How Do I Get to the Next Level?

I woke up the other morning and the calendar said it was December.  December!
How can it already by the end of the year? This realization made me think about the goals I had set at the beginning of the year and where I stood against those goals. I asked myself, ‘How can I take my performance to the next level?” At this time of year, especially in companies that have end-year check-ins as part of their performance management process, you and your people may have this same question.

What do I need to do to get to the next level?

When our people ask this question, they are usually looking for us to help them navigate the performance of career development waters and give them the answer for where they should be taking their performance or career. When asked this question, use the GOAL Development Conversation Framework to guide the conversation.

First, determine the individual’s Goals. Review where the individual is in his or her current role. Are they ready for a move? What are the individual’s personal and career goals?

Second, gain the individual’s Observations on what he or she does well, areas of interest and development needs. Ask for examples.

Third, add your Assessment and the assessment of others, if you know them for a fact. If your team member is interested in moving to another role, what skills and competencies does someone need to be successful in that role? How does this person compare to that profile right now? What do they need to develop? How does it align (or not align) with their interests?

Finally, create a Learning plan. What more do you or your team member need to learn about the role in which he or she is interested? What skills or competencies do they need to develop? How do they need to better showcase strengths?

Is Middle Management Really Going Away?

Middle Managers

I had the pleasure of watching an interview with Jay Samit, CEO of SeaChange International and author of Disrupt You speak at the C-Suite Network conference a few months back. One of the more provocative predictions he made was that in 5 years, one half of all middle management jobs will be gone. Not 20 years. Not 50 years. Five.

Needless to say, the number of implications that creates are far too many to discuss here. Jeff Hayzlettthe interviewer, asked the question we were all asking ourselves — if half of all middle management is going away, what should middle managers do? Here are Samit’s 3 pieces of advice:

  • Commit to life-long learning: change is occurring so rapidly that we can’t possible know what our opportunities will be in 2 or 3 years much less 10 or 15.  By continually learning you can see what may be coming around the bend and be ready for it while those who have chosen to shut-off their learning will never know what hit them.
  • Keep an open mind: the further we go in life we can begin to assume that we know the answers and how it should work.  The truth is, without an open mind, it’s amazing how wrong you can be.
  • Invite data in:  in some circles, you hear a lot about big data.  Data comes in many forms – quantitative, qualitative, anecdotal. Data is available in so many ways, don’t be afraid to gather and use data to help inform your path and illuminate possibilities.

The quest for certainly blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.”

-Erich Fromm

Try Evolution Instead of a Resolution

gym-treadmill-people 240x160I went to the gym the other day and saw what you can count on every January — the results of resolutions. Anyone who is a gym regular knows that in January it’s a crowded place. People are there working up a sweat, moving muscles they haven’t moved in a while. It’s a place where people are making resolutions and, sometimes, deciding to break resolutions.

The problem with many resolutions is that they represent a radical departure from what we are currently doing. Rather than talking about resolutions, let’s talk about evolution. The evolution of your business. The evolution of your team. The evolution of your capacity to lead and manage others. We spend so much time talking about radical or transformational change, we forget about the benefits of purposeful, measured change. Spend some time this week thinking about what can evolve in the way you work, in the way your team works, and in the way your business works. What can you adapt to take advantages of the opportunities that are here today? What can you adapt to address the challenges of tomorrow?

Who Are You, Really?

Personal brandThink about all the different leaders you’ve known. Now think of three words, maybe a short sentence, to describe each one. There may be one who was the company’s ‘go to guy.’ Maybe there was the one who was ‘good natured but inept’. Another could be ‘the one who wanted great people around’.

Each of these describes a brand. We hear the word brand thrown around a lot these days. Companies or products have a brand. We hear about our social media brand. We’re told to cultivate our brand. Whether we like it or not, each of us already has a brand that has been developed over the years by our words and actions.

A personal or leadership brand is important. It gives people a quick way to think about who you are, and what they can expect when interacting with you; or when asking you to get involved in a project, or asking you to take on a new role.

The question is how do you cultivate your brand? Some things to think about are:

  • Who are you, really? We all have things that we value. We all have strengths. Your brand should reflect who you really are. If it’s not genuine people will see that.
  • How do your actions reflect who you really are? If you say you are all about getting results but never create them, your actions don’t reflect that brand. Be careful of latching onto what you think others want to see.
  • Are you making yourself visible? Like it or not, organizations are not pure meritocracies. People have to have visibility to who you are and what you’re all about. Keeping your head down and just getting your work done is not all you need to be doing. Making others aware of what you’re doing and how that is adding value is important. Volunteer for projects that will allow you to highlight your brand. Engage in conversations with others to learn how they are adding value and letting them know what you are doing too. Step out of your zone. I know someone who had some perspectives on how her company was approaching diversity. She contacted an executive in her company about an article he wrote for an internal newsletter on the topic. He asked her to write an article sharing her views and soon she was put in charge of diversity for the company.

Create your personal branding action plan. Let people know who you are and the great things you’re doing.

 

 

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a recognized organizational and leadership development expert. She works with Fortune 500 firms, growing companies, and universities to design their organizations, develop their leaders and continually elevate performance.  She has been quoted in The New York Times, Human Resource Executive, CNN and is the author of the newly released book “Getting Real:  Strategies for Leadership in Today’s Innovation-Hungry, Time-Strapped, Multi-Tasking World of Work”

First, Find Your Successor

Richard BransonI was watching TV this weekend when I came across an interview with Sir Richard Branson. As the interview was coming to a close, the interviewer asked him his advice for a new CEO. He said, “Find your successor and teach that person everything you know. That way you can focus on the bigger things.” The interviewer replied that finding and developing your successor is intimidating for some leaders. His reply? They are weak leaders.

Real leaders understand the need for and benefit of identifying a successor. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO or a first-time manager, identifying and developing someone who can do your job should be a priority. Early in my career, I was a couple of months into a new job when my boss told me to think about who could take over for me in 18 months. I was floored, feeling like I didn’t even know what my job was yet. And, I didn’t identify and develop a successor. Shame on me. It interfered with my ability to move to another role, jeopardized the department’s talent pipeline and kept someone from being developed. Since then, I’ve prioritized developing those around me, informally and formally.

When we surround ourselves with great talent and help that talent become as successful as we are, we demonstrate one of the keys to leadership success — our ability to bring others along on the journey.

How Do I Get to the Next Level?

I woke up the other morning and the calendar said it was 2015. January 2015!

How can it already be 2015? This realization made me think about the goals I had set at the beginning of last year and where I stood against those goals. I asked myself, ‘How can I take my performance to the next level?” At this time of year, you and your people may have this same question.

What do I need to do to get to the next level?

When our people ask this question, they are usually looking for us to help them navigate the performance of career development waters and give them the answer for where they should be taking their performance or career. When asked this question, use the GOAL Development Conversation Framework to guide the conversation.

First, determine the individual’s Goals. Review where the individual is in his or her current role. Are they ready for a move? What are the individual’s personal and career goals?

Second, gain the individual’s Observations on what he or she does well, areas of interest and development needs. Ask for examples.

Third, add your Assessment and the assessment of others, if you know them for a fact. If your team member is interested in moving to another role, what skills and competencies does someone need to be successful in that role? How does this person compare to that profile right now? What do they need to develop? How does it align (or not align) with their interests?

Finally, create a Learning plan. What more do you or your team member need to learn about the role in which he or she is interested? What skills or competencies do they need to develop? How do they need to better showcase strengths?

Are You Spending Time with the Right People at Work?

work relationshipsNow that the end of the year is in sight, it’s a good time to take a step back and assess how we are progressing.  Usually, when we do this type of assessment, we look at progress against our business plan, project timelines or other priorities we’ve identified.

I suggest we all take a look at our key work relationships and assess how those are going.  We all know that our work relationships are important for a wide variety of reasons.  We also know that these relationships shift over time.  Someone who it wasn’t important to have a good working relationship with in the past is now an important partner.  Someone who we worked closely with in the past moved to a new role or division and we don’t really work together anymore.  And sometimes, there are people we need to build relationships with that we don’t spend the time on because they are difficult or building a new relationship is outside of our comfort zone.

