Category Archives: Personal Change

Who Are You And How Did You Get That Way?

In the mirror

Understand Yourself

One of the most important tasks of becoming a great leader and a successful Executive (and those things are not necessarily the same thing) is to REALLY understand yourself.  You need to understand what makes you tick–what motivates you, what slows you down, what scares you and what gets in your way.  You need to understand how others see you.  You also need to understand that what goes on in your head is absolutely invisible to those around you.  They don’t know why you do what you do and they certainly don’t know what you are thinking.  You need to understand your strengths and your weaknesses, your learning style and your interpersonal style.  And then you need to show enough of your internal workings and motivations to help others understand you.

We all think we know ourselves.  We are mostly wrong.  That is why it is really good to get feedback from others.  I highly recommend getting 360 assessments done–pretty regularly.  These are assessments that get feedback from you, your boss and your subordinates.  When you look at your opinion of yourself against that of your boss and your subordinates, you frequently get a surprise.   If your boss doesn’t agree with your opinion of yourself, then it’s important to note the differences.  If your subordinates don’t agree with you and your boss about your strengths–another important factor.  These instruments just measure behaviors, though–what can actually be seen.  When you get feedback that indicates behaviors that can derail your career, it is important that you CHANGE that behavior.  It is possible for you to change your behavior without understanding how and why you do what you do.  You just change.  Right?  Most of us can’t do that.

The Why of Your Behavior

When I identify that I need to change a behavior–interpersonal interactions, eating, exercising, time management–it really helps me to understand WHY I do (or don’t do) what I do.  For example, I used to get feedback that I was “unreadable.”  As I tried to figure out why people thought that, I also tried to figure out WHY I was unreadable.  What did they mean that I was unreadable?  I started asking people (not the one’s who had given the feedback, but others):  “What does it mean when people say I’m unreadable?  Why do they care? What could I do differently?”  The answers surprised me.  It turns out that I used few happy facial expressions.  I wasn’t aware of this.  Whether I was happy, pissed or someplace in between, I was using the same facial expressions. I had very neutral (or so I thought) facial expressions.   I really wasn’t aware of this.  When I thought long and hard about it,  I realized that some things had happened in my childhood that made me very guarded about my thoughts and feelings.  OK.  That was legitimate.  Then.  Those things no longer existed.  And not only that, it was interfering with my effectiveness as a leader because when left to their own imagination, people frequently assume the worse (that I’m pissed AT THEM).  I was able to (deliberately) change this because I was made aware of it, I asked about it to understand it, and then I could persuade myself that the coping behavior from my childhood was no longer necessary.  I was able to change more easily with this realization.

Some of the things that can impact the way your are and can shape your behaviors as a leader are:

  • Your birth order and your relationships with your siblings
  • Your relationships with your parents
  • Your beliefs about how things work (your mental models)
  • Your beliefs about the “rules” of organizations
  • What you believe about hierarchy and how that fits with your organization, your boss and your subordinates
  • Your beliefs about what makes people tick (Theory X, Theory Y)
  • What you believe about people’s responsibility to the organization and the organization’s responsibility to people

Start With Feedback

It all starts with feedback, though.  You can’t know what behaviors are really working and not working unless people tell you.  They probably won’t tell you unless you ask them.  Once you know the behaviors that you should address, think long and hard about where those behaviors come from.  Then do something about it.

Then Change

Sooner rather than later.

2 Comments

Filed under Career Development, Career Goals, Derailment, Executive Development, Feedback, Personal Change

Are You Stuck?

Image converted using ifftoany

Have you noticed that you’re not moving up in your organization any more?  Have your last couple of job changes been laterals?  Have your last couple of reviews been ho-hum? Are you starting to get the message that you’re stuck in your career trajectory?  There are some common causes and, believe it or not, some things that YOU can do about it.

Are You Bored?

