Posts Tagged ‘ Careers ’

If You Were a First Time Manager Again, What Would You Do Differently?

As we grow and learn as human beings we come across things in life which make us wonder how different things could have been if we knew then, what we know now. Working for a leadership company now, I often think about my first time manager role and how I really wasn’t as good of a manager as I could/should have been.  I wasn’t equipped with the right skills that I needed.

I want to share with you my experience about becoming a first time manager, here goes…..

I was 21 years old and worked for a very well known UK bank insurance call center,  I managed a team of 10-15 employees. I had previously worked as part of this team before I went to university and during  my holidays, so the team were my friends. I climbed up the ranks from individual contributor to team lead. When I became a manager of the team, needless to say things changed.  I was still everyone’s friend and I still went out with my close friends on the team Saturday nights, but at work there was a bit of “them versus me.” When people were performing I thought things were great, but when they weren’t being a first time manager was really tough. I remember many a night, going home and crying wondering what I had done to deserve people being so horrible to me, and thinking I never want to be a manager again.

Looking back, I brought some of it on myself. Below are some of the mistakes I made…..

  • I thought I needed to have all of the answers
  • I thought I needed to be authoritative and hard otherwise people wouldn’t respect me
  • I followed all of the rules & guidelines the company set to the T, 100% of the time
  • I never really listened or was open to be persuaded
  • I shied away from conflict, until it blew up in my face
  • The company set the goals which were very day-to-day focused, e.g., call handling times, etc. I never as a manager set any long term goals for my team or development goals, I simply followed the script, mainly because I didn’t know any different.
  • We didn’t celebrate achievements enough.

Knowing what I know now, there are lots of things I would have done differently in my first time manager role. I won’t write them all, because I could be here for days but I’ve noted just a few a below.

  • Breathe – You don’t have to answer everybody’s questions straight away. Take five minutes to reflect and stay calm even when stressed.
  • Listen – Not just for the sake of letting others talk, but really listen to what people are saying. Be open to being persuaded.
  • I wouldn’t have pretended to be something I wasn’t. I am not hard faced and authoritative, quite the opposite. People see through masks, I would have told my truth about who I am, and what I expect from the team.
  • I would have set clear expectations and goals for my team, to help them grow and develop. Worked hard to create growth opportunities for my team.
  • I would have told myself – Don’t take things so personally! I know that’s easier said than done but I used to beat myself up about not being everything to everyone. Remember you are only human.
  • When things weren’t going to plan with the team or team member, I would’ve dealt with the situation there and then and thought about my words very carefully. Asked them about what went wrong, ensure no judgement or blame.
  • Asked for help. Quite often in life, we are ashamed to ask for help. I don’t know why, because everyone in life at some point needs direction and or support.

My experience of being a first time manager, and feeling completely overwhelmed happens all of the time. People are promoted because they are good at what they do, many forget that a manager’s role requires a completely different skill set to that of an individual contributor.

What would you have done differently in your first time manager role?  Or if you haven’t been a manager yet, but looking to become one, what is your greatest concern about being a first time manager?

Sarah-Jane Kenny – EMEA Channel Solutions Consultant at the Ken Blanchard Companies

Can women have it all?

Millennial+working+woman+xxx

When is it the right time in a woman’s career to have children? Is there a right time, and can women (dad’s too) still have a career? (I am very much counting on it).

To set the scene, I am a 30 year old woman who recently finished my MBA currently working in sales for a leadership consultancy firm. I would say I’m career driven, and really like what I do but I am only really at the start of my career journey. I am getting married next year, and the first question everyone asks is… When are you having babies? I would like to have them straight away but what does that mean for my career? Is there a right time for me to have a baby/babies, will others judge?

One of the best articles I have read recently around this subject is by Katharine Zaleski’s . In this article Katharine confesses how she used to criticize working mothers, and mentions about firing women before they ‘got pregnant’. I have also heard from friends that they have taken off their engagement rings so that companies don’t know they are engaged, as they felt companies wouldn’t employ them if they thought they were getting married soon.

Then you read about superstar women like Marissa Mayer taking 2 weeks maternity leave, is this what women need to do to ensure they stay on the career path? In reality she has a nanny who can help her out, with rising childcare fees if you have more than 2 children it often isn’t cost effective for both parents to go back to work.

