Posts Tagged ‘self-assessment’

For Leaders: The Importance of a Monthly Review

This week, for me, ends another graduate class, of which I’m now spending time finishing up grading. One of my favorite questions for the last discussion board is their take-away’s from the course. It is very uplifting and heartfelt when you see that the material covered has ‘sunk in’ and made a difference.

For leaders, doing the same type of review is important to see what their ‘lessons-learned’ have been, and to see results the team has made and how the leader has impacted these results. These reviews can be done daily, weekly or monthly (preferable) to keep on-track with goals and results earned. It also ensures that problems have been handled well and assesses the status of relationships with their workers.

So what goes into such as review? Here are questions to use and adapt in a leader’s assessment:

  • What worked well – what were the ‘wins’?
  • What can I do more of to build on?
  • What did not work well?
  • What do I need to stop doing?
  • What has gotten in the way of being effective in my role?
  • Did I access appropriate resources to get the work done, whether in people, outside resources, or tools?
  • Have I addressed any employee issues or conflicts that have occurred? Have I met with the employee in a 1:1 meeting to get to the root of the problem and coached them for a positive resolution?
  • Have I met regularly with the team? Have I encouraged and supported them?
  • Have I maintained good relationships with my upline and other partners in the organization? Have I encouraged this with my employees?
  • How has my attitude and outlook been? Have I worked on this?
  • Have I communicated effectively, ensuring that my message is heard the same by all?
  • Have I worked on my personal development and self-care? What actions did I take?
  • What are my ‘next’ goals?

These are just a few questions to assess and reflect on, all with the intent to build off current successes and move on to the new day/week/month’s goals. We can’t go forward if we don’t know where we’ve been; self-awareness and assessment is the way to start.

If you need help or would like support/accountability in completing your self-assessment and making plans to lead more effectively, let’s talk; contact us today at

You Have a Degree but Not Satisfied: Now What?

Not sure if this is a (growing) trend or not, but I’m seeing more clients who have graduated with a degree win what they thought was the career of their choice, but who are now finding dissatisfaction and unfulfillment.The reasons vary but it seems to lead into an aspect of once they got into the workplace. One client did not like how the business was run, while another did not like the poor treatment coworkers showed each other. Still, others have said poor leadership and follow-through as contributing factors.

Why would one pursue a degree that is not bringing them all they hoped? I can think of several reasons:

  • they were ‘pushed’ into the career path by their parents
  • they thought that career or industry sounded good
  • they did not do a career exploration, or it was inadequate, to research all about the job and the organizations that hire for them
  • unmet expectations between what they thought the career was and the entry into that career versus what they actually expereienced

Career exploration is critical as you approach entry into the world of work; this entails: assessment of the self, the preferred work environment and the industry your degree is leading you to. Self-assessment basically covers your skills, experiences, aptitudes, interests, passions and all that helps you do work tasks. The preferred work environment is the type of organizational structure which allows you to do your best work, whether you prefer a top-down or bottom-up environment, or you want a quiet or a relaxed/fun environment. The industry includes companies who hire for the path you chose, how viable the industry is (i.e. longevity or robust), and typical salaries.

All of the information gleamed from this exploration will help you to make better informed decision prior to getting into a chosen career. The other step is to determine the expectations you have and then, through  the research – which will help you ease into your degree path easier.


How to Do a Career Exploration and Why it Matters

Throughout the life of you career, you will experience highs and low; some jobs will be a great fit while others will leave you feeling frustrated and depleted. This is why it is important to do a career exploration evaluation, which  involves assessing not just the self but industries as well as work environments. If effectively done, you would know your interests, values and abilities as well as the type of environment you work best in, along with the types of jobs available that match (Greenhaus, Callanan and Godshalk, 2010, Sage Publications).

There are many benefits to uncovering these traits, which can also include: passions, aptitudes, and personality, so that you can now set good, workable goals that will lead to finding and reaching them for greater career success. Knowing your interests, abilities  and aptitudes will let you focus on finding work tasks that relate and keep you engaged in those tasks; knowing your values will lead to finding the work environment that aligns with them so you will be involved within that environment. Knowing our traits should lead to doing the research needed that will get your desired outcome – both short and long-term, as well as overall job and life satisfaction.

