Archives for career growth

Making Career Decisions from Your Highest Self vs. Ego

Ego-driven career decisions are a top reason why some people are successful yet unfulfilled. 

Once we take a road in life, we can never really know for certain where the other road may have led. What would we learn if we could see? Perhaps some things would be better and some things would be worse. Which would make us happiest overall? Well, happiness is a choice – kind of. 

Happiness is a choice, but it’s not always conscious is what I mean. We don’t always take the time needed to reflect on our choices, the status of our choices, and design the changes we want to see in our lives, then take the necessary actions to realize that change. My clients do. 

In fact, reaching out to a coach is a proclamation of your readiness to do something different to create something different. 

Yes, you can be unfulfilled with the amount of money you make. While I have helped some of my clients double and triple their income through our work together, helping people fill a money void alone is not personally fulfilling to me. Neither is helping a former CEO “have some fun” as interim turnaround CEO and help him find a role where one of the first things he’ll do is “cut the fat” – aka layoff talent. My personal fulfillment comes from my clients – from their ability to influence positive change that makes the world better. 

Just because someone has more noble aspirations doesn’t mean they are choosing them from their Highest Self, however. 

Even if your career has been a series of opportunities bestowed upon you, you are still choosing that path – it just hasn’t been conscious or intentional. 

The highest level of fulfillment comes from intentionally choosing it. 

To determine if you have chosen your path from your Highest Self or your ego, you must determine your “why.” To get to the real why, you may have to ask yourself why several times – maybe up to 7. 

For example: Why am I a conscious career and leadership coach (1)?

Because I want to make work better for more people. 

Why is this important to me (2)?

Because what happens at work bleeds into other realms of life.

Why do I care (3)? 

Because I see the greatest human potential to make the world better being realized when more people are in alignment with their talents, purpose, and vision.

Why is this something to which I dedicate my own career (4)?

Because I feel divinely led to it, as if all of my personal and professional experiences have been positioned to provide me with a micro and macro perspective of a system that achieves maximum results for people and the planet.

Why am I driven to offer this (5)?

Because my/all kids will eventually inherit this earth and all its problems (pending we survive), and I want to do what I can while I’m here to elevate leadership consciousness so that younger generations are given the tools and guidance to solve tomorrow’s problems. 

Why (6)? 

Because that is my legacy.

Why (7)?

Because I choose it. 

Did you expect it to go there? Does it come down to simple choice? 

Well, if you are in your ego, you need to defend your reasons. You need other people to understand and approve of your reasons. 

Your Highest Self doesn’t judge you or your reasons. It only seeks to experience the full expression of Itself. That can look many different ways. 

Yet, we here, in reality, have actual needs, and not every way we can fully express our highest selves provides those needs. (Or do they?) 

Once you let other people’s success standards and expectations move out of the way, the question that is left is – what do I need to be able to fully express my Highest Self? The answer is usually all of those things you need to thrive. 

What sabotages our ability to embody the full expression of our Highest Self in our career is often when we fall into self-limiting beliefs about what is possible. This is not your Highest Self talking. Your Highest Self knows how powerful You Are. 

Not for comparison’s sake, but for inspiration’s sake, take a look at the people you most admire – did they accept someone else’s beliefs about what was possible? 

While your Highest Self is a natural part of Who You Are, our world has many ways of teaching us to suppress it, to doubt it, and to deny it. It takes self-awareness to acknowledge it and discern it from ego. It requires conscious intention and consistent efforts to override ego and put our Highest Selves back at the table when we make major (or minor) decisions for our lives. It often takes practice to filter out all of the noise to hear what our Highest Self is saying. This is why meditation is the “secret” ritual successful and fulfilled people prioritize in their daily lives. 

At the table of decisions, we often see the voices of: ego, fear, trauma, other people’s limited beliefs that we bought (and probably sold), our conditioning, our needs, our intuition, and our Highest Self. Realistically, we won’t remove any of those inputs from the table; some of them are automatic and subconscious. We can amplify the voices that tend to create the Highest Good, but we may want to experiment first. This is a great way to break the habit of automatically letting certain inputs influence our decision. Journal to record the voices, your process of choosing, and the outcomes. Much like being present with the beauty of nature by zooming in can interrupt a negative mental spiral and create new neural pathways, being present with the thoughts and inputs in decision-making will enable you to create new habits that create better outcomes. 

This won’t become an instant habit. It will take what every other habit has taken – your intention, proclamation, interrupting your current habits, reminding yourself to do it the new way, and fighting through the discomfort and inertia that is inherent with change, until it becomes the default way. Or hypnosis (if you like to accelerate it.) 

If you want some help tuning into your Highest Self and forging a career path ahead that enables full self-expression and fulfillment, schedule a consultation today

Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground

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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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

How to Prepare for A Possible Recession

Despite the GDP contracting two quarters in a row, which usually means we’re in a recession, unemployment is at 3.6% and consistent job growth means the economy is continuing to improve. Inflation is hitting everyone in the pocket, leading the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, yet housing prices are expected to continue rising, just more slowly. Bloomberg this week said a long, deep recession still could be looming. After 2020, we are all very much on our toes, hyperaware that anything can happen. I am not ringing alarm bells, and make no claims to know what is around the corner, but I know that most people feel better and fair better when they are prepared for what may come. 

If there is a recession, it will be my 3rd in the world of employment, and I’ve noticed a few things about what jobs and professionals tend to thrive in spite of, and sometimes because of, economic downturns. Some will feel it right off the bat, and some will think they are safe at first, then find that they were just there to make cuts and then be cut loose. 

If the company offers perks such as recruitment, retention, engagement, or wellness tools, they will be the first to go. Unfortunately, benefits will be the next thing evaluated, followed by compensation. Prepare yourself to live without them. Schedule a meeting with your financial advisor to see what resources they recommend and the steps they advise. Don’t do anything rash. 

Once costs are cut, people come next. 

