Archives for empathy

Another Key Habit to Turbo Boost Your Career Growth

 

Last week I shared how you can make a habit of taking regular, strategic action to build and sustain accelerated momentum in your career growth, and I did a live FB broadcast in which I shared how often to evaluate your desired and actual career growth if you want to stay in control of your career.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also share this key habit that my most successful change agent clients attribute to their ability to catapult their careers and influence.

The book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi was released in 2005, just when I was developing my chops in networking. Honestly, I haven’t read the book. My boss at the time did, and he reinforced the primary message of the book, which is inherent in its title.

While I didn’t necessarily follow the advice of never eating alone, since I worked through many lunches and, as an ambivert who doesn’t like to talk when I eat, nor do I enjoy watching or hearing other people eat, it would sap my energy. I did start inviting more people to sit down for meals (or drinks), and it was transformative.

The clients who have been able to realize the greatest transformations in their organizations attribute their success to the time that they invested getting to know people in the organization and the efforts that they made to learn from others’ perspectives.

A Harvard Business Review IdeaCast with Julia Kirby from 2010 stated that women are over mentored and under sponsored. Sheryl Sandberg’s top-seller, Lean In, promoted mentorship and sponsorship, but let’s focus on sponsorship because it is a relationship with so much more potential to elevate you and your influence.

Much like finding a mentor, you have to let the relationship lead. Inspiring someone to sponsor you may be an objective, and it doesn’t hurt to have a wish list of people in your organization or a target organization that you’d like to have as a sponsor. However, the outcome you want is more achievable when you approach it relationally vs. transactionally > nurture the relationship to evolve to that level.

Thinking transactionally vs. relationally is a mistake many people make when it comes to networking. People on the job may limit their internal networking to their department, thinking these are the only people who are relevant to job performance. Job seekers sometimes only want to talk with you if you have a job to offer, and it fits XYZ criteria. Recruiters and employers sometimes only want to talk with you if you fit an open job requirement. Deciding that a job isn’t a match doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship, however. It can be the start of something completely new and unexpected.

The key word here, however, is growth! Expansion. Think openness. I’m not just talking about engaging one person as a sponsor who can influence your career, but to engage people across the organization as supporters and advocates by being their champion.

I get that we all have constraints on time. I also see being judicious with your time is a wise practice. We can’t possibly meet with everyone we’d like to, or who would like to meet with us.

Let me propose a structure that is amenable for the busy and/or introverted professional that still enables you to expand your network and influence, learn what can be leveraged, and discover magical synergy with unexpected people.

The first step is always to make a list. Start with those you know are impacted by your role and vice versa. Eventually, you may need to use a company directory, organizational chart, or LinkedIn. Consider other divisions, and, of course, higher ups. Work in a small company? Just think a bit outside the box. Consider meeting with vendors and customers/clients. You just may need to get the okay and authorization from the points of contact, and have met with them first.

Prioritize the list

  1. First meet with centers of influence. These may be leaders, but they also may not be visible leaders, as in executives. Sometimes they are appointed to lead special projects or to liaise on critical or failing initiatives. These are people whose opinions matter to others. They most likely achieved this station by doing exactly what is outlined here. You’ll greatly accelerate your own path to this station by learning first what they know. By meeting with these individuals, you can also better develop a list of questions to ask the next audience about why things are the way they are, even if a center of influence clued you in. Get right to the source. Put yourself on their radar and check in with them on what they are working on. Ask them what they need to move things forward faster, and then do some leg work to source possible resources or solutions.
  2. Meet with the higher-ups to better understand their vision. Yes, ideally, leadership would be doing a great job of relaying the vision to each and every employee. You and I both know there are too many companies in which there is a huge gap here. When you take control of your own career, you own your understanding of the company’s vision, too. Now, when you ask why things are done the way that they are done, you are doing so with the critical context of their desired outcomes.
  3. Intentionally diversify your list to meet with people at all levels and across departments, including those whose efforts may not get their fair share of accolades or visibility. Of course, your intelligence will have that much more integrity if you are also mindful of ethnic, age, and gender diversity as well.

If you are working full-time, allocate two hours each week for 1-on-1 networking. One meeting will be an hour, so break bread, even if, like me, you prefer eating alone.

The next hour of time you can break up into four 15-minute follow up conversations, similar to a scrum meeting, where you check in on challenges, problems or initiatives you learned about in a prior conversation to see what progress was made or how a resource you offered worked out.

You can also break it up into three 20-minute tele-coffees. These are discovery meetings. You’re getting to know someone and their perspective on a less superficial level. You may determine through these discoveries that more time is necessary and schedule a follow-up meal.

Make sure at least one of these meetings each week is with someone with whom you wouldn’t normally interface.

