Is Your Career Progression on Track?

You probably have asked yourself that question, “Is your career progression on track?” several times over your lifetime.

Businesswoman climbing ladder.Perhaps early in your career, you made great traction and then things slowed down or you were a slow starter and are ready to figure how to ramp your career progression up. Either way, questioning your progress is natural and normal.

When evaluating your career progression, think about the pivotal points along the way – they may have been physical moves, marriage, children, illness, divorce, changing jobs or education.

If you were to draw out a map of your life, identify the major events that took place that affected your career progression by putting it on hold or propelling it beyond your expectations.

As you consider those life junctures, do you have an opportunity to recreate them if the impact of them was positive? If so, what are the risks and upsides to making those leaps? Are you willing to make those changes? Do you have the support of your family or support system to do it?

As we grow older, making changes and taking risks get harder unless you are someone who likes to live on the edge. We create lives that become more complicated because of financial or personal obligations.

Know that you can work your way to moving forward. Your career progression may not be at the pace you hoped for. It may take some planning. It may require you to take some risks or make some changes in the way you are approaching your work situation. All of this “stuff” that gets in the way can be resolved if you have the right attitude and determination to make it work.

How to Know It is Corporate Politics

At some point in your rising career, you will encounter corporate politics. It doesn’t matter what size the company is – it may be a family owned business or small company, the signs are the same.

istock_000001275566xsmallHow you find out may be through careful observation or perhaps experience when you find yourself in the middle of a mess. The better you prepare yourself for recognizing the signs before you get caught up in the situation, the easier it will be for you to figure out a way through it.

Here are some signs that tell you corporate politics is alive at your workplace:

  • You are surprised at decisions being made without your consultation.
  • You are not being included in communication (email or meetings) in pre-planning stages.
  • After a decision is made, subsequent meetings are held to vet out concerns and you are not invited.
  • Peers withhold information or resources that affect your effectiveness and success.
  • Communication with peers is not balanced. You hear more negative comments than positive encouragement.
  • You see a noticeable decline in meeting requests with your staff, peers or boss.

There are many more subtle and obvious signs of corporate politics. The signs I identified are the ones that become visible at first. If not addressed quickly, the organization, your peers, staff and boss will lose confidence in your ability to lead with strength.

Corporate politics essentially are power plays at work.

The way you handle the corporate politics will set a tone for everyone in the organization on how you want to be treated. It is important to not overplay your hand with emotion and not seem wimpy at the same time by letting things continue. It’s a delicate balance.

Nail the Interview with Three Interviewing Techniques

Interviewing is not easy. In fact, interviewing can be quite stressful. You want the job, or at least you think you do. How to you prepare yourself so you can nail that interview? There are three interviewing techniques that will help you move ahead of the competition:

istock_000006916716xsmallDevelop Killer Interview Questions

No doubt, the normal questions asked – what are your benefits, what is the culture like, what is your management style are expected by the interviewer. In fact, those questions are so generic that you will get generic answers unless you drill down.

If you are like the majority of interviewers, you hesitate to ask direct and specific questions that may put your interviewer on the spot. Well here’s a little secret – if you can have them pause to think about how they might answer your killer question, you have their attention. Just be careful not to intimidate them or show too much of your ego as this interviewing technique can backfire quickly.

Answer Questions Holistically

When asked a question, the faster you connect and establish rapport with your interviewer the better. How you connect with them quicker is by communicating with them in their most preferred style of communication. Some people like logic; others prefer a step-by-step approach, knowing the big picture or intuitive approach. Whatever their preference, if you can hit their sweet spot for communication, you develop rapport.

The trick to this technique is to answer your question taking in account all four approaches and see how they respond to your answers. Once you know their preferred style, you can adjust your answers accordingly.

Positive Self-confidence

It shows up in the way you speak, the way you hold yourself and body language. Interviewers are looking for someone with positive self-confidence – not the cocky ego that rears its ugly head with some people. This is the killer of many interviews. If you lack self-confidence, it will overcast your interview.

