How To Succeed In Business By Really Trying

Victor Lipman, Contributor , Forbes Magazine 5/13/12

No sugar coating here. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be born to take over a thriving family business or to get in on the ground floor of the next Facebook, the road to business success is seldom a simple one.

In my experience and observation, success is much less the product of one brilliant idea than of a great deal of hard work, well-executed and sustained over a long period of time.

Even in the best of times, no one will just hand you a position of great value for nothing. If your goal is vice presidency or partner or managing director or the c-suite, or whatever role has captured your imagination, no one can guarantee you’ll attain it. But if hard work is the currency of success, there are things you can do to make that effort work as hard as possible for your up-and-coming career. So with a tip of the cap to one the greatest musicals ever (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”), here are five activities that can be worth really trying to put extra time into.

Learn the business – If you work for a sizable organization, and perhaps if you don’t, chances are your business has considerable complexity. Take time to learn not just your particular role (that’s “table stakes”- you have to know it), but also to gain a broader understanding of the business: the competitive environment, the market forces at play, the company’s value proposition, sales model, pricing model, etc. No one’s expecting you to become expert in all these fields, but gaining at least a working understanding of the key macro-level issues is always helpful. Familiarity with these larger issues senior management is grappling with will only enhance your decision-making capabilities in your own role.

Make yourself indispensable – Take time to really understand what your manager needs. Not just what is needed from you in your current role, but what are the troubling problems that keep him or her up at night? Is it help with PowerPoints, an upcoming presentation to a hostile audience, delicate personnel problems, or dealing with regulators… to name just a few of a thousand possibilities. Try to see things through the eyes of others. The more substantive assistance you can provide, the more gaps you can fill, the more valuable you’ll be to an organization.

Provide solutions, not problems – The normal state of senior management is too much to do in too little time. When wrestling with difficult issues in your own area, naturally you can’t always solve all the problems yourself. But it definitely can be worth the extra time to not simply make your problems your manager’s. Instead, present your manager with a carefully thought out range of viable options – ideally including your recommended solution – rather than just posing a vexing, time-consuming problem. This approach demonstrates your critical thinking capabilities, and can be an appreciated time saver for a person with little time to spare.

Be a great collaborator – Good team players are valued. Large complex projects always require people with diverse skills. Attitude matters; effective collaborators often find themselves in demand. Consider taking the time to volunteer for a large project that may be understaffed, even in an area outside your core expertise. This can be a way of broadening your skill set and business knowledge, plus demonstrating your motivation. Management appreciates self starters who ‘play well with others.’

Come early, stay late – The best point I can offer here is a story of my own. While I’m an advocate in theory for as much work-life balance as possible, the fact is, if you want to get ahead, there will be periods in a career where there are no substitutes for grindingly long hours. There was a period in my own career where I was especially motivated by the prospect of advancement and all that went with it, and had great respect for the organization and the work we were doing. Accordingly, I resolved to myself that no one in the 20-person department I worked in (including the SVP who managed the operation) would come in earlier or work later than I would. Did I always achieve that? No. But did my diligence catch the attention of senior management and ultimately help my career? Yes. (The assumption here of course is that you’re not simply sitting around long hours playing video games or writing to your aunt… but doing real work and adding value!)
In the end of course, occupational success is preordained for no one. Many talented people compete for relatively few coveted positions. But you can take certain actions to improve your odds. And if you do, regardless of how things turn out in a particular instance, at the very least you’ll have the benefit of broadening your skills and the satisfaction of knowing you gave your very best effort.

Best Questions To Ask In Your Job Interview

Caroline Howard, Forbes Staff

Anyone who’s ever been on a job interview knows the pause: The moment when the interviewer’s q&as come to a stop, she looks you in the eyes and says: “And do you have any questions for me?”

Preparing for that crossroads in the interview is crucial, say recruiters and hiring managers. It’s the time to turn the table. And you don’t want to be caught off-guard with crickets in your head. You’ll appear indifferent, or worse, clueless. Alternately, if you’re buzzing with questions and give the interviewer what feels like the third-degree, it will immediately signal that you are unfocused or too aggressive.

