Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Part 5: How to be successful within the first 60 days of any new job: “Why”

In the final entry of our series, we will look at the most important success factor within the first 60 days of any new job, the “why” – as in, “why am I here?”

This element comes last because it generally comes near the end of the 60 day period (and in some cases even after the first 60 days has concluded). The “why” is about purpose and because it is so substantial, it is not something that should be rushed.

While the “what” more closely relates to a job description or set of responsibilities that are applicable to anyone who takes on your job, the “why” is more about the unique work that you do.

The “why” is about impact. It is about leaving your mark.

When you start a new job you should always be on the hunt for things that you can do to improve the organization. Look for initiatives to lead or things to be a part of that go above and beyond what your boss considers to be your job.

Finding out why you are in a position and then following it through to completion will be a key influence to the raises you receive, the bonuses you are offered and the career opportunities (for promotion or otherwise) that you are given.

The positive “mark” that you leave on an organization does not have to be a grand ordeal, simple things work too. The main thing to keep in mind is that you should do something that will last long after you have moved on to a new job.

A large strategic partnership, organization restructuring effort or redefining of a process can be great things to be a part of to leave your mark, but the genesis of the idea does not have to be grand. Focus on an issue that you see over and over again. Think about the pain points of others (your customer or co-workers alike), then brainstorm ways to improve them.

A good way to put it in context is to identify a responsibility you can take on or an initiative you can create that will allow you to accomplish something worthy of being listed on your resume.

When I was managing a call center, I found that morale was an issue. Shortly after starting the position, we had to move offices, finding a new space in another location 45 miles away. All the employees were experiencing a big change in their normal day to day routines (commutes and otherwise) and it took a toll on everyone’s attitude. I saw this situation as an opportunity.

I teamed up with a peer of mine and we created the “Morale Committee.” We brought together volunteers throughout the organization who wanted to help improve office morale and get our teams past the adjustment period after moving offices. We put together recognition events: raffles, birthday celebrations, contests, and soon morale really improved and more people wanted to be part of the committee. It ended up that for a few years after I left the committee lived on, maintaining the high level of morale within the office and leaving a lasting impression of the impact I had made.

No matter how big or small, find ways that you can leave a positive impact and create fulfilling reasons why you should be in the job you are in.

To summarize, within the first 60 days of any job, remember the Who, What, How, Where and Why:

  • Who are you
  • What is your job
  • How do you manage
  • Where do you position yourself
  • Why are you here

When you have each of these down, you will be well on your way to being successful in any new job. It was the successful implementation of these 5 things that led a manager of mine to say to me during a performance review three months into my job, “In my 25 years working you are the best person I have ever hired for any position I have ever hired for.” Others who I have shared this formula with have experienced similar results.

I hope this formula can bring you the same level of success.




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Part 4: How to be successful within the first 60 days of any new job: “Where”

The “where” in our 60 days to new job success analogy refers to “where do I position myself.” The “where” is all about politics and alignment. A portion of this is gossip avoidance and the other is relationship building.

As much as we despise work politics and do our best to avoid them, they are inevitable.

Watercooler talk happens all the time and is fairly easy to get sucked into. By nature, the gossipers seek out people to share their latest stories with. In particular, when you first start a job, the gossipers will test you out to see if you will become a source for them or a welcoming ear to engage in back office chat.

If you become engaged with them, it will be hard to get out, so make sure to avoid these situations or at the very least don’t acknowledge them. Even an occasionally, “really, I don’t believe that” from you when hearing about the latest rumor going around the office makes you an accessory. Without knowing it, that gossiper may move on to the next person quoting that he/she talked to you and that you totally agree with them, even if you never said anything in the first place. As a rule of thumb, don’t even be part of the rumor conversation (this goes without saying that you shouldn’t do anything to be the person gossiped about).

On the relationship building front, most of us are familiar with the fact that in order to get recognition and move up within an organization, you need to have the support of people around you. From the beginning, it is important what sides you pick and who you align with. Similar to the advice related to rumors, do your best to avoid siding with any peers in the office because they may bring you into situations that will compromise your neutrality and could hurt you later.

