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The 7 secret (and not so secret) ways to get the promotion of your dreams, starting today (PART 3: Doing the job & Acting “As If”)

Ok. Your goals are aligned with your organization’s and you’ve got mentors. What next?

The 3rd step in getting promoted is to start acting “as if” and finding ways to do the job you want.

There is nothing that makes a hiring manager more confident in a candidate than seeing that they have actually succeeded in doing the job she is hiring for. While this can be pretty easy if you are looking for a lateral position at a new company, it can be difficult when you are looking for a job at the next level.

A few years ago I was hiring a new salesperson for my small business sales team. I interviewed one candidate coming from a consumer sales background. As most of us are aware, selling to consumers can be very different than selling to businesses. In his current position, this candidate also had the opportunity to sell products to businesses. When asking him how many business sales he had over the last few months, he responded that he had little to none. This communicated to me that he didn’t really want the job (or that he was letting our beloved millennial “sense of entitlement” get the best of him). He acted like he deserved the job but when I explained to him that someone who really wanted this role would have made an effort to prepare for it, he had no response (and as you can imagine, did not get the job).

Don’t let obstacles stand in your way though, there are things you can do to prove you are ready.

Before going out and taking on too much new responsibility, make sure to do an inventory of what skills are needed to be successful in the promoted role you are interested in. If it is a position managing someone the skills are very different than if you are an individual contributor. Moreover, you don’t want to spend time and energy building skills that those looking to promote you wouldn’t value.

One of the easiest ways to show you are ready for the promoted position is by backing up your boss (if the promotion is in your same organization) or someone who is going on vacation that does the job you want. This (1) helps you validate that it is a job you really want to do, and (2) gives you first-hand experience doing it. The experiences you have actually doing the job will do wonders in convincing people you are ready to be promoted (and make great references during the interview process).

Remember, however that responsibilities you would have in your own job don’t just come from filling in for someone, it also comes from building necessary skills elsewhere. Generally those that are preparing for a promotion have already proven they can be successful at their current job, so creating a new project or getting buy-in for a new initiative is much easier than if not. Be creative and find a way to morph some of your current work responsibilities into tasks that show you have the skills of those who get promoted to the next level.

Make sure to keep track of these additional projects and build a good story that is not only based on experience but also on measureable results.

To the point of acting “as if,” it is important that you begin to act like someone who would be successful in the promoted position. Find a way to distance yourself from your peers in the eyes of your group’s leadership. Start to dress, communicate and exude leadership qualities like those at the level you want to be at. Don’t get caught talking about the crazy thing that went down the previous evening at happy hour around the workplace. At the same time, be sure not to alienate your peers (or be thought of by them as a “sellout”), balancing your time between being part of the group and aligning yourself for promotion.  Depending on the culture of your organization, your peers may have influence in you getting promoted (or may at least be someone polled by a hiring manager). You want your peers to think of you as a leader, but someone that is still part of their team.

Once you have started doing the promoted job you are seeking and being viewed by others as someone who has the qualities of someone  who should be promoted, then it’s time to move on to Step 4, which we will discuss in the next post.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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Part 2- The 7 secret (and not so secret) ways to get the promotion of your dreams, starting today

After you have aligned your goals with those of your boss/organization’s leadership and found ways to make others look good, it’s time to build your support team.

As the saying goes, even Tiger Woods has a coach. Even if you are hot sh*t (or at least think you are), outside parties can help you to succeed and I would venture to say are completely necessary to succeed.

No one ever completely accomplishes any great goal alone. You need others to help you focus on where you want to go and to motivate you when you are faced with obstacles.

In the professional realm mentors fill this “coach” role.

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes and are tools that are often misunderstood and regularly underutilized.

While it is important to find a mentor who has accomplished what you want to accomplish, is at the top of their game and can help guide you along the way (I refer to these as “macro mentors”), it is important to have what I refer to as “mini mentors” to help you with specific (niche) things as you prepare to get promoted (they also help you once you do get promoted, as mentioned here).

To build on the Tiger Woods example, he doesn’t have just one coach. He has one coach that helps him with putting, a different coach that helps him with chipping and yet another who helps with his drive and perfecting his swing. In the same light, you should find mini mentors that can help you learn and develop the skills you need to show you are promotion ready (and to help you succeed once you are promoted). Find someone who is really good at one skill or characteristic that you need to get promoted and engage them to learn how they do it.

