Reasons for Leaving: Lack of career development and achievement

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of career development and achievement

A recent McKinsey & Company research study showed that the most common reason a person quit their job wasn’t money related, but due to a lack of career development and advancement. It makes sense for those that are still in the growth phase of their career. They see time as a commodity that never replenishes. Without a clear line of sight at a clear career path, they feel their time, and potentially their earning potential is wasted. 

Here are some tips to help you lead your team to meet their individual career development needs. 

Help them see the rock wall

Often times organizations, leaders, and employees think of careers in terms of ladders. They are something that you climb. Especially if you are in a larger organization, help your team think of their career as a rock wall. They can move to the right or left as they gain new skills and experiences or diagonally as they promote up into different parts of the business. 

If your mindset is stuck in terms of ladders, it can be quite frustrating when you have a leader that has been around for 20 years, sitting in their sweet spot of their capability with no intention of vacating anytime soon. A rock wall approach opens up those blockages and allows the person to continue to grow and develop in the process. 

Employees at this stage of their careers appreciate progress and movement. Think differently and help them see a new future that they may not have considered. 

Help them learn the business and skills needed


You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s hard to fully understand the business or know what skills you need to work on if you have no idea where to even begin. There are many ways that you can help your employees learn and grow in their knowledge and engagement in the larger organization.

  • Invite them to larger group meetings, town halls, forums, panels, etc. so that they can begin to see a larger picture of how things work. 

  • Have them work on stretch assignments that pair them with different parts of the business.

  • Look for ways to elevate them among their peers on projects or special assignments. This raises their awareness up a level and helps their peers see the person as a leader. 

  • Look for opportunities to embed the person in another team. It may not be a full-time opportunity, but even less formal connections help the person learn, grow their network, and pick up new skills. 

Support them as they chase curiosity

Ambitious employees are often like sponges that soak up whatever new training or opportunity is thrown at them.  When you see an employee that is showing curiosity about the team, skills, or continuing education, lean in and support them.  If they are working on continuing education, find things that they can do at the company that aligns with what they are learning and studying.  If they are curious about a skill set, partner them with a mentor that can help them learn those skills and send them to specialized training if any is available. 

Recognize them right where they are


A secondary frustration for people in this category is that they often feel like they are going above and beyond and aren’t recognized, or appreciated for their efforts and impacts. 

Be sure to stop, recognize, appreciate, and encourage those that are stepping up in a big way for you. Remember that you can never do these three enough and you are more than likely overvaluing how much you give our appreciation, recognition, and encouragement in the first place.  Recognition, appreciation, and encouragement also don’t have to be big monumental moments, experiences, or gifts. Be mindful to check the box in one of these areas consistently as you interact with others. Small and continual reinforcement of how much you care for and appreciate the other person goes a long way.

You may not have an open role today, but if you are recognizing the talent around you and are proactive to support their curiosity, actively helping them learn the larger business and skills, and unlocking the potential of the rock wall approach, your people will feel more engaged and will stay around longer. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Create authentic professional presence

Create authentic professional presence

I’ve completed thousands of talent calibrations and talent reviews in my years as a talent leader for organizations. One common theme that comes up year after year regardless of leveling in the organization is the idea of having a good professional or executive presence. 

Leaders are right, having an authentic professional presence can help you stand out, build a stronger network, accelerate projects, and accelerate career growth. Here are some tips to help you dial in your executive presence in the work that you do. 

Be yourself


I think that this is the most important thing to remember for yourself as you work to strengthen this skill in your own leadership toolkit or as you are coaching others through this topic.  Just because you have room for growth here doesn’t mean that you need to become someone you are not. 

If you try to push your professional presence outside of your identity – coming into a room or conversation that doesn’t match your personality, it will fall flat with others. They’ll see your efforts as fake or inauthentic. 

Authenticity doesn’t mean that you need to change how you speak and present yourself. It’s adapting to the level of the room, position, or need while being true to who is in the process. 

You can find a deeper dive into the importance of being authentic at our previous show Be Yourself (Show 127)

Be consistent


Consistency means being reliable and dependable across all channels of communication. It also means delivering on your promises and following through on your commitments. Related to authenticity; are you one as one way while “on stage” and totally different when you interact with others? Inconsistency can also show up in how you communicate. Are you a great presenter or coach, but your emails are off-putting? Do you come across as confident and an expert in written communication, but unsure of yourself in difficult conversations? 

Inconsistency can come from any number of areas and forms of communication and interactions. Check with your leaders, peers, and those on your team to get feedback on how consistent you are. 

Hold their engagement

One of the secrets to good executive presence is the ability to grab, and keep someone’s attention and engagement. It means having something valuable and relevant to say or offer. You need to be able to communicate your message clearly and persuasively. It’s very important that you know your audience, your purpose, and your value proposition.

You can also hold someone’s engagement by leveraging data-driven storytelling and using different channels, mediums, and illustrations to reach your audience. Break up how you communicate to keep things fresh for the audience. Also remember where your audience is coming from and their perspective and knowledge, that will help you cater your message in a way that connects with them. 

Areas to consider as you adjust to dial in your professional presence

  • Language: What words are you using as you communicate with others? Are there colloquials that you should avoid or industry speak that you need to stay away from or gravitate towards?

  • Your physical appearance: Do you look the part? In live settings, do you match what the expected audience is or are you over or under-dressed? For virtual environments is your lighting good and background complimentary?

  • Reading the temperature of the room: Having a good read on the room is vastly important as you strengthen your professional presence. Is the group lively or serious? How heavy of a topic or message are you trying to convey? 

Be open to feedback as you continue to strengthen your professional presence. You’ll be a more effective leader and communicator as you interact with others.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Make alignment a part of your leadership strategy

Make alignment a part of your leadership strategy

Getting alignment with others can be something that you either look forward to or dread depending our your personality and the personality of the person that you need to interact with. Honestly, depending on the day and tasks ahead you can fall into both categories in a matter of hours. I know that I sometimes feel the same excitement and dread at the same time as well on occasion. 

No matter whether you love to work with a person or a group or you just don’t get along with someone else, it’s essential to arrive at some shared alignment in order to be effective in meeting your goals and the shared goals of the team. 

Understand your audience


One of the first steps to gaining alignment on a project, task, or strategy is to understand your audience. Solidifying your understanding of your audience will smooth out the process if done well and will throw in all kinds of roadblocks and frustration if not accounted for properly. Here are some tips to better connect with them as you gain alignment with others:

  • What is their communication preference? Get a good understanding of how the person performs to receive their communication and how they best process information. In one of my regular team meetings, I have a great associate that needs to see a visual to understand the details of where we are going. Others prefer to talk it out together. 

  • Who really needs to be there? Sometimes a leader will say that they want to be involved only to later learn that someone else on their team is the right person. Other times the opposite is true. They delegate the meeting out, only to ask you for updates and add last-minute additions and preferences. Let the leader know your observations and ask for further clarification if you see a misalignment in this area. It’s not your job to fix the dynamics of another team, but you should work with them to get the right person in the proverbial seat to help get the alignment that you need. 

  • What level of involvement do they want? This is where you may have some tension, especially if you are one to be agile and quick to act while another party wants to have oversight or be heavily involved in the decision-making process. Be willing to compromise here to the best of your ability and ask your leader for guidance if you are struggling in this area. Honor the person’s role and avoid turning the tension into something personal. At the end of the day, you likely want what’s best for the team and organization. 

Be aware of your own work preferences and tendencies


We all have personal twerks about us and many of those will help or hurt you as you try to gain alignment with others. For me, when leading meetings, I have a tendency not to say much. I want to hear from others and I want them to feel like they are heard and have a voice on the item that we are all aligning on. This certainly helps us get to an agreed-upon solution faster. 

I also have a tendency to pour in my focus and effort to knock out a project very quickly by myself. As a result of that speed and efficiency, I will sometimes neglect to include others or just give them a high-level status of what I am working on. Sometimes it’s not a problem, and other times I have to go back and spend time getting a party up to speed or even make changes based on feedback. 

Having a good understanding of your preferences in work style and how you function and communicate to others will help you see how you need to adapt your style or capitalize on your strength. 

Make the success about others and not yourself


It’s a great feeling to know that you accomplished something that will greatly impact others in a good way. Remember that alignment has everything to do with others and nothing to do with yourself. As a young leader, I would see these accomplishments as personal wins, I got what I wanted. As I matured, I saw the joy of shared success and seeing others celebrate the win just as much, if not more than me. 

Take the personal drive for a win out of the equation and be sure to recognize and celebrate the shared success as you gain alignment with others.

The bigger the team and company, the bigger the need


If you are an entrepreneur leading a small team, or maybe you are a team of one…. there’s not much alignment needed, right? Look at yourself in the mirror, make your decision and move towards the goal! As the team grows, and the physical footprint of the company grows, so does the need for alignment. 

For example, the need for alignment is critical to have any kind of success at a $100 Billion company. The complexity to gain that alignment can be very challenging. You may find yourself in an organization so big that you don’t even know who the stakeholders are perhaps until it’s too late. In large organizations, take the time to understand the playing field and who the players and key stakeholders are. The strength of your networking will pay off here as you connect with others to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table. Some tips as you work to gain alignment in large organizations include:

  • Be willing to slow down. Get everyone up to speed and include them on the journey. the larger the organization the more people will likely need to be involved. 

  • Compromise when possible. Your priorities may not be the same as others, and in large organizations, it’s likely someone that you need to align with will not share the same priority or perspective as you. Remember the larger goal and be willing to adapt your plan and strategy for others. 

As you personally gain more authority and influence, your need to gain alignment instead of going at it alone will increase as well. Remember to include others, adapt to others’ needs, and share the success together. You’ll be an effective leader that successfully impacts more people than ever before. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

What to do when you are thrown under the bus

What to do when you are thrown under the bus

Being suddenly thrown under the proverbial bus is one of the worst feelings there is in a working relationship. It’s the sense of being betrayed by someone that you likely had some level of trust built with for their own gain. Perhaps you were blamed for something that you didn’t do, or they broke your confidence to share sensitive info, or perhaps they embarrassed you in front of others to make themselves look better.  Whatever the reason, you’ve likely experienced it a time or two or you will most certainly experience it as you continue your professional journey. 

You’ve been thrown under the bus, now what?


The thing about being thrown under the bus is that it always comes unexpectedly and suddenly. Perhaps you align with your work partner only for them to say that they totally disagree with your position after reading the room. That initial sting can send you swirling in many different mental directions at one time. 

In the moment:

  • Let your EQ save you: This is another great work example where a strong EQ  (EQ series starting at Ep 145) will swoop in and save you from any further damage. Do your best to instantly react, especially in a public setting. Let the emotions wash through you and then begin to react in a way that reflects well on you. In some situations, you may only have a few seconds while other times, you’ll have more than enough time. 

  • Save face by taking the high road. It’s ok to say that whatever the other person said or did was a surprise to you and that you need some time to process and reflect. Offering the take the conversation offline in a meeting environment can take the heat off for now and keep the meeting moving forward as well. 

After the incident:

  • Accept that this has happened and move forward:  It can be hard to obsess about the incident… besides, you’ve likely been wronged and it can feel very personal as you continue to unpack in your mind how everything unfolded. At the end of the day, there is nothing that can be done to take the incident back. It happened. Mentally acknowledge that it happened, remind yourself that it does not lower the value that you see in yourself as a person, and begin to move to the next steps for closure and growth. 

  • Get to the truth and root of the incident: Instead, of trying to find solace and validation with others, approach the other person who threw you under the bus after the incident and ask what happened. It’s fair for you to seek clarity and understanding of the reasoning behind their decision. Be mentally prepared because this conversation can go many different ways:
    • They may reveal their true colors and were never an ally to begin with
    • They may have acted impulsively and are regretful
    • They may not have the self-awareness to even realize what they did was wrong and hurtful

  • Don’t retaliate: It may be tempting to volley back resentment and anger or even worse, plot your revenge against the other person. Remember your values (EP 357 EP 358) and avoid this at all costs. You’ll have more productive ways to deal with the person based on the things that you learned from the experience. 

Learn and grow from the experience


The shock of a break in trust can be difficult to overcome, in fact, it’s one of our highest searched subjects on the internet. Trust is certainly one of the lessons that I learn during the times that someone has thrown me under the bus – specifically how far my trust can go with the other person going forward. I would rarely fully write the person off, but I certainly reframed the relationship and became much more mindful of what I said or did around the person. 

I’ve had others share with me that the lesson that they learned is that they trusted others too much. While I get where the person is coming from with this kind of statement, my experience has shown me that that kind of attitude and become the building block to a fundamental change in their leadership behavior in a negative way. You can’t stop trusting others because you’ve been burned. 

