I met someone for the first recently and went through the adult pleasantries of getting to know more about the person and she asked me, “What do you do?” I said, “HR and Coaching”. She frowned and said “HR, ugh, do you like it?” I said, without any hesitation, “I love my job.” She remarked on how rare it is that she ever hears that from someone and asked me to explain what was so great about my day to day work life that made me say not that I liked what I did but that I “full on loved my job”.
It was an interesting question and I was taken aback a little. Was I coming off like some sort of weirdo? Don’t other people enjoy what they do? I explained to her that HR and Coaching can me a myriad of things and that I am lucky enough to have a full-time HR role that allows me to focus on empowering a workforce to be innovative, creative and vocal as well as helping leaders be the best leaders that they can be. Additionally, I get to go home and do even more of that!
She was not convinced. I tried harder. I told her about the wonderful leader that I have in my full-time job who has proven that you don’t have to work in the same building, or even state, as someone to build meaningful relationships. I have been given the opportunity to do what I like, and what I feel like I do best, and that has created an amazing sense of fulfillment. I feel like my boss knows what motivates me and pushes me towards success, getting me ready new challenges, even when she has to drag me along somewhat begrudgingly at first. I went on to describe the joy that I feel when I see progress from in leaders who gain confidence in themselves and their ability to lead teams to success as a direct result of coaching.
I cautioned her that I tend to be the type of person who creates my own happiness. I could probably chat happily with a tree stump for an hour before I realized that I was basically talking to myself. If the work that I’m given isn’t fun, I get through it quickly and move on to something that is. I try not to let the bad or boring part of any role define me, or what I’m doing. That seemed to click. She asked me if the key to my happiness in my day job was having a boss that “let me be me”. I thought about it for a while and I agreed. Having a leader that recognizes who I am, as a person, and allows me to be me, is what makes the difference between I “love” and I “loathe” my job. I am so glad that I love my jobs, both of them, and I love that I can directly impact and influence the behavior of leaders so that other people get to feel the same way. I LOVE my job!
Related work: Becoming a Top Leader
Negotiating Job Offers
A very common question that I’m asked is “Should I negotiate my job offer?”. My answer is almost always YES! Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate. After all, you won’t get something if you don’t ask for it. If you accept an offer that is less than you wanted and you didn’t negotiate, you have only yourself to blame. Let’s talk a bit about a process that you can use to help get the best results possible.
Before the offer:
- Do your research. Get as much information about what local organizations are paying for similar positions. There are several websites to review, such as glassdoor.com , www.salary.com, and www.payscale.com that you can use to get a general idea. Ask friends and family for salary info, call other companies and see if they are willing to give you information about their salary ranges.
- Delay if possible. If you can, don’t talk about compensation before you get an offer. If you are asked to give your current salary, don’t. If they are persistent, let them know that you would like to focus more on the total compensation package including career advancement, time off, benefits and learning opportunities. Try to hold off on discussing hard numbers until you get the actual job offer so that you are not be ruled out if your salary is more than they would like to offer. If it is truly part of their process and they won’t move forward without it, start with letting them know the salary range that you would like to receive. If they won’t accept that, be truthful about what you make but be sure that you include any bonuses or commissions that you are eligible for. If you are interviewing with multiple organizations, try to schedule interviews so that any job offers that you receive will come in around the same time so that you can compare them. While I always advise that you let them know that you are interviewing other places, I don’t recommend telling them that you are trying to delay or move up interviews based on the interview schedule of another organization, that might fall flat.
When you get the offer:
- Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. The salary that you were just offered is one piece of the total compensation package. If you are going from a job with 2 weeks of time off and they have 3 weeks, what is that worth to you? Get their full benefits information. If they salary offered meets what you wanted but their health insurance is twice as much as you are currently paying, that is eating into the raise that you just negotiated for yourself. Evaluate any retirement plan that they may have and what the match to your contribution will be. If they match up your 401(k) contributions dollar for dollar up to 5% and you are currently getting a 3% match, that is 2% more going into your retirement account each year which can add up.
- Assume positive intent. Make sure that you walk into the negotiation process thinking that your new employer has your best interest in mind and values what you bring to the table, if they didn’t they wouldn’t have asked you to work for them. Try to negotiate over the phone rather than via email. Be thankful for the offer that you received and let them know that you are excited to be a part of the team but would like to talk about the offer. Specify what you would like to negotiate, salary, time off, sign on bonus. Make sure that you also let them know why you are worth what you are asking for, not in a cocky way, but remind them of what you bring to the table. Whatever you do, do not give any ultimatums. No one likes to held over barrel.
- Don’t be a jerk. Remember, you are negotiating with a person, not a company. People have feeling and emotions so you have to keep yours in check during this process. There may be a lot of back and forth, questions and they may even ask you for documentation. Don’t take this as a bad sign, questions mean that someone is asking for approval somewhere and that is a good thing! Don’t bug people, if they say that they will get back to you, give them time to do that. If you don’t get the answer you want, don’t be a jerk about it, that is a surefire way to burn a bridge.
