Tag Archives: Skills

Are You Really Ready?

reaching for ladder

You see a job posting that looks like it would be the perfect next step for you.  You decide to apply for the position so you go in to talk to your boss about the move as you need his approval to apply.  No problem right, he’s talked to you about where you want to go and he’s supported your development.  Surprisingly he tells you that you aren’t ready for that position, you just don’t have the right experience.  What’s going on?  Now what do you do?

First you have to set aside your disappointment and that may take some time.  When you can be calm and are ready to hear what your boss has to say, schedule time to talk to him about it.  You may be surprised by his answers.

To get to the root of the issue you need to be open to asking questions that may have tough answers.  Here are some suggestions of questions you can ask to learn more about the situation:

  • What about this position wasn’t a good fit for you?
  • Where there skills required for the position that you don’t have or haven’t fully developed yet?
  • Was there some specific business experience required that you haven’t had yet?

Once you get answers to those questions you can then start to explore what you can do to be better prepared for the next opportunity that comes along.   Ask what you can be doing to grow in the appropriate areas.  Are there classes you should take?  Is there a project you can be part of to gain experience?  Should you be connecting with people in another area?

You may also have discovered that the position would not have been a good move for your career goals.  Maybe it was interesting but would pull you in a direction that really is not where you want to go.  It can be so easy to get excited about a position based on the job description only to learn that it really is more repetitive or tied to a desk than the description might imply.

Another possibility may be lurking in the background.  One is that your boss knew they had identified someone for that position before it was even posted.  The posting was a formality and you would never have had a chance so he was saving you from getting false hope.

The other reason you may have been told you weren’t ready is that your boss may not be ready to let you go.  If you are doing a great job and are in a unique field it might be hard to replace you, so your boss is holding on to you for his own good.  This will be harder to spot because bosses rarely admit to this one.  Look for comments related to difficulty backfilling your current position.

No matter what the reason is behind the “you aren’t ready” you now have more information about what you need to do to be prepared to move.  If it’s related to skills or experience focus on developing the needed skills or getting the right experience.  If it’s because they had hand-picked someone work on getting to know people in the area where you want to go.  This will help you be someone they will consider because they know you now.  And if it was because your boss wants to keep you, you will need to find an ally outside your area who can help you grow and move forward.

It’s not always easy to hear that you weren’t right for a job, however it gives you the opportunity to prove what you can do and how you handle disappointments.  Focus on moving forward and stay positive.  That will prove you are ready when the time comes, and it will come sooner than you think.

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Growing New Leaders

As a leader what investment have you made in the future?  Have you taken the time to find people who have the potential to lead and worked to develop their skills?  All leaders leave a legacy and those with the best legacy have left behind people to carry on their vision.  Additionally, people love to work for leaders who are excited about the future, particularly the future of the people around them.  Creating a compelling vision of a bright future for others draws people to a leader, an organization or a cause.

When you develop the potential of the future leaders you are ensuring the future of your organization.  So how do you go about finding and developing the potential within your organization?

  1. Identify key traits.  Be clear on what leadership characteristics are important to your organization and its success.  Document what skills will be needed in leadership roles.
  2. Review the staff.  Have an annual succession planning session along with annual reviews.  Look for emerging leaders and how those identified previously have continued to grow.
  3. Engage people.  Ask your team what their career goals are and where they would like to go.  You might find that someone you have targeted for a position wants a completely different career path.
  4. Invest in development.  Once you have found the people who will benefit from leadership development spend the time and effort to help them grow their skills.  Provide training, mentoring, coaching and feedback to help them learn the skills they need to succeed.

The time to start developing leadership skills is really early in someone’s career.  Studies have shown that people are promoted into supervisory positions at 30 years of age and yet most people don’t receive leadership training until closer to 40 years old.  This means that there are people leading others without a fully developed skill set.  We rarely would put someone into a position without the technical skills needed, and yet it happens all too frequently with people or “soft” skills.  Helping people in their 20’s develop the skills to manage others will benefit your organization quickly.  They will become better and more engaged employees.  When moving into leadership positions, whether on team or in a department they will be more confident in their abilities and make fewer mistakes.

