Category Archives: Brand Yourself

So, You Want To Get Promoted. What Are You Doing About It?

People Who Do Their Job Don’t Get Promoted

performance level conceptual meter

Doing your job is not enough.  You were hired to do your job.  The fact that you do it–even that you do it well–is not enough to make you stand out.  If you don’t stand out, you don’t get promoted. This is a very important concept to “get.”  What are you doing to stand out?  When people across the organization (not just your unit) think of you, do they think you stand out?  Do they think of you as a “go-to” person who “gets it done?”  Do people outside your unit even think of you at all?

There are different cultural expectations within organizations.  “Follow the rules.” “Be a team player.” “Make your boss succeed.” “Get results.” What are the expectations in your organization?  Are you meeting them?  Are you exceeding them?  To get promoted, you must exceed them.  I actually don’t know an organization that doesn’t expect people–leaders–to get results.  Do you get results?  I’m not asking if you try hard.  Or if you work hard.  Or if you do what you are asked.  Do you get results?  Consistently?

Two Sides To Getting Promoted

There are two sides to getting promoted.  First, the need for someone to be in the position has to exist.  Second, you have to be obviously the best choice to fill the position. The first isn’t under your control (although you should always be hyper-aware of these opportunities).  The second is under your control.

  • Sometimes you can see opportunities coming.  Your boss is going to retire.  There is a major reorganization happening soon.  Someone is leaving. The company is growing.
  • Sometimes you know what you want the next step to be.  You may want to go to the next level in your organization. Or you may want to hop to another organization with a new kind of position.

You should have A PLAN for whatever opportunity you see and want.  What skills do you need to acquire.  Are you being obvious in getting those skills?  Are you seeking experiences that will grow those skills?  Do others in the organization know that you’re growing the skills?  It’s always important to remember that people don’t necessarily know that you are growing.  Sorry.  It isn’t obvious unless people are paying close attention.  You need to make it obvious.  How will you stand out so that people will immediately think of you when the opportunity opens?

Stand Out.

I used to sit in on conversations considering people to fill critical positions.  It was unusual when everyone in the group all knew the same people.  Most candidates had one advocate and maybe one other who had an opinion and the rest didn’t know the person.  So . . . the candidate that everyone knew really stood out, especially if all the opinions were glowing.  When you think about the potential next positions for you in your organization, think about who would participate in the decision.  Do they know you?  Do they think highly of you?  What can you do about that?One to Watch Marked Person in Organizational Chart

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Filed under Bosses, Brand Yourself, Career Development, Career Goals, Executive Development, Get Promoted, Uncategorized, Unwritten Rules

Lessons From The Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder

I admit with some embarrassment that I am a total, absolute, over-the-top OKC Thunder fan.  My family and friends are pretty incredulous about this—I’ve never shown any interest in sports that weren’t related to my children.  Ever.  Nevertheless, my move to Oklahoma City closely correlated with the arrival of the new Oklahoma City Thunder (transferred and renamed from Seattle).  The team was young and was definitely an underdog in those days and I quickly became a fan.  They were so energized and persistent.  Some of their members were enthusiastic (at least to our face) about being in Oklahoma City and I embraced them along with the rest of the fans in Oklahoma City.

I don’t know how different the Oklahoma City Thunder is from other teams, since I never was interested enough about other basketball teams to pay attention.  It is likely, therefore, that the lessons I lay out here are true for other sports teams.  I just don’t see and hear the same things about them.

Leadership

Successful teams have several leaders and have people who aren’t traditionally leaders step up into those roles when needed.  Sure Scott Brooks is a great coach/leader, and Kevin Durant is a leader.  But so are Russell Westbrook and Derrick Fisher (the old guy) and Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha.  When the situation calls for it, someone steps up.  They aren’t lost without ‘the’ leader.

