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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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** Please answer all questions **

The Writing’s On the Wall. Is It Time to Leave Your Job?

Let’s face it, there are many factors affecting career development which need to considered before you up and leave your job, but are you addressing them or ignoring them?


Think back to when you first started. Did you wake up each morning excited and enthusiastic? Did you worry that you were going to be late because you didn’t want to disappoint your boss? Did get that strange tingling sensation when you sat at your desk, a nervous kind of joy stemming from not knowing what the day would bring, but looking forward to it anyway?
Have these feelings gone away? Are there new and disturbing factors affecting career development which are now hampering your promotion goals?


The truth is if you're not doing what you are passionate about, you are not going to reach your true potential. You will fall into the daily grind and your career path will crumble before you. In reality, your career will simply become ‘just a job’, and you’ll become restless and bored.


Perhaps you need a shake up to renew your love of what you are doing, and the only way to do that is look for a new position.
However, just being bored is not a good enough reason to change companies. Remember that you have worked hard to get to where you are now, and that changing jobs brings a whole new set of issues you might not be prepared for.


So, how can you judge whether it is time to leave? Let’s take a look at your position as a whole. That way you can judge for yourself and make the right decision for your career. Are any of the following an issue for you?

 

You Don’t Get Along with the People You Work With


Look around you. How well do you know the people you work with? Do you have problems connecting with them? If you really dislike the people you work with you could try to work out the problems you’re having with them, but remember it takes two to tango and you could be wasting your time.


Not getting along with your work colleagues will leave you feeling isolated and vulnerable. Not many people work well in this kind of atmosphere. You need to be in an environment where you are appreciated and valued.

 

You and the Company are Not a Good Fit


If you believe there are ethical issues in the way the company operates, as well as cultural differences, or other issues such as work ethics that you can’t ignore, then you probably don’t fit in.


You have your standards and you should stick to them. If you thought you could do your job properly, and not have to worry about the moral differences between you and the company then you are sadly mistaken. It is important to work for a company where your ethical and moral values are the same.


Your Work / Life Balance is Out of Balance


We all need down time to relax and spend time with friends and family, no person can live happily cut off. Also, you may have a hobby you are passionate about, but you don’t have time to pursue it.
If your work-life balance is one sided and you are spending too much time at work, and no one at work cares then you may need to find a new position. 

 

You’re Not Getting Rewarded for Your Efforts


If you feel you are not getting rewarded for your efforts then no one is going to blame you for becoming disgruntled. You may have missed out on promotions you thought you were a shoe-in for. Also, your duties may have changed or your workload increased, and you are still on the same wage.
Many companies work hard to save money and stay within budget, and that’s great because that’s what a successful company does to stay afloat, but if your team have been moved and downsized, and your work conditions haven’t improved then morale will sag. 
If the company is performing well, but this is not reflected in your salary or other rewards then you have every right to be restless.

 

Moving On


If any of these points have raised doubts then you need to consider changing companies. However, before you rush into your boss’ office and resign take a deep breath. What goals do you need to put into place before you can move on? Take a thorough look at what your career should look like. Consider responsibilities, company culture, compensation, and the benefits you consider worthwhile.
Create a plan with measurable goals and a realistic timeline, and then start looking for that new position which is going to reignite your passion.


And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.
 

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Changing Your Mind Can Have a Positive Impact on Your Career Success

To understand how to get that promotion you want so badly, and you deserve, you are going to have to learn that changing your mind might be the best way to advance your career. Let’s face it, the factors affecting career development are many and varied, and because you are dedicated to your own success it is imperative that you understand this.


In truth, you must know what success looks like. Once you have a clear idea you can compare your current situation and see if it is a good match. When setting down the factors affecting career development make a list of what you want.
Do you want to earn more money? Well, that’s a no brainer! Do you want greater prestige? Who doesn’t! Do you want better benefits for yourself and your family? Of course you do! And would you like to make a greater impact on the company’s bottom line? That’s a given too.


So, now that you know what you want it is important to define these factors in order of their importance to you; and not anyone else. Sit back now and close your eyes. Visualize what your future looks like once you have achieved your present day goals. 
When you begin to ‘see’ what a successful career looks like, you can objectively look at the options you have in front of you now. This will help you see the choices in a much clearer light. Some will seem positive, and others not. Many may be in doubt for the time being, and that’s okay too.


Once you understand what success means to you and what your future will look like you have to start making decisions. Some of these may mean you will have to change your mind.


Now, look around at your company and be honest with yourself. Is this the place that you visualized? Can the company you work for now really help you achieve your future goals? Is this the place where your dreams are likely to be realized?
The answer these questions might be ‘no’, but you made a decision to work at this company for whatever reason and you don’t want to change your mind.


You are proud of your high level of commitment and dedication, and so you should be. Changing your mind and going back on your decisions doesn’t seem right, or does it?
However, you’ve been at this company for a few years, and you are still stuck in the same position. Regardless of your dedication and commitment to your career you still haven’t got the promotion you wanted. So the big question is, if you were offered an opportunity at another company would you try your luck?
Did you know that science doesn’t agree with you? Does that surprise you? The statistics say you’re more likely to find success at a new job rather than staying in the one place. 


If you sit back and think you’ve made your decisions and you have to stick to it, then you are making the wrong decision, and here’s why.
You really don’t know what the right answer is and this can be scary. However, if you decide to change your mind and make the leap you may find it is the best thing for your career.


In this case, it is not a good idea to go with your gut instinct. I know that’s what we are told over and over again, but if your instinct is telling you to stay put, then it could be doing you a major disservice. 


But switching is hard, isn’t it? How will you know you are making the right choice? It hurts less when you change your mind and get it wrong than it does when you stick to your guns and get it wrong, trust me.


This is because changing your mind and getting it wrong leads to more of a funny thing called “counterfactual thinking.” When you don’t do anything and still everything goes wrong you end up beating yourself up for not trying and making the change. You will certainly be angry with yourself for not showing the initiative needed to further your career.


Sure others you leave behind will get promoted, but if you decide what success looks like for you and you realize that it’s not going to happen where you are now, then it is time to change those decisions and take a leap of faith in yourself.

 

And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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So, You Didn’t Get the Promotion And You Have to Face Your Team

As hard as you try, and perhaps deserve, things didn’t go to plan and you didn’t get the promotion you so desperately wanted. You applied in good faith, you did your research, and you prepared as thoroughly as you thought you needed to, but this time it wasn’t yours. 
You thought you knew how to measure success at work, and you thought you had it all figured out, but now you are back at your old desk in the same situation you have been in for a while. This is a tough situation to find yourself in and it is difficult to accept, but it happens to us all.
How to measure success at work now that this has happened can be tricky too. You might be asking yourself, how did this happen? What do I do now? Should I stay? Should I leave? What’s the best decision to make at this time? 
Worse still, you now have to face your team feeling deflated and maybe even embarrassed. So, what’s the best approach?

 

 Are You a Loser?

 

Of course you are not a loser. You got this far in your position, right? Your team respected you before you applied for the promotion, and they will afterwards especially if you behave in a reasonable and calm manner. If any of your team didn’t respect you before it’s not going to make much difference because they wouldn’t even if you had got it. Stop worrying about what others think as many of these notions of being a loser or not good enough are fabricated in our own minds.
Perhaps your team will admire your ‘get up and go’ attitude. Perhaps they will respect that you at least tried and put yourself out there. Perhaps they will even see that you aren’t going to give up, and can look up to you.
Now, don’t go rushing in to a team meeting straight after you found out you didn’t get the job. Instead, give yourself a little space before you meet with your team. This will allow you to feel and act more like a winner. Time, as they say, heals all wounds and it takes time to step up and conquer those feelings of disappointment and embarrassment.
Believe That the Better Person Got the Job
Once the rumour mill has been active for a while and everyone knows you didn’t get the promotion, someone is bound to come up to you and elicit a reaction regarding being screwed over. Whether they have your best interests at heart or theirs is questionable,

 

so it is best to be prepared.

 

You have worked for the company long enough to know that most of the time operations are conducted with the utmost integrity and professionalism. This has always been the way and can be seen from the way each department is organized. So, deep down you know that the better person got the job; it might take a few days for you to accept it, but it is true.
If you look at your ‘failure’ as a learning moment, and see it in a more positive light you might realize that your senior managers are actually ensuring that you remain on the best career path for you. Sure, you would have loved that promotion but what if there was something bigger and better waiting for you around the corner. How do you feel now? Realizing this and communicating it to your team members is a great way of dissolving any nasty rumours and shows your maturity and foresight.
Let your team know that your company is working to ensure that the right opportunities are given to the right people. 


