How To Ask For More Money. Part II.

In a previous post, I laid out initial steps you should take to ask for a raise in How To Ask For More Money, Part I.

Without further ado, here are the final steps to being flush with cash.

How About Your Performance? 

Third, you need to do some self-reflection and be really honest with yourself. This can be the most difficult step. If you are going to ask your manager for a salary review with the end goal to increase your salary, you had better know for certain if you are a valued employee doing valuable work. You had better be able to answer the question that a manager won’t ask but will be thinking, “what have you done for me lately?” if you want your company to show you the money. If you don’t already have copies, ask your manager or HR for your performance reviews. Look over them, have you progressively improved year over year? Have you met your goals? Have you earned additional designations? Have you increased your skill set? Put yourself in your manager’s shoes, if you had several grand each year to award to an employee at your discretion, who gets it? The employee who meets expectations year-over-year but never challenges themselves and loves the comfort zone or the employee who exceeds expectations by sticking their neck out to lead a highly visible project and eagerly pursues developmental opportunities? Then the hard part, you have to consider the value of your position to the organization. If you work for the R&D department in a tech firm, your position is likely highly valued. If you are the clerical assistant in an engineering firm, your position is not that highly valued. If any one can replace you in your position with minimal training and the same work gets done and at the same level, you do not hold a valuable position. All jobs are not created equal.

Sizing Up Your Manager

After reconnaissance and self-reflection, now it’s time to size up your manager and your relationship with him or her. Is your relationship more formal or informal? How long have you been working for him or her? Is your manager a front-line supervisor or senior manager? Is your manager hands-on in his or her employee’s professional development? Does he or she freely give recognition? Does your manager really understand what you are doing? Not just your job description but what you are doing. The answers to all of these questions are going to guide how you approach your manager, how you request a salary review and increase and how much and what type of ammunition you need to build your case. Use your emotional intelligence to get into your manager’s shoes.

The Salary Discussion

Now that you have properly done your research and are ready to ask for a raise, schedule time with your manager and let them know ahead of time that you want to discuss your compensation. Be prepared for the meeting, bring your talking points and all of the data you have gathered. Once you have presented your request and argument, your manager may straight up say no or tell you they need to get back to you. You need to be prepared for either of those answers and anything in between. Whatever the outcome, let your manager know you appreciate their time in listening to you and considering your request. If you do not get a raise, leave the door open to have further discussion with your manager by asking what you can do to be considered for one in the future. If you do receive an increase, be thankful for what you get and continue to work your ass off.

Good luck to you and may the odds be ever in your favor. 

9 Do’s and Don’ts to Completing Your Self-Evaluation

Once or twice a year many companies undergo a formal performance review process. On average, most companies ask for their employees feedback by way of a self-evaluation. Most employees exude an audible groan, give it a cursory overview and write down the same garbage year after year.

As much as I don’t totally agree with the standard annual review process or the 360 review process on principle, I totally support the notion that an employee is his or her own best advocate. And if you are given the opportunity to speak for yourself, absolutely take it seriously and follow these do’s and don’ts.

Do keep a  running diary or file  ALL YEAR ROUND of all of your work accomplishments, projects completed, client accolades, awards, educational achievements and peer praise. Also, keep notes on areas you made mistakes, encountered the issue again and improved.

Don’t blow off the process by not writing anything or digging up last year’s review and re-writing the same things. This is a signal to your boss that you are not taking the process seriously. Why would your manager bother with putting any effort into your review or development, if you do not bother yourself.

Do provide concrete and clear examples of the competencies you have demonstrated over the course of the review period. For example, if your company prizes efficiency, provide an example of the time you identified a redundant process inside a workflow, brought it to the attention of management, and how the elimination of that process resulted in less time taken to complete the process.

Don’t sell yourself short. Provide any and all examples of your work accomplishments, do not make judgement calls on the level of impact to the business or department. Your role and your performance have a purpose to the company, otherwise the job wouldn’t exist.

Do provide areas that you may have failed in or areas of improvement. You should be the first one to bring this up, not your manager. It shows you have self-awareness and that’s important.

Don’t rate yourself as a “Meets Expectations” or “Average” on all rating categories. This is called Central Tendency Bias and highlights our human propensity for avoiding extreme categories. But this is just lazy, don’t do that.