Another way to gain insight from being thrown under the bus is to reflect back and understand some of the behaviors that may have been indicators that the person was capable of what they did. Some of those include: 

  • Trying to take credit for things that they did not do
  • A lack of reciprocating information about themselves
  • A lack of showing vulnerability in their role
  • Statements like “It’s not personal”

Being thrown under the bus is never fun and can really hurt, especially if it comes from a friend or close colleague. Represent yourself well during the stinging moment, seek clarity, learn from the incident and move forward. You’ll build a character trait that will serve you well as you continue on your professional journey. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Living the Values at Work

Living the Values at Work

I have built a career by tieing my work ethics, leadership priorities, and expectations around company values. Sometimes it was easy as others were aligned, to begin with, sometimes I was a hero as I entered a bad culture that desperately wanted change, and other times I was painted as the villain as I asked others to embrace change and held people accountable to how they did their work. 

Living the Values at your organization isn’t always easy, but it certainly is rewarding long term and had always helped me accelerate my own career opportunities along the way. 

Learn the Values and their place in the organization


When it comes to your organization’s values, dig in and get an understanding of what they are. The popular way that many companies express their values these are often through single words (empowerment, creativity, trust, service, etc). Although 1 or 2-word values are easier to remember, they really don’t say much or give real clarity to what they mean. Look for supporting documentation that unpacks what each one means to get a true sense of what the organization stands for. 

Once you gain that understanding, commit them to memory and look at how the company integrates (or doesn’t) the Values into programming, pay practices, and accountability. In other words, do they truly stand on their Values, or are they something that people look at during their orientation and never revisit?  Regardless of which side your company falls in putting its Values into action, understanding and aligning to the Values will help you stand out and accelerate your career. 

Make the Values your calling card


Forward-thinking companies will often refer to work that you accomplish in two ways: The What – Your level of performance as it relates to your job description and The How – How you accomplish your goals. It’s always encouraging to see companies that go all-in on the how with some even going as far as to say that they are equally important in evaluating their people and their ability to do more on the team. 

The How is all about Living the Values. As you continue to lean into how you carry yourself and your alignment with the company’s overall values, you’ll begin to build a reputation, and a very good one, that then becomes your calling card. People know what you expect when you enter the room and the high standard that you bring with you and those that you influence. 

Living the Values accelerates your career


If you put individuals side-by-side that are equally skilled, what would make you choose one over the other? If you’ve got a hiring leader that is worth following, they will always choose the person that is strong in how they get their work done. Here are some ways that Living the Values accelerates your career. 

You build stronger working relationships: It doesn’t matter whether you are an introvert or an extravert, a person that Lives the Values in the workplace will always have better relationships than someone that does not. You’ll be known as a partner, colleague, and friend to an ever-growing extended network across the organization. If you’ve company doesn’t emphasize your Values as it should, then people may not make the connection, but they will know that there is something different about you and that they just enjoy being around and working with you. Your life will be easier as you have people with different skills to help support you and your work that relies on others’ involvement will be easier to arrive at positive conclusions. 

You’ll likely become a connector for others: It’s been said that a person that is a connector (Someone who makes networking connections for others) advances the quickest in an organization. it’s one thing to develop people in a silo, and quite a different thing to connect people together in order to make their work-life more effective or even to help them advance their own journey.

The strength here is from leveraging those working relationships in a way that brings value to everyone. Your values will lead you to do this in an unselfish way. You’ll give away great talent for the betterment of the organization, it will help keep any leadership ego in check, and you’ll naturally lead in a more servant leadership-like way. (EP 131 Characteristics of Servant Leadership & EP 132 Servant Leadership in Action for more)

You will be a role model for others to follow: I love being a culture champion. It’s so rewarding to see how teams blossom and thrive as they collectively embrace a shared positive culture. As I grew in my journey from an individual contributor to a leader of many, I took pride in being able to be a role model for others and influencing change for the better. 

If you are in a tough culture, be a beacon of light for others by how you lead yourself. If you lead others, model the behaviors that you expect of them. When you say to them to Live the Values, they need to see what that looks like and means in the real working world.  Many people strive to leave a lasting legacy behind them. It’s a sense of larger purpose in what we do. You can accomplish that in a larger and more meaningful way as you model those values for others to follow. 

You’ll be given more influence and responsibility: Those that lead themselves by the company’s values will almost always attract more influence power and additional responsibility. This is a great way for you to have a chance to shine in an authentic way that can help others.

For those Baton Carriers that are in their sweet spot and don’t want to (and shouldn’t) continue advancing, know that more influence and responsibility is a good thing for you as well. Remember that you know your limits (Ep 140 for help here) and share those if you feel like you are being stretched too thin. 

Lean into the Values as you lead yourself on your career journey. Your team will thrive, you’ll continue on an upward trajectory of your choosing and you’ll leave a lasting impact behind you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH