Just for Fun

December 10th, 2016 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Just For Fun | No Comments »

birds-on-wireless-technology

I don’t know about you, but I could use a little levity right now. That’s why I laughed so hard when I came across this cartoon my parents sent me.

I tried to find the artist’s name to give credit where credit is due, but I didn’t have any luck. Do you know who it is? And in the meantime, to the unnamed artist, thank you!

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Jennifer Recommends

December 2nd, 2016 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Jennifer Recommends | No Comments »

illumeo

Are you familiar with Illumeo, formerly known as Proformative Academy? With over two million members, Illumeo has become a world leader in continuing professional education and learning communities. They began by serving the needs of the office of the CFO and have expanded to serve sales, marketing, and HR.

Illumeo offers two of my webinars on their platform:

  • Wise Words for the Intense: How to Give Feedback to Intimidating Executives
  • 10 Landmines CHRO’s Step On and How to Step Lightly

Illumeo is a subscription-based service, but you can sign up for a free trial at https://www.illumeo.com/.

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Best of TL: Four Ways to Rule the Company Holiday Party

December 2nd, 2016 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

holiday-party-youngish-workersMany corporate holiday parties are among the weirdest hybrids of work and play that I have ever experienced. Few companies are able to blend the two seamlessly, so the parties become a veritable minefield in which no one will remember you if you perform well. Yet if you perform poorly, everyone will remember you for years to come—for all the wrong reasons.

In the spirit of ensuring the former and not the latter, I offer this simple advice to avoid awkwardness and create a pleasant atmosphere, without excessive effort.

Question: I don’t like parties, and I have a lot of work to do before the year’s end. Do I really have to go?

As a former boss used to deadpan, “Folks, this event is optional mandatory.”

Yes, you have to go, and you have to stay for the whole thing, or at least until 60 minutes before the scheduled end time. RSVP with enthusiasm, even if you hate parties.

Why am I so unyielding in this advice? When I interview employees about their work experiences, they tell me how let down they are when managers and executives skip the holiday party and other team-building events, even though I rarely ask the question specifically. Employees do all the work to make this party happen, in addition to their regular duties, and it’s more trouble than you think.

It’s also often the case that while this particular party may or may not be important to you, for some employees, it will be the nicest, kindest, and most festive thing they do through the whole holiday season. So, step up with a smile, and do your bit to make it a great experience for them.

You may never fully know what they are going through in their personal lives. Resist any urge to be cynical. Remember, for some of them, this party is a very special event.

Question: I’m no good at small talk. What should I say?

Here’s the good news: it’s not about what you say, it’s about what you ask.

In American culture, we behave as workaholic lemmings and instinctively ask the spouses (or “plus ones”), “What do you do?” and we ask coworkers, “What projects are you working on?” The truth is, though, that no one cares.

Become the greatest conversationalist they’ve ever met in their entire lives by not asking about work at all. Try asking, “What interests you outside of work?”, “What are you doing these days for fun?”, “What are your kids up to?”, or anything else that invites conversation on a subject of interest other than work.

Follow-up questions help, too. (“You do scrapbooking with your friends? I didn’t realize that was a group hobby. How did you become interested in it? So, your teenagers are budding Oaklandish T-shirt designers. I’ve never heard of that. Tell me more.”)

Don’t bolt from conversations with lower-ranking employees the minute you see a prospect, E-suite executive, or other VIP. With few exceptions, you’ll be laughed at not only by the people you abandon but also by the VIPs.

Speaking of VIPs, the holiday party is not the place to corner anyone with your great idea for the business. Say hello, engage in brief conversation, offer to introduce them to others, and move on. It’s OK to follow up with your business ideas after the party. But during the party, leave it alone.

If the event involves sitting down to eat, introduce yourself to every person at your table, and talk with each of them at some point during dinner. Include the spouses and guests, who will speak highly of you forever simply because you steered the conversation away from endless droning on about the office.

Question: These events are embarrassing because I can’t remember names. Can I get better at this?

You get major bonus points if you remember names and introduce people to each other. It’s worth putting in the extra effort to learn how.

Here’s a great trick for remembering names. Kirk and I swear by it. As soon as you’re introduced, say the individual’s name, as in, “Pleased to meet you, Kate.” Then, use it two more times early in the conversation. The repetition makes it stick in your head like glue.

