Posts Tagged ‘Value proposition’


The other day, while conducting a mock interview workshop, I asked the interviewee what compensation he was looking for. He proceeded to say that he needed at least six figures because he has two kids in college and alimony payments in addition to his mortgage payments. Now you might think that this is a reasonable approach, to determine what your obligations are and therefore what you need to earn.

However, your obligations have no relevancy to the company or to the value you bring to an organization. The reality is that whatever projects, processes and tasks you do for a company need to contribute to either the growth of revenue, the reduction of costs or the mitigation of risk. If your work is not helping the company in any of these areas, it is hard for a company to justify paying your salary. Therefore it is essential for you to understand how your work in impacting your organization.

In an earlier blog I wrote about 10 Tips to Optimize Your Career Security. This is the fourth instalment, Tracking Your Success. If you have followed the first tip and ask the right questions, you will understand how your projects and tasks fit into the needs and goals of your company. Once you understand this, establish Key Performance Indexes (KPI’s) relevant for your tasks and projects to measure your growth and performance. These can be in the area of time saved, improved efficiencies, improved productivity, and improved quality. You can then measure your performance against when you took over a position, or show year to year improvement.

Renowned management thought leader Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” What this means that you can’t know whether or not you are successful unless success is defined and tracked.  With a clearly established metric for success, you can quantify progress and adjust your process to produce the desired outcome.  Without clear objectives, you’re stuck in a constant state of going through the motions

Not only do these measurements help your organization to understand your success, but it also helps you to understand your value. When you are able to articulate your success through quantified accomplishments, you demonstrate that you are aware of how your role impacts an organization, and that you are not just going through the motions, but striving for the success of the company you work for. You are no longer a commodity for the company, but a solution for their problems and a resource for their opportunities.

This blog is written by Greg Johnson of Above The Rim Executive Coaching

Gold Bars Image courtesy of ponsulak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on 10 steps to optimize your career security. This is the second installment in elaborating on the 10 steps. It may seem like a no brainer that, in order to increase your career security, you really need to master your role. Unfortunately, the culture in most of corporate America fosters an attitude of doing things the easy and convenient way rather than doing the best way. In most cases, if a person performs at 70% or 80%, their compensation will be no different than if they perform at 100%. Furthermore, people feel they don’t have the time to really take the steps to fully master their role. People get into a pattern of punching the clock, trudging through the daily grind, with the goal of getting through the day. We end up just going through the motions.

The problem is two-fold. First is that productivity for the company really suffers. Secondly, and from a personal career perspective, more importantly, this type of work philosophy validates the company’s view that employees are nothing more than commodities, and when it is time to cut costs, the employee gets the boot.

In order to truly master your role, you need to understand what part it plays in helping the organization achieve its mission and goals. If you have taken the time to ask questions as discussed in the first installment, you will have a greater understanding of how you are contributing to the bottom line of the company.

Additionally,industries and technologies are constantly changing. Are you staying on top of the advances? You need to be constantly seeking ways to increase your knowledge. Ways meet this demand will be addressed in a future blog.

Finally you need to be constantly looking for ways to improve performance and quality. Too often employees are not motivated to make these improvements because it takes too much work, and it is easier to just go with the status quo. Again this is where complacency sets in, and also furthers the employer’s view that you are just a commodity.

* Three Business Men by Kosta Kostov

In my most recent blog, I discussed 10 practices that will optimize your job security. Today, I want to elaborate on the first practice; Ask questions and be an active listener. Are you asking the right questions on the job? The biggest challenge I see for people who are looking for a new job is that they cannot identify the value of what they have been doing in their career. A vast majority of professionals view their job in terms of the process or tasks they do on a regular basis. The problem is that this just reinforces the fact that you are a commodity in the eyes of the employer. What you have to keep in mind is that in order for you earn a salary, you need to:

  1. Help the company generate more revenue than the cost of employing you
  2. Help the company save more costs than the cost of employing you
  3. Help the company mitigate more risks than the cost of employing you

If you do this, there should NEVER be a reason for your position to be eliminated in a cost reducing restructuring. Unfortunately most people when asked to identify and quantify their accomplishments, they just say that they do not have that information. If you are an IT manager, and you develop and implement a system for the company, what are the results of your work, and what is the return on the company’s investment? Just because you have done a project or task, does that mean you have done it successfully? How do you then define the success? In order to really understand this you need to ask questions about the purpose of the task, process or project you are working on.

