and strategic advice that will escalate you to the next level in your career climb. Why reinvent the wheel when you can reach out to someone who has achieved the level of success you are striving for and embodies the vision and values you aim to emulate in your career? Odds are your mentor once faced, and overcame, the same challenges you are encountering. If you’re current thinking got you into a stalemate, then you need an outside and experienced perspective to get you out. Ask for help, and be diligent in following the advice you’re offered. For a mentorship to be of value, you have to be coachable. The 5 most powerful words you have in your vocabulary as an ambitious professional are, “Will you be my mentor?”
When Warren Buffet recently advised Millennial women on strategies for success he suggested they, “Pick the person that has the right habits, that is cheerful, generous, gives other people credit for what they do. Look at all of the qualities that you admire in other people … and say to yourself, ‘Which of those qualities can’t I have myself?’ Because you determine whether you have them. And the truth is you can have all of them.” Of course, you must be thoughtful in your choice. “If you tell me who your heroes are, I’ll tell you how you’re gonna turn out. It’s really important in life to have the right heroes. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve probably had a dozen or so major heroes. And none of them have ever let me down. You want to hang around with people that are better than you are. You will move in the direction of the crowd that you associate with.” And yes, in the same talk Warren Buffet asserts it’s essential aspiring professionals find mentors. (Warren Buffet Offers Career Advice to Millennial Women)
Don’t forget to help others along the way too. The best way to engage the support of others is to support them first. Today’s intern may be in a position to offer you a job in a few years or bring you in to collaborate on a winning opportunity or project. Building relationships is one of the most important ways you should be spending your time at your current job. Relationships will outlast your current position and you will carry your valuable connections with you from company to company, throughout your career.
Stop distressing over your next move. The truth is there are many paths, and what looks like a setback today may next year turn out to have been a blessing. It’s often impossible to clearly identify the full value of your difficulties while you are in the midst of experiencing them. In hindsight, it later becomes apparent that what you categorized as failures are the very teachings that were vital in leading you to your most profound lessons and empowering you with the wisdom and experience that transform you into a leader. Don’t take your failures, or your achievements for that matter, personally. Try to suppress your ego and focus on your passion and your purpose. Remember, making mistakes and paying your dues is how each one of us learns and becomes savvy enough to later break the rules and create the innovative processes and solutions that revolutionize our businesses and industries.
Most importantly, be the kind of person you would want to work with, and work for: ethical, upbeat, motivated and resourceful. Character, persistence and focus will not only get you to where you want to be, they will help you stay at the top for the long run. Best of luck and enjoy the ride!
A head hunter contacted me saying she wanted to recruit me on behalf of a large company that is headquartered in a different state. I agreed to the interview, not giving it too much thought since I figured she was looking at multiple candidates. I just heard back and was offered a well-paying job as a Director of Marketing with a fast track to a position in upper management if it’s a good fit and I perform well. It sounds too good to be true, except I absolutely adore my city, and my friends and my life are here.
I’m also engaged to a great guy and my fiancé hates the idea of moving since the city we’re moving to is smaller, less sophisticated and less cultured. To be blunt, we will probably be bored off our bums. I make more than him, since he’s a freelance photographer, and I can support him while he gets settled and hopefully makes contacts and finds work; but he is already established and loves the clients he works with and the projects he gets to do here. The same opportunities won’t be available to him in a smaller, less cosmopolitan city.
This break would be huge for my career, the money is great and we will be able to do things we can’t afford to do in the amazing, but very expensive, city we live in now, like buy a house and plan for a family. I don’t want to regret taking this chance, especially since another offer this good might not come around for a long time; but my fiancé says being happy is about more than owning property and having more spending money, and I agree with that too. I’m deadlocked and have no clue how to make this decision.
Not Sure of the Right Move
Dear Not Sure,
In life we can’t have it all, and while we are generally accepting of that, the difficulty comes in deciding what is most important to us and what we are willing to trade or give up to acquire it. My first suggestion would be: approach your current boss and negotiate a raise using your new job proposal as leverage. If you are planning on leaving anyway to pursue the offer, you have nothing to lose.
