Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and had some time to rest and rejuvenate!
As you prepare to head back to work, consider some new ways to get things done. If you've been feeling like you can't work hard enough to get ahead, you might be falling into some common career traps. The good news - with some changes to your approach and mindset, you can avoid the pitfalls.
Common Career Traps and How to Avoid Them
Trap #1: Something comes easily to you so you discount the activity, thinking it must be easy for everyone. You figure it can't be a worthwhile skill if you didn't have to work at it.
Avoid it by: Playing to your strengths and appreciating that you really do have talent. Not everyone can do what you do so easily. Once you recognize your core genius you will get better results more easily.
Trap #2: You choose what you think you SHOULD do over what you really want. You figure that others have more experience or know better than you so you trust their opinion over your own.
Avoid it by: Not giving up control of your career to others. Yes it's scary to make your own choices and decisions but otherwise you get caught up in their goals for you. What about your personal aspirations? No one else is better qualified to fulfill your life purpose than you.
Trap #3:Rather than take advantage of small opportunities to take steps toward work you'd rather do, you pass. Why put yourself out there if it's not the perfect situation?
Avoid it by: Recognizing that the ideal career is a path, not a destination. It unfolds before you as you take steps, even small ones. Get some positive momentum started and you'll see doors open to amazing opportunities.
I've worked with thousands through my career coaching approach and my SIRIUSXM career talk show and unfortunately many of us are making work harder than it needs to be. I've even fallen into these traps in my own career. It happens but it doesn't need to continue. If you're ready, willing and able to have a career that works for you, let's talk about it. Comment below or call into my radio show this Friday 4p ET/1p PT at 1-886-675-6675. I'd love to hear your story!
You might feel compelled to take a job, any job, at any employer. But are you sure that's best for your career? How much happier or successful might you be if you worked at a company that invested in you, trusted you and partnered with you?
Through my work as a career coach and radio host, I get the opportunity to see how companies really work. What I've learned is that there are tell-tale signs of great employers (that you want to work for) and not-so-great employers (that you'll want to avoid.)
Here's what to look for...
Tell-Tale Signs of Great Employers:
They invest in their employees' careers. One of the things I value as a coach are organizations that value their employees. Vermont Country Store (VCS) is one such organization. I had the pleasure of working with the company as an executive coach earlier this year. I was impressed with the investment VCS made in their executive team on down to entry-level employees with coaching programs, mentoring programs, training programs. If every organization did this, it would create a completely different and more effective corporate environment.
They trust their people to get the job done. I recently interviewed Hopstop CEO Joe Meyer on what a day in the life is like for a technology start-up CEO. Joe said that working at Hopstop isn't about punching a clock for him or his people. He has autonomy and so do they. In fact, they have no vacation policy (people can take time off as they need.) Rather, it's about getting high-quality results and Joe knows his team takes that responsibility seriously without him having to micromanage them.
They partner with their employees. This fall I worked with an information services firm in NYC to kick-off a new kind of career development program focused on collaboration. The training team led by collaboration expert Janet Wise and I customized one of my career workshops to spark a lively conversation about what it really takes to get and stay motivated at work. Employees, managers and executives left inspired to create the kind of work environment that inspires them.
What do you feel are the tell-tale signs of a great employer? I'd love to hear about your experience. Comment below and share what you feel makes for a great place to work...
In 2009 do gender stereotypes still play a role in the modern workplace? A recent article in the college magazine Jungle Campus, called "Watch Your Step" highlighted that although women have made "significant leaps in the business world"; they "lag behind men in pay and leadership positions."
Are you being held back by stereotypes in your career? Many women say yes. The article highlights a 2004 study by Catalyst, in which 46 percent of women chose gender-based stereotyping as a top barrier to advancement compared to only five percent of men.
Weigh in on the issue and comment (below). I did. As part of the panel of experts quoted in the article, I agreed with some of the stereotypes and disagreed with others:
Stereotypes I Agree With:
Women are less aggressive - I have coached many of my female clients to aim higher when asking for a raise, promotion or more responsibility.
Women underplay their professional accomplishments- Many times I have had to quote author Peggy Klaus and remind my female clients that, "It's not bragging if it's true." Unfortunately when women achieve great success they are afraid it will threaten others. In reality, people are impressed by your achievements when presented in a factual way. It can demonstrate confidence and self-assuredness, which only help your career!
Stereotypes I Disagree With:
Women are catty with each other - The women I've worked with in my corporate career have been just as helpful as the male bosses and coworkers. It hasn't been about gender but about finding supportive mentors willing to help me succeed.
Women can't take criticism - I think this is a misconception because women tend to question the criticism and want specific examples. It's good career development to understand feedback you receive. How else are you supposed to improve?
Read the article (on page 11) and hear from other experts such as Gail Evans, former CNN executive and author of Play Like a Man Win Like a Woman and Barbara Adachi, Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte and national managing partner of their Initiative for the Retention and Advancement of Women (WIN).
I invite you to comment on your experience with gender in the workplace and if you agree or disagree with the stereotypes. You can also call into SIRIUS 112/XM 157 at 866-675-6675 on Tuesday Dec 8th, 2009 at 3:30pm ET. I'll debate gender stereotypes with host Mario Bosquez on Living Today. Click here for a free 30-day trial of SIRIUS radio.
Power and authority have a bad connotation. Because of that many people shy away from taking charge at work. But what about servant leadership - being in charge as a way to be of tremendous service to people. It's not a concept I created but one I'm educating my clients and radio listeners about.
Just last week, I had leadership experts Gail Steinel and Mike Policano on"Making a Living with Maggie" talking about their book, Excuse Me, Aren't YOU in Charge? These two are not just theorists. Gail in fact was a pioneer for women leadership in the consulting industry, recognized twice by Consulting Magazine as a Top 25 Consultant. I experienced Gail's leadership firsthand - when she was head of Arthur Andersen's Business Consulting Practice where I was an employee.
Here's what I learned from Gail about being a great leader:
--Be accessible. - Gail is the type of leader who remembered your name and would stop and talk to you in the hallway. She was never too busy to make time for her employees.
--Support your people's ideas and passions. - In their book, Gail mentions one particular leadership experience that stuck with me - where she supported an employee who wanted to build a new recruiting strategy. Gail encouraged the employee to get involved and the young woman ended up winning an employee-of-the-year award.
--Be honest. - I saw Gail lead during Andersen's best times and it's demise with the Enron debacle. She was always upfront with honest answers and I always felt I could trust her. For leaders today this is perhaps the biggest lesson - be someone your people can really trust and your best employees will always stick with you.
Find out more about leadership 101 on Gail and Mike's blog! And share your greatest leadership moments here - what's the best quality you've seen in a leader? Do you consider yourself to be a servant leader?