Most people leave companies because of their boss.  Making sure people are ready to assume a supervisory role will help reduce the turnover related to poor management.  Additionally, people who become bosses without the skills needed struggle more and their performance drops along with the performance of their team.

As a leader invest in the future of your organization by growing and developing the next generation on leaders.  Start early and see employee engagement and loyalty increase as well as turnover drop.  Let your legacy be seen in the strength of the leaders in the future.

How have you invested in the future of leadership?  Is your organization actively engaging the next generation of leaders?  Are you acting as a mentor to someone following in your footsteps?

If you would like to learn more about developing leadership potential in yourself or in members of your organization connect with me at delta-group-llc.com or on Twitter @DoughertyCarol.  I help unlock the potential in the next generation of leaders.

Photo from iStockphoto.com

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How do you Get to the Point?

ConfusionWhen you are communicating information to others how quickly do you get to the point? Do you hit them between the eyes with the bottom line or do you spend 5 minutes laying the groundwork for the decision?  Maybe you fall somewhere in between.  All are valid options and needed in different situations.  The next question is how does your audience respond?  Do they shy away from the blunt data or do their eyes glaze over at the details?  To get your point across you need to tailor your delivery to the audience’s style not yours.

To understand which style to use with your audience you need to have an understanding of their preference and their needs.  What do they need to get from the information and how do they like information presented to them.

Being direct is great when:

  • You have 30 seconds to update your boss before his meeting
  • The person you are sending information to likes bullet point highlights
  • It’s the team’s weekly update meeting where everyone reports status
  • People’s safety is a concern and time is of essence

Being more detailed is great when:

  • People need to understand the reason for a change
  • The person you are sending information to needs the backup as support
  • You are asked how you reached the decision
  • Getting buy-in to a decision is critical for success

When you are going to share information, in response to a question or as part of a routine report, take a minute to consider the needs and style of your audience.  They may want bullet point highlights with the details attached for future reference.  They may need to have all the details so they can answer questions from others.  It varies each time you communicate with someone.

Keep in mind that if you always default to your preferred style people may be missing your point.  If you love to give details, but the person you are talking to needs the three main points you’ve lost them before they get the points.  If you tell some on the top three points but don’t give them the details they need, they could see you as rude or uncooperative.  Either way your credibility and opinions of your ability to communicate has been damaged.

The point of communicating is to share information.  So it’s up to you to adapt to the situation to ensure your message is received.  Pay attention to people’s reaction to how you provide information, this will give insight into how well you are making your point.  At times you must be direct and other times you must be detailed.

photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Quote for Nov 1

We are like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. We are all unique, and have our own special place in the puzzle of the universe. Without each of us, the puzzle is incomplete.

Rod Williams

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Quote for Sept 4th

One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.
Arnold H. Glasow

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Asking for & Accepting Help

So often I see people plowing ahead at work, struggling under their work load without any help.  When I see this I wonder why is it that they are not getting help?  Is it because they haven’t asked for help, is because resources just aren’t available or is it because they won’t accept help?  With the recent recession there are many cases where the resources just aren’t there to help, companies are doing more with less which is unfortunate and yet it is beyond our control.  However, we can control the other two reasons, not asking and not accepting help.  Looking at the reason behind the lack of help I’ve found that people are held back by fear.

  • It may be that they are afraid of being deemed a weak link. 
  • Fear that others will think they are stupid or unskilled. 
  • They are afraid to admit they don’t have the skills needed. 
  • At times it’s because they are afraid the help won’t be done to their standards (perfectionists).
  • They may fear that they aren’t going to be needed if someone else can do the task instead of them. 

These fears must be addressed head on.  If you are struggling with one of these fears yourself, ask the following questions:

  1. Will I get the task done more quickly and efficiently if I get help?
  2. Can I learn new skills by asking/accepting help?
  3. Is admitting I need help better than the stress of being overloaded?
  4. Am I holding the team back because I’m overloaded?
  5. Can someone else get it done to the required standards in the appropriate time?

If you can answer yes to these questions then ask for or accept help.  You are a better team player when you put the job requirements ahead of your personal pride.  Asking for help allows you and others to learn new skills and will free up some of your time.  This puts you in control of your schedule instead of being a slave to the overwhelming workload on your plate.

