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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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What's the best way to work on your weaknesses?

In my last post, I talked about the dangers of over developing your strengths. As I wrote, too much of a good thing can actually overturn  promotion opportunities and sabotage career advancement solutions.

This week, I want to address the flip side - overdoing attempts to improve on weaknesses. I’ll admit, conventional wisdom says that there’s always room for improvement, but my caveat is that there’s a limit, even when it comes to career advancement solutions.


For example, let’s say you’re faced with a boss who says you’re too much of an introvert at work. In fact, they tell you that to get promoted, you have to achieve a certain level of assertiveness.


As an ambitious middle manager, you’ll take this advice seriously and will do some serious thinking about improving your assertiveness. First, you’ll assess your current assertiveness level - maybe a 2 or 3 out of 10. And then you’ll think about what your boss wants - probably a 9 or 10.


The next step would be to think about how to improve your assertiveness. A self-help book? A mentor? A course? So you decide on the best way for you and you take the bull by the horns. At this point, most managers are confident that if they work hard, whatever path they choose, they’ll reach a 9. After all, this isn’t the first time they’ve met a challenge.


But, sadly, and I really mean sadly, my 35 years of experience show that the 9 will most likely never come along. Sure, a hard-working manager might achieve a 6 or a 7, but 9 isn’t going to happen. You’re still an introvert.


Before you balk at my claim, stay with me. You’re probably thinking of examples in which people have made dramatic changes. I can think of a few as well. But most of us simply cannot completely change a character trait - even with hard work.

Why not? It’s because we’re all assembled differently. Each of us is equipped with a unique mix of talents that come into play in our own special way. That’s what makes teamwork so fruitful, for example.


So anyone who thinks they can somehow eradicate parts of their talent mix is heading for big time disappointment. Sure, we can always strive to improve ourselves, but our basic talent mix will always remain in tact.


So what about that promotion?


Let’s return to our scenario above. Rather than trying to erase your introvertedness, try to concentrate on damage control.


For instance, if you’re quiet at meetings, you might be giving the impression that you’re not fully involved with the issue at hand. You know this isn’t true, but your introvertedness is unfortunately speaking for you.


In this case, you’d have to develop certain behaviors that could help you seem more engaged at meetings. For example, if you know the subject of the meeting, prepare a short opinion statement about it to present. Or decide before that meeting that you’ll relate to the ideas of at least two coworkers. Following such game plans at meetings and other high stakes activities will put your introvertedness in the back seat - and your talents at the driver’s wheel.


So whether you’ve been asked to be more assertive, sensitive, expressive, or any other characteristic, your job is to find the specific behaviors that can be changed in highly visible situations and then to work on them - but never under the delusion that you’ll change your personality.


Good luck!


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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What’s the best management course to take?

Everywhere we look, we see management courses on nearly every topic imaginable along our corporate development career path - and as someone who’s dedicated to developing managers, I can attest that there’s a lot of great stuff out there.


For any manager, professional courses can be be divided into two approaches: those that focus on broadening your strengths and those that help you develop your weaknesses. If you’re looking to advance in your corporate development career path, it’s important to decide which approach is better for you.


With the first approach, you decide on something you’re very good at and then try to become excellent at it. Sounds great, right? Not only do you get to immerse yourself in something you probably like, you also come out even better at it. For example, let’s say you’re a master at rapid decision making - a key skill in today’s dynamic business world. In fact, you might even owe your current position to this important ability. Naturally, you’d think that to get further promotions, it would be crucial to further perfect your decision making. But there’s a problem with this logic - and here I’ll quote Voltaire: “Better is the enemy of good.”


“Too much of a good thing…”


I’ll illustrate Voltaire’s wisdom with my famous cake example. We all know that the more sugar you add to a cake recipe, the sweeter the cake. But can a cake be too sweet? You bet. Just double the amount of sugar in any cake recipe and you’ll get something so sickly sweet that it’s nearly inedible. From this simple example, we learn that too much of a good thing, even a management skill, can be ruinous. In our example, being “too good” at decision making could lead to making rapid conclusions that result in detrimental consequences. So ironically, over training some of our management muscles could eventually turn what were once strengths into weaknesses.


Now back to our cake. How can we still get a delicious cake without ruining it with too much sugar? By changing some of the other ingredients. For example, the bakers among us know that if a cake’s not sweet enough, we reduce the salt, thus allowing for the sugar to express its full sweetness.