Secondly, I’d advise you to expand your perspective and consider what you might be gaining in your move to a new city, instead of focusing only on what you will be losing. Research the lifestyle the new opportunity may present—a slower pace, less stress at the office, a more informal and relaxed environment and a better commute than your big city, rush-hour madness. Your new city, and the surrounding area, could offer scenic landscape and pleasurable outdoor activities that city life lacks. And with more money, and less overtime and commute time, you will have opportunity to enjoy them.
If you are concentrating on how the money will improve your life, your fiancé is right in countering that happiness is measured by more than a bigger account. However, extra income, time and energy to spend, can translate into more enjoyment out of life and your relationship. Is there a hobby or interests you are too busy and distracted to engage in now that you, or you and your fiancé together, would finally have the time and resources to dive into? Maybe it’s ball games, painting, cooking, sailing, swing dancing, antiquing, wood working, yoga or taxidermy. Ok, I threw in taxidermy to make sure you were paying attention. The point is, we are consistently making tradeoffs in our lives, remember to weigh in the potential benefits when comparing them to the drawbacks.
If you have any vacation time accrued at your current job, it would be smart to visit the city where the new job is located and stay for a few days, or a week, as a tourist in a hotel. If your fiancé can manage it, bring him too. Maybe the city has more to offer than you realize. Research activities you both enjoy and try them out while you’re there to get a realistic taste of what life would be like. For instance, if you enjoy hiking, gather information on parks and trails in the area beforehand and then try it out during your “research” vacation. You can also get a sense of the pace of the town, the people and the “feel”. All these will combine to give you a much deeper sense of the community than you have now as an outsider.
Many people find love is a crucial, or even essential, element in their happiness. If you have been blessed to find the partner you want to build a future, and possibly a family, with than you must plan for what you will do if your fiancé can’t find a job. How would his unemployment affect the relationship? Possible fall-out could include him building resentment or anger towards you, believing you “ruined” his career at the expense of advancing yours, or the damaging of his self-image if he is unable to find work for a long period of time, either of which could potentially break up the relationship. To minimize the negative outcomes, discuss the possibilities openly and honestly with him before you decide to make the move. Maybe you can come to an agreement whereby if he can’t find work in 6 months, or a year, you will consider moving back, or you will support him while he switches careers to another occupation he loves, or help him transition to fine art photography and publish a book of his artistic work—whatever works for you as a couple.
It’s important you also do some soul searching and ask yourself, is it worth the fast track, a big house in the suburbs, shopping sprees and nice vacations if you lose your life partner? Maybe he can reach out to local magazines, advertising companies, and the like, beforehand to see if he can set up some meetings and make a few contacts. Perhaps the co-workers at the new job will have leads that may pan out for him as well. In the end, you might decide that if your fiancé cannot support you in this move then the relationship you two share is not as strong and close as you thought it was and going alone is better for you. Maybe he can come and visit once you’re settled and see how things progress from there. Only you know what this relationship means to your future and to your happiness, so face the tough questions bravely and with complete honesty. Times like these can be crucial turning points in our lives and when we look back, sometimes years later, we see it is our adversities that lead to some of our proudest achievements and grandest triumphs.
Best of luck in this fork in the road, and may it lead you down the path to your dreams.
Here’s the deal: my boss is asking me to do something that goes against my morals. I’m looking for another job but it will probably take a few months, or longer, to find something. When I interviewed, I was never told how they really operate and I feel misled. It’s not illegal what they want me to do, but it’s devious and violates my beliefs. My only choice seems to be to go against everything I stand for as a person or step up and tell them I don’t agree with their tactics and probably get fired. I don’t know how I’d pay my bills if I left my job without having another one lined up.
Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Many people can relate to your dilemma. That may or may not make you feel better, but most of us at one time or another, has had our ethics smack brutally up against what was asked of us by an employer. If we were only dealt hands that were easy to play we would never find out what, at our core, is essential to us. But the world is seldom black and white—and it’s in those endless shades of grey that our character, our integrity, and ultimately our destiny, are shaped.
Determine if there is a way to meet your employer’s expectations while minimizing your need to engage in actions that undermine your values. Is there a potential work around—perhaps a short term solution that buys you more time to find another job? Think outside the box; maybe there’s an innovative method that accomplishes the goals your boss has set, but does so in a way that does not exploit or deceive anyone.
If all else fails, it’s time to get tough with your conscience. Sit down and make a list of all your expenses. Calculate how much time, if any, you can afford to be out of work. Are you eligible for unemployment? Do you have any savings that could potentially hold you over, and if so, for how long? Are there family members, a romantic partner, or friends that could put you up, or float you a short term loan, while you continue your job hunt?