“This is an opportunity to look like a leader and show that you are engaged in the interview,” says Cynthia Shapiro, a career strategist based in Woodland Hills, Cal., and author of What Does Somebody Have To Do To Get A Job Around Here?

“The best questions are really all about them and not about you,” says Louise Garver, an executive coach for the past 23 years from Broad Brook, Conn., and founder of Career Directions, LLC. “They have one thing at their core: How can I contribute value to the team and the company.”

Here, the five most important questions to ask at a job interview–plus a debatable no-no–so that you’ll make the right impression and get the job offer.

1. How would you describe the ideal candidate?
What this question does is enable the hiring supervisor to imagine you actually in the job as he or she is describing the position, says Shapiro. Technically, it is a form of transference. But practically it’s a way to role-play. “I’m so glad you said you need an Excel wiz. In my last position I…” Grab this as an opportunity to describe yourself doing the very things the interviewer outlined by using past experiences and wins.

Continuing this line of questioning–”What are the top three qualities you’re looking for?”–will reveal key information. Take mental or actual notes (it’s OK to have pen and paper handy–it’ll keep your hands busy) in order to shape your responses accordingly for future interviews or later in the conversation.

2. How do you envision this position supporting you?
At face value, this question has nothing to do with the job candidate herself–and the interviewer will certainly appreciate that. You’ve likely already listed all your past job and educational experiences. Instead of more me-me-me talk, it translates to I’m-all-about-you. “What you’re saying to your potential employer without saying it is, ‘I’ll make your life easier,’” says Shapiro. “That alone will put you at the top of the list.”

3. How does this position fit into the company’s long-term plans?
This query will open the door to discussions about the position and overall business strategy. It is perfectly appropriate at this point to ask about the person who is leaving (left or promoted?) or why the position was created, says Garver. You will also want to ask about the specific challenges and goals of the job, and the company’s vision for it in the next six months, year and five years.
If you feel uncomfortable, you can always couch your queries as permission-based statements, as in, “May I ask…,” says Garver.

4. How would you define “success” for this position?
The question drills down into a win looks like to the hiring supervisor and the company, says Shapiro. (Hint: many companies do not have performance evaluation systems in place, so you may catch your interviewer by surprise.)
This question not only reveals the kind of boss you are applying to–is he or she hands-off or a micro-manger?–but will give you insight into the company’s procedures and culture. “You need to put on your Sherlock Holmes hat during a job interview and be a silent observer,” continues Shapiro. “That is the only way you can determine what kind of a boss your interviewer will be and the kind of company you may be working for.”

5. What can I do for you as follow-up?
You want to know how you can grease the process in your favor. What you are saying, though, is “How can I help you.” And the more you find out about who or what group will be making the decision and their timeline, the more influence you have in terms of making the right contacts and sending follow-up information. “What employers are looking for are people who really want to work in the organization and are enthusiastic about affecting the outcome of the interview,” says Garver.

What’s the salary range?

Of course you want to know. But this matter of keen interest, along with other forms of compensation and benefits such as health insurance, child care, vacation, 401(k) and tuition reimbursement, is of some debate.
“This is my career, this is my life, I’d better bring up money,” says Debra Benton of Benton Management Resources of Ft. Collin, Col., a professional speaker and executive coach with 30 years experience working with such companies as Verizon, Campbell’s Soup and the USDA. “One subject you want bring up is money: ‘Money is not my main motivation in this job but what is the range?’ That shows my character. It takes courage and confidence to ask those questions.”

But many other experts advise a don’t-ask-don’t tell policy prior to a job offer in writing. “Never ask about salary and benefits,” says Garver. “Don’t ask any questions related to your needs.”
Why? You don’t have much negotiating power until they decide they want you on board. “Bring salary up too early and they’ll think that’s all you care about,” says Shapiro. So what should you do if THEY bring up salary before the offer? Simply say it would be something you’d consider. “Once they make the offer, it means they want you. Then negotiate. It shows that you’re serious.”

