Tagged: career advancement

3 Best Lessons From Saying Yes

The 3 Best Lessons I Learned From Saying “Yes” to Something I Had No Idea How to Do  Muse 8/8/17

Recently I was asked to lead a project that would have a positive impact on not just my team, but on other teams across my company. Because I have a hard time turning things down at work, I accepted the challenge without a second thought.

But there was one catch: I’d never led a project like this before. And frankly, it’d been a long time since I led a group of people toward a shared goal—and the last time I tried, it didn’t go particularly well.

I struggled throughout and as we made our way through the process, I thought I’d made a mistake in accepting the challenge. I kept thinking it would have been better for everyone if I had said, “Maybe next time.”

But then a funny thing happened—the project got done and I became an authority on something I previously knew nothing about. Even though it’s easy to believe you’ll fail when you say yes to doing something new, it’s just as easy to believe in yourself. (OK, almost as easy.)

If you need encouragement in the right direction, here are a few things I learned from taking a leap and saying “yes.”

1. You’ll Find Out That You Were More Qualified Than You Realized

Here’s the thing: Unless your boss is trying to get herself fired, she’s also under a lot of pressure to get things done. She has goals she has to hit and she can’t do it herself. As tempting as it would be to assume that she’s given you this assignment because there’s nobody else to do it, the truth is that your manager wouldn’t have trusted you with it if she didn’t actually think you could get it done.

I know that your impostor syndrome is making you say, “You’re not up for this and you don’t know anything.” But here’s the thing—the only person telling you that you’re unqualified is you. After all, your boss asked you because she thinks the exact opposite. It took me a few days to realize this, but when I did, I knew that the only person who was skeptical of my abilities was me.

2. You’ll Learn That Asking for Help Really Doesn’t Make You Look Dumb

The natural conclusion to taking an assignment you’re unfamiliar with is to keep all your questions to yourself. You want to prove that you can crush it, so you take it upon yourself to find every relevant resource out there that’ll help you become a subject matter expert in no time.

But what I ended up learning is that approach can actually make you look less qualified than simply asking for help.

It’s OK you don’t have all the answers. Your boss probably knows that’s the case. But he also trusts you to figure out the right people you should be leaning on for help. So don’t rely too heavily on your own skills (or Google), especially since you know you’re lacking some of the necessary experience to get this task done—and done well.

3. You’ll Realize It’s OK That the End Result’s Not Perfect

In terms of the project I was leading, I didn’t maintain the process we established at the onset perfectly. At times, I ran around like a madman because I had no idea how to resolve certain issues. And ultimately, while we completed it, there were plenty of things I wished had gone differently.

But the good news for me? Most of my “I wish I’d done this differently” thoughts didn’t matter to the end product. I turned in what was asked, even if it wasn’t exactly what I would’ve liked to submit.

In the likely scenario that your final result isn’t exactly what you hoped it would be, focus more on the lessons you’ve learned throughout the experience. Were there breakdowns in communication that you can resolve for the next time? Were there knowledge gaps that you currently have the answers to for future attempts?

Even if the project wasn’t executed perfectly, you’ll learn plenty of valuable lessons from the experience. In my case, I learned so much about a completely new area of the company’s business that I’ve now become the subject matter expert on it.

Hey, I get it. It’s easy for me to sit behind my computer and tell you to accept more assignments at work, even if your previous experience would suggest that you’ll fall on your face. But I’m a total scaredy cat about new challenges. And not only did the project get done, I learned a few things that will impact the rest of my career. So, if someone like me can survive this harrowing experience, I’m totally confident that you can too.


Be Your Own Career Sherpa: No One Else Will!

In today’s workplace, its uncommon for companies to be concerned about keeping employees’ skills current or in preparing them to take on new responsibilities.  Frequently, when a new competence is needed, Jane Doe will be out and John Shmoe will be in.


Here are 5  ways to protect and advance your career.

