Tag Archives: executive development

The Transition From Manager to Leader

manager to leaderLeaders v. Managers

I’m sure you’ve probably heard about the differences between managers and leaders.  Managers do things right and leaders do the right thing–right? I think that this is an interesting discussion, but it isn’t that easy.  Managers do leader things and leaders do manager things. Each of us is naturally oriented toward one or the other–we either are inclined toward structure, processes, policies and systems or toward strategy, inspiration, vision and people.  But we can all learn to be either a manager or a leader or both a manager and a leader.

The Leadership Continuum

Many have described this as a dyad–either/or, a choice between two options.  I see it more as a continuum.

Manager to Leader

A continuum that ranges from supervisor to manager to leader to Executive Leader to Global Leader. This is not to say that supervisors can’t be leaders or that Global Leaders (positionally) aren’t managers.  There are cumulative skills, though, across those roles that are needed to deal with increasing complexity as a person accumulates more responsibility.

Moving Along the Continuum

Michael Watkins, whose books I’ve recommended in this blog before (The First 90 Days and Your Next Move) has a recent article in Harvard Business Review that is well worth the read.  He writes How Managers Become Leaders in the June issue of HBR.   Watkins identifies seven “shifts” that are required to grow managers into leaders.  These shifts are:

  • From specialist to generalist
  • From analyst to integrator
  • From tactician to strategist
  • From bricklayer to architect
  • From problem solver to agenda setter
  • From warrior to diplomat
  • From supporting cast member to leading role

These shifts require developmental experiences that change your perspective and force you to step out of your comfort zone.  You also need to be exposed to regular 360º feedback that allows you to understand whether or not your behavior is working for you in the situation.  And finally, you need to be dedicated to continuing to grow your self by challenging your assumptions, habits and behaviors to move along the continuum.

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Break the Rules? Only After Careful Consideration.

Breaking the Rules

Rules Have Reasons

Rules in organizations are there for a reason.  Someone at some time figured out that there needed to be guidelines in place to govern the situation.  These rules can be formal–procedures written in manuals that have multiple levels of approvals–or they can be informal–all employees start at 7:30, even though work hours are published as starting at 8:00.  Rules are completely fine until they interfere with getting things done.  In some organizations, that rarely happens.  In other organizations, it happens often.  How do you know when you should ignore the rules to get something done, and when do you sacrifice getting things done to follow the rules?

There are 3 factors that can help you make the decision:

  • Risk Management
  • Ethics
  • ROI

Risk Management

What are the consequences of not following the rules?  Remember, the rule is there for a reason.  It is not there to annoy you or to keep you from doing what you’re trying to do.  That may be a consequence of the rule, but there is a bigger reason.  What is that?  What is the rule trying to ensure?  Quality? Safety?  Adherence to law or regulation?  Don’t short circuit this analysis.  Really understand why the rule is in place.  Does not following the rule put the organization at some risk?  What if doing it faster, or short-cutting some steps, risks creating a product with flaws or alienating customers?

What benefit is there to not following the rule?  Does something need to get done in time in order to meet YOUR personal performance goal?  Your group’s goal? Does the organization save money?  Does something get to market in time to generate significant revenue? Making dates is rarely a sufficient reason to break important rules–especially if they are your personal performance dates.  Revenue might be a sufficient reason if there are ways to mitigate the risk.

Who is for and who is against breaking the rule?  Just your organization?  The top of the organization?  This tells you a lot about the significance of the risk and whether you’re in it alone or not.  Try to identify ways to mitigate the risk.  Can you put more resources on following the rule?  Can you fix the issues later?  Will you?

Ethics

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t break the rules when it is unethical.  Unfortunately, knowing when this line has been crossed can be hard to see when you are in the heat of the moment.  We all like to think that we are really clear on what is ethical and what is not.  The problem with that assessment is that we have different ways of determining what is ethical–

  • What is the balance between bad and good?  What is ethical provides the greatest benefit to the most.
  • What is just?  Is it ‘fair’ to break the rules for the identified purpose?
  • What is best for the common good?