On Reflection:


Give yourself some time to analyze what has happened. Clear your head and your heart of any negative emotions because they will only hold you back. 
Face your team in a positive, but honest way and ensure that everyone is a winner in this situation. Then, hopefully, you will all be able to carry on with business as usual, and start planning for the next promotion opportunity.
 

 

And always remember: 

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Discovering Your Own Formula for Success

If you are ambitious and yearning for that next promotion, it is important that you develop your own formula for success. If you are like many middle managers you have probably attended quite a few lectures and seminars about self-improvement and how to write about career goals.


Many of these courses were devised by people who created their own formula and successfully applied them. They have noted down what they did, said, and how they responded to negative situations. Then they created a ‘one size fits all’ approach, packaged it up, and sold it to hopefuls like you.


Many of these courses teach managers like you how to write about career goals in various ways. There might be a lot of videos, podcasts, and workshop material wrapped around the main premise of self-improvement.


Are these courses a waste of money or do the work? Yes, they do work to a degree. Remember, we are all different and are working in different environments. Your career success is reliant on what you do, but also on what others do, including your co-workers and your boss. So, there is bound to be something in each workshop you do that you can use in the workplace.


If you have attended a lot of seminars and workshops, and gotten nowhere it’s time to reassess and discover your own formula for success. Whatever you do, don’t give up. You might feel exhausted and confused. How could it be that with so many hours invested in self-improvement, you are still stuck when it comes to being an effective manager? Don’t let doubts creep in. Don’t give in to feelings that you aren’t good enough or that you’ve reached the highest point in your career, and that you’ll never be promoted.

 

Let’s Concentrate On You

You’ve got this far in your career because you have the skills and talents needed by your company. You also have experience, you are resourceful, and you are good at managing people. 
What other positives can you bring to the table? Make a list of all the things that you do have to offer. You can’t be someone else, so why not concentrate on what you have to offer and use them to your advantage?

 


Overcoming Obstacles

The reason you haven’t been promoted yet comes down to aspects of your managerial style that need improving.
You have been trying to emulate the success stories that you were taught about in all those seminars. You have been trying to adopt habits and procedures that worked well for someone else, but don’t really suit your personality and style.
What obstacles are getting in your way? Where can you improve? 
You need to identify and overcome all obstacles which are stopping you succeed. To do this you will have to be honest with yourself, and realize that change must begin with who you are and not who you think you should be.

 

 

Becoming a Well-Rounded Manager

A well-rounded manager is someone who sees failures and rejections as a way to improve and grow. It is a matter of finding balance between the different priorities. A well-rounded manager always finds the balance between company procedures, team morale, and the company’s bottom line.
Becoming a well-rounded manager is about developing something that’s already inside you, and reshaping it in such a way that the next promotion opportunity is yours.

 


Road to success

The road to success is never short or easy. It can takes years to get that job you desire. However, if you don’t start now it will never happen. Continue to work on your self-improvement, and do those workshops and seminars, but always see the information offered as a way to improve who you are now, not to change you into someone you are not.

 

And always remember: 

 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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4 Ways To Turn Promotion Rejection into a Positive Experience

There is no doubt that getting rejected for a promotion is no game. It is truly frustrating and devastating. If you spent a lot of time last year preparing those career goals of a manager you’ve been researching and dreaming about, then it makes sense that failure can make you second guess yourself. In truth, it puts a big dent in your confidence, and this may affect your chances of a promotion.

Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen this year.

Don’t let any setbacks derail the career goals of a manager and while you can’t change what has happened in the past there are four things you can do this year to ensure that your future career takes off like no other.

Before we look at the four essential points on how to handle promotional setbacks imagine yourself this time next year sitting in the highly-prized corner office; your career, your confidence, and your future all heading towards your ultimate goal. Those setbacks are just a dim memory of the past.

