Leadership

5 Ways to Reclaim Your Power in Your Job Search or Career

Humans have a primal need to be heard, acknowledged, and appreciated.  The job search process, even working, can give people quite the opposite experience. Putting yourself out there, crossing your fingers, and hoping that someone likes you enough to talk to is degrading.

The default mode of job seeking is reactive; you see a job opening posted, then you follow the instructions on the platform or in the job description to apply. You then get funneled in with all the other applications and hope that it is received and that your value is appealing enough to get an invitation to take next steps. The ball is in the other court this whole time.

But statistics show that we are in a very strong job-seekers market. There have been more job openings in the US than unemployed workers for a good year now.

How can that be? Wouldn’t that mean that all applicants would get a fair chance? No. Of course, you need a strong résumé, rich with keywords used in context to demonstrate your qualifications. However, using your résumé purely as a tool for job applications is a disempowered strategy.

There are things that you can do to make things happen in your job search, and you may not believe that it’s true until it happens to you. This means that you should experiment. Give a few, or all of these tactics a try and allow yourself 3 weeks of dedicated effort in job searching. During this time, stop spending your time on reactive activities such as scouring job boards and applying online. If something pays off with an introduction, interview, or offer, keep doing it and abandon what hasn’t been successful.

I’ll bet you’ll like how it feels to know that you can not only generate leads that you would never have found on Indeed, but that you can also get others to generate leads for you and multiply your results without multiplying your time. Generate leads, generate momentum, and then have your choice of position rather than only being able to consider those jobs that you found on job boards when everyone else is vying for the same jobs.

I’ll bet one of the methods below will lead you to have an interview for an opportunity that outside job seekers don’t even know about yet. All of the methods below have worked for my clients, so they have already been proven to succeed.

In order to make this work optimally, you will need*:

  • A branded résumé that not only qualifies you, but makes your unique value evident.
  • A complete, branded LinkedIn profile written in 1st person that supplements and compliments your résumé (not replicates it) and shows that you are a dynamic, interesting person outside of your work as well.
  • A target list of at least 25 companies that have cultures that will enable you to thrive – this activity will lead to positive momentum, and an acceptable job offer if you’re not wasting time making progress with companies where you ultimately would not want to work. THIS LIST IS NOT BASED ON JOB POSTINGS YOU’VE SEEN. This might sound counter-intuitive, but the point of these proactive efforts is to pursue organizations based on their fit to you, not whether they have an opening for you!

* If you don’t have all three of the following, schedule a free consultation with me.

1. Volunteer

It’s not always easy finding opportunities to volunteer, as strange as that sounds. I was new in business when I first started volunteering and I pursued well-known organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross, but opportunities seemed to be targeted at organized groups, not individuals. I spoke with a client who was also involved in local government and asked about opportunities in the community. Because of that, I wound up being a race marshal and handing out water to runners at a couple of 5Ks. These were great opportunities, and they got me started, but I didn’t meet anyone, and it wasn’t always clear when I showed up of how I was going to help. Sometimes I took it upon myself to help out in the best way I could, and then found out I was doing it wrong. This was still good experience for me, and you need to remember that some organizations are better at volunteer training than others.

But, it doesn’t matter how you start. Just start. If you’ve been undervalued at your job or you have been transitioning for a while, it is easy to forget why you are so valuable. Being helpful in any way can remind you of your value. It doesn’t always create a direct line to opportunity, but it can potentially. It’s led to many opportunities for me and my clients. Check out opportunities at volunteermatch.org. See what non-profits leaders in your target companies support. Ask avid networkers you know where movers and shakers they know volunteer their time and talents.

In past articles, I encouraged you to volunteer at professional organization events, like volunteering to speak on a topic within your expertise that can help other professionals be more successful, or you can pick a cause for which you have passion. If you spend your free time worrying about a problem, you’ll gain power by doing something about it.

Volunteering is something you’ll want to add to your LinkedIn profile and it something that can look favorable to companies that value and promote community and social impact. Also, it’s much harder to validate that you are passionate about something if you aren’t spending time in it or doing it. You know you are passionate when you would spend your time doing something whether you are paid or not. Everyone says they’re passionate, volunteering proves it.

2. Approach letters

If you have a cover letter template, scrap it. I’m not talking about a cover letter that you attach to your online application, which can be a way to find out if you have strong written communication skills. I’m talking about a letter of interest that you send directly to your would-be direct supervisor in your target company. The qualification for who receives it is NOT based on the recipient having a posted job opening, but if the company has a need, challenge, or initiative that you can bolster by being part of the team. This is not a request for a job, but rather a request to talk further about the company’s future plans and how you can support them. It’s more like you are a consultant who is trying to identify whether you offer a skill or service that this company needs, but you do your homework ahead of time and drop some bread crumbs that entice the recipient to know what the recipe is.

The letter must explicitly lay out what you know about the company, and how that implicates your added value. Connect the dots between the problem and how you have added value to such endeavors in the past. The call to action is to invite the recipient to a 20-minute discovery call, just to see if what you offer is a match for what they need.

Even if you are committed to a full-time permanent opportunity, position yourself as someone flexible about terms. This also communicates that you are confident that you can add value in the short term.  While you are there adding short-term value, you can gain insights that enable you to pitch a long-term value proposition.  Make yourself indispensable, and you will have the leverage to ask for all the perks and benefits of a full-time employee, plus a signing bonus. This will require you to do some market research on an hourly rate that will help you cover costs an employer would normally cover, plus self-employment tax for working as a sole proprietor.

This approach requires being bold. Fortune favors the bold, in case you hadn’t heard. If your confidence isn’t quite there yet, volunteer your skills to a non-profit and add value until you feel confident moving forward. Again, this is an experiment, so try this with about 5 companies.

3. Take on a leadership role in a professional or community organization

60% of recruiters are specifically looking for this kind of engagement through your social media. It takes a village to run successful events and programs.