Most of us have problems putting decisions about dates or procedures in these categories.  But what about cost overruns?  Who is the loser?  The shareholder?  The employees?  The customers?  What about short cuts with potential safety issues?  What about doing these things just to ‘make your numbers?’

ROI

What is the cost of following the rule v. the cost of breaking the rule?  We tend to make this analysis too shallow.  What if everything that the rule is in place to protect against happens?  What about that cost?  Think about the recent JP Morgan losses?  JP Morgan itself had rules in place that were broken.  The consequences far outweighed the reason for breaking the rules.  Remember the Firestone tire crisis?  Replacement workers manufactured most of the tires that later were identified as defective.  One ROI analysis (labor cost) was done without a thorough view of another ROI (losing customers/potentially causing accidents).

Bottom line

Don’t break the rules lightly.  If they are stupid rules, give them the benefit of the doubt and try to figure out why they were created.  Do a thorough analysis of all consequences before breaking the rules.  Try to figure out how to mitigate the risks.  Try to get buy in all the way up the organization.  The higher up the agreement to break the rules comes from, the more likely that it is truly best for the organization.  This isn’t a guarantee, of course.  It was the top of the organization that made the decisions at Enron.  Don’t make short cuts for short term reasons.

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Onboard Yourself

Onboarding

Onboarding is the process that organizations use to get their employees up to speed enough to do their jobs.  Another term for it is “organizational socialization.”  Organizations have informal and formal methods for the knowledge transfer or processes, tools, methods, culture and introductions that is sufficient for the employee to be effective in his/her new job.  I’ve seen really good onboarding and really horrible onboarding.

The best onboarding I ever experienced personally was as a consultant when I was going to work for a group of consultants.   The onboarding was a combination of providing me with detailed “playbooks” of how the organization did its work and of having me spend intense time with each team of consultants to see/understand how they put the playbook into action.  I traveled weekly for my onboarding and in three weeks’ time, I felt that I understood the whole and was fully able to go do it myself.  It was the combination of the intensity, the excellent documentation, and the seeing it all in action—including being given tasks I didn’t know how to do, but being surrounded by people who could/would help me.

I’ve had so many “worst” onboardings that it is hard to pick just one.  They range from putting me in a room with a year’s worth of reading and leaving me to read for two weeks to putting me at a desk and spending less than 10 minutes telling me what to do and walking away, never to return.  I think that I eventually did OK, even at the jobs with these onboardings, but the time it took to get me up to speed and to be productive was vastly different.

I finally decided that I needed to take responsibility for my own onboarding.  As a consultant, it is critical that I hit the ground running and know enough in a week to make a difference.  If I wait for people (who all have other jobs and many of whom are not sure they want me here, anyway) to tell me what/how/when/why in the organization, then I will fail.  These processes can apply for anyone, in any job, including people who have been in the job for a long time.

DIY Onboarding

Steps to Your Own Onboarding:

  • Make a Plan:  Identify what you want to accomplish and how fast.  You have a fairly short period of time before people get over you being new and expect you to “do” something.  They are very open to questions in the early days; they think you’re dumb if you’re still asking questions later (even then, you need to ask questions to learn—deal with what they think).  Who do you need to know?  What do you need to know?  What do you need to be able to do?  Ask people what they think you need to do to be successful.  Then put in place a plan that gets you there.  Fast.
  •  Meet People:  Meet people at every level.  Set up meetings.  Invite people to lunch or breakfast.  Accept all invitations.  Learn the power structures.  Learn the informal networks.  Learn the ‘go to’ people.  Learn the whiners.  Learn who to listen to and who to avoid.  The only way to do that is to throw yourself into meeting people.  (Even introverts need to do this)  Ask people to help you.  Ask people who you should meet.  Ask people who helped them when they started.  Target someone to be a mentor in this process and ask for his/her help.
  •  Figure Out the Tools:  Luckily, today most organizations use the same fundamental tools—the Microsoft Office suite plus SharePoint.  If the organization uses different/other tools, however, learn these as soon as possible.  Learn Oracle, Salesforce.com, EPDM, or whatever other tool your organization uses.  You need to understand it and be conversant in its strengths and weaknesses.  (Every tool you learn makes you more marketable—use the opportunity of being new to dive in and learn new tools).
  •  Understand the Culture:  Every organization has its own culture.  This is like the water the fish swim in—the people inside the organization are not very aware of it consciously, but it shapes all behavior unconsciously.  When you’re new is the only time you can actually “see” the culture.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming it is like the culture you just came from.  Just because engineers are the dominant players in the new culture as they were in the old, there will be huge differences.  Learn these differences with “new eyes.”  Learn what the organization thinks about what makes success, who are the people who seem to “get it.”  What are they like?  How much does the leader shape the organization?  Is the founder still there?  How long since the founder was there?  What are the left over influences from that?  (These are frequently the things that don’t seem to make sense because they started a long time ago but are still there).  Write down your observations of the culture.  Make a mind map.  How does the culture influence the way that you will get your work done?  How can you use the culture to be more effective?
  •  Learn the Product/Customers/Processes:  Become an expert.  Take all the classes you can.  (Organizations frequently have classes for new sales people that are available to others).  Ask people about the processes.  Become best friends with the Intranet.  What’s there and what can you learn from what’s there?  What do others outside the organization say?  What do people in the organization say in reaction?  Everyone in every part of the organization needs to thoroughly understand the Product and the Customers.  You need to at least understand the processes in your own organization and those that take product to market and get money to the bank.  Like I said, BECOME AN EXPERT.
  •  Take Actions:  You have a very short window before people start to see action.  Look for opportunities to take early action.  It is better to be right about these actions, so be careful—but not too careful.  Action is better than no action, even if you make mistakes.  Ask your boss and peers what kinds of actions they are expecting from you and deliver them as soon as possible.

 Good Books That Help With This:

The First 90 Days, Critical Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels  byMichael Watkins

The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan by George Bradt, Jamye Check, and Jorge Pedrassa

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Trust me, damn it!

Demanding Trust Doesn’t Work

I once had a boss demand that I trust her again.  We can talk later about how I made the mistake of letting her know that I didn’t trust her (not a good career move, and no I didn’t TELL her that), but DEMANDING that someone trust you NEVER works.  If you have the kind of relationship where you’re demanding anything, it is a trust-less relationship.

Trust is hard to define.  I knew what she meant.  She wanted me to go back to being willing to do whatever she needed/wanted without doubting her intent or integrity.  She wanted our relationship to be based on mutual “confident expectation.”  I would have liked that too, but she had done something (that I felt was dishonest) that so violated my confidence in her integrity, that I no longer gave her the benefit of the doubt.  When I told her that I might be able to trust her again, but that it would take time, that was unsatisfactory to her.  At least it was all out in the open.  The consequences, however, were not pretty for either of us.

Since then, I’ve had the experience of people not trusting me.  Some didn’t trust me because I outranked them.  Some didn’t trust me because I was a different race, or age, or had a different nationality.  Trust is not an automatic gift, it has to be earned.  Not being trusted, however, is definitely not fun.

Trust MeYou CANNOT Be a Good Leader If They Don’t Trust You

Think about the people who you have trusted.  Have you trusted a boss?  A friend?  A stranger?  Someone from a different generation?  A pastor? A car dealer?  A banker? A lawyer?  See . . . all of these invoke different levels of trust reactions in you—and they are just labels.  What made you trust the people who you trust?  For most of us, it is consistent, persistent behaviors that we can predict and (for the most part) agree with.  It is rare that we trust someone instantly, although it happens.

Excellent leaders are trusted.  It is that trust that enables high performance teams.  All leadership gurus talk about the necessity of trust for great leadership.

So . . . How Do You Get Them To Trust You?

