Now for a completely different job…

This is a great piece on how you would go about securing a job in a completely different field. 

I am not a skilled career counsellor by any means but I do meet a fair number of people who are discouraged about where they have landed in their career and feel that they are too old or too poor or have too many responsibilities to significantly change their career paths for the better.

Though I have appreciated books that have helped me shift my perspective to one of seeing possibilities  and on the interplay between your identity of your search for meaningful work these are not for everyone.

In contrast, this piece is a practical, step-by-step analysis of how you might go about finding work in a field very different than the one you have trained in or worked in.  It is about seeing possibilities and looking at job posters as “resumes in reverse.”

The article gives clear tips on how to use LinkedIn to find experts who may be willing to grant you information interviews and how you can learn the basics of many jobs on your own steam. I like the explicit instruction that you’ll need to create time and keep yourself accountable to stay on track.  I often see people get discouraged after their efforts to land a job or make a change don’t bear fruit after a few months or a few interactions.

It’s a slog and I don’t have any metrics to help you understand how much and how long it is required but it is usually a longer journey than you’d initially hope.

If you really want to make a radical job move this piece is a good reminder that it could happen mostly on your own steam.

Taking Longer to Reach the Top Has Its Benefits

The rewards of patience.

Source: Taking Longer to Reach the Top Has Its Benefits

This is a great article on why taking some time to ascend in your career has  benefits.

The article lists many good reasons to take a measured approach to promotions including avoiding burnout and gaining the skills you’ll need to succeed.  And my favourite of all:

“Following a “deliberate” path may prevent the problem experienced by any number of hard-charging executives: getting to the top of the career ladder only to realize it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”

How do you act when you are interrupted?

I liked this piece on the importance of humility in leadership.  I have posted here and here on this issue, but this one brought more practically to the subject which I appreciated.

The need for humility in leadership may not be obvious when you think of the stereotype of leaders who should be confident taking decisions and giving direction.  To me the why of humility in leadership is a fusion of understanding that: you need a lot more information than you have to do your job, you may be your best version of a leader when you are in service to everyone, and that humility will help you build endurance for the journey.

From this piece, I particularly liked the test  to ask yourself the question “How do you act when you are interrupted?” (and ask yourself how you’d react when you are busy and when it is someone below you on the org chart).

It’s a brilliantly simple question and it hits at an area of deliberate growth for me in the past few years.  I work in an open concept office so there is no easy way to signal when I am trying to get through something and would prefer not be interrupted.  Though I am sure that I have spent too long acting perturbed that I have been interrupted, I have now taken the decision to treat my entire work day (with rare, clearly announced exceptions) as if I am hosting office hours.  This isn’t to say that I can give each conversation its due at the moment it is proposed – sometimes a sit down meeting is more appropriate and at times I am on my way somewhere.  That said, as a default, I want to be as present as I can for what people are coming to say.

I have learned good habits on this from observing others.  I used to marvel at senior leaders who acted as if they had all the time in the world to listen to you brief when I would be distracted at thinking about how busy they were and how I didn’t want to waste their time with a long briefing.  I then resolved to also be calm and clearly in receiving mode when employees would come and talk to me since expressing irritation, anger or panic do not support receiving the information needed.

Humility may save you from a mindset that won’t serve you well when you hit unfamiliar terrain.  The more you think you should (already) know how to be a good leader including from being told that you have inherent talent for the job, the less prepared you are to succeed when you reach an unfamiliar situation.  Carol Dweck makes a great point in this piece on mindset and leadership – it is much easier to have humility at the beginning of your management career and this wanes over time.  So the ultimate question is how to continue to show humility the longer you stay in a management role and no matter the stress you are feeling.

 

Transitioning to meta-management

A piece with a lot of technical language (that I can’t entirely follow), that I think still has merit as it touches on a subject I’d like to see treated in greater depth – how to manage other managers.  In this case a specialist has moved up the ranks and is reflecting on when to wade into the fray of her roots as an engineer.  I like her prompts to ask herself: “What problems does my team need me to solve right now?”

“If I feel the itch to do engineering manager work, there have got to be good ways to do this that are absolutely not a) going to intrude on someone’s existing work, and b) not eliminating an opportunity for the manager who reports to you to learn.”

Source: Transitioning to meta-management

Six Questions You Should Ask Yourself When You Want To Quit

Is your job not right for you, or is it just a temporary rough patch? Have an honest conversation with yourself before you walk away.

Some good questions that could guide some useful reflection including:

  1. Are there more opportunities for growth?
  2. Would someone I respect stay?
  3. Am I taking criticism too seriously?

Source: Six Questions You Should Ask Yourself When You Want To Quit

Four Reasons You Should Stop Feeling Guilty About Leaving Your Job

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Four Reasons You Should Stop Feeling Guilty About Leaving Your Job.

I know that I am not alone in feeling guilt at leaving jobs.

This is a good piece that has some pointed material on why you do no one any favours to stay in a job when it is only for reasons of guilt.  I think that we forget that we as professionals are expected to move on to grow and develop.  In addition, the costs of missing an opportunity and staying put, specifically costs on your morale as an employee, may well outweigh the short term angst of deciding when it is time to move on.

Give and Take

(c) Julia

A read a lot of business books and this one had the fantastic dual effect of both affirming thinking I’d hoped could be supported with research and expanding my thinking in this area.

