So have been working your tail off and you think that you deserve a raise? Congrats on all your hard work. Now you get the joy of navigating the murky waters of asking for that raise. The good news for everyone is that women are getting closer to men when it comes to successfully securing the raise and the ask rate for the younger generation is nearly equal regardless of gender.
Now that you got the courage to ask, let’s make sure that you are ready to ask for raise in a successful way.
Build your case and have good info
It’s likely not going to be good enough to simply say., “I’ve been here _(amount of time)_ and deserve a raise.” You need to build a case so that it is clear that you are creating more value than you had been previously. Think about:
The responsibilities that you have that you didn’t have since your last negotiated raise or your hiring. Have you taken on additional roles? Been a team leader on things you weren’t before? Contributing more than others?
What has been your impact on the numbers? Did you grow the business or add some new accounts? Share the financials and other metrics that are important to your boss.
What is your impact on others? Have you been mentoring others? Have you helped lower turnover or increased retention?
Have the number
Don’t build your case only to lose your momentum because you don’t know what to ask for. It can be a percentage or an actual number, but you need to have it ready to discuss. If you aren’t sure where to start to do some research. Find out what the national average is for your type of role. Take into consideration the industry, company size, and geographical location. Sites like Glassdoor to a good job of estimations, but don’t take their numbers as fact. I’ve seen them be both really low and really high depending on the role.
Leave your personal life at the door
I am an advocate that you should be involved and take an interest in co-workers’ lives as much as professionally possible. This, however, will be a time to say that it needs to stay at the door. You hurt your case when you include a need for a raise because of personal issues or want. You want to base the ask solely on what you have done for your employer instead of inadvertently guilt-tripping them into it.
Grace, patience, persistence
Even though you feel like you are deserving of a raise you may need to wait to build a stronger case for yourself. Have the patience to know when the right time is to ask your employer.
Be graceful when asking for a raise. You may have worked yourself up emotionally to get to the point where you ask for the raise, but you need to lean into your emotional intelligence to navigate this time successfully. Speak confidently, and clearly with a humble spirit.
You may nail all of this and still get a no. Take it with grace and realize there may be circumstances outside of their control (Budgets already set, freezes, etc). Ask when you can connect again on the subject and mark it on your calendar. If the issue is more that you need to do more, ask for feedback or steps to take and then set a goal timewise to make those changes.
Be ready, strong in your emotional intelligence and know what you want. Go in with grace and have the patience and persistence to keep at it if needed.
Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuing learning experience. -Denis Waitley
A great leader is a continual learner. They never arrive at their final destination and are constantly looking for ways to grow their knowledge and experience. One of the most unfortunate interactions I have as a leader is with people who have been around for a while and think that there is nothing else that they can learn. Falling into the arrival trap can easily stall out your growth and career.
There are a number of ways to continue to gain the valuable experience needed to grow your career and salary. You only arrive and stop growing if you allow yourself to.
Gain experience right where you are
We looked at ways last week to grow your experience outside of your organization and regular routines. You can also grow your value experience right where you are as well.
Deepen your current skills: What are the main skills needed for the role that you are in? Are there ways that you can grow those a little deeper? Are there certificates out there that you can get, Linkedin learning sessions that you can take, or perhaps a local or regional conference or workshop that you can attend? Look for opportunities to present at meetings or gatherings that will force you to know your area more and to hone your skills.
Add responsibility: Adding responsibility is a great way to gain experience. Ask for opportunities to fill in for your boss when they are out or to shadow them in their activities when possible to learn their responsibilities. Once you understand those, ask to take on some of those responsibilities that make sense. An increase in responsibility could also look something like helping newer people in their roles, representing the team at meetings, and taking a role in more decision-making opportunities among others.
Special projects: Special projects offer you a chance to gain experience without a long term commitment or permanent change. They also give you exposure to people that you sometimes would not interact with. You are growing your experience, networking, and social skills. Wins all around!
Moving up in your career
Own it. Many people live under the misconception that their manager is in charge of their career and development. While they can be a good advocate for you, it is your responsibility for how your career turns out. Set your goals and aspirations and then let your leader know. It will help them in future planning and it should help them in looking out for opportunities for you to grow in experience.
Be intentional in all your interactions. Once you take hold of your career path, be intentional in your interactions and actions what you do. Ask for opportunities to prove yourself. Sit at the table instead of along the wall in a big meeting. How you present yourself can give you a boost or take you out of the conversation. Do you come across as if you are engaged, willing to contribute and have insight that others should listen to?
There is no ladder. The traditional sense of a ladder of responsibility is shifting in the workplace. Executives often move around to other areas in the same type of role to gain a depth of experience in a new area. Be prepared for there not to be a straight line to your dream job. Think of the value of the experience an opportunity may have to help you towards your ultimate goal instead of just a job title and position.
Continue to push yourself in your knowledge. You’ll find a more rewarding feeling in the job that you are doing. You’ll also be preparing yourself for that next step to move up and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
The only source of knowledge is experience. -Albert Einstein
Knowledge does come from experience and experience is the key to grow your value and worth in your career. If you want to continue to grow your income and land that dream job that you want, you’ll need to continue to hone your skills and build relevant experience.
Develop fundamental skills
It doesn’t matter what type of job that you have or what industry you land in, there is a set of fundamental skills that successful people need to continue to grow. Companies look to these skills at “get in the door” qualities for higher level positions.
Accountable: You take responsibility for your success and failures. You don’t make excuses when you fall short or place blame elsewhere.
Beats expectation: You over deliver on your promises and expectations. Bonus points if you are doing this with yourself and through your team.
Prioritization: You simply get things done. You don’t waste lots of time focusing on the wrong things.
