Every single one of us has a lot to learn. You may be an expert at something, but a complete novice in another area. Or, maybe you have only been out of school for a short time and you are pretty much a novice at everything. So, whatever your situation, you are going to be put into a scenario where you are not the most knowledgeable person on the topic, and you are going to need to rely on the advice or feedback of someone else. When this happens, one of the most important things you can do is accurately assess how much weight you should give to their advice.
Assess How Much Weight to Give Advice
How do you do that? By considering how much experience the person has and what their track record is on the subject. So, someone who has been working in sales for 20 years and has won top sales person over and over is very reliable when it comes to topics related to sales. But, you may not want to take tax advice from them. For tax advice, you will go to someone with a CPA who has 20 years of experience doing tax returns.
It seems pretty obvious when I use those examples, but in day-to-day situations, it isn’t always so clear cut.
If you want to improve your ability to make good decisions, you need to evaluate your decision making process. When you make a decision, who are you relying on? Are you taking into consideration the advice you are being given weighed against the person’s experience and expertise? Not every person is right for advice on every topic. Someone who is super smart in one area can still give you horrible advice in another area.
You must be able to distinguish the person’s believability when it comes to the topic. What most people do is they give equal weight to everyone in the room. Or, they may give weight based on likeability or how long they’ve known someone. But, even in those cases, they are usually doing it unconsciously.
Consider Experience and Track Record
When you are trying to make a decision about something and you are involving others, you must consider their experience and track record when weighing the impact their opinion will have on your decision.
When you are considering someone’s advice, ask yourself:
This 3rd point is really important. A lot of people have opinions they are willing to share, but when you dig into it, you find out it is not based on any personal experience. Many times, it is based on something they’ve heard someone else say. A person’s believability is tied to first-hand experience. If they don’t have 1st hand experience, then they aren’t the right person for you to be getting advice from.
Separating your respect for someone from the fact that they aren’t believable in certain areas is an important skill. In order to do that, you need to ask yourself if they have a good explanation for their advice. If not, you should consider how much weight you give it.
What Role Are You Playing?
The other thing to think about when making a decision based on other people’s advice is the role that you are playing in this specific instance. When considering your relative experience to the other person’s – are you a student, a teacher, or a peer?
If the other person is relatively more experienced than you on the topic, then you are in the role of student and you should be asking questions in order to gain understanding.
If the other person is relatively less experienced than you on the topic, then you are in the role of teaching. You should be explaining the process and experience that led you to your conclusion.
And, if you and the other person are relative peers – have a similar level of experience, then your role is to debate. To balance open-minded exploration of the experiences that led your colleague to his opinions while also being assertive in explaining your own experiences and opinions.
If you have signed up for Scale My Skills, our weekly newsletter, you received a matrix to help you assess your role and the actions you should take when you find yourself in each of the roles.
We all have a portfolio of skills that are used in combination to provide us with our living. Each person listening to this podcast makes their living in a different way, using a different combination of talents, selling them for different rates to different buyers – otherwise known as your employer.
Have you ever thought of your skills as a portfolio? A portfolio is more often associated with investments or creative careers than business careers, but the reality is – we each build our portfolio of skills.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines portfolio as a portable showcase of your talents. I guess in the traditional sense, our portfolio is our resume or CV. The strategy behind a portfolio is that you are typically trying to put it together in a way that maximizes its value. For an investor, they are picking the investments that they feel will give them the best return, but that is also diversified. The difference between an investor’s view of their portfolio and your view of your skills portfolio is likely that they are always thinking of it strategically, and you likely haven’t.
What I want to do today is to help you think of your skills in terms of a portfolio and to become more strategic about how you are thinking about them and deploying them. I’m going to give you a very concrete tool for thinking through your portfolio in a way that helps you decide what skills you should invest time in.
If you are signed up for Scale My Skills, our weekly newsletter, the tool is already in your inbox. Otherwise, if you’d like to get a copy of this tool, you can git it for free by signing up for Scale My Skills.
The tool that we are going to talk about is a matrix. On one axis is the question “what skills do I have or am I growing?” On the 2nd axis is the questions “are my skills well received in the marketplace?”
What skills do I have or am I growing?
