A POWERFUL CULTURE: WALK THE TALK

Posted on: June 4th, 2019 by
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As a consultant, I’ve worked with many companies to help them design an effective organization, solve management issues, identify impediments to performance and define the culture/values to achieve desired goals and objectives.  One such company stands out among the rest.  They were able to solidify all the pieces into a strong, coherent and resilient place to work.

The initial consulting assignment was to assist with the merger of three distinct companies, integrating them into a unified and highly effective corporation.  The goal was to create an entity that could produce outstanding results that neither of the three businesses could achieve by themselves. After the merger, their quest for excellence started by articulating the core values about people, how they wanted to manage their new combined business, and how to achieve optimal results over time.  In other words, to create a new and powerful culture to manage the organization and meet their accelerated growth goals.

The top 8 people began by describing what they saw as their optimal core culture (It was their initial definition before clarifying, expanding and making operational):

  • We will have a company where anyone can influence decisions, regardless of position, level or length of service: To contribute to results by competence, not by their title.
  • We will become the employer of choice. When people in our industry search for employment, they come to us first, due to our reputation and how we engage talent.
  • All of management will share in the responsibility of an individual’s performance. If results are falling short, management either didn’t hire correctly, didn’t train properly, didn’t supervise effectively, or didn’t support appropriately. We own our results.
  • We will help each other succeed, as individuals, as a work team, and as a company

 

When talking about an operational philosophy, senior management began by articulating their beliefs about people and the environment they wanted to create.

 

We believe in the value of our people and will provide an environment that:

  • Will develop the talent of our employees so they can perform at their highest level
  • Constantly recognize and reward outstanding performance
  • Limits opportunity only by the growth of our company, availability of positions and the ability or talent of the individuals that we have hired, trained and developed for greater responsibility
  • Will be free of harassment, intimidation or any action that hinders or impairs an individual’s ability to perform or opportunity to advance
  • Will foster a “team” approach while optimizing the individual’s contribution
  • Will recognize unique contributions, innovations, ideas for cost reductions, increased quality or service levels that sets a new standard of productivity.

 

Top management sets the tone, culture and “rules” by which an organization is managed.  It’s their responsibility to articulate to the employees what they are, and “walk the talk”.  Check out your company’s latest annual report to see what they say about how they’re doing. Compare that to your experience.  Is it consistent?

 

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


DANGER ZONE: YOUR 50’S

Posted on: May 28th, 2019 by
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A friend asked me, “Why am I receiving AARP material in the mail?  I’m only 50 years old!”  Well, there are more important questions to be thinking about.

 

I read two pieces of information that got my attention:  First, that more than half of workers over the age of 50 will at some point be reorganized downward, their job eliminated, be fired, forced to retire early or somehow lose their job.  The second, that only about 10% of that group will ever attain the same organization or compensation level compared to where they left off.

Two questions come to mind:

  1. Are you prepared in case termination happens to you, for any cause, at any age?
  2. What can you do to prepare or prevent this kind of adversity from happening?

 

Most of us assume this kind of major event can’t happen to you, it only happens to someone else.  “I’m doing fine”, until you’re not.  Here are some considerations:

 

  • Keep your resume up to date and compelling– Keep track of accomplishments over the past 10 years until now.  Measure your achievements in a meaningful way:  Revenue increase, cost elimination, project advancement, and so on. These are the things that a future employer wants to see:  “What will you do for me?”
  • Stay focused on where you are and where you want to be – Those that fall behind in their technology, functional skills, knowledge of the industry or don’t expand their responsibilities are usually the first to go. Most of us think we are irreplaceable.  Think again. Check out the marketplace to find the supply/demand equation for your skills.
  • Keep your skills sharpened – Whatever your current job or function, it has all changed over the part 10 years or less.  Enhanced systems, hand-held applications, remote cloud-based work, self-driving vehicles has overwhelmed once manual operations.  Are you ahead or behind the curve of the changes to come?
  • Keep a list of contacts – We all have connections with people who know our talents and also know what’s going on in the marketplace. These are the people who are valuable contacts.  Keep a list of past bosses, co-workers and even subordinates from past jobs.  Keep your network active.  You may be able to help them or they help you.
  • Make sure you have an emergency fund – Make the assumption that you will lose your job at week’s end and receive a severance check.  How long before your cash runs out?  If you don’t plan for the unknown, something in the future will catch up with you out of the blue.  The negative implications are greatest when you’re unprepared.
  • Develop an action plan – Update your credentials, take advanced courses, train in a new technology, sign up for a podcast in your function, join a professional association.  If you’re not moving ahead, you’re falling behind.  Staying put is not an option

