Effective 1-1s – Fostering trust and creating no-harm zone

Effective 1-1 is the cornerstone of a successful management career, and acquiring necessary competencies in order to have a great 1-1 with your reports is a great career enhancement technique.

I have referred to this topic many times in my posts and have couple of posts devoted to this topic (see Managing 1-1s and Effective 1-1s). Those posts talk about tips for making 1-1s effective and efficient.

One of the basic premises for a successful one on one is to be able to build the trust and openness that can let communications happen. This is what one of ex-boss called ‘no-harm zone’. This is the place and time when participants can be open, truthful, critical, candid and emotional, and still can rely on the other party to keep all this in confidence. Notice that I am not saying that only one party (your report if you are a manager) has to feel and act that way; both parties have to feel and act the same. Continue reading

Personality Style or Weakness – you are the judge

One of the persons reporting to me mentioned he has bad memory and so he cannot quickly respond to out-of-context questions. He further inferred from this that this weakness will stop him from doing his job effectively.

After more discussion, it was clear to me (though I leave this decision to the person himself) that it is not so much a memory problem but instead a manifestation of his personal style where he is not very good at quick response when put in a spot. So my advice to him was to understand this aspect of himself more deeply and see how he can avoid being put into such situation (or use his other strengths to get out of it!), rather than treating this as a weakness and trying to acquire skills (memory enhancement, public speaking courses?) to mitigate this. Continue reading

What determines Job Complexity and why it is important?

In one of my previous posts on job complexity, I described constituents of job complexity (hierarchy, spread, geography, and budget) and the dimensions of organizations that impact it (processes, structure, culture). And even though I had left it vague (because anything more would have been too prescriptive), I was hopeful that it will be useful to some since it described where to look for. Also, I was confident that since job complexity changes are infrequent and slow, it is not too big an issue when handling career questions for an individual. However, how job complexity is becoming increasingly important factor was driven home to me recently, twice within 2 days.

Continue reading

Measuring Career Growth – Final (career phases framework)

This is the last article in the series on Measuring Career Growth, which started off by talking about measures of success and implication of having multiple measures vis-à-vis time, and was followed by posts on financial and learning goals, followed by a post on job complexity and satisfaction. As I promised in the last post, I will try to provide some framework to handle these measures in some useful way when we engage in our career planning and review.

As I mentioned before, job complexity and job satisfaction are important measures, but difficult to quantify in any meaningful way; I have found them more useful in subjective reviews of the career plan. In this post, I have focused on Financial and learning measures and their interplays with time elapsed.

Assuming that you have defined your financial and learning measures that you want to achieve over a defined time period, following table describes various scenarios that may happen. I use a positive and negative signs to denote that actual value is more or less than planned value. This means that + is good in financial and learning column (achieved more than planned) but bad in time column (using more time than planned).

  Continue reading

Measuring Career Growth – Part III (Job Complexity and Satisfaction)

This is the 3rd post in the series on measuring career growth, and a follow-up to the post on financial and learning goals. In this post, I will talk about 3rd goal (job complexity) and also touch upon the job satisfaction aspect of all these goals, which came up in one of the comments.

Job Complexity goals: As I mentioned before, this is a hard one to measure since it changes infrequently and there are too many parameters that influence this. Job complexity come from how many of the following dimensions are involved in your regular actions and decisions: Continue reading

Measuring Career Growth (Financial and Learning goals) – Part II

This is the follow-up to my last post in which I talked about various measures of career success and the need to prioritize various goals so that trade-offs can be made when time is factored in. In this post, I will focus on two goals and their measures: financial and learning.

Financial Goals: Even though it may sound trivial or easy, financial goals should still be framed and kept around to make sure you are meeting them. Other than the obvious way of framing the goal (“X % raise over Y years”), you can also frame them in terms of utility of money. Continue reading

Measuring Career Growth – Part I

In one of my previous articles, I talked about various measures of success that one can use for their career planning and management. Specifically, I talked about 4 ways:

  1. Financial goals
  2. Learning/competencies goals
  3. Job complexity goals
  4. Career Plan goals

Note that setting any kind of measurable goal is an exercise in itself (see a series of great posts on Cube Rules about setting SMART goals)

In this post, I want to talk about time factor which plays an important role in any career plan and measure: Continue reading

Career Management when you can’t change your company

I was talking to some of my friends and this question came about: what do I do if I can’t change my company even though my career is stuck here.

I have observed this many times; discussions about career management (and growth) seem to imply a change in the current company, even though it need not be. However, to be fair, there indeed are many reasons when someone can’t change their current company even when they need to:

Continue reading

Some useful videos from BNet on good management

 I got these in my regular newsletter from BNet (http://www.bnet.com), they are short 2-3 minutes video (with advertisement at the beginning!) which talk about the topic. They are very good, lunch-time review material.

Six Skills Effective Managers Must Master

Give Your Employees Smart Goals
Explain to your employees in smart language what needs to get done — they’re not going to figure it out on their own.

The Art of the Apology
Admitting your mistakes is crucial to becoming a trustworthy manager. Here’s how to do it gracefully.

Establish More Authority
Express confidence and expertise by using more effective eye contact.

Bring Out the Best in Your Staff
Focusing on what employees do wrong gives the biggest bang for your buck, right? Wrong. The key to keeping your teams productive is easing up on their weaknesses and highlighting their strengths.

Give Productive Praise
Motivate staff and boost the bottom line by giving recognition where it’s due.

The Importance of Being Approachable
Do your employees think you’re standoffish? How can you tell? Here’s what to do.