In our career, we need to be extremely proactive in asking questions. These questions can include some of the following:

  1. What is the purpose of what I am doing?
  2. How does it fit into the achievement of the company mission?
  3. How does it impact the performance of others?
  4. What are the measurable metrics before you start?
  5. What are the measurable metrics after you finish?
  6. What is the cost of your project, task or process?

You should be talking not only to your supervisor, but talk to the stake holders in the project or tasks you are working on. Make sure you understand the objective and what they are looking to achieve from your work. Understand how it will impact their job. Talk to team members in other departments, and learn how your work impacts them? By taking these steps, not only will you better understand the value you deliver, but people you work with will also understand the value you bring.

Almost every job interview begins with the interviewer asking the interviewees to tell about themselves. This seemingly innocent and obvious question sinks more interviews than any other part of the interview. Everyone knows this question is coming, however, very few candidates prepare for this. They assume that they know their background, and so they can just talk about it. However 90% of candidates talk themselves right out of a job just in telling about themselves. Because they have not prepared they:

  1. Ramble
  2. Bore the Interviewer
  3. Say irrelevant or even damaging things
  4. Do not demonstrate relevancy to the company or the position
  5. Do not demonstrate track record of success

Nailing this part of the interview makes the rest of the interview so much easier. If you strike out on this, recovering is almost impossible. Since you know they are going to ask the question, wouldn’t it make sense to prepare? I have heard recommendations to respond by asking the interviewer to first explain what the job entails. If I am interviewing, and a candidate asks this question, I will wonder why they did not read the job description, and assume they are unprepared. So how do you answer this question? Keep in mind, when interviewing, your primary objectives are to:

  1. Answer “What is in it for the interviewer”?
  2. Demonstrate how your values and culture align with the company values and culture.
  3. Articulate what you are known for, and how that is a benefit for the company.
  4. Articulate your value proposition.

Also you need to be concise and to the point. In preparing for the “Tell Me About Yourself” the following tips will help you nail the shot when the game is on the line.

  1. Read and understand the job description.
  2. Research the company.
  3. Total time should be between 1½ and 3 minutes.
  4. Give a BRIEF synopsis of your career. Shape your synopsis to the needs learned from the job description and prior research.
    1. Do not list every title and company you have worked for, but give a range.
    2. Do not give a laundry list of responsibilities tasks or processes you performed, but give a range.
  5. Based on the job description, as well as the required skills and experiences, give 2 or 3 SHORT accomplishment statements to demonstrate your success.
    1. Do not go into details.
    2. Do not take time to “set the stage”.
    3. Give a simple Quantified Result and action statement including key skill or experience.
    4. Should be 20 words or less.
  6. Summarize skills and experience inferred from the accomplishment statements focusing on skills and experiences required in the job description.
  7. Say why you want the job! Why are you interested in the company, and their products or services?
  8. Solicit their agreement that your background and experience enable you to meet the objectives of the position and the company.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the interview “Tell Me About Yourself” and how you prepare.

 

Over the past several years, the news has been filled with huge layoffs by companies trying to cut costs. Is this a strategy that really helps a company? Every day, in the course of networking, I have the opportunity to talk with, not only people who are in transition because of cost cutting efforts, but also I have opportunity to talk with people “left behind” after the cost cutting. The story is so often the same. Significant resources of knowledge and skills have left the company, leaving those left behind swimming against a rip current. The more they struggle to make up for lost resources, the further fall behind on objectives. They are asked to do more and more, all with decreasing efficiencies and effectiveness. Managers are looking to leave the company because they no longer have the assets in place to meet the demands for the company to succeed.