 

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Imaging your success is one thing; turning it into a reality is another. And this how to get started:

 

1. Be Patient and Wait 

When you are ushered into your boss’s office and given the news you didn’t get the promotion your first response might be to ask why, and that’s only natural. You work hard and you are dedicated to the success of your company. You prepared your application well, and frankly, you believe you deserve the promotion. But, your boss didn’t.

So, why you’d like to know why you were rejected, now is not the time to ask. Your boss might be expecting an adverse reaction from you (see point 2 below). They will be expecting you to be angry and disappointed. This means that your boss will be on the defensive and may sugar-coat the answer. This is not good for either of you.

You need the truth, and your boss needs time. Wait a few days or a week and make an appointment to discuss where you went wrong. Make a list of questions beforehand, note the answers and make sure you become the person who is ready for that next promotion.

 

2. Use Reason and Logic to Guide Your Behavior

If you have experienced rejection in the workplace you will know there is a whole range of emotions you go through. Rejection usually leaves us feeling angry and disappointed. It can also lead to frustration and some pretty poor behavior.

Whatever you do remain in control of your emotions. Don’t storm out of your boss’s office, and slam the door behind you. This is an irrational behavior and your boss will not think kindly about you. They will also believe that they made the right decision and that you weren’t ready.

When you do receive the bad news, block those negative feelings and think towards the next promotion. Remember there is something in this experience that you can learn from and use to your advantage next time.

 

3. Prepare for Rejection

This might not be part of your game-plan, but being prepared for rejection can really help your chances of promotion in the future. All bosses are different, and how they deliver the bad news will never be the same. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare what you are going to do or say.

As we discussed above, letting your feelings guide your behavior is not a good idea, so what can you do instead?

It’s important that your boss understands that you are willing to learn and change. Explain that you are shocked and disappointed, and that you will need time to review your options. Prepare at least three positive things that you like about your job and tell your boss these are the reasons that you have stayed with the company so far.

Always leave these situations on a positive note. It will help your boss think highly of you next time a promotion opportunity arises. As well, it is worth noting that you still have to work in the same place and that behaving in a positive way will make that much easier.

 

4. Congratulate the Person Who Did Get the Promotion

Being a good sports can be difficult in any situation, however, it is worth doing if you want to be promoted in the future. When you do find out who got the promotion make an effort to shake their hand, and congratulate them. Sure, you might not feel like it, but there are some good reasons for doing this.

One, you may now have to work under this person and you don’t need an enemy in the senior ranks. Instead, you need an ally and perhaps a friend who will help your chances of future promotions.

Two, you also don’t want your boss thinking badly of you. This will also harm your chances of promotion in the future if they believe you and not mature enough to handle a senior position.

 

Recap

Remember, the quicker you regain your composure and turn rejection into a positive, the quicker you are going to be ready for that next promotion opportunity.

 

And always remember:

Great managers are made. Not born. 

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Creating the Image of Yourself You Want Others to See

There are many factors affecting career development that you have little control over. These might be the company’s willingness to expand or the repeated failure of projects that severely affect the company’s bottom line.

However, when it comes to you and how you are seen by others you have full control. I bet you are asking now, why does this matter? You do your job well and you are a valuable member of the team. 

What you might not realize is that one of the most important factors affecting career development is how differently other people might see you. This may have a negative impact on your career advancement as different people see a different side of your “working” personality. If they do, they will judge your ability to take on senior management roles in different ways.

Let’s take a look at all the different kinds of people you work with. There will be those under you, people in your team, your colleagues at a similar management level in your company, and of course, your bosses, those at a senior level you aspire to join. Each one sees you differently from each other, as well as, from how you see yourself.

Confusing, isn’t it? Well, it’s also quite a normal thing because we behave differently towards others we are in a senior position to than those who are senior to us. We might be more serious looking down the corporate ladder, and more appeasing looking up. We might be more fun and share jokes with our colleagues, and be more emotionally supportive to those on our team. If you take all of the different sides to your personality it goes to make up you as a whole.

The important thing to note here is whether you are hiding the important aspects of yourself and hurting your chances of promotion in the process.

If you are at an impasse in your career then it might be time to take a look at how others perceive you. You might be frustrated by seeing others promoted over you. You may feel that you are not being valued and should perhaps find employment with another company. This can take time and a great deal of effort so make sure it is what you want. Or could you simply change how others see you and stay in a job you enjoy?
What you should do is identify the things that people see in you that are positive and worthwhile to the company. You could create a file that lists the people you work with, and what they know and understand about you.