Constant, Persistent Hard Work

They REALLY work.  They take their work seriously.  They practice, practice, practice, practice.  Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers that REALLY good people practice more than the rest of us (in fact he says the number is 10,000 hours—which has been disputed by some).  We know this in our heads.  Most of us don’t want to be great enough to put the work in.  The Thunder is an example of what happens when you do.  (At the moment they have the best record in the West and the second best in the East).  They have risen to Playoff level very quickly for such a young team.  They wouldn’t be there without the hard work.

How many of us approach our work that way?  Or how many of us put in “enough” hours and go home?  How many of us are considered the ‘best’ at what we do?

Teamwork—Support Each Other

They talk a good story about team.  They say all the right things.  When you watch them, you can actually see that they aren’t lying.  In the recent game against the Miami Heat, Kendrick Perkins had only five minutes playing time (his lowest amount of time since 2006).  If you don’t know Perk, he tends to be a bit grumpy (looking, anyway).  So there was discussion among the press of what his reaction would be.  We only had to wait a day.  He tweeted,

“What’s good my peeps? Great teams win. Whatever it takes. Sacrificing is what good teams do. When my name is called I’ll be ready. 9 in a row”

Kevin Durant, the leading scorer on the team, ALWAYS talks about team.  Coach Scott Brooks ALWAYS talks about team.

Teams support each other.  Teams work together.  Teams use each member’s strengths to achieve the team goals.

Do you even talk the “team” talk?  That’s a place to start, especially if you are the leader.  Do you walk the “team” walk?  That’s what it takes for people to believe it.  Teams get better results.  Do you believe that?  Do you see it?  Thunder makes it obvious.

One Day At A Time

As Kevin gets better and better (currently he is the leading scorer in the NBA by quite a margin), and as the Thunder’s record grows, the pressure is mounting to continue the performance.  Can they?  Will they?  These are the questions that get asked of Brooks and Durant and the other players.  Their answer is always the same.  We focus on the next game.  We are thinking about today’s game.  They refuse to engage in the discussion of anything but the very next obstacle ahead of them.

Do you do that?  Or are you thinking about the next three things?  Or are you consumed by the 3,000 things that must get done before the project is done?  Yes, you have to be aware of the things ahead.  Your focus, however, should be on the NEXT thing.  FOCUS on what is next.  Get it done.  Then do it again.

It seems to work for the Thunder.

Roll With The Punches, Figure It Out, Keep Going

Related to taking it one day at a time, when things go wrong—lose a game, lose a player—start again with the next practice, game, emergency.  Get it out of your head.  Get on with what is next.  This is an extremely helpful (and hard to do) tactic.  If you let the loss go, and FOCUS on what is next, you are starting fresh.  You have a much better chance of changing the future with this tactic.

Don’t Freak Out

It is not unusual for the Thunder to be behind by twenty points.  How, you might ask, can they be a great team if they are behind by that much?  They just don’t freak out.  They just keep plugging away.  They keep trying.  They keep playing.  And usually, they catch up and get ahead.  They don’t freak out when they are behind.  They don’t rest and relax when they are ahead.  They keep playing HARD.

So . . . Go For It!  And Watch The Oklahoma City Thunder😉

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Filed under Brand Yourself, Oklahoma City Thunder, Teams

Update Your LinkedIn Profile. Seriously.

linkedin profileWhy Do You Need To Fix Your Profile?

I had a friend ask me recently if I knew someone to fill three positions that he had open in his department.  I was sure that I did.  I knew a lot of people who did the kinds of jobs he was filling and I was sure it was just a matter of sending him links to my relevant contact’s LinkedIn profiles.  I was sure that he would take one look at the profiles and would reach out to my contacts, schedule an interview and hire them.  That was until I looked at the profiles.  Iwouldn’t have hired them based on their profiles and I knewthese people.  Profile after profile showed job title, dates, and THAT WAS IT!

