Month: June 2015

Manager Personality Types part 4 of 4

At PathFinder, we believe that all professionals have the right to follow professional ambitions. One of the best ways to secure professional stability and growth is to work well with the boss.

Here we consider one of four basic managerial styles: hands-off, micromanager, buddy-buddy, and angry. These descriptions can be considered broad generalizations or even caricatures. In the fourth part of this series, we’ll examine the Angry Manager.

The Angry Manager

The Angry Manager is one who lashes out. Perhaps he is stressed, upset, lacks control of his projects, or is under unreasonable pressure from his own boss. Perhaps this manager believes fear is an effective motivator. Regardless of motivation, this is the most difficult kind of manager to deal with. This kind of manager may or may not be reasoned with.

The best thing to do in this situation is to not respond emotionally, and state everything factually. It’s also best to speak minimally when dealing with a tirade, as your silence demonstrates your control. It also mitigates the chance you’d say something regrettable. It’s vital to remember that in a negative or angry confrontation the only thing you can control is your own reaction.

Angry managers need to be approached on a case-by-case basis. If you learn why they’re angry or abusive, you might be able to solve the problem or at least improve your situation.

3 Reasons and Solutions for an Angry Manager

1) Your boss might be under significant pressure from his own manager and sees your performance as an actual or possible liability. Solutions: work faster or speak with your manager to see if you might take on additional responsibility or delegate a few tasks to redistribute the workload.

2) Your boss is expected by his supervisors to account for things he can’t control, such as stock fluctuations, the weather or consumer behavior. One solution is to compile data into simple, colorful charts so that your supervisor has customized materials to at least predict that which he can’t control.

3) It’s also possible that your boss is simply a jerk. In that case, polish your performance at your current job to increase your likely hood of attracting another offer. Working in a negative, unpleasant, or even abusive situation is never a good thing, and you might be benefited by leaving for a better (or friendlier) opportunity..

Your PathFinder Career Management Team can work with you to discuss communication strategies as well as actively assist your job search. Your Career Management Team can alert you to the best opportunities you’d qualify for at the time you’re looking.

If you have a job that makes you very unhappy, you should strongly consider staying at the job to identify what skills or lessons you can learn from this position. It’s also important to preform your current duties to the best of your abilities. This is because people who currently have jobs are more likely to be hired, and people who are succeeding at their current job are much more likely to be hired.

Easy Personal Branding: Facebook (2/6)

At PathFinder, we work with professionals in every industry to beef up their social media presence and create strong Personal Brands.

Here we show you a simple way to set up you Personal Brand with career-themed social media profiles. This is the second article in this series, and focuses on Facebook.

Personal Branding with Career-Themed Profiles

A career-themed social media profile needs to highlight how you are a respected professional in your space and a likable human being. That’s easy to say, but difficult to do, so here are some examples. First off, all profiles must be completely filled out, with a focus on industry keywords. Second, demonstrate your industry participation with your content- text and pictures. People are identified by what they do, so an easy way to shape a career profile is to post content related to your profession or industry.

Facebook Career-Themed Profile

Facebook is the social network for everybody with family and friends. A higher percentage of women than men use the service and young adults also have a strong presence. It is expected to share daily and family life on FB. However, companies are increasingly using the organic networks on Facebook to market their products. Companies are also using Facebook to organize and on-board new Millennial hires. Conversations and comments are gradually becoming searchable with hash tags. Almost everyone has family and friends, (or customers) so assume that almost everyone is on Facebook. Facebook “friends” frequently blur private and professional life, so it can be challenging to have a professionally oriented Facebook page.

Profile Content

Facebook has significance in career-oriented social media because at the very least, it’s one of the first places, employers, hiring managers, colleagues and clients will go to learn about you. Your Facebook profile and content should be about you, and your industry, but cast in a neutral, positive light. Assume that everything you post is public, regardless of privacy settings. Photos or text posted by others about you belongs to the poster, not you. You have very little control over 3rd party ‘bad press’. Damning pictures, stories or comments might be removed by the poster if you ask nicely.

