Be Carried to the Top:
5 Support People Who Can Help You Get Ahead

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“There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.”

~ George Shinn ~

Client Dena Asks: In their book, The Five Patterns of Extraordinary Careers, James Citrin and Richard Smith concluded that, “People with extraordinary careers do not claw their way to the top, they are carried there.”Where can I get the support I need to help me reach my career goals?

Coach Joel Answers: Support from others is a valuable commodity in any situation, but it’s a necessity when you navigate the corporate landscape. Without it, you risk being stuck in your current position indefinitely, overlooked for promotion and passed by others who are well connected and better supported.

How can you find others to help “carry” you?

Cultivate and take advantage of these five key resources:

1. Supporters 
Supporters show an interest in you and your career and invest the time to explain what it takes to advance within the company and get the job you want. They help you get ahead by providing resources, insights and knowledge. They also serve as role models for top-notch executive behavior and presence. Supporters can provide feedback, criteria and expectations to help guide you along a clear path toward success.

2. Confidants 
A confidant is someone with whom you are comfortable disclosing information about your experiences at work. Because these discussions often involve fears, frustrations and your innermost doubts and concerns, a confidant must be completely trustworthy. This kind of trust takes time to develop, but it starts with taking risks and being willing to share. Confidants are there to listen, to provide honest feedback and to support you as you face major challenges.

3. Mentors 
Like a supporter, a mentor provides specific information and guidance to help you improve your performance and productivity. You will, however, have a closer relationship with a mentor. This individual will take a personal interest in your career and play a more active role in helping you meet your goals for advancement and professional success. To ensure your mentor is unbiased, it’s helpful if he or she comes from a different department.

4. Advocates 
The difference between mentors and advocates is a matter of degree. Both can provide feedback, information and encouragement. However, a mentor will not necessarily get directly involved in promoting your career. Advocates, on the other hand, will actively champion your cause to their peers (and even supervisors) in the company. Advocates encourage your growth and challenge you to reach higher levels. They know your key accomplishments and are acutely aware of your potential for future success. Armed with this information, advocates campaign on your behalf, create visibility with senior management and directly assist you in advancing up the organization.

5. Executive Coaches 
In addition to supporters, mentors and advocates, another effective source of support is the executive coach. Executive coaches are to business professionals what master musicians are to aspiring performers: they guide the thriving careers of their clients to help them reach the peak of their abilities. Executive coaches have the expertise, techniques and tools to assist you in achieving what you most want in half the time. They provide honest and objective third party feedback and help you develop the skills and mindset you need to move beyond limitations, resistance and self-doubt.

They can help carry you to the top.

The obvious goal in seeking supporters, mentors, and advocates is to secure help with professional development and future promotions. But the underlying objective is to form alliances with those peers and superiors who want the best for you. In the process, they will encourage your growth and challenge you to reach higher levels within the company.

Are you building a support team to help you get ahead at work? Start by hiring a top-notch executive coach. Joel Garfinkle can create a cusomized executive coaching program that is tailored to helping you reach your goals.

Talkback: Have you started building your support team? Who will help carry you to the top?

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How to Deal with Gossip at Work:
7 Steps to Dispel the Drama

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“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

Client Jonathan Asks: Several of my co-workers like to spread stories without checking to make sure they are true. Recently, someone shared an inaccurate and favorable story about me. What can I do to mitigate the damage?

Coach Joel Answers: Everyone is susceptible to gossip stories at work. But what if the stories are about you? And, even more disturbing, what if they are erroneous and could harm your reputation? Chances are, this won’t happen to you. But, if it does, it’s important to take action.

Once unfavorable stories get created they often get cemented in as a permanent perspective of who you are. This perception becomes their reality and everything else you do reinforces how others see you.

You can have 50 examples of trustworthiness and one false representation and this one malicious example undermines everything else.

During your constant interactions at work it’s possible that things you do might get misinterpreted in a way that is not accurate.

For example, you might be seen as unreliable because you didn’t get something done ontime or be viewed as a loose cannon because you speak up and say things at client meetings that are not appropriate. Some of these stories might be true, but often they aren’t reflective of who you really are at work. The problem is one or two negative stories can cement a perception of you that is actually inaccurate.

Here is a seven-step process to help you deal with workplace gossip and change negative misperceptions into positive (or neutral) ones:

Step 1: Gather information about the unfavorable story.
Without getting emotional or defensive gather as much information as you can about the unfavorable story. This fact-gathering stage is key. You don’t want to fly off the handle, confront someone and make matters even worse.