LinkedIn is an incredible tool for finding jobs (whether you are unemployed or not), meeting people who can help you with your next career steps and knowing what is happening with your contacts’ careers.  Recruiters usually go there first when they’re looking for someone.  Companies frequently go there when they are looking for specific skill sets.  People who are unemployed go there.  Why wouldn’t you be using it to it’s full extent?  I hear people say that they want to keep their privacy on LinkedIn–so they block it so that peole can’t see their name or they don’t put their picture up.  Ok.  It’s your choice, but you’re leaving a lot on the table.  A lot of opportunity.

What Do You Need To Do?

Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is as complete and thorough as your resume.  Make sure that you have a skills summary and a headline.  Make sure you’ve got a professional picture.  Make sure you’ve got recommendations.   Understand the new Endorsement feature and use it appropriately.  Read my friend, Skip Pritchard’s blog on endorsements, Endorsing the Endorsing on LinkedIn.

I know I’m not the only person who has looked at LinkedIn profiles with the intention of finding someone for a better job.  I know I’m not the only one who has gone past your profile because it didn’t tell me enough about you to get me interested.

FIX YOUR PROFILE!

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Filed under Brand Yourself, Career Development, Communication

Brand Schmand. Defining Who You Are.

Branding

When you think of Coca Cola what comes to mind?  The iconic bottle?  The taste?  What about Apple?  Or Amazon?  Or Chanel?  If products are well-branded then when you think of them, you think of the product, the name, the logo, the product ecosystem–it’s interrelationship with everything in its environment (where it is sold, how it works, what it works with, its price point, its competition), the feelings you have about it and, probably most important, how and what you trust about the product.

Well-Known World Brand Logotypes

Why Should You Care About Your Brand

A brand makes you unique.  It sets you apart.  When people think of you, you want them to think about how you are different, how you are great, what you do well and why they should turn to you for certain things.  You want them to FEEL something and to TRUST you to be reliable in a certain way.  It is my experience that most people at work aren’t really good at this.  Maybe it is because people don’t actually try to brand themselves.  If you have a stand-out personal brand, then people think of you when they want to hire someone, when they want to promote someone, when they want someone for a special assignment.  You have a lot of control of how and what people think about you if you pay attention to developing your brand and therefore you have a lot of control of being the option of choice in a lot of situations.

What Do You Want People to Think of When They Think of  You?

If you could choose what people think of when they think of you, what would it be?

  • What is your image (how do you look?)
  • What strengths would they think of?
  • What abilities would they think of?
  • What personality traits?
  • What is your energy level?
  • What can you be trusted to do?
  • What can you be trusted not to do?

Now, How Does That Compare to How People Perceive You?

This is harder.  How we want to be, and be seen, is easier to identify than to really see how others see you.  Ask people.  Tell your friends and coworkers that you are trying to understand self-branding and ask them to describe your “brand” in 5 words or 10 words.  Compare how that fits with what you want.  What are the differences?  Are there patterns to the hits and misses?  Do they think you have the abilities that you want to be seen as having, but not the personality?  Or vice versa?

Do you look like your brand?  Don’t underestimate the importance of managing your image.  You’ve heard the adage, “look like the level you want to be.”  Take it a step further.  Look like who and what you want to be.

Who do you know who has the kind of “brand” that you want to have?  How did that person develop that brand?  If someone is seen as a highly skilled technical resource who is reliable with intense projects and deadlines, then what is it that has gone into the development of this “brand.”  How many years has this person been working on what kinds of efforts to develop this reputation?  What are his abilities and personality traits?  How has she demonstrated her reliability?  How has s/he been visible?  What FEELINGS are associated with this person?  How did those feelings get developed?

Look at the executives who you admire.  What are their brands?  How did they develop them?  Why are they the ‘go to’ person in their world?  What can you learn from how they have accomplished their brand?  How can you copy some of their actions?

Now Start Building the Brand You Want

Based on what you want your brand to be and how others perceive you, create an action plan that builds your brand.  Be very proactive about it.  Don’t just float through your career taking what you get.  Build your brand.  Pay careful attention to the ecosystem that surrounds your brand.  What kind of environment do you need to showcase your brand? What actions, “buzz,” results, visibility do you need?  How are you different from everyone else?  How are you going to stand out and be noticed?