Picking sides tends to lead to behind closed door conversations and situations that cause you to focus more on politics and positioning than actually doing your job.

STARs are transparent. Instead of worrying about how things are perceived (making yourself look good and other look bad), a STAR does her job and lets her results speak to her worth to the organization instead of relying on politicking.

As eluded to, the simple answer to “where do I position myself?” is to position yourself as a neutral outside party. Help everyone and engage in rumor-mongering with no one.

When looking longer term, political alignment is a factor that will influence your career at any company. If you align yourself with a certain executive, leveraging them as a mentor or following their lead as they move to different positions within the company, be conscious of how they are being perceived because how others view them will affect how they view you. Just as within the first 60 days, it is best to avoid choosing just one side.

Our concluding blog entry for the series will focus on the all important “why” in ensuring success within the first 60 days of any new job.




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Part 3: How to be successful within the first 60 days of any new job: “How”

Now, we look at the all important “how” of transitioning into any new job; “how do I manage.”

When I say “how do I manage,” I am referring to the how you manage the relationships with your boss, your peers, with the people you interact with (in different departments or otherwise) to do your job, and in management roles- how to manage your new team.

Let’s start with your boss. While at first glance it may seem counter intuitive; wait, I thought my boss manages me, not the other way around. STARs realize that managing is a two way street. Besides doing your job, successful people seek to understand their boss and then adapt to support him or her.

When starting a new position it is crucial to learn how your boss likes to communicate, what his goals are and how he likes to run the team.  Moreover, a great way to “manage” your boss is by understanding his strengths and weaknesses. Take note of his strengths but then do your best to mitigate his weaknesses. Often, a simple thing to you could mean a great deal to your boss.

I once had a manager who was a fantastic leader and solid verbal communicator, but had struggled at times with written communication. On countless occasions he would call me into his office to read an email, letter or presentation he was about to send out to ensure the grammar was correct and that he was getting his point across. This took little time and effort for me, but meant a lot to him. Seeing this as an opportunity, I proactively asked if there were ways to assist my boss with written tasks.

The same goes for communication with your boss. In my first job out of school, I made the mistake of deciding not to ask questions of my boss, instead using my peers; I wanted to show her that I knew how to do my job. A couple months later when my first performance review came around, my boss expressed her concern because she wasn’t getting any feedback from me and didn’t think I understood my job. I made the mistake of not learning how she liked to engage with her direct reports, leading to some misunderstandings. Make sure to learn these types of things early on.

Put differently, within the first 60 days of your job, you want to figure out how to make your boss look good.

The same goes for your peers or people in other organizations you need to work with to complete your job responsibilities. Learn how these people like to communicate and get their work done. Note whether the most effective way to get through to them is via email, text, phone calls or face to face meetings. If you adapt to their style, you will find that they will be more willing to help you or make the work you need them to do a priority- ultimately helping you do your job better.

Learning how to “manage up” and cross functionally from the beginning will set you down the path to success in any new role.

In the upcoming entry, we will look at the “where” in how to be successful within the first 2 months of a new job.



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Part 2: How to be successful within the first 60 days of any new job: “What”

Continuing our series on how to be successful within the first 60 days of any new position, we now focus on the “what”- as in, “what is my job.”

More than anything, the focus is a tactical exercise in fully understanding your job responsibilities. While I wish it was as easy as regularly referring to your job description (which I have found can be notably different than the work I actually end up doing), the goal here is to get a grasp of your day-to-day and make sure you can get to a point where you can work independently, with little to no help.

I recall my transition to a new position a few years ago when I began managing a sales team. Among a number of job responsibilities that I needed to understand, I needed to get a better grasp on how to conduct a coaching session with my sales reps and I had to learn how to complete a number of administrative tasks through our CRM (customer relationship management) software. In this case, and in any new job transition that you face, the key is to master two simple things: (1) asking questions, and (2) finding “mini mentors.”

What many people neglect to think about, is the importance of asking questions. Some feel embarrassed to speak up and admit that they don’t know something, not wanting to appear un-knowledgeable. This is the worst approach you can take. In most situations, no one will tell you every single thing you need to know and if you are not willing to ask questions (paired with some self-directed research) then how are you expected to understand something? Don’t be apprehensive about asking questions. When you first start a job, you are not expected to know it all. Yet if you don’t, then in the months that follow things that you aren’t expected to know on day one become things that you should have learned a while ago. It is important who you ask questions to (better your peers than your boss, and better to spread out the question asking instead of asking one person every single questions about everything).

Secondly, find “mini mentors.” When most of us think of mentorship, we think of a formal relationship we develop with an accomplished person in our field. Someone we can come to when making tough career decisions. While this research is important to have, mentors can also play a more targeted role in your day-to-day work. Find a resource for specific job responsibilities that you can go to when questions arise. In my case, for example, I had a mini-mentor to help me with conducting coaching reviews and a different mentor to help with the tasks I had to do in our CRM system.

When I needed to prepare for my initial coaching sessions or when I wanted to test out a new coaching technique I did test runs with my coaching mini-mentor. When I needed to pull a weekly report on my sales team’s results or wanted to create a new report on their prospecting activity, I reached out to my CRM mini-mentor to walk through how to do this in the system.

For any given job, you can have upwards of a half dozen mini-mentors or more, each providing something valuable to you during your transition to a position (and beyond). It’s a good idea to find ways to reciprocate with your mini-mentors to help them in an area that you are good at that they may need help in.

Remember to seek out and develop relationships with mini-mentors and be willing to ask questions of them (and anyone) when starting a new role.

Next, we will address the “How” in the first 60 days of any new job.



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How to be successful within the first 60 days of any new job (Part 1: Who)

This is the first of a series of blog posts that are focused on a very important topic- how to be successful at any job within the first 60 days.

Each year I receive a summary email from LinkedIn. It says something to the effect, “X number of your connections changed jobs within the last year.” As my LinkedIn network increased, so did the number of connections that changed jobs but maintained a similar proportion. With a few years of consistent results to back this up, it appeared that about one-third of my connections changed jobs each year.  Whether at the same company or a new one, on average we have to start anew every 3 or so years. For some (especially earlier in your career) this happens even more frequently.

Because opportunities to experience a new position comes around so regularly, it is so important for us to manage the process and ensure we are getting off to the right foot.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to go through what I refer to as the Who/What/Where/Why/How of integrating into a new job. Each part of the series will detail an important thing that successful people (labeled as “STARs” in my book series) do when starting a new job.

First, we address the “Who” part of the equation.

When I say “who,” I am referring to you (of course).

The “who” portion of successfully transitioning to a new job mainly has to do with your understanding of yourself. Put another way, it relates to your self-awareness. Successful people understand themselves. They know what they are good at and they know what they need to improve on (i.e. Strengths and Weaknesses). They have a certain level of emotional intelligence and know what skills they have as well as what skills they need to build in order to be successful in their new work environment.

Let’s say, for example that you begin a new position as an analyst at a technology company. As you start, it is important to conduct an inventory of the characteristics you excel at, for example that you are detail oriented, but you must also know your weaknesses, possibly that you traditionally have found it hard to finish your work before deadlines. You want to be conscious of showing off your strengths (in a humble way) and mitigating your weaknesses (in this case, preparing better before deadlines).

The most important vehicle for mastering the “who” part of the question is to set and collect clear expectations. A STAR is able to learn what her boss expects of her.  She also communicates what expectations she as an employee has of her manager so that she has the resources available if she needs help as she becomes more familiar with her new job.

Next week we will focus on another key element when transitioning to a new job, the “What.”



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Success or failure at work? You make the call

Recently I was working on an initiative for my job that involved getting some feedback from an Executive Director at my company. I had emailed him, asking a couple of questions and requesting a meeting to discuss what I was working on.

Over a week went by without a response. I found out that he was on vacation and wouldn’t be back for another week or so. A couple days after he was scheduled to come back in the office, I emailed him again. This time another week or two went back without any response. I was beginning to get frustrated. Why wasn’t he responding me? I’m sure he had a full inbox to look through when he returned to the office but surely he has cleared it out by now!

That week I was attending a meeting with a number of other local leaders and after the meeting ended I got to talking to VP at my company. I expressed my frustration about the situation and lack of response to my emails by the Executive Director, but was stunned with the VP’s response to my comment. It wasn’t accusatory or condescending, but more inquisitive.

