Posted on: November 13th, 2018 by
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If you’re now scrambling to pull out a great performance review and merit increase for the year-end, you may be too late.  Develop and implement your strategy about a month or two before the review. Your preparation will determine the outcome.


Bosses tend to have short memories when it comes to performance reviews. “What have you done for me lately?” seems to be the narrative, rather than “What has been your contributions for the past year?”  Performance reviews should center on what you and your boss mutually viewed as objectives a year ago, then adjusted every few months.  These initial objectives will modify given the realities of a dynamic organization.  If you have no mutually set objectives with your boss, you’re at the mercy of a subjective performance review that is more dependent upon your relationship with you boss than actual results.


Performance should be reviewed against objectives that are reasonable and achievable, with a “kicker” for stretch results.  Get them in writing.  Objectives set in stone with no flexibility is a recipe for disappointment.  Keep excellent records of your achievements with special emphasis on metrics.  Ask your internal/external clients/customers to assess and document your contribution to their results.  It’s amazing the power of your support to someone else’s progress.  Fill out a performance review beforehand as objectively as you can, with your results as you view them prior to meeting with your boss. Give it to your boss a week or so before your meeting.  You may jog your boss’s memory on items forgotten, while influencing the outcome at the same time.


Go back to your work calendar to recall projects or meetings you may have forgotten, then:

  1. Develop a list of important milestones where you have achieved meaningful results
  2. Use your position description to make sure all of your responsibilities are covered
  3. Define the results in each area with documents and metrics, if possible


For the past few years, pay growth has been curtailed.  Now, however, pay is accelerating due to the growing economy and competition for talent that has forced compensation expansion.  The marketplace is opening up once again.  People are looking for better opportunities, so your skill sets will determine the type and level of jobs open to you.


Since there has been a downward pressure on pay, you might want to ask questions like:

  1. “Is there an incentive bonus possible based on my future high performance?”
  2. “Can there be a 6 month performance and merit review, instead of annually?”
  3. “Is there an added step in my responsibilities than can convey a higher pay level?”

Even if the answers are “no”, you’ve created a mind-set with your boss for the coming year.

When negotiating for pay, always be prepared with industry ranges based on years of experience so you’re not being underpaid.


For next year, document your activities, responsibilities, projects and results.  It’s surprising how memories fade over time.


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Posted on: November 6th, 2018 by
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Are you thinking about becoming a consultant?  First consider the questions as to why organizations hire a consultant?  I can quickly think of three reasons:


  • The skills or knowledge that is needed does not exist in the organization
  • Management wants objective outside analysis or alternatives to a critical issue
  • Management wants to point the finger elsewhere else if the solution doesn’t work


If you’re thinking about leaving your job to become a consultant, here are some things you should consider before making the leap.


  • What can you do that very few people are able to do? Consultants have special or unique skills, knowledge or expertise that organizations need.  Unless you have a national reputation, are a known expert in your field, or can convince executives that you can obtain the results they are looking for, why should they hire you as a consultant?
  • The actual process of consulting is the easy part. Most consultants can do a minimally adequate job of consulting.  But meeting with senior management, presenting a pathway to results, convince executives that you’re better than all others, then actually sign up a client for a fee, is the hard part.  What makes you more effective than all your competitors?  What can you do that they can’t?
  • During the first or second year of consulting, most new consulting business is dependent upon your contacts from past executives you’ve known before. After the initial flush of business and the low hanging fruit gets picked, then you have to dig out business from organizations that don’t know you or maybe never heard of you.  Most consulting firms dry up within a few years.


In addition, a few more considerations:


  • It’s a very lonely existence. There’s no one to kick around ideas or critique presentations
  • What do you know about legal issues, licenses, tax implications, accounting, marketing, time allocation, insurances and variable income?
  • Even when you have a consulting job, you need to market yourself for the next project
  • Your financial time horizon is about 3 to 6 months out
  • The benefits and healthcare costs are huge. There’s no corporation to help pay bills
  • Your clients will ask, “Where have you worked in our industry? If not, why hire you?”
  • When you have to add needed staff, your costs escalate and cut into your margins
  • The local, state and federal laws for liability, insurances, taxes and licenses are complex
  • It’s difficult for an independent consultant to make over $100,000 a year. Why?  The skill-sets needed, start-up and marketing costs and the marketplace all work against you
  • Lastly, if you try to move back into the corporate world, the hiring managers will be reticent to hire you. Why? Because you left another manager in the lurch and it would be too easy for you to do the same now.


Consulting looks easy, glamorous and financially rewarding.  In reality, you need many diverse skills, extensive business contacts, and a determination to succeed that most individual consultants cannot sustain over time.


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Posted on: October 30th, 2018 by
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Whoa.  Take a deep breadth.  Before you spend a lot of time and effort with a job hunt, ask yourself some basic questions:  What’s wrong with what I’m doing now?  Do I have a future to advance within 5 years?  Am I ready for a new, higher level assignment?  And most importantly, what do I want to do in the future and why?


Seeking another job somewhere else may not be necessary. You’re more likely to move up to the next level where you’re already known, than to make a jump somewhere that you aren’t known.  Have you utilized the educational programs available to you in your current job? Advanced certifications?  If you do decide to move forward and check out the marketplace, you should ask yourself “why”, then identify your potential targets and prepare for the change.


Here are some potential questions you should answer when thinking about a job change:


  • What do you really like about your current job? Why?
  • What do you really dislike about your current job? Why?
  • What would need to change for you to consider staying? Can you make it happen?
  • Is the current industry the right one for you? If no, what industry is the right one?
  • What high level of knowledge or skills would make you compelling in the marketplace?
  • Are your skills easily transferable to another job? Company?  Industry?
  • Will a change require relocation? Personal and professional implications?
  • Will a change affect your quality of life or the balance between work and non-work?
  • Are you willing to move down or across a level to gain greater opportunities?
  • Will you only move up the scale for compensation or benefits?
  • What does the marketplace tell you about opportunities? Requirements?
  • When you look at the next level, what are the weaknesses you need to address?
  • Will you need another degree, certification, courses or special training?
  • Will you lose anything with a move? Vacation, benefits, time off or incentives?
  • What kind of reference will you get? From whom?
  • Will you lose a mentor? Who will you learn from?


Here are some additional comments about the implications of a job change:


  • When considering a job change, always look two jobs ahead. Make sure the next one isn’t a dead end job, where you can’t get out or move from.
  • You’re a known entity where you currently work. You have earned your place as a performer and colleague. You start from scratch at a new job with unknown expectations.
  • Ask the, “What happens if” question: You don’t fit the culture? You underperform? You’re uncomfortable with the environment, boss or co-workers?  The job isn’t what you thought it was, or the job description is now different?  What’s your contingency plan?


The greater the level of euphoria without proper research, the greater are your chances for disappointment.  “The grass is always browner” can be a reality if your not careful.


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Posted on: October 23rd, 2018 by
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Ever think about how decision makers decide on who is promotable and who is not?  There must be a formula or guide to help understand how some people get promoted and others are left behind.  Based on my 40 or so years of experience, I see two sets of criteria that determine who moves ahead.  They are both very easy to see, but more difficult to execute.



  • Individuals who create new ideas to enhance revenue or reduce cost, or have a better way of doing things for efficiency or effectiveness, are recognized by the decision makers
  • Individuals who can take those ideas and help make them work are also recognized
  • Individuals who have no ideas, except how to maintain the status quo are overlooked



  • Individuals who see a problem and provides a solution are rewarded by decision makers
  • Individuals who see a problem and helps to develop alternative solutions are recognized
  • Individuals who can’t see the problem or work around the problem, are overlooked


There seems to be three kinds of people:  Those who make things happen; those who watch things happening; and a number of people who have no idea what’s happening.  It’s not difficult to spot a problem, but those individuals who do something about it, whether it’s developing alternatives or implement a solution, are the ones who move ahead.


Viewed through a different lens, there are Achievers and Grumblers.  You know who they are in your own organization.  Management decision makers also see the differences.  You have to decide which of the two types you are. Achievers get promoted.  Grumblers remain.


Supervisors and managers set the standards on expectations.  If status quo, non-problem solvers, non-engaged or Grumblers dominate the work force, the organizational results will reflect less than desirable outcomes.  The Achievers, engaged problem-solvers and idea generators will either leave the organization or become unproductive if management allows it.   When management sets the bar high enough, the Grumblers and their followers are forced to meet higher standards or be left behind.  If management maintains the highest standards, over time it becomes the expected culture of the organization, affecting hiring decisions, performance, and ultimately who gets promoted to a higher level of responsibility.


How can management raise the standards and culture of an organization?  By providing immediate and clear feedback.  Positive reinforcement is needed for what is being done well, and immediate, strong correction for what is not being done well.  When performance is at a high level, reward it with added responsibility and promotion.  When performance is not at standard or is dragging the organization down, provide corrective action.  If the negative performance persists, move the individual to a place where they can contribute to standard, or remove them.


If you consistently attack problems with alternatives or solutions, your performance will be recognized and rewarded over time.  If not, you are working for the wrong organization.


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Posted on: October 16th, 2018 by
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A recent survey listed the most secure and the least secure jobs and their comparable pay.  I found the information interesting in a number of different ways:


  • Of the most secure jobs, all required a college degree, advanced training, or specialized certification, except for a postal service mail carrier, or a court and license clerk.
  • Of all the most secure jobs, the lowest paid was the job of Paramedics at $33,000+ a year.  Everyone else was paid at a higher rate


  • Of the least secure jobs, there were none that required a college education, special training, or advanced certifications. The least secure job of all was that of an Actor.
  • Of all the least secure jobs, the highest paid was for Fishing & Forestry workers at $45,000 a year. Everyone else was paid at a lower rate.


So what does that information tell us?


  • Education levels, advanced training or special certification paid the most and were the most secure, even in economic downturns
  • The least secure jobs were also paid the least, did not require a higher level of education or special training and were most effected with an economic downturn


What reasonable assumptions can be drawn from this information?


  • The greatest single variable of all seems to be the factors of specialized knowledge, training, or education. When hiring managers have two candidates with very similar backgrounds or experiences, the decision makers will usually go with the person that has something special to add potential value to their organizational results.
  • Pay is directly related to the factors listed above. The more education, specialized knowledge, certifications or advanced training a candidate has, comes out ahead.
  • Core contributions (those that directly affect accelerated revenue or reduction of costs) are the most sought after factors in both security and pay. If you can affect either one, through your knowledge, skills or ability, you are more likely to be secure and paid at a higher level.
  • Increasing your education, certifications, training or advancing your skills through on-line courses or programs for certification gives you a distinct edge. It shows your employer or hiring manager that you want to advance your value and you have the motivation and drive to achieve a higher level of contribution.
  • The greater the automation that is possible in your industry or company, the less secure your function will be. Jobs that 5 years ago that looked secure may not be so now.
  • Product purchasing, courses, educational degrees, communications and books are all available on-line. However, so are hacking, phishing, scamming and identity theft.  The bad guys seem to be two steps ahead of the good guys in protecting your interactions.
  • When just starting out in your first job, having less security with less training, education or certifications but being paid more, over time you are more vulnerable to job security and will be paid much less than your counterparts.


Don’t prepare for the future by looking in the rear view mirror.  Those days are gone.


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