- Know when to say yes and when to walk away. Always trust your gut and if the organization gets upset or seems offended by your request, you have to think about whether or not that is an organization that you want to work for. Don’t get greedy and don’t negotiate for no reason. If you have a number in mind based on your research and the first offer is 10% above that, what purpose will it serve for you to ask for more base salary? If they say yes to salary but no to telecommute, is it because telecommute is a hard no or is it because the company doesn’t allow telecommute until someone has been with the organization for a while? If it’s a hard no for everything and you feel like they are not offering to compensate you fairly, don’t feel like you have to accept the offer. It is okay to walk away.
- Multiple offers? Good for you! Know which one you are leaning towards. Give them both the opportunity to get back to you by letting them know that you have a competing offer. Be honest and let them each know that you are negotiating so that you get the best possible career opportunity.
After you accept the offer:
- Prepare for change. Get your new offer in writing and turn in your notice. Be sure to do a great job transitioning your current role, create job aid, training etc. Don’t use your notice period to checkout, use it to make sure that you are keeping your mentor, network and friend relationships intact. Update your LinkedIn and learn as much about your new organization as possible. If you talked about a 90-day plan or what you can do to help best prepare yourself for your new role during your interview, start working on that so that you hit the ground running and make the most of your new opportunity.
Thinking about expanding your network? Try doing it over coffee.
One of the first thing many people do every day is grab a cup of coffee. Why not incorporate that daily first step into an exercise to help expand your network?
Not sure how to start?
1. Research. Learn about your intended guest by researching them on social media. Connect with them on LinkedIn, look at their Facebook page, read any articles or books that they have written. The more you know about them, the better the conversation will be. Then reach out. Start with people that you know and then graduate to people that you want to get to know.
2. Offer something up. Do you have information or ideas that they may find interesting? Offer to share those first so that you create interest in meeting you.
3. Keep it short. Don’t beat around bush. Typically, the people that you want in your network are busy. If your day is packed, which are you more willing to commit to, a full lunch hour or a 15-minute coffee break?
4. Be transparent. Make sure that you let your intentions be known from the outset of the conversation. Don’t say, “I want to pick your brain on something” if you really want to ask them to be your mentor. Don’t ask for a mentor when you really want a job lead.
5. Schedule it yourself. If possible, handle of the “where” and “when” details. Pick a time and place that is the least amount of burden on their day.
Want to get the best ROI from your coffee investment?
1. Be on time and keep track of time. Nothing says “I don’t respect you or your time” quite like showing up late though losing track of time and rambling on come close. Make sure that you are early and can make sure that you have a decent place to sit and chat. Stay on point and if you asked for 15 minutes, make sure you stick to that. If you think that you’ll have an issue with that, put your phone on vibrate and set a 10-minute timer as a warning and start wrapping things up.
2. Don’t assume they’ll pay. Offer to pay. It’s the polite thing to do. If they refuse to let you pay or if they suggest splitting the check, accept their offer without any back and forth.
3. Be appreciative. You do this by sticking to your agenda, being specific about your request, taking notes, and giving a genuine thank you at the beginning and end of the conversation. Remember to follow up with a thank you email or call a few days after your meeting.
4. Pay it forward. If there isn’t anything that you can do for your guest, find out if there is a specific charitable organization that they care about or are affiliated with and donate an hour of your time.
5. Keep the big picture in mind. These coffee meetings should be a part of your overall strategy to expand your network. Stay in touch with these people, keep them up to date with your success stories. Send them links to articles or research that they may find interesting. successful coffee meeting can be the beginning of something much bigger. Stay in touch with your contacts. Tell them when you manage to implement one of their ideas. Send them referrals or research studies that you think they’ll enjoy.
If you make these coffee meetings part of your regular routine and have 4-5 coffee meetings a month with your current and expanding network, you will build a strong network of people with whom you have deep and meaningful relationships.
This year make Goals instead of Resolutions
Are you one of the millions of people who make a New Year’s Resolution this week? If so, it may serve you better to make a goal instead of a resolution to get to your desired state. If resolutions have worked out for you in the past and you’re good with their effectiveness, read no more. For the multitude of people who make resolutions each year and then forget about them by St Patrick’s Day, this is for you.
Many people are of the mindset that resolutions are something that you “try” to do and that it is ok to give those resolutions a whirl and if they don’t stick, eh, it’s ok. It was your New Year’s Resolution, not really a big deal. Those same people, however, could probably have accomplished what they set out to do, and maybe even more, if they had just called it a goal. I know, sounds silly, right? Ok, stay with me.