And it’s the same with our management competencies. We want to balance out one competency with others so as to arrive at a purposeful managerial approach. For example, in terms of decisionmaking, rather than measuring effectiveness according to speed, consider other factors such as how many others you involve in the decision. Involving others creates commitment to a decision. And creating commitment is a key skill for senior managers. Involving others, of course, might be something new to you and require practice. But on the upside, the quality of your decision will be much better than if you’d made it alone.  


So I hope you see what I’m getting at when it comes to self-development. Rather than remaining in your comfort zone, seek undeveloped pastures so that you can become a more well rounded manager. Working on something you haven’t always excelled at will earn you the recognition of others and pave the way for your next promotion.


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Looking to manage your career? Put those tips aside.

In our quest to find the “right” way to manage our career, the real question we’re trying to answer is:  How can I make sure my career plays out the way I want it to?


In today’s dynamic business environment, everyone’s grappling with this question as one of the major factors affecting career development. Just have a look at all of the management books and courses out there - all offering their one and only solution for career success. But I’m sorry to say that based on my 35 years of experience in helping managers fulfill their career potential, the one and only solution simply doesn’t exist.


I can speak from the experience of all of those well-meaning managers who’ve tried out all of what’s out there. The road to career success is a lot more complicated than following the one and only solution, unfortunately misperceived as one of the factors affecting career development.


Let’s take an example. Many of us were taught the golden rule that to communicate sincerity, you need to make direct eye contact with the person you’re speaking with. If you don’t, you seem shifty and dishonest.


Is this really true for all situations? What happens if you’re dealing with someone who’s shy? Introverted? From a culture where eye contact is considered aggressive? What about people who don’t like being put on the spot? What effect would following this golden rule have in these situations? You guessed it: major failure.


My point in bringing up this simple example is that to succeed in managing your career, you can’t follow a one size fits all way of doing things. Why? Because we’re all different. In fact, the only thing we all have in common is that we’re human beings.


But today’s world fails to acknowledge our individuality. Instead, feeding on our hunger for instant solutions, we’re told that anything can be solved with a quick fix that’s suitable for anyone in any situation. Though this seems very appealing, it doesn’t really address our problems because solutions really cannot and do not work that way. If they did, then the current exponential growth in managerial books, courses, etc. would’ve led to more managers achieving their career ambitions. Instead, the opposite has occurred. The reason is that well-meaning managers are being fed career advice that just doesn’t fit them individually. And when they fail to follow this ill-fitting advice, they don’t blame the fit, they blame themselves. And then a vicious cycle ensues - bad advice leading to the inability to carry it out, resulting in failure after failure. And then the dejected manager laments, usually with one of these statements (or possibly a combination):


I’ve done everything, but I guess I’m just unlucky.

I’ve tried everything, but it’s just not in the cards for me.

I’ve followed all of the advice, but I guess I’m just not promotion material.


As you can clearly see, the common denominator here is that the manager felt as if they’d really done everything possible to achieve their career goal, yet to no avail. This misconception has resulted in creating a population of talented managers who live out the rest of their lives in misery - one of the great tragedies of our time.


I won’t make any promises like the career management marketers, but I will tell you one thing:


The definition of “giving it your all” is making the kind of effort needed by you as an individual.


So if you want to advance in your career, it’s surely possible, but it is absolutely essential that you first know not only what steps are right for you but also how you as an individual should carry them out. This means discovering your own path towards career success without:


1. cookie-cutter tips;

2. emulating someone else;

3. giving up on who you are.


In future posts, I’ll be helping you discover your own unique path to career success.


If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch.


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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About to get fired? What to do when the writing’s on the wall.

Originally posted on the Noomii Career Blog.


There are certain experiences we can all do without in our career, and getting fired probably takes the cake. So recognizing the signs of an impending pink slip is definitely something you should know about. Throughout my 35 years of experience of thinking about how to measure success at work, I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying careers that are just about to go south. They’ve all got one thing in common: the writing’s always on the wall.  


What’s surprising is that in so many cases, it’s the bosses themselves who actually write on the wall - sometimes even in bold, capital letters. This is generally done to allow their subordinates to plan their own escape route, unscathed from the embarrassment of being fired.


Writing on the wall in this case usually comes under two main themes: shutting you out and reducing your footprint, which are two indicators of how to measure success at work.


Shutting you out might include a reduction in:


involving you in new ventures;

informing you of upcoming events;

asking your opinion;

inviting you to meetings;

planning future projects.


