Archive for the ‘Mentoring’ Category

One of the biggest concerns of people have today is job security. While it is the new normal that job security doesn’t exist, the good news is we can significantly improve our career security. Too many professionals let their career happen to them. They put their nose to the grindstone and assume their work will be noticed, appreciated and rewarded. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Unless you strategically and purposefully take action, your work is taken for granted, and when the powers that be decide they need to reduce costs, you are restructured out of a position.

It is extremely important to understand that the key to your next promotion or your next job opportunity is not the skill and experience you have (although this is important), nor who you know, but who knows you and what is their perception of your professional capabilities and subject matter expertise. Most people go through their career with only a very small handful of people that have an idea of their value and subject matter expertise. So how can you build and spread your reputation?

    1. Understand the purpose of your tasks and projects.
    2. Understand how your role impacts the success of the company and others in the company.
    3. Understand how other’s roles impact your success.
  1. Master your role.
  2. Track results of projects and tasks.
  3. Communicate.
  4. Look what you can do outside and above your job description.
  5. Take on board or committee positions in professional associations.
  6. Network both inside and outside the company.
  7. Continuously improve skills, knowledge and certification.
  8. Mentoring.
  9. Succession Planning.

I will be writing on each of these over the next while and would love to have your feedback on your thoughts of how these and others impact your career management.

Blog by Greg Johnson | Above The Rim Executive Coaching

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The other day, I had the opportunity to speak to the Future Business Leaders of America at Cal-State Fullerton. During the question and answer session, one of the members asked, given the current lack of job security in corporate American, what can they do to create their own career security? As you have read in previous posts, I strongly believe that your success is not always determined by what you know, or even who you know, but who knows you. In other words, in the typical course of a career, you develop a reputation as a professional and subject matter expert among a small number of colleagues at the companies you work for, as well as possibly a few customers or vendors that you work with. However the circle that your reputation spreads to is very limited. One of the most effective ways to increase the reach of your professional reputation across an industry or function is via professional associations. However, I am not talking about just being a member and going to some networking events. I am talking about getting on committees, boards or working on projects for the association and even speaking at meetings on particular subjects of which you have expertise. This will allow others outside your normal circle of influence to get to know your professional thought process as well as how well you work with others. Active involvement in these capacities gives you opportunities to achieve accomplishments for the organization and also will provide you a platform of visibility. Then as you strategically plan your career advancement, you will have more advocates and a stronger network to help you reach your goals.

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to join a speakers and writers mastermind group. As my practice grows, and my opportunities for writing and speaking increase, I wanted to surround myself with some of the best minds in the area. Saturday was my first opportunity to participate. In the course of the conversation, Mark Fierle, author of Rekindling The American Dream, made a comment that really resonated with me, not only as a speaker and writer, but as an executive coach. Paraphrasing, he said that the best authors are those that are out and about, experiencing what others are experiencing, engaging in dialogue and learning about critical hot button issues. It is the same thing for job hunters. The most successful are those who are out and about, talking with key players in their target industry, communicating and learning what keeps decision makers up at night, understanding what the hot button issues are that need to be addressed. It is with this information that a job hunter can transform their branding from that of a job seeker to that of a value added solution. Do not conduct your job search as if you are under house arrest. Don’t be a slave to your resume. Yes, social media and internet are important components of what you need to do, but they are only part of a balanced approach. They can be scheduled any part of the morning or night. Get away from your computer. Get out and about. Know the pulse of your opportunities, so you can leverage your skills, passions and experiences to solve the headaches of your target company.

In my last two blogs I discussed steps that, as part of your career management strategies, will help you maximize and realize your potential. Since implementation and follow-thru are key ingredients to the success of these steps, I was asked by several readers about my thoughts on accountability. What is accountability, and why do we need it. Accountability, in its simplest terms is the owning of the responsibility of our actions or lack thereof, as well as the resulting outcomes. In today’s society, accountability usually revolves around changing life behaviors such as going on a diet, or in the achievement of goals and completion of projects. In fact, project management is a great way of looking at accountability. So, what are the aspects of accountability, and how can we maximize our success in achieving our goals or desired results.

  • Desire for Accountability
    • Determine: is it more painful to stay where you are now, or do the work necessary to achieve your mission? If the pain of doing the work is greater than the pain of staying where you are, and you do not want to do what it takes, you will not be accountable.
  • Get into or form an accountability group. In the workplace this can be in the shape of department or committee meetings. For individuals in career transition, or maximizing their career opportunities, this would be in the form of groups that meet on a regularly scheduled basis. What are characteristics and components of a good accountability group?
    • Confidentiality – what is discussed in the accountability group must stay in the group, in order to create a safe environment.
    • Willingness to share and be open within the group
    • Comprised of individuals committed to achieving success
    • Comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds and with diverse strengths to complement each other.
    • Willingness to be tough and demanding in the completion of commitments and achievement of goals.
    • Desire to share and celebrate the successes of milestones and realization of achievements.
  • Establish an accountability partner. While many of the components of an accountability group and accountability partner over lap, they are slightly different, and utilizing both will enhance your prospects. An accountability group offers a greater breadth of expertise and resources, an accountability partner allows for deeper support and commitment to success.
  • Determine your goals.
    • Establish your major goal, for example landing your next career position
    • Ascertain a desired timeline that is realistic to achieve success.
    • Break up the goal into different components that will help you achieve you’re your end game.
    • Break up the components into bite size milestones and tasks
  • Write down your goals with timeline – a goal in the head is unlikely to be achieved, while putting it down on paper impacts our commitment to achieving the goal and makes the realization much more likely.
  • Schedule your activity to achieve your milestones and goals. Put it in your calendar! If you are doing company research, put in your calendar when you will be doing your research. Be Specific! So often I hear people say they don’t have time to put everything into their calendar, or that they don’t want to “pin themselves down and lose their flexibility”. To put a different spin on one of John Wooden‘s quotes, failing to schedule your milestones is scheduling to fail your milestones.
  • Share the goals and milestones with the accountability group and partner. While writing down the goal greatly increases success, committing in front of others brings it to a different level all together.
  • Celebrate all your achievements big and small!