Some Helpful Books

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Filed under Books, Brand Yourself, Career Development, Communication, Executive Development

Stand Out: Work On Projects

join a project team

Internal People on Projects

When I work as a consultant on big change projects in companies, there are always consultants (outsiders) and business representatives (insiders).  The insiders are usually identified as subject matter experts, business leads, and sponsors.  Despite what the consultants would like to think, they are pretty replaceable.  This is much less true of the business representatives.  Their knowledge of the internal workings of the existing processes and their understanding of how the change will significantly impact the future processes are essential to the success of these projects.  Their ability to navigate the inner workings of the organizational politics and to get answers and cooperation from key people make the difference between delivering as promised or not delivering at all.

When the opportunity to participate on one of these projects arises, most business people don’t jump at the chance to sign up.  They have ‘real’ jobs and not all companies lighten the responsibilities in day-to-day job for project participants.  Besides, the kind of people who are identified as potential business leads and subject matter experts are usually pretty happy in their current gig.  Why give up something they like for the wear and tear of project work?

What Project Participation Gets You

Project work teaches you more, faster, than practically anything else in an organization.  You get to see across the organization in a way that is hard to do below the Executive level.  You get to see how to organize and deliver significant change in an organization–again, excellent training for being an Executive.  You have a different kind of visibility in the organization, especially if you throw yourself into it and stand out as a cooperative expert. You get to work on a team that crosses the organization, growing your internal (and through the consultants–external) network.  You get to watch and learn and practice how to actually make a team work through all the stages of team development.  You get to learn a system (usually) or process up close and personal and become the company’s expert on how that system or process works in your part of the organization.  Other executives outside your organization get to know you and your work and that provides longer term career possibilities.

Over the course of hundreds of projects I’ve seen it happen over and over.  People get assigned to a project, they really take to it and do extremely good work in helping the project get off the ground and succeed.  Company Executives notice and start to seek the project participants out for their expertise. Opportunities open up and the stand out project participants are first in line.

Volunteer, Participate, Learn, Accelerate Your Career

So . . .  stand out by volunteering and participating and learning in projects in your company.  It’s worth the effort in the long term.

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Filed under Brand Yourself, Career Development, Executive Development, Leadership, Networking, Teams

Avoid the Career Kiss of Death–Don’t Be A Commodity

Stand Out or Be Out

One of the worst things that can happen to you career-wise is for your employer (or potential employers) to see you as interchangable with other people with the same skill set.  If they think that they can get more where you came from, then they are not valuing you as an employee.  If your employer does not see you as unique, as someone who brings a value-add skill set to the table, then you will stall out at your organization.  Not only that, when you seek other employment after you’ve stalled out, you will not have an easy time getting a new job that pays as well as the last one or that has the potential to take you to the next level.  When people think that an accountant is an accountant is an accountant, then why would they choose you over anyone else?  What is it about you that makes your boss concerned about keeping you, nurturing you and developing you?  What is it about you that makes your resume stand out from the other 300 that the recruiter is looking through?

Of course you know that you are unique and special.  Think about how that is obvious to people who don’t know you well, though.  What is it about your resume or your experience or your skill set that makes you stand out?  If you don’t have a level of expertise or a special skill set that is obvious on paper and at the first meeting with you, then you risk being a commodity.  And that is not a place you want to be in this job market.  In this day of downsizing and outsourcing, you want it to be a no-brainer for the decision makers to keep you, regardless of the other decisions that they are making.

How Can You Tell?

Go online.  Look at the resumes of people who do what you do.    Notice the ones that stand out.  What is it that makes them stand out.  Imagine that you are looking to replace you in your job.  Who would you select from among the hundreds of similar resumes?  Why?  What makes the ones who stand out more interesting, more attractive, more valuable?  How do you stack up against those people?

