Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to get a promotion?

I feel as though many of the posts I’ve written recently have focused heavily on the obstacles women face in their careers. Take my post job disillusionment where I wrote about women feeling stuck and stalled in their careers. And in the comments of Feel Stuck in your Industry? Four Tips for Getting out Completely  where I wrote:

I attended a seminar last night covering what companies need to know about hiring discrimination and learned many managers continue to “profile” and discriminate when making hiring decisions. They prefer not to hire married women for IT consulting positions that involve travel, so ladies take off your wedding rings before going on these types of interviews. They tend not to hire or promote women who are in their child bearing years. Scariest of all, I learned the over-40 crowd is hugely discriminated against. Companies want to hire employees who are on the up-swing on the bell curve of their careers rather than the down-swing.

It is about time I celebrate a career success story around here. Drum roll....

Revanche of A Gai Shan Life received a promotion earlier this year:
Her new position comes with a new title, a higher level of seniority, more responsibility and visibility, a lot more travel and more money. It is important to note her original job offer with this company was on the low side.  Only after concluding a job, albeit a low paying one was better than no job at all Revanche accepted their offer.

Lesson #1 – You may have to accept a position that is not your dream job to gain experience and get your foot in the door.

Here are some of the things Revanche accomplished over the past year that attributed to her promotion:

She displayed a good attitude:
Revanche turned a negative into a positive. Instead of wallowing in disappointment over her low salary she developed an, "I’ll prove I'm worth it" attitude. Determined to earn a higher salary at her one-year salary review, she channeled all her energies and emotions into working at a high level. (She did receive a substantial increase at this review.)

She established credibility and was visible:
Revanche carried more than her weight and became the go-to person on several fronts. She also worked across departments and with upper management on a regular basis.

She didn’t listen to a naysayer:
One of the most motivating conversations of my career occurred when a co-worker told me I wouldn’t be able to handle taking college courses in addition to working full-time.  Revanche had a similar experience. Here is a phenomenal quote taken from her post Career Life: Taking the Castle, Part 2:

Someone once said to me, "They won't let women get anywhere near power in this place." I'd laughed and said something random to deflect but I very carefully filed that away. We have women directors aplenty, strong and outspoken, bright and introverted, if you have the eyes to see it. Never let anyone, male or female, faux-befriend and trick you into thinking that the patriarchy is the reason you can't grow and achieve. They may actually be the ones hoping to keep you down.

She understands and can operate within office politics:
This quote is also taken from her post A Career Life: Taking the Castle, Part 2:

Do great work. Enjoy what you do. Support good people. Find allies who love what they do. Mentor people who need mentoring and want to love what they do. Ask for mentoring from people who have integrity, strength, humor and sway. Find your joy and to quote my favorite bus driver: "don't let nobody take it away." It all adds up to something substantial.

A huge shout-out and congratulations to Revanche on a much deserved promotion. I highly recommend everyone head over to A Gai Shan Life and congratulate her. While there be sure to read her post's A Career Life: Securing the Battlements for Promotion and Career Life: Taking the Castle, Part 2 where she discusses her promotion’s interview process.

Recommended further reading:
To learn more about women and salary negotiations please see Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation--and Positive Strategies for Change by Linda Babcock.

For a good resource on understanding office politics I like Lynn Cronin and Howard Fine's book Damned If She Does, Damned If She Doesn't: Rethinking the Rules of the Game That Keep Women from Succeeding in Business.

Do you have or know of a career success story? If so, I would love to hear about it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Feel Stuck in your Industry? 4 Tips for Getting out Completely

Sometimes, when we are tired with our jobs, it may not be the environment, the pay, or the people with whom you work that bother you. Maybe it's the work itself that bothers you. You look at those in positions above you, and there's nothing about the entire industry that interests you in the slightest. You may think that there's no way out, that you've been in the industry too long to start anew. Nothing could be further from the truth, as long as you go about it the right way. Here are some tips:

1. Understand how to translate and present overlapping skills.
Almost any job imaginable shares at least a few characteristics with any other given job. If you desire a complete change in industry, take a look at your current resume. Look at every listed skill and set of experiences you have, and think of ways these skills may be used in your target industry.

2. Find different ways to get training.
Of course, if you have no prior work experience in the industry you wish to jump into, then you'll have to find a way to get some hands-on training before you go out look for a full-time job. Though it isn't easy, you can take many different approaches to training. You can take a class or two at the local community college that may be helpful. You can offer to do freelance work for free while you teach yourself new skills. Many large cities offer various training programs and conferences beyond college classes, and they're often affordable. Whatever you can do to get some experience before applying for jobs, do it.

3. Seek advice from industry professionals.
Networking during any job search is important; networking while trying to break into a new industry is doubly so. Of course, the goals of networking in these two scenarios are slightly different. If you are networking during a job search, you're doing so to find contacts for open or new positions. Networking in the latter scenario is more about just getting a feel for the industry and getting advice for starting out. Seasoned industry professionals are usually more than willing to meet enterprising prospects for coffee to chat about the industry and getting started in it.

4. Understand that your transition will take some time. Be patient.
Finding a job in and of itself usually takes at least a few months, if not longer. When you are trying to prove yourself in an entirely new industry, the duration of your job search will typically double. As such, do your research and be 100% sure that the new industry you wish to transition into is one that will keep you engaged for a few years. Breaking into a new industry is hard, but it's far from impossible.

The most important thing to remember as you try to enter a new field is that persistence and research pays off. Don't give up! Good luck!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The E-Myth Revisited: A Book Every Entrepreneur Should Read

I’ve written previously that I enjoy a good book list, so you can imagine how excited I was to see Entrepreneur Magazine's list of Six Books on Leadership Worth Actually Reading.

The first book I read from the list (which was compiled by Gwen Moran) was Michael Gerber's The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It. Gwen describes the book as follows:
If you've already read it, read it again. This seminal book on entrepreneurship teaches business owners how to get out of the day-to-day rut and resume the role of visionary. Its straightforward, no-nonsense style helps you spot ways to make your business more effective and efficient, freeing you to look for the Next Big Thing--and still have a life of your own. Gerber reminds you how to be in charge, which is a lesson even leaders need now and then.
Who is Michael Gerber and what is The E-Myth Revisited about?
Michael Gerber is a business coach and the founder of GERBER Business Development Corporation. His book is about why the majority of small businesses fail and what key business concepts an entrepreneur can implement to prevent such a failure. He writes in a conversational style as if he is having a conversation with a client, which for much of the book he is. His tips follow the story of Sarah, an owner of a pie shop called “All About Pie.” Sarah has worked herself into a tailspin making pies and maintaining her shop while a trusted employee ran her business. When this employee quits, she is at a loss as to how to keep her business going. Gerber coaches her, along with the reader, on what she needs to do to turn her company into a successful small business.

Here are my favorite concepts:
Most people who go into business for themselves do so after they are stricken with an “Entrepreneurial Seizure.” This usually occurs after they realize any dummy can run a business. I am working for one. From that moment on you have to start your own business. Which leads to the -

The Fatal Assumption:
If you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does the technical work.

Instead, to be a successful business owner you need three separate skills:

Entrepreneurial - they are the dreamers who focus on the future and provide the vision.

Managerial - they supply order and maintain systems by focusing on the past and clinging to the status quo.

Technician - they supply the output and like doing things. They live in the present.

While all three want to be the boss, none want to have a boss. Yet all three skill sets are ultimately required. The key is to correctly balance the three skill sets and avoid the common pitfall of spending too much time operating as the technician.

The Franchise Business Model:
If a small business is to thrive, it must move beyond the owner. A business that is dependant on the owner and his or her abilities is not really a business, but a burdensome job for the owner. Instead you should think of your business as a franchise - an entity that can operate and thrive on its own. To do so apply these rules:

Provide consistent value to your customers – you can't have great service one day and lousy the next.

Operate without specialized skill sets. Meaning the company must be able to operate within a system where ordinary people can produce extraordinary results.

Document everything about the business in an operations manual.

Everything about the business should be uniform: a consistent color, dress and facilities code.

In essence, when operating under the Franchise Business Model you are working “on” your business rather than “in” your business.

A business needs to be able to grow:
To do so a company has to innovate, quantify and orchestrate.

Final thoughts:
Anyone who is an entrepreneur, is considering becoming an entrepreneur, works in a leadership role or has an interest in small business should find value in reading this book. Even if you are a sole-proprietor operating as a one person shop i.e. tax preparer or gemologist, though not really written for you, you most likely will also find this book helpful. Personally, I found many of the concepts relevant for a small business I am very familiar with. At this particular company, there is too much working “in” rather than “on” the business. A certain owner would be better off setting up procedures and systems others could follow rather than doing so much of the work himself; missing important details in the process. He thinks he is saving his company money by not hiring or training others to help him, but ultimately spends quite a bit of money fixing costly mistakes and making up for oversights.

One other point:
Prior to seeing this book included on a list of leadership books, I had thought it was about E-Commerce. It does make you wonder how a business guru specializing in coaching small-businesses could have selected such a misleading book title.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Please Note, I am an Amazon Affiliate

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Journey of A Professional Blogger: Kimberly Gauthier BBC Feature Interview

In the comments section of my post Gemologist Interview - Q and A with Gillian Griffiths, G.G. a reader suggested I post about the business of blogging. I immediately thought of Kimberly Gauthier who writes the blog Keep the Tail Wagging. Coincidentally, a few days later Kimberly was the featured interview on Black Bloggers Connect where she shared her professional blogger journey. I am reposting it here today. I hope you find it as informative as I did:

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Boss attacks employee's weight

Rachel writes:

I recently received two personal attacks at my workplace. First my boss, who is female, told me I was putting on weight in front of my co-worker. Then five days later she said it again only this time in front of my peers, other managers and her boss. I'm quite sure I'm not overweight, but with age my belly is kind of rounder than before. I do not work in the modeling industry where slimness is important. It's really demoralizing to be humiliated in front of everyone. Any ideas how I can deal this?

Your boss’s comments were rude, inappropriate and unprofessional. I am actually surprised the other managers or your boss’s boss did not say something to her at the time of the attack. Perhaps they were so taken aback they didn’t know what to say.

Here are some ideas to deal with this:

- Was this common behavior? Has your boss personally attacked you or made inappropriate comments about you in the past? If this has been the norm write down every incident you can think of and take your case to your company’s HR department.

- What about your co-workers, does she attack them or make inappropriate comments about them as well. Put your stories together and go to HR as a group. If your company does not have an HR department, schedule a meeting with your boss’s boss.

- If this incident was a rare occurrence, schedule a meeting with your boss. Tell her you were humiliated and embarrassed by her references to your weight. Ask that she not mention your weight to you or anyone else again. If she starts making excuses like I was just trying to help or something ridiculous like that tell her you do not want to discuss it further, but would appreciate an apology.

- Ignore the incident or make a joke of it. If this is a one or in this case two time occurrence and you are not comfortable talking to your boss or going to HR you could write this one off as she is being a “Queen Bee” and her day will come. If she makes another comment you could make a joke about it. Say something like, “You know what they say - Thin may be in, but fat is where it’s at.”* Her comments say more about her than it does about you. I bet she has insecurities about her own weight and puts a lot of emphasis on appearance.

Speaking of belly fat, I want to mention I have the same problem. Once I entered my mid-forties I began noticing my belly protrudes a bit yet I hadn't gained weight. I even asked my doctor if there was something I could do about it. She told me my “belly fat” question was the most common question she receives from woman aged 45-55. Unfortunately she blames the problem on gravity and didn’t offer any solutions.

*This was one of my mother-in-law’s favorite jokes. I told my husband I was including it in this post and he thinks it is terrible advice. He prefers you talk to your manager one-on-one and demand an apology.

What do others think?  Do you have any advice for Rachel?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

SWG Coffee Social: Job Disillusionment

Now that March is over, the theme of the month seems to have been “Job Disillusionment.” It began with a night out with my 40-something girlfriends. Two of them work for the same manufacturing company. The topic of conversation quickly turned to job dissatisfaction. Kate, whom I previously wrote about here, was passed over for another promotion. Thinking she actually had a chance this time, she prepared a presentation highlighting her accomplishments. These accomplishments included working on the company budget, traveling to other company facilities to audit and upgrade their systems and acting as manager while the current controller was out on sick leave. She also has completed her MBA. She thought she had rocked in her interviews, so when she received word the promotion had gone to a (younger) male colleague whom she had trained she was extremely disappointed.