Do an inventory of the skills and characteristics you need to develop in order to get promoted. Brainstorm yourself and ask others. Some typical mini mentors may help you with things like: showing you can balance your workload while managing the workload of others (especially relevant when promotion gives you direct reports), executive communication (where you have to present complex topics to leadership in a clear and strategic manner), or it can even be gaining knowledge about a certain topic or internal process where making a subject matter expert (SME) your teacher can be very advantageous to helping you master the subject.

While it is fine to leverage mentors who don’t work at your company, it is a good idea to find at least a couple who are at a higher level within your company (or department) because they can become advocates for you, speaking to hiring managers about how great of a candidate you are or giving you a behind the curtain look at what a hiring manager is really looking for so you can tailor your answers to questions during the interview process. Their network of contacts in the company can make you aware of soon to be open positions and help you understand what your future boss would be like.

There is one important key to leveraging macro and mini mentors that you must keep in mind to be successful.

With mini mentors, you have more power to select who you want to get help from, but it is also important to find ways to return the favor to them. Identify something you are an expert in that can help them and mentor them on it. If you are an expert on a topic that interests them, teach them what you know or if you are effective at a skill they struggle with (let’s say they have poor written communication skills)  then you can teach them (in this case, how to write better).

With your macro mentors who have reached the higher level you aspire for, you must remember that they also choose you. This means that finding these macro mentors can take time and may require persistence on your part. If someone you really want to mentor you resists at first, be persistent and show them that you are worth their time. Show them that you are passionate about something they are interested in to catch their attention. At the same time, keep an eye out for someone who proactively helps you. They may be a great candidate to mentor you.

Now that your goals are aligned and you have a team of macro and micro mentors, helping you build the skills necessary to get promoted, it’s time to start doing the job at the next level. Part 3 will discuss how…

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

How You Can Get Promoted… in a few Easy Steps

“How do I get promoted?” – a common question I am asked when speaking to groups of young professionals across the country.

For all intents and purposes, the answer is it depends.

Although there are unique circumstances and nuances depending on your industry, company and job function, there are, however, steps you can take to make yourself “promotion ready” no matter that your specific scenario is.

In my next few blog entries I will share with you the 7 steps you can take to make yourself promotion-ready.

Before delving into Step #1, first let’s do a quick attitude check. Making sure you have a “promotion ready attitude” is a foundational step (a Step #0, if you will) before going full force into promotion preparation.

Let me dispel any strong biases in your mind- NO you don’t deserve to get promoted. Nobody owes you a promotion and if anyone has ever “promised” you a promotion (unless it’s the owner/CEO of the company), you should be weary that it will ever come to fruition. Promotions must be earned. Plus, they don’t come around all that often. Think about it- most companies have somewhere between 5 and 8 levels of management, so that means if you end up making it to a C-Level position, you will only be promoted 8 times over a 40-50 year period – that means you will only get promoted once every 5 or 6 years, not every 2 or 3. Studies have found that only 1 in 10 people get promoted each year. This toxic feeling can be labeled as a sense of entitlement.

Closely related to entitlement (especially for us millennials) is impatience. We want instant gratification NOW. We want to know that the hard work we are putting in each day is recognized and will get us somewhere. Unfortunately, we can’t just snap our fingers and get promoted to the next level.

But what if I hate my job right now and would love it if I was in my boss’ position? you may ask… Then don’t show it. Even if your job sucks, you can’t go around airing your negative opinions out about it. People are always watching and this type of attitude doesn’t inspire anyone to give you a shot at the next level.

Earning a promotion comes from consistently delivering results over a long period of time (the operative words here are consistently and long period of time). Promotions don’t just appear overnight. They are earned long before the job opportunity arises. Plus, most of the higher ups in your company or organization already have a mental list of who they feel is ready for the next level.

Now at the same time, you want to diagnose whether your department or company has a toxic culture that isn’t conducive of getting a promotion. Maybe you have a boss who takes credit for all your great work, or a lack of support from your peers or no hope of personal development, even after getting promoted. In those cases, it may be best to find a new job at a new company. But, if your current company does pass this litmus test and is a place where you want to seek career advancement, it’s best to move through these 7 Steps to become “promotion ready.” In conducting this toxic environment litmus test, remember that in many cases it is easier to get promoted from within to look for a promotion elsewhere (so it’s not always best to seek out greener pastures for promotional opportunities).

Now that the foundational step (Step #0) is out of the way, let’s go on to Step 1, Goal Alignment.

