Is there untapped potential in those you lead? Do you know what it takes to motivate your staff? If you are an aspiring supervisor or manager on the job hunt or currently in a position of leadership in your organization at any level, taking the time to understand who you are managing is an essential ingredient to your overall team’s success. Developing human talent takes a customized approach to individual employees rather than the traditional ‘one size fits all’ type of model. Learning the capabilities, untapped potential, and ways to keep your team motivated and fulfilled, all will contribute to a healthy, innovative, and enjoyable work culture.
Here are a few keys to unlocking the potential on your team:
1. SCHEDULE TIME TO GET TO KNOW YOUR EMPLOYEES. When you meet, don’t focus solely on the tasks they have accomplished but genuinely ask them how they are doing in their role. Solicit feedback and foster open dialogue about where they would like to go with their career. Some may know their goals but others may not. You might just find out they are not sure of their future goals and that is where you come in. Call out the unique contributions they make to the team and ensure they are aware of what they are really good at. You have more influence than you realize as a manager.
2. TAKE TIME TO INVEST IN SOME TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES. There are many team building assessments available. Even though team building workshops can seem like a drain on time and the bottom line, investing in your employees pays long term dividends if both of you learn something about each other. The more you can strengthen your relationships with your team, the less energy it will take to lead them. If team building is not your strength, it might be a good investment of your time to partner with your HR team and/or learn more about the subject. Good managers/leaders take a genuine interest in the development of those they lead.
3. FIND A MENTOR OR CONNECT WITH A PROFESSIONAL CONSULTANT. Your HR team is a great resource. They work with people and are involved with human development every day. They may be able to point you towards resources and training opportunities, and also provide support and/or suggestions to you as the manager and/or aspiring manager. Most HR professionals genuinely enjoy helping others and are probably more willing to help than you might think. Use the resources available to you.
There is no way around it. If you want to manage and/or lead people, then take a vested interest in the development of those on your team. It’s a part of your job description as a manager. Although most of those responsibilities are not explicitly spelled out, you are responsible for hiring the right people for your team – and then ensuring that employees are in the right position to reach the objectives of your organization or department.
Kristina Burroughs is a recruiter with the Center for Shared Services. This post was originally posted on the CSS Blog.
Life is too short to hate what you do! Although it is rare to love every aspect of your job but for the most part, you should enjoy a vast majority of it. A good job fit will challenge and engage your interests, internal motivations, and fit your personality. Skills can be learned if the motivation, personality, and values match. Here are a few signs that you may have landed a great job fit:
• CREATING VALUE: You are initiating ideas and thinking about ways to experiment, innovate, or improve what you do. You often think, “I hope I get to” verses “I hope I don’t have to.” You are adding value to the organization and feel good about your contribution to the organization.
• PROMOTION: You would recommend your organization and/or the type of work you do to friends even if there is no personal incentive to do so.
• RELATIONSHIPS: You have a good relationship with your supervisor and view your relationship with him or her as a teammate you work with verses work for. You genuinely want to see your organization or department win and desire to see your supervisor successful as well!
• TEAMWORK: You do not want to disappoint your colleagues and teammates. You genuinely enjoy the differences of the people on your team, in your department, and in your organization. There is a mutual accountability to one another and you don’t mind stepping in to help the team win, even if it is not your job.
• FULFILLMENT: You view a success in your current job by the gratification and fulfillment you feel when you do your job well. Even though promotions, money, and incentives can be motivating, there is a deeper level of satisfaction that goes beyond those rewards. You are genuinely there because you feel like you’re supposed to be there.
These are just a couple of benchmarks you can use to internally audit your current job fit and self-assess your level of fulfillment in your current organizational culture, job role, and/or industry. Recruiters can also be a great resource in helping you decipher the questions around the job fit. It is never too late to make adjustments and this process takes time. It happens over the course of your career experiences and should eventually guide you towards the best possible fit for you.
Whether you’re a job seeker aspiring to a supervisory role or you currently hold the privilege of leading others, continual self-reflection is good practice. Yes, managers should be able to drive deadlines, manage successful projects, and be great at what they do – but there is more to leadership. Supervisors have the additional responsibility of developing their staff and exercising transformational leadership in their work culture.
Here are a few additional job responsibilities that could make you stand out as an exceptional supervisor or manager:
1. YOU ARE A CULTURAL ARCHITECT. Whether it is explicitly written in your job description or not, you help to model and lead the organizational culture of your team and those who report to you. Culture is more than setting the bar for work ethic, pace, spoken and implied performance measures and expectations. Culture is about how you take an intentional and active role in building healthy working relationship with those you lead. The classic rule of thumb still applies: “no one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Human capital is your greatest asset – but no one wants to feel like they are just a unit of production.
