Category Archives: promotion

10 Barriers to successful promotion

careerI see many people in transition who struggle to advance in their careers  internally within their own organisations, in almost the same way as if they were involved in an external job search.

Today,  many companies have very rigorous internal promotion processes which can be as daunting as looking for a position outside a current organisation.

However,  there are many common elements and they require the same structured approach to achieve success. Just like an external  job search,  the process can take up to a year, further complicated by competition against colleagues,   some of whom may have become friends. Some companies even go to the expense of conducting external executive searches to benchmark the quality of their internal talent pipeline.

Over the years I’ve noticed what has become an all too familiar pattern with ten barriers to success:

  1. Lack of expertise in self-promotion:  many are unused to dealing with this type of process and are simply confused. This is compounded by a refusal to ask for help. Many in established positions have no idea how neutral input can make a difference to the outcome. Very often organisations will fund transition coaching especially at a senior level. Ask, and if they say “no”,  don’t hesitate invest in yourself.
  2. Lack of self-awareness: most people make very little time to think about themselves – their skills, goals, achievements, vision and passions. Those who are still employed are equally as guilty as  job seekers of this, perhaps more so because they know the organisation and the players.  They think they can ” wing it ” on the day.  A thorough inventory of achievements and skills should always be made as part of any on going career strategy. Internal candidates quite frequently have less interview exposure than externals so their self presentation skills can be more rusty.
  3. Stuck in “yes / but” :  Many want to make a change and explore new methodologies but get stuck in self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours. They are unable to make that paradigm shift to get there.  As Einstein pointed out “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different  results.”
  4. Avoidance strategies:  transitioning professionally takes a lot of work and many are not prepared to run the hard yards.  They get caught up in the cyber black  hole of “busyness” , unproductive work on computers of all sizes,  convincing themselves they are working effectively, when they are clearly not.  Business plans have to be prepared, strategic value to market statements must be created, plus whatever other activities organisations demands  (personality and psychological testing for example.)  All of this is time-consuming.
  5. Low self-esteem and or anxiety:  these two psychological states are frequent bed fellows which feed on each other to produce the  “busyness” above. Fear of failure maybe at the root of these dangerous emotions or perhaps there have been some missed  or failed opportunities in the past. Falling into the low self-esteem cycle undermines productivity and ultimately success. Find a coach, a mentor or a neutral friend or colleague to support you.
  6. Poor time management: whether in employment or on a job search a structured approach to time management is critical. Goals should be set, plans made and implemented and time planned.
  7. Failure to set goals: internal candidates are well-known to their management which has  both negatives and positives. It’s not enough to pitch up, suited and booted to give a brilliantly polished performance on the day. Strategic preparation over an extended period is critical, including professional image management. If your appearance look like a sack of spanners most days in the office,  a one day transformation for the interview will not be enough.
  8.  Lack of both mentors and sponsors: for the necessary support. Implement some visibility raising strategies to  raise your profile within your company. It is really easy to neglect an internal network. Create some strategic alliances.
  9. Failure to evaluate the competition.  Is your manager sponsoring you? If so, is he/she also sponsoring others for the position? Find out what you need to do to get full and unqualified support. Be aware of who the other candidates might be and their relative strengths and weaknesses.
  10. No Plan B: in very  competitive internal processes which might have long-term career impact,  as part of the planning process ask yourself what you want to do if you are not successful.   Having a “Plan B” is key – will you stay on and try again? Does this mean your career will have stalled? It’s important to understand what your next steps will be and create a plan in advance. Knowing that a potential key resource may leave an organisation can be a factor.  Make sure your external network is in place too,  as your ” just in case” safety net.

So whether an external or internal candidate,  the career transition process carries many common elements! What would you add?

Good luck!

Women and networking: strategic or simply social?

 Another hornet’s nest 
Last week was a busy week for women!  It started off with Katherine Bigelow  winning an Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker,  followed swiftly  by International Women’s  Day.  Much was written about women’s roles, the progress  they have made and the steps they could make in the future. Then the wives of the UK party leaders were launched into the pre-election build up as the political “hidden weapons”.  Finally,  sneaking in at the end of the week was an article in Times Online  ”  Why women are such bad networkers”  by Antonia Senior.

Initially, I read it  with disbelief and then truthfully with some  irritation!  Of course women are good at networking! What was she thinking when she said  “women are not natural networkers”? This statement was key to her premise that women are less prevalent in board room positions because of  their lack of “social capital”  (connections ) meaning that they are less likely to be head hunted  for senior positions,  because they seemingly know fewer people.   Other serious and more meaningful issues were glossed over  a little dismissively   as a ” range of complicated factors“. 

But then I thought about the wider implications.

Women network all day,  every day,  in all their roles , whether professionally, as parents,  as neighbours, as partners or socially. Do we really think that their failure to have a corner board room office is because of their reluctance to sip warm bubbly,  nibble inferior canapés  and exchange card ?  If it was so simple,  wouldn’t women  be sending in their RSVPs to the nearest cocktail party quicker than the preparation of an  “amuse bouche ” ?  

You would have thought so – but  seemingly they don’t. Why is that?

Naturally social
Women are generally natural communicators.  We are social. We keep in touch. We build relationships. We have address books packed with names.  We share information and make referrals willingly. We are active in all sorts of areas. But An de Jonghe, Managing Partner at  Women on Board ,  a Belgian initiative to facilitate women’s advancement to directorship roles in local enterprises,   says  ” … women are social  rather than strategic networkers and very often network, not for their own purposes,  but for the benefit of  other peopleMen network to meet their own professional goals.  Today,  it’s still a man’s world and we have to do everything we can to give ourselves an edge,  to raise our visibility , even if it means attending receptions we don’t want to go to”  

Social Media
Social media networking is perfect for women because it gives them the flexibility they need to combine key networking with other priorities and allows them to manage their ROR (Return on Relationships) and ROE ( Return on Energy) more  effectively.   The claim  that they have not embraced social media  for networking purposes to the same extent as men,  flies in the face of the latest research figures released by Nielsen Wire . Using mobile usage as a litmus test,  women’s on-line networking contact  is 10% greater than their male counterparts.   53% American women use social media with Facebook being the primary network of choice.  Twitter users are not required to register their gender,  but research has shown that women also lead the field in this sector too.  23 million women a year write, read and comment on blogs – the top of the social media pyramid.

Real questions
But once again these figures have a US bias rather than a European one.   In Europe, LinkedIn and Twitter penetration is lower than the US for example,  so there,  both male and female usage  alike,  is not as high   But millions of  women  globally use social media  for business purposes and anyone who is active on these platforms knows that!  Forbes and Technorati  have produced  lists  of women to follow in social media!  Penny Power of Ecademy,   Carrie Wilkerson – Barefoot Executive,   and Sarah Brown – just to name  a few more ladies who make intelligent use of social media.  Some of the most aggressive marketeers on social media I think are actually women!  

But de Jonghe  suggests that these women are unfortunately only the visible tip of the iceberg . She firmly believes that the vast majority of women use social media  for social reasons  and not necessarily for professional advancement.

Cyanide Hours
So why are  women absent  from  male orientated networking events ?    The after work cocktails, boxes at soccer games  or golf outings?   After work receptions are frequently held in what I used to call affectionately the “cyanide hours”  ( dinner, homework, bath, bed). The pressures on women not to attend these functions are huge.  But  they are also making choices on how to spend their time.   De Jonghe  feels that women need to take responsibility for sharing child care arrangements with their partners,   so they are able to attend such functions. But with the rise of single parent families with the mother as the primary care giver,  this is not always easy.  Networking is time-consuming and women with families are  simply not able to give up whole days to  participate in  the type of activities  that Mark Twain suggests  “spoil a good walk. ” 

Perhaps this is why women’s networking groups are proliferating  globally to connect with each other at various stages in their careers .  In Belgium  Jump has had a significant impact as well as the huge numbers of women’s networking groups in the UK, US and throughout the world  – too many to mention here. 