Another trick that works well for me is to associate the name immediately with a character in a movie, a famous person, or someone else with a similar name. The more absurd the connection, the better. If a woman introduces herself as Dorothy, for example, think, “Wizard of Oz, Wizard of Oz.” Every time you see her, the wacky connection will bring her name right to the front of your brain.

And now, my favorite tip for a sit-down meal

When you sit down next to the CEO, avoid eating his or her food by remembering that your bread plate is to the left and your drink is to the right. Cue yourself by forming an o with your index finger and thumb. On the left hand, this forms the letter b for bread, and on the right hand, the letter d for drink.

Try it now. See? Nifty, huh?

Don’t worry about getting caught doing this. It’s a surefire conversation starter. For example, the person next you just might say, “Ah, I see you read Traveling Light.

 

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Lessons from Clarence B. Jones

November 22nd, 2016 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Building Relationships, Change Leadership, Leadership | No Comments »

jsl_cbj

Have you ever struggled with the politics involved in creating change?

In the picture above is Clarence B. Jones, attorney, strategic advisor, and speechwriter for Dr. Martin Luther King. Among his many achievements and contributions, he assisted King with his iconic speech, I Have a Dream.

Kirk and I met Dr. Jones on November 6, when he gave a talk at Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. His subject was Waging Peace in a Violent World.

I suppose I expected an idealist’s inspiring sermon, but of course, Dr. Jones is an attorney, strategist, and former Wall Street executive. His perspective involves painful but important realities about large scale, transformative change, realities that we may want to ignore, but that we ignore at our peril.

Here are three of his key points, along with some thoughts about applying them to changes you wish to make.

There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.

clarencejoneswithmlkIt’s natural to believe that someone more powerful than you is your enemy. When he first began advising MLK, Dr. Jones viewed white men as the enemy. Friends and enemies, however, are not guaranteed for life.

Your friend may be your enemy tomorrow. Your enemy may be your friend tomorrow.

Your interests, however, are unchanging. You must be clear on your interests.

What are your interests?

You will not prevail unless the powerful majority sees that what you want is also in their interests.

It’s not enough to be right in principal or right on moral grounds. Change will happen when they see that their interests will also be served.

How do your ideas serve the powerful majority’s interests, not just your own team’s interests? Who stands to lose face, lose power, or lose money if your ideas are implemented? What can you offer? How can you align your idea with their interests?

For example, after working with a client and his direct reports over several weeks, I concluded that one of his VP’s was never going to get in alignment with the business strategy. He was also never going to believe that he should report to my client, because he thought he should be the GM himself.

The VP was very close to the COO and had been for the past decade. This is a classic political powder keg, a powerful and non-aligned leadership team member who has the ear of the boss’s boss and refuses to get on board with the rest of the team.

The client agreed with my perspective. It echoed his own.

So what did he do? How did he handle this constant threat to his success?

My client could have chosen to follow accepted processes to try to obliterate the guy and get his BU aligned. Had he followed proper nine-box talent matrix methodology, for example, he would have marked the guy as high potential but low performing because of his poor teamwork.

He didn’t. Instead, he searched for a way to get the VP’s interests aligned with his own, by finding a better-fit opportunity for him elsewhere – heading a newly-formed BU — instead of fighting a protracted political war that put the BU at risk.

You might be thinking, “But that’s not fair! The VP was rewarded for bad behavior!” You’re right. Sometimes the best outcome involves someone getting what they want, even though they don’t deserve it.

You must identify the strongest ally from the powerful majority and make him or her a leader in your cause.

Martin Luther King and his closest advisors came to the conclusion that only a powerful white man from the South would have the credibility with the white majority (over 85% of the population at that time) to push their movement forward. He was right. Civil rights were not enacted into law until Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

Imagine what it must have been like for them to realize that as the leaders of their own movement, they would never “be enough” to drive forward the transformative change they envisioned. What must it have been like to see that their ally was someone who had voted against every civil rights bill from 1937 to 1956, and who held racist beliefs even as he drove forward the Civil Rights Act?

Who are your prospective strong allies?

Sometimes your prospective strongest ally is a person you like and respect. That makes for a great day, week, month and year at work, doesn’t it?

Sometimes, however, the prospective strongest ally is a person you don’t like or don’t respect. In these situations, let your purpose and the relative importance of your goals and commitments drive your decisions. You may decide to hold your nose and form the alliance for the greater good after all.

Dr. Jones had a goal that to him was worth the alliances he made, however difficult those relationships proved to be.

