Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Your Work Completion Style

"Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions." ~ John Randolph, US Politician (1773 - 1833)
Time is one of our precious, non-renewable resources. We know this.
Work takes time. We make time for things that we want to get done, and sometimes feel like we must get done. I am a bigger fan of wanting to get something completed, as it creates desire and not obligation, but this article is about knowing how you address time when it comes to work, and in particular deadlines and deliverables.
Since we are amidst the 2012 Olympics, I will call the three approaches Bronze, Silver and Gold, as they all can be successful...depending on your personality, effort, expectations and outcomes. The three approaches are immediate (Bronze), just-in-time (silver), and project plan (gold). While I am using the medals as a reference, it is not that gold is best for all, and silver is better than bronze, rather it is about knowing your style and either accepting it or intentionally changing it, instead of thinking you should be doing something differently when what you do works for you!
Bronze style means you get back from a client, out of a meeting, or have a thought, and immediately work on what was discussed. If bronze is your approach, then ensure you schedule time after each meeting, sales pitch or brainstorming activity.
Silver style is that of a person who believe s/he "works best under pressure. They tend to schedule things back-to-back and fill the days with new and more things, people, and opportunities. If you are silver approach person, then book work time in your office close the day before something is due. Ensure you book enough time, as silver style people often underestimate how long things will take!
Gold style is the project manager style approach. This is a person who wants to work a bit at a time. If you are a gold approach person, book blocks of time each week or every few days in order to chip away at parts of the work you have to do.
The Gold style may seem ideal, and it likely paces things well, but if that does not work for you, then either schedule yourself because you want the process to work, or step away from the idea of "what should be", and embrace what you are.
Bronze, Silver and Gold medals all get accolades and recognition at the Olympics, and each of the approaches to completing work can, in fact, work, too, as long as the time is allotted and planned for appropriately! I personally work all three styles with different clients and various deliverables.
Consider what is the best bet for your situation, and then embrace it...Olympic style!
Here I am running with the Olympic Torch in 2002...on my way to being excited for all that was to come!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Desire, Doubt or Dread

"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure." ~ Bill Cosby, American Comedian & Actor
Not everything goes the way we want it to go, and surely sometimes it seems as though there is "too much" or "not enough" whether we are thinking about projects or time, or a litany of other things. Still, we are all pretty fortunate in our opportunities and undertakings...for the most part. Studies have shown that not only our abilities, but also our attitude greatly impact the results of our efforts. And, while most of us likely think we have a good, or even great, attitude, or minimally, a positive attitude, how are you doing on your self-talk, or even your "chatter"? Are you speaking in terms of desire, doubt, or dread?
I often encourage people to speak in terms of "WANT TO" instead of "need to", "should" or "have to", and that is still the case. Now, I hope you will consider minimizing, if not eliminating things like "I don't know how I can do that" (doubt) and "this is impossible" (dread), and event things that seem pretty innocent like "I can't believe this is happening" (doubt), or "I can't wait until this is behind me" (dread). This seemingly innocent chatter we share with friends, family and colleagues can be the death of our direction, as it is feeding into our questioning of our abilities and interest, and therefore, our attitudes. The DESIRE to complete something may sound a lot like the last example given, and yet instead of the "I can't wait until this is behind me" (dread), positioning your mindset in the words "It'll be great to complete this!" or "When I am done with this, I'll celebrate the accomplishment", or even "I am making strides toward finishing this" all send the message that it not only can be done, it will be done, and it is manageable.
This is not meant to be phony, and sure, it may sound like a bit of a trick to your mind. The reality is, our attitude becomes our actions. If we dread something, our behaviors will likely seem put-off or less than interested. That is not how you want to be perceived, right? Change your dread or doubt to DESIRE, and watch not only your approach change, but others' response to you change as well!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Interview Savvy - Both Sides of Table

