Tag Archive: management

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.

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.

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.

How to Tell Peter, “No Raise for You”

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

Podcast Recap: Season 2, Episode 2

This episode we focused on telling poor imaginary Peter that he didn’t get that raise he was expecting. “No raise for you Peter!”

Why is it so hard? It should be pretty logical, right? Wellll, not always.

It’s a Touchy Subject

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us why the issue of pay raises, salaries, or compensation of any kind is especially difficult to address with people.

A person’s total compensation package is highly personal and strikes right at the heart of an individual’s ability not only to provide physiological needs for him/herself and his/her family, but also to build their own self-esteem, and to feel valued and worthwhile.

Essentially, you are impacting a person’s most basic and psychological needs.

It’s for this reason that you have to tread lightly when responding to someone who is angry about money. As you can imagine though, we strongly suggest you DO have that conversation. Why?

So many reasons.

  1. It’s respectful.
  2. It engages people.
  3. It builds your trusting relationship with that person.
  4. It sets expectations for the future.
  5. It’s just the right thing to do.

Peter Didn’t Get the Raise He Expected

Yup, back to poor Peter. In our last blog we focused on how to give Peter impactful (and kind) feedback about the quality of his work. Now we are faced with telling Peter that he is not getting the raise he wanted, either because he suddenly stormed into your office to discuss it, or because it’s part of your yearly salary or performance management conversation.

So what do you do?

  1. Say the hard thing. Be clear and specific.
  2. Be quiet and wait for the response.
    • You’re hoping they will say, you’re right. What can I do to improve?
    • It’s also possible they will be super angry.
  3. If they’re angry… well, read on.

Let’s say in this case, Peter is really angry. so, you give him all the logic of why he got what he did, what the protocol was, and explain things in very detailed words. All better, right?

No. Not right.

When we’ve talked about the Change Curve with clients and students, we’ve highlighted that when people are angry, they simply can’t hear you. Your best bet is to simply listen and let them vent.

The simple act of Listening is respectful, engaging, and HARD. Often people are taken back by anger and feel attacked and tempted to respond in kind.

So our tip for you today, to help you metaphorically throw the bucket of water at the anger, is the LESTER tool.

LESTER

LESTER is a great mnemonic to help you remember the steps when being confronted with anger in the workplace.

  1. Listen: Take a minute to breathe, and then just listen. Let the person vent, ask them clarifying questions, maybe even use “Tell Me More,” and listen. Really listen. Be engaged and be present. (Peter, tell me what’s got you so upset.)
  2. Echo: Clarify what you heard them say. It’s possible that, from all the venting, you will pull out the wrong issues or misunderstand what Peter said. (Ok Peter, it sounds like you are frustrated about the amount of your pay raise, and also – maybe even mostly – a little surprised by it. Have I got that right?)
  3. Sympathize: (Or perhaps Empathize, which messes up the mnemonic, but whatever…) Recognize their frustration. Tell them you can see their anger. Do NOT say “I’m sorry you feel that way,” which is passive aggressive and only makes people feel worse. Just let them know that you heard them and you can understand that they are upset. (Well I can see that your upset, and I can imagine how frustrated you must feel.)
  4. Thank: Yup, that’s right. Thank them for letting you know. It’s as simple as saying, “thanks for coming to me.” This ensures that people will continue to come to you, which is what you want as a manager. It’s way better than having people complain about you at the water cooler. The only thing that does is ensure you never have your finger on the pulse of the team. (Thanks for coming to me. I appreciate it.)
  5. Evaluate: Now you want to work on solutions to the problem. It might mean you change a decision or a policy, or it might mean that you discuss things in advance, or it might mean working on ways for Peter not to be so surprised in the future. (Well, let’s talk about how to make sure you’re not taken by surprise next time. You know the pay cycle and the policy for it. How can we work together so that you get what you’re expecting?)
  6. Resolve: This final step is just about repeating any agreed on actions as the person walks out the door. (So what we are going to do is set quarterly reviews to talk about your performance. You’re also going to work on your report-writing skills, and I’m going to set you up with some job shadowing. Sound good?)

