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Are you really
promotion material?

Fill in this short survey to find out:

  • 1. Have you requested a promotion in the last year?
  • 2. Have you ever been rejected for a promotion?
  • 3. Have you ever been offered a promotion?
  • 4. Has a co-worker at the same level ever been promoted instead of you?
  • 5. Has there ever been a position you applied for and didn’t get?
  • 6. Are you hesitant about asking for a promotion for fear of your boss’s response?
  • 7. Have you ever left an organization because you were passed up for promotion there?
  • 8. Do you know if your work environment values you and your work?
  • 9. Do you think that you deserve a promotion?
  • 10. Do you promote your work and yourself at work?
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Middle managers: here's how to prevent getting rejected for promotion

Middle managers often feel as if they are constantly jumping through hoops. On one hand, you have a great, stable job - filled with both professional challenges and responsibility for results - keeping you on your toes. But with all of this good energy, there’s something that’s constantly nagging at you - will you ever be promoted to the next level?

These days, most of your effort is on doing a good job, but recently you feel as if you should be investing in your corporate development career path. You might’ve even filled in a few applications or had the chance to attend an interview or two. But you sort of knew you didn’t have a real chance. Was it because you aren’t professional enough? Experienced enough? Smart enough? Probably not.

It was because you knew you hadn’t prepared properly for the promotion opportunity. While each shot at promotion should be analyzed on its own in terms of how to tackle it, here’s how you can begin preventing that next rejection - ensuring a smooth corporate development career path.

 

1.    Market your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Yes, it’s the same USP that you learned about in Marketing 101. Just like a product or service, if you don’t stand out as something special, you won’t get noticed. You’re just another boring brand of shampoo or run of the mill cellular service package. Instead, you’ve got to figure out what your core competency is. Then, position yourself in your organization so that everyone knows what it is without your having to spell it out. This is tough at the middle management level, because your duties are highly defined. So you have to think company-wide. What can you do on a company level that will show off your USP? Initiate a new product line? Head a new project? Develop a new strategy? This will help differentiate you from others when it comes time to promote middle managers.

 

2.    Show it. Don’t flaunt it.

While you want to make sure that key decision makers know your USP, you don’t want to make too much noise. Let your actions speak for themselves. In companies where middle managers are hungrily competing for promotions, you’ll find that those who have proven track records are the ones who are eventually promoted. You can recognize these people as the exceptional middle managers who get invited to C-level meetings or who’s asked to brainstorm about a new corporate direction. These middle managers win twice. First, their USP is recognized and second, they have the opportunity to demonstrate their competency in contexts usually reserved for other company members.

 

3.    Develop a C-level attitude.

Not haughtiness. What I mean is that you should show you’re ready for promotion by adopting the mindset of an executive level manager. First, you need to convince yourself that you’re ready to be promoted. If you truly believe this, then you’re well over halfway there. But beware of one thing: a promotion is not the be all and end all of your career. It’s part of a long professional journey. Executive-level managers know this (and that’s what got them there in the first place). You have to build up a positive attitude both towards your own abilities and how you can contribute to the sustainability of their organization. Through the development of a strong work ethic, combined with a true passion for your job, you’ll stand out from the others.

 

4.    Make sure you’re a team player.

Many middle managers discover they’re not really team players. Sure, you can manage a small team in completing a specialized project, but on the whole, you don’t see yourself as team members. Of course, this is often felt quite clearly among your subordinates, who are quick to “spread the word.” Make no mistakes: if you’re not perceived as a team player, you’ll never get promoted. If you want that promotion, you have to develop team building skills, whether it’s through a course, informal mentoring, or formal consultation with an expert.

The transition from middle manager to a senior executive position can seem like an impossible task, especially if you’ve had the chance to experience some of the many trials and tribulations associated with applying for promotions or executive positions at other companies. As you’ve probably learned, it’s not only a matter of how professional you can do your work - there’s a lot more on the line. Begin laying the groundwork now and you’ll reach the corner office before you know it.