No matter how long you have been in a job, it is always possible to recalibrate to better align your goals with those of your boss and the team. Through school and in many job situations we have been trained to focus on our own performance; our own accomplishments, job proficiencies and metrics.  In reality, when you fully focus on not making yourself look good, but on making others look good and accomplishing the goals of the team, that is when people take notice.

In basketball, it’s statistically great to be a player that scores 40 or 50 points a game by not passing the ball to teammates, but if you always lose the game, then what’s the point? If instead you focus on passing the ball to your teammate and setting them up to make great shots in a winning effort, you make the whole team successful. While the former gets some of the glory, it is the latter that inspires others and leads to championships.

In a work context, goal alignment is understanding what the vision, objectives and goals of your boss and organization are and then using your talents to their utmost to fulfill these goals. True leaders know what they are good at (and bad at) and contribute their strengths to help the team.

At the very least, remember that your boss either decides or is a key influencer in determining what your annual bonus is, the type of raise you get and whether you are supported in seeking a promotion. If you do all you can to make your boss look good and be successful, don’t you think that will inspire him/her to give you the bigger raise or bonus and support you when you want to pursue a promotion?

Once you have your focus and actions narrowed to what is in the team’s or your boss’ best interest, it’s time to build toward Step #2 in the process, getting mentors.

What have YOU found to be the keys to getting promoted in your career? Let us know in the comments below.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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The One Thing That Can Make You Successful

153. That’s the number of work emails I received yesterday. And that doesn’t even account for the 45 emails that I had to write and send (nor does it factor in my personal email accounts). Pair that with 5 hours of conference calls and an end-of-day deadline and you have a pretty packed day. Then add in Facebook updates, tweets, text messages, news, TV, phone calls and staying up to date on blogs and articles (like this one) and you start to realize how packed with information a normal day is.

For many of us, this type of constant communication and bombardment of information is typical. It is also robbing us of our time. Beyond depending on these forms of communication and sources of information, we feel like we are “out of the loop” if we spend even a few moments disconnected from them.

While these forms of communication and information sources keep us in the know, they keep us from fully living our lives. They also create clutter and challenge our internal filters that tell us what is worth our time and what wastes it. It also creates a bunch of clutter as we access information from many places and are getting more and more distracted from what is important while the trivial replaces what matters.

Do you really need to monitor that Twitter feed or does it distract you from engaging in an important face-to-face conversation with someone? Do the 20 RSS Feeds giving you various forms of advice really help or do they become a chore or time waster?

What we really need to do is get rid of the clutter.  Instead of seeking loads of information, seek simplicity. Take some time to shut things down and just think.

I have found time and time again, that when I resist the urge to become distracted by the various forms of communication and sources of information out there, I begin to listen. I start to listen to those around me and most importantly, I begin to listen to myself.

When you take a step back you start to ask questions like, “is this thing I am doing really getting me closer to my goals?” or “is all this added complexity really helping or distracting me?” things begin to get clearer.

With the publication of my second book approaching, I took some time to conduct a self-inventory.  I realized that only a small subset of my activity promoting my first book produced a vast majority of the sales. I became so wrapped up in having to check off boxes and having a presence on every medium that I lost track of what was truly important: getting my message out and helping people.

I am not here to say that all this information and these social platforms are bad, I am just saying that in moderation (a la the age-old advice of Aristotle) it can be incredibly valuable but too much can be damaging.

This “disconnected” time will help you realize what is important and what to eliminate. It is remarkable the ancillary things we do that keep us from reaching our goals, preventing us from spending our time on what is important.

Take time to unplug and ask yourself whether what you are doing now supports your personal and professional goals or whether you are becoming your own biggest obstacle.  Instead of adopting the complexities that life has created, seek simplicity and clarity.

Don’t come up with 20 goals to reach. Odds are, focusing on 20 things at once will stop you from accomplishing any of them. Pick 3 or 5 and align your efforts and activities on that targeted list.

Seek simplicity and welcome the moments of clarity that come from when you unplug, take a step back and listen. This is the one thing you can do to make you successful at anything you want to accomplish. Whether a personal issue or complex group project, suddenly complexities will be replaced by an identification of what you need to do to reach your goals; a key first step in finding success.

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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Millennials, here’s why it’s time to wake up!

Today I was on NPR sharing my perspective on millennials in the workplace.  Here is what I shared during the “Perspectives” segment:

Here is a link to the audio file

Here is the transcript:

Imagine how I felt, three weeks into my first job out of college and facing the thing that strikes fear into the hearts of employees across the nation. It was time for my performance review.