Customer focused: No matter what you call the group/person you serve, you do it very well and put them up as the priority. (PTB episode 10)
Think about any job out there and put these five traits up to it. You are always going to be a top performer if you are doing these things well. It may be helpful to list these items out and evaluate yourself on how you stand in each area. Once you identify a few areas to work on, look to use your school or work time to grow in that area. Do you need to take up new responsibilities? Do you need to work on a better end product on what you turn in? Do you need to handle yourself better when a problem comes up?
Stand out by developing specialized skills
A specialized skill can help you stand out in your organization or as you think about your next career move. Work on something that adds value to your current position and can help you get to the next thing that you want. A few great places to look and start include:
Professional organizations in a field that interest you or one that is around your current job responsibilities.
Certification in your field that no one/few people in your organization have. The certification institute will often help you with tools and materials to present to your employer for them to see the value and perhaps help in the costs.
Identify key growth areas for your company. Are there some skills that you can learn to help the organization in that area? It may not require a full certification but perhaps a class or certificate on a specialized skill will help.
Where to start gaining experience
So where do you start in gaining experience? It can be a challenge no matter your career stage and you may feel stuck. Here are some places to research for opportunities.
School: Do you need to go to (or back to) a school to get a degree or perhaps just take some classes?
Volunteering in the community: There are more chances to volunteer than you likely realize. Do an internet search for volunteer opportunities in your area. (PTB episode 46: What volunteering can teach us)
Freelance, contract: Expanding your experiencing in freelancing is a great way to grow. Look at sites like fivver and other sites that cater to freelancers.
Non-profits: Linkedin often shows opportunities in non-profits to help in a professional way. They are often non-paid positions but help tremendously in gaining real experience.
Remember to keep a written track of all your experience. It’s easy to forget all the things that you have done after a fair amount of time passes.
Develop your fundamental skills and look for strategic ways to grow your experience. It doesn’t have to all come from the school that you are in or the job that you are at. We’ll continue to look at more ways to grow your experience, and career next week.
Experience is the thing of supreme value. -Henry Ford
Your experience makes you money. The more experience that you have, the more salary that you can command. Life is not all about money though. Your experience also gives you a chance to build lifelong friendships and have more satisfaction in your life and career. The value of your experience falls into one of three areas. Use these to determine if you have $1s and $5s or $20s and $100s.
How have you delivered?
The first thing that a hiring leader or recruiter is going to look at is your ability to deliver. Do you make things happen? What has been your impact on results, the people you worked with and the company as a whole? Evaluate the value of your delivery by assessing a few different areas:
What you have accomplished: What you really did….not what your responsibilities were. This is why I highly recommend putting accomplishments on your resumes instead of just your job role. People want to see what you were able to do. They want to see the impact of your work.
What you have fixed/made better: Did you leave the last place better than you found it? It’s one of our values here at Passing the Baton. You always want to leave whatever you participate in better than you found it. If you are out camping with cub scouts, leave the campsite better and less disturbed than when you arrived. If you are leaving to become a CEO somewhere, the company should be in a better position than when you arrived. Think through and write out what you have fixed and made better during your journey. This is one of the key story types from our Be the Storyteller episode. (PTB leadership podcast #124)
What problems you solved: We have covered problem-solving extensively at Passing the Baton and I’m sure that we are not done yet. It’s an essential skill that all good leaders must have. It’s good to write these down to catalog so that you don’t forget them. I have a tendency to solve an issue and move on quickly, and as a result, I sometimes forget the mass of problems that I’ve fixed over time. I’ll stop every so often and catalog those in written form so they aren’t lost forever. A better practice would be to capture them weekly. Bosses, recruiters, and organizations love a good problem solver. Everyone’s got problems that need to be fixed.
What do you have to offer?
What do you bring to the table? Many of your technical and leadership skills will fall into the category above. Hiring leaders are increasingly looking at your potential as they make hiring decisions. I recently worked with an organization that was trying to measure potential in assessments, surveys and feedback forms. If you scored high in potential, then you would get extra development opportunities. If you scored low you did not. Fairness aside, it shows that people care as much about what you can do as they do about what you are doing now. Here are some areas to consider in strengthening to show the value of your potential.
Integrity and values
Do you manage your career?
We talked a few months ago about owning your personal development. (PTB Episode #164: How to own your personal development). Leaders value others that have a plan for themselves and don’t simply rely on circumstance, longevity, and luck to get them further in their career.
Leaders are looking for behaviors as they evaluate your value and experience. Do you exhibit behaviors of continued success, perseverance, and planning? Do you have an intentional journey or one that is more happenstance or accidental?
Be intentional in gaining the experience needed to get to your next career goal and don’t expect it to just come to you. We’ll cover ways to do that over the next two weeks.
Evaluate yourself to know the true value of your experience. From there, you can assess your areas to grow and strengthen. Remember that you are growing your earning potential as you grow your experience.
A strong confident person can rule the room with knowledge, personal style, attitude and great posture. -Cindy Ann Peterson
I think that we sometimes underappreciate the power of body language. It can tell a much more truthful story than our words at times. I’ve been in meetings where I wrapped up my point quicker or didn’t push an issue not because of what was said, but because the person’s body language said that they weren’t receptive. We can unknowingly show our emotions through our body language and even send mixed signals. Our words say one thing, while the body says another.
Crossing your arms is an obvious non-verbal that people give off. It says that you are either angry, detached from the conversation, or not open to dialog. Sometimes we miss communicate in our body language and crossed arms is a commonplace that we do this. Some leaders, myself included, may cross their arms when they are really thinking about something. I’m not angry, upset or detached, but someone may think that by looking at me.
Grow your self-awareness to realize that you are crossing your arms in your interactions and make sure that they are uncrossed…..unless you really are detached, angry or not open to the dialog.
