Saturday 31 July 2010 at 1:05 pm
I was helping an MBA student with her job search. She had a fulltime job in the financial services sector while she was pursuing her degree. However, now that she graduated she wanted to pursue other opportunities that were not available at her present firm. She decided to resign. It was a bold move but she felt if she stayed, she would get comfortable and not pursue her real passion. Some might think this is a risky move and you would be right. The question is should you take this risk.
I say yes, except quiting your job to look for another one is not everyone. There are a couple reasons. One, some employers prefer stealing other companies employees. I know it is not stealing it is hiring away but the result is the same. So, it may be easier to find another job when you have a job. Two, it may take a while to find another job and can you afford to be unemployed. The motivation is greater to find a new job if you are unemployed but you have to accept an uncertain future as an opportunity waiting to be found.
My student counted the cost and decided to make the change. The prospect of fulfilling her dream offset the fear of an uncertain future. Further, she did something else that few people do. She determined to conduct a global job search. After all, it is a global economy so why should job search be limited to the United States. This is huge since for many people relocating to another city in the same State is difficult let alone moving to another Continent. She wanted my opinion.
I said yes, she should pursue it, because expanding your job search opens up more opportunities. You just have to count the cost and be willing to take calculated risks. Again, risk does not mean you abandon logic what it means is you do not dismiss a potential opportunity without making a calculation. The hardest thing about job search is opening yourself up to possibilities that make you uncomfortable in your current situation. It is a small world and when it comes to job search failing to take a risk makes it even smaller.
Saturday 24 July 2010 at 9:05 pm
It never ceases to amaze me how inept some leaders are at letting people go. They send a few signals hoping the individual will get the message and leave on their own. When that does not occur, they send a few more signals and then in frustration call them in and pull the rug out from under them. The person is left lying on the floor, stunned and confused. The leader gives them the option to resign and then waits for a response. It is awkward and uncomfortable for everyone.
This is an example of avoiding confrontation. The leader has been avoiding it for weeks, maybe months hoping the signals would work. It is the leader's prerogative to make a change and it can even be arbitrary but it should be done with grace and professionalism.
In the majority of instances when a leader resorts to signals, it is because the person they want to remove is a good performer. However, they are not the right person for the future. This happens frequently. However, sending signals will only make everyone uncomfortable and end in resentment. The leader resents the individual because they do not leave on his or her own. The individual resents being treated with what amounts to disrespect.
If the leader were only open and honest about the need for change all this could be avoided. Most leaders think they are softening the blow by sending signals. They are not fooling anyone accept themselves. So why doesn't the person just move on. Some do others don't. The signals may be mixed or not that strong. Also, people do not walk away that easily.
All this would be different if the leader showed the person they valued them and respected them by being honest. Instead, they engage in cloak and dagger leaving a valuable person feeling valueless which was not what they were trying to signal.
Friday 16 July 2010 at 4:44 pm
"Could the iPhone 4 be cursed?" read the Business Headline in the Los Angeles Times on July 16, 2010. Apple is in unfamiliar territory resulting from complaints about the iPhone 4 antenna. Their star has lost some of its glow and it could cost them as much as $1.5 billion to fix.
I own an iPhone 3G but I almost bought the iPhone 4. However, I am not a fanatical tech...I mean early adaptor. I actually want an iPad, which is why I decided not to upgrade to the 4.
The situation with iPhone is interesting because it shows how quickly you can go from hero to goat. A saying normally said about sports players but it applies to business situations as well.
I was talking to a friend recently who had the same thing happen to him. He was the star performer in his group and was advancing untouched until he missed his sales targets. The boss knew he was working hard nonetheless; he fired a warning shot that nearly took my friend out. It came out of nowhere, with no advance warning. It happens that way sometimes. Something had changed but my friend's boss would not tell him what. In fact, he avoided contact and would not return emails, or phone calls. Unnerving to say the least, it turned out that the boss received a blast from his boss. The saying goes the rest travels downhill.
The two finally got together and my friend showed his boss a plan for addressing the sales issue. His boss thought it was a good plan. He said I know you work hard. I just need you to work smarter. In other words, hit your sales target.
