5 People You Need On Your Career Team

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Karen Adamedes

Nobody stands up at the Oscars, the Golden Globes or any other event where individuals are recognized and says in their acceptance speech, "Thanks, I did this all myself!".

Not only would this be seen as arrogant (to say the least) but the reality is, it's not true or even possible. No one can really "shine" without the expertise, coaching, knowledge or help of others.

When Morgan Freeman won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Million Dollar Baby he said, "I want to thank everybody and anybody who ever had anything at all to do with the making of this picture." (That probably pretty well covered it!)

At the 76th Academy Awards where "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" won all 11 categories it had been nominated for, host Billy Chrystal quipped "It's now official. There is no one left to thank in New Zealand"

Politicians who get elected (or not) thank the teams behind them, winning sports competitors, recipients of academic awards and Nobel prizes, top business people, in fact, any individual who achieves success, knows that they needed the support of others to achieve their individual accomplishments. 

It makes sense that this theory applies to us mere mortals and the achievement of our goals....because they are just as important to us as internationally recognized accolades are to actors in Hollywood or players in Grand Slam tournaments.

You are probably part of many teams - the sports you play, the people you work with, project teams and many, many more.

What about your career development? Do you have a team behind you?

I don't mean the actual group of people you work with...but a team you have assembled to help you achieve your potential?

If you play a sport, you may (or may not), have a team that you compete with - depending on the activity of course...but there may be a team that enables your sporting prowess.

The coach (if you play on a team) or a personal trainer if you work out as an individual. The physio if you injure yourself. And perhaps a sports masseuse if you treat yourself to a post game/workout massage. A family member who supports you in your nutritional choices, your friends who are interested in how you are playing/progressing and even the team at the sports nutrition shop that are providing your vitamins (I suppose this example is a bit of a giveaway about the much larger than expected team I have put together to support me in my recent foray into working with a personal trainer!).

But you get the idea. 

There's a lot of people needed behind the scenes required to pursue a goal.

A "career team" may never know they are part of your personally appointed entourage or hold a meeting - but they all can play a vitally important role to make sure that you can be your best.

Which raises the question, who do you need on your "career team"? 

From my experience there are 5 types of people that are vital:

The Manager...sometimes in organizations you get the experience of working with an amazing manager who provides you with knowledge, develops your skills and supplies valuable insights. Other times, you get a shocker (I'm guessing no further explanation is needed - you know what I mean?). 

Regardless, there is always something you can learn from a manager. In the case of a "bad" one you might learn what not to do. There is no gain in having a painful relationship with them and being adversarial...it will only make your life miserable. Even worse this person has a degree of organizational positioning over you and could block your development or opportunities in other ways. At the very least, you want a relationship where they are not going to stand in your way.

If you get a good manager - take full advantage and learn everything you can and develop a relationship where they can become a mentor, sponsor or trusted adviser.

The Mentor...your manager may fulfill the criteria of a mentor providing you with coaching, expertise and guidance...but you get them for free with your job. The opportunity is to broaden your team and add one or more people with specific skills, experience or knowledge that you have identified you want to develop. You may have one or several...it all depends on what you have worked out you need.

The Trusted Adviser...this is the person that you trust absolutely, knows you well and that you respect. Where a mentor might gently guide you - this is the person you can go to when things go wrong or you don't know where to turn. The person who will tell you like it is.

Often these relationships are built on mutual trust and respect so you might play the same role for them. 

The Sponsor...now this person might not be front and center of your team. But they're there...talking you up, recommending you for projects, roles or promotions. They may not be in your immediate sphere and they may not telling you that they are recommending or speaking well of you. But if your career antenna is working - you'll get to hear who they are. 

Even if you never know - they can make a tremendous contribution. 

The way you develop sponsors? 

Build a positive professional reputation by doing a great job and being true to your Operating Style (how you work)

The Fan...this may seem a bit self indulgent but having a fan (or more than one) can be good for your ego. Developing a career is a bit like a marathon and some stretches are harder than others and it's just really nice to know that someone thinks you are doing a great job and admires you. 

A fan can also help you 'lift your game'. When you have someone looking up to you as a role model it can keep you motivated to do your best (or not slack off!)

So the next question is, do you have all these people on your team? 

Can you actually put a name to them as you read through?

Who's missing?

Once you know who you need you can do something about it!

If you've got the roles all covered...excellent...Please share with us how they are helping you.





5 Truths about Performance Reviews. Are you ready for yours?

By Karen Adamedes
Performance Reviews can mean more
(or less) money in your pocket

January. Whether this means snow, cold and long winter nights or sun, beach and bbq's (depending on your part of the world), for most people who work for organizations January means... the performance review!

Different countries and companies work a variety of financial years...but January is the most common time for either an annual appraisal or half yearly review.

A meeting request appears in your inbox for the meeting with your manager. Do you groan and say "Oh no, not again" or clap your hands and yell "Yippee! What a great opportunity?"

I'd be prepared to guess that the first reaction is probably the most common?

The truth about performance reviews is that they are important.

They are the chance to get your achievements, accomplishments and aspirations 'on-the-record'. This then becomes part of your official career history.

What is recorded is often what is remembered. By your manager when they consider your salary review or bonus. By their manager when team performance and talent are being discussed. By Human Resources when they are reviewing candidates for roles, projects or high potential programs. And it is also a great record for you to have to refer to for selecting your key achievements and keeping your resume updated.

Often the performance review is the only opportunity you get to make a claim or even have a discussion about your salary review. Many companies have a small budgeted amount that is distributed, relatively evenly, across all staff. Sometimes there is a little bit less for underperformers and a little bit more for high achievers. If you have made a strong contribution over the year you want to make sure that it is remembered and that you (at the very least) come out on the side of a little bit more.

Although, if you have made a really significant contribution - it's valid to state your case for a bonus or increase that is above the norm. What's the worst that can happen?

You get told no? Are you really any worse off?

Not if you have stated your case logically and supported it with business benefits and outcomes. Most importantly, that you have quantified what you have contributed (know your numbers!).

I was talking to a couple of people who worked in HR for a major consulting firm and they said to me "There's no point asking for a salary increase over and above the annual amount...the increase is locked in". I asked them if, working in HR they ever saw exceptions to this coming through. "Yes", they laughed, "all the time". Mmmm could you be an exception too?

Even if your company separates the review from the salary increase process or January is a half yearly assessment; you need to make sure that all of your contributions are noted, quantified and discussed.

You could approach that invitation for the review that your manager sent hoping that they remember everything you have delivered....OR you could make sure that you go into the meeting with solid documentation that lists and quantifies your achievements and contributions.

Are you ready for your performance review?


Another truth about performance reviews is that many managers are not good at conducting them. Sad, given their potential importance for your career, but true.

No matter how well intentioned your organization, how robust the process or the amount of time devoted to the activity -  a lack of knowledge, focus or skill by a manager can turn this opportunity for career development into a tick-the-box exercise. Something that gets done for the sake of being reported that it's been done.

I have seen a significant disconnect in the perceived importance of reviews in companies. On one side are HR and senior management who value the process and want the activity to play a significant contribution in boosting productivity, developing talent and increasing employee engagement. On the opposing team are line managers who are often unskilled and inexperienced and may even be fearful of conducting the reviews.

Fearful? The managers. Yep.

They may be reluctant because they haven't had time to prepare properly or not know what you will have to say and unsure how they will handle the conversation. On the upper end of the terror scale is managers who have saved up negative feedback and have to raise a difficult issue.

The truth is that there should never be any surprises for anyone at a performance review. 

Managers should be coaching their people constantly and addressing issues as they arise...not 6 months later! As @JustinFitter said on twitter in response to my question about performance reviews - goal setting, milestone reviews and performance support should be constant not scheduled.




Equally I don't think employees should be 'saving up' issues that they want to raise at these reviews. Reinforcing and quantifying achievements, setting future goals, agreeing on actions for your role and next steps for your development plan...these are the topics that should be the formalization of discussions that have been held before. 

Raise issues with your manager on a regular basis. Just because they don't is no reason why you shouldn't!

The outcomes are likely to be much more positive when you give your manager a chance to think through a topic that has been raised, evaluate options or seek approval for the solutions they develop. Surprising a manager with some unexpected topic or issue at a performance review is unlikely to achieve a satisfactory result; especially in a fast time frame. And you are likely to derail the rest of the agenda.

Are there any issues you have been saving up for discussion at your review? 

Can you schedule a conversation prior to your formal meeting to make sure the topic has been flagged beforehand? 

You will have a much better chance of achieving an outcome and developing meaningful next steps when an issue is part of an ongoing discussion not a one-time subject.

The discussion may be a formal process that must be completed for it's own sake but the truth is that it's the 'so-what', the 'next steps' that are agreed as a result of a performance review that really matter.

Agreeing to unachievable targets for the next 6 or 12 months just to get the meeting over with is only setting yourself up for future failure.

Not quantifying or reinforcing the value of the achievements that you have contributed and having them noted is a lost opportunity for increasing your credibility and enhancing your professional reputation.

Failure to ask for the training, mentoring, coaching or whatever other assistance you need to improve your knowledge, skills and experience may cost you dearly in the future.

The next steps that are agreed at (or as a result of) your review are important to you and your career.

You have the most to gain from a review that produces tangible and actionable next steps.

Do you know what you want to achieve from your review?

The truth is that the your review has the greatest impact on you; not your manager, not HR, not your colleagues. 

The truth is your review is your responsibility.

Are you ready?




What I learnt in 2012...AND what I'm going to do about it in 2013

by Karen Adamedes

Just before Christmas I came across a quote by the late Randy Pausch, an American Professor and this kind of sums up my thoughts about 2012:

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted"

Mmmmm. 

Reflecting on the year that just was - what I did get was some learnings and reminders about what's important to me. To make, let's call it a tricky year, meaningful - I want to take these learnings and make sure I actually  use them...take actions and develop plans not think "That's true" but then not do anything about it. 

So before I dust off 2012 and put it in the 'done' draw I've been reflecting on what I have learnt AND how I am going to try and apply this in 2013.

Priorities Change

The phone rang many times in 2012 but three times were priority changing (to say the least). My mother, "I've found a lump", My sister, "The police are at Mum's to take her to the hospital. Her husband has been in a car accident", and my sister again (at one stage I was thinking of barring her calls) "I have a tumor on my pituitary gland".

I am grateful to report that Mum's breast cancer has been removed, radiotherapy is finished, she is, as one of my friends described her on a Facebook pic I posted on New Years Eve, looking foxy.



'Foxy' Mum and me

Her hubbie finally escaped from hospital after a long 12 weeks and is recovering with the addition of a titanium rod in his leg - which should make the next clearance through airport security interesting.

And as I write this my sister (minus the removed non cancerous tumor)  is out shopping with her kids and preparing to celebrate my nephews birthday.

We have been lucky. Very lucky. And I am very grateful.

But gee it was tough going for a while there. Worried. Fearful. Feeling out of control.

And also feeling that nothing else much mattered. But it did. The issue was that with the ring of the phone, the ding of a text or even an email...priorities can change very quickly.

In 2013 ...

I'm going to (try) and make sure I focus on what is important and do that stuff first. Use my best energy, the best part of the day, my best me for what is important to me. Whatever it is at the time. If it's important to me then I'm not going to regret how I spend my time when priorities change. And I know that what is important to me can change in an instant. 

(I'm thinking this may require the removal of a few distracting apps from my iPad - but I'll see how my willpower goes first!)


Learning new stuff is hard

After a minor shoulder injury that took too long to recover I decided that enough was enough and I needed to get actually learn how to use the machines in the gym I had been going to for the last four years and get healthy and fit (and to be perfectly honest lose some weight too).

With some reluctance I realized I needed expert help. 

My previous theory was that I knew how to use the bike and treadmill and I know how to eat so if I just go to the gym more often and stick to the diet, I should be able to figure it out and achieve my goals. Turns out this theory was about as accurate as the one about the world being flat.

So I signed up with a personal trainer. When I found out the sessions were an hour long and that this did not include a workout and time for a coffee I realized that I had committed to something a little bit more than I bargained for.

The first few weeks were especially tough. I felt like an idiot. My trainer (who does not seem to register my fact based comments like "my legs hurt") would show me how to do simple exercises that used my core and I just could not get them! "I've never done anything like this before" I thought. "I have no point of reference, no past experience to draw on to figure this out. I started writing my next book so that I would be spending more time on an activity that I felt competent at.


I can leg press 120 lb / 55 kg now!

Over the coming weeks as I got a little fitter and had a bit of practice I realized I have actually being walking and leaning and standing my whole life so I did have some experience to draw from...but at the time, man, I felt like I was in a whole new world.(I'm quite sure the trainer has a few more tricks up his sleeve and I will feel that way again!)

Fourteen weeks on and I feel stronger, I've lost a little weight - and am pleased that I have stuck it out so far. 

I probably will always remember my "Turkey moment" at Thanksgiving (we don't normally celebrate this holiday in Australia - but I love it!) when I called my husband to lift the heavy bird into the oven and realized I had been lifting heavier weights over my head for the last few weeks so I didn't need any help.  I didn't actually power lift the turkey, stuffing and veg through the air...but they did make it into the oven with no problem!

Learning new stuff is hard but there is real joy when it starts to kick in. The turkey was pretty good too!


The turkey made it in and out of the oven!

In 2013 ...

Stick with training...I have more gains in 27 sessions with my trainer than the other 350 sessions at the gym I had done on my own over the last 4 years. I value the expertise that a coach brings to me. I still have a looong way to go on achieving my goals and a lot more to learn. But I know that I need the support that a coach provides. (Let's kill it in 2013 JP!) 

Apply my insights into my own work as a business coach and mentor; I really understand that learning new stuff is hard! I want to work with my clients to achieve their 'turkey moments'. They keep you going when the going gets hard (again!)

Learn some more new things...if I can squat wearing a weight vest I am pretty sure I can tackle a few new challenges!


It's what you do that counts

This lesson came from my brother and his gorgeous wife and family. Not by anything they said but the fact that they flew across the world, and organised their whole year around being in Australia for my birthday celebration. 

"I told you" he said "Tell us where you are going to be celebrating and we will be there"

Having been a little recalcitrant about celebrating this particular birthday, no plans were made until they announced they were turning up in my home town; regardless. And turn up they did.  

It turned out to be a happy occasion and a high point of the year. Made possible because of the effort that many of my family and friends made to be in the one place at the the same time.



Some of my favorite people celebrated with me!


In 2013 ...

I'm not just going to talk about what I want to do. I am going to do it! 

From the people I'd like to see, the trips I'd like to take and even the type of businesses I work with. Write my blogs not just read about writing blogs etc. etc. 

2013 is about action not reaction!

Action can make good things happen (like the photo above!) 


I love what I do

Work is not who I am. But it is what you do. 

And that's important. 

If you're going to spend your life doing something...I figure it's much more fun if you enjoy it. Writing, speaking, mentoring, data analysis, presentations, strategies and action plans...it's what I do and I am energized when I do these things (maybe sometimes not so much the data analysis...but it has its moments!).

Strategic assignments, speaking engagements, facilitating change and client mentoring - l have really enjoyed my work this year. The knowledge, skills and experience I have gained throughout my career (so far) give me the opportunity, the choice, to do what I love. That is a good thing!



Out and about at a book signing!

In 2013 ...

Build on what I do - publish a new book (maybe two?), new business ventures, more clients! Work with people who stimulate my thinking and creativity and who let me do the same for them.

Doesn't seem too much to ask does it?

2013 is full of possibilities

The trick is to take the actions that make possible what any of us want to achieve. 

For me, applying just some of the learnings from last year - focusing on priorities, learning new things, taking action and pursuing the things that I love to do seems like a pretty good framework to approach the year with...

Would love to hear what your learnings were from 2012 and more importantly, what you are going to do about them in 2013?

Thanks for the chat!

Karen

PS to all those who matter (you know who you are!) and who were part of 2012 - thank you!