This whole conversation can happen in five minutes. The more you practice, the easier it gets not only to avoid escalating, but also to actually de-escalate and build the relationship.

Give these tips a try, let us know how it went on Twitter at @whiteboardcons and check out the rest of our podcast series on our homepage at www.whiteboardconsulting.ca.

Until next time,

Ruth.

Why Context Is Critical to Success

A few weeks ago I spent a wonderful week at my cottage north of Toronto with a really good friend and her awesome kids. We had the best time splashing in the lake, exploring the local town, heading to the beach, eating, sleeping, playing Scattergories, colouring, and just chilling out.

I particularly enjoyed it because it was my first real downtime in a while – even when I’ve been at the cottage other times this summer, I’ve been working on it, readying it for rent through a shared rental service (something I started this year in order to cover rising operating expenses), and not simply enjoying it.

One of the things you have to do when you rent through a third party is to take extra care when preparing the space. This means you don’t just clean and tidy – you fluff pillows, you fold a bright and cheerful dishtowel over the edge of the sink “just so,” you wash the floors, you make smart “hotel corners” on the bedsheets, and you ensure the faucets are sparkling. Why? Because you want that coveted 5 star rating, which will get you more renters.

I have an amazing team who usually looks after this for me, so it was with some dismay that I found myself reverting to my picky nature when tidying and cleaning before my friends and I left to return home.

At one point everything was pretty much done, save cleaning out the fridge and taking out the trash. On my way to the kitchen I walked by the living room and nodded with satisfaction when I saw the blankets properly draped, the pillows smooshed just right, and the magazines fanned out nicely. Then, a few minutes later I walked by again and noticed, to my dismay, the kids flopped out on the sofa and rooting through the coffee table for the colouring book and crayons.

My reaction? Frustration/annoyance/panic (I had to be out by a certain time that morning.)

I did NOT say what first popped into my head. I ended up saying “If you kids mess this up, I’m going to end up cleaning it using YOU as a mop!” This sounded dumb, and elicited giggles, thank goodness. Then I took them on a walk up the driveway to water the flowerpots and look for bears.

And this applies to work how?

Here’s the thing. I believe I was annoyed because “those kids don’t have a clue how much work it is to prepare for the guests! If only they knew!”

If only.

Why didn’t I take the time that day to explain what was going on with all the hustle and bustle and why it was important? I bet they would have not only understood, but offered to help.

The same thing can happen to any leader at work.

We keep things from people because

  • we don’t think they care to know,
  • we don’t think they need to know,
  • we don’t realize they want to know.

I believe most of the time we don’t realize they want to know.

A few years ago I was talking to my team about the upcoming budget requisition season. I launched in to the savings we had to find and how we would work those savings into this year’s process. A couple of people were not paying attention, and I started to get annoyed, but I didn’t say anything.

Later, there were a couple of screw ups. Nothing awful, but to me they seemed obvious and avoidable.

When I met with the team and we talked about what happened and what we could do differently next time, one person spoke up and said, “Ruth, I think it would help if you explained how the whole budget process works. Some of us just don’t know.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Of course they need to know! If they don’t know, how can they understand why the little things are important, which things need to be prioritized, where to get details, and why they should be concerned with the outcome.

Tell the story.

In the absence of information we make things up, and without the right context, we can’t expect everstoryyone to do their best work. It’s up to you to provide the back story and to not just drop people into Chapter 13, expecting them to know how you want the story to turn out.

If you’re seeing spotty results, can you look back at your communications to people and determine whether you started at the beginning of the story?

Some people have been reading the book along with you, and some haven’t. The effective leader knows the difference and covers both situations.

Until next time,

Ruth.

 

Why Leaders Should Download PokemonGo.

What the &$^# is a Pikachu?

It started with a few photos on Facebook.  Cartoons and acquaintances of mine were popping up in photos together on my newsfeed.  I figured it was random or a super geeky thing I didn’t need to know about and then the posts started getting more cryptic….friends were “hunting” Pokemon? Pokemon were screen-capped sitting on friends’ laptops and posted to social media and I was very very confused.

