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If You Think You Cant Change Course... Youre Right


Wishing and Hoping

Years after Disneyland was built, after the completion of Walt Disney World, the story goes that someone went up to Mike Vance, Creative Director for Walt Disney Studios and said, "Isn?t it too bad Walt Disney didn?t live to see this?" Without pausing, he replied, "But he did see it, that?s why it?s here."

Booster & Drainers

Like huge anchors on cruise ships, other people can hold you down. Not intentionally, but their negativity impacts you. It?s hard to be winning at working when you?re anchored in place. It?s hard to see the next great idea and enthusiastically embrace it, when you?re feeling a sticky heaviness. And it?s hard to think creativity when you?re feeling empty.   Like a balloon with air pouring out, deflated and flat at the end, I hung up the phone, drained. For the most part I?d offered a supportive ear with occasional contributions of asked for advice. Several days in a row, he called or stopped by my office, with a second, and a third, and a fourth verse of the same song. After each encounter, my energy felt zapped. It got to the point where Jay?s presence alone started my energy leaving, replaced with an empty heaviness as if his negative energy was seeping into me.   It took me awhile to figure it out, but Jay was an energy drainer. I?ve learned over the years, if I spend too much time around people with negative energy to share, my optimism, and enthusiasm for work (or life) are adversely affected.       You may know people in your own work life who hold you down, zap your enthusiasm, cheer you into self-destruction, and occupy so much of your time and energy that you can?t offer the best you to anyone, including yourself. And you know people who do the opposite.   My solution? Use that feedback. Spend less work time with the drainers, and more time with people who offer you an energy boost. Once you?ve identified how it feels to be around energy boosters, look to fill gaps, especially on work teams, with people who bring positive energy to a meeting, who are fun to be around, whose enthusiasm and positive approach lifts your spirits, enhances your creativity, and adds to your work life. Find and stay close to these energy boosters.   I use a simple measurement to identify energy drainers and energy boosters:  the laugh factor. The more laughter I find in the process of doing business, the more energy I know is in the room. The more energy in the room, the more gets done. I look for people I can laugh with, have fun with and share ideas with. My work results are better when I?m around people who make me feel energized when I leave them. Yours can be, too.   (c) 2004 Nan S. Russell.  All rights reserved.

Using Your Whine Factor

Brian's work was exceptional. Still, as his boss, I rarely offered him additional responsibilities, never thought of promoting him or selecting him for a critical project. Why? His whine factor got in the way.   He was quick to complain to anyone who'd listen how much work was on his plate, or how hard or how late he worked. His whine factor was a protective shield that insured he didn't get more work to do. But, it also shielded him from getting the opportunity filled assignments, more interesting work, and the highest pay raises.   Stephanie was a different story. She was masterful at weaving vivid details with a precision that explained exactly why the expected outcome didn't happen. This week it centered on a miscommunication, last week it was the delayed delivery, or the reduced advertising, an incompetent supplier or a staff illness. Every story was accurate; every reason plausible; every explanation justifiable; always a good reason why she couldn't deliver the promised quality, precision or timeliness.   As her boss, it took me time to realize that Stephanie's accountability decreased each time her whine factor increased. As she became more entrenched in offering reasons why something didn't happen, she became less personally involved in the actual results.   I've seen the whine factor derail projects and people in my twenty years in management. Whining shifts a mindset from can do to can't do, allows potholes to become sink holes, turns challenges to complaints and reframes opportunities into woe is me.   You can use your own whine factor as a barometer to keep you on track. If the factor is high, be alerted that your actions are, most likely, becoming less accountable. That should signal you to tune into what you can personally do to control, adjust or correct the current course so you can deliver the expected results. I think that point is worth repeating because it differentiates performance in significant ways. If you want to control the outcome, you'll need to get your hands a bit calloused along the way.   Learning to listen to your whine factor is a helpful self-feedback mechanism to guide you towards greater accountability and winning at working behaviors. Less whine means more accountability. Higher accountability typically means better results. And better results are what most of us are after.  (c) 2004 Nan S. Russell.  All rights reserved.

What is Experience Anyway?

I learned in first grade that one plus one equals two. But, that's not the right equation when counting work experience. We often think we're building experience to help us get ahead. In reality, we're passing time. Ten years working like a cloned Bill Murray in Groundhog Day is not ten years worth of experience. Doing the same thing again and again yields an experience formula more like: ten times one equals one.   I used to equate years of work with years of experience. No more. I learned by making plenty of hiring and promotion mistakes in twenty years of management the two are not equal. Neither are years of work and performance. Doing something for five, ten or twenty years doesn't make you automatically five, ten or twenty years better than when you started. I've been cooking for thirty years but I remain a mediocre cook.   Two or three years involved with a business start-up or a new project might provide more growth and knowledge than ten years in a stable venue. And it might not. Gaining experience is more about you and your approach than anything else.   Recurring work events can be predictable, boring, and unchallenging ways of passing years at work if what you're doing is updating last year's memo, tweaking last year's budget, or fine-tuning last years goals without applying innovation, analysis or critical thinking. Retiring on the job is as prolific as spam and will get you as blocked as those unwanted emails.   I've found the difference between people who are winning at working and people who aren't, is the difference between passing another year at work and gaining another year of work experience. Those who build their experience build their futures. And, you can build experience without changing jobs.   Building experience is about the depth, diversity, challenges and learning you gain by offering the best of who you are at work. It's about seizing and creating opportunities. And it's about continual self-improvement and constant self-feedback.   You know you're gaining experience when you problem solve your own mistakes; learn to use knowledge building blocks to handle more complex issues; make contributions more valuable than the year before; acquire new skills by venturing outside a comfort zone; embrace new ideas or technologies; or recognize you don't know as much as you thought you did as you begin to see a bigger picture.   People who try new things, push the envelope, pitch ideas, offer innovative problem solving, take accountability, and never stop learning and making a difference, are people gaining experience and building their work future.   (c) 2004 Nan S. Russell.  All rights reserved.  

Shades of Grey

A paperweight sits on my desk, etched in silver the message: Life isn't always black and white. It serves as a reminder there are few absolutes at work (or in life). Yet, it would be easier if there were; if good ideas from bad, trustworthy people from non-trustworthy, and right paths from the wrong ones could easily be discerned. I've learned in twenty years in management that increasing one's perspective increases the grey, as words like always and never become obsolete for describing most situations and most people.   But early in my career, I was convinced there were right ways and wrong ways to do things at work. Of course, my way being right and someone else's wrong. Dug-in positions that at the time seemed immensely important strike me now as limited in knowledge, understanding or perspective.   Now, I'm as convinced there are often many ways to accomplish the same goal and many right answers to the same problem. Certainly some approaches may be better than others, but whose interpretation defines better? It is a subjective workplace and a matter of judgment if an idea is a good one, a performance rating accurate, or a decision correct. Sometimes that interpretation is based on quarterly profits, employee morale, company goals, personal filters, necessity, or a passionate champion embracing a challenge.   But here's the thing. That subjective element often frustrates us. We think there should be a play book we understand or a standard method to judge an outcome so we can agree whether it's good or bad. Yet we have differing vantage points, information and criteria depending on our roles. There may be big picture, long-term, short-term, temporary, personal, best, best of the worst, and a long list of considerations.   I learned this concept as I debated my boss over a decision he was about to implement. As a Human Resources Director, I was concerned the decision would impact morale. HR was the filter by which I judged the world at the time. He gently closed the discussion agreeing with my view point, "Yes, it's true employees will be unhappy. But they'll be unhappier if there are layoffs next year. My job is to make sure everyone has a job."   Absolute thinking limits perspective, causes mistakes in judgment, misunderstandings, disappoints, conflicts, and frustration in the workplace. Most work issues are not black or white, right or wrong, win or lose. They are varying shades of grey. If you want to be winning at working, you need to adjust your eyes to see more grey and adjust your beliefs to understand, for the most part, people are doing what they believe to be right, for reasons they believe are right. If we could stand behind them and see what they see, we might even come to the same conclusion.   (c) 2004 Nan S. Russell.  All rights reserved.  

How To Conduct A Successful Job Search Campaign

1.Define your objective: Know what kind of work you most enjoy and perform the best. This requires self-evaluation, spending time looking at your interests and abilities.

Assess Your Transferable Skills

One of the most important parts of a job search is assessing your Transferable skills. These are skills which you can use in other jobs such as: Communication, Information Management, Human Services, Managerial, Manual/Physical Labour, Personal Attributes, Organization.Often when people have been working in the same job for a long time, they become so accustomed to performing their duties that they fail to recognize the skills they have. It is beneficial to sit down and write out a list of all the things you do in a work day and all the things you do at home as well. It is easy to forget that skills such as problem-solving, decision-making, and organization which you use at home and in volunteering are skills that you can transfer and use on a new job. A benefit to this recognition of your skills is that you can come up with a variety of Ideas for jobs or places that these skills may be used. If you are currently unemployed and are having a difficult time with this, talk to some friends or a career/employment counsellor.Once you have determined where your transferable skills may be best used, you can work on some Productive Strategies to market yourself. This may be using your networking skills to gain access to some new employers, or it may be revising your resume to highlight your skills instead of your work history. It may also involve doing some volunteer work to expand your network by putting you in touch with people who might have other contacts you can use in your job search.

Dress For Success

You have heard the phrase, ?Dress for Success.? This is very important in your job search. First impressions can make or break an interview, so presenting a Tailored Image is a good first step to Promoting Success in your job search.

The 5 Ps Of A Job Search

Step One - Plan:

No Degree, No Problem

According to a recent survey, 52% of job candidates polled lied on their resume about having a college degree. Here are 3 brief horror stories: A new Director of Logistics and his family were actually loading the moving van provided by his new employer for relocation from California to North Carolina. The phone rang and it was the Human Resource Manager from his new company. The offer was being withdrawn. Through a routine degree verification check, the company learned the potential new employee did not have a degree. He was 3 hours short of graduating. Had the candidate been honest, the job was still his. It was an integrity issue. Five candidates for a high level software sales job were interviewing. After the face to face interviews, the candidates were offered a "grace period" to revise their application. The company was aware of a problem with one canddiate. The lead candidate changed his college degree information to "Did Not Graduate." He was dropped from contention. A candidate for a Vice President of Logistics position for a multi-billion/multi national company was offered the job. However, the background check could not verify the degree as listed on the resume. The stunned candidate said he could fix the problem. After one week, he called and faxed over the degree verification information. Only two blank pieces of paper came out of the fax. He said, "I must have faxed the wrong side." The offer was rescinded the night before his start date because of the integrity issue. The company would have hired him if he had been honest about not having a degree. Offers withdrawn because of "no degree" are not because the lack of a college degree was a "deal breaker." The issue was that each of these high level managers misrepresented themselves on their resume and during the interview. As a search firm, we always encourage candidates to be upfront and candid about the information on the resume, including whether or not they have a college degree. Don't try to hide it amongst several other educational courses you have taken. If you are hiring, ask the candidate directly. It's amazing how many hiring managers "assumed" the candidate graduated. The most deceptive piece on a resume is: University of Any State, 1986-1990. Listing the years but not if they graduated. Common oversight. Most times, if the candidate has a solid background and the chemistry is strong with the organization, the company hires the person. Remember 70% of hiring is Chemistry. Degree isn't the most important factor.

What is Mystery Shopping, and Can You Really Get Paid to Shop?

Mystery shoppers visit businesses ?disguised as normal customers,? and do the things other customers do?ask questions, make a purchase, make a return?but with a twist. These undercover customers are there to evaluate the businesses and their employees. After a visit, the mystery shopper completes a report or questionnaire detailing what occurred.

What Do Employees Wish for Most (And How To Get It)

What do many employees wish for at work? A bonus or raise. At least that's so according to results from a recent survey developed by OfficeTeam, a global staffing service that specializes in placing administrative professionals. The telephone survey, conducted by an independent research firm in February, polled 571 men and women in the United States over the age of 18. All respondents were employed full-time in professional positions. Survey results revealed that almost half (48%) of the respondents put "a bonus or raise" at the top of their "wish list" at work.

Simple Tips to Move Forward on the Job, Part II

After establishing a trusting relationship with the safety officer, it would be helpful to document what was talked about with the safety officer. What kinds of information was shared? Was that person helpful? Was another meeting or on-going meetings scheduled? Did the frequent meetings taper off so that there was still communication, but on an informal basis?

Taking Job Loss Seriously

Anyone reading this article and hassuffered a job loss recently IStaking the job loss seriously. Thestages often are:

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