In a corporate environment, every person in the company, through the tasks and projects they work on, needs to contribute in a way that they are helping the company do one of three things:

  1. Help the company generate revenue
  2. Help the company reduce costs
  3. Help the company mitigate risks

If an employee is not doing this to a degree greater than their annual cost, it really doesn’t make sense for the company to be paying them. The company should not wait for a crisis to let go of underperforming employees. Typically, companies expect to cost savings or revenue generation 3 to 5 times the cost of the employee. If the employee is achieving this success, it NEVER makes sense to cut the employee to save costs.

Does your company understand the true value brought by your employees? Is your company costing itself more by trying to reduce employee costs?

 

This is a blog I posted last year, during Linasity, but was accidently deleted. The ideas about perceived liabilities are still relevant, so I am re-posting.

Perceived liabilities are what we or others perceive will keep us from being the best person for the job. The problem is that these perceptions are often based on stereotypes and prejudices that are not reflective of our actual talent. Along these lines Jeremy Lin is an Asian-American basketball player on meteoric rise in the NBA, who has not let perceived liabilities prevent him from leveraging his skills to have the success he was meant to have. Throughout his career, despite demonstrating significant success at each and every step, decision makers and “experts” had their blinders on.

  1. Despite leading his high school team to the California state championship over the vaunted Mater Dei Monarchs, he was not deemed to “have the right material for the next level” and did not receive a single basketball scholarship offer from a Division One program. Scouts said his game is good, but doesn’t have the skill, speed or strength to compete at the division one level.
  2. Went to Harvard – Not a university known for producing NBA players. Despite performances in college, even against basketball such as Georgetown, that demonstrated Jeremy is a good, fundamentally solid basketball player, he didn’t fit the stereotype for the prototype NBA guard.
  3. He was told he does not have an NBA body – is this a sub-conscience labeling because of Jeremy’s Asian-American heritage?
  4. Jeremy was not drafted, so teams were reluctant to give him a real opportunity, despite excelling against top draft picks in the summer leagues.
  5. Rookie year signed with the Golden State Warriors, and despite great performance in summer league and practice was not giving chance to play during the season.
  6. Cut by the Warriors and Houston Rockets, Jeremy was finally signed by the New York Knicks. After a stint in the developmental league where he again excelled, he was called up to the Knicks, where he sat on the bench until injuries forced his coach to give him a chance.
  7. Since then Jeremy has taken a team that had lost 8 of 11 games before he started playing to winning the first 7 games.
  8. Scouting reports said he can’t shoot. Really?? Since being given the chance to start for the New York Knicks, Jeremy has scored 20 or more points in his first seven games including a 38 point performance in leading the Knicks over Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

What is holding you back from your next opportunity to shine? Age? Industry Experience? Are the liabilities real or perceived? How can you take charge of your career, and manage your brand and reputation to change or erase the stereotype that may be impacting your search.

 

Last week in my blog, I discussed how HR’s question of “What are your salary requirements?” is counterproductive to finding the best employees to achieve the objectives and missions of the position they are trying to fill. Regardless of this fact, there is one thing you can almost guarantee. HR managers interviewing you will try to force the issue so that they can either eliminate you or pin you to a number so you lose any negotiating leverage. So how do you handle this? There are several issues to consider, and prepare for so that you can successfully navigate this area of the interview.

The first issue to resolve is, you need to know what your range is that you are looking for. While it should be irrelevant to the company what you need, you need to know for your own protection what your market value is. There are two components of knowing your market value:

  • Based on the objectives of the position, and based on your past achievements, what are you contributing to the success of the company? The best way to understand this is to look at your accomplishments in your past, and what did these contribute to previous companies in terms of helping the company generate revenue, reduce costs, or mitigate risks. Many professionals list these up in accomplishment statements often referred to as an acronym such as PARs – Problem, Action and Results. Identifying and understanding your previous accomplishments will help you understand your value to a company.
  • Research industry and function ranges for positions similar to the ones you are applying for. This will help you in responding to salary questions and also justifying your range you have determined for yourself.

In the interview itself, when HR asks this screening question, your goal is to defer this discussion until after both parties have determined that there is a good fit and they are prepared to offer the position. There are several ways to do this, and the key is to answer in a rational and non confrontational manner, along the lines of:

“There are so many components that go into my decision process of choosing a job, and salary is just one part. Once we determine that I am the best candidate to achieve the objectives of the position, I am extremely confident you will be able to offer a mutually beneficial and market competitive compensation package.”