Effective Leverage
Another  issue  is whether women are  more likely to leverage an emergency babysitter or  a  reliable  plumber from their network,  rather than a leg up the corporate ladder to a C – suite position?  De Jonghe comments ”  Women tend to sit quietly and do a good job and hope to be recognised and discovered. They are reluctant to take the initiative in the way that men do”

 But networking is a two-way street.  If the thesis is that women are not networking with CEOs ( male)  then the converse is also true. It also means that head hunters are not being creative  and  in the pursuit of  “copy and paste” search methodologies,  are not opening up their own networks to female candidates.     With precious few women  hovering under board level,  the female talent pool is not huge and it would seem to be in everyone’s interest for that to happen.

The male way
However,   De Jonghe  makes  a further point that  “while the guys sit cosily in their Board level positions, they are more than happy that women are absent. They have no reason to change the system. The old-boy network works fine for them” 

So  will the ladies have to play the networking game by male rules to make any steps forward? De Jonghe believes so.     “Once they get those  Clevel appointments ” De Jonghe says  ” women can change the system – but until then , they  have to play the male game.”

In the meantime, while the status quo prevails, it would seem  that we  women have to be strategic and not just social in our networking efforts. Even if it involves being subjected to warm champagne .  

What do you think?

Career reflection: Could you get your own job?

What would happen if you had to apply for your own job?
In the past year I have been conscious of , and written extensively about,  the pace of change in my particular  field which seems to be greater than ever before. It’s hard to keep up!  Every time I learn something new, I have to get to grips with something  even newer.  I cannot imagine I am alone in this position!  I also coach people in transition in various professions and sectors and advise them always of the need to stay up dated in their fields.  But what about  people not looking for jobs or directly at risk in any way?

Could they successfully apply for their own jobs?

Could you?

One of the cruellest spin offs of any organisational re-structuring is that sometimes employees are invited to re-apply for their own jobs, frequently when they have been in post for many years and have considerable seniority and  experience. But does this mean that they are necessarily the best candidate for the job as it exists now in the current environment and climate? Regrettably not always.

There are a number of counter arguments to this thesis.

Organisational responsibility
Many will say it’s the  responsibility of the organisation to ensure than their employees are trained and up to date in any developments in their field and are performing to the best of their abilities. To  some extent this could be true.

Any switched-on company committed to employee development  will do this,  seeing  peak employee performance and talent management  as  intrinsic to bottom line success.  But in times of economic stringency and turbulence,  when training budgets have been slashed, updating employees  and keeping them up to speed may not be their top priority.  This is set against a background of quite often incomplete , inadequate, and irregular performance appraisal  which limits meaningful feedback from any manager to  his/her reports. Essentially many employees have no real idea of how they are actually doing, or where their strengths and weaknesses lie on the ideal candidate spectrum.

Avoid complacency
Many of you will also say that it’s no way to live,  or work,  in a state of permanent insecurity always worrying about someone coming in to take over your job. That’s also true.  But complacency isn’t a good state either. One of the things we have all learned in this current economic crisis is that there are no certainties in life. So perhaps  it would be foolish to sit and wait for someone else to take responsibility for your career  and ultimately your life. Many people who are moved sideways, demoted, have promotion disappointments or who get fired,  very often don’t see it coming.   Many of  us are wedded to our tried and trusted ways of operating. Even though we might acknowledge a need to do things  differently at one level (mainly intellectual),  we still struggle to implement  practical change. It doesn’t matter if it’s C-suite level of Fortune 500 companies  or middle managers in SMEs, taking that step to honestly and brutally self appraise is never easy.

It’s also not just about the arrogance of captains of industry such as Fred “The Shred” Goodwin,   or the senior executives of General Motors or Lehman Brothers who failed miserably to understand the limitations of their own performance, until of course it was too late. It’s important for us all to  consciously examine our own roles in relation to the market and be aware and take care of any short fall.

