Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tips for New Managers

With fast paced moving companies, reporting lines often change due to realignment of departments, promotions or general business needs.  Change creates natural trepidation but also hints at great possibilities. Reporting relationships take time to build from both a manager’s and a direct report’s perspectives. This week’s blog post is for a manager with a new direct report & next week’s will be for an employee who has a new manager.

For a Manager with a New Direct Report:
Getting to know your team is a big challenge. You want to create quick wins and not steamroll new reports with big changes right away. These tips will help you gain credibility and build trust.

-          Listen first. Seek to understand procedures, strategies, organizational charts, and roles/responsibilities of your new team. As a new manager, you are likely eager to make your mark in your new role. First seek to understand why things are done a certain way before barging in with changes.
-          Ask questions - understand what your team thinks works well, how processes align to goals, and ask what they would change. If your team agrees on priorities they are more likely to buy into such change. 
-          Create transparency – talk to your team about your goals/mandate and what you are trying to achieve so they can be part of the solution.
-          Get to know your team – your people are your greatest asset to create quick wins in your new role. Potentially use a questionnaire that they fill out and then book time to review it together. It’s a way to have a little fun, get to know them professionally and start to build a personal relationship. I often use something called a management contract to start this (read here: http://bit.ly/gOr24X). You can ask things like: favourite coffee, morning or afternoon thinker, and then things like strengths, growth opportunities, personal goals, what they like in a manager, etc… Using this to facilitate a conversation can get you going on a great foot right away.
-          Transition from past managers - If you are taking on an employee from another manager within the same organization, book time to do a proper transition. Ask them to share previous performance reviews and tips for management.
-          Talk about your management style – just like you want to get to know your new team, they want to get to know their new manager. Talk about tips for working with you, the working environment you like to create and your plan for the team.
-          Have regular team updates – book a bi-weekly or monthly meeting with your direct reports to discuss your findings, recommended changes & the team’s progress. This will help you create buy in and overall transparency and be viewed as a leader who is creating team work right from the get go!
For those who have recently moved into a new role managing a new team, what do you think about the above tips? What helped set off your new relationship for the better and what do you wish you had done differently?

Stay posted for next week's post on tips for employees with new managers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Students: Building Your Personal Brand For A Career In Sales And Marketing

Marketing and sales students – this post is just for you!

With leaves changing to fall colours, many companies have been hitting campus with gusto to find the best seniors for upcoming internships and new grad jobs.

The competition on campus between employers is getting hot as the economy picks up and companies’ hiring numbers increase. A shift is starting, where students will have more power as the number of jobs available increases; however, we aren’t quite there yet. As a student, it is important to play a lead role in choosing your first job out of school and selling yourself to your employer(s) of choice.

Your personal brand

You need to build your personal brand as a sales and marketing student because potential employers want to see that you can apply the basic principles of marketing. If you can’t sell or market yourself, why should they trust you to market or sell their products and services?

First, do a branding exercise to understand your unique value to a future employer. Think about how you present yourself both in person at company campus recruiting events or interviews, and in online spaces.

Things you should evaluate include:
·         How you dress
·         The language you use
·         How you can showcase specific accomplishments
·         How you come across to employers – do you seem credible/real?

Your personal brand - online

Your online personality should mirror how you come across in person. Ensure that, if your future employer seeks you out on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, there is consistency in the things you say you are knowledgeable about or roles you played in extra-curricular activities.

Things like LinkedIn recommendations are very valuable, especially with LinkedIn launching a new student profile option.

In sales and marketing, future employers will likely perform a social media search on their top candidates – think of this as a “reference check.” Make sure that you hide information that future employers don’t need to see (e.g., Facebook photos) and remember that social media is PERMANENT. 

Your personal brand – in person

For in in-person events, network and showcase your personality as well as your interests and skills.

Marketing and sales is a lot about a “fit” in being personable, believable and coachable. When I interview for entry-level marketing roles, I look more for a strong personal impression than wide sales/marketing experience – I can teach you how to be successful, but I can’t teach you how to think critically or have personal credibility.

I want you to highlight your interests, where you think the industry is going, recent highlights at my specific company, and why you believe you fit the company culture. Show you spent some time researching my company online, even talking to past interns or employees, and understanding our culture.

