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You finished your job interview and were excited about how it went. Then you waited for that important call back from the hiring manager or recruiter. And you waited. And waited. And waited some more. “Now what do I do?”you wonder.

In addition to writing a thank you note after your interview, it’s also important to create your follow-up plan. Because you’ve already learned how to close an interview with class, you’ll have asked the hiring manager about his or her next steps in the hiring process and the time frame for the hiring decision. Use this information to make a note in your calendar on the day you expect to hear back from the employer.

If you haven’t heard anything within two or three days after the hiring decision was to have been made, send a thoughtfully worded email to the hiring manager, reiterating your interest in the position and checking in on his or her progress in the hiring process. If you were working with a recruiter or someone in HR, it’s best to first send a follow-up email directly to them (before you attempt to contact the hiring manager).

If you haven’t received a response to your check-in email within a few days, follow up with your network of contacts who work at that employer to see if they can find out the status of the hiring process.

But, let’s say none of those follow-up tactics work. That’s when it’s time to move up the chain of command. For example, if you were working with a recruiter or someone in HR and you haven’t received a response to your check-in email after several more days, send an email directly to the hiring manager.

If your email attempts don’t elicit any response, your final option is to call the person directly. Prior to calling, prepare what you’ll say, be it live or in a voicemail message. If you still haven’t heard back from the employer after several more days or even weeks, be prepared to move on to other job opportunities.

Unfortunately, not every employer treats job candidates with due respect by notifying all those who went through the interview process after a hiring decision has been made. In my mind, this is a required step, and as a former hiring manager, I personally called all candidates who made it to the final round of in-person interviews after I had made my decision.

When you don’t hear back from an employer after both email and telephone follow-up attempts, you should move on to other job opportunities and think about what you’ve learned about that employer. Do you really want to work for a manager who doesn’t take the time to notify job candidates after a decision has been made? If you were working with a recruiter or someone in HR during the process, do you want to work for a company where HR thinks so little of human assets that they don’t keep potential employees updated on their hiring progress? How you were treated during the process (and afterwards) could be a reflection of the company’s overall culture – and is that how you want to be treated as an employee if you worked there?

My same advice holds true if you’ve applied for several different positions at one employer and either haven’t heard back or you’ve gone on interviews and then never received any closure. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and think through if that’s the kind of company for which you want to work. Remember, interviewing is a two-way street. The employer is trying to find the candidate that is the best fit, but it’s yourresponsibility to see if the hiring manager, department, and company are a good fit for you.

~ Lisa Quast

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Don’t leave a job interview wondering where you stand with the hiring manager. There are techniques you can use to professionally close an interview, so the hiring manager will know that you want the job, and, so you’ll be able to leave knowing the next steps in the hiring process.

After I videotaped “Rebecca” (name changed) during a practice interview, we sat down and watched how she had done. When it was over, I turned to her and asked, “Did you get the job?”

Rebecca raised one eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“You thanked the hiring manager at the end of the interview, shook hands, and then left. But did you get the job?”I asked. “What I mean by that is, do you know how the hiring manager felt about your qualifications for the job?”

 “Well, I think I did okay because the nonverbal communication of the hiring manager seemed good,” she replied. “And, I remembered to ask three of my pre-written hiring manager questions.”

“Great. But did you get the job or find out the next steps in the hiring process, so you’d know what to expect when you walked out of the interview?”I asked.

Then Rebecca understood my point. “Oh, I don’t know if I got the job and I have no idea about the next steps. Can I really find that out at the end of an interview?”

A job seeker’s goal is to sell herself/himself to the hiring manager and to evaluate if the position will be a good two-way fit. But don’t forget… if you decide during the interview that you want the job – then you should also try to discover where you stand with the hiring manager and find out the next steps in the hiring process.

There always seems to be a big debate on whether or not a candidate should try to “close the sale” at the end of a job interview. My answer is “Yes” – but you need to close the interview with class.