So  maybe start asking  yourself the following questions:

  •  How qualified  am I for this position,  not necessarily always  in  terms of educational certificates,  but in experience?
  • Is my knowledge current?
  • What improvements could/should I make to may own skill set and performance to achieve better results?
  • What other changes would I make ?
  • What is my mission statement?
  • Can my contribution be measured?
  • Do I look for ,  process and act on constructive feedback?
  • What value do I add?
  • Do I know my own worth? Do my bosses, peers, and reports?
  • Who could replace me?

So… would you hire …you?

Cave in… or leave the cave?

I’ve  had  lots of comments on my series of posts on women :  salary negotiation and the gender divide ( Let’s go girls… Negotiate!   and   Don’t be Afraid of “No” ). Thank you!   One topic still to be covered  is the issue of  us ladies stepping up to the negotiating table in our current organisations, as much as six times less than our male counterparts. This can mean a loss to net life income of up to half a million dollars.  So, let’s look at what can be done about that.  Just to be clear, this is only about women taking control of their own situations and dealing with passivity,  rather than covering flagrant cases of outright discrimination ( bullying?) where there are separate procedures both internal and legal to take care of those sort of issues.

Easier than you think!

It’s complex , but  not harder, or impossible, or any of   other those self sabotaging words  to initiate salary negotiate at this point.  The process just needs a minimally different type of preparation and understanding.  And can be learned which is very important.   So it’s all good. Women are long on empathy and process orientated.

So where to start?

You're going to hate this, but I'm afraid it's back to basics and preparation

This has been going  on for a while, right?  Feeling discontented and “put on” ,  so another few months won’t make any difference, seeing these guys making more money than you? But  you’re in a marathon,  not a sprint,  so  intensive training is required to undo lots of bad habits and perceptions  ( theirs and yours)  to position yourself for the finishing line.

Laying the foundations: Now is the time to be strategic, active  not re-active.

Reality check : The suggestions that I am going to make are based on the premise that you are at least a competent performer! If you have any chinks in your armour – absenteeism, missed deadlines, any performance warnings – deal with those first.

Also make sure that your understanding of your situation is based on fact. Perception can be  misleading.  You may have been in the job longer,  but if Joe and Pete in the next offices earn more than you,  if  they have an MBA and a PhD in Rocket Science, speak 3 languages  or are more measurably productive in some other way, then your  case isn’t necessarily clear-cut.  Sitting at your desk whingeing about your workload, miserable conditions and generally playing the victim will not help.  Squeaky wheels sometimes get changed instead of oiled.

So back to basics:

Positioning : try and volunteer for projects with strong visibility. Some shameless self promotion never goes amiss when preparing for salary negotiation.  What you are doing is paving the way to create opportunity. Start taking greater initiative, even if your efforts are turned down at least you  are practising  being assertive. If you keep getting negative responses,  establish  if there is a pattern. What can you change?

Ask for feedback:  get into the habit of  doing this and also asking if there’s anything you could be doing differently to meet expectations.  Do not use the word better.   Respond with an email of thanks to positive comments.  It’s good to have a  trail, even a soft one,  so that everyone starts believing your message about how good you are and the high standard of your work.   Including you!

Personal Development : if there is an area of personal development you can undertake which will increase your added value – do it,  even if currently it might be at your own expense.  Discuss this with your boss – and make sure that he/she is aware of what you are doing and connect this effort  to future added value for the company.

Know yourself.  Decide on your life and professional goals.  Where are your strengths and skills and where do you ultimately want to go with them?

Know your metrics ( e.g  turnover, transactions per day, customer satisfaction ratings.. etc) You are the product  – so manage your business.!  What have you achieved and contributed or could possibly contribute further in the future?

Know your market. Where do you sit on the salary spectrum both within the organisation and outside it? Facts.

Craft your elevator sound bites: your USPs  and success stories.