There are steps that lead to engaging as a leader in an organization. You don’t just jump right into it.

Step 1 – Observe. Check out several organizations to determine which one has the kind of people, programs, and mission statement that resonate with your career mission.

Step 2 – Join. Attend regular meetings where you will naturally become more acquainted with other members and the breadth of what is offered.

Step 3 – Volunteer. Many organizations crave doing more, but they need the manpower to do it. Look for the board names on the organization’s website. Ask them what initiatives they have tabled because of lack of manpower, or what additional help they could use to make their events and programs even better. If that doesn’t fit what you do, make a referral and keep looking for opportunities. Remember to follow up frequently. Many of these organizations are full of people who have other full-time obligations and won’t easily remember who offered what help.

Step 4 – Lead. Once you get to see events and programs from the inside you’ll better understand the undertaking of running them. It’s a natural progression to lead one event or get involved in the organization’s operations and strategy or do both. It comes with visibility, but is not without its conflicts – even the best organizations. It’s how conflicts are handled that will influence how long you remain involved in the organization, I have found.

4. LinkedIn outreach

Just to be clear, outreach is not the same as clicking on “send invite” for all of the people LinkedIn suggests or who appear in a search. That’s as good as spam; your low success rates will deceive you into thinking that people are not looking to connect on LinkedIn when that is exactly why they are on LinkedIn. People only make progress through REAL connections, not superficial ones. This means having shorter, well-vetted lists and custom invitations. You can increase your chances of having your invitation accepted if 1) the person you’re inviting to connect to is actually active on LinkedIn and 2) you engage with that person’s content.  The first step is to follow this person. This will be an option if they are active. (If they aren’t, see the next item on the list.)

Once you follow someone, you are notified when they engage on other people’s content as well as when they create and share their own. It matters little which you engage with, but if it is other’s people content, respond directly to their comment on it. If it is their original content, share it, tag them, and take care to write something insightful that will inspire others to give their content some love and attention. Then send them a customized invitation to connect, making mention of how much you appreciated their content.

Just like the approach letter, the goal is to take that initial connection to the next step, and connect offline via phone call, video chat, or in-person meeting.  Initially, just ask for 20 minutes. The point is to determine if there is enough synergy to invest more time. Make sure you have 5 good, specific questions based on their background that can help you understand who they are, where they’ve been and how they got “here.” Also, make sure you ask the #1 most important question – what introductions, resources, or support would help move your most important projects forward faster? Don’t just ask generally, “How can I help you?” This is a burdensome question. How could they know what you can do to help? Find out first what they want most, and then tell them how you can help. Also, deliver your call to action, which will help them self-identify that they are someone you are qualified to help.

This works! First, target people in your focus company, but do it also with other professionals in your field, fellow alumni, thought leaders, authors, and influencers.

5. Try a brand new platform

Recruiters are taught to go where the talent is. So, whenever a platform gains popularity, recruiters are tasked to evaluate how it can be leveraged to get in front of talent where other recruiters are not. It might surprise you to know that because of this, 63% of recruiters in tech companies are using Instagram.  That’s just recruiters, though. If they’re looking for talent here, could your future supervisor be also?

Marketers are always looking at ways that they can catch consumers in the flow of their day and interrupt their attention with messages that resonate. Where is your future supervisor hanging out? This may take a bit of research, and the findings may be very different from target to target.

I have had clients say “Twitter is stupid,” but they suspended their skepticism and tried it because a simple search showed that their targets were active with personal and company handles. If you are involved with an organization that uses Slack, try it out. There’s a learning curve to any new platform, but a good three weeks will get you comfortable enough to leverage it. Just like organizations, observe first, then engage. Try a few different things.

Other platforms are meetup.org, Reddit, Quora, Snapchat, Musical.ly, AngelList, f6s, and I’m sure you’ll find some Listservs and Yahoo groups that are still being used. There are abundantly more platforms and there will continue to be more. You don’t have to learn them all, but if you find out that people you know, respect, and would want to work for are on them, get familiar.

Companies have needs well before they have formally posted job openings. This is the “hidden job market” you may have heard about but weren’t sure existed. It exists, and it’s a gold mine of opportunity for those who can unlock it. The best part is that the hidden job market is where you are the driver of opportunity. Once you know how to access it, there’s no unknowing it, but you might fall back into reactive job searching if you don’t make it a habit.

Once you find one or two methods that work for you and your target employer audience, dedicate most of your job search time to it. Abandon what disempowers you and fails to generate opportunity.

Then the challenge shifts to keeping track of all of that momentum. You’ll spend more time in meetings, interviews, and negotiations, and there will be little time for job boards and online applications, anyway.

Because of that, you’ll want to be very selective from that point forward on what companies and leaders you invest time getting to know better.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to spend more time doing the things you love.

The success will be a natural motivator, so you won’t have to push yourself every day to make efforts.

You may even start to enjoy creating career opportunity so much that you form habits that you maintain during your employment and you’ll never have to be out of work ever again.

That’s power!

Snap – I ve Got The power

“The Power” is an electronic pop hit song by the German music group Snap! from their album World Power. It was released in January 1990 and reached number-one in the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, as well as the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Rap charts.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

When You Are Advised to Network, But Feel Network-Disabled

“Maybe you need new friends.” Have your parents or other authority figures ever said that to you?

What happened to inspire that advice? Usually, it’s because you told them it was your friends’ idea to do something stupid. When you’re a kid, doing what your friends are doing makes you popular. But we grow out of that, right? Not according to data.

According to data we earn, eat, and generally do what our 5 closest relations earn, eat, and do. 

When I was a recruiter, this was used as justification to always ask top candidates for referrals – good talent runs in packs, apparently. However in the real world working with rising, thriving, and even dying corporate stars, not everyone feels particularly akin to their closest circle of influences. Some even pride themselves on being the black sheep.  For most others, however, being the black sheep is isolating and creates challenges, particularly networking challenges when it comes to making career moves. 