2. YOU ARE A TALENT DEVELOPER. Transformational leaders call out the best in those they lead. These exceptional leaders work to equip, promote, and give opportunity to those they lead. Transformational leadership builds a culture that people aspire to be part of. It helps to shape your employee brand. Many managers are more concerned with protecting their territory and then fail to carve out the time to develop those they lead. Succession should always be on the mind of a leader and replacing yourself should be the goal. There will always be more opportunity for the leader who promotes others.
3. LEARN TO LEAD COLLABORATIVELY. SHRM magazine recently had a great article suggesting that a more collaborative style of leading fits better in 21st century organizations. Hierarchical models of leading do not fit the demand for innovation, creativity, and adaptability. Empowering employees at every level of the organization to contribute ideas, experiment, and collaborate with one another across departmental lines can lead to more value creation.
Aspiring to lead and manage in an organizational culture is a noble task indeed. To lead beyond position, requires leading with “heart.” Human capital continues to be an organization’s greatest asset and leading employees well requires leaders who are not in it just for the position rank.
Take a few minutes to self-reflect on your desire to manage and where you think you stand in regards to being a transformational leader.
Everyone has failed in the interview process a time or two. Even professionals fall into the common missteps of failing to take their own advice. You’re not alone, nor should you be afraid or ashamed if you find yourself in the position of not landing the job. Fear is the greatest paralyzer. It keeps many people from experimenting, taking risks, or even stretching a little further than their own proverbial comfort zones at work or even in making career transitions.
A couple of points from John Maxwell’s book, Failing Forward, drive home the concept that failure is an important part of the process of life and more specifically, your personal career journey. Keep in mind these three facts about failure as you continue to take steps forward to finding your ideal career path:
1. Failure is UNAVOIDABLE. Give yourself permission to take risks and accept non-success along the way as a part of the process of learning. What did you learn from the last interview that did not move you forward? How could you improve for the next time? If you learned something new, than it was not a waste of time.
2. Failure is not an EVENT. Career success is not a destination but it is truly a journey. You’re changing all the time, adding new skill sets to your resume, and constantly aligning your goals with new discoveries about what you’re good at and what you want to do. Success is more of an art than exact science, comprised of constant experimentation, failure, and getting back up to try again.
3. Failure is not IRREVERSIBLE. It is definitely not FINAL. The average entrepreneur actually fails an average of 3.8 times before defining a so called “success.” If you have a few failures on your career path, you are in good company. This should give you permission to use an experimental discovery process as part of your career journey.
For further insight into factoring failure as a part of success, read more on John Maxwell’s blog from the book, Failing Forward.
Kristina Burroughs is a recruiter for the Center for Shared Services. This post originally ran on the CSS Blog.
Everyone has made a mistake or two when it comes to navigating the career landscape: landing the job, interviewing, negotiating salary, or even deciding whether to take an opportunity or decline an offer. Experience is often the best teacher when it comes to the painful lessons of making career decisions. There are some really valuable lessons you can learn from making mistakes during any phase of the interviewing process, just by making them. More times than not, the consequences from those mistakes create an experience that will guide you to the right decision next time.
There are several different types of mistakes and various lessons to be learned from them. First, the careless mistakes are the ones that you often beat yourself up over, like typos or misspellings in your resume. Second, the mistake of being unprepared is usually a result of being unorganized, undisciplined, or underestimating the various questions or situations that could arise in an interview or in making a big decision. Lastly, the most frustrating mistakes are those you hold onto and feel like you knew were mistakes before you took action!
Here are a few examples and tips for navigating through mistakes on life’s career journey:
1. CARELESS MISTAKES are the ones that everyone makes because of doing things in a hurry. Nip it in the bud! Have a friend copy edit your resume before turning it in. When I was right out of college at my first job and searching for new opportunities, I accidentally sent my acceptance letter to my current employer due to the auto fill functionality available with email. The two contacts happened to have the same first name. Needless to say, my heart sank into my stomach and it was not the most professional way to submit my resignation.
2. UNPREPAREDNESS is the mistake that everyone always beats themselves up over because there is always more preparation to be done before any major decision. Being unorganized, undisciplined to do all of your research before making a sound decision, or even underestimating the consequences of the decision, can all hinder you making the best decision. As a recruiter, the hardest mistake to witness is when candidates do not do their research on the organization. They don’t come with questions and forget that they have a right to interview the employer also. This is a two-way interview.