“Why don’t you just give him a call?” she questioned.

Then it hit me. How could I have not done something as simple as picking up the phone? I realized how technology has caused us to put up so many barriers and in some ways has hurt the work relationships that are so crucial to build. We look for the easiest way for us to communicate something, instead of one that is the best for the person we are communicating with. I also felt like a bit of a moron, given that I had overlooked such a simple solution.

The next day I made the call and was able to connect with the Executive Director and get the information I needed for my project right away. All that stressing I did was for nothing and what I had built up to be a hassle in my mind, was really a simple fix.

Email is great, don’t get me wrong, but our reliance on it (especially at work) has caused us to forget about some of the most effective ways to communicate. Email can provide a better record of a conversation, but it is much easier for someone to say “no” when you ask them for something electronically. It is much harder to be turned down over the phone or in person. In using email, we also look to avoid confrontation and instead engage in a bunch of back and forth, as more questions come up or people pay half attention to what you write, asking for information that you already provided.

Talking to someone live or on the phone demands more of their attention and engages them in a way that sending an email cannot. Plus, it is a more efficient form of communication because you can get the answers you want immediately, instead of having to wait for a response (what will invariably come when you are distracted doing something else). Moreover, since many of us receives dozens of emails a day, our email may get lost among the others, while a call stands out more. One final, often forgotten, benefit of talking with someone live is that it improves your working relationship, helping you do your job better in the future.

Instead of only relying on less-personal forms of communication where tonality and urgency can be lost, go back to the “old school” and connect with people more directly.

Successful young professionals are willing to proactively pick up the phone to get what they want. They set up an in-person meeting to build a better relationship instead of just relying on technology platforms.

So go ahead and pick up the phone, or drop by your co-workers’ office instead of sending that email. Not only will it improve your working relationships, but it will help you get the answers you need faster. The worst that could happen is that you have to leave a message.




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How to manage when you have no clue

“Wait, what’s a SORD order again?” I asked. “And where do we get the information I need for the account?”

“You get that from BOSS, but you can’t use BOSS-south only BOSS-north, otherwise you will get an error. But before you complete the SORD order you need to go into Telegence and process a request and send a confirmation through to the center,” my peer manager explained.

At the time, my response was probably just like yours is: “Huh?”

As a manager taking over a team, you will most likely face one of two scenarios. Either you will be managing a team where you used to do the job that your employees do (whether you are now managing the team you used to be on or a completely different team doing the same thing), or you will take on the role with little to no idea of exactly what your team’s day-to-day job is like.

Often you will know the main function of your new team or possibly the goal you need to accomplish while in the position, but the vernacular, systems and processes are a total mystery.

A STAR manager (someone who is Savvy, Tenacious, Adaptive and Resourceful) is able to come into situations with little to no previous experience and excel, while the DOPE (someone who Disses Opportunity Potential & Earnings) lets fear, doubt or the urge to take control prevent him from being successful. In my career, I had little to no idea of what my team did day-to-day going into each new management position I took on, but I was able to use a set of transferrable principles that work no matter what situation you must manage.

Here is what STAR managers do to be successful in situations where they have no idea what their team does:

  • Admit you don’t know: If you come into a management position as an outsider, your team will be especially critical of your value to them (since most employees want to know how you can help them do their jobs). A STAR manager doesn’t pretend that she knows it all. She acknowledges to her team that they are the experts and that she has much to learn. She does this in a balanced way so as to not lead her employees to think that she is clueless. Let them know that what you think they do is important and that you have much to learn from them.
  • Don’t command control: When entering new management roles, DOPE managers want to exert their control and power at all costs. While it is important that you portray yourself as an authority figure, realize that the team may do things differently than what you would naturally do. Over time it is a good idea to make improvements, but at first be cautious about making any sweeping changes because then not only will you be lost but so will your employees.
  • Uphold  the attributes of STARs: There are a number of STAR individual contributor traits that specifically apply when you are managing a team where you have no prior experience in a area. STAR managers are fast learners, picking up concepts quickly and understanding how they affect the team. STARs have perspective, being able to take a lesson from the new situation. They are coachable, looking to their employees to teach them what they need to know to be a successful advocate for the team. They are self-aware, conscious of what they know and don’t know and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. STAR managers are resourceful, using many channels to master their new job. They have a positive attitude and they see their employees as customers, searching for ways to support them.
  • Search for understanding: Remember that you don’t have to do the whole job that your employees do. You just need to understand it and know how to support them. STAR managers seek to understand how successful people do the job their people do and they find ways to remove the obstacles preventing peak performance.
  • Ask peers and your people for advice: Your peer managers are a wealth of information since they have more experience doing the job you were brought in to do. Take note of their best practices and learn from any mistakes they made. Your employees especially like the idea of you coming to them to be taught something, so leverage that when possible.
  • Show your cards: Give your employees glimpses that you know what they do and can do it (at least part of it). Particularly with managers who have no experience in their job function, they will attempt to get out of work or trick you into thinking something is harder to do than it really is. Showing these glimpses keeps them in check, wondering what you do and don’t know. Speak the right language and learn the reality of their jobs and not just what they tell you.
  • Look for where to make your mark: Find the levers that affect your new employees’ jobs and look for ways to change things for the better. As an outsider you are not bogged down by the typical process and existing way of doing things. You have fresh eyes and can find issues that others would not be able to see. Be careful not to jump into this too soon, but patiently look for the right things to change. This encourages your employees because they will see you as someone who wants to make positive change and help them succeed.

No matter what new language of acronyms and processes that have to be learned, the amount of prior experience or management style, a STAR manager brings in an open mindset and the methods outlined above to be successful with any team focused on any goals.

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.
― George S. Patton Jr.

The STAR manager vs. The DOPE Manager

The DOPE manager… wants to make his team think that he knows what he is doing at all times. He is apprehensive about asking questions and develops a sense of mistrust with his team because he is not open and honest about not having all the answers.

The STAR manager… is honest with herself and her team when she is in uncharted territory. She utilizes her team and others to get advice and is a fast learner, picking up knowledge that will help her effectively manage her team.




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Presents aren’t the only thing the holidays bring

It’s that time of year again and you know what that means…

As we roll into December managers and employees across the country prepare for everyone’s “favorite” things, performance reviews!

While a performance review is less than fun (both for those having to put them together and for those who they are about), it is so crucial to your career. Performance reviews are one of the only things that gets officially recorded on your personnel file, illustrating what you accomplished this year and what your boss thinks of your performance (through her comments). Additionally, the score you receive is a generally accepted metric to compare how well you do your job versus your peers.

In order to put your best foot forward and maximize the score you receive, here are 4 best practices  that successful people use:

  1. Compile your accomplishments: Each year it is important to keep record of the accomplishments you have. This comes in handy not only for performance reviews but when it comes to updating your resume or preparing for future job interviews. Moreover, often you boss is not aware (or does not have top of mind) all that you have accomplished this year. If she asks for a list of your accomplishments then great, but if not, be proactive and send it to her. It has been my experience that performance reviews are much more positive and complete when you have a hand in contributing to them.
  2. Fight for accuracy and the best score you can get:  At many companies (especially large ones) your boss is not the only one that has influence in the performance rating you receive. Often a committee of your boss’ peers and your boss’ boss that determine everyone’s ratings. Many companies have an even distribution of scores so that not everyone receives top scores. If you feel you deserve a high score ensure that your boss is sticking up for you when you are discussed amongst the ranking committee. Additionally, fight for an accurate evaluation. In a previous position my boss asked that I do a self-evaluation to compare to her evaluation of me. When we compared them my scores were higher than hers. Instead of backing down we discussed the ratings and I was able to get her to admit that she was judging me more harshly than my peers because I had a track record of great performance and she held me to a higher standards. I pleaded that while it is fine that she is a harsh evaluator, it is not fair for me to be judged by a higher standard than my peers. Ultimately, I was able to get my performance rating improved. If something is inaccurate, fight for it to be fixed.
  3. Take advantage of any comments you can add: In my experience, a vast majority of the employees who worked for me left the section blank for their comments. This is a really bad move. When you think about it, every other part of the performance review is your boss’ opinion of you in her words. Your comment section (if you have one) is the only place to voice your opinion (either supporting your accomplishments or possibly offering a different take than your boss).  – I have prepared many and most of my employees leave them blank. I urge everyone to take advantage of this
  4. Take note of the great things you accomplished: Besides compiling the performance review document and what’s in it, this time of year is a great opportunity to reflect on the hard work you put forth and the notable things you accomplished. Celebrate yourself. If you get in the habit of moving from year to year without giving yourself a pat on the back and an accurate assessment of what you have learned, then you won’t be able to accomplish your career goals as fast because of burnout or the likelihood that you would make the same mistakes multiple times.