Professionalism is of the utmost importance and my preference is to take an open, honest approach at the end of a job interview. After the hiring manager has asked if you have any questions for him or her and you’ve discussed those, consider asking one of the following questions:

  • “Based on my background and the skills and experience we discussed, how well do I fit the profile of the candidate for which you’re looking?”This question will help you find out what the hiring manager thinks of your background and whether or not they believe you’re a good fit.
  • “Given what we’ve just discussed during this interview, do you have any concerns about my fit for this position?”This is a reverse question because it tries to uncover any issues that might hold the interviewer back from hiring you and gives you the opportunity to discuss those concerns before you leave the interview.

Once you have the answer to your question, you’ll be in a better position to determine your next comments. For example, if the hiring manager brought up any concerns about your fit for the position, this is a good time to discuss those.

After that, find out where the interviewer is at in the hiring process by asking:

  • “What are the next steps in the hiring process?”This should help you uncover if they have more candidates to interview (and possibly, how soon he or she will be making a decision).

Finally, at the very end, reiterate your interest in the position. Here are two suggested methods:

  • “Based on my research and what we’ve discussed, I would really like to work for you in this job. How soon until you’ll be making a decision?”This closing let’s the hiring manager know you believe you’re a good fit and confirms that you want to work for them. It may also help you find out where they’re at in the process or even uncover any additional decision-makers.
  • “This discussion has made me even more excited about this job opportunity and I would love to be the person you hire. Is there anything else you need from me before you make a decision?”This closing also demonstrates that you want to work for the hiring manager and can uncover anything else you’ll need to do to move the process along, such as providing your reference list or letters of recommendation.

Choose the most appropriate closing questions and comments, given your situation, and then thank the hiring manager for his or her time and ask for a business card before you leave the interview. That way you’ll have their correctly spelled name, title, mailing address, telephone number, and email address to use when you write your thank you note.

After teaching Rebecca the different ways to close a job interview with class, we spent time practicing.

“Now I understand what you meant when you asked me if I’d gotten the job. And I can’t believe the difference it makes,”she gushed. “This way I leave the interview with a good idea of where I stand with the hiring manager and what to expect for the next steps, instead of wondering how I did.”

 Exactly!

~ Lisa Quast

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A young woman I was mentoring called me with panic in her voice. The recruiter had just told her that her job interview had been changed from individual interviews to a panel interview.

Due to time constraints, instead of meeting individually with the hiring manager and then with two other managers, she would now meet them all at once in a 45-minute panel interview.

“Jackie” (name changed) was worried because she’d never been through a panel interview. The thought of sitting across from three people while they rapidly fired questions at her was terrifying.

Many companies are changing their hiring practices to bring others into the process, and due to time constraints, this often means holding panel interviews instead of individual job interviews. At some point in your career, just like Jackie, you’ll most likely have to go through a panel interview.

To be successful in panel interviews, you’ll want to slightly modify your preparation as well as your communication style during the actual interview. Here are 7 tips to consider:

Find out who will be on the interview panel. Ask the recruiter (or hiring manager) for the names and titles of everyone who will be on the panel. This will help you gain a better understanding of what will be important to each person. Are they in sales, service, marketing, operations, research and development, finance, process improvement, HR, etc.?

 Brainstorm the questions each person might ask. Based on their role in the company, think through the types of questions they might ask you during the interview. For example, if you’re interviewing for a job as a marketing manager and you find out that one person on the panel is a sales manager, figure out the types of questions he or she might ask, such as: When you create a promotional program, what is your process to ensure it will be successful with the sales teams? What are some of the issues you’ve encountered while working with sales teams and how have you overcome them? Etc. Then, practice your answers.

Introduce yourself to each person.When you show up for the panel interview, approach each person and introduce yourself while shaking his or her hand. Ask for a business card from everyone, so you can place these in front of you in the order in which they’re sitting. If they don’t have business cards with them, write down their names on a piece of paper (in the order in which they’re sitting) and have this in front of you during the interview. That way, you’ll know whom you’re addressing as you answer questions.