Here are some areas to evaluate, which should not just be done when you are looking for a job; these are great to assess often, such as every month or quarterly. Keeping your ‘finger on the pulse’ will ensure your career needs are being met or identify and correct when not:

  • values – the things you hold dear, or that you either would or would not tolerate
  • interests – what you like, dislike, what you like to do, etc.
  •  abilities and aptitudes – what types of activities are you good at or come naturally or with ease
  • personality – characteristics that include: thought, behaviors, emotions
  • beliefs – what do you ‘live by’ regarding how and when work should and should not be done; how much of a strong-hold do you live by these beliefts
  • decision-making – do you make decisions easily or are they difficult; can you make independent decisions, rash decisions, or do you need validation when doing so
  • conflict style – how do you respond when conflict occurs, i.e. stay silent, yell or in an aggressive manner, get back a someone, etc.
  • leadership abilities – do you like to lead people or projects (or not); do you enjoy being in the ‘limelight;’ can you handle a lot of responsibility; can you see the ‘big picture;’ what characteristics do you possess that are leadership material
  • skills – knowledge and experience learned either independently or on-the-job
  • communication – effective listening skills; ability to send and receive messages effectively; appropriate use of body language; ability to convey messages in multiple mediums, i.e. verbal, email, text, reports, others, etc.
  • preferred work environment – type of environment that suits identified traits
  • preferred type of lead to work for – type of personal interactions or traits desired in a leader, and how you want to be directed in the work you do
  • preferred co-worker or team – what type(s) of character traits would you like to spend your time with (like you, not like you)
  • wants/needs – what work activities and environments do you absolutely need to have, versus those desired (example – money you can live on versus wanting a high desired salary; location and proximity; benefits; work-life balance preferences)
  • tolerations – what you’re willing to overlook, accept, adapt or learn to cope/live with

This is  long list to assess but isn’t it worth it ensure you are in the right career, with your needs being met, as opposed to being in a j-o-b. As stated earlier, assessing these on a regular basis will validate what you are currently doing or to recognize and make changes.You can compare a potential job opportunity with these as well, to see how much of a match there is between your list and an organizations.  Aren’t you worth it?

If you’d like help to perform a ‘good’ career exploration or put a career plan together, contact us today for a complementary Discovery Session to learn more:


Mistakes as Learning Opportunities, Not Failures

One thing I know for sure is that we all make mistakes on a daily basis.  Not all of these errors are major; it can be as simple as missing a deadline at work or pulling out in front of someone while driving.  Regardless of the severity, mistakes actually are learning opportunities to help us not make them, again but they also can help us uncover more about ourselves.

I find that most people look at their mistakes equating to some form of failure, which somehow leading them to believe that they are a failure.  It all depends on your perspectives for how you view whatever error, faux-pas, or other term you give to mistakes you make.  If your outlook is such that you are optimistic, i.e. the ‘glass half full,’ these events will not lead to feelings of major upset or despair as they do with the person whose outlook is ‘glass half-empty.’  These types of people often feel as if these types of events or situations are done to them and they are more prone to making more of them.  Eventually, they feel like a victim of circumstances.

Years ago, I used to say that Murphy’s Law  was made for me; Murphy’s Law, by the way, states that ‘if anything bad will happen , it will.’  It was only after I made the decision to stop the madness that my life turned around.  Here are my suggestions to turn your mistakes into learning opportunities and move forward:

  • I made the decision to review areas that I erred in my decisions  and to look at them from all perspectives:  what was the circumstance I was facing; what were my options; how did I make the decision to proceed as I did and what influences were involved; did I look at the consequences of my actions; and did I get advice, either taking it or ignoring the advice given. This assessment allowed me to really understand areas that I may have not been as insightful or thinking in going on the path that led to the mistake.
  • Armed with these answers, I then further looked at the alternatives of those thoughts, decision and actions and compared them with how I would make them now; we ‘grow’ minute-by-minute so a decision we make now might not be the we would again in a short period of time.  I needed to look at my frame of thought or any fears that might have been in the way; I had to also look to see if I had enough information to make a good decision to act on or if others were influential  (did I go with the crowd).   This information now allowed me to identify patterns or habits that I could now correct or amend.
  • Finally, I asked myself what I could learn from my past poor situations and then replayed them in my current mind-frame to now ‘see’ newer and more positive results.  Remember that our visual field is very powerful in positively altering our thoughts and feelings so using it helped me to create new outcomes.

That is how I turned my past mistakes into learning opportunities; taking personal responsibility for my actions also helped to not feel victimized by these situations which allowed me to view – and appreciate – them as part of my life experiences.  Now, when faced with any new situations, I am now armed with the forethought and confidence to move in the ‘right’ direction.   I encourage you to go review any mistakes you’ve made and turn them into positive learning experiences so you will, as the saying goes, ‘Go boldly in the direction of your dreams!’

Is a Career Transition Really In Your Best Interest?

The circumstances of the economy, over the past several years, has forced a lot of people to take jobs that they would not otherwise have taken.   People had to do what they had to do.  But the uncertainty of the economy has had a greater impact on American workers; most have had to endure layoffs and reorganizations that were necessary to weather the economic downfall and keep their doors open.  Those that were “rewarded” with keeping their job soon learned that they were given more work and job tasks to compensate for those who had left.  While this was a hard transition, most soon learned to adapt and adopt their new roles and new-found job skills.  But the return of the economy has a lot of these workers seeking new opportunities and wanting to find a new job that will work better for them – they feel they need to make a career transition into a new company or an altogether new position or industry.  After all, they can take these new skills and use them anywhere – right?

Well, I for one belive that skills are skills which can be transferable across industries.  If you have business skills then why does it matter which industry you choose to use those skills?  But I also believe that making a career transition might not be in one’s best interest.  I think that some deep insight and reflection needs to occur to determine if the job or the organization is truly not a ‘fit’, or that there are not opportunities to use those skills in other ways that is a win-win for both you and the organization.  Without taking time to research these questions, you could set yourself up for failure or miss out on making your mark within your organization.  Companies today want loyalty – employees who will stay and grow with them; rewards will come.  So staying in your current position and looking at ways to leverage your skills, show your willingness to take on new tasks and successfully completing them, and being assertive with your career management might be the best thing to do as opposed to transitioning into a new career where you have to start over and prove yourself. 

I’m all for career transitions – I made one myself several years ago and have found a fulfillment I’ve never known.  I won’t lie and say it has not been a tough journey, at times, that is filled with peaks and valleys.  But at the end of the day, I know this is the right decision for me.  So before you make the leap, take time to explore your reasons for wanting a change, what benefits it will bring, and then identify your motivation and commitment to the process.   I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve made a career transition and if you feel you made the right decision. What steps might you add?

Have You Ever Been Blindsided?

Bob is a manager at a large financial call center.  He is in charge of 100 employees, who are responsible for collections.  Bob goes about his day, and weeks, problem-solving and motivating his employees.  He feels he has created a good team and that his employees like and respect him.  So imagine his surprise when he was called into his boss’s office and told that his employees felt he was overbearing and mad all the time.   His boss told him that he would need to “change” or there could be further action taken.  After the meeting, Bob was furious; he felt blindsided!  He did not understand who would have said those statements or why when things were going so well.

Have you ever been in this type of situation?  I’m sure we’ve all experienced a blindside, whether at work or in our personal relationships.  This occurs due to getting into ourselves and our perceptions and expectations about situations.   We get into routines as we go about our daily lives that we often forget to pay attention to our outside happenings.  In the case of  Bob, he lived in his own perception of how he wanted his team to function but, when he actually looked back, he realized that he was so busy focusing on the metrics and reports that he forgot about the people. It became apparent to him that he was short at times and that his tone of voice could put people off.

So how can you not wind up like Bob?  It first starts with taking an assessment of yourself – your actions, thoughts, words, and body language all play a part in your communications with others.  Pay more attention to how you communicate and put more effort on acknowledging other people.  Listening is also a skill to be honed – use active listening, empathy and reflecting back what you heard to prevent any miscommunications and to let the other person know that you are truly engaged in the conversation.  Lastly, work on showing appreciation for others – often things need to be said but when we do them in an appreciative manner, people will respond; saying thank you or acknowledging others accomplishments will have them singing your praises.

It’s not a good feeling to be blindsided – just ask Bob.  But if you are, then it’s time to refocus on your actions, and not others, in order to change the situation.  It can lead to increased admiration, loyalty and respect of others and can propel you to a higher level.  As for Bob, once he worked on himself, he improved his relationship with his team so much that he got promoted to a Vice President at the company.   Following these steps can help you to never get blindsided again!

Have you ever been blindsided and, if so, how did you handle it? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Career Planning – Strategies that Help you Move to Your Dream Career

In the process  of effective career management, one step entails career planning. These are specific strategies to take that will lead you to a fulfilling career path. It is one thing to plan and to have a goal, which we talked about the last time. But without specific steps to take, the goal becomes nothing more than a dream – an unfulfilled dream.

In career planning, there should be specific strategies you will use to get you to your goal. As in self-assessment, you need to assess and investigate a particular job or career you are interested in. This means researching it fully. This can involve:

  •  the type of schooling or certifications needed; how long can this take and how much money it may cost; what will be the return on investment for your present job or to progress within you company or industry
  • the state of the industry – is there hiring going on (as opposed to layoffs), it is a saturated market; for example, this may not be the best time to become a real estate agent due to the depressed market
  • the pay scales for the job/industry
  •  businesses that hire for the job; investigating these organizations and their hiring procedures. Talk to friends or family that may work in these organizaions, or can direct you to someone who does. Get first-hand knowledge
  • a written plan with time-frames.

One step that I find most people don’t consider is to evaluate their preferred work environment. This means looking at the type of environment you prefer to work in or do your best in; do you like to work in-doors or out; do you like to be able to move around or are you satisfied with sitting at a desk or cubicle all day; do you like “action” or prefer a quieter environment. These all impact our level of satsifaction and involvement with both the job and the organization and are an important part of effective career planning.

Other steps to take in career planning may include attending career planning classes or workshops, self-help books, or working with a career coach. The key to effective career planning is to strategize and continually review those strategies, which helps you keep ‘your eye on the dream’.

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