At The Whiteboard

Being A Great Boss (Free Webinar!!!!)

I know this photo has nothing to do with webinars, but it portrays excitement! And I’m excited! (Photo by Social Cut on Unsplash)

The Unicorn of All Training Topics

Regular readers will know I teach a lot, and one of the more popular topics I cover is called Management Essentials.

Not a very catchy title, I know, but it’s not my course — I just deliver the materials.

Anyway, participants love this course; not only is it eye-opening for them (you mean manager’s have to do ALL THAT plus help me get my work done?), but it also helps them think about whether they really have it in them to manage other people, or what they need to do next to up their management skills.

We talk about what it is to be a manager or a leader or — the unicorn in business — a Leader-Manager.

We discuss the right and wrong ways to engage people, why coaching is key, what incivility is and why it’s ruining the workplace today, time management and prioritization skills, and perhaps most importantly, how self-awareness is one of the most important characteristics of a Leader-Manager.

During the course I think I’ve been asked 99 times, “What kind of training do people get when they become managers for the first time?”

Bless.

The thing is, it’s a rare (and wonderful) organization that has training for people when they become new managers.

Some organizations have Leadership Development programs, and often those are for a select few people who have been identified as having “high potential.”

So how are people supposed to learn to be good managers and to develop that potential if no one will train them?

Which brings us to this webinar.

This is a free one-hour taste of our Being A Great Boss course.

Yes it’s free, and yes it’s only one-hour, but I promise it is packed with as much content as I can in that amount of time. I will also have free templates and resources for you.

And yes, there will be an opportunity to learn more about the full self-directed, six-week online course which will be offered this fall.

Who Should Attend This Webinar?

  • Brand new managers who wish there was a course on how to be the kind of boss everyone wants to work for.
  • People who think they’d like to become a manager, and who want to sharpen up their skills to increase their chances of landing that dream job.
  • Existing managers who would just like to be better.

Is this you? You can sign up for it by CLICKING HERE— it’s super quick and easy, and you don’t need to download any software or give a credit card.


What You Will Learn

  • How To Get Recognized (And Promoted) In Your Organization. Most organizations want someone who can get the job done. That’s a manager. Most employees want to work for someone who inspires them and makes them feel good about their work. That’s a leader. Learn how to stand out in your organization by being BOTH, and up your chances of a promotion.
  • How to Get People To Want To Do A Great Job Just Because They Want You To Look Good. The #1 tool in your “Manager Toolbox” is understanding your own personal habits and preferences, and recognizing how they impact your ability to inspire and communicate with other people.
  • How To Get Someone To Say What You’d Rather Just Tell Them.Learning to coach was a career-changer for me, and I’ll share how it can be for you too.
  • Tools, Tips, and Cheat Sheets. You’ll get easy-to-use downloadable templates to help you remember and use what you learn.
  • I’ll Also Answer Your Questions Live. This is not a pre-recorded training. Join me live on August 27th and I’ll answer your questions throughout the presentation. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been managing people for years, I’ll show you how to use a few simple tools to turn your manager style into a leader-manager style!

You can sign up for it by CLICKING HERE


Important Details

  • It’s August 27th at 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time.
  • It’s one hour.
  • You will get a ton of excellent content, and some free templates and tools to take away and start using right away.

Can’t Attend But Wish You Could?

That’s ok!

Sign up anyway, and I’ll send you the recorded webinar after it’s over.

Easy peasy.

You can sign up for it by CLICKING HERE


Hope to see you there!

Ruth.

6 Steps For Getting Stuff Done When You Think You’re Tired But Really Aren’t

I’m tired this morning.

I think.

For a lot of people in the Northern Hemisphere, this has been a long-ass winter. I live in Toronto, and we just came through a four-day spring storm involving, snow, ice, freezing rain, strong winds, and grey depressing skies.

My Twitter feed was full of this:

I don’t know about you, but I am strongly affected by the seasons, and I have been craving the arrival of spring like it’s my job. This last storm had me house-bound, unable to get out for activity, and cranky. I’m just exhausted.

Not really.

Exhausted is the new parent who doesn’t get more than 20 minutes of sleep at a time. Exhausted is the young resident working a 24 hour shift in the ER. Exhausted is the power crew working around the clock to restore electricity after a winter storm. You get the idea.

I understand that I’m not really tired. I’m just suffering from Winter Crank (yes, I just made that up), and that has the same symptoms as fatigue.

So what’s a girl to do?

You know I’d rather curl up on the couch and close my eyes for a bit longer this morning, but my to-do list is calling.

Six Steps For Getting Your Stuff Done When You Have Winter Crank

I mean if you’re REALLY tired (see above), go lie down. Work you do in this condition is going to be crappy anyway. Take a nap, even 20 minutes if you can. Studies show a 20-minute power nap can work wonders.