1. Understand what is expected of the person in your role.  Be certain that you know what you will be evaluated on and the benchmarks of success.  A good time to do this is at your next performance review.  If your next review won’t take place for a while, type and print what you think the expectations are and have a sit-down with your supervisor to go over them.  Ask for frequent feedback on what is going well and where you can improve.  This is how you make sure you are on the right track now.

2. To advance you have to grow.  Grow in the knowledge you need for what you are doing.  Fill in the gaps, and everyone has them.  Find out how your work affects your department, the bottom line, and the company goals.  The more you know, the better you will be able to choose a direction, see the holes in your resume and prepare for the next step in this company or prep for your next move.

3. Be the person who sees where your product (that could be dental hygiene or AI and everything in between) is going.  Find new uses and discover which uses are becoming obsolete.  READ widely and go deep on a couple of topics!

4. Remember your high school Brag Sheet?  Keep one at work.  Keep track of in-servicing, outside training, new tasks you’ve taken on, certifications and new skills you’ve developed.  Regularly rate your performance on key tasks and others you’ve identified as helpful in fulfilling your role.

5. Ramp up your visibility with decision makers.  Attend events sponsored by your company, take on new responsibilities, cross over to help other departments.  Offer help. Think of this as networking within the company.

Here’s what Carter Cast from Harvard Business Review says: It’s not always possible to get noticed by senior leaders through your direct work, so you might try volunteering for initiatives, such as charity work, company events, or on-campus recruiting. This is an easy but often overlooked way to rub elbows with senior people who will see you in action and ideally take notice of your contributions.

To read the entire HBR article go here: https://hbr.org/2018/01/6-ways-to-take-control-of-your-career-development-if-your-company-doesnt-care-about-it

Invest in yourself!  Let me help you draw up a plan to secure your current position and prepare for your next one.  Don’t wait for your future to come looking for you. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

Internship or Job: 9 Ways to Shoot Yourself In The Foot

This just in from The Muse.

Are You About To Shoot?
Are You About To Shoot?

9 Ways You’re Undermining Yourself in the Office Without Realizing It

By Kevin Daum of Inc.
There is at least one flake in every office. You know the type. It’s the person who is reasonably likable, but whom no one trusts. They seem to be mostly oblivious, often thinking that no one will notice that they are unreliable.

This person can be very disruptive, and yet somehow he or she has managed to obtain a position of authority. The frustration level climbs when the boss delivers only what he considers important, leaving everyone else covering for his lack of attention.

It’s bad enough dealing with people like this, but you certainly don’t want to be one. Pay attention to this list of bad habits to avoid. Most people won’t care enough to point out the transgressions, so share it around and no one can claim ignorance.

1. Showing Up Late

You may think that arriving five minutes late to an appointment or being the last one on a conference call doesn’t matter. It does. People notice. Sure, there are allowances for transportation and security issues in the building, maybe once or twice. But habitually tardy people are downgraded and thought of as selfish. Get control of your time so you are known for being a little early.

2. Not Checking Your Notes Before Meetings

A meeting can be either a productive and efficient sharing of ideas and information, or a dreadful disaster of confusion and boredom. It’s incredibly frustrating to stare around the table at blank faces or to get irrelevant and useless discussion. You can’t be responsible for everyone’s participation, but you sure can improve it on your end. Be fully prepared and ready to engage so no one thinks you are the laggard.

3. Not Responding to Email Promptly

Everyone is busy. Everyone gets lots of email. If you make people chase you, they will hate you. 24 hours is the maximum you should take before you respond, even it is a simple acknowledgement. Then you can establish a reasonable time to respond and manage expectations.

4. Missing Appointments

Nothing will make you seem flakier than not showing up when expected. Most people have a one-time tolerance for a missed event. The second time, you have already lost stature and priority in their mind.

5. Not Paying Attention

You may think you can daydream and fake it, but anyone with whom it’s worth engaging knows when you are not in the game. If you are so disinterested in work activities that you have to play like you are on-board, maybe it’s time to move on. Find something that excites you.

