How Do You Look at Opportunity?

Abhor, Ignore, or Explore

The decision to entertain the prospect of a new opportunity can be difficult. You may react to opportunities in one of three ways; abhor, ignore or explore. Let’s call this a Decision Wheel. Whether it’s a new product, a new idea, or a new way of doing something, are you quick to react by jumping into one of these modes?

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In order for you to have the most fulfilling success in work, life or faith, you must be aware of your natural, go-to mode when confronted with something new.

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Leadercast 2016 will be broadcast LIVE on May 6th.

Join me at the Studio Movie Grill, 822 Town & Country Blvd, Houston, Tx.

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Date: May 6, 2016—February 11, 2016
Time: 8:00 AM
Event: Leadercast 2016 - Architects of Tomorrow
Public: Public

Do YOU have a Career “Plan B” Ready?

Here are several thoughts to consider

Being a coach for business managers and leaders often gets me into discussions about career transition. While I do not focus on that topic as a primary service, I stay very much in touch with it.

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On one hand, I do have a passion for those who find themselves in job change. In 2008, when the financial crisis hit the U.S. and unemployment rates hit long-time highs, I created a regional career transition and job search organization (non-denominational, faith based non-profit) that served over 4,500 clients before we closed it in 2014.

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So I pay close attention to articles and posts from recruiters and placements professionals I still know. The job market has changed a lot and continues to evolve. Some say that today, we don’t even know the job titles that will be in the market five years from now, so you might ask ‘how can I stay ready for a job change’?

One particular article caught my eye. Top Echelon, an Ohio based service company that supports recruiters and placement professionals, published the following blog post:

We recently conducted a poll of the Top Echelon Network Membership, one that addressed this important issue for recruiters. Below is the question that we posed in this poll:

How educated do you believe your clients are about hiring in today’s market?

Results:

The choice of answers that we provided is listed below, along with the percentage of recruiters who selected each one:

Very educated—11.5%

Somewhat educated—69.2%

Not educated at all—19.2%

Summary:

By far, the most popular answer was “somewhat educated” at over 69%, while “not educated at all” was second at nearly 20%. Perhaps not surprisingly, only 11.5% of recruiters responded “Very educated” in describing their clients.  With so few of the clients on top of current market trends (at least according to this poll), a need clearly exists for recruiters to help educate their clients.

Coming from a group who has the job of helping candidates land placement (i.e. recruiters), I found these stats to be particularly alarming. So I raise the question, would YOU, as a potential placement candidate, consider yourself ‘well educated’? By this I mean prepared for job change?

If not, what are some of the things you might need to do so that you become better prepared? Here is my list of recommendations.

Accomplishments

Do you have a live, ever-green list of work related accomplishments ready for sharing with your next possible interviewer? The reason this accomplishments list is so vital is that it tells a value proposition story. NO employer cares what you think is important. They want to get to the bottom of how you will make them money or save them money; nothing else.

You can show them this valuable merit by listing solid, meaningful accomplishments like:

  • I created a filing system that saved 100 man hours per month.
  • I processed 3,000 payrolls checks per pay period for 18 months with zero errors.
  • I was reasonable for a $10 million gross revenue increase in Q2.

Perpetually grow this list. If you never started one, get it going now. Then add to it as achievements occur. These kinds of accomplishments will usually get an interviewer’s attention real fast.

Research

Become informed about the potential employer. Do more than just Googling the company (do that too, but add to it). Gather some in-depth market intelligence by reaching out to current or former employees via LinkedIn. Get connected with them and ask questions about their experience. If you build and maintain a robust network on LinkedIn, you can easily grab this intel as you need to by asking your contacts who and what they know.

Industry Knowledge

Stay abreast of hot things happening in your industry. Become your own guru about hot topics, new breakthroughs, and meaningful developments. Become conversant in those topics. This is great for the moment when you get that interview segue where the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Use what you learn to be ready to talk about the big developments. Here’s an example.

The whole oil and gas community is under pressure from the drop in global oil price per barrel. If this is your industry, what does a drop of every $5 per barrel mean to the segment you serve? Refinery people are happy. Production people are not. Why? Be able to discuss these forces in more depth. Every industry has comparable hot topic issues that deserve more than casual lip service and use of buzz words about the basic issue(s).

Be Ready

Business today moves at lightning speed. Companies get bought and sold, markets shift, and change happens. NEVER get caught by surprise when your company or department somehow becomes the target of a downsize or elimination. Heck, even management turnover causes change in the rank and file employee pool. Be ready; have your Plan B warm and fresh at all times.

Question: Leave a comment about ways you stay prepared for job change. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Growing Your Business, Growing Yourself

As business owners, we are always looking for ways to grow our revenue, grow our client base, and grow our business as a whole.