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Jennifer Recommends

June 2nd, 2016 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Jennifer Recommends | No Comments »

SandAptDo you live in the San Diego area? Are you interested in how personality type and gender influence personal financial decisions – who’s most likely to get rich and who is at risk to be poor?

If so, mark your calendar for September 17, 2016. I’ll be exploring this topic with the San Diego chapter of the Association for Psychological Type. You’ll have an opportunity to understand your money personality, explore your relationship with money, and learn how to help yourself and others build a healthier relationship with money.

Longtime Traveling Light readers know this has been a side project of mine since 2007, when I conducted the first comprehensive study on how personality type and gender combine to influence financial behavior.

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In the News

May 30th, 2016 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in News | No Comments »

CIOWebsiteheadingI’d like to thank the CMI-Fisher East Bay CIO Roundtable for hosting a terrific panel discussion on Effectively Managing the Multi-Generational Workforce. They were so open to exploring my recommendations and perspectives on this topic.

Tricia Emerson, President of Emerson Human Capital, moderated the panel. I was joined by Rajeev Behera, CEO of Reflektive; Deidre Paknad, CEO of Workboard; and Margaret Graziano of Keen Alignment.

If you are the CIO of a company in the San Francisco Bay Area and would like to connect with other CIO’s over breakfast, check them out at eastbaycio.com.

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Who is the Most Powerful Person in the Room? The Lightning-Fast Way to Figure It Out

May 17th, 2016 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Building Relationships, Communication | No Comments »

Business people laughing

This may be the shortest article I’ve ever shared with you.

The fastest way to figure out who’s in power is…

Are you ready for this?

It’s humor. Noticing the dynamics around humor is a failsafe way to figure out the power structure of almost any group of people, any time, anywhere.

First Observation: Who makes jokes?

I’m not talking about “A chicken, an eagle, and a turkey walk into a bar…”

I’m talking about little comments that are intended to be funny, such as:

“Ah, really? Don at Manchester Supply wants to meet with us. Did he wake up from his pricing coma?”

“Hmm. You’re saying Anita missed the deadline. And remind me, who is Anita’s boss?” (Said to Anita’s boss in a gentle, leading manner, with eyebrows playfully raised.)

Second Observation: Whose jokes always get a chuckle, even if they’re not funny?

Not everyone is funny, and not every joke is funny. However, if others react affirmatively to the joke, regardless of how funny it really is, you can bet this person wields power, regardless of his or her title.

You’ll really notice this dynamic if the comment is so far off the mark that it’s downright awkward. How are people reacting if the joke is not funny, badly delivered, or offensive in some way? If you tune in to the reactions in the room, you may feel the tension rise to a level that just doesn’t happen when a powerless person fails in his or her attempt at humor.

Why is the tension exponentially higher if a powerful person’s humor is off the mark? Because everyone in the room is now stuck between the utter dishonesty of laughing and the risks associated with embarrassing a more powerful person by not laughing.

Third Observation: Who gets to dismiss comments as not funny or even offensive?

The more powerful a person is, the more control they have over the humor expressed by others.

Imagine a general manager in a meeting with his or her extended staff. Imagine someone making a snarky comment about a vendor, unaware that the general manager has mended relations with the vendor and now thinks highly of them again.

The GM doesn’t laugh.

The person who shared the snarky humor about the vendor isn’t going to share it again, ever. The humor has been squelched.

The same applies to more serious situations in which humor is inappropriate or even offensive. The reaction of the most powerful person determines what happens next. For this reason, I often encourage clients to reflect very carefully on how they respond to humor. It’s a surprisingly powerful moment of truth for their teams.

By looking for these three simple clues about humor, you will know within minutes, in any meeting, who wields power.

What clues do you look for to understand the power dynamics in a room? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

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Why T May be the Most Important Letter in Culture

March 21st, 2016 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Cultural Fit, Leadership | No Comments »

Diverse Team at Work

“I can’t wait to see what HR is going to do with this.”

The other day, I overheard someone wonder aloud what HR was going to do in response to particularly troublesome behavior by a group of managers.

As an anthropologist of company cultures, I see this question the same way a field anthropologist might see a shard of pottery: it’s an artifact that can give me insights into the culture, values, and unquestioned assumptions of that culture.

So, what does this artifact tell us?

It tells us there’s a very real possibility that the CEO, CHRO, and the rest of the senior leadership team are not fully aligned around what the culture should be.

