“There is no good idea that cannot be improved on.”
~ Michael Eisner ~
Client Miles Asks: Innovation is vital to our company’s success, but creativity is extremely difficult to regulate or control. How do we encourage innovation and avoid stifling creativity?
Coach Joel Answers: Today’s corporations face a harsh reality: innovate or die. Executives’ responses to this imperative have varied widely—ranging from instituting mandatory innovation training workshops to flat out requiring employees to innovate in designated areas. Unfortunately, some companies try to reduce innovation to prescriptive formulas.
Take Kodak. After decades of success, non-engineering executives took control of R&D priorities and shoveled almost 95% of the company’s resources into existing core products. The result? Kodak went bankrupt.
To avoid Kodak’s fate, executives should consider following these five pillars of innovation leadership:
1. Innovation takes time. Leaders who expect immediate results from their chief innovators will be disappointed. Engineers, researchers, and others need time away from routine duties—and a lot of it. Google is a great example. They provide their employees with “20% time” to pursue their interests. Gmail was one employee’s 20% project.
2. Employees need space to socialize and think. Innovation often happens when we least expect it. Recent research has shown that “psychological distance” fuels the creative process. Employees need time to think on their own, bounce ideas off others in informal settings, and relax away from a cubical or office.
3. Companies must look beyond core products.Many corporations are like Kodak: They devote 95% of R&D funds to core products. HP used to be one such company, but they learned their lesson. Now, HP dedicates 70% of funds to existing products, 20% to adjacencies, and 10% to completely new products, which has led to innovations in the cloud computing sector.
4. People learn from failure. Some companies are too quick to punish employees who don’t deliver blockbuster results. In reality, failure can be a rich learning opportunity. Silicon Valley recognizes this lesson: Venture capitalists there aren’t afraid to invest in startups led by previously failed entrepreneurs.
5. Innovation thrives on a culture of achievement. Leaders at companies like IBM, Apple and Google have developed a culture of achievement by recognizing excellence, encouraging employees to own their accomplishments, recruiting ambitious young talent, and allowing employees to function in a relatively flat hierarchy.
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Talkback: Is innovation important in your industry? How does your company encourage new ideas and advances in product development?
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“Salary negotiation is simply one interaction among many. After it’s done you have to live and work with the people on the other side of the equation for the foreseeable future. If one person walks away feeling like they’ve lost or been forced to compromise it sets up a disempowering context for the rest of the relationship. When it comes to employment, the paradigm of someone winning and the other person losing doesn’t serve either party in the long run.”
~ Michael B. Junge ~
Client Mark Asks: I’ve been asked to take on more responsibility, but no mention has been made of any pay increase. I think this is a good time to ask for a raise, but I feel mentally unprepared to do so. What can I do to gain the courage I need to bring this up while the time is right?
Coach Joel Answers: Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This quote is true for many aspects of our lives, but especially true when it comes to salary negotiation. Whether you’re negotiating your salary for a new position or asking for a raise at your current employer, if you want to succeed, you must prepare. To mentally prepare yourself, focus on these three facets:
Having confidence in yourself is critical to a successful salary negotiation. Although the outcome of your salary negotiation may significantly impact your livelihood, it’s important to not take the process too seriously. Instead of stressing over the process, relax and enjoy the negotiation and believe in yourself. Believe that with the right strategy you will win the negotiation.
Don’t be so invested in the outcome that you’re unwilling to take risks. If you’re unwilling to take risks, you’ll likely not be willing to ask for what you really want. Be fearless and courageous when negotiating. Of course, courage must come from having confidence in yourself and your value to the company.
Believing in yourself will help you manage your stress during the salary negotiation process. It’s natural to feel awkward, uncomfortable and stressed going into a negotiation. However, instead of trying to avoid the uncomfortable confrontation, that comes with the process, know in your heart that you are worth every penny you are asking for and the more confident in your worth, the more money you can make.
To help build your confidence, understand the fact that your salary is negotiable. The reality is 90% of all human resource professionals expect you to negotiate your offer. With this in mind, they often purposely present a lower offer than they are willing to pay, expecting you to negotiate. Use this knowledge to give yourself an even greater boost of confidence in the negotiation process.
The most common reason why new hires don’t negotiate a salary or employees don’t ask for a raise is they don’t think they deserve more money. As a result, when you undervalue yourself, you underearn – shortchanging yourself and your family! Be confident and believe in yourself! Combine this confidence in your worth with patience, and you’re two-thirds of the way to success.
Patience is a virtue, especially during the salary negotiation process. Most salary concessions happen at (and sometimes after) the deadline. Although you may be tempted to give in early and accept an offer, be patient. Don’t try to rush the process, if you want to increase the chances of getting what you want.
