Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Why the Lone Wolf Mentality Won't Work Anymore

No other group in the workplace operates quite the way that the sales department does. Human resources doesn’t ring a cow bell and jump around when they sign up an employee for benefits. A product development worker doesn’t get a commission when he or she has a new idea.
Sales teams have an “eat what you kill” mentality, which means they don’t collaborate or brainstorm, but instead zealously guard their territory and are rewarded individually for their successes, says Tim Sanders, former Yahoo! Chief solutions officer and cofounder of Deeper Media, Inc., a research consultancy.
But that mentality is also why sales departments at many companies are floundering. That mindset no longer works in such a fast-moving and competitive marketplace, he says.
Sanders says sales teams need to embrace “dealstorming,” which he says is the combination of deal making and brainstorming.  He says companies such as CareerBuilder, Conde Nast and Regus have adopted the method, and find that the scalable, repeatable process has helped drive better bottom-line results.
The underpinnings of dealstorming are that no sale should ever be lost – and everyone should jump in to try and save it. That means those outside of sales can be tapped for their knowledge, creativity or connections to figure out ways to stop sales from going to the competition.
“People aren’t innovative by themselves,” he says. “But I’ve learned that companies who collaborate just do better.”
Collaboration can be a foreign concept to sales teams, who often are driven by a lone wolf mentality and a winner-take-all philosophy. But Sanders says that companies that embrace the idea of bringing in outside ideas close more deals. (He says that those who use dealstorming have a 70% close ratio.)
Further, those companies that involve everyone in the sales efforts find that employees are more committed to execution and delivery once the deal is made, he says.
Adding to the challenging climate for sales is that the shelf life for products is becoming (read more here)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Do You Speak "Spinglish"?

Ever heard of "Spinglish"?

It's a term used to describe the jargon often used to conceal the real meaning of what is happening. For example, companies don't lay off workers. They "rightsize" the organization or there is a "synery-related headcount restructuring."

Even workers do it. Instead of goofing off at work, you're "zero-tasking."

These are a few of the examples in the new "Spinglish: The Definitive Dictionary of Deliberately Deceptive Language," by Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf.

In this book by the former National Lampoon writers, it's clear that instead of our communications getting better on the job, they're getting worse. Some of this is because we're inspired -- for better or for worse -- by politicians who have become adept as "spinning" their opinions. (The authors point out that Spinglish been around since Julius Caesar's time.)

Bosses have used the art of the spin many times in the last several years, especially when it comes to dealing with tough issues. For example, when the boss offers you a "career-change opportunity," it might make him feel better -- but you're still fired. Or when a job is advertised as a "canine control officer" -- it's still a dogcatcher. A "customer solution specialist" is really an ad for a salesperson.

We're all guilty of using "Spinglish" and I think it's only going to get worse unless we make a real effort to stop saying things are "linear" or "front-loading" or that we've had an "incomplete success." We often fall into these traps because we're not really clear about what they mean -- and neither is anyone else. (That's enough to buy us some time to goof around on Facebook or post what we had for lunch on Instagram!)

Think about breaking the habit today. If you can't write or talk clearly enough that an eight-grader can understand you, then that means you need to make some changes.

What are some "Spinglish" terms you've used or come across?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Don't Let Hiring Managers Intimidate You

I once had a hiring manager tell me that the best job interviews are really "conversations."

While I don't doubt that she was sincere, I don't think those who are searching for a job feel like job interviews are "conversations." They probably feel more like they're interrogations, or parole hearings or something where their entire future hangs in the balance.

So, while the advice is to make an interview as much like a conversation as you can, the truth is that it isn't going to easy. The hiring manager asks you questions like "What kind of spaghetti do you like?" and you're supposed to answer as part of this so-called "conversation" and not sound like you're a third-grader.

One of the ways that you can at least make the job interview seem like a conversation is to ask your own questions. But they have to be the right questions, not something like, "So, if you were on a deserted island, what member of your family would you never miss?"

(That's a question better asked during happy hour with your buddies from spin class.)

It's a good idea to prepare questions beforehand that make sense in the context of a job interview, You want to show your interest in the company, but also show an interest in the hiring manager -- because that's what is going to make this seem like that much desired "conversation". Think about asking:

1. Can you tell me about your own career at this company and what you've enjoyed the most?

2. Can you describe what a typical day would be like in the position for which I'm interviewing? 

3. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing this company in the next five to 10 years?

4. Can you show me an organizational chart of this department, including the available position?

5. Can you tell me about how the company invests in individual career development?

Remember -- this interview isn't just about you giving the right answers. It's also about the employer giving you the kind of answers that will make you want to work for the company.

Monday, March 21, 2016

How to Turn Down Ideas Without Bruising Egos

Managers often are told their teams need to be more innovative, but sometimes the ideas a team proposes just, well, stink. Experts advise how leaders can kill bad ideas without demoralizing the team or impeding new ideas. 
There’s nothing more fun or energizing than when a team is bouncing ideas back and forth, each proposal more creative or “out there” than the last.
Then, the manager moves in and puts the kibosh on an idea the team is really jazzed about. Suddenly, the air leaves the room and team members are staring at the manager like he or she is the stuffy parent who just put an end to a teenager’s really cool party in the basement.
While team members can’t leave in a huff and slam their bedroom door, they can withdraw mentally and emotionally. The result is a decline in innovative ideas or even a drop in productivity as team members silently seethe over their idea being scrapped.
But experts say there is a way that leaders can kill bad ideas while still keeping teams focused on innovation.
For example, Jonathan Bendor, professor of political economics and organizations at Stanford Graduate School of Business, suggestsone solution is using a rubric, or scoring system. This way, a team’s ideas “are graded on various dimensions, such as technical merit and market potential,” he explains.
So instead of just saying “This is no good!” the rubrics help problem-solvers determine why they’re stuck and what they can do about it. “Probably the best thing about rubrics is that they shift the process away from egos and personalities, and more toward the nature of the problem itself,” he says.
Other experts echo Bendor’s advice about making sure team members understand that it’s nothing personal when ideas are killed. For example, leaders need to reinforce the message that only marketable ideas can move forward.
Jason Fried, co-founder of 37signals and co-author of “Rework,” recalls a time when his company was building an initial version of Highrise, a Web-based contact management tool.
“We kept saying yes. ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if…Yes! Oh, man, it should totally (continue reading here)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

3 Things You Must Do if the Boss Ignores You

Anyone who has worked for a micromanager or struggled to please a perfectionist boss would be grateful to have even one day when the boss ignored them.

While having a boss who ignores you might be appealing to these employees, the truth is that the cold shoulder from a boss can also make your job more difficult. You may not have someone who constantly criticizes everything you do -- or redoes everything you do -- but the cold shoulder can be damaging to your career.

For example, if the boss is ignoring you because he doesn't think your contributions matter much, you could be vulnerable to a layoff. Or, if he is ignoring you because he doesn't like you, it could mean you won't be selected for interesting projects or considered for promotions. If the boss is ignoring you because he's an introvert and would rather spend time with his cat than with you, then you aren't getting the feedback you need to grow in your job and develop key skills.

The bottom line: Being ignored by the boss can hurt your ability to do your job effectively, and could derail future career plans.

If you feel you're being ignored by the your boss, it's time to:

  • Take action. Don't overreact and slam drawers or huff in frustration when she walks by you without a word. Instead, be proactive and get some time on her calendar for a one-on-one meeting. Schedule about 15-20 minutes the first time, just to check in and give her a concise progress report. 
  • Ask questions. When you sit down with the boss, ask specific questions that only she can answer. Don't waste her time quizzing her on research you should be doing. Show the boss that you value her time.
  • Be open. Some bosses ignore workers who they feel do not welcome feedback. Believe it or not, many bosses find it difficult to give feedback, and if you shut them down, they may back off for good. Let the boss know that you're open to what she has to offer, saying something like, "I know you've had experience in this area -- is there something I could be doing differently to get better results?"
While some workers might consider it a blessing that the boss ignores them, they're aren't thinking of the things they're missing by that lack of communication. Specifically, employees who are out of touch with their boss may not make key contacts; may be out of the loop on important company events; and won't grow in their jobs because they're not being challenged.

Remember that in your career, you have to try and learn as much as you can in each position so that you reach your potential. Don't let a negligent boss derail you.

Monday, March 14, 2016

3 Ways to Get Out of a Career Rut

Sometimes it's easier to blame your boss/coworkers/company for your unhappiness at work rather than yourself.

So, you tell yourself the reason you aren't getting ahead is because the boss is a jerk. Or, your peers are a bunch of back-stabbing idiots who prevent you from getting recognition. And the company? Just another heartless hierarchy that doesn't care about its people.

While this may help you feel better as you dive into another chorus of "woe is me," it's not going to get you very far in your career. This is especially true if you see the same thing happening everywhere you work.

It's time to look at things from another perspective. Specifically, what are you doing every day to make your career better? What are you doing to meet your goals and get ahead?

If you want to succeed, you're going to have to work hard at reaching your goals. You can't expect others to do it for you, and you've got to be willing to go around, under or over obstacles. It won't be easy, but without this effort, you're going to stay stuck and unhappy.

Let's look at some things you can do to get out of your career rut and start playing the career game a lot smarter:

  • Get noticed. If you're sitting behind your computer all day and never popping your head out except to go to the bathroom or mandatory employee benefits meetings, you're going to start to resemble a potted plant. Make it a habit to walk over to someone's desk to deliver a short message, pop into the breakroom to say "hi" when you know someone from another department is there and give a friendly greeting to those you pass in the hallway. You want to ensure that people see you, not a nameless blob at a desk.
  • Get uncomfortable. Recently I took a cruise, which is something I never thought I would do. I don't like the water and I don't like crowds. On top of that, I don't like heights. But I went on the cruise, made myself participate in activities where there were lots of people -- and went zip lining in the Dominican Republic. I won't say that there weren't moments my heart kind of stuttered, but I did it. I did it and I enjoyed myself. The point is, the next time something comes along that makes you a bit uncomfortable at work (heading up a new committee, working with people you don't know, etc.) seize the day.  Not pushing yourself is a career killer.
  • Get connected. Join your company's softball team, participate in groups on LinkedIn or volunteer to help work an industry association's conference. It doesn't matter what you choose, as long as you will meet people in your industry and community that will not only enrich your life -- but help you form key connections for getting ahead in your career.
Remember, if you're unhappy in your career, don't start looking for answers outside your job or company before you take some time to reflect on how your actions -- or inactions -- may be contributing to the problem. Sometime we're unhappy because we feel things are out of our control, when the truth is we often have more than we realize.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

How to Get Exactly What You Want at Work

The world of business is one continuous negotiation, so if you don’t negotiate well you could damage your career, lose out on big opportunities for your organization and be thought of as weak and inept. Research shows, however, how anyone can negotiate better – and get more of what they want.
If you reach an agreement in a negotiation, you probably feel pretty terrific. That is, until you realize you didn’t get what you wanted. Not even close.
Now you’re not feeling so great.
You’re not alone if you feel defeated – instead of elated – after a negotiation. That’s because many people enter into negotiations without a plan and so they don’t emerge with what they’re really after.
Whether it’s a pay raise, a new customer contract or even a better role in a team project, there is a way to come out of a negotiation with better results for yourself, says Margaret A. Neale, author of “Getting More of What You Want” with co-author Thomas Z. Lys.
“The biggest mistake people make is that they look at negotiations as a one-size-fits-all,” Neale says. “But this is a battle, and you’ve got to have the mindset to get what you want.”
That means that just trying to wing it, or hoping the other person will be swayed by your charming personality or cave into your bullying, is a recipe for failure. Instead, Neale says that those who hope to negotiate successfully, no matter their job title or experience, need to understand that negotiations are really about (read more here)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

It's Time to Figure Out When Your Boss is Lying

There are common lies that many people tell, whether it’s about receiving an email or how much they love your new haircut (they actually hate it).
Such fibs are usually designed to prevent hurt feelings or to dodge a disagreement, and there’s often not a lot of repercussions beyond annoyance.
But when your boss tells you a lie, it’s a whole different ball game. When the boss lies, it can affect not only your current job, but your entire career.
Just as you gain skills in other parts of your job, it’s time to learn how to spot when the boss is lying to you. 
Without it, you’re at the mercy of a manager who may have his own agenda and may not be committed to your success.
Daniel Ribacoff, author of “I Spy: How to Be Your Own Private Investigator,” says that anyone can use simple techniques to detect if a boss is lying. 
Ribacoff, the founder and CEO of International Investigative Group Ltd., says that you can even spot lies in emails or texts using a law enforcement (read more here)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

If You Don't Understand Your Company's Strategy, You're Not Alone

Two-thirds of executives say that their organizations don’t have the capabilities to support their strategies, with 80% admitting that their overall strategy is not well understood, even within their own organization.
The first question, of course, is why is this is happening? The second obvious question is: How to fix it?
They say that the key is focusing on “unconventional leadership,” which includes what they call “committing to an identity.”
But at a time when markets are moving so fast and new competition seems to pop up every day, does that mean a company has to decide what it does best and stick to it?
“Leaders are told: ‘Be agile. Be responsive. Go where the opportunities are.’ But unless those opportunities fit with the capabilities and value proposition you already have, they lead to incoherence. Incoherent companies fall behind,” the authors say.
Being agile sounds appealing, but the truth is that most organizations “can’t turn on a dime,” and instantly move their business model to new opportunities, they say.
“The companies that manage change best recognize that they have a responsibility to create their own demand, creating the change that will benefit them, rather than defensively adjusting to market disruption,” they say, citing companies such as Apple, Frito-Lay, Starbucks and Inditex (Zara).
“They have all overcome disruption in spectacular ways, but not by becoming more agile. They do it by taking advantage of the prowess, perspective and creativity inherent in their own distinctive capabilities,” the authors say.
At the same time, they caution organizations that committing to an identity “does not mean stagnation” and organizations can’t just ignore what’s happening in the marketplace. Instead, companies must be deliberate about what they do and make changes that will build on existing strengths.
For example, Amazon got into cloud computing in a way that builds on its existing capabilities (read more here)