Anticipate objections :  “no budget, it’s a recession, you’re a poor performer ( yes, they might play dirty) ,we’re going bankrupt, boss is busy etc”.  If there is any implied criticism you should have your feedback email trail to back you up. In any situation that is potentially intimidating,  ask for precise examples and dates of the issues.  That normally  de-fuses situations.

Rehearse your  constructive communication strategy:   Socratic questions ( What makes you say/think that? How do you reach that decision?  etc)  and Attentive Listening  (” Help me understand”,  I feel that…”)

Set your ideal outcome and the fallback position you can live with ( benefits in kind, shorter hours, review in 6 months, childcare , working from home, flexi-time etc) benefits in kind have a high monetised value when grossed up.

Prepare for “No:”  Remember you love “no.. , ” make it work and use all the strategies you’ve prepared. But have a clear plan if the  answer is final.

Know your audience :   You  have  worked in this organisation for some time and have a relationship with the players. You know the corporate culture and  have observed him/her in other or similar situations.  What are their own goals and aspirations  and what is the business plan for the department?  You are prepared,  but be cautious. You might have coached yourself into neutral mode  for this  transaction, but there is no guarantee that the person sitting across the table from you will be in biz mode too. They might see this request as some sort of personal slight on their managerial skills and become ego defensive. That is not your problem.  Maintain  your cool no matter what,  but  be aware that this is the point when  any negotiation could become adversarial.  They  may not even have realised that there is a new, evolved, assertive you in front of them.

Living in the village

Now it is important to be clear in your own mind what you are prepared to settle for and what happens if your request is firmly rejected in any form. You still have to  “live in the village  ” to quote my friend Wally Bock .  So if you decide to let it go,  it’s important not to close doors and to remain measured and business like. The alternative is  of course outside the cave.

One size fits all

A number of you emailed or messaged me ,  truthfully a little angrily and frustrated. Your stories were of being single parents , living in areas of  high unemployment ,  with domestic circumstances that limited your flexibility and mobility.Plus your company is the main employer  in the region and could call the salary shots, so voting with your feet was not an option.   “What  have you got to say about that? You’re targeting high fliers! ” you  commented  somewhat belligerently!   But coaching is not elitist.

Without knowing all the individual circumstances and if these concerns are real,  or FEARs  ( false expectations appearing real)  the answer is that there is no one answer.  But no I’m not – these strategies are a one size fits all. They can be tweaked and adapted to fit most situations.    My suggestion is that you focus on you. Add to your skill set and if this can’t be done in a professional context in your existing company,  set yourself some goals for personal development.  Think long-term. No situation is ever static, so at least you will be prepared for any changes that may arise. Kids graduate, companies get taken over, recessions end and opportunities come around when you least expect them.  Can you work from home or take on-line classes for example?

There are always a multitude of possibilities. You just have to be open to seeing them.  In the words of someone even  older and definitely wiser than myself  ( Seneca)  ” Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”

Mind Management: Beat Negative Thinking

Every day I coach incredibly talented, successful people with amazing skill sets, backgrounds and experience. But whether they are entry level, mid career or CEOs with long track records, many struggle to market themselves in the right way. One thing most have in common is without exception, they self -sabotage and block their own progress, not so much with what they do directly – but what they think. These thoughts not only control the outcome of any actions, but equally significantly, can also be at the root of inaction, lack of engagement and follow through. This is particularly hard to track if we develop strategies for seeming to be active (” busy-ness”) when indeed the opposite is going on. There is a lot of truth in the old adage “mind over matter”. Or mind matters!

Mind fabrication
I’m not talking about people losing sleep over being losers or useless. That would be too obvious. These thoughts are much more passive, pernicious,subtle and insidious, so ultimately more damaging. They are small disruptive internal messages that insinuate our sub-conscious thinking and keep re-playing in our heads until we believe them and ultimately act on them. We don’t know why, or sometimes that these notions are even there. My son has a great phrase “drowning in my own thoughts” to describe those negative messages, which pop up when we least want them. Worse still, they provide an invisible, sub- conscious structure for our decision making processes but just as importantly for our lack of decision making.