Why? The comment indicates that HR is responsible for ensuring that managers consistently behave in ways that create and maintain the culture, and reflect the company’s values. However, culture emerges from the day-to-day behavioral choices of the CEO in particular, and the entire senior leadership team, not just the CHRO. It’s their responsibility to make it happen throughout the organization.

Why can’t we just let HR handle it?

It doesn’t matter what HR does to build the culture if the CEO serves as a role model for a culture built on a different set of values. Employees will follow the CEO’s lead every time, and they don’t just take their cues from what you reward. They also take their cues from what you tolerate, put up with, and don’t address.

In fact, these cues are much more powerful, because the human brain is hard-wired to notice and respond more powerfully to misalignment than alignment.

For example, if innovation is a core value, what’s the worst innovation-quashing behavior you tolerate today? For example, do mediocre “innovations” never get killed off so their resources can be reassigned to more promising projects, those with break-through potential? If so, might it be because you don’t reward managers who have the courage to get honest and stop advocating for resources for the mediocre projects they’ve been leading?

What if you want to emulate the most financially successful companies by developing a highly inclusive culture? What exclusionary behaviors do you tolerate? In average and poor-performing companies, people who don’t fit into the dominant group are constantly on the receiving end of “micro-inequities” and “micro-insults,” so over time they speak up less and less.

Here’s a common example. How many times have you heard a man call other men “ladies” in a gently mocking manner? That’s using the very definition of what I am (a woman) to make fun of men. Think about it. Would you ever say, “O.k. Hispanic people (or old people, or black people). Meeting’s over!”

If you’re having trouble recruiting women – or any other demographic group — while your competitor is not having any trouble at all, ask yourself what you are tolerating that they are not.

Here’s a truth serum that cuts straight to the heart of the issue.

Ask yourself, “What is the worst behavior I tolerate in others with regard to this value? What about the entire leadership team? What is the worst behavior we collectively tolerate with regard to this value?”

This will be an extremely uncomfortable conversation, to say the least, but it cuts to the chase and helps you begin exploring any gaps between the culture you have created and the one you want to create. There may not be precise right and wrong answers, but you’ll begin the journey to ensure cultural alignment and authenticity.

It helps to have professional facilitation, but even if you don’t want to invest the money in an outside expert, have the conversation anyway.

Do we make culture building too hard?

I would say yes, we do. It’s simple. Don’t make it complicated.

There’s an adage that your leadership will be established by the first person you hire and the first person you fire. The same applies to the culture you establish. It comes down to the senior leaders’ behaviors, particularly the CEO.

Bottom line — four things define culture:

  1. the behaviors you exhibit
  2. the behaviors you encourage in others
  3. the behaviors you discourage in others
  4. what you do when they do the wrong thing anyway

That’s it.

As long as the CEO, CHRO, and other leadership team members are consistent in these four essential leadership choices, then a strong, strategic, and forward-thinking HR team can ensure that the recruiting, leadership development, organizational development, compensation, and all other processes and systems support the culture you are working hard to create.

What do you think? Drop me a line in the comments below. I love hearing your perspectives.

 

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How to Keep Employees from Jumping Ship

September 17th, 2015 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Building Relationships, Change Leadership, Hyper Growth | No Comments »

QuitorStayHigh attrition is frustrating, expensive, risky – and 100% curable.

In a recent conversation with one of the panelists for the upcoming MBTI Users Conference, I was reminded of the situation we had faced, the intensity of it, and how dramatically things changed in just a year. It’s a great example of how you don’t have to live with undesirable attrition just because the job market is ferociously competitive.

The client was a new law firm that had exploded onto the scene after stunning their peers with an asbestos litigation settlement that eclipsed those achieved by the largest firms with the most famous lawyers in the country. Almost overnight, the firm quintupled in size, and would go on to double again over the next 18 months. Amidst constant recruiting and hiring for new positions, the managing attorneys and small HR team found themselves constantly seeking replacements for the staff who kept quitting.

Unlike most other types of law, asbestos litigation requires a very large staff with a high level of interdependency. The typical law firm is essentially a cluster of mini-firms, with each attorney having his or her own staff who mostly work with each other instead of across the organization. You can, I’m sure, already see the challenge shaping up: young partners and even younger managing attorneys, with no exposure to – let alone experience in — leading matrixed organizations, suddenly found themselves trying to manage a complex start-up in midst of hyper-growth.