But if you’re honest with yourself and you discover you have Winter Crank, here’s what you can do:

  1. Stand outside for five minutes and do some deep breathing. You don’t have to meditate. Just put your phone down and go outside. Stare at something and just breathe deeply for five minutes.
  2. Now go back inside and make a lunch date, coffee break date, or some other date that involves talking to people outside your usual circle. If you work from home and all your neighbours are at the office, then make a plan to go to a local store and chat with the people there. Talking to people outside your family or immediate work colleagues not only boosts your energy, but will also be something to look forward to.
  3. Next, make a list of the absolute essential things that you have to do, despite your Winter Crank.
  4. Make coffee or tea with caffeine. I know, artificial energy boosters are NOT the best, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If your are caffeine free, then how about a delicious breakfast cookie or protein bar?
    Put your phone on silent. Turn on music you can work to, or put on silencing headphones if you need peace and quiet.
  5. Finally, choose the easiest thing on the list and just do it. I know a lot of people say that you should do the biggest thing first but we are dealing with Winter Crank and we need your dopamine levels to go up. It’s well known that crossing things off a list actually does that, so find the easiest thing, do it, and cross it off the list, and then go to the next easiest thing and so on until you’re done.

I guarantee that as you start crossing things off the list your fatigue will also start to fade. The little dopamine guy in your head will be making you feel so good you may even want to tackle some big project you’ve been avoiding!

OK, that may be too much to hope for, so don’t.

Just focus on what has to be done. Breathe. Talk to people. And do it.

Until next time,

Ruth.

On-boarding (A Manager’s Guide to Welcoming New Employees)

Season Three B, Episode Four. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 3b, Episode 4

In this week’s podcast we focused on tips for managers to impress the heck out of their new employee by having the most awesome and fantastic on-boarding program ever. I mean, ever.

It’s really not hard, and because it’s sometimes easier to start from the negative,

Here’s What Not to Do

Be unprepared.

That’s all. Just don’t do that.

Here’s What to Do

It may be a while since you were new on your job. Plus, you’re a manager and may not exactly know what your team feels would make a rookie feel part of the team. Remember, not only are you responsible for attracting and recruiting talent, but also for making them want to stay and be productive! If they don’t feel welcome, they may bounce pretty quickly.

So, one of the smartest things you can do is to ask your current employees to brainstorm and create an on-boarding plan – they will certainly know the good and the bad of your first day on the job, and they will want to ensure the “new guy/girl” wants to stay!

This collection of ideas should be written into some kind of process or standard operating procedure that can be triggered as soon as a new employee’s start date is made public. Remember, the goal is to make this person feel valued and special – like they are kind of a big deal.

The Steps for Amazing On-boarding

  1. Create a checklist for welcoming a new employee. Use your team to ensure it’s realistic and awesome and fun.
    • Assign a role to “owning” the checklist. (It’s important that you assign a role, not a person. If you assign this to Bob, then Bob may own it forever, no matter how many times he changes roles.)
  2. Ensure the checklist includes:
    • A buddy. There is NOTHING as good as being assigned a buddy to help you navigate the ropes. If you have nothing else in your on-boarding program, have this.
    • A schedule for the first 5-7 days, that’s designed to slowly integrate the new person into the routine. (Pretend you are a “Cruise Director,” and you’re planning the week to be productive and also have time to recover from information overload.) This would include a meeting with HR to sign papers or security to get keys or pass cards.
    • Somewhere to sit, and all the required trappings – computer, phone (either desktop or company-assigned smart phone), chair, basic stationery supplies. Oh and a nameplate, with their name spelled properly.
    • A printed list of login information for any required systems.
    • A link to “required reading.”
      • Organizational Chart (with or without photos of people)
      • List of acronyms
      • On-boarding manual specific to the team
        • Where to find answers to common questions
          • Dress code
          • Corporate policies
          • Travel policies
          • Expense policies
          • Attendance / Illness / Vacation Policies
          • Internal team processes
          • Emergency processes
          • Processes for Flexible work
            • VPN
            • Expectations for hours work, being available, etc
        • Who does what on the team
    • A meeting with you, their new manager, on Day One. This is your chance to:
      • Learn how they like to be managed, recognized, encouraged.
      • Follow up on information gleaned during the interview.
      • Set expectations.
        • No, I don’t expect you to “hit the ground running.”
        • Yes, I do expect you to get up to speed gradually.
        • Yes, I know you’ll have lots of questions, and if your buddy can’t help you, come and see me.
        • Come and see me even if you don’t have questions.
        • Yes, you’ll have a performance plan and a learning plan, but let’s talk about that in a week or two, after you get settled.
        • Yes, I check in with my team regularly – here’s when and what I expect during those check-ins.
    • A formal, scheduled 30-day check in with you to ensure that their expectations have been met in their new job. You should also check in at a week, and even two weeks – it’s critical you have a formal meeting at 30/60/90 days – this is important to retaining the talent you just hired.