Want people to trust you?  Here are some important prerequisites:

  • Be trustworthy—Well, duh.  You’d be surprised, however, at how many managers bemoan the fact that no one trusts them while they are working secret agendas, regularly mislead co-workers, subordinates, and/or the community.
  • Trust others—It’s amazing how well this works!  The very experience of being trusted generates the willingness to trust in most of us.  When you trust people to do something they haven’t done before, or to speak in front of a group, or to represent you in a meeting with your boss, that makes them more willing to trust you to be telling the truth, to takes risks, or to move forward without all the details.
  • Be real.  Let people know who you are.  Let them understand your motivations.  If you are trying to do something and the motivation isn’t clear—people make it up.  If they trust you, they give you the benefit of the doubt.  Until they trust you, you are better off making your motives clear.  Even if they don’t like what you are doing, they learn to believe that there is nothing hidden.  It’s more important that people understand than that they agree.
  • Listen.  When people believe that you are listening, that you are trying to understand, they begin to trust you.  When you don’t listen, they stop trying to tell you.  When that happens, there is no trust.
  • Treat people with respect.  When people feel respected, they feel whole.  They feel more open to understanding and trusting.
  • Be loyal.  If people know that you are loyal to them, they are much more likely to be loyal to you.  Loyalty is closely related to trust.

These are simple things.  They are not easy to do.  When we are caught up in the day to day tasks of work life, it is hard to remember to do them all.  They are behaviors, though, with huge payoffs.  People who trust you can deliver miracles sometimes, because they are willing to go above and beyond and take the chance that it will be worthwhile.

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Flip the Switch

Reframe by thinking differently

A Story

I’m going to tell you a story so that you can learn an important lesson without having to go through what I went through to learn it.  How’s that for a deal?  Then you’ll be able to do something that is incredibly easy and you won’t suffer through the lesson on how to do it.

A few years ago, I woke up to the news that there had been an ice storm and school was delayed by a couple of hours.  I was a single Mom and I did what most single Moms do when they learn they have a little extra time.   I decided to do something that I should have done and that I had been putting off.  I decided to go check on my empty house that I had for sale.  Now, why I thought it was a good idea to do that on icy roads, I don’t know, but I did.  As I drove across town to my house, my mind was full of all the things that I needed to do for work, things that wouldn’t happen because I was starting two hours late, and all the people who I  wouldn’t get to talk to because of the weather, etc.  You know how that is—work, work, work.

It was still dark outside when I arrived at the house.  I walked up on the porch and looked through the diamond window in the door.  I made my first discovery of this adventure—ice on the inside of the window.  Just so you know, that is a bad sign.  I opened the door and was astonished to find water pouring from the ceiling.  I reached over to turn on the light (bad idea, just so you know, when you’re standing in water).  The light didn’t come on, so I felt my way across the room and down the stairs to the basement where I felt my way along the wall to the water shut-off.  I came back upstairs and saw that the water had been turning to steam as it came through the ceiling (because the air was so much colder than the water) and then was forming ice on the walls and the floors.  The wind on an outside wall had apparently frozen the pipe, the pipe had burst, causing water to flow down to the basement and put out the furnace, which reduced the temperature in the house thereby freezing more pipes that then burst.  It was a mess!

What do you think happened to the thoughts of work?  Right.  Shoved aside.  Now I was thinking, OMG what do I do?  Is this insured?  How do I clean this mess up?  I called a plumber who came over.  He said, “Lady, we’re going to have to figure out what to do once we figure out if this house can be saved!”  SAVED?!  It’s a house!  It’s just water!

I spent the day dry vac’ing and mopping, calling insurance agents, and trying to get the mess cleaned up.  The house made the newspaper being described as “the ice house.”  (There was a spectacular ice flow that had made its way out the bricks and draped itself down the back wall of the house!)

The next morning was a Saturday.  Soccer practice and kid errands.  Before the kids got up, I decided to go check the house.   On my drive to the house, I was thinking about the house—how was it? What would happen?  What would happen to the floors?  The walls?  When I arrived at the house, I was relieved to see that the downpour had slowed to drip drip drips that were being caught by buckets.  The floors and walls looked ok (that was before I understood what happened to wood floors and paint when it dried out after a coating of ice).
I headed home much relieved.

I got out of the car and my feet slipped out from under me on the ice. The back of my head hit hard on the driveway.  As I was losing consciousness, I realized that I was going to be laying outside in way below freezing temperatures for potentially a long time (it was, after all, a Saturday morning and my house was full of teenagers—they wouldn’t even miss me for hours).  The neighbors would just think we left something in the driveway again and wouldn’t come to investigate.  I also realized that I couldn’t move—at all.  It really is true that all of these thoughts can happen very quickly.  I don’t think it was as much as a minute between the time my head hit the concrete and I lost consciousness.