I wasn’t scared though, I was excited. I was expecting that my boss would give me a big raise and promotion. I was stunned when the first words out of her mouth were, “Aaron, you seem like a bright young man, but I am not sure if you even know how to do your job.” I was crushed. I thought I was doing well at work, but in reality had no idea what the working world was like.

In fact, my misguided expectations were way off. I had expected that it would be like everything else I had done in my life; that I would be given an opportunity and then rewarded for being a part of the team.

My fellow millennials, it’s time for us to wake up. The working world is not like our homes were growing up. Our bosses won’t accommodate for us like our parents did and we won’t be recognized just for showing up. It’s time for us to take action instead of just waiting to be given the careers of our dreams.

Older employees complain about our lack of engagement and inability to take on responsibility and follow-through at work. I for one hate having this stigma associated with me and know that we are better than this reputation. We are creative, enthusiastic and agile, with exciting ideas and new ways of thinking.

We need to take ownership of our careers. No one is going to hand it to us on a silver platter. We will have to earn it with consistent hard work and results. We must be coachable, willing to listen and learn from advice coming from all angles. We must be more self-aware, understanding our natural sense of entitlement and impatience that cause us to give up when we face adversity or skip around between opportunities because we will only settle for the ideal situation. Instead, we must have perspective and realize that the lessons we learn now will help us when we do find our passion.

Don’t just wait for someone to hand you the career you want. Go out there and take it.

With a Perspective, I’m Aaron McDaniel.

 

Does anyone have their own perspective that they want to share?

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

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One Sentence You Should Never Say at Work

Our jobs can be challenge amidst all the change that invariably is happening at our companies. Whether we are at a fast growing start-up, a huge corporation adapting to new market conditions and competitors or somewhere in between, odds are this is a reality of work.

No matter what your job, company or industry, there are certain principles we all should strive to uphold. From driving results to people fast learners, all have their own level of importance. One of these key categories is our attitudes. Not only will out attitudes affect the quality of our work, but it also will affect how others view us.

It makes sense to maintain a positive attitude. Besides motivating ourselves to push-on in adversity, it helps us look good amongst the team. While a negative attitude can manifest itself in many ways, from small comments like, “this new policy sucks!” to “there is no way we are going to solve this problem!” there is none worse than when you say (and think), it’s not my job.

When you have this 4-word mentality, you are a poison to your team. It shows you have the mentality that you have sectioned off your work and the value you bring to your company to a tiny box that is determined by your job description.

Here are 3 reasons you should never even think the words “it’s not my job”:

  • It limits you from career growth– If you are constantly concerned about how little you need to do to fulfill your job responsibilities or are only interesting in doing what you were initial hired and explicitly told what to do, then you will not inspire others to believe in you and your abilities. You won’t be given any new and exciting opportunities and later (if not sooner) your days will be relegated to mundane tasks that don’t matter as much to the future of your company.
  • You won’t learn anything new-If you have a “it’s not my job” mentality, your work days will not be exciting. You will most likely get caught in the routine things that you are comfortable with (truly successful people are willing to regularly step outside of their comfort zones).
  • You are being a selfish non-team player– If you are being asked to do something or see an opportunity to complete a project that may be outside of the scope of your job, odds are it is needed because there is no one doing it today. In almost every case it will help your team.

Note: This is especially true when you are working on a small team, in a new growing area of your business or are at a start-up. I once founded a start-up with a friend of mine. Routinely my business partners would say “it’s not my job.” Besides annoying me to no end, I was like, “there’s only two of us, so if it’s not your job then whose job is it?!?! Mine?”

When facing tasks that are outside of the scope of your job or that you are not familiar with, use the following 3 steps to help you contribute rock-star results:

  • Partner with someone– If there is a group that does have expertise in something you have been asked to work on, bring them into the fold. Not only will you get their expertise and buy-in, but you will learn more in the process and get the work done faster. Plus it will show good teaming, something all bosses like seeing.
  • Do your research– If you are asked to do something new and outside of the normal scope of your job, odds are the right way to do it won’t just come to you. Research ways to do the task and look for sources of the information you need to do a great job
  • Ask for help-If you aren’t able to find a partner who has the task you have been asked to do as part of their job and if you research efforts are fruitless, ask for help. Make sure to ask to the right person (preferably someone other than your boss), and show them the work you have done and how you think you should do the task instead of just blindly saying “tell me how to do this.”