Where companies usually cut people first:

  • Salaries way above market value 
  • Research & Development
  • Marketing 
  • Customer Service 
  • Administrative support 
  • Accounting support
  • Future-based, high-priced IT projects

The first thing you want to do is take stock. Assess your value to your company and document everything you have done to protect or boost the bottom line. 

Of course, as a branding expert and résumé/LinkedIn profile writer, I will tell you to prepare and plan for an exit that will still position you for career growth. I have coached through the Great Recession, and my clients still landed great jobs that improved their career trajectory, but it didn’t happen by chance, accident, or luck; it was by design. Even while jobs are eliminated, new opportunities to help companies navigate through these times arise, so consider engaging a job market expert and career coach like me to help you strategize, plan, and best position yourself for opportunity. 

The next thing I recommend you do is to network more. Start reaching out to old colleagues. Find out what’s going on in other companies. Form alliances. Attend mixers and professional organization events. Meet new people. Spend time in LinkedIn groups engaging in conversation and inviting new people to connect and chat offline. Carve out a little more time to help others. Do some volunteering. Be the person people think of first when opportunities arise. 

Next, consider the following:

Did you take a job that offered you a huge boost above market value? Did you increase your standard of living to match it? 

If you love the job you accepted and really want to keep it, the best way to avoid being first on the chopping block is to eliminate excess lifestyle-related expenses and volunteer for a pay cut. This may sound extreme, but this gesture will prove that you are a team player, you are savvy enough to be proactive, and you are a leader willing to lead by example, especially if anyone on your team is on the verge of leaving, either by choice or by force. You may even be able to negotiate a post-recession recovery of your income. 

Is your job revenue-generating or a “cost center”? 

Cost centers of companies include accounting, maintenance (including tech maintenance), human resources, administration, accounting, research & development, and often marketing, though successful marketing professionals can effectively argue that they have contributed directly to profit and the time to prepare to prove that is now, and customer service, which also can demonstrate value with customer retention and generate revenue through up-selling. After all, it costs a company less to keep customers than to onboard new ones. 

When the cost centers are thinned out, admin and support resources will be stretched and overburdened. Those remaining will have to put in extra hours to get done what is beyond the bandwidth. If you are a parent, gather your personal support tribe now to make sure that you have backup rides for your kids. 

Traditionally, the sales department is depended upon to keep companies profitable, and yet in a recession, the sales cycle can get longer. If you are a highly-paid salesperson, you better make sure you can demonstrate your worth. You may want to utilize any support staff you have now to boost your pipeline, as you will likely need a higher volume of leads to close the same amount of sales while both companies and consumers spend less and your support staff will likely shrink, leaving more of the administrative burden on you with less time to build that necessary pipeline. 

There will be competition for time off. If taking time off means someone else has to fill in for you, put in for it now and make those arrangements, as the people you think will be there to fill in may not be. If you have any elective surgeries you need to schedule, get them in. 

If you are adding to the budget without adding ROI, make cuts now. Prove you can do more with less. 

If your project(s) is in trouble – behind, over-budgeted, riddled with logistical challenges, it’s time to rein it in. Your biggest risk is being let go for failing and going out on a low note. Your confidence may take a hit, and it will be hard to instill confidence in a new employer. References will be a challenge, as will tapping your colleagues for employment leads. Do what you can to redeem yourself now. If there are people on your team who have contributed to this failure, unfortunately, it’s you or them, though it could also be both of you. 

Are you making the cuts? What is your value once that is done? 

Ask for an early review to learn where you stand, and how you can make yourself invaluable (if you want to stay). We will be launching an annual review optimization course this fall. Interested? Get on our mailing list so we can tell you when it launches.

If you want to leave, consider proposing a voluntary layoff package. Design it now before HR decides what these packages will include and not include. You may fare better. If you want guidance, schedule a consultation. 

For those of us who were impacted by recessions before (laid off 2X myself), the word brings a certain level of trepidation. These things are out of our control, but that doesn’t mean everything is out of our control. There’s no better time than right now to think ahead, minimize your risk of being personally impacted, and even maximize your chance of coming out ahead. 

Peter Gabriel – Don’t Give Up (ft. Kate Bush)

The official Don’t Give Up video. Directed by Godley and Creme.A standout track from Peter’s fifth studio album and the first one to have a proper title: S…

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

The Differences Between Therapists, Coaches, and Consultants—and How to Know Which One You Need

I feel like coaching is starting to lose a lot of its stigma and the people getting results are inspiring many others to seek it out. Perhaps another reason many more are seeking coaching is that conventional mental health treatments are not widely available. Many complain about not-so-patient-friendly enrollment processes and months-long waitlists.

Is a coach a good alternative to a therapist or psychiatrist? What kind of coach should you engage? How do you qualify them as someone who will actually help and definitely not hurt you?

Consider one of these if there is any area of your life where you have not been able to get the results you want on your own, or if you just don’t want to do it alone or want to be able to do it right from the get-go.

If you suspect you suffer from a mental illness and have not been diagnosed, know that an unlicensed coach cannot diagnose you. A licensed therapist must follow regulated procedures in order to do this. If you need or want medication, you will need to see a psychiatrist. Do not offboard yourself from any medications or adjust your dosage without your doctor’s approval and guidance because there are often withdrawal side effects. Understand and abide by any potential interactions. Read all materials made available to you on your medications. Do your own research on these, as well.

Some coaches offer “tough love” and “hard truth.” I had a coach who referred to herself as the “Velvet Hammer.” She was, in fact, my first coach and the coach who helped me get started on my own coaching path. She set expectations from our first consultation on how it will look for her to show me my blind spots—with caring candor. Hers was not an authoritative way, but some can be militaristic and intolerable of excuses. In all therapy, coaching, and consulting relationships, you are expected to be an active participant and partner. You won’t get back what you don’t put in. And, some people prefer and need a very no-nonsense, straightforward, highly structured, black and white, inflexible approach. For the most part, however, our brains don’t thrive in transformation under those conditions.