For every skill you have, you rank it along a continuum based on your level of expertise. Skills that are your strengths go on the high end of the spectrum, and skills that are not your strengths go on the low end of the spectrum.
How well received are these skills in the marketplace?
The market sets different prices for different skills. Understanding the intersection of your skills and how the marketplace values them can give you great insight into the best way you can maximize your portfolio.
So, along the 2nd axis, you are going to rank the skills you have based on the going market rate. Skills that the market doesn’t value go on the low end of the spectrum and skills that they market highly values go on the high end of the spectrum.
Plot them in the Skills Portfolio Matrix
Ok, now that you’ve assessed your skills and what the market will pay for those skills, you are going to plot them in a matrix.
For those skills that you are not good at and the marketplace doesn’t pay well for – there is no reason for you to put effort into developing the skill. At least, not if your goal is to get paid for it.
For those skills that you are really good at but the marketplace doesn’t value highly, these can become sustaining skills. Think of them as an investor thinks of passive income. You may not put a lot of effort into it because the return is low, but the fact that you receive some benefit still has value to you.
For those skills that are a strength and are valued highly, you should consider making additional or continued investment in order to get the most out of the market’s willingness to pay. You should also make sure you are highlighting this skill on your LinkedIn profile and resume or CV. This is the skill that you want to market for yourself.
The point of the exercise is to help you identify the skills that make sense to invest in. Once you’ve identified them, it is a separate step to determine how they fit into your overall goals and priorities. What the matrix tells you about the skills that fall into the high value/ high expertise quadrant is that the investment in them will pay dividends if you decide to pursue them.
And, for those skills that fall into the quadrant for high market value but low skill, these are the more risky investments. Since you aren’t sure the skills is something that can become a strength, the amount of investment you need to make is higher. And, because you are farther away from the expertise, there is more opportunity for failure. You can get into it and find out you don’t have the aptitude. You can get into it and find out you don’t enjoy it. You can get into it and find out it is nothing like you thought it would be. So, it not only requires a bigger investment, it has a higher probability of failure. But, none of those things mean you shouldn’t do it. The payoff at the end may be big enough to be worth the risk.
Again, the point of the matrix is to help you identify the relative risk / reward and then it is up to you to take the next step.
So, I hope I’ve inspired you to take a look at your skills from a portfolio view. When you look at your skill portfolio in total, you want a good balance of skills that are highly developed and highly valued and skills that, if not so highly valued are not costing you in other ways. As you consider where to invest your time and money, you are thinking about the impact to your overall skills portfolio.
Having clarity of your personal purpose is a foundation to having strong self-awareness. Being clear about who you are and who you aren’t gives you the confidence you need to make hard decisions. But, unfortunately we are not all very clear about our purpose.
I don’t care how old you are, you likely have moments of “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,” every once in a while. You have to reach a special level of enlightenment to not question yourself everyone once in a while.
I’m not trying to get you to Buddha under the Bodhi tree level of enlightenment, but I do what you to be confident enough in our purpose that you can make decisions – possibly life changing decisions – with confidence.
I also believe that your purpose changes over time. When you are early in your career, you are focused on establishing your career. As you start a family, your focus shifts, and as you near retirement, your focus shifts again. So, it isn’t necessarily a one-and-done situation. If you haven’t thought through your purpose recently, it may be time to take another look at it.
So, as you are thinking about your purpose, think about:
If you make decisions from a place where your purpose is the foundation, you can be certain that you will do it with confidence. And, when you operate with a sense of confidence and from a foundation of purpose, you will be more successful in your career.
Do you have a 1:1 meeting with your manager? If not, why not? If you do, do you feel like you are getting value out of it?
Sadly, I think many 1:1 meetings are less effective than they could be. I think that many people – both managers and employees – don’t have a clear idea about the purpose of the meeting. And, because of this, its hard to make them effective. Let’s start with a discussion of what a 1:1 meeting is. It is a meeting where you and your manager met on a regular basis. The idea is that this is a recurring touchpoint between just the 2 of you. The reason 1:1s are important is because managers have multiple direct reports, so they need the opportunity to spend time with each one on a regular basis. If they don’t have something on their calendar, it would be easy for weeks, months, or even quarters to pass by without any meaningful conversation between the two of you. The demands of day-to-day work, special projects, fighting fires will all consume a work day about it can easily lead to a lack of time for something that is important, but not urgent.
1:1 meetings are important for a lot of reasons:
So, 1:1 meetings are really important. But, they are in no way urgent. As a result, they can easily be put on the back burner. Rescheduled or worse, cancelled altogether. It is something you need to be aware of. Where many employees go wrong is to assume it is the manager’s responsibility to manage the 1:1. It is just a much your responsibility. Your relationship with your manager is very important for your career. Whether they are a good manager or no is not something you are going to be able to control. But, what you can control is your ability to meet 1:1 with your manager. With a bad manager, it might take more persistence, but it is within your control.
If you don’t currently have a 1:1 with you manager, you are going to take the bull by the horns and schedule one.
Now, let’s turn to the topic of what makes an effective 1:1. A 1:1 is a time to step outside of the day-to-day hustle and bustle. It is a time to check in about the bigger picture. To align on priorities, direction, and vision. In some cases, it is a dedicated time for addressing questions that you’ve saved up during the week. Many people treat it as a status meeting. Of course, your particular situation is going to dictate the content or agenda for your 1:1. It is hard for me to give any specific agenda that would work for everybody.
There are some things you can think about that will help you ensure that your 1:1 is giving you the benefits you deserve.
In episode 9, we talked about preparing for your annual review. You should be preparing for it monthly by documenting each month what you accomplished. This process helps you with your 1:1 also. You can refer to this list when meeting with your manager to highlight what you’ve done since your last meeting.
4. Think about your career development. What coaching do you need? Do you know what skills your manager thinks you should develop? Does your manager know what your long term career objective is? Are you at the point in your job where it is time to be talking about what’s next for you? Some portion of your 1:1 agenda should focus on this longer-term career development topic in whatever form makes sense for you in your current situation.
5. You may want to build time into your agenda for addressing current issues you are having that you need your manager’s help solving. This could mean helping to remove a roadblock, giving you a steer in the right direction, being a sounding board to talk through the issues with, or giving you the answer you need. You may or may not have current issues that need to be addressed, but if your manager’s time is hard to come by, using your 1:1 to get what you need might be a good option. So, those are some of the things you should consider when you are planning your 1:1 agenda. If you get our newsletter, you’ll get a guide this week that will help you think through this process and come up with an agenda. If not, you can sign up for our newsletter here and you’ll get access to our full back catalog of guides.
One thing to note about the agenda. You may not cover all of these topics each time. For example, it may make sense to only talk about career development topics each third time. Or, you may not talk about status as a regular agenda item, but some specific situation causes you to add it to the agenda for your next 1:1.
What I’m hoping you take away from this episode is that it is important for you to establish a 1:1 with your manager. If your manager hasn’t taken responsibility for it, then you should do so yourself. There are 2 people in the 1:1, and you are one of them. So, the responsibility is yours to make sure that you have this important mechanism in place to keep an open dialogue with your manager.
The circle of influence is a concept popularized by Stephen Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Although Covey takes no credit for the idea, he was a master at explaining it in a way that is so clear and actionable that it has become part of our business lexicon.
Today, I’m going to do my level best to explain it to you in a manner that will allow a light bulb to go on and for you to be able to walk away from this episode and put a new habit into practice. Even if you think you’ve got the concept down, I encourage you to listen to this episode. It is always good to have a refresher.
I fall into this category myself. If you were to ask me if I live or embody the concept of circle of influence I would have said yes. I think of and employ the concept frequently. I’ve talked about a lot of the ideas in one way or another on previous episodes. I would describe this concept as a core of my philosophy and personality. And yet – I just re-read the chapter in 7 Habits and found myself learning more. Being reminded of little nuances I’ve forgotten. Being shown a different way to approach it. So, there is always something more you can learn.
Let’s start by defining the circle of influence. Think about your world in 3 buckets:
This you can’t control
Most people are pretty good about how they deal with the things they can’t control. There is a recognition that you can’t do anything about it, so you adjust your behavior in whatever way is relevant and you move on with your life. The majority of people recognize this situation the majority of the time.
The weather is a classic example. You can’t control the weather. You know it and, although you may be disappointed when an even gets cancelled due to the weather, you don’t let it eat away at you.