Show your hands
Showing your hands is a sign of trust and we sometimes have a tendency to hide them. Keep your hands above the table at meetings and out of your pockets and not behind your back during interactions. When someone can see your palms it says that you have nothing to hide.
Relaxed hands also show confidence and self-assurance, while fists or clenched hands show stress and anger. Let people see your hands in a nice comfortable position to show others that you are confident and open to dialog.
As you walk
Body language is just as important in your walk as it is during meetings and interactions. You may have a person in your workplace or class that constantly hunches over when they walk, and/or doesn’t look anyone in the eye. They come across as timid, not wanting to be there, uncomfortable and certainly not confident. This was me during my first year of high school. I was all of those things and even though I felt it, I didn’t realize that I was communicating it to others. I learned a trick from Oprah that went on to help me change into a much more confident person during an awkward time.
Keep your back straight, shoulders back and thumbs forward when you walk. Stand up and give it a try yourself. It sounds very simple but it does a few key things. First, it helps your posture. By pulling your shoulders back, it makes your body more open to others and shows that you are confident. I thought the thumbs forward trick was the best because it’s subtle and makes a world of difference. It keeps your hands out of your pockets and facing forward in a confident way. Presenting myself in this way was the first step in coming out of my shell and gaining the confidence that I wanted.
These are just three of the most common body language gestures that are easily fixed. Show your confidence by showing the right body language in meetings, interactions and while you walk to your next destination.
Some of the most valuable assets in your life are your friends and family.
Encouragement with your friends and family is just as important as encouragement at work. As we get older, this one seems to slip away from us. Think back to your time in high school or college. Encouragement for your friends and family and the value of those relationships were likely very high. As you enter the job market, start a family and you or your friends move away, it becomes more difficult.
Here are some tips to ensure that you stay connected with those closest to you and how you can continue to encourage them.
The first rule is that you’ve got to reach out to the person. You’ve got to make the connection. It’s funny how we have more access to each other than we have ever had before, but it seems more difficult than ever to reach out in a meaningful way. In the hunt for likes, comments, and subs, we’ve missed out on some authenticity.
Listen without judgment
I know that this one can be really hard because we have a tendency to be more blunt and judgemental with those that we are really close to. A way to encourage others is to quiet the voice in your head that wants to jump in and tell the person what obviously is wrong in the situation. It may not even be the other person’s fault, but still, hold back judgment.
Learn their love language
For those not familiar, Gary Chapman released a book years ago called the 5 Love Languages. He goes on to explain how everyone has at least one language that they love and one that doesn’t mean anything to them. They are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Do you know someone who loves to hug it out? It’s pretty clear that they appreciate physical touch.
Understanding a person’s love language makes the encouragement go a lot further when its delivered in the way that matches to the person.
Don’t try to take over
Have you ever been in a situation where you had something taken over from you or you took something over from someone else? You most often see this in teaching moments where the teacher/mentor/parent gets frustrated to the point that they take over whatever they were trying to teach the other person.
Don’t try to take over someone’s situation. My wife calls it “fixing”. You don’t have to fix every problem that a person brings to you. If they aren’t asking for help, it’s likely that the person just wants to talk it out with someone. Don’t break their trust by trying to fix their problems for them.
Be specific and change how you offer help
Have you noticed that when you ask someone a question like “How can I help?” or “Let me know what I can do.” that you don’t typically get a request back? Ask the question in a different way. “Would it be helpful if I……?”, or “I would like to do….” Asking in this way frames it up better for the person to accept your help and assistance.
Don’t forget to reach out and check in with your friends and family. Be an encouragement for them by connecting with them in a way that they love, avoiding judgment or trying to fix the problem. Offer specific help when needed and be that encouragement that those close to you need.
No one has ever said, “Please stop encouraging me in my job.”
It’s always a great idea to encourage other’s in the workplace no matter what your level is in an organization. The ability to encourage others will serve you well throughout your career and can easily be a way for you to stand out against the crowd.
Here are five tips to strengthen how you encourage others at work.
1. Model the behavior/be happy yourself
You first have to demonstrate the attitude and behaviors that you want others to model before you move through any of the following steps. If you aren’t happy or come across as standoffish or always upset then your team will not be encouraged. Is this an area of struggle for you? You can hear more about it on Passing the Baton Leadership Podcast #13: Leader’s don’t have bad days.
Showing happiness and joy is a cycle. The more you show and do, the more you will find around you.
2. Encourage friendships at work
I’ve always found that my teams were the strongest when they had relationships with each other outside of my influence. They would go hang out together after work and became a part of each other’s lives. I know that this topic makes some leaders (particularly those that have been around a while) uneasy. Several generations of leaders were brought up that you didn’t mix business with personal at all and they put up very hard lines between the two.
Our newer generations of leaders don’t operate the same way. They appreciate it when others have at least some knowledge of their personal lives. I’m not recommending that you get in the drama of everyone’s lives, but at least have an interest in people’s every day lives outside of the workplace. What do they enjoy? What are their hobbies? What are they working on or towards? Any major life events coming up?
3. Help them understand the meaning and value in their work
Encourage others by helping the person see the value and impact of their work. The rise of internet retail has brought many new jobs in that sector, but many of those workers are discouraged and unhappy because they don’t see the value in shipping products from a warehouse alongside robots day in and day out.
Connect what they do to the bigger picture. Share stories of how their contribution impacted someone’s life. Take them to see the impact if possible. Being able to see the impact that you have on an organization, the country and world is very encouraging and rewarding.
4. Make time for your people
Just spending time with someone can be an encouragement as long as you are following tip #1. People know that you are busy and they appreciate you taking some time to spend with them. That could be working on a project together, going to lunch together, or just spending some time together between meetings or classes. Be sure not to skip on the small talk. It will help solidify tip #2 when you show that you care about someones personal life as well.