Reducing your footprint might include:


taking away responsibility from you;

not implementing your decisions;

praising you less;

avoiding you in general.


Some or any of these behaviors are telltale signs that the writing’s indeed on the wall - and that you should look into it.

But just as this is as clear as day to you and me, it’s always shocking to me how many managers refuse to read the writing on the wall. Not only will they ignore the writing, but they’ll also often put a spin on it, dismissing it with thoughts, such as:


“I’m probably just imaging this.”

“My boss is all worked up this week.”

“My boss and I have been experiencing a sort of rough patch recently.”


...or any other possible excuse.


When we dismiss the writing on the wall, not only do we fail at preparing ourselves for the inevitable, we also end up emotionally demolished once we’re actually fired.


This kind of scenario usually plays out not because we haven’t recognized the writing on the wall, but due to our natural tendency to deny bad news. Now denial isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it has many advantages, such as helping us survive challenging times. But when the writing's on the wall, denial can lead us down a slippery slope to misery. So I think you’ll agree that facing an impending pink slip with denial is not the way to go. Instead, you need to take control. Here’s what you should do:


When you begin to detect any signs of writing on the wall for a period of time that makes you start to feel uncomfortable, share this feeling with a co-worker, friend, or significant other - someone not directly involved. Run the signs by them and ask them what they think. Pay attention to any differences there might be between their interpretation and yours. Once you’ve identified any differences, try your best to view these signs through their eyes.


If you’re lucky, perhaps you’re just overreacting to a specific incident and everything’s fine. But if indeed the writing's on the wall, you must immediately acknowledge it so that you can remain in control of your own career. Your goal at this point is to prevent unnecessary heartache as you carefully calculate your next move.


Remember that though getting fired is probably the worst thing that’ll occur in your career, it happens every day. With the right pre-planning, you’ll find yourself up on your feet again, ready to take on your next challenge.


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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2 Steps to Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions

The New Year’s festivities have come and gone and many of us have returned to work with renewed excitement and optimism for the new year - great for getting started on those New Year’s Resolutions.


But it’ll take more than just good vibes to keep you going throughout the year. One way of knowing how to measure success at work and towards your next promotion is through one magic word: STEP


Of course by STEP, I mean step-by-step. Consider which of these scenarios will work out for the long term:


1.    You decide to go running every morning, so you wake up the next morning and begin your new daily routine.


2.    You decide to go running every morning, so as a first step, you begin with twice a week, eventually increasing to three times a week and so on.


I don’t know which scenario you chose, but here are some really interesting numbers about a past experiment in which respondents were asked this question before they attempted to meet their long term goals.


On the whole, 60% of respondents chose scenario 1, while the other 40% chose scenario 2. This isn’t really surprising, as most of us approach new challenges imbued with optimism.


But here’s the really interesting part:


Of the respondents who chose scenario 1, less than 10% were able to meet their own goals, while of those who chose scenario 2, this number was over 90%. Talk about the power of outlook on achieving goals!


So let’s place our bets on the goal achievers (and not just the optimists) and meet your goals for the new year with STEP.


State your Goals.

This isn’t about your vision or general direction. This is about clearly expressing what you want - as specifically as possible. A good example might be: I want to be promoted to regional sales manager between September and November of the upcoming year. Fleshing out your goal in this way increases your commitment.


Talk your talk.

Once you’ve written out your goal, talk it out. Read it to yourself at least twice a day - treat it like your personal mantra. This will keep you waking up and going to bed with your goal, so that no matter what distracts you during the day, you’ll always come back to what’s most important.


Estimate the time to complete milestones.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your goals be accomplished in a day. When you stated your goals, you gave yourself an overall timeframe for completion. Now, you have to break up your goal into smaller milestones, estimating the amount of time it’ll take to meet them. An example of a milestone might be: I’ll hold a meeting with my immediate supervisor by the end of February. Estimating the time for completion will help you meet the milestones on the way to your ultimate goal. It worked for Jane - and will work for you.


Peg your progress.

Keep track of your progress, noting any gaps between what you’ve planned and what you’ve achieved - making any necessary adjustments along the way. By pegging your progress, you renew your commitment to your goal, ensuring its accomplishment.


So join the people who know how to achieve goals. Follow the STEP process in the new year and make your career dreams come true.

And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Every middle manager needs a dream sponsor

The beginning of January always seems to bring with it our hopes and dreams for the new year. Often, the career goals of a manager cause us to reflect on what we didn’t get to accomplish the previous year. Sure, some of these shortcomings were beyond our control, but in general, we probably could’ve done a better job at staying on track.