Modify your communication style.In an individual interview, you would respond to questions by answering the person directly. But in a panel interview, you need to be careful not to exclude the rest of the panel during your comments. Look directly at the person asking the question and begin by answering to them, making eye contact. Then, look at the other panel members as you finish the rest of your comments, so each person feels included in the conversation.

Demonstrate that you’re making connections during the conversation.Instead of just answering each person’s question, see if you can make connections and demonstrate your active listening skills. Let’s say that one panel member asked you to walk them through your process for creating a successful promotional program. Then, a little while later, someone asks you to “tell me about a time when something went wrong with a promotion you were running.” You could refer back to your other answer by saying something like: “Joe, when you asked me to walk you through my process for creating a promotional program, one of the key steps I mentioned was to obtain feedback from the sales team and test the program from beginning to end with several members. Early in my career, I didn’t realize the importance of obtaining feedback before rolling out a new sales promotion. I once tried to…” then tell how you didn’t include that step, what happened, and what you learned from your mistake.

Modify how you ask questions at the end of the interview. Just like you would for an individual interview, comeprepared with your list of potential questions to ask at the end of the interview. Then, see if you can relate any of your questions back to what was discussed during the panel interview. For example, if one of the interviewers asked you to tell them what you know about the company’s key competitors, you might relate back to that with one of your own questions, such as: “I know we discussed some of the company’s main competitors, but I’m curious to know what each of you see as the biggest threat to the growth of the company. Is it a competitor, or is it something else?”

Follow-up with each person.As I mentioned in a previous blog, no, the interview thank you note is not dead. In the case of a panel interview, it means you should send a personalized thank you note to eachmember of the interview panel.

At first, a panel job interview might sound intimidating. But with the right prep work and by modifying your communication during the interview, you’ll be able to increase your chances for a successful interview.

~ Lisa

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Some of the worst interviews I’ve experienced as a hiring manager were telephone interviews. I once had a job seeker “Daniel” (name changed) take my telephone interview while he was driving in his car.

I could hear everything, from the traffic noise to ambulance sirens to Daniel stopping at a service station and filling his car with gas. The candidate could have simply sat inside his parked car for the telephone interview. Instead, he wrongly assumed I wouldn’t notice that he took the call while he was driving.

Unfortunately, what this behavior projected to me was that the job was less important to him than driving in his car and filling it with gas. His lackadaisical attitude could also be seen in the way he answered many of my questions, which provided further confirmation of his questionable character. As you’re probably guessing, he didn’t get the job.

For many jobs, you must first get through a telephone interview before you’re invited to an in-person interview, so don’t discount the importance of it. Here are tips to ace telephone interviews:

 Act like it’s an in-person interview. Research the company and industry, prepare potential interview questions and answers, and practice interviewing over the telephone with someone so you can get the feel for it before the actual interview.

 Test your telephone voice. Practice how you speak over the telephone so you’ll come across sounding clear and at the right volume. Introduce yourself at the beginning using a strong voice that sounds confident and avoid answers that ramble or sound monotone. Feeling a little lethargic? Try standing up when you talk to help you sound more energetic.

Eliminate background noise. Ensure you can hold the interview in a quiet location. If you’re interviewing from your home, be sure no one will pick up one of the other telephones and accidentally interrupt the interview.

 Have the right documents available. This includes your resume, the job description, your list of questions for the hiring manager, a note pad and several pens, reference list, recommendation letters – everything you’d normally bring to an in-person interview. Put them on the desk or table in front of you and spread them out so you can easily see the information.

Dress the part. There’s something to be said for putting on the clothes you’d wear to an in-person interview and wearing them for your telephone interview. Just the act of getting dressed for the part of a job candidate will help your mind psychologically get ready for your telephone interview.

Have some water handy. You never know when your mouth will go dry, so have something close by to sip. Just don’t accidentally knock it over onto all of your paperwork. And, don’t chew gum, eat food, or smoke while you’re on your telephone call. Trust me, the interviewer will hear you.Listen and think before you speak. Allow the hiring manager to take the lead during the telephone interview. Listen carefully and answer each question succinctly. Don’t go off on tangents when answering questions over the telephone and never interrupt the interviewer.

Finish your telephone interview with class. Practice asking questions that will help you uncover what the hiring manager thinks of your qualifications and to find out the next steps in the hiring process. Reiterate your interest in the position and thank him or her for their time.

Treating telephone interviews with the same level of importance as you’d treat an in-person interview will increase your odds of advancing to the next step in the hiring process.

~ Lisa Quast

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You spent a lot of time preparing your presentation for the upcoming meeting. You thought you had everything ready and a pretty persuasive argument.

You started your presentation strong, but then someone asked a tough question and your voice faltered as you tried to answer. Then someone else brought up something you hadn’t thought of. Suddenly, the rest of the managers in the room jumped in with their own questions.

Nothing during the meeting went as you’d expected and you walked away from the meeting without the approval you’d wanted. Has this ever happened to you?

It’s human nature to want to take the time to understand a situation by asking questions and considering options. This can be cumbersome to do if you’re presenting your concept in front of a large group of managers. That’s because each person will want to dive into different areas of your topic, based on their own areas of expertise. Usually, each manager will have different questions and they’ll see the situation from different angles.

What can you do when you need to obtain management approval and want to avoid having the meeting devolve into chaos? Take a page from Japanese business culture by never pitching a topic in a meeting that hasn’t already been discussed with each person.

Early in my career, I worked for a large, global Japanese company. And I made a big mistake. I tried to pitch an idea and obtain approval during a meeting in front of a group of about 15 managers. None of the managers had seen my idea until they were all sitting in the meeting room. As you can probably guess, the meeting turned out to be a disaster… but it was a great learning experience.

I look back now and laugh at my eagerness to obtain their approval, thinking all it would take were some fabulous PowerPoint slides and a calm presentation style. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

That’s when I was introduced to the Japanese business culture method of testing the waters with each person about a topic – before ever stepping into a meeting room with a large group of managers.

Here is the Japanese process I learned:

  • Create the draft presentation: When doing this, be sure to organize your thought process in a logical manner, such as describing the current situation, issues occurring, recommendations, draft implementation plan, draft control plan, estimated costs, timing, and anything else of importance.
  • Identify all the key stakeholders: This could include the managers of departments/teams who will be impacted by the recommendations, those who would need to approve the plan, or those who would need to participate in the implementation of the solution.
  • Meet with each stakeholder: One by one, meet with each person to review your draft presentation, to obtain their feedback and to ask them to play devil’s advocate and help you see every angle of the situation.
  • Update your draft presentation: After meeting with each person, make updates or adjustments to your presentation.
  • Present your final version: After you’ve met with everyone and used all their combined expertise to improve your recommendation, include your topic as an agenda item for the next management meeting. During the meeting, share the final version, being careful to note any changes or enhancements to it, and giving credit to all those in the meeting room who participated in the “vetting” process.

I have followed this process throughout my career and, thankfully, it’s saved me from making any more over-eager missteps.

What I really love about this process is that it helps me take a step back so I can see the situation from the bigger picture – through the eyes of all the stakeholders – and it helps me ensure the best possible solution.

So often in today’s fast-paced, high-technology environment we end up working at warp speed. This technique helps me slow down, so I won’t miss anything important and helps guarantee management approval – because the key stakeholders are involved in the creation of the final solution.

~ Lisa Quast

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“I feel like I’m stuck in this endless loop with my manager. I keep trying to explain to him something that needs to be changed, but he just doesn’t seem to get it,” my mentee told me over the phone one day. “I don’t know what else he wants and even he doesn’t seem to know what additional information he wants. He just keeps asking me for more information each time we meet.”