5. Show appreciation
When you see great behavior or a job well done, recognize it immediately. Recognizing others on a regular basis does not lessen the value of praise. The opposite is actually true. The more you recognize, the more you build someone’s confidence, enthusiasm and willingness to keep pushing for excellence. If someone does something really over the top, it’s ok to recognize the moment and then come back later with a bigger thanks or reward. Just because you said thank you once, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it again.
Encourage your fellow workers. They need it no matter how great the culture of your team is.
Mentoring consistently came up this year. It’s a subject that resonates at nearly all levels of life. We talked to college students about it and it was the most common thing that talent executives asked for at a conference that we recently attended. We did a two-part series on this one.
Our servant leadership series hit home for many people. It’s a term that is becoming more commonplace in companies with a great culture. We spent time explaining what it is and how to apply it in your life.
Overcoming obstacles and adversity was a common thread this year. Zack talks on the show this week about where he gets all the ideas for PTB content creation. Some come from you as you send in questions. Some come from preplanned series and topics that people are currently talking about. He reveals that there are also topics that he writes either about himself or as a reminder to himself as he goes through his own leadership walk. John makes it clear on the show: The PTB team is not above anyone else and we are all on a journey together.
We heard the most feedback from these types of shows as they resonated on a personal level.
Know that if you are going through tough and challenging times that you are not alone. We hope some of these topics help equip you to successfully weather the storm.
We do have more guests planned for this next year. We won’t be changing the format to strictly a guest type show but we will introduce them when it makes sense and we feel like they add value to you.
The potential for more video content is there if it is something that you’d like to see more of. Let us know and we will work on those.
Episode 200 is fast approaching! Zack has written around the show and is looking at what would be a fun celebratory show.
Zack will be continuing to do speaking engagements into 2020. Both Zack and John will continue to offer mentoring and consulting for individuals and companies. Reach out to us and we will cater something specific to your needs.
Finally, Zack has been working on something for what he says is a long time. What that is, we have no clue! He says this is the year, so stay tuned.
Again, thanks for your support. We would love to hear how you have grown this year. You can reach out to us at
This week we have the pleasure of visiting with Diana Wu David. She is a TEDx speaker and author of the book Future Proof. Her company, Sarana Labs, invests in young people and companies to prepare them for a bright future. Diana shares her thoughts with us on our newest podcast and as a guest on our blog. Enjoy! -ZH
There’s been a lot of discussions lately about what work will look like in an age of globalization and automation. I think we’ll see people coming together, collaborating on joint experiments, and solving important problems.
So what does a future-proof life look like?
A future-proof life is one that has considered how to mitigate the risk of accelerating change and disruption by being prepared mentally, professionally, and financially. It is a life with a broad enough definition of success to honor the experiences, relationships, and opportunities you’ve achieved, not just milestones of achievement externally defined.
It is always adapting and proactively seeking the next learning opportunity aligned with values and focus. Honoring yourself in more varied and creative ways contributes far more to your ultimate success.
When I think about redefining success, I reflect on a corporate lawyer friend of mine, Jennifer: she didn’t love every aspect of her job but thought a lot about her values and desire to help people. By doing so, she expanded into a role in thought leadership. This helped her win the top employment lawyer award in Asia, which she might not have been able to do without taking a close look at her passions. She followed her curiosity to a natural place where she leveraged her experience into something new, challenging, and exciting.
Likewise, Lale Kesebi launched her strategy lab, human-at.work, to broaden what she did for one organization to other companies trying to build great businesses for humans.
Both redefined success, beyond just clocking in and out every day, to reach further and be more ambitious about living their own visions of success.
An Action Plan for Success
It’s not easy to break from enduring habits, belief systems, and past prestige to explore and find new ways to grow personally and professionally. The greatest resistance we sometimes meet is ourselves. Yet we owe it to ourselves to create alternate opportunities and plunge in bravely past our own resistance to set a new course to new ideas of success and significance.
Success can be broadly defined. A rigid definition exposes you to the risk of not realizing that the winds are shifting, and you might not be ready. The company you work for may no longer be around in the coming years, or the industry might be dramatically disrupted. With self-awareness and courage to act, you can prepare for those kinds of events and capitalize on the lack of structure to create one that best serves you.
Don’t wait for success to come to you and don’t think that once you have it, it’s there forever. Think about where you are today, where your work is heading, and take calculated risks to get where you want to be. Many people reading this article are already in that frame of mind or they’re nervous and not exactly sure how to move forward.
Yet they have a lot of career capital and can become leaders in the new economy. To maximize your potential, it’s vital to think, reflect, and shift your perspective. Many of us are already leaders of some sort, which makes us even more responsible to think and reimagine the future of work for ourselves and others. Get out there and challenge your ideas. Craft your own life and role model the possibilities of the future. It’s time to act.
One of the common issues I see leaders face is that they identify too strongly with one aspect of their lives and ignore the other parts. It can be easy to fall into this trap because it typically starts out innocently enough as you pursue something that you enjoy or that is important to you. In the pursuit of more, we let other parts of our lives go neglected. We then begin to put all of our identity and worth into only a single aspect of our lives and we begin to lose that sense of fulfillment.
Think of your life holistically
Think of your life as a bookshelf. On that shelf are different books that represent who you are. It may include things like parent, job, spouse, friend, runner (or other hobbies), 2nd hobby, student, church, professional group etc. People begin to feel the pressure as the single book (let’s say work) begins to push more and more against the other books of your life. You put all your worth and identity into work and you begin feeling depressed because you know it is impacting your home life, but at the same time, you feel like your job is who you are.
Your life is more than just the one “book” and each book needs its own time and attention in order for you to have a healthy balance and a true sense of identity.
Where do I find more space?
