The Desk

March 9, 2016

Taking Charge

One thing that can lead to marginalization is turning the human into a non-thinking, uncreative entity (as compared with a sentient being who is capable of making meaningful contributions). There is very little to nothing that’s rewarding and motivating about existing in PVS (persistent vegetative state), except perhaps the appreciation that the speed at which activities are successfully executed is at a stellar rate that can be matched by few, if any.

Some grow weary of the monotony. They see the value is automation and encourage use of robotics so that the opportunity to challenge their minds is more available. Even those with the most minimal level of intelligence delight is being able to conquer a new task. Having that reasonable task put before them is exciting.

There are some people who have been conditioned to believe they will be punished for attempting to stretch their role in an organization beyond being PVS. They fear the unknown realm of persecution and retribution for daring to do more than the repetitious. They have experimented with new endeavors and found success nearly every time they’ve done so. Having been exposed to the sweet taste of adventure and new challenges, they want to emerge into the areas where their friends and colleagues are similarly nudged into more involvement – and recognition.

Use Your Skills

Use Your Skills

That fear of retribution is the inhibiting factor. It needs to be overcome. The only way to do that is to take charge of the situation. If the path of asking permission to be included in the next endeavor doesn’t work out, there are other ways to get from Point A to Point B. Some of them take a little (and some a lot) more effort.

The supervisor or manager seems to have favorites for the project. Sometimes it’s because the manager has been watching the progress of their workers and knows what to expect. They know the quality of the work that will be produced, the amount of attention to detail, the speed at which the work will be done, how well the worker interacts with others, how smoothly things blend. Sounds like networking to me.

How much of a challenge is that task compared to today’s mashed potatoes same as? If it’s the equivalent of going from boiling an egg to preparing a nine-course meal overnight, this may not be the time to experiment. If this is merely turning a boiled egg into an Easter egg (or a deviled egg), this may be an opportunity waiting to happen. How to broach that stupid roadblock of being allowed to get involved is the issue.

Perhaps a facsimile is the answer. “Hey, Boss. I’ve been watching the others working on the [deviled egg] and I’ve been experimenting with making them on my own time. Here’s a sample of what I did on my own. I’d like to do it with the others so I can be involved in doing it in the company style.” Mind you, this is the prime sample that’s being put forth. The BETA version is just not the version that should be used as an example of what’s your best.

Was it accepted? Great! It wasn’t? Get permission to work with the others to learn their technique. Better yet, sidle up to one of those who’s a “friend” and ask them to show you how to make yours better. Sidle up to another chum so that they’ll ask to have you included in their group for the next batch of [deviled eggs]. Or just go to an outside group and make some [deviled eggs] they way they do so that you have practice doing it and an audience that benefits from the fact that you were involved in making [deviled eggs]. No matter which way you go – direct or indirect – you have at least one new skill to append to your resume accomplishments.

It’s one thing to aimlessly drift from one boring and uninspiring situation to the next while waiting (and that’s the critical concept here – waiting) for something better to come along and take you with it. Having a mentor who can push you forward at Opportunity’s knock is great. But sometimes it’s necessary to take charge of your situation and do something to spur your opportunities to open to you.

There will be times when taking charge means quietly looking elsewhere for what’s going to be better in terms of many things you desire and have long-term positive payoffs. There will also be times when taking charge simply means becoming more assertive. Mind you, I said “assertive,” not “aggressive,” that is, demanding what you want instead of stating your case about why you are a great option.

Wait! What was that I heard? Was it Opportunity knocking at your door?

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July 1, 2015

On Your Shoulders

Reliability

Reliability Definition Magnifier Shows Trust Quality And Dependability

Taking responsibility for failure to deliver is essential to reaching maturity. Recognizing when circumstances begin to build toward a failed commitment and making necessary, satisfactory adjustments is essential to having the right leadership ingredients. Those involve planning and foresight. Those involve being able to make contingency plans.

Compensation and resourcefulness are important to remember for the sake of projecting professionalism.

Whatever the dynamic, the “slippage” is not the fault of someone else or something else and responsibility for it is On Your Shoulders. Read more about it in the Career Coach Corner.

December 24, 2014

When in the Course

Filed under: Career Advancement,Career Tips,Management — Yvonne LaRose @ 8:12 PM
Tags: , , ,

Maybe you’re also a fan of The Amazing Race, a TV reality show that has contestants conquer tests and obstacles around the world in order to win $1,000,000 (in addition to various segment prizes).

A few years ago, a middle-aged couple had the task of counting beads and reporting to the gatekeeper the number they’d reached. Mind you, there was a factory room filled with these beads. Just the sight of them would make your head swim. Counting them, while daunting by the sheer volume, was doable. The husband of the middle-aged team began counting. He kept getting the wrong number and had to begin again. In one clip, there was a record of his losing count by ten beads.

So it goes when you’re standing alone and dealing with an overwhelming amount of content. Things need to be brought into perspective. Things need to be organized into manageable chunks. Some things need to be delegated, if possible, to teams that have more hands, more ideas about how to effectively organize things, more experience in managing the scope of the project.

Sometimes it doesn’t really matter where you start nor what you choose to put first. It’s simply a matter getting an idea of how to organize the project and then choosing what will be the first line of attack. Just stick your hand into the mosh and make it the starting point. There are many great examples of dealing with the jumbled chaos of a huge project.

Bringing order from chaos.

Bringing order from chaos. (from Kozzi.com)

There will be times when the greatest distraction proves to be external circumstances that need to be resolved before starting the project. If they’re ignored, they prove to be like an elephant in a 4 x 3 room. Every time you try to do something, you find yourself bumping into a blockage. Clear up some of the distractions. Take care of the external; resolve it. Handling it in small bite-sized chunks won’t do because it’s still there being a distraction that needs to be settled. It’s like a burr in your shoe. Just not having it waiting in the wings will be a relief and free your mind to focus on what needs to be done.

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December 15, 2014

Detours

Filed under: Career Advancement,Management — Yvonne LaRose @ 6:15 PM
Tags: , , , ,

As we look at the close of a year of striving to fulfill our desires of reaching our goals, as we consider the steps necessary to do something about turning the goals into accomplishments, there are a few other things we need to examine and ask.

Are you guilty of taking the road less traveled?

Quandaries of the road less traveled.

Quandaries of the road less traveled.

There was this detour sign on my road. I took the detour and kept the map. Then there was another detour so I took it and kept the map. A whole bunch of detours kept coming up and I kept taking them while keeping the map.

Now the map is weather worn, travel worn, and just worn and there’s this new detour sign in front of me. I’ll admit it; I’m lost. So now I have a few questions for you and for me:

  • Just when do I get back to the highway?
  • Where the heck is it or did it run out?
  • What happened to my map?
  • Do you still have yours?

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October 30, 2014

Having an Impact – Appearance

Do looks matter when vying for a new position or even when seeking acceptance? The larger man and ‪woman face many challenges when they endeavor to ‪dress the part and be accepted as a leader in their industry. It can become a challenge in many ways. In particular, finding fashion that makes the right statement, is affordable, and flatters the physique can be difficult.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a new job interview that requires the right attire. It can also be a matter of commanding the necessary level of respect when making a presentation, teaching, doing public speaking, or just appearing before cameras.

To what extent are we missing one of the best by ignoring the larger sized person? This isn’t a constant phenomenon but it is an obstacle that confronts much of our population. Perhaps it isn’t so much the size of the person that becomes a hiring deterrent as much as the health risks the larger person carries and the resulting impact on health insurance premiums. It could be that a subsidized fitness center membership could be included among the cafeteria benefits offered in order to allay those issues. Just a thought.

Let’s consider the special challenges women face when it comes to vying for upper management and leadership positions. We’re told that they find it useful to dress for power, the better to gain the influence they seek. The more likely they will not become mired in a support position they outgrew decades before. A New York Times article considers this proposition and concludes that the higher one climbs, the more limited the fashion choices become. After all, there are only so many ways to wear a suit (or especially a dress) without a masculine cut and avoid having a soft, pushover image. Women, by necessity, are forced to make bolder strides in fashion so that their voices, identity, and authority can override the traditional perspective of being weak and subservient.

Notice where this feminine fashion dynamic is happening in the NYT article? There are an important lessons to be derived from this. It isn’t “sexy”, per se, that’s driving the advancement. Being attractive, even alluring, gains attention and a desire to have this person around. But those aren’t necessarily the same magnets that garner respect and regard for being extremely talented. They’re merely part of marketing and branding. But the overriding emphasis is on knowledge and ability. A woman’s attire needs to communicate those skills without her making exaggerated demonstrations of them in other ways. They become part of her brand.

In this instance, brand represents gaining success and being able to have improved status by association. The critical ingredient to all of this is having and using good knowledge and wisdom. Then fashion is merely the window dressing for the ultimate prize.

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February 27, 2013

What Does This Mean in Law?

We talked about legal job search tips that deserve to be preserved. Here are some additional points that are important to interviewing, job search, and strategies for the sake of understanding the terminology and concepts that are being discussed and for the sake of just getting ahead of the game.

So you’re just starting out and trying to figure out what needs to be done to stand out when your classmates are more stellar than you. FindLaw’s Hot Job Talk talks about the various aspects of getting started. One of the difficult areas is should you pursue a position in a firm when your GPA and class standing isn’t as stellar as that of your classmates.

HOW TO LAND A LEGAL JOB WHEN YOU’RE AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR CLASS
(FindLaw’s Greedy Associates) – In this sluggish economy, it can be hard to land a job, even if you graduate in the top 10 percent of your class. So what legal job-search tips can possibly help someone who’s ranked at or near the bottom?

So let’s say you opt for contract work or a less than stellar first year position and they tell you your first project is “document review”. That’s a loaded term. It could mean one thing in litigation and have a completely different context when it comes to transactional law. And then there are other areas of law such as environmental advocacy. Maybe you should be asking more questions in the moment that those terms arise.

JUST WHAT IS DOCUMENT REVIEW?
(FindLaw’s Greedy Associates) – If you ask 10 different attorneys what document review is, you’ll probably get 10 different answers.

One solution to this ticklish situation is to have a trusted senior in your corner and explaining things to you as you go. Make certain you respect their position. Don’t start thinking you know more than the “teacher.” And take to heart these tips on how to find a mentor.

NEW LAWYERS NEED MENTORS: 3 WAYS TO FIND ONE
(FindLaw’s Strategist) – If you’re starting your own law practice, one of the most common pieces of advice you’ll receive is to get a mentor.

So let’s say you decide to strike out on your own. You may think you can just go and hang your shingle and life will be good; clients will flock to your office; you’ll have to beat them back with a 2×4 as you bill $500 per hour for your time. Really? You need to plan your business just as carefully as you did your education. Here are some things that need to be taken into consideration by a solo practitioner. Just remember that the advice morphs when it comes to practicing with others in some type of collaborative.

WHAT INCORPORATION STRUCTURE IS BEST FOR A SOLO PRACTICE?
(FindLaw’s Strategist)- Not all solo firms advise clients about how to incorporate, but all solo attorneys have to figure out what kind of business entity is best for them.

And now that you’ve set up shop, you need to start networking in order to gain potential business and clients. Since we just had the Winter holidays, you may have been frequenting some of the holiday parties. Since we’re in the midst of the Awards and athletics playoffs seasons, some of those celebrations may call you into those venues to rub elbows and hobnob. Now you’re starting to ask yourself the next pivotal question about building business relationships and client base.

HOW TO GET NEW CLIENTS AT A HOLIDAY PARTY WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
(FindLaw’s Greedy Associates)- So you’ve been invited to the big holiday party. Congratulations. All the bigwigs will be there. Now you just got to close the deal. But how do you go about picking up clients at the holiday party?

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January 6, 2012

Career Tip: Now Available

The statement was “Well… Guess I’m not longer needed.”

The event that spurred the post was a temporary or contract employment situation that came to an end. The way the post was phrased indicated the separation was a little earlier than expected but it was the close of that relationship. What also comes through in the post is that neither side was too happy with the circumstances.

There should be unrestrained cheers if these impressions are correct. But then, as we inch our way out of this New Millennium Depression, we still need to be mindful of paying bills, spending carefully, and preparing for the next situation. Again, if the impressions are correct, there wasn’t time to do the front work and get ready for stepping into the new situation. If impressions are correct, the worker wasn’t as careful as they could or should have been under the circumstances.

A casual attitude is okay if it relates to a happy-go-lucky one that’s cheerful. It’s entirely possible to have that and be professional as well. However, happy-go-lucky attitude, cheerfulness, and carelessness in any regard simply spells trouble and the sooner the better the job is done or the worker is replaced is the alternative.

Let’s put this situation on the other foot. The worker is no longer the worker but instead is the boss or teh manager. A friend has been called in to help with making a tuna sandwich. Sounds like a simple job, right? Maybe, maybe not.

The friend arrives full of energy and enthused that they were asked to help with the project of making lunch. To keep the atmosphere upbeat, they suggest that the music be turned on – loud. So far, things aren’t that bad and the music is good. For you, the station or music selection isn’t important; it’s the making of the sandwich that’s the priority.

Then selecting the ingredients comes up. Friend wants everything out on the counter lined up in a row in a particular order. A new dish needs to be used for every step of the process. If friend doesn’t have it done their way, they get loud, obnoxious, and snarky. Things get worse as the project proceeds. Friend is also sloppy. There’s mayonnaise all over the counter. Lettuce is littered over the floor. Tomato juice and seeds are on the cabinet faces and we’re only 40 minutes into making the sandwich which is nowhere near ready to be slapped together.

The kitchen looks like a disaster area. It’ll take 2.5 hours to clean up with the amount of train wreck that presently exists. You tell friend that it may be better that you finish the sandwich yourself. You’ll send half a sandwich to them latter after your patient has eaten lunch. Your friend utters the statement, “Well, guess I’m no longer needed.” If things keep going in this downward trajectory, that foresight is absolutely correct.

Open for New Opportunities

My response to that attitude is what you’d expect from a woman who doesn’t recognize she’s climbing Mt. Everest until she’s reached the top of it: “Why are you feeling unneeded?” What you’re basically saying is that you’ve completed the job, with success I might add, and now you’re free to move on to something new and more challenging. You’re not stuck in a rut! You’re available to a wider audience.

The thing of it is, there must be quality input with little to no drama. Work habits and work environment need to be kept to the standards of the workplace. There was care in preparation and double checking the results for quality purposes.

Then, as the deadline for the project draws near, it’s time to start checking on what else is available and whether you’re interested in it. Chances are there are several other options out there provided you’ve paved the way with a good performance record. If that’s the case, you’re now available for something new, something better.

January 5, 2011

Using Your Skills and Networks

Job search can be a real challenge. Sometimes it’s handled well and people seem to bounce back from a short-term setback with zeal in what appears to be no time. Others have a long detour and a lot of learned lessons that leave the apprentice not too well for the wear.

There’s talk that jobs in the Midwest are short on availability. Even though rents are much lower there than New York or Los Angeles, affordable housing is simply a pipe dream if you’re homeless or living on the streets.

Yet, today we have a story about a man who’s in the Midwest and homeless. It seems he’s in the right place at precisely the right time with just the right skills and definitely more than the required motivation. This man with the golden voice just got Opportunity buried into his lap thanks to his using his voice, the training he got in refining that skill, and the community on Reddit to advance his opportunities for housing and a career in the industry that he loves.

It was interesting that about the time that the golden-voiced Ted Williams story was going viral on YouTube late yesterday afternoon I was talking with a cab driver about those who are down on their luck but cheat or use shortcuts to pull themselves out of trouble. I observed that in those cases, the person will take on the traditional opportunity. Unfortunately, they scam the system by injuring their own self in order to gain short-term, not very profitable tools to gain income and relief. The self injury provides a stream for the short term (maybe three to six months), creates a Worker’s Comp record for them, and decreases their credibility. Ultimately, they keep finding themselves back in the same circumstances or maybe even worse. Meanwhile, their alternative paths to empowerment make those who are willing to provide a hand up or an open door become jaundiced and leery, thereby making them unwilling to repeat the generosity lest they be exploited again. Those who have genuine desires and goals, not to mention talent, are left to struggle against the stigma and prejudice.

Not so in the case of Williams. He’s using his intelligence to help him leverage himself and his talents to beat down the prejudices and stigma toward a person in his temporary circumstances and start his journey down the road to his personal success as he defines it. He’s availing himself of the assistance provided by his virtual network on Reddit to gain the reach he needs to market himself.

His story is so refreshing that it makes me wonder how many other real and virtual communities are actualizing these and other types of connections with referral opportunities for their members of whatever age or background.

December 28, 2010

Career Tip: Display the Awards

Filed under: Career Advancement,Career Tips,Newsletter — Yvonne LaRose @ 11:37 PM
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The Kennedy Center Honors are on tonight. I’ll admit it for each of us. The thoughts emerged spontaneously and could not be suppressed. (Aren’t you glad there are writers and career coaches like me who can admit the thoughts for those who wouldn’t dare admit them?)

“I’ve done a lot of work; toiled against odds; overcome insurmountable circumstances; come from humble beginnings. Why can’t I be acknowledged for what I’ve done?”

First, there’s scale. People like Oprah, Bill T. Jones, and the other honorees for tonight and award shows throughout time, are about the ones who have publicity agents of some sort who go about trumpeting the accomplishments as well as making those times when they fell on their faces look like a prat fall done for effect. The publicity agent gets paid for bringing attention to the right things and milking the incident for as long as necessary to put a halo on the celebrity. That’s scale. The celebrities (and politicians) are the bigger than life entities. They need the time to focus on their principle endeavors while some specialist puts a twist on the various acts to play up their importance to the ones who count, be that agents, producers, publishers, hiring managers.