Another example I like to use is a sports example. When a referee makes what you think is a bad call, there is literally nothing you can do about it. You can yell and scream and post as many bad tweets as you want, it isn’t going to change the outcome. The reason I use this example is because I think it is an example of where people who otherwise generally recognize situations where they don’t have control temporarily lose sight of that fact.
When it comes to the things you can’t control, your best option is to recognize as quickly as possible that you have no control, which takes away their ability to control you. If you feel like this is an area where you need to so some additional development work, I suggest you listen to Episode 20 about Productive and Unproductive Worry.
Things you can control indirectly through influence
Within the circle is the circle of influence. These are the things you can control indirectly through influence. These are things that other people are responsible for, but for which you can impact their actions. Your circle of influence with your children, if they are still young, is pretty large. And, although it decreases as they get older, it is still a very large part of your circle. Your circle of influence at work is likely smaller than your circle of influence at home, but you still have influence. Your objective should be to increase your circle of influence to be as large as it can be.
I believe influence is a mindset issue. You need to 1. Believe you can influence the situation and 2. Take responsibility for your actions or response. The way you know if you are doing this is by looking at the language you are using:
Is the issue someone else’s fault?
Do you feel like you are the victim?
Are you talking in terms of ‘onlys’? If only I had a better boss. If only I had this certification. If only management understood that our customers are impossible to deal with.
You have influence over each of these if only’s. And you can take action to influence them. When you give up your right to take action, you’ve made the choice to dis-empower yourself.
“If only I had a better boss.” What about your boss do you have a problem with? What can you do to build a relationship with your boss to gain influence that will change the impact? If they are a micro-manger, it means that they need a high level of detail to be comfortable. Increase the level of detail you provide when you communicate with them. By proactively doing this, they will become comfortable with you – they will trust in the work you are doing and will no longer feel the need to micro-mange.
“If only I had this certification.” If you think you aren’t getting considered for a role because you are lacking a skill, what are you doing to go get the skill?
“If only management understood that our customers are impossible to deal with.” How can you help them understand? Are you documenting the scenarios that come up? Have you investigated the steps necessary to address the scenarios? Have you asked management for what you need to address the scenarios?
And, taking responsibility for your actions means that if you feel you’ve tried to influence and the outcome is still not acceptable, then you take action to move on.
Things you can directly influence
Which takes us to the final part of the circle of influence – things you can directly control. These are your habits, your mindset. Taking responsibility for your actions proactively is one of the key things that sets highly productive, highly effective, people apart. Taking action on your own behalf is a fundamental skill. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you believe that you are the architect of your career.
As human beings, one of the things that sets us apart from other animals is our ability to be self aware. Our freedom to choose how we respond to a situation. When there is some sort of situation thrust upon us, we are the architects of our response. I’m not trying to imply that by having a positive attitude, you can turn a bad situation into a positive situation. Bad things happen. Sucky things will always suck. But, you have 100% control over how you choose to respond. You can let bad things eat away at you, impacting the rest of your life, or you can let bad things be one part of your story rather than the whole story.
Our newletter subscribers are getting a guide to help you think through your current challenges in terms of what you can influence, what you can control, and what you can't control. If you aren't a newsletter subscriber, you can sign up here.
LinkedIn is the social platform for business networking, and if you are part of the business world, you really must have a LinkedIn profile. Many companies are even asking for your LinkedIn URL as part of the application process. So, on today’s episode, we are going to cover my top tips about using LinkedIn.
If you think you don’t need LinkedIn since you aren’t currently looking for a job, you are wrong. LinkedIn is not just for finding a job. It is a business networking platform. You should constantly be networking. You never know when you are going to need something from your network, and so it is very important that you maintain a constant presence on LinkedIn.
I covered this point in more detail in Episode 21 when I talked about my philosophy that every day is an interview. Keeping your network warm at all times will help you solve lots of different business problems – not just your employment status.
So, my first tip for LinkedIn is to stop thinking of it as a site for job searching and start thinking of it as a network platform.
Closely related to that – your LinkedIn profile should not be an exact copy of your resume or CV. Your resume or CV is a chronological list of the positions you’ve held and the accomplishments in each of those roles. There is an aspect of this in your profile, but your profile is much wider than that.
