Want a Successful Career? Dig In, But Give it Time to Develop

A career, by definition, is something that develops over an extended period of time. In other words, a successful career is not born — it is made. Whatever you hope your career will become doesn’t just spring into existence on day one of your first job. Nor will it be baked by the time you reach midlife. A career is an ongoing process.

The reality: If you’re at the start of your career (or even if you’re somewhere in the middle), many things need to play out between “the now” and “the not-yet” (whatever you want to accomplish). With this in mind, how can you define a professional path you’ll eventually be proud to look back upon?

Dream Big, But…

I’d like to offer 5 strategies for managing your professional progress. But first, allow me to suggest an overarching mindset worth embracing from the outset:

Dream big, but plan for measured growth.

The best time to think expansively about your vision of a successful career is at the start. Go ahead. Embrace awe-inspiring ambitions, ginormous goals, outsized objectives, and infinite intentions. The career image you put in your mind can become a reality — if you truly want it to be and you work your butt off to get there.

But don’t expect it to happen overnight. Instead, take the advice offered by tech entrepreneurs, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier, in their book Rework. They say, “Trade the dream of overnight success for slow, measured growth.” Those who do so make their way over time through the twisting, winding road that takes them from the now to the not-yet.

5 Keys for Building a Successful Career

To help you move through the various stages of professional growth and achievement, consider the following five suggestions.

1. Map Out Your Area of Exploration

It’s never too soon to think carefully about your interests, desires, dreams, hobbies, talents, education, and experiences. Use them to outline a map that sets a general direction toward the “X-marks-the-spot” of your professional objectives.

Taking time to invest in this step is more than worth your effort, because it helps you define relevant territory. This sets the stage for you to focus where you’re most likely to unearth valuable career treasures throughout your journey.

2. Bring a Shovel

A unique, rewarding, and personal(ized) career awaits you. But finding it requires the willingness and ability to dig. This is why you’ll need a shovel.

The treasures of a dream job and a golden career are seldom found strewn about above ground, in plain sight. You won’t find them on a shelf like items at a grocery store. Instead, you’ll need to look below the surface for what you’re seeking.

So, how can you get below the surface? Don’t settle for a superficial approach to getting the career you really want. Dig deeper. Career archeologists — those who relish a rewarding professional path — often demonstrate their dedication in visible ways. You’ll find dirt under their fingernails, a sweaty brow, dusty boots, and other signs that tell you they aren’t afraid to plow through promising employment opportunities in their chosen field. They are committed to the task, and they stay with it until they find what they really want. It’s an example worth emulating.

3. Be Prepared to Modify Your Course

The initial sketch work for a career map seldom reflects the final results. But what’s true of all career mapmakers? They use as much of the pencil’s eraser as the lead itself. (Or even more!)

So take a tip from those who’ve gone before you. When mapping the professional territory you want to explore, resist the temptation to define its boundaries in permanent ink. Why? Because at some point, adjustments are likely to be necessary.

Some people think bolder lines make better, more accurate maps. But this kind of map-making confidence doesn’t allow for numerous twists, turns, and what-nots that can happen on any given day at work and in life.

What’s more, when you draw stark, vivid lines on paper and in your mind, they’re harder to erase. After 30 years of helping people develop their careers, I’ve learned that change always plays a role. So start by recognizing that change is part of the process, and as your career evolves, remain open to adjusting the map.

4. Expect Obstacles

Excavation work is not without challenges. Archeologists encounter geological difficulties, engineering issues, political red tape, structural problems, and more. All these issues make discoveries more difficult. The same is true with uncovering a successful career.

At each stage, you will face problems that threaten to prevent progress on your path of discovery. Instead of being distraught and distracted by these issues, consider them a confirmation that you are onto something worthwhile. You are heading in the right direction and getting closer to your discovery. If you embrace these challenges with enthusiasm, resourcefulness, and resilience, they are likely to teach you the most valuable lessons of your career.

5. Remember Time is on Your Side

One of life’s greatest blessings is time. Most of us assume we have more of it than we do, and many of us waste more of it than we should.

When it comes to your career, don’t waste time. On the other hand, don’t rush things, either. If you’re anything like me when I started my career, you’ll want to get where you think you are going as soon as possible. (Becoming an overnight success always sounds good.) But like most things that improve with time, successful careers typically develop less rapidly.

Whether you know it or not, time is on your side. There are countless examples that underscore this point. For instance, think about Walt Disney. It took decades of persistent effort for his dreams to become a reality. And J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series was published years after the story idea first came to her while she was riding on a train.

It’s not uncommon for careers to feel delayed, slowed, or even asleep. But time, courage, and consistent effort can clear the rubble-strewn roads that lead to whatever accomplishments you want to achieve. Keep showing up.

Secret to a Successful Career: Slow and Steady

Do not confuse a slower pace with failure. It’s tempting to become impatient or discouraged. I haven’t met anyone who wouldn’t prefer a simple, speedy route to becoming an overnight success — especially compared with the lackluster look of a laborer, working their tail off to get where they want to be. But slower, more measured movements are not inactivity. Keep pushing forward and keep learning and adjusting as you go.

Right now, if you’re in the middle of the muddle of all this career development stuff, here’s my parting recommendation: Let time work its magic. Don’t assume the fast track is your best bet. Refuse to skip over incremental steps and hard work. And don’t dismiss the tedious tasks that will clear the way for you to find a successful career. I guarantee you’ll look back and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

Do You Need to Escape a Professional Reputation “Box”?

Recently, I was talking with a dear friend who was about to interview a candidate she had unknowingly placed in a professional reputation “box”. The best way to describe this friend is fierce, in charge, and collaborative. And she was adamant about hiring someone who was different from her and could challenge her.

“What do you think?” I asked, “Does Pat have the skills you need?”

“Well, Pat is nice, but I just don’t think this is the person I need,” she replied.


“Well, Pat is more of a B player.”

I pressed further. Finally, she revealed that she doubted Pat’s strategic abilities. I asked for examples, but she didn’t offer anything concrete. Finally, I asked if she felt she might be biased based on her own personality. Suddenly, her face lit up with recognition.

Soon afterward, my friend thanked me for the conversation and said she was ready to approach the interview with a newfound lens. In this case, it was helpful to be sitting next to an executive coach at just the right moment. But that’s not always possible. So here’s some advice you may want to keep in mind…

Professional Reputation “Boxes” Are All Around

How do you know when assumptions about others are limiting your actions? What opportunities is this behavior causing you to miss? Here are several more examples:

  • Harper was introduced to the team’s new manager as the “go-to person” for everything, and Harper strove to live up to that persona. But recently, when stumped by a critical question, Harper made up an answer, rather than asking for help. When it became clear that the answer was wrong, trust was lost. Now, Harper no longer meets the expectations of the boss or colleagues.
  • Tracey is a mid-level executive who feels unsafe saying something in a group because all of Tracey’s comments are disregarded or met with skepticism. Tracey is unsure how this happened, but suddenly feels perceived as ineffective without knowing why.

Inside That “Boxed In” Feeling

In each of these cases, the individual feels trapped by a professional context they can’t seem to escape. It can be debilitating and alienating. Like the famous movie Gaslight, everything they say or do is received within a preconceived mindset: “B-Player”, “untrustworthy”, or “ineffective.”

This can create a sense of helplessness that fuels frustration, anxiety, and depression. At work, it directly influences an individual’s perceived competency, resulting in lower performance scores and fewer professional opportunities. And when left unchecked, it can drive valuable people to resign.

These situations may be extreme, but the themes are universal. At some point in life, we all feel like nothing we say or do can change the way others perceive us. But when perceptions go negative at work, organizations can lose talent that must be replaced, often at a higher cost.

The Roots of a Professional Reputation “Box”

There are many ways a professional reputation can become trapped in a perceptual box. Behavioral research highlights underlying factors. For example:

  • A famous large-scale audit of executives found that once leaders see an employee in a political context or situation, it solidifies their professional “reputation.” After this point, there’s little an individual can do to counteract this perception.
  • We only see what we want to see” is a well-known cognitive bias. Countless studies have shown that our desires affect our perceptions, regardless of reality. We tend to ignore some facts in favor of others that support our original premise or perceptual bias.

With attitudes and assumptions like these, we put individuals in a difficult loop to maintain — they can either do no wrong, or do nothing right. And once others agree, there’s a groundswell of opinion to undo. The situation seems impossible to remedy.

However, by recognizing and responding to these issues, leaders can help employees change their reputation, and hopefully keep them on board.

How to Break Out of a Reputation Box

If you’re an individual stuck in a reputation box, what should you do? First, get a blank book so you can write about your experiences, feedback, and things you want to change. Acknowledge what you feel and what you know. Then start adjusting aspects of the situation that are within your control. Specifically, you can:

1. Change your point of view: Coach yourself by considering your situation as if you were an outsider. What advice would you give someone in your position?

2. Change your behaviors: Note your feelings and reactions to challenging situations. What are the underlying triggers? Do you see a pattern involving a particular person, context, or environment? When this happens, how do you feel? What is your reaction?

3. Write what you want to say: Keep a book of helpful phrases. After a difficult situation, we often say, “Wow, I wish I had said this instead of that!” Please write it down! What would you have preferred to say and why? This increases self-awareness. It can also prepare you to respond more effectively when similar situations arise in the future.

4. Maintain a curious mindset: Develop questions that can help you learn more when interacting with others. For example, “Tell me more about that.” Or “I’m not sure I follow. Could you help me understand your perspective?” Or “What questions do you have?” Or “What do you think about this approach?”

5. Examine your outlook: If we appear defeated, others will perceive us that way. Instead, stay curious. Ask “why?” more often. Focus on staying open, gathering information, and receiving feedback.

How Organizations Can Get Rid of Boxes

Escaping “the box” isn’t just for individuals who want to manage their reputation. What if you lead a group, department, or organization? How can you fight this common situation within your teams?

1. Recognize bias: Understand that the best way to combat bias is to teach team members about it and call it when you see it. This includes all cognitive bias — halo, horns, perception, and beyond.

2. Give people opportunities to change and grow: Provide options for your employees to be mobile, try new managers, and gain new skills.

3. Actively coach people and share feedback: This seems trite. However, leaders tend to fail at providing constructive feedback when team members need it most. And it’s not just about timing. Feedback quality is paramount. So take care to offer actionable input and recognize that continuous learning is far more powerful than a one-off comment.

4. Embrace data-driven performance management: An MIT Sloan research study on performance management clearly shows that a flexible, data-based development and performance management system decreases backward-looking bias and other undesirable aspects of the performance management process.

A Final Note on Escaping the Reputation Box

These are some easy and effective techniques that can produce quick and positive results. I have personally witnessed a turnaround when coaching people to use these methods. Success depends on resilience and the perseverance to follow through and keep moving forward. But for all the Pats, Traceys, and Harpers out there who feel you can’t escape a negative professional reputation — and to your employers — I encourage you to stay curious and keep thinking outside the box!

10 Tips to Level Up Your Professional Network

People often hate the idea of networking, either because they’re introverts by nature, they’re afraid of rejection, or they don’t want to seem pushy, self-absorbed, and disingenuous. Still, networking remains one of the most effective strategies for managing a successful career. In fact, 70% of Americans say they found their current job through their professional network — even though only 48% say they regularly keep in touch with their connections.

However, the tide is starting to turn. Many people are interested in strengthening their professional circles now, as the economy grows more uncertain. That’s why we decided to gather helpful networking tips. Specifically, we asked business leaders and recruiters these questions:

  • How have you built and leveraged your professional network to advance your career?
  • How has your network rewarded you with opportunities
  • What advice would you share with others who want to level up their networking efforts?

In response, we found 10 excellent ideas from CEOs, recruiters, and other professionals. If you take a quick look, I’m sure you’ll find several suggestions that can help you achieve better results from your efforts:

  • Nurture a “Trusted100” Network
  • Make Room for Introversion in Networking
  • Leverage Connections for Career Advancement
  • Maintain Warm, Genuine Professional Relationships
  • Emphasize Reciprocity as a Core Principle
  • Create a Vibrant Community for Growth
  • Expand Your Network Beyond Discrete Categories
  • Be Clear and Specific in Networking
  • Engage Actively on Social Media Platforms
  • Share Knowledge Openly on LinkedIn

To learn more about how you can make the most of your professional network, read on to see how these ideas helped others level up…

10 Ways to Level Up Your Professional Network

1. Nurture a “Trusted100” Network

Throughout my career, I’ve intentionally nurtured a “Trusted100” circle of professional contacts, emphasizing genuine investment in each relationship for mutual growth.