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But sometimes we get busy doing day-to-day tasks, and don’t have time or space for the things that are really going to move us forward. We find ourselves doing the same things over and over again, and of course, getting the same results.

Here’s the thing.

Growth Requires Change

Growing our business means doing things differently than we are doing them now.

And that means we have to be willing to change ourselves.

Consider that maybe it’s your own lack of growth that is holding your business back.

I’m not trying to point a finger. Only to shine a light that may illuminate some areas that could create growth for yourself, impacting your business as well as other areas of your life. There are three areas where change can be implemented to achieve growth.

Clarity

The first place to look is your own sense of clarity about where you are going, what you are doing, and even why you are doing it.

Do you have a clear vision for what you want to achieve? Does it stir your passion?

Or have you followed a path that guided you off-course? Perhaps you are no longer connected to what you are doing or where it is taking you.

Creativity

Courtesy 123rf.com/ Dmitriy Shironosov

Once you are clear about where you are going, you have to take steps to get there. In order to move forward, that means trying new things and taking risks.

When you try something new, there will inevitably be challenges and hurdles along the way that require problem-solving.

It often means creating new things and putting them out into the world, even just in the form of content and communications to share what you are doing.

Do you trust your own creative capacity? Your ability to express yourself, to take risks and to overcome any problems that arise?

The area of creativity is a key place to look for new ways to grow.

Organization

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Growth also requires a higher level of organization. If you don’t have systems in place to support growth, you can overwhelm your structure, your technology and even yourself.

What often happens is that individuals and small businesses try to grow in just one area. But that growth stresses them out because they don’t have the systems in place to maintain it. They end up deciding they were better off being smaller and revert back to old ways.

Does this sound familiar? It’s a common pattern for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

So having organized systems in place is critical to sustaining growth.

Join The Discussion

Question: Which of these three areas is the most challenging for you right now? Which one may hold the answer to growing yourself and your business this year? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Re-posted by permission from Sarah Schwab, The Content Creation Coach, Milwaukee, WI.

Does Business Have You Chasing Your Tail?

Ever watch a cat or dog chase their tail? To be sure, it is quite humorous. The real question is when was the last time someone watched you chasing your tail?

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As I reflect on various chapters of my life and as I hear friends and colleagues share various experiences from theirs, it strikes me that some of us are just as guilty of chasing our tail as our beloved four-legged friends.While cats and dogs literally chase their tails, we humans figuratively chase ours, and, as such, here are a few thoughts to consider.

  1. Are you running in tight, crazy spirals? The kind that feel fast, frenzied, and dizzying? It does not take long in that type of tail chasing to recognize you are, in fact, running in circles. So it becomes easy to identify the pattern and attempt to stop the cycle.
  2. The tougher challenge is those large, slow, looping circles that may actually lull you into believing you are gracefully gliding through the current chapter of your life. If you return to the same place and outcome multiple times, you are chasing your tail.
  3. Seldom in the animal kingdom will you see an older, wiser creature chasing its tail. In contrast, the human race is not immune to repeating old habits regardless of age. The truth is, we never really stop chasing our tail in one area or another until we finally agree to learn from past experience. Input from trusted friends and loving family can certainly help us break old habits, but each of us must come to our own understanding of the forces that drive us to chase our tail in the first place.
  4. It’s not wise to stick your hand into the middle of someone else’s frenzy while they are running at full speed. I did that once when one of my cats was so engrossed in chasing his tail that he seemed to have forgotten all other things. What I did not know was that the cat was intent on biting the catch as hard as he could once he found it. My hand substituted for the catch. Wow, that hurt. Yes, I stopped the cat and saved him from who knows what, but I paid a big price. As noble as trying to stop someone else’s frenzy may sound, there is a point at which outsiders must stay out of the way. It’s far easier to intercede and assist with helping someone stop a cycle in the early stages before the momentum builds.

Some kind of change is required to break the cycle.

Attempting to stop running in circles is to agree to change. Change a habit. Change an attitude. Change a belief.

That said, one of the toughest things about embracing change is getting stuck in the cycle of convincing ourselves that our past habits have been successful and, due to that success, there is no need for a change.

For many senior business execs and managers agreeing to change a business model, marketing approach, or sales delivery message is painful, almost blasphemy.

They insist on using old, stale ways to get their message across and wonder why sales have dropped or business is going to the competition. It’s change my friend. If you are one of those owners or managers who believe in operating that way, you know, saying “we’ve always done it this way”, you may just be chasing your tail.

Question: Share the ways you have discovered you have been chasing your tail? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

5 Ways to Avoid Convenient Excuses

As we go through this life, things happen to us and around us. Often there is a call to accountability. Sometimes that call is obvious and loud, for example when the boss is really mad. Other times the call is quiet.