People will be looking at your LinkedIn profile for many reasons other than because they want to interview you for a job. Your LinkedIn profile is an overview of your business experience as well as a peek inside where you aspire to take your career. It should help someone understand what makes you unique. Many people have been project managers at IBM, but each one of them has a unique strength and approach to how they did the job. Your resume or CV isn’t going to communicate that. Your LinkedIn profile can.
Now let’s get into some of the tactics about LinkedIn:
This is the one sentence description that shows up below your name.
This should not be your job title at your company name.
It should not be Project Manager at IBM.
That is a description from your resume that describes your current role. It isn’t who you are. It isn’t the skill that makes you marketable. It is a current title for a current role. Your headline should describe your skillset and, although it should not be a lie, it should also be somewhat aspirational.
Our IBM project manager could say “I help large companies manage large projects effectively.’
Or, “I manage multi-million dollar technology projects.’
This section should sound like you are talking to someone at a bar about your skills. Many people confuse this with the ‘objective’ section of a resume. This section should be in 1st person and should expand on your headline.
Our IBM project manager might have the following in his About section:
I’m a project manager in my bones. Everything I get involved with is a project in my eyes. I look at complex objectives and immediately think about the timeline, the budget, and the best way to organize the project plan. Although I can turn a trip to the grocery store into a project, my sweet spot is multi-million dollar technology projects that typically have a 12 to 18 month timeline and impact companies at the enterprise level. My secondary skillset of change management is a strength as well because every successful project can point to a successful change management plan.
The About Section gives the reader some insight into the person that reading bullet points on a resume doesn’t.
Some other things good About sections do:
This is the closest thing to your resume, although it still shouldn’t be an exact copy. This is where you will list your positions. The difference from your resume is that you still want to summarize this more than you would a resume. Talk about your accomplishments more than your specific job responsibilities.
Our PM would say:
“Successfully managed the implementation of Salesforce.com for a 2000 person organization where the previous solution was multiple spreadsheets. In my role as the lead project manager, I ensured the project was delivered within the time and budget expectations of the project sponsor while also achieving a 75% adoption rate within 3 months of go-live.”
If you go to Edit profile, you will see in the top right corner a button to edit your profile URL. You should edit this so that it is your name. If your name has already been taken then work on it until you come up with something that is easy to communicate to others.
Update your Profile Regularly
There are lots of ways you can update it without having changed jobs. Put a reminder on your calendar for every four months to review and update it with anything new. For example, I recently took a process that had been monthly looking backward and made it weekly. This means we are able to more quickly react to the information and be proactive when we use to be reactive to information that came too late. I didn’t change jobs, but I updated my profile to reflect this accomplishment because it has made a significant impact for my company.
Finally, I will just point out that your LinkedIn profile is a marketing tool for your career. You never want to lie about your accomplishments, but you do want to market them so that your strengths and accomplishments are at the forefront and in the spotlight. Take some time to really ensure that your profile pops. If you feel like you could use some help with yours, I’m happy to coach you through the process and help you create a profile that will set you apart. Learn more at www.pmocoaching.com/LinkedInProfile.
A job search is a stressful time for people. Even if you have a job, it is stressful. If you don’t have a job and the bills are looming, there is another level of stress – a bit of urgency added to the mix. On today’s episode, we are going to talk about managing your mental state during a job search. These are practical tips about actions you should be taking, or skills you should be focusing on during your job search. Although a good dose of positive attitude or positive self-talk may also be necessary during this time, I’m going to let other podcasts give you those. I want to give you some actionable business skills that will help you though the process.
Let me start by saying that a job search is a time that requires a high level of emotional intelligence. We talk about emotional intelligence a lot on this podcast because I believe it is a fundamental factor in success. Emotional Intelligence is defined as: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Its always important, but even more so during a job search.
First of all, you are under a lot of stress and stress will uncover any weakness you may have when it comes to the building blocks of emotional intelligence. Second, a job search can put you in a very vulnerable spot. If you’ve just been laid off or made redundant, you may also be dealing with feelings of betrayal or grief. If you lost your job for performance reasons, you are likely dealing with confidence issues. And, if you’ve made the decision to look for a new job while still employed, you may be dealing with stress that your current manager may find out, or feeling that you may being letting your current team down. You may also lose motivation to keep working for your current job. I know that I go through a stage of disengagement from my current job once I’ve decided it is time for me to move on.