Staying up-to-date with industry trends and actively participating in forums helped me present new opportunities to those in my network. I added value by sharing resources, making introductions, or providing important insights. In addition, by pursuing joint ventures such as co-authored articles or webinars, we enriched our shared expertise and strengthened our bond.

A notable moment was when one of my “Trusted100” contacts introduced me to a groundbreaking cloud-skilling project that unlocked access to 3,000 scholarships. This enhanced my professional journey, as well as that of others.

Networking is about quality, not quantity. Prioritize building high-trust relationships. Investing in others’ success can bring profound returns.

Chaitra Vedullapalli, CMO Meylah, President Women in Cloud

2. Make Room for Introversion in Networking

As an introvert, I took a different approach to building a professional network. This involved attending meet-ups and leveraging those forums to connect with new people. I seized the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and participate in speaking engagements to increase visibility. For example, after I attended Mom 2.0 in May 2018, my network expanded, which ultimately led me to a cherished role at a tech company.

For fellow introverts, I recommend focusing on targeted connections. Seek out smaller gatherings or events where it’s possible to engage in meaningful one-on-one conversations, rather than having to navigate through a massive, bustling crowd.

Remember to keep networking and keep building your connections. A network is not just a safety net for job opportunities — it’s a source of support, knowledge, and growth. It opens doors to valuable insights, mentorship, and collaboration opportunities, even for introverts.

Natasha Brown, Technical Recruiter, On Platform

3. Leverage Connections for Career Advancement

I have never shied away from using my connections to help further my career. It started with an internship in college, which led my boss to introduce me to a former colleague who was in a leadership position in my hometown. That path inadvertently led me down a very roundabout career path.

In 2017, I interviewed with many potential employers. Several years later, an HR professional remembered me from our 2017 exchange and reached out to discuss a position he was trying to fill at a new company. I wasn’t looking for a new job. But it was early March 2020, and the world was changing right before our eyes. So I made the switch. Today, I’m still with that company and have advanced to a leadership position.

If you find a position that interests you and you know someone at that company, don’t hesitate to reach out and learn about the culture. Your connection can help determine if it’s a good fit, and perhaps recommend you. Even if the timing isn’t right at that moment, it could lead to an excellent opportunity in the future.

Take the chance. The reward could very well be worthwhile. You’ll never know unless you try.

Pamela Abreu, Director of Client Relations,

4. Maintain Warm, Genuine Professional Relationships

One of the most effective ways I’ve advanced my career is by diligently maintaining my professional network. I make it a point to keep in touch with college peers and colleagues from previous jobs, often through social media updates and coffee meetings.

This approach has led to some incredible opportunities. For example, a former colleague contacted me about a job at his new company. Similarly, when a former classmate became an entrepreneur, that classmate became one of my clients.

My advice is simple for others looking to enhance their network outreach:  Keep your professional relationships warm and genuine. Opportunities tend to come from places and people you least expect, and you never know who might be thinking of you when a new opportunity arises.

Michael Sena, CEO and Lead Analytics Consultant, Senacea Ltd.

5. Emphasize Reciprocity as a Core Principle

Focus on forming genuine relationships with others in your industry. Stay connected by regularly checking in. And be ready to help whenever you can, because this builds reciprocity into your relationships.

Always show gratitude when others assist you — it goes a long way in maintaining positive relationships.

I found my current role after connecting with my current manager on LinkedIn. I reached out when I saw her post about a position she wanted to fill. And here I am, a year and a half later!

Kristina Ramos, Reverse Recruiter, Find My Profession

6. Create a Vibrant Community for Growth

Throughout my career journey, I’ve discovered a profound truth about networking: It’s not just about building a professional network, but about creating a vibrant community of individuals united by a shared vision of support and growth. I’ve experienced the immense power of this principle firsthand.

By creating intentional, value-driven relationships, I had the privilege of being nominated as the G100 Mission Million South Carolina Chair for Startup Ecosystems. This honor was a testament to the potential of developing authentic connections.

Embrace the art of forging meaningful bonds. This truly is the key to unlocking opportunities you can’t even imagine at this moment in time!

Kathryn Dawe, Women Empowerment Coach and Leadership Strategist, Kathryn Dawe

7. Expand Your Circle Beyond Discrete Categories

A surprising number of recruiters fail to keep in touch with candidates after they’re placed. We tend to be busy with responding to new contracts, so once an initial trial period has passed, we move on.

If you’re selling a product, you may do the same with customers. You may see them solely as buyers, rather than members of your professional network. But when you place someone in a narrow category, you’re likely to overlook the full potential of that relationship.

Recently, a candidate I placed 10 years ago reached out to me. She was launching a business and needed my services. Since we’d stayed in touch long after her placement, I was top-of-mind when she needed to hire resources of her own. This teaches an important lesson not to limit your network. A more expansive perspective can lead to opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise expect.

Linn Atiyeh, CEO, Bemana

8. Be Clear and Specific in Networking

I landed a job abroad through the power of networking. After a few sluggish months of online job applications in my desired country, I proactively reached out to my contacts in that location. I clearly expressed my career goals, leaving no room for ambiguity about the kind of role I was pursuing.

A few weeks later, a recruiter contacted me directly, all thanks to referrals from my contacts. The recruiter recommended a role that perfectly aligned with my career aspirations. This enabled me to move abroad while advancing my career.

This experience holds a valuable lesson for anyone looking to level up their network outreach, especially in the pursuit of new opportunities. The key is to be straightforward and specific. Rather than relying on vague prompts like, “Let me know if something comes up,” make it known exactly what you’re aiming for.

Being clear amplifies the effectiveness of your outreach tenfold. The clearer you are, the easier it is for your connections to match you with the right opportunities.

Ana Colak-Fustin, Founder, ByRecruiters

9. Engage Actively on Social Media Platforms

I’ve found many career opportunities through my network. In fact, that’s how I discovered my current role as a physician’s assistant. A person I met during residency mentioned on social media that their employer was actively searching for PAs when I was looking for a job.

My advice for others who want to use their network as a career-building tool is to stay active and engaged with your professional contacts on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Any time you meet other people in your industry at networking events, conferences, or in the course of your day-to-day job, always look for them on social sites and add them as contacts. Not all of them will be active on social media, but you won’t know until you search for them. And those who are active can be an excellent source of industry knowledge, as well as career advancement opportunities.

Carlos Da Silva, Physician Assistant, PA Career Hub

10. Share Knowledge Openly on LinkedIn

I built my personal brand on LinkedIn and spent the last two years sharing everything I know and have learned with my audience. The more I’ve connected with like-minded folks on the platform, the more opportunities I’ve received each week.

So, my best advice would be to not hoard knowledge but share it openly with the world. You never know if someone on the other side is looking for someone with the kind of knowledge and expertise you’re prepared to share.

Gordana Sretenovic, Co-Founder, Workello ATS

Mentoring: Are You Building a Culture of Connection and Growth?

Sponsored by Together

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Mentoring is a key to the future of work. That’s not hyperbole. It’s a fact. I’ve been beating the mentorship drum for over a decade. Yet, I’ve never been as confident about it as I am today. And I hope employers are listening. Why?

The Business Case for Mentoring

All the signs point to mentorship as one of the most powerful ways to navigate increasingly turbulent workplace waters. Here are just a few proof points:

  • Pandemic-era job disruption has created knowledge and skill gaps across many organizations.
  • Even before the pandemic, average job tenure was shrinking among all age groups.
  • Managers and senior-level leaders are moving on and opting out at a record pace.
  • Younger people are looking for more guidance and support as they enter the workforce.
  • Demand for future-ready employees is intensifying as organizations continue to invest in new technologies.
  • The average half-life of skills continues to decline.
  • Many employers are still struggling to find qualified talent for critical open roles.

With 84% of U.S. Fortune 500 companies already offering mentoring programs, this seems like the right time to double down on that strategy. Why? Consider these research findings:

  • 90% of employees with a mentor say they’re happy at work.
  • 75% of executives give mentors credit for their success.
  • People with mentors are significantly less likely to consider quitting. This includes managers, senior managers, vice presidents, and individual contributors.
  • Among millennials, 68% who stay onboard for 5 or more years have a mentor, compared with 32% who don’t.
  • In fact, one Wharton-led study found much higher retention among mentees (72%) and mentors (69%) than among those who did not participate in these programs (49%).

But here’s the kicker: While 76% of people say mentors are important, only 37% actually have one. Is your organization facing this issue? You may be able to bridge the gap more easily than you think. For helpful ideas, read on…

Advice for Mentoring Program Success

Let’s start by clarifying a key point. Mentoring, alone, is not the answer. Organizations really need to aim higher by developing a culture of learning. However, one of the most effective ways to foster this kind of environment is through mentoring in all its forms.

So where should employers start to establish or enhance mentorships? One of the smartest sources I know is Matt Reeves. Matt is CEO of Together Software, a platform that helps companies run best-in-class mentoring programs. Early in 2022, Matt joined me to discuss mentoring strategies on our #WorkTrends podcast. To hear his advice, listen to this encore version of our conversation and read the show notes below…

How Mentoring Works

1. Defining Mentorship

So tell us, Matt, what does mentoring look like to you?

In its traditional sense, mentoring is based on pairing two colleagues for career development and professional guidance. Usually, this involves a more junior employee who’s the mentee with a more senior employee who’s the mentor. And typically, they meet on a particular cadence, like once a month for a year or even more.

2. Evolving Trends

How are mentorship programs changing?

We’ve seen companies break the mold and experiment with various types of  programs. But the common thread is that they help employees learn from their colleagues through relationship-building and ongoing conversations.

3. Mentorship Variations

What are some of the different flavors you’re seeing in mentorship programs?

The classic approach is one-on-one, where a more senior person mentors a more junior person for a specific period.

However, peer-to-peer programs are increasingly popular. Also, we’re seeing more reverse programs, where a more junior-level person who is experienced in a particular topic mentors a more senior employee.

In addition, many organizations are successfully breaking the mold with the duration of these relationships and in offering participants more flexibility.

4. Benefits of Mentoring

It may seem obvious why mentees are attracted to these relationships. But it helps mentors, too. In fact, more than 90% of professionals who’ve mentored young people say it has helped them become better leaders or managers…

Yes. It’s probably easy to understand why a mentee would want to participate — to learn, develop, and progress in their career. But mentors benefit, as well.

Senior-level people are expected to develop others and carry their organization’s culture forward, and mentoring is an opportunity to visibly demonstrate this. Also, as people move up in an organization, they’ve probably experienced some mentoring (or wish they had a mentor). So this is a way to give back.

5. How Technology Enhances the Mentoring Experience 

What role can technology play in bringing people together and keeping them connected?

Technology significantly reduces the workload for program administrators, while significantly improving the mentoring experience for participants.

For example, when a program is managed manually, making a strong mentee/mentor match can take a long time. When you’re eager to move forward, it can be frustrating to wait for weeks or even months for a suitable match. You may even be matched with a mentor who has left the organization. This is easily avoidable when you use technology.

In addition, technology can help you scale a program much more efficiently, and keep people connected with reminders and feedback that helps them stay on-track and helps you tweak your program.

Tips for Modern Mentorship Programs

What else should you keep in mind if you want to achieve strong mentoring results, especially in today’s hybrid work environments? When building a game plan, keep these considerations in mind:

1. Assess Your Current State as a Baseline

With or without a formal program in place, mentoring is probably already happening all over your company. It often occurs organically, the same way culture exists, with or without intentional leadership involvement.

So start with a broad-reaching reality check. Research and evaluate the various ways people share knowledge, skills, and experience, and assist others professionally. What seems to be most effective? Can you leverage these methods? Alternatively, what isn’t working well? Does it make sense to provide additional resources that can reinforce, enhance, and expand what’s already in place?

2. Clarify and Communicate the Purpose

When people understand why mentoring is important to your company, they’re more likely to sign up and take responsibility for their role in its success. But there are many ways to frame mentoring initiatives. What goals do you want to accomplish? How closely do your objectives align with your organization’s values? What would success look like for your company and for participants? For example:

  • To improve retention among new hires, incorporating mentoring into the onboarding process can provide a stronger start.
  • If employees from underrepresented groups lack a sense of inclusion and belonging, “bridge mentorships” could help you move the DEI meter.
  • Or if you need to build bench depth, peer-to-peer cross-functional skills mentoring could be a solution.

The possibilities are endless. But no matter what your agenda is, you’ll need top-down support. How committed are your senior-level executives to mentoring? How willing are they to make mentoring participation a leadership priority? What can you do to demonstrate the power of mentoring from cases within your organization or among competitors? What kind of budget and other resources will be required to achieve these goals? Engage senior leadership early in discussions that address these questions.