Even the University Health Network here in Toronto posted a chart on how to play safely. Wait what?

Then the naysayers started emerging. Nasty tweets and posts popped up about how stupid it was. While sending a text during my morning dog walk the construction worker doing road paving near my house said “Ugh.  Tell me you aren’t looking for Pokemon? That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of”.  News stories broke out about PokemonGo related injuries, accidents, along with the instant rise of Nintendo’s share price.

IMG_3076

My attempt at photographing Ruth holding a Zubat. 🙂

My husband came home that night, and described the concept.  “You walk around and there are things to collect and battle while you walk around.  And it is in real life. It’s weird, but kind of interesting, right?”

I thought, wow, I’m not really interested in phone games, but the concept sure does sound neat.

So I downloaded it.  Much like Snapchat I didn’t get it right away. (My good friend Jamie told me that it was so old people couldn’t figure out how to use it. Hmph.) But I figured a few things out. I caught a few Rattatats and Zubats.  Then Ruth downloaded it and we went for a little break.  We had quite a blast, and I learned a few things too!

So while I hate to admit it, it’s kind of fun.  It’s kind of social. It got me outside for a quick walk instead of glued to my laptop.

So why would a leader in an organization give PokemonGo a try? Shouldn’t we be keeping our minions in their offices doing work instead of looking for nearby Pokestops? I don’t think so. And here’s why:

3 Reasons Leaders Should Download PokemonGo

  1. It Will Help You Be Kind and Curious. Remember our famous coaching phrase? Kindness and curiosity leave no room for anger and resentment.  Instead of harbouring all that anger and resentment for those cute little cartoon characters, try playing it for 15 minutes.  If you hate it, at least you can say why and you can say you tried it, right? Get your kids to teach you, or get your employees to show you how it works.  They’ll get a kick out of it.  Trust me.
  2. You Will Find Something New to Talk about. Often when dealing with different generational types in the workplace, it’s hard to find some common ground in conversations. Instead of your team members jumping back to their desks and pretending to finish their TPS reports when they were actually out poke-hunting, you can ask them if they found that damn Zubat, and encourage them to relax. Start a conversation, ask them to take you for a hunt and show you how it works.  They will love getting to engage with you without having to have that same humdrum conversation about your weekend. (And they’ll respect you when you suggest it’s time to get back to work now.)
  3. It Will Help You Encourage an Active Work Culture. Maybe your office has a lunchtime plank session, or yoga class, or fitness or meditation group.  In large organizations that might be possible, but in smaller organizations it might be cost prohibitive to implement a large scale wellness program.  This is a great way to take 10-15 minutes out of your day, to get outside as a group, go poke-hunting together, and get some fresh air.

This all being said – boundaries are important. What I love about the UHN tweet is that asks people to be safe and considerate of others, but also jumps into the spirit of things and wishes players luck.  If you feel it necessary to set some boundaries in your organization, try to keep it firm and fun, instead of shutting the whole thing down and making people hunt in secret.

Tell us how PokemonGo is playing a part (or not) in your worklife. Tweet us at @whiteboardcons!

Until Next Time,

Nicole (@missNicoleNorth)

 

 

 

 

Even Coaches Need Coaches

coaching a coach

If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while, or have noticed our recent “Whiteboard Pro-Tip Videos,” you know that we are HUGE fans of effective coaching conversations as a means of increasing employee engagement and building strong teams. (Read our article on “Being a Great Coach in the Office” which was published in the Huffington Post last year.)

Our workshops have helped scores of people improve their coaching skills, and our one-on-one coaching sessions have helped individuals figure out how to become “unstuck” with whatever roadblock is preventing them from getting where they want to go.

But what if you’re already a pretty good, even fantastic, coach? You get it, you’re good at it, you practice it, your team is highly engaged and successful, and in fact you’ve been training others to grow their own coaching skills.

Do you need a coach if you’re already a coach?