When talking to working mothers (and fathers) they often feel like they can’t give 100% to their job and 100% to their child. Why not? In this day and age surely working parents can have it all? I think a large part is companies setting the environment to retain working parents and top talent.

What do companies need to do to retain mothers/fathers who want to give 100% to home and 100% to work?

  • Create a culture where people don’t feel uncomfortable about asking for flexibility or taking time off for their children.
  • Managers need to have open/honest conversations about supporting new parents.
  • Focus on results/productivity rather than the time spent. Just because some people work extra hours, it doesn’t mean they are more productive.
  • Make it easier for fathers to have time off to support their children too.
  • Be flexible – This is give and take from both sides. For example if you have a 35 hour week, make those hours count for work and for home life. We work in a global world with multiple different time zones, it would benefit the company and home life to flex the working hours throughout the day/night.
  • Allow working from home days.
  • Flexible benefits – Childcare help.
  • Social events during breakfast meetings or work lunches rather than evening events.

With a supporting partner, and a company who are willing to look at the work you do rather than when you do the hours I think women can have it all.  It would be great to hear of your experiences in the workplace, having a baby is daunting enough without the worry of your career.

Are Organizations driving out talented Millennial Leaders?

As I stepped up to the podium to give my Keynote at a recent leadership conference, I begin to second guess my whole topic of conversation. My topic, How Millennials may be the Catalyst for Change, was a very provocative approach to letting the majority of the audience know that Sam Cooke said it best when he said “Change is gonna come”. Millennials have a different take on work and truthfully, they have a big crush on work life balance. They talk about it, they breathe it, they live it, and they just want it really bad. Truthfully, they are just too big to ignore anymore. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce and as of first quarter this year, make up the largest segment of general workers.

Newly minted Millennials leaderbigstock_Portrait_of_young_business_peo_12587012s are also in a really precarious situation — they have to be more flexible, agile, and willing to adjust to change than ever before. They have to lead their peers, lead older generations and even deal with this current climate of pushing for more work life balance. Currently, there is a dichotomy in researching human interactions: the research on the workplace is studied separately from an individual’s personal life or home life. As a result, research has yet to focus on the individual as a whole but often view him/her separately as if he/she is somehow neatly segmented into two different worlds. What Millennials are calling for is a fusion of the two. Life isn’t arbitrarily and artificially segmented, so they believe their work life and personal life shouldn’t be either. When asked in a recent focus group, 90% of Ken Blanchard Millennial employees desired a working life that was more in tune with the realities of life.  Recently, General Electric (GE) announced it will forego PTO and vacation hours and make the vacations unlimited to the majority of its employees. Roughly, 2% of all employers have this option but GE is the largest. This number will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years, as the shift is currently being made to a flexible workplace.

And that’s not even the scary part. The scary part is that, currently, 51% of Millennials are in formal leadership positions and the majority hasn’t received the proper training to become a leader. Organizations are setting up their new up-and-coming millennial leaders for failure! I spoke with a friend of mine in San Diego who mentioned that her VP of Sales left the company and they were replacing him with the top sales rep in the company. When the change was announced, they threw a huge party on Friday and everyone congratulated him for the promotion. On Monday, he submitted his resignation. He realized over the weekend that he didn’t want to do it. In fact, he said he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t trained to become a leader, didn’t know the skill set needed to transition from a high performing individual contributor to now a leader of his peers, and frankly had no desire to do it. He said, “I’m good at selling, that’s what I do; that’s my strength. Why would you think just because I’m good at selling I can become a high performing leader?”  It makes no sense, and employers do it all the time. If you want to keep your young, millennial talent you need to set them up for success by equipping and training them for their next role.

So, I’ve begun to really analyze this question around aspiring leaders to determine the best way to capture how Millennials are transitioning into become leaders in their organization. How do they feel? Do they feel equipped? Are they excited or nervous? If you’d like to contribute to this area of research, you may take this short survey linked here. I will share my findings in a follow up post after the data is analyzed.

Are MBA’s worth it?

studyingI have spent the last two years of my life completing my Masters in Business with an Emphasis in Strategic Human Resource Management. I spent on average around 15 hours a week studying, writing essays and completing exams. If anyone has completed an MBA part time whilst working full time you will appreciate how tough it is.

As my MBA is coming to a close, my question is, was it worth it?

I suppose I need to ask myself, what did I want to achieve from an MBA?

Did I learn a lot? – Yes

  • I received a well rounded view of various different aspects of business. I can now liaise with different departments at a higher level.
  • How to work in a team of peers when there is no authority.
  • Most importantly my masters taught me about work ethic, discipline and striving to do well.

Will it help my career? – I’m not so sure.

People keep asking me, so what are you going to do with your MBA when you finish. Will you get a promotion? Will you get another job? Will it earn you more money? I honestly hadn’t thought about it. So I thought my trusty friend the internet would help me out.

Ronald Yeaple’s study found post MBA pay was 50% higher than pre MBA pay. After 5 years of completing an MBA pay increased by 80% compared to post MBA Starting pay. This data is from a well ranked university in the Forbes top 50. However looking on the internet a lot of high paying jobs do state on the applications that an MBA is desirable.

In 2013/2014 539,440 were enrolled in postgraduate degrees in the UK. Although that is less than a third of undergraduates, it shows there is still fierce competition. In the US 100,000 MBA’s are awarded annually. Jobs remain relatively constant, so if you are doing an MBA to stand out, there are a lot of other people doing it too.

Do you think MBA’s are worth it? Please share your experiences on how your MBA has helped you or hasn’t.

Who drives your career?

1-driving-career_V3I had an interesting question asked in my master’s degree this week. How much responsibility should a company take in managing their employee’s  careers? In an ever changing society, where people are now wanting careers and not just a job it’s important for managers to help their employees grow,  but should they be the driver?

Quast (2014) looks at the research by Phoenix University and EdAssist. 71% of employees say that employers should provide job opportunities and  career paths; whilst 85% of employers say it’s the employee’s responsibility to identify job opportunities and career paths. This lack of alignment can cause huge problems. Employees & employers need to have open discussions around desires and expectations.

I personally think you need to drive your own career, with a manager’s support. Below are a couple of steps you might find useful to help drive your career.

Step 1 – What do you Want?

First of all what makes you tick? Where do you want to be heading? Only you can decide what career you want. This is probably the toughest question of all. Sit down one weekend and just map out in your ideal world what you would be doing, what would the role look like and how you can get there.

Step 2 – Tell People What you Want, Find out Options

You’re not alone if you are nervous or uncomfortable about talking to your manager about career progression – 44.8% of UK workers feel the same! If you have a good manager they will understand and want to help you achieve your goals. Talking about career progression isn’t having all the answers now, but knowing that you are growing and moving in the right direction. A company needs to support you in this if they want to keep hold of you. If your manager is aware of what you are thinking, they can look out for opportunities when having meetings with other managers.

Step 3 – Keep on Track

It’s so easy to go off track!  Make sure you put your goals around growth and progression into your quarterly performance appraisal.  This will help you stay on track, and help communication around your career aspirations.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

To this day, I cannot say with any ounce of certainty exactly what it is that I want to be when I grow up. Complicating matters is that I’m thirtysomething and Married with Children (well, child). Considering that I have a family of my own, and am old enough to vividly remember when those shows were on the air, I should have this figured out by now…right?!

At various points throughout my life, I thought I had the answer. Then, for whatever reason, I’d lose interest with the idea of pursuing one career path and replace it with the newfound excitement of a different career path. This has been a continual cycle. The one constant has been that none of the things I’ve momentarily wanted to be has ever undisputedly captured my soul and staked claim to being the one.

What would the one look like? In my mind there has always been three key criteria that would need to be met:

  1. Am I passionate about the work? I need to do something I truly believe in and something that I truly enjoy doing.
  2. Is the passion sustainable? I need to be confident that I’ll feel that same level of belief and enjoyment over the long haul.
  3. Will it provide financial security? I need to make enough money that I won’t have to worry about money.

That’s it. Three not-so-simple questions that typically play out in my head something like this…

Out of all the things I really enjoy doing, how do I choose just one to build a career around? Whichever one I choose will most assuredly get most of my time and energy. And after investing so much into just one of my passions, will I still enjoy it or will it eventually just become “work?” Even if I feel content with the answers to those questions, can I make enough money doing this for me and my family to live comfortably?

While I’m not quite there yet, I feel closer than I ever have to finally figuring it all out. I have an idea but I still don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up and, I’m OK with that. I know I’m not alone. I, like countless others, will continue to work and put my best foot forward while longing for something more, something to satisfy the void in the pit of my stomach, something that undisputedly captures my soul and stakes claim to being the one.

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you’ve achieved it, how did you know? If you haven’t, how will you know?

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