Do you manage your career or manage your strategies?

Career transition
Which direction should I go?

For years, I’ve contemplated why “career management” doesn’t happen. I’ve thought most people believe that they should manage their career, but few of us do that. It’s like saving for retirement: we all know we should do it and then we hit 60-years old and discover there isn’t much time left to save!

Why don’t we “manage” our careers? Over the last several months on blog hiatus, I’ve thought a lot about that. Most people — or pundits, I should say — think you should be managing your career every single day. Some even every hour of every single day.

But that’s not how work works.

We go into work every day, figure out what tasks need to get completed that day, and if we’re really good, we try and do a few things to hit some goal we want to achieve. I’ve had this rule that I made up about how much you can get done: max of three things a day at work if you are lucky and one thing when you come home. Anything more than that is pure gravy and rarely happens.

And 99% of the time, none of those things have much to do with “career management.”

Yet, career advice is desperately needed — just look at how hard it is to find a new job. Building resumes, doing job interviews, researching companies, trying to look for a job when you already have a job.

Or look at making the decision to move to another city to take a promotion with your company. Worth it?

Or making a decision to leave a job and start looking for a new one. Right decision?

When I laid out what happens during a career, I finally had the paradigm shift: it’s not career management that should be the focus of helping someone in their career. No, it is career transitions where people need the help.

Sure, there are office politics and there is work around goal setting and performance reviews (important work…), but most of the need for advice centers around career transitions. That brief time — two weeks to two months — where major decisions are made that impact your work and livelihood for many months to come. Decisions that can start you down a completely different trail in your life and work.

When you look back on your work so far, what were the most difficult times? What were the hardest decisions to make? How did you make those decisions? Chances are, those times were when you had to make some choice that was going to make a big impact on your life and work. Decisions that would impact your income, your family, and even your circle of friends.

It is those times of transition where you would like the help. And that’s the place I’d like to help you.

Career management, after all, is a lot like the definition of management: executing strategy decisions that have already been made into something real and tangible. Important stuff, but a lot of that stuff is the grind of execution, the continuous work to complete the tasks in a plan.

Career transitions, though, are the strategy decisions that are made to go in a new direction. It’s the making the decision to pass a car, pulling into the passing lane on a two-lane highway where all of a sudden your whole perspective changes. You are breaking rules by driving on the “wrong” side of the road. There is the uncertainty around if the decision to pass was the correct one — especially when you see that car coming down the road right at you. It’s deciding where the point of no return lies, where you can still go back to where you were with the risk not taken. Or when you decide you must press on, but change tactics to pass that car safely.

Career management is making it to the other side of the car, getting set up on your lane all over again, and doing the things you wanted to do after you passed that car. Good things to do, of course, but nowhere near the risky strategy of deciding and then the passing of the car.

Most of us are not in that situation now, the need to pass the car, that place of deciding to make a career transition. But if you are, I can help through products for DIY approaches to making a transition to personal, one-on-one coaching.

When that transition time comes, you’ll need that Cubicle Warrior mentality. And a great coach and mentor to help you in your transition.

Cube Rules Links — June 6, 2014

Cube Rules Links
photo: ClawzCTR

Here’s what I’ve plucked out of the Internet (not all this week, since it has been a while….) for your Friday and weekend enjoyment.

5 predictions on the future of the resume

This is really predictions about LinkedIn, so you should read it as such. Quote:

As happens in the circle of forward thinkers and futurists, predicting the next trend is inevitable. In the careers environment, many experts feel that LinkedIn is surpassing the resume in value, and in some cases, replacing it altogether.

This likely will never happen. For one thing, the groundwork to create a career story “foundation” is always going to require much digging, unearthing and investigating before the first line is actually etched onto the page or the screen. Where people get distracted is that they think it’s about the form of the career story (or, actually, what you “call it”; i.e., resume, LinkedIn profile, Career Story, Career Portfolio) versus the actual function.

Fear Choice vs. Love Choice

I’m really trying to do more of the love choices — worth the story on the click through. Quote:

I splutter out four words I rarely utter: “Can you repeat that?”

Because every decision on the horizon just got twenty times simpler. Like boom.

Job interviews are getting weirder

Like these questions are actually related to success on the job. I doubt it. But it makes good reading. Quote:

The post-interview stories are becoming increasingly bizarre, she says. “People can be asked to sing a jingle,” she says. Her advice to job seekers in 2014: “Have one ready that’s relevant to your industry. It shows that you’ve done your homework and react well under pressure.”

Please, don’t sing me a song relating to your job skills. I might die. And creating a jingle relating to your industry is considered career advice? Really?

Enjoy your weekend, Cubicle Warriors.

Cube Rules Links — February 28, 2014

Cube Rules Links

Here’s what I’ve been saving for you from the Internet this week. These are posts that don’t necessarily match up to my mission of supporting transitions in your career, but are about the career path.

The best investment advice you’ll never get

This is long, but if you read nothing else, read this one.

As Google’s historic August 2004 IPO approached, the company’s senior vice president, Jonathan Rosenberg, realized he was about to spawn hundreds of impetuous young multimillionaires. They would, he feared, become the prey of Wall Street brokers, financial advisers, and wealth managers, all offering their own get-even-richer investment schemes. Scores of them from firms like J.P. Morgan Chase, UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Presidio Financial Partners were already circling company headquarters in Mountain View with hopes of presenting their wares to some soon-to-be-very-wealthy new clients.

Rosenberg didn’t turn the suitors away; he simply placed them in a holding pattern. Then, to protect Google’s staff, he proposed a series of in-house investment teach-ins, to be held before the investment counselors were given a green light to land. Company founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and CEO Eric Schmidt were excited by the idea and gave it the go-ahead.

Outcome or process — what investment strategy works over time?

We’re not investment bankers or stock traders — but knowing how to invest is a needed skill to succeed in achieving Employment Security.

While two-time Super Bowl-winning coaches are process-oriented, Wall Street thrives by appealing to our tendency to be outcome-focused. We rank fund managers, best asset classes, top-performing sectors, highest-returning mutual funds. Note that all of these are ranked not by repeatable process, but by outcome. This is a brilliant bait-and-switch.

How much more would you have for retirement, if only you could squeeze 1% more per year? The answer, as it turns out, is a lot.


When paying off debt, gain strength by starting small

When I work with people who are in debt through a ministry at my church, I have them list their debts, starting with the one with the lowest balance. I call it the “Debt Dash” plan because the goal is to pay off something quickly.

Let’s say you have five credit cards with balances of $10,000, $2,000, $900, $4,500 and $1,700. Under the Debt Dash method, you would start your debt-repayment plan by paying off the credit card with the $900 balance. The goal is to get some momentum.

Do what you love, love what you do: An omnipresent mantra that’s bad for work and workers.

In ignoring most work and reclassifying the rest as love, DWYL may be the most elegant anti-worker ideology around. Why should workers assemble and assert their class interests if there’s no such thing as work?

How to best respond to a poor performance review

However, be wary of a manager who is dismissive of any plans you have to improve, Green says.

“That’s a sign that she may have moved past the stage of wanting to be constructive and is instead using the meeting as a formality before she can let you go,” Green says.

If you can’t get direction on specific actions you need to take and the feedback seems vague or subjective, that’s also a bad sign, Green says.

The open office trap

But the most problematic aspect of the open office may be physical rather than psychological: simple noise. In laboratory settings, noise has been repeatedly tied to reduced cognitive performance.

Why The Office Is The Worst Place For Work

“There are benefits to social interaction at work, but most work is ultimately solo work,” says Fried. While it makes sense to have a gathering place to brainstorm ideas every once and a while, once tasks have been delegated, everyone disperses to their own areas to do the real work.

It’s the end of February and we’re still in the deep freeze here in Wisconsin. Fortunately, the snow has melted off of the solar panels and we’re a mini-power plant here.

Enjoy your weekend.

photo by: Yandle

Cube Rules Links — February 21, 2014

Chain links

Here’s what I’ve been saving for you from the Internet this week…

  • Companies squeeze 401(k) plans… From Facebook, to JPMorgan, to Whole Foods…and, of course, AOL. Good examples in this article.
  • The crushingly expensive mistake that is killing your retirement This one is all about the fees you pay for those 401(k) mutual funds and the impact the fees have on compound interest. That translates to a $100k + out of your retirement fund.
  • Keep investing simple. A great 10-point framework to simplify your investing and take out all the mumbo jumbo.
  • The dirty secret behind Applicant Tracking Systems: Qualified candidates need not apply. Have you seen my statements on resume building where I say you need to do X in order to get past the resume reading machines? ATS is a resume reading machine. And they will kill your application if you are not careful. Or even if you are careful, depending on how they are set up.
  • The high cost of turnover Companies have been on the winning side of not losing labor unless it was on their terms. With the job market getting better (not fabulous…), turnover is starting to happen. This article is a reminder of that cost. And, oh-by-the-way, the article still advocates for getting rid of the jerks…
  • Why employees quit their job. I’ll give you one chance to guess the top reason. Ready? Yeah, bad management.
  • The Four Secrets to Employee Engagement Despite all of the stuff written about employee engagement, count me skeptical. Companies talk the talk, but rarely walk the walk. Maybe they don’t know how. This article gives the four critical principles to follow to really engage employees. I’d agree with this one.
  • Building the Trust Based Organization One of the missing pieces, to me, of employee engagement is the trust factor for the company. I’ve always believed that a company, without a lot of provocation, will lay employees off in a New York minute. Tough to be engaged in those circumstances. But, this article shows ALL of the things that need doing to start building the trust in an organization. May it be so.

Lots of snow here this week…but the first temperatures above freezing since I don’t know when. Spring is coming…

photo by: Yandle

Cube Rules Links — February 14, 2014

Chain links

Here’s what I’ve saved up for you on the Internet for this week…

Have a great weekend.

photo by: Yandle