Just about any professional needs their own services from time to time, and we know that they can’t (or shouldn’t) treat themselves and expect great results. Think about it:

  • Doctors need to see other doctors for physicals and prescriptions.
  • Personal trainers have personal trainers to spot them when they lift weight, and push them when they get tired.
  • Physiotherapists see other physiotherapists to manipulate and treat musculoskeletal issues.
  • Lawyers hire other lawyers to represent them (except on TV, where they are VERY good at representing themselves).
  • Therapists get advice and counselling from other therapists.
  • Ministers, Priests, Rabbis, and Imams seek spiritual guidance from others.

And so it goes with coaching.

Even expert coaches need someone else to help them self-discover solutions to problems they are facing. Here are three possible scenarios in which it would be critical for a coach to get coaching from someone else:

  1. Edgar has been coaching for 15 years, and is known for his openness, strength, and amazing leadership style. He thought he had seen it all until one of his peers lashed out at him in a leadership meeting, embarrassing him and creating a stressful atmosphere. Edgar knows he has to talk to this person, and is trying to prepare his approach. He’s just not sure how to open the conversation and would like to bounce some ideas off someone.
  2. Natasha has to coach a young member of her team who is fresh out of college, eager, keen, smart, and… obnoxious. She’s pretty sure how she will handle it, and would love to role play the possible outcomes. After all, Natasha is a Baby Boomer, and needs to sound helpful and encouraging, not “old” and “out of date.”
  3. Salome is a senior leader with plenty of coaching experience who feels disengaged and even a little bored at work. She’s not sure what to do and would like some objective guidance.

 

coaching a coach 1

 

No matter how much experience we have, we can always use some coaching to help us out. And remember, coaching isn’t the same has having coffee with a friend (although that’s always helpful too!) Friends are encouraging and supportive listeners, and can often be biased towards a specific solution.

Coaches are also encouraging and supportive, and have NO bias. Therefore, the solution you come up with is 100% yours, and was probably hiding deep down inside your brain somewhere all along.

If you need a coach, check out our coaching services by clicking here, or email us at info@whiteboardconsulting.ca. We’d be glad to help you, and our 15-minute telephone strategy session is FREE! How can you go wrong? (You can’t.)

Until next time,

Ruth.

Crush Your Next Interview

interview

The image above shows all the classic things we’ve learned to do before an important meeting or interview.

  1. Dress appropriately. Not only does that mean not “under dressing,” but it also means not “over dressing!” Do your research and then dress one level up.
  2. Arrive in good time. Well, duh.
  3. Body language. Be aware! Assume an open and interested position (arms resting in your lap or on the arms of your chair), don’t check your watch or (heaven forbid) your phone, and above all else, don’t interrupt!
  4. Expect the unexpected. Yup. What if you’re kept waiting 30 minutes? What if you have to do a presentation on the spot? What if it’s super hot in the interview room? Plan to keep your cool in all situations.
  5. Ask questions. For sure. And don’t ask “when will you make your decision,” as if you already have the job. A great one is “what will the most challenging thing be for the successful applicant?”

But those are the standard things. The things you can learn if you google “interview prep” or ask your friend how they got their job.

