It’s starts as a normal request, “please go brush your teeth.” Then a few minutes later, “Did you brush your teeth?” After a wee bit longer, “how many times do I have to ask, go brush your teeth.” Before too long it is more of a declaration of war than a simple request.
Finally they emerge from the bathroom and you take a deep satisfying breath. Then when you go to give them a kiss before they leave the house…the truth is revealed! WOW, they never brushed their teeth, they wet the brush, smeared toothpaste on it and everything…with the amount of time they spent making it look like they did the job, they could have actually done the job! What the heck!
This is not an uncommon occurrence with our children, we fight the important battles with them, and for each child it can be different; the rest we chalk up to acceptable losses. There is one arena however that this kind of behavior is way more detrimental…in the workplace.
Do you have an employee, co-worker or even supervisor who seems to be always busy but rarely seems to produce results? Are they constantly saying, “yes I’ll do that right away“, “I‘ll get right on that“, “as soon as I get back to the office I’ll take care of it“, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you wanted ME to do that“, and yet whenever you ask again, because it hasn’t been done, you get the same responses?
As an individual occurrence, this can happen. We are living and working in a world that moves so fast, things can and do fall off our radar. However if this is habitual it can be an indicator of root causes that need to be addressed.
Our children are…well children. They forget, they’d rather play, they don’t understand the consequences of their inaction. That is why we as parents much teach them and hold them accountable and give them boundaries to help them safely navigate their world. We don’t give up on getting them to brush their teeth, cause it’s just too hard. Trust me a 7 year old needing a root canal is much harder, and yes that did happen to my son. He was VERY good at finding ways to not brush his teeth, but he is much better now.
As a manager/supervisor/leader the lines aren’t always as clear. We have to show the way, teach the way, then get out of the way. After that, we have to take the time to inspect what we expect and hold them accountable. What does that mean exactly? That’s not always so black and white.
When I hold a meeting, it’s always a working meeting. If there is a meeting to schedule, a follow up email to be sent, a phone call to be made…I make it right then and there. When one of my team comes to me and asks me to make a call or send a note, I do with them in my office watching and listening. They see my actions, I show them how to do it, they see my results. When I delegate a task to someone on my team, I set the expectation for when it should be done and that I will follow up. I don’t micromanage them asking every 2 hours if it’s been done. I follow up on the results; “I know you were reaching out to Joe yesterday, how did the call go and when is our follow up meeting?”
As each member of the team finds their rhythm, I follow up less, getting out of their way allowing them the autonomy to make great things happen. Some don’t find that rhythm, and my follow-up does become micromanagement, like harping on my children to get their teeth brushed. If you find that going to work is like dealing with your children at home, then you have some work to do. You either need to set the appropriate expectations, show them the way, so you can get out of the way or start sending people to timeout.
If you have some of these challenges, I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.
This past year has been a bit more interesting than I thought it would be. I accepted an new role and hit the ground running. I had the position, the title, I rebuilt my own team and they are amazing. I worked hard and achieved a measure of success unexpected by my superiors. Now entering year 2 I begin to wonder…is it really possible to have it all?
Yes, professionally it has been a fantastic year, we’re building great momentum and making a real impact in our community. I’ve been asked to mentor new peers joining the organization, and have begun making a name for myself. Although I’m not traveling across the country any more there is still a trade off. My expectations were that by not traveling and having a somewhat more ‘normal‘ role that I could manage my personal life better…HA! Yes I’m home more for dinner and weekends, however I believed it would be easier. With 4 children at home (5, 7, 10 & 13), my husband, three dogs and our newest addition, a turtle…life didn’t get easier, it more busy.
Like most working mom’s I still try to be all things to all people; my husband, children, friends, extended family, my staff and clients. Guess what…there aren’t enough hours in a day.
This is something often talked about among my friends, almost all of whom are working mothers. We talk about the need to take care of ourselves, giving ourselves a break, putting ourselves first, how we can’t take care of others if we don’t make “us” a priority. We talk, drink wine, talk some more, then go back to our lives the same as always.
Women understand the challenges and the need to take better care of ourselves, but how exactly, in today’s world do we do that? Myself, like many of my girlfriends are actually the breadwinner in the family. It’s not like we can work less, strive less or be less. So, how in that model do we make time for us?