What commonly happens is that we begin the new year full of optimism and energy, both of which tend to wane as the year marches on. And towards the end, we find ourselves wondering why we failed to meet our goals:


1. Perhaps we were too optimistic.

2. Maybe we just ran into bad luck this year.

3. The conditions probably weren’t right.


Sure, one or more of these reasons might explain some of the gap between what you’d planned and the career goals of a manager that you actually accomplished. But we can’t attribute them to everything we didn’t get done.


In fact, based on my 35 years of experience, the gap between what we’d wanted and what actually got done isn’t the fault of the stars. It’s usually due to a lack of careful planning.


Without planning, a dream remains a dream. But with planning, a dream is broken down into specific steps that can be managed.


Managing the steps towards your dream


One of the best ways to keep you on track towards accomplishing your dreams is finding a “dream sponsor.” We know that sponsors are used in many recovery frameworks to help people get better. Getting help from a sponsor makes sense. When we promise something to just ourselves, we often break these promises with any minor excuse. But when we promise something to someone else, a dream sponsor, we tend to stick to our commitment, lest we let them down. What’s more, a dream sponsor can also support us when things aren’t easy - giving us the encouragement we need to carry on.


So as you begin thinking about your goals for the new year, the first step to consider is finding a dream sponsor. This person doesn’t have to fit any profile, just someone whom you trust and who can relate to your specific goals.


Here are some practical principles for managing a dream sponsor relationship:


1. Agree on times when you’ll report your progress towards your goals.

2. Reach out when you feel as if you’ve gotten off track.

3. Report on all of your successes - no matter how small.


If you follow these faithfully, you’ll find yourself this time next year having accomplished much more than you had in the past.


I know that some of you might be thinking that you don’t want to burden someone else with your issues. After all, everyone has goals and most of us are struggling to accomplish them. But the truth is that it’s not as much of a burden as you might think. Your dream sponsor’s main job is to be there - the hard work is still up to you.


Good luck and let me know how it’s working for you as you begin the new year.


And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Happy New Year

Thank you!

We’re wrapping up 2016 with ten times more subscribers than we had in January, and we have YOU to thank for it! Looking forward to continued success together in  2017!


Happy New Year



And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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What role do dreams play in our lives?

Last week, I wrote about turning dreams into reality when it comes to career goals for managers. This week, I’d like to write a few words about the powerful, yet often unacknowledged interconnection between dreams and reality.


Throughout our lives, most of us have been taught that there’s a strict separation between our dreams and reality. Dreams are fantasy and reality is our “real life”.  


But if dreams, especially the career goals for managers, are the stuff of fantasies, then what about all of those people whose dreams indeed have come true? We read about them every day. What’s so special about these people?


They clearly see the undeniable interdependence of dreams and reality. They know that dreams can’t even exist, let alone come true, without being part of their everyday reality. They understand that dreams are the ability to visualize themselves in a better situation.  And that dreaming is the first concrete step towards planning their journey towards a new, improved life.


So for you to embark on this journey, you must believe in yourself. And with your dreams as a blueprint, you’ll be well on your way.


Enjoy the holiday season!


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.

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My 4 holiday wishes to help make your career dreams come true

At this time of year, as we gather with our loved ones to celebrate the holidays, we find ourselves reflecting on our lives - family, friends, and career. Often, we ask ourselves where we are in achieving our dreams. Are we completely satisfied? Are we possibly a little disappointed? This is probably why one of the most popular greetings during this time of year is “may all your dreams come true.”


So what about your career dreams? Have you met your own expectations? To help you along, allow me to wish you 4 things this holiday season:


Holiday Wish #1: Unleash your dreams.

At this magical time of year, dare to dream what you’ve never dreamed before. Dreams allow us to think “out of the box” - to transcend the normal borders of our imagination - beyond how to measure success at work. Use your innate ability to dream about your dream career - especially if it seems to be “the impossible dream.” You see, such “impossibility” is actually the stuff dreams are made of...and facing impossibility in your dreams is the only way to overcome it in life. Here are four useful reminders that will hopefully get you dreaming:


Just as in fairy tales, in real life, dreams are meant to come true.

Every great thing we’ve ever known - ideas, inventions, cures - started with a dream.

If you don’t have a dream, you can’t make it come true.


Holiday Wish #2: Visualize your success.