Remember that you are your own biggest advocate (both with your boss and yourself). Take ownership of your performance reviews and ratings, fighting for what you think you deserve and admitting the areas that you need to improve in. In the end, it will pay off when you have a stronger and more accurate performance record and a better idea of how you can succeed every more at work.

I wish everyone a happy holidays, great performance reviews and fat bonuses!


What are some of your tips for getting a better performance review?




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How to Speak to an Executive

Most of us have been asked the old cliché, scenario. “what would you say if you were in the elevator with the CEO of your company and you had to pitch him/her an idea but only had the time from when the elevator left the lobby to when it reached their floor?”

The ability to get your point across concisely and artfully to executives can mean the difference between moving up in your career or getting stalled where you are at. While oversimplified, the situation described above correctly characterizes the approach you should take when talking with an executive.

Despite the influence and responsibility they have, it is important to remember that often executives revert to almost being child-like when they reach that top level of corporations. Attention spans almost completely disappear and it is hard for them to focus on doing anything administrative without the help and support of an assistant. Every day they are bombarded with information and have to shift focus in the blink of an eye, as they have a number of areas of responsibility and lead organizations that working on many projects. When you have the opportunity to present a powerpoint deck to them or speak with them about an idea you have, you must consider their frame of mind.

That said, here are some keys things you must keep in mind in order to be successful speaking with top executives:

  • Be Brief– When speaking with an executive, get to the point. Don’t plan on going through a lot of detail on every little part of the process you went through to arrive at your recommendation. Work under the assumption that if they want to know, they will ask you. Think of it like a funnel. What you communicate to an exec is analogous of the small funnel opening. Only communicate what is essential and be able to have background information and logic on why you reached certain conclusions. The process of presenting is not about you sharing every detail, but is about you getting your main points across and getting their buy-in and support. Additionally, at meeting scheduled for 1 hour may end up being 15 minutes if the executive is late leaving another meeting and may have other commits that have come up last minute that cut the time even shorter. This happens regularly to me.
  • Be Insightful– Don’t tell an executive something they already know. Be unique and share something new. They don’t have the time to go over the same topic and details over and over. Teach them something new. When you consistently do this, then execs will know you are a go-to person and will come to you for guidance in the future. Using stories and analogies are good as well. I remember one presentation where I compared our companies operational complexities to ordering a steak at a restaurant but being expected to tell the waiter the internal temperature of the steak you wanted, the amount of salt, pepper and other spices you wanted along with the angle you wanted the grill lines to be at. It seemed to get the message across.
  • Be Prepared to Go Off-Track– I do not think I have ever talked through a presentation without being interrupted. More accurately, I don’t think I have ever gotten more than 30 seconds into a presentation without being stopped by an executive to ask a question, say on opinion or move ahead to a more specific part of my presentation. It happens. Be familiar with your presentation and able to start and stop anywhere while being able to seamlessly go back to important areas that were skipped as you follow-along the executive’s thought process. Executives see things in a unique way and may not learn a concept the same way you did.
  • Be Ready to Answer Questions– Be prepared to answer any question. While you want to keep presentations short and to the point, make sure to have a ton of back-up information. You will undoubtedly be asked something unique and need to have reference-able evidence to back-up what you are saying. Just as important, if you don’t know the answer, admit that you don’t, commit to finding an answer and then follow-up with the executive with the answer you find.
  • Be Sure to Follow-up– While it would be ideal to get a direct and clear answer from an executive after presenting, this is often not the case. Execs need time to process what you recommended and tie it in with the other dozen priorities they are juggling. Ensure that you follow-up to confirm buy-in and get approval on the best path forward. Often you will have to drive this because if you wait around for them to get back to you, you may be waiting forever.