Even though some of these clients were top performers and great team contributors, they shied away from inter-office friendships and social activities. In their private life, they had smaller social circles and preferred low-key, private gatherings to un-traversed, public adventures. 

They were happy to surround themselves with people who know and accept them, introverts and extraverts alike. Not all of them felt the need to change anything until it came time to campaign for a career change (moving up, over, or out.) 

Some coaches I have paid over the years have advised me and many others to cut people out of your life who hold you back or weigh you down. I think this is awful, even dangerous advice. Success that requires you to cut people out of your life sounds too cultish and elitist to me. Yes, sometimes we change and grow, which can cause conflicts with people who have known us as we have been. Sometimes we do outgrow relationship. Sometimes people are genuinely toxic and you need separation. 

Let’s go back to the main point our parents usually got around to making: If your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?

Friends aren’t the real reasons we stay stagnant in our lives or our careers. Once we get to age 18, family is no longer a reason we can legitimately use to say why we stay stagnant, even if we stay in the same location for their sake. 

Can friends and family influence us? Sure, if we let them, but we let them influence us because, ultimately, we choose. The tighter we make our circle, the harder it is to recognize their influence on our decisions and our path. 

Before I tell you about the light on the other side, I should share with you my personal triumph:

I was severely friendship-disabled during 3-8th grade. I preferred reclusively sitting home and watching television because socializing hurt, sometimes physically. All interactions with peers could easily transgress into a “social suicide” situation. I had to outgrow and overcome this. I did this by diversifying my friend pool. Doing this helped me in multiple ways I could not have expected. It started as a way to have a friend to call when there was drama with my best friend and her other friends. I started doing new things my other “friends” weren’t doing, like tennis camp. I made a friend at tennis camp. She introduced me to other friends, many of whom were going through similar home situations – divorce, shared custody. My best friend could sympathize with this but really didn’t understand like my new friends did. In fact, she and my four other friends from that group still have parents who are alive and still married. 

My new friends shared some of the same anger and pain, and I felt safe talking about it with them. They gave me new ways to deal with it, even how to use it to my advantage. Hanging out with this group changed me a bit – I got/talked tougher and started smoking. My best friend didn’t like the changes so much, but I gained more confidence and stuck up for myself more. This new group also helped me appreciate my individuality. For the most part, I was the “Bomar” of each group, a word we used for studious bookworms who loved to participate in class and generally earned good grades. They didn’t shame me for this like my older group of friends – they admired it. Eventually, I expanded my sphere of influence and even became a “joiner” in high school – athletics, school clubs, yearbook and prom committee, etc.  I also found that my guy friends were a lot more fun with less drama, usually. I spent more time with them and enjoyed being the girl in the group. This came in handy when I started working at a sports apparel retail store working mostly with men talking mostly about professional athletes, and even getting to meet a few. This also helped when I worked in other male-dominated fields, like tech. 

The cumulative effect of having diverse groups of friends is that I can work with difficult personalities successfully, but never feel like I have to continue associating with anyone who mistreats me or whose values are not aligned with mine. I have tried and adopted new hobbies, traveled to new places, and can relate to more people. I meet fewer and fewer people now with whom I can’t find something in common, and that’s a good starting place for rapport, mediation, and negotiations. 

I didn’t leave anyone behind, but some groups grew closer while I expanded my horizons. I became a “special appearance” friend. I wasn’t always where they were, which actually saved me from being arrested on multiple occasions. I still have multiple groups of close friends from high school. We made different decisions at graduation, and we all mostly wound up successful in our careers. We all eventually expanded our circles to include new people – neighbors, sports parents, co-workers, spouse/partner’s friends and in-laws, etc.  

I’m certain that if you take a look at the years since you were in grade school, you would see an evolution in your social sphere as well. 

Some people choose to delineate the social sphere from the professional sphere.  That’s a personal choice and one I didn’t make for myself because of the richness of opportunity that has come from cross-pollinating my professional and personal networks. In fact, I can say with utter certainty that if I had made the attempt to keep my personal and professional circles separate I would have failed at my jobs and in my business. 

If you are choosing this for yourself, this blog is not for you and I really don’t think I can help you get where you want to go. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a career or leadership coach that will help you get where you want to go in your career under the conditions that you continue to only associate with people on either a personal or professional level and never bleed the two together. I do encourage you to start your own society of people who follow the same belief system and maybe you can ONLY help each other based on what you learn about each other professionally. You do you!

Back to the other readers who saw this headline and thought, “Yes – that’ me. I’m network-disabled.” The first step is identifying this. Right now, I want you to know that if you recognize that this has been holding you back from enjoying opportunities for greater professional growth and performance, your network is not permanently broken. You can enjoy expanding your social spheres and spheres of professional influence simultaneously while expanding your comfort zone and discovering new strengths and qualities. It doesn’t take as much time as you think. You could be the new “Norm” to your new Cheers within a few weeks, actually. 

In the coming weeks, I’ll share advice and tips that will help you maximize your victories, minimize and learn from your failures, and accelerate your ability to leverage your new-found friends without feeling sleazy or self-serving.

 

Cheers intro song

intro song to the tv show cheers( 1983-1992) song: where everybody knows your name, by Gary Portnoy.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

 

Every Mistake is an Opportunity to Grow

 

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Young Entrepreneurs Academy CEO Roundtable (YEA!), where aspiring entrepreneurs were able to ask a CEO Panel some interesting questions. The insights of the CEOs was impressive – they were vulnerable and authentic, which inspired the kids of YEA, who came up with stellar questions!

Here are some of my favorite takeaways and insights:

Every mistake is an opportunity to grow.

Rev. Georgiette Morgan-Thomas of American Hats, LLC:
Staffing is the most difficult for us and it can be difficult to maintain the level of talent we’d like. Oftentimes, we get people looking for a job and what we need is someone who wants a profession, someone interested in making the product better. People aren’t willing to say I don’t know and be willing to learn a new skill. Turnover is very high. Things that appear to cut your labor costs aren’t always a good thing.