Ever felt like that? Like you’re on a hamster wheel going around and around? Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you structure your recommendation so your boss can see the logic behind your thought process.

Instead of blurting out to your boss what needs to be fixed or a telling him or her about a bunch of issues that are driving you crazy, try taking a step back and framing the situation in a structured format. Here’s what I mean.

Describe the current situation. This is where you explain the problem situation. Keep asking “Why?” to continue diving deeper to discover the root cause of the problem and then jot this down.

Explain the issues that are occurring. Demonstrate all the issues that are happening due to the current situation and the impact they’re having on you, the department, others in the organization, customers, revenue – whatever areas might be impacted.

Describe your recommendations. After brainstorming all possible solutions, write these down and analyze each potential solution against the issues occurring. Determine which is the best solution and why.

Define your implementation plan. After you’ve chosen the best solution, determine how it could be implemented. Who needs to review it? Who needs to approve it? Who needs to participate? This is defining the “who, when, where and how” description. If possible, include cost estimates (people and resources) and time estimates.

Define your control plan. This is where you figure out how you’ll track, measure and manage the solution to ensure it solves the issues you’ve described.

I like to create a short PowerPoint slide presentation with one slide for each of the five categories. If I need another slide in one of the sections, that’s fine, but I try to keep the slide deck as succinct as possible.

Following this model helps me think through problems faster and easier. It also helps me organize my thought process in a methodical manner, which makes it easier for me to present to upper management.

After quickly talking through this process with my mentee, we analyzed her situation while she took notes. After our telephone discussion, she transferred the notes into a short PowerPoint presentation.

The good news? A few days later she called me back to let me know that her boss had finally approved her recommendations – and that he’d even complimented her on the well-thought-out presentation. Nice!

~ Lisa Quast

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Maybe you’re interviewing for a new job and wondering what the workplace environment is like. Maybe you’re new to an organization and wondering what you got yourself into. Or maybe you’ve been working at a company for several years and are looking around your office thinking, “Hmm…”

No matter what your situation, here are five characteristics of a positive workplace and the signs to look for:

The management team actively engages with employees. The leaders of the company don’t have “ivory tower” syndrome, where they’re secluded in their offices far away from employees. They actively engage in the day-to-day business, helping solve issues and understand opportunities.

They also seek input and feedback throughout the organization during strategic planning sessions. Unlike on the television show “Undercover Boss” – where no one seems to recognize the head of the company – in a workplace with a positive culture, most employees recognize and are familiar with all key leaders.

Employees are encouraged to try new things (and it’s OK to fail). A local example of this is Amazon’s culture of extreme tolerance for failure. As David Streitfeld wrote about CEO Jeff Bezos, “Unlike almost any other chief executive, Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has built his company to embrace risk, ignoring obvious moves and imagining what customers want next – even before they know it.”

This environment requires a culture where employees understand how their work is connected to the vision, mission and objectives of the company and where it’s OK to experiment and learn from failures. In this type of culture, most employees will tell you they feel like what they do matters; that their work is more than just a paycheck. There is also management commitment to more than just the financial goals of the company – there is commitment to social improvement and to using the company as a driving force for positive social impact.

Open communication is encouraged (and accepted). Seeking out different perspectives and points of view is common place. Teams work together to analyze all sides of issues, assign people to play devil’s advocate and speak out (respectfully) with opinions so everyone’s voice may be heard. Employees work together to solve problems (without finger-pointing).

Respect for co-workers runs rampant – gossip about others is considered unacceptable as employees speak directly to each other in open and honest communication. Employees are comfortable trusting and depending on each other. Ideas and information are shared, not hoarded.

Career development is encouraged (and supported). People managers are supportive and good at coaching. There is an attitude of flexibility and openness to change, encouraging employees to take on new challenges and develop skills in different areas of the business. Employees proactively create career development plans and managers serve as mentors and coaches. Employees use their vacation days and employee turnover is low.

The “vibes” of the organization “feel” good. Employees can be seen smiling and laughing throughout the office – sure, they’re working hard, but they’re also having fun with what they’re doing and they enjoy collaborating with their co-workers. Employees are friendly and helpful to each other. There are no cliques, no invisible politics, and no passive backstabbing.

Does this sound like your organization’s culture? If not, these are five characteristics all companies should strive to achieve.

~ Lisa Quast

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It was a cold, snowy day and my flight home was delayed due to the weather. I was sitting in a drafty airport holding a cup of coffee and warming my hands, hoping the caffeine jolt would wake up my tired brain.

I had just finished a very long, very difficult global project. You know the type – not enough resources (people or budget), not enough time, and overly-ambitious expectations from the executive team.

After finally finishing what had turned out to be one of the most difficult projects in my career, I thought I would be in good spirits on my flight home. Instead, I felt like I had just been given a career death sentence.

During my meeting with my boss, I had been told the executive team had chosen me to head up another complicated and chaotic project. This time, it was a project that had been started by an internal team and had failed. Then it had been started again. And it had failed. Again. I was to step in, pick up the pieces, and figure out how to “make it work.”

Fifteen minutes later, after I’d asked many questions, I realized there was little chance for this project to succeed.

“Do I have a choice in taking on this project?” I asked my boss.

“In life, you always have choices,” came his response. “This isn’t one of those times.”

So, there I was, sitting in the airport, feeling discouraged.

“You look frustrated,” commented the stranger as he sat down in the seat across from me.

I couldn’t even respond. I just rolled my eyes and sighed, shaking my head.

“Oh, I know that look well,” he said, staring at me. “Trust me, if you hold it all inside, you’ll implode.”

Then he laughed. “Sometimes it helps if you talk to a total stranger.”

That was the beginning of a conversation that lasted several hours, while we waited for our delayed flight.

It was after the boarding announcement came over the loud speaker that he said something I’ll never forget: “You know, I’d rather fly with a captain who has flown during the roughest storms than fly with someone who has only flown when the sky was clear and beautiful.”

When we walked onto the airplane, he reached into his briefcase and handed me a book. “I just finished reading this and I think you’ll enjoy it. My gift to you.”

As I slid into my seat, I opened the book and ended up reading it from cover to cover on my cross-country flight home. The Adversity Advantage is about Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind person in history to climb the Seven Summits.

In the book, Erik and co-author Paul Soltz discuss the concept of using adversity to become more focused, creative, driven and to transcend limitations to achieve more than you might ever have thought possible.

One paragraph caught my eye, where Erik wrote:

“I believe that inside each of us is something I can only describe as a light, which has the capacity to feed on adversity, to consume it like fuel. When we tap into that light, every frustration, every setback, every obstacle becomes a source to power our lives forward. The greater the challenge, the brighter the light burns.”

That was the day I changed my way of thinking and started looking for opportunities whenever I encountered adversity. Instead of allowing myself to feel overwhelmed with the chaotic project I had been asked to lead, I looked at it as a challenge to see if I could fly an airplane during the roughest storms (to use the phrase of the stranger).

As captain Sully Sullenberger proved when he successfully made a water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, saving all 155 people onboard – having previous experience with difficult situations can be priceless, especially when adversity strikes.

~ Lisa Quast

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As my career coaching client rushed in the door for our lunch meeting, her eyes darted around the coffee shop until she found me. Hurrying over, she sank into the chair across the table. “Wow, what a crazy morning,” she commented. “I don’t think anything has gone the way I’d hoped today.”

When she pulled out her notepad and pen from her bag, she bumped the table, dropping both on the floor. “See what I mean? Nothing is going right.”

In a word, my client was frazzled. Ever had one of those days?

“Let’s do something to change that,” I told her. “Are you game to try something?”