Where do you think the thoughts of the house went?  Right.  Gone.  I was worried—in this order—about moving ever again and about living. I didn’t have a single thought about the house and work was so far removed that it probably wasn’t even in my brain anywhere.  I came to after a while—don’t know how long it was, but my fingers were frost bitten.  I could move when I came to and I crawled to the house and woke up a kid to take me to the hospital.  My brain didn’t work right for a while, but I learned a huge lesson.

And The Lesson

There is switch in your brain that you can flip. You can change your perspective on what is important, how you’re approaching a problem, how you think about things.  You can do it instantly.  Obviously it was forced on me.  But after I thought about it for a while, I experimented with it.  I would try to “flip the switch” about how I was approaching a problem.  Or a person.

I had a problem with my boss.  I “flipped the switch” and decided to think of her as a customer—customer is always right, right?  Once I started doing that, she didn’t get to me as much.  I started “flipping the switch” to look at problems from the other person’s perspective.  When I did it with work problems, it created more energy—it helped get me “unstuck.”

Try it.  Let me know how it works for you.

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What If Your Leader Won’t Act?

What if my leader won’t . . .

I get this question all the time.  My leader won’t make a decision; what do I do?  Why won’t the leadership in my company LEAD?  Things go up the chain, but nothing comes back down.  Why won’t they DO anything?  What do you do when you manager won’t . . . ?

These are hard questions.  There are all kinds of reasons why ‘leadership’ won’t act.  Your solution depends a lot on why.  Let’s take a few examples:

Your leader can’t/won’t make a decision.

Just because someone has a ‘leader-type’ title, doesn’t mean s/he is a leader.  Sometimes people are overwhelmed by the responsibility of making a decision.  Sometimes people get stuck making decisions because all the alternatives seem equally bad.  Or equally good.  Sometimes people are waiting for someone else and it isn’t obvious to the people waiting on them.

If this sounds like the situation with your ‘leader,’ then perhaps you can ‘lead’ from below.  Can you present the alternatives in a way that helps the leader choose?  Can you make a recommendation?  Can you help the leader talk it out?  Can you get some other folks to help the leader talk it out?  Can you just make the decision yourself?  (Remember, empowerment is not what others let you do, but rather what you step up to do?)

Don’t get stuck on the fact that the person outranks you and won’t do what you believe is appropriate to his/her role.  The important thing is to get things to the place that the organization can move forward, not WHO decides.

Your leader won’t step in and resolve a conflict.

Why don’t you figure out how to do this yourself?  You shouldn’t need an adult to get things resolved for you.  Figure out a process for resolving the dispute and get the other person to agree to the process.  Then apply it.  In other words, agree that you’ll ask others, or you’ll have a vote, or you’ll agree to disagree, or you’ll take turns.  Then do it.  Don’t let your manager’s conflict aversion cause things to stop.

Your leader won’t resolve a resource issue.

Can you figure out why your manager can’t/won’t resolve it?  Does s/he believe there is a resource issue?  Does s/he believe that the resource issue will really negatively impact the project/organization?  Does s/he believe that the answer will be no from his/her management?

Approach the problem by laying out alternatives.  “We can add these resources OR we can reduce the work OR we can slow things down.”  Sometimes helping the person see all the alternatives helps them pick one (which may not be your first choice, but may resolve/reduce the problem).  Think the problem through thoroughly.  Come up with at least three potential solutions–one of which is add resources.  What if there is no money for the resources you need.  Then what?  What would you do? HELP your manager figure this out.

Your leader won’t do ANYTHING.

First, make sure this is true.  Are you sure that this is reality or your perception–ask others who work for your leader or who have in the past.  Ask what has worked for other people.

If nothing works, then you have a choice.  You can either give up (I STRONGLY don’t recommend this) or you can  go find another leader.  If you allow your leader’s inaction to shut you down, then it will likely derail your career if it becomes a pattern.  If you decide to choose another leader, make sure that the new leader is what you’re looking for in a leader.  Just as there are patterns in the relationships we choose, there are patterns in the situations we get into at work.  There is no point in wasting years of your career in a no-win situation.

