Layoff- one year later, lessons learned

So it’s coming up on a year since I last posted a blog. Guess I’m not even sure any readers are still out there!Lessons learned

Why a year?  Well, I stopped once I found a new employer in June of last year.  Basically, I wanted to really focus on all that I had to learn with my new company. Now that the dust has settled, figured I’d jump back into the blog, if only briefly (we’ll see).

Why a new employer?  I got laid off from my job about a year ago. Once past the initial shock, I was actually excited (read more).

So what did I learn through it all?

  1. Job searches suck (duh)- even for an HR guy who considers himself well connected and not afraid to network with people.  Although I was confident it would work out fine based on my experience, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t concerned with the lack of response to my applications, phone calls and emails.  It’s not easy for anyone.
  2. Figuring out what I really wanted in my next job was critical.  It paid off.
  3. I had settled for “good enough” in my old job.  Because so many things were good, I looked past the things that weren’t.
  4. I’m better off than I was.  I had a good job, great boss and coworkers and flexibility.  It’s even better now because my responsibilities are aligned with what I most enjoy.  Call me lucky, but I spent a lot of time thinking, reading and planning.

Moral of the story.  Take the time to understand what really drives you.  Don’t settle for good enough. Barring being let go, you can always stay where you are, but don’t be afraid to test the waters.  If your employer isn’t satisfying your needs, you have work to do.  Get better where you are and earn a different opportunity or set yourself up to move on.  You’re not doing yourself or your employer any favors if you aren’t all in.

I know some people wish they could enjoy any aspect of their job, much less a whole list of things.  If that’s you, all the more reason to get busy.  Like anything worthwhile, it comes with a price.  Get to it!

Question: What scares you about the possibility of changing jobs?  

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Posted in Attitude, Career Development, Get Proactive, Job search | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Stop arguing with reality!

Whether at work or home, do you ever argue with the reality of a situation? Are you creating drama that isn’t choicesreally necessary?  For the large majority of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is a resounding YES, at least some of the time.

I know I’ve had many situations in the past where I felt like I was working harder than ever, but still not getting the results I wanted.  Frustration was high while energy levels were low.

What I have come to realize and is that the suffering is optional.  In her book, Reality-Based Leadership, Cy Wakeman does a great job of spelling this out.

We all tend to hold some beliefs that aren’t accurate. I know I had a situation earlier in my career where a coworker was given a promotion over me. I immediately made up a story in my mind about how she got it and I didn’t.  The reality is that she probably did some things along the way to actually EARN the opportunity while I was too busy doing other things. Just because I wasn’t aware of all the facts, I made up my own.

This is what happens in organizations (and even home) way too often.  We argue with reality.

In order to bring peace to our lives, we need to understand that the source of our suffering is not what happens to us, but the stories we create about what happens to us. Sometimes unconsciously, we tell ourselves these stories that aren’t even accurate and then live with the drama that follows.

As Cy puts it, “It’s the single largest barrier to peace and success for most people. The only way to change it is by becoming aware of when and how you tend to do it.”  It’s learned helplessness.

Here are some examples of it:

  • “This isn’t part of my job description.”
  • “Why aren’t others more dedicated?  I do everything around here.”
  • “There’s never enough time.”
  • “Management just doesn’t understand. They only care about the bottom line.”

We are arguing with reality when we judge a situation in terms of right or wrong instead of fearlessly confronting what actually is the reality.  Judging is a waste of time and energy and brings no value.

As a leader, if I allow people to complain and make excuses for their results, I am encouraging this learned helplessness and the victim mentality that goes with it.  Doing so allows the idea that unless everything is 100 percent perfect, we can’t really be held responsible for the results.

Whether just watching out for yourself or also trying to lead others, you must remember this.  Happiness is correlated to the amount of accountability you accept in your life. The more responsibility you take for your results, the happier you will be.  It’s my choice. It’s your choice.  Make the right choice!

Question: Do you work in an environment where this victim mentality is way too common? What can you do to change it?

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Posted in Attitude, Career Development, Personal Development | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

5 reasons to NOT promote someone (even if they do good work)

Do you know someone who can’t seem to quite figure out why they’re never selected to lead a project or head in handsgiven a promotion?   Sure you do.  In their minds, things just aren’t fair.  Not so coincidentally, they’re also the ones who talk about the “brown-nosers” and “do-gooders” that are getting those opportunities.

Most of these folks tend to show up on time and do decent work, but they really don’t want to be there.  They do just enough to skate by and don’t break any major policies.

The reality is that we have all likely been that person at some point (ah yes, my days of working at Sonic Drive-In in high school).

Chances are that if you are a frequent reader of my blog, this isn’t you, but you deal with it.

I can tell you that as an HR leader, these are the things that really concern me and it’s my job to make sure we have a culture free of them.  Don’t allow others to hurt the business and their own careers by making ANY of these mistakes.

1.  Always full of high drama.  Most people understand the importance of remaining professional at work. Unfortunately, too few realize that when they gossip and complain about things, even if they have valid concerns, that is a form of unprofessionalism.  This breeds mediocrity and isn’t allowed at great companies.

2.  Poor written communications. Everything we type or write as an employee of a company is not only a reflection on our personal brand, but it’s also a reflection on the company’s brand.  Poor communication shows that a person doesn’t really care much.

3.  Losing control when under pressure.  How people handle themselves when their backs are against the wall reveals a lot about the person. Pressure reveals weaknesses and separates those who are ready for advancement from those who aren’t.

4.  Lacking a desire to get involved. Truly good employees show they are serious about their career by volunteering to lead department projects, by getting involved with company fundraisers, or by offering to help with social activities.

5.  Having a generally poor attitude.   Easy to spot, this problem is too often seen as a “right” of employees. Truly good employees make it a point to keep their energy levels high, acknowledge people, and be friendly. It makes for a better work environment for everyone and has a direct correlation to the bottom line.

If you are in a position of leadership, don’t allow people to negatively impact their career and the business.  Talk to them, make them aware of the problem and hold everyone accountable to those expectations.

Question:  What other issues would you add to this list?

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