How do you develop self-confidence? The more competent you become at mastering interviewing techniques, the more confident you will become when you are in an important interview. It takes practice.

While there are many more interviewing techniques, the ones I have discussed come up over and over with clients I work with. Figure out which one is causing you the most angst and make some progress on improving your delivery. You might be surprised at how quickly you see positive results.

Fired for Being Ethical

I received a letter from a woman in India who was recently fired for being ethical and upholding her values and principles. Here’s her story:

What to Do after Being FiredI’m from eastern part of India. I have work experience of 14 years in IT. Last April 2014, I joined a start-up company as Technical Lead & Project Manager as they wanted my expertise to help the company grow.

Things were good till I hired an ex colleague of mine as my junior. After a month into this company, she started having an affair with the top boss and was virtually running the company in disguise. The top boss wanted to fire everyone whom she didn’t like.

The first in the line was our HR. Since I was the most senior employee they wanted to use me in firing her. They offered me a hefty hike if I did. But I didn’t do it as my professional ethics prevented me.

Then that boss started spreading among the employees that I am not that competent and the company had incurred loss due to my inefficiency. When HR asked for the detailed list of the projects cancelled due to my inefficiency, the boss wasn’t able to furnish it.

On 13th January, 2015, I took a day off due to my severe back pain. On that day, the company mailed me my termination letter effective from 14th January, 2015. The mail didn’t carry any company letterhead, digital signature. It was just a plain mail format.

Since then have started applying for new jobs and I am not hiding the fact that I was terminated. But please advise me what I should say about the reason of termination. I can’t go this deep when asked by the new company.

First of all, bravo for standing up for your ethics. Personally, you have paid a price with your career, however, your morals are intact and that compass will land you with the right organization in the future.

Second,  the fact that the company terminated you in the way they did is not surprising. Start-up companies may not have their policies and procedures in place like a large organization.

When you believe you have been fired for being ethical, it can put you in a difficult position. In your interview, if you have stated that you were fired which is completely accurate, your future employer wants to know why.

What do you say? Know that if you go into any details about your previous employer it will reflect badly on you, especially if the employer is well-known in your community. You don’t want to be known as the person spreading negative comments about them.

It is important to keep it light and high level. Avoid going into the details. In this situation, it would be perfectly acceptable to say that your values or approach to business was very different from your previous employer. If questioned about what you mean – then avoid saying what the employer did or did not do and emphasize what you do and how you like to work.

Another approach is to tackle the business size – that is only if you decide start-ups are not for you. Some people thrive on having procedures and processes in place; others want the excitement and challenge of the unknown. As you found out there are trade-offs. Start-ups can run amok quickly without a clear set of values.

For more information on how to craft your specific response, consider investing in your future with my eBook: What to Do After Being Fired. It will help you get past those hurdles more quickly even if you were fired for being ethical.

My Take on Toxic Work Environment

There’s a new term being thrown around – toxic work environment. It’s a catchy phrase. To be honest, I am not sure I like it. While I fully understand that your work environment could bad for you, toxic refers to something being caused by a toxin or poison – something that is harmful or deadly.

You might argue that your work environment is harmful because of poor management or employee relations practices. However, companies that thrive are addressing these issues, if not they will lose their talented employees and customers.

The other issue I have with a toxic work environment is that the starting place is negative. There is nothing more demotivating than knowing you are at the bottom of the barrel and every step you make will be scrutinized.

Instead, why not start from knowing what the organization does well and build on it? Recognize the areas where you can make progress and focus on what you are doing right. It’s hard to motivate management and employees who think their company is toxic. Once a label is embraced, turning it around is very difficult.

Let’s say your company does have a toxic work environment – perhaps it is affecting your performance or health. Then, I have to ask – Why are you still there? The choice is yours to stay or leave – even if it is a difficult one.

Fired After Failing Drug Test

What do you do if your company fires you for failing a drug test? One reader wanted some advice about what to do when the company says you have quit.