Step 2: Dispel the unfavorable story.
Go to the source of the story – the person who believes or is communicating the misperception – and explain your situation. Discuss your perspective and what you felt actually happened. Provide enough information so the person understands exactly the truth from your perspective. You could say, “Hi, Carla. I hear you may have some concerns about what I said at the client meeting. Could you tell me about them?” And then, after hearing the other person out, provide your perspective of why you spoke out like you did.

Step 3: Ask about other misperceived stories.
Ask the person if they have any other stories that they would like to share. When you hear the new stories, explain what actually happened versus what was perceived. Provide greater understanding of how these stories could have been misinterpreted.

Step 4: Take responsibility for what you did.
Even though you may not agree with the misperception, you most likely can find some things that you can be accountable for. Show that you have learned a lesson and what you take from this situation. Come up with some examples of what you’ll do differently based on what you have learned.

Step 5: Share favorable stories.
When a person observes something unfavorable, this image gets stuck in their mind. Counter the negative perception by coming up with ways and examples of how you haven’t been that which they think you are. If they think you are untrustworthy, come up with three or four stories illustrating your trustworthiness. These other stories help balance out a one-sided and limited perspective.

Step 6: Ask the person to give you another chance.
Explain how you don’t want to be stuck in their view of something that happened in the past. You sincerely desire to be given another chance to prove yourself. It’s not fair for you to be punished by something that happened only once or it occurred years ago. Get the person to take a risk on you and let you try again. The risk is minimal with tremendous potential upside.

Step 7: Thank the person for their honesty and willingness to help you.
This is one of the best ways to enhance your reputation and clear up any misunderstandings.

Since your career advancement depends on other people’s perceptions of you, it’s important to take action quickly when negative stories about you surface. Get valuable feeback about the way you are perceived at work by completing the perception evaluation here.

Talkback: Have you ever been the subject of unfavorable gossip at work? How did you deal with it?

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Are You Annoying Your Co-Workers?
Employees Share Their Biggest Gripes

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“I’m aware that I can be annoying.”

~ Sandra Bullock ~

Client Eva Asks: As an HR professional, I hear a lot of petty complaints from various employees about their co-workers. Most of the time, the offending party has no idea that he or she is being annoying. How can I be sure that I am not inadvertently aggravating my own co-workers without realizing it?

Coach Joel Answers: Annoying co-workers are a common problem. Fortunately, most people realize that there are frustrating people everywhere, so unless the situation is severe, it is unlikely that they will leave over minor annoyances, especially if action is taken to correct the problem.

However, it is wise to be concerned about how your own behavior might be perceived. A survey conducted by Opinium Research asked people what annoyed them the most at work. Here are the top ten things that drive workers up the wall:

  • Grumpy or moody colleagues
  • Slow computers
  • Small talk or gossip
  • The use of office jargon or management-speak
  • People speaking loudly on the phone
  • Too much health and safety in the work place
  • Poor toilet etiquette
  • People not turning up for meetings on time or not at all
  • People not tidying up after themselves in the kitchen
  • Too cold, cold air conditioning

Now, you probably have little control over the speed of your computers, your office’s OSHA requirements or the setting of your thermostat, but you do have control – at least in terms of your own behavior – over seven of the top ten grievances.

How often are you guilty of these minor annoyances? Do you come to work with an attitude? Try being positive instead.Do you talk about others behind their backs? Stop! Do you use phrases like “think outside the box” or “get our ducks in a row”? Skip the jargon and strive for clear and effective communication. Are you tardy at meetings? Meetings can be a great way to increase your visibility, but you won’t make a good impression by showing up late. Do you neglect to refill the coffee pot when you take the last cup? Be considerate of your fellow employees.

By changing these small and seemingly insignificant behaviors, you can go a long way to make your work place more civil and enjoyable, as well as earning the respect and trust of your colleagues (and boss).

Do you have a habit that your co-workers might find off-putting? Identify the changes you need to make and implement an action plan to help you improve the way you are perceived by your co-workers through Joel’s 7-step executive coaching model.

Talkback: Have you ever had an annoying co-worker? Tell us about him or her, but don’t name names!

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Be Advised:
More Employers are Searching Social Media Sites!

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“You are what you share.”

~ C.W. Leadbeater ~

Client Isaac Asks: I work in the IT industry, and I’m preparing to search for a new position. I know that some companies are using Google to check out prospective employees. Should I be worried about this, and if so, what steps can I take to make sure prospective employees don’t find anything that could hurt me?