I was telling some other friends the story and before I could say he worked in sales. They asked me if he worked in sales. I said yes and they smiled. They too worked in sales. However, this situation is not limited to sales people, it has happened to me and to just about evryone else I know. Steve Jobs is experiencing it now.
Friday 09 July 2010 at 2:30 pm
Is it easy for you to say no? I struggle saying no as do many others. Maybe that is why there are so many campaigns telling us "Just say No to (fill in the blank)". Why is it so hard for us to say no? The word no can be used in a position manner. For example, no thank you or she is no pushover. However, other than a few positive uses no is a negative expression used to refuse something. I guess that means even a no thank you is negative.
Occasionally you will find someone who likes to say no. We call them our boss (smile). Other than this exception, most people try to avoid saying no. However, saying no is good for you and we need to say it more often. Not to be a contrarian but to avoid the pitfalls of saying yes to something we really wanted to say no to. Sometimes no is not an option but whenever it is, you should consider saying it.
Sometimes when we say no we feel guilty afterwards. That could mean we should have said yes. On the other hand, if we feel relief that is a sign we made the right decision. We have to be careful about using no and not just throw it around willy nilly. A no should be a thoughtful decision.
Should you say no to a job offer? Depends on the offer, right? Of course, but since when is every job offer the right offer? I mean did they offer you the salary you wanted, the benefits, the car allowance, relocation, job title, vacation time, etc. Probably not, but they are close enough to what you wanted, right? Of course, so should you accept it?
I was coaching someone recently who said no to a job offer. The job was their dream job and the offer was competitive. However, as with most job offers there were a couple things where the employer said no. That is their prerogative and their policies and to them were minor issues.
However, that was not the case for the applicant. They were then faced with the situation to accept or reject the offer. They decided to reject the offer. Once they made that decision the knot in their stomach was untied and they could smile. The employer probably feels justified that this applicant was not for them. However, what actually happened is this applicant determined this employer was not for them. In the war for talent, who lost this battle?
Tuesday 06 July 2010 at 1:44 pm
I just returned from Ireland where my wife and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. I am second generation Irish American but I never classified myself as such until this trip. As a kid, I was proud of my Irish heritage but never knew much. My family never talked about Ireland or about any relatives that were still there.
My grandparents immigrated to the United States from Belfast around 1920 and settled in the Philadelphia area. I never knew my grandfather because he died when my dad was in the 9th grade. However, I am named after him. His name was Thomas, which in Irish is Tomas. I wrote a limerick about it. A limerick is a five-line poem where the first, second and fifth lines rhyme, and the third and fourth lines rhyme. The origin of the word limerick is debated but it is thought to get its name from the County of Limerick in Ireland. Here goes:
My grandfather's name was Tomas.
From native Ireland to America, he crossed.
He never knew that one day.
His grandson would travel his way.
And that his name was Tomas.
It is hard to explain but the second my feet touched Irish soil I felt like I was home. I was with my people and I wanted to experience and learn as much about the culture as I could in the limited time we had. This would only be a beginning.
A more beautiful country you will likely never see. It is called the Emerald Island for a reason, it is green, and that takes a lot of rain. It reminded me of living in South Florida where storms would appear quickly and leave just as fast. The rain never hindered our activities although we could not see the Cliffs of Moher because of the rain and fog. However, we made it there.
We traveled much of the southern coast of Ireland experiencing the fairy trees and stories of the wee people. We saw many farms with sheep and cattle. One of the best examples of Irish storytelling and humor was at the Molanna View Dairy Farm. Where we met Paddy Fenton who entertained us with stories of his upbringing as we stood in the house where he was born. He recited a poem he had memorized as a kid entitled What is it all when all is told. (click)
The Irish people have had a tough going. Conquered by the Vikings and Celts, a famine that wiped out half their population in the mid-1800ís, living under British rule, fighting for independence where only part of the country would be free and resulted in civil war and a bitter legacy. There are 32 counties in Ireland when you count Northern Ireland. That rub runs deep yet simple in origin and complicated it will remain unresolved. I bought a hat with the number 32 on it.
This was more than a vacation and a celebration of our 35th wedding anniversary. I can't explain it except to say I look forward to going back.