If you are unemployed, allocate five hours per week for 1-on-1 networking. Three of those hours will be 1-hour meetings. Then you can use one hour for 15-minute follow-ups and another for 20-minute tele-coffees. If you are just starting, then use the first week for just tele-coffees or setting up meetings/tele-coffees for the next week.

Keep in mind that it will take an additional 30-60 minutes each week to send invitations and that you’ll need to send about 10x more invitations than you can accept to make sure that your networking card is full. Over time, you will get better at sending invitations that get accepted, and your momentum will compound, so it won’t take quite as much time to fill your networking card.

What do I mean by networking card? Well, you can take it figuratively, like a dance card. At one time there was such a thing as a physical dance card, but now it’s really just meant to imply that there is so much time for dancing, so many songs played, and so many chances to have a different dance partner. You can also make it literal, and this is recommended. Allocate time on your calendar every week for this activity.

How exactly does this practice lead to growth? Put simply:

Perspective > Root Cause Identification > Solution Development

Relationships > Trust > Influence > Buy-in

Consider everything you wish other people (leaders, people in other departments, or customers) understood about the challenges of your job that would enable smarter, better solutions to emerge.

Now, think of the corporate ladder as a physical ladder. The higher up you go, the more you can see the bigger picture. The pieces may look smaller, but you can see better how they all interconnect or fail to interconnect.

The higher up you go in an organization, the more you see the bigger picture, understand the overall vision of what the organization is intended to achieve and make decisions that leverage and orchestrate the smaller pieces to work toward the vision.

By meeting with and learning from people at all levels, you can better assess what gaps need filling, what needs to be done first before an initiative can move forward successfully, and what are leaderships’ blind spots that stand to sabotage the realization of the organization’s ultimate vision. You don’t necessarily have to come up with an end-to-end solution. This is more about learning and sharing insight.

In regards to relationships, there’s a saying I quote often: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Even though in the traditional office place, emotions were considered taboo to express, they still existed. Some emotions, such as fear and anger, were actually leveraged. Good thing we are evolving, because history and science have proven that is not the way to garner the best performance from your workforce. Now we can make clear, fact-based cases for acknowledging in the workplace that people are human, have emotions, and that if more positive emotions are leveraged, more positive performances will present.

People like to be heard, as I shared in a previous video. Many companies recognize and attempt to fill communication gaps, but still fall short on listening. Rather, not so much listening, but listening AND taking action. If you choose to be a champion for the workforce and solutions that help them, you will earn respect, admiration and loyalty.

Words of warning: Be mindful of how you present your own challenges and how you share what you learn about others’ challenges. Someone may tell you something in confidence that they don’t want to be revealed. You will only build trust that leads to future buy-in if you only share what you have permission to share.

Next week I will share how you can use internal intelligence to create your own ideal role in the organization with minimized risk for you and those who confided in you.

If you want a partner who can contribute strategy, guidance, tools, and accountability in your sponsorship initiatives, let’s talk.

U2 – Elevation

U2’s new album, “Songs of Experience” out now. Listen to the album: https://lnk.to/ZaQRe Explore more music from U2: https://lnk.to/oVysR Follow U2: http://www.u2.com/ Facebook: https://U2.lnk.to/FBID Twitter: https://U2.lnk.to/TWID Instagram: https://U2.lnk.to/ISID Music video by U2 performing Elevation. (C) 2006 Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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.

 

Bias is Human, Yet Harmful

Interview by Alan Cleaver of Flickr

 

In my recruiting days I had a Vice President who advised repeatedly, “Refute your bias.”

Obviously there are biases that could get us in legal trouble, but she was more so referring to the more subtle biases that can make us dismiss or favor certain candidates. This advice was not in contradiction to using your intuition, but it was just a way to check ourselves before we make decisions that impact our candidates or clients.

Bias is not always bad or wrong; it is a built-in safety mechanism in which we make associations to decide if we are in any harm. It is automatic and it is human. However, now that our brain has evolved higher intelligence beyond our reptilian, instinctual brain, we can take into consideration much different input and make decisions that are more based on logic. The tricky part is recognizing which part of your brain has made the determination.

How much does bias really interfere, though? Why can it be detrimental?

Last week we talked about how critical EQ and empathy have become to corporate success. Bias, on the other hand, when not accurately and promptly assessed will impose unnecessary limits to what you can achieve with other people. This is because you are, by nature, actually limiting the population with whom you can successfully create or limiting the success that you can have with people for whom you have a bias.

It is easy to see that from a recruiting and hiring perspective, a bias will slant what the right candidate looks like, causing you to overlook someone who does not fit that image, but is the better candidate for the job.

As a job seeker, you may think that your intuition is telling you that a potential boss or co-worker is not someone with whom you could work successfully, and you may either decide to not pursue that opportunity or not to give that opportunity 100% of your effort in expectation that it will not work. This, then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Biases against the wealthy keep poor people poor. Biases against the poor have the same effect. You may have biases against generations, religions, races, genders, status, roles, opposing teams’ fans, people from a certain area, where people shop, etc.