3. Focus on Learning and Holistic Growth

Although cohort-based social learning is a popular trend — especially in remote and hybrid work environments — one-on-one relationships can drive deeper personal growth and enrichment. Encouraging people to form stronger direct bonds opens the door to a more holistic approach, where participants can connect as individuals and grow, even outside of their professional roles.

Also, keep in mind that the most enriching approach to mentoring isn’t about “teaching” per se. Classic mentoring models emphasize a one-way flow of information, guidance, and access. However, modern mentoring relationships are often a two-way street, where both sides actively aim to learn and grow together, even if their roles and experience levels are not comparable.

4. Provide Structure Along With Flexibility

When matching a pair of participants, you’ll want to formalize expectations in a way that respects the time and effort required to establish and sustain a productive relationship.

It helps to specify basic parameters, such as the minimum mentorship duration (for example, 1 year), and minimum activity frequency (for example 1 meeting a month). However, beyond these parameters, individuals often find it helpful to negotiate their unique goals. Both sides can use this agreement as a discovery tool and as a reference point throughout the relationship.

In addition, you’ll want to encourage consistency with a reasonable ongoing communication cadence. Flexibility is key, here. Mentoring isn’t a full-time job, relationships take time to develop, and informal interactions don’t need to be regimented. However, if participants agree upfront to a minimum pace (such as 1 digital check-in a week), this can help keep the relationship top-of-mind.

5. Measure and Adjust

This may seem obvious, but unless you quantify your mentorship program’s performance, you won’t know if your organization is moving in the right direction. Ideally, you’ll establish success metrics that tie to program objectives even before you start to match participants.

However, once you launch the program, you’ll want to monitor progress regularly by measuring key performance indicators. For example, if you want to build workforce competencies in a particular set of skills, you’ll want to track active mentors and mentees for each of the skills you’re targeting. If you don’t have enough experienced mentors to fulfill mentee demand, you’ll want to recruit more mentors who are qualified in these areas. (Or you may decide to address the demand with another type of skill development intervention.)

Also, plan to seek feedback from participants periodically. Pulse surveys can help you gauge sentiment about the program and identify weaknesses that need attention. At the same time, keep in mind that mentoring is a long-term commitment. Over time, business priorities will shift. To stay ahead of the curve, you’ll want to build periodic program review cycles into the management process, so you can adjust accordingly as goals and needs change.


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more in-depth information about how to structure and manage a successful mentoring program, visit the Together Platform website, where you’ll find all sorts of helpful resources for employers. And for more #WorkTrends insights, check our growing collection of episodes at Apple or Spotify and subscribe!


The Great Resignation – When Employees Woke Up

2021 turned out to be a year that introduced many new terms into the common vocabulary. One of the most popular terms – The Great Resignation.

  • Pandemic
  • Hybrid Work
  • Non-Fungible Token – and many more 

For the human resource professional, none turned out to be as life-changing as “The Great Resignation”, at least, on the professional front. 

Sure, for HR teams, the pandemic caused a lot of strife. Re-engineering of processes that support the hire to retire Lifecycle of employees, was the need of the hour. Supporting colleagues as the threatening environment led to mental health issues, was equally, if not more, important. Amidst all of this, however, what ended up taking precedence was hiring. Fueled by the aforementioned wave of resignations that corporates witnessed. But, why did The Great Resignation happen? 

Let’s try and understand this by recounting the sequence of events that occurred starting in early 2021.

The Great Resignation – Why?

When the pandemic initially started digging in deeply across the world leading to lockdowns (or curfews or variations, thereof), the expectation was that hiring would stall. That companies facing a business impact would control operational costs by laying off or redeploying their staff. Unsure about the way the economy would play out, most organizations tended to err on the side of caution. Consumers were, after all, expected to become conservative and cautious in their approach.

What happened, however, was quite unexpected. For the most part, consumers changed their behavior while making their purchases. The growing e-commerce world became the gateway to personal happiness in a much bigger way. Unable to visit farmer’s markets and malls, shoppers filled up their e-carts. Clicking away on their screens, keeping the economy going. Restricted from dining at their favorite hangouts, people ordered in, making full use of services like UberEats.

Unexpected Revenue Shifts

Other than in industries like travel and hospitality, executives in most other sectors were pleasantly surprised to see that the dive in revenues and profits was not as sharp as expected. In many cases including technology and healthcare, there was a rise! 

As swiftly as the revenue graphs had sloped downwards, they turned upwards and started reaching new highs! Further waves of the pandemic led to additional learning over the course of the following months. This experiential learning enabled policymakers to change their approach when it came to managing their economies.

At the start of the pandemic, many governments across the world had locked down their entire nations. In more recent times, the preferred approach has been to try and create containment zones whenever there seems to be a fresh outbreak of the virus. This new mechanism of fighting the spread of this disease is extremely beneficial for the world of business. It prevents a complete stop of the production cycle.

So, what has been the benefit of this new reality for our workforce?

The Destruction of Boundaries

For the first time ever in many industries, “human capital” is truly free from the shackles of the physical office space. The past twenty-odd months have shown us that work can continue seamlessly even when carried out remotely. All it needs to keep these running smoothly is an evolution in work practices.

Even in organizations that are in the manufacturing or product space, there are enough roles that can be played off-premises. An additional benefit is the “remote interview”. Candidates can be interviewed virtually (literally and figuratively) at the drop of a hat. No more juggling personal schedules or taking a leave of absence from the current job. Just thirty minutes sculpted out during the day.

The Rise of Digital

A huge reason for the world being able to come out largely unscathed (relative to what was anticipated at the start) is the fact that technology has advanced to a level where the element of distance has been negated. Exploding technologies have been brought into mainstream facilities like video conferencing, showcasing tech-enabled shifts in the way business work is now conducted.

The digital landscape also propelled learning across walls. Aspirational professionals, ranging from fresh graduates to experienced C-suite executives, used this opportunity to pick up new skills and dig deeper into chosen fields of work.

The Availability of Choice

One of the major (positive) side-effects of the pandemic has been the self-awareness that many have gained. This self-realization has encouraged many to decide the operating rules for themselves. From flexibility in terms of work location to flexibility in terms of work hours, workers are looking at customizing the kind of work commitments they make, much like the way they choose to personalize their Subway® sandwich. The talent-hungry corporate world had chosen to play ball – creating work models that suit varied types of individuals. With a shift from ‘pay-for-time’ to ‘pay-for-output’, employees balance their work and personal life, in a more controlled way, putting themselves in the driver’s seat.


In essence, 2021 can be clearly proclaimed to be the year when workers woke up and The Great Resignation started. Truth is that not all may have awakened out of choice. Some amongst us might have been jolted awake by the rude interruption of the dreaded virus, as they found themselves retrenched or having had to leave their work to take care of an ailing family member. But, the end result is the same. It seems, as we get further into 2022, that professionals are indeed awake and about enjoying their days in the sun! What a time to be working!


Tips for Jumpstarting Your Talent Acquisition Strategy

Terms like recruitment and talent acquisition are used synonymously, but they aren’t the same. Recruitment is a short-term fix for most “big-picture” employers, whereas talent acquisition is a long-term solution. 

While you may need to fill a vacancy quickly, organizations should focus on long-term planning if they want to improve their culture and work towards a unified vision.

Talent Acquisition vs Recruitment

Recruitment is about filling vacancies. Talent acquisition is an ongoing strategy that focuses on finding leaders, specialists, and future executives. For HR to run a successful talent acquisition strategy, they need to plan and find candidates well.

There are other subtle differences, Talent acquisition:

  1. Requires a lot of planning
  2. Uses metrics and data to improve the recruitment process
  3. Focuses more on skills and experiences. Recruitment concentrates on the position.

Although employers hope their employees will give 2-weeks notice before quitting, there are plenty of times where that isn’t possible. Of course, an employee suddenly leaving is why employers prefer the recruitment strategy, but planning can make talent acquisition possible.

Should I Be Recruiting or Acquiring?

Not every industry needs a recruitment strategy, but how do you know if your position requires the acquiring method? Generally, the more specialized and high-demand roles should take an acquiring approach, regardless of urgency.

Some would argue that all positions require talent acquisition, and employer review websites like JobSage prove this. For example, a fast-food cashier is still challenging to fill long-term because front-of-house workers handle angry customers. You’ll want to hire talent that fits your corporate culture to reduce turnover rates, even for easy-to-fill positions.

How to Create a Talent Acquisition Strategy

A poor talent acquisition strategy can impact your organization as a whole. To ensure the right talent fills your vacant positions, follow these steps to create your acquisition strategy.

Start With the Right Communication Strategy

High-quality talent wants to work for companies that offer great benefits, an incredible corporate culture, and growth opportunities. Therefore, it’s essential to communicate your total benefits package and differentiators when promoting career opportunities.

Don’t Forget About Competitive Pay

Inflation has hit hard. The recent 7.5% increase has made even the most well-paying jobs insufficient for people with families. That means salary and salary growth potential are more important than job seekers.

If you’re consistently losing out on talent at the last possible second, look at the salary your competitors offer. Be competitive.

Consider Contractors and Employee Referrals 

Employee referrals are one of the best ways to find new talent. Consider implementing an employee rewards program to make it attractive.

Alternatively, you could seek out independent contractors to fill positions. Not only are they less expensive to hire, but they can work remotely and jump into a job at a moment’s notice. 

Remove Bias From the Hiring Process

Diversity in the workplace leads to increased productivity, creativity, cultural awareness, and marketing opportunities. However, unconscious biases can cause us to choose candidates based on their sexual orientation, race, religion, age, religious affiliation, or gender. 

To make your recruitment process more diverse, use Applicant Tracking Systems, non-bias workplace tests, and a more structured interviewing process that focuses on skills.

Keep Past Applicants Engaged

Keeping a passive talent pool will allow you to pick from it when necessary, but you can’t just promise a job at a later date. Instead, you need to stay in contact with your applicants by telling them you’ll contact them should another position become available.

Create a separate email sequence that speaks to your potential hires to let them know what’s happening in your business. 

Offer a Remote or Hybrid Work Environment

A PwC survey found that 72% of workers prefer to work from home at least two days a week, while 32% want to work from home full-time. Since remote employees are more productive than their in-office counterparts, it makes more sense to offer remote employment options.

By removing geographic barriers, you open up your talent pool beyond your physical location. As more businesses switch to the hybrid office, you’ll need to do the same to be competitive.

Regularly Speak to Students

Your strategy’s unconventional talent acquisition step should include university and college students, especially in fast-moving industries. While students won’t have the experience you’re looking for, they will have new skills and a go-getter attitude.

You can start by sending recruiters to job fairs who can speak to students. Then, consider partnering with specific schools for internships or on-the-job career training to scope out top talent.

Ask for Candidate Feedback

Organizations rarely ask their candidates why they wanted to apply for a position or why they declined an offer. However, you must gather this data to know what kind of candidates you’re attracting and how you can be more competitive.

Make sure the survey is anonymous as not to discourage participation.  You’ll also make your candidates feel like their opinion matters, improving your brand by asking for feedback.

Promote From Within

The best thing about hiring from within is you already know your candidates. Additionally, they already fit in with your company culture and have the skills to move into their new positions. Finally, hiring from within is great for long-term talent retention.

The 2-Minute Career Story Every Executive Jobseeker Needs

How to Hone Your Professional Career Narrative (And Why It Matters)

Have you met these executive jobseekers? What do they all have in common when it comes to having or not having a professional narrative?

Most of us recognize these stereotypes. Furthermore, many of us inadvertently fall into the same traps when asked to introduce our skills, experience, and career goals.

  • The Historian. Shares every bullet point on her three-page, 25+ year resume. This overwhelms you with details.
  • The Opportunist. Emphasizes so much willingness to do “anything and everything.” You have no idea where he’d be the right fit.
  • The Generalist. Downplays her true skills with generic accomplishments like “building great teams.” Leaves no lasting impression.
  • The Reactionary. Treats you as his therapist. Allows emotion about his last employer drives the conversation until you’re screaming for the exit.

For executive jobseekers, the stakes are high. Recruiters, hiring managers, and networking contacts need a clear picture of your unique strengths and ideal role. All in just a few short sentences.

Enter the professional narrative.

Overcome Talent Scarcity by Widening the Talent Pool

A professional narrative captures your career story at its most memorable level. Ideally, that’s about two minutes in conversation, and less than 200 words when written. It’s a power-packed paragraph. When done right, clearly differentiates you in the job market. It identifies your target role and keeps you top of mind.

The professional narrative forms the foundation of a successful executive job search. It addresses the most important questions for career transition. Specifically:

  1. Who are you as a senior leader?
  2. What do you do best?
  3. Where do you add value to an organization?
  4. What is your ideal next step?

Those questions can seem straightforward. However, taking time for self-reflection, and getting outside perspectives from colleagues or your outplacement firm, results in a stronger, more succinct story.

Avoid Clichés and Forgettable Phrases

Here’s an example of the transformation:

  • Original summary: “I started my career in brand management about 20 years ago in California, after getting my MBA from Stanford. I also have a B.A. in business from UCLA. I bounced around for a bit and had really good opportunities to travel and build some wonderful teams. Then about six years ago I moved back to the Midwest. I joined a startup, a really scrappy organization, and this time I had far more responsibility for product development. I’m good at making things work better, putting strategies together, and leading teams. I’m ready to take my leadership to the next level—maybe a chief marketing officer role—where I can have a significant impact on the business.”
  • Revised professional narrative: “As an energetic, consumer-led brand marketer and general manager, I develop strategies that unlock marketplace success. Leveraging my experience in strategic and new product development, P&L ownership, and cross-functional team management, I quickly assess business conditions and apply proven best practices. I am recognized for developing insightful strategies that are rooted in deep consumer knowledge, flawlessly executed, and able to garner winning results. In my next role, I will leverage my passion and skills as a senior member of a marketing team driving superior performance. I will apply my leadership at both strategic and operational levels to create new opportunities for growth.”

Focus on Career Specifics

Where the original version lacked a hook to grab attention, the winning narrative shows personality from the start. It emphasizes specific accomplishments and demonstrates the candidate’s strengths instead of centering on overused clichés, rambling career history, and forgettable descriptions.

A great professional narrative also takes a forward-looking approach. It focuses on a precise next role. The audience can picture immediately while emphasizing the impact a candidate can make rather than what the job seeker expects from their next employer.

This clarity makes it easy for others to spot opportunities.  It makes it easier to facilitate networking introductions. It also uses a recruiter or hiring manager’s limited time wisely.

Professional Narrative Versus Personal Brand

Personal branding gets a lot of buzz with job seekers. It’s common to mistake a personal brand as “enough” to support your job search. While there’s a definite intersection between what you stand for as an individual and your career aspirations, these are two distinct elements. A personal brand applies in many situations and stays constant across your life. A professional narrative speaks to a clear goal and focuses more on your work identity.

In either case, senior leaders often waste space calling out skills and experiences that are baseline expectations, rather than true personal differentiators. For example, at a C-suite or vice president level, we expect robust leadership abilities and proven team-building.

A smart professional narrative drills into attributes that truly set a candidate apart. This can seem counterintuitive, but you will stand out less the more you try to look good at everything.

Enlist Outside Help to Assess Your Strengths Objectively

Creating the ideal career story can be challenging. Especially when working alone. It’s challenging to step back and assess your strengths objectively. Emotion can also derail your overview. Especially if you’re not in transition voluntarily.

These are all good reasons to tap firms like Navigate Forward. Ask to help identify your top strengths. Job seekers often overlook their best assets simply because these traits come so easily.

Once you’ve crafted a winning professional narrative, use it often and consistently across your resume, bio, and LinkedIn profile. It’s also suitable for conversational introductions, cover letters, and “about” statements in emails. This repetition of key themes will reinforce your message and help fast-track your next career opportunity.

How To Find Your Leadership DNA

What is your leadership DNA? It is your authentic self. The concept of authentic leadership is often bantered about. In my experience of working with leaders from the best of the best global companies, the most impactful definition is being the leader you were designed to be. How do you do that? Find your leadership DNA.

There is no one characteristic of a great leader. There are actually millions. The best characteristics for you are already hard-wired in you.  You just need to identify, build and leverage your strengths, passions and experiences to be that kind of leader you were designed to be.

Why is being an authentic leader so powerful?

People gravitate to authentic leaders. However, so many people want to copy an admired leader. This is unlikely to work for you for your brain is not hard-wired for this style. It may, in fact, focus you on your weaknesses. 

It takes great effort to fix a weakness. Instead, take that effort and focus it on further developing your strengths. Leverage the way your brain is hard-wired.

We are uniquely created. Each of us possesses a unique set of gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses, emotions and passions. Whether it is handed down to us though our parent’s genes, taught to us as we are raised from childhood to adults, or bestowed upon us from a higher power; we are who we are. There is a reason why we act, think and feel the way we do. Who we are is hard-wired into our brains.

In “A User’s Guide to the Brain,” Dr. John Ratey writes: 

“The brain is not a neatly organized system. It is often compared to an overgrown jungle of 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons…The neurons form an interconnected tangle with 100 trillion, constantly changing, connections. The connections guide our bodies and behaviors, even as every thought and action we take physically, modifies their patterns. Our neurons are constantly competing to make connections and these connections are what make us who we are.”

If you want to be average, focus on fixing your weaknesses.

When I was a child, I was poor in math. My parents did what most Asian parents would do: they got me a math tutor. Every night with my tutor I went through hell. After three months of working hard, night after night of feeling stupid, I was able to take my math skills from poor up to… slightly above poor. 

Then I got into the business world. The end of the year performance appraisal surfaced that I was weak in my analytical planning. So, week after week, month after month I worked on it. I was able to get my analytical skills up to average.  

What am I becoming? Average.

Now, there is nothing wrong with average. If you want to be average, this is a good approach. However, many of us want to be exceptional at something. If you want to be distinctive, an authentic leader, you need to identify your strengths and leverage them by focusing on developing them even further. If your organization provides a training budget for you, sign up for training courses to enhance your strengths. 

McKinsey’s study on centered leadership shows: 

“Of all the dimensions of centered leadership, meaning has a significant impact on satisfaction with both work and life; indeed, its contribution to general life satisfaction is five times more powerful than that of any other dimension.”

Leverage not only your strengths, but also your passions. These combined with your experiences are a powerful combination. 

How to find your leadership DNA?

1. Identify your strengths and passions.

There are many tools out there that can help you find them. Here are a few to check out:

2. Drill down for specificity.

Whatever tool you use, it’s important to drill down to more specifically determine the who, what, where and when for each. This brings more clarity and breaks things down into bite-size, actionable pieces.

3. Take action, now!

In his book “Smartcuts”, Shane Snow writes about the power of the “Big Mo” (momentum). Momentum is key! 

Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile has found that the answer is simply progress. A sense of forward motion. Regardless of how small. Amabile found that minor victories at work were nearly as psychologically powerful as major breakthroughs. And momentum isn’t just a powerful ingredient of success. It’s also a powerful predictor of success.

Small steps add up! Use the power of compounding. One step forward brings you joy, especially if that step allows you to work on the things you are good at or love doing. One step forward gives you a sense of accomplishment and a positive feeling that you are getting closer to your goal of authenticity.

Get on the path of being an authentic leader, more of who you already are by taking action now, and moving down that path.

Getting Hired: The Two Phases of Landing Any Job

Getting hired for a job can be one of the most tiresome processes. Often, it feels especially daunting when you don’t actually have a job and require it desperately. Moreover, the time taken could frustrate you, demotivate you, and in turn affect your productivity and efficiency.

However, like any lengthy process, getting hired can be broken down into phases and steps. This makes the job search process easier.

The job search can be categorized into two phases: the “preparation phase” and the “’D-Day’ phase,” (when you appear for the job interview), with steps within each.

The Preparation Phase

Completing Your Resume

Basically, your resume is what represents you before you do. Getting hired starts with a resume that is formal yet refreshing, mentioning all your skills. Start by browsing the most recent templates of resumes based upon your job profile. Various applications create resumes free of cost.


Your network works as a kind of PR, so you should make sure to keep connecting with new people. Social media sites like LinkedIn help you connect with employees and employers from across the world. So try connecting with them and expanding your network.

Finding a Career Counselor

Try getting in contact with a career counselor. They could analyze your skills and come up with better career options for you. If you wish, you can consider these options and can even choose to change your career. Additionally, these counselors can help you create a list of target employers to pursue.

Job Hunting

Job hunting is the most tiring job of the process. Enroll in job fairs and online platforms that might get you in contact with job vacancies. Several employers post job vacancies on social media sites like LinkedIn. All you need to do is enter your career preference on the application to get started.

Job Vacancy Research

When you come across a job vacancy, do some brief research about it. Study the job posting thoroughly for what they’re looking for. Before you apply, prepare a good cover letter to accompany your resume. Draft the cover letter according to the job profile. Make sure you convert the letter to PDF format before sending it.

Following the Rules of Etiquette

Each time you send an email or reply to an email, make sure you are on your best behavior. Your words represent your personality. You do not always need to be formal, but definitely be professional. The salutations have to be accurate. Make sure you write “Sir/ Ma’am” if you do not know the gender of the person you’re addressing.

Giving Professional Replies

If the company sends you an email to inform you about something, make sure you reply to it and notify them that you have received the email. Prompt replies are crucial to the process of getting hired. They show you’re reliable and have a strong interest in the work.

The “D-Day” Phase

Don’t Forget Self-Care

The day of the interview shall decide your future with the company. It’s the difference between getting hired and getting shown the door. Be well prepared for the day. Eat well so that you have an abundance of energy. Make sure you get to sleep, shower, and dress your best.

Practice Your Answers

Practice a short introduction about yourself, the professional responsibilities you’ve accomplished in the past, and your previous job roles. Also, practice your delivery of information in the mirror. Experiment with different tones to make sure you sound confident. And be sure to know your resume like the back of your hand.

Nail The Interview

During the actual interview process, be precise and informative. If you’re thrown a curveball question during the interview, be honest and tell the interviewer you’re not sure about an answer. Authenticity is best. Also, come prepared with questions of your own. Never say, “I do not have any questions.” Instead, ask the interviewer about their expectations from their employees, the job role, and where they see the company 10 years down the line. This will show that you’re a thoughtful individual with a serious interest in the organization.

In conclusion, by adhering to these phases and steps, you’ll be well-positioned to find a great role at any organization.

Good Management Skills: Nature or Nurture?

 Earlier this year, Gallup issued a fascinating study that looked at why great managers are so rare. It concluded that while one of the most important decisions a company can make is whom they select to manage, companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82 percent of the time. It turns out managers drive 70% of employees’ engagement and experience of work , which makes their role crucial in retaining talent as well as achieving organization goals.

The Gallup report goes on to state that about one in ten people possess the talent to manage. Though many people are endowed with some of the necessary traits, few have the unique combination of talent needed to help a team achieve excellence in a way that significantly improves a company’s performance. These 10%, when put in manager roles, naturally engage team members and customers, retain top performers, and sustain a culture of high productivity.

While it is an interesting theory, I’m convinced that while raw talent plays a part in great management, the secret to a pipeline of better managers is better preparation. Managing is a distinct job but according to McKinsey, new managers get the least training and tools for the job to succeed. The ones who thrive with responsibility and pressure but without these basics are the naturally gifted 10% (counter-intuitively, they’re often chosen to get the limited leadership coaching companies do provide).

Few jobs can be done well without tools fit for purpose and training to develop skills. Everyone knows half of the old Vince Lombardi quote that starts, “Leaders aren’t born they are made.” While that can also be said of managers, the rest of his quote is even more telling: “And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”

Management skill and leadership pipeline are the top talent concern of CEOs yet 5% believe their pipeline is sufficient, so it is time to invest in the hard work of growing great managers.

These four steps can help your organization cultivate, grow and instill management skills:

1. Recognize “Managing” As Real Work.
Like the domain processes for things like sales, development, and customer service, managing is also a distinct function that follows a consistent, teachable framework. To be effective, managers must communicate goals, triage execution priorities, drive actions and accountability, report progress and give feedback to their teams. This universal framework for managing is not obvious to new managers and middle managers’ domain workloads may not allow them sufficient time to do these well. Managers can easily sink into a recursive cycle of triage and reporting with little time to communicate goals and feedback – which leads to more triage and worse results. Establishing and reinforcing the simple management framework can help them break the cycle.

2. Start At The Beginning
At first promotion to manager, make sure people receive training on what management means and they understand the framework for managing. Their domain skills may qualify them for managing a function, but rarely prepare them to do so. Course material should cover the management framework, the importance and impact of engaging their teams, bridging skill and perspective differences, and accountability techniques. At each subsequent promotion, deepen the training on the framework, self-awareness and strategic thinking to deepen their skills.

3. Foster Desire To Be A Skillful Manager
Create and reinforce natural desire, curiosity and self-interest in improving management skills by messaging and modeling its distinct importance. Line of business executives can incorporate it as a regular topic in their 1on1 discussions with managers to validate its relevance and importance. Identify coaches within business units that can help managers enhance their people management and leadership skills individually or in informal meet ups (much as you would domain mentorships). If managing well is a visible company value, more people will manage well.

4. Give Managers Tools To Manage With
Most performance tools were designed to help HR centrally track goal setting and review completion rather than to help line managers. To create management capacity and competency, provide performance and management tools that directly help managers manage at their best. Workboard, for example, is a Web and mobile app that automates the management framework for managers (and provides HR and executives with greater transparency and confidence). It’s a performance and productivity app designed for line of business managers to continuously communicate goals, manage shifting priorities, assign and track actions, automate status reporting, maximize 1on1s and give more regular feedback.

There’s never been a more important time to build managerial skills. CEO’s value it, competitive advantage in a recovering economy depends on it, complex businesses need it at all levels, employee engagement and talent retention hinges on it yet very few people are born with these skills. Management skill and capacity building is strategic to HR’s partnership with the business and any performance, talent and employee engagement initiative.


A Contrarian Approach to Time Management

Is it time to do a 180 degree shift on the subject of time management?

So much has been written on how to manage one’s time more effectively; I sometimes wonder if the guidance being offered by so many “experts” is resonating with people. In today’s world, cluttered as it is with communications, volumes of advice often go unheard and unread — despite their worth.

So let’s try a contrarian approach. Let’s see if this gets through the clutter. Here are six valuable tips on how NOT to manage your time. These tips will guide you to waste time and ensure you are totally ineffective in your job.

  1. Put a “To Do” list together of at least ten things you intend to accomplish. It’s always impressive to have a long list of tasks and projects you intend to do. And it also guarantees that you will make little progress on any one of them. Multitasking is a great way to waste time and minimize your effectiveness.
  1. Kiss up to your boss every chance you can. Rather than doing what you think is right, focus on what you think THEY want. But don’t ask them directly. Devote your day to trying to figure out what they think you should do and what you can do for them. Quite often your boss has no idea what he or she wants, so you are likely to work on sketching that is not needed. And the day passes quickly.
  1. Write activity reports on what you’ve been up to. Make sure you provide copious amounts of detail; it gives the impression that your work is precise and thorough. And, the more detail you provide, the longer it takes to write those reports, the more time you will consume. Send your reports far and wide in the organization. Your objective is to make people know that you are a “busy bee” and overworked.
  1. Send emails when you have something to say. Don’t send text messages because they are too brief and only take a few moments to compose. Again, be granular in your story. And answer every email sent to you. Set aside time every day to do this. Don’t set your spam filter to ward off unwanted communication. Every message has some redeeming value; you don’t want to miss it.
  1. Organize and chair numerous face-to-face meetings with people on every topic on your to-do list. Meetings are an excellent source for collecting action items and offer an opportunity to add to your activity reports. Don’t think too much about whether or not the action item is relevant, just do it.
  1. Stay late at the office at least four out of every five days. The more time you put in, the more activities you engage in, the more activity reports you can author. Attempt to complete as many tasks as you can each evening; this will prevent you from achieving anything and will waste time. And be sure to include your late night hours in your activity reports; it will impress fellow time wasters.

Time mismanagement is an art form requiring careful planning and perseverance to be recognized as an expert in the field. If you follow these six tips you will be successful in creating a personal brand with “time waster” indelibly etched in it.

Now, what do you think? Have I broken through the clutter and made you smile? What tips would you add to this list?

photo credit: 365:42 – Time via photopin (license)

Lasting Career Tips for Engineers

If you’re an engineer, you’re automatically in a prime negotiating position when it comes to commanding a good salary–it’s a simple matter of supply and demand. But while a big check in the near term might seem like the best idea, it may not be the best move for your overall career. The career tips below will make sure you’re doing what’s best for the long haul.

On Asking For And Negotiating A Pay Raise (Successfully!)

Often, people place too much emphasis on current salary. Money will come to those that enter a company and find the opportunity to significantly improve some aspect of that company.  Negotiating for $5k to $10k is nothing when you compare that to getting to the senior ranks within a company where you can start negotiating multiples of that number. With that said if you’re currently negotiating a pay raise, it’s important to hold your ground.  You cannot be afraid to say “no.”

As for when to bring up a raise, after a big project is a good idea. Be prepared with market data and set the expectation of what it is you’re seeking.  You may not get it then, but they will understand your expectations. Ideally, you should also raise the issue before your company’s review period. In some companies at the review period is too late as you have already been measured.  Keep track of your major accomplishments over the year and present them before the review period so that you’ve set the stage.

On Working As A Contractor

Excluding some very specific circumstances, engineers shouldn’t be doing contract work. The marginal difference between going contract versus full-time employee isn’t worth the stagnation that most contractors incur. Additionally, due to the nature of contract work, it creates “jumpy” resumes and no hiring manager at a good company wants someone that’s jumpy. An exception to the rule is for those who are young and using contract work as a mechanism to travel the world while working remotely. But remember: even as a contractor it’s best to go all in. Get into a company, work with the latest tech, stay current and move the needle.

On How Long To Stay With A Company

Get into the best company where you can make the most impact and stay for a while to grab a hold of a top position. Three years is a good time frame, with two being the minimum and five being the max. Generally speaking, quitting after only a year will burn a bridge unless there is an extraordinary reason.

If you’re leaving in two years it should be for a good reason. Also, make sure you make an impact before you leave. There are innumerable ways to do that, and it all depends on your role in the organization. The key is that is has to be something measurable, such as building a platform to scale, or rebuilding a mobile app from scratch. Staying and making solid contributions will far outweigh any nominal salary differences in the short term. Too many people are jumping around in this hot market, which actually prolongs their path to the senior ranks.

On Choosing Between Multiple Offers

Remember to take your time in choosing the right company and position–there’s no rush. Your demand level won’t suddenly change, and most companies are looking for more than one of an in-demand skill set.  Sure, everyone wants to talk to you right now. Vet companies against each other, and make the right move. The best offer is unique to the person getting the offer—focus on the offer that aligns best to your career aspirations and has an appropriate level of risk for you. The fundamentals remain the same.

To avoid burning bridges with companies, be firm in your resolve, but professional. You’re leaving a company for a reason–stick with it. Be clear about that reason and explain the opportunity, and how the current company does not give those same opportunities. If you can’t concisely and clearly elaborate on the deltas between the roles, then you’re not ready to quit and you risk burning a bridge with either company. Get assistance with how to be clear in your resignation from people you trust. Wavering back and forth will only make you look bad. You want to be “the one that got away,” so that if you ever need that relationship again, it will be there. Hiring managers should be investing in their employees and it takes time to reap the rewards of that investment.

Note that if a company is paying an absurdly high salary beyond the market, there’s probably a reason why. Understand what that reason is, because any place you work for a six month stint is six months of your life you can’t get back, and it’s something that will stay on your resume for years.

On Getting An Outsider’s Perspective

To that end, figure out who the best search firms are, and find a recruiter you can trust so you have an experienced outside perspective.  Admittedly, there’s a natural distrust in the market for recruiters, and as an ex-engineer I get why. However, finding a recruiter that’s knowledgeable about the market and has access to the best companies in the valley can be an ally and can help take your career to new heights.

Photo credit: Bigstock

How Working Abroad Can Help Your Career

Working abroad is being recognised as a valuable asset to employees in increasingly competitive job markets. The White House recently held a summit with travel bloggers and digital outlets to discuss initiatives that would encourage American students to consider spending time studying or working abroad. Working abroad isn’t just for students though, many graduates and mature professionals are realising that time abroad can be an advantage in terms of career development.

Building Your Professional Experience

Whether you’re a medical graduate wanting to practise your skills in Dubai, a millennial looking for opportunities to advance in business in China, or an architect who wants to contribute to Bangkok’s skyline, there are opportunities out there.

A change of country offers opportunities to test skills in different ways and can often provide quicker career progression than in your home country. These experiences can expand your career options, enhance your abilities and be an excellent asset to your resume.

Those at the top of their game know the importance of facing new challenges to boost productivity, creativity and your ability to tackle unexpected changes and challenges in the future.

Is Working Abroad Important To Your Career?

When considering opportunities abroad, only pursue ones that are relevant to your career. Will the job abroad improve your professional network, help you to reach new clients, or give you access to more advanced job roles? Ask yourself how an opportunity will help you to advance and achieve your goals – and if it won’t then pass on it and keep looking.

There are endless career opportunities abroad, and looking for programs through your current college or workplace is a good place to start. If your current workplace is flexible, consider asking to work remotely while abroad for a short period of time. If this isn’t an option, look for programs sponsored by think tanks, non-profits and governments.

If you have already established a career in a specific field, niche job boards and sites like LinkedIn can be useful places to search for job vacancies in other countries.

How To Present Working Abroad On Your CV

How you market your time abroad on your resume depends on the work or program that you were part of. In many instances, working abroad will mean a new job that can be included in your previous work experience.

Highlight how the job abroad increased your professional knowledge, led you to take on new challenges and the achievements you made. Discuss projects you were involved in, and any clients or industry professionals that you networked with.

Look also at the soft skills which you gained that will apply to workplaces back home. Those who can successfully live abroad for extended periods of time will be better able to adapt to new environments, more comfortable with change, independent, dedicated and self-motivated.

Ron Stewart has worked in the recruitment industry for 30 years, having owned companies in the IT, Construction and Medical sectors. He is currently running the Jobs4Group, including Jobs4Medical.

5 Career Principles to Activate Between Generations

The shift is happening. This year, Millennials will be the largest generation in the American workforce. One in three employees are Millennials, and more are coming. Preventing a generational shift is impossible. We have a choice:

  • Do we demean a generation?
  • Do we activate a new generation?

It is that simple. Do you hold people back and blame it on youth, or do you find a way to activate the talents of the next generation?

Each generation has a responsibility, not just Millennials, Gen Xers, or Boomers. There are certain career principles that withstand the test of ages, and we need to boost them in how we develop our careers and lead forward.

Career Principles to Activate Generations

1 – Engagement is dead. Activism is the new standard.

Being on the defense is not a complete strategy. Employees are put on the defense too often. In a recent Weber Shandwick report, Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism, 42% of those surveyed experienced a major event at work (e.g., lay-offs, merger or acquisition, crisis). Uncertainty may be one of the reasons why employee engagement is only at 30%.

Engagement is a low standard, rarely keeping our career fresh. Activism entails challenging conversations, involvement in industry groups, greater cross-functional understanding, and leading in positively unexpected ways. Activism is a new career mindset where we are in more control of how we solve problems and how we interact with others.

No one can control the major events. We can control our mindset in how we navigate and lead through the mazes. More than self-control, this is career control, and an activist mindset is a constant principle for career success.

2 – The status quo stunts growth. Always learn something new and advance your leadership capabilities.

Learning something new may be self-evident, especially with a dash of activism. However, learning is only the first step. What we absorb and then adopt is the only real way to enhance our leadership capabilities.

Learning is a mental activity. Converting what we learn into tangible actions is career growth activity. We need both to be relevant.

3 – Life is short. Strengthen those who will lead next.

We tend to forget, but life is short. Someone will take our role. Two questions arise:

  1. Do we want to leave the next leader stronger?
  2. Do we want a positive legacy to lead forward?

Mentoring is an age old principle that needs to be activated with new energy and conducted more boldly between young and old. The energy and boldness come from a mix of inspiration and challenge – tangible yet ambitious.

Mentoring is more than a baton being passed; mentoring is lessons learned and heard.

4 – Something old, something new – the twines that bind for strength.

New generations entering our workplaces is not new. Treating young leaders with a disdaining attitude is self-centered and unproductive. Diversity delivers strength, an ageless principle.

Diversity means activating talents across many dimensions. Through diversity, we solve problems in better ways. Through diversity, we innovate in ways thought unimaginable. Through diversity, we enhance our empathy skills.

We become more well-rounded and resilient. Being intertwined builds strength.

5 – Connections alone are not enough. Collaborate to thrive.

Through social channels, our connections reach across boundaries. Unleveraged, our connections are merely communication channels. When we activate our connections into collaborative relationships, we use the talents of all involved and gain greater momentum in our initiatives.

There is a spirit to cooperative efforts that is understood when we experience them. We need to build collaborative relationships more often by delivering clarity of mission, authority to act, and accountability on what should be achieved.

Activated Generations, Renewed Career Principles

Our workplaces are turning into activated communities. Our careers are tapping into our inner potential for a greater purpose. All combined, profit grows. Businesses gain in strength and growth. People gain energy by being activated in more meaningful ways.