Uh, hiring managers? Yes, and co-workers and on and on. That’s where scale comes in. We who do not walk on clouds still need agents of some sort. Those people who trumpet our accomplishments for us to the ones who count – co-workers, managers and supervisors, friends and associates. And we need to have the gumption to trumpet a few of those for our own selves (mind you, not all of them). There, it’s helpful to have certificates and plaques and trophies that attest to our accomplishments. Then we can put them on the mantle, the dining room sideboard, the walls, inside linen closets.

Wait a minute! Did I say “linen closet?” Yes, I did. There’s the story of the woman who had awards, degrees, certificates, trophies, of all manner for numerous accomplishments. And these were only a few of the ones she’d earned. (Emphasis on the word “earned,” please.) The reason she put them inside the closet was because she was aware of how uncomfortable they made her family and friends when they saw them. She didn’t want to create jealousy or envy (such horrible emotions) and she didn’t want to embarrass the people who were special to her. Earning each one took a lot of work in order to merit it but she never spoke of the work and merely brushed off any references to the awards if anyone became aware of them.

Then a day came when she sat in the closet and looked at all of those awards staring at her, accusing her of neglect. It wasn’t neglect of the awards. They were properly perma-plaqued, framed, or whatever else was appropriate. The bronze pieces were polished on a regular basis. But that day, she looked at the awards and realized she was hiding the awards and also hiding her accomplishments.

How could she rise to the heights she deserved if she literally hid everything she’d done to deserve, to earn, the next step in her life and the limelight and the accolades that she merited. It was time for her to come out of the closet with the awards.

With that type of disclosure, however, comes a new responsibility. That is the fierceness to stand up for yourself in the heat of pressure and attempts to make you feel unsure of yourself. That is the time to draw on the inner knowledge of all the steps that led to that moment in time of the crisis, the testing of the leader (of whatever level) and know with a certainty that you are extremely capable. You know the answer or at least how to find it. You have the confidence to follow it through.

Make certain some of your accomplishments are listed on your resume – the ones that pertain to the position you seek. Make certain your agent (be it your supervisor, best friends, social network) promotes some of your coups (so you don’t have to do it for yourself and sound like a braggart). Remember to reciprocate at appropriate times.

Most importantly, stop putting your awards in the closet. Display them!

November 21, 2010

Career Tip: My Insufferable Boss

D-Day has happened in your career life. Your boss, your unfulfilling job, the long commute, the incredibly long hours, the overwhelming amount of endless work finally got to you. You’re looking for a new job. Interviews are scheduled at discrete times and you’re preparing for each one.

What’s your history been at your place of employment? One of the questions you’ll be asked during at least one of those interviews is what your former employer will say about you. Another surprising question will be what you think about your former place of employment. This is when how tactful you have been will come into play.

It’s one thing to be circumspect and keep your grousing to yourself. The bitter comments you want to share with your “vowed to silence” best friends, chummy co-workers, and relatives may come back to haunt you if you say them aloud to someone else. The pent-up complaints that you key to your journal on Facebook could be read by some unsuspected eyes. Your image rides on how you say the positive as well as express the negative.

Your boss seemed to be out of touch with the job. They needed to be led by the nose through the simplest of things. Even though you were new to the industry, you provided the 20-year veteran through the most common sense strategies. What you say is, “I was a key support person and helped build the business in a lot of critical ways.” Have success stories to demonstrate your insightful additions and statistics available to show growth of business revenue.

You’re talking to the person on the bus or train about the type of day you had. You don’t know this person from the proverbial Adam. They may be the best friend of some person at your office who’s in a critical position. They may be your supervisor’s best friend or neighbor. If you must express your exasperation, talk about how overwhelmed you are with the volume of the work. Share that you see developing a better strategy with getting things done. Take into account that you need to get better organized and keep a schedule or check list. Definitely do not blame your boss for your ills; don’t engage in name calling. Remember, this stranger may be your interviewer the next day – or the friend of that person.

There are ways to say the boss isn’t one you’d keep on your top ten favorites list. The better route is to talk about whatever positives there are. They can then be countered with a tactful reason why they simply don’t amount to enough to keep you at the company.

Reasons that don’t keep you can be the firm is cutting back or the culture simply isn’t a match. This last one will need to be backed up with some of the knowledge you have about the place where you’re interviewing as well as the positive things it has demonstrated as being a desirable place for a person who has your skills and talents that are being offered.

You’re probably getting the picture by this point. Definitely don’t bad mouth your last place of employment nor the boss. Let the fact that you are mature, tactful, and discrete be part of the pluses you bring to the table that aren’t documented on your resume. Let’s leave the talk about my insufferable boss to the comedy show.

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