Four Secrets to Getting Your Employees to Take Initiative…So You Can Get Your Work Done
What Getting Fired Taught me About Work
Just after my 30th birthday, I got fired from my job. I still remember the room spinning when I got the news. It wasn’t something I ever expected to happen, and yet it was an enormous gift. Here’s what I learned:
- The company is not your parents. I guess I was naive, but it never occurred to me that the company wouldn’t go out of its way to support me. From the experience, I learned to take a more mature, consultant-style approach to future jobs. Make sure you bring value and you know what it is, so you can negotiate what you need.
- You will come back from failure. Every day I see clients terrified of failure, and the fear really holds them back. Learning that important lesson has helped me continue to take risks, and that is where the big successes come.
- Listen to your voice. The job I got fired from had lasted two months, and I knew when I interviewed that it didn’t feel right. I was lucky to get another job quickly and spent the next couple of years learning to listen to my voice to figure out the right job for me. I then went on to have the five most productive years of my corporate career.
Getting fired and finding my way is a big part of why I do what I do. It was a blessing because it pushed me one big step towards facing a big truth — that while I’d gone to good schools and gotten jobs at impressive companies, I was making decisions based on external measures, not my own.
This summer things haven’t slowed down. I’m happy about it, but I can smell the suntan lotion and hear the seagulls, taste a cool cocktail as the sun gets low in the sky. Being busy is more draining when you feel the pull of summer. In the first few years of my business, I took three weeks off in August. My kids were small and things tended to slow down, so why not. Over the years I’ve learned to hold that time religiously because every single year, I come back with so much creative energy.
I know most people can’t take that much time, but it is important to restore yourself. Here are a few of my favorite time management tools to create space for fun and recreation:
- Schedule fun and friend time first. Put these on your calendar and plan work around them. If you let things happen spontaneously (especially with kids in the mix), it won’t happen
- Plan by quarter. Decide what you want to accomplish three months at a time, and only do those things. Put the rest on a list for next quarter. And please, keep the list short in summer
- Close each week by looking at the major things you got done, ask why each is important, what further progress would look like, and what are the immediate next steps. Put those on the list for Monday
Time management isn’t just about getting more done, it’s about feeling satisfied with your efforts.
That’s it. Short and sweet. Have fun!
Executive Presence Gone Wrong
Last week I reported to Grand Jury duty. Towards the of the selection process, the jury warden asked people to make a line if they 1) Had a “must serve” on their summons, for having postponed too many times and 2) Could still not serve. He repeated the instructions several times. A couple of people who lined up had gotten it wrong, and he repeated the instructions AGAIN. All within hearing range, and all in public view. A few minutes later, a man popped up from his seating row and said in a loud and commanding voice, “What’s this line for?!” I noticed that he was in a dress shirt, suspenders, elegant shoes and briefcase. He looked like someone who knew how to use executive presence. The trouble was, he was so clearly out of synch that he ended up looking foolish.
Many of my clients ask me about executive presence. This man had presence, but he was using it to cover up his mistake. When people use executive presence to influence or destabilize others or to cover bad behavior or conceal when they are wrong, it can leave others, especially those junior to them, feeling off and confused. And it can make that leader lose peoples’ trust, especially that of his or her direct reports.
So the takeaway is, don’t confuse executive presence with intimidation. People will see through it. If you can learn to be vulnerable, ie, “I’m sorry officer, I wasn’t listening and I’m not sure what this line is for” and still look people in the eye, sit up straight and dress with flair, your executive presence will take you much farther.
Beginning July 8th I am offering my Career Confidence course in a condensed, 4-week summer class to give you an easy, doable way to get started. You can get rid of that gnawing procrastination feeling, relax, and enjoy your summer.
If you’ve wanted to work with me and you know this is for you, just email me at email@example.com.
We’ll set up a 15-minute call to answer any questions.
Career Confidence is a condensed 4-week summer session where you will learn:
- Four steps to figuring out what you want (finally!), and feeling confident about your choice
- The easy system to make your resume and cover letter really pop, or to make your case for a promotion
- The key shift that will transform your elevator pitch and networking
- How to tell whether it’s time to leave your job
- The way to tell your story, even if it has bumps
- The interview formula that lets you show up confident and keep control of the conversation
- How to negotiate the next job, where you are or somewhere else
I call it Career Confidence because we take the angst out of job search and promotion, we shorten it, and we do it together (that’s so key).
When you do career planning by yourself, the voices in your head start asking:
“I took so much time to write that email. Why haven’t they responded?
“How could my boss not know I want a promotion? I’ve been working so hard!”
“Why do I never get a response to online applications? What should I do instead?”
“When am I going to find time to re-do my resume? And why does everyone tell me to do it a different way?”
“Some people are just political animals. That will never be me.”
And before you know it, it’s Summer 2020.
Please consider joining me.
If you want to set up a 15-minute chat to discuss the program, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Career Confidence course includes:
- The Career Confidence curriculum. I curated this suite of assessment and personal reflection tools during my own career turns and have used it over 10 years working with hundreds of professionals. You feel confident about your skills and experience, what you can do for an organization, and how to tell your story.
- Four 90-minute webinar classes. One for each topic plus plenty of Q&A.
- A group of other professionals. Nothing spells relief like knowing you are not alone.
- A bonus class on Influence using the Social Style model to help your selling skills (this alone is worth $425)
- And for the first 8 people who sign up, I will offer you this extra: I will read through your completed Career Confidence Curriculum to provide direct and focused feedback. This is a lot. I’ve worked with hundreds of people and can help you see what you’re doing right, not right, and steer you in the right direction.
The program cost is $695. To join us (or get more information), just write to me at: email@example.com
Get the peace of mind of knowing you are doing the right things — that’s what will make it a fun and relaxing summer.
Recently I did some 360 interviews for a client named Heather. She was experiencing high turnover in her team and knew she was too harsh and demanding. What I discovered in the interviews is that her team loved her! They consistently said things like, “Oh yeah. When we are at off-sites and Heather is relaxed, she is amazing! So much fun! If she could only be like that more of the time.” Despite being identified as the future of her organization, Heather was so anxious and worried about her goals and performance that she spent most of her time focused on what still had to be done, and what her team wasn’t getting right. She’d lost them.
We focused on letting “Off-site Heather” show up more consistently in her daily work. She shared with her team that she was working on changing her intense behavior. She practiced smiling more and using her sense of humor, saying things like, “Uh oh, here comes the General. Better take a moment and step back.” In those step back moments, she and the team said one or two things that were going well, then moved on to discussing the work at hand.
We also worked on having Heather feel more confident and less defensive. She spent time writing down her wins and learnings. She also spent some time writing down what she feared might go wrong. Just to get it out of her system.
So. Much. Better. Remember, her team wanted her to be fun more of the time, not all of the time. Her efforts meant so much to them. They learned not to take her intense moments personally, and those moments shifted to how much she cared about their collective success. With that, they were much more willing to roll up their sleeves and collaborate with her.
Being real doesn’t have to be weird or end in a pile of public tears. Being real is different for everyone, but here are a few things to get you started:
- Smile more;
- Share about your tough weekend;
- Apologize! If you overreacted or were unprofessional, say you’re sorry;
- If you need alone time or a break, say so. It tells the team you are real and lets them stop wondering why you look unhappy or dissatisfied;
- Write down the stuff that you are afraid of/worried about, so it stops derailing you.
If you want to learn about how you, or one of your managers, can connect better with direct reports, click here to schedule a complimentary 30-minute strategy session.
Again and again, managers tell me that they want their teams to work more independently. They want to stop herding cats and micro-managing. They want to actually leave at 5:00! Or reasonably close to it.
If you don’t take the time to figure out what they want, you will lose them. You will discover too late, that they are faking it.
How do you learn what really motivates your managers?
- Asking them is a great place to start. And don’t judge what they want from your lens. Remember times have changed. And, it’s not the same for everyone.
- Become aware of what they are good at. Compliment them when you see them using those skills.
- Teach them what you know about navigating politics at work.
- And do your best to create a safe space. When failures happen, be patient and focus on their intention. Most of us know when we’ve messed up. Usually, there’s no need to point it out.
Catherine Hayes, Enneagram Facilitator and Author of
Everything’s Going to Be OK – The Housing Projects to Harvard to Freedom
In a career there are moments of re-invention and some are really big. Catherine Hayes was a Harvard Professor of dentistry and something of a workaholic. Watch our Clarity Conversation to learn how a life-changing event led her to re-evaluate, with the help of the Enneagram, and how she uses this innovative tool to help professionals be happier and more effective.
Click Catherine’s photo to access this week’s Clarity Conversation:
The Happiness Advantage
Last Monday I got to see Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, speak live. He is so funny, so smart and his work is fascinating. Here’s a study his team did that I love.
When an individual looks at a mountain peak, they will report that the peak has a steeper pitch and looks more difficult to climb. When a person has just one other person standing next to them, they will report that peak as being less steep, easier to climb. It turns out that to be more optimistic, work is the perfect place to start. When groups of us work together, we can measurable shift our optimism, creativity and productivity. It is amazing stuff.
Here’s an exercise. Before your next meeting (let’s assume 10 people or fewer), take 90 seconds total for each person to say one thing they are grateful for that another team member did in the past week. Do it round robin, so that everyone gives and gets one acknowledgment. Specificity and recency are important. One of the teams I worked with this week did this at the start of their off-site and reported the most productive meeting they’ve ever had.
I hope you pick up this book. I am officially adding it to Claire’s Faves (see my website).
As a former cosmetics professional, a lot of my audience and clients are women. And recently, I’ve become increasingly aware of the challenges that men face when it comes to personal growth and connecting. Today I speak with Ken Mossman, master coach, former fitness trainer, ski instructor and guitar player with a masters degree in fine art. Ken has coached thousands of men on how to connect, increase confidence and be more effective in life and work. Please watch our conversation on men. Whether you are a man or a woman, learn how you can better support the men in your life, and see what we can learn from Ken — it might surprise you.
If you are interested in how Ken’s work can help you or the men in your life, please contact him.
As always, you can learn more about how to use the skills Ken talks about by scheduling a 30-minute Career Clarity session with me. Simply click here.