This week I’ve been home for three days taking care of my youngest who is home sick. I am able to work from home in these instances, most women don’t have that luxury. Still, in between virtual meetings, conference calls and project plans, I’m putting in laundry, loading the dishwasher and caring for my little one.
I do it because I can, I do it cause it needs to be done. Then at 7:30 at night I’m exhausted, I make sure homework is done, kids are clean, teeth brushed, lullaby’s sung (my 7-year old son won’t go to sleep without me singing to him), and everyone is tucked in. Then I crash…only to get up at 5AM to start all over again.
This isn’t a diatribe about how I get things done, I promise. It’s a real question, which I hope to start a practical conversation around; how we, as working women, learn it’s OK if the house is a bit messy, set manageable expectations, treat ourselves kinder and live fuller lives. Lives full of life not busyness?
I did a quick google search this morning using “Challenges of working mothers” and I got back over 1.7 million articles…do you think this is something that concerns us? Let’s talk about what we can do for and with each other to make a tangible difference! Just A Little Heart Attack
I want to hear from you! Please comment and share, lets get a real conversation started! “Connectthedotblog”.
I recently made a rather large career move out of the education space and back into the not for profit arena. The move was calculated and absolutely what I wanted; however to say that the change was disruptive would be a ridiculous understatement.
As an Executive Director my main responsibilities are to drive fundraising initiatives through my Development Directors (often serving as one myself) to exceed revenue goals and to identify, recruit and develop volunteer leadership…the real job.
As frequently happens in my career, I accepted an opportunity where there was a lot of repair work to be done. The organizations reputation had been somewhat tarnished in the community due to excessive turnover and ineffective leadership.
My challenge was not renewing the sponsor and donor relationships. It was not in identifying new partners and revenue streams. It wasn’t even in digesting the mountains of information that I needed to understand and be able to articulate regarding our organization. The challenge was navigating the volunteer jungle.
The Old Guard reminds me of the staunchy British safari hunters during the Victorian era. The rules of decorum must be followed! The rigid formality of things being just so and the constant distrust of outsiders and that which seems ‘new’.
The Old Guard is a wonderful combination of knowledge, experience and tradition. They bring a level of grace and sophistication to every endeavor. The elite want to be in their company and part of what they are doing. However, the elite are a small and finite group. Finding a way to engage your Old Guard with the future generations of philanthropists and activists may prove your greatest safari adventure yet.
This is the adventure I’m currently on. I can tell you I have a long way to go; however I can share a few early learning lessons. First, they don’t see themselves as the Old Guard, no really they don’t, so you can not treat them that way. No detail is too small, they don’t like to be caught off guard and they do want to know everything that is going on…or look like they do. The key take away here is over communicate.
- Be clear, concise and to the point – over communicate does not mean be verbose.
- Set expectations for communication early; do they prefer email, phone, text, etc.?
- Communicate how they best want to receive information. (It doesn’t hurt to follow up with secondary form just to be safe.)
- Always be respectful! This is so important, don’t be too informal, speak to them with the respect they deserve.
- Finally always, always, always be polite. This statement is not contingent upon their being polite and that is the hard part.
I’m sure as I continue on this journey there will be many other learning lessons. Some will probably come easier than others, all will be important and many will benefit me no matter what industry I work in.
Photo credit given to my talented father-in-law Paul Stuetze from his African Safari adventures.
Recently a friend of mine (Kris) from the Recruitment industry decided it was time to make a career change. It didn’t come as a surprise as she had risen through the ranks of her current organization as high as she could and was looking for a new challenge. She came to me for some assistance with revising her resume, updating her social media profiles and as a sounding board to talk about potential new opportunities. Needless to say as a Recruitment professional her resume was perfect (I made a few little tweaks), and her social media was up to date and professional (we added a few recent achievements). Kris was set and no sooner had she started to network and apply for positions, then her phone ringing off the hook with potential opportunities.
Slowly we began the process of weeding through the sea of potential opportunities to winnow the list down to those which she found truly intriguing. Truth be told she was in the best possible position. She is currently employed and for the most part enjoys her work. She doesn’t need to jump at the first offer or even apply for every opportunity that comes along. I think this mind set of being “selective” was where the process began to go a little awry.
It is great when you are in the position to take your time and be selective; however don’t let that make you cocky! You still have to jump through the same hoops as everyone else.
