May 10th, 2016 sheila
Career Development Can Help Retain Talent (Chicago Tribune)
I have been a career counselor for over 20 years and I have been expressing this sentiment since I started my career counseling practice.
I had the opportunity to work with Sun Microsystem and Hewlett Packard employees in the mid-1990’s when these companies began offering career counseling programs for their employees.
Though sometimes employees moved on, having the opportunity to assess skills, interest, values and fit enabled them to better communicate to their manager the professional development they needed for their professional growth and satisfaction.
Managers felt more qualified and confident when assisting their employees with professional development.
My work as a career counselor encompasses helping my clients with many different facets of their career and work, including:
- resolving communication issues and misunderstandings with managers and co-workers;
- clarifying and translating their skills for the next step in their career, whether at their current workplace or the next;
- identifying professional career goals., short term, intermediate term, long term;
- determining the best strategy to discuss professional development with their manager.
And these are the ways that a career development can have a positive impact on the organization. Clients find themselves to be more motivated about their work and their future when they have the opportunity for professional development. And it is more likely they will want to stay with a company if they have the opportunity to continue to learn, develop their skills and add value.
July 3rd, 2014 sheila
Continuing Visibility 2.0: ‘The Jargonist”
Do you recognize this person?
Margaret loves to talk about her work. She loves the lingo and can’t help talking that talk. When she is out with friends she loves to throw around the acronyms and program names. When speaking industry-speak about applications, tools or resources, she just assumes that everyone will understand. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t. When she talks jargon with friends, colleagues, fellow employees and potential employers, it makes sense — they are likely on the same page. However, if Margaret is chatting with folks outside her industry and she falls into the same short-hand language, she may find herself facing glazed-over eyes or perhaps wandering eyes — looking for someone else to chat with. She may no longer be visible.
Since being visible is essential to being successful both in her workplace as well as when she is changing jobs or careers, Margaret would be smart to:
- invite her professional colleagues to engage in a familiar discussion, where jargon is appropriate;
- use more generic or descriptive language when chatting with people unfamiliar with her field;
- use jargon and then provides an easily understandable description;
- be aware that in fact, it is disrespectful to speak a language that others do not share;
- put her attention on the person she is talking with, which will help her to develop that relationship and increase her visibility.
Being visible means paying attention and considering the language you use when telling your story, which will help you to maintain and develop new relationships.
January 15th, 2013 sheila
It is a fresh new year! It feels so good! A whole year to plan, accomplish, have new experiences, make changes–so much time. And as we know–wow–time really goes by fast! Before we know it, time has passed us by…
My approach is to try to keep it simple. I look at each year and say to myself, “what do I want this year to be about?” And I identify no more than 3 things, for example: this year is about gaining new knowledge in my field; or this year is about getting control of my sugar habit; or this year I want to make a career change; or this year I want to paint my home/apartment. You get the idea. Then each month I can identify what I want to focus on, that is realistic, that feels like I am taking steps to reach my goal. Then I put it on my calendar. Then I do it…most of the time…
Most important is that I make the commitment to myself. That is the only way it works.
What are the 3 things you would like 2013 to be for you?
July 16th, 2012 sheila
If Visibility 1.0 focused on what and how to be visible, Visibility 2.0 is about your story. So what is your story? And how do you tell it? Do you feel clear about what you want to say and how? Or do you tell your story like the folks described below?
Are you a ‘Rambler’? Do you have ‘Jargon-itis’? Are you an ‘Evader’ or ‘Avoider’? Are you Shy? Are you a ‘Monologuist’?
Nancy Q. was a ‘Rambler.’ She would go to an event and enjoyed meeting new people. She was friendly, energetic and outgoing. And once she got going it seemed she would never end. She started at the beginning because she thought everyone wanted to hear the whole story. They did, maybe, just not the 20 minute version. And often, once she started, it was unclear when the story was going to end, if ever. And what was her point? –it often got lost along the way.
So rather then tell your whole story…”I was born in…” or “I started my career at…” — start at the end. Here is where you are now and you got here by taking these significant steps. Listen to Nancy’s story: Nancy decided she would prefer to work in the nonprofit sector focusing on fundraising and development rather than in the private sector. She had a successful career thus far in sales; as an account manager, inside sales, retail sales and manufacturer’s rep. Recently she had been taking classes in non-profit management and meeting people in the non-profit sector to gain information to help her confirm this is the right fit and to translate her sales experience for this new environment.
So instead of telling the whole story as in: “I started in sales at Macy’s…” She can start with the end first.
“I made a decision to explore moving into fundraising and development in the non-profit sector. I am very excited about my decision — I’ve been meeting people at various non-profits and taking classes and learning how to translate my sales background into this new area. It became clear to me at my last job that though I enjoyed sales, I was ready to sell or promote something that an impact on helping society.” To continue her story, Nancy can now speak about her strengths, activities, beliefs and describe how she translates her experience for the non-profit world.
Nancy may not know everything she needs to know, however she can engage others in a conversation, maybe find out what they know or who they know. She is visible; she has let people she meets see her as she wants to be seen–that she is a sales professional who is interested in changing to a non-profit organization; she can select which experiences and strengths to emphasize. She can engage others in her enthusiasm. She has their attention.
And she hasn’t told them the ‘whole’ story.
July 7th, 2012 sheila
“I’m too busy for myself; too busy for spouse or significant other; too busy for my kids; too busy for my friends; too busy for my mom….too busy!”(with thanks to the song with the similar refrain)
This was the focus of an article in the NY Times Sunday Review section on July 1st, 2012 by Tim Kreider. He writes for the Opinionator, an on-line Opinion Page for the NY Times. You can find the link below.
As a ‘recovering crazy-busy person,’ his article resonated for me because it emphasized living your values, knowing what your values are and taking the time to reflect about how you want to live your life. I agree, we are all too busy–what are we getting out of it? as individuals, as a family, as a successful business, as a country?
Something for all of us to think about it-if only we weren’t too busy…
March 6th, 2012 sheila
In my experience working with folks on career-related issues, often the one thing they don’t do until they have to is: to reach out to others for help in their job search or be thoughtful about what to say when someone says, ‘what do you do?’ Do you reach for a one word answer, like Teacher or Computer Programmer to get you off the hook? And actually those one word answers don’t tell anyone much about what you do or who you are. You are not really visible. You leave it up to them to figure it out.
In the world today, transitions are constant: changing jobs or careers; having children or watching your children go off to college; wanting to go back to school — each are situations that require you to have a new story to tell about ‘what you do’ and what you want to do. Crafting that story is essential to be able to tell someone who you are and what you want or are looking for. Some people call it your personal and professional brand, which it is. From my perspective, call it what you want, you will more likely get what you want if you know the story you want to tell about you.
So, you want to be visible.
• Being visible means being thoughtful about how you want others to see you and know you.
• Being visible means being prepared to tell your story — and your story can have many different chapters depending upon who you are talking to.
• Being visible means being you, not someone you think you should be or who someone else thinks you should be.
• You will want to be visible at work, while searching for work, sharing a meal with colleagues and friends and all the rest of the time, too.
Here are some visibility tips for the workplace.
First: To be visible does not mean to be a loud obnoxious person at the office.
• Be visible by being clear about who you are, what you want and why.
• Know and be able to articulate your strengths and the ways you contribute to your organization, team, department, co-workers. And— knowing how you want to contribute is important so that you will communicate clearly and effectively.
• Do not just put your head down to get your work done. You might get yourself not noticed right out of a job.
• Do recognize and even seek out opportunities to let others know what you are doing, or have accomplished, or what you are thinking about or a new idea you have. You could present this formally in a meeting or casually at a lunch.
• Talk to your boss regularly about the status of your projects. Just because she or he does not ask doesn’t mean you can’t keep them posted. You want to stay on their radar screen.
• Offer to work with other teams or initiate a special projects where you would like to contribute.
• Stay connected with colleagues regularly, those you are currently working with and those from previous jobs. You will feel more comfortable when you want or need to reach out for assistance and connect with them.
• Be politic–be savvy and aware of what is going on in your workplace– which does not mean you have to be political or engage in the politics if you don’t want to. You do want to know what is going on.
• Humor, laughter and helping others are great ways to be visible.
visibility 2.0 will focus on your story.
June 29th, 2010 sheila
…either in print or on-line? It is the random article, the short snap-shot about a person (business professional, advocate, politician, public servant and others), a brief tidbit about a new business, gadget, creative idea, or professional organization – that often provides the hint, inspiration, curiosity or germ of a new idea to research, investigate or just reflect upon.
We are curious, we read about something and then, an idea begins to take shape. And, if we take the next step to get more information, it might lead us to discover something new or something to modify or change. And yes, FastCompany is just one of a zillion places to get information. For those not familiar with this publication, it was started in the mid-90’s as a magazine that focused on the “new economy”. It has continued to keep that focus, looking at issues related to innovation, leadership, technology, design and creativity as they relate to business (for profit, non-profit and public sector), products and services. In addition, it also offers stories of how older, established companies have instituted changes to prepare for the future. If you want to discover a wave of the future, it is a good place to start.
As I work with my clients, how do I help them prepare for the work of the future? Since I do not have a crystal ball, I find reading/flipping the pages of FastCompany may provide some clues to share and inspire a client to do some research, to investigate, to take the next step. Here are a couple examples:
- Several years ago, there was a story about some architects who wanted to design temporary housing for victims of disasters and for refugees. Their criteria included sustainability, function and privacy. They had some interesting concept drawings. This idea was creative and also introduced the concept of sustainability before it became part of the lexicon.
- In the current issue, there was an item in the calendar section that promoted a conference for the Society for Environmental Graphic Design. These are the folks who design store layouts, museum exhibit spaces, subway information posts. At the conference, they will talk about what makes a space navigable or informative; form and function. Here is an interesting profession that incorporates multidisciplinary skills, knowledge and expertise.
- There is also an article about a woman who has developed a business to educate employees about the ‘power of food” to help them improve their health. She has focused on wellness plans to promote healthy eating in the workplace by partnering with health insurance companies and food companies. Again, I was curious about a new concept/business; another approach for a business to advocate for health, which also incorporated multidisciplinary skills, knowledge and industries.
- In this issue, the magazine has identified people they consider to be the 100 most creative people in business. Now I believe creativity is in the eye of the beholder, however reading about the people on this list and what they do and what their organization does can spark new ideas, reframe old perspectives and provide inspiration and/or direction.
Why is this relevant?
Change happens because we are ready and because we are open and responsive to what is going on around us. What kind of change am I talking about? I’m talking about changes in your personal or professional life that could be transformational or incremental. Changes that could include: where you live, how you live; adding creativity or volunteerism to your life; taking classes or getting a new degree; choosing to be a new mom or dad; strategizing for a promotion or a new career; leadership tips; ideas for a new product or service; investing opportunities; trends and new perspectives; or strategies for organizational change.
For those of you who feel stuck…you don’t have to be. I encourage you to read this publication or other blogs, magazines, listen to lectures or take classes. Step out, engage with the world, be curious, be inspired and motivated. And you will be more prepared to take the next step to make a change in your life.
April 13th, 2010 sheila
“Time Lost and Found,” the title of Anne Lamott’s article in the April issue of Sunset Magazine, succinctly describes ( with great humor ) the value of making time…for the things we say we want to experience, share, try, create, do. So often, probably daily, I hear the cry, ‘I just don’t have time’ or ‘I have trouble getting motivated” or “ I am so tired.” We seem to let our busyness take over our lives. It is like we are in a tunnel; we stay in the weeds, forget to look up, out, around at the forest, at our surroundings, at what is important; what we say we care about.
Quality of Life and Work-Life Balance. Are they goals? Are the attainable? I say, yes! …only if we take the time to incorporate them into our life.
I’d am including a link to Anne Lamott’s article. If you are one of those people who would like to make the time to reflect, create, experience or share, then I hope you find this article helpful, inspirational and motivating.
January 16th, 2010 sheila
There is always something fresh and new about the new year! Feelings of hope; having expectations that things are possible… like this is time for renewal.
It is a time we all like to assess our lives, personal and professional. What do we want to add, enhance, eliminate or change? We set goals and our ‘new year’s resolutions.’ What works best for you? To identify long term, strategic objectives along with a detailed plan? Or to have short term, specific goals?
I have found that the best first question is: How do you want your life to be? How do you want your work to fit into your life? What is it that you would like to be different? And how can you incorporate these changes into your daily life?
From changing eating habits and exercise, to the household project, to getting organized, to a new class or making a career change, I have found that when you think about these activities as something to do, it is more difficult to stick with them. Distractions, along with the realities of life, can interfere and the great idea to fall by the wayside. We have all experienced that!
Realistically, Charlene knew she would not go to the gym 3 days a week. She knew that if she made that her goal, it would not happen and she would feel bad. So, instead she found a trainer to work with her 1 day a week, along with exercises she could do at home. Her plan was get some guidance, accountability and a program that felt doable. Her goal, was to establish this small step as a regular part of her daily life and then add a 2nd day and maybe a third.
Matt wanted to write. He had many ideas and loved to talk about them. He loved thinking about writing them down. He was just too busy. Or so he thought. It takes a lot of initial effort to change old bad habits and incorporate realistic changes that contribute to the life you want. That was true for Matt too. He developed a realistic plan for 1-2 hours a day twice a week. He could put anything he wanted on the blank page, including what he wanted to write. After a month, this became part of his life. He stopped talking about writing and began to fill the blank pages. Writing was now part of his life, and he was closer to having the life he wanted.
We always forget that the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. The good news is that after a few steps we can look back and see how far we have come.
New year’s resolutions can be good. Change and a fresh start feel great. Take some time to plan how you can incorporate the changes you want into your life.
Happy New Year! sw 1/15/10
December 8th, 2009 sheila
Though ‘Green Careers’ sounds like a promise for the future (and sometimes just a sound bite) there are some opportunities at present. And certainly there is the potential for growth in the ‘green economy.’
As the industry sorts itself out, some of the language being used can be confusing, overlapping and unclear. Sustainability, clean tech, energy efficiency, green, carbon neutral are all terms that sometimes are used interchangeably. I have listed some resources below that might help to clarify and provide some direction for you if you are interested in a ‘green career.’