Some career and leadership principles withstand the test of time while being refreshed by a new generation. We are in this time now. Let us activate them!

Stand-Out Leaders Putter At These 7 Things

Old school leadership is about control and pushing people to achieve results; setting and communicating objectives; delegating tasks; measuring results.

Nothing wrong with old school, it’s just that different priorities and actions are required if leaders are to meet the challenges of todays competitive economy and changing employee expectations.

New school leaders make it their priority to help people; to “take care” of them. They make it easier for people to do their jobs. They run interference; bash barriers and eliminate the grunge preventing progress.

New School Leaders Putter At These 7 Basics

1. They are mindlessly focused on detail.

Detail about individuals and what’s going on for them. It’s about the little things and the “small picture” where things get done. Where people take individual actions to move the organization forward. At the coal face where customer and employees engage. If a leader doesn’t know what’s going on where customer meets company, how can they help make it a better experience for all? Exactly!

2. They have an uncanny memory.

The putterer has the innate ability to remember what they’ve seen, heard and felt in the workplace so they can follow up and take whatever action is necessary. They correlate their experience with the strategy and objectives of the organization so they can remedy any dysfunction they see or reward any champion performance they observe.

3. They make the work environment comfortable for people.

Clean. Tidy. Organized. A place where people look forward to hanging out everyday. They are crazy about hygiene factors; the basic needs that people require if they are to perform well consistently. If they are working in a pit, don’t expect them to deliver sterling results. If they aren’t WOW’D by the comforts of their workplace, they won’t be in a mood to delight a customer.

4. They take action themselves when their personal intervention is critical to moving forward.

Putterers don’t delegate on matters requiring inspiration and direction. Small picture issues can’t be delegated as no one other than the leader can FEEL what needs to be done; their passion can’t be delegated. Furthermore, delegation of small picture issues sends the “I really don’t give a damn” message to all, and their currency with the troops takes a plunge.

5. They are constantly active.

Always on the move. Always looking for things to improve for people. Don’t forget the small picture has high resolution and is always in flux, requiring constant movement on the leader’s part. They keep their feet moving!

6. They anticipate.

They have acute sensor abilities, being able to apply what they’ve learned in other circumstances to a situation that is developing in front of them. And, as a result, either avoiding an unpleasant ending OR achieving something extraordinary.

7. They smile.

Putterers love what they do. They are happy. When confronted by disappointment they look for the pony. Their positive attitude is contagious. And it costs nothing. People around them catch the “smile virus”. It spreads. Imagine a workplace where everyone is smiling! Think it’s productive? Ya.

Stand-out leaders are awesome at the basics. How do you rate?

10 Ways To Escape From The Crowd

One of the more serious problems in society today is spacial separation; we are way too close to one another.

We find ourselves almost in the living room of our neighbor. Students sit shoulder-to-shoulder in classrooms and lecture halls. Sidewalks are jammed with a stream of people heading in the same direction to the same destination.

People’s brains are cluttered with the same traditional academic teachings with little room for an original thought.

We live in a crowded world with plurality forcing us to conform. The crowd is a blend of commonality. People move in a blur with no individual identity.

Crowds are imprinting agents. The mass creates pressure for anyone to get on the “average train” and be influenced by those around them.

It’s a serious situation in an economy that begs for remarkability, creativity and uniqueness to survive and succeed.

We MUST find ways for people to create space between each other both physically and mentally.

Physical separation exposes people to different environments with different agents of influence. Mental separation opens the mind to new thoughts with the capability of achieving remarkable things.

Here are 10 ways we can give the separation movement some help:

1. Change the conversation. Stop talking about how we can copy and be like others and start asking the question, “How can we walk away from the crowd?” Space is created by differences not similarities.

2. Reward people who screw up constantly. These are individuals who are on the edge, far from the herd. They live in space and should be encouraged to stay there.

3. Loosen up on the conformity thing. Recognize individuals who don’t follow the rules. Encourage students to color outside the lines to create something new. The education system requires a major overhaul.

4. Honor weirdness. Creativity is NOT a linear concept; it is expressed by ideologies and points of views unlike most others.

5. Hold teachers accountable for creating “new-idea meisters” in addition to how well students learn traditional concepts. Let’s do the unthinkable: pay teachers on the number of unique and creative students that leave their classroom!

6. Add emphasis to “the debate.” Sure. spelling bees have some value but why not provide more focus on the forum for thoughtful argument and disagreement? You can’t be creative and think out of the box in a spelling bee!

7. Get rid of uniforms. They are the signature of a crowd having similar minds and purpose; exactly what is NOT needed.

8. Avoid labels. Labels put individuals into buckets with the expectation that they are like everyone else in that bucket. It’s a disservice to the individual. Millennials? I see individuals with some similar values but many more with amazing differences if only we would pay attention to them. Stop classifying people; it sucks space.

9. Stay off public transportation especially in rush hour. Too any people; too much crowd snuggling; chance they could rub off on you.

10. Dump the “learning from others” notion. I get that there are some benefits from it, but after a point it becomes habitual and represents a barrier to thinking for yourself and coming up with creative ideas that have escaped fellow herd members.

Even if space is not a renewable resource we must find ways to not squander it and have confinement rob us of our originality and personal DNA.

Creating space is critical to a winning soccer strategy; it’s also a vital element of any personal and organizational growth strategy.

About the Author: Roy Osing is a former executive vice president and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

photo credit: beije via photopin cc

10 Things About Work I Wish I Had Been Told

It always amazes me the stories I hear about people who are new to the world of work.

The guys with jeans around the back of their thighs, the girls not dressed much better, headphones plugged in while they eat breakfast and gulp down an entire can of energy drink to get over their heavy night. “Waddup?!” Well I guess at least this demonstrates that they can multi-task! Now, I’m reliably informed that this greeting is actually a concern for how my morning is going. But it doesn’t quite have the same empathy as “Morning, Jim. How’s your day going?”

One manager told me she cannot believe the amount of time the young people in her team spend surfing the web and sending text messages. She was also shocked by how young people in her team empower themselves to take breaks whenever they feel like it, which often involves standing discussing their conquests from the night before. We both concluded that had they behaved like this 30 years ago, then they wouldn’t have a job.

Am I being harsh? Well, yes I guess I am, to an extent. Firstly, not everyone new to work is like this and there are people who have been in the workplace for years who also act like this. This said the world is evolving and along with it the acceptability of certain behaviours in the workplace; and we’ve all been there to some degree or another, entering a new job and needing to adjust in some way to make it work. This got me thinking about what I wish I knew before I entered the workplace, and if I were writing a letter to the then me from the now me, what advice would I give myself?

1. Start thinking about work earlier

It’s no good leaving it until the last minute when you’re 15/16 years old. The last six years of your school/college career will shape the kind of role you will get when you leave. Consider your options, look at your growing strengths and think about the kind of jobs you would like to do.

Play the Plotr game to find a career that will play to your strengths and that you will love.

2. Research and get advice

Not every job is described well in a formal job description/by its title. You need to consider the skills and experience that the role requires and then find ways of obtaining them. Go out and talk to people in different roles – speak to employers, recruitment specialists and career advisors. Use your friends and family and look at websites like Plotr to gather as much knowledge on the working world as you can.

3. Get work experience

Use your summer and winter holidays, weekends or evenings to look for a basic job, or do some voluntary work to help develop your skills. When you obtain a role, look for the bits you like and that play to your strengths – focus on these. Develop the areas you want to develop, but chase the development – it won’t fall on your lap. Experience pays.

4. Good pay does not always = a great job

Few entry-level jobs pay good money, and the meaning a role holds to you is more important when you start out. The more you put in the more you will get out over time.

5. University isn’t the only way to get a job

Remember, university isn’t the only route in to a decent job. Consider apprenticeships and similar schemes; again, the starting money may not be great, but you’re gaining skills and building a platform.

6. Attitude and commitment

It’s all about attitude and commitment — the more commitment you put in at the start the better your career will be and it will make selling yourself much easier.

7. Research the company you’re applying for

One question you’re bound to get asked is: “Why do you want to work for us?” If you have researched the company properly and you have a clear answer as to why you want to work for them above anyone else, then it will impress. There’s nothing worse than not having a proper answer to this question or “What do you know about our business?” If you can’t answer these questions, it doesn’t demonstrate any commitment to them.

Also, check the company matches up to your expectations. Look for them in the news, check to see whether they have won any people related awards and see what other people have to say about working for them – glass door is always a good reference point to find out what other employees think.

8. Have fun

It’s important to have fun and enjoy work. Look for a job that will tap into your strengths – not all of us will necessarily end up in our dream job, but we all have the power to find enjoyment in what we do.

9. Stand out

No job is a dead cert, and as time passes there are more and more people out there fighting for the same job you are. Be unique, stand out, but above all else present yourself well and show you are aware of work ethics like how to act, dress and behave in work.

10. Learn to sell

This brings me nicely on to my final point – selling yourself. Learn to tell a story; learn to be able to build a picture in someone’s mind because this is vital when it comes to most entry-level job interviews. You have to sell yourself, and in such a way you stand out over the others that are going for the same role.

photo credit: William Brawley via photopin cc

Serving The Return With A Smile

What? You’ve never heard of it?

<smile – snap – post>

It’s all the social media rage.

<smile – snap – post>

And all the kids are doing it.

<smile – snap – post>

Heck, not just all the kids either. Some of us older folk are doing it, too.

<smile – snap – post>

Because we want to be found. We want to be seen. We want to be known.

<smile – snap – post>

And is that so wrong?

<smile – snap – post – nope>

I’m talking about the selfie – the uninhibited, self-promotional, narcissistic, look-at-me-I-rock photographic posting activity booming today. Even if it’s in a self-deprecating light, which I happen to partake in as well, it’s still look at me, please! 

I know, the fact that I’m referencing the following in the same piece while trying to distance myself from it doesn’t actually make logical sense, but 33-year-old reality star Kim Kardashian’s selfie book titled Selfish has helped push selfies into the mainstream face (no, I’m not linking to it).

According to a Pew Research Center survey from earlier this year, 55% of Millennials (18-33 years old) have posted a “selfie” on a social media site; no other generation is nearly as inclined to do this. Overall, 26% of Americans have shared a “selfie” on a photo-sharing or social networking site.

When compared to my Gen X Brothers and Sisters, where we’re less than half of the Millennials who post selfies (and Boomers were only a fraction), I’d have to argue that all those Gen Xers partaking in the selfie “boom” are probably all my friends and me.

Really. Just look at our Instagram feeds. I even posted the morning I had knee surgery, complete with the hospital cap.

Ironically, the same survey says that 9 in 10 Millennials say people generally share too much information about themselves online, a view held by similarly lopsided proportions of all older generations.

I’m not really sure what that means, other than some aren’t as restrained and emotionally intelligent as others, sharing more of what’s self-serving, startling and offensive than what’s fun, maybe educational and certainly relevant for the rest of the world, or at least our various little social worlds. Or, just not sharing anything at all because it’s nobody’s business. Transparency isn’t for everyone you know.

However, if a Millennial falls in the forest, and it hasn’t posted a selfie on its online social profile, do we even know it’s there? Half the time we don’t.

But half the time we do, because half the time he still wants to be found. She still wants to be seen. He still wants to be known. Those selfies will continue to appear. Many Millennials were raised in attention-rich, feedback-laced environments (I didn’t say coddled, mind you), which is why they’ve probably adopted the online social profile where they post their selfies to at a faster rate than other generations (who are all catching up, by the way).

No, they didn’t all grow up with social; the 30-year-olds in the crowd were already 10 when the Internet became public domain, still years from Facebook. The youngest of them did grow up social, though.

That said, let’s jump to our professional (personal) brands online. Today LinkedIn has more than 313 million members in over 200 countries and territories, and please note that students and recent college graduates are also LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic. The online professional profile is becoming the career currency of choice for many young and old, but still second to the resume.

Yes, there’s still much recruiting hubbub about the online professional profile, with recruiters heavily leveraging LinkedIn to source, but not especially found of the subjective recommendations and endorsements, both of which can help tell a story to prospective employers, HR pros, recruiters and hiring managers.

Not necessarily a fact-based story, but a story nonetheless, one that gives a subjectively padded worldview of the person, maybe even more so than the resume. In fact according to CareerBuilder, 58% of hiring managers said they’ve caught a lie on a resume. On the other hand, online professional profiles that have recommendations and endorsements more than likely have fewer blatant falsities, only because of the peer validation in play.