Coaches traditionally focus on the practical steps to transformation. Therapists traditionally focus on how your feelings and past experiences inhibit you. Many are somewhere in between, and a lot of coaching training focuses on beliefs and behavior patterns—the connection of which are often blind spots for people.

In my personal experience, I found therapy to be enlightening and validating. I learned some coping mechanisms, yet still felt victimized versus empowered, and I felt there was no endpoint.

Coaching, on the other hand, was future-focused and finite; the goal was to help me be self-reliant in executing new skills, disrupting beliefs and patterns of behavior that didn’t serve me, and replacing them with those that did until they were habits.

Not all coaching programs focus on habits. There are various studies on habits that purport varying amounts of time necessary to form a new habit, but it really varies from individual to individual. Know yourself. How long does it take you to form a new habit? There are specific techniques that can accelerate habit adoption, such as NLP and hypnosis. Find someone trained and certified in these methods if you want faster results.

There are limitless specialties and niches in coaching. I find it helps when my coach understands my particular challenges, like being a parent to an ADHD child. I have had coaches tell me this is just my excuse, and rapport was instantly and permanently broken, rendering any further coaching ineffective and obsolete. Coaches who invalidate your experiences, feelings, and reality ultimately fail the coaching test.

If there is one focus area of your life you want to transform, it’s highly recommended that you seek out a specialist in this area, be it fitness, nutrition, parenting, relationships, career, and/or leadership.

If you are a leader or aspire to be a leader, leadership coaching usually includes focusing on your career development. Career development is a byproduct of the work you do to become a better leader and rise to the challenges thereof, which have evolved and expanded over the years, especially in the last two years. Even within career and leadership coaching, there are various niches, such as by industry or function, helping post-deployment veterans, helping the long-term unemployed or returning mothers.

My particular niche is conscious careering and conscious leadership. My clients prioritize people and the planet alongside sustainable profit and either want to better influence their organizations to do so as well, or want to contribute their talent to other companies already in alignment with these values. This could be in a completely new field or role, or the same field and role. My clients may or may not know what to pursue or where to look.

Like therapists, most professionally trained coaches ask questions and ask for permission before they share an observation or advice. Whereas a consultant gives advice, a coach guides you to come to your own conclusions about what to change and do by asking reflective questions. In doing so, they lower your resistance to change and instill confidence in your own abilities to figure things out.

However, many coaches are actually consultants and not coaches at all. They will assess the current situation, identify the root cause, prescribe changes, and leave you to implement them, perhaps with some expectations on challenges you may encounter and things you can do to overcome them.

As you start evaluating your options, ask yourself:

  • Do I have a fragile state of mind?
    • If so, seek more immediate help. Contact NAMI to find resources. I can tell you from personal experience that they are there to give you an immediate lifeline and refer you to the help you need. The process of finding a partner can be daunting and, I’ve found, at times damaging in and of itself. I gave up for three months after my quest failed for the fourth time to result in help.
  • What expectations do I have of the outcomes I want?

A common question asked by coaches is, what do you want coaching to do for you in X months? What do you expect will be different and better for having had coaching?

It’s possible you won’t be able to fully visualize all that is actually possible. Be aspirational. An ethical partner will tell you what is realistic to expect.

Ask these questions of your prospective partners:

  • Is this individualized or group?
    • If a group, how do you manage the psychological safety of the group?
    • Do you qualify participants, and how?
    • What rules exist and how do you enforce them?
    • What type of one on one support is offered?
    • Does the group interact and how do you manage personal conflicts? (Conflicts have occurred in nearly every group coaching program with over 10 people in which I’ve been a participant, though not involving me.)
  • What do you know about the mind/brain?
  • Are there things I am supposed to do in between sessions and how much time is required?
  • How will you hold me accountable?

Referrals are great, but make sure you ultimately choose a partner who can fulfill your specific needs. If you wind up finding someone outside of your network, check reviews and LinkedIn recommendations. Consider reaching out to the individuals who provided LinkedIn recommendations to ask questions tailored to your needs.

Is Epic Careering the right career alignment partner for you?

Our unique holistic approach integrates life coaching, neuroscience, organizational psychology, time management, habit management, personal/executive branding, a blend of career coaching and consulting, and leadership coaching. That’s a lot, and it’s because I constantly invest in identifying and training in new breakthroughs as they are proven.

Schedule a free consultation to see if we fit your needs.

Which Way The Wind Blows

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music GroupWhich Way The Wind Blows · Peter FramptonFrampton’s Camel℗ An A&M Records Release; ℗ 1973 UMG Recordings, Inc.Rel…

Karen Huller, CEO of Epic Careering, is the co-founder of The Consciousness Conference (ConCon) and the C3: Corporate Consciousness Co-op community on LinkedIn. She is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a conscious career and leadership development firm specializing in executive branding, talent-values alignment, and conscious culture, in 2006. 

While the bulk of Mrs. Huller’s 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. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.

Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. 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. 

Mrs. Huller was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. As an instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, she has helped two of her students win the 2018 National Competition to be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, to win the 2019 People’s Choice Award, and to land in the top 8 during the (virtual) 2020 National Competition.

She serves on the board for the Upper Merion Community Center, which she helped establish, and is an advisor to Florida International University for their Women in Leadership program. For her service as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. Mrs. Huller has also been the lead singer for Harpers Ferry, a rock cover band, for 20 years. She lives in King of Prussia, PA with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.

What a Recent Trend in Careering Has to Do With My Intuition Journey

This year I have embarked on an introspective energetic and spiritual journey. My coach this year is very unlike the business coaches I have had in the past, and the program in which I am immersed will strengthen my own ability to make intuitive, powerful decisions for my business, to consult with greater wisdom, and to live with a greater sense of peace. 

It’s confronting work, to say the least. I have to deal with all my stuff, as any conscious leader does in order to prevent it from directing behaviors and actions, as it tends to do. 

In the midst of this, things go haywire. It seems what can go wrong, does go wrong, as it’s showing me where my stuff has been hiding and taking control. It makes me realize just how many of my daily decisions are driven by trauma and beliefs I formed when I was not yet fully conscious. It makes me realize how not fully conscious I am. 