Career or industry themed topics can be brought up in the context of what you do and how you fit within your industry. This could even serve as a marketing function, as your network is regularly reminded of what you do and why it’s interesting. A Facebook profile can be given a particularly professional tone by sharing industry relevant articles from LinkedIn, blogs or news sites.

Profile Engagement

Facebook is also a great place to have casual conversations with industry peers. It’s important to reply to or acknowledge comments or ‘likes’ through a comment, emoticon or mass-appreciation ‘broadcast’ post. This kind of engagement functions to keep ‘friends’ after connecting with them. Hash tags and links are vital engagement tools as these serve to connect your comment or post to a wider issue or dialogue in your community.

PathFinder Information offers a variety of services including social media diagnostics and customized Personal Branding strategies.

Office Challenges: Got Procrastination?

Most of us have good intentions. Most of us know what we need to do each day to be successful in our jobs. Yet most of us, whether intentionally or mindlessly, avoid doing what’s difficult and necessary and focus on what’s fun and easy.

Is this you?

Are you frustrated with self-destructive, time-wasting habits? Then read on for some solid tips and tricks to get back to work in the future, while continuing to procrastinate in the present by reading this article.

To make best use of the following suggestions, consider the well-known urgency/importance chart. This chart is a basic organization/prioritization tool and is widely used.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.56.57 AM

 

1) Use the 80/20 Rule to your advantage.

If you’re like most of us, you’re exhaustingly busy all day and rarely have anything to show for your time and energy. A common time organization principle holds that 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results, yet 80% of our time typically goes toward non-vital tasks. If one were to flip this, and spend 80% of their time on tasks that are the most important, then one would become dramatically more successful.

2) Pick three things to complete.

Most people are goal-diffused. If you’re like most people, you’ve got a to-do list as long as your forearm and new things get added throughout the day. By the end of the day that to-do list stretches down to the floor, and while many items were “worked on,” none got completed. These uncompleted items get rolled over to the next day’s to-do list. No wonder nothing gets completed; you’re so busy doing everything that nothing gets the attention it deserves.

Stop the madness.

Control your time and your list with the most powerful word: “No.”

Choose three things to complete.

Focus on these tasks exclusively until they are completed.

 

3) Read only 10% of your email, archive the rest.

Most people get email they don’t need to read, yet these emails take up precious time. The more responsibility a position has, the more useless emails they’re likely to get. Spend a few minutes to scan the emails’ titles and senders, and read what’s urgent and file the rest by sender or category unread.

 

4) Assess the importance and the urgency.

“Important” actions or tasks are actions or tasks that MUST be done or completed to further goals, secure positive outcomes or avoid negative outcomes.

“Urgent” actions or tasks are actions or tasks that demand IMMEDIATE attention.

“Not Important” actions or tasks that have no or few negative consequences if not completed. They may or may not further goals or promote positive outcomes.

“Not Urgent” actions or tasks are actions or tasks that have no strict timeframe. They can be addressed at some point in the future.

 

5) Use a questioning technique to assess potential positive and negative consequences of completing or not completing a given task. “What will happen if I do X?” “What won’t happen if I do X?” “What won’t happen if I don’t do X?”

 

Now that’ve got a brainful of great suggestions, look at your day. Try to winnow down your “busy list” into a “goals list” within five minutes.

Manager Personality Types 3 of 4

At PathFinder, we believe that all professionals have the right to be professionaly ambitious. One of the best ways to grow your career is to work well with your boss.

Here we consider one of four basic managerial styles: hands-off, micromanager, buddy-buddy, and angry. These descriptions can be considered broad generalizations or even caricatures. In the third part of this series, we’ll examine the Buddy-buddy Manager.

The Buddy-buddy Manager

The Buddy-buddy Manager is a supervisor who seems more interested in being your friend than being your boss. This is boss who will chat for hours on end about personal matters, either his own or other people’s. Superficially this could be great. These lengthy talks are a chance to build a lasting rapport with your manager. On the other hand, these tendencies could also indicate a lack of personal boundaries, discipline or even a disregard for the work you do. Perhaps the office is very social and this is normal behavior, or perhaps your manager has a lot of stress he needs to vent and it’s your job to listen sympathetically. It’s entirely up to individual context whether a buddy-buddy manager is causing problems for you.