These days it is much easier than it used to be (even perhaps expected) to switch jobs if they don’t fulfill you and meet your expectations. Taking the time to make sure the new employee’s first day/week/month/quarter is AMAZING, will make it much less likely that all the work you did to hire someone will be wasted when they leave quickly.

Create the plan. Do the plan. Make the person feel like a rockstar. 

Until next time,

Ruth.

 

Listening for the Story (A Manager’s Guide to Conducting a Great Interview)

Season Three B, Episode Three. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 3b, Episode 3

In this week’s podcast we focused on tips for managers to be the most successful and effective they can be when conducting an interview.

Oh sorry, you thought it was just the job applicant who had to prepare for an interview? Nope. Wrong.

You’ve Got Some Work to Do

You may recall that we spent some time talking about how a job applicant needs to spend some time thinking about “their story.” How does their experience best answer potential interview questions? We coached people to learn to tell their stories in a way that ensures that you, the interviewer, is hanging on every word and seeing the obvious link to the skills and traits you are looking for.

That last bit, “the skills and traits you’re looking for,” is the key, and preparation is required to make sure that you remember, during those long hours of interview panels, exactly what it is you are hoping to hear. When you design your interview questions, consider,

“Do my questions:

  • align with the both the skills and the character traits that were outlined in the Job Description and Job Ad that I posted?” (Remember, if you want to hire a Gen Z and you posted an awesome Gen Z job description, don’t slip back into tedious Gen X interview behaviours – be consistent!)
  • help me uncover things that may not be on the resume?” (Behavioural qualities like emotional intelligence and comportment.)
  • help me validate resume content?” (Sadly, some people hire others to write their resume, and have no idea what’s in it.)

You’ll also need to decide whether you require an assignment, and whether that should be pre-work (rare, since people can get help with these) or post interview work completed on site (more common).

Finally, consider the time available, the panel interviewing with you (do they have any questions to add or will you simply be reviewing your questions and goals with them), pare down your questions to the most important, and then create a scoring template to use in the interview.

This template can be as simple as a list of the questions, a number of points awarded to each one out of the total points available (a weighting factor), and a few words to remind you what you’re listening for. For example:

Q1: What is it about this job that encouraged you to apply? (15/100) [Listen for: passion, desire to transform things and make them better, well-spoken, confidence.]

Q2: Tell me about a time you had to get information from a variety of people in our global organization, and were not able to meet with them face-to-face? (10/100) [Listen for: problem solving skills, technology solutions other than email, seems to truly like people and talking with them.]

While I’ve Got You Here…

Asking the questions is the easy part. The hard part is listening.

Can you be fully present and engaged in what the person is saying? Is your phone buzzing in your pocket? Do you keep checking your watch? Are people tapping on your door, disrupting (even unintentionally) the interview?

Do everything you can to respect this person’s time, even if you can tell right away that they aren’t the right person. You never know who you will meet again in the future, or whether that person will be able to connect you to someone else. Also, it’s common courtesy.

Other notes on etiquette when conducting an interview:

  • watch for cues you may be giving unintentionally,
  • balance between serious and smiling/encouraging,
  • demonstrate the type of manager you’re going to be – role model your expectations – be on time and make an effort to look like you’re excited about this,
  • set expectations that the interviewee should mange their time, and
  • be kind. Getting people to relax will enable you to more effectively gauge their soft skills.

Lastly, listen for the interviewee’s story, assess their behavioural qualities and how they carry themselves (making allowances for fumbles and word slips at the start due to nerves), and take notes.

Notes are important so you can have an informed discussion with the panel after the interview, so you can support your decision, and so that you can carry out a debrief, if asked, after the interview. They also give you something to focus your mind (it’s hard to think about tonight’s game or tomorrow’s presentation when you’re taking notes).

But Wait, There’s More!

Other than making your decision and bringing in your new employee (which we will cover in our next episode), there is one last thing you may need to do, if asked.

Smart people always request a debrief if they are the unsuccessful candidate. They seek to understand what they could do better next time, and even look for suggestions on how to improve.

Many managers are terrified to conduct debriefs, almost always because they are uncomfortable giving feedback. The best way to prepare to give a debrief (other than reading this blog post), is to take 5-10 minutes, and write down what you want to share with that person. There’s no need to go overboard and gush about how awesome it was to talk to them and how they did a great job but it just wasn’t the best fit and how you really liked them and it was a close call.

That’s garbage feedback and it would be better not to bother at all.

