You Only Have Ninety Days To Make An Impression.

I have a question for you. You just started a new job. You have been through what passes for the company orientation. You are comfortably situated in your cubical, and you have all the office supplies you need. The folks from IT will be down later in the day to set you up on your company laptop, company mobile phone, and they will even allow you to mirror some of the company applications on your own personal devices should you decide.

You have meetings set for the next several days, to meet with your team leader, supervisor, and the group manager. To say you’re excited would be an understatement. This is a big step for you. In all reality, it is really your first “real” job. All those other jobs, tending bar, working at the local hardware store, along with those few jobs you had that were shall we say, a tad bit dubious, are nothing compared to this one. This to you is where you start to make some real money. This job is why you went to college; this is the beginning of you starting a career.

So I ask this question of you, how much time do you think you have to make an impression? After all, from the way the cute HR Rep talked it seems like this is a place you can have a great future. Plenty of opportunities all you have to do is apply yourself and life will be great. But, again, I ask, how long do you believe you have to demonstrate you are someone that the company should make a long-term investment in?

Allow me to say both questions are rhetorical. Let me provide the correct response. You have ninety days, nine zero. Another way of looking at it is, you have three months to adapt, adjust, conform, and impress. Not a lot of time you say. You’re correct. But, it’s not impossible. However, let me be clear, fail and the outcome can affect you in ways you would never image.

Let me introduce you to two concepts, R.I.C.O., and P.E.O. The first RICO stands for Regular Access, Immediate Feedback, Consistent Measurement, and, One to One Relationship. The second PEO stands for Personal Economic Opportunity. They are connected. How they are connected will be discussed in a series of posts.

Before I continue with an explanation of RICO & PEO, It is important you understand you are working on an unofficial/official time limitation. You have approximately ninety days in which you need to:

a)gain a basic understanding of the roles and responsibilities of your job,

b)become rudimentary familiar with the company’s organizational structure,

c)build basic relationships,

d)develop basics of a plan that allows you to demonstrate your value to the company on a level that you are noticed by those who can enhance your career.

Simply put, during your first ninety days, you to have developed a plan by which you can demonstrate you can turn the value you’ve consumed into valued created. That you are someone who is an asset and not a liability.

I know, seems like a lot, especially for someone who is new, but, if you have plans for advancement with any company you work for, then you need to stop behaving like a recent college graduate. You need to start thinking and behaving like a seasoned veteran of the interoffice game of politics.

As cliché as this sounds your chances of having a successful and profitable career depends on what you do during your first ninety days on the job. Over the next several weeks I will be sharing some thoughts and insights on how you can develop a plan that will allow you to become a corporate star during that ninety-day time frame. Watch this space.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2016

Are We Helping You Have A Fulfilling Life? How You Answer This Is Important.

Well here we are at the final question for consideration; Are we helping you have a fulfilling life? Of the three (Are we helping you be effective in your current job? Are we helping you build a successful career? Are we helping you have a fulfilling life?) this is perhaps the most challenging.

Why, for this simple reason, you have to consider what you really want out of life and how your current job is a) helping you achieve it or b) the possibility that what you are currently doing won’t remotely get you there regardless of what management may or may not do for you.

If you feel that management isn’t helping you have a fulfilling life, and you want their assistance in balancing that out, you are going to have to be specific in what you want, and how you want them to help you. This will require you to have really thought about what you want from this job. By thinking about it I mean the following:

  • What have you done to lay out your plans for possible advancement in the company? Keep in mind this question is tightly integrated with the first two. Being effective in your current role, and helping you be successful.
  • So if you’re planning on having a long-term career with the company it only makes sense you have to develop your own plan for moving within the company, this plan should include any training you feel you will need. Don’t forget to consider the possibility of relocation.
  • This also means you are thinking about life balance.

There is also the possibility that as you contemplate this last question, you realize that working for this company is not something you wish to do long-term. If that is the case, you then need to be thinking about an exit strategy.

When putting together your exit strategy using the questions we have discussed, can provide clarity around what you will want in your next job.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2016





Why The Question: Are We Helping You Be Effective in Your Current Job? Is Important

In a recent post, I mentioned three questions that a manager should be asking of their employees. As a reminder the questions were: Are we helping you be effective in your current job? Are we helping your build a successful career? Are we helping you have a fulfilling life?

Let’s consider the first question, helping you become effective in your current job. It may seem obvious why a manager might ask this question. Logic would dictate, the more effective you are, the more productive you would be in handling your assign tasks. But, I submit there is more to it than just making you more productive.

Every manager or supervisor goal is to have competent people working for them. The more effective you are at your job, the mover effective they can be at their job.