A great way to subdue the fear of the unknown is to look it straight in the eye and stare it down. Once you understand the reality of the situation, with all its nuances and repercussions, it is less daunting because you understand what you up against and can formulate a plan of action. Whatever you do, never simply ignore the situation and hope it will go away or that things will magically solve
themselves. It’s great to have faith that what is meant to be will occur, but its focus and intention that lead you to the career and life you want. If you don’t have a purpose you will drift any which way the tide sees fit to carry you. Do not waste your energy on worry, since stress alone never solves a problem, and can often make things worse. Do use that energy positively to evaluate your circumstances and to be proactive in creating the life you want for yourself. Use your faith to champion and strengthen your purpose, focus and drive.
Maybe after taking an honest assessment of your financial state of affairs and all your options, you will determine there is no way you can afford to leave your job and no one you can turn to for assistance. Is there a church you belong to or social services you may have overlooked? If not, then it’s one of those moments that will define who you are and what you are made of, my friend.
Can you do what is expected of you at work, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and sleep at night? Will your actions directly harm people? Are you indirectly hurting children, families or communities? How much damage are you causing to yourself, your clients, your environment or whomever else is suffering because of what you are perpetrating, in order to earn your paycheck? Can you live with that? There is only one person who can answer that question. If your religious beliefs play a part in your objection to the tasks or tactics you are being asked to perform, you can seek the guidance of a religious leader. Maybe he or she can shed light on a solution you are overlooking or a perspective that will provide new and helpful insights. If you are not religious, maybe you have a mentor or former coach you trust that you can ask for advice.
Whether you choose the rock or the hard place, it will feel harsh when you lay your head down at night. But remember, when you wake up you will have to look at yourself in the mirror. While it’s true we all do things we are not proud of, make decisions we later regret and make mistakes that we may never have the opportunity to atone for, there have to be some deep and profound values that we refuse to compromise, no matter what the situation.
But it sounds like you are steadfast in your beliefs and you are certain that this job requires you to deny your moral code. So, I would end by advising you to keep in mind: Hard times will pass and employers will come and go throughout your career, but you will be integrally connected to your conscience for your lifetime.
Good Luck in maneuvering past this difficult time. One of my favorite sayings to remind myself of the temporary nature of adversity is, “Tough times don’t last, Tough people do”.
I’m doing well in a career I’m good at, but I’m not passionate about. If I continue on the same trajectory with my current company I’ll be making over six figures soon. I have excellent benefits, in a financially strong, Fortune 500 company. This was all great until I recently got an offer to work with a small, brilliant team launching an innovative company that would pretty much be my dream job. If I take the leap, I’ll be excited to be at work every day. But gone is my stability and great benefits, and even though I’ll have the opportunity to make more money than I ever dreamed of making in my current career, it will mean a period of sacrifice while we get things going and the revenue starts rolling. And if we don’t get the company off the ground, I’m back to square one: no stable but boring job and no job working with a cool team I’d hang with even on my days off doing something that uses skills I’ll never get to use at the job I have now.
I’m the type of guy that’s always wanted to run with the bulls in Pamplona or bungee of a huge bridge, but I’m not sure I could ever go through with taking a major risk like this because I like feeling in control and secure about my future.
Wants to Run with the Bulls, but Afraid of Getting Trampled
Dear Wants to Run,
Your quandary forces you to choose a side: passion or paycheck. Many of my entrepreneur friends and those who have left well-paying corporate gigs for jobs that serve a social good they are passionate about, but is not financially lucrative, have made the same leap of faith to follow their bliss and live their dreams. Even when their decisions have come at the expense of a comforting retirement nest egg and a killer medical plan, the sense of security they sacrificed didn’t compare to the overwhelming joy of doing something with their lives that meant more to them than anything they could deposit into a bank account. Some of them were impacting communities, changing lives and transforming the world.
What prices do put on peace of mind, purpose and happiness? What is the freedom that comes with making your own way in the world, on your own terms, worth? There’s the rub: We live in world where our necessities must be paid for in order for us to survive, but how do we compare financial compensation with something that we can’t calculate in monetary terms?