We narrowed the field down to two contenders. Both are global organizations with unlimited potential and currently in a high growth mode. Both had more of a start-up feel than that of longstanding solid organizations; which appealed to Kris’ desire for challenge and growth opportunity.
Kris soared through the first round of phone interviews, completely nailed the second round of leadership assessments and in both instances was asked to come in for a formal interview with the hiring managers. Things seemed to be going swimmingly…isn’t that always how things seem before they go south?
Kris, confident in her skills and experience opted to very superficially prepare for her interviews. She is a professional when it comes to behavioral interviewing so she thought, “I got this, what can they possibly ask I don’t have a response for?” These are large well known global organizations so she assumed, “I know what questions to ask.” In her head, all her years of experience, knowledge, and training would help her easily sail through this last round of interviews and on to the decision of which offer to accept.
Bad, bad, bad…never, ever assume!
I’m sure by now you are guessing what happened. Her lack of preparedness showed through the whole process. Oh, don’t get me wrong, she answered the questions asked…more like fumbled through because she didn’t identify the experiences she wanted to highlight before the interview. She hadn’t prepared her introduction of who she is, her professional background, and why the company should hire her. If that wasn’t bad enough, when asked why she wanted to work for their organization, she went blank.
She knows who she is, she knows her strengths, and the value she would bring. She knew why she chose those organizations and why she was looking for a change; but because she didn’t spend time thinking through how she wanted to highlight and express those thoughts, she sounded more like an amateur than an executive.
You know the old Spanish proverb “ The Cobbler’s children have no shoes”? It’s roughly the same as “doctor’s make the worst patients”. Often we are so wrapped up in helping others with our highly honed skills; prescribing remedies, and repairing damage done, that when it’s our turn to take advice, direction, and apply fixes we can’t see the forest for the trees.
When it comes to your job search, preparation and research is not a maybe…it’s a MUST! Take the time to think about how you want to be viewed, what skills and accomplishments you want to highlight, why you want to work for this organization and why they should hire you.
Prepare, prepare, prepare and then execute. Don’t start counting your offers before they hatch.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.
Ok I know what you’re thinking; Betsy has finally gone off her rocker. No not yet. But I will confide that “ Fried Green Tomatoes” is one of my favorite movies and dishes. I love when I get to travel south and imbibe on of my favorite delicacies, Fried Green Tomatoes. However, hard as I try I can’t seem to ever find them as good as my best friend makes, (well actually it’s her husband so credit where credit is due). I always ask how they are made and what they feel is the secret to their delectable delight. The answer inevitably, “the secret’s in the sauce”.
It’s not really all that different when you talk to individuals who’ve had a successful job search. They mixed it up good.
- They reached out to their network of friends, colleagues, connections and let them know what they were looking.
- They carefully targeted the companies and organizations they wanted to work for and reached out to them.
- They used the internet as A tool to source potential job leads and applied online. They then followed up on those applications.
- They attended networking events and career fairs.
- They work with recruiters and/or headhunters to help them find additional opportunities.
- Finally they sent thank you notes to all the hiring managers they interviewed with.
It’s incredibly rare (I mean really really rare) for an individual to send one application, make one phone call or drop off one resume and they get a job. For those rare few that do hit a grand slam on the first swing, they probably were very well connected and sought after in the first place so their success is based on their reputation, which just means they had the connections to engage most if not all of the above, without really trying.
Time after time in conversations with my graduates I hear:
- “I’ve sent out like 30 online applications a day with no luck.”
- My response, “Who have you applied to? Did you follow up with a phone call or note?”
- Their response is usually “no”.
- “Have you reched out to your network, a recruiter or your Career Services department?
- “It’s unlikely you’ll find the career your looking for just by sending out applications like everyone else. You need to mix it up.”
- “I don’t have time to do that”
- “How much time did you spend sending out all those applications.”
- “It took all day.”
- “Try spending at least half that time talking to people>”
- “If I do that how will I get all those applications done?”
They have spent so much of their job seeking time online, sending out applications into the black hole of the internet that they can’t even remember who they’ve applied to or for what positions. Wasted time! That’s like making fried green tomatoes with just cornmeal or flour. It won’t stick and as soon as you put it into the grease it all floats away until you have a mushy mess. You need the egg in the batter and the seasonings; you need to make sure the grease is hot so you get a quick bonding of the mixture to the vegetable. And without the secret sauce, it will just taste like everyone else’s, and you’ll be lost in the unmemorable sea of forgetfulness.
Just like cooking your job search has several ingredients that need to be used in proper proportion. You need to create the environment where your ingredients will be received and you must have a secret sauce, for those who haven’t caught onto the analogy…the sauce is your resume. Your resume is what makes you uniquely you, it’s what helps you stand out from the sea of other applicants. It’s what makes you memorable and keeps your customers coming back for more.
Mix your ingredients carefully, the majority should be made up of actual interpersonal contact; your network, your phone calls, dropping off your resume in person, your follow up. Too many folks use the internet as the base of their recipe; and just like using too much salt, the flavor of your batter will be ruined and you’ll have to start all over again.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.
I’ve gotten a few questions as to why my blog and my other endeavors have been titled Connect the Dot? It’s an honest question, with an equally honest and simple answer, it’s who I am.
I am a connector. I love it when someone approaches me with a question, concern, challenge or request for help and I happen to know just the person who can either assist them directly or introduce them to someone who can.
I recently read a book by “ Malcom Gladwell” called “ The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference”. This book illustrates the point very clearly. It’s very often not the big ideas that you have or even in the large scale implementaion of those ideas. It’s the small everyday things that you do, reaching out through your interconnected network that can bring about the change you desire. Whether it’s a job, a new program or commodity, it’s often the small things that you make happen that produce the biggest results.
Connecting people to eachother can have a huge impact, you never know who they know or who they know and on and on. Somewhere down the line there is somone you can help make a difference and by doing so, there is also someone down the line who can help you accomplish great things.
I learned very early on that the larger my network, the easier my work. Don’t misunderstand me, I have no aversion to working hard, quite the contrary, however the more people I know the more I can get done. I don’t have a compunction (any more) to do everything myself. In fact I’ve learned, often painfully, that I’m not the best at everything. HA! There are people smarter, more creative, more innovative, and more determined that I. By surrounding myself with these people, there is no end to what can be accomplished.
This concept of a connected network is never more relevant than in your job search. I didn’t start out looking to create some kind of mega network web that even Spiderman would be proud of. I just started out getting to know people. I listened to them; their needs, desired, dreams. I didn’t get to know them because I wanted something, it was actually quite the opposite. I wanted to be the person that helped them achieve their goals. The unexpected outcome was what happened next. Inevitably when I did have a challenge, need or issue they wanted to help.
Real people haveing real conversations about real issues, seem to simple, thats the beauty of it. It is simple and it does work.
Pay It Forward, the Golden Rule, call it what you want, people helping people achieve their goals is the only way to do business and the best way to approach your job search. Let people in your network; personal and professional know what you’re doing. If you’ve created a genuine relationship, they will want to help. With that kind of support, there is nothing that can stop you.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.
How many online applications have you filled out and submitted recently? Of those how many have you heard back from?
Is it rocket science?
Do you get a higher return rate from:
- Online applications?
- Applying in person?
- Your personal network?
- Your professional network?
Yes, I placed them in that order for a reason. Most folks spend the majority of their time performing activities from the top of this list, when in fact, you get the best return off the activities from the bottom. In your jo search as well as in business, in general, it really is often who you know.
In my world of finding jobs for graduates, the simple fact is, having someone in your corner ALWAYS get you better results than going it alone. Submitting 100 online applications will take longer and yeild fewer results than walking in and dropping off 20 applications in person. Even networking through friends and colleagues; vendors and clients can yield you 50% higher results, (aka interviews) than just dropping off applications/resumes.
Do the math, should you spend your time submitting appications into the black hole of the internet hoping they may reach a nameless, faceless person or should you spend your time leveraging the people you know?
The answer is clear; companies and organizations have yet to find the silver bullet of successful online recruitment. Yet more and more companies pop up each day clamining they have the answer, but they don’t. Nothing beats personal contact. Why do you think organizations spend literally billions each year on retention, recruitmet and onboarding programs? Because finding the right fit is hard, doing it over the internet is even harder. They may have a greater number of applicants, but are they the right applicants? No one has found an effective way to measure this.
If you leave this article with one pearl of wisdom, I hope it’s this; make it personal! Get others to speak on your behalf, let your personality shine, be memorable and don’t expect the internet to care about your job search results, because it won’t. Your friends, your connections, your network will care.