"Never wear a backward baseball cap to an interview unless applying for the job of umpire." - Dan Zevin, Comic Writer
When we think of interviewing, we may all have different experiences, and yet, rarely is there someone we meet who has not either been interviewed or the interviewer who had an interesting story to tell, right? To avoid being the butt of those stories or jokes, here are my top ten lists for both interviewers and interviewees: For an Interviewee, after fully researching the school or company to which you are applying:
1) Ensure you are genuinely interested in the company, and if you interview during work hours, take vacation, and better yet, ask if you can interview off hours first. 2) Test your interview "look" standing, sitting and moving in front of the mirror after selecting it carefully. 3) Test your driving or transportation route prior to the interview , and arrive in the lobby 8-12 minutes early (not earlier, as you will likely just be in the way. If you arrive earlier, wait in the car.). 4) Take many resumes, a portfolio with paper and two pens (in case one fails), but leave your water bottle or coffee at home. 5) Smile, listen, be ready and engaged (be genuinely friendly to each person you encounter). 6) Look people in the eye, shake 2-3 firm pumps and stop shaking as you shake hands with each person you meet. 7) Ask no questions about pay or benefits on the first interview, but do ask if you may take notes, and then if they say yes, take notes 8) Have 3-4 deeper than surface level questions regarding the company ready for the end of the interview 9) The last question is: "Having spent this time together, first, thank you, and second, is there any reason at this point that you would not hire me?" (Be ready for the response!) 10) Know the interview is about fit - for both you and the company, so enjoy it!!! And then, go home and email and mail thank you notes to each person with whom you engaged that day. Mail them immediately.
For an Interviewer, after fully vetting the resume of the person for whom you are interviewing, and developing the core competencies for the role (6-10 of them):
1) Take control of the interview by greeting the person, saying your name, welcoming him or her, thanking him or her for being on time (if s/he was) and then looking at your watch to say what time it is, and how long the interview will last. Ask the person to sit, and gesture to where. Once he or she is seated, start the engagement fully. 2) Share what the process for the interview will be (I recommend saying something like "For the first couple questions, please just take two or three minutes, and then we'll get into the more formal part of the interview, and then I'll leave time at the end of the interview for your questions and I'll cover next steps." Smile, that person is likely nervous! 3) Ask the person for a resume, and then say something like "Tell me a little bit about you...", and see where it goes. (Don't let it go past 3 minutes - you already set the expectation.) 4) Thank him or her and ask "What did you do to prepare for today?" (This tells you about research, readiness, eagerness, etc.) 5) Explain that we are now moving into the more formal part of the interview, and for each of the next X questions, you will be seeking specifics such as the background, action and results (I call this RAISE the BAR). 6) Listen for the BAR for each question (have one question per competency). Only interrupt or correct for the "always" and "never" answers twice, as you are seeking specifics, but you do not want someone who is not listening at all to you. Mark on your page a 1 or zero under each the B(Background), A(Action), and R(Results). 7) Walk through the job description and ask if there is anything the interviewee wants to share briefly now that it has been fully reviewed. Listen. 8) Ask the last two questions of: "We have all had disappointments in life or something not go the way we expected, please tell me about one of yours.", and "What has been your greatest accomplishment or success so far?" 9) Allow time for Q & A (expect some, and don't rush it). 10) Share next steps including what happens next to when all the way through when you would like to have the position filled. Thank the person, and stand up to walk him or her out.
While you surely have additional tips, I welcome them, and in the meanwhile, minimally incorporate some or all of these for a savvy and enjoyable interview experience!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Positive Put-Down

Don't let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries. - Astrid Alauda, writer
When we think of water, and glasses filled to the mid-point, it may conjure recollections similar to the following: -The optimist sees the glass half-full -The pessimist sees the glass half-empty -The realist says "Let's get the proper sized glass" and -The opportunist drinks the water!
In hearing (or reading) that, we may question in which category we fall...the optimist, the pessimist, the realist or the opportunist...
While that may be a thought-provoking way to think of it, there is another mindset around that water glass, too! Imagine if you thought about how heavy that glass was. It's not heavy really, is it? You take drinks from a glass fairly regularly, I bet. You take the drink, you put down the glass...no big weight issue there, right? Still, if you held the glass for an hour straight, the glass might start to feel awkward and uncomfortable in your hand, and to your arm. Now, if you held it overnight, you may need some serious pain relief, and if it were held for a few days or a week...imagine the "weight" of that little glass of water...you may need medical attention for that pain or damage!
Now, think of the glass as stress, anger, disappointment, or anything else that at first can seem manageable. How long have you been holding it, and how heavy is it getting? When are you going to put it down? We are going to "pick up" stressful things, get angry, be disappointed, and even overburdened at times. It's what we do when we realize it that determines the "weight" of it on each of us. When will we handle it, or in effect, put the "glass" down? Remember, the issue or opportunity is not as heavy as we often allow it to be. The burden of carrying something need not be without relief, so when you have anxiety, distraction, stress and other things you are carrying for hours, days, weeks or longer, decide for you that you are going to be the one who is, instead of carrying it, will make it a "positive put-down" by addressing it, releasing it, or simply letting go!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Please Root FOR, and Not Against

When we root-root-root for the home team, we're rooting for our home as much as the team. ~ Richard Roeper, American Columnist
Whether it is a baseball game, a work meeting, a debate, a beauty pageant, an election or the upcoming Olympics, when you are cheering for someone, please ensure you aren't jeering another.
What I mean by that is support for one person, team, idea or country need not be the bashing of the opposition. Rooting for something you like, believe in, or hope will succeed is just that "rooting". In the unofficial definition of rooting (read as "my definition") rooting is 'pulling for, showing support in a positive, encouraging, professional manner'.
Your rooting may mean a vote, applause, "who hoo"s when the person, team or candidate is presented, and it also may simply mean silence to hear what is said, or an open mind and non-distracted eyes to see what is done. It may mean wearing the colors of the team, or a button of the contender, or sharing verbal and non-verbal agreement with a concept or proposal. It need not be the trashing of people, ideas, parties, etc. just to get noticed, get the crown going, or to get inside the head of whomever you are not rooting for.
There are many ways to root, to support someone or something, and all of them can be done without any negativity, attack or ill-will toward those not receiving your outright support. Please consider respecting an opponent is as much rooting for your idea, player, participant, candidate or country, as all of the other actions you can take. And, yes, hopefully all that "rooting for" leads you to your ultimate victory, I do not want to overlook or negate that. Still, by practicing the root, root, root, as in the quotation above, you really can be a rooter filled with cheers and not jeers, and no matter the final outcome of the discussion, meeting, event or competition, you will not have presented anything but support and can hold your head high for how you handled the opportunity.