Do you find yourself finding other things to do (other than your job) at work?  Are you consistently late for work and early to leave? Do you think you can do your job in your sleep? Have you done it and done it and done it and don’t want to do it anymore? Do you remember when you were challenged by the tasks of your job, but that was a long time ago?  Boredom is a common cause of burnout and demotivation in a job.  And it shows.  You may be the most experienced, the one with the longest tenure, but if you aren’t engaged with your job, it shows.  People who aren’t engaged don’t get promoted.  People who are bored are obvious about being bored.  People who are bored don’t get promoted.

Are You Under-Performing?

Have you noticed that people are passing you up?  Are they getting promoted (or appreciated and recognized) when you sit there like chopped liver?  This is the time to be really honest with yourself.  Are you really performing as well as them?  I know you’ve been telling yourself that you are, but are you really?  Are you making deadlines?  Are you over-delivering?  Are you looking for ways to improve what you do?  Are you looking at what you boss (and her boss) needs and trying to figure out how to get that done in addition to what you’re supposed to work on?  If your peers are over-performing, then you aren’t making the cut if you are merely performing.

Do You Have an “Attitude”?  That Shows?

Are you pissed?  Are you aware that you’ve been treated unfairly, badly, been ‘wronged’?  If so it shows.  No matter how much you try to keep it under wraps, it shows.  If it shows, people back off from you.  They can ‘feel’ your anger.  They certainly don’t promote angry people-even people who are out-performing others.

Are You Falling Behind?

We are constantly barraged by new systems, new tools, new processes at work.  Are you up-to-date on all of them?  Even the ones that you don’t need to use very often?  These tools, systems and processes change the way our minds work.  If you’re not keeping up, then you mind is not in sync with your co-workers’ minds.  Or your bosses.  People who can’t do the latest systems and tools rationalize it–I can do the same thing–the old way.  That may be true.  For a while.  Then others can take it to the next level and then the level beyond that.  And you can’t go there with the old way.  You may not even know what you can’t do if you don’t understand the new way.  Think about the things that you don’t do.  Texting?  Excel Pivot tables? Macs? Photoshop? Prezi? Dropbox?  Get with it. Do it.  Keep up.

Are You Being Rigid?

This is somewhat related to the item above, but that is more about tools and systems.  This is more about the way you think.  Are you open to new ideas?  I do organizational change management for major organizational changes.  I do a lot of ‘readiness’ workshops.  I see the rigid ones.  They are hard to get to the sessions.  They sit in the back and glare.  They bring up all the ways/reasons/causes that this won’t work.  My personal favorite, “We tried this before.”  Everyone resists some changes–that is completely normal.  If you resist all changes, if you are the one who knows all the ways and reasons this won’t work, then you aren’t fun to have around.  You certainly aren’t likely to be promoted.

Are You Not A Good Fit For Your Organization Anymore?

Organizations change.  People change.  Just like with marriages, sometimes you’ve grown apart.  Sometimes it’s time to move on.  The hard part is knowing when.  I used to work for an organization that was fairly small when I started and very large when I left.  It was a midwestern company when I started and an European conglomerate when I left.  It had one kind of product when I started and lots of kinds of products when I left.  Over the course of time from when I started and when I left there was an ebb and flow to the ‘fit’ for me.  Some management changes made it worse and some made it better.  Some positions were good fits for me and some were lousy.  In the end, it was me who had changed the most.  It was me who figured out what I liked about the work I had done for this company and figured out that I could find more of that kind of work as a consultant than as an employee at that company. It was a gradual evolutionary change in the relationship.  It happens.  It takes considerable thought and analysis to figure out whether it is a normal ebb and flow in the relationship or time to move on.  When it is time, either for you or the organization, then it isn’t likely that you will keep moving up.

What Do You Do?

Even if you decide that the fit isn’t right, there are things you can do in the mean time.  You have to really be honest with yourself.