I regularly present to executives at my company about new and exciting technologies and strategies to build revenue. While at first I was very concerned with getting my point the way I wanted to explain it, I soon learned that I had to build my analyze specifically for the executive I was reading out to, almost like I had to write in a different language I knew they understood. Being flexible is so important.

A good way to learn how to effectively communicate to executives is to treat all your interactions with co-workers like they are with an executive. They will appreciate how you value their time and you will get much better at getting your point across.

Now the next time you are in an elevator with an executive you know what to do: be brief, be insightful, be prepared to go off-track, be ready to answer questions and be sure to follow-up. And even if you are not limited to an elevator ride’s amount of time, take ownership of your communication and treat everyone with the respect that you would give an executive from your company. It will help you go far in your career, not matter what your chosen field is.


Does Anyone have any stories about interactions they have had with an executive or tips of their own?





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The best question a manager can answer: “Why?”

Here is an article that was recently published on the Personal Branding Blog of which I am a contributor to…

Let me lay out a situation that most of those that work at almost any company are familiar with: Company management undergoes a reorganization and change is coming. The change can be vast including entire groups or functions going-away, leaving hundreds or thousands without a job) or could be something slight, like people have to work on an upcoming Saturday.

Corporate leaders are (rightfully so) worried about big things like, will this new strategy and organization structure cause the company to lose momentum? Or, will this change cause us to lose profit or become vulnerable to our competitors? Yet one thing that does not receive as much thought is how to “break the news” to all the employees. For most, it’s as cold and calculated as sending out a company announcement via email, and then letting the chips fall where they will. This lack of thought about communicating change can be disaster because (quite simply) people talk.

When people talk two things happen, (1) they get distracted and no longer focus on their work, and (2) they come up with some of the most creative conclusions as to why things changed and the rationale behind the new system. Most of the time these self-crafted answers are based on wrong assumptions or are just completely rationalized and made up by someone who is ill-informed.

In managing people, I have found that the best way to deal with change (and basically the changing of any policy or rule that is set) is to answer the question that is often disregarded by managers; the question “Why?”

Managers can wrongfully think, “I’m the boss and I know why I needed to make this change. My employees just need to focus on the new way we are doing things so we can reach the new goals I set for them.” Instead, effective managers don’t just tell their people that a change has been made, but they offer rationale behind why the change was made.

For example, a friend of mine’s company had an entire team that was focused on making products for and selling to a certain industry. One day, it was announced that the team would no longer be focused on this industry but instead would be targeting international customers. Along with the announcement, some people’s job would be eliminated and some would have to move to Europe and Asia. Unfortunately, that was the extent of the announcement. There was no why.

Left to their own devices people spent a great deal of time and energy speculating whether the change came because of something going on in the industry (which appeared to be growing) or a new opportunity that came about internationally, and beyond. The company did not share that this industry  focus was not profitable or that the cost of paying experienced people on the team was causing the company to lose market share in other product lines because there was less money for marketing. The reasoning could have been anything, but the bottom-line is that it was not shared.

The beauty about sharing why with your employees is because it allows them to move on. It’s like ripping off a band-aid. It may hurt, and they may disagree with the rationale that you used in making your decision, but at least they understand your reasoning.

Telling the why behind a decision allows people to feel like they are important and deserve to know. Instead of de-motivating them, it allows people to focus more on their work and can even empower them to work better and smarter because they will naturally look for new ways to support your rationale for making the decision in the first place. If you talk to the team about the purpose behind a cost cutting measure you are instating, they will begin to uncover additional ways to cut costs in other areas (often times without you even asking them to). They will work smarter and in a way that is mindful of why the decision was made, while you will get better results.

While it is important to use tact and put the right “spin” on the reasoning behind your decision, make sure to share the why with your people and not just what the change is. It can mean the difference between achieving the result that you are hoping the change would create and total failure and low morale. Remember the answer the question, “Why?” even if you aren’t directly asked.



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