If they do not accept this, but still press you, you can respond with:

I appreciate that you do not want to waste anyone’s time. What is the range you have budgeted for this position?” If they give you the range, you repeat the highest number and then be quiet.

If they still insist you give them a number, you can say something like:

Based on my current understanding of the position, objectives and expectations, I would expect the salary to be in the range of ______ to _______, which is within industry standards.”

Keep in mind that when interviewing, you are dealing with human beings. The only thing predictable about responses is that they will be unpredictable. While these types of responses are very effective in many cases, they do not always work. In addition, these are responses to salary questions early on in the interview process, and completely separate from negotiations at the time of an offer.

Finally, keep in mind that companies and HR are trying to commoditize employees and candidates. While this may make their job easier, as stated last week, it does not make their job more effective or efficient. The best way to get around this commoditization is to not approach as a job seeker but as a problem, and network your way in through informational meetings.

I am looking forward to getting your feedback.

As a follow-up to my blog last week, I am continuing with the twitter theme. After the idea of filtering out the noise, the most often question I get asked is what am I going to tweet about?? Who would be interested in what I have to say?

Anyone professional that is serious in keeping up to date on current trends and practices in their profession, should, at the very least, read professional periodicals. This is a great source for tweeting for the following reasons:

  1. You should already be reading this type of article, so the amount of “extra” time needed to tweet will be minimal.
  2. It demonstrates the type of information you read to keep on top of your profession.
  3. It gives credit or props to the source.
  4. Commenting on it helps establish your thoughts on the topic.

This is all very easy to do by using a third party app such as Hootet by Hootsuite, or bufferapp. These applications allow you to, with the click of an icon, to open up a new dialogue box with the title of the article, and a shortened link for the URL. All you need to do is add your personal touch, and tweet it out. You can even schedule to send them out at peak times.

One of the most common questions I get about using Twitter as part of a job search strategy is, “How can I get through all the noise?” It is a very good question, with actually a quite simple answer. However, in order to get to the answer, it is very important to understand that to make the greatest use of Twitter, you cannot view it as a standalone branding application. It is best to use a Social Media dashboard such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage your social media communication, which will save you an immense amount of time, and let you filter and receive information that is important for you to focus on. The more people or companies you follow, the harder it is to catch the tweets that will be important to you. Every tweet of every person you follow streams on your Twitter home page. Depending on how many you are following, you can have 10’s of thousands of tweets per day. Now, how do you filter the information?

  1. Go to your twitter profile and create “Lists” or categories for people who are important for you to focus on, receive their information and network with. Some of these categories might include industry thought leaders, function thought leaders, mentors, employees of target companies, networking groups, etc. Twitter allows you to create up to 20 lists.
  2. Group your list into 2 ~ 4 broader categories.
  3. Go to the list of people and companies you are following, choose the ones that are most important for you to catch and act on their tweets, and put them in the appropriate list. Keep in mind; you do not need to list all people you follow. Keep it selective. As you follow more people, if they are import.
  4. Open up your account at a Social Media dash-board such as Hootsuite.com. Create a new tab for each broad category, and on each tab open up a stream for each list in that broad category.

Now you will have streams with limited numbers of tweets from the people and companies that are important for you to focus on, and allow you to catch, and act on their relevant tweets. Happy Tweeting!

A common theme of my blogs as well as workshops is that companies, for the most part view employees and prospective employees as liabilities instead of assets, or commodities instead of equity that bring additional value to the company. The other day I was talking with a client about the many types of experiences and skills that she possesses. It hit me that these were like the many facets of a valuable diamond, and each contribute to the value of her diamond. So rather than being viewed as coal that just gets burned up and consumed by a company, demonstrate your value and make yourself the diamond that brings equity to the company. What are you doing to know, understand and be able to articulate your many aspects that create significant value for your employer or prospective employer? Target companies that can leverage your facets to solve their most pressing issues and gain advantage over the competition. Remember, you are the diamond bringing value, not coal to be burned and consumed by the company.