What is Your Business Why?

One of the most difficult concepts to understand when you are at work is: it is not about you. Whether you work for someone else or you own your own business, the quicker you take your ego off the playing field, the sooner you will meet Success.

Ego tells you that you know best. Ego also whispers to you that you are right. Or, that your products and services are the best that are available.

One way to shut the door on Ego is to always turn questions like, “What do you have to offer?” away from I and back onto the other person. Instead of answering, “I can do this…” or “We are experts at…” Answer the question with another question that focuses back on the customer. For example, “What are you looking for today?” or “What is it you need?”

As you read this article and are checking in on your why, first ask yourself where you find your inspiration and motivation. Is it internal or external? When you begin to notice your motivation waning, there are two very important questions to ask yourself to find renewed energy. They are:

1. Why are you in your current line of work?

2. Why do you believe in your business?

Give yourself time and space to linger over these questions, and see what answers bubble to the surface.

Are the answers I statements? Or do the answers explain what gives you purpose in life? Chances are if your answers involve your ego, rather than how you are helping customers or clients find what they need, then this is why it feels like your motivation has dried up.

If you want to make the switch from self-centered living, to one where you are more connected and in-sync with others, then you can change by asking yourself, “Why are you in ____ business?” When you truly believe that your services and products increases other people’s quality of life, then your consumers will notice this change.

When your products and services are making life easier for your buyers, then there is an inexhaustible amount of energy. Why is there no end to the energy? It’s because your value and belief system are tied into something greater than yourself. When you are excited about what there is to offer to others, the emphasis is placed on customer satisfaction not you.

And, the easiest way to re-center is to remind yourself when doing business that it’s not about you. It’s always about the other person. If you can enhance the customer’s experience, answer their needs, and make them feel satisfaction then Success will find you, and perhaps repeat customers as well.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

How to Manage a Micromanager

Deborah L. Jacobs, Forbes Staff 5/07/2012

If you’ve ever worked with a micromanager, you know how unproductive and demoralizing it can be. This control freak is reluctant to delegate, may second-guess everything you do, and can shake your confidence in your own abilities. Simple tasks that you could accomplish quickly if left to your own devices take twice as long. Your efforts may be reduced to dust as the micromanager completely re-does your work.
Sure, you may be tempted to bolt, but at a time of high unemployment, you might not have that option. So better to master the art of managing the micromanager.
Start by understanding what causes someone to act this way. Often it’s a need for control that stems from insecurity: lack of confidence, workplace instability and pressure to produce–both individually and as a team. Deep-seated psychological issues and problems at home can also influence the way people behave at work. Many of us have the propensity to be a micromanger, but some of us rein it in better than others.
With this in mind, here are eight practical steps you can take.

1. Look for patterns.

As annoying as micromanagers are, they’re incredibly predictable. Watch for behavior swings. There will be certain situations, times of the day or week, when they get especially agitated. Knowing their pressure points can help you ease them.

2. Anticipate needs.

Once you know what triggers them, you can stay ahead of those stressors and ease the tensions early on. Flag potential problems before they escalate and offer solutions. Always have a stockpile ready of new initiatives and demonstrate that you are proactive. This helps them curb their responses to the pressure points without slipping into micromanagement mode.

3. Show empathy.

Remember, the micromanager is under pressure to produce. Show that you understand his or her plight and are willing to share the load. This could be as simple as offering to help. Tomorrow might be the day when this colleague has to take a child to school but also has an early meeting. So today ask what you can do to make life easier tomorrow.

4. Be super reliable.

It’s much easier to manage an office where everyone turns up on time and meets work deadlines. This goes back to the fact that a micromanager hates feeling out of control. If some members of the team don’t deliver, the micromanager gets aggravated and makes unfair demands on everyone else. Discuss as a team what you can do to coordinate things in such a way that there’s no need for the micromanager to fret about how everything is running.

