Category Archives: Career

Ignorance .NE. (Un)Intelligence

Source: Fast Company, Sep 2017

WHAT PROBLEM ARE WE TRYING TO SOLVE?

DO WE REALLY NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THIS?

WHY NOW?

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How to Ask for A Recommendation

Source: Fast Company, Sep 2017

HOW TO ASK FOR A RECOMMENDATION

If you find it difficult to ask people if they can write nice things about you, there are a number of steps you can take to make the process less cringeworthy. For starters, you can offer to do most of the work yourself, like writing a draft for your recommender to edit or list out the specific skills that you’d like them to endorse you on.

People like to do things when there’s a clear why, so a less self-absorbed way to ask for help is to give them a compliment. Make it clear why their expertise and experiment make them the right person to give you an endorsement or recommendation. 

Vozza gave two examples of how you can couch this request. Compelling “whys” for your recommend might be something like, “I feel like I did some of my best work under your guidance, and would really appreciate if you’d be open to sharing our experience together in a LinkedIn recommendation,” or “Your opinion means a great deal to me–would you be open to sharing our work together with a LinkedIn testimony?”

Google’s Toolkit for Managers

Source: Quartz, Aug 2017

Its Re:Work blog is offering a series of instructive documents used by managers at Google. They cover everything from feedback and career development to setting agendas for one-on-ones, and codify the insights Google gleaned from spending years analyzing reviews and other observable data at the company to determine essential leadership traits.

Here’s an overview of what’s available. Each section header below has the link to the corresponding documentation from Google.

Manager feedback survey

Googlers evaluate their managers on a semi-annual basis with a 13-question survey. The first 11 measure whether employees agree or disagree with statements like “My manager shows consideration for me as a person.” The final two questions (“What would you recommend your manager keep doing?” and “What would you have your manager change?”) are open-ended.

At Google, these survey responses are reported confidentially, and managers receive a report of anonymized, aggregated feedback, plus verbatim answers to the two open-ended questions. “The feedback a manager gets through this survey is purely developmental,” Google says. “It isn’t directly considered in performance or compensation reviews, in the hope that Googlers will be honest and constructive with their feedback.”

Career conversations worksheet

Google’s management analysis reveals that above all, employees value knowing that their manager is invested in their personal success and career development. To help managers effectively discuss development with their direct reports, Google uses the GROW model—which organizes the conversation into four recommended sections:

  • Goal: What do you want? Establish what the team member really wants to achieve with their career.
  • Reality: What’s happening now? Establish the team member’s understanding of their current role and skills.
  • Options: What could you do? Generate multiple options for closing the gap from goal to reality.
  • Will: What will you do? Identify achievable steps to move from reality to goal.

“One Simple Thing” worksheet

To encourage personal well-being and work-life balance, Google uses the popular goal-setting practice “One Simple Thing.” The goal should be specific enough to measure its impact on one’s well-being. “Managers can encourage team members to explain how pursuing this one thing won’t negatively affect their work,” Google explains. “That goal then becomes part of a team member’s set of goals that managers should hold them accountable for, along with whatever work-related goals they already have.”

Some examples of “One Simple Thing” goals include “I will take a one hour break three times a week to work out,” and “I will not read emails on the weekends.”

1:1 Meeting agenda template

At Google, the highest-rated managers hold frequent one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. However, as most leaders know, individual check-ins can often feel rushed and disorganized. To squeeze the most out of each one-on-one (which Google managers are advised to hold every week or two) Googlers set up a shared meeting agenda ahead of time—which both the manager and the report should contribute to.

Some agenda items Google suggests include:

  • Check-in and catch-up questions: “What can I help you with?” and “What have you been up to?”
  • Roadblocks or issues
  • Goal updates
  • Administrative topics (e.g., upcoming vacations, expense reports)
  • Next steps to confirm actions and agreements
  • Career development and coaching

New manager training course materials

As Google explains, “These course materials were originally designed for Google managers to help them transition from individual contributor roles to manager roles.” As anyone who has done this can attest, conducting the transition gracefully requires a bit of perspective shifting, and more than a little awareness building.

The course materials include a facilitator guide (to help whoever is training the new managers), a new manager student workbook(including interactive exercises), and the presentation slides that Google trainers use internally.

Communicating at Work

Source: Fast Company, Aug 2017

one overall rule can help you maximize your impact: People simply like to know that you’re interested in them, not focused on yourself. Using collegial and collaborative language will build bridges to your audience, and hopefully result in more respect and authority for you.

SPEAKING UP IN MEETINGS

Kick off your comments by referring to the previous speaker or to the subject of conversation (rather than the people conversing). … Once you’ve built a bridge to your audience first, you can go on to show what you believe, including by saying “I,” “me,” or “mine.”

ACCEPTING PRAISE FOR A JOB WELL DONE

Never use “I” to claim the glory if other people have been involved–after all, nearly every project draws on the talents of many people.

The best thing to do is connect yourself with the accomplishment without taking sole credit for it. Say, “I’m so proud of my team. We had a great win”: one “I,” one “my,” and one “we”–that’s a balanced way to accept praise that’s directed at you rather than the whole group.

SHOWING YOUR CHOPS IN A JOB INTERVIEW OR PERFORMANCE REVIEW

candidates typically don’t realize that the hiring processes isn’t just about them; the roles they’re auditioning to fill are really about solving problems for the team that role belongs to. “And sometimes they come out of the actual interview and tell me they knocked it out of the park,” Kelly says. “Then they discover they didn’t get the position because they focused on themselves and not enough on the company or the position.”

A surefire formula for prevent this from happening is simply to say what you did, followed by the impact or outcome for the group. 

MEETING NEW PEOPLE AT NETWORKING EVENTS

walk into the event, grab a place next to someone who looks interesting or approach the VIP you’ve had your eye on (here’s how to do it), then start asking questions. How did they like the speaker? Why did they come? What do they do? Be complimentary, and make them feel good (“Love your shoes!”) Keep talking until you have common ground. Then you can resort to those first-person words, explaining why youcame, what you do, and what you and the other person might do together.

TALKING TO YOUR BOSS OR AN EXECUTIVE

when you’re talking to someone more senior to  you, focus less on yourself and the interpersonal politics involved than on the organization itself–the needs, goals, and outcomes everyone is pulling toward.

 

Avoid these “filler” phrases and words @ Work

Source: Fast Company, Jul 2017

“NO PROBLEM”

The speaker implies the possibility that somebody has created an issue that they’re willing to let slide.

“WHATEVER”

Whatever” is often used to dismiss another person’s idea. … “Whatever” denotes resentful resignation, even if it doesn’t sound that way to your own ears. Much the same is true of other tepid notes of assent, like “yeah,” “yup,” “sure,” and “fine.”

“IT IS WHAT IT IS”

Clichés like this make you sound like a lazy thinker. We default unthinkingly to empty expressions when we’re trying to give the impression we have something to say but really don’t, and also when we want to sound as though we’re comfortable with something but might not be.

“PISSED OFF”

“CAN’T”

To be fair, you can’t get away with never saying “can’t”—it’s just too common and useful a contraction—and I’m not suggesting you try. But it is smart to be on you guard for the contexts where you use it.

For example, you might innocently say at a meeting, “I can’t get that report to you until next Monday.” And fine, maybe you really can’t because it just isn’t feasible. But phrasing it like this makes you sound ineffective—like the person who disappoints. Why not flip it around and say what you can do instead? “I’ll have that report to you next Monday.” There—suddenly you’re somebody who delivers, and is helpfully realistic about timelines to boot.

Try to avoid “don’t” in similar situations. Rather than saying, “I don’t know what the solution is,” go with, “Let’s go over what some possible solutions might look like—I could really use some input.” Then you’ll sound bright and collegial.

“HOPE”

Here’s another perfectly innocuous word that can sound defeatist and passive (or even passive aggressive) around the office if you aren’t careful. In some contexts, it can make you sound less than confident.

Recruiters Use Social Media to Check on Candidates

Source: ChallengerGray.com, Jul 2017

Ninety-six percent of respondents reported that they check LinkedIn before contacting a candidate, while 40 percent check Facebook. Sixteen percent search Twitter, and 14 percent see what appears on a Google search.

Learning from Others

Source: Fast Company, Jun 2017

STALK PEOPLE YOU ADMIRE ONLINE

you should probably follow leaders you’ll never hope to chat with directly, just to keep tabs on what they’re thinking about and sharing. And on the other, you should follow your peers who work in similar jobs or at similar companies. It’s called “benchmarking.” Mentors are typically pretty good at letting you know where you stand relative to the competition—what’s a stretch position for you, what you’re overqualified for, which projects you should try getting assigned.

But you can gather the same sort of intel from social media: What sorts of things are people at the same level as you posting, where, and how often? Who are they following and talking to? Pay attention over time, and you’ll gradually get a sense of your own strengths and weaknesses professionally.

LOOK FOR WAYS TO TAKE ON “STRETCH” WORK

The secret to getting more responsibilities—and eventually positioning yourself for a promotion—isn’t a secret at all: You have to nail everything in your job description and then pick up a few tasks that go beyond it. After all, few mentors can actually set you up with that killer project that’s going to make you shine—usually only your boss can.

STOP GOING TO POINTLESS NETWORKING EVENTS

check out networking opportunities where you’re likely to find these kinds of people:

  • People who currently work in a job you want
  • People who work directly with the people who work in a job you want
  • People who have a unique point of view on an industry you’re trying to advance in

If you can’t make first- or second-degree connections there, or hear something really interesting about your field that might directly change your career strategy, don’t go.

INVITE FOUR PEOPLE TO COFFEE EVERY YEAR

have a strictly informational chat with somebody you admire in your field. What does “informational” mean? That you don’t have any particular endgame or “ask” in mind—you just want to hear more about what they do.

GET IN ON WHAT THE HIGHER-UPS ARE SAYING

when in doubt, keep this line on standby for your next one-on-one with your boss: “Since my day-to-day doesn’t really touch on this, how’s the company doing in general? Anything on the broader business front that I should know about?”

REALIZE ALL THE INFORMAL MENTORS YOU ALREADY HAVE

Anyone who’s ever written a job recommendation for you, championed or praised your work (social media shoutouts count), or even just given you one-off advice that you’ve really valued—for all practical purposes, they’re your mentors. All it takes is for somebody to go out of their way for you once to make it totally fine for you to reach out for their opinion again later. (They can always ignore you or decline, but most probably won’t.)