Now, look at the job descriptions from employers of people in the job that you do.  What are they looking for?  Is there any subset of skills or additional abilities that they are consistently asking for?  What are the things that are listed in the “preferred” skill/education list?  Can you tell if they are looking for someone who is ‘good enough’ or someone who is extraordinary?  For those who are looking for someone who is extraordinary, how do you stack up against those job descriptions?  Would you hire you based on your current resume and skill set for those jobs?

Within your own organization, are there people who do what you do who stand out more than you do?  Why?  What do they have that you don’t have?  This is not the time to say, “He has a degree from Harvard, and I’ll never have one, so it is hopeless.”  If he has a degree from Harvard, is that really why he stands out?  Or is it how he acts, who he talks to or the work that he does?

If you are a commondity–a one-size-fits-all-employee–then you may continue to be employed (if you can figure out how to stand out among the hundreds of other equivalent one-size-fits-all-employees enough to get hired in the first place), but you will not have much of an upwardly bound career.

So What Do You Do?

Based on your observations of the resumes and job descriptions that you looked at, what is it you need to stand out?  Do you need more education or certifications?  Do you need more/different skills?  Is there something that you can do, like get Six Sigma or PMI certified for instance, that makes you a two-fer?  You are qualified at human resources or accounting or engineering, but you can also help with projects or re-engineering?  Can you take it to the next level through some kind of specialized experience?  Don’t underestimate the power of volunteering for things that get you different/more experience.

Understand your brand.  Learn to sell your brand.  Figure out how to get things done without the authorityKeep up with what’s new in your field and your industry.

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Filed under Brand Yourself, Career Development, Derailment, Recession Proof, Success

How Do You Get Noticed?

Do You Get Noticed?

Do you feel like you work as hard as every one else?  Do you feel like your deliverables are better than others?  Do you feel like no one notices how hard you work, or how good your work is?  You may be right.  Working hard, in and of itself, isn’t usually enough to be noticed.  Doing great work isn’t the only thing that people get judged on.

During my time as a manager and an executive, I usually noticed people who were:

Proactive:  People who don’t wait to be asked to do things, but who suggest that they can contribute, or who even just do it usually stand out.  When you think of it from the manager’s perspective, making sure that you’ve circled back with everyone and made sure that they know what to do, when to do it, how to do it, adds to the job.  If you have someone who steps up and suggests or asks if they should do something, lifts some of the load.  If you show that you are seeing more of the big picture and some of the things that need to get done, then you have marked yourself as having potential beyond your current position.

High Energy:  People who display high energy stand out in a crowd.  They are fun to be around (even for managers).  Not only do they usually do a lot of work, they are perceived at doing more than they do because they just keep at it.

Able to Jump on Something and FINISH It:  Part of this is being obvious about starting and part of this is being obvious about finishing.  Some people are good at one of these and others are good at the other, but it is the people who are consistently good at both who get noticed.  These people who seem to start quickly and consistently and obviously finish the job are the ones that managers and executives come to rely on.

An Expert:  Become the specialist on something.  Become known in your organization as the person to go to for answers with . . . whatever.   Make sure you are quite knowledgeable on the things that are important to doing your job, but also on the things that your boss thinks are important.

Able to Get Things Done With Other People:  People who are networked, who work well in teams, who are persuasive, who are leaders–basically, who get things done through/with other people consistently get noticed.  It is a surprisingly rare talent.

Not a Diva:  People who take more energy to deal with than they are worth don’t last long.  The thing is–if you are worth a lot, people are willing to deal with a lot.  Its hard to know when you cross over that line.  It is just better to not take a lot of work to deal with so that you won’t be surprised when they get tired of your drama.  (Of course, you have to NOT BE A DIVA in addition to one or more of the others  to be visible–just NOT BEING A DIVA is not noticable in most organizations.  People who are the noticeable in the ways listed above, but who are also divas, are noticed in good ways.)

What Kinds of People Do You Notice?

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Filed under Brand Yourself, Career Development, Executive Development, Goal Setting, Hi Po, Personal Change, Recession Proof