The next step is to use that information to influence your own view of yourself. This will help you build a better picture of who you are, and more importantly, what you have to offer the company. This will help you influence and change how others see you.

Getting to know yourself will always prove to be tricky so you might want to enlist the help of someone you trust at work. They might be able to show you how to adjust your personal and professional approach to ensure that you are seen in the very best light by each and every person you work with.

Getting that promotion you deserve and climbing the corporate ladder may seem easier for some than others. You might feel like you are missing out, and that is simply not fair. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Taking control and power over where you want to go is about seeing yourself more clearly. Understanding what changes you need to make to succeed and implementing those changes are the first steps to developing a successful career in management.

 

And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Reduce harmful habits: Why and how?: Part 3

This week, I’ll relate to the last two FAQs about the importance of change when it comes to managerial style - one of the most critical factors affecting career development. Before reading on, if you haven’t already, please have a look at my two previous posts in which I cover the other eight FAQs.

The need to change, improve, and advance in life is embodied in every one of us. But to achieve any kind of career development, we have to be committed to making change. Unfortunately just being aware of this is not enough. We have to change our habits. 

We all know this when it comes to our health. We visit the doctor and following a discouraging result, find out that in order to get regain our health, we need to change our eating habits.

It’s the same with your career. If you want to climb the career ladder, you have to begin with the first rung - a habit. This will highly influence one of the most important factors affecting career development. 

 

In this post, I’ll be dealing with the final two FAQs about habits:

1.    I can’t seem to agree that my habits are all that bad. Should I be throwing some away? 
2.    People can’t really change their habits, can they?

Again, before reading on, if you haven’t seen my answers to the other eight FAQs, please do so now

 

Let’s begin...

 

1. I can’t seem to agree that my habits are all that bad. Should I be throwing some away? 

Not at all. Some habits are helpful in some situations and others are helpful in other situations. Take Eddy, a successful mid-career marketing manager whose gift of the gab had certainly contributed to his success. On the other hand, Eddy was also known as a conversational bulldozer. Anyone at a meeting with Eddy knew that they’d succeed at getting in one, maybe two sentences before Eddy would interrupt them and bulldoze them down, taking over the conversation. One day after a quarterly meeting and plenty of bulldozing, Eddy’s assistant, Jenny, decided to confront him about his constant interruptions. Eddy was both shocked and offended, telling Jenny that he had no idea what she was talking about. Surprised by Eddy’s response, Jenny was sure that Eddy was trying to cover up for his behavior so that he could continue with business as usual. While Jenny had a right to confront Eddy, it is obvious that Eddy’s bulldozing habit was just that - a habit - something that he wasn’t aware of. At his boss’s urging, when Eddy came in to consult with me, we talked about identifying and controlling his bulldozing habit so that it could be “brought out” only when helpful.  

And now on to the second question...


2. But people can’t really change their habits, can they?

It’s difficult, but don’t despair. Otherwise, there would be no reason to try. I’ll illustrate with a 2005 experiment that was carried out by Professor Ann Graybiel MIT. Armed with chocolate as an incentive, Graybiel taught rats to run through a maze. Once they learned the path, Graybiel removed the chocolate. Interestingly enough, the rats “forgot” the path and no longer ran through the maze. Once Graybiel returned the chocolate, the rats miraculously remembered the path. The conclusion of this experiment was that old habits actually never die. They just need to be triggered and they become active again. This is a valuable finding, as it can give us all hope in improving ourselves.  But as the experiment illustrated, in absence of a trigger, improvement can go down the drain. 

For example, we’re all familiar with the couch potatoes (maybe ourselves?) who commit to exercising twice a week and end up never even beginning. It’s not all about laziness. It’s really a very difficult process for them to get going, especially in the absence of a trigger. And when they finally do begin, it’s extremely easy for them to find themselves back on the couch. And they’ll have all of the excuses in the world as to why it’s not a good time or day or month for exercise. So finding a trigger, such as envisioning yourself in that corner office, is really important.

 

Finally…

Making yourself aware of the need to work on your habits is critical when trying to begin any change. I hope I’ve been able to inspire you to consider some of the habits you need to change to ensure future success. In my next series of posts, I’ll be helping you identify the most important habits you need to change.