What you want to do is schedule a 15 minute phone call, and go over three things that you felt were missing from the interview, or that could be improved. Consider phrases like:

  • I have a couple of ideas to share with you for your next interview.
  • With respect to project management (or whatever topic you want to focus on), what I was looking for was a specific example of what YOU did, and I only heard about the team.
  • We are looking for someone who has the confidence to take on difficult situations, and you seemed pretty nervous. Of course nerves are normal in an interview, but you didn’t seem able to get more settled and more confident as the interview went on.
  • I think you could use some rehearsal / practice / experience.

The key is to give specific feedback that highlights what you DIDN’T see/hear, and how the candidate could take action and improve.

Lucky for you, we have a handy dandy template, and we are happy to share it with you:

Interview Debrief One Page Template

You have done a lot of work to get to the point where you’re ready to interview someone, and (hopefully) so have they. Do that last little bit of preparation so that you can listen effectively for their stories and know without question whether they are a good fit for their team. Then be prepared to give feedback and pass on your expertise – you never know when that good karma will come back to you.

Until next time,

Ruth.

I Need Someone New (A Manager’s Guide to Finding & Recruiting Talent)

Season Three B, Episode Two. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 3b, Episode 2

In this week’s podcast we focused on tips for finding and recruiting the right talent. It’s 2018 y’all, and it’s no longer enough to simply post a job ad, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Today’s talent is connected, to everything, everyone, everywhere, and so you must be too.

In order to create or build or grow the best team possible, you’re going to have to do a bit of work – not a ton, but enough.

Let’s take it one step at a time. Our first question is:

Who Are You Looking For?

The answer to this question requires a bit of self awareness. It’s awfully tempting to hire people who are just like us – after all, you know how to work with them, you know where to find them, and it’s EASY.

Of course, easy isn’t always RIGHT.

If you hire a team full of people who are just like you, you’re missing out on creativity, diversity, and the possibility of alternative, better, approaches to business.

Instead, think about your style and what gaps you’d like to fill. Are you super creative but not that great at execution? (be honest, now…) Are you a super analytical person who can get stuck in process? (My hand is raised for this one.) Are you just about getting things done, and you miss out on important details? (You know who you are…)

What about your team? Are there gaps there that you’d like to fill? Generational gaps? Gender gaps? Skill gaps?

It’s important that you do a gap assessment, not only of your own style, but also of your current team. Figure out what is missing, and think about the ideal person that could fill that spot.

Second question:

Have You Written it Down?

Do you have a Job Description? Not just a Job Ad or Posting – an actual, robust, Job Description (JD) that not only explains the job, but is written in a way to excite and attract the person you’re looking for.

It’s just smart. The one-size-fits-all JD is officially old school, so if you’re looking for creative types, then your JD better be creative. If you want a young Gen Z, then you’d better consider the things Gen Z’s love (being connected, flexible work, using the latest technology, autonomy). (Click Here for an article on attracting Gen Z talent.)

Tell a story about your company that will show your target people why they want to work for you. What is the culture like? Are there any perks on this job? Think about titles too. Are they old fashioned (Customer Service Representative) or modern (Customer Rockstar)?

Don’t forget to carefully consider the soft skills that you are looking for. More and more research exists on the importance of character in job success, so what character elements are important to you? Do you need relationship builders? People who can handle ambiguity? People who display high self-confidence and persistence? Someone who is courageous in the face of adversity? (Click here for an interesting research paper on character and leadership from the Ivey Business Journal.)

There is no one “right way” to structure your JD. So much depends on your audience, which is why the first step was thinking about WHO you’re targeting. Only then should you consider HOW you’re going to target them, and the first step in an amazing JD. (Click Here for an article on considering content and format of a JD.)

And by the way, JD writing isn’t everyone’s skillset. There are professionals out there who can help you, and it’s worth it!

Final question:

Who Knows That You’re Looking?

Google the top job posting sites, and you’ll get different answers depedning on the job category (tech, pharma, government), whether it’s a single job posting site (Monster or Dice), or a site that bundles other sites (Indeed). There are “boutique” sites, big sites, small sites, Google sites, LinkedIn sites… it can be overwhelming.

In addition to being overwhelming, you are likely to get 100’s (maybe 1000’s) of applications, and that can take time, energy, and even money (if you use a screening service) to sort through.

We aren’t suggesting you refrain from posting on a job site. What we are suggesting is that you at least supplement that listing with some networking. This helps you get the word out that you’re looking, and you never know what you’ll find out. Consider letting people know in any number of networking possibilities:

  • In the workplace: your own team, larger meetings or department events, committees, intra-professional events
  • Outside the workplace: conferences, professional associations, drinks with colleagues, your circle of friends

Start the conversation with, “Who do you know who…”

Once you’re connected to someone, you can encourage them to apply. Remember, this isn’t about circumventing the established hiring practice, it’s about encouraging someone to put their name in the hat. Their success within the process is then up to them!