I found that this interview with the author with Adam Grant does a decent job of hitting the highlights of the book.

Here is what made the strongest impression on me:

The gist of the thinking is that people are givers, matchers or takers.  You might be a different sort at work than at home.  Work settings can feel harder to navigate because you don’t want to be taken advantage of so you may want to adapt a normally generous style at work to a more matching style.

Givers have the potential to do the best and the worst in work settings.  When they do the best, they succeed at understanding their clients to serve them well and reap the benefits.  They are generous with their time and with information and they are willing to invest in the development of employees/students etc. to mentor them.   This creates a generative cycle.  Having built trust though their investments in others, others are willing to be generous to them.

Grant also gives practical suggestions on how to communicate in a way that isn’t aligned with being a “taker” of information.  He coins the term “powerless communication” and gives a great example of someone in a difficult negotiation on a job offer in a different city who, instead of presenting a demand list, finally asked for HR’s advice on how to proceed noting the considerations with which they were struggling.  They were presented with an ideal solution for their situation.

At worst however, givers can overdo it and burn out.  They do this by failing to look after their own needs and those needs may include neglect of work-related goals crucial to success.  The book also contains interesting information on volunteering.  Apparently 100 hours a year is the ideal for many which is good news for the creative Timeraiser initiative (though the number may decrease for seniors).   Also interesting was that that the research shows that you’d generate more benefits from your volunteering if you did it in large chunks of time rather than small bit of time over many days.  Something for me to aspire to.

I loved that this book affirmed my own commitment to be generous with my own resources with good reminders of the needs to draw boundaries on the levels of contribution.  The book is great at outlining how we must be discerning with our time and it’ll be fine to devote our time to people who will give to others rather than those who are just interested in taking for themselves.

How To Push Past That Terrifying Dip In Motivation | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Seth Godin has written a gem of a book called “The Dip” on the difficult decisions we often need to take as to whether to push through challenging situations versus throw in the towel. I’ve read it a couple of times and though it’s a good read, I am not much closer to knowing on a day-to-day basis when to push through and when not to.   This has lots to do with the fact that I am generally hard-wired to do so.  What has been more important to me of late is that I am now more more conscious that you shouldn’t push through just because you tend to preserve through things – you should take a step back and ask, who does this serve and why? Once you have decided that you should push through, it is always useful to have support as to help pushing past the dips in motivation. Some of the ways from the article hyperlinked below:

“You embrace the uncertainty and discomfort. Lots of people avoid these two things, but without them, you never get good at anything. You never learn anything worthwhile. Embrace these things and grow. […]

You do it not for success or some end goal, but for the sake of learning. You don’t want to give up every time you face resistance.You let yourself be moved by curiosity: wanting to know what it’s like to get past this, to push through discomfort. You want to find out how this chapter ends. […]

You pause and remind yourself of the reason you started in the first place: it’s not for personal success but to help people, to strengthen yourself, to inspire others, to make someone’s life a little better, to put a smile on your face. And then you ask yourself: which is more important, this reason for doing this project, or your personal comfort?”

via How To Push Past That Terrifying Dip In Motivation | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

10 Good Reasons to Curb Your Perfectionism | Bonnie St. John

This is another excellent article – worth the whole read especially for female leaders.

Top ten reasons:

1. It drives away good people.

2. It causes pain to those you manage.

“Even if they don’t quit working for you, your perfectionism can cause others on your team to put in unnecessary hours, suffer from constant criticism and actually stop taking initiative.”

3. It blocks promotability.

4. It prevents risk-taking.

5. It stops people from applying for new jobs.

6. It impedes innovation.

7. It makes work-life balance impossible.

8. It crowds out networking:

“Too many of the women we coach have to learn to lift up their heads from task completion to look around, build relationships and study their business beyond their own purview. We, as women, tend to criticize men for golfing, drinking together or taking long lunches while we slave away at our desks. Networking is crucial for building trust, strengthening teams and preparing yourself for the next levels of your career.”

9. Makes you seem overly tactical (and not strategic).

“No one will think you can see the big picture or set priorities when you seem focused on the minutia. Being able to let go of your perfectionist tendencies may help you to win more strategic projects.”

10. Takes the focus off the most important things.

via 10 Good Reasons to Curb Your Perfectionism | Bonnie St. John.

If your employees are idiots, you’re the one to blame

This is a fantastic article – I couldn’t say it better myself. The only thing that I would add is the reminder of how awful it feels when you know you are not performing well at your job and how much worse that it will feel if you feel that you have been “written off” in the work world.

LeadToday

During workshops and talks I’m often asked about what to do when you’ve hired someone who just isn’t measuring up.

Sometimes people actually tell me the person they hired is an idiot.

I tell people don’t be so hard on yourself. They get a bit of a surprised look on their face because they didn’t intend to be hard on themselves. They intended to point out that in their wisdom they, apparently for some reason, purposefully hired an idiot.

The first problem of course is thinking that one of your people is an idiot. Once one of your people knows your low opinion of them they are unlikely to exceed your low expectations. Never ask or expect less from your people than you need or want them to deliver.

I believe that leadership comes with certain responsibilities. If you actually have the audacity and courage to accept the mantle of…

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