I realize that I’ve just asked more questions instead of offering an answer, but I still need to ask one more. Are you relying on your paycheck and benefits to provide for a family? If there are people that depend on your steady financial situation for their livelihood than your dilemma becomes decidedly more complicated. You will need to figure out if you have enough savings to cover your expenses until the new company is generating enough profit to provide for all of your needs. Keep in mind, it may take years for a new business to fine tune a workable business model and can go through financially painful growing pains while they adapt to the market, and each other. Then assess what options you will have for securing another well-paying position if your start-up fails (which many do). If you are free of familial obligations, then perhaps it’s an ideal time in your life to chase an opportunity like the one that just landed in your lap. If not now, then when? Certainly the time isn’t once you have the responsibility and expense of a spouse and children.
You will have to live with this decision every day, at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for weeks, then months, and then years. Do some soul searching and discover what is really important to you and what you want out of more than just your job, but out of your future—and your life. Then compare the two paths, cautious corporate path or challenging, but rewarding, entrepreneurial route. Which one will bring you closest to your end goal?
I would also advise you to consider that: 1. The best laid plans do not always pan out 2. If anything has proven that “security” with a “stable” company can be more of an illusion than we once believed it to be, it’s the recent financial crisis that bankrupted companies like AIG, Bear Stearns, and Goldman Sachs and cost many loyal employees from formerly financially robust companies to lose their hard won pensions and drained their 401K packages. And I’ll offer one last one point for your consideration, “Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans”.
So what do you want your days to be like? That’s the real question. Are weekends entertaining in a big house, or summers vacationing in the Keys, the moments you live for? Is creating original solutions that change the way people interact or improving the way communities are built, invigorate you with joy? Does the freedom to engage in work that challenges and satisfies you mean more than a second car or a vacation home? Take a hard look at those questions and the answer will reveal itself. If what you really want is a life bursting with new, exhilarating experiences that remind you how thrilling it is to be alive, you can create it. But you will have to be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to bring that life into existence. Your time and happiness are the most valuable things you own, so guard them with your life.
I’ve been at my current job for over a year now. I work hard, meet all deadlines, and do not have any problems with co-workers. Rarely have management or my clients been unsatisfied with my work. My boss consistently adds higher profile accounts to my workload as my track record continues to build. I am reliable and self-managing for the most part. But since I quietly do my work and am too busy to socialize much with others in the office, the “bigger” personalities drown me out in getting recognition from higher ups. My annual review is coming, and since my workload has increased, I feel a raise or promotion is due. I came in at a starting salary but the work I do now is above my current pay grade. The problem is I’m not comfortable negotiating on my own behalf and I tried to practice but I know I will feel awkward in front of my boss and blow it, or decide not to ask at all because I feel so uncomfortable. How do I ask for what I feel I deserve?
Needs a Push up the Ladder
Dear Needs a Push,
For those of us with less extroverted personalities, less than average dose of confidence
or who have been brought up to believe humility is a virtue and self-promotion is tacky or improper, it can feel unnatural to negotiate on our own behalf. But if you don’t champion your own cause, then who will? Certainly, not those co-workers competing for the same promotion you want. Maybe your boss or a co-worker that you have built an alliance with will rally for your cause, but if by your own admission, you are too busy chasing deadlines to interact much with your office mates, it is doubtful they know enough about you to recommend your work. The bottom line: it’s your responsibility to be your own career advocate.
Of course, you don’t want to be the eye-roll inducingDwight Shrute of your office, that person who you’re sure must have carpel tunnel from patting himself on
the back every 5 minutes, but if you don’t claim your victories every now and then how will others in the company know about them? Sure, they may see your profile in the company newsletter under “Employee Spotlight”, but when was the last time you read through the internal company newsletter. Exactly. While tooting your own horn may not be an innate talent, it is a skill that can be learned, improved, and eventually, perfected.
Here are my tips to getting noticed around the office (in the right way):
1. Be generous with your praise of others.
When you advocate on behalf of the accomplishments of your co-workers, they will be more likely to point out your positive contributions in return. Reciprocity is a powerful tool, and by paying it forward, you don’t have to bring yourself up first, which will be more comfortable for you. As an added bonus, when other’s talk about your achievements it comes across more strongly and positively than when you promote yourself.
2. Share your failures as well as your successes.
By being forthcoming with your struggles, it shows your humility. When sharing your
good deeds, along with your set-backs, it is more of a conversation and less of a plug for your value to the company.
3. Pursue opportunities to collaborate or help others.
Showing is always more powerful than telling. When others experience your strengths first hand, they will come to associate you with those talents and skills.
4. Bond over happy hour or the company softball team or a charity cause. If you are too swamped to leave your desk much during office hours, try becoming closer to your colleagues outside of work. Since over a beer, a common interest or shared cause people are more relaxed and open, it will be an ideal situation for you to make connections in a way that won’t push you so far outside your comfort zone.
5. Learn how to take a compliment.
You may naturally tend to deflect attention from yourself when your boss gives you a verbal fist bump for a project well done or when she offers an accolade for a favorable
email from a client singing your praises, but resist your temptation to say, “It was nothing”. Instead, say “thank you”. You earned it; claim it!
A few guidelines to turning your performance review into a raise:
1. Do your research so you are prepared and armed with the facts.
Frame the discussion in terms of industry standards in salary compensation. Your research will serve to highlight your diligence and as a shield against taking the negotiations too personally. Treat it as you would a meeting with a client. Stick to the specifics, know your goal and have a strategy in place. Research the industry standards for the job you are currently doing, not the job you were hired to do.
2. Have a list of your accomplishments and calculate your overall value to the company.
Quantify clients you have brought in, new business that has resulted directly from your
labors, money you have saved the company during your tenure, new innovations or solutions you’ve created, and other tangible results. Know what you bring to the table in solid terms that show your value to the bottom line of the company. When you demonstrate your value add instead of just talking about what you would like to receive, you will keep the discussion performance related—and you will feel less anxious because you will be speaking in objective terms.
3. If you are told that there is a salary freeze, or that your contribution is noted and appreciated but a raise is not in the budget at this time, counter by asking for a specific timeline as to when the request can be reevaluated and on what criteria the raise would be assessed. This way you can develop a plan of action and will be in great shape when the discussion comes around again. Also, it backs your boss into a corner; she now knows that she’s not indefinitely shelving the question, only rescheduling it for a time
when the company resources allow her to compensate you more fairly.
Good Luck on making it up the corporate ladder! But I would also suggest expanding your focus beyond the destination may relieve some of your anxiety. Make an effort to establish valuable connections, pursue opportunities to hone your skills and learn new ones, empower yourself to become a leader in industry associations where you can share your expertise and collaborate with other influential people in your business. After all, life is not only about the destination, but about the climb.
I’ve always strongly been against office romances. I thought co-workers who mixed personal relationships and their jobs were asking for it to blow up in their faces. They say even dogs don’t pee where they sleep, right? But I think I’m falling in love with our newest account executive. I’ve never met anyone like her. She has everything I always wanted and never thought I could find in one woman. I’m in management, but she doesn’t report to me. I’m in a completely different department and we don’t ever directly work together. We flirt when we see each other and she’s mentioned she’s not seeing anyone. Going out for an after work drink has come up a few times, but I’m not sure I should pursue it. I don’t want to let this chance pass; she’s not the type of woman that’ll be single for long, but I love my job and the company I’m with and I don’t want to jeopardize it.
Riskin’it for Romance
Dearest Riskin’ It,
In your letter you didn’t mention your company’s HR policy on interoffice romance. I’m assuming you haven’t checked into it yet, so my first recommendation would be to read up so you are informed. The good news is most companies prohibit, or at least strongly discourage, dating between superiors and subordinates, but do not have a rule against relationships where a power imbalance does not exist.
But don’t start making dinner reservations yet. Even if there is no direct rule against two employees in different departments entering into a consensual relationship; there are reasons to be cautious, especially since you are happy with your current job and employer.
There are valid reasons to carefully consider making a move on your work crush. We don’t have to go far to see the negative fallout from office romances gone wrong. Dave Letterman’s multiple affairs with staffers became a PR nightmare for the Late Show with David Lettermanand crossing the line with female co-workers cost Herman Cain his
would-be political career. Even pop culture warns us of the dangers; the hit TV show Mad Men stylishly depicts the destruction wrought by office romance gone wrong.