About 8 years ago I wrote about a pattern I was recognizing in my clients, as my services officially expanded to include leadership coaching and the level at which I was working with my clients deepened significantly. I noticed that many of them had survived the recent recession by taking career opportunities that were out of alignment with what they really wanted and who they really were in order to survive and provide for their families. The dominant emotion that was driving these emotions was fear. However, at the same time they were making decisions from fear, my clients during that recession were making decisions and acting from desire, passion, and faith, creating alignment in their career that has led, in most cases, to years of career growth and happiness since then.

I see a pattern now forming among my clients now where they chose to chase opportunities that satisfied their egos, but not their souls. These jobs provided a standard of living that made them feel successful, and yet that success has begun to feel empty. 

One of my own personal discoveries on this journey is that, because I felt insignificant, discredited, and powerless in making my own decisions, I chose my current path of being a self-employed expert who thrives on making a meaningful difference in the lives of my clients. 

Certainly, that doesn’t sound all that bad, does it? However, I need to heal that trauma. It leads me to be very attached to the outcomes of my clients, which I only have so much influence over – admittedly, even with as much coaching mastery as I have acquired so far. 

No, my choice in vocation 15 years ago was not a mistake, even if it was driven by a need from my ego to compensate for what I felt I was lacking in my power. However, when the world starts becoming more volatile, less predictable, and I witness suffering in others, it throws me into “savior” mode, where I have to make a difference, so I focus my attention on it, and it consumes my thoughts, my behaviors, and actions, and has a cost to my relationships and wellbeing. Also, it impacts my outcomes. The energy of needing and forcing and the frustration of not getting a handle on a situation turns all of my efforts into wasted endeavors with few to zero positive outcomes. Essentially, my energy is at odds with my mission. 

Co-founding the C3 community with Lawrence as my partner shifted a lot of that, and was the catalyst of me delving into this journey. I realized that there are a lot more people than just me “on it,” whatever problem “it” was that day. I also realized that even the perception of the load being shared made me feel lighter. That lightness produced better results in my initiatives and my life. It disintegrates the inertia and resistance.

Now, I can make an empowered choice to stay in my vocation, and I do it because I love it and I’m damn good at it. A greater lightness in myself aids my clients much more, consciously and subconsciously. Results are coming easier for us both. If you read me regularly, you also know that this year I created the possibility that I can co-create other things in my life of a more passionate, fun nature. I played with my band last week and re-captured a part of myself that I had let slip away because of the heavy obligations of saving the world and my kids. I had forgotten how it felt to be in the flow like that – channeling the music, emanating it out, and receiving the love from the crowd back. I want more! 

I am realizing more and more of my blocks and limiting beliefs, and seeing how they have been at cause for areas of my life where I feel stuck. Who knows how this work will shape my future. 

I have worked with clients through the years who came to me because they wanted to achieve a particular goal, only to find that the goal was borne of a belief that no longer seemed valid.  

As consciousness spreads, more and more people are rethinking their motivations and changing course to feel more aligned in their career and their lives. I have been amazed at how doing this work has attracted more of these people to me. There is data to support my personal observations, as well. Now with the benefit of retrospection and years’ more wisdom, many mature millennials are seeing how they made decisions for their lives based on “truths” that proved to be obsolete over time. Remember, this was the generation that started to shape “modern” workforce policies, some of which fizzled over time, as they were targeting young millennials who inevitably matured, while many remained, though haphazardly executed. Gen Z is sure to shape the workforce further, and my hope is that they will grab the opportunity they have, with the full support of their elders, to further influence people and planet-friendly policies, cultures, and operations. 

My challenge to you is to figure out your why. Why are you where you are? Is there someplace else you’d be better off in the future? Is now the time for change – and, again, why? 

Fascinate me. Please share your findings, if you can be so bold. 

Annie Lennox – Why (Official Music Video)

Annie Lennox – Why (Official Video)Listen on Spotify – http://smarturl.it/Lennox_SPTTListen on Apple Music – http://smarturl.it/Lennox_AMEAmazon – http://sma…

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

The Dangers of the “Average of 5” Rule

I have learned profound wisdom from Jim Rohn, but one thing he taught, which many other coaches echo, is that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time. The advice around this is to surround yourself with people who already have aspects of the life that you want for yourself to elevate your station in life.

One study confirmed that it’s not only the five people closest to you, but also the people who are close to them, and so on. The reason, they identified, was norms. “Your perception of what is… acceptable … and your behavior changes” according to what you see more regularly.

A few dangers could arise from following the “average of 5” rule too strictly. Let’s explore some of them.

On one hand, if you aspire to be a visionary entrepreneur, by all means, seek out opportunities to spend time among visionary entrepreneurs. Spending time with people who have achieved what you aspire to achieve is one great way to keep you motivated, and it serves as a pull rather than a push. It will also most likely shorten your path from current reality to achieving your desired reality if you can learn from them how to overcome challenges, navigate most successfully, and expand your sphere of influence to include people in theirs.

On the other hand, people use this “average of 5” rule to justify cutting poor or unambitious people out of your life. I do agree that, while very hard, it’s important for self-preservation to put distance between you and toxic people in your life – those who seem to intentionally make you feel bad, whether conscious or subconscious. However, we know it happens – some people make it big and forget where they came from. They lose touch with the struggles of everyday people. It’s why self-aware executives participate in the show Undercover Boss. Even if you don’t intend to, you can forget the reality of not having money, status, luxury items and vacations, etc.

Yet another problem is that sometimes people do get left behind, and you can’t make and keep any guarantees.

Sometimes naturally, just as a byproduct of growing and changing your lifestyle, things you once had in common with people shift. You can become people that no longer have the same struggles that originally bonded you. The bonds can weaken and you could become unrelatable to each other. Sometimes ego is in the way of someone else wanting more for you (e.g. why should you get what they don’t have). Other times, people will “punch holes” in your plans because they fear losing you. They fear you changing or they fear being left behind. In another possible scenario, they could genuinely believe that you’re more likely to fail than succeed, which is really a reflection of their norms, and they are trying to “save you” from getting hurt or disappointed.