It was the worst of all worlds. Staff attrition was approaching 50% a year. Attorneys with asbestos experience often left in under a year, leaving behind only those with little experience. The partners and attorneys essentially never left the office, which had boxes and boxes of files piled up in every workspace and out into the passageways between the cubes.

Meanwhile, the dot-com boom provided hundreds of nearby companies that offered better salaries and the promise of stock options to any attorney or staff person who could fog a mirror, so the firm was losing lots of people to a different industry.

It was a vicious cycle.

So, what did it take to turn it around and cut unwanted attrition to the low single digits?

1. Shore up the basics.

The first order of business was to find out how the fundamentals compared to the competition. By fundamentals I mean the non-sexy stuff that you don’t read about in engaging Harvard Business Review leadership articles: salary, bonus, benefits, and perks.

Smaller organizations don’t generally have access to reliable comps, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get a reasonable estimate through exit interviews and tapping their networks. Sure, exiting employees will probably exaggerate their new compensation a bit (or a lot), but by using good old common sense, you can get a reasonable ballpark.

In the case of this particular firm, they figured out the approximate mid-point for each job and in most cases this meant giving the employee a raise. This set off a nice morale boost.

They also recognized that their vacation policy was too skimpy, so they bumped it up.

I can’t emphasize enough that if you are in a service business today, you have to keep pace on all of these fundamentals, even if you’re worried about how to pay for it. You don’t have to pay the most, but you have to stay competitive.

2. Develop the dickens out of your managers.

If you remember only one thing, make it this: employees don’t leave companies. They leave bosses. 

This reality makes it much simpler to focus your attention when both time and money are tight. Develop your managers, and leave it to them to develop their people.

For this firm, I conducted a needs assessment. The assessment was thorough but relatively brief. The dynamics of a smaller organization should not take long for a reasonably competent management consultant to interpret and assess. If your firm is small, run away from anyone who says it will take weeks.

Based on the assessment, I worked with the founding partner and the HR team to design and implement leadership development for all of the managing attorneys and functional staff managers. We focused on three areas: understanding the partners’ vision and what it means in terms of your day-to-day choices, how to lead as a team, and what competent leaders do.

Because this was a highly specialized law firm, we collaborated to create this leadership competency model rather than use a commercially available model.

3. Embed feedback everywhere.

We designed feedback into everything in the firm that we could possibly utilize for this purpose. Feedback given, considered, and acted upon ultimately creates a self-improving system.

It extended from a 360-degree feedback process for the partners and managing attorneys to 1:1 coaching and feedback for the partners, to ensuring that thoughtful feedback was a critical part of the HR director’s role.

As the firm was so new, we were able to design a simple performance review process that gave staff their first opportunity to hear well-articulated, more objective feedback and to focus their individual development. Were I working with them on this today, I would simplify it even more, and focus on real-time feedback on an ongoing basis. This willingness to give and receive feedback in real time has proven a game-changer for many of my clients.

4. Restructure and reorganize if it helps the workflow.

One of the things I most enjoyed about working with this firm was that they had no preconceived notions about professional management and leadership. They hadn’t been exposed to anything. So without overthinking it, the partners would restructure and reorganize either because they saw a better way, or because one or more managers came to them with the idea.

By tinkering with and sometimes overhauling the workflow, they were able to drive out a great deal of the inefficiency and errors that employees had found discouraging. As the employees experienced this improvement, they stuck around.

5. Build the culture by acting on your values.

Culture is shaped by behavior and behavior is shaped by values. Employees need to know what you stand for. Interestingly, in part because they had not had exposure to the types of discussions and development that managers in big companies receive, they were in some ways even more clear, and they acted quite decisively.

For example, when an employee behaved in a way that felt harassing and hostile to another employee, the HR director interviewed both parties and others who had been present, and brought the data to the partner. He fired the employee immediately, without notice and without severance pay.

I’m not suggesting that such decisiveness is always the best call (at times, it wasn’t), but his actions made it utterly clear what his values were, and those who agreed with his values decided they wanted to stick around and give him a chance to grow as a manager and a leader.

What have you found to be most essential to keep valued employees from jumping ship? Do you agree, or vehemently disagree with my advice? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at jennifer@selbygroup.com.

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Should You Quit Your Job?

August 24th, 2015 Jennifer Selby Long Posted in Change Leadership, Professional Development | No Comments »

JumpingShipAs we head into back-to-school season, many professionals find themselves thinking about changing employers to progress farther, faster, or just differently in their careers.

There’s certainly no shortage of opportunity at the moment, but that doesn’t mean a change is right for you. Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t.

The biggest mistake most professionals make is to inadvertently focus on near-term discomfort (frustration, boredom, overwhelm – take your pick) at the expense of long-term strategy.

I made this mistake myself when I was in my mid-twenties, and so exhausted from my demanding (yet remarkably boring) job that I pounced on the first unsolicited offer that came my way. I wound up in the backwaters of a company that would have been perfect for the movie Office Space.

This is a big decision, so here are four tips to help you make the right one, not just for today, but also for your success and happiness in the coming years.

Is the company growing?

Companies that are stagnating are full of employees with nowhere to go. This doesn’t bode well for you, unless you love your role and don’t want anything to change, in which case, you’re probably not reading this article, anyway.

On the other hand, some companies are exciting because they are failing, which always makes for a certain amount of drama. A failing company is only a good place to stay if you want to take a stab at honing your turnaround skills or find the financial incentives to be utterly irresistible.

The sweet spot for many people is a company that’s in rapid growth after a strong market position has been established, with the exception of those of us with a more entrepreneurial bent. Even if you consider yourself “not a businessperson,” take some time to learn about your employer’s market position in order to understand the bigger picture.

Are you still learning something that will be useful to you five years down the road?

Believe me, I hated working for a global accounting firm in my first job, but as a liberal arts grad, I learned the nuts and bolts of business and how to do detailed, accurate analysis of business problems. If I had quit too soon, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge to land a much better job down the line.

If you don’t know the answer to this question, ask several people who are already doing what you want to be doing in 3 – 5 years. Sometimes it’s worth sticking it out a little longer to master a skill or acquire essential knowledge that will be hard to get elsewhere.

Often this advice is stereotyped as applying only to young professionals, but with careers now spanning almost five decades, I encourage all professionals to view their current role through this lens.

Are you in a company that promotes on merit or are there a few too many signs of favoritism?

“Bro culture” is real thing, for example, and if a woman is getting consistent indirect messages that her career isn’t going to go anywhere, she should consider taking her skills to a company with less cultural bias. Companies that have less bias overall perform better, too, providing more interesting and exciting opportunities for their employees.

Bias exists in more benign forms as well, such as when the founders of a small family business provide more opportunities to their own children than to other employees because they want to pass the business on to their kids some day. Whether you agree with that choice or not, it’s theirs to make, and you are very, very unlikely to talk them out of it. If their business can’t provide the opportunities you want, it’s time to let go and move on.

Be careful to check your ego when reflecting on the very touchy subject of bias. It exists in many forms, but it’s not always at play as a powerful driving force.

For example, I have seen people utterly furious that someone else was promoted, when in fact the other person had performed far, far better in the role and voluntarily taken on many additional responsibilities. Yet, the furious coworker remained convinced that it was entirely due to bias.

I’ve also been in painful conversations in which I had to break the news that the individual who wanted to be promoted was not responding to the coaching and feedback that would bring him or her up to the standard for the current role, let alone the desired role.

It’s easy to look at someone else and ask how he or she could be so delusional, and to assume that you’re not that way, but to some extent we’re all at risk of being a little delusional. The only process that consistently prevents delusions is to seek out feedback and listen to it carefully. It can help you balance out your own perspective when you hear the perspectives of others.

Have you been job-hopping far more than your peers?

It’s worth taking a look around to see how your job-hopping track record compares to others who are in your profession and age group. If you’re on the far end of the bell curve, it’s time to ask yourself why you are quitting so often, and what impression this may leave with the best potential employers.

By the time a professional is in his or her late 20’s, most employers want to see more stability, at least 2 – 3 years each at two or more employers. Recruiting, hiring, and training are expensive processes. They don’t want to hire someone who seems to have a hair trigger as soon as the honeymoon is over.

A resume with several short stints during rough economic times, however, or during a significant transition, will not send up a red flag. Most employers understand that if your employer went under in 2009, six months after you started, those two events are unrelated.

In short, examine the current and potential growth of your employer, assess the long-term relevance of the skills and knowledge you’re amassing there, look for signs of bias in yourself and others, and get the tempo right for changing jobs, and you’ll be in a great position to confidently make the best choice for your needs.

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