Secrets to Crushing Any Interview

  1. Use “I” not “we.” Yes, that’s right. Talk about yourself. As someone who has interviewed hundreds of people, I can tell you that when you are asked to “tell me about a time when you led a complicated project with a diverse team,” then I want to know what YOU did specifically. Not what your whole team did. Now is not the time to “share the credit.” For example:
    • Bad answer: I was the project lead for Project X, and we worked together to create SMART goals, communicate effectively, and follow project management principles.
    • Good answer: I was the project lead for Project X, and early on I established the team guidelines. I facilitated the team agreement on goals, coordinated and moderated regular updates, and developed job shadowing practices so that people could fill in for each other during crunch times.
  2. Use action words. In the example above the words “established,” “facilitated,” “coordinated,” “moderated,” and “developed” are all action words. Example: “Tell me about the work you did in your most favourite job?”
    • Bad answer: I loved my job two years ago because I was responsible for team engagement and new employee onboarding and it was very rewarding.
    • Good answer: I loved my job two years ago because I championed team engagement by leading quarterly brainstorming sessions, developing and implementing engagement programs like Job Shadowing for new employees, and facilitating bi-annual engagement feedback sessions with the VP. It was really rewarding to see engagement scores increase and to get positive feedback from the team.
  3. Tell stories. Many interviewers will start a question with “describe a time when you…” Others will start with, “have you ever…” And still others will say things like, “what’s your greatest or worst skill?” Each of these is a chance to tell a story. It will be tempting to answer quickly, but what you want to do is answer in a way they will visualize and remember. Example: “OK, you’ve been telling me about all these things that you do so well, but we all have weaknesses or opportunities to improve. What’s one of yours?
    • Bad answer: I actually don’t have any weaknesses because I have been honing my skills for years. (I’m not kidding. That’s a real answer I got once.)
    • Alternate bad answer: A weakness? Oh. Well, I guess I can get flustered some times when timelines shift quickly, but I am really good at re-configuring my plans so everything comes out ok.
    • Good answer: On a recent project the timelines shifted a few times, as they often do on large projects. By the third time shift I realized that I should be using a different milestone chart that is more adaptable when there are changes. By implementing that, I was able to reduce the frustration I can feel if things shift too frequently.

crushed it

These three tips will help you stand out (in a good way) and increase your likelihood of winning the competition. Have you used any of these before? Let us know on Twitter (@whiteboardcons) using #InterviewPrep!

Until next time,

Ruth.

PS – did you know we offer coaching for interview prep? It’s true. Click here and read all about it.

3 Steps to take before you quit your job

It happens so suddenly.  Things seem to be chugging along and one afternoon you come to the drastic realization: “I want to quit my job”.   It may have been percolating for some time. Anger and resentment like to age like a fine wine (mmm wine. Is it Friday yet?).   Maybe something specific has triggered your sudden need for change. Perhaps you’ve had a sudden leadership shuffle or organizational realignment that just turned your work-life upside down. Either way, something has to change and you’re going with the all -or-nothing approach. You want to quit your job.

Okay, sit back and breathe.  This has happened to all of us.  The following 3 steps ensure that you are making the right move, and if the move is real – how to make sure you are prime interview material.

3 Steps to Take Before You Quit Your Job

Assess. Correct. Act.

1) Assess

First things first.  Let’s do some root cause analysis.  Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you love about your job?
  • What are you really good at?pablo
  • What could you be better at?
  • What makes you think you should be better at them?
  • What do you dislike about your job?
  • Which one in particular (there may be many, try to pick the one with the biggest impact) would you say is making you want to leave?
  • Why [insert answer to your last question here]? i.e. Why do you think your boss doesn’t know how to lead?
  • Why [insert answer to the last question here]? i.e. Why do you think your boss has no desire to help you to succeed?
  • Why….[you get the picture right]? i.e. Why do you think your boss dislikes you as a human?
  • What evidence do you have to support your beliefs/observations?
  • Is it possible these are assumptions?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • Why do you think it will be better?
  • What evidence do you have that supports that?
  • Is there a person/place/resource that you could use to determine if another agency/consulting firm/hospital etc. will be better?

*Note: This line of questioning will hopefully have you saying things like “Well, I just assume s/he dislikes me because x,y,z, but I don’t know this for a fact.”

2) Correct

Now, finding a job can take a while.  So maybe there are some opportunities in that big list above to make some course corrections.  Make things better.  Maybe they get so great you don’t need to leave, or maybe they just become more tolerable while you are on the hunt for that new dream job.

  • What can YOU change about your behaviours/habits/style that could help?
  • What skills/experiences do you need to develop to make the transition?
  • What tools, resources, people (mentors, colleagues etc.) do you have to help you make changes/get experience and skills?
  • What changes would help that YOU have influence over?
  • What things do you think can OTHERS change?  Are you willing to have a conversation with them about it/work together to solve it?
  • What things aren’t going to change/things you don’t have control or influence over (i.e. policies, organizational structure) ?  Can you come to terms with that staying the same during your transition?
  • What things might get in the way?