 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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If you want to get promoted, avoid lukewarm references

When applying for a job, figuring out how your references will portray you can be pretty troubling. These days, with supercharged social networking profiles, potential employees still view references as one of the most important components in deciding whether to hire a candidate. So you have to make sure that your references show you in the best light possible - it’s one of the essential factors affecting career development.

 

This is the best case scenario. But what happens when your references might not be so great? For example, maybe you and your boss don’t see eye to eye? Or perhaps your supervisor is jealous of you?

 

Whatever the reason, in these cases, the references will be somewhere between negative and lukewarm. Though lukewarm might sound harmless, it’s not. If your prospective employer gets a lukewarm reference, they’ll certainly ask for the details - and soon what seemed harmless might turn into a disaster for you. This can spiral into one of the most damaging factors affecting career development.

 

Of course, the best thing to do is to completely avoid a lukewarm reference by asking for references from others. But unfortunately, there are times when a lukewarm one is inevitable. In such cases, there are three major ways of dealing with it. Naturally, you’ll need to choose which one is appropriate for your particular situation.

 

1.    Approach your reference providers beforehand and ask what they might be planning on saying.

 

This is probably the hardest way to find out, but if you’ve had an open relationship with the reference provider, it’s the best way to go. Naturally, you shouldn’t take everything they say at face value, as telling you about you and telling someone else about you are two completely different things. However, my experience shows that such openness helps, especially when understanding in general what they’ve been satisfied (and dissatisfied) with. Interestingly enough, having this kind of open discussion with your reference provider could actually influence the reference itself in the end, especially if the meeting is done openly and without any hard feelings. In fact, if there is indeed a respectful rapport, you could remind the reference provider that their reference will of course have an important impact on whether you get your next position.


 

2.    Indirectly find out what your references providers are probably going to say about you.

 

If the first method does not work, you could always ask a close coworker to find out on your behalf. If you’re not sure you’ll get a candid response, have a friend from another company call your reference provider and ask about you.  Whichever method you choose, the important thing is that you have information that is more accurate than not knowing at all. And armed with this information, you’ll be able to emphasize (or deemphasize) certain aspects during your interview, depending on the image you want to project to your interviewer. Be ready to provide examples to justify your point of view, as this will help the interviewer see things from your side, as opposed to that of the reference.

 

3.    Tell your interviewer like it is - and do keep trying to find more favorable references.

 

Damage control caused by lukewarm references can also be accomplished by actually telling your interviewer that you suspect that the reference might not be the most favorable. Then you should explain exactly why - citing exactly what happened, making sure not to blame anyone else. Then, it is good practice to provide names of other reference providers to show the other side of the coin, which of course can include subordinates, co-workers, or other managers who’ve had the chance to see your work. Another possibility is asking for references from key customers or even competitors with whom you’ve been in touch and who can attest to the quality of your work. These actions will not only help establish an honest relationship with your prospective employer but also provide them with unique perspectives from which they can judge your performance.


 

While having to foresee the unpleasant chance of receiving a lukewarm reference can definitely be seen as a nightmare when seeking a new position, there is hope. Try out one of the three ways of of handling lukewarm references I’ve mentioned here. At the very least, you’ll reduce some of the anticipated heartache. But it’s more likely that you’ll come out ahead.

 

Good luck!


And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Promotion opportunity in the works? Don't ignore these 5 pieces of advice.

Most middle managers have been around long enough to know when a promotion opportunity might be in the works along their corporate development career path. One telltale sign in any organization is expansion. When a company expands, whether it’s geographically or in terms of its products/services, well-qualified managers are going to be needed to help drive this expansion. Another sign, albeit at a more departmental level, is that your boss is being promoted. In most organizations, the natural successor of a promoted boss is a member of the team they’ve managed until now.

 

So if you think you’re reading the “promotion map” accurately at your organization, what are some of the things you can do to cash in on a possible climb up the corporate ladder towards a smooth corporate development career path? I don’t profess to provide “cookie-cutter solutions,” but based on my 35+ years of experience helping middle managers achieve their dreams, consider some of the following advice:

 

1.    Don’t wait for a promotion to take on more responsibility.

Many middle managers are frustrated by the fact that they essentially do their supervisor’s work, yet they aren’t recognized for it - either hierarchically or financially. Leave this attitude outside of the office. Instead, embrace the opportunity to learn more about your department and company. Volunteer to take on special projects or better yet, suggest some initiatives you think would provide added benefit to your organization. This will show not only initiative but also a managerial state of mind, so that when it comes time to promote a middle manager, you’re the natural choice.