I needed some advice. I was fired from job last Thursday for failing a drug test. I went in Friday and my separation notice stated that I quit. I signed it as fast as possible due to not strangling my boss. I just wanted to leave at that point. Should I be worried or upset with what has happened? They would have found a way to fire me eventually regardless. It happens to lots of employees there. I think there trying to buy their way out of unemployment pay.

11566653_sHere’s the whole story.

The boss never had a problem with my work ability. He is just suspicious of me sitting in a car while on break. Well I wasn’t just the only employee to do this. I think he just had it out for me…in one of his moods. I tell him its 6 degrees out and I’m staying out of the cold. I sit in the car every morning before work with no problems. He drives by in a vehicle and sees me and I think nothing of it. I mean I’m right here in front of the shop. He acts like I’m trying to hide something for being in a car.

I tell him I seen you drive by. I’m right here you see me I see you. Then he starts talking about my team not getting enough work done. So then I call him out saying that’s not on me. I do more than anybody on team. Next thing you know I’m being called in office.

He has contacted HR and GM and told them who knows what. They ask me what I was doing in a car and this and that. I tell them I sit there every morning. They have cameras and can see that.

Then there seems to be no problem with my work ability also. I’m a helluva worker now obviously. Then he says I need a drug screen for suspicion of being where I was.

Now I do smoke marijuana now and then and I do it in privacy of my home. I can’t do it at work for the fact I wouldn’t be able to function correctly. I tell him I’m going to press lawsuit if I pass the test for it had been a few weeks since.

Then I tell him about what he said at company meeting a few months before that an employee cracked a joke and I guess he forgot where he was and started talking about his “tube steak” private area out loud with male and female workers present. That sure did shut him up in the office. So on the way to be tested my immediate supervisor tells me this should have stayed in-house. The HR and GM should have never been called. I failed the drug screen. I came back to shop and signed separation notice saying quit. Comments said Mr. XX quit. That’s the whole story if it helps. Thanks again.

Your company most likely has a drug screen or drug test policy. Random drug tests are especially popular in companies where heavy equipment is being used for safety reasons.

I realize that getting a break may mean you want to get out of the shop. While you may not have done drugs on site, employees going to their cars on break often do drugs. Staying in your car in the parking lot is probably not the best decision. You would have been better off driving off the property to a shopping center and chilling out than doing it in your car. Do not give your employer a reason to be suspicious even if you are innocent.

I am not surprised that your boss may have wanted to let you go after you “put him in his place”. For some reason, bosses don’t take kindly to someone telling them they are wrong or be reminded of an event where they may have been embarrassed by their behavior.

When you find yourself in these kinds of situations it is always better to say less and not more. Give your boss less ammunition to load the gun that is being directed at you and perhaps you may have dodged the drug test bullet.

To answer your question about signing off the separation notice that said you quit. I think you got lucky. Here’s why.

When you go to another employer, you can say you quit your last job. If you were fired, you would have to say why they fired you and failing a drug test is not something another employer wants to hear.

I realize you won’t be eligible for unemployment and that may pinch your budget; however you will get a job faster and that is more money in the long run. Good luck.

Setting your Intention in the New Year

Have you set your resolution for the New Year? If not, consider setting your intention instead.

As I set a resolution, I am resolved to making it happen and to be honest, especially if it is a lofty goal, I fail at some point in the year. When I fail, I get discouraged….sometimes I pull myself back up and start again and other times I fall off the wagon completely.

Setting your intention provides some leeway or forgiveness. It says that you intend to do something. You are not perfect. It’s a statement that you are continuing to work on improving your situation….no matter how tough it may be.

I set intentions every day. It is a practice that I picked up in my coach training a few years ago. Each morning we would set an intention for the day. Your intention could be the same or change depending on what you wanted to focus that day.  At the end of the day we would share our golden nugget – a personal learning ah ha that gave us new perspective.

The framework of setting an intention and then reflecting and on how you grew on a daily basis reinforces what is working – a strong signal that you are moving forward in your life. It doesn’t matter is your step forward is in inches or by leaps and bounds. Every positive step is step in the right direction.

So if you dread New Year’s resolutions think about setting your intention…it could be for the year or carve it out day by day.

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