Your shelf is time and we all have the same amount. Some people think of their shelves in terms of a day week or month. There are two ways to gain space for your “books”.
Great time management: If you have really strong time management skills, you can usually find some space on your shelf. The good news for those struggling and don’t practice time management is that you likely have a large amount of space that can be freed up if you begin to utilize this skill.
Reduce the page counts in other books: So you have no other space. You’ll need to reduce the page counts in one or more other books. This is exactly what I did with my running this year. I went from doing 26 races a year down to just a handful. The space it provided gave me a chance to work on a project that had been on my to-do list for two years, spend more time with family and do more film work. I’m still a runner, it just doesn’t dominate my life as it did before.
Do your best to only have one “book” out at a time, meaning don’t bring your work issues home and let it dominate your home life. Don’t let your running consume you so much that it keeps you from doing other things that you want to do. Get one book out at a time, enjoy and do your best, then put it up and get another book out.
People ask how I remain sane with a job, running, family, podcasting, writing, film work, friends, family and church and this is my secret to the balance. I enjoy one, put it up and enjoy the other. I do talk about work some at home and I do film work with friends. I just don’t let one aspect dominate the other.
You may know someone that only talks about their hobby or job or the same thing every time you see them. This is a person that holds their full worth and identity in only one part of their lives. They typically aren’t that fun to hang out with for long periods. Use that awareness to avoid the trap in your own life.
Give all of your books the love and attention they deserve and don’t let one encroach too much on the others. You’ll have a happier life and feel more content in your true identity.
Entering the corporate environment can be intimidating. It’s like starting college mid-semester. The cliques have already been formed, they are in the middle of working on a project and the dynamics of the class are already set. You’ve got to take a seat and figure it out. Welcome to your new job!
How well you navigate the corporate environment can either give you a career boost or become an anchor that you will have a difficult time getting rid of. It’s important that we are successful as we acclimate ourselves to the environment.
Learn the environment and survey the landscape
One of the first things that you’ll need to do is learn the environment and survey the landscape. This goes beyond just settling into your new workspace and finding the breakroom, bathroom and conference area. You’ll need to spend some time learning the different teams, the culture, and subcultures that are happening in the organization. If you are working for a national or international organization, learn your local office first and then seek to gain knowledge about other locations.
You will need to understand the nuances before going through the next steps of picking a sponsor and mentor. You don’t want to saddle up with the person that turns out to be the office jokester or the person that no one respects. Knowing the environment has higher stakes than it did when you were in school. Making the wrong connections and associations could severely impact your trajectory.
Find a sponsor
Find someone in the organization that can be your sponsor. This will be a person that will vouch for you as you gain credibility and introduce you to other people in the organization. They don’t have to a senior level employee, although that never hurts. The right peer with a good reputation can be a great sponsor as you get your footing in a new company. Be sure to thank them and show your appreciation for every opportunity!
Find a mentor
It’s also helpful if you can find a mentor in your organization. They are different from your sponsor in that they focus more on your personal and career success. This person can actually be your boss if you two have a good connection and trust each other. If you feel more comfortable with a third party mentor, ask around and make that connection. The mentorship doesn’t have to be forever. Having someone for the first 6 months is a great timetable for both parties to get a feel of the relationship and determine if it’s necessary, or wanted going forward.
Starting a new job in a corporate setting can be overwhelming if you let it. Remember to have fun. You earned the spot you are sitting in now and your new co-workers want you to be successful in your duties. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and let all of your co-workers start with a clean slate no matter what you hear about them.
The value of your word is much like the stock market. Its value fluctuates on a continual basis. Any company out there would love the ability to be fully in control of their rating on the market. There are many outside factors that go into the evaluation of a company with many of the factors being outside of the organization’s control. The good news is that while you have outside influences on the value of your word, you have full control over its value.
Underpromise and overdeliver.
One way to quickly lose value in your word is to consistently make promises that you can’t deliver on. Avoid trying to impress people with short turnarounds and unrealistic quality standards. Instead be up front and realistic and impress them by delivering something quicker or higher quality than you promised. If you know that you can’t deliver on a solution, don’t offer it.
Phrases like “always” and “never” work well when talking about the principles that we lead on. “We always treat each other with respect.” They also work well when talking about moral and ethical issues. There are not many other things that are absolutes. When you communicate with someone in an absolute and then it doesn’t play out that way, you’ve severely hurt your value. Find ways to be both clear and not as absolute in your communication.
Be clear and avoid adding confusion/rumors.
People will try to fill in the blanks when you aren’t clear in communication. Some leaders enjoy playing a cat and mouse game in their communication. They don’t want to tell you what fully going on, but they want you to figure it out. This only frustrates the ones that are sharp enough to catch on and others will miss the point entirely. Also avoid adding in subjectives, rumors or what-ifs when you have to deliver tough news. It’s weak leadership to try to hide behind a rumor to make yourself feel better about delivering a message. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Trust me. I said trust me!
If you find yourself saying the phrase “Trust me.” all the time, then you don’t have that person’s trust and you can’t command them to give you that trust. In cases where the trust has severely deteriorated, telling someone to trust you actually increases the damage. People can find it offensive for you to ask them to trust you when you’re the one that has destroyed the trust. Use the trust me phrase as a good check on your self-awareness.
Why it matters
The value of your word is closely associated with trust, integrity, leadership ability and relationship management. Your worth in your career increases as the value of your word increases. Your relationships grow deeper and are more meaningful as well. The value of your word is truly like currency.
If the value of your word were on the stock market how would it look? Would it be ever increasing? Would it have peaks and valleys? Would it be in a full sell-off, having lost all its value? Work to strengthen the value of your word so that people know they can take what you say to the bank.
Life is all about curveballs and unexpected changes. I’m not aware of anyone that has lived life exactly like they imagined and planned for. Sometimes these changes come out of nowhere and alter your life forever. A sudden job loss. The unexpected passing of a loved one. Other times you get some warning, but it doesn’t make the change much easier. We are creatures of habit and dislike things that challenge and change our comfort zones and routines.
Fully process the change.
When navigating a large change or sudden curve in your life, it’s important to address your needs in four ways.
Physically. People will most often jump to their physical needs first. It’s the survival instinct in us as humans. Think about what you need to do take care of your immediate and approaching needs. Do you need to start saving money if you know your job is going to end? Can you put food on the table? Having a sense of security will help you navigate the next steps.
Mentally. You need to allow yourself a chance to mentally process the change. If you are the one that is delivering hard news to someone, you need to allow the other person that same space to process. Leaders sometimes make the mistake of not allowing the person to process the news effectively because they have had a chance to process it before delivering the message.
Emotionally. As we discovered in emotional intelligence at the beginning of the year, emotions are not good or bad. They are simply an emotion. It’s important that you allow yourself to work through the emotions that you have during changes that impact your life. Suppressing them only lengthens the time it takes to work through the change.
Spiritually. Meditating and having a prayer life will help you stay focused on the larger picture and will provide you with a sense of comfort in the tough time.
Look for the resulting opportunities.
There is an opportunity in every curve that life throws at us. Losing the job might be the push to get you in the career that you always dreamed of. Getting unexpected news at the doctor’s office can be the wake-up call you needed to a healthier lifestyle. Take full advantage of what your current curve offers you. If the opportunity is not obvious, search for it. It’s there somewhere.
Begin to change to the new reality
As you process the change, you have to adapt to your new environment. I’ve seen many times where people failed to let go of the past and it kept them from a great future. It’s ok to acknowledge and think back fondly on the time before the change, but you also have to continue to live life and the enjoy the moments that you are currently in. Make the necessary changes and move forward.
The curves that life throw us are not always fun. I personally don’t look forward to them either, but my excitement about what life holds around the corner keeps me going.
Being around people that you admire from afar, have authority or are well known can spark a number of reactions in a person. Some get overly excited, some dread the interaction, some fear it, and others embrace it. Which are you?
We’ll talk about higher management today, but the thought really applies to a number of interactions in our lives. Meeting your idol, “celebrities”, certain political figures and more grounded examples like your pastor or significant other’s parents are some examples of this outside of work.
Take them off their pedestal
Part of the difficulty in being around higher management is that we like to put people on pedestals. Make yourself more comfortable by remembering that they are just normal people like you. I have had some odd to entertaining interactions with people because of what I’ve done with Passing the Baton, the Disney Runner and with my work responsibilities. We’ll cover some of the funnier ones on the podcast this week. I can guarantee you that the person you are going to interact with struggles with many of the same things that you do.
Understand their perspective and time
Now that you’ve gotten over the fact that they are not a superhero or a robot, you need to understand their perspective so that you can communicate in the right way. Most high-level leaders are very visionary and see things at a higher level. They also have many time constraints and are usually on tight schedules.
Be prepared so that you don’t waste time. Think about your presentation, questions, and thoughts from a higher level so that you can connect well with them. A CEO is likely not interested in why a marketing communication got to you a day late. Stay out of the weeds, be yourself and don’t lie/over exaggerate your points. They can see right through those efforts.
When the interaction doesn’t live up to your thoughts, don’t take it personally.
Many leaders that lead at a very high level can be a bit…impatient. If you nail your presentation, proposal or conversation and don’t get a bunch of affirmation or accolades, don’t take it personally. They are very busy and are likely trying to move on to their next appointment.
The victory comes from being able to go forward with your ideas and projects. The personal victory comes when you get asked back or they want to continue the conversation later.
A note for those that are higher level leaders and personalities.
Perhaps you are the person that is in higher management or a personality that many people gravitate to. Know that some people are going to be odd around you because they are uncomfortable. Don’t take it personally, instead help the situation by being very approachable and down to earth. The awkwardness will quickly fade away and you can have a productive conversation.
Times around higher management and personality don’t have to be stressful. You can do it!
Now that you’ve decided that you need to make a career change (or you are at least interested in looking) What do you do next?
What’s holding you back from your dream?
I’ve talked with many leaders over the years that fail to make a career change because of fear, an unrealistic expectation on the job market, myths, and misconceptions. Here are some of the common ones that I hear.
I’m safe or my job is safe. If all the news of centuries-old companies failing has taught us anything, it’s that no job is safe. I don’t believe that there is a single industry safe from some kind of disruption in the future. That includes the funeral industry! Also if you are unhappy in your current job you aren’t doing yourself or your company any favors by sticking around.
I’m too old. You are only too old if you think that you are. Look at senior leadership across organizations and you’ll often see men and women in their 50s+. Your age should give you more experience which should translate into a healthy salary if you have been intentional in continued development.
I’ll have to start over. Unless you are really early in your career, there is little likelihood that you will have to start from scratch. Your new employer is looking at what experience you can add to the team and how you can impact the organization. They aren’t as focused on making you pay your dues all over again.
My education is outdated. This one may partially be true depending on the industry or if you want to change to a different industry. The good news is that this can be easily remedied before you make a career change. Do research to see what skills, certifications, and schooling is needed and work to fill in your gaps.
You may need to walk a journey of mourning.
Mourning is another phase of a career change that many don’t realize. It may sound silly to mourn the job you have but think of it as a relationship. If you broke up with a significant other after years of being together, you’d mourn that relationship in some way, no matter how it ended. Your career is not all that different. Take the time to mourn, make peace and heal so that you can make the change from a mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy place.
Make smart financial decisions before and during the change.