She smiled. “With the day I’ve had, I’ll try anything.”

I had her stand a few feet away from the table. I told her to remember what she was facing, which happened to be a tall, round table with two men seated at it. Then I explained what I wanted her to do.

She was to march in place for a count of 50. When she lifted her left leg up high (to her waist level), she was to lift her right fist to her chest. When she lifted her right leg up, she was to lift her left fist – alternating her arms with her legs.

But there was a catch. She was to march in place with her eyes tightly closed.

She cocked her head sideways and laughed.

“Don’t worry, no one’s going to think you’re crazy,” I joked. “When you get to 50, stop marching and stand still until I ask you to open your eyes.”

“Okay, then. Here goes,” she said. She closed her eyes, started marching and counted each step until she got to 50. Then she stopped.

“Now, slowly open your eyes and tell me what you’re facing,” I told her.

She opened her eyes and gasped. “How did that happen?” she asked. She was facing a window that had been almost directly behind her when she started marching.

“I could have sworn I was marching in place and hadn’t moved at all,” she commented. “I can’t believe I got so turned around.”

That was exactly my point with this fun exercise. Every day we’re impacted by the little things that happen around us. If we don’t keep our eyes open and our minds calm and present, we can accidentally end up off course and feel like we’re off balance.

Whenever your day feels like it’s not going well, do something to physically and mentally change the situation. Take a quick break. Go for a walk outside in the sun or to get a cup of coffee. Whatever works for you. Then visualize what you want to accomplish and see it happening in your mind.

For my client, resetting her day to get it back on track happened when she sat quietly for a few minutes taking deep breaths, and visualized holding a successful progress meeting with her project team that afternoon.

Bottom Line: The choice is yours as to the kind of day you’ll have. If you feel like things are going off track, take a quick time out to get things back on course.

~ Lisa Quast

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Recently, I was sitting at dinner in between two friends who were having a disagreement about which skill set was more important, management skills or leadership skills.

It felt a little bit like watching a tennis match, with the ball being swatted back and forth from one person to another. The friend on my right would make an excellent point about management skills and then the friend on my left would counter with a reason supporting the need for leadership skills.

To be fair, they both had great comments about each skill.

Management skills. Necessary to run a business or organization. Requires planning, budgeting, staffing, organizing projects, controlling outcomes, solving problems and improving efficiency in the use of resources.

Leadership skills. Includes guiding the direction of an organization, department or team, creating a vision for change, communicating the vision, inspiring people, allocating scarce resources, aligning people and motivating others to commit to achieving the vision.

It was an interesting discussion because I hadn’t really thought about one being more important than the other. I had usually seen them as synergistic because both management and leadership skills have been necessary for me to excel in my career. It had just depended on the type of job and level I was at, as to which of the two skills I had leaned on more heavily.

For example, in my entry-level to intermediate jobs, I used more of my management skills because I needed my area of the company to run as productively and as efficiently as possible. However, I always made sure that our daily tactical and operational activities were aligned to the company’s overall strategy and that we all understood how what we were doing was impacting the organization’s bottom line.

The higher I was promoted in management, the more I needed to use my leadership and strategic planning skills. But I would never have been as successful in those executive-level jobs without my previous day-to-day management and business operations experience.

That’s because my executive-level jobs weren’t just about determining our strategic plans, they were also about working with management teams and various project teams throughout the organization to implement those plans and to track, measure and manage our results.

I shared my thoughts with my two friends, telling them that in today’s fast-pace, high-tech, global economy, the new reality is that both management skills and leadership skills are necessary.

“This has become even more important, especially in technology industries, where employees often lead cross-functional teams and no one is a direct report to them,” I said. “Being good at understanding how things function and managing daily business operations now goes hand in hand with being able to influence others through leadership skills.”

“So what you’re saying is that young people today need both skills to succeed,” my friend said.

Exactly. Both management skills and leadership skills should be developed because both are necessary.

~ Lisa Quast

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