Her 5-year plan is to have more visits to their factory. Right now, they are conducting virtual tours and plan to do more in the near future. Because of this, she is now looking at the attitudes of her employees now that she has people visiting her factory.

She maintains a busy schedule by getting up at 3:30 AM to take the 5:15 AM Train from NYV to Philly. After a day of teaching hat trimming and design, she gets back home at about 10 PM. Her drive and passion keep her working through the weekend – she works Saturdays for 4-6 hours! She measures her success by the customers who come back, time and time again.

Howard Nelson Bear of Doggie Style Pets, the comp.bybusing service model and integrating into neighborhoods. Each store is customized for neighborhoods. The companies biggest challenge? Staffing! It’s hard to have a 5-year plan with as fast as things change.

Social responsibility has garnered brand loyalty and retention.

Rick Forman – says one of the biggest risks they face is deciding to pivot when you realize your original plan won’t work. Execution requires operating on all cylinders. You have to first have the secret sauce and the vision to bring a neighborhood alive.

Dumb is smart and smart is dumb.
You need to be curious.
Don’t be afraid to ask that question.
In order to be philanthropic, you have to make a profit.

Laura Kelly says that risk is making your stable successful in order to grow.
Entrepreneurs have many challenges and may find themselves getting taken in by shiny object syndrome. That’s what excites entrepreneurs – creation.

One of Laura’s goals is to have an instructor teaching kids in a thousand different locations. She works from home and doesn’t have a defined start/finish time. It’s a workday that just continues.

Some of the key takeaways from Laura were:

Successful people move forward in spite of fear. Fear is part of the price you pay.

A really strong team of experts is essential to growth.

Bill Mignucci – This too will pass. You’ll have that moment, and how you respond will define you. “I’ve been in the fetal position maybe even twice.” Fear doesn’t go away. It’s good to have a healthy dose of fear.

Some of the lessons learned from Bill:

Prioritization and defining and redefining your destination.

We aspire, and we may not achieve, but it’s key to keep your eye on the future. Growth is not just about economics, but about cause. Put in as much time as is healthy.

In his servant leadership model is flipped, he serves the employees rather than them supporting him. He does this to inspire them and to create a vision.

Who are some of your favorite entrepreneurs and what key takeaways have they shared with you?

Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger (Official Music Video)

Survivor’s official music video for ‘Eye Of The Tiger’. Click to listen to Survivor on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/SurvSpot?IQid=Surv… As featured on Ultimate Survivor. Click to buy the track or album via iTunes: http://smarturl.it/UltSurviTunes?IQid… Google Play: http://smarturl.it/SurvEOTTplay?IQid=… Amazon: http://smarturl.it/UltSurvAmz?IQid=Su… More from Survivor Burning Heart: https://youtu.be/Kc71KZG87X4 I Can’t Hold Back: https://youtu.be/GaMcsKtBDwE The Search IsOver: https://youtu.be/xELTfJ-ZVBc More great classic rock videos here: http://smarturl.it/ClassicRocks?IQid=…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

We Need More Better Bosses

 

The Twitterverse: where I’m never really sure if someone is being complimentary or sarcastic. I err on sarcastic.

When I proposed to an HR consultant on Twitter that leadership coaching and skill/career development would prevent disengaging the employees who tend to get overlooked, the middle 80%, he called it “such a simple solution.”

 

Was he being sarcastic?

Conceptually, it certainly is, and data proves that it is effective. Logic also says that if 50% of employees have left jobs because of bad bosses, then the way to retain talent is to have better bosses. Retention does not equal engagement, however.

Now that engagement is on everyone’s radar and it’s all the rage at human resources and human capital conferences galore, why haven’t we gotten past the fact that this works and getting on to executing?

Ah, executing. That’s what has proven to be NOT simple. Or is it?

I recently saw the advice on LinkedIn to choose your boss, not your job. It was advice that was highly lauded by other career professionals and corporate professionals alike. Choose your boss – that’s good advice, but NOT choosing your job is like determining that you can’t have both. You can! The problem is that good bosses don’t seem to be plentiful enough for people to believe they can have both, so they better grab a good boss when they find one, regardless of what they will be doing for them. We need more better bosses, and there’s ALWAYS room for improvement.

I noticed that many articles refer to this kind of leadership development as “executive” coaching. There certainly are particular challenges that executives face for which coaching would help them. And, when executives are conscious leaders who make conscious decisions, it does tend to influence a positive work culture and benefit everyone, but executives are not the only leaders who would benefit from skill, professional, and personal development. Frankly, too many companies exclude personal development as a focus of coaching, when in reality, this is where development makes the most difference in employee/boss dynamics. Personal development is how individuals expand their self-awareness and sense of accountability for results and effective communication. This type of coaching benefits front-line employees, support teams and leaders alike.

If a company is leveraging the creativity of all of its workforce, its leaders need to create an environment and provide coaching that helps all employees handle creativity-killing stress. It also needs a fair system and conscious leaders to vet ideas.

Aspiring leaders need this kind of coaching to understand how to transition from being a doer to a delegator and all that comes with handling people problems, holding others accountable, keeping others motivated, and reconciling orders from above with their own wisdom.  They need to build confidence in this area in order to continue growing.

Mid-level and experienced managers need this kind of coaching to help them handle increasing pressure and responsibility of making decisions, dealing with the consequences of bad decisions or unpopular decisions, as well as managing other managers. Also, even a great leader can be vulnerable to situational greed, and once you have had the taste of promotion, you might be easily influenced to do unethical things as directed with the promise of future promotion.