 

And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Reduce harmful habits: why and how?: Part 2

This week, I’d like to continue answering two more questions that I brought up in my previous post, Identify Habits that are Harming your Career. In that post, I addressed some of the most popular issues managers like you encounter when you realize that you have to make some serious changes in your habits in order to move up the corporate development career path. Getting promoted at work requires you not only to keep developing what they know but also realizing that what might have gotten you to where you are so far could be what is holding you back from your true corporate development career path. This is where the real work comes in. If you haven’t done so, look back at Identify Habits that are Harming your Career before you read on.

In this post, I’m going to address the following questions:

 

1.    What does it mean that habits control us? I mean, didn’t we create these habits? Don’t we control them?

2.    Up until now, I’ve been pretty successful. How did some of my habits suddenly become undesirable?

 

So let’s tackle the first one:

 

What does it mean that habits control us?

I mean, didn’t we create these habits? Don’t we control them?

 

It’s not that habits are some evil force, making us do things we don’t want to do. However, their power can influence the way we perceive things. Think of the countless times you’ve put things down and then a few minutes later couldn’t recall where. Most of us blame “senior moments,” but the (fairly) good news is that the lack of recollection has to do with how powerful habits are. I’ll illustrate this with a true story. When I come home from work, I generally put my cellphone at my place on the kitchen table. The other day, as I was opening the front door in the evening, my husband called out my name from our study, as he wanted my help with some reports he was reviewing. With my coat still on and cellphone in hand, I went straight to our study to assist him. Apparently, somewhere along the way, I must have put down my cellphone when I pointed to some figures on his laptop. Later, after dinner, when I looked for my cellphone on our kitchen table, it wasn’t there - where it always was! I had no idea where the phone could be. Perhaps I had left it at the office. I called a co-worker who was still at work. No luck. Maybe it was in my car. I checked. Nope. Was I going crazy? Well, what was actually happening was that my habit of always putting the phone on the kitchen table was so strong that my brain simply ignored that I had put the phone down in the study. To put it simply, because I had gone against my usual habit, my brain didn’t register this memory - so there was no mental record.  No wonder I couldn’t find my phone. But at least I wasn’t crazy! So you can see, the power of habit is so strong that it can even alter our view of reality.

 

And now for the second question:

 

Up until now, I’ve been pretty successful.

How did some of my habits suddenly become undesirable?

 

Certain habits might have gotten you to where you are on the career ladder, yet at some point, they have stopped you from developing. I’ll illustrate with another story. Usually, my daughter takes the school bus to school. But a few months ago, she had to bring in quite a few supplies for a school project, so she asked me to drive her to school and of course I agreed. After my frantic morning routine of getting dressed, gulping down a cup of coffee and gathering my briefcase, we got into the car to head for her school. Or so I had intended. As I switched into the lane leading to the highway, my daughter yelled out, “Mom, where are you going? I’m going to be late for school!” Pretty confused, I slammed on the brakes and realized that I was driving towards my office. It seemed that my habit of driving to work had overtaken my intention to take my daughter to school. I made a u-turn and luckily got her to school on time. My habit of following a certain route to work had served me well - until this particular day. If we are conscious of our habits, then we become aware of when they are helpful and when they are not.

 

Next week, I’ll be addressing two more important questions about habits:

1.    I can’t seem to agree that my habits are all that bad. Should I be throwing some away? 
2.    People can’t really change their habits, can they?

 

Good luck!


And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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Reduce harmful habits: why and how?

Reducing harmful habits sounds like a good game plan for any day - especially as an indicator of how to measure success at work. But you still probably have some questions. Here are the most popular ones I’ve received over the last 35 years:

 

1.    What does it really mean to reduce habits?
2.    What do my habits have to do with getting promoted?
3.    What does it mean that habits control us? I mean, didn’t we create these habits? Don’t we control them?
4.    Up until now, I’ve been pretty successful. How did some of my habits suddenly become undesirable?
5.    I can’t seem to agree that my habits are all that bad. Should I be throwing some away? 
6.    People can’t really change their habits, can they?

 

In this post, I’ll answer the first two questions, and in future posts, I’ll answer the others, giving you a good idea of how to measure success at work.