This holiday season, do overtime. No, not at work - visualizing. Clearly visualizing the results of your dreams is a crucial bridge towards making the impossible a reality and part of how to measure success at work. This is because of the simple fact that anything you can visualize, you can accomplish.


So start by visualizing yourself in your corner office. What does it look like? Where is your desk? What’s the view outside your window? Then visualize yourself in different situations in your new job. What’s it like to run a staff meeting? Give an important presentation? Determine a budget? Don’t worry if your visualizations are a little dull or blurred at the beginning. The more you visualize, the sharper and more detailed the images will become. And make sure that your other senses (hearing, smelling, feeling, maybe even tasting) get in on the act as well. The more senses you involve, the more you’ll actually really know what it’s like to have your dream job. So close your eyes and get to work.


Holiday Wish #3: Put your visualization into words.

After you’ve visualized your dream job in as much detail as possible, seize the opportunity to express it in words. When we put our dream job into words, we make it concrete so that we can set the goals needed to turn it into reality. When putting your visualization into words, here are some general questions you should answer:


1.    What is your dream job?

2.    When do you want to begin it?

3.    What are some of the major milestones you’ll need to accomplish along the way?


So start putting things into words - whether you write them down or record them, now is the time.


Holiday Wish #4: Plan it out.

If you’ve gotten this far (with or without the egg nog), consider how you’ll start realizing your dream as you begin the new year. Of course, this isn’t the time to make a very detailed plan, but while you’ve got things going, it would be a good idea to think about the following:


1.    Break down your overall dream job goal into smaller, more manageable “mini-goals.”

2.    Assign a rough due date for each of these mini-goals.

3.    Keep your eyes on the ball. No backup plans.

4.    And of course, believe in your dreams!


And finally, I’d like to wish you a very joyous holiday season, filled with love, happiness, and peace for all.


Best wishes




P.S. And don’t forget:

Great managers are made. Not born.


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What are the top 5 reasons why mid-level managers get stuck in their careers?

The symptoms are there.


You’ve had this job for about five years. Friends at other organizations are being promoted. You’ve been told to wait just a bit longer for your own corporate development career path.


You’re officially stuck in your career.


Should you be worried? Yes. Now find out why this is happening.


Here are the top 5 reasons why mid-level managers like you are stuck in your career:


1.   The narrowing pyramid


It’s simple physics. As the pyramid narrows towards the top, less senior positions are available. Will you be there?


You were good enough to be promoted from a junior role to a mid-level one, but because the pyramid was still wide at that level, the competition was not quite as tough and there seemed to be more opportunities along your corporate development career path.


My advice: Figure out how to make sure that you pass the next round.


2.    The competition is on.


What about all of the others who are getting promoted? Well, they realized long ago that to realize the career goals of a manager, they need to compete harder.


You need to get into the game, too. Unlike your last promotion, it’s not enough to do a good job - or even an excellent job.


You have to figure out how to compete with other mid-level managers - by showing that you’re better.


My advice: find and develop your relative advantage and make sure you stand out in the crowd.


3.    No slack


When you were promoted in the past, those above you cut you some slack. They recognized you for your talents and achievements - but also saw your flaws. They figured that you’d be able to work on these as a mid-level manager.


But now, don’t expect any slack. Candidates for senior positions are scrutinized from head to toe. Those in charge of promotion are, for the most part, unwilling to compromise. Are you ready for promotion?


My advice: make sure that you have developed what it takes to be a senior manager.


4.    They’ve changed the rules on you.


Nobody told you when you started, but what defines you as “professional” has changed.


Over the years, you might have developed as the best sales manager or the most innovative programmer. This has gotten you to where you are today.


But to move up the ladder, you’ll need to add sophisticated managerial skills to your portfolio. What helped you in the past has become less relevant. demonstrating that you’re a well-rounded manager is the most important thing you can do now.


My advice: refine your management skills and show that you’re worthy of being a senior manager.


5.    Resting on your laurels = career coma


It’s nice that others have noticed you so far in your career. They’ve taken note of your talents and achievements and have promoted your accordingly.


No more. You can’t rest on your laurels and wait for a promotion. Managers who do not take a proactive part in shaping their career fall into career coma, never to wake up again to new opportunities.


My advice: don’t wait for someone to shake you out of your comfort zone - discover if you’re ready for promotion now and then find ways to actively take charge. It’s all up to you.


And always remember:


Great managers are made. Not born.


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