5. Be a role model.

Treat the micromanager the way you would like to be treated. Give the micromanager space. Don’t smother or micromanage back. In working with other people, show how your management style is different –and gets equally good results.

6. Speak up—gently.

Often micromanagers are oblivious to the effect they are having on other people. They actually think all their micromanaging is producing a better work product. Show encouragement and support for the micromanager’s strengths. Then, without being confrontational, find a way to let this person know how micromanagement affects you. A little levity could diffuse the tension. Or you might just ask how he or she thinks it feels to be second-guessed and mistrusted all the time.

7. Enlighten others.

It’s not just you who should be shouldering the responsibility of neutralizing someone’s instinct to micromanage. And chances are you’re not the only one suffering either. Explain to others on your team what you’re doing to ease the micro-manager’s anxiety and encourage them to do the same.

8. Run interference.

If a micromanager reports to you and has a detrimental effect on other team members, be a sounding board. Often the micromanager has a skill or quality that’s important to the organization. But it’s up to this manager’s boss to play a leading role in preventing other team members from getting squelched.

Why Promoting From Within Usually Beats Hiring From Outside

Susan Adams, Forbes Staff  4/5/12

This week The Wall Street Journal wrote about an intriguing new study looking at the cost of hiring employees from the outside, versus promoting from within. The study is by Matthew Bidwell, an assistant professor at Wharton who focuses on patterns of work and employment. Bidwell was interested in the 30-year-old trend of workers jumping from one employer to another multiple times in their careers. Bidwell says there’s not much data on the costs of job-hopping. He suspected that employers didn’t realize how much more they were paying to bring in workers from the outside.
Indeed, Bidwell found that not only do external hires get paid more, but for their first two years on the job, they receive significantly lower marks in performance reviews. External hires are also much more likely to get laid off than are those promoted from within. Bidwell scrutinized seven years of employee data, from 2003-2009, from the U.S. investment banking unit of a financial services firm, which included information on 5,300 employees in multiple jobs, from traders and research analysts to support staff. He also examined data from another investment bank and a publishing company.
The external hires made 18% more than the internal promotes in the same jobs. In addition to scoring worse on performance reviews, external hires were 61% more likely to be fired from their new jobs than were those who had been promoted from within the firm. The external hires tended to have more education and experience than the internal hires, but Bidwell says employers don’t appreciate how important it is for workers to know the ropes of an organization. “People don’t hit the ground running on day one,” he says. “We have relationships in organizations that are key to getting work done and a set of structures and routines we need to know.” Knowing where and when to file papers, for instance, or whom to ask about approving a project, can make work much more efficient.
Employers underestimate the time it takes for workers to get up to speed, says Bidwell. After two years, the performance reviews of the external hires caught up to the internal promotes. But sometimes an employee has already moved on, or gotten laid off, before hitting that mark.
Bidwell’s study was recently published in a journal called Administrative Sciences Quarterly. After he finished the study, Bidwell says he did some further analysis, of how people in a particular unit were affected by an external hire. Because everyone had to work to bring the new hire up to speed, the performance of the whole unit declined. The silver lining for workers is that bringing in an employee from the outside also tends to raise the pay for everyone in the unit.
In his paper, Bidwell references the work of Harvard Business School professor Boris Groysberg, who published a well-received book two years ago about what happens to star investment analysts when they switch firms. In Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance, Groysberg examined the careers of more than a thousand top analysts and found that in most cases, those who change firms suffer an immediate and lasting decline. It turns out that their strengths depend to a large extent on their former firms’ resources, networks and colleagues. There were exceptions, like when the stars moved together with their teams, or they switched to much better firms. Also exceptional women tended to do better after a switch than did men. But most top analysts performed much worse after changing jobs.
Hiring professionals should consider both Groysberg and Bidwell when deciding whether to bring in new blood. It can be tough to resist the allure of a superstar, and it’s challenging for companies to build up a pipeline of employees who are suitable for promotion. The mobile American workplace will likely only become more fluid. But managers should know that there is a cost to bringing in talent from the outside and that it pays to nurture and promote from within.

