Tag Archives: Career Management

You are employed, but are you employable?

Given the changes in the economy, technology, society, it is also necessary to change one’s mindset about jobs.

Mostly, but not only, because of the communism, our parents found themselves in a passive expectation of becoming an employee. They devoted a number of years to an employer, working a number of hours a day in exchange for a certain salary and a sense of security. Nevertheless, upon on ability, political views, hard work, that job could evolve through a promotion into a more financially rewarding one, but not necessarily a more enjoyable one.

Hence, this mindset prevented many to proceed to a career change after the communist regime was ended. Companies were restructured; thousands of people were laid off and found themselves in an impossibility of finding a job. One of the reasons was that they were completely unprepared for a job search, had few transferable skills, they were unaware of their strengths and weaknesses and of what a competitive workforce market needed.

Now (after almost 20 years since the revolution) we are facing again an economical crisis and many people are still unaware of what employability stands for. In those times, but mostly in this economical context, there must be much more active selling of the competencies, experiences and personal qualities one has to offer.

It’s high time for the focus to change from “job” to “career”. Jobs don’t come for granted. Therefore one should be always ready for a change and think about next steps to follow on his/her career path. To look on the bright side, we have the opportunity to take control and responsibility on our professional lives.

We live in a world where the essential qualities needed are (as characterized by William Bridges in his book Job Shift): employability (retaining your attractiveness to employers by displaying and developing those competencies valued by them), vendor mindedness (thinking at your employer as it was your client) and resiliency (finding your security from within, by knowing your strengths and weaknesses rather than being dependent to an external factor).

You may have a job now, but have you ever asked yourself what is the level of your employability skills?

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Performance Feedback III – The Receiver

In my previous post I tried to provide a piece of advice on how to offer performance feedback in a manner that leads to a constructive attitude from the receiver.

Today’s post is on the constructive attitude one should have when receiving a performance feedback:

  • Firstly, remember that you are in the same boat and you need to be sure that you are paddling in the same direction. This is not only about you and your needs. This is about how you can both grow and perform together.
  • Secondly, be prepared for this discussion!  You should be the first reviewing your performance, whether the manager asked you to do this or not.  I suggest you to start by listing your achievements and failures, thus you will be able to identify their causes. Analyzing those causes leads you to a better understanding of what you should stop/start/keep doing in order to improve your results.
  • Please note that performance feedback is not only given during the annual performance review. If it is feedback about your work or competencies, it is a performance feedback. You should take it into consideration and act consequently.
  • In order for this to be a win-win situation, be sure that you really listen. The performance review is not about criticism.
  • Don’t blame others for your poor results. The questions you should ask yourself are:”Given the context, could I’ve done better?” and “Was it under my control to change that context?” If you can answer either of those questions positively than this means you have room for improvement. The manager may accept the fact that the outcomes are not entirely under your control (lack of resources provided by the company, market decrease etc), but only to a limited extent.
  • When you challenge one of your manager’s opinions do it tactfully. Bring arguments to support your perspective and be sure you understood his/her arguments, in order to fight them (if the case). Build your case around company’s interest, not your own interest, as the “performance “ part in “performance feedback” refers to how you manage to meet company’s objectives.

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Performance Feedback II – The Sender

As promised in my previous post on Performance Feedback, I’m  back with a piece of advice for the sender.

Here are some things that you, the manager (sender), could consider in order to encourage a constructive attitude from the receiver:

  1. Firstly, be sure that the standards are clearly understood by the receiver. (You should have done that during the previous performance review when you set the requirements). You won’t get anywhere if you don’t refer to the same things.
  2. The performance feedback should be continuous, specific and able to obtain an active response.
    1. Continuous feedback – You don’t need to get at the annual performance review in order to provide feedback. Keep in mind that the worst feedback is no feedback.
    2. Specific – be specific, bring examples and arguments and suggest alternatives. After receiving a feedback that person should know what exactly he/she should start/stop/keep doing (active response).
  3. Focus your feedback on results and competencies; don’t direct it at the person in front of you. If you fail in doing this, the receiver takes it personally and the natural reaction is to get defensive. (Is useless to mention that words such as “guilt”, “fault” and the general  ”I am right, you are wrong.”  attitude must be avoided at all costs.)
  4. Walk the talk – if you promised something, do it. If you weren’t able to do it, take responsibility for that, explain and evaluate the consequences. (e.g.: you promised to budget an assistant for her/him, but the budget was reviewed. You can’t expect  him/her to provide the same results as if he/she had that resource).
  5. Accept the fact that results are not entirely under his/her control (lack of resources provided by the company, market decrease etc). Take the context into consideration when providing feedback. If you do this, you can avoid both coming off as absurd and generating a defensive reaction.  The question you should ask yourself is:”Given the context, what could‘ve been done better?”

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Performance Feedback – I

I found here a funny analogy with performance feedback:

Question: What’s the difference between performance feedback and a root canal?

Answer: Anesthesia

During performance reviews, I’ve noticed two dominant reactions when receiving negative feedback:

  • Constructive – The receiver listens to the sender’s arguments (if the case, also bringing counter arguments) and he/she provides alternative scenarios, in order to ensure a complete understanding of the issue (if I were to do this differently, than the results would be better). To sum up, the focus is on improvement (finding the path from the current situation to the desired one).
  • Defensive – the receiver brings excuses for his/her failures, finding external factors to blame without taking any personal responsibility. The focus is now not on what he/she can do better but on what others should do in order for him to provide better results. Basically, you play a round of the blame game.

Premise: feedback, as a communication process involves two parties: the sender and the receiver.

Not only is it in the interest of both parties for the reaction to be a constructive one, but it also is in their power to achieve it.

To this effect I will focus on the role of each side in future posts.

LE.: Performance Feedback II – The Sender

LE 2: Performance Feedback III – The Receiver

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Why did you apply for this job?

As unemployment continues to grow while companies cut their costs and look for more ways to save during this time of need, the job seekers seem to be more indiscriminate when applying for a job than ever. Consequently, employers are flooded with hundreds of applications for any position available.

Facts:

  • A number of candidates apply for two different positions in the same company. (different departments, different competencies and level of experience required)
  • The number of applications received for a position is three times higher than last year (same position).
  • A requirement specified as mandatory in the job ad is met by only 25% of the applicants.
  • A significant percentage of the candidates are overqualified for the job.

Advice:

  • It is not the number of jobs you apply for that will provide results. Results don’t come proportionate to the number of applications you send in, they are much rather brought on by a careful choice, made by taking into consideration your own motivation and competence.
  • When the recruiter writes “mandatory” in a job ad, surprisingly enough, that is actually what he/she means! When a requirement is mandatory, and you don’t meet it, don’t apply for that job. It shows disrespect for the recruiter.
  • Don’t apply for two very different positions at the same company. In this case it’s easy for the recruiter to conclude that you don’t know what you want.
  • Keep in mind: Most of the times the recruiter will reject obviously overqualified candidates. (An overqualified employee doesn’t find challenge in his/her job, gets bored, or even frustrated and will go for a new and better opportunity as soon as it presents itself. If you are overqualified, but you really want that job, tell us why in your cover letter.

Remember that we want you to want this job in this company, not a job in a company.

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