I had a Skype call with a guy based in London this week who wanted some job search support. No problem. During the conversation he mentioned several times ” being out of work for 2 years” and a need to explain a ” 2 year gap on my CV”. I scanned his CV. I checked and double checked. Nothing. Eventually I asked him when this 2 year gap had started. He replied December 2008. Okay.. we’re now July 2009 – how was that 2 years? That thought was a complete mind fabrication !

Self sabotaging
At some level he had persuaded himself that his mid career decision to take a 12 month MBA course was ” opting out” and therefore a period of unemployment, so he would need to defend his position with recruiters and interviewers. I have no idea where this pressure came from, that is complex and we only talked for 45 minutes. I just saw the outcome. Another approach could be that he had taken a brave risk, left a great job in a top company to strategically develop his career. It required leaving his own country and moving to a foreign one, adapting to a different culture and learning another language. His graduation coincided with the height of the credit crunch. That was the fault of a group of out of control bankers and a global trend in mindless consumerism. Nothing to do with him. Not only should recruiters not see this career enhancement step as a negative, but they should recognise it for what it is – a great series of achievements. (GC I hope you’re reading this!)

Re-frame with questions
So if you feel that anyone doesn’t understand you, start asking them some relevant questions to check they have insight into your situation. In this case they might be monolingual or mono cultural and lived in the same town all their lives. If they can’t see what you’re about – perhaps you need to change the type of recruiter you’re choosing to work with. Negative thinking is at the root of most self sabotaging coping strategies: procrastination and perfectionism to name just two. We all do it because we fear what other people will think of us and ultimately we fear failure. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. No one is unique, everyone goes through this at different times over different issues and even outwardly successful senior people have doubts at times.

Write things down
So how can you tackle that? Simple. Write the thought down. When written down a thought becomes clearer. Let’s pick one and track the subsequent underlying thinking that might be churning beneath the surface and needs to be teased out. This is a very typical negative thought process that I work through with many people on a weekly basis.

Track the message !
ORIGINAL THOUGHTHmmm… I should apply for that job” write that down and then track in writing, your subconscious ,internal negative dialogue which might be something along these lines:

**But.. wait… if I send in my CV, they might call me .. **and I won’t know what to say … **then I’ll make a complete idiot of myself on the phone and maybe in the interview… **then they’ll know how useless I am..** then I won’t get the job .. .**then they might tell everyone….**then everyone will know I’m stupid and laugh at me.. **then I’ll let my whole family down… ** then I won’t get any job anywhere, ever… **then I’ll never work again… then I’ll have no money so I’ll be bankrupt … **then I’ll lose my house .. *then my wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/kids/goldfish will all leave me forever.. **then I’ll be on benefits/welfare or living in a box … **then everyone in the world will hate me…then Hmmm … OK…. I just need to go to the supermarket/pub/shower …I’ll send the CV off after dinner.

Sound vaguely familiar? So how do you deal with this?

Look at the facts
Ok, now write down some opposing thoughts. Look at the facts. Realistically just by sending off your CV, what are the chances of you living in a box, with everyone thinking you’re a fool and everyone completely hating you? Right.. Absolutely ZERO. You indeed be might be mismatched for the opening or your CV is not strong enough, but that is quite different. Why? All those things can be changed. There is quite often underlying wisdom in humour and as the joke goes everyone doesn’t know you. Keep a job search log so you can’t convince yourself into thinking that you’re active when you’re not. Facts talk.

Reality check
The reality will be that the most damaging outcome is nothing. Your CV will not be selected by the ATS and you will sink into job search oblivion. Nothing is not good. So any action or activity from that process, even the messages you don’t want to hear, are learning experiences and not negative ones.

What have you learned from doing nothing? That you you need to act now, otherwise the whole process repeats itself .