I mean, if we put ourselves out there with previous work experience, skills, projects, wins, connections and more, and asked previous employers, peers and even friends to “validate” us by recommending/endorsing, then we’re probably going to reduce the number of those old resume white lies, don’t you think? I do. Most of us certainly don’t want archenemies, or even a nemeses, to call us out (although we all know how the anonymous think it pays to be hated). I would also hope the incidence of professional catfish stories are pretty low.

kwg surgeryHey, don’t worry, because I’m real and my name is Kevin W. Grossman and I’m sticking to my story (and my pics).

But our story’s return is only as valuable as the investment of keeping ourselves found, seen and known. That’s why we serve it selfishly. What? You think we put ourselves out there for just kicks and giggles? Forget it. We’re in it to win it, kids.

Regardless of generation, we should all ensure our online profiles are as consistent and accurate as possible across all social points of presence if we want the investment to pay off long-term, not short-term until we’re caught in a web of lies. In other words, whoever we say we are and whatever we say we’ve done and we do is close if not identical on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, G+ and the many other industry and association niche networks and communities we might belong to.

The same is now true inside the enterprise, with Millennials taking ownership of their social profiles busting at the seams inside talent management software and internal social networks. Companies are benefiting from these robust talent profiles, which provide a consolidated view of data for all employees, permanent and contract alike. Talent profiles enable more proactive workforce planning and are also instrumental in providing highly personalized training and development.

Yes, there are those who have highly sought after skills and do not want to be found. There are those who work in smaller companies and don’t need to been found. And there are those who work in larger companies and don’t want to be seen or known.

The rest of us, extrovert or not, don’t have that luxury. We need to be found, seen and known. We serve the return when we invest in our personal branded profiles, our professional selfies, inside and out (and so do the companies we work for, or will work for, we hope). The return being where we go on our career adventures, the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards we receive, the business outcomes we help our employers and ourselves generate – so it behooves us to take special care with:

  1. Consistency and Accuracy. These are the critical keys, because those searching you out and reviewing who you are will be looking for anomalies that don’t add up — and you want to always have everything add up. You want to stand out, but you want to add up — and for goodness sake you want to be accurate and truthful about everything. That includes reviewing your recommendations and endorsements. Never over-spin, or allow it. Not only that, you should at the very least review and update your online profiles at least once per quarter, and kill those you no longer want to maintain, even if you’re not looking for work.
  2. Continuous Upkeep. Our profiles are only continuously valuable to the us as professionals and our organizations if they’re being maintained. The good news is that Millennials and Gen Y have grown up in social networks, and all other generations are adopting them, which includes updating their personal profiles quite regularly so their friends, families and peers see their day-to-day activities just as regularly. That’s why another value-add of talent profiles is user adoption, since the employees’ “talent profiles” are the key to being seen in the organization. Plus, I argue that all generations today crave continuous performance feedback and recognition and our professional profiles help solidify the emotionally productive connections to our craft.

You never know when that great new opportunity is looking for you (and at you), inside or out. It’s your personal employment brand. Take care of your investment, kids.

And do us all a favor and share a little smile when you take that picture for your online profile.

photo credit: Infomastern via photopin cc

Under What Circumstances Would You Let Your LeBron Come Back?

“We could not be happier to welcome LeBron James home. Yesterday LeBron, though his essay, told us he wasn’t going anywhere except Cleveland and that ‘Cleveland is where he always believed he would finish his career.’ These words and commitment put all of us, including LeBron, in the best position to build our franchise the right way and achieve the kind of goals we all know are possible. Expectations will be at the highest levels but no one should expect immediate and automatic success.” – David Griffin, Cavaliers General Manager

LeBron James recently announced his return to his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although the contract is only for 2 years rather than the usual 4, the King  made the decision to leave the Miami Heat, and go back. This star player’s choice to change teams shocked many and has definitely stirred the pot in basketball. But what do you do when your star player wants to “come home?” With 34% of people expecting (or wanting) to work until they are at least 80, it’s not improbable for past team members to return to your office. However, there are a lot of questions to ask your leadership before they return. So, it all boils down to: what will it take to bring them back?

Higher Tech Skills Expectations

LeBron James has the notoriety and the technical skills to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers to enhance the performance of the team. Your team as well is ever evolving and changing, so the employee who was once a key figure in decision-making, may no longer know what’s in the best interest of the organization. Millennials are beginning to enter the office at a surprising rate as more and more graduate. By 2020, Millennials are expected to comprise at least half of the workforce.

So can your (former) employees keep up with the changing tides and the new expectations for tech-savvy employees if they aren’t in the office? If their tech skills haven’t developed in the months or years they’ve been gone, would you want to take the time and energy to train them again when they left the first time? These are questions you need to ask yourself and their potential supervisors before making the hiring decision.

Changing Company Culture

As companies grow, their culture often changes with age. Stagnancy is rare among companies who have hit the growth stage when they have surpassed the start-up phase. In fact, many believe that a change in culture would not only be beneficial to employee growth, but 96% feel that a cultural shift in their organization is needed also. That’s a reason many employees leave and return in a “prodigal son” fashion. They leave in hopes of finding a company culture matching what they feel they need, and ultimately return because they can’t find the culture they want anywhere else.

A Change in Character

Lebron has not only developed as a player, he has grown as a person. His level of professionalism is something the Cavaliers should have left him with. However, such is not the case. With time spent away from a company, employees tend to gain a better perspective of the organization and their place while they were there. Don’t burn bridges with employees who have left.

Then you have the team players, the employees, who would never leave no matter how much the competitors paid them. Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks took a potential loss in professional growth to stay with the team he felt was his first love. He won’t be paid nearly as much and probably won’t see a winning championship game; but Anthony would rather play for the team he loves than get paid to play for any others. Your team, no matter which players you lose, will always have the employees who are completely dedicated to the company goals and their work. Don’t lose sight of them when you see another star performer take the opportunity to jump ship before they are ready to leave their home team.

What Can We Learn from LeBron’s Move?

Uphold a standard of professionalism and don’t publicly speak poorly of exiting talent.

Your current employees take notice, and may just follow suit. There is a possibility they will want to eventually return to your team; they are more apt to make a difference upon their return. It stands to reason, then since they already know the position, it won’t be too hard for them to adapt to the shifts in culture. However, a former employee returning for corporate benefits doesn’t care about the organization’s goals, they simply want to fill the seat during the interim. If they are ready, willing, and prepared to return, assess your organization needs before you rehire them. Everyone wants their star player, but when should they give up their title?

(About the Author: Sean Pomeroy, CEO of Visibility Software, has worked in the Human Resources industry since he graduated from Radford University with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. After working in HR as a generalist for a government contracting company, he moved to the HR Technology arena and began assisting companies in the selection and implementation of HR software.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

photo credit: BasketStreaming via photopin cc

7 Turns To Take On The Road To Your Dream Job

Written By: Mary Isabale

“What do you want to be when you will grow up?”- a famous question we all have faced and had to answer in our childhood days. With starry eyes full of ambition and heart full of high hopes you may have answered that you want to be an actor or a doctor or teacher, lawyer, astronaut, firefighter. You may have also dreamed of a job that would give you rich mansions with butlers and maids, cars. But when you really grow up, things may have changed. The reality around you might have reshaped that it has diverted your vision of your dream job. In a  situation like this it is may be difficult for you to chase or choose your dream job but it is never impossible. These 7 tips will help you to find your dream job.

Analyze your ambition

A good analysis of your ambition will help you to find your dream job. You have to know what is your dream job. What suits you the best as a job? The British born philosopher Alan Watts said that to know what job is the best fit for a person can be found out by asking a simple question. ‘What would you do if money were no object?’. What would you do if you won a lottery and don’t need to do anything for a living? The answers of these questions will lead one to understand his or her ambition.

Know your greatest talent and purpose

In this step you have to be completely objective about yourself. You need to point out your skills and strengths. You can take others advice or opinion into account. You also have to know about your weak points. Once you get the clear indications about your skills, strengths or weaknesses, then you can clearly connect them to choose your path. On the other hand the purpose of your life should be made clear to you. You must know for which reasons you are chasing your dream job. It will help you to not leave the dreams behind.

Being realistic

Not all the jobs full of money are the one of your dreams and not all the dream jobs are currency maker.  You have to take that into account. Your dream job might not be that much financially rich. If you want to earn money, then you have to sort out those types of jobs which will accomplish your needs. But those who are willing to follow your passion should keep in mind that when you follow your passion money often comes too.

Keep calm and patient

You need to keep calm and patient in finding your dream job. The more nervous or anxious we become in finding our dream job, the more prone we become to take actions that won’t help. Happy endings are often obstacles for not being patient. It might take years to achieve success on dream job, but you need to follow the path you have chosen from the heart.

Commit to find your job or create it

It is very important to be committed to the path towards your dream job. An audacious goal is never achieved without proper commitment. Either you have to find the job that fits you the most with all your potentials or you must be that much devoted to make a way to create it for yourself.

Consider the ups and downs of your dream job

This one is one of the most important to find your dream job. There must be some difficulties in your job besides the positive side. You have to be well aware about them. You must have to research the positivity and negativity of your dream job. The more you will be aware about them,  the more you will be certain to find what is your dream job.

Buckling up yourself

Doing some volunteer works or other jobs related to your dream jobs will certainly make you sure about if you have found your dream job yet or not. Besides, it will help to boost your confidence and enrich your CV. It will also help you to get experience which is a crucial factor for getting your dream job.

The famous Chinese philosopher Confucius said that ‘Find a job you enjoy and you will never work a day in your life.’ Finding a dream job will make your life easier to move on. But dream jobs can be also hard in nature too. But life is certainly easier when you are working with something you love. So never stop believing in yourself and always look for what suits you the most.

(About the Author: Mary Isabale is a career expert and experienced hiring manager.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

Kill Them With Kindness: Ineffective Motivational Tactics

Office break rooms are often riddled with “you can do it!” style posters. You know, the ones that have a picture of Sequoia trees in California with something about how long they took to grow. These are great posters with great (and albeit cliché) sayings and quotes, but what do they really do for your employees? Honestly, absolutely nothing. While it’s interesting that Sequoia trees take 3,000 years of trying weather conditions and sustained effort to grow 300 feet, your employees don’t care. In fact, only 19% of employees are happy with their jobs. The other 81% would rather not see your motivational posters while they begrudgingly work for 8 hours to bring home the bacon.

Sometimes it is just another job.

“Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” –Confucius

Especially in rough economic times, your employees may feel stuck. This doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged. They might very well be engaged in fear of losing their job, however, this doesn’t imply they are happy. Stagnancy creates an atmosphere of disengagement. Even though it is easy to fall into the habits of stagnant behavior in the office, giving programs and advancement opportunities keep employees engaged while they are at work. Workplace giving programs, like donating to a charitable organization, motivate employees to make an impact, and that often will translate into their work. With the growing number of benevolent Millenials entering the workforce, 90% of companies offer a wide range of diverse charities to donate to in order to foster an atmosphere of community.  Opportunities for growth can increase engagement as well, so they begin to see it as more than just another avenue for a paycheck. The more employees value their place in your company, the more engaged they become.

An engaged employee isn’t necessarily a happy employee.

“It is the working man who is the happy man. The idle man is the man who is miserable.” –Benjamin Franklin

Engagement and happiness in a company are two completely different aspects of an employee’s attitude. Simply saying your employees are happy with their jobs, so they must be engaged, or even that your employees are unhappy so they must be disengaged, are false equivalencies that will only result in furthering their detachment. There are over 70 million employees who are disengaged from their jobs. This isn’t to say they aren’t happy, in fact they could be extremely content in the security your employment offers them. However that doesn’t mean they are fully dedicated to the projects you’ve left on their plate. It is expected of American employees to work until we can’t anymore. A lot of disengagement can be attributed to this. In a study of 21 developed countries, the United States was the only country that doesn’t consistently offer 10 to 30 days of paid vacation. Regardless if a U.S. employer gives their workforce vacation, they don’t use it because they are trained to work hard no matter the cost, even the costs to their health. In fact, middle-aged men at risk for heart disease who skipped vacations for 5 consecutive years are 30% more likely to have a heart attack.

Employees won’t always like their jobs.

“Do not hire a man who does work for money, but him who does it for love of it.” –Henry David Thoreau

Truth is, they don’t have to like their jobs to be engaged or motivated. Now, those 24% who are actively disengaged find reasons to not be at work while in the office because they honestly hate their jobs. The majority of the workforce does not fall into this category, however. The workforce is primarily disengaged, with 63% of employees sleepwalking through the workdays. Although they are disengaged, it’s not so drastic they can’t be “checked back into” their work. Effective motivation doesn’t come from overplayed sayings on pictures of nature. It just simply doesn’t work the way you hope; all you’re doing is evading the hard work. “Nothing worth it was ever easy,” or so they say. So, engaged employees may not be an easy goal to achieve, but when you take the time and the effort to find what motivates your workforce, it’s worth it.