So to answer my initial question, yes modality matters. The internet is wonderful modality for making initial connections, however it won’t be as effective with your job search as will as a few connections and a sprinkle of personal contact.
Yes I am on a hiring frenzy again and can I just say, I really wish people would just pay attention. There is a reason that we list required skills, required education and required experience. If you don’t even come close, don’t waste your time or the employer’s time. Yes there is something to be said for stretching yourself and looking to make a career change. I would never want to discourage that, however sending through an application that looks like you applied by mistake it not the way to accomplish that goal. Call the employer ask about the experience required, what they are looking for and how you skills may or may not transfer, yes I’m telling you to conduct an informational interview.
Here are some simple Do’s and Do Not’s when applying for jobs:
- Do customize your application, resume, objective statement (if you use one) and cover letter for each job.
- Do Not assume they’ll overlook it when your cover letter is for a teaching position and you are applying for a Management role.
- Do take the time to fill out the application completely.
- Do Not put “see resume” in the application sections asking for your duties and skills.
- Do have an objective party review your resume for edits and errors you may have overlooked (a second pair of eyes is always good).
- Do not rush through your resume and just send it to get it in. You may as well not have sent it at all.
You will hear lots of people say that finding a job is a full-time job. This is absolutely correct. It takes time, effort, creativity, determination and a dash of gumption (yes I just used that word). To land the interview, let alone the job. If you aren’t willing to put your best foot forward during the research and application process, you might as well forget getting the interview.
Working with students and graduates I make the analogy, if you aren’t willing to put in at least as much time into your resume and application process as you put into figuring out your interview outfit; then you are wasting your time. You may as well be sending your applications/resumes out into the dark hole of the internet, because no one is going to see it. You will not get a phone interview, you will not get an in person interview, you will not pass go and you will not collect $200.
A little time and effort on the front end, is going to make your job search so much more productive. Take the time, personalize, preview and perform.
We all know those folks who seem to feel the need to let others know they know more than they should, or at least more than you. In an effort to seem important or in the know, they have to tell someone around them. Here’s the problem, they never know the whole truth. The whole truth never gets spread cause the whole truth is never as interesting as their interpretation of it.
Yes lots of big ambiguous words, I did that on purpose to prove a point. Interpretation, perception, misdirection, confusion and chaos this is what happens when folks decide to share what they shouldn’t.
According to an article by Mary Abbajay of the “ The CareerStone Group”, “ The Danger of Workplace Gossip” “Gossip is the death of teamwork as the group breaks up into cliques and employees start refusing to work with others.” What may seem like harmless sharing, posturing or chit chat; can quickly turn into a culture killing disease.
Recently, I experienced a situation where a colleague felt they had information about an individual that was ‘juicy’. They also felt they had the right to share this ‘factual’ nugget of information with everyone and anyone who would listen. Truth be told this tid bit was no more than an observation made by someone else and their personal interpretation of the events, having nothing to do with fact. The results were so damaging that the individual felt that leaving the organization was a better option than staying and trying to overcome the damage done to their reputation.
Yes this is an extreme case, but not that uncommon. So for just a minute I’m going to get on my soap box. My Mom, who is one of the most amazing women I know, raised me to “Do No Harm”. Seems simple enough, I know, but so often not observed. So instead I’ll bring it in a bit closer. Remember the movie “Bambi”, yes the animated Disney version! There is a line in the movie stated by my favorite character. Thumper is scolded by his mother for something he said. She asks a simple question, “What did your father say?” To which Thumper humbly replies, “ If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Very good advice.
In the professional world you will always encounter people you don’t enjoy working with. There will be cliques, mean girls, Heathers and people who just rub you the wrong way. Don’t become one of them. Put a smile on your face, try not to misinterpret what you hear, see, experience and keep your observations to yourself. Don’t go to a co-worker with the, “I saw something and I just don’t know what to do”, comment excusing your gossipy behavior. If you see something legitimately not right, follow the chain of command, be objective and state the facts. When all else fails seek out your HR professional and talk with them. Do no harm.
If you are the person with integrity, you don’t start those conversations, you don’t participate in those conversations, and you don’t even allow them to happen around you, then it won’t take long before your behavior is not only noticed but emulated.
There is a quote by Gandhi which is often truncated, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” You frequently see this as “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Truer words have never been spoken. He is proof that one man, one person can make a difference.