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.

 

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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


INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TO CONFOUND YOU

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by
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Interview questions can be tricky and sometimes responding to them can be difficult.  The simplest answer to a question is usually the best.  Complexity can get you into a tangle of conflicting replies.  Here are a few confounding questions with some alternate answers:

 

  1. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF – Be ready for this one! Provide a crisp but positive response.  The hiring manager is looking for key knowledge, skills and abilities that will get results. Connect your achievements to the position description. Stay away from personal items.

 

  1. DO YOU WORK BEST AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR AS A TEAM MEMBER? – Careful here! State that you work best as a part of a team effort where you can also contribute as an individual. Cite examples of your team contributions, how you’ve gotten results as an individual, then as a leader of a team effort.  Make sure your answer is credible.

 

  1. WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU OVER ALL THE OTHERS? – Match your most impressive results with the needs of the organization. Connect new ideas and alternatives.  Identify experiences you had in solving problems that the organization may have currently.

 

  1. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL DISAPPOINTMENTS– Be ready with a story or two around promises or expectations that didn’t happen. How you handled it and what you learned. Don’t put down past bosses as the “bad guys”.

 

  1. TELL ME ABOUT PROBLEMS YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED WITH SUPERVISORS – This is a tricky question, as you don’t want to lash out, but rather indicate how you worked it through. You might say, “I’ve been lucky to have supportive supervisors, but there were times when I’ve had to work extra hard to help meet my bosses objective”.

 

  1. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH PRESSURE AND CRITICISM?– Pre-knowledge of the company’s work environment would be helpful. The interviewer is looking for your attitude toward pressure and how well you respond to it.  Criticism of a work product is different from a personal criticism. Each should be managed differently: People versus things.

 

And finally a curveball question that can kill an interview that has gone very well so far:

 

  1. WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW THAT HASN’T BEEN ASKED? WHAT ARE WE MISSING? Be prepared for this question.  Caught unaware, most will answer in the negative because it’s almost an accusatory question like, “What haven’t you told us?”  However, don’t be put off balance.  Don’t’ say, “Nothing, We covered everything”.

There are two options:

  • Fill in a major achievement that you haven’t covered that you want the hiring manager to know, especially if it affects the ability for you to do an outstanding job
  • Cite accomplishments that parallel the interests of the company, like community activities, industry associations, and service clubs, especially as a leader.

 

Be ready for any question, even strange ones, likes, “What’s your favorite color?”

 

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


CAREER STEPS – NOTES

Posted on: May 1st, 2018 by
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How can something so simple to outline be so complex in reality.  Making career steps happen involve such things as:  Family considerations, compensation issues, relocations, functional skill to develop, job content to master, responsibility expansion, moving from individual contributor to manager, department head then executive, and many others.

 

Here are some of the considerations:

 

ULTIMATE GOAL? –  Define where you want to ultimately end your career, functionally. CFO?  Sales Manager?  VP?  Business Owner?  Dept. Head?  or a totally different direction?  Whether you’ll make it depends upon:

  • Where you are now? How much time before retirement?
  • Have you prepared the skills you’ll need for success?What’s your compensation?
  • Are you ambitious, very competent, with sterling references and yes, are you connected?

 

HOW MANY STEPS TO GO?– A Controller in a medium sized company, age 45, with requisite financial functions and a track record of success, can become a CFO in a private company, but may not have the experiences with shareholders, investment bankers, government regulators or boards of directors to become a CFO in a public company.  If you’re a junior accountant in a public company, age 28, you have maybe 8 moves in 4 or more different organizations and about 20 years before becoming a CFO.

 

TIMING AND CHANGES? – How long should you remain in one job before moving on?  The answer: As long as it takes to master each job. If your goal is the executive level, it means shifting to a new, higher role every 3 to 5 years, then add in an advanced degree. And if you’re thinking of changing to another function or industry, add another 5 years onto the total.

 

WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT YOUR NEXT STEP?  Are you ready to make the next step?  What have you done to prepare?  Do you have a plan or are you waiting for the phone to ring? Are you willing to move across to another department / organization or even down a peg in order to get the experience and credentials for a major step up?  How long do you have before getting the experience you’ll need to be fully competent?

 

ALWAYS BE READY FOR AN OPPORTUNITY –  At any stage of your career, opportunity may knock before you’re ready.  That’s when a judgment has to be made.  Do you risk falling short in a new role or do you take the risk and jump ahead of your plan? No one can make that decision for you. The risk is greater the higher you move.

 

HOW DO I BEST MARKET MYSELF? –  That’s easy.  The only way to achieve the next level in a career plan is by the results you attain in the prior job.  Only outstanding performance catches the eye of the hiring manager for the next higher position.  Mediocre performance means you’re not ready for the next level.  You can only demonstrate success by being successful.

 

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