When people get left behind, the divide can widen. Feelings of hurt can manifest as anger and resentment. One person can turn the rest of your old crew against you.

Now, on the bright side, people can just as easily become more likely to succeed because you do – the same way you are more likely to smoke or gain weight along with those closest to you. So it stands to reason that if you intend to follow this advice, and cut out or intentionally distance yourself from these people who are below your measure of achievement, then their chances of being positively impacted by your success is much less.

Another danger is falling into a new crowd that may elevate your pay or status, but denigrate your core values. If you are not mindful of keeping your norms aligned with your values, you may start to lose touch with your values and act in ways that start to seem acceptable, because more of your close contacts act in those ways, even if they are in direct conflict to what you had decided individually were your values. Think about the celebrity college scandal. Even in that illegal situation, one person allegedly involved couldn’t see what was wrong with it – everyone was doing it.

Still more dangerous is this “go get yours,” “rugged individualism,” “drop the baggage holding you down” mentality.  While we are fighting as a nation about how to deal with mass shootings, seeing how we put controls on guns without taking away freedoms, and knowing that mental illnesses are on the rise and also contribute. What to do about this seems to escape us, except to try to strip away the stigma so that we can get that conversation going. Leaving people behind can also be dangerous.

There is another way to look at this. As per my last blog about raising corporate consciousness, just as people can elevate so much further in income and status and become removed from their poorer or less ambitious connections, people can also evolve too far in consciousness and lose touch.

Not all of us will be monks or spiritual gurus and live a life detached from material things altogether. It seems so far fetched. Most of us will not risk our 9-5 jobs, healthcare, etc. to chase butterflies, so to speak. However, some people have found ways to live in which their lifestyles are provided for as a result of imparting their wisdom to a following or tribe. Though the average everyday person* can certainly glean wisdom from these teachers, there is too much dissonance from the current reality of a guru to the current reality of an everyday person for a guru to serve as a true model.

* Let’s define the everyday person as someone who works for someone else to generate their income, carries some debt, follows a budget out of necessity, and would need a loan for very large purchases. This person may have religious beliefs but is not necessarily living according to them at all moments. Life is challenging, and sometimes also very time-consuming. So much so that self-care, self-reflection, and spiritual practices are sacrificed.

We need people at various levels in the middle to serve as ladders, to stay relatable and somewhat in resonance with the lower levels to inspire them to elevate.

So, if you’ve heard this advice and it felt wrong to assess your friends and family’s worthiness of being close to you, honor those feelings. Do bring new people into your sphere of influence to help you elevate, but keep your hand outreached to those below. Not everyone will be willing to take your hand, especially if your rise has been less than gracious. However, work with the willing, and, based on the science backing up the “average of 5” rule, gradually more and more will elevate at their own pace.

Pearl Jam – You Are

Pearl Jam – “You Are” (Riot Act Album) unoficial video clip

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Being In The Friend Zone As A Manager: Strategies To Help You In 10 Sticky Situations

Having a friend at work can make work more bearable, can make the time go faster, and can even enhance your reputation. A Gallup study recommends not just having friends at work, but to have a “best” friend at work, citing multiple workplace health benefits.

However, there are the friends that you make as you work together closely, and potentially friends knew from somewhere else who wound up working at your company. The advice Gallup gives may tempt you to get your friends hired at your company, and there are certainly many companies who want you to refer your friends – the whole birds of a flock theory. Some will even pay you if your friends get hired.

Before you decide to bring your friend into the company, I want you to think about some hypothetical situations you may likely face, especially if you are the hiring manager and you’re considering hiring a friend to be on your team.

Of course, there are times when you’ll make friends at work, but for the sake of this article, we’ll stick with a friend you knew from before. Look for future blogs about the other possible work friend situations.

1. When They Can’t Get Past Who You Were

The friends I’ve known the longest remember when I was young and stupid. They’ve seen me at my lowest. They know and accept me, my mistakes, and my flaws, for the most part. They also have most likely benefited in some way from my strengths, even helping me recognize what makes me special.

Just because they accept me as a person and friend doesn’t mean they’ll accept my authority as a manager.  They may not like the way I manage at all, actually. And, just because they accept my shortcomings doesn’t mean that they won’t exploit them, even subconsciously.

2. When They Wind Up Being Not Who You Thought They Were

There certainly are friends who know how to be professional and understand how to respect your friendship and your leadership. There are probably not as many of your friends who can do this as you think, though. Your past history can be a good indicator, but being a recruiter taught me that with people, you can never be 100% certain.  It really takes two highly emotionally intelligent people to appropriately handle the sticky situations that arise, let alone maintain a friendship through them.

3. When You Have to Manage Performance

As the manager of your friend, you are held responsible for their performance, as you are equally responsible for the rest of your team’s performance. You have to be extra vigilant not to be harsher nor more forgiving of your friend.

Enforcing standardized metrics can ensure that everyone gets held to the same standards.

You have to have a relationship set up from the get-go where you both agree that honesty is kindness. The affection and acceptance that you have for each other can either make it harder or easier, to tell the truth.

This agreement has to go both ways, but you also have to establish that same agreement with all of your team members. Otherwise, if your other team members see your friend as the only one who can talk to you candidly, they will wind up confiding in your friend their concerns, especially those about you. Your friend can then become an unofficial, involuntary delegate to deliver feedback.

Think about how you have both broached difficult conversations in the past. Has it gone both ways? How have you handled it? What were the feelings around it, spoken or unspoken? Do you have a relationship in which honesty is delivered with love and good intentions? Has it helped you both become better?

4. When Your Best Friend Makes A New Best Friend

Of course, you want your friend to make new friends at work…just not a new best friend. However, that’s exactly what can happen. You may have been friends since childhood – a function of the fact that you lived in close proximity to each other, had mutual interests, and other mutual friends.