“How to Get What You Want at Work – 1st Tip For The Work Place

“How to Get What You Want at Work – 4 Tips for Dealing with the Opposite Sex at Work”. These tips are based on the fascinating online video eWorkshop: Mars and Venus in the Workplace. There are 4 unique tips for women and 4 for men that when practiced reduces gender conflict and will have the following benefits:
• Higher productivity and creativity
• Greater cooperation and collaboration
• Decreased loss of personnel, which leads to decreased cost & time spent on recruitment and training
• Better understanding of the needs and concerns of your customers (regardless of whether they are internal or external customers), and
• Better decision-making… a competitive advantage for the company as a whole when it maximizes masculine & feminine skills
Here is the first tip for both a woman and a man…

Tip For Women
Women need to practice letting others know of their achievements, their results and their ideas. Do not wait for someone to ask you for your ideas or what you’ve been up to – let them know. Men do not see this as bragging. What they see is a competent and capable person. Women need to remember that men are socialized from an early age to suppress doubts and maintain, either a façade or, a reality of self confidence. This is a great skill and essential in a situation where it is necessary to maintain status within a group. Being confident in promoting yourself will only improve levels of communication with men in the workplace.

Tip For Men
For men dealing with women, building rapport is a very easy and important way to improve your work dealings with women. Because relationships are important to women, if you make the effort to get to know them, or if they feel they have something in common with you, they are more likely to positively respond to your requests and ideas.

A female manager will typically tend to discuss a challenge or situation with others, seek their input and feedback from the team before making a recommendation to senior management. She thinks it’s important that everyone feels they have contributed to the decision and therefore are more likely to support it. This is her style of management. It is based on cooperation and collaboration (and a whole stack of other C words – conversation, connection, commiseration and compassion).When a man values and frequently practices building rapport another C word will be realized and that is COOPERATION.

The whole premise of our “Mars and Venus in the Workplace” online video eWorkshop is that we are different and equal – not that one is better than the other – different and equal. Through awareness and understanding of some basic gender differences we both can learn some simple, yet practical solutions… making it much easier to interpret each other’s behavior correctly, act accordingly and ultimately get the outcome we desire.

If you found this information helpful, click the link below to learn more about the complete online video eWorkshop, “Mars and Venus in the Workplace”. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COMPLETE ONLINE VIDEO eWORKSHOP NOW

“Mars and Venus in the Workplace” is the same life-changing, career-changing workshop that John Gray and his team of Mars Venus Success coaches have given in-person throughout the world. And now you can benefit from this workshop in the comfort of your own home.

PURCHASE TODAY! “MARS and VENUS in the WORKPLACE” ONLINE VIDEO eWORKSHOP

The Relationships You Want. Start Here.

Sincerely,

Mars Venus Coaching Team

Power Connects People

Side Effects of Holding Power

When you think about people who are strongly driven to acquire power, what kinds of things do you imagine they are after? Is power about having: influence over others, money, status, glory, independence, self-confidence?

Popular stories in our culture like to distinguish power seekers from relationship seekers—people whose primary motivation is to foster connections and intimacy with others. The power and relationship motives are usually depicted as incompatible, where power is achieved at the expense of having relationships. As prime examples, think about the main characters in films like Citizen Kane, Scarface, and The Social Network. These stories tell us that power seeking is driven by self-centered ambitions, and as long as this motive is strong, the relationship seeking motive will be weak.

We forget that the rewards of power and the rewards of relationships overlap. We forget that power connects people to one another, and the more powerful person usually reaps the rewards of these relationships. Having power means having favorable connections to others.