Do review your performance reviews from prior years so that you can identify areas that you have improved upon over time. If you don’t have copies, ask your manager or HR.

Don’t forget to address your work goals. The review process is about the past but should also provide some direction for the future. Be the first to write down a few goals that you would like to address with your manager during the performance discussion.

Do proof-read your self-evaluation for grammar, spelling and content before you turn it into your manager.

Great Leaders Possess 7 Things.

Leaders are born, not made. That’s why there are so few.

Beyond the knowledge, beyond the education, beyond the certifications, great leaders exhibit what are known as soft skills. Soft skills, according to Wikipedia, are a, “combination of interpersonal people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes and emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) among others”. I further argue that soft skills are more nature than nurture, either you have them or you don’t. In most circumstances, since humans are who we are, these particular soft skills can’t be trained, mentored or developed.

Soft Skill #1: They Listen More than They Speak. A higher power gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Great leaders practice active listening. They do not bring smart phones into the room, they do not multitask by attending meetings with their mobile device or laptop, they do not get caught up in distractions or side arguments. Great leaders focus with attention on the other party, they listen,  they filter the message, repeat the message and affirm it.

Soft Skill #2: They know in what ways they suck. And surround themselves with people who do not suck in those areas. In other words, great leaders know they are not perfect, they know what areas they excel in and work very hard to excel in them. They also know what their weaknesses are. And instead of exhausting precious time and energy on the futile task of turning weaknesses into strengths, great leaders befriend others with complimentary strengths and learn from them. Further, great leaders are okay with sharing power so they have no issue delegating authority.

Soft Skill #3: They inspire through the art of story telling. Great leaders have a vision, and instead of coldly outlining their plan in bullet points, outlining objectives in a Powerpoint presentation, great leaders craft a story. Stories are the vision of the leader come to life, with emotion and color. Leaders know that the audience will find a connection in that story that relates them to the vision inspiring their employees with a purpose.

Soft Skill #4: Leaders do not define conflict negatively. Great leaders are ok when another disagrees with them, great leaders invite dissent. Great leaders do not let the vein in their forehead protrude when challenged, they do not pound their fist on the table and they do not harbor resentment. Great leaders, knowing they aren’t always right, ask for others’ positions and arguments, great leaders, per the aforementioned Soft Skill #1 listen, and great leaders consider this information when carefully weighing decisions.

Soft Skill #5: Great leaders understand they work for the people they lead. Not the company’s bottom line, not the shareholders, not the Board of Directors and not for their own personal worth and glory. Leaders obviously have some accountability to all of these parties, which while a heavy burden indeed, is also why they get paid the big bucks. Great leaders inherently know that taking care of their people will take care of the rest.

Soft Skill #6: Are human barometers. They can tell when the vibe of the room just isn’t right. They know when their people are stressed, conflicted, overworked, etc… because great leaders feel it. And they do something about it.

Soft Skill #7: Are comfortable taking the unpopular position when he of she knows it’s the right position. Great leaders also possess a stubborn wilfulness to march through the stream of bullshit detractors even risking their very jobs and livelihood to do so.

 

 

 

 

Five Tips for New Managers

Congratulations on your promotion to manager! You’ve earned this!

new-supervisor

But now what? If you are like most managers you have inherited a team of direct reports and have received zero instruction on what to do. Funny how when it comes to the most important asset of any company, its employees, companies fail each and every time to set our managers up for success. I think it is only the minority of companies who can boast of some awesome management training program.

Here are 5 Tips for setting yourself up as an outstanding manager of people:

  1. If you are a new manager, perhaps just recently promoted and now find yourself managing your peers this puts you in a tough spot. First thing, unfriend and dis-connect from your direct reports on social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The dynamics of your relationship have now changed. Believe me, you do not want to be privy to your team’s evening and weekend exploits. Knowing what your team members do “on the outside” will make it more difficult for you to manage and develop your staff members based on his or her performance, skills and abilities. You are only human,  and we are inherently biased to some degree and stuff you see on social media will impact your decision-making abilities. But don’t ignore those friendships either or pretend like you are too good now to take your team members to lunch and have some personal one-on-one time. An honest discussion between you and your direct report about how you both see the relationship changing will go a long way maintaining strong ties that also respect the manager-employee relationship.
  2. Do your homework. If HR or the Departmental Director does not provide you information on your employees, gather it and begin to create your own management files. As a new manager, you need to know your employee’s names, titles, previous supervisors, salary history and general job history with the company. Get their resume and any behavioral assessments that were completed. Obtain all available performance reviews and read them thoroughly, note any trends. If your employee has written performance goals or a training plan, know them forwards and backwards. Finally, speak with the former supervisors and/or HR to get a better understanding of the employee’s career history with the company. Your employees’ may be the technical subject matter experts of the department, but you need to be the subject matter of your team members.
  3. Build a relationship with your employee on DAY 1. Take your employees out for one-on-ones in a social setting with less pressure, such as lunch or coffee. Start a casual conversation, don’t jump in with questions like “So, where do you see yourself in a year from now?”, start with small talk. Get to know your employee, ask about their college experience, how they got into their industry or occupational field. Be careful not to ask questions that are considered discriminatory in nature. However, if your employee offers the information that’s okay. Actively listen by asking further questions that build upon their answers. In this way, you and your employee are creating the story of how your relationship started. You want that story to be a happy one.
  4. Create a plan for continuous feedback and communication with each of your team members. Most companies have the dusty “open-door” policy in their handbooks, usually for compliance reasons. As a manager, you have to  make yourself accessible to your employees when they need you, not when it’s convenient for you. That’s what you signed up for when you decided to become a manager. Start by greeting everyone in the morning with a warm hello and how are you. It’s these small but powerful actions that can make the difference between a talented employee who keeps something bottled up and decides to leave when they feel no one is listening or decides that all they need to do is come talk to you and work it out.
  5. Figure out what your management style is and communicate it. Your style will likely be determined in some part by the people you are managing, their career levels and what they do for a living. Also, relieve yourself now of the belief that you have to treat everyone the same. Managing fairly means determining each situation on a case-by-case basis. Managing consistently does not mean managing each person the exact same way. Do you want to be the manager who manages not only what your people do but how they do it? Are you comfortable delegating authority off the bat or do you need the employee to earn your trust first? Do you intend to give your employees lots of rope and to rein them back in when they start to get too close to the cliff? Or, are they on a short leash? Will you implement active development plans for all of your staff? Do you expect them to have goals and to achieve them? Whatever you decide, show your hand to your team members so they understand expectations from the jump.

Three Steps to Earning A Promotion

how-to-get-a-promotion-at-work-1085001-twobyone

Wondering how you get promoted? Tired of being looked over for advancement opportunities? Restless and bored in your current job? Want to earn more money?

Here’s 3 Steps to Earning a Promotion:

  1. Take stock of your individual performance- not against your own expectations, but the expectations of your manager, the expectations of leadership and against the company’s mission, vision and values. Self-awareness is the name of this game. Outside of the annual performance review, I doubt most of you work for an organization where your manager is engaged in active performance management. If this is the case for you, make sure you are asking your manager for performance feedback often. The next time you see him or her, ask for 10 minutes of their time to review your current job performance, areas that you are exceeding his or her expectations and areas you should be working on. Ask your manager straight up what they think you need to work on to improve your performance. This is your career, your life, stop waiting passively for someone to share what they think about your performance, go out and get the information. Ask your peers,  team members and other colleagues to give you real and honest feedback on your performance. Listen to what they have to say and take some action steps. Becoming self-aware to our own strengths and weaknesses is a difficult experience but also elevates us to a better more genuine place.
  2. Get outside of your comfort zone. Employees who stay in their safe zone and never stick their neck out to take on a challenge, even if they nail their current job to a “T”, do not get promoted. Individuals that lean into the discomfort and fear of the unknown, who take the bet with uncertainty of the outcome, get recognized as having unique qualities worthy of promotion and advancement within the organization. These folks are generally the ones chosen for individual development plans, leadership programs and succession plans- they are given first crack at new training and development opportunities. Not sure where to start? Again, sit down with your manager and ask if you can co-lead or partner up on a challenging new project. Or, identify an area of the business that is ripe for process efficiency, cost reduction or innovation. Write up a business case and present it to your manager. As an employee on the front lines you are best equipped to identify these opportunities. Any manager worth a damn will be pleased as punch to hear your idea that solves a bonafide business problem and will have no problem advocating for your cause with leadership.
  3. Finally, ask for the promotion. I’m a firm believer that an employee is ready for a promotion when they have mastered the role they are in and beginning to show aptitude and prowess for the next level up. Managers with a solid grip on his or her employees should be able to put their finger on just the right time; however, you, the employee, as your own best advocate, need to find your adult voice and ask your manager for the promotion. Be prepared to outline your position- what you have accomplished thus far, what you are ready to take on and the value that your promotion will bring to the business. If your manager is unable or unwilling to consider your promotion at that time, do not give up, ask for a training and development plan to get you to the next level. Remember, your manager owes you two things- to remove obstacles that get in the way of you being able to effectively perform your job and to provide the opportunities and resources to help you prove your worth. But YOU and you alone are responsible for earning that promotion.