Fix it.

 

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Are You A Wannabe?

Are you an Executive wannabe?  An entrepreneur wannabe?  An artist wannabe? A marathoner wannabe? An author wannabe?  Do you put one of those on your New Year’s Resolutions list?  How about your career goals list?

What Is Stopping You?

Look at last week’s calendar.  Look at last month’s calendar.  Is your ‘wannabe’ goal anywhere on your calendar?  If not, why not?  How can you possibly accomplish your goal if you’re not spending any time on it?  Don’t tell me you don’t have time.  People who really want to do something have time.  Every successful accomplished person who has done what you want to do has EXACTLY the same amount of time that you do.  It comes down to six things:

  • Priority:  If this is your future, then you need to put it sufficiently up your priority list that you are spending time on it
  • Motivation:  Understand what motivates you and put that in your life.
  • Focus: You CANNOT do it all (at once).  Turn off the TV.  Stop surfing the Internet.  Stop texting.  Take yourself to some place quiet and isolated.
  • Determination:  Keep working toward your goal, no matter what gets in the way.
  • Create whatever support infrastructure you need.  If you need training, get it.  If you need a coach, get one.  If you need a place, find one.
  • Action:  I hate to be repetitive, but JUST DO IT

Winning

So, How Do You Do That?

  • Write it down.  Be very specific.  Not ‘Write a book’ but ‘Write a novel, get a book contract, and get it published by this time next year.
  • Once you’ve written the specific goal, work backwards.  In order to write a novel, get a book contract and get it published, what do you have to do?  In order to do those things, what do you have to do?  Ask what you have to do and detail it several times.
  • Once you have a fairly detailed list, decide what you are going to do tomorrow.  What are you going to do this week.  Look at your calendar and put these tasks on it.  Take something off your calendar to make room for it, if you have to.
  • What reward will you give yourself for which accomplishments.  It doesn’t have to be something big–just something that you will associate in your mind with accomplishing the task.
  • What are the big milestones in your plan?  How will you reward yourself for these big milestones?
  • Hold yourself accountable.  Tell someone–that makes it harder to escape the accountability.

Great books to help with this:

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Not Your Mad Men Career Ladder

Way back, before most of us were working, you got a job with a company and you stayed with that company–making steady progression–until you retired.  You were, of course, a man.  If you got fired, you had done something pretty bad.  Layoffs didn’t happen very often.  There were career ladders that you took all the way from your first position to your last position.

traditional career ladder is no more

This is so long ago that many people reading this don’t get it, don’t know why we still talk about it, and think this is a no-brainer.  We still talk about it because this model still shapes our expectations in many ways.  Our infrastructure is not set up to support the current reality–if so, we’d have portable health insurance and retirement plans.  We’d also be much more focused on taking care of ourselves in our careers rather than leaving it to companies.  It is time for our mental models to catch up with reality.

The current ‘career ladder’ looks a lot more like those cool folding ladders that can be shaped over obstructions and can bend in several directions as necessary to do the job.

todays career ladder

The current ‘career ladder’ takes you up when that is possible and helps you deal with the plateaus, job losses, industry and functional changes that are necessary to remain resilient and successful in today’s economy.  Today’s ‘career ladder’ needs to focus on skills and trends rather than specific roles in specific companies in specific industries.  Find ways to “Genericize Yourself,” that enable you to move across industries.  Find ways to specialize (I know, those sound like opposite pieces of advice, but they aren’t), so that your value (brand) is obvious.  Build your resilience for all kinds of shifts in the economy–think of the shifts that have happened in publishing, electronics, e-marketing, and are happening in health care and communications now.  You can’t know what is coming, but you can be ready.

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Manage Your Resistance

Manage Your Resistance

Put Your Leader Hat On

Who would you rather work with if you’re implementing a new change in your organization?  Would you rather work with someone who has been there for ten years–who knows his/her way around the organization, who knows how to make things happen in the organization?  Or would you rather have someone who has been there a couple of months, who has begun to know where the bathroom is and where important people sit?

The ten-year guy, right?

Wrong!