Imagine a typical power imbalance in the workplace. A company hires two people to run a newly-created department at the company: Mr. Alpha is brought in to head the new department and Mr. Beta is hired as second in command. Mr. Alpha is given the power to fire and/or promote Mr. Beta, making Mr. Beta dependent on Mr. Alpha’s approval. Their jobs have established this connection between them, and we can be fairly certain that their interactions will be more pleasant for Mr. Alpha than Mr. Beta. Mr. Beta will be more accommodating, deferential, and experience more anxiety about saying or doing the wrong things.

As it happens, Mr. Alpha has relocated from across the country to take this job, and feels isolated in his new city. Mr. Alpha’s not a bad guy, but he insists that he and Mr. Beta take all their coffee breaks and go out on all sales calls together, just so Mr. Alpha can have the interpersonal contact. Mr. Beta goes along without complaining. After a few weeks Mr. Alpha begins to feel less isolated in his surroundings, having established some camaraderie.

In power imbalances, the more powerful person can usually set the terms of the relationship and build rapport without much resistance. This may not create close authentic bonds, but don’t underestimate the appeal of casual interactions with people who are courteous and attentive to you. These interactions should be especially appealing to men, who tend to be more satisfied with shallow relationships than women.

The point is that these relationships can be rewarding, and ultimately strengthen the allure of power. For some people, the promise of social connections may even be the hidden force behind their desire for power, especially for people who have trouble establishing connections under normal circumstances.

So even though the search for power and relationships are often portrayed as competing goals, it’s rarely that simple. Selfish goals may navigate the pursuit of power, but the motivation to connect with others is stronger than it seems, stronger than even the seeker realizes.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Published by Ilan Shrira

 

How to Have an Awesome Work Career

I was reflecting on my work career (past, present, and future) this morning and came to the realization that my job is “awesome.” OK, that word is overused, but I have young adult and pre-teen daughters, so I think I understand the different meanings it has, but I’m talking about the old definition of “awesome.” In others words, I enjoy almost every part of what I do for a living, and there is research in work psychology that explains why that is the case. So, here are the elements that make up an “awesome work career,” and some tips on how to get more of those elements in your own work life.

Meaning. An awesome job is one that has meaning. There is a purpose to your work, and you have to find that higher purpose. There is a scene in the movie Cedar Rapids, where Ed Helms’ nerdy character makes insurance sales sound like an uplifting career (“we are the heroes on the disaster scene, working to rebuild lives…”). Even mundane jobs, like customer service can be viewed as having meaning (e.g., helping clients, giving customers a great experience). If you can’t find the meaning in your current job after looking hard, it may be time to look hard for a new career.

Accomplishment. Choose a career where you can accomplish things, take pride in those accomplishments, and celebrate them. I take pride when I publish a paper, give a great lecture, or finish a blog post. The pride comes from readers and students who comment favorably on my accomplishments, and I’ve been known to celebrate with a glass of wine.

My friend Carlos makes car-racing accessories. He takes pride in the fact that he can build better quality accessories, and do them quicker, than anyone else at his company. I tell our college students to accomplish something at their summer internships – a project, a report, or helping run a successful event. If their internship doesn’t require it, I suggest they talk to their supervisor about taking on some extra, challenging project, perhaps one that the supervisor hasn’t had time to complete. It makes for a better internship experience to accomplish something that makes a distinct contribution, and the same goes for every job.

Positive Relationships. Nothing can make a career more awesome than working with terrific people, and building strong and rewarding relationships with them. I’m fortunate to have amazing, talented, and (yes) awesome students. I get to meet and network with wonderful clients in my consulting work, and I have some of the best research collaborators anyone could hope for. And, I try to steer clear of the bad relationships – those that can make your job an ordeal, and make you question yourself and your career choice.

Research clearly shows that relationships at work can be the greatest source of pleasure or the most tormenting source of pain and stress. Cultivate positive relationships and work hard to avoid the bad relationships (previous posts offer help in dealing with bullies and bad colleagues and bosses).

Balance. Very few people can have awesome careers if their lives revolve entirely around their jobs. An awesome career is one that allows time for family, friends, and the ability to pursue non-work-related interests. I often talk to people who are unhappy because their jobs consume all of their time and energy. Some of them change to careers that allow greater balance and flexibility, and although there are tradeoffs (e.g., less money, prestige, or a slower ride up the ladder). I rarely hear any regrets from them.