However, at work, there may be a greater diversity of people with different interests, beliefs, life experiences, and passions to bond over.

Sometimes it happens that what your friend and new friend bond over is you. This is the worst-case scenario of your friend making a new best friend. When you’re the manager, you also often are the scapegoat, and the common enemy. This can really get toxic and degrade morale for the team as a whole. If you get into this situation, I recommend also getting a coach. You will regularly want an objective opinion and someone who can help you check your ego so that you address this from a professional standpoint and without letting your personal feelings dictate if, when, and how you put the kibosh on workplace commiserating against you.

5. When You Are Accused of Nepotism

If your friend winds up being a superstar and getting promoted ahead of other team members, expect that you will have to defend the equality of the opportunity. You will be scrutinized on anything more you could have done to set your friend up for success.

You’ll have to think about if, in the extra time that you spent with your friend, you offered extra trade secrets. You’ll have to determine if their intimate knowledge of who you are giving them an edge in learning from you or earning your favor. You’ll also have to determine if you have felt freer to give them an edge through the information you shared about the other team members.

It’s also possible that they have learned from some cultural tips or tips from earning more recognition, money or perks even before they started.

You have to hand out trade secrets, or “hot” clients, or prominent projects, to all your team members, or at least give them equal opportunity to earn them. Set them up equally for growth opportunities. Be prepared to back up your recommendation or promotion decision based on expectations that you made clear to each team member on what it will take to earn a promotion.  Cite specific examples of performance that warranted the recommendation and performance that fell short of what you previously communicated.

Keep in mind your friend most likely wants people to know that he or she deserved a promotion, or things could get really bad for them, too.  It can make it harder for them to succeed with their own team if there is a belief that it wasn’t by merit, but your friendship that got them there.

6. When You Have Bias For and Bias Against Your Friend

We all do this thing to protect ourselves from looking bad where we assume that we’re unbiased. However, bias operates without our conscious awareness. It really takes quiet self-reflection and heightened self-awareness to recognize it in ourselves.

You know your friend very well, and may be able to identify ahead of time, sooner than other team members, when something is off, and what to do to get them back on quickly.  You may have additional insight into what tends to interfere with your friend’s mood, or how they act when something is bothering them.

Make it a habit to spend time regularly in quiet reflection assessing your response to your friend in comparison to your response to other team members. Ask yourself hard questions, and listen and record the responses in a journal. Sometimes you can’t recognize a pattern until it’s visually there in front of you.

Also, make it a practice to schedule time getting to know such things about your team members. Be proactive in asking them how they are dealing with challenges at work, or even at home.

7. When Your Friend is Dealing with Life

It happens to all of us –  accidents, death, financial difficulties, relationship problems, etc. When these things happen, they don’t happen in a vacuum or a silo. They tend to bleed into other areas of our lives, including our work.

You may even know personally the people in your friends’ life who are impacted by these life events, and so you may be dealing with life by association. This is when you need your friends the most. As your friend’s manager, however, you have to make sure that you are extending the same sympathy, time off, support, understanding, and slack to all of your team members when life happens to them, as well.

And, you’ll have to work harder to build a relationship with other team members in which they feel comfortable confiding in you when life happens.

8. When Your Team Gets Jealous

Your team members may see you being a good friend, and crave that kind of friendship with you, as well.

My old boss was an Ironman, very dedicated to fitness and competitive events. On our team of about 10, there was another fitness buff, and they would go for runs together. It wasn’t long before the murmurings of favoritism started to impact morale, engagement, and productivity. They went ignored for a bit of time. This particular account manager was also enjoying a great amount of success in earning new accounts. It could have been his great attitude, aided by his good physical health and confidence. It could have been how much more he was enjoying his work, having a great relationship with his boss. Even if there was 0 correlation between this buddyhood and his success, there was the perception that there was. Thankfully, my boss was working with the same coach our company made available to us all, and he was mindful and considerate of this concern.

His solution was to give the other team members equal opportunity to socialize with him after work hours and when the team performance warranted, he instituted a happy hour at the office. He brought in a couple of six-packs and we had beers together – a limit of two, for liability’s sake. This was one of several ideas proposed and voted on by the team.

Find the things you like in common with each of your team members, and make time to do them together. Propose that you do some “1:1 team-building” during lunch hours or before/after work.

Be aware of unreasonable requests for time outside of normal working hours, however. Also, stay mindful of how much time during work you spend chit-chatting with your friend and allocate equal time for everyone.

9. When They Don’t Share Your Good Opinion of the Company

For you, the company is a great place to work, which is why you wanted to share the wealth with your friend. However, it is apparently not great for everyone. Perhaps it’s better for managers than it is for non-managers. Perhaps the structure you appreciate is inhibiting your friend’s strengths. Perhaps his or her lifestyle doesn’t work as well with the company hours or flex-time policies.

If your friend decides that the company isn’t the great career move you thought it would be, there can be impacts on your friendship.  It’s even possible they’ll think they were better off where they were before you convinced them to join you. Once a change like that is done, it generally can’t be undone, at least without some apologizing and groveling. I hope if you find yourself in this situation that your friend is forgiving and honest as opposed to secretive and resentful. And, I hope that you have ample notice of their departure so that you can backfill the position and your mistake doesn’t impact operations and reflect poorly on you.

Sometimes revelations from your friend can taint your once-favoring opinion of the company. You may start to see things you were blind to, and you can’t then unsee them.  They may also form opinions about people – people you manage. Be very careful that this doesn’t create biases.

10. When You’re Ready to Move On

Do you owe it to your friend to fill them in on your aspirations to leave? Do you trust that if you do reveal your plan it will stay between the two of you and not get leaked to other team members or your boss prematurely?

If your team finds out your friend new first, will they be salty about it?

Is there a reasonable amount of time after hiring your friend that you are obligated to stay?

