Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hire Gardeners To Be Your Managers

I’ve been doing a bit of gardening lately and I discovered some interesting facts.

There are a few ingredients that make up a good garden. Choosing the right kind of plants or flowers is one of them. The other is to provide the right kind of environment for the plant to grow healthily.

Interestingly, these are the traits of a good manager. Identifying the right kind of plant is like hiring the right kind of people to work with you. A good gardener will tell you some type of flowers that are suitable in a temperate climate will not survive long in a tropical weather, unless you are ready to build a green house.

After getting the right kind of plants, a good gardener will need to provide a conducive environment in terms of soil, water, sunshine and fertilizers to make them thrive. Different plant needs different treatment. For example, flowers like Gailladria (below) do best when grown in full sun and light, and well drained soil. Anything short of that, they will wither easily.

Good managers will see themselves as mentors, the focus is to build people by creating environments for them to be their best and achieve the objectives of the organization.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

10 Things That Mark A Good Sales Person

Selling involves persuading, convincing and influencing others to our ideas, ways, products and services. In a way, all of us are doing some kind of selling every day. However, some have made it as their professional career. So, what marks a good sales person?

1. A strong belief in what he is selling characterized by his strong knowledge of the product or service represented. He knows he can’t sell something if he doesn’t believe in it. Someone said the best sales people are the preachers because of their strong sense of belief in their faith. If you buy in something thoroughly, you don’t need external rewards to push you to sell.

2. Love people and good in connecting with them. He has no problem talking to strangers. He possesses a strong desire to help and provides solutions.

3. It’s a myth that a good salesperson must be a good talker. Rather, good listening is key to success. Otherwise, how can he understand the needs of his clients well?

4. Able to express his thoughts clearly.

5. Flexible and always open to change.

6. Sanguine temperament with its high tendency to influence. Selling needs a lot of optimism especially during tough times. A sanguine temperament with an attitude of easy enthusiasm will get him going.

7. Perseverance – being rejected is part and parcel of the job. But, a good sales person does not give up easily.

8. Upgrade knowledge and skills continually – people can turn to him for advice in his particular industry. A good sales person is eventually the expert in his industry.

9. Accountable and trustworthy characterized by good follow through. These traits are the foundation of building any long-term relationships.

10. And he knows who Zig Ziglar is and had read one of his books…:)

Of course, the list is not exhaustive but armed with the above would give you a good head start.

Click here for The Best Sales Jobs

Monday, August 23, 2010

Silence Speaks Louder Than Words

In an interview setting:
A question was asked. You answered the best you could. You stopped. You believe you’ve finished what you are supposed to say. But the interviewer did not say a word. Few seconds passed. Silence. A few more seconds more. You can almost hear your heart beat now. What should you do next?

Most people under such circumstances will tend to continue speaking as waiting out the silence until someone speaks up can be quite unnerving.

Candidates may think the interviewer does not have a follow-up question ready.

What they didn’t know was that the silent treatment is an intentional strategy employed by interviewers to get candidates to answer questions more fully. By doing so, the interviewer will get more than the standard reply. The interviewer understood the power of silence - employed rightly, it is louder than words. Under an uncomfortable silence, candidates may let off their guard and blurt out information that they are not supposed to reveal. Ouch!

When you understand it’s an intentional strategy, you should not be afraid of the silence. If you believe you had given your best answer, leave it at that. Alternatively, ask a relevant question yourself.

Do not fall into the silent treatment ploy and give information more than you should.

Related readings:

Listen With Your Eyes

Stress Job Interviews

Questions To Ask The Interviewer

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Comfort Zone Is Not That Comfortable

We have our best days, average (aka so-so) days and bad days. Best days are days when you think you can conquer the world. Bad days are when everything sucks. These are the days that even the best comedian cannot pull off a good line. And mothers wish they are not moms. So, having off days is absolutely normal.

The danger is the so-so days – neither exciting nor boring. We do our stuff and drift along. And we are in this mode - day in, day out. That’s when we are in our little comfort zone. Everyone has a place we called our comfort zone. For example, a couch right in front of your TV for you to stretch your legs can be your comfort zone.

At work place, it can be a routine that we had fallen into. We show up. Check some emails. Make some calls. Meet some people. One year passed, then three years and without realizing it, ten years had slipped by. Time wait for no man.

Bosses shout, "We need to change, think and do things differently!" Change management - a phrase that was coined over and over again. Staff hates it because it’s a management ploy to make them work harder.