If an overly talkative boss is preventing you from finishing your work in a timely manner, or you are taking flack from his boss, then you need to set boundaries, in a polite, firm and professional manner. Scheduling a 1-1 “meeting” is a good way to set clear parameters on your interactions. Lengthy talks are for the “meeting” and your work is for the rest of the day.

Your Pathfinder Career Manager has a number of scripts to practice with you if you have trouble communicating with your manager. Your Career Manager also has a number of tools for your goal-setting needs.

Easy Personal Branding: Overview (1/6)

At PathFinder, we work with professionals in every industry to beef up their social media presence and create strong Personal Brands. Here we show you a simple way to set up you Personal Brand with career-themed social media profiles.

This overview is the first article of a series; the following articles explore each of the top five social media platforms in depth: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.

Social Media vs. a Personal Brand: What’s The Difference?

Social media and Personal Branding use the same tools, and even the same activities. However, social media is like a garden or park and a Personal Brand is like a prize-winning rose. In other words, anyone could use social media like Facebook or Twitter, but only those with a goal, strategy and diligence can cultivate a Personal Brand.

Social Media Profiles

The purpose of a social media profile is to be visible to an audience; it is the digital equivalent of a firm handshake and warm smile. Using many profiles allows people to have many audiences that sometimes overlap. A great profile is completely filled out and has a pleasant headshot. A great profile has engaging content and encourages a positive user experience.

Planting a Personal Brand

In order to have a ‘personal brand’ you need to understand your goal. You must have an agenda. All of your activity must somehow contribute to your agenda. It might be useful to write out, in detail, how you want to be seen, what you want to achieve and where/what you want to be. This should then be compared to an honest self-refection about where you currently are and what you have achieved. Your goal and your plan to achieve your goal need to be clearly stated before progress can begin. Build checkpoints into your plan so you can remind yourself of your goal and reflect on progress.

PathFinder Information offers social media diagnostics and Personal Branding Strategy tools and guidance to help you meet and maintain your goals.

Cultivating a Personal Brand

A strong personal brand is supported by profiles on the social media platforms that you use. Social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and many more. The purpose of a profile is to make you visible to an audience. An easy, quick way to set up and develop your Personal Brand is to modify your existing social media profiles and give them a career theme.

A career themed profile needs to highlight how you are a respected professional in your space and a likable human being in general. While obvious to say, all profiles should only have clean and respectful content. Never, ever, display or release damning, damaging or negative information about yourself, your peers, family or friends. This includes profane and offensive language and anything related to participation in sex, drugs or illegal activity. Depending on your audience, it might also be prudent to restrict your discussion of religion and politics.

Every social media platform has a different focus, which will affect the kind of information it is appropriate or expected to share. Effective personal branding requires a consistent self-presentation across all of your profiles. How can that be done when different platforms have different focuses? Each social media platform requires different tricks and tactics, so we’ve prepared articles dedicated to each of the top five social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.

Stay tuned for Facebook career themed profiles!

Demonstrate Your Value And Get Promoted

Do you feel stuck or lost at work? This could be because your managers don’t know what you need fulfill your potential. They might not even know you want to grow your career.

Before blaming your environment and jumping ship, take stock of your own performance. Are you fulfilling the requirements of your job? Are you meeting your goals or assisting your department to meet company goals? Can you pinpoint the exact value of your contributions? Like George Bailey, in It’s Wonderful Life, you might not know the full value you bring to an organization. If you can articulate the value you bring to your organization beyond the minimum required by your job, then you have the tools needed to encourage management to reward you.

Many companies are still being very frugal with employee expenses after the 2008 recession, and only reward top performers who can articulate their value. To grow your income or advance your career, not only do you need to become a top performer, you’ll need to be able to articulate your value.

There are three tactics you can use to become a top performer in your organization.

1) Document Your Productivity and Impact

The best way to document your productivity and impact is with a Brag Sheet. A Brag Sheet is a document where you record your goals, activity, victories, failures, challenges and room for growth. Use your brag sheet to document what and how you did. A ‘master’ brag sheet can be customized to capitalize on various opportunities. Your brag sheet also prevents others from claiming your work.