Those of us with any moral conviction at all tend to offer an answer when one of those calls for accountability arises. However, if you are like me, you can be guilty of occasionally offering excuses rather than true, accountable explanations. To be an effective and respected leader, you must fight the temptation to give excuses.

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10 Things I learned About Life and Business from a Single Mom

I was raised as the only child of a hard working single Mom. In my formative years, she taught me so much about life and business. Truthfully, I didn’t know that’s what I was learning until the day came for me to enter the business world.

Then, moment by moment, as the tests and trials of my own career began to unfold, I realized she had done an amazing job at teaching me some very profound wisdom.

Here are Her 10 Truths:

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The Emotionally Intelligent Candidate

While academics debate whether emotional intelligence (EI) can be taught, in the workplace, HR professionals are searching for ways to identify EI among candidates and strengthen it in employees.

Dean Bender, principal at Bender/Helper Impact, a strategic communications firm with more than 40 employees and offices in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, said he’s always looked beyond technical or practical skills when interviewing job candidates.

“We absolutely try to simulate a situation that could potentially occur and want to see how the candidate responds,” he said. “It could be related to deadlines, crisis or client relations. We’re about far more than just technical skills. I can teach or improve the many skills required for our profession, but there are intangibles that can’t be taught and we try to learn at an early stage just how emotionally intelligent our new employees are.”

Some academics see EI as a sharpening of traditional leadership skills, while others view it as a cluster of personality traits that promote well-being and self-actualization. Some researchers maintain that emotional intelligence can be learned and strengthened, while others say it’s an inborn characteristic.

Many HR professionals embrace the theory that with training, coaching and time, a person’s EI can be honed so that he or she is able to express difficult emotions and remain calm even in stressful situations. For these HR professionals, EI is an important trait to bring to the workplace, particularly for those in leadership positions.

Studies have found that people who not only know and understand their own feelings, but who also comprehend and can deal with the feelings of others, function more effectively in every aspect of life. A 40-year study of University of California at Berkeley doctorate-degree holders found that a person’s EI was four times more likely than their intelligence quotient (IQ) to predict who would achieve success in their field of work.

David Caruso, a research affiliate in the department of psychology at Yale University and co-author of the business book The Emotionally Intelligent Manager (Jossey-Bass, 2014), said that other studies have shown that people with high EI “have better quality long-term relationships, are better at managing stress and create more-positive work environments.”

But he suggested that when considering someone for a job or promotion, first focus on intelligence and technical skills, then ascertain whether the candidate has the EI necessary for the position.
Spotting emotional intelligence in a job candidate isn’t always easy, said John Mayer, a University of New Hampshire psychologist who is among researchers credited with coining the term “emotional intelligence” back in 1990. For one thing, people with different goals and personalities will express emotional intelligence differently. For example, he said, achievement-focused people will use their EI to get ahead; relationship-focused people will use it to maintain and improve relationships.

“I don’t believe it would be very easy for HR professionals to pick up emotional intelligence in an interview,” he said. “In my opinion, only ability-based tests are reliable, valid ways of doing that. Such tests are useful when there is good evidence that emotional intelligence is important to job performance.”

Caruso, Mayer and Yale University President Peter Salovey developed a model of EI, explaining that EI is comprised of measurable abilities in four areas: the ability to accurately perceive emotions, the ability to use emotions to facilitate thought, the ability to understand complex emotions and transitions between stages of emotions, and the ability to integrate data and emotions to devise effective problem-solving strategies.

The threesome then created a tool to objectively assess EI abilities: the Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, or MSCEIT. The test measures and provides scores on these four emotional abilities. In a guide to the MSCEIT, Caruso wrote that the test was developed in accordance with two principles: Emotions are critically important to our success, and these emotional skills can be measured objectively.

“If you want to measure the ability to accurately identify how people feel, one way to do so is by asking the test-taker what emotions are being expressed in a photograph of someone’s face,” Caruso wrote. “For example, if you show a photo of a person displaying mild sadness, and the test-taker selects an answer indicating that the person is feeling a bit happy and somewhat surprised, then such an answer is considered incorrect.”

The International Society for Research on Emotion calls the MSCEIT “the most well-respected and widely used measure of EI,” but it is by no means the only emotional intelligence test available. There are dozens of tests, from dozens of sources, including TalentSmart, which claims that 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies rely on its products and services.

Bender of Bender/Helper Impact said his company hasn’t yet deployed a formal emotional intelligence test, relying instead on his own interviewing abilities. But he’s certainly open to it, he said, and may yet “make it an official part of our interview process.”

Thomas K. Arnold is a freelance writer based in Carlsbad, Calif.

Confrontation – Turning the Tables

What to Do When YOU Are on the Receiving End

In my last blog, I spoke about confrontation from the viewpoint of the manager initiating the moment. Now it’s time to talk about a response or reaction from the viewpoint of the recipient.