 

2.    Shadow your boss.

By shadowing your boss, I mean begin to notice their work day. What do they do? What do they think about? What pleases them? What worries them? The more you shadow your boss, the more you’ll develop the mindset of a boss. If you get to know your boss’s job well enough, you’ll be able to replace them during critical moments when the stakes are high. Such actions are usually recalled when it’s time to decide who gets promoted.

 

3.    Plan your own career path.

Most middle managers are happy with their achievements so far. In order to get to your current position, you’ve been duly recognized for your talent and dedication to the company. There’s a sense that the company has taken care of you and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, once you reach the middle management level, this is less common. As the pyramid narrows towards the top, competition for senior positions becomes rough. So it’s up to you to decide how far you want to soar. The only way to make this happen is to first do some planning.

 

4.    Be a manager outside of your organization.

In some cases, showing off your management potential isn’t possible inside your organization. Perhaps the organization has too few opportunities or maybe roles are tightly defined. In such cases, it’s important to develop your skills in other frameworks. For example, you might get involved in a professional or volunteer organization where you can both develop and demonstrate your managerial skills. Once you’ve been recognized, you can let decision makers at work know about your achievements. What’s important is that you communicate how the added value you’ve developed will benefit your organization.

 

5.    Develop yourself on your own.

Too many successful middle managers are still stuck in an entry-level mentality when it comes to professional development. When you joined the company, you were sent to training seminars ranging from company-specific policies and procedures to professional courses in your particular discipline. At that point in your career, your company took responsibility for your development. Now that you’re an “expert,” your organization might not see the need to train you further. But this doesn’t mean it’s not a necessary part of your climbing the corporate ladder! On the contrary, there’s so much you still have to learn to be a senior manager. So don’t wait for your boss to offer you a course - find one and do it on your own.

 

In today’s rapidly changing economy, companies are opening, expanding, contracting, closing, merging, etc. constantly. While many middle managers will see this movement as threatening, others will hone the opportunities that come with such changes. If you are excited about the opportunities, prepare yourself now so that you’ll be in the best position possible to be promoted when the time comes.

 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Rejected candidates: here's what you need to do

Every middle manager trying to make it up the corporate ladder has experienced this common range of emotions at some point in their career. Middle managers are in a tough place. On one hand, you’ve proven yourself as professional, competent, and hard-working - many of the crucial professional development goals for managers. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been promoted so far. So as you apply to more senior jobs, your first thought is that getting the next promotion will be as easy as the others. But my 30 plus years of experience tell a different story.

 

As you rise in the managerial pyramid towards the top, getting promoted becomes harder and harder. And naturally, the interviews do as well. So there’s no need to get down on yourself if you’ve been rejected recently. Statistically, this happens more often than not. So should you just give up and remain complacent in your middle management position? Well, that’s up to you, but for those who really want to ace that next interview, you’ve got to find out what happened after you finished the interview and closed the door behind you. This is part of the professional development goals for managers who want to get promoted. Of course, I don’t have a crystal ball, but based on my experience, at least one of the following happened:

 

1. Your interviewer couldn’t really pin down why you’d be the best person for the job.

I don’t mean that you forgot to send in your resume or that you couldn’t answer the basic interview questions. I’ll give you credit for that. But consider this: did you demonstrate passion for the position? For example, did you move beyond portraying yourself as qualified and show how the position fits in with your professional philosophy? This clearly shows why you’d be the best person for the job. Other candidates might have the same (or better) qualifications than you do, but your interviewer was left wondering why YOU.