With the David Letterman fiasco, we see the potential for the personal exploits of an employee to reflect negatively on the company as a whole. Herman Cain’s scandal demonstrates the strongest reason romances in the office are often prohibited—the potential for law suits. A romance gone wrong can turn into a legal liability for your company if sexual harassment charges are filed. It’s the fear of being sued that drives most employers’ intolerance of relationships between a Boss and his or her subordinate. Mad Men eloquently depicts the gossip, turf wars, awkwardness, favoritism (either real or imagined) and conflict that can engulf an office when co-workers are romantically linked.
If you decide to move forward with your romantic intentions, a few words to the wise on how to minimize the risk:
1. What they don’t know they can’t gossip and joke about.
While flat out lying to your boss or head of HR if asked directly is not advised, don’t be forthcoming about your relationship in the beginning. Be discreet until you know if it is developing into something deeper. Let your co-workers find out when they get a wedding invitation. According to CareerBuilder, “Thirty-nine percent of workers said they have dated a co-worker at least once over the
course of their career…Thirty percent of those who have dated a co-worker said their office romance led them to the altar”, proving only 3 out of 10 office romances last. In case you’re in the 70% majority of break-ups, they will never know—so your personal life won’t end up water cooler conversation.
2 .Have a Plan for the Break up.
Face reality, no matter how wonderful this woman may seem from afar, the odds are stacked against a happily ever after ending. Be mature about the fact that your careers are a priority and work out a strategy for dealing with common friends, interdepartmental meetings, and those inevitable encounters at the espresso machine. Maybe one of you will switch to drinking tea or start getting your coffee at Starbucks. Just realize that in order to lessen the awkwardness factor, you both may have to make a few changes should you split up (especially if it doesn’t end on the best terms).
3. If the relationship is heading towards marital bliss, be the first to come clean to Human Resources and your boss.
The quickest way to alienate HR or your boss is for them hear about your relationship second hand. Inform them first; they may even have some helpful advice on how to “come out” to the rest of the office.
4. Millennials are all for dipping the pen in the company ink
The latest surveys show “84% of 18-29 year olds would have no problem becoming romantically involved with a co-worker…”, indicating interoffice romance is likely to become more prevalent, and perhaps, more accepted. You may not be a risk-taker after all; maybe you’re just ahead of your time. (HuffPost Live Dating a Co-worker)
Of course, there are plenty of examples representing a risk well taken. President Obama was Michelle Obama’s intern, Bill Gates was the CEO when he asked out Melinda and The Office’s Jim and Pam found wedded bliss after a couple of seasons. So, I’m not trying to talk you out of following your heart, only advising that you take your head with you.
I wish you and the object of your affection many happy times ahead.
I’m in management at a small firm, 10 employees. We’re growing and I need to add 1 or 2 people to our team. I keep hearing buzz about the benefit of hiring for “talent”, “culture” and “passion” over skill and experience? What does that mean?
In Need of Hiring Help
Dear In Need,
There is no doubt that one of the biggest debates, in human relations and career recruitment right now is hiring for purpose and passion versus hiring based on resume. While there are valid points on both sides of the discussion, it seems wise to place a strong emphasis on shared vision and talent when hiring for a long-term team member. Your candidate needs to be competent in their position of course, but skills, for the most part, can be learned and strengthened with time, while motivation, teamwork and values can’t be imposed externally.
You can hire a rockstar who may consistently complete his tasks to perfection, but if he is unable to work well with your team, he may end up hindering the productivity of the office by sabotaging the collaboration process and slowing the overall progress. So while her piece of the puzzle is stellar, it won’t mesh well into the big picture; and straight edges stuck to curved ones won’t produce a sleek end product that resembles the photo on the cover of the puzzle box.
Talent and drive are in vogue as hiring criteria right now because in the past they have been overlooked, to the detriment of many companies and organizations. Traditionally
managers conducted interviews as a check list for: related education, relevant experience, task specific skills—all “resume” based standards. Values, vision and enthusiasm were only secondary considerations, if at all. The outcome is over the years managers have come to realize, and now blog and speak about, their best hires resulting from those that were more motivated and purpose driven over those that were most “qualified” on paper.
You can teach someone a new software or system, but you can’t teach them to care about the core values of your company. Tony Hsieh of retail giant Zappos.com mandateshiring be strongly focused on cultural fit and fires fast when an employee is not inspiring the unique corporate culture he has so painstakingly cultivated. The proof of his hiring wisdom is in the abundant financial success of Zappos— which Hsieh contributes in huge part to culture.