6. Overpromising and Underdelivering

People will give you a couple of chances to match what you say you will do with what you actually do. Then they will mentally either put you in the “yes” or “no” box. Set expectations reasonably and then beat them every time if you want to look like a winner.

7. Forgetting Details

The best opportunities are filled with complexity. Someone who gets only most of it right has very limited utility. If you don’t have a photographic memory, write things down. Review your notes and talk through the information to make sure you really understand everything that is required. Then double-check just to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

8.Texting During Face-to-Face Conversations 

Face-to-face contact is getting more rare these days thanks to technology; all the more reason you are being judged on the use of your smartphone. If someone is making the point to look you in the eye, he or she won’t be impressed with your thumb-typing skills. Show respect and pay attention.

9. Making Wholly Avoidable Mistakes

People can tolerate a lot of ignorance but they have little to no tolerance for stupidity. The difference is simple. Ignorance is when you don’t know any better. Stupidity is when you are told or were shown that something won’t work, and you go ahead and do it anyway. Even making the same mistake twice will completely shatter any credibility you had at the beginning, so pay attention and be a winner.

What footprint are you leaving where you work?  Are your boss and co-workers

What foot print are you leaving?
What foot print are you leaving?

happy to see you come or to see you go?  To learn 10 more ways to have a positive impact, text or call Stephanie 610-212-6679 or email stephanie@accessguidance.com


Coaches, Mentors and Sponsors: Which Do You Need Now?

On the surface these roles appear to be the same, to help you on your road to college, a promotion, a first job. All of them support you as you build your resume and take on new tasks. In reality, they perform differently. Sometimes you may need one more than the others.

Coach’s job is task oriented and performance focused. Her role is to help you reach a specific end result by enhancing a skill or changing a behavior. One might hire a coach to prepare you for public speaking, for a job interview or teach you how to use new software. The support of a coach is time and task limited. We all use coaches from time to time.

Mentor-Mentee is a mutually beneficial relationship. Each partner is invested in the success of the other,  Some mentoring is mandated by a program or organization, but more often it is voluntary. Mentors act as a sounding board and a giver of advice. In a corporation, a mentor may provide information on which skills and experience it will take to move to the next level.  The mentee becomes a follower  and supporter of the mentor, helping implement strategy or feedback.

Sponsors are more proactive on the behalf of their proteges. They assist with introductions and with assignments that attract notice. Sponsors are door openers. As a sponsor rises in her own career, she brings her proteges alone with her, giving them visibility and opportunities. Having a strong protege enhances the standing of the sponsor.

Mentoring and sponsorship are voluntary relationships, forged by bonds of common interest, stellar performance and loyalty. Rising stars in any profession increase the likelihood of success by attracting mentors and sponsors to guide them.

Students also need coaches, mentors and sponsors. Paid internships, research assistantships (undergrad and grad), graduate programs, fellowships, and post-doc positions are more attainable with a sponsor to write critical evaluations and letters of introduction. Good scholarship alone isn’t always sufficient to attain a coveted opening.

Timing is everything, so choose the support team you need in each situation.

Three Steps to Take Toward Recognition and Reward

Gray, cold, drizzly days make me glum.  Sometimes I wonder why I bother sitting at this desk doing the same things day in and day out.  If that describes you, come over into my boat and we’ll talk.

I’m going to list three things you can do to shake up that funk and get  back on the road to career esteem and productivity.

One   Make a list of  your achievements and things you’ve done in the last year that have made a difference in your performance.  Inservice, taking a class, learning another part of the work your company does, joining an other team, helping someone complete a task are a few things to look at.

The list you make will show you how you’ve increased your value to your employer and should create a warm feeling about your performance.

Two   Ask for feedback.  Not all organizations offer annual reviews or have supervisors who are adept at praising or encouraging others.  Set a time to sit down with the person to whom you report, your team leader, or owner of the company.  Ask them to tell you what they find most valuable about your performance.  Ask how you can improve.  Ask to expand your skills and experience as you take on new responsibility.

When we learn something new we feel good about ourselves.  If no support for job growth is forthcoming within the company, take a class at the community college in something that interests you.

Three   Read publications and professional journals related to your  industry to pique your interest and curiosity.  You may find new ways to use your experience or perhaps find a trend that your boss hasn’t yet developed.

Each strategy will bring you to the attention of decision makers who should reward your eagerness, commitment and initiative.   Reinvigorating and rejuvenating your enthusiasm fuels your efforts as you move ahead.  Your boss is sure to take notice.



Create Time For Learning in Your Schedule

I know you have seen advertising by charities that reminds you that a donation of just pennies a day can make a significant difference. When you break down the annual or monthly check into small bits it seems more manageable. Yes, I can park in the cheaper lot farther from work and walk an extra block or two. Yes, I can give up the doughnut with my coffee by bringing a muffin from home.

Just as we rearrange our finances to accommodate changes, we can rearrange our daily schedule to find a few minutes to incorporate learning opportunities.

Take On A New Responsibility You can increase your value to your current or future employers by cross training, assuming other roles. Think about writing a resume and what isn’t there now that you would like to have, then learn it. You may be more effective in your own position if you know first hand how various jobs fit together. Learn it and document your learning.

Read   Find a solution before there is a problem  Derron owns a trucking company and is considering expanding into “just in time” delivery, a taxi service for goods and packages. He’s been reading extensively about GPS systems to find one that will enable him to make deliveries during rush hour or traffic delays before he commits to a new venture. He also is researching competing companies.

No need to re-invent the wheel. You can predict the next great advance by reading.  Finding published information on topics that relate to your company’s products can give you a heads up on where the industry is going. Products can mean “painless dentistry” or ” on time delivery” or “eco-friendly packaging”. So your company isn’t on the ecology band wagon yet, is there anything in use by others that could be adapted to your needs?

Reading is portable and can fit into scattered minutes such as while sitting in the dentist’s waiting room. Read broadly as well as specifically in professional publications and general interest media.

Take a Class Degrees can add value to your profile but so can a course or two in a foreign language, culture of an emerging market or basic coding.  Jessica is taking a course in Japanese business preceding a recruiting trip in a few months. Although she has clients in many countries, this will be a new source for her and the course is one of the ways she is preparing.

Get a Degree You can get an MBA on weekends or in the evening. Universities with programs for working adults keep projects and reading essential to make it possible for students to keep up. There are several degree and certificate choices and many universities offering them.

Just as we can squeeze a few pennies out of a tight budget, we can squeeze time out of our day to learn something that will make us more valuable, more effective and more employable.

It’s Not Just What You Know But Who You Know

In the age of 24/7 availability and connectivity, it’s no surprise that hiring is accomplished through connections.  Not only first degree connections-people who are known to you-but  “six degrees of separation” could be close enough for an invitation for a job interview.

Tricia ran into her business acquaintance, Darrel, getting coffee at Starbucks on Tuesday morning and mentioned that her office was swamped and looking to hire another animation specialist.  Did he know anyone?  

Darrel emailed Tricia a couple of names, Sanford who was looking to change jobs and Rachel who had a good position but might be interested.

By noon Tricia had contacted each of the  potential hires and set up meetings with both  plus one  more candidate Tricia found on Linked-In who was a connection to a production assistant on Tricia’s network.

The job was filled by Friday without ever being posted.  Interviews were set up with individuals who were actively looking to move and those who were right for the position but not currently in the job market.

The moral of this story is that to advance your career you need to build your network.  Make friends within your company and industry.  Create bridges to people and businesses that need a person with your expertise.

If you have an interest that isn’t yet a proficiency, contact others who can help you develop in this area.  Look for a mentor, teacher and future user of your untapped ability.  A good place to start is in the networks of your Linked-In contacts.  Post your interest and blog about it so that your new accomplishment will be apparent to all seekers.

Everyone you connect with knows lots of other people; each one may be the person who opens a door to the next stage of your career.