You must realize that confrontation comes in many forms from many sources. Being able to prepare yourself with solid, professional, and emotionally mature responses provides a launching pad for growth and development.

Change is a given in all aspects of life. The sooner you embrace change and look at it as an opportunity, the better you will feel about the world around you.

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Methods and Motivations

Previously, I wrote about these four elements that can create positive results from confrontation.

  • Make sure the confrontation involves the violation of a clear standard of conduct or principle.
  • The goal must be correction, not condemnation.
  • Confrontation should be executed in private.
  • Don’t expect the process to be pleasant.

How Should You Respond?

When you are confronted, ask yourself, “am I hearing a corrective action or an assertion of a personal expectation”. When you have been confronted and sense more condemnation than correction, it is time to make a stand. Again, it can be done respectfully but firmly. Your response could be something like “I am hearing a tone of condemnation rather than correction”.

If you find yourself as “the offender” and the confrontation is starting to happen in wide open spaces, kindly ask if the discussion could be taken behind closed doors. There are several reasons to do this.

  • The primary reason is to help your superior keep face if in fact, you stand ground and are able to diffuse or reverse then entire matter. Give them the dignity to retreat in private.
  • If it truly is a corrective action, then you deserve the respect to be confronted privately.
  • Plus, a more candid and open discussion can be accomplished in private. If you hear the correction and have questions about how to meet the new expectation, you can hash that out more effectively in private.

Worst case, if your request to take the matter private is not honored, then you must decide to endure it. It’s not pleasant to be forced to do that, but if the person bringing the matter to you is not willing, then the chips must fall as they may. You can always arrange to circle back at another time to have a private discussion and avoid a big pubic blow up. In the long run, you will be respected for doing it this way.

Experiencing an uncomfortable moment of confrontation is unpleasant for any of us. Trying to find the silver lining is the best spirit though. Try to listen intently and embrace what is being offered. Grasp a total understanding of what the other person is saying before you formulate your reaction or response.

Remember there is a difference. If we react to a medicine that is bad, but if we respond to it, that is good. Confrontation given with the right methods and with the right motivation is a good medicine. We should always be able to respond in a positive way.

Question: How do you usually respond to confrontation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How to Get the Most Out of Confrontation

4 Steps for Effective Mastery

Here’s a scenario. A problem has been brewing for months. You wish it would go away, but it is quite apparent it will not.

The stage is set for confrontation, something most of us do not enjoy.

Since we fear the damage to relationships and the potentially distasteful consequences, confrontation is usually something we go to great lengths to avoid.

While the reaction to confrontation is a common and natural human trait, here is some surprising news about the benefits that this experience can bring when approached in the right spirit, with the right motivation.

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Motivations and Methods for Confrontation

1. Make sure the confrontation involves the violation of a clear standard of conduct or principle. If we seek to discipline someone over a matter of personal preference, then our encounter is nothing more than assertion of our rights.

Confrontation should never be pursued as the whim of a capricious personality.

It is also wise to pass over occasional, minor faults, focusing rather on sustained, conspicuous infractions.

Rule breakers at work need to be disciplined (assuming the rules are clearly stated workplace standards). However, husbands who cannot lower the toilet seat may need a different kind of encouragement.

Discretion is the key to effective use of outright confrontation.

2. The goal must be correction, not condemnation. The Golden Rule says we should treat others as we want to be treated. We all make mistakes at one time or another.

When asserting confrontation, avoid strife and anger. They only hinder restoration.

3. For the majority of cases, confrontation should be executed in private. Don’t seek to embarrass the offender, but work to gain their trust.

The news of the confrontation should not travel through social media either. It should always be a personal and private matter.

4. Don’t expect the process to be pleasant, but rather focus your attention on the long term results.

Confrontation is painful. There may well be hard feelings. Your relationship may be adversely affected. But if your motivation and method is well meaning, the outcome can eventually be positive.

Refining Lives

Giving and receiving correction and discipline are a major part of development and maturity. Used correctly, confrontation can be a positive tool for refining lives.

“The ear that hears rebuke will be counted among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.” Proverbs 15:31–32.

As a manager, you face the occasional need to confront someone on your team. By using these 4 principles, you can minimize the negative aspects of the moment while increasing the likelihood of a more positive, long term outcome. Assuming you follow these practices, any employee who repeatedly refuses to respond to the corrections may likely need to be released. This is an unfortunate truth.

However, following these methods will help you grow the trust within your team while you restore and renew the individuals who may be the subject of your correction.

Question: Tell me about a time when you had to make a correction via confrontation. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Excerpts from “Priority Profiles for Today’s Workplace” 1989 by Charles F. Stanley