  • If you’re bored, figure out how you can start to out-perform your peers.
  • Figure out how you can over-deliver.  Figure out how, in addition to your normal responsibilities, how to deliver something that your boss really needs.
  • If you’re angry, get some professional help to understand where it is coming from and to decide what to do about it.
  • If you are behind on the technology or systems or processes in your organization, then dedicate yourself to catching up and becoming an expert.
  • If you’re rigid, start to experiment with loosening up.  If you find yourself having a negative reaction to an idea, explore–privately at first–what would actually be the worst thing that could happen if the event took place.  Little steps can take you a long way to letting go of your rigidity.  Once you’re comfortable with letting go a little, then start to be more vocal about that openness.
  • If you are not a good fit for your organization, figure out why not, what you need in an organization and then GO FIND IT.
  • Any and all of these will relieve your boredom.  When you are experimenting with new behavior and thinking, it is really hard to be bored.

When your boss and peers see changes in you, it is highly likely that your upward trajectory will restart.

Leave a comment

Filed under Career Development, Career Goals, Derailment, Personal Change, Success, Uncategorized

Learning From Goodbye

Goodbyes Come With The Territory

I’m a consultant.  That means I change jobs a lot.  I am in and out of organizations.  I meet a lot of people, work with a lot of people and say goodbye to a lot of people.  I do different things in every gig, even though I go into organizations as a “change management expert.”  That crosses a lot of boundaries and takes in a lot of different kinds of cultures, situations, tasks, and tools.  I love what I do.  I hate the goodbyes, though.  I hate leaving the organization and its specialness.  I hate leaving the familiarity and quirks.

Lessons Learned

Every time I leave, I do a ‘Lessons Learned” for myself.

  • What did I learn?
  • How could I have prevented some of the things that went wrong?
  • What went right?
  • Which of my skills got used?
  • Which skills did I grow?
  • Which skills did I need that I didn’t have?
  • What can I do differently for the next gig that will speed up my onboarding?
  • What could I have done differently and if I had a chance I would go back and change?

What about the people?

  • Which ones was I wrong about on first impression?
  • Which ones were the biggest help to me?  How and why?
  • Which ones did I have the hardest time with?  How and why?
  • How could I have started differently to change that?
  • What could I have done throughout the gig to improve my interactions with people?
  • Which people will I keep?  (I always try to collect and keep the great people I meet in each and every gig–thank goodness for LinkedIn!!!) How will I make sure that I stay in touch? How can I expand my interactions with these people going forward?

Patterns

  • Are there things that happened during this gig that are the same as past gigs?
  • Can I leverage the patterns?
  • Do I need to break the patterns?
  • Can I learn from the patterns?

What will I do differently?

  • How will I be different in my next gig based on what I learned in this one?
  • How will I enforce doing these things differently?  In other words, how will I remember to spot and change my behavior?

What will I do the same or do more?

  • How will I enforce doing these things the same?  How will I remember?

Count My Blessings

I LOVE what I do.  I am so lucky to get to have experiences in different organizations and meet so many great people.  Even though I find the goodbyes painful, I am so blessed to have had the experiences!

6 Comments

Filed under Learning, Personal Change

Lessons from Business For Life

Time To Learn

There are a lot of things that businesses do as a matter of course that if we did them in our personal lives, things might run more smoothly:

Have a Mission

  • What is the purpose of your life?  A business probably couldn’t get a way with having a “just go with the flow” approach to mission.
  • Why do you exist?  Check out mission statements from Fortune 500 companies.  Some are better than others, but they all are a statement of why that organization exists.
  • Do you have a mission statement? Is your purpose in life to make the world better?  To impact your family?  Your community? To grow yourself in some way?  If you think it through and write it down, then it is more likely to happen.

Have a Strategy

  • How are you going to accomplish your mission?
  • What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
  • What is your timeline.
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Challenges?
  • What actions will you take.
  • What help do you need?
  • Where will you find it?

Set Quarterly Goals

I think corporations take this focus on quarterly goals too far, but I do think that having an annually goal and quarterly milestones do help keep things focused and on track.

  • Do you even have annual goals?
  • Do you break down the milestones necessary to meet these goals?  It will help you get there.

Remove ‘C’ Players

Ok, Ok, maybe some of those ‘C’ players are family.  I’m not advocating getting rid of family.  If, however, you have people in your life who are naysayers, bullies, constantly critical or who sabotage you, then it’s time to think about ‘firing’ them.  They aren’t supporting your goals or mission, and they are dead weight that you’re carrying.  Get them out.  (And if they’re family, maybe figure out how to get them into therapy or at least spend less time with them!)

Manage the Money

  • Have revenue goals.
  • Have spending constraints.
  • Manage cash flow.
  • Establish and keep good credit.
  • Use the tools–budget, review, track, adjust–that businesses use.

Have a Recognizable Brand

  • Who are you?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What value do you add?
  • When people think of you, what do they think of?  (Aunt Alice is always late . . . Dad is always grumpy . . .Brother always resists . . .Sally is always knowledgeable and cheerful).
  • Figure out what you want to be known for.  Figure out how to establish a brand that does that.

Market

  • Market yourself.
  • Market the things that you believe in.
  • People don’t know things about you unless you tell them.

Communicate Effectively

  • Focus on being clear about your message–so many problems in family and friend relationships are the result o communication problems. If you were having the same kinds of issues with your boss or your subordinates, chances are you would seek help or spend a lot of energy trying to find a solution.
  • LISTEN.  Most failures of communication are actually failures of listening.  Let the person you are communicating with KNOW that you hear what they are saying (even if you don’t agree) BEFORE you respond.
  • Choose the right media for communicating–be careful what you put into text or email.  Try to be face to face or at least voice to voice during important communications.

Be a Leader . . . and a Manager

  • Set the vision
  • Inspire
  • Don’t give up
  • Focus on the systems and structures of your life.  Set up systems that run themselves and are supported by your life’s structure.
  • Balance long-term and short-term views.

What Lessons From Business Would You Add To Your Life?

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal Change, Uncategorized

Stick with Your New Year’s Resolutions: Find Your Gateway Habits

new years resolutions

Another Year, Another List

Do you make the same New Year’s Resolutions year after year?  Save money.  Lose weight. Get a new job. Get a promotion.  Spend more time with the family.  Do you ever get your resolutions done?  How about trying something new this year.

Look at your resolutions.  What is the one key thing that you could do that would make a difference on all of them?  What behavior could you change that would help you achieve your goals for the year?  For example, if this were your list of resolutions:

  • Lose weight
  • Start a blog
  • Spend more time with the kids

What behavior change could you make that would help achieve all of them?  What about if you increased your weekly and daily planning?  What about if each week–let’s say on Sunday–you planned your meals for the week, calendared exercise and writing and time with the kids-and then followed up each morning (or evening if that works better for you) with specifics re:  food you’re going to eat, review of what you have eaten, when/where you’re going to exercise and activities with the kids?  If you put weekly/daily planning into your life, then your success with your yearly goals is much more likely.  If you add a “gateway” habit into your life that serves your goals, then you are much more likely to be able to stick to achieving your goals.In this case, the weekly/daily planning would be a gateway habit.  If you want to increase your exercise, parking far from the door or walking up the stairs could be a gateway habit.   If you eliminate an existing gateway habit—eating in the car, starting your day with the Internet–then you can impact the follow on unconscious habits.

Gateway Habits

A gateway habit is a habit that leads to other behaviors and habits.  According to research done at Duke University, more than 40% of the actions people take each day are unconscious habits.  Autopilot.  We’re aren’t thinking about it.  We just do it.  Like what we eat for lunch.  Like the snacks we grab as we walk through the kitchen.  Like the TV in the background.    One of these unconscious habits leads to the next–drinking and smoking, watching TV and eating–and at the end of the year, we’ve made no progress.  The secret to making changes is to identify key gateway habits that will lead to other changes that get you to your goals.  Changing gateway habits helps make all the related habits conscious and puts us more in control.

For example, if you need to lose weight, you could cut out eating after 7 pm.  Make your eating after 7 a conscious no-no.  Once you’ve mastered that, all of your eating will be more conscious.  Then focus or what you eat for lunch, or decide to always eat breakfast.  This will make your eating much more conscious.  Before you know it, you are in control of your unconscious eating.  Losing weight is easier when you are focusing on specific eating-related habits, rather than all the deprivations of losing weight.  Add new habits as you succeed with changing and before you know it, you’ve succeeded.  You can have as much success through eliminating existing gateway habits.