It’s funny how much time and effort we put into other things in our lives and leave our career planning lacking any direction. Imagine what would happen if you put the same effort into planning for your next job as you do your next vacation or trip. Here are a few tips to help you prepare financially for the next step.
Build a cushion. A large amount of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, so the thought of missing a paycheck can drive us to make irrational decisions and settle. Build a cushion to help you think through your next steps in a very strategic way. The amount of cushion depends on your level of experience. The higher the experience, the higher the cushion needs to be.
Negotiate a higher salary. Be sure to negotiate your new salary and remember that it is not all about money. Try to get more vacation days, education allowance etc based on what your priorities are.
Invest. Don’t miss out on opportunities for free money. Contribute to your 401K at least up to what your company will match.
Follow the steps from last week and this week to successfully navigate a career change. If you need help don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for it. There are many people that help in career coaching, resume writing and interview prep.
A career change (or your first real career-type job) can be intimidating. The journey is a road of unknowns with little guarantee. It can also be an extremely stressful time as well. This week we will look at some areas of your life and your current job to determine if you really need to make a career change or something else.
Should I stay or should I go?
Sometimes we live in denial that it is time to move on from relationships, but personal and professional. Here are some clues that you’ve may have been giving yourself that it is time to move on.
You dread going to work daily.
You are bored.
You feel trapped.
You didn’t get the promotion that you wanted.
You don’t click with your boss.
Your salary increases have fallen behind the cost of living increases.
Your company is downsizing.
It’s important to understand the whys behind wanting to make a change. The knowledge will help you avoid bad scenarios and land a more rewarding position at your next stop.
Take a job satisfaction survey
Take a job satisfaction survey to get further confirmation that it’s time for a change. You can find many online and they will often help you identify what it is that you need to remedy in the next step in your career.
Skills gap: Do you have skill gaps that need to be closed before making the change? It’s better to take care of these beforehand if possible.
Culture fit: Do you not feel like you fit into the company culture anymore? Perhaps there has been a big leadership change and the direction of the company is no longer what it was.
Boss fit: Have you been paired up with a boss that is just not a good fit for you? Stick it out for a while. If they are really that bad, their behavior will eventually catch up to them. If you see the scenario being a long-term, permanent placement. It may be time to move on.
Ethics: We recently talked about the importance of your personal values. We’ll also cover the topic from a different perspective soon. The most solid signal you have that it’s time to go is if you have an issue here.
Lack of growth opportunities. Satisfaction surveys will bring out the opportunity or lack thereof for continued advancement. You should be in a place that you can continue to grow in some way.
Which to pick, industry or career?
Now that you’ve done the self-reflection and the satisfaction survey, you’ve decided that maybe you do need to look for something else.
It’s a great time to dream and really figure out which direction to take. Do you just want to change jobs in the industry that you are currently in, or do you want to change industries as well? Learn about other industries that you may be interested in. Lean on your network to do information interviews. These are conversations where you learn about the person’s experience in that industry. What do they love and what do they not care for? Connect with organizations on Linkedin and other social platforms to see what they are up to.
After you have spent some time gathering the information, you can make the decision clearly. Do you love your current industry and just not the job, or do you need a totally clean break to start a totally new adventure?
Use these three steps to determine if you need to make a change and where you should start looking. Next week we will discover the things that are holding you back and how to prepare financially for the leap of a lifetime.
There are few things in life that are permanent. You can even have your old tattoo of Hello Kitty that you now hate removed. People sometimes believe that you can’t shake a bad reputation. Instead of trying to climb out of the situation, they instead embrace it because they really don’t see another option. If you’d like to turn your reputation around or know someone that could use the help, be encouraged that there is a way out with hard work and dedication.
Own up to poor behavior and communicate it with others.
One of the best places to start in recovering from a bad reputation is to own up and acknowledge your reputation. Acknowledging the obvious is a great way to break the ice and communicate to others that you have the self-awareness and willingness to change.
Next, (authentically) ask for forgiveness with the people you may have wronged, commit to better behavior and ask for a chance to prove yourself. Once you walk through that step you can go forward.
Seek help, prove yourself and build trust
Know that turning around a bad reputation is a worthwhile endeavor, but it can also be a longer road than you realize. Seek help with a trusted advisor, coworker or friend that can give you insight or perhaps share their experience in walking a similar path. Be open, listen and take the steps for improvement.
People have a tendency to hold onto memories, especially those that are exceptionally good or bad. They are reinforced through repetition and become difficult to change. You are going to have to prove yourself for an extended period before people buy in that you have truly changed. Here on some tips to encourage you along the way:
Set realistic expectations for yourself and others. Remember that it takes 66 times of repetition before our brain starts to make a new neural connection.
Celebrate the small steps in progress.
Keep encouraging notes to yourself around the house, school or workplace.
Track your positive change on paper or a calendar so you can visually see the impact.
Accept that some won’t let go.
No matter how hard you try to turn around your reputation, some people simply won’t let go of their perception of you. You are going to have to be ok with that. Be confident in your new leadership and life walk and continue to lead yourself well. Don’t let an unbeliever discourage you from the new path that you have chosen.
You can turn around a bad reputation without having to start your life, career or job over. Focus on the right behaviors, seek honest communication and prove your claims. Show them that you are better than some poor choices and habits….because you are!
Have you ever had a boss that just wasn’t there? (Maybe that’s your wish!) Perhaps they are physically present but are not engaged in your relationship or the job that they are holding. A Gallup poll shows that nearly 20% of people in the workforce are actively disengaged. That number includes leaders and managers as well.
Bring it to their attention in a positive way.
If you get along with your boss and feel like they should be more engaged in your weekly activities, let them know. Approach the situation in a way that is encouraging and uplifting to them. Something like, “Would it be ok for us to have a weekly check-in so that I can make sure I’m executing well on your priorities?” works much better than, “I don’t see you enough. Can we get some time together?”