If I continue to list these, I will eventually hit upon a bias you possess. The question is, will you recognize it? The ability to recognize and evaluate your own bias is absolutely essential to your EQ.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine if bias is impacting your perceptions, beliefs and actions, and potentially limiting your success and happiness:

  1. What HARD, TRUE evidence do I have to support my opinion?
  2. What do I still need to know and understand in order to know if I am accurately assessing this person?
  3. Could I be wrong?

Only someone with a high EQ would be willing to accurately answer #3, but just asking these questions in the first place are a great way to raise your EQ.

I would like to disclaim that I believe strongly in developing and using your intuition. I distinguish my bias from my intuition by asking these questions. However, once I acknowledge and remove bias, I lean on my intuition, which is a completely different exercise – one that I’ll save for another time.

 

How has bias impacted you?

 

Now More Than Ever, Empathy and EQ Are Critical

Empathy by Aslan Media of Flickr

THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL POST.

Now more than ever, in a divided country in conflict, organizations and employees will need to find ways to bridge the chasms that continue to grow between ideologies in order to enable an optimized future for us all.

Should these adults just be able to suck it up, work together, focus on the task at hand and get business done? Well, yes. However, studies we have cited in the past have proven that happiness impacts profits, and in this blog our focus is on EQ and empathy, and their impact on profits. Also, we will focus on what YOU as a leader (whether or not you are a manager) can do TODAY to be empathetic, raise your EQ, improve the everyday experience of being at work, and contribute to greater profits.

Why should profits be so important? Because the profitability of businesses enables prosperity by ways of job creation, wage growth, higher spending, and improved quality of life. If there is one thing that can unify us, it is that we would all love to live better.

Empathy is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective. It requires NOT making assumptions, but rather actively listening to someone else’s story, insights, beliefs and concerns without discrediting or judging them.

Employees with a high EQ (Emotional Quotient) possess the ability to be empathetic. It can be taught or innate, it is facilitated by having a curiosity of others, and a desire to seek to understand. When you have a high EQ, you are not prone to mislabeling others’ emotion, and certainly not calling people names.

Daniel Goleman has purported that EQ is even more important than IQ. Why? It is the human in us all. It is the fundamental desire for love and acceptance. Most of us have our physiological needs met, and beyond feeling safe, Maslow identified that people want to be loved and want to belong. Nothing gets done without people. The fastest way to accomplish anything is through people, even in an age of automation. You still need people to approve, implement and maintain automated systems.

It makes sense, though: The more self-actualized your people are, the better they will perform.

Conversely, failing to address a sense of alienation will promote segmentation and silos that will increase unnecessary bureaucratic and political obstacles to collaboration, creativity, and progress.

What are your alternatives to using empathy to confront conflicts that exist OUTSIDE of business to avoid those obstacles?

Hire only people who agree. Have only customers and vendors who agree.

Good luck with that.

What you can do is simple in that it does not require complex steps, but it is challenging, because it does require that you acknowledge and dismiss your ego when it starts to want to make sure you’re right, that you look good, and that the other person is wrong and looks bad.

WE ALL DO IT! It is just that people with a high EQ can distinguish between an ego response and an empathy response.

 

STEP 1 – ASK

Ask the other person questions that help you understand why something is so important to them. What you might have thought was a lack of values, is really just a difference in experience that places a higher priority on different values. This can take place in a workshop or team-building environment, or it can be a simple one-on-one.

 

STEP 2 – LISTEN

Active listening means that you are listening with the intention of understanding, not responding. If you do not understand something, ask more. I will warn you that the second a person senses that they are being judged, the energy of the exchange shifts. Judging is something we all do. It is okay to admit that you are human. If you recognize that your judgments are interfering with your understanding, admit your fault and reassert your desire to achieve an understanding. It will humble you and put you both back on equal, human ground.

 

STEP 3 – DON’T DEFEND

The purpose of this conversation is NOT to explain yourself. That is your ego’s need to be understood. If the other person has a high EQ, they may be curious about your point of view, too. Be very careful not to negate what they say as untrue, invalid, or irrelevant. You are able to share your point of view without doing that, and this is a practice of EQ.

That’s it. That’s all it takes to start practicing empathy and raising your EQ.

Of course, you can take this practice very far, and the farther you take it, the more you will contribute to your company and the faster you will grow in your career.

Curious how high your EQ is? Take this quiz.

 

If you’re curious to what I have done to improve my own EQ, it was the Landmark Forum. There is one near you. I went in 2008 to help manage the stress that I experienced dealing with other people’s shortcomings only to discover and appreciate the beauty of being human, imperfectly perfect… or perfectly imperfect… or BOTH.

Share with me (us) some ways that empathy (or lack thereof) has been impacting your work life.