Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015
If your grandmother always told you that your reputation matters a great deal in this world, she wasn't just offering some old-fashioned advice that doesn't matter anymore.
According to a new study by Stanford GSB professor Adina D. Sterling, it appears that if you start a new job with well-regarded qualifications and credentials, then your ability to form a network within that organization is going to be high. Further, you'll build an even stronger network if you've got someone inside the new organization who knows you and is singing your praises.
This contact who is willing to vouch for you is very important, as the study finds that his or her endorsement can sway others even if you don't have a lauded reputation coming into the new company.
Still, the study found that if you have have poor work reputation, no inside endorsement is going to do you much good. Further, the contact you know at a company may even try to dodge much interaction with you since they don't want to tarnish their reputation by helping you.
When you're really going to face an uphill battle at a new company is when you not only don't have a reputation coming into a new job -- but you also don't know anyone within the new company that can speak for your talents, the study finds.
The research suggests that the old saying “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know” isn’t always true, Sterling says. “There are real times when it matters how good you are and whether people know it,” she says.
The moral of the story is this: Your professional reputation and network always matter. That's why you need to:
- Keep your LinkedIn profile current. Don't let a week go by that you haven't posted a comment in a group discussion, or refined your profile to showcase new talents or even highlight volunteer activities.
- Post helpful content online. Through your own blog, through Facebook or even through Twitter, post content that others in your professional world will find valuable.Answer questions when you can from others in your industry, or direct contacts to helpful sources.
- Grow your skills. No matter where you are in your career, always challenge yourself. If you continue to self-educate, your reputation for learning and self-improvement will help alleviate any missteps you make along the way.
- Work on relationships. Social media is a great way to make initial contact with others, but you have to reach out through phone calls, emails or face-to-face meetings to take a relationship to the next level. If you want others to vouch for you, you're going to have to invest time in the relationship.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Monday, September 21, 2015
Now I think it's time to look at a more difficult problem -- interpersonal communications. You know, when two or more human beings actually talk to one another?
In his book, "The 27 Challenges Managers Face," author Bruce Tulgan gives a "code of conduct" that sets a standard for interpersonal communications.
If you do nothing else today, print this out and post it on your office wall, and get others to do the same.
Here's what we all need to do:
1. Listen twice as much as you talk.
2. Never interrupt or let your mind wander when others are speaking. When it's your turn, ask open-ended questions first and then increasingly focused questions to show you understand what the other person has said.
3. Empathize. Always try to imagine yourself in the other person's position.
4. Exhibit respect, kindness, courtesy and good manners.
5. Always prepare in advance so you are brief, direct and clear.
6. Before trumpeting a problem, try to think of at least one potential solution.
7. Take personal responsibility for everything you say and do.
8. Don't make excuses when you make a mistake; just apologize and make every effort to fix it.
9. Don't take yourself too seriously, but always take your commitments and responsibilities seriously.
10. Always give people credit for their achievements, no matter how small.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Monday, September 14, 2015
The problem is that our emails often cause more problems than they solve. If they're not clear and concise, you can pretty much guarantee a)it's going to require five more emails to help the receiver understand what you want; b) the receiver will ignore the message because it's so confusing; c) the wrong information will be sent by the receiver because he or she is just taking a guess at what you need.
If you would like to eliminate the time you spend on emails, then the solution starts with you. You have to take responsibility for sending clearer messages that will eliminate confusion and inefficiency.
Here are some ways you can start sending better emails today:
1. Remember that it's not a kitchen sink. Don't include lots of diverse information in one email, or request information on several different subjects. It's better to have one clear path in your email. Your subject line should be specific, and so should your email message.
2. Tell them why they should care. Always let your receivers know as soon as possible why they should care about the message. (If you can't provide the reason, maybe you shouldn't be sending the message, hmmm?) Once you clearly outline how it affects them, they're much more likely to read the message and take required action.
3. Use the inverted pyramid. Begin with the most important information first, with the thought that many readers will quit before the end. The least important information should be at the bottom in any email. This will help ensure that your reader absorbs the critical information first.
4. Edit, edit, edit. Never send an email that you haven't proofed. Look for ways you can shorten sentences, make requests clearer and cut unnecessary jargon.
What are some other ways to send better emails?
Thursday, September 10, 2015
No one sits at work and says to anyone who will listen: "Please give me the worst assignments you can think of. Make sure to dump your boring work on me, and don't forget to make sure I miss any new opportunities."
Yet, that's what happens to many workers. One day they look around and realize that other people are working on exciting -- or at least interesting -- projects. They're not stuck in an endless loop of mundane projects and inane assignments. They wonder how their job became such a dead end.
If you feel some changes need to be made to improve your job and get more interesting work, you need to:
- Get out of your comfort zone. You may have gotten stuck with boring tasks or bad assignments simply because you're, well, physically stuck. You don't get out of your chair or leave your work station unless it's to visit the bathroom or vending machine. It's time you started walking around, hand delivering messages to colleagues or chatting with someone in another department when you see them in the hallway. Start asking questions about their work, since this is one of the best ways to spot a new project that may be headed to your department. The networking will pay off in other ways, as your friendlier attitude gives others a chance to learn of your skills and enthusiasm for various work. When it comes time to pass out assignments, your name is more likely to come up.
- Break out of your rut. Another way to find more exciting work is by learning a new skill, such as a new software program. Work can become boring when it's not interspersed with something that offers you a challenge. At the same time, your willingness to learn new things on your own signals to leaders that you're up for new challenges. Don't forget to let your boss and colleagues know that you've developed new skills -- and are willing to use your new abilities to help them.
- Pitch in. Don't just sit by and wait for someone to offer you better assignments. Offer to help a colleague who is working on a great project, even if it means doing some more mundane tasks in the beginning. The point is for others to see you as someone they can count on and a great team member. Your willingness to help a colleague may help that person mention you for the next great project.
Even though you may not be able to get out of all the tasks you don't like, the more you are proactively seeking to excel in other areas, the more others will see that your talents are better used elsewhere.