So what does talent and motivation entail? Talent refers to people performing tasks and roles in line with their natural abilities and disposition. If you are hiring someone to work in phone based customer service, it’s much more essential that the candidate be someone that possesses natural empathy and a desire to communicate with people, than someone who is experienced with the phone and software you use to for your CRM (customer retention management) system. You can teach someone how to use your technology or software, but you are not able to make them care about the customer on the other end of the phone line, or teach them how to gauge a person’s emotional response and act accordingly, building trust and rapport and leaving your customer with the sense that your company sincerely cares.
As with natural ability, a candidate either has motivation or lacks it. In order to put your
full energy into your performance of a project or task you need to feel emotionally connected, in some way. Without that visceral connection, it will always be just a “job”. And no one can force themselves to be excited about what they do every day, for weeks, and then on for years, if they emotionally check out every time they walk through the office doors.
Of course, you can not overlook a potential hires lack of basic competence, no matter how innate their abilities and authentic their shared sense of purpose. Job excellence for an architect will necessitate the skills and knowledge to draft blueprints and the head of corporate legal needs to be well versed in law, especially as it relates to your industry. But, there are some qualities that you can’t teach and can’t be bought—no matter how talented a leader you are or how robust a compensation package you offer. When it
comes to talent and enthusiasm, you need to make sure your candidates already have them to bring to the first day on the job.
Best of luck to you and your growing team!
I have a boss who is killing my spirit and morale. His tone is condescending and disrespectful and I’m feeling cornered. He’s been with the company a long time and is well respected, but also feared by many. I have a fight or flight response to bullying – and I need to find a middle ground here fast or I’m going to lose my job.
~Frustrated in Philly
You are not alone in this circumstance. Most people—myself included—have found ourselves in a similar situation with a hostile superior at one time or another.
First off, is the job worth keeping if you’re miserable? Are there other prospects? I wouldstart discretely putting out feelers to your industry connections and friends and let them know that you are looking for opportunities and ready to make a move from your current company should the right opening become available. Word of mouth and personal referrals are still a powerful tool in the job search. I would also start checking job listings on LinkedIn and asking around in any online or offline industry groups you are involved in.
In the meantime, here are a few suggestions on how to manage your troubled work relations.
1. Try to identify if there a way to deal with him that will minimize conflict.
Is there something that placates him that doesn’t involve you compromising yourself in a way that makes you feel bad? It may feel like you’re playing games, but in a situation like yours, office politics can be like a measured game of chess. Study which reactions generate the least hostility and which produce more aggression. For example, maybe your boss is secretly insecure, and if you temper views that disagree with his with a dash of humility and a bit of courtesy, he will act less hostile towards you. He may feel less challenged and, as a result, be less likely to strike back with venom.
2. Choose your battles.
It’s helpful to occasionally let things slide and not feel you always have to respond to every snide comment or demeaning criticism.
Take it with a grain of salt and save your energy for a confrontation that disrespects you in such a way that it inhibits your ability to do your job.
3. Remember, your boss doesn’t have to be your friend.
Come to terms with the fact that he may never praise your work or be a trusted confidant, but as long as he doesn’t impugn your professional reputation, or cause you to produce low quality work that reflects negatively on your abilities, it’s neither here nor there. So, he won’t be your biggest advocate, seek out other people in the company that will serve that role and create alliances with them.
4. Don’t take things personally.
When you take pride in your work and your career, this is easier said than done, I know. You may feel like an attack on your job is a personal attack on your character, but remember this guy has no idea what type of person you are, or doesn’t care to find out; so don’t take what he says in the workplace as a judgment on who you are as a person. This makes it easier to respond in strategic ways that allow you to cover your bum, should he try and get your fired, and keep things civil while you explore your options and opportunities elsewhere.
Hope this helps!
We all share the web. We interact together on the cyber highways, whizzing past at times and stopping for a visit at others, like we do in our physical world. There are certain rules and road signs that make our travel together more efficient and facilitate a smoother experience. With a guide for how to connect and interact online we can access a more enjoyable experience.
5 Social Media Etiquette Tips:
1. When you want to post something on someone’s Facebook wall that is self-promotional (even if you are promoting a charity event or an event that you are not profiting form) you should shoot them a quick inbox message telling them about the content of your intended post and asking for permission to place it on their wall. It’s like hanging something in someone’s house.
2. If you are taking a person’s update word for word, then hit the share button so you share it from their page and they receive credit. Likewise, if you are lifting their tweet word for word, then retweet it instead of posting it as your own. It’s the social media equivalent of citing your source. Taking someone’s tweet or status update and passing it off as your own is a form of plagiarism.
3. If you want to ask someone about something completely irrelevant to their last post, then do not clog their thread with it. This one irks me to no end. You may end up high-jacking a thread that was intended to facilitate a discussion about a topic of importance to the poster. Stay on topic if you are replying to a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter post. Ask questions via inbox or direct messages or shoot a fresh tweet or post a stand-alone comment that does not interfere with a conversation that has nothing to do with your question.
4. Watch your language. This should go without saying, but I’m on social media enough to know it happens all day, every day. If you feel a curse word is absolutely essential to communicate your message, then use a non-offensive spelling such as: sh!t, f*ck or @$$hole. But use sparingly and not on more professional sites like LinkedIn and only with people you are comfortable with, know very well and will not take offense. And understand, that if you drop f bombs like fireworks on the Fourth of July you may have trouble will people taking you seriously and your credibility can be damaged irreparably. And whatever you do, refrain from slinging derogatory names at people, no matter how much you feel they may deserve them. You are an adult and if you cannot make your point without reverting to school yard name calling then you probably should not be on social media—and maybe should not be interacting with other people at all.
5. Liking is good, commenting is better. While engagement drives social media, there are different levels. If you consistently “like” or RT updates on your feeds but never take that extra step to say what you liked, disagreed with, made you laugh, made you mad, whatever the case may be then go ahead and have your say. That is how the conversation evolves.
As a community, we are always improving the dynamic and quality of our collective conversation. The important thing is that we are driven to communicate and are drawn to interaction through our interests, commonalities, passions and ability to share laughter, ideas and love.
Success is defined differently depending on who is doing the defining. But no matter how you chose to define it, it is a goal we are all striving for and is often frustratingly elusive. There is no sure road and no one way up the mountain. There are well known paths, replete with road signs, maps and personal tour guides. There are rural roads, less traveled and riddled with hidden dangers, but appealing to pioneers with a thirst for blazing new trails. If you find yourself walking in circles and getting no closer to the mountain top, here are five impediments that may be holding you back.
Here are 5 Things that Successful People are Doing, That You May Not be Doing (yet):
1. You are not solution focused.
Proactive motion is the only way to move forward and overcome obstacles. Successful people have little time for blame, rationalizing failure or complaining; they are too busy seeing an opportunity where others see a problem and kick into solution mode when faced with a challenge.
2. You are more concerned with being comfortable or being right than being effective.
Successful people are not afraid to test themselves and take calculated risks that push them outside their comfort zone. They are unafraid to go through the growing pains of trying things that are innovative and taking the path less traveled. They trade in security and ease for the chance to exceed their expectations and create their own destiny. They are not afraid of trial and error and see no shame in being wrong. Instead, they learn from their mistakes and use them to build a staircase to their dreams.
3. You do not understand your core values and what you really want.
Those who have reached the pinnacle of Success have realized what is important to them and crafted a life that embraces their values. Success is more fluid when you love what you do and your beliefs are in line with your actions and your career. Many successful people say they would get up every day and go to work no matter what their salary. Many started working for free as they bootstrapped to build their business. They are following their passion and playing to their strengths and talents.
4. You lack the resilience to make it over the wall, through the ditch, to the other side.
The road to success is bumpy, full of disillusionment and disappointments. But the only way to get to the end of the road is to keep trudging, even when you don’t have the energy, lack the motivation and are sick of the struggle. One foot in front of the other, step after step. There are no short cuts. Try and enjoy the journey, but when there is no joy to be had, just keep walking anyway—there is another side and it is worth it.
5. You are resistant to change. Successful people are masters of adaptation.
In our fast paced, marketing, technologically driven world, it is more important than ever to embrace constant transformation and strengthen your ability to process new information, adapt to new technologies and have a mindset of innovation over imitation.
As the saying goes, if it was easy then everyone would do it. Success is hard to pin down. Some people spend a lifetime in its pursuit. Enjoy the journey, even the hard times. These struggles you are now facing may be the very times you look back on one day that will fill you with satisfaction and joy.