I suggest you assess the balance in your network of work relationships and ask:

  • Who are you spending a great deal of time with?  Why do you spend that much time with them –familiarity?  The ease of the relationships?  Because you need them to get work done? It could be a combination of reasons.
  • Based on what you want to achieve, is that the right amount of time to be spending with them?
  • Who are you spending less time with but should spend more because they are important to success?  What needs to happen for you to be able to spend more time building the relationship?  Do you need to spend less time on those relationships that are comfortable
    but not as important to the work?  Do you need to force yourself out of you comfort zone?
  • What’s your plan for building or expanding the relationships you need to work on?  Set 2 or 3 goals for making the necessary changes to re-balance your relationships and put them into action now.

 

 

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

Tours of Duty

The AllianceReid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn has a new book, The Alliance. In the book, he and his co-authors, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh suggest we need to think of employment, engagement and retention in a whole new way.

Since lifetime employment not even a thought in people’s minds, Hoffman and his co-authors suggest that rather than thinking about employment as this open ended agreement that, in reality, can be terminated by either the employer or employee at any time, engage employees in tours of duty. The tour of duty is a ‘mutually beneficial deal, with explicit terms between independent players.’ The book outlines three levels of tours.

Reed argues that the current employee and employer contract only contributes to a continued lack of trust. You can quit on me and I can let you go at any time. Tours of duty, on the other hand, set out explicit expectations and benefits (including helping to find a job elsewhere) for both the company and employee. This agreement promotes engagement because both sides are engaged in the agreement and both expect benefit from it.

It’s a thought provoking way to think about engagement. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

Bouncing Back

bouncing back

Resilience: the ability to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness

Resilience is key to the short-term and long-term success of our careers. Over the course of years or over the course of any given year, we are thrown unexpected curveballs that require us to bounce back and show our toughness. Here are 4 ideas for building resilience for yourself and your team:

  • Frame the situation. When a situation turns out badly or something negative impacts you, how do you think about it? Is it a blame game? Do you kick yourself for ‘doing something stupid again’. Stop. In every situation multiple elements impact the outcome. While it’s important to consider your role, look at the various players and the various roles. Don’t look at them to place blame but to learn. Think about it as an opportunity not an obstacle
  • Ask questions to find understanding. After assessing what role various people or institutions or situations played, follow up with questions for yourself. What was controllable? What wasn’t? What did I learn? How does all this make me feel? What could be different next time?
  • Take time. Sometimes, the curve ball has some pretty significant emotional impact. Take time to work through the emotions. Unpack them. Try to understand them.
  • Be expansive. Resilient people mark the ending of any setback by moving forward. They put what happened in its place and take steps to make things happen. When one door closed, they take the opportunity to open many others.

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

Living on the Cubicle Farm

Cubicle FarmOne of the speakers at my daughter’s recent high school graduation was a retiring art teacher. He had taught at the high school for seven years after a very successful career in a variety of commercial ventures. A child of the 60’s, he encouraged the graduates to challenge authority, find their voice and push the boundaries. During the speech he also told them to not lose their idealism when they head to the cubicle farm.

What a great term — the cubicle farm. I flashed forward 10 years and wondered just how many of these kids, who are ready to take on the world, will be feeling deflated, hemmed in and not-so-idealistic because they are living in the cubicle farm.

Many of us have been there. That 8 x 8 space. Or worse, the 6 x 6 space. One of many in the rows and rows of identical spaces. A killer of creativity and innovation. A space that literally causes you to think inside the box. I’ve never heard someone say, “I love going to my cube every day.”

Thankfully, many companies are creating spaces for collaboration and creative thinking that get people outside the clutch of the cubicle. Some are doing away with cubicles all together. That arrangement can cause its own set of issues. In a time when innovation and creativity are needed to create better products and services, better customer experiences and better working lives, cubicles are the antithesis of the answer.

Take some time to think about your space and what life is like on the cubicle farm in your company. How’s it impacting people’s enthusiasm for the work? Does it interfere with collaboration and idea generation because people have to plan time for collaboration — and that’s dictated by the fact you don’t have enough conference rooms? How can you get people outside the box?

 

 

About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.