 

1.    What does it really mean to reduce habits?

After you identify the habits that are leading you to nowhere career-wise, the natural course of action is to change them. The way to do this is not to completely delete them - going cold turkey never works. Instead, you want to reduce them bit by bit. Two things happen in this case. First, your harmful habits begin to play less and less of a role in your managerial style. Secondly, you’ll see that hidden habits you didn’t even know about will begin to emerge. And it’s these hidden habits that will put you on your road to success. To find out what you need to begin reducing, read my post called Identify Habits that are Harming your Career.

 

2.     What do my habits have to do with getting promoted?

We might think that we’re not getting promoted because of an unfair boss, a badly-run company, or just plain bad luck. These factors might play some role, but my experience shows that a manager’s undesirable habits are their largest stumbling blocks to getting a promotion. I even have a name for these: “overgrown habits”. Overgrown habits are much like the weeds that take over a garden, not only hiding all of the productive habits but also preventing them from growing. I’ll give you an example: A manager who habitually interrupts his or her co-workers will never develop the listening skills required of a more senior manager. This undesirable habit will leave the manager with little chance of being considered for promotion.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my responses to these critical questions.

As I’ve promised, I’ll answer the other questions in future posts. 

Good luck with working on your own habits!

 

And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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“Identify Habits that are Harming your Career”

You know it by now. You’re the result of your habits. 

But what you might not realize is that while certain habits might have gotten you to where you are on the career ladder, at some point, they have actually stopped your climb, despite your having aimed your best towards professional development goals for managers.

I’ll illustrate this with a story from my own everyday life. Usually, my daughter takes the school bus to school. But a few months ago, she had to bring in quite a few supplies for a school project, so she asked me to drive her to school, and of course I agreed. After my frantic morning routine of getting dressed, gulping down a cup of coffee and gathering my briefcase, we got into the car to head for her school. Or so I had intended. 

As I switched into the lane leading to the highway, my daughter yelled out, “Mom, where are you going? I’m going to be late for school!” Pretty confused, I slammed on the brakes and realized that I was driving towards my office. It seemed that my habit of driving to work had overtaken my intention to take my daughter to school. I made a u-turn and luckily got her to school on time. My habit of following a certain route to work had served me well - until this particular day. If you are conscious of your habits (unlike I was), then you become aware of when they are helpful and when they are not.

I’m sure you can recall a version of this story in your own life. Now let’s see how it all works.

Studies show that about 40% of your daily decisions are made automatically - without a second thought, so to speak. This allows the other 60% of your brain to take in and process new information. In order to maintain this ratio, your brain is constantly identifying repeated behaviors and turning them into automatic habits, through your brain’s natural compression mechanism. With this mechanism in place, you can actually learn to compress your unhelpful habits - allowing room for your potential habits to be discovered and developed. This should be a significant part of the professional development goals for managers.

At this point, you might be wondering if you have any unhelpful habits that need compressing. The answer is an unequivocal “yes.” I’ll explain.

As you already know, automatic habits are wonderful for getting things done quickly and efficiently, not requiring a minute’s thought. The downside, however, is when they take charge in situations in which they shouldn’t (like in my story above). Now let’s take a business example.

As a middle manager, you might be appreciated for knowing every detail of every project, poised to make quick and efficient decisions, thus driving projects ahead at the speed of light. However, what happens when moving up in the ranks of your company requires releasing some control and nurturing a team to take on responsibilities? Your natural instinct is to take over and decide for them, while what you really need to do is develop the ability to let your team come up with decisions, even if it means they might struggle a bit. As you can see, here you must hold back on your habit for quick, accurate decisionmaking and allow room for a less developed habit, nurturing your team. This is the process of “growing” as a manager, which will lead you to future career success. 

One word of warning: there are many programs out there that claim to have isolated the most needed habits for you to take on easily and painlessly. The sad result of such programs is that like everything else forced on you, you’ll probably drop such “cookie-cutter” habits as soon as you can (think of some of the fad diets out there). On the other hand, if you concentrate on discovering and developing your own innate habits, you’ll be working on something that comes naturally to you - and therefore much more likely to stick and serve you for years to come.

 

And always remember: 

Great managers are made. Not born.

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