3. FEELING STUCK is probably the most detrimental mistake you can make. No decision is permanent but this feeling can really do a number on you psychologically, if you don’t let it go and make the best of where you are. Recruiters see it all the time with candidates who should of, would of, and could of done things differently or didn’t recover from a bad job, poor decision, or bad experience. Career or vocational decisions shape your life so it is important to embrace the decisions you make or don’t make. When you don’t get the dream job, what will you choose to do with what you do have? When you take the new position and it is not what you thought, what will you do with the decision you made? You can’t recover if you’re still mourning what should have happened.
No matter what types of mistakes you’ve made or will make in your vocational journey, know that they can be the best teacher – if you choose to harness them to shape the future projection of your career path.
From an early age, well-meaning adults asked you the dreaded question that some people still cannot answer today, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I can remember wanting to become an adventure writer who would tour the world writing about what I saw. In college, the guidance counselors did not necessarily help students discover their talents and abilities, but rather rushed them to fill out seemingly arbitrary Academic Development Plans to use as course selection guides.
As I got older, I found that I was nowhere closer to answering the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question than when I was five. In fact, the world had given me a million reasons why my adventurer writing job would not pay the bills.Is it possible that we do not spend enough time experimenting and discovering who we are and where we might uniquely contribute the most value in society? Taking personal responsibility for discovering the answer to that question takes a great deal of self-awareness. You can only be what you are, so taking time in your journey to discover who you are and what you enjoy doing is a good first step in determining your next step.
If you are still asking that question, here are few things to remember along your journey:
If you embrace this question as a lifetime explorer, then at the end of your life you will have contributed value to many organizations and teams in many different ways. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes”-Proust
One of the most important things you can do in narrowing down your job search starts with a series of questions that only you can answer. The first step is defining what success practically looks like so that you move closer to achieving the goals you established.
There are very few people in the world who knew what they were going to do with their life at an early age. In fact, the Wall Street Journal just reported that the average American worker will change careers seven times in a lifetime! How is that for certainty and stability? The Department of Labor Statistics reports that the average worker’s tenure in America was 3.8 years in 1996, 3.5 years in 2000, and 4.1 years in 2008. This is very different from the traditionalist generation that viewed staying with a company for lifetime as successful. All this to say, the world is changing, and it is vital to define what success looks like for you – both today and in the future – so you can navigate the changing landscape of the global market accordingly.
Here are a few basic guidelines for defining success in whatever stage of your career:
What are your non-negotiable core values? How can you determine what organization you want to work for if you have not established what you personally define as important?
Success may look different in different seasons; determine what success looks like for you in the various stages of your professional development. Break the vision down into manageable pieces.
Be honest with your potential employer about how you would define success when they ask the proverbial question everyone dreads, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Bring vision with you to your interview and be authentic about how you define success. This question tells the potential employer or recruiter a lot about what you value.
There is no right way to define success but establishing your own personal standards and values is a critical step in the process. If you do not know the general direction in which you are going, recruiters cannot help you get there.
Kristina Burroughs is a Recruiter at Center for Shared Services
Assuming you get past the resume mining and screening process, quality employers look for candidates with strong leadership potential and an ability to influence others. Potential employees who do not know how to follow their leader’s vision will never be ready to lead a project, team, or department. A talented individual does not automatically ensure strong character or integrity. Character and integrity have different definitions today, but it is my hope that the foundational definitions of these underestimated characteristics would be taken seriously if organizations and job candidates want to make a lasting impact in today’s competitive market.
Job seekers should not underestimate the importance of adding these qualities to their repertoire of key competencies. It is easier to pick up a hard skill than to wrestle with being honest with yourself about the level of character and integrity you possess. Assessing your own character requires courageous integrity. It requires courage to see the inconsistencies and discrepancies in yourself. Taking the time to work out the “hidden” areas of your personhood will set a solid foundation for your career.
So what are the foundational definitions of character and integrity, and why are they so important to employers? Character is what you do when no one else is looking, while integrity is how you do it.
Leadership and business expert, John Maxwell, describes individuals with character as those who:
Do the right thing even when no one is looking.
Make principle-based decisions.
Continue pressing forward in hardship with 100% effort.
Believe the vision before they see it.
Are steady, consistent, and committed to the mission.
Create momentum and add value.
Take responsibility and let action control attitude.
Most organizations have a set of values framed and hanging in their offices. The candidate that embodies and demonstrates those values is more likely to be a culture fit than those who may only have the skill sets the employer is looking for. Your values, character, and integrity should be established before you apply for any job. As the job seeker, you should look for a value alignment and culture that fits with your own. Good employers want to develop talent and continue growing their organizations.
Most skills can be taught, but employers know that hiring people with character and integrity adds far more value in the long run, as those qualities are difficult to teach. Bring these core values with you to an interview, and you are far ahead of those who do not.
Kristina Burroughs is a recruiter for the Center for Shared Services
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