Interviewing Your Next Employer

Female Woman Sitting At Interview

Portrait Of Female Woman Sitting At Interview

Do you have any questions for me? Almost every interviewer asks this question of a candidate. If you, the candidate, do not have any questions prepared, you are doing interviewing wrong. For a bevy of reasons, not every employer is able to  or willing to disclose or share everything about the job, the company, the culture, and the environment during the interview process, although, a good employer will try to do so. But, it is up to you, the candidate, to ask those questions and find out the answers during the interview phase.

Think of the interview not as the one-sided, fact-finding mission of the employer vetting the candidate, rather, think of the interview as a mutual invitation for the employer and candidate to determine what value each can bring the other and if both parties’ needs can be aligned for the benefit of both.

Consider asking the following questions:

  1. What is the company’s mission and vision? What are the company’s short-, medium-, and long-term goals and objectives? Companies that do strategic planning well will have clear answers to these questions. However, most companies do not do strategic planning altogether, and authority may be concentrated at the top of the executive leadership where business plans and actions may be based on as little as whims or knee-jerk reactions. These questions will help to determine where the potential employer may fall on this spectrum of reactivity or proactivity.
  2. Describe the typical flow of communication throughout the company? Or, how are corporate goals and objectives communicated to all employees? Again, companies that do strategic planning most effectively not only have a mission, vision and goals but intentionally create communication mechanisms to make sure ALL employees from their non-exempt to their management know what is going on. Clear, consistent and transparent communication from the top-down correlates with high engagement scores amongst employees.
  3. What is the purpose of this position and how does it directly relate to the company’s success? If you are going to invest 40 or more hours in a week at something, don’t you want to know the purpose and agree that it’s a purpose worth working for?
  4. What are the company’s biggest strengths and challenges? What is the biggest challenge to the position? In the business world where things change daily, good employers should have a handle on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Also, not all positions are easy peasy lemon-squeezey, there are challenges to all jobs whether they are a lack of IT systems, outdated processes or manual heavy-lifting. Employers who have an ear to the ground and a true open door policy will know the pain points of the position and should be willing to share them.
  5. What is the company’s compensation and benefits philosophy? This one will probably make most interviewers squirm because most companies do not have a philosophy. But since you already know this, the reaction to this question both verbally and non-verbally will be key to knowing how the company recognizes its employees via extrinsic rewards.
  6. How would your employees describe your management style? Here, you are looking for the managers ability to delegate not only the details but certain levels of authority. Is he or she the type of manager who is going to not only care about the outcome of your work but also be all up in your shit about how you get the work done?
  7. How is performance evaluated? Is it informal or formal? Everyone likes to know whether their performance is meeting the company objectives and their managers’ expectations. Does the company actively manage performance all year round, does the company do a once-a-year formal performance review or do they take the position of, “if you are doing well, you won’t hear anything from me but you’ll certainly know if you aren’t”.
  8. Does the company have formal succession plans? How are high-potential employees developed? Key talent can and will leave an organization for any number of planned or unplanned reasons. Find out if the company develops from within and how they do it.
  9. Does the company have a formal professional development plan? What does it look like? Find out if the employer has written and/or formal development plans for high-potential employees, if the employer funds professional designations and adult education and if the employer has internal training programs. The answers to these questions will help you find out if and how the company invests in its employees.
  10. Why is this position vacant? Why did the last incumbent leave? Many times, the employer or recruiter will already answer this question. If they do not, find out why the position is open- is it due to growth, to answer a need or to fill an opportunity area? If the position is open because the incumbent left, probe further to determine if there is something inherently bad about the position or if management is causing attrition.