 

Don’t become irrelevant.  If you do, you’re highly vulnerable.

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


NON-VERBAL BLUNDERS

Posted on: May 21st, 2019 by
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Let’s assume you had a great interview.  You answered all the questions in a comprehensive and professional way.  You would give yourself a score of 90 or better.  Then you get the call that they have chosen someone else.  What went wrong?  There are a lot of reasons that has nothing to do with you (like the boss’s son-in-law getting the job).  But there are behaviors that you may not be aware that can diminish your candidacy. They’re called “non-verbal blunders”. Many are unconscious, avoidable, but could negatively affect your results.

 

  • Weak or clammy handshake– Usually not critical, but it’s a feeble beginning.  You want to project confidence, vigor, and a positive attitude, not an insecure doubter.  Introverts may need some practice with initial meeting preparation.

 

  • Eye rolling – A sign of disbelief or hearing something you don’t want to hear.  It could be information about hours, pay, vacation, working conditions or something you find distasteful.  Try to remain neutral, then ask questions for clarification.

 

  • Crossing of arms – This position may be comfortable for you, but it projects a defensive pose, or one of resistance. You want to project that you are open to new ideas, so keep your body language open and responsive, rather than closed and resisting.

 

  • Slouching or stiff posture– Being too casual or too formal puts hiring managers off.  It can demonstrate disinterest or rigidity.  Be as natural as you can, while showing attentiveness with a listening attitude.

 

  • Jiggling your leg during a discussion – Nervous tension is sometime demonstrated in strange ways. Jiggling your leg is very distracting for the hiring manager who may read it as a desire for you to get out of the interview as quickly as possible.

 

  • Lack of eye contact – Ever talk with someone who won’t look you in the eye. People who lie are prone to look away when talking. Good eye contact shows you are interested and listening to what’s being said.

 

  • Head shake says “no”– It’s better to slightly nod your head up and down than shake it side to side. A nod indicates you understand or agree.  A head shake is the opposite.  A slight nod encourages the hiring manager to continue to talk about the subject.

 

  • Checking your watch – This non-verbal is very rude. It says that you are bored or have a more important engagement to get to. This non-verbal is one of the most serious blunders, especially if the interviewer asks, “Do you have somewhere else to go?”

 

  • Interrupting – If done repeatedly, your interview will be short. Terrific interviews tend to be expansive discussions whereby each party asks and answers questions of mutual interest. Interruptions stop the flow of information and negatively disrupts the interaction.

 

Non-verbal errors are easy to fix once you’re aware of them.  Ask a family member or friend if they have noticed these types of behavior.  You may be surprised by their observations. Practice can make a big difference in avoiding non-verbal blunders.

 

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


HOW TO ANSWER THESE FIVE QUESTIONS

Posted on: May 14th, 2019 by
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No matter how much you prepare, there’s always a question you’re not expecting during an interview.  When you put yourself in the mind of the hiring manager, what would you want to know?

These are questions that have no right or wrong answers, only some answers are better than others.  Always angle your answers two ways:  Respond to what you know is an issue the hiring manager is looking to solve (check the first 3 items on the position description).  Then respond with your strengths that show you are able or have solved similar issues.