Whether your decision is career-motivated, situation-motivated, money-motivated, or lifestyle-motivated, you risk that your friend will feel left behind, unconsidered, and even betrayed.

People may vary in their advice for these situations, but these are hard questions, and there is no one right answer. You may have to ask yourself these questions if you decide to hire your friend.

Hiding anything from someone who knows you well is much harder to do and get away with.

Other situations that can be very hard to navigate include when you know that a layoff is coming but can’t tell anyone, including the person you tell everything. And, when you get fired and your friend gets your job.

****************

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider!

If you are a job seeker wondering why your friends won’t help you or hire you, consider that it might be a blessing in disguise and the best thing your friend can do for your friendship in the long-term.

What sticky situations have you been in with friends at work?

Dionne Warwick – That’s What Friends Are For

https://music.apple.com/us/album/dionne-warwick-the-voices-of-christmas/1482137630 Dionne Warwick’s official music video for ‘That’s What Friends Are For’ ft. Elton John, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder. Click to listen to Dionne Warwick on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/DionneWSpotify?IQid=DionneWTWF As featured on Love Songs.

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

When A New Guy Gets Your Promotion

I have not counted how many times over the past 13 years someone has come to me to help them move up or out after their company hired a new guy for the position that they felt was their next move upward. If I had to guess, I’d say about 100.

Of them, some have only wished that their supervisor would have thought about them and recommended them for the job, but never actually verbalized their desire or made attempts to understand if there were knowledge gaps they needed to fill.

Then there are a portion of them who had made their ambitions quite clear, but felt it was a natural progression, not as if there were gaps in knowledge or experience that they needed to fill in order to be qualified for the next level up.

In both of these scenarios, a short and long-term solution is to coach the individuals to be appropriately assertive and proactive in seeking understanding about what is really needed in order to be ready for the next step up.

The first stage is always qualifying that it is, in fact, the right next step. Too many people become managers because that seems like, or is presented as, the only way to move up. This leads to a large number of managers who have neither the desire nor the training to know how to motivate and inspire engagement and performance. They then usually resort to being taskmasters, micromanagers and even tyrants. They are responsible for a team of people to meet numbers and use fear as a tool because their tool kit is limited. This becomes a vicious cycle, as one manager trains the next and on up they go, unconsciously creating a toxic culture.

Please, if you aspire to be a corporate leader, learn how to use inspiration, trust, recognition, self-awareness, accountability and mobility as tools. Then practice them under the guidance of a coach to influence from wherever you are now, and brand yourself internally and externally as a leader.

In yet a third scenario, the professional has been as proactive and assertive as possible to procure performance feedback and identify and fill knowledge gaps. However due to any number of reasons – politics, nepotism, vendettas, a complete failure on a leader’s part to thoroughly prepare team members for promotion, or failure on the professional’s part to make accomplishments visible – promotions still go to someone else.

In all three scenarios, branding would be a smart next step. However, only in the third scenario would I suggest an all-out strategic campaign to change companies.

In the meantime, operate under the assumption that this new person might be better at something than you, and find out what it is. You will most certainly know better than them the inner workings of your company. Befriend the new guy, ask for opportunities to show him or her the ropes, and show everyone that you do have what it takes to take on more.

Think back to when you were a new person and think about the things that you learned in your first 90 days that made a difference in your results, and I’m not talking about what you learned about the other people you work with.

Don’t be that guy that warns the new guy about office gossip, or the hardhead, or the ego maniac. These are opinions, even if multiple people share them. All the new guy will think is that you are judgmental and they will be wary to trust you. Stick with the facts and note when something you pass on is a subjective observation, like “The boss prefers that all KPIs are blue in the weekly report.”

I don’t think I have to tell people to not be a saboteur to the new guy, but it does happen. It can be tempting to want the boss to see they made a mistake by not giving you the promotion, but that’s not the outcome that is usually produced by being a saboteur. In fact, more often than not, it just confirms that you were not the right person for the promotion.

Start becoming more aware of when your ego is kicking in and make it a habit to start switching into your higher self – your higher self is the one that gets promotions, not your ego.

Sometimes it happens that a promotion was not granted due to timing. In an ideal world, open communication and accurate foresight would enable an employee and supervisor to have a frank, two-way conversation about the real expectations of a promotion – the hours, the responsibility, the travel, and the pressures. The employee would be able to discuss the changes with any personal stakeholders, like family members, who would be impacted by any changes in lifestyle and make the decision that is best for everyone, even if that means giving up a significant raise.

This is not an ideal world. With about half of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, extreme increases in the cost of living (when you include the technology needed to get by today, not to mention keeping up with the Jones’), increasing healthcare costs, higher education debt, and the perception of shortages of opportunity even though it is a job seeker’s market, whether it’s the right next step or not, few people would turn down a promotion. If an employee has personal things going on that a manager feels may interfere with being able to meet the expectations, that frank conversation may never happen. I do not condone this – this is just a far too common reality.

External candidates are sometimes chosen over internal candidates because managers know too much about the internal candidate’s life.

Have you endured or are you about to face a big life change? Have you missed days to deal with something personal? Has it become a trend?

It can feel unfair. It can feel like neglect, abandonment, or misfortune. It can also sometimes be a blessing. In a few of the cases I have mentioned above with prospective clients, the professional wound up needing that time to adequately deal with a major life change. While, of course, I am all about supporting people in moving up, over, or out, sometimes staying put is what works best at the time. Not aspiring to achieve more in your career in order to manage life is totally okay and it doesn’t have to be permanent. However, you will need to make it known if and when your aspirations change and you want to get back on a growth trajectory.

In most cases, getting passed up for a promotion was the impetus of change that led my clients to far greater happiness and fulfillment – the kick in the pants they needed to start taking control of their career direction.

If you want to know more about how to:

• Assess what the best next step in your career is
• Develop greater self-awareness to become more promotable
• Gain additional tools that will expand your influence and leadership
• Communicate assertively and confidently with your supervisor
• Be the person that gets thought of first for a promotion, even if you previously needed to stay still for a while
• Brand or rebrand yourself for what’s next in your career and what’s after that

Scheduling a free consultation is your next step.