Why didn’t Kate receive the promotion?
She was told that when her name came up as a top contender, one of the senior officers said, “Isn’t she the one who is the eight to fiver.” Kate had previously received feedback that she did not put in enough face time.  When asked during the interviews about her willingness to work long hours if promoted she answered with, "I will work whatever hours are necessary to get the job done." Apparently this answer wasn’t good enough to overcome her reputation

Was Kate’s MBA a waste of time and money?
Kate feels earning her MBA has not improved her career one bit and in hindsight thinks it may have been a waste of time and money. Though, she does attribute her staled career somewhat to the down economy. I asked another friend, Leah, who also has earned her MBA for her thoughts. She too feels earning her MBA did not advance her career. She thinks an MBA is only worth it if you are on a career track in which an MBA is required prior to earning one.

Here are a couple of other “Job Disillusionment” stories from the month:

Employee forced to work on special project after co-worker's decline offer:
My second friend from above, Elaine, was pulled from her current position in accounting and assigned to work on the company’s computer conversion for the next nine months. Other employees including Kate were asked if they would like to work on the project and declined, Elaine was TOLD she had been assigned to the project. I imagine the company had no choice; someone has to work on the conversion so they stopped asking and started telling.

Companies continue to downsize:
Leah works for a large insurance company in our area. This insurance company has announced they plan to continue reducing their workforce in 2012 and that layoffs are possible. Leah was told her job was safe for NOW, but is nervous about her future with this company.

Required to reapply for their jobs:
It could be worse though, both a blogger I follow and her husband work for the same company. This company was sold and the purchasing company is closing the facility in their city. To maintain employment with their new company they have to apply for positions at the company’s headquarters in another state. During the interview process they do not know what positions they are applying for or what salaries these jobs will pay.

Unhappy Workers:
While attending my networking meeting at the end of the month, I made an effort to walk around and talk to my fellow members (remember I joined Classy Career Girl's Networking Challenge this month). As I made my way around the room I kept hearing the same phrase over and over, “I am so unhappy in my job.” The reasons alternated between bad bosses and too much work. All I can say is when this economy does turn around companies better be prepared for high employee turnover.

Here are some of my favorite posts/articles from around the web during the month of March:

I found Heidi Reddig's post Human Resources is neither "Human" nor "Resources" on the Collared Sheep to be both entertaining and true. My favorite line is:
HR’s job, as far as it concerns you, the intern or general variety underling, is to provide blank forms, collect forms that have been completed and then process them.
It has been so long since most of us have received a raise, I suggest we all read Ask a Manager's What not to say when you ask for a raise before doing so. Note, saying I just got my masters is on the list of things not to say.

I found it interesting that Syd at Retirement: A Full-Time Job recommends in More on Early Retirement that would be retirees have:
3 years worth of living expenses available in liquid assets so you don't have to be overly concerned about stock market gyrations.  (At least for those of us that will be living on our 401(k)'s rather than a pension.)
Speaking of networking in Solving the Gen Y Woman's Career Problem Rebecca of kontrary reminds us:
The number one thing you can do for career opportunities and advancement (read: dream jobs, meaningful work, more money, better titles) is to network, network, and network. Eighty percent of job openings are filled through networking (you know, actually talking to people).
In Ann Daly's interview with Rashi Biswas the author of Rash Decisions: Accept Where You Are, and Then...Be Amazing, Ann informs us Keith Ferrazzi's book Never Eat Alone (hmm a book about networking) is the best business book she has ever read.

And lastly, as if Ann has been listening to my stories of job disillusionment in the same interview she answers the question:

How do you feel about the current status of women in the workforce?


Women's progress in the workplace has stalled. Thankfully, we're no longer insisting that things are better, or equal. Even younger women are recognizing sooner rather than later that power defaults to the men in the room. We have to remain vigilant about leveling the playing field.
How about you? Are you become disillusioned with your job? Do you have an MBA, if so do you feel it was worth the time and money you invested?

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:

The Value of "face time"

Difficult Co-Workers, Supervisors and Managers

The culture of patriarch continues to be an obstacle for women