Great books to help you with getting control of your unconscious and conscious behavior:

Try Something New This Year.  What Do You Have to Lose (or Gain)?

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Career Goals, Executive Development, Goal Setting, Personal Change

Personal Change Management

Personal Change Management Is More Important Than OCM

“Organizational change management” is usually listed on job descriptions as a required skill for executives.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a critical job skill.  Personal change management is just much more important.  When you are good at personal change management, you can come across as a “can do” person, instead of a nay sayer.  You can help others with the change because you aren’t wrapped up in your own issues with the change.  In order to be good at personal change management:

  • You must understand the normal human reactions (including yours!) to change and learn how to manage yourself through those reactions while you help your team through them.
  • You must be able to recognize when you’re resisting and be able to ‘lead’ yourself through that resistance.
  • You must be able to recognize when you have hit your capacity to deal with change and find ways to expand that capacity or eliminate some of the stress that is filling it up.
  • You must be able to initiate personal change in your life in order to accomplish your goals through understanding the steps, incentives and processes that it takes to change the habits and mental models that are controlling your behavior.

As a leader, you have to be able to manage yourself through change while you’re helping others.  As an executive, you need to be able to initiate and control the personal change it takes to accomplish your personal and career goals.

Personal Change Reactions

People going through changes, good and bad, have some pretty standard reactions.  Not every person has all these reactions for all changes, but most people have most of these reactions for most (big) changes.  Think about when you found out you got a job or when you lost a job, when you found out you were having a baby, or you had a car accident–you had most of these reactions.  Change means you go from the status quo to some new state.  That shift requires some mental gymnastics to get you from one to the other.

In order to get good at dealing with personal change, it is critical that you become self-aware enough to recognize the reaction in yourself, and then learn how to move yourself through the change curve to exploration to acceptance to commitment.  There are two important things to remember in this process:

  • These reactions are completely normal.
  • You will get to the acceptance  and commitment stages, and it will feel like a ‘new normal.’  It will get better.

Personal Change Resistance

Again, resistance is a normal reaction to change.  One of my favorite change management gurus, Peter de Jager, says people don’t resist change, they resist being changed.  Unfortunately, we experience many of the changes at work as ‘being changed’ rather than choosing to change.  We resist change  because:
  • “I don’t know how” (An ability deficiency)
  • “I don’t want to” (A willingness deficiency)
  • “I just can’t” (A capacity deficiency)

When you notice resistance in yourself, ask yourself which kind of resistance is it?  How can you help yourself get past it?  What would it take for you to know to reduce your resistance?  Why don’t you want to?  How can you persuade yourself to try?  What can you change about the circumstances that make it better?  What about your capacity to change?  Can you do something to increase that?

Capacity to Change
EVERYONE hits a wall from time to time when it comes to change.  We all have a capacity to deal with change.  Some of us have a naturally high capacity or a naturally low capacity.  Then things start to happen.  Beginnings and endings–relationships, marriages, babies, jobs, deaths, illnesses, living arrangements, finances.  These things ebb and flow.  I have four kids and I used to say, as long as no more than two were off the tracks at once I could handle it–if another one had problems, then I had a hard time dealing with it over and above everything else.  If you add in big changes at work–new boss, reorganization, downsizing, job loss, then your capacity gets used up.  This overflow ebbs and flows too.  When you’re aware that your capacity is filled up, then you can reframe the situation, change the way you’re thinking about it.  You have control over managing your capacity.  This does NOT mean that you ignore or deny what is happening.  It means that you help yourself reframe what is happening so that you relieve some of the overflow and increase your capacity.
Initiating Personal Change
Organizations need Organizational Change Management because they are initiating strategic change–new processes, new systems, new organization structures–to achieve organizational goals.  Executives need to learn to initiate the same kind of personal strategic change and do personal change management through the process.  We all try to initiate personal change from time to time (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?), but statistics say that few of us actually succeed at them.  It takes an accompanying personal change management approach to make those changes stick.  You must understand what behavior, motivation, incentive, learning, communication and metric changes it will take to make the change stick.  Then, treat it as if it were the same as making a change happen with your team.  Put the things in place that will incent, motivate, inspire and reward you to make the change.

11 Comments

Filed under Career Development, Career Goals, Executive Development, Leadership, Personal Change, Success

How Do You Know When You’re In Trouble With Your Boss?

I used to get feedback on 360° assessments that I was unreadable.  I didn’t do much about it because I really didn’t see it as a problem.  I knew what was going on inside my head and I wasn’t thinking anything bad about any of the people who found me difficult to read.  I knew that if something was wrong, I was crystal clear with the person who did whatever it was.  I’m a direct person and I was direct with those who made me unhappy.  If I wasn’t unhappy, then, despite the fact that I was “unreadable,” everything was OK.

Unfortunately, no one but me had access to what was in my head.  My employees created versions of what was going on in my head.  Most of those versions not only weren’t correct, they were really way off.  I know this because they told me later.  After I learned to be more obvious about what was going on in my head.  After I learned to be direct to people who were doing things right.  People stop being scared of what is going on in your head when they know that you’ll tell them.

BadBoss

This post is about signs that your boss really DOES have a problem with you.  How do you know what is going on in your bosses head when it isn’t obvious?  You have to look for the more subtle signs.  The first thing you have to do, though, is to give your boss the benefit of the doubt.  Assume that your boss is happy with your performance if you don’t see signs otherwise. Some signs to watch out for and to take seriously are:

  • If your boss doesn’t meet your eyes.  Unless your boss does this with everyone, it isn’t a good sign.
  • If your boss avoids you.  This one isn’t as straight-forward.  Sometimes bosses have cliques or favorites.  If s/he spends more time with others than with you, then that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although it’s not necessarily good boss behavior.  Pay attention to whether you are the only one on the out.  If not, give your boss the benefit of the doubt (we’ll talk another time about how to deal with bosses who have favorites).  Assume that things are ok, maybe could be better, but are ok.  If, however, your boss really obviously avoids you, then you have a problem. 
  • If your boss constantly finds fault.  Again, is it just you or is s/he this way with everyone?  If s/he is like this across the board, then I’d go get another boss, but it isn’t specifically bad for you.  If, however, the boss nit picks everything you do, you are in trouble.  This could be a style or a communication problem, but whatever it is, it is a problem.
  • If your boss gives you worse assignments than anyone else.  Sometimes you get harder assignments because your boss thinks you can tackle harder issues than others.  If, however, your boss is giving you easier assignments or impossible assignments, then try to figure out why.  Are you new at your job,or to the group?  Have you not lived up to expectations on previous assignments?  On the other hand, do you feel like the assignments that you’re getting are designed to make you fail?  The assignments you get should be at least as hard as those given to everyone else or harder if you’re more experienced or trying to get a promotion, but not impossible.
  • If your boss always takes someone else’s side.  You don’t have a problem if you boss occasionally takes someone else’s side (in fact, that is actually better than if s/he always takes your side).  If, however, you are always on the short end of the stick, then you’re got a problem.
  • If your boss doesn’t seem comfortable with you.  Try not to assume things that aren’t here, but if your boss seems uncomfortable in dealing with you, doesn’t have small social conversations with you, never  sits near you when the occasion arises, then you mayhave a problem.  (You’ll note that I’m not as clear about this one–bosses are regular people–they can be socially dysfunctional just like the rest of us.)

I hope that you’ve read this list and decided that despite appearances, your boss is just fine with you.  That is most likely the case.  If you recognize your situation here, then you need to do something about it.  Over time, I’ll write about what to do about each one of these situations.  If you have a specific situation that you’d like to have my suggestions on, let me know and I’ll give it a go.

Leave a comment

Filed under Career Development, Derailment, Personal Change, Recession Proof, Reframe

How Do You Get Motivated On Sunday?

Dreading Sunday Evening?

I recently had someone ask me how to get motivated on Sunday.  Great question!  My question is what do you need to be motivated to do?  I assume that when most people wake up on Sunday, they’re relatively motivated to do whatever is on the agenda for Sunday.  I assume that  the question is really about being appropriately motivated for Monday.  All of us have occasional difficulty with giving up our “off” weekend time to recommit to the structure and duties of the work week.  If you regularly dread going to work on Monday, and especially if you start that dread on Sunday, then it’s time to look at what’s going on.

Why Do You Dread Going To Work?

Are you dreading the start of the work week because:

  • You don’t like the work?
  • The atmosphere of work?
  • How you feel about yourself at work?
  • What you won’t be able to do?

Whatever it is, there are some things you can do about it.  Some are short term and others are longer term.  The first thing to figure out, if you can, is why you aren’t motivated.  That will help you understand what the best approach is. 

If you don’t like the work, then you need to figure out how to find different work (longer term solution).  The best way to be motivated to go to work is to do work that you love so much that it isn’t work.  Check out a previous blog post, Are You a Wanna Be, for some suggestions.  There are things that you can do, though, in the short term to help you get motivated.

  1. Reframe the way you think about work.  Figure out a way that the work you do now is a step on the way to doing the work you want to do.  What can you learn?  Who can you meet? Who can mentor you? What training can you get? What software or systems can you learn?  What resumé value can you get out of this job that will help you get the job you really want?
  2. Put something on your calendar every day that you can look forward to.  Put something very special on your calendar on Monday.  Have lunch with someone you really want to spend time with.  Block an hour to learn something new.  Read a book during lunch. 
  3. Plan out your next week on Friday and then set the plan aside until Monday.  Sometimes when you have a plan ready to go, you can relax and enjoy the weekend and start the week ready on Monday.  At the same time, you’ll work on next week’s tasks in your subconscious and may be further ahead when Monday starts.
  4. Understand the specifics of what motivates you and create an environment that is full of those things.  If you are a list person who loves to check off the “dones?”  Do you work for rewards?  Give yourself rewards.  If you work for approval, find someone who can/will approve when you accomplish things.  Create a motivation rich environment that helps you be eager to go to work.

If the reason you dread going to work on Monday is the atmosphere, then there are two things to do. 

  1. First, figure out what it is about the atmosphere.  Is it the people?  Is it the culture?  Is it what you are asked to do?
  2. Second, figure out how to change it. Moving away from the situation may be the long term solution.  Short term there are ways to get along with even the most difficult people.

Do you feel incompetent at work?  Do you feel like a failure at work?  These are frequently the reason that some people dread work.  Feeling incompetent is a completely normal way to feel when you are learning new skills.  It is not pleasant to be in that stage, but it is a normal stage, and it is relatively short-lived.  If you feel like a failure, you have to ask yourself–is it you or is it true.  If it is true, then take one step each day to turn it around.  If it is in your head, get therapy.  That is the fastest, easiest, safest way to solve that problem.

Is it that you want to keep doing what you do on the weekend, not what you do during the work week?  If so, what is it that you like so much about what you do on the weekend?  Spending time with your family?  Relaxing? Exercising? Working on your hobby?  Maybe there are some clues here about what your ultimate, dream work  should be.  Maybe these are some things that you could use to motivate  yourself (by scheduling more of) during the week.  Maybe these are some things you can set up as rewards to get motivated.  However you do it, if you’re doing things that make you happy on the weekend and not so much during the week, you need to fix that.

You Can Change This

The bottom line is that when you start dreading going to work, refocus your energy toward figuring out exactly what it is that is creating that dread.  You CAN have a life in which going to work on Monday is as fun as getting up Sunday.  You can create that life through deep personal understanding and by dealing with the situation in the short term while you work toward a plan for the long term.

2 Comments

Filed under Career Development, Personal Change, Reframe

Get Better At Your Job. Now.

How Good Do You Want To Be?

What kind of employee do you want to be?  What kind of a manager?  What kind of a leader?  What kind of a boss? What kind of a sales person?  What kind of a General Manager?  What kind of an Executive?  This is a serious question (or I guess several serious questions).  Do you want to be “OK” at your job?  Do you want to be good at it?  Or do you want to be extraordinary?  What is your ideal performance?  Are you hitting it?

If you’re not hitting it, I’m not going to ask you why not.  That conversation is for another time.  I’m going to ask you what, precisely, would you be doing if you were performing at your ideal level?  Would you be spending more time at something?  Would you be finishing things (in a more timely manner)?  Would you be talking to people you aren’t talking to?  Would you be hustling harder?  Would you be less complacent? Would you be getting better results?  Would your boss be happier with you?

What Would It Take?

Write down the things that you would be delivering if you were hitting your ideal job performance.  Be precise.  Look at the list.  What do you have to do differently than you are doing now to get those results?  Would you be on the Internet as much as you are?  Would you be taking hour lunches?  Would you be wasting your time in hour long meetings that could get the same results in 15 minutes?  Would you be going along to get along?  Would you be delegating better?  Leading more? Would you be more focused on what you are doing–all the time?

Do you work like you want to be the best?  Or do you work like you want to be “OK?”  The difference is a change in attitude.  Get serious about what you’re doing.  Don’t treat it like a job–9 to 5–it’ll be here tomorrow if I don’t get it done.  Treat it like a dead-serious goal.  You’ve GOT to get it done.  You’ve GOT to increase your performance.  You’ve GOT to keep it moving.

Try changing your attitude–even for a day and notice the difference.  It is much more fun, interesting and fulfilling when you are ALL IN.

Leave a comment

Filed under Career Development, Career Goals, Executive Development, Personal Change, Reframe

How Do You Get Noticed?

Do You Get Noticed?

Do you feel like you work as hard as every one else?  Do you feel like your deliverables are better than others?  Do you feel like no one notices how hard you work, or how good your work is?  You may be right.  Working hard, in and of itself, isn’t usually enough to be noticed.  Doing great work isn’t the only thing that people get judged on.

During my time as a manager and an executive, I usually noticed people who were:

Proactive:  People who don’t wait to be asked to do things, but who suggest that they can contribute, or who even just do it usually stand out.  When you think of it from the manager’s perspective, making sure that you’ve circled back with everyone and made sure that they know what to do, when to do it, how to do it, adds to the job.  If you have someone who steps up and suggests or asks if they should do something, lifts some of the load.  If you show that you are seeing more of the big picture and some of the things that need to get done, then you have marked yourself as having potential beyond your current position.

High Energy:  People who display high energy stand out in a crowd.  They are fun to be around (even for managers).  Not only do they usually do a lot of work, they are perceived at doing more than they do because they just keep at it.

Able to Jump on Something and FINISH It:  Part of this is being obvious about starting and part of this is being obvious about finishing.  Some people are good at one of these and others are good at the other, but it is the people who are consistently good at both who get noticed.  These people who seem to start quickly and consistently and obviously finish the job are the ones that managers and executives come to rely on.

An Expert:  Become the specialist on something.  Become known in your organization as the person to go to for answers with . . . whatever.   Make sure you are quite knowledgeable on the things that are important to doing your job, but also on the things that your boss thinks are important.

Able to Get Things Done With Other People:  People who are networked, who work well in teams, who are persuasive, who are leaders–basically, who get things done through/with other people consistently get noticed.  It is a surprisingly rare talent.

Not a Diva:  People who take more energy to deal with than they are worth don’t last long.  The thing is–if you are worth a lot, people are willing to deal with a lot.  Its hard to know when you cross over that line.  It is just better to not take a lot of work to deal with so that you won’t be surprised when they get tired of your drama.  (Of course, you have to NOT BE A DIVA in addition to one or more of the others  to be visible–just NOT BEING A DIVA is not noticable in most organizations.  People who are the noticeable in the ways listed above, but who are also divas, are noticed in good ways.)

What Kinds of People Do You Notice?

2 Comments

Filed under Brand Yourself, Career Development, Executive Development, Goal Setting, Hi Po, Personal Change, Recession Proof