Posted on: February 18th, 2020 by
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Don't let this be you!

I’m continually amazed at the number of people who have a track record of preventing their own success.  Professionals may get in their own way as they try to move up the career ladder.  What do they do to block their own success?  Here are some examples:


  • Waiting too long to move out of the wrong job – Sometimes you have to accept a job you don’t want. Recent graduates may do this in order to enter the work world, but it’s in a different industry or function for which they’re prepared.  The problem is to stay too long, then have great difficulty transitioning to a new career direction.
  • After working 5 or 10 years in a function or industry, then getting an advanced degree, certification or training in a totally unrelated field and expect to enter at a higher level. This person has great working credentials in a function or industry they no longer want, and now have no experience in the field for which they now have an education. To make matters worse, a brand-new graduate just out of college has the advantage of being lower paid.
  • Not taking the calculated risk for success – Some individuals are so risk-adverse that they don’t take on new assignments or potential promotion because they are afraid of failure. This is especially true when a new opportunity presents itself and entails a relocation.  What isn’t considered is that staying in the same job, doing the same function, in the same way over time is a risk in itself as change overwhelms those who remain static.


So, what do you do to avoid blocking your own career success?  Some thoughts:


  • Avoid using someone else’s progress or achievements as a benchmark for you. We all march to our own drummer.  You can only set your own goals and benchmarks based on your assessment of what’s possible for you.
  • Avoid underestimating your brightness or self-worth. Be careful about using social media as any kind of measurement of your own confidence in what you’re able to achieve.  Some people think that by putting you down, somehow pushes them up.
  • Avoid the negative attitude that pulls you down in the eyes of others, like bosses, peers and subordinates. Negativity is catching and people usually don’t want to be near or around negative individuals.
  • Avoid diminishing yourself – Modesty is to commended, to a point. Dismissing your achievements or minimizing your contributions within an organization is self-defeating.  There’s a balance between being boastful and sharing the limelight of a job well done.
  • Avoiding risk to the extent of not trying new ideas or experiences. The world will continue to move on, whether with you or not.  The more you procrastinate or avoid the necessary decisions of progressive career steps, the further behind you get.


There will always be someone smarter or better than you in your field of expertise.  But you are smarter and better than most others in what you do.


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Posted on: February 11th, 2020 by
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Everyone wants to win, but not everyone is willing to work and prepare to win.  My point?  Look at your career.  Each of us has different career goals, functions, industries and issues that needs the discipline, preparation and strategy to make our dreams come true.  Here are some steps to consider:


GOAL:  If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there.  Your goal may not be totally clear, but you need some general targets and direction.  The questions are:  Is your goal realistic?  Can you measure progress?  Are you willing to make the sacrifices? Do you have the support of those around you?  Family?  Bosses?  Others?


BASELINE:  What’s your starting point?  If you’re just starting out, your baseline of experiences and knowledge is minimal.  At what level are you and how much time do you have in order to reach your goal?  If you’re a junior accountant at age 50, your goal of CFO is doubtful.  If you’re in an industry, but not the industry you want, you better move quickly.


STEPS:  Assuming you’re in the right job, function, and industry at this stage of your career, then define the next series of steps to achieve your goal.  Where do you need to be, by job function, title and age, in order for you to be positioned to achieve your career goal?  Most career goals are achieved through a series of prescribed steps of a ladder.  What are the future steps that need to be attained?


REQUIREMENTS:  Each step usually has a prerequisite or gate that must be passed through.  What are the preconditions for each step?  Are you prepared for these requirements?  Some are conditioned on a certain educational level, advanced certification, or certain kinds of experiences.  Find out what they are and begin to accumulate the needed qualifiers.


STRATEGY:  Now is the time to put a strategy in place.  A strategy will tell you where you need to be, by when, with what skills and experiences to move to each next step.  It needs to be targeted and definitive as possible, like:  Within 2 years move to a manager position in a consumer products company, along with your approach to achieve this objective.  Develop your strategy 5 years out and revisit it each time you reach the next step.


FIRST STEP PLAN:  What is it that you need to do first, in order to implement the initial step of your strategy?  Look at both short term and long-term objectives.  Those items that take longer should be started now in order to be ready when the time comes. Example: If a PMP certification (Project Management Professional) is essential for your moving up the ladder, start now as it may take a year or two to complete.  Short term strategies are easier, but necessary to add to your experience base.


If you don’t prepare for a goal, your chances for success are remote.


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Posted on: February 4th, 2020 by
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As a management consultant for 30 years and career coach for the past 10 years, I understand the marketplace and why people leave their jobs for a better future. See if you fit any one of these categories:


The major reasons that high performing people leave their jobs are:


  • Lack of training & development – If your company isn’t willing to train you on the skills that will advance your career, you’ll fall behind your peers.  Also, without advancing your skills, compensation will slow over time.  Skills that will be required 5 years from now will be very different given technology advancements in all job sectors.
  • A boss that isn’t supportive – One of the best reasons to leave your current job is a boss that can’t/won’t provide you with the tools you need, or who works against your being able to perform at a high level. Move out from under that kind of boss as soon as possible, either internally or externally.  One of the greatest assets you can have in your career is a mentor who wants you to succeed.


  • Lack of opportunity –If you’re constrained by a lock-step system waiting for your boss to move on, the world won’t wait for you.  Loyalty works only one way with most organizations.   Companies that are adding new products, expanding into new markets or buying up smaller businesses all have a need for home-grown talent.  It means advancing the organization along with greater responsibilities for you.
  • Incompatible skills and experience – Sometimes you take a new job and find that your skills and experiences don’t easily mesh with the needs of the organization.  An example might be moving from education to the private sector, or changing industries, like consumer goods to mining, or shifting functions as in market research to sales. These changes are dramatic and cause uncertainty.


  • A shrinking organization that is not growing – Companies that are growing have greater opportunities to advance than those that are stagnant or slowing down. Organizations that are on a downward trend either have leadership issues, a crushing competitive force or old products that can’t keep up with the needs of the marketplace.  Avoid these businesses unless there is dynamic new leadership that will make the turnaround.
  • The organizational culture is not compatible – Research as best you can what it’s like to work in the new organization. If you’re entrepreneurial, but work in a highly bureaucratic organization, or you’re highly structured, needing explicit directions and work in a free-form business, your chances of being successful are limited.  You just don’t fit the culture.  Find a more compatible organization.


Every organization has DNA that defines how it works and who will be successful.  Find out what the factors are for success, (product line, management style, organizational culture, values or level of team-work) then ask yourself whether you can be productive in that environment.  Can you influence your environment or does it control you?


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Posted on: January 28th, 2020 by
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Group interviews are fairly common because it saves time.  Interviewers can also compare notes about the candidate’s responses, potential contribution to results and how the candidate might fit in with the current work group.  So, if you’re interviewing for a job that you want, be prepared for a successful group interview by understanding the dynamics and some simple techniques.


From the candidate’s perspective there are some pluses to a group interview:

  • You get to see the individuals interact with each other and who plays what role
  • You only have to “psych yourself up” once, rather than multiple times
  • You have an advantage if you understand and practice the skills needed


Here are some insights for group interviews.  They revolve around knowing who is in the group and how to respond to individual questions:


  • If you’re scheduled for a group interview, ask for the names of the participants so you can personalize your responses. Also ask for their titles so you can answer questions based upon their function.  Marketing, finance, operations, or R&D may receive different answers based upon their function and connection to the open position
  • If the group is from the same function, like all Marketing professionals, ask for their names, functions and level of the organization. Are they all “bosses”?  Is there a mix of Sales, Marketing, Research and Administration?  Are internal customers parts of the group?  Answer questions based on the questioner’s role and perspective.
  • If you can’t get a list beforehand, either ask for business cards at the beginning of the interview, or ask each participant to introduce themselves along with their function. If done correctly, the upper level managers will see you as a smart and experienced candidate.  Either set up their business cards on the table before you in the order they are sitting, or write their names and function as they introduce themselves.
  • Do your research about the company, products, supply chain, customers, pricing, competitors, issues of the industry and so on, prior to the interview. The more you know, the better prepared you will be. Your knowledge will show through in your responses and impress the decision-makers.
  • Respond to the questions as if you’re making a presentation to a client group as a consultant. Your purpose is to inform and market yourself to a group that will make a decision after all the others have completed their interview.  Be professional, provide information and share experiences that parallel the position description.
  • When describing your past experiences, emphasize what you did, how you did it and what were the results, in a concise way. Always include measurable outcomes, like “Increased productivity by 10.2% through process improvement techniques”.  Their likely response will be, “How were you able to do that?”  Then you know you have their undivided attention.


Lastly, give concluding remarks to “close the deal”.  Tell the group you’re highly interested in the position and hope to become a member of their team.


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Posted on: January 21st, 2020 by
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The marketplace is strong compared to 10, 5, or even 1 year ago.  With a strong marketplace comes greater opportunity for those who need or want to better themselves.  As you reach 50 and older, there are certain things you need to know and do.  These are the realities of the job market for older and talented professionals:


  • The higher the job and pay you aspire to, the longer the job search
  • There are many jobs available, but hiring managers are being very picky
  • Your experience is the primary driver and must define your strategy
  • Your next job may or may not be at the level and pay you anticipate
  • Your career plan should consider the next 10 or more years, not just the next job
  • You may need to make compromises and alternatives due to family considerations, changes in location, health issues, industry volatility, economic status, and the like.


The strategies you deploy will determine your degree of success.  Consider the following:


  • Sharpen your skills sets: Make sure you’re up-to-date in technology and required knowledge within your function.  One question answered “I don’t know” is deadly.
  • Demonstrate experiences toward solutions: Present yourself as a problem-solver who has gotten terrific results.  Give measurable examples that parallel the needs of the manager.
  • Be a “supporter” not a “competitor”: Market yourself as a support to others – boss peers and subordinates.  Help them get promoted and you might move with them.
  • Show that you are flexible: Give examples of a quick response to a problem in the past, where you provided new ways of operating that gave a competitive edge.
  • Emphasize “the team” effort:  Hiring managers look for someone to contribute to the group results and “fit” the organizational culture.  You want the light to shine on others first, then on you.
  • Anticipate a diminished title or pay level: Leave the title and pay discussion until the offer, then see if you can move the bar higher.  Chances are there is another candidate right behind you who will accept the job in a millisecond.
  • Look for the “special” situation: Examples of an opportunity – A family-owned company where the younger generation is taking over and needs guidance.  Or, the business that has a problem that you have successfully solved somewhere else.  Or, the transitional situation that requires an experienced hand during a major change effort.
  • Plan for a continuum out to age 65 or 70. Your strategy may change from climbing the success ladder to playing out your productive years leading to retirement.  Choose your plan carefully, as the time to change direction again, is shrinking.


Take a hard look at your career situation for the next 5, 10 or 15 years.  Can you remain in your current position, move up, or be expected to make way for others?  Rather than have someone else make the decision for you, plan where you want to be and how to get there with a coach.


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