You can then use this document to accurately and precisely describe what you did to get the result. Ideally you’ll be able to use this document to demonstrate your victories and above-average performance deserving of higher pay.

Yet an even greater value this document could bring is to predict your performance related shortcomings before management criticizes you. You’ll be able to use this foreknowledge to address your challenges and correct your course. If you continue to have difficulty, you’ll be able to speak with management and either get advice, more time, or ‘brownie points’ for being forthright and attentive.

2) Fulfill your job description

What does every employer want in an employee? Someone who can do the task assigned without handholding or micromanagement. Of course some jobs require time and training to do well, but before you can exceed expectations, you need to meet the requirements of your designated position.

3) Exceed or expand your job description

Companies invest in employees who bring value to their positions. In other words, companies strive to keep employees who create a better work environment for everyone, go above and beyond their job description to meet company goals, finish projects, and exceed their personal best. In the recent economic down turn, when raises were frozen across the board, top-preforming employees were still successfully negotiating raises.

How can you become a top-preforming employee?

The simplest way to begin is to speak up at meetings and seize opportunities to demonstrate your workplace skills. Is there a new project in the pipeline? Volunteer to lead it. Is there a growing company your department has always wanted as a client? Attract that company.

This method is simple, not easy. Jumping in front of challenges is a good way to start projects, but challenging projects require above-average dedication, energy and creativity to complete them.

Manager Personality Types part 2 of 4

At PathFinder Information, we believe that all professionals have the right to seek career-enhancing opportunities. One of the best ways to earn career-enhancing opportunities is to strategically navigate the needs and personality of your boss.

Here we consider one of four basic managerial styles: hands-off, micromanager, buddy-buddy, and angry. These descriptions can be considered broad generalizations or even caricatures. In the second part of this series, we’ll examine the Micromanager.

The Micromanager

The Micromanager is the exact opposite of a Hands-off Manager. She assigns very specific, detailed tasks and then hoovers. Perhaps this manager doesn’t understand the task very well and is afraid that your missteps will negatively implicate her or perhaps there is a lot of risk or variability in your industry and she’s frustrated by a lack of control. Or perhaps this manager is a chronic perfectionist or feels that you are unsuited for your current role.

At any rate, your manager is expending energy hovering around your task when she could be putting her energy to better use. If your manager lacks critical information or feels as if she lacks control over the process, it’s simple to put her at ease. Spreadsheets, colorful graphs and timetables of the overall process (shipping merchandise for example) could be a vital resource. In the short term, it’s extra work to compile these documents, but in the long term, it means a more confident and relaxed manager.

If your manager is a chronic perfectionist, then the best solution is to relax. Stress and tension have the nasty tendency to create a feedback loop between people in a stressful environment. Break the loop. Relax. Establish a clear step-by-step protocol and arrange a weekly or daily status meeting. This will restrict perfectionist critiques to set times and free up your time for better work.

If your manager feels you are unsuited for your current role, then the best tactic to take is to prepare a detailed description of your responsibilities and arrange to meet with her to discuss those responsibly. The goals of this meeting are twofold: to get her perspective on your responsibilities and performance and agree on milestones or metrics on how you can preform better. The detailed description you prepared will establish a jumping-off point and give you some control in the conversation. After this conversation, take pains to meet and exceed your requirements.

Your Pathfinder Career Manager has a number of scripts to practice with you if you have trouble communicating with your manager. Your Career Manager also has a number of tactics for you to try to set and stick to goals.

How to Speak with Management

Crucial Conversation Preparation and Tactics

Everyone here at PathFinder is dedicated to helping you and other professionals advance your careers. One of the best ways to earn career-enhancing opportunities is to communicate well with your boss and higher-ranked people at your company.

The Conversation

The hierarchy and culture at your workplace will dictate the best way to approach management. Some managers are easier to interact with if every meeting with is scheduled in advance with a clear, briefly outlined agenda. Other managers prefer to avoid the hassle of matching schedules and would rather a take a few moments for an impromptu conversation as the need arises. Both approaches have pros and cons and can be equally stressful for employees. To mitigate any stress you might feel, try to have your basic research done, a clearly identified purpose or agenda and a list of question you need to ask written down in advance. This will help you ensure you make the most of out your meeting.

Do your homework about the company (the internet might be a better source than coworkers as this might stray toward gossiping) and take notes during the conversation. This demonstrates attentiveness and respect. It is extra important to schedule time to speak with management if you plan to discuss a raise or promotion (don’t surprise them).

To introduce the subject of a raise, it’s best to speak about your enthusiasm for the work and the company. Next, state that you would like to grow with the company. Then ask them about what medium and long-term goals the department (regional branch, office, etc.) and company have. Find out how your current responsibilities help to serve these goals. Ask about what other responsibilities you could take on to bring your full compliment of skills to the table in pursuit of these goals.

It is ideal if you can arrange for regular one-on-one meetings with management to discuss work, bond and learn how to be promoted. If your management doesn’t feel you’re ready for promotion, ask what you would specifically need to demonstrate in order to earn a promotion and schedule weekly, monthly or bi-annual feedback depending on what’s most appropriate you’re your office and your unique context.

Your Pathfinder Career Manager has a number of scripts to practice with you if you have trouble communicating with your manager. Your Career Manager also has a number of tools for your goal-setting needs.

Manager Personality Types Part 1 of 4

At PathFinder Information, we believe that all professionals have the right to seek career-enhancing opportunities. One of the best ways to earn career-enhancing opportunities is to strategically navigate the needs and personality of your boss.

In this series, we consider one of four basic managerial styles: hands-off, micromanager, buddy-buddy, and angry. These descriptions can be considered broad generalizations or even caricatures. In the first part of this series, we’ll examine the Hands-off Manager.

The Hands-off Manager

The Hands-off Manager assigns vague projects and lets staff do what they will. Perhaps the manger has incredible trust in his staff or he is a poor communicator and over-delegates responsibility. Unless his staff are superhuman, this kind of over- delegation creates unnecessary stress and confusion. If the resulting project doesn’t match the manager’s mental image, the staff will need to do everything all over again. The best way to deal with hands-off managers is to request status review meetings, so that you can ensure that what you’ve done up to a certain point is in line with the manager’s mental vision.

These meetings are also a great chance to clarify various aspects of the project and have official approval for work done so far. Regular meetings prevent either side (staff or management) from saying ‘I didn’t understand’ or ‘I wasn’t informed’ because there is documented proof and witnesses to verify that certain topics were discussed and certain plans were cleared. It is also vital to understand what long-term time frame the project has from the very beginning to prevent unrealistic expectations.

Your Pathfinder Career Manager would happily practice scripts with you if you have trouble communicating with your manager.

LinkedIn Tactics

It’s well known that LinkedIn is the top social media platform for professionals to network and share industry information. Less well known is that LinkedIn is the recruiter’s top choice to source “passive candidates,” currently employed professionals succeeding at a high level. A strong LinkedIn profile will naturally attract recruiters due to keywords and network size.

Visibility Tips:

  1. Use a professional headshot. LinkedIn members are also typically more likely to open a profile if there is a good profile picture and with prolific keywords.
  2. Beef up your summary. LinkedIn searches are weighted toward the keywords in your summary. Keep your summary clean and direct; recruiters prefer being able to ascertain your top value at a glance.
  3. Keep your headline current; use keywords. LinkedIn searches are weighted toward your headline. A catchy headline will draw eyes and clicks. There is an art to keyword headlines; a keyword headline can’t just be a string of words, but the keywords as a sentence need to be coherent and meaningful.
    • Take for example, a jumbled collection of keywords for CEO and former Channel Sales VP and former Marine: CEO, VP, Marine, team leader, trilingual, technology consultant, channel sales, soccer coach. While sufficient for a search engine, it doesn’t create a specific summary of a person.
    • The headline and profile picture should reflect how you would present yourself at your very best, and not a smorgasbord of who/what you’ve been over time.
    • A better headline for this CEO is: CEO [Company Name]/Trilingual Marine and former Channel Sales VP. All other key words, like team leader and soccer coach can be prominently displayed in the summary.