KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS?

Posted on: June 12th, 2018 by
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A famous line from a classic Clint Eastwood movie, “Ya gotta know your limitations”.  Over time we think we know what our limitations are, but that could be the problem.  Thinking you know your limitations could be the reason why you’re limited.  If you perceive you can’t reach a goal or achieve a result, the chances are you won’t.  It’s self-defeating.

 

As youngsters we mostly learn self-limitations through parental expectations and rules, laws, proper behavior, and policies/procedures to name a few.  Some of you remember strict guidelines at school or the constraints of authoritarian teachers/bosses.  Behavioral modification is all about rewarding the positive and punishing the negative.  Over time it works too well: “Because I believe it can’t be done, I can’t do it”. Has that been your mantra?

 

Ever hear the comment, “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, or “we tried it once and it didn’t work”, or “you’ll get in trouble if you do it differently”?  On the other hand, we keep hearing about “thinking outside the box”, or “in order to be competitive we need to find a better way”?  Talk about conflicting directions!  Each of us has to decide which philosophy we follow in life and our careers.  Which one will it be?  Is it the self-defeating, can’t-do-it, limited philosophy or the ability to stretch your self-imposed limits to seek the next level of achievement?  Some companies encourage experimentation, while others build in a fear of being wrong and discourage trying an innovation. Which company do you work for and is it compatible with your own self-worth value to contribute more?

 

One of the telltale signs of your company’s behavior is to look at those who are promoted.  Are the promotions given to those who are limited in their vision, that “tow the line” and seldom if ever test the limits of what’s possible?  Or are promotions given to those who successfully take a reasonable risk to improve their results and the organization?

 

Organizations begin to fall behind when they continue to replicate what has been successful in the past, repeat how things have always been done and prevent seeing how they could be done better.  When the external environment changes and new ways of managing are the answer, do we set up impediments where there are none, or do we create a new level of excellence?

 

If you see yourself as an agent of change wanting to improve performance, you’ll find some people agreeing with your direction, wanting to make the change years ago.  Others will be neutral to your thinking until they see which way the wind in shifting.  And still others will point out the reasons why it won’t work.  Only your own view of the possibilities or limitations will be your guide.

 

You’re only constrained by the sense of what’s possible and your ability to manage the steps toward your next level of accomplishment.

 

For a FREEreview of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com


FALLING SHORT AS A FINALIST?

Posted on: June 5th, 2018 by
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Becoming one of the finalists while interviewing for a desired position is exhilarating. Falling short is disappointing. Continually being the runner-up is very discouraging.  So what can you do about it?

 

You’re the best – You may be one of the best candidates but not get the job because of internal politics, favoritism, a change of mind or a number of other factors you can’t control.  When it happens, don’t get discouraged.  If it happens too frequently, read on.

 

There are some common mistakes that put you in second place that can be corrected.  These are the items that you can control.   Some of them are:

 

PREPARATION – I’m amazed with candidates who go into an interview cold or with minimal groundwork.  You want to know as much about them as they know about you. Research the company, products/services, history, and culture through reports, articles and periodicals. Research the names of your potential boss, plus past employee comments.

 

ATTITUDE – If you’re unsure, it will show up in your interview. Play the role as if you really want the job and are fully qualified, even if you have qualms. The more you interview the better and smoother you become.  If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.

 

TOO ANXIOUS AND TENSE– Try not to have your first interview for a job that you really want, as you’ll be less skilled and more apprehensive. Confidence comes with preparation, practice and attitude.  The more prepared and confident in your abilities, your nervousness with diminish. Practice with a mentor or friend who is at the same level as the hiring manager.  If you’re the right person for the job, the interviewer will also want you to be successful.

 

DISCONCERTING QUESTIONS –  Some interviewers purposely ask stressful questions.  Don’t be alarmed, but be prepared.  Try not to say, “I don’t know” but rather a neutral response like, “I’m not sure, but I’d check out assumptions and dig into alternative solutions”.  When asked if you’re a team player or an individual contributor, say “ I’m a team player that likes to contribute my unique skills as an individual to the group result”.

 

THE HIRING MANAGERS PERSPECTIVE – If you’re the interviewer, you’re looking for two opposite conclusions:  1- Are there any knockout factors that will diminish the candidate’s performance?  2- Can this candidate perform at a high enough level to solve my immediate problems, plus grow into more responsibilities?  The hiring manager will bring on board the candidate that will fit the group in place, can do the immediate job well, and can assume more responsibility as time goes on.

 

The hiringmanager does NOT want to hire a disruptive employee, who needs an unusual amount of training to do the current job, and is questionable to take on more tasks.

 

If it’s not a comfortable fit for you, move on. You don’t want to be on the market again.

 

For a FREEreview of your resume send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com


CONTROL VERSUS INFLUENCE?

Posted on: May 29th, 2018 by
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You can’t control everything in your career (or life).  But you can find those areas where you have a degree of influence over situations or people that you can manage.  Part of the answer is to subdivide those things you can influence and those you can’t.  Figure out which issues are worth worrying about, those that you can directly or indirectly influence and the important things you have the most control over. No matter what the situation or environment, you always have a choice as to what you do and how you handle it.

 

For each and every decision point of your career (or life) there are three possibilities:  Those things that you can control; those things that you can influence; and those things that you have absolutely no control or influence over.  If you can learn to separate each from the other, and then develop a strategy for every item, your life will become a lot easier.

