Tuesday, June 28, 2011

5 Things on Boss and Employee Wish Lists

The workplace is such a tapestry of attitudes, beliefs, cultures, generations and habits. Dump that into a cubicle or offices in close proximity and it's like sharing a room in a dorm or a bathroom with a teen sister or brother. Often, I wonder if we tried daily to put ourselves in the other person's shoes, would that change our responses to one another? In the interest of trying to see things from both sides, I asked some leader/managers and their employees what was on their workplace wish list. From a non-scientific sample of both bosses and employees, here's some of what they told me:

The Boss's Wish List for Employees
1. Be reliable. When I ask you to do something, do it promptly. If I do not give you clear instruction or a deadline, ask me about it. I'm busy and not perfect.We pay you to do this job.
2. Don't just tell me what you think I want to hear. Have the professional courage to honestly discuss your workload, any organizational unknowns and offer ideas to make things better. All of your ideas may not be implemented. Be mature about it.
3. If you make a mistake, own it. Don't laugh about it, avoid it, blame others or become defensive. Sincerely apologize, discuss it with me and learn from it. Everyone makes mistakes. It's how you respond that causes reactions of irritation or sympathy.
4. We will disagree. Try to understand my preferred work style, definition of work and I'll try to understand yours. Then we meet halfway. I am being measured and asked to deliver results. I don't make this stuff up just to terrorize you. It may be uncomfortable. Get over it.
5. Avoid being an expert at pointing out problems, come to me with thoughtful solutions and creative new ideas that help us reach our strategic goals. Sometimes the organization is not ready for your ideas. Don't bad-mouth me or my boss, but don't give up.

The Employee's Wish List for the Boss
1. Let me do my job. You hired me because I obviously have some intelligence and skills. My definition of work may be different from yours.
2. Celebrate success more. I need encouragement and a pat on the back for a job well done. Saying "thank you" for small things is nice too.
3. Invest in my professional development. I want to learn from others in my profession and more about my industry. It helps me to not feel so isolated.
4. Be a better listener. I need to know you will listen to my ideas without judgment. I may need to complain or  want to radically change things. I want to know you will support me.
5. Communicate with clarity. Tell me what you expect and how my job contributes to the big picture. Make time to clearly outline the goals and strategies of our area.

At the foundation of any healthy workplace relationship is the constant effort to try to see things from another person's point of view. So many people are looking for an excuse to judge and be negative about the boss or employee. Some people harbor unspoken, misdirected biases that have been deeply ingrained into them by what others have said or how they were raised. Others say, it's generational differences. Instead of viewing it that way, what if we asked smart questions of each other, respected differences and desired to intentionally make the workplace better than we found it? It takes maturity, open communication, trust and compromise from both the boss and the employee to enhance relationships and ultimately get the job done. There are no perfect bosses or employees. It is my hope that both bosses and employees think about these wishlists, then openly discuss or create their own lists without fear. We spend too much time at work to be miserable.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...~Colossians 3:23

What's on your boss/employee wish list? What do you think? Leave comments below.

Is Career Planning a Myth?

As a career coach, I regularly see college students and other professionals in transition or turmoil seeking the secret formula to finding the perfect career or job. They ask, how do I find the perfect job? What is the plan I need to follow? There are no easy answers and many people are stuck because they are afraid to make a mistake or try new things. This can lead to spending a lifetime either miserable or job hopping because they think they have missed the secret. Here are some facts about career planning to keep in mind:

1) In a recent survey of professionals on Linkedin.com, only 20 percent of people said they had achieved career success by following a carefully thought out career plan. Those who were most satisfied, conducted career factfinding by asking people about the realities of the career they were interested in, they took risks to find what they liked, and more importantly, what they didn't like in a career. Often, by actually doing the job for a year or more.

2) 80 percent of professionals say a chance event significantly altered their career path.This may have been a positive or negative life event, but it made a lasting impression and became a catalyst for a change or action. Things happen that are beyond your control. Whatever it is can make you better or bitter. Use it to help you focus on what's important to you in life.

3) At a national college career adviser conference, a speaker asked for a show hands of those with a written career plan, less than 5 percent of the audience raised their hands. Hmmm...career coaches are you practicing what you preach? Did you read something about creating a career plan in a book and it sounded like good advice? Please stop that. Try it for yourself to see if it works. Then give advice on the possibilities and pitfalls.

4) In this economy, you may have to relocate and there are still no guarantees. All work is now global and interconnected. Yet most jobs are not for a lifetime. A decision made in Tokyo or Dubai may result in losing a job in Washington, D.C. or Wisconsin no matter your performance or potential. Most people will have between 6-7 jobs in their lifetime. That's not a goal, just a fact.

I'm not advocating job hopping or to avoid planning. Yet as a career coach I want to be realistic with students and clients about what career planning looks like. It's important to focus on communicating the complexities of finding a true calling or career path. There are not four easy steps.You may do many things. You may have a vocation and an avocation. You may need to relocate. You may need to use social media differently in an active job search. You may need to determine what you value most in life. You may need to stop accepting bad,outdated advice even from people who care about you (parents, professors, family, friends). You may need to create the job that you envision as an entrepreneur.You may need to move forward without fear. If you are a person of faith, you definitely need to pray for clarity and direction about your career.

Today's employment environment calls for new advice and new approaches. Networking, resumes and interview skills still matter. But the game changer is in the risk of trying something new and knowing your first job may not be your forever job. Be willing to start somewhere. Be willing to grow. Be willing to surrender your ideas of what the perfect career or workplace might be. Be willing to change (even in a tough economy). You won't know until you try.

So, is career planning a myth? I'd say no, it's not a myth, but let's not be so rigid about it. I love to hear from you! What do you think? Have you followed a career plan or not? How many jobs have you had, so far? Please leave your comments below.