Here’s to your success in 2012! Share your thoughts on accountability, and where you have had success. I am looking forward to hearing your comments.

In my previous post, I wrote about 10 steps professionals in transition can take to rise up to their purpose. I received several comments that with a few modifications, this is also appropriate for professionals who are not in transition, so I decided to write a new post from this focus. Has the rat race got you going through the motions? What can you do to break free? How can you make 2012 the year that you play your career Above The Rim. As my good friend and mentor John Hall says, considering all the restructuring, downsizing, right sizing, mergers and acquisitions, and just “plain ol cost cutting”, job security in the corporate environment is a thing of the past. It is therefore incumbent on each person to strategically and purposefully take the steps to generate their own job security and maximize their career opportunities. Professionals must understand the value they bring to an organization, and create their personal brand based on their value proposition. Your personal brand is nothing more than your reputation as a professional and a subject matter expert. Typically, within our career, we naturally create this reputation or a personal brand identity with our colleagues, as well as a few vendors or customers we may deal with. However the reach of this brand identity is extremely limited. What can you do to take your career Above The Rim?

  1. Build a board of Advisors. Most successful executives have a handful of mentors or advisors. Each has different experiences and strengths that you can lean on. These advisors can be professors, colleagues, leaders in an industry, members of your church, and yes, your career coach. Discuss your career and dreams with your advisors. Seek their advice.
  2. Write a long-term career plan – Determine where you want to be in the next 3, 5 and 10 years. Do a S.W.O.T analysis to help you determine the best path for you to take. Determine any education, degrees, certifications or training you need to achieve your desired promotions. Consider the cost and time needed. Budget it and schedule it. Review it every year.
  3. Write a short term career plan. Assess what you want to accomplish in the next 30, 60 and 90 days. Get feedback from your supervisors, colleagues and mentors to determine what will help you maximize your contribution to your company or organization. Review it every month.
  4. Understand the why of what you do, and learn how to articulate it – this really differentiates you.
  5. Create Case Studies of your accomplishments. Assess your projects and tasks you are working on, and understand what is the impact on the bottom line of a company. Keep in mind, in order to be of value to a company, your work has to help the company generate more revenue, cut more costs or mitigate more risk than the cost of employing you. Utilize your case studies in your performance reviews.
  6. Network inside your company. Have lunch with colleagues outside your department. Learn what you can do to positively impact others both inside and outside your department. Cultivate advocates throughout the company. Keep your ears open to learn of new projects, or new opportunities that can be promotional steps for you.

  7. Network outside your company. Join professional or industry associations and actively participate on projects, committees or board positions. This allows your reputation as a professional to spread beyond the colleagues you work with. When networking, remember it is not about you. Become a connector and pay it forward.
  8. Read professional publications and keep your knowledge up to date. Know industry current practices, trends, leaders and what is on the horizon.
  9. Pass on information you read and learn in a comprehensive campaign leveraging social media including blogs, LinkedIn, twitter and face book. A well developed social media campaign will positively impact your current company or organization, and spread your reputation as a subject matter expert.
  10. Pay it forward. Understand that the more you help others and facilitate opportunities for other, the more opportunities will be facilitated and created for you.

Like I said in my previous post, following the steps above is not easy. This is both good news and bad news. It is bad news, because it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It is good news, because not many people are willing to go the extra mile and take their career Above The Rim. May 2012 be a year filled with blessings, one in which you leverage your skills, experience and passions to fulfill your purpose.

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As I get started in blogging, I would like to give a quick shout-out to some of the people I am indebted to for mentoring and helping to shape my career.

First to my Career Coach Mentors: John Hall, Kimberly Roush and Robert Owen, Thank you so much for your guidance and kind support. What I have learned from you is invaluable!

To my Networking & Social Media Mentors: Neal Schaffer, Tim Tyrell-Smith, Sven Johnston, Hank Blank and Ted Robison. While I still have much to learn, you have guided me so far, and I am grateful for your friendship and expertise.

Finally, to my Personal Mentors: David Weinberg, James Tehrani, Karen Vernamonti, Michael Verosky, Norman Naylor, Jeff Baker, Harry Charters, Cliff Phipps and Ted Toch, your integrity, principles of professionalism, and most of all, your faith have been a guiding light for me. Thank you all for inspiration, love and the foundation of faith and hope you have helped me develop.

I look forward to our continuing relationships, and opportunities to continue helping each other out.