 

2.    Your interviewer wasn’t sure what extra value you’d be bringing to the table.

After you left the interviewer’s office, the interviewer began writing a summary of the interview. While they were able to check all of the boxes - education, years of experience, decent performance reviews - there was still something missing. Other candidates had brought up special projects they’d initiated or recognition they’d earned for exceeding targets. But your interviewer couldn’t recall anything outstanding about you. And unfortunately, this kept you off the shortlist for any further interviews.

 

So armed with this insight, what should your game plan be if you want your next interview to go well? My first piece of advice is to answer the two questions above. They are critical to your being able to sell yourself next time. Without both answering these questions and then formulating how you’d integrate the answers into your next interview, the cycle of rejection will just continue.

 

Next, once you’ve done this homework, approach the interviewer and flat out ask them why they’ve decided to continue with the other candidates (and not you). Yes, it’s extremely uncomfortable, especially with your tail between your legs, but you’ll derive a couple of immediate benefits. First, you’ll be showing that you’re open to constant learning and improvement - a must for today’s super competitive environment. Second, you’ll be gaining crucial insider information about how senior members see you - not something that necessarily comes out in performance reviews or casual conversations. This information, along with the self-analysis I described above, will help you power up for the next interview opportunity.

 

Being rejected for an interview - especially after you’ve come this far - can be a pretty tough experience. And because of this, many middle managers decide to shy away from future advancement opportunities. But if you’ve got your mind set on climbing the corporate ladder, knowing what happens once you leave the interview is your key to success.

 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Going for a job interview? First answer these 3 questions

For those of you about to embark on a job interview, in seeking job promotion interview answers, you’ve no doubt noticed the endless supply of how-to books, informational websites, prep courses, and advice articles.  Of course, there’s a reason for this endless supply: endless demand. And what fuels this endless demand? Simply put: stress.

 

Going for a job interview is probably one of the most stressful experiences as you make your way up the corporate ladder - whether inside or outside your current organization. And to try to combat this stress, everyone’s on the hunt for the magic formula that will lead them to the right job promotion interview answers. But even if you’re sure you’ve discovered the “right” way to approach an interview, does this mean you’ll beat out the other candidates?

 

Based on my 35 years of experience, the answer is an absolute “no”. And it’s not because you didn’t find the right how-to book or didn’t follow the prep course instructions correctly. It’s because you didn’t answer these three crucial questions:

 

 - What do my competitors have that I don’t?

 - What do I have that my competitors don’t?

 - What added value can I bring to the organization?

 

Let’s examine each of these.

 

1.    What do my competitors have that I don’t?

Whenever I ask a manager about to apply for a new job to find out what advantages their competitors have over them, I’m often met with the same response: “How should I know? I don’t even know who else is applying.” But that’s no excuse. Even in cases where you’re completely in the dark, you can always make one assumption: there are candidates out there that meet the job requirements in areas where you don’t. So armed with this assumption, your best bet is to first make a list of these areas. Once you have a list, see if you can brainstorm examples where you might partially meet some of the requirements. Remember, “partially” is better than “none” and will still make a case for your candidacy, especially when the organization takes into consideration other advantages your bring to the table.

 

I’ll give you an example. You read in a job ad that at least five years of experience are needed in a certain area, yet you have only three years. You can assume that most (if not all) of your fellow applicants will have at least five years of experience. In this case, the best plan of action would be to demonstrate that your three years were jam packed with the exact kind of experience needed for the job at hand - so much that they’ve prepared you specifically for this new role. If you frame your three years in this way, they will be seen as an advantage over the others who might have five years of experience - but not necessarily as relevant as yours.


 

2.    What do I have that my competitors don’t?

I hope you haven’t put away the list you prepared while answering the first question. Now, it’s time to examine your qualities that might actually exceed the job requirements - positioning  you above your fellow applicants. I call these qualities “surplus points”. Surplus points have to be kept close to your chest and revealed only as needed. Too much waving around of surplus points will flag you as overqualified and unsuitable for the job at hand. Instead, surplus points should be framed as extensions of the job’s core requirements.