Take ownership of the work you do and take new work that may be outside of the comfortable scope of your job as an opportunity to grow and learn. It will help you develop a solid personal brand.More than anything else, if you do say “Ok, I’m happy to help,” instead of “it’s not my job,” then people will take notice and before you know it you will be receiving new and exciting career opportunities.

What’s a something YOU think someone we should never say at work?

 

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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“Expect Delays”

An early morning a couple weeks ago I was headed to a work conference. It ended up that this conference wasn’t at the typical convention center or hotel. Instead, it was located at a retreat out in the woods. While scenic, the road leading there was naturally winding and heavily wooded.

At one point, where the road narrowed to one lane in each direction, there was one of those electronic signs on the side of the road that typically flashes a multi-part message. In this case, there was only one part to the message displayed. It simply read, “Expect Delays.”

From my experience, these signs usually offer justification as to why there would be a delay. It might read “Road repair ahead.” And then “expect delays” following. But this time I did not. The sign just said “Expect Delays.” Normally I would have passed by this kind of sign paying little attention, but in this case (maybe due to the early hour or the peaceful surroundings) I found a deeper meaning in the message.

Time and time again (in our careers and lives in general) we make plans. We think through all the possibilities and details, catching as many variations as we can think of. Despite this analysis and planning, we are often wrong. Things don’t go as planned.

In my career (and life), I have found that many times when “things not going as planned” it involves something taking more time than I would have expected. I generally get impatient, expecting faster results. This often leads to me giving up, or at the very least not give my 100% in following up and seeing things through.

Unfortunately, this feeling (and response) is something that plagues many millennials like me. We are used to instant gratification and feedback. We are used to getting things when we want them, how we want them. Success in your career (and life) just doesn’t work this way.

It is important for us to be patient when we embark on a journey to accomplish a goal. Whether it is something big like starting a company or something as simple as completing a project at work, realize that things won’t go as planned. Delays will invariably creep in, and if we aren’t ready for them, then we run the risk of giving up before we ever reach our goal.

While it is key to understand and anticipate delays, it is important to go one step further. We must build resiliency. The moment we get knocked down, we must get back up. Every delay that comes our way is an opportunity for another lesson that will help us avoid obstacles in the future (or at the very least will help us get over them faster).

We must also actively look for solutions. To beat these “delays,” we have to find ways to overcome them. Whether it be testing out a new strategy or flat out asking for help, it is better to fight through obstacles and delays instead of letting them happen to us.

As you drive down the road of your career, make sure to keep an eye out for delays. Often times there won’t even be a sign that tells you when or why they are coming. Remember not to just let these delays happen to you. Use them to your advantage. Take away key lessons, they will help you be smarter and more successful further down the road.

Just because you expect delays doesn’t mean that you have to like it. Meet these delays head-on; overcome them and carve out new roads of your own to explore.

What do you think about the “delays” that you face?

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

 

This article was originally published in the Personal Branding Blog

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Is Taking It Easy a Good Thing?

As Ferris Bueller said in the 1986 movie, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This was true then and is even more true now. Over the Labor Day weekend, I took it’s purpose to heart and did some thinking.

Our lives as professionals (or otherwise) are full of meetings and emails, commitments and distractions. For many, striking the balance between work and play can be a hard line to walk and something that is never quite mastered.

For me, this is especially true. Besides a full time corporate job, writing books, and managing my entrepreneurial ventures, I want to make sure to spend time with friends, travel and volunteer in the community. In the process of having to take care of a lot of business, the byproduct is generally busyness. With spouses, kids, aging parents and more, there is not much time left for anything else.

Recently I was cleaning out some files at home when I came across an article that my godmother had sent to me a couple years ago. It was a brief prose by Alexander Green called In Praise of Idleness.

This essay really made me think.

Looking back, I have seen how busyness has adversely affected both my concentration and decision making ability. A couple years ago, I was balancing a full time job and running two businesses, not to mention a number of other personal and community involvements. I found that my mind constantly jumped from one commitment to the next. Because of the shear number of things on my mind I found that I was looking for fires to fight. I would prioritize the most important thing with the nearest deadline and would focus on completing it as soon as I could to go on to the next thing. This was good in terms of getting many things done fast, but it affected the quality of my work. My judgment was clouded and I made some decisions that, in hindsight, were pretty stupid. They led to some failures in my businesses.

I needed to remember what Green states, “downtime is an energizing force.” He continues to reference how “idleness leads to contemplation, creativity, and inventiveness.” Taking this time creates clarity.

While it is something that I do still struggle with, I have been able to see the benefit. Whether it is setting aside 15 minutes in the middle of the day to take a walk (or at least get away from my desk) or if it is keeping one weeknight or weekend day free from commitments to have some downtime, I continue to see benefits from this. Create that time, maybe not a siesta or afternoon tea but a break at some point during the day

As Green references, there are many examples of how down time is a good thing. From Churchill’s “economy of effort” to Mark Twain, even these successful people understand the benefit.

The second step in the right direction (after setting time aside regularly) is to simplify. Think about why you are doing something, and don’t just take on commitments for the sake of being busy. Focus on what is important, and be excellent at fewer things. Steve Jobs made Apple amazingly successful through simplicity.

So remember, it’s ok to be a “loafer,” “slacker” or “bum” every once in a while. This idleness can create the clarity you need to be to reach your goals.

;

When do you think being “idle” is a good thing? (if at all)

;

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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You Gotta Hit the Curveballs

As we reach the latter end of the dog days of summer, as a baseball fan, I think about the impending pennant races and excitement to come as the fall approaches.

Recently, I was at a baseball game and watched as one of the players from my home team (the San Francisco Giants) battled against the opposing team’s pitcher, fouling off 7 or 8 balls before getting a solid hit to left field. These types of at-bats happen all the time in the major leagues, but for some reason this one stuck with me.

I realized how the type of mentality this batter had was exactly the mentality of those who are successful in their careers (and I would venture to say, in their lives in general).

For those not familiar with baseball, hitting a moving ball thrown at you from a little over 60 feet away at speeds as fast at 100mph is not easy. In fact, it is considered by some to be one of the hardest things to do in all of sport. With something coming at you so quickly, it is important to anticipate.

Not all balls that pitchers throw are fastballs straight down the middle of the plate. Many are curveballs (that change directions on their way toward the batter) or are change-ups, that look like fastballs but are as much as 20mph slower than the same pitcher’s fastball. As a batter, if you use the same swing and believe that every ball thrown would be a fastball, then a large portion of the time you would be swinging and missing.

In our careers, things aren’t always straight forward (fastballs). Many times things quickly change (change-ups) or something unexpected happens that we have never experienced before (curveballs). To be successful, we can’t always assume that things will be straightforward. We can’t assume that we will always get the next promotion opportunity. We can’t assume that if we always consistently produce the best results that rewards will flow to us in-kind. To be successful, we must anticipate curveballs and expect the unexpected.

What good baseball players (and this particular batter from the game I recently watched) do is strategize and look for a specific pitch. Depending on the count (number of balls and strikes), the game situation and the pitcher, the batter will make a plan for the pitch he thinks will be thrown. He will prepare for a low or high ball, a ball thrown inside or outside. This is analogous to goals that we set and opportunities that we look for. Often, however, the pitch you guess is not the pitch thrown.

Good players not only make a strategy according to where they think the ball is going, but more importantly, they make sure that they have a way to make contact with the ball even when what they anticipate is wrong. In the game I watched, this batter defended against the unanticipated pitches by “fouling” them off (where he would make contact with the ball but would hit it off a sub-optimal part of the bat, making the ball land outside of the field area).

Pitch after pitch, he received balls that were either unexpected or not what he was looking for. Yet he kept his at-bat alive, waiting for the pitch he really wanted.

The career equivalent is patience and resiliency. We will all face adversity and obstacles (i.e. the unanticipated or undesirable pitches) and it is important that we are able to persevere and wait for the moments where we can be truly successful. Yet we must get through all the other obstacles before we are faced with the right opportunity. For this batter it took over 10 pitches for him to find the one he was looking for, and he still needed to foul-off the others to get to the right pitch.

Finally, the batter connected with the ball and got on base. Eventually the batter ended up scoring and represented the go-ahead run that won the game for his team.

Remember to strategize to determine the opportunities you want (the pitches you are looking for) and more importantly, be able to persevere and be patient through all the obstacles you face (the pitches that are hard to hit). Eventually if you keep your at-bat alive, you will find the pitch you are looking for and will get a hit that may very be the success that defines your career.

Do YOU think being able to hit the curve balls matters?

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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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… http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/the-best-question-a-manager-can-answer-why/

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.

BE AWESOME!

-MR. BIZ

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