3) Act

Now do the things.   Make the changes.  Use your influence, tools, resources, and people to help you get what you need. Make the best of the situation.  Now is a great time to “SHINE”.  This will serve a couple of purposes: work will be more bearable, you will have overall better days that make you happier, you will be more confident, and you’ll have people who are willing to give great references. You may love it so much, you decide to stay.

Have you had the sudden urge to leave? Did you act on it? Did you use some of these steps? How did it turn out? What would you have done differently? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below or on Twitter @whiteboardcons #iquit.

Until next time!

Nicole

 

3 Questions to ask your potential new boss to avoid a toxic workplace.

Why oh why did I take this job?

You spent days perfecting your resume.  Days finding the right salutation for your cover letter.  Weeks ruining your manicure fretting about the interview process.  And if you happen to work in the public sector, you’ve spent hours rehearsing your presentation assignment with anyone who will listen.

All that hard work, and the phone finally rings – “We’d like to offer you the job!” download

Fast forward 2 goodbye cake parties, 12 transition meetings, and 17 emails about how lucky you are to “get out of here”.  You’ve got your big girl/boy suit on and it is week 3 of your new job.

You said the biggest challenge was going to be what?

You thought you did the right thing! You asked the golden end-of-interview question:

“What will be the biggest challenge you foresee for the winning candidate in this new role?”

This is a great question.  But they didn’t tell you that the office is the perfect example of a toxic workplace! You are dissapointed, demotivated, and think you may have made the worst decision ever!

Don’t get me wrong,  “a challenge” from one individual to another has a great deal of variability. For one it might be subject matter expertise, for another it is senior management support. Managers looking for a team member aren’t going to say things like:

  • The culture is super toxic, have fun!
  • I’m a really great operational manger, but I suck at leadership (oh and I hate team meetings FYI).
  • Your team is the worst performing team in our entire company.
  • My boss is even worse than I am.

3 Questions to ask your potential new boss (BEFORE you say YES!)

You might feelimages awkward asking these questions.  I guarantee that this moment of mild awkwardness is FAR less painful than arriving at TWCC (Toxic Workplace Culture Central). Read more on the signs of a toxic workplace culture here.

  1. How would you describe the culture of the organization? This is a great open-ended question that’s pretty hard to hide behind. If you have an honest hiring manager, they will be clear about the challenges and opportunities.  Be ready with some probing questions to help you out in case you get some tight lipped answers (i.e. You say “Great”, tell me more? How would employees describe the culture? How would another team describe the culture?).  I would be delighted with answers like: our branch does a bi-annual team building event offsite, we have a running club, we have a lunchtime yoga session that more than half of the team participates in etc.
  2. Can you tell me about the history of the team that I’ll be working with? Ooh.  This question is more loaded than a baked potato. Here’s where you can find out things like how new (or how established) your team is.  Perhaps you do some diagnosis on their stage of team development, or how you might apply the situational leadership model.  You can start to understand how resilient the team might be to change (based on their recent history with change).
  3. What kinds of systems/processes are currently in place in the organization to support open and transparent communication and team building? What I would want to hear in this answer are things like: we have weekly 1:1 coaching sessions with our team, we have a very rigorous performance review process, we believe strongly in training, coaching, and having difficult conversations…

Remember, the hiring panel is not only interviewing you, but you are interviewing them – to see if this job, culture, and environment is a great fit for you.  Otherwise, on to the next opportunity!

Now what if you’ve got the job and you’ve got the toxic culture blues? Not to worry, stay tuned and next time I’ll share the top 3 tips to dramatically improve your culture (even if you aren’t a manager)!

Until Next Time,

Nicole

P.S.  Looking for a new role?  Ruth is offering 3 coaching sessions to a select few volunteers, snag this $500 value before spots are gone! Ruth@whiteboardconsulting.ca/staging 

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