Don’t treat every networking session, interview or online application the same. Most recruiters are very open to telling you the unique parts of their company, so talk to them and ask for a follow-up prep call prior to an interview.

If you don’t meet a recruiter on campus, reach out to them via LinkedIn. Recruiters will highlight great candidates’ applications if you wow them. Consider this reach-out like dating – you only have one opportunity to make that perfect impression that might lead to a relationship (or in this case, a fantastic career)!

Students: As I am now a regular contributor to TalentEgg.ca (Canada's leading job site and career resource for students and new graduates), I will be featuring monthly articles written specifically for students on my blog. I would love your thoughts on what you want to hear about! Please comment below to drive future articles.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Inspiration in Books: Building Trust

For those who know me well, I often describe myself as a bit old school when it comes to reading. As a bit of a geek at heart, I love the library and my kindle is almost always close at hand. Old school doesn’t seem like it goes with someone who is so active in social media – does it?! I balance staying up to date with regular blog reading, internet searches, online newspaper articles & then some old school paperback books. I typically have 2 books on the go at all times: one a good “beach read” to relax my mind after a busy work day & one a work inspirational book to help me think differently.

I just finished Steven M.R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust. As son of Steven R. Covey, (think The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), he has a great background in organizational effectiveness and leadership. He states that“trust is the hidden variable in the formula for organizational or personal success” and uses the formula:
“(S x E)T = R  OR ([Strategy times Execution] multiplied by trust equals Results.” Trust is thus a function of character and competencies. Covey highlights that leadership is getting results that inspire trust. It is equally about the HOW and the WHAT. By using the right “how” that empowers direct reports or colleagues you establish trust and increase your ability to get results faster time and time again.

This book was inspiring as it spoke about the 4 cores of credibility: Integrity, Intent, Capabilities and Results. It outlines that understanding these key core skills will then allow you to demonstrate them through 13 behaviours that increase your ability to gain trust.

I’m currently moving into a new role at work & reading this book came at the perfect time. Half of my current team is continuing to report to me and I’m gaining a new USA based team. Learning how to create trust in a new team cross border is a challenge that I am up for. I won’t give away all of the tips from Covey’s book but will highlight some of the behaviours he values that I believe are key in having new direct reports. Creating transparency, delivering results, giving credit where it is due, clarifying expectations & listening first all hit the highlights. If you are going through a career change, a promotion, are managing a new team or have a new manager, understanding how to build trust will set you up for success. Empower yourself with education – look online & don’t be afraid to be a little old school & actually pick up a recommended paperback every once in awhile.

Cheers & happy reading. Do you like book recommendations? I’m considering adding a monthly hot read feature to my blog. Reading any great business or personal development books right now? Would love some recommendations myself!

Quote Reference: The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Steven M.R. Covey

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Steve Jobs = Apple's Employment Brand

Steve Jobs’ death rocked the world this past week. He dropped out of college after only 1 year & co-created one of the most innovative brands in his parent’s garage in his mere 20s. He followed his heart & focused on what inspired him versus fumbling his way through what he “should do.” Not only was a he a leader that people fought to follow but he created an atmosphere of innovation and doing things differently at Apple. Steve Jobs personified Apple and its employer brand of innovation, leadership, and credibility.  Apple’s employment brand is strong yet they barely publicize what working at the company is like versus some of their major competitors like Google or Microsoft.

Jobs was not a perfect leader. He had his ups and downs and was so headstrong that he was actually fired from Apple, the company he co-created, in 1985. After his very public banishment, he subsequently founded NeXT (a computer platform) that Apple actually purchased in 1996 and brought Jobs to his role as CEO. Jobs was not afraid of the lime light or telling his career stories including the good, bad & the ugly. He drove trust in Apple as a visionary through his innovative thinking and delivery of consistently doing things differently.  With Jobs’ heroic lose to cancer, Apple needs to build on this legacy and expand their employment brand to overcome the loss of their powerful CEO. Time will tell how they do on this mission.

As a reminder of all of the wonderful things Jobs lead & the things he stood for, please see the below quote about allowing innovation to lead your path to great things. If you haven’t yet also watched Jobs’ 1995 commencement address at Stanford, do so here:

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
~ Steve Jobs

My Final Thoughts: Do you have an inspirational leader within your company? Do you use them to lead your employment branding efforts & set the tone for greatness within your company culture?