 

For example, a job ad requires retail experience in a certain area such as supermarkets. You have this experience but you also have experience in wholesale. Such a surplus point should be communicated as an extension of the retail experience required by the organization. In other words, you don’t want to overwhelm the interviewer by touting that you can take on both retail and wholesale markets. Instead, you want to illustrate how your understanding of the wholesale markets will assist you in dealing with the retail markets - something other candidates can’t necessarily offer.


 

3.    What added value can I bring to the organization?

Added value in this context means something that you bring to the job that’s not required by the company - but is of specific value to the company. This might sound a lot like the surplus points above, but added value is different. First of all, as I said before, surplus points run the risk of flagging overqualification. Added value, however, is always positive and is usually communicated as specific knowledge the organization would be happy to have. Therefore, your added value should be communicated in a way that results in a pleasant surprise for the interviewer - and sets you leagues above the other candidates.

 

For example, you might know that the organization is currently trying to penetrate a specific market you know well. In fact, you have the knowledge to help the organization form its strategy, custom its product or service, and identifying key competitors. This is the added value you could bring to the organization that others cannot offer. It should be made clear in the interview, though brought up within the context of the organization’s current challenges in the new market. And don’t forget to include concrete evidence of your knowledge in that market.

 

The head of the pack

If you focus on any of the three questions above - or a combination of more than one - you’ll find yourself at the head of the pack when the organization shortlists the leading candidates. As you have seen, it takes some effort to answer these questions, but the payoff will be worth it.

 

Good luck!


 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Promotion seekers need to take these 6 steps

One of the major considerations for any job seeker considering a potential place of work as part of their corporate development career path is potential for advancement - prompting common questions such as: Is the organization big enough? Will there be opportunities for promotion when the time comes? So most middle managers prefer applying to large organizations. But is this enough?

 

Not really. My more than 35 years of experience have taught me that when an advancement opportunity comes along, even large organizations will look outwards for candidates, a clear disadvantage for your corporate development career path. And this is despite what seem to be clear disadvantages for the organization:

 

 - It costs much more than internal hiring.

 - The organization knows the candidate less than its own employees.

 - It takes much longer to train an external candidate.

 - The organization loses out on the experience and knowledge

    of an internal candidate.

 

And despite all of these disadvantages, organizations are often influenced by the following factors:

 

1.    The grass might always be greener on the outside - new people bring in new energy.

2.    Familiarity with internal candidates might mean knowing their less desirable traits, which seem to foreground their positive ones.

3.    Existing managers won’t leave anyway, so why not try out someone new?

4.    The internal candidates are doing such a great job where they are now, so why rock the boat?

5.    Many internal candidates without experience in other organizations are often perceived as “not quite ready” for promotion.

7.    Hiring internally will upset the apple cart. If one person gets promoted, others will want promotions as well.

8.     The organization has never really cultivated a culture of nurturing new manages, so there’s really no choice.

 

When faced with this long list of reasons for organizations to recruit outside candidates, should you even bother checking if a promotion is possible? Yes, you absolutely should. And here are 6 important steps to take:

 

1.     Check out how many senior managers have actually been promoted from within. This will give you a more realistic picture of your own chances if you are hired.

 

2.    Even if you decide to take the job and you’re promised the world, remember one thing: you are in charge of managing your career, not the organization. While things might seem optimistic at the moment, you can never be sure that you and your organization will always see eye to eye.

 

3.    No one will argue with the fact that you’ve got to build up social and professional credit at your organization, but that won’t bring on a promotion on its own. First and foremost,  you need to identify what your next job will be as well as when you want it. Then, you have to share your career goals with your manager.

 

4. Don’t wait for you annual review to let your boss know you’re working hard towards your next promotion. Explicitly ask your boss what kinds of skills and competencies you need in order to prepare you for your next promotion. And show them you’re on it - whether it’s learning the new skills alone or taking courses after hours.  

 

5. Showcase your accomplishments. Don’t expect your boss to do the math. Show them the connection between what you’re doing and your next promotion.

 

6.    Don’t fall asleep at the switch. Promotion opportunities don’t necessarily appear on the organizational portal. Only through keeping your eyes and ears open will you be able to claim first dibs on such opportunities.   

 

Remember that while potential promotion opportunities are an important part of evaluating a possible new workplace, it should not be the determining factor. Some organizations are meant to be just stepping stones for you, where you can learn new skills and develop as a professional. So if a good opportunity comes along where you can learn - and the prospects of promotion are not necessarily evident - it might be still worth considering.


 

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Rejected for promotion? Here are 5 questions you must answer now.

You’ve just gotten the bad news: you’re not going to get promoted this time around. Unfortunately, this is the kind of news that 70% of middle managers like you receive routinely. So the good news is that you’re in good company with other talented managers. The bad news is that the good news isn’t going to help you get promoted - one of the major factors affecting career development.

But before you read on, are you really ready for a promotion? Take my survey to find out.

 

So if you really are ready, I can help you get on the right track. The first thing you need to do after receiving the rejection blow is to handle the emotional aspect. You’ve been let down and it’s your absolute right to be upset. Give yourself a few days to absorb the blow and to get back into your usual mode - one of the important factors affecting career development in your future. Now it’s time for a little introspection.

 

The reason you’re so disappointed is because of the difference between how you view yourself and how your employer views you. You see yourself as a very valuable employee, worthy of promotion, while your employer is willing to let you wait a bit while evidently more qualified candidates are promoted. So what can you do about this?

 

Find out how others really perceive you - not just your boss but also your co-workers. This will take some investigating, but it will provide with a powerful image for you to work on so that you can be better poised for that next promotion. And you might get some great tips in the meantime.

 

Next, you’ve got to investigate yourself honestly. Doing so might require involving some of your trusted co-workers.

 

Here are 5 crucial questions to answer:

 

1.    Are you performing your job with excellence?

If your boss or co-workers had to rate your job performance, would they say that you fulfill every requirement excellently? Do you meet or beat deadlines consistently? Do you provide detailed reports of your activity so that others don’t have to seek clarification? Do you meet your monthly, quarterly, and annual goals?

 

2.    Do you go above and beyond?

Do you seek and execute challenges that are not part of your job description? For example, when selling a product, do you personally follow through on after-sales service, even though that’s the responsibility of the customer service folks? If you’re in finance, producing reports, do you ensure to provide extra material that will help your readers understand the full picture, not just your little island of data?

 

3.    Do you work well with others?

Being professional at your job isn’t enough. With local, national, and global teams collaborating across geographical borders, time zones, different languages, and cultural differences, your interpersonal skills are probably your most precious commodity. Is it pleasant to work with you? Do you answer emails, texts, or other communication on time and politely? At meetings, whether face to face or virtual, do you let others voice their opinion?

 

4.    Do others know of your accomplishments?

While modesty is a virtue, in the business world, it won’t get you very far. I’m not saying that you should be a show off, but remember to give yourself credit when credit is due. Have you surpassed a sales goal? Delighted a customer? Been recognized by a local organization? Make sure that the right people know about it. Oftentimes, you might assume that such information is public, but it’s more likely that your accomplishments are listed in an email your boss hasn’t (and won’t ever get to) read.

 

5.    Does your boss know that you want to be promoted?

This is another issue that many middle managers like yourself take for granted. You’re probably thinking that of course your boss knows this - everyone wants to get promoted. But the secret is that not everyone wants it bad enough to speak up. So by all means, speak up and make your boss is aware of the fact that you’re ready for that next challenge.

 

Missing out on a promotion is a traumatic experience, but unless you’re ready to retire, you’ve got to get back to business - and your business is getting promoted. Finding out how others perceive you should be first on your list, which should be followed by taking a long, hard look at issues raised in the questions above.

 

Wishing you the best of luck in your journey towards the corner office.


 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Can a career coach boost my chances for promotion?

Originally posted on the Noomii Career Blog.


“Can a career coach boost my chances for promotion?” This is a very common question in today’s business environment, where everyone wants to get ahead - one of the basic career goals for managers. Based on my 35 years of experience in helping middle managers get promoted, my answer is yes: the right coach can help you open doors to new opportunities.

 

But just hiring a coach isn’t going to do the trick. A coach is kind of like a gym membership. You might sign up for the gym with great intentions, but your membership alone isn’t going to get you into shape. You’ve got to actually go to the gym for your membership to work. It’s the same with your coach. A coach isn’t going to get you promoted without effort on your part. So here’s what working with a coach should look like:

 

The best way to work with a coach is to establish a partnership. And like in every partnership, each of you should take on a certain role in order for the partnership to succeed.  Here’s where a professional coach will help you get ahead:

 

1.    Showing you a mirror

If you’ve recently been turned down for a promotion, it’s pretty likely that your emotions have taken over your logic. At this point, it’s hard to really understand why you didn’t get the promotion and a coach can help you answer this important question. Experienced coaches know that self-awareness is vital to successful career goals for managers and as a result will help you view yourself as others view you. The coach will have a look at the whole picture, such as meeting summaries and performance evaluations and will help you fill in the gaps necessary you’ll need to successfully compete for your next promotion opportunity.

 

2.    Fleshing out your goals

Right now, I can guess that the only goal you have in mind is to get promoted. That’s a good start, but not good enough. Based on an in-depth analysis of your current situation, an experienced coach can help you translate your general goal into a personal action plan, divided into stages and including specific timelines. In this way, you’ll be able to actually work towards your next promotion, knowing exactly what you need to achieve it.

 

3. Keeping you true to yourself

With the abundance of “how to be a manager” guides out there, your natural tendency might be to try to transform yourself into something you’re not. A professional coach will help you develop new competencies while ensuring that what makes you stand out as a manager is still is preserved. This is the winning combination you need to get that next promotion.

 

A professional coach can help you make it or break it when it comes to  your next promotion. It’s important to remember that like all successful partnerships, it takes effort from both of sides.


 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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3 reasons why middle managers should consider leaving their job

It’s a fact:  8 out of 10 middle managers are wondering if they should be at the job they’re at right now. The reason that this percentage is so high among middle managers is that middle management is actually a junction in your career. At this junction, you can decide to continue straight and work towards a promotion at your current organization or make a turn and try your luck at a new one place of work. As I’ve explained in my previous posts in this series, there are basically three general categories as to why you might want to leave your current job: your intrinsic satisfaction, the organizational environment, and your need to develop. This post is dedicated to professional development goals for managers like you.

 

No more challenges

Like any new job, when you began, everything seemed so interesting. You couldn’t wait to dive into projects, updating yourself on previous steps so that you could take it from there. New challenges required becoming absorbed in unexplored territory and your job seemed more like taking an amazing class in “real business” than work - and your learning curve was as steep as could be. There couldn’t be more appropriate professional development goals for managers than this. But now that you know the ropes, you’re not as excited. Projects that once seemed like an exhilarating climb up Mt. Everest can almost be done in your sleep. The problem is that as a middle manager, there’s a pretty limited range of responsibilities that can be given to you - so you find weeks and even months  - crying out to you: “same old, same old”.

 

No more mentors

One of the things you valued most about your job was your brilliant mentors. They were the key to getting you to understand things in a way you wouldn’t have been able to do on your own. While you’d look at an issue to be solved in one way, they would provide brand new perspectives, exposing you to new avenues for tackling the most important challenges. Compared to where you were in your career, their field expertise allowed you to tap into their knowledge and creativity so that you could develop your own approaches. There was nothing more inspiring or motivating than these mentors. But as the years have passed, many of them have left - either to other organizations or retirement. While these days you find yourself mentoring others, you long for the days when you could be inspired and motivated by others.

 

Lack of professional development

An aspect of your job that you’ve truly enjoyed over the years is the emphasis on professional development  in all shapes and sizes: seminars, out-of-town conferences, online training programs, and even a well-stocked library of the latest and greatest in management practices. But recently, you’ve noticed less and less opportunities for professional development. When asking around, you find out that your organization has had to tighten its belt, but then you see that others are still being given opportunities. Is it you? Does your department not see you as worth investing in anymore? Is it your boss? Has he or she changed their tune with regard to the importance of professional development? Or is it really the company trying to save money? It’s worth investigating the reason, but it’s even more important to understand the dangers to your career posed by a lack of ongoing professional development.