 

Here are a few questions to answer in helping you sort out alternatives:

 

Of those things that I can control:

  • To what degree can you control the outcome? Some?  Quite a bit?  Most?
  • Who are other potential control agents that you need to engage?
  • What’s the goal that I want to achieve?
  • What strategy is best employed to optimize my situation?
  • What’s my time frame?
  • What support will I need?
  • Who is the greatest ally for me to engage?

 

Of those things that I can influence:

  • What or who is the controlling factor that I need to influence?
  • What‘s the degree of my influence?
  • What’s the best approach?
  • What facts, ideas, alternatives or strategy have the most chance of success?
  • Who are my allies that can support my efforts?
  • What’s the most effective leverage for my position?

 

Of those things that I have no control or influence over:

  • Is there a way to convert the “no control” to at least some minor degree of influence?
  • How much impact does this control have over me?
  • What’s the best and worst-case scenario?
  • How do I prepare for each?
  • Is there a “silver lining”? If so, how do I optimize it?

 

Once you determine which category applies (control, influence, or neither), how you manage each of them may determine where and how your career moves.  There are three types of people:  Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and the vast majority of people who have no idea what’s happening.  Which one describes you?

 

For a FREE review of your resume, email it to: wkaufmann44@gmail.com


HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?

Posted on: May 22nd, 2018 by
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What’s your definition of success?  How do you achieve it?  Your answer becomes the pathway to your future.  Random plans will get you somewhere, but not necessarily where you want to go.

 

Some may define success as holding on to their current job; many see success only with a promotion, a higher title and a 30% salary increase; others may define success as a continuum of steps toward their long term goal.  No answer is the universal “right one”, but make sure it’s the right one for you.  I have known executives who were a huge success in their business career, while having three failed marriages, children who have problems with the law, and then retiring leaving behind an organization in disarray.

 

Success should be viewed in terms of time and context:  Time is your friend if you have the education and qualifications with 20 years ahead of you.  Time is not your friend if you are the junior assistant to the department head and have 10 years to retirement.

 

The context is wrong if you’re an accountant and want to be the President of a sales-driven company.  The same is true if you’re an intern in the mining industry in Utah and define success as a fashion designer in New York.  The context is illusive if you have no continuum of successful steps to reach your goal.

 

As a consultant I once met with a corporate president who had a number of major problems he wanted to solve.  When asked how he would define success, he said, “I want to be number one!” Number one in what? Return-on-investment?  Market share?  Revenue?  Profit? You can’t be number one in everything. The more definitive your success criteria the better able you are to develop the strategy, time line and benchmarks to move toward your ultimate goal.

 

Here is a simple set of questions to begin your quest for defining success:

  • If everything were perfect, what would success look like?
  • What do you see as the impediments to reaching success?
  • Are these impediments solvable? If the answer is yes, what’s the alternative solutions? If no, what’s your contingency plan?
  • Who do you learn from along the way? Who and where are your mentors?
  • What kind of support will you need along the way? How do you get that support?
  • Do you have enough time to reach your goal? How many steps are needed?
  • Do you have the education, certification, training, or experience to make the next move?
  • What do you see as your probability of success? If less than 50%, what your alternative?
  • What are your benchmark steps and timeline to know if you’re on the right path?

 

The great thing about defining your own success is you have the freedom to set it yourself.  It’s yours to achieve.  But you must have the plan and determination to see it through.  No one else can define or manage it for you.

 

Want a FREE resume review?  Send it to: wkaufmann44@gmail.com


HAVE YOU HIT THE (CAREER) WALL?

Posted on: May 15th, 2018 by
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Everyone has a bad day once In a while, but a job or career that goes off the rails is a different problem.  No matter what the cause, a job or career mistake can usually be corrected with the right approach.  It takes some thought, determination and the right attitude to come out ahead.

 

My experience is that job derailments come from an expectation that you, your boss or the organization has, that fails to materialize.  This could be a promised position not received, objectives not met, a difference of opinion about performance, a job description that turns out to be misleading, or a boss that takes your achievements and passes the failures down to you.

 

The problem isn’t the issue, but what you do about it?  I see seven steps:

 

  1. Focus on the future, not the past– The worst thing you can do is obsess over the past. What’s done is done, but your action steps will determine your career outcome.   The longer it takes you to straighten out your attitude, the more opportunities that will you pass by.  Hiring managers can sniff out anger.  Put your best face on with a positive outlook.

 

  1. Continue to perform at your best – Don’t let your disappointment affect your performance.If your performance slumps, then your current job will be at stake.  Use your job’s high performance to be your launching pad to a new and better job somewhere else.

 

  1. Assess your most marketable skills and experiences– High performers with skills and experience in areas that other companies want is your path to success. What are hiring managers looking for in a candidate? If you can increase revenue or reduce cost you have a special talent that others want.

 

  1. Define your achievements by measurable results– Having skills / experience is only half of the equation. You must be able to quantify your contributions.  Anyone can say, “I am good at what I do”.  But you should say, “I increased productivity or reduced cost by X%”.

 

  1. Identify where your talents are most valued– Organizations going through rough times, or wanting to improve profits, or grow a new business are looking for employees who can increase productivity, decrease costs or improve margins.That’s your target.

 

  1. Develop a strategy to find your next position– Most jobs are found through people who know you and can sing your praises to others. They know where the job openings are, the companies that are hiring, or can refer you others who can introduce you in.

 

  1. Execute your plan – Once you have the right attitude, assessed your marketability, defined your measurable results, developed your strategies and targeted your opportunities, you are ready to make it happen.Determination and faith in your abilities will see you through.

 

Be your own best supporter.  No one can push you into success.  It comes from within.

 

For a FREE review of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com