With you becoming more effective in your current job, you win, and you start to receive more challenging assignments. Your manager wins, as they now have an employee who can take on more responsibility and she too can assume more responsibility. She has an employee who she is comfortable in knowing that she can count on you to do a good job. The company wins as it now has two employees (you and your manager) who are more effective and productive in their roles. The customers win as they are dealing with a company that has highly trained and effective employees.

So if asked the question are we helping you be effective in your current job. Be prepared to answer the question honestly and straightforward. If you feel that is not happening, then be clear and concise on what you need to make it happen.

Here is a suggestion. Instead of waiting to be asked this question by your manager, why not be proactive. Take this question and work out some talking points to discuss with your manager on how you see yourself being more effective at your current job. Request a meeting with your manager and discuss these points along with asking for their help in making both of you successful.

After all taking some initiative is never a bad thing.

We will discuss the next two questions: Are we helping your build a successful career? Are we helping you have a fulfilling life? In our next blog post.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2016

The Exit Interview Questions You Should Ask Before People Leave.

A recent article in entitled “Making Exit Interviews Count” Harvard Business Review April 2016, caught my attention. It was discussing the importance of doing exit interviews. I realize that this particular topic may cause to say “Wilson what on earth are you talking about?” I don’t blame you, in fact if you found yourself saying,”strange topic to bring up since you haven’t written anything for three months.” Again I am forced to agree with up to a point. Let me explain.

First, I admit it has been three months maybe longer since my last post. For that, I once again apologize. At times, it is difficult coming up with topics that I feel are worth writing about. But, hey, as I have said before it’s my Blog so I can write about whatever I desire. With that in mind, I’ve decided to cover a number of issues that I believe relate to issues around management, diversity, team building, accountability, trust, communications, along with developing a strategy to be a star in your organization.

Second, which brings me to the topic of Exit Interviews. Well, this is one of those topics I’ve chosen to cover briefly for no other reason than this is my blog. Look, if you really want to know about Exit Interviews grab a copy of the April 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review and read the entire article. But, there is a simple concept that I wish to borrow from the article. It has to do with these three questions by the article writers that I think should be asked prior to an Exit Interview. In fact, I believe a good manager should be asking these of his employees on a regular basis they are:

  1. Are we helping you be effective in your current job?
  2. Are we helping you build a successful career?
  3. Are we helping you have a fulfilling life?

Three excellent questions that you as a manager you should be asking your employees constantly. Why? Well, take a moment and think about it and I will discuss it in our next post.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2016

If You Have To Ask Maybe You’re Doing Something Wrong

The other day I was talking with someone about mentoring. It was an interesting and lively discussion. The question came up on how to get a mentor. Upon hearing the question, I had to pause as I recalled a similar conversation I had on this very topic ten years ago, and I answered the question the same way I did ten years ago.

If you have to go up to someone and ask him or her to be your mentor, then you’re doing something wrong. It’s my contention that you don’t pick your mentor the mentor picks you. There are over 28,000 books on mentoring and numerous articles in business journals, “white papers,” and conference presentations on the topic of mentoring. However, the two I found the most insightful and useful were Marilyn Moats Kennedy’s book Office Politics Seizing Power Wielding Clout, and Kathy E. Kram’s; Mentoring at Work Developing Relationships in Organizational Life. In Kennedy’s, book Chapter 7, The Politics of Mentoring – or Searching for the Wizard of Oz she describes a process not many people think about when it comes to mentoring.

She posits that a person shouldn’t have just one but a number of mentors each with their own specialty. She points out there are five kinds of mentors (information mentor, peer mentor, retiree mentor, competitive mentor, godfather mentor) in an organization, and I concur with her analysis.

I would also; point out that for the individual who is trying to develop the traditional type of mentor/mentee relationship should be prepared to work at this for at least 18 months.

I understand that what I just wrote may see far fetch because there so much has been written about companies such as IBM, Xerox, Proctor & Gamble’s the large consulting firms and others how they have mentoring programs for new hires.

While these firms have well established mentoring programs there are many others that don’t and have no idea on how to go about putting such a program in place. Consider what Herminia Ibarra a Harvard Business School professor wrote in her March 2000 HBR article; Making Partner: A Mentor’s Guide to the Psychological Journey;

“The protégés spoke first, enumerating the long list of characteristics their idea mentor would possess. This person would be wise, successful, wield power in the firm, have extraordinary technical prowess, care about and have time for them, be nice persona and manage their own life such that work wasn’t everything. As the list unfolded, the faces of the assigned mentors showed increasing alarm. When the mentors first spoke, their words: “That is precisely our fear – that you have expectations we could never possibly meet. We don’t know how to do this job.””

Believe it or not, people have to be trained on how to be a mentor. But, those that understand how to do this do it well and don’t waste time on just anyone. There has to be certain chemistry between the mentor and mentee. The mentor is aware of those individuals who have potential to become rising stars and they will approach them at the appropriate time.

That’s why if you have to ask, maybe just maybe you’re doing something wrong.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2012. All Rights Reserved

Continuous Learning Is The Key To Door Of Advancement

Peter Drucker said: “To know one’s strengths, to know how to improve them and to know what one cannot do–they are the keys to continuous learning.”

I often wonder if people understand the need to keep learning. Often we get caught up in the daily tasks of our job and let them control what happens to us in the work place. People fail to take stock of what they know and the skills they have. We let the job define us and in so doing set limitations on our growth.

Instead of letting our job define us, we should be looking to improve and learn something new. Management consultant Alan Weiss says if you improve 1% a day in 70 days, you’ll be twice as good. Think about it if you make it a point to improve yourself just a little bit each day you will:

  • Increase your value to the organization
  • Enhance you current skill set
  • Moves you closer to becoming a knowledge worker

Take a few minutes and list everything you do at work. After you create that list place the skills you’ve listed in different categories. Some example categories could be technical, communication, people, and financial just to name a few to get you started. After you look at your list, take a moment and think about the list you created. What you will fine is you are more than your position, you will find that you know a lot more than you think.

Take this one step further and consider what Drucker said about improving, the goal here is to continue to improve not sit still and let your skills slip you owe it to yourself to improve them and learn new ones. By doing this it will keep you motivated and on top of your game. More importantly, it puts you in charge of your own destiny making you a valued and indispensible employee whose name isn’t likely to come up on anyone’s list of candidates to downsize.

In today’s work environment, you have to take responsibility for your professional development and management won’t do it for you. Taking the initiative for your own career development puts you in a position of becoming a knowledge worker.

Know your strengths and how to improve them and you will see good things come your way.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2012. All Rights Reserved

Who Owns The Leadership and Development Process?

Who owns the leadership development process for the company? I mean who is the ultimate person responsible for ensuring that you’re recruiting, hiring, and retaining talent for your company. I would not be surprise if some said Human Resources or others said the CEO. Those who selected the CEO are half right. Ensuring the recruitment and retention of key talent is a shared responsibility between the CEO and his board. Human Resources are responsible for developing and administering a reasonable process that assists the CEO and Board in ensuring that Leadership Development takes place.

“Forget capital, strategy, R&D. In today’s fast-paced, global economy, the most important criteria for success may well be a robust, active process for identifying, developing, and retaining leaders three or more levels below the CEO.”

As companies move in the direction of expanding their operations overseas, they have an ever increasing requirement for talented managers throughout the ranks of the company. Thus, the need to make sure they have a process in place for identifying, developing, and keeping leaders in their companies. Boards of Directors have the responsibility of holding their CEO’s accountable. For making sure there is exists a pipeline of talented and capable individuals who can make the upward transition positively and not in an abortive manner such as experienced at Dell Computers or Starbucks, where the CEO’s whose return were necessary to bring the companies out of the doldrums and shore up failing stock prices.

Our experience has shown that well defined strategies, and superbly designed products are useless, without talented people to implement the strategy and manufacture, sell the product, and manage the processes required to get it all done. It’s incumbent on the CEO to make sure they have well designed and developed workforce plan that allows for strong recruiting and provides an intractable path for retention of talented employees at all levels of their organization. If this means that, they have to become personally involved in the leadership training great. What better way for the CEO to know the strengths and weaknesses of their talent pool.

So when considering what the CEO’s can do to develop leaders in their organizations? I feel there are three key areas:

  1. Working with their BOD to determine what and how they are going to measure potential new leaders in the company. How they are going to educate and train them so they are successful in moving the company forward even if that means doing things differently.
  2. Demanding that their Human Resource Function provides a process by which they (the HR department) are constantly on the lookout for talent individuals that will bring value to the company, helping those employees who are no longer motivated or who do not have the skills needed for the job leave.
  3. Be actively involved in the education and training of those identified as potential future leaders. Do this by teaching some of the leadership classes, also having members of your senior management staff engage in coaching and teaching as well. The following quote supports what we are saying:

“First, people have to have the right experiences. Second, they need some kind of mechanism to process those experiences. And third, they have to have the inclination to learn.” – Tom Saporito CEO RHR

By involving the board and focusing HR on results, oriented leadership development is how a CEO can truly develop leaders.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2012. All Rights Reserved

The Management Skill of Fair, Firm, and Consistency

Managing in today’s environment is difficult. So much is asked and little is given. Those who are not managers but individual contributors are constantly being asked to do more with less, or take on more work than they have time for, and if they push back, are greeted with the words, “be glad you have a job.” I’m of the opinion most individuals would rather hear, “thank you” and know that their manager is treating them in a fair, firm and consistent manner. The most difficult job for any manager is encapsulated in three words, fair, firm, and consistent.