Does good fortune play a part in someone having an awesome career? To some extent. But it is more likely that people have to plan, make tough strategic career decisions, and work hard to make their career awesome.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Published by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

Attitude is Everything

In February 2012 Mars Venus Coaching is focusing its business articles on keeping the vision and passion alive at work. It’s no surprise that some of our motivation to show up for work is due to the paycheck we receive each month. However, I’d argue it is our ability to inspire ourselves to come to work ready to play with a fresh, fun attitude that determines how satisfied, successful, and productive we are day in and day out.

What sets a good company apart from a phenomenal one is the passion and joie de vivre it’s employees have towards their work and satisfying their customers.

Dan Schawbel on the Forbes blog at the end of January wrote Hire for Attitude, an insightful article about what Mark Murphy’s research and leadership training company Leadership IQ has found about the attitude of new hires predicting more of their success, rather than just skill set alone. The research found,

89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill. The attitudinal deficits that doomed these failed hires included a lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament.

That’s right—having low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament greatly influence how successful you and your employees will be in job performance. The great news is that emotional intelligence and gender intelligence are learned skills that anyone can pick up to buff up the social-emotional skill sets they already have from growing up and life experience. The vision of a company can only go as far as how well the people within the company work the business plan to carry out the company’s vision.

The quick question you can ask either yourself or any of your employees to gauge how passionate and motivated you all are to carry out your company’s vision is this:

How excited are you about coming to work each day to do your part of the job?

In the process of answering, if you find you and your employees laughing and joking as you answer the question…, then I’d venture to say you’re at the level of a great company doing pretty good things. And, if you’re not quite there yet, you and your employees can always get the spark back by enhancing your soft skill sets. If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, then hire people to up your ante with emotional and gender intelligence training. Why not include gender sales and buying too? It will put you over the edge to being an innovative and exciting company that will stand the test of time.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

5 Most Common Ways People Ruin Their Work Careers

How to prevent failure at work.

Even the most successful executives and leaders can suddenly “go off the track” and ruin their careers. Research on executive derailment has clearly identified the factors that cause previously successful executives and professionals to fail. Watch out for these in your own work career.

1. Poor Interpersonal Style. Although technical competence and successes may initially pay off, as one moves up in an organization or profession, interpersonal skills become more important. In our study of firefighters, technical competence was the key to getting promoted to captain, but lack of social skills prevented captains from going higher in the chain of command.

Having an abrasive or arrogant style, being insensitive to those around you, or coming off cold and aloof can lead to derailment of managers and supervisors.

2. Over-Controlling and Inability to Delegate. In today’s team-centered work world, it is critical to be able to work successfully with others to get the job done. Managers who try to do it all themselves, who micromanage, or who are unable to build a team, are likely doomed to failure.

3. Inability to Adapt. Change is the only constant in organizations. Workers who fail to adapt will become obsolete and fail. In one engineering department, the manager was unable to master, or even understand, the new design technology. Due to his own insecurity, he refused to let the new technology be used in his department. The result: they fell further and further behind on projects and produced inferior results.

4. Lack of Transparency. Dealing openly and honestly with those you work with is the key to success. Even if you are justified and fair in the decisions that you make, you need to let people know why and how important decisions (such as promotions) are made.

It goes without saying that unethical behavior is a key derailer for anyone’s work career, so the best way to avoid temptation is to be transparent in the decisions you make and strive to be virtuous in your behavior.

5. Inability to Think Strategically. All too often, we get bogged down in the day-to-day work that is in front of us, and focus too much on short-term goals. However, career success requires constantly looking at the big picture, and thinking strategically about where we are headed. Strategic thinking helps us anticipate problems, recognize new opportunities, and build a track record of accomplishments.

__________________________________________________________________

by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. in Cutting-Edge Leadership