Pepper these questions throughout your interview. Ask them of multiple interviewers. Jot down questions to ask interviewers so you can probe deeper or ask for clarification. Listen and observe non-verbal cues. An employer worthy to have your talent, will be eager and happy to answers these questions, will be ABLE to answers these questions and will honestly answer the questions even if the answer is less than great. The more information you can gather from the interviewers, the more information you will have to make an informed decision about an offer.

Got What It Takes to Hack It in HR?

hack_identifier-300x179

HR isn’t for everyone. And truth be told, that’s just the way I want it. I believe there a lot of HR peeps who have what it takes to elevate this profession into a more respected business partner to the corporate world. These folks have a special and rare combination of knowledge and soft skills. These are the HR professionals that can not only hack it in HR but are leading the radical HR movement.

Here are the must-have competencies of a kick-ass HR professional:

  1. The ability to forego quick wins. As in life, in HR, nothing worth having comes easy. HR Professionals must possess the ability to delay gratification and work and toil towards the accomplishments that are hard-fought by winning over every layer of bureaucracy, decision-maker and stakeholder before seeing their ideas bear fruit.
  2. Emotional Intelligence (EI). This one is a non-negotiable. HR Professionals must possess a high EI factor. EI is said to be the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others, while harnessing those emotions and applying them to tasks such as problem solving. HR may be the only side of the business that gives permission to bring emotion into the workplace. A good HR professional has to be self-aware before they can counsel and advise others.
  3. The ability to stand-up for oneself and to push back when necessary. History’s most significant accomplishments were at inception some of the most radical and rejected ideas. HR professionals must be willing to stand up for their core beliefs, own their arguments, disagree when needed and fight for what they know is best for the business, even when it’s exhausting and would be easier and safer to relent.
  4. A somewhat obnoxious ability to interject oneself in business situations . So, no one invites you to the party. Invite yourself. Crash that party. Instead of nodding and going on your merry way when your manager says “We’ll keep you posted”, take yourself out of that reactive position and get all up in that grill. Ask questions, get a better understanding of the situation and offer solutions right then and there. Make your participation in employee relations issues and business problems a requirement. Instead of your  managers waiting until something escalates, they should be seeking you out at the onset.
  5. Super strong customer service skills. The world is your customer. Everyone in the world looking for their next best job. Your peers, your managers, your employees, your pain-in-the-ass IT team. They are all your customers. Even when the situation is negative and you have to deliver a negative message, leave that customer with a “wow” experience.
  6. Business acumen. HR professionals can no longer afford not to know what line of business they are in. HR professionals need to know their businesses’ services and products. An HR professional worth their salt should be able to perform a SWOT analysis of their business without breaking a sweat.
  7. A mastery of HR knowledge. During an interview for my first real HR job, the Director of HR asked me to recite to her several tenets of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Totally legit question for an HR Coordinator job, right. HR professionals need to know not only all of the directly and indirectly applicable Federal and State labor and employment laws but also how to apply them in any situation especially on the fly.
  8. Must question the old-timey HR ways of doing things. When the nature of work was as simple as you do your job and the company pays you and the balance is equalized, Personnel Administration did a really good job at the tactical work of HR payroll processing and hiring people. If we are indeed undergoing what some people call the new Industrial Revolution, HR Professionals must get off their ass and revolutionize the profession or the profession will die.
  9. Ability to live and operate in the gray. Humans are messy. And human situations are messy. Even though laws and regulations in the past may have dictated that we treat everyone the same, consistent, equal or whatever, there is simply no way to create one-size fits all solutions. HR professionals must be able to creatively solve issues while operating within the confines of the law.

In several weeks, DisruptHR will be holding an event in Raleigh, NC. I’m super excited to network with and learn from  some of these radical HR leaders who hopefully possess some or all of the competencies above.