Executive leaders need this kind of coaching because the stakes are high, they can easily forget the real challenges that their employees face to be able to effectively support them, and the prestige, power, and prosperity can become a drug, making decisions for them. If their wits don’t stay intact, they can be seduced by what looks like easy money and fail to do their due diligence. They can make decisions purely devoid of consideration of human factors – what actual humans do when subjected to adverse situations, and the costs thereof.

So far disengagement is not exclusive to any one demographic of corporate employees. Any employee can become disengaged, though leaders, I’ve found, tend to be engaged for the sake of their team over the sake of the organization. Each group can also learn to support the other, exponentially fortifying an organization’s ability to perform and profit.

Of course, not all development coaching is created equally.  The Epic Careering development programs leverage current and proven neuroscience and human performance optimization breakthroughs that accelerate and reinforce the process from self-awareness to transformation.  Conventional coaching isn’t ineffective, but it is inefficient considering the increasing pace of technology and the necessary pace of corporate evolution.

Epic Careering is currently offering retained programs to 4 growing organizations for 2019. If you want all the benefits of professional development without the wait, book a consultation to learn more now.

 

Bruce Springsteen – Human Touch

Bruce Springsteen’s official music video for ‘Human Touch’. Click to listen to Bruce Springsteen on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/BSpringSpot?IQid=BSpringHT As featured on The Essential Bruce Springsteen.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

If Your Company is Doing Career Development To Increase Engagement This Way, It Will Fail

 

Career Development as a tactic to increase engagement theoretically works because:

  • We know that the #1 reason people quit is lack of growth opportunity
  • And we know the main reason they leave a job for a new job is better growth opportunity
  • It is an expression of caring on behalf of executive leadership that enhances employment brand and loyalty
  • It increases the value that an employee can offer the organization, and thereby would theoretically increase their compensation

So, it seems logical that by offering your employees career development you would improve retention and engagement by offering them a chance to develop new skills.

However, I have been seeing some “experts” advise companies to go about it in a way that will backfire, sending retention numbers, morale, and employee/leader relations downward while costs increase – at worst, and produce little to no ROI – at best.

Don’t decide what skills you want to develop in your workforce by evaluating which would help them do their job better. Decide by helping employees understand how they can make increasing contributions that are meaningful to them. If an employee is really going to feel as though they are growing, these contributions have to be acknowledged and rewarded by leadership, and their influence has to expand in correlation with their expanded expertise. The means that the organization has to recognize that job satisfaction and engagement are two different things. Also, make sure your organization is keeping abreast of future trends, devising and implementing plans to leverage up and coming skills, and offering employees who want it, a chance to gain exposure and training in these skills. Yes, this will make them more marketable for other jobs and more attractive to your competition. As Richard Branson said…

“Train people well enough so that they can leave, treat them well enough that they don’t want to.”

Don’t decide which employees you will train now or later based on management’s assessment of an employee’s aptitude to perform.  It is a flaw of management theory that if you invest in developing and tending to the top 10% and the lowest 10% of your talent that you are covering your bases. However, theories like that are what contribute to such a prolonged, high rate of disengagement. How can you expect 80% of your workforce to be engaged if leadership is not engaged with them? ALL employees need this type of offer. Some may not take advantage of it, but you can’t have an inclusive workforce if you exclude anyone from growth opportunity.

Don’t decide whether you will use internal or external resources for skill development based on what is most cost-effective. Focus on the option that represents the best chance of the desired outcome, otherwise, you will not get a return on your investment. You have to be able to objectively assess if an internal resource will be credible and trusted.  Maybe using an internal resources is cheaper, but there’s already been evidence that people have suffered for being honest, you will need an external resource who can build rapport and trust. However, if employees expect that their manager is supposed to look out for them, hiring someone from the outside may seem lazy.   Another option is to train managers to be better career developers (we help with that, too.)

The most desired outcome for an employee of true career management is control. Some people may suffice to take their company’s direction and grow in the ways that benefit the organization most. These are the employees who usually wake up sometime in their midlife wondering how they got here, and if they’re where they want to be, where they could be, and if it’s not too late to decide and arrive where they would be happiest. I know because these people are my clients. In fact, career coaches everywhere who niche in senior corporate professionals or executives will likely echo the same thing.  If your company experiences a strange exodus of mid-level to senior-level tenured talent, this is why. You have exerted too much control over their career. Some companies will at this point rely on retirement benefits or accrued vacation to retain this talent, and that might be effective in retaining them, but it won’t engage them.

Don’t only frame career development in terms of what benefits the company most. You will get biased assessment results that fail to address the real aspirations of people, which may not backfire right away, but it will backfire eventually. Let people grow in the way that serves them best, and if the organization can benefit from it, make it work. If not, let them go, and I don’t mean abruptly or without an exit plan that supports them transitioning out while you transition someone else who would be more engaged in.

I can understand why it might seem counterproductive to implement career development plans “my” way; it seems as though you will inadvertently encourage employees to follow career paths that place them outside of your organization. That will happen, and it will present the costs of replacing that talent, but you will also be ridding your organization of people who represent high risks of disengagement.

If your company doesn’t have:

  • Trust and rapport between employees and an internal career development coach, manager or not
  • Confidentiality assurance
  • A culture that honors honesty without executing punitive consequences for it
  • The competency to help employees determine their most ideal career path
  • The resources and budget to train employees into growth roles once a growth role is identified
  • A culture that will give employees a two-way communication channel to assert their influence
  • A way to leverage skills that are increasing in demand
  • The means to compensate employees more overtime for the organizational advancements to which they contribute

… then career development is not going to work as a way to increase engagement. In fact, you can expect that low engagement will persist and that it will continue to cost your organization 35% of your compensation expenses and render your human capital investments, if any, void of ROI.

 

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime (Official Video)

Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” from the 1980 album Remain in Light

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

We Are In Big Trouble If Leaders Don’t Start Doing This

Reflections

How do we shift from a world where rampant mental illness pushes people to the limits of their humanity to a world where we take good care of one another?

Could it be as simple as breathing??

Letting go?

Healing?