Survivor Skills for the Employed

There are many forms of career transition in a working life: starting new jobs or careers, moving geographically, becoming a trailing spouse, taking maternity leave, having a new boss, promotions, retiring and experiencing re-structuring. And of course, in today’s climate, losing jobs. But in a downturn, career transition doesn’t just cover the people who have lost their jobs or are looking for new ones. It also covers the ones left on the “island”.

“Survivor” stress
“Survivors” are in a category which is quite often overlooked . These are the people who are actually still lucky enough to be employed. So what’s the problem, you might be asking? They’re OK. Why should we care about them?

Well, perhaps they are the ones making the cuts. They might be sending long standing colleagues or employees into uncertain professional and economic futures. Those very people might share social and professional networks and even live in the same local communities.

These “survivors” are possibly expected to meet established or even tighter deadlines and targets, with reduced teams and budgets and no immediate rewards. Perhaps they have taken pay cuts, voluntarily or otherwise, but with the same personal financial commitments. Bonuses are a thing of the past and all motivational programmes have been cancelled. So, no more trips to exotic places, “Dinner for Two” vouchers, employee of the month receptions, or company outings. Travel privileges might have been down graded, inter-continental flights are in coach and even free coffee in the office has been abolished.

Antagonism
In some sectors,banking and finance for example, public opinion is negative towards all employees, not just those senior directors accused of negligence. My daughter, a “survivor” in a London legal firm, has been openly harrassed on the way to work, just because she happened to be walking past a bank wearing a business suit. In manufacturing companies, management teams have been locked in their offices by angry ex-employees in many different countries.

Presenteeism
“Survivors” might be fearful of taking vacations, or sick leave, in case their absence makes their jobs vulnerable. This culture of “presentee- ism” means spending longer hours in the office, just to be visible. Other key relationships might be suffering because of this. Partners are getting mad, dinners end in bins and the kids feel neglected. There might be instances where challenging projects have been cut or put on hold, leaving only routine tasks. Perhaps they are managing teams who are de-motivated, leaving a tense atmosphere between colleagues or even direct conflict. Information sharing might be reduced, resulting in lack of trust.

Perhaps protectionist strategies are in place, sometimes completely unconsciously, to safeguard workloads, business practises or seniority, all to the detriment of the organisation as a whole. Health issues are on the increase. Client or customer feedback is starting to become negative or impatient and profitability is falling further. All of this impacts the bottom line. All hard to audit.

“Survivor” silence
They daren’t complain because they know what the alternatives are. They certainly can’t complain to you, can they? So how do they stay motivated in a such a stressful working environment? If you are a survivor what can you do?

Well a good idea might be to borrow from Einstein. His 3 rules of work would seem pretty sensible here: “From clutter find simplicity. From discord find harmony. From difficulty find opportunity“.

Here are some very tip of the iceberg suggestions:

  • Simplify: Break your situation down into manageable, measurable parts. Strategise. Formulate a mission statement, set yourself some achieveable positive, action -orientated, time -bound goals. Include all aspects of your life, but also make fall back provisions. Nothing in life ever works perfectly – well not in mine anyway. As someone said, the most successful people are good at Plan B.
  • Harmonise: Choose how you react to your situation. This gives you control. Communicate, be open and engage with your team and colleagues. Assess your own performance, try to get a clear understanding of your professional responsibilities and know how you will be assessed. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. What can you do better? How can you achieve that?
  • Maximise: Extend your professional network not just for support, but for information and experience exchange. Gain new skills. Refresh old ones. Set up a plan for personal development and make sure you take care of yourself physically and psychologically. Loyalty to employees as we have seen is fragile and tenuous in the modern corporate world, so make sure in addition to doing the best you can in your job, you also make yourself a priority.

    Experience, is not what happens to you. Experience is what you do with what happens to you.” Aldous Huxley

    And because you can’t dance ( always good for the soul) to either Einstein or Huxley, try Gloria Gaynor … “I will survive”