Thursday, May 29, 2014

Better communication tip

Here's the best communication counsel I know:

What is the one thing you need folks to know? (one sentence)

How do you want them to feel about it? Why should they pay attention? (tone & facts)

What do they need to do with the information? (the ask)

If there is nothing for folks to do with the information, do they need to hear it?

Think about your next email – can you summarize Know Feel Do in the title?
Help: your creative input for presentation for Boss required
We won! Lottery ticket needs to be cashed

If the audience only remembers one thing – what should that be? How should they feel about it? What should they do with the information?

Simple. Concise. Try it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Thoughts on trust

You can build, bend, break and borrow trust. You can rebuild it. It comes in different breadths and depths. You cannot hold it, absolutely measure it or buy it.

We each have our own philosophy around trust (if we think about it at all). Trust often means different things in different situations.

And when the chips are down (under stress – work, relationships, health, point-in-time…), we sometimes reserve the right to doubt the trust we've put in people.

In business, my trust is cautiously given but constant. In personal relationships, my trust is absolute and unwavering. Sometimes it gets battered and bloody a little but it heals; I'm there for you.

My philosophy is that few folks are truly evil or mean-spirited and deserve a chance to prove themselves.

When trust is wavering, my knee-jerk reaction is to wait for the other party to assure/re-assure me, cry "mea culpa" or to be indignant that my support may be questioned. That's just pride; trust means vulnerability. Vulnerability means I have to put my pride aside and keep working through the crisis at hand instead of being wounded.

That's really tough to do. Vulnerability and trust are cornerstones of relationships. It is hard to stand exposed and alone when the storms are raging. But trust is important, so we remain determined to build or hold trust.

There is no one right way to do it. Conversation. Openness. Fragility. If my gut – our second brain – is churning, I take the risk that I can rely on the folks who have offered. Sometimes it doesn't work out but if I don't take people at their word (and I can't yet read minds), it's all I've got and it's a decent start.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What's stopping you?

Brand... we hear a lot about it from mentors and managers. We think we know what it means and then struggle to apply the concept to ourselves and careers.

Dream big (always) but start small.
 - What 3 adjectives would you like folks to use in describing you?
 - What have you done (or planned to do) this week that demonstrates those words?

Have your actions match your dreams. Be consistent. Make conscious choices. Take action.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fill in this list

If I could take one thing in my week and...

Tinker with it for a minor adjustment, I'd pick ______________________ and do ______________ by _________ date.

Tailor it for a better fit, I'd pick ______________ and adjust _______________ by _____________ date.

Trash it as no longer useful, I'd pick ________________ and delete it by ____________ date.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spring cleaning

Sweeping through my contact lists: pinging old friends; deleting folks I don't remember or connect with; adding in new ones from the cards scattered across my desk... It's spring cleaning for networking. If only we could hold a swap meet to exchange old contacts for new. Oh..wait..that IS part of networking!

May the sunshine inspire you to sort through your contact list too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Why ask why?

Every three-year old knows, ask "why?" and get information. Ask "why?" again and get more. Keep asking why and watch the folks around you rush to give you answers before the word can fall from your lips.

Then, something happens. The older we get, the more it is frowned upon to ask why. It's considered annoying...or presumptuous...argumentative...disrespectful... Asking "why?" can make us feel silly...or slow in thinking...frustrated...uncertain...

Ever asked a teacher why it was important to memorize a trivial fact? Or a manager why one task was suddenly more important than another equally burning issue? Or a partner why they chose a plan of action?

Sometimes "why?" can still net us great value. Mostly we hesitate to ask or receive the question as a challenge instead of an honest inquiry.

We stop asking "why?" along the way. Which means we become equally accountable for the decisions and choices in which we participate without question.

"Why?" is about clarifying and discussion. "Why?" examines choices. "Why" can support listening and learning at any age/stage.

Why discuss "why"? To take the sting out of the word and open the conversation.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Catch22 - job / experience

I have a 23 year old son. My living room is often filled with the ambitious, the lost, the determined and the clueless ages 19 – 26. Some already have a Masters degree. Some are still trying out the minimum wage route. All of them feel burdened by the "need experience to get a job; need a job to get experience" conundrum.

There is a middle ground; it's your personal brand. Mentors help you develop it. Sponsors promote it. And only the brand holder can define it.

At a very basic level:
1.       What 3 words do you wish folks would use to describe you in a job?
2.       What have you done this week to demonstrate those attributes to others?
3.       What do you have planned to do?

If you're a coffee pourer and want folks to know you're "creative, intelligent & people-savvy" (for example), what can you do in your workplace (and outside of it) to showcase the best of yourself?
·         Volunteer opportunities
·         Work committees
·         Extra assignment /offer of help to someone
·         Conversation with your manager to ask for any of the above
·         Build your network to ask other people how they've managed the transition

Just a few ideas that show how you can demonstrate ability before getting paid experience. Demonstrating the very skills for which you hope to be hired can be very powerful in getting you the paid opportunities.