Processing?

Allowing?

Surrendering?

Choosing happiness?

Self-reflection may be simple, but it’s not easy.

I cherish my time for self-reflection. Without it, I tend to stay in a stressful loop. In a moment I might start to go down a rabbit hole, thinking about an interaction that I had or have to have. Without time to process these thoughts fully, they just stay in a loop.

There is something I am supposed to get from these repeating thoughts, which is why my brain keeps showing me it. I need to reveal it’s meaning, process my emotions about it, and then put it behind me as completed. If not, my energy gets sapped. I find it hard to focus and all tasks take longer. I may even procrastinate or escape into TV or social media. Still that thought loops.

It’s like when you are running late for something and you keep going back to your house for different things you forgot and it just gets later and later. Ever do that? Be in such a rush that you forget important things and it causes you to be even later?

I notice that if tasks and obligations, including my cherished kids and clients, keep me from giving these thoughts my full attention for a while, I start to resent them. I get short tempered. I set up boundaries to protect myself. I have more freedom to do so because I am self-employed. Still, when I accept work, I make a commitment and that commitment has to be fulfilled. I don’t always see a busy time coming and I get stuck

However, companies need to adopt a self-care culture to allow their people to grow and develop not just skill wise, but in their consciousness. Our planet actually depends on it!

Otherwise, we get unconscious producers in power, focused only on producing hard results without consideration of consequences. This explains situational greed, a neuroscience concept I introduced in a previous blog in which the brain starts to rewire itself to pursue more power and/and possessions, sometimes even becoming addicted to the dopamine release of acquiring more power and/or possessions. Without being able to regularly take time, which becomes even harder as you take on more responsibility and authority, this can go unchecked and lead to a host of toxic conditions and detrimental consequences.

Without that time, I could not have written this!

A balance, however elusive, appears to be the more accurate place from which to make critical decisions that impact many.

Not work-life balance, but production and reflection balance. An employer can’t assume its employees are doing this at home.

This is a generalization, but often those at the top of the income chain employ the assistance of others to take care of admin/housekeeping, even child rearing. But do they use the time that is freed from those tasks for reflection? Or, do they use that time to produce or feed ego?

Most other people, including top producers, are going home and attacking a busy kid activity and homework schedule plus a home care task list. Then they zone out consuming media because they are mentally and emotionally exhausted – another generalization, I realize.

Still, I think it’s fair to say the general workforce is not in the habit of making time for self-reflection, and if they are, they doing it incompletely and getting stuck in the loop I described above.

The loops below are a much better model for conscious growth, whether you are a leader or a producer:

Achieving Conscious Leadership

 

  1. Consumption – Make plans based on new insights, illuminations, teachings
  2. Reflection – Consider how people and planet will be impacted directly and indirectly
  3. Production – Set goals and intentions and execute
  4. Reflection – Examine direct and indirect impacts, as well as own performance relative to higher self

The key is self-intimacy (into-me-I-see). Not just asking how was it, evaluating in terms of results, profits, etc., but asking how was I. Sometimes the answers aren’t good, and the ego doesn’t like them.

But the higher self, the one who wants to continually evolve into a better and better person, a better leader and a more positive influence on the people around them, needs them.

Coincidentally, I came across this warning signs list this morning. I thought someone might need this more than music, so I’m sharing it.

https://www.higherperspectives.com/warning-signs-nervous-breakdown-2610845741.html

The Perfect Pass, and I Dropped the Ball

I was given the perfect opening, and I dropped the ball.

It’s really odd. I had my HR Summit presentation for the Greater Valley Forge Human Resources Association finished a couple months before I had to deliver it. I had plenty of time to learn it. I switched things around several times, including at the last minute because I learned something I had to pass on.

Then, I get into the groove, I was asked a question for which the answer aligned perfectly with the new juicy nugget I wanted to pass on, and not only did I totally whiff on delivering it then, I forgot to deliver it at all!

I shared it in last week’s blog, actually. But I was presented with the perfect practical application of that, which would have served as an eye-opening, a-ha moment for many, I just know it, and I didn’t deliver.

I told everyone to look up and follow Cy Wakeman. I’m sure I got that much out, and I mentioned her insights on open-door policies and a new communication training that if executives and employees alike were both trained in and applied it, careering would be epic on so many more levels. I just failed to demonstrate it when someone confronted me with a perfect scenario.

So, this blog is a make up for my omission that you get to benefit from, as well.

The scenario presented (I’m going to keep this general so as to protect the person who shared,) was that a person was hired to work with leaders in promoting the company, but is not finding leaders participatory.

She was given the following advice, some from me and some from other attendees:

  • Go after the most willing convert
  • Get an influencer on board
  • Ease them in gradually
  • Do it all at once; rip off the Band-Aid

Any of this advice might be right, but the opportunity was not to give advice. Actually, it was to ask self-reflective questions to restore this person’s empowerment.

Things I should have asked her:

  • What do you know for certain?
  • What can do you to move forward?
  • If you were great in this situation, what would that look like? [Great, go do that.]

Instead, I commiserated. I actually said, “That sucks! I’m sorry you’re in such a tough position.”

I’m sure the validation made her feel a little bit better, but what would have felt even better was being able to see clearly what she could do and then being empowered and encouraged to do that.

There’s so much I have yet to learn from Cy, including her views on change management, which so far I discern are contrarian to what I see being implemented in corporate practices. Times are a-changing, though. We all NEED to be able to adapt faster.

This technique of switching from ego-self to higher self in an instant is just one of many potential mini-practices that stand to make a HUGE impact on the everyday work experience.

I know if I had more than a week to practice it, it would have felt like the natural response.

In spite of my regret not sharing it live at the event when the perfect moment presented itself, I’ll assume it worked out for everyone’s favor that I share it this way, and I’ll continue to practice it myself.

It’s what I know I can do, and it feels better to do what I can than to worry about not having done it already.

I also forgot to make sure everyone got my free gift, so click here for a report on Experiential Recruiting.

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changin’ 1964

TV Movie, The Times They are a Changing’ (1964) Directed by: Daryl Duke Starring: Bob Dylan

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play.

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales.

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019, and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Ditch the Drama – Part 2 Recap of the PA Conference for Women 2018

The breakout session spoke to me: “Ditch Workplace Drama and Drive Results”

Oh, Hallelujah!

Now, it has been a long time since I had to deal with drama with any regularity, having not been a full-time employee for over 12 years. However, even as a subcontractor and volunteer, just the interacting with other humans for the sake of collaborating on projects of mutual interest and benefit seems to expose me to drama.

As I shared last week on part 1 of my PA Conference for Women recap, I was thirsty for tools and information I could put to use and share right away.

I have met a new woman, Cy Wakeman, whose database of knowledge and habits I would love to instantly download. And I was exposed to a term that resonates so strongly with my quest to use every second for the utmost outcome, whether that outcome is fun, productivity, co-creating, vitality, adventure, or intimacy.

Behavioral economics – a study dedicated to understanding and adjusting the time it takes humans to make decisions, take actions, and communicate words that accelerate progress and results while eliminating poor outcomes and wasteful actions and communications. (My paraphrased definition.)

What’s even better, is that it ties data to practices that are proven, but considered a bit fringe for most corporate environments – being in your highest self.

Whaaaa?

Not only that, but she debunked so many popular corporate myths about engagement, accountability, leadership, open-door policies, and more. I wish everyone could have been there. It was EPIC.

As usual, if you read my blogs/posts or follow me on Twitter, you get the benefit of attending even if you weren’t there because I captured as many golden nuggets as possible. My blog is one of my favorite ways to re-teach what I learn to share the wealth, but also to reinforce what I learn. I do this with my speaking engagements, as well. A room full of Human Resources professionals will benefit Friday from this download of de-dramatization techniques. It’s a shame I had to hand in my pitch deck several weeks ago, but I will find ways to weave it in. What Cy had to share is relevant to ALL people and all relationships. It’s life-changing! Thankfully, 450K+ people get to hear her message each year with her 250-day/year speaking schedule.

I look forward to reading my signed copy of No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Costs of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Results.

Below are my tweets of the good stuff you would have missed if you weren’t there:

Green Day – Drama Queen ( Lyrics )

Uploaded by umaro seidi on 2012-11-21.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019,  and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

 

Kick Glass – Part 1 Recap of the PA Conference for Women 2018

Jen Walters quote

Quote from #PennWomen

It seems to start earlier and get more crowded every year, though I think last year was a record when Michelle Obama was one of the keynote speakers. The trains are always full…of women, many craving the keys to the kingdom, or just to a better way of working and living that’s more – them. They’re seeking permission, forgiveness, acceptance, and empowerment, and they get it.

I know there are a number of breakouts I can attend, and some of them fit right into my wheelhouse, like personal branding, LinkedIn, salary negotiations, etc.

I attended Dr. Jen Welter’s breakout because she became the first woman to breakthrough the NFL’s gender barriers as a coach for the Arizona Cardinals. And, because she did such an awesome job blazing the trail, she has effectively kept the door open for several others to follow:

  • Bills full-time coach, Kathryn Smith
  • 49ers Offensive Assistant, Katie Sowers (also first open LGBTQ coach in NFL)
  • Raiders strength coach, Kelsey Martinez

I have helped many of my clients overcome many kinds of bias, but I had to hear her story – how she did it, who helped her along the way, what happened once she was there, how she got a team of male football players to give her the respect that enabled her to effectively coach them.

I took some great snippet Tweetables from her talk, suitable for a large room of women or a stadium with the energy and confidence she projected. What she taught transcended gender and apply to leadership in the face of bias and increased scrutiny. She was teaching us how to and why to KICK GLASS – don’t let others tell you what your limits are. Defy them by being your full, authentic self.

If you ever get the chance to see her speak, or read her book, Play Big: Lessons on Being Limitless from the 1st Woman to Coach in the NFL, I recommend you take it.

No Doubt – Just A Girl

Best of No Doubt: https://goo.gl/arujs7 Subscribe here: https://goo.gl/HRNLKB Music video by No Doubt performing Just A Girl. (C) 2003 Interscope Records

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019,  and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

How to Custom-design Your Next Role or Get on the Executive Fast-Track

Can Lead A Horse To Water But T Make Him Drink

How to Custom-design your Next Role or Get on the Executive Fast-Track

If you’re not networking internally within your company (as explained in the last post) then you are minimizing your opportunities to grow in an organization. A record-breaking number of people are now just deciding to jump ship for better opportunities and pay. In a way, this is working for them if their career path stays linear and conventional. However, if you want to jump on the executive-fast-track or need to move laterally in order to get on an executive fast-track, then networking internally is a must-do.

Last week we talked about the process of laying the groundwork and building the reputation that will enable you to establish yourself as an influential change agent. This week, we will focus on how to actually enact the change, which will help you propel your career forward, or over, depending on what you want to do.

Here are 4 questions to ask your internal network that will enable you to identify gaps and propose solutions:

  1. What are the biggest challenges to delivering quality on time
  2. What do you see as being potential solutions?
  3. Have you already shared both the challenges and solutions and, if so, what occurred as a result?
  4. What are the potential costs, logistics, and objections of the solutions? (Validate with other stakeholders)

Instead of identifying problems that are solvable in your internal networking efforts, you may be discouraged by what you learn and determine that your company is a sinking ship (subscribe and watch for my future post: Signs Your Company Is A Sinking Ship).

So, you have a decision to make: do you abandon ship at the first possible opportunity or do you try to save the passengers still onboard, some of whom are completely oblivious?

I have to warn you that after you spend some time getting to know the people who will be impacted far after you find a new role, you may feel a sense of obligation to help them in some way. This could be by stepping up as a change agent, which means sticking your neck out and risking your own job, but enabling you to go down in a blaze of glory, or you could just vow to help other people land into something new, perhaps your new company. Either way, understand all the risks – you face resistance, and the level of resistance you face is commensurate with the strength of the system that wants to maintain the status quo. Also, companies have reacted negatively, and sometimes litigiously, to talent poaching.

You may or may not find an outspoken internal sponsor, which is always preferred. This process is applicable whether you do or do not.

The problems that seem insurmountable are usually people-related, not process, systems or resources related. Unless you have training and experience as a transformative coach or therapist, you probably don’t want to touch the people problems. Also, when you are impacted directly by those people problems, it can be that much more challenging to be an objective solution provider. If you find that the organization has people problems, you can anonymously nominate them for an engagement audit to a transformational coach.

If, however, you find that the issues are related to systems, processes, technologies, culture, communication, or policies, and you are inspired and prepared to assume ownership, below is the way to make a business case. Owning the issue doesn’t mean being solely responsible for execution, but it does mean being accountable for results. You have to know in these cases what your strengths are and to understand how you can compensate where you are not strong and delegate. You also need to understand all of the costs associated with additional resources, whether internal or external. If other people want to be a part of the solution, they also have to be able to complete their primary responsibilities with the same quality and would need buy-in from their immediate supervisors. Some of these supervisors you would have wanted to also meet with, because if you knew first hand about their struggles to deliver with limited resources, you will understand that they will object to sacrificing any of their resources.

If there are any potential objections NOT addressed yet, ask the people most impacted by a lack of change to help determine if there is a way to address the objection, either in a work-around or in a way that makes the potential benefit worth the potential risks.

Let’s assume you have worked out a solution that accommodates the needs of many and resolves potential objections to adoption of the solution.

Schedule a meeting and make sure you get as many stakeholders in attendance at the same time. Make the invitation sizzle by making it relevant and critical to everyone. Make sure that you are as judicious with the time as possible so that you can minimize the time it takes to make your case, but allow for ample time to discuss adoption. The subject could be, “I need 15-20 minutes of your time to reveal an issue I discovered that stands to cost us $500K, but if resolved will earn us an increased market share.”

Every won argument starts with first presenting what all parties agree is true, whether these are facts or stories (e.g. of a story – Employees are lazy; vs facts – Projects are delivered 3 months late 85% of the time.) Establish from the get go that you are on the same side. “We all agree that we want our company to be known for its premium products and world-class customer service. Right?” State a few more, and then ask them to confirm their agreement.

Instead of saying, “Kathy from Accounts Payable doesn’t understand why we are paying premium prices for subpar vendor performance, but that’s procurement’s department, so she feels powerless,” share new insights in as measurable, concrete terms as possible without divulging the identity of your sources.

Let each one sink in before you move on to the next.

For example –

“Did you know…

  • The #1 customer complaint is failure to deliver on time.
  • In fact, 65% of the customer service issues tracked are related to this issue.
  • 95% of the people I met with over the past 3 months attribute bugs in 3rd party software to the inability to deliver on time.
  • There were 2,000 bugs over the past 3 months, which took an average of 1 hour to resolve each, for a total of 2,000 hours of lost productivity.
  • 35% of these people are actively seeking a new position right now, because no one has pulled the trigger on a new vendor nor has anyone held the vendor accountable, and they don’t feel they can properly meet their performance metrics and often have to stay extra hours to complete their deliverable.
  • If we lose even only 25% of those people, our current project portfolio will be stalled by 6 months or more, and we will lose $35K on service-level agreement shortcomings, $300K in lost revenue, and can anticipate losing $75K on lost productivity while we stretch the remaining staff, and $25K-50K on higher salaries for new hires who will demand more, and also risk further turnover, which will bump these numbers up even higher.”

Then propose solutions in as straightforward terms as possible.

For example –

  • “Immediate actions that will prevent these losses:
    • 1st level – Assign a new point of contact for the vendor and partner with legal to evaluate the service-level agreement and determine if there is a breach of contract.
    • 2nd level- Liaise with business, technology and users to determine software requirements and evaluate additional vendors
    • etc.”

Put all known objections on the table, so that you can outline how you already thought of a way to work around the objection, or why the cost-benefit of the solution outweighs potential losses.

Connect the dots back to what you all agree on and why the solutions proposed are the best (cheapest, fastest, etc.) way to achieve what you want.

Specify YOUR role and what for what results you will be accountable. Make it look like a job description. You will have to address if you plan on taking this on a special project above and beyond your current duties, or if you plan on fully exiting your role and if/how you will backfill your own position.

My former client success assistant, MJ, called this a roleposal. I knew I wanted to hire her, and knew her personality and networking efforts had potential value to my brand, but I was too in the midst of business development and client delivery to put the dots together. She knew she wanted to work for me, too, and took on the task of outlining what she would do to take some business development and client delivery and follow-up off my hands, the timeline and volume of delivery success, and how she would be compensated based on what I explained to her about my budget. She even outlined how she would get on-boarded with minimal hands-on training. It was an easy yet.

Yes, this outline does put simply what can be a huge, complex investment of time. It’s true – the executive fast-track is not an overnight success method. If you really read the stories of “overnight successes,” you’ll find that one big break may have launched that person into the spotlight, but it was years of effort that helped them be in the right place at the right time.

If you aren’t willing to do this work, you may want to rethink an executive career.

If you are excited by the prospect of making a large contribution to your company, its people and its customers/clients, but you want a partner, mentor, and coach for the long-haul, book a free consultation with me so that we can determine if we are a match to work together. Not only can we coach you through the challenges (even people challenges) that occur, but we can also set you up with a mentor who has already achieved what you hope to in a relevant industry/business.

Gavin DeGraw – Everything Will Change (Audio)

Music video by Gavin DeGraw performing Everything Will Change. (C) 2013 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.