  1. “Give me an example of a high-performance result in your last job?”  If you were a hiring manager, wouldn’t you want an answer to this question?  If the position description talks about opening new markets, then respond that you managed a major increase in revenue through your efforts in new products, customers and distribution. Or, how you contributed to a major effort to reduce costs. Or, improved productivity.
  1. “What do you have to offer that others don’t?”  Give this question some thought before an interview. What are the goals, direction and mission of the organization?  Research, then craft a response that is compatible and in alignment with the needs of the position that is open.
  1. “How would others describe you as a team member?”  Of course, there is no way for the interviewer to know if your answer is correct or not.  Hiring managers are looking for all new employee to “fit in” to the ongoing organization, are self-starters who don’t need a lot of supervision, can get up to speed in a short period of time, and can lead the organization to the next level. 
  1. “If hired, what would be your strategy to identify issues and potential solutions?”  The hiring manager wants to gauge your potential contribution and how you would go about getting results.  You want the hiring manager to know that by hiring you, productivity will improve, problems will be solved and you can create value. Identify how you would go about collecting the necessary data first, then define alternative strategies for solutions before decision making.
  1. “What is your ultimate dream job? How will you get there?”  State that you first want to be a high contributor in the new job, then learn and increase responsibilities in order to grow with the company.  You want a positive approach.  Don’t aim too high (I want to be President) or say you want the boss’s job. The hiring manager wants a supporter not a competitor.

No matter what the tough questions are, you need to research the industry, business and function to understand what they really want and need.  Get insights into their issues that require solutions.  Practice responding to these and other tough questions.  Your responses should position you to advance your candidacy over others who are less prepared for these questions.

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


TEN STEPS TOWARD A PROMOTION

Posted on: May 7th, 2019 by
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A promotion can be internal or a change to a new company.  There are a few things you need to know or do in order to prepare for your next promotion:

  1. Be competent in all of the skills and knowledge required in your current position – If you aren’t a “master performer” in your current job, how can you expected to be considered for the next step up? Knowledge or skills missing now will haunt you later.
  2. Perform above average on your performance appraisals – A low performing employee who is promoted is usually the butt of jokes. Usually the person who is the model of excellence should be the primary candidate for promotion.  Is that you?
  3. Know what the next steps are and acquire some of the skills for those steps – Get a running start for the promotion by anticipating the knowledge, skills, certifications or experience by working toward them. Get some experience as a volunteer or on a non-profit board.
  4. Have a good working relationship with your boss, or hiring manager if external – 50% of the path toward a higher level is based on a good or great working relationship with bosses, peers, co-workers and subordinates. The other 50% is high performance.
  5. Have a clear understanding of the success factors and expectations in the next job – If you don’t know what they are, it’s hard to succeed. A famous quote I like is, “Expectations are the great killer”. When expectations don’t match, bad things happen.
  6. Develop a plan and strategy rather than waiting for a promotion to “happen” – Take control of your destiny or someone else will. Any road will get you somewhere if you don’t have a plan, but it may not be where you want to go.
  7. Give yourself a reasonable time frame for strategy steps toward your goal – How much time do you need at each step of your career for you to master the position?The higher the responsibility level, the more time needed to master.
  8. Find a mentor if you can. An advisor can guide you to the best path toward success. Treasure a mentor if you can find one.  They have already moved through the steps toward success and understand what needs to be done.  Listen very carefully.
  9. Prepare for your career discussion – Make sure your pitch is tailored to what’s in the best interests of the organization, not what’s only in your best interest. If you start out by saying, “I’ve been here the longest and deserve a promotion”, you just eliminated yourself from being a candidate.
  10. If you fall short, ask what you need to do for future consideration – Objectively assess your performance and chance for promotion. Define your past accomplishments as a return-on-investment through measurable results in the future.

Your future is determined by your past. If your past is mediocre and doesn’t change, so shall your future.

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