Archive for the ‘management’ Category

think about office housekeeping for everyone’s sake

Friday, March 6th, 2015

iStock-Unfinished-Business-10If you follow any business publications, recently you’ve seen articles related to office housekeeping, brought to the forefront by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. I appreciate how their opinion piece in The New York Times brought this important issue about how women and men take on office housekeeping in different ways, with the burden often falling to the women. That said, many of the spin off pieces focus more on complaining about the situation or go into how housekeeping already falls disproportionately towards women at home, turning into a rant.

For me, thinking about office housework affects everyone on the job. At Stanford, the majority of faculty are men and the majority of women are staff (with the exception of top leadership, which is predominantly male). That means that in my role, gender is not always played out in the same way, yet the principle of particularly people burdened by housework clearly exists.

What is office housework? I’d describe it as tasks that must get done for the workplace to function and have a healthy environment. Typically, these things are not fun, interesting, challenging and most importantly, they don’t lead to promotions or organizationally visibility. On top  of your regularly scheduled programming, they can contribute to emotional exhaustion as well as increase your workload. I’ll share a quick list of examples:

  • training and onboarding new hires
  • cleaning the fridge or kitchen
  • mentoring others
  • reviewing colleagues materials or providing feedback
  • taking notes and minutes at meetings (as well as white boarding)
  • planning office parties
  • ordering food for meetings
  • committee work
  • scheduling
  • organizing department retreats

Now some of these responsibilities might actually fall into your job description, particularly if you play an administrative role on staff. Also, certain people in the office actually enjoy doing these things. Yet, once you’re known as someone who loves to show appreciation by planning parties, or perhaps you have excellent handwriting to take notes, or supposed you’re a pro at planning off-site retreats – you may find yourself stuck there. No one else volunteers, you over-volunteer at the expense of other valuable work you could be doing or your co-workers intentionally or unintentionally take advantage of your happy disposition to keep up the good work.

Both individual contributors and managers should examine how office housekeeping plays out in your department and organization. Keeping an eye on these responsibilities helps even out the playing field between your staff and you should track particular repetitive tasks to make sure they are equitably distributed. I’ll offer some strategies to consider to balance the office housekeeping:

  1.  Prioritize your own needs over that of the organization. This seems like a selfish way to start my list, yet owning your career requires a constant balance between you and your work. I’m not suggesting that you don’t offer up your time to take on office housekeeping – I possess the perspective that everyone should pitch in. That said, you can take on some tasks when you have a lesser workload, feel fulfilling or offer you a strategic angle. I’m guilty of taking on several extracurricular committees and serving on interview panels. Yet, I’m deliberate about these commitments, only taking on committees that offer personal value. When I sign up to help interview, it’s only for positions where I offer a unique perspective or plan to work with that person a lot.
  2. Rotate responsibilities! For regular mundane tasks like notes, planning parties, retreats, ordering food, etc. If they aren’t in someone’s job description, taking on a process to rotate duties easily shares the burden. At the Alumni Association, I’ve seen departments do this in an effective way, whether it’s our executive cabinet with note rotation or Travel/Study in how planning their annual retreat gets assigned to the newbies with a seasoned staff member guiding them on a rotation. If you want to ask for volunteers to find out who’s interested in planning something, have them email you instead of raising their hand in a meeting so that you can see all of the hands raised and ensure the same person isn’t taking on the same task over and over again.
  3. Say no, nicely or strategically. You can say no more than you think. Sometimes it’s easy enough as directly turning down an offer to help and other times, you could offer up a process suggestion (like rotating) or suggest another person for the job. At times, this could be interpreted as passing the buck, and at other times, you might be offering an opportunity for another person to gain exposure in a new area (particularly for things like committees, mentoring and interviewing)
  4. Make the housework glamorous. You can’t do this for everything – making coffee is making coffee. Yet, if you’re stuck taking notes or white boarding, you have the unique role of positioning the message and offering strategic next steps. With a retreat, you can turn something regular into a game-changing experience for team or focus on an area important to your work. With training or mentoring colleagues, you can gain allies and build influence across the organization.
  5. Track what’s happening. I mentioned this above and I’ll say it again for emphasis. Managers and individual contributors need to look at what’s happening and if you see patterns that bother you, bring them up. As a mid-level manager, I get asked to contribute in many, many ways, and if I didn’t keep an eye on my commitments, I can easily find myself in trouble. As a manager of staff, I have an amazing team that steps up a lot. When I see them offering too much time or a perspective that might not demonstrate their expertise or skills, I’m quick to bring this up in our 1-on-1 meetings. It’s important to acknowledge the kind of professional behaviors that help us either gain respect or move up in the organization – for women, and for everyone.

Read more on office housekeeping from these sources:

Managing Up

Monday, August 4th, 2014

I’m almost finished with Stanford Manager Academy, a professional development program for managers at the university. Interestingly, many of our conversations during the classroom sessions commonly found their way to the topic of strategies around managing up – it’s an area where people find themselves at a loss and where work gets roadblocked.

Many definitions exist for managing up, and I like the one from Alison Green, the prolific mind behind Ask a Manager. She states that “managing up is about…working with your boss in the way that will produce the best possible results for your team, while at the same time making both your and your manager’s lives easier.”

I wanted to share a few resources I’ve recently run across in this area; a couple of my supervisors have let me know they appreciate my ability to manage up and it’s taken me awhile to fully grasp what that means.

Stanford Webinar: Managing Your Boss

If you work at Stanford, Learning & Organizational Effectiveness offers a free webinar on Managing Your Boss. Don’t let the 1990s appearance of the course fool you – the program is self-paced and has some gems in it. Particularly if you’re new to the workplace or figuring out why your manager seems to ask you about particular things with frequency – this webinar is for you! What I liked most was the concept of thinking about your supervisor’s communication style and how that should feed into your relationship approach – especially if the two of you fall into different categories.

Six Key Principles of Managing Up

Alison Green wrote this piece in Intuit’s The Fast Track blog centered on the following ideas:

  • Focus on what’s within your control.
  • Get aligned.
  • Make your manager’s job easy.
  • Pay attention to what your manager really cares about.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Be emotionally intelligent.

Earlier in my career, I used to get incredibly frustrated when my supervisor continued to bring up something that seemed resolved to me. Now I’ve learned that means I haven’t closed the loop or made her feel comfortable enough that we can move forward. Overall, your relationship gets better when you try to see the world from your manager’s perspective and see how you can fit into their bigger picture.

How to Get Your Boss to Read Your Emails

Of course, sometimes you’re not focused on ongoing frustrations, and you simply want your boss to respond to an e-mail or deadline. Alison focused a short blog on how to get a good response – tips that can help you when you’re trying to get a reply from anyone, really.

In my job, I work with incredibly busy Stanford faculty and have 3 main principles for my e-mail correspondence with them:

  • Use obvious and action-oriented subject lines. For example: “Seattle: your availability for faculty meeting” and “Reunion CWOQ: your talk information” For co-workers, I always add “FYI:” in front of the subject line to let people know there isn’t an action item associated.
  • Make it easy to reply. If you are attaching a document, why not include it in the body of the e-mail? If you are going to a survey client with 1-2 questions, allow the respondent to reply with their answers in an e-mail. Sometimes it’s more work on your part, but you’re also more likely to get your answer. If you need a decision, have you clearly delineated each option? Also, always include a deadline!
  • Try to limit your e-mail to one request.  This is just good common sense in a world of short e-mails. I don’t always practice what I preach out of necessity, but when you really need particular information by a certain deadline, focusing on one thing will increase your chance of getting a reply.

Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life

I’m currently in the middle of a great book by Patty Azzarello. On the subject of managing up, she focused on thinking about how your manager represents you to senior leadership. A lot of her concrete ideas are in the LOOK Better portion of her book around building credibility. She reminds you that doing good work isn’t always what moves you forward in the organization (especially if no one truly grasps your contribution!)

One of my big takeaways was around presenting to senior leadership. If you’re introducing a lot of new terminology and ideas, as opposed to speaking in their language around existing priorities, you aren’t communicating what they understand as core organizational values and business.

In GoodReads, you can find this book on my Working Smart shelf.

I hope these ideas get the gears turning in this area. I can’t emphasize enough how important this skill is – and the best part is that managing up isn’t only about making your manager’s life easier. When you do it right, it produces great benefits for you in the relationship (happiness and career trajectory), as well as your whole team.

getting to 45

Friday, February 7th, 2014

45did you miss me, readers? it’s been a few months and the main reason for that is that my area of alumni education has become a priority in our organization, which has the gift of more work. it’s been difficult to do these things that give me energy like blogging, and in the new year i’ve been more focused on trying to get myself to yoga and zumba.

so i just turned 35 last month and when i’m talking about getting to 45, i’m referencing my ideal number of work hours a week, not my age. this fits into the 2014 resolution of working less (quantity, not quality!) i’d like to practice what i preach on work-life balance more and have more time to grow myself outside of work – do more crafts and find time for creativity. so how am i going to accomplish this feat? i think if i put some standards out on the world wide web here, it will make me more accountable.

stop myself before i say yes to everything. whenever there’s a new initiative or project, i almost cannot stop myself from raising my hand. i love to say yes! i’m getting better for a couple of reasons – one to allow other people to step up and gain new experiences and also to give myself a break. for example, i was asked to head up a brown bag series for a group of departments and knowing that it would involve less of my time if i had free reign on topics and took it on my own, i set those terms from the beginning. also, i reluctantly stepped down from our fun force to take on this new responsibility.

plan out vacations far ahead of time. last year, i still planned vacations, but they mostly happened around work trips and organized in a stressful manner at the last minute because i felt like i needed them. we also stayed pretty close by. in 2014, i started the year with a calendar highlighting off-limits dates because of work travel and i’ve proactively put some stakes in the ground (yosemite, pinnacles, grand canyon and new zealand!) having something to look forward to and knowing i’ve carved out this time for myself and my family already makes me happier at work each day.

speak up when projects feel under-resourced. working on this new organizational priority, i’m speaking up a lot when i’m feeling overwhelmed or if i can see the road ahead looks bleak with staffing. it’s just the beginning of the project, and i hope that raising my concerns early on will help relieve late work nights down the road. i’m currently hiring right now, which is a great sign for our team to expand with the work.

make it to evening exercise classes. i feel most productive in the afternoon, which makes exercise tricky. my position requires too many midday meetings for me to exercise at lunch time and so that leaves the evening. having a 6:05, 5:40 and 5:00 class three nights a week can sometimes be challenging to make, yet i’m committed to at least making two per week. i did not take yoga last quarter and my body clearly missed out on the quality of breath and relaxation that guided yoga provides. the physical and mental release helps me come to work the next morning a whole person. thanks to stanford VPN finally working well with linux, i can at least access shared folders.

make sure i preserve the time and well-being of my own staff. as a manager and mentor to others, i must practice what i preach. it’s important that i can protect my own staff from unreasonable demands to keep job happiness factor as high as possible. employees should approach their supervisors when work feels out of control, and it’s just as important for managers to pay attention to these kinds of things.

when it comes down to it, work is work and we have lives outside of our cubes. the work i do at stanford feels incredibly fulfilling to me, yet it is not all i am. who wouldn’t feel amazing putting together amazing experiences such as stanford+connects? in 2014, i’m committing to topping out my work hours at 45 per week when possible and i hope you keep me to it!

on likeability and having a yes attitude

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Regular readers of my blog might be surprised to see the word yes, since in a past post, I focused on saying no. It’s a reminder that there’s always a time and a place for everything! I came across two of these articles by Guy Kawasaki in the same week, so I knew it meant that I needed to cover the topic.

First, he focused on how to achieve likeability – mostly on accepting others and smiling. He starts with an Oscar Wilde quote, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” 

I met one of these happiness causers during my Stanford interview more than 8 years ago and we remain good friends to this day. If you work at Stanford, you might know who I’m talking about – NaSun Cho. When I first moved to California, I didn’t know many people. NaSun is known for taking new people under her wing and making introductions and connections to everyone she comes across. She embodies this idea of accepting others, always bringing out the best in people and finding commonalities. I’m glad we’ve remained close, as she’s a constant reminder of how that positive energy feels infectious.

I like to think of this idea as expecting the best from people. If a colleague misses a deadline, doesn’t return a phone call, doesn’t understand what you’re requesting from him/her…the best response is always to expect the best from your team. That moment where you choose how to respond to a misstep is very important in building relationships. We all have bad days and each of us makes a choice on how to respond in various situations, let’s make the choice to be positive.

Smiling is a no-brainer for me. I’m lucky because I tend to smile a lot when I’m nervous, uncertain, etc – it basically covers my bases!

In my organization, the yes attitude certainly means you’re more liked and perceived as someone willing to partner on new ideas and it signals you’re a team player. We’re a matrix organization and it’s easy to put up walls or act defensively as a default during times when you’re short on resources or the scope of an idea feels overwhelming.

I wouldn’t call myself a yes lady, but I strive to embody the idea of “yes, tell me more.” Of course, I can be cautious in the beginning, but when it comes to action, I try to maintain a positive attitude and not say no from the beginning. If you keep saying no, people will stop coming to you with ideas.

In his LinkedIn post on a Yes Attitude, Guy Kawasaki notes that, “A “yes” buys time, enables you to see more options, and builds rapport….By contrast, a “no” response stops everything. There’s no place to go, nothing to build on, and no further options. You never know what may come of a relationship, and you will never know if you don’t let it begin.”

So let’s all try to say “yes” more often this week.

Are you a really amazing employee?

Friday, March 8th, 2013

I don’t think everyone should be amazing, since we all come to work each day with different perspectives about what that 40 or more hours means to each of us. That said, a recent post in Inc. on the 10 Things Really Amazing Employees Do got me thinking about the subject.  I like their list and there are 4 standouts for me that I try to exhibit:

  • Enthusiastically Learn All Aspects of Business
  • Demonstrate High Standards, With Low Maintenance
  • Grow Themselves, and Others
  • Stimulate Happiness

Learn it All. When you show up to work, putting in the time is a given, and striving to learn more about the current context and future direction of your industry is very important. For my job in particular, this means staying attuned to what’s happening at Stanford across the board from the student experience, major sports, university priorities and understanding my primary audience, faculty and their world. I regularly read university publications, look for Stanford in the news beyond, pore through every set of Faculty Senate notes and stay current with the makeup of the student and faculty bodies. Beyond Stanford, checking in with colleagues at other Ivy Plus institutions and keeping tabs on the latest in content and online learning is incredibly important. Knowing this background helps inform my work and honestly, it keeps me energized and full of purpose.

High Standards, Low Maintenance. I have incredibly high standards and find myself having to dial it back and pick and choose my battles. In managing staff, it’s very important to hope for the best and motivate others to maintain a similarly high level of excellence so you don’t have to micromanage their efforts. Despite the high standards, the low maintenance part is key. How many times have you been a part of a project where you aren’t the most senior person related to the decision – you do a huge amount of work and it can be derailed when it’s brought to decision makers? For those with certain expectations, especially leaders and decision makers, it’s paramount to articulate must haves from the get go so that others can be on the same page, or build in check-ins before others have gone down the wrong path.

Grow! It’s an expectation in management-level positions to grow others around you, but I’ve found it’s one of my favorite things about work. This doesn’t even have to be a formal mentor relationship, but taking the time to get advice from senior-level staff or peers can be invaluable. Asking for feedback in tough situations can only help your job to better, and let’s face it, people love to be asked for these kinds of things. Don’t devalue the impact of little things, like providing feedback to peers, or just being a listening ear when a colleague needs to vent or work through a difficult situation. Regular readers know from my blog that I am a voracious consumer of all things learning. The more professional and personal development you can do from productivity to technical skills to exercise/nutrition will all make you a better and happier person.

Exude Happiness. We work more than we sleep, more than we spend time with our loved ones…more than anything. In some ways, that means that work is life. I don’t say this in a negative way at all, but when you do the math around your day and factor in your commute, it’s a lot of time. You are valuable and you should enjoy what you do and why you’re doing it. If not, find something else. We all have some level of agency in choosing our careers, so find something you love and show up with a smile and ready to connect with colleagues and tackle projects. This isn’t only important for really amazing employees, but for everyone.

The Six People You Need in Your Life

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

This blog is a long time coming, as I’ve been in the weeds at work. If you find yourself visiting this page to see if I’ve written something new, did you know you can subscribe to e-mail updates when there’s a new post? Just enter your e-mail address on the right hand side.

Last month, I saw this great piece in Forbes, reminding me that you can’t get anything done alone in the workplace. It’s all about finding the right people to help you stay motivated, happy and successful in your job.

This photo represents the instigator. That’s the person I strive to be, as it’s more aspirational and forward-thinking. For most people, I probably fall into the category as the taskmaster, since I manage so many projects around the Alumni Association.

I think it’s an interesting exercise to go through the list and  first consider how your co-workers might see you, especially looking at how that relates to who you think you represent in the office. Beyond that, go through the list and see if you have your bases covered for these office advocates.

  • Instigator
  • Cheerleader
  • Doubter
  • Taskmaster
  • Connector
  • Example

For myself, I think I’m missing a good connector in my work life. Anyone want to volunteer to help me out? Otherwise, I feel like I have a strong base of people that keep me energized and focused around here.

Choose your battles – and your projects

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Matrix organizations such as the one I belong to, often lead some differences of opinion that sometimes go your way and sometimes don’t. Any job presents situations where within a group, some ideas rise to the top and others sink to the bottom. Additionally, depending on the groupthink involved, the chosen path might be the right one or led off from its the intended purpose. For some reason, I find myself in this situation often – usually several times in a week, perhaps based on my particular job.

Chip Conley did a tangentially related talk on Rypple recently about solving for happiness at work. Most relevant were his comments on anxiety, as he suggests you ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What don’t I know?
  2. What can I influence?
  3. What can’t I influence?

I think this is an immensely helpful barometer to help you choose your emotional battles. Honestly, if you have no influence and don’t have an alternate path to get there, it’s a waste of your time and energy to allow it to take up brain space. It’s the same idea that stress is when you want something to be a certain way and it isn’t. In a situation where you have no power to change it, don’t get upset or find a way around it.

This extends beyond the job. A small example is that there are times when I really can’t stand the slowness of the line in the alumni cafe downstairs. On a busy day, it’s a waste for me to spend emotional energy on getting irritated by the wait. My solution? Either grab and go to avoid it altogether, or get in a short walk in the sunshine and go somewhere else. It sounds simple and silly, but there are plenty of people put into similar repetitively irritating experiences who continue to get fired up – myself included.

Back to the subject of choosing your projects. I care deeply about the work that I do and since I have a perfectionist instinct, I’m always ready to go to bat for my ideas, as exhausting as that can sometimes be. If I feel like there’s a right decision, especially if I’ve invested thought and data into the process, it can be difficult for me to walk away. In a couple of meetings over the last two weeks, I’ve said my piece and when the decision goes the other way, I’ve just let it go, which can be refreshingly liberating.

With a 10 day vacation coming up this week, necessity has altered my perspective on my pile of work as well, and I think it’s a healthy experience. You eventually reach a place where it’s clear that it’s impossible to accomplish everything and decisions have to be made. The key is to know which items can fall off the list and how you manage those expectations. I’ll actually use Basecamp if I had something scheduled to do this week, by moving the milestone back a month or two if I can and don’t think about it until the time arises. Equally important is taking a wide view to determine what’s absolutely critical. In the next two days, I’ll be assessing my work, letting people know what I can’t finish and just let the rest go. This way, I can have a physical and AND mental vacation while I’m out of the office.

Sometimes we all need boundaries

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Whenever I’m in a yoga pose and my instructor says nod your head yes and nod your head no, I notice that it’s always so much easier to say yes in my body.  This realization led me to think that there’s a reason I feel better saying yes. You can sometimes see it in my work environment, as on some days, I feel like I could install a revolving door on my cube with the many people that come in to ask me questions.

It’s not something I would necessarily change. I like having the answer and helping colleagues get from A to B. What gets dangerous is when I end up handling requests that fall under someone else’s responsibilities and my day gets taken over because co-workers know it’s just easier to get a correct and prompt response from me.

The 99% blog has an excellent short post on saying no…nicely Best of all, Behance provides examples of how you can set boundaries in a professional and nice manner.

Why saying no can be a good thing:

  • Small requests (usually interruptions), mean that you end up putting off projects that take up blocks of your time (real, strategic work!) It’s easy and gratifying, helping you to procrastinate, so don’t fall into the habit.
  • Sometimes, you’re doing someone else’s job. When you answer, it may take away their credibility as the expert in their role.
  • Fielding requests is time-consuming and overwhelming. I get invited to a lot of meetings. If I’m not sure I’m the right person or don’t know the purpose of the meeting, I’m the first person to opt out or ask for more information..
  • Perhaps the person you need to say no to is your boss. This could be a tricky situation depending on your relationship, but if your manager doesn’t understand your workload limitations, it’s just the beginning of a difficult time for you. Also, in this case, proposing a solution to help produce the work could be the best course.
  • The answer might not be a no, but instead a not right now. As a project manager, I often find myself in the middle, or perhaps in a situation where I don’t have the authority to give a definitive answer. Instead of saying ‘yes’ and getting into trouble later, it’s fine to set realistic expectations with partners.

Saying no can be difficult, but practice makes perfect.  It’s also not as negative as it sounds. When you get overtaken with the small requests, you might find yourself saying no when you should be saying yes to certain projects. No one likes feeling buried and overwhelmed.

When you understand your own limitations at work based on your job scope and your time, co-workers will appreciate your candor and in the end, better results from your work.

The answer isn’t carrots or sticks

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I wanted to post a quick blog since I heard the best webinar yesterday. When I say that, I mean it, as I’ve been studying what makes a great webinar over the past year by researching how organizations succeed in this arena. (many slides, dynamic voice, humor, interesting subject, etc)

I’m on a work committee looking into talent management across the organization and as part of that, we’re focused on creating an engaged workforce and shifting the culture of the organization. Rypple puts on webinars every so often and this week, Paul Marciano spoke about his RESPECT principles at engagement in the workforce.

If you have some time, this 55 minute webinar is worth your time. You can even split it up, as the first half focuses on existing conditions in the work environment and motivational programs vs. cultural shifts and the second half dives into actual solutions.

After listening, I’ll definitely pick up his book to see what else he has to say.

owning your career and your right to competent management

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Career ownership is something no one ever tells you about on the job. Especially when you start out somewhere new or you’re just starting in the world of work, everything is tentative. You’re learning the ropes, you expect responsibilities to come from top down and you wait for people around you to tell you what to do next and how to move forward. The problem with that mentality is that it doesn’t get you anywhere, and if you are a part of a weak organization or you have a poor manager, it’s pretty detrimental to your future career. Always advocate for yourself and your own progress, as no one else is doing this for you.

You own your own career. Did you know that? HR does, and at Stanford they offer this class called Owning Your Career @ Stanford: A Roadmap to Your Success! I haven’t taken it myself, but I’ve heard great things about it and plan to this summer. The existence of the course proves that your manager is more concerned about you in your current job, and not necessarily your career. That’s not always the case and I’ve had 2 excellent managers in my past more concerned with my own path than the actual job, but I think it’s true most of the time, which means that you need to take up your own cause.

What does it mean to own your career?

It certainly doesn’t mean demanding raises and promotions, especially since who knows if it isn’t deserving. What it does mean is knowing that you also have a role in your job and you should step up to the plate.

Communicating with your boss

Does your manager lead your 1-on-1 meetings and feed everything down, or are you contributing just as much? If you go into the conversation expecting to cover certain issues, do you carve out time to actually communicate these to your boss?

There’s nothing more important than communicating often and clearly. If you aren’t feeling challenged in the job, you’re overwhelmed with work or desire more responsibility or a promotion, you need to initiate these conversations with your supervisor. How else is she or he supposed to know? In all relationships, no one is a mind reader, and it’s important for you to step up and communicate issues important to you worth addressing. If you can’t get your perspective into meetings because of time, try and schedule time outside of your regular meetings to get to things that matter to you.

Professional development and goals

It’s imperative to constantly revisit your on the job skills and goals looking ahead in your job. I’m not always the best at doing the “worst first” in terms of my daily tasks, which is always the best approach. I am pretty consistent and trying to do the worst first for professional development. For example, public speaking has always been a large hurdle for me, so I go out of my way to step up to speaking opportunities to force myself to get better. It’s a good idea to evaluate yourself and work on the skills you need to develop for your career. Aside from training classes, which can be a great way to develop yourself, think about professional development as much more than that. Here are some possibilities to consider:

  • read books that apply to your field
  • reach out to colleagues within your organization and outside of it for advice, lunch, mentorship or companionship
  • be on the lookout for conferences you could attend
  • subscribe to industry websites or periodicals through e-mail or an RSS reader
  • watch webinars from related and closely related topics
  • reach out to partners/competitors for a shadowing opportunity. depending on your industry, this might not be an option, but an exchange is a great concept!

Also, within the programs you run at work, set aside time every so often to think about your progress, both qualitatively and quantitatively, and also to brainstorm possibilities to improve. We all so easily get caught up in the day-to-day that we forget about why we do the work we do and how important it is to step back and look at strategy.

Your right to management

On the flip side of owning your own career is the fact that we do all deserve good management, and unfortunately, we don’t always get it. I enjoyed this Harvard Business Review blog post on The Right to Management Competence this past week. It’s what got me thinking about our own expectations about our work. Linda Hill and Kent Lineback suggest that direct reports should expect the following from managers:

  • be trustworthy
  • exercise influence beyond his or her group
  • create a team of his or her group
  • recognize individuals and support their development

I totally agree with these expectations, and I would add a couple of more to the mix:

  1. continue to develop and practice management skills
  2. lead by example

No matter how many years of management you have, it’s important to continuously develop your skills and stay on top of your game. Even if all a manager does is read about how to develop employees and themselves, the act of considering leadership is very important. Managing people is not just about meeting organizational targets, but so much of it is about motiving employees, keeping the team engaged and focused and coaching employees to help them succeed. On top of that, respect is earned when managers practice what they preach. As a manager, if you expect your team to meet strict deadlines, you have to follow through and so on. Leading by example truly goes a long way in earning respect from your employees and shows you expect what you yourself are willing to put out.

I could go on and on about taking control of your own career path, but I think this leaves enough food for thought for this week.