(About the Author: Sean Pomeroy, CEO of Visibility Software, has worked in the Human Resources industry since he graduated from Radford University with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. After working in HR as a generalist for a government contracting company, he moved to the HR Technology arena and began assisting companies in the selection and implementation of HR software.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

photo credit: Felix’s Endless Journey via photopin cc

#TChat Recap: The “Be Different Or Be Dead” Show

The “Be Different Or Be Dead” Show

Have you ever thought about what it truly means to “be different”? To look past the norm, to think and behave differently from the rest, without any fear of transgression. Some of our greatest innovators have not only been different, they’ve never let their haters get the best of them and leave them for dead. This week, #TChat was joined by: Roy Osing, a leading executive in Canadian business and a recognized blogger, speaker, seminar leader, business advisor, educator and personal coach; and Melany Hellstern, founder and president of Both shared with our community was it means to truly be different or be dead.

Unfortunately, not everyone can take a step back and ponder over why their organization lacks the innovation and creativity it needs to be successful in a highly competitive global market or how to bring the best out of their employees. The secrets of the universe don’t just reveal themselves so easily. As Roy Osing mentioned:

It’s when we start asking, “How can we be different?” that we begin to plant the seeds of innovation and creativity. Both leaders and employees need to understand that in order to let innovation and creativity flourish and grow, we must begin to think differently. We cannot become complacent with our success or allow ourselves to place a mental roadblock on our creativity. We must:

Whether you are a leader or an employee, you need to ask yourself questions. These questions must challenge your comprehension of why certain formalities exist within your organization. These questions must push you towards driving an outcome that resets these formalities that have become considered norms, which can hold back innovation and creativity, and leave both for dead. When this happens, there are opportunities being missed. As Roy mentioned to me:

Roy hit us with an insight bullseye. Individuals are the source of opportunity. When people start asking questions, they start to become different, and they realize there’s an opportunity being missed. If organizations plan on remaining competitive and not left for dead, they have to know:

Organizations that empower their employees, and not only keep them engaged, will have active participants that drive organizational innovation and creativity, and ultimately, its success. Being different is not just about driving innovation and creativity, it’s about keeping your organization from being left for dead, on multiple levels.

Want To See The #TChat Replay?

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

Thanks again to our guests (add guests, and twitter links). Click here to see the preview and related reading.

Note To Bloggers: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on differentiation?

We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!

If you recap #TChat make sure to let us know so we can find you!

We Want To See You On TalentCulture. Become A Contributor Now!

Sign up for the newsletter to get the scoop on next week’s guest, topic and questions!

Attention #TChat Participants:

There will not be a #TChat event next week so that our TalentCulture Community, #TChat guests and #TChat participants can enjoy the Fourth of July Holiday week with their family and friends!

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our new Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels!
photo credit: paolo.rally via photopin cc

#TChat Recap: Authenticity Is An Inside Job That Starts With Self

Authenticity Is An Inside Job That Starts With Self

Everyday, there’s a flock of people who head to work and experience a daily dosage of empowerment, then there’s the other flock that experiences workplace dread on a daily-basis. Some people get to work in highly engaging workplaces, while others count the seconds till the clock strikes freedom. Within each workplace culture there exists what’s referred to as workplace authenticity, whether it’s real or fake. Few experience it first-hand, and many can only wonder about what it would be like to be true to themselves at work and ideally, in everyday life. This week, #TChat was joined by Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt.

Both of them get why authenticity is an invaluable workplace mindset that encourages innovation through openness, trust, and communication. Interestingly enough, authenticity is about being real and true to one’s self. Yet, in the workplace, Jason believes that:

Yes, even if that person becomes a bit of an annoyance. We must look within ourselves to find who we really are inside our workplace and who we want to be. To do so, we must:

Speaking the truth does require boldness and at times being unpopular in the process. It’s through these initial actions that we begin to discover the value in being authentic. We must find it within ourselves to accept authenticity. Instead of authenticity finding acceptance at the bottom of an organization:

Authenticity has to begin at the top and work its way down to the entire organization. It should be embraced with open arms. It must be greeted with optimism. Workplace productivity and business results experience a bumpy ride when employees are not allowed the freedom to be themselves at work. Simply put:

If authenticity generates better engagement and happier employees, then what employer wouldn’t care about the end results? If organizations truly care about the bottom line, then cultivating workplace authenticity can provide the fruition they seek. Don’t have employees sitting around waiting until the clock strikes freedom (and the end of their workday). Have them working at highly productive levels through the empowerment of workplace authenticity. Keep employees engaged by letting them voice their opinions and developing a cultural mindset of being real with themselves and other people that surround the culture. Any organization will see the results are at least worth taking another look at.

Want To See The #TChat Replay?

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

Thanks again to our guests Jason Lauritsen and Joe GerstandtClick here to see the preview and related reading.

#TChat Events: Authenticity Is An Inside Job That Starts With Authenticity


#TChat Radio — Are you plugged in to #TChat radio? Did you know you can listen live to ANY of our shows ANY time?

Now you know. Click the box to head on over to our channel or listen to Authenticity Is An Inside Job That Starts With Self.

Note To Bloggers: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on culture?

We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!

If you recap #TChat make sure to let us know so we can find you!

We Want To See You On TalentCulture. Become A Contributor Now!

Sign up for the newsletter to get the scoop on next week’s guest, topic and questions!

Save The Date: Wednesday, June 25!

Next week’s #TChat Topic: The “Be Different or Be Dead” Show

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our new Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels!


How To Actually Get Stuff Done

The employee engagement survey results are in. Now what? You can collect data until you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t have a way to turn that information into actionable insights, it’s not going to make an ounce of difference in your company.

Raw Data Isn’t Enough 

Managers who gather data about employee satisfaction, performance, engagement, efficiency and the like can run into the same stumbling blocks as executives who are trying to harness big data analytics for business intelligence. According to a recent KPMG study, 85 percent of business leaders indicated that their biggest challenge with data analytics was accurately analyzing and interpreting information. Three-quarters of respondents said they had trouble actively making decisions based on data results.

“From CEOs to CFOs, CIOs and CMOs, the challenge for today’s executive is understanding how to draw actionable insights from data and turn them into tangible, genuine results,”  said Mark Toon, CEO of KPMG Capital.

In short, there are a lot of technological resources to collect, store and integrate data, but the information is only valuable when it can drive strategic change.

Surveys Must Be Followed By Action

If you go through the trouble of soliciting employee feedback, you need to have productive and effective ways to understand the information and act on your insights. Of course, analyzing is one thing – acting is another. You don’t want to get so caught up in the reporting and analysis phase that you miss the opportunity to actually bring about a difference with the project. To make it easier for managers to derive insights that they can then act on, some talent management software provides reports and resources for prescribing actions and measuring outcomes.

Swapnil Shah, CEO of FirstFuel, explained in Greentech Media that data analytics must be focused on tangible results. To bridge the gap between data collection and results, he suggested customizing and scaling insights. You might have a lot of information from across your organization – focus on a few key pieces for specific departments, offering leaders manageable suggestions with reasonable goals.

Shaping Employee Culture

In addition to optimizing business practices and bolstering productivity, acting on employee engagement surveys is an important strategy for forming a positive company culture. Workers who are disengaged often feel they lack a voice and their opinions aren’t valued. Responding to feedback creates open lines of communication and demonstrates that management is receptive to employee ideas and preferences. Sharing survey results with team members and focusing on ways to improve the group can also foster a closer working community.

“Engagement is really about what you do every day to make employees feel part of a team. They need to know how they make that team better every day,” Florida Power & Light’s vice president Michael Kiley told the Miami Herald. “They don’t want to let down their peers.”

The source added that employee engagement should be aimed at long-term, sustainable changes, not Band-Aid fixes or diverting perks. Overall, surveys can never be an end in themselves – they’re a powerful tool for measuring and analyzing workplace performance, but their true value lies in the action they inspire.

(About the Author: David Bator is passionate about programs that move people. As Vice President of Client Strategy at TemboStatus he works with growing companies everyday and helps them bridge the gap between assessing employee engagement and addressing it with action. For the last 15 years David has worked with the leadership of companies large and small to build programs that leverage strategy and technology to deliver extraordinary value for employees, customers and partners.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via photopin cc

Power: The Dark Side of Leadership

I have a little confession to make. I find power to be delicious.

For most of my life I have worked as a kind of modern-day impresario. I produced events and media, everything from promotional videos to chamber music concerts to recording sessions with full size symphony orchestras. I was a one-man HR office; I had to hire videographers, graphic designers, actors, audio engineers, composers, musicians, editors, you name it. And I will be the first to admit, when you have power to hire and fire, and you have a budget to spend on vendors who are dying for your business, life takes on a patina of extraordinary pleasantness. When you have power, people who would normally ignore you suddenly become your new best friend. They hang on your every word and tell you what you want to hear. When this happened to me, I liked it. I liked it a lot.

Now before talking about this further, I have a question. As someone who philosophizes, speaks, and coaches on issues of management, I try to keep up with the latest, and I read various books and articles on the topic. There seems to be no end of management advice out there, so my question is, why is it that, other than a few books by Machiavelli, I never see any articles about the joys, temptations, and potential pitfalls of simply possessing power, which is the very essence of being in a leadership/management role?

I suspect that at some point I will get a very stringent lesson in why no one else talks about it in public, but until then, here goes.

The first time I had some real power, I was totally inexperienced in its use, and I was totally unprepared for its narcotic effect. I loved the way people who wanted my business would give me “strokes” of sycophantic attention. Being not totally stupid, I knew that this largesse of positive social interaction was conditional on my continuing to have power, and so I became very eager to consolidate my power. I took steps to make sure I would hold on to it as much as possible. I found myself wanting more and more of it. For a while, this goal, of having power purely for the sake of having power, eclipsed my memory of my original purpose, i.e., why other people had given me power in the first place.

It took me a little bit of time, reflection and hard lessons to get used to this aspect of power possession. Learning to handle it was like trying to go on a diet in a chocolate factory.

Once I recovered my wits, I found I actually had to be proactive in training people how to respond to my possession of power. Everyone has a set auto-pilot approach to dealing with people in power over them, and I found I had to endlessly counter that energy. For example, I had to repeatedly train my vendors that their primary purpose was not to meet my many infantile needs for attention. I had to endlessly remind them to focus on serving my customers, even if that meant ignoring me altogether. For most of them, this was a totally new idea, and many of them never truly believed that I meant it. They had seen how other people with power had behaved in the past, so they always hedged their bets by keeping my apples polished.  This drained energy from doing actual work.  I was always conflicted about this. It was inefficient, and yet I still liked it.

The many ways in which one person having power over another affects relationships and systems is an awfully large topic. Too large for a single article. So the point I want to make is this:

Power is seductive, it is addictive, it is delicious, and when you get power, remaining objective and keeping your wits about you is not easy. It requires restraint and discipline. Everywhere you look, you see evidence of people not knowing how to handle power. Most of us have a painful memory of someone who once had power over us abusing that power. Every day we see people with power using it in ways we disagree with. And even more vexing are people who have power but are afraid to use it, or just don’t know what to do with it. Need I even mention elected officials? It all gets very emotional in a hurry. And that is my point.

Management and leadership philosophy is, more or less, a guide to the use of power. We all have great ideas of how things ought to be, but there are reasons why people in power don’t always do things the way we want. Some are quite logical, some are selfish. Power also has limits to what it can do, no matter how much of it you have.

The purpose of this article is not to offer any quick solutions or a list of tips and tricks– such an approach would fail to recognize the size and complexity of the issue. The purpose is to say we must recognize and discuss the many temptations and emotional distortions that the possession of power causes, and how we are going to deal with how possession of power affects the imperfect beings who we ask to wield it. (This is not a new idea– the United States Constitution is mostly about managing the temptations of power– and look at how endlessly difficult that has been.)

I am eager to teach the introductory class, although it might sound more like a 12 step program: “Hello, my name is Justin, and I am addicted to the thrill of having power.”

(About the Author: Justin Locke spent 18 years playing bass in the Boston Pops, and his musical plays are performed all over the world.  As an author, speaker, and coach, he shares a pragmatic artistic approach to personal growth, “people skills,” and managing “top performers.” For more, visit his website at

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

photo credit: MeckiMac via photopin cc