Three Pitfalls a New Manager Should Avoid

Congratulations, you have been promoted to a new manager role within your organization. With that new manager title comes some responsibilities to yourself, your staff and the organization. How you handle your transition into the new manager role will set the stage for how your direct reports, peers and boss evaluate your potential.

istock_000006404981xsmallThese three pitfalls new managers face are common. It may take a little maneuvering to avoid doing them because the company culture or the outgoing manager believes they are doing you a favor, when in reality they are not.

Making Assumptions on Expectations and Goals

It is very important to get clear goals when you first move into the new manager role. What you were told during the interview may not be what is really going on in the organization.

Develop your goals with your manager and get things in writing. Make sure the goals or outcomes have clear measurements and timelines associated with them. Inquire what resources you may need to be successful and engage your new boss in how to best go about it.

Avoid Getting an Initial Debrief on Your New Staff

Every new manager is faced with this well-intentioned helpfulness that frankly sets you up for more work and sometimes – poor decision-making.

It is not imperative that you know the history of every direct report with the previous manager because they had their own opinions and filters on performance and engagement.

Just think, how many times you have in the past had a manager you did not gel with and when someone came along and believed in you that things changed and you flourished. Give your new direct reports an opportunity to show you what they can do and not having them start in the hole.

You are being brought in to make a change or to bring a new perspective to a department. Demonstrate managerial courage and strength by making your first assessment independently.

Build Peer Relationships Early

As a new manager, you will be stretched in many directions. Some new managers forget to build peer relationships and alliances early in their new role. These advocates can make or break you. They will serve as a resource to understanding the organization’s culture and norms.

A word of caution about relationship building – avoid fueling any gossip or water cooler information. Listen and ask questions. Be curious about the new organization and use judgment on what you share.

By avoiding these three pitfalls that new managers face, you will set yourself up for a more successful integration. If you want more information on some of these pitfalls consider getting my eBook: The Secrets to Successful Job On-Boarding.

 

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.

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.

Making an Impression at Work

Sometimes people just get it right. A friend’s son shared his story about making an impression on the CEO, CFO and Chairman of the Board of his company. He did not try to WOW them with a pre-planned encounter; he was himself – in the moment – showing his true personality and asking questions as if they were his peers.

Kudos to the executives who welcomed and cultivated a professional relationship with someone unpicked from a slate of high potential candidates and saw potential in the unobvious.

Here’s the story about making an impression at work – there are many lessons to glean. No doubt, the self-confidence this man exudes will take him very far.

So I’m standing out front of my office building taking a couple hits off my vape and checking my Instagram, when the CEO, CFO, and Chairman of the Board come strolling out. These are white collar men who have never heard the term casual Friday, in suits I can coolly appraise around $2k and shoes meticulously shined to a mirror sheen. The Chairman (whom I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting but am impressed by his record of many years as the CEO of our music company) takes a look at me and remarks, “That’s the coolest looking guy I’ve ever seen hanging out in front of our building”.

Now my first reaction is to blush a bit and fumble my words, because I am not sure if they’re making fun of me or not. The CEO and CFO introduce me and I am promptly invited out to lunch at the cafe down the block with three of the wealthiest and most successful men I’ll probably ever meet.

I did most of the talking, though I’m wisely tight lipped about most of my past, what seems to impress them the most is the admission that I am a high school dropout who never finished community college. While these three
gentlemen hold master’s degrees in accounting and business, they are extremely eager to hear my opinion of the organization, both as an hourly wage employee and as a newcomer to Los Angeles, taking my first tip toeing steps towards discovering my own identity as a Jewish person.

“Where is the representation for culture?” is my number one question to everyone I work with. I code pages and event forms every day for the silver spoon crowd – lawyers, real estate investors, and film producers. These people are fourth generation and up of affluent Angelino society. They had valet park their Mercedes for the networking meeting – I took the bus. My question to these community leaders was this – within the Jewish community, am I simply not Jewish enough? If we are supposed to bind together as Jews in the face of adversity, does classism still exist within our own institution?

Apparently these are important questions to ask, as I now have an official meeting with them after the holidays and an invitation to join the young adults’ leadership development program. A cool guy dressed all in black who’s not afraid to ask a trio of millionaires why our organization overlooks artists and musicians seems like exactly the kind of person who needs to be in a community leadership role here in Los Angeles.

How to Find out About Your Career Progression

You may have joined a new organization or you have been in a job for a while and you are curious about what kind of career progression your company offers you. How do you find out about it?

There are a number of people in your organization that can help you answer that question and who those people are will depend on the size of your organization or company. The larger the company, the more specialized the roles in the human resources department and that will decide who you should be approaching.

Who Knows About Career Progression?

The Human Resources department keeps information about career progression especially in large companies because it is a central point of contact. They conduct the research about positions and how salaries tie to the different levels within an organization. Here is a list of Human Resources people who may have knowledge about career progression:

HR Generalist – often the person who supports the business group or function. They have general information about career progression especially if they support functions across different divisions.  This is a good person to talk to first. Bounce off questions that you have about how to advance yourself in the organization. If they need more detail about your specific situation, they will consult with the specialists in their department or refer you directly to them.

Compensation Specialists map out the functional pathways of career progression within organizations so that can benchmark those jobs for compensation purposes.  This is good place to see how a functional organization’s career progression is mapped out to help you plan on different roles to consider for development. Absent having this information, an organizational chart would be helpful.

Organization Development Specialists help lead the succession planning efforts in organizations. Succession planning is the process where leaders identify and slot people for future promotional opportunities and create definitive development plans to aid in propelling their career progression.

Other Career Progression Sources

Let’s not forget that talking to your manager or the head of your department is also a great resource. They have may have come up the ranks and will offer personal insight into what kinds of skills or assignments will be beneficial as you move up the career ladder.

Finally, if there are people in the organization who have a role you aspire to, then do some research to see how they progressed either inside or outside the organization. Check to see if they have a LinkedIn profile – that may give you a good starting point. Once you have some specific questions outlined, ask for a meeting and find out their story. Most people love to talk about their career progression with others.

Company Posts Your Position after Termination

What do you do when you have been terminated by your company and soon after the company posts your position or a similar position? It doesn’t seem quite fair as this reader states his situation:

27967595_sMy employer presented me a notice of termination 2 months ago. It was stated there that since the company has redundancy issue. But they are giving me monthly pay for 2 months and on my last day they will give me extra month pay tax-free. And I signed it without consulting anyone and I was not able to put “signature is for acknowledging receipt only” since I just learned that upon reading your advice and I thank you for that. This is my last month now and I have learned that the company has hired new employees but for a different division but still of same job position I have.

I am thinking now of going back to my employer and cancel the signed paper. Since it was stated there that the reason for my termination was due to redundancy, but they were able to hire new employees.

Will that signed document be an issue against me?

Thanks in advance,
Eric

The situation you describe happens a lot in companies, especially where there are different divisions, groups or departments. There are several ways that companies can justify a layoff. The most common are position eliminations or consolidations.

Layoff Reasons

When a position is eliminated, it is because the majority of work that the person performs is no longer needed to be done. This is most likely what you are referring to as being terminated by redundancy.

A position consolidation is when there are two or more positions that are collapsed into a single position. Companies usually select the person with the critical skills necessary to do the work or may use tenure for who is awarded the position.

Company Posts Your Position – Is it Legal?

Here’s what you need to know. In the United States, if a company lays you off from one division, group, or department and has defined the lay off to that division, group or department, they can create a new position within a different department, group or division without having to offer or allow you to apply to it (unless there is a bargaining agreement in place).  I know it seems unfair, but that is how it works.

It would have been more convenient for you to use the internal job posting system if you were still an employee to apply for this job; however, companies do not always anticipate new job positions while doing layoffs – especially in other others of the company. In my experience, there are many divisions and groups that do not share this kind of information with each other. As an example, the need for a new position does not arise until there is a spike in business with a new customer or demand which affects only that division, group or department and the rest of the company is unaware of this change in business.

While it is normal to be suspicious and think the company had a master plan about not keeping you, realize creating the new positions may very well be unexpected. The fact that the company posts your previous position elsewhere may  be happenstance.

Here are some positive actions you can take:

I do not think it is in your best interest to ask about cancelling your signed paper – to be honest you won’t be able to do it. Too much time has passed, you do not have a good case and all that will happen is you will stir up negative conversations with the company.

Instead, approach the company and let them know you have seen the new position in the different division and ask if you can apply to it. If you have a good work history, I would think they would welcome your interest. If the position requires relocation, you may or may not have an opportunity to apply to the position if they are not providing relocation benefits unless you tell them you will pay for it on your own. Many companies will bridge a short break in service and you would be able to keep seniority with any benefit plans.

Good luck!

How Cliques Impact Career Trajectory

Cliques exist in all organizations – sometimes they are obvious and at other times it is underground. Let’s be clear, not all cliques are bad, but cliques can impact your career trajectory.

Career Builder sponsored a 2013 nationwide survey conducted by Harris Interactive asking U.S. workers about how cliques impact work culture. The results may surprise you – only 11% of respondents feel intimidated by cliques. However, the impact of cliques cannot be ignored – 20% of the respondents said they had done something they were not really interested in or did not want to do just to fit in.

Some of the activities that respondents felt pressured into doing included:

  • Attending happy hours (50%)
  • Watching specific TV shows (21%)
  • Making fun of someone else or pretending not to like them (19%)
  • Liking similar foods (17%)
  • Partaking in smoke breaks (9%)

There are situations where people hide something to fit in. The results of this survey indicated that 15% of the respondents hid their political affiliation, 10% don’t discuss their personal hobbies and 9% keep their religions affiliations and beliefs private.

The power of cliques in an organization varies – there are factors that influence it. How strong and consistent is the organization’s culture? Is the culture built on positive principles?

For example, cliques survive when the organization’s culture is weak and negative. Cliques may form to maneuver the system or to offer a network of support for pushing ideas through because the current culture doesn’t have a system that is effective. The clique exists to build alliances and strength in numbers.

So what do you do when a strong clique threatens career trajectory or your ability to advance your career? You know the clique is the power house in the organization – does it make sense for you to apart of it? Think long and hard about it because once you are associated with the clique it is hard to extract yourself from it.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What are the intentions of the clique?
  • Does this organization’s culture offer other ways to support your intentions?
  • Do the clique’s beliefs align with your beliefs?
  • What are the pros and cons of joining the clique?
  • What are the short and long-term effects of being part of this clique?
  • Can I co-exist with the clique without being a part of it?
  • What happens to people who have joined and then are shunned?
  • If you move up the management ladder, how will your relationship change?

As you work through some of these questions, you will know if joining the clique or if this organization is the right choice for your career trajectory.