Why is that? Because the ten-year person is really committed to the way things are–‘the way we do it.’  Even if s/he doesn’t like it.  Even if s/he complains about it.  The ten-year person has been through all the ‘we tried that and it didn’t works,’ all the times s/he had to be reorganized or was left to do the work of those who left, who had to learn new systems, and who may or may not remember the good parts (results) of those changes, but who does remember the problems.  The ten-year person doesn’t want any more change (unless s/he gets to direct it).

The new person not only doesn’t have that history, or those scars, but also EXPECTS to have to go through those kinds of changes and challenges.  The new person follows directions and tries to please whoever is in charge.

Now, Which Are You?

Are you the new person who is emotionally and intellectually ready to not only participate, but also to help?  Or are you the long-term employee who isn’t?  You may be telling yourself that you are change-ready.  And maybe you are.  But change burnout, or change immunity, happens to all of us.  Yes . . . even me.

I’ve been doing change management for a long time.  I really know how to spot resistance and how to deal with it.  I got a new boss one time, after having changed bosses 3 times in the past 12 months.  I didn’t even realize how done with new bosses I was.  That is, I didn’t realize it until one of my employees said to me, “For someone who knows so much about change, you sure don’t handle it very well.”  She was right.  I wasn’t handling it well.  My capacity to deal with change had been used up and I was on the resistance end of the continuum.  My employee did me a favor.  I didn’t really realize how much my fed-up-ness was showing until she said that.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to put yourself in that new employee mindset?  Wouldn’t it be a good idea to try to think like someone new to the organization (while at the same time bringing all your organization skill, knowledge and abilities to the table)?  Whenever I become aware that I’m in ‘resisting’ mode, I remind myself–if I had just started today, I wouldn’t think about all the reasons this is a stupid idea–I would just accept it and do it.

Try it.  It helps.

Note:  I am not saying that you should blindly follow without contributing opinions and constructive criticism.  Just be sure that that is what you’re doing though, and not resistance.  Resistance is a normal reaction, but it isn’t helpful to your career, so learn to manage it.

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Promoted! Now What?

success at work

Congratulations!  You just got promoted.  Or you just got reorganized into a new department.  Or you just got a new boss.  How do you make this a step in the right direction and keep from crashing and burning.  Ok, crashing and burning is unlikely–you did persuade someone that you deserved the promotion.  Getting stuck is a possibility.  Looking like you weren’t ready is a possibility.  Not making a great impression is definitely a possibility.  So, what do you do?

It’s a New Job

One of the most important things to do is to understand that this is a NEW job.  Treat it as if you just got to a new company.  Look at the experience through new eyes.  Who are the people?  What is the power structure?  What does the company need to be successful.  What does the department need to accomplish in the short term?  In the long term? What does the department need from you to be successful?  Go talk to people as if you’re meeting them for the first time.  What is important to them? What are their goals? How can you hit the ground running?  How can you quickly show that choosing you was the right choice?

There is a subtle difference for most of us when we change jobs within the company and when we change companies.  When we go to a new organization, we are completely aware that we don’t know everything.  We have our hyper-alert antenna out.  We are in the “conscious unconscious” state of learning.  We are aware of all the things that are different from our last experience (although we frequently miss things because of our ‘old company’ mindset).  When we change jobs within the same organization, we think we know how it is.  We know a lot of the people (although through the eyes of the last group we were in), we know the business (ditto), we know the problems, challenges, opportunities (ditto, ditto, ditto).  The problem is, the new job within the same organization is just as new as the other.  If you put yourself in the same hyper-alert state, you are much more likely to be highly successful.  You are much more likely to impress, because people will see you differently (than they had before) too.

First Impressions

Remember that although people may know you (some may even have been your peers before your promotion), you still have the opportunity to make a ‘new’ first impression.  If you are really trying to make a good impression, you’re likely to get attention again.  Make sure it’s the right impression.  Make sure you don’t come across as arrogant or smug (especially to your former peers).  Make sure you come across as smart and interested and capable and willing.  Make sure that people see results QUICKLY.  The best way to do all of this is to treat the promotion as if it were a new job at a new company.

Helpful Books

Congratulations!  And good luck.

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Filed under Books, Career Development, Executive Development, Leadership, Reframe, Success