If you do the work to make sure you really know who you’re looking for, and the work to write the job description to appeal to the person you want to hire, and then do the work to let people know you’re looking for someone, you will be much more likely find that perfect candidate.

Until next time,

Ruth.

Help Me Help You! (A Manager’s Guide to Managing Employees’ Careers)

Season Three B, Episode One. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 3b, Episode 1

In this week’s podcast recap we focus on helping managers navigate the tricky business of guiding their employees as they plan their careers. There’s a fine line between helping them and doing it all for them, and the first question is:

How much do I need to do?

Many managers ask us: “What’s my role in my employee’s career plan?” In our experience, the employee is 100% accountable for determining their goals, and the manager is responsible for helping them analyze and address the gaps or steps that are needed to get them to those goals.

Of course many people really struggle with telling you what their goals are, so there is a role for manager in helping them figure that out.

You’ve likely got some combination of employees in the following categories:

  1. “AAA Keeners”:  These are your superstar employees who always go above and beyond. They ask for extra experience, and they gobble up opportunities like leftover stuffing at Thanksgiving. They just know what to do and how to play the game.  While this category might seem easy, they can also be tough to help.
  2. Great Performers who are “Tentative”: These are great performers who seem to need a little extra boost. They may be a bit more hesitant to throw their name into the hat. They may even turn down opportunities because they think they aren’t ready (even if you think they are.)
  3. “Arm Crossers”: This cadre is a bit…..difficult to say the least.   They expect promotions, assistance, guidance, mentoring, job shadowing…you name it.  Unfortunately they’d like to be sitting back enjoying a coffee while you do all the legwork to get them there.  You are the manager after all.  It’s your JOB to promote them.

For all three types, the manager’s role in career planning starts out with asking questions and coaching people to come to their own conclusions.

Examples of Questions to Ask:

  • What are your goals?
  • What are you looking for?
  • What work are you doing right now that makes you happy?
  • When have you received great feedback on something you did?
  • What one thing that you did this {year, quarter, month} brought you joy?
  • What have you done that you have really enjoyed (inside or outside of work?)
  • What work are you doing right now that frustrates you?
  • What skillsets are you great at?
  • How would you rank yourself on those skills on a scale of 1-10?
  • For those skills that aren’t a 10, what do you need in order to get to a 10?

Your keeners and your tenantive performers will likely do well in this type of coaching.  Your Arm Crossers, on the other hand, may push back and demand that the manager do the work for them.  Or say “I dunno”.

Ruth and Nicole came to a “Both And” approach, with Nicole jumping to some “solution-ing” and Ruth advising you to put the power to change on the employee’s shoulders. At some point, after all, the ball has to be in their court.

Either way you want to try to reach the arm crossers and hope that you can either get them re-engaged in the work or engaged in work elsewhere that brings them joy.

When to have these conversations?

For new employees, this is something you’d want to start talking about during on-boarding or during a 30-day check-in.  For existing employees this should be a purposeful meeting once or twice a year (OUTSIDE of 1:1’s, Performance Management etc.).  It’s important to give this type of conversation a special time and place to make sure that it has impact.

Take some time with your team and help people think about “what they like to do” to help them really start reaching for their dream job.

Until Next Time,

Nicole

 

Career Change Q&A with Jamie Johnson

Season Three, Bonus Episode. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 3, Bonus Episode

How to Turn your Side Hustle into a JOB

This was our first podcast with a guest!

We welcomed Jamie Johnson, Canadian Brand Ambassador for The Balvenie whisky, and famous podcast host of The Whisky Topic.

We thought you’d love to hear about how she transitioned from working in an administrative role in the Not-For-Profit Sector, to galavanting around the country drinking whisky and having a blast.

It all started with a vacation in Kentucky that led to Jamie creating @BourbonThing (a whisky tasting club with some friends) on the side while still working full-time.  It wasn’t long before her circle of friends grew to include their friends, and their friends, and then their friends, and suddenly strangers were in her apartment tasting whisky (which is not as scary as it sounds.)

Jamie realized she was on to something, so she got her hustle on, and went out to find bars and restaurants that would co-host with her. This was obviously a great business move for the owners of the bars, and when that business grew Jamie started adding corporate gigs and bachelor parties to her roster.

Some sudden changes at her office left her with a TSN turning point in her career, and the voice of a mentor helped her speculate whether @BourbonThing could be a full-time gig. The answer was a resounding YES.