What one individual deems as fairness is seen as special or preferential treatment by another. Firmness in a manager is often construed as rigidness and unyielding. What makes both fairness and firmness workable is consistency. The manager who is consistent with their decisions will be viewed as person with integrity and will have the respect of the individuals they manage.

Fair, firm, and consistent is such a simple concept, so why do so many managers find it so allusive? Perhaps the lack of good examples they could emulate, who understood the concept. You see what makes advice work, is being able to see individuals at work who are exemplars of the desired behavior. If a manager desires to understand why they get inconsistent performance from their staff, perhaps they should examine how they are performing.

Fair, firm and consistent are the foundation that allows you to: define outcomes for people, outline and convey the performance you want from them, explain the competencies they will need to develop, and provide the development opportunities needed to achieve them.

As a manager, if you’re fair, firm and consistent you will develop and build a successful team that will be equipped to accomplish any task given to them.

So, when are you going to start your program of fair, firm and consistency?

© Timothy A. Wilson 2012. All Rights Reserved

Skills You Need In The Work Place and Why.

Recently the Wall Street Journal published and article on skills needed in the workplace for 2013. They were described as must have skills. To be successful in today’s work environment requires you to be constantly aware of what is going on around you. The work place will always be challenging and competitive. So any help one can get on that will assist them should be sound and workable. The author cited four skills she postulated that would be in demand by employers, they where; clear communications, personal branding, flexibility and productivity improvement. So let’s take a moment and examine these must have skills

First of the four mentioned is; clear communications. Who can argue about the need to be able to communicate effectively? One could say it’s a no brainer, but poor communication is often at the center of organizational problems. Clear communications according to management consultant Alan Weiss means “to read with comprehension, write with expression, speak with influence, and listen with discernment.” It would seem that developing clear communication skills isn’t just for 2013 but throughout one’s career if they hope to be successful.

The second must have skills focused on personal branding. The author equated a brand to how a person represents themselves in the world of social media. However, a brand is much more than your persona on social media. It’s what sets you apart from others, it’s what makes you a sought after individual. Development of a strong brand puts you on a potential pathway of becoming a thought leader. But, it must be carefully cultivated. As the author correctly points out, if you post things that puts you in unflattering situations you do risk tarnishing your brand. It would be much better for you to be known as a networking expert, than networking clown.

Must have skills three and four deal with flexibility and productivity improvement. It’s interesting how the author describes these skills. Flexibility is another way of describing adaptability or adapting to changes that take place in the work setting. Having to do with understanding that change takes place and nothing is ever the same. Actually, with some managers, they make sudden changes, not because they’re needed, but mainly because of their own neuroses.

While the article author attributes flexibility as getting out of one’s comfort zone, it’s much more. Having flexibility or adaptability requires you to be aware of written as well as unwritten rules. It’s the unwritten rules that require you highest level of flexibility as they can put in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations and you will have to make it up as you go because there are no rules for you to follow.

This brings us to productivity improvement skill. It’s finding ways to work smarter in your environment. The article suggests you volunteer for projects as a method of increasing your productivity. The underlying idea behind this suggestion is that employers are looking for a 20% improvement in employee performance. This is just the employer’s way of saying they want an additional eight hours from their employees under the guise of saying this is showing initiative. There is indeed merit in finding ways you can improve productivity and it will help if you volunteer for the boss’s pet projects, but you have to weigh this with couple of factors. The first, do you have the skills, knowledge, time, and temperament to take on additional work.

Not all projects are equal. Special projects are considered special for a reason. Usually they are time consuming, ill defined, and laden with traps and pitfalls that will deter the stoutest of heart.

Second, you must assess the risk that you will be undertaking. Is this a high risk assignment where the reward will be high if you succeed, but your chances of success are narrow? You need the skill to assess these types of projects, a skill that you cultivate by taking on projects of moderate risk and will be seen as productivity improvement and you have a much better chance of succeeding.

Clear communications, personal branding, flexibility and productivity improvement are good skills to have, but they’re not the only ones you’ll need to be successful at work. But they’re a good start and its best you start mastering them now and build on them as you move forward.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2012. All Rights Reserved

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