When you consider an offer for less than you want, it’s critical that you fully understand how much you’re losing, by settling for less. When accepting a new position, remember future raises are often a percentage of your salary. By starting with a lower initial salary, you’ll continue to earn less than you would with each of these raises. For years, you’ll feel the repercussions of initially accepting a lower salary. A little patience now can pay off exponentially in the future!
The third component of mentally preparing yourself for negotiating your salary is the acquisition of key pieces of knowledge. This begins with knowledge about the employer with which you’re negotiating. Be sensitive to their economic state. The challenging economy, over recent years, has been difficult for many businesses. For this reason, a hiring manager or your boss may be under pressure to work with increasingly tight budgets. Do your research and be mentally prepared to make concessions to the salary figure in exchange for other benefits or perks that may be easier for the hiring manager or boss to say yes to.
You must also do your research about the salary range for the position you’re interested in, factoring in your specific experience and education as well as your geographic area and cost of living. If you’re asking for a raise, track the results of your hard work, to quantify the value you’ve brought to the company. This knowledge not only ensures you’re requested salary is appropriate and realistic, but also helps solidify your confidence in your value.
Lastly, learn about the company’s needs and how you can fulfill those needs. Reiterate to the hiring manager why you are the best fit for the position and, therefore, worth the salary you’re asking for. When you’re asking for a raise, again demonstrate to your boss why you’re a valuable member of the team. Use quantifiable examples, when possible, to show how you’re activities are best fulfilling the mission of the company, taking advantage of opportunities, and best overcoming the challenges they face. Again, this knowledge not only helps you convince the hiring manager or your boss of your value, but it should also give you an increased level of confidence, which will help ensure your salary negotiation is a success.
Still not ready to approach your boss and ask for a raise? Joel offers coaching to help you overcome the fear that stands in the way and learn effective strategies that will increase your chances of a positive outcome. Click here to learn more about Joel’s salary negotiation coaching.
Talkback: When was the last time you asked for a raise? How did you prepare yourself mentally before starting salary negotiations?
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“A round of golf is the ideal antidote to stress.”
~ Bruce Forsyth ~
Client Jordan Asks: My job has become overwhelming. My work load keeps increasing, and I find myself working long hours to get everything done. How can I take control of the situation and get my life back?
Coach Joel Answers: It’s not uncommon for job responsibilities to grow over time, especially when economic conditions prevent the hiring of additional help. Instead of adding employees, organizations expect individual employees to take on more and more responsibilities. However, there is a limit to how much one person can do. You must learn to create boundaries, or you will become overwhelmed by the additional work.
Here are a few ways you can reduce both your work load and your stress levels.
Focus on what’s most important and make sure high priority work gets done first. Also, make sure your priorities are consistent with those of your supervisor.
2. Schedule your day around those priorities.
Write down your to-do list and don’t get distracted. If that means not answering your phone or checking emails just once or twice each day, so be it.
3. Learn to say no.
There’s a fine line between being a cooperative “team player” and someone who is abused by taking on work that should be done by others or, perhaps, not even at all. Don’t be afraid to say no to projects that are unnecessary or unimportant. Sticking to your priorities and having a well-defined job description can help.
4. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
If someone asks you to do an extra assignment, say, “I’d be glad to it if you can get someone else to take the so-and-so project” or “Yes, I’ll take that on, but only if we push back the deadline several weeks.”
5. Dare to delegate.
Is there a task that could be done more quickly or efficiently by a coworker?Learning to delegate effectively will help you reduce your workload.
6. Set boundaries (and stick to them).
For example, make it a point to never work through lunch or to eat at your desk or take work home over the weekend. Setting boundaries will help you maintain a work/life balance that provides you enjoyment, peace and fulfillment in all aspects of your life.
7. Take advantage of time management training.
If your company doesn’t offer it, look online or check out your local library. Learning to manage time more effectively and get more organized will help you get more work done in less time.
8. Get the tools you need to be more efficient.
Are there tools or software programs available that can make you more efficient and thereby reduce your workload and stress?
9. Brainstorm with team members.
If you’re overworked, chances are your coworkers are feeling in over their heads, too. Take some time to share ideas about how to cope, share the workload or be more efficient. But, stay positive! Don’t let your brainstorming session turn into a woe-is-me pity party.
10. Ask for help.
If you’re feeling stressed or depressed about your workload then you owe it to yourself and your supervisor to voice your concerns. Don’t suffer in silence and let the pressure affect your work performance and relationships with those you care about at home. If your boss isn’t receptive, look for a mentor, colleague or trusted friend who can serve as a sounding board and help you find solutions.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce your stress is to learn how to get more done in less time. Joel’s book, Time Management Mastery, will help you prioritize and schedule your work more effectively. Get your copy today!
Talkback: Have you been forced to take on more work? What are you doing to manage the extra demands on your schedule? What other actions could you take to reclaim control of your workload?
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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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“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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