Nine Lessons from Jamie if You’re Considering Making a MASSIVE Career change:

  1. Side Hustle: Test out what you want to do. Manage the risk of leaving a secure job/industry by trying it out and seeing what the interest is like before you leave your full-time gig.
  2. Network:  It doesn’t matter how many connections you have NOW.  It’s about how many you can MAKE. This is in your hands and it takes time and patience to get there. Go out when you don’t want to. Introduce yourself even if you’d prefer to crawl onto the couch and stay there with Netflix and a stiff drink.
  3. Credibility: Get the accreditation that you need (if it exists.)  If a formal option doesn’t exist, attend events and go out and meet the experts to build your own credibility.
  4. Support: Figure out financially how this will work. Can you start donating to a paid leave through your company? Can you take a sabbatical? Can you do full time work and your side hustle without getting burnt out? What is the GO/NO-GO turning point? Do you have a mentor, friend, spouse, or partner that is willing to offer emotional support and guidance?
  5. SAY YES. To everything (almost).  You never know who you are going to meet. Be willing to take a hit to your ego in order to meet more people and gain experience.
  6. Social Media: Build a following to help build your credibility and share news, your message and knowledge. If you don’t know how to do this, there are a flabillion people out there who can help.
  7. Things Take Time: Be patient.  It can take a while for your side hustle to turn into a full time opportunity.  Wait for the right opportunity and don’t make the mistake of taking the first job that comes along.
  8. Do your Research: Do the do.  Know what you are talking about and getting into.
  9. Be Yourself: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and admit what you know and what you don’t know.

Follow Jamie on Instagram or Twitter @BourbonThing and check out the WhiskyTopic on iTunes.

Until Next Time,

Nicole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help! I Hate My Job! Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Season Three A, Episode One. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 3a, Episode 1

On Season 3 of the podcast we are tackling managing your own career, and our first discussion revolves around the question, “Should I stay, or should I go?”

Do you really need a new job, or are you just in a bit of a rut? Do you need to find something new, or are you just in conflict with another member of your team or your manager that is giving you grief?

While the job cycle is definitely shorter than it used to be, it’s still important to ask yourself a few questions before you make the decision to leave and find something new. First of all, why are you even thinking about a new job right now?

Why Leave Your Job?

We are asked all the time for advice on careers and job moves and changes, and there tend to be some pretty common themes during those conversations. Do any of these sound like you?

  1. Bad manager: You might experience signs and symptoms like poor work-life balance, stress, discomfort, or conflict.  How have you tried to work through the scenario? Do you have unrealistic expectations?
  2. Bad performance review/no promotion: You hear something in a performance review that you don’t want to hear and feel uncomfortable and want to leave. You didn’t get that last promotion and are feeling deflated.  Have you tried to work through this? Have you identified the gaps? Have you asked for work that helps you fill them? Is there opportunity to change and improve?
  3. Wanting a new challenge/more responsibility: You feel like you’ve mastered your role. You are bored and need to try something new. Have you asked for new responsibilities or offered to pitch in on different projects?
  4. Wanting a change: You just want a change for change sake. Some might even look for opportunities in a new city or country! What small changes are possible that would achieve the same result? Or is moving really what you want?
  5. Impending Doom. A re-org, merger etc. is making you fearful or not really keen on the changes that are ahead. Are you certain that the changes are coming? Are you certain they are going to play out the way you assume? Can you research a bit more?

What is Your Plan?

There is another common theme among people who are starting to get that feeling that they need a new job.

They don’t have a plan, or a goal, or a destination. If you do, then skip ahead to the next section. If not, then read on.

If you just desperately want to leave your job and scramble to something else, you can expect to be equally unsatisfied and unhappy where you land. Eventually.

In order to really address your discontent, you need to have a goal or destination, and you need to make decisions that will help you get there.

Where do you want to be in one year, three years, or even five? Make decisions today that help you reach your longer term goal.  Or more directly, find work/projects/courses that help you get to the next step.

The great part, is you are in charge of your goals. You can change them and they aren’t carved in stone. Don’t be afraid to chart out your path – you can change it!

Top Tips to Figure Out “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

  1. Reflect: Reflect on the symptoms that you are experiencing and assess whether you’ve taken the steps to improve your current situation. (See above – is your job salvageable, or do you need to develop more skills before you move?)
  2. Have a Plan: Figure out your plan. Short term to long term. Have an idea of what you are going to so that you are happy when you get there and that this step makes sense in your bigger career plan. What are the stepping stones to get to the next big thing? Have an outcome statement. “I will know I am in the right job if____________.”
  3. Go Across to Go Up: Are you willing to take a lateral move in order to make a bigger change from there? Are you willing to take a pay cut to switch into a new career?
  4. Go “TO” something: Are you running away from your job and jumping to ANY job, or are you being selective and finding the right thing? Do you have passion for what you are applying for?

Take some time. Take a deep breath and put down the voodoo doll of your manager or most hated colleague.

Do some reflecting (use a @bestselfjournal if you can, we love them) and planning.

If you are convinced that you need a new job, stay tuned to the podcast and the blog to see how to start that job hunt.

We’ve got you covered.

Until Next Time,

Nicole

How to Be Productive When the Office is Quiet

Season Two, Episode Eight. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, BONUS PODCAST

This week on the podcast, which is our special Holiday Bonus Podcast, we talk about how to be productive when the office is technically open, but mostly pretty dead.

Unless you are an essential services worker (and if you are, thank you!), or are super lucky and work for an organization that closes between Christmas and New Year’s, you have probably experienced working those days when MOST people are on vacation, but a skeleton staff remains.

It’s the worst.

You’re there because the organization has to keep the lights on and do the basics to make sure nothing horrible goes wrong, which it almost never does, but you know, just in case and all that.

What do you do? There’s no one to have meetings with. You can’t get anything approved to move forward. Your desk is out in the open, so watching a movie or playing Candy Crush is unwise.

What Do You Do?

P-O-U-N-C-E

That’s right, Pounce. It’s our mnemonic gift to you to help you on those days when you are in the office, but barely anyone else is.

(It’s also helpful if you think about it as setting yourself up for the New Year. You know, pouncing on it. See what we did there?)

  • Ponder
  • Organize
  • Unsubscribe
  • Network
  • Chill
  • Enjoy

Ponder

Take some time to think about where you are right now, and whether you’re happy with it. This isn’t about making resolutions, although you might end up making some. It’s more about reflecting and doing a little self- assessment:

  • What do you want to do with your job? Are you on the right road to making it happen?
  • How’s your health?
  • How are your relationships, both at home and at work?
  • Are you at loose ends? Are you “all good?”
  • Do you have any “to do list” items that you’d like to check off your Bucket List this year?

We are HUGE fans of the Self Journal from the Best Self Company. (You can buy them from their website or from Amazon.) It’s easy to use, and helps you set up your goals and what those tasks are that will help you achieve them. It even has a handy dandy poster to track your goals three months at a time (which is much less daunting than planning for a whole year), and gives you little wins to help build your motivation.

CONTEST ALERT!

In fact – we love it so much that we’re going to give one away! Just send us an email (info@whiteboardconsulting.ca) or tweet us (@whiteboardcons) to tell us what your favourite podcast of ours was from 2017, and why. That’s it! We will make a draw on January 15th and send one to you.

Organize

Times like these are also excellent times to organize your workspace. This works for everyone, even people who THINK they are organized all the time – come on be honest. You have binders there from that conference you went to two years ago that you haven’t looked at. Or you have confidential files that should probably be shredded or returned to the HR department. Or you have notes on a printed PowerPoint presentation that really isn’t helpful anymore (or it is, but only page 68). Toss it (except page 68 – take a photo of it before you toss it). Or you have a junk drawer full of old candies, paper clips, and expired emergency deodorant.

Take the time to remove all these things that clutter your desk and act as distractions.

Unsubscribe

Hitting delete is pretty easy, but it’s a temporary fix to an on-going email clutter situation.

Take 20 minutes to open those things you subscribed to or that you have no idea why you get, and unsubscribe from them. We aren’t here to talk about email habits and changing the way you manage your Inbox. We ARE here to advise you to clean out the crap because it’s distracting you and stressing you out and you don’t even know it.

We like a couple of helpful tools:

  • Unroll Me is an amazingly helpful online tool that scans your Inbox periodically and, when a subscription email shows up, offers you a few options:
    • Unsubscribe – AND THEY THEN UNSUBSCRIBE FOR YOU SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING,
    • Roll It Up to a daily email with all your subscriptions in one scrollable email, or
    • Leave it in your Inbox.
  • SaneBox is also an online tool that moves your email into folders that you define. If you take the time to set it up the right way, it means that when you open your regular Inbox, you only see the most important things. No scrolling, filtering, or distracting. SO HELPFUL

Network

This is the perfect time to connect and build relationships. Ask that new person to walk with you and get a Peppermint Mocha or gingerbread cookie. Talk to that one co-worker that you have been having trouble getting to know.

If you’re a manager, reach out to members of your team who are all in during these “between” days, and suggest you all go out for lunch together. (And no, you don’t have to pick up the tab, although it would be nice if you gave the OK to extend the lunch hour a bit.)

This is not about socializing with your work buddies or BFFs. This is about capitalizing on the opportunity to build critical relationships in the office. It’s also just plain nice.

Chill

Cut yourself some slack. Catch that later bus (as long as work allows you to be flexible with your hours). Put on some music while you sort out your desk. Take a few minutes to stare out the window and reflect or ponder or just people watch.

If you’re a manager, cut your team some slack! We know of managers who used to just send people home a bit early, or extend lunch hours to allow for holiday shopping. It doesn’t have to be huge, but wow it can give people some stress free time to get things done. And that goes a long way.