Coach Joel Answers: Employers don’t just use Google to check out job candidates, they’re relying more on social networking. In fact, a study conducted by CareerBuilder found that 37 percent of employers use social mediasites to research potential job candidates.

Information technology companies are most likely to screen candidates this way. Some 63 percent of tech companies surveyed are scouring sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace to get an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at candidates they just can’t get from interviewing or reading resumes.

So if you’re in the job market – or may be in the future – be aware of what you put out on the Internet. If it’s out there – good or bad – it’s just a mouse click away from a hiring manager.

And the results can be catastrophic. CareerBuilder’s survey revealed that 35 percent of employers found social mediacontent that caused them not to hire a candidate.

With that in mind, here are some tips:

  • Google your name to see what content is out there on the internet.
  • Check out the other major social networks to make sure you have made the impression you want to make.
  • Identify the web pages where you have posted your resume or other work-related items and make sure they are up-to-date and reflect on you positively.
  • Remove any content that reflects negatively on you. You don’t want a bad reputation online.
  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs or information top the list of red flags to employers. When in doubt, take it out.
  • Create positive content about yourself and try to get it to be as high as possible in the search results.
  • Write and submit well researched, articulate letters-to-the-editor to the top trade publications in your industry. Focus on current, relevant issues.
  • Purchase your name as a domain name and create an active website that makes the best impression possible.
  • Post articles that you write that show your expertise on free publisher websites.
  • Write comments on other blogs that show your level of intelligence, expertise and experience.
  • Create a blog and write quality content for it.

Select two of the above tips and commit to working on them this week to ensure that your online presence gives a positive impression.

Talkback: Have you ever been denied a job or promotion because of something an employer found online? Tell us about it in the comments.

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The “Swiss Army Knife” Tool for Optimum Leadership Development

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“Using coaching instead of sending executives and managers to seminars two or three times a year can be more beneficial to ongoing career development, not to mention less expensive…”

~ PC Week ~

Client Fahad Asks:  There are so many programs out there claiming to develop leadership in people. It’s hard to know which are effective and which are money-stealers.  Isn’t there one tool that can do it all?  Can’t it be simple?

Coach Joel Answers:  Great question, Fahad.

When you’re looking for a tool, you want something simple, effective, and right for the job.  You want best value and precise results.  We all know what happens when we try to use the wrong tool for the job.  It can ruin things.

To answer your question, there is something that works for developing leadership in people. It works in all cases. Like the Swiss army knife, it holds all the implements needed to solve the problem at hand.

Let’s discuss how leadership coaching can be your tool of choice.

1. Simple. Rather than buying dozens of books or manuals, courses or online lessons, choose one qualified coach.  It simplifies the decision making process.

You don’t have to spend hours figuring out the trade-offs between programs.  With a coach that understands your business and your succession management, you have the best possible tool.

2. Effective. Rather than programs that give a blanket approach, your coach offers leadership development keyed directly to the individual. The give-and-take feedback allows for optimum growth. People can solve their concerns, increase their skill levels, and be prepared to rise to the top.

3. Best Value. Leadership coaches can address the issues faster and more directly than any program or training series. Instead of wasting money on generic training that only is partially effective, use 100% of your funds on meaningful achievement.

Coaches can focus on the specific areas that need improvement and bring fast results.

4. Precision Results. The shot-gun effect of most training programs may leave some of your potential leaders still searching for answers to their problems. It may be they just have a few questions that could be simply addressed.  But those questions are unique to them.

When you have a live coach and the give-and-take feedback, these concerns can be addressed quickly bringing instant results. Rather than taking a course to accomplish the job, a coach may build the leadership of your people very quickly.

5. Right for the Job. Because every individual is unique, the tool to help them needs to be individualized. To insure your leadership development is exactly fitted for your people, you need a leadership coach.  They will adapt and fit the needs and goals of both your employees and the management.

They can offer specialized and unique training that exactly fits the needs of your rising stars. They understand the value of company culture and can work directly with management to formulate training that gives maximum results.

Fahad, you ask a good question. Rather than waste time and energy on expensive training courses, focus on individual coaching to give you effective, precise results. You’ll find that as you develop a relationship with that leadership coach he or she will be able to give you stronger leaders who are immediately effective.

If you’re seeking to develop great leaders and want a leadership coach who can give powerful, prompt results, contact Joel.

Talkback: How have you found leadership coaching effective for you or your company?

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