So, for many different reasons, a job search is a time of high stress, which can be really challenging for even the most emotionally intelligent. Because of this, I think it is important to have a set of skills that you remind yourself about regularly during the time of a job search.
So, let’s dig in. Here are some tools that can help you maintain your mindset during a job search:
Set Appropriate Expectations
Every employee of the hiring company has an edge on you because a company is likely to fill a position with an internal candidate if they can. An internal candidate who is a known quantity, even if they don’t have the exact experience is hard for any hiring manager to pass up. Another thing you have working against you is networks. Any candidate who has a connection at the hiring company has an edge over you. You recognize both of these things are true when you look at it from the company’s side. As an employee, you would expect your employer to give an internal candidate or a candidate referred from an employee preferential treatment over someone off the street that nobody has any experience with. But, when you are that candidate, you don’t think about it that way. You look at the job description and your skills, identify a match and figure ‘why wouldn’t they hire me?”
Think about what you need to do to keep you mindset from letting the rejection turn into an excuse for inaction. When you get a rejection, what are you going to tell yourself about it? Thinking about this before you need it will help you separate the head from the heart when the time comes. For example, one of the things I tell myself is, “they must have had a referral from an employee that was a good fit.” Do I know it is true? No. But, it is not only possible, it is likely and if it is true, there is nothing I could have done differently that would have gotten me the job.
Look at it from the Hiring Manager’s Perspective
People with high emotional intelligence have the ability to see things from several perspectives. This skill is important when looking for a job because if you can see the job from the perspective of the hiring manager, you may be better able to position yourself for the job.
First, keep in mind that hiring is, for most managers, a painful activity that requires a lot of their time during what is usually a stressful time for them. They’ve likely just had someone vacate the role unexpectedly, they are having to pull double duty while they fill the role – or someone on their team is having to fill in. They want to get the role filled as quickly as possible, but at most companies, the process for getting jobs posted and candidates identified is usually frustrating. Interviewing takes a lot of time out of your day job. They need to find the right candidate because everyone they hire ultimately reflects on them.
So, when you are preparing for the interview, think about these things. Bring empathy to the conversation. Think about how you can make the process as painless as possible for the hiring manager. Think about how you would feel under the stress and realize that they are likely coming to your interaction in something less than the best version of themselves. Where possible, become someone who is helping them solve a problem.
I fully believe that an interview is as much about you ensuring that the job and company is right for you as it is about the company figuring out if you are right for them. Too many people approach an interview as if they are the commodity in the equation.
Of course, there are times where your situation or the economic situation dictates that you can’t be very picky when it comes to your next job. Sometimes a paycheck is more important than a job that is going to fulfill you. I get that, and recognize that you don’t always have the luxury of putting yourself on equal footing with the hiring manager.
But, when you are not in that situation, you need to remember that it is just as important for you to be interviewing the hiring manager as it is for them to be interviewing you. Of course you are selling yourself – your skills, your assets, your ability to get the job done. But, this isn’t a on-way street. If you are going to work for and with the people you are interviewing with, you need to be assessing them as well.
Activate Your Network
Lots of jobs get filled because of referrals. Your network is going to be critical during your job search. You are going to need to set aside time to reach out to people in your network and let them know that you are looking and what you are looking for.
I also find it helps to remind them that they may know someone in their network who has a position to fill. By reminding them of this, you are not only activating your network, you are activating their network. For example, you may be in finance. Someone in your network may be in education. It would seem like they couldn’t help you because they are in such an unrelated field. But, what if their next door neighbor is the head of Accounts Payable at a local company? You just never know what connections people might make. But, I find that you have to trigger people to think about their network. Just to tell your friend in education you are looking for a job isn’t enough. He may think ‘that’s nice, but my school isn’t currently hiring for any finance roles.” But, tell him that you are looking and though he might have someone in his network that is looking to fill a finance role and he’ll think of his next door neighbor, and bring it up on Saturday when they are both out mowing the lawn.