But don't hate them. Let me tell you why.

Change is inevitable. If you do not change, they will change you as in replacing you. Your comfort zone will no longer be that comfortable.

When change is embraced, we say yes to new ideas, new technology and new way of doing things. We need to keep our eyes, ears and minds wide open. All senses are up one notch - our comfort zone is no more. We move to a "challenging" zone.

"Challenging" to some smells trouble. But others, it smells opportunity.

Of course, no one is advocating that we step out in blind faith. Count the costs. But one thing is certain when we moved to a challenging zone: there will be learning and growth, even in failures.

So, shall we get our feet up from the couch and dip them in the pond?

Note: I’m not the best person to talk about change. I’m probably writing this to convince one audience – myself.

At a cross cross, read this:
Tips for Choosing The Right Career

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sorry, Boss…I’m NOT Adding You As My Facebook Friend!

That little box with the grey color text, “What’s in your mind?” at the top of your Facebook page can be the most dangerous box if you are not careful. I know some of us take the text literally and obediently type out whatever that cross their minds. Nothing wrong with that - after all, it depends on what is on your mind.

But wait a minute, do you realize your message will be published to all your Facebook friends? Probably you had figured that out by now. But do you keep track of who makes up the list of your Facebook friends? The chances are we do not, especially if you have more than 100 friends and those that you have added but never posted anything. But not posting anything doesn’t equal to them being inactive. They can be “passively active” – actively snooping into the postings of others. Who are they? Beware…they can be your boss and for a moment there, you might have forgotten all about that.

I rip the following image from this site.

Is this a warning not to be “friend” with your boss on Facebook?

Related posts:

If you're an active jobseeker, clean up your Facebook page

When jobseekers invade LinkedIn and Facebook

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why Am I Still Not Getting A Promotion?

It’s totally normal if you start to ask this question when you are in the same job for more than five years or more. “What’s going on?” “Is there anything wrong with me?” Of course, the best place to find out is to ask your boss directly. Seriously, I think that’s the right way rather than going into a guessing game. But perhaps you like to do that and below is a list of possible reasons:

1. You are already at the top (especially in smaller set-ups) unless you want to buy over the company?

2. You are just not qualified to take on the bigger responsibilities.

3. There is no one to take over your present responsibilities.

4. Your manager/management simply have no idea what you are capable of doing.

5. Your company’s business is growing stagnant. It’s not expanding, no one is leaving – there is simply no opening for you.

6. You’re no good in the game of promotional politics. Shocking to hear this? Don’t be. Too bad, who you know and not what you know does matter after all.

If you are not qualified, the solution is simple – find out what it takes to be in the position and work towards attaining the necessary required qualification, skills and experience. Sooner or later, you’ll get there.

As for no one taking over your responsibilities, you can start training up other people/juniors to take over your current responsibilities. If it doesn’t work, talking to your superior directly is the best. “Threatening” to leave (if you are confident you are an asset in your company) may work wonders sometimes.

Click here for more comics on job interviews and careers

As for reaching the ceiling and being in a stagnant business, there are only two options: either you help to boost up the business or leave.

But if it’s something to do with getting yourself noticed by the right people, you need to plan the right moves. First off, work to please the person that you work for, because no one has more power to affect your career advancement than your supervisor. You may say this is not your style. The choice is yours but bear in mind, your supervisor is human after all - who would want to promote someone that he dislikes? Secondly, seize the opportunity to "blow your own trumpet" albeit in a subtle way. In a pool of talents with everyone having the same agenda, the boss will only notice the guy that stands out!

Friday, August 6, 2010

There She Goes Again, Complaining Non-stop

We complain when we received bad service. We complain when the boss did not remember our birthdays. We complain when our colleague got a raise and we did not.

The list goes on. Complaining is part of being human but some of us more than the others like to gripe almost about everything, that it becomes a normalcy to them. When I am writing this, I have an image of someone that fits this description. I bet you do the same too. But wait a minute, can this be me?

In a work place where everyone is trying their best to get along with everyone, they will not tell you on the face that you gripe too much and you are annoying.

Let’s do a test. Scan through the statements below - are these responses from your listeners becoming common in your conversations? If yes, you probably have been complaining too much.

1. Since you don’t like your boss so much, have you ever tried to talk to him directly? You really should since it’s affecting you quite a bit…

2. I think these complaints are not going to help much unless you do something about the situation.

3. Ya know, I really gotta run. I’m really late… (after you've poured out your "thoughts")

Oh, there she goes again, why can’t she just quit? This is the reaction in the hearts of your listeners. It affects them without you realizing it.

Complaining too much is a bad habit. And you know the thing about habits - it’s going to take effort to break it. Break it, you must because it’s not only affecting your relationships with your colleagues, it’s also going to hurt your career.

No one likes to work with people that complain too much. It affects your chances of being promoted. It also affects your future career prospects when prospective employers conduct reference checks with people that worked with you before.

Learn to accept that people will let you down and being disappointed is part and parcel of working life (or life, for that matter). Stop the griping and don’t let this bad habit hurt your career!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Need To Be Understood

Have you heard of the Indian Talking Stick story? I picked it up in Dr Tim Elmore’s book, Habitutes.

It’s about two tribes in disagreement. A council assembly was called in which the two chiefs were facing each other in a circle. Several moments of silence…then, in a burst of emotion, the group erupts with angry shouts and accusations. No one is listening…until the visiting chief steps forward and raises the Talking Stick.

The Talking Stick is passed around from person to person, but the only one holding it is allowed to speak. It remains in the speaker’s possession until he/she feels completely understood by everyone in the group. The only exception is when the speaker might lend it to someone who is seeking to clarify their point. Once the point is clarified, the stick returns to the speaker until they believe they are fully understood. Only then is it passed to the next individual.

It’s a simple concept but the end result is amazing. As the tribal members pass the stick around, they slowly become less combative and more cohesive. Relationships are restored. All because the focus is on understanding, not just being understood.

Without question, the greatest emotional need of people today is the need to be understood.

In any relationship especially when two or more people are working together, conflicts usually occur because of this.

You don’t understand what I’m saying

Eh, this is not what I meant

You didn’t get it
. You misunderstood me. You’re not listening

Sounds familiar? Listening takes effort and patience. Some even said it’s a skill. It’s not hearing for dogs hear too. No wonder, it’s tough.

In fact, listening involves every senses. Have you heard, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” (Read more here)

Looks like a stick has just found itself another purpose..:)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Career Blogs I Visit Most Often

Career blogs are plentiful nowadays and most of the good ones are from US. Below are the ones that I visit often. All of them are experts in their own fields and have been around in the blogosphere and their respective industry for some time. So, pay them a visit and hope you can find what you are looking for. I have also listed them in my blogroll for your convenience.

1. Penelope Trunk Brazen Careerist
Penelope is the founder of 3 startups. Her career advice appears in more than 200 newspapers. In a review of this blog, Business Week called Penelope's writing "poetic." Her blog is very honest. Thus far, her blog has attracted more than 50,000 subscribers!

2. Personal Branding
Their tagline, “Navigating you to future success” says it all. It’s a blog that teaches you how to create your career and command your future, using the personal branding process. You will learn how to position yourself for success so that you become known for your passion and expertise. The content on this blog includes video podcasts, interviews with experts, insightful articles, research reports, games and much more. They have more than 10 contributors on board, all of them are experts in what they share.

3. Work Coach Café
Ronnie Ann owns this blog. For more than 10 years, she has been an organizational consultant specializing in business process improvement and project management, as well as some workplace and private coaching. Her advice is based on things she has learned first hand.

4. Evil HR Lady
Suzanne Lucas is based in Switzerland. What I like about this blog is that you are encouraged to send your HR questions and if they are interesting enough, I suppose they may be posted up in her blog with her answers. So, do you have a question? You may want to visit Evil HR Lady. What a name!

5. Fistful of Talent
Good sharing of experience and ideas from HR Consultants, Recruiters and etc. They have more than 10 contributors on board.

6. Skorcareer
Want some Malaysian flavor? Zul is the principal blogger and his aim is to provide quality career information for its visitors in casual yet enlightening ways. It also covers other areas such as business and entrepreneurship, motivation and inspiration and etc. Recently, Zul had invited other bloggers to contribute. I’m one of them…:)

7. Ally Blog
More Malaysian flavor? This is my other blog about careers, specifically on tips sharing from attending interviews to picking the right talent, relevant to both job seekers and employers. I included my own blog in this list cos' I’m not ashamed to say I visit my own blog more often than any other career blogs. Can't help it. Any blogger will agree with me…:)