If you are a supervisor of someone who is overwhelmed but not asking for or accepting help you can help them by finding out why they are not seeking help.  This could be an excellent coaching opportunity for them and allow you the chance to help them build new skills or get them to help someone else to grow.  You may just need to assure them that they are a valued member of the team and you don’t want them to burn out with too much work.  Tread carefully because most of us are not excited to admit we are afraid of something, even when it’s true.

Putting aside your fears and getting some much needed help will make your burden lighter and your workday a bit brighter. 

What things have you done to make sure you get the help you need or give help to others?

Photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Weak Links on Teams

I have been reading Teamwork 101 by John C. Maxwell.  It’s an easy read and provides great insights into how to create exceptional teams.  As I read the chapter on “How Does a Weak Player Impact the Team?” it brought to mind some of the people I’ve known and worked with over the years.  Some of these were seen as weak links and really weren’t; while others were seen as strong links and yet were truly weak links.  Why is this?

One person that comes to mind was an older employee who was very comfortable with their skills and their role on the team.  Joe(*) was close to retirement and was not really interested in growing or developing new skills.  However, he did have years of experience that were still relevant to the team’s objectives.  Unfortunately upper management wanted employees who actively sought development and looked to grow.  This led them to question Joe’s usefulness and discredit his achievements.  Joe was extremely capable when given projects that played to his strengths and experience and was very good at sharing his knowledge with the newer employees.  When his supervisor provided him with the right projects he was a true benefit to the team and when he was given things outside of his comfort zone he became a bit of a drag on the team. 

In another case a team member was overly confident and was always ready to tell people what he could do.  Upper management saw George(*) as highly successful and believed he was a great asset to the team.  As such he was promoted to a supervisory level.  He was very sure of what needed to be done in all cases; however he was not effective in communicating his vision to the team below him.   This led to confusion and lack of direction for the team.  As well, George was quick to criticize people for their errors and rarely praised good work.  Additionally, he tended to play favorites and reward those he liked and ignore those who weren’t in his clique.  The net result of George’s style was that morale was destroyed within the team and the best team members started to look elsewhere for opportunities.  The overall performance of the team went down and everyone suffered over time.

As Maxwell points out often a weak link on one team would be a strong link on another team.  It’s a matter of fit between the person and the team.  As a leader it is important to step back and take a truly objective look at the team and each player to see if the fit is right.  If it isn’t right then as the leader you must take action to correct it.  In some cases match the tasks to the player so they provide the maximum benefit, as long as they don’t drag down the other members.  In other cases, it may be time to cut ties and move a person out.  To get peak team performance each link must be strong and work with the other links.

* Names changed

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Fears That Block Productivity

There are some common gears that block your productivity by holding you back, keep you from starting or from finishing.  Let’s look at several of them and what to do about them.

  • Fear of Failure:  Often people wait to start because they are afraid that they will fail at what they do.  This can be due to setting expectations too high or lack of confidence in your abilities.  The key to manage this fear is to review your expectations against the project’s criteria and verify that your effort meets those criteria.  Know why you were assigned the task and keep in mind that your skills are why you were chosen.  This allows you to know that you are capable of successfully completing the task.

 

  • Fear of Success:  There are people who don’t complete a project or go after a dream because they don’t believe they deserve success.  To conquer this fear it’s important to review what you have accomplished and what skills you bring to the table.  Be honest about your skills and abilities and you will see that you deserve to succeed.  You can also get input from trusted friends.  If you do this, get specific feedback on what you do well and what traits others admire.  Specifics about your skills and abilities help you understand you have a lot to offer.

 

  • Fear of Rejection:  This fear causes people to hold back on ideas or going for dreams because they are afraid others will not accept them or their input.  To combat this fear keep in mind that people are more focused on them than they are on you.  People are generally egocentric and while many will go out of their way to help others, most have their own issues to deal with each day.  Focus on what you can do with your skills and abilities and what you will can get out of reaching for more and go for it.

All of these fears can create a wall that holds you back from doing your best, and sometimes from doing anything.  Focus on what you have to offer and what you dream of doing.  Then plan the steps and get moving.  As Nike says – Just Do it!  Break down that wall!!

How have fears held you back from reaching your dreams?

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