Survivor – The Search Is Over (Official Music Video)

Survivor’s official music video for ‘The Search Is Over’. Click to listen to Survivor on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/SurvSpot?IQid=SurvTSIO As featured on Ultimate Survivor.

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 13-year-old leadership and career development 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 some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

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.

The Best Habits To Start Today To Turbo Boost Your Career Growth

When I was teaching business students career management and professional development at Drexel University, a 1-credit course that they were required to pass in order to graduate, there were questions as to the relevance of the class by certain students who had jobs already or planned to start their own businesses. They were not just learning how to land a job, however. The course also taught emotional intelligence, how to brand themselves as professionals, how to collaborate with a multi-generational workforce, and how to make professional development a habit so that they can continue to grow and expand in their career.

I understood that they had heavy workloads; Drexel’s 10-week all-year-round terms were very demanding. Many of them were in co-ops and Division 1 sports. I’m not sure how I would have done with a schedule like that, in spite of the fact that I worked multiple jobs and played rugby during college.

But what they don’t see from their vantage point is how many people enter the workforce, get on the wheel, and go wherever it takes them, and then look up one day wondering how they got there, and wondering if it’s too late to take control, change courses, and wind up somewhere better without sacrificing the quality of life that their current job supports.

There was tremendous value to that course, but the biggest value these students received was the habit of making time for professional development. Even when a company offers professional development, it’s often steered by them, and limited to what that company can offer in terms of growth.

The people in their 30s and 40s who have achieved executive status have gotten there by being thoughtful and intentional about their next steps.

So what are the best habits to accelerate your professional development?

One of my previous coaches, Bill Walsh, advised me to make a list every night of the 10 things that I can do the next morning that would take me the farthest the fastest and to aim to get them done before 10 AM, and then take the rest of the day off if I want, or take meetings the rest of the day. He called it the “10 before 10.” The idea of being done at 10 AM sounded great, and I tried it. I tried getting up at 6 AM every morning. I was not very with it. I didn’t get into a groove until 7. I couldn’t get my list done by 10, because I had to get my kids to preschool from 8:30 to 9:15, and I found I needed a nap by 2. I couldn’t take a nap, because I had my kids home then. I had very little energy to do anything with them.

I tried it for 30 days. It just didn’t work for me. Besides the fact that I am a late night person by nature, being a mom was not compatible with that schedule. I would rather work while the kids are at school.

Other coaches, such as Tim Ferriss and Lisa Nichols have said, “Just focus on 1-3 things.” I believe the distinction is to do 3 strategic things in the midst of all the tactical things you have to do. In a Facebook group I run with Kareen Walsh, we just focus on one big strategic action each week. I call these massive action items. They are sometimes a bit out of your comfort zone, but stand to propel you quickly from where you are to where you want to be.

Personally, I think you have to try different systems out and see what works best, but you also have to give it 30 days – a good 30 days. Whatever new system you try, it will take time to adjust your life with your new rhythm.

Which system you try really depends on your needs and your goals. How fast do you want to grow? In what direction? What are the other demands on your time?

If you’re working full-time and not actively searching for something new, choosing one massive action item to accomplish each week, along with all the supporting things that need to be done, like research, follow-up, and networking, is a good habit to start. You can use Monday to evaluate your goal, prioritize, and get organized. You can use Tuesday to do whatever research is needed, Wednesday to take massive action, Thursday to add value/follow up/send thank yous, and Friday to celebrate. Perhaps your massive action will be setting up a meeting with a different department, writing and submitting an article to an industry publication, or volunteering to speak for a professional organization.

If you are in full-time transition, aim to do the 5 categories of categories outlined above every day: Admin, Research, Massive Action, Network Nurturing and Self Care/Celebration. You could also accomplish 5 administrative tasks Monday, research 5 target companies/employers Tuesday, complete massive action items Wednesday, help 5 people in your network Thursday, and then treat yourself for a week of smart work (notice I didn’t say hard.)

If you’re working full time and actively searching, 3 massive action items to accomplish each week is a good goal, and keep in mind that applying online to a job is not a massive action, and you should not expect a massive response. Massive action is reaching out to a hiring manager directly with a well-crafted, customized, enticing introduction letter, or inspiring someone in your network to be an internal sponsor for an open opportunity. Massive action could be attending a networking event, and preparing by evaluating the attendee or speaker lists and doing some homework so that you know who you will try to speak with and what to say.

If you’re bootstrapping a business, you’re not quite at a place yet where you can delegate everything; certain things just have to get done and they have to get done by you and your skeleton crew, if you have one. You may need to try the 10 before 10, or 10 before noon if you find early mornings aren’t your best time to make things happen. And then you may not be able to take the rest of the day off, but you will have taken the time to focus on developing your business, not just running your business.

Whichever system you try for 30 days, the point is to start now taking the time to focus on how you want to move forward and make it a habit. I also advise that you rate your momentum regularly so that you can be more aware of when adjustments need to be made.

If the system is working, you will feel that momentum is in your favor by the middle of the 3rd week. You’ll probably rate it a 7 or higher on a 10 scale. That’s when you will be taking more meetings and/or having more interviews. Continue to maintain your habit, regardless of how great the momentum is. You may choose to scale it back so that you can handle the bandwidth, but continue it at some level.

Remember, too, that if you struggle with forming habits, hypnotherapy is a very powerful tool that can shift the habit from a push to a pull, accelerating how fast you can expect to gain the benefits of your new habit. You can schedule a free consultation here.

Also, if you have found yourself finally looking ahead, wondering how you got here and where the best place to go is from here, get Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days.

 

Junkie XL, Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation (Elvis vs JXL)

Elvis Presley vs. JLX’s official music video for ‘A Little Less Conversation’. Click to listen to Elvis Presley on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/ElvisSpotify?IQid=ElvisPLLC As featured on Elvis: 30 #1 Hits.

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.