Most importantly though, focus on yourself and what you need in order to rejuvenate over this holiday time. (This relates, of course, to the Pondering activity!)

Enjoy!

Finally, enjoy yourself. Find some source of joy that works for you, whether you are celebrating holidays or not. Whether it’s helping someone else out, taking some time to work on that special project that you love but just isn’t normally a priority, treating yourself to some special food, or wearing an Ugly Holiday Sweater, there are things out there that are fun and festive.

Oh, and Get Your Work Done Too

Of course you have to get your work done. Hopefully the demands are somewhat less, and you can take the time to set yourself up so you can POUNCE on the New Year.

We’d love to hear how you use POUNCE! And of course don’t forget to send us a note or a tweet to enter the Self Journal contest.

We wish you the very best for the New Year, and look forward to bringing you our third podcast series which will focus on your career! How to manage it, how to change it, and how to get where you want to go. And if you’re a manager, we will have tips on how to help your team manage their careers, and how to run a successful interview too.

Don’t forget you can subscribe to our podcast in iTunes (click here) so you never miss a new episode!

Until next time,

Ruth & Nicole

Peter. You’re Fired.

Season Two, Episode Seven. Podcast recap! (And if you missed the podcast, you can find it here.)

Podcast Recap: Season 2, Episode 7

This week on the podcast, which is our final episode of Season 2, we talk about things you should consider when you need to fire someone, either from their job or contract, from a project, or from, well, anything really.

Please note that we are NOT HR professionals or lawyers, so in our podcast and in this blog, we are focused more on the emotional burden of firing someone vs. the legal and technical logistics. Often, organizations have people to help with this and make sure that no one gets in trouble or does something horribly wrong. There is definitely due process that is required, and if you find yourself needing to fire someone, you need to ensure you’ve reached out to the right people before you actually say the words.

Like all things that are new or challenging, firing someone in the most effective and sensitive way requires some preparation. In addition to reaching out to your employment lawyer and/or your HR department, you might consider:

Before the Conversation

  • Have you given the person a chance to improve?
    • If you’re firing someone because of poor performance, you need to be able to show that you’ve been clear with your expectations, you’ve had regular performance conversations, and you’ve actually given the person a chance to improve.
    • Remember that the onus is on you to hold regular performance management conversations so that really, this isn’t a surprise to anyone. (Except those who may be deliberately obtuse.)
  • Have you documented your conversations?
    • Of course as part of a formal due process there are verbal warnings and written warnings and all kinds of documentation. We also recommend that you keep your own private and more casual notes on your discussions and important events. This can be used as evidence of your efforts to help the employee improve, your conversations, their reactions, etc.
  • Have you planned what you’re going to say?
    • Consider the ASBI tool so that you can open well, state the issue, and then BE QUIET. The temptation is to keep talking and fill the silence, and that just doesn’t help anyone (and could dig you into a hole).
    • Be firm and kind. If you’re over emotional, you risk the conversation going sideways and losing control of what is happening. If you’re unemotional, you risk sounding like a cold hearted robot.
    • If you’re firing someone because of a poor fit (vs. for poor performance), all the same preparation applies. Have you given them a fair chance to fit in? Have you chatted with them and coached them to allow them to adjust? Have you planned how you’re going to say what you need to say?

During the Conversation

Think about having a mantra to use if you get a bunch of questions or arguments against the termination. You might consider:

  • I appreciate this is a difficult or frustrating thing to happen. As I stated, you are being released from this position, and here are the next steps…
  • I appreciate your perspectives, and here is what is happening…
  • I know this is upsetting. Here is what you can expect next…

Picking a mantra that is true, does not apologize, and does not admit to any mistakes, is critical. It allows you to repeat the message over and over as the person tries to process what’s going on. Remember, this conversation is not a debate.

After the Conversation

Follow up. It might be with the person or with HR or with a variety of other people. Ensure that the proper next steps have been taken – leaving it up to chance or process is a recipe for confusion and, if things don’t happen in the right way (for instance, owed pay is not issued), it makes a bad situation worse, and makes you look terrible.

Our Three Tips

  1. Prepare Prepare Prepare:
    • Before the conversation – document and give them a chance to improve or fit in
    • During the conversation – have a mantra to stay on course and avoid a debate
    • After the conversation – follow up on the promised next steps, and do a little self assessment of how it went and lessons learned
  2. Use ASBI with Just the Right Amount of Emotion
    • Open Well
    • Be Firm but Kind
    • Don’t Fill the Silence
  3. Deal with Dissention
    • Stick to the Talking Points
    • Refuse to Debate
    • Use Your Mantra

This may be the hardest of our Difficult Conversations – after all, we are talking about someone’s livlihood! Do your homework so you can get it as right as possible the very first time! Likely you will think back and wish you had done something differently. And that’s ok.