Make your leader feel like you value their leadership and their time as opposed to guilting them to do it. The tactic doesn’t work in relationships at home much less at the workplace.
The leader is both absent and the wrong fit.
Your leader may be absent and the wrong fit. You’re happy that they are aren’t around because that means you have to deal with them less. In this circumstance, the leader is not often a micromanager. Use that to your advantage.
First, understand the priorities, rules of engagement and boundaries then set off and lead yourself or your team well. In this scenario, you are going to have to pick up the reins and run it like you are your boss. (Which really should be how you should lead yourself anyway.) Sometimes people will step back, allow things to stay mediocre or fail and just point the finger at the leader at the end of the day.
I know the value and power of modeling the behavior that you want to get from others. Don’t let your boss’s disengagement drive you in the same direction. Step up and lead yourself well. Lead yourself and your team how you would like for someone to lead you.
Fill your cup in different ways.
An absent leader can lead to frustration because you aren’t supported. You and your team can lose confidence and feel less valued in what you do. Find guidance from other areas. This could be from other teams that are working on the same project, a mentor in the company or a trusted advisor in HR. There are many people involved in your life and career journey. If you don’t get enough from your boss, supplement the rest in other avenues.
Having an absent leader can be a challenge, especially if your personality type is one that needs recognition and affirmation on your job. Do your best to connect with them. Continue to lead yourself with excellence and do your best. Just because your boss is absent doesn’t mean that you have to be as well.
It can feel great when someone asks you to be their mentor. It means that they highly value your input and want to model at least part of their life after you. Mentoring can often be a bit intimidating at first. What can I truly offer someone else? I’m not some wise sage that gives out advice? What if I lead them astray?
Let me encourage you that you can be a great mentor without being Yoda.
If you tell yourself that you aren’t worthy to mentor someone, you will become a self-fulling prophecy. Have confidence that the person wants to hear and learn from you. Having confidence doesn’t mean you have to act like a know-it-all or make up answers if you don’t have one. Confidence is avoiding the imposter syndrome to lead in a meaningful and relaxed way.
Listen more than you talk
Just as you should do in your regular leadership, you should listen more than you coach in mentoring sessions. Although the person is there to hear from you, you need to understand where they are and all the details of the situation before you dispense your knowledge.
I’ve seen mentoring relationships fizzle out because the mentor spent the entire time talking. Afterward, the mentor is at a loss as to why it didn’t work out or will point to a personality difference. No matter how much your mentee looks up to you, they don’t want to just listen to a lecture and stories the whole time that you are together. Have a goal to learn something new about your person after each session.
Keep a neutral approach
A mentor should want their person to be successful. That doesn’t mean that you always have to take their side in an issue that they are going through in life or at work. In fact, the more neutral you are, the more it requires the person to step back, reflect and have a bigger view of what the situation is.
Know your limits.
I caution leaders and mentors not to lose their effectiveness by bringing on too many people to coach. It can be tempting to pick up more than you can handle once you get the hang of mentoring and start to see the fruits of your efforts.
Be aware of your load, the commitment level to each person and set parameters for the length of the mentorship. Perhaps its while the person is in college, or until they find a job. Mentorships don’t have to be lifelong commitments to each other. I typically do year-long commitments and then evaluate based on their progress, who else wants to be mentored and my current life load.
Remember that you don’t have to be perfect to be a good mentor. Recognize your workload, listen and be the guide that the person wants you to be. Invest in your person so that they can develop others.
I owe a lot of my success in life to my mentors and advisors who have helped me along my life journey. Their guidance kept me on the right path when things got confusing, helped me make the right decisions during difficult times and supported and encouraged me in my growth.
Where do you look to find a mentor and how do you go about starting that kind of relationship? It can be less intimidating if you know where to look and how to go about it.
Look inside your company
This can be very challenging if you work in a company that is either really small or really large. If it’s small, you just don’t have a large pool to choose from. If it’s exceptionally large, it becomes so big that it can be overwhelming to know where to begin.
If you utilize your professional network to help you find a mentor be sure to follow these steps:
The mutual connection should reach out on your behalf to the potential mentor first to see if they would be interested.
Reach out to the potential person after your connection says that it’s ok to contact.
Introduce yourself and set up an introduction time that’s informal and works around their schedule.
Skipping these steps and trying to establish a mentor relationship cold will not likely end as you want it to. They may not know who you are, your request can catch them off guard and the person may not be in a place to be able to take you on.
Look outside your company
Don’t neglect your network outside your company when searching for a mentor. Your church, family friends and other community connections all have significant value. It’s also ok to have a couple of mentors that have different strengths and perspectives to help you along the way.
Respect and give back.
There shouldn’t be a one way street between you and your mentor where you are taking all the value and adding nothing in return. Look for ways to add value back to your mentor. This could be by lightening their load in some way, offering your own expertise on a topic or using your network to help grow theirs. No matter your life stage, you have something that you can offer back.
Be sure to show up on time and prepared when you have time with your mentor. It shows them that you have respect for their time and that you value the time that you have together.
Ensure that it’s the right fit.
The person that you want as a mentor may be a highly successful business executive and lives in a home that looks just like your dream house. No matter how much you want the relationship, it will never work out if the two of you do not fit personality wise. Just as in all relationships, without chemistry, there can not be a long lasting meaningful relationship.
Getting to know the potential mentor a little on a personal level before you enter into that relationship is helpful. If that’s not possible, use the first meeting to get to know each other and see if you are a match for each other. It’s best to know early and not pursue than you both lose engagement early on. That time could be used on a mentor that you hit it off with instead.
Finding the right mentor can truly accelerate your personal and professional growth.