People make vague, wishy washy resolutions. You say, “This year I will exercise more!”, or “This year I am going to lose weight!”, or my personal favorite, “This year is going to be MY year!”. What does any of that even mean? It certainly isn’t specific, how much more are you going to exercise? How much weight are you going to lose and how are you going to do it? What the heck do you mean by MY year?? It’s like that commercial, that’s not how any of this works! Here is the commercial just for giggles sake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq_1l316ow8
When you make a goal, especially a smart goal, you have to be significantly more specific. You can set one big overarching goal with smaller milestones, mini goals and deadlines along the way. When you make a resolution on Jan 1st you are saying that it is going to take you an entire year to get something done and that is just way too much time. If you make a resolution to lose 10 lbs., you can pretty much do and eat anything that you want until around October and then when you step on the scale you might see that the 10 lbs. that you wanted to lose became 10 lbs. that you gained over the course of the year.
Now you’re up an additional 10 lbs. from what you wanted your weight to be at the end of the year and losing 20 lbs. may seem completely unattainable. And now Halloween is coming up, then Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is the time of year when almost everyone is indulging so starting a strict diet and exercise regimen right now is extremely unappealing. So, what do you do now? You say in January I will make another resolution and this year, I will lose weight! I’ll give you one guess as to what happens the next year and the answer is NOT “It will be YOUR year”.
Want a better way to go about it? Make a goal, a real goal, not a wishy-washy, vague, resolution. Be specific. How much weight do you want to lose? You will stop smoking by doing what? You will go to the gym for at least 1 hour, three times a week. You will bring lunch to work instead of buying it at least 10 times a month. Make sure that you describe what your end goal looks like and give yourself a deadline. It doesn’t have to be the end of the year but If you have a big goal, say to lose 30 lbs., become a published author, find your dream job, that might be the right thing to do.
The next step is to figure out what your mini goals during the year will be. Go to the gym for 20 minutes three times a week, and increase the time every month? Lose 3 lbs. a month? Cut back to 3 cigarettes a day and join a program to help you quit? Find a Facebook group for Meal Preppers and prep your lunch for a full week? Figure out what makes sense for your goal and check in every week to make sure you are still on track. If you can get ahead of schedule, even better because remember, life happens. Find a trusted friend, mentor, coach or advisor to help hold you accountable and put a rewards system in place for when you reach your mini-goals. Do you get to splurge on a night out? Buy some shoes? Ignore your chores and watch football? Give yourself something to look forward to.
Need more help? Use this 52 Week Goal Setting Journal to help you along the way. https://searscoaching.com/goal-setting-workbook/
Shooting for a Leadership Position in 2018? Try these tips to help get you there.
Climbing the corporate ladder and landing a senior leadership role can take years. Start advancing your career now by positioning yourself as a leader.
- Continue to cultivate your Personal Brand. Make sure that you have developed a reputation for doing this right the first time, before deadline, and under budget.
- Read/listen to something every day. Read books or listen to podcasts that will help you learn more about the industry that you are in. Learn more about topics that interest you. The more you learn, the easier it will be for you to give input and engage in meaningful discussions.
- Give and receive feedback. Feedback is a gift and you should thank people for providing it to you. Take every step to learn and grow from the gifts you’re given. On the other hand, offer feedback to others so that you can have a part in their professional growth.
- Spend your break time wisely. During breaks between meetings spend time looking up industry news. Use the tools that Google offers to sign up for notices for things that impact your industry and your organization. Imagine the impression you will make if you are the one to break the news about a new acquisition.
- Ask an expert. Tap into your network and see who you can talk to about developing your leadership skills and increasing your industry knowledge. If you have a colleague or someone in your network who has published a new book, talk to them about helping them out by promoting their book on your personal blog. You’ll get information, they get free publicity.
- Keep track of what you’ve done well. Start writing down your ideas and your accomplishments. When things are looking down you will be able to reflect on these wins. Keeping track of your ideas will help you start to develop a sense for which ideas take flight.
- Take charge. Raise your hand for assignments. Go above and beyond the call of duty whenever you can, do things that are outside of your job description even if they seem to be menial tasks. Pitch in and help wherever you can.
- Learn something new. If the company that you work for has training programs, sign up! Take advantage of tuition reimbursement if it is offered. Find inexpensive or free trainings that will benefit you. Look for deals on coupon sites like Groupon. Take advantage of all of the free training that the internet has to offer.
- Show up with a smile. Attitude is everything and kindness will carry you anywhere. Don’t join in gossip or badmouthing people. When you talk about your coworkers, make sure that you show that you care about them and wellbeing. Try to find fulfillment in your work, no matter what it is that you do.
- Do some job shadowing. Ask a high performing employee or a top leader can spend time with you. Flattery will get you everywhere! Let them know what you love about their style and ask them to help you with your development by allowing you to shadow them. You can help them with tasks or projects and learn from them at the same time.
- Give of yourself and your time. Make sure that you can be counted on to be a dependable member of the team. Be there for coworkers and colleagues who may be struggling so that you can be a mentor to them and pass along your expertise.
Use these tips to help become the kind of leader that YOU want to follow.