 

Finally

We all know that an important aspect of job satisfaction is the feeling that you are growing both professionally and personally along your career path. Ensuring that you have the right challenges, mentors, and development opportunities are key to maintaining job satisfaction. Don’t wait for any of these to melt away with time. Either keep them active or find a place where you can reignite them.

 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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If you're concerned about career advancement, never sit on your laurels

As you read this, about 80% of middle managers like you are thinking about leaving their current job. As I wrote in my first post in this series, I’ve identified three categories as to why most middle managers are contemplating new pastures: your intrinsic satisfaction, the organizational environment, and the need to develop - signs of how to measure success at work and your career. In this post, I’ll be talking about the organizational environment.

Many middle managers begin their journey at a company either as an entry level employee or after having risen to the middle management level at another organization. In both cases, when you began your current position, you were happy with the organizational environment. You liked the direction of the company, the general atmosphere suited your personality and work patterns, and your team mates seemed to be on the same page with you. All of these are tangible indicators of how to measure success at work. Things have seemed to work out well over the last few years. But now there’s something bothering you.

 

Too much shifting

Remember when departments were more or less permanent fixtures in your company? If you had a specific question or concern, you knew exactly which department (and many times whom) to contact. Now it seems as if it’s anyone’s guess regarding where you turn to if you need to handle a specific issue. Is it Finance? Accounting? HR? When you first came to the company, the lines between departments were pretty clear. Now, getting an answer to a simple question requires actual research just in terms of whom to contact. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? It’s more the feeling that the company you joined not so long ago just isn’t the same - not with department responsibilities being blurred all of the time. You begin to wonder if you still feel at home…

 

Changes in corporate culture

At the same time that structural changes have been taking place, you’ve been feeling a difference in the corporate culture. Your company has just not been behaving the same way you remember - or identify with. You might’ve heard of rumors in which the organization has been tiptoeing around some ethical issues or that certain customers haven’t received the first-class service you thought your company was committed to. Certain budget cuts have made you uncomfortable as well, leading you to think that the organization’s priorities are just not the same. The real question for you is if you’re feeling left out in the cold.

 

Job morph

When you took on your new job, the job description fit you to a T. You were excited not only about the new responsibilities but also about the directions to which you’d be able to take some of these responsibilities. You envisioned yourself using your position as a way to truly upgrade your team and be a source of pride for your department. But recently, certain aspects of your job have been de-emphasized - strangely enough, those you felt were very important. And other aspects have been added - ones you’re not sure you understand or identify with. This has resulted in more pressure on you - prompting you to question if this is still the right job for you.

 

You’re being set aside

Once known as the Boy/Girl Wonder of your department, your boss wouldn’t think of making a move without asking your opinion - even in matters only marginally related to your expertise. You also served as an informal sounding board for team members who were always happy to pick your brain as they considered new ideas and directions. Days and weeks seemed to fly by. Lately, however, your feel as if you have too much spare time. As you make your way towards the water cooler, more doors seem shut than before. You don’t see your boss as much anymore, as he or she always seems engaged with others. “Do I no longer fit in”, you ask yourself. Am I no longer useful?

 

So many goodbyes

In today’s corporate world, we expect a certain amount of employee turnover. As an experienced middle manager, you’ve seen your share of people coming and going - a natural process both in people’s careers and company lifecycles. But the amount of goodbyes you’ve witnessed recently seems a little out of hand. Are others feeling the signs mentioned above? Is the company possibly going through something so major that many of your co-workers feel it’s time to go as well? Maybe you’re not alone...

 

Sitting on your laurels = failure

As a middle manager, it’s much too early in your career to be complacent. If at least two of the factors above are gnawing at you, it’s time to make a decision. If you decide to stay at your company, you’ll have to adopt a flexible mindset and “roll with the punches”. Who knows, maybe the new (and possibly improved) organization will once again feel like home. However, if you’re not sure you can tough it out during what looks like a transition period, it’s time to find an organization with a better fit. Whichever you decide, I wish you great success on your journey to the corner office.

 

And always remember:

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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