The other thing you need to remember about your network is that you are not the center of their lives. They may remember you are looking for a week or two, but eventually, they will forget. They’ve gotten on with life and the fact that your job search is a really big deal for you doesn’t mean it is top of mind for them. If your job search goes on for a while, your mindset can start to take a turn toward the negative and you can start to feel like your network has let you down. In order to keep your mindset positive, remember that you may need to remind people that you are looking. Don’t be a pest about it – but, just because they didn’t know about anything at the time you originally reached out doesn’t mean they won’t know about something now.
If you want to be recognized as an employee who positively contributes to your organization, one of the things you need to understand about your company is the basic financial metrics that drive it. But, that is only one reason to familiarize yourself with the finances.
By understanding the financial metrics that drive your company, you will have better insight into the reason decisions get made the way they do and potentially even be better able to look into the future and anticipate change that may be coming.
To some extent a company’s culture is driven by the finances that underlay the business. For example, does your company make its revenue by selling something that is relatively low priced to many, many people? Or, does your company sell something relatively high priced and rely on only a few sales per year?
In the first case, you have something like Walmart. Millions of small transactions per year to millions of different customers each year. Compare that to something like an architecture firm that specializes in building airports. High price tag, and I imagine only 1 or 2 customers per year even come available.
All of the underlying decisions, strategies, and processes for these two organizations stem from how they make their revenue. So, if you want to understand your company better, you need to understand where the revenue comes from.
This applies to the cost side of your business as well. What makes up the cost structure of your business? Do you have costs associated with raw materials? How volatile are the costs of those materials? Or, are the majority of the costs related to labor? For example, software companies and professional services organizations have very little costs outside of the people who work there. If you work for an accounting firm and revenue decreases by 25%, the only real way to get savings to offset the lost of revenue is by letting people go.
The last thing I want cover in this episode is margin. Margin is defined as revenue minus costs. You can think of it as profit.
Understanding the margin that your company achieves will also help you better understand the drivers of your business. There isn’t 1 answer about what a good margin is. For example, grocery stores operate on a 1-2% margin, and that is considered good. Professional Services organizations operate on a 30% (ish) percent margin.
By understanding the level of margin, you better understand the size of the tightrope your leadership team is walking when they make financial decisions.
Investigate your company’s financials. Get familiar with the drivers of your revenue and costs. Understand the landscape that makes up the financial health of your company. Understand how it impacts you. Understand how it impacts your leadership team and the decisions they are faced with.
If you’d like to get a guide to the questions we cover in the episode, sign up for our newsletter here.
Strategy is something that is traditionally left to the C-Suite or other executives. This is a podcast for those who are early in their career or are not interested in leadership positions, so you may think that strategy isn’t important for you to understand. But – you are the CEO of your career, so you do need to understand it. And, one of the things that you should think about is whether or not your company has a strategy that will make it viable in the long run.
What I want to do in this episode is give you another criterion to consider about whether the job you have or are looking at taking in the future is a good fit for you – it is called the inflection point.
The inflection point is a point in the future where the fundamentals of the business are going to change.
Meaning, everything the current business is built on becomes obsolete and a whole new set of rules apply.
A good strategy will
You want to work for a company that gets this.
In addition, you, as an employee, should be able to recognize and accept change that may come if your company is in the middle of executing a strategy to change the fundamentals of the business. Prepare yourself for changes that may come by assessing:
We all have times when we get into a funk – something in our life isn’t where we want it to be – our job, our marriage, or community involvement. When the funk is about your job, we sometimes call it the Sunday Night Blues.
So, how do you get out of the funk? The goal is to become unstuck.
Step 1: Recognize that you are feeling stuck
Getting stuck usually happens little by little, and you don’t always recognize that you are feeling stuck.
Step 2: Focus on the objective of getting unstuck
Tell yourself that getting unstuck is possible. Say it out loud. It helps with your mindset.
Step 3: Figure out what is causing you to be stuck
You may need to dig deep. The reason may not be obvious at first.
Step 4: Take Action
Use your unconscious mind to help you solve the problem.
Don’t wait until you know the answer to start moving in the right direction.
Sign up for our free weekly newsletter to get the guide that supports this episode.
I teach people how to thrive at work. Let's connect on LinkedIn
Listen and subscribe wherever you enjoy your podcasts, including: