career development

February 28, 2011

Personal PR – How To Fly Your Own Flag

On many occasions of any career, there are times where it’s vital to represent yourself fully. To make the best publicity you can for ‘yours sincerely’. And there are easy tactics you can use…

Whether you are applying for a promotion in your existing organization; looking for a new job altogether; or simply experiencing a performance review, there are steps you can take that will enhance your outcome.

Most, if not all individuals, find it hard to tweak their achievements to make the best of them. Whether this comes from naivety, modesty or simply a misjudgment of what they can pluck from their experiences, it’s hard to say.

The truth is that long hours wringing hands and fretting need not be suffered. Because in the main, all you need when being assessed is already within you. All you need to create a really effective candidate – or A+ result in your performance.

There are six key steps to making the most of your assets:-

1. Start Early

Be aware. When you are in the thick of experiences and learning, always, but always be prepared to make a note – however small – of something that you did. You don’t have to write a whole portfolio of it, that can come later (just kidding!). Just notice when things happen.

2. Link to Role

By being aware of what you might need to take careful note of before you start looking for it. Here you’re simply looking for the categories upon which you will ultimately be tested and then you can start to create a list of your personal activities (the ‘What I did’ of your evidence).

3. Keeping Up

As you create this list of your activities, you categorize them as you go and as the evidence piles up, create a note also of the gaps too. Then you can pro-actively ‘create’ the activities you need to make your offer almost irresistible. You will become rounded and thorough and then have the luxury of deciding not just that you have enough, but you have a choice of evidence you can talk about when you are being assessed.

4. ‘I Can’t Find Enough’

It’s vital to understand that the evidence you create does not need to move mountains. A clear action you personally took, where you can demonstrate just four simple elements – What you did; Why you did it; What the outcome was and What you learned is perfect – and keep it short and succinct. It gives them clear facts and a space to ask you more too – A perfect candidate!

5. Last Minute?

Left it too late? No problem! All you need is a kindly colleague to ask you the questions and push you for answers. It’s amazing at what we leave out or underestimate in ourselves. With focus, it’s possible to create quite comprehensive evidence if you are coached to create it in a couple of hours with a ‘coach’ friend drawing from you the actual – even where you think there are few.

6. Blagging!

Actual lying can never be condoned – least of all because you’ll get found out and if you were successful and got something without really deserving it, likely as not it wouldn’t suit you anyway. You can – and must – embellish, by really stretching out all you do in a category and make it really sing for you. Every scrap of paper evidence; every single impressive fact and figure pile up to become much more interesting to assessors.

7. And Finally

Always but always focus on what you did. Yes, you personally. Using ‘we’ and’ they’ won’t cut it. Be brave and strong and shout about you out loud. Use the ‘I’ word and really show what you are made of.

We all do pretty good work. We all deserve that you be recognized and in the main, we don’t shout about ourselves enough. And when you don’t, who will?

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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April 11, 2010

Management Development Tips – Maintaining Your Momentum

As you develop and grow your management skills, it’s easy to slacken and ease off when you have a busier week.

The key here is to keep the momentum going – and only you alone can do this.

Making progress with management development is easy at first. The most obvious changes to your skills and behaviors will be the most apparent and potentially (though not necessarily!) the easiest to change.

Once you are aware, through your own very focused and objective assessment of your performance, where you can make a start and have quick successes, you will find that in itself is quite enough motivation for you – if you really are up to the challenge.

As you find activities that will help you, through an easy to use and simple guided program maybe, or a book that you’ve carefully selected and read, you will carry on along the career-long path of continuous improvement.

This journey is one to be relished, as you see opportunities come that will make you more fulfilled, much more capable and ultimately successful in your role as a manager.

There is always plenty to go at too!

These activities might take a few minutes to set up and then even just a few minutes to do, especially when they are simply part of the day-job.

There is much evidence to show that the most successful managers are able to learn on-the-job at least 70% of the time, whilst a measly 10% get full value from a workshop or training session (the other 20% comes from coaching or mentoring from your boss, one-on-one).

Even if the activities take up to a maximum of an hour, this need not be separated from what you do as part of your job anyway. The best opportunities will always be where you learn in real-life experiences and try new things on to see how they fit.

The only test to see how it’s going is how it works in the real world.

Truth is the biggest mistake any manager can make is to get today’s job confused with what’s needed to make tomorrow better. By working on development as you do the normal work, you will feel that both are being satisfied!

You see, it’s false economy to say that you are ‘too busy’. In that mode, you’ll be way too busy every day of your career.

Investing a little time in simple daily tactics and actions to develop your management skills really will make the difference going forward.

Remember this, in moments of weakness.

Fire-fighting just puts out the fire, it’s the prevention that stops them happening again and again.

So spending just a little time invested each week in making things different for the future, truly will pay off for both your business results and yourself.

In the long-term, whilst not forgetting the importance of the short, management development right there where the workplace action is, will provide ongoing opportunities to grow.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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March 14, 2010

Management Development Tips – Taking Focused Action Is The Key

To build your skills and abilities as a manager, you need to find out those areas where you have a need to grow.

That’s just the start, though, then you have to create actions that will kick-start your management development.

Once you have looked carefully at your own performance as a manager, either alone or with the help of your team and the feedback they give you, you will be a lot clearer in the priority areas that are so vital when you are developing your manager skills.

Frankly folks, that’s not enough.

In the modern world of business, whatever area of management you work in, there are pressures unheard of even 5 years ago.

Organizations of any size have to deliver big-time and at any sort of manager level, the focus for delivery is on you.

Having been dynamic in getting you thinking about how to set about your management development activities, now is the time for taking action by creating some small activities that will help you learn, grow and be much more effective.

Sometimes, you need guidance and help about what to do.

Whilst there are many books out there (well over 100,000 management books at the last count on Amazon!), you can find very focused, inexpensive and easy to use programs and activities that have the potential to literally transform your management performance

By being aware of and seeking out development opportunities that are available, you will be taking the first (always the hardest) steps to grow, because these will continue to shape your focus and enable your progress.

Management skills blur and overlap across each many different disciplines, where one action can actually make a significant difference in other areas of your performance.

By taking in the broader picture and letting the learning experience flow, you will take the learning as it comes – a very satisfying and fun way to learn, whilst benefiting from the improved outcomes you starts to see come through.

The key here is to focus, engage your mind on taking action, making the changes and reflecting on what you learnt as you go.

By targeting yourself and trying our new activities (however small they are, for the biggest wins will come as you ‘tweak’ rather that try to change the world in one go) every week, you are refining your behaviors to add new levels each week.

You will find that the activities you choose to pursue, all fit together. Although sometimes you might not always find it logical, what you’ll be learning a few months into your ‘project’, is that ideas repeat themselves in different ways, giving opportunities to revisit elements of skills development in different ways which will help a lot.

That’s the essence of some of the great programs out there that you can find. Structured, simple to adopt as well as refined in such a way as to repeatedly link together for your ongoing development in ways that you might have not thought possible.

Filed under Blog, Management Basics, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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March 12, 2010

Management Development Tips – Look Inside Yourself First

Progressive managers learn to develop themselves by ensuring they continue to grow through their careers.

When they get stuck, the first place they look is within.

All good managers have the innate capability to look inwardly from time to time to understand better how they are doing.

They can be very focused and objective about how they go about their self-assessment, or – which is much more value-creating on a different level – they can ask their team about how they are doing as well.

When you are able to do this, you’ll have a far greater knowledge of how you work yourself, which is extraordinarily useful, generating interesting insights as well as offering lots of possibilities too.

One of the reasons people (not just managers), struggle with a better understanding of themselves, is that they are frightened of what they might come up with.

It’s a scary place, being your real self – especially when, for a long time – many years even – you have become used to playing an inauthentic role. Truth is, we are all acting a part in our lives, because of the way we have become fashioned through our experiences.

And it can make us both uncomfortable as well as less capable when we are working outside our natural skin.

Once you have taken steps to recognize any areas where you need to fine tune them, you can take steps, often with the support and help from your team, to develop your skills in a much more productive way.

For junior managers, you can start this right from the beginning of your management role. By engaging others in your team with your development through a bit of self-analysis, you will help them see that this is the most valuable way to progress their performance.

For more experienced managers, such openness, whilst relatively rare, has enormous possibilities for you as well as the team itself.

Being open about who you are and how you go about your work, is most revealing – not least in the response you get from your people, which whilst initially may be a little puzzled, is likely, over time, to become fascinated by the internal changes you make and they can learn from too.

Often there will be programs that will be able to help you. Your organization may have one-off training courses you can do. You may have team members or colleagues who have the specific experiences you need if you take the time to look around.

There is nothing like being focused, taking your development into your own hands and creating the opportunities for your own development yourself.

If you sit around waiting for the magic workshop to transform your management development to clear all your shortcomings, you may well have to wait a long time indeed.

Far better to seek out support from an experienced hand that will be able to guide you through ‘learning by doing exercises’ that will neatly feather into your day-job.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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March 10, 2010

Management Development Tips – Self- Driven Learning Is The Best

Management development is a critical activity for all managers to undertake, whatever their levels of expertise.

Noticing what you need to do differently is the vital first step and then taking action without waiting for others to do it for you.

There can be amazing value when you are focused enough to want to develop and grow.

It is pretty obvious that there are many managers out there who are at different starting points in their careers. Knowing where to start as you move your career along can be a bit tricky.

Because what’s just right for a new manager, still getting their basics right, will be very different for a seasoned manager who – when being very honest – will know exactly where they have their weaker points that will need attention.

Please remember, wherever you are up the ladder of success, there will always be something that you can develop, regardless of the level of experience you have and the interest you take in your own future growth.

It can be much more challenging when you feel things aren’t going as well as they might and then try to pass the blame to anything that will take it. Like your employees; outside influences; the weather even (it has been known!).

Where you are new, you’ll look for an experienced hand to guide you quickly to help you make a great start. You will be able to absorb all sorts of information and it will all be very valuable.

You know that it’s important to reflect on what you are learning and sense how it is serving you. It is easy to get distracted, of course, and you will need to be choosy. It’s also worth taking time out to reflect on your behaviors, to check out whether the ‘how’ of the ways you do things is the most appropriate and productive.

For those more experienced, you see things in different ways, from a position of ‘been there, done that’. Much experience is invaluable for you and the key to check here is whether what you do has served you well – no, really, check it out with your people – so that you can select other options to make the difference going forward.

It just depends on you to take a few minutes out of your week to find what you need to move forward, that’s all. When you find that specific little gem you can improve – even just a little – you really will find that it’s been worth your while.

It’s worth noting that the very action you take to improve your performance shows that you are one of the small percentage who are prepared to take their career into their own hands.

With that level of a pro-active spirit, aligned with the activities and learning you can find – often very inexpensively – out there, you have much greater opportunities to be successful than many of your colleagues.

And that is immensely valuable, both financially and for your own fulfillment too, as well as the development and growth of your own people, which you will inevitably begin to support them with as part of your focused development.

Management development is a fascinating activity for managers – of any age or experience – to get involved in and the most valuable and rewarding comes from grasping the nettle and taking personal responsibility for your own growth.

Filed under Blog, Management Development Tips, Managing Me by Martin

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