Archive for December, 2011

The Job Coaches: Improve your influence skills

December 16, 2011
Do you ever feel envious of that successful work colleague who’s connected to everyone, whose projects and budgets get approved, and whose opinions are actively sought out because people want to know what they think? Don’t waste time being jealous. Instead, expand and improve your influence skills and abilities.photo

Whether at work or in your personal life, your ability to make an appeal based on logic, emotion or a sense of cooperation is essential for success.

Influence and leadership are related in that anyone, regardless of having a job title or not, can be proficient at them. Influence comes into play when you want to build relationships, secure support, inspire, persuade other people to champion your idea, or when you need to spark someone’s imagination.

People with first-rate influence skills combine interpersonal, communication and assertiveness abilities.

The intent of influence is to build a network of win-win interaction between people, not to control or manipulate them.

To determine how effective your influence skills are, ask yourself: Do I get results through and with people? Is my involvement sufficient to make something happen? Do I have the personal power to shape outcomes and cause things to happen?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, polishing up your skills in the following areas will help you increase your sphere of influence.

Become a perceptive observer. Watch what’s going on in your company or around you at home or with friends. Individuals with strong influencing skills examine, ask and validate.

Be knowledgeable and have a bias for action. If you want to have an impact on results, know your organization and its culture, as well as your job, inside and out. Be clear about what you want to achieve. Under-promise and over-deliver on timelines for getting things accomplished.

Be visible by engaging and involving others. Actively listen to what people are saying. People who have highly developed influence skills first pull people to their ideas, and then push those ideas to the rest of the organization through other people.

Be self-aware. Understand and control your own emotions and actions. Know both your limitations and your strengths, and then position yourself to maximize what you do best.

Give, give, GIVE! When you give, people will give back. Never underestimate someone’s heartfelt desire to leave a positive mark. Make your own constructive contribution while seeing, and appreciating, the gifts of others.

Cultivate meaningful two-way relationships. Help before someone asks. Say thank you. Be there when people need you. Be a broker of ideas and information. People like to be around those who make positive things happen.

Be sincere and authentic. Approach situations seeking to find a mutually beneficial outcome; avoid the “I win, you lose” mentality. Assure that your words and your deeds are consistent and rooted in goodness. As Herminia Ibarra, a professor at the Harvard Business School says, “Integrity can be a source of power.”

Ace these skills, and enjoy being called an influential leader!

Jane Perdue is CEO of The Braithewaite Group.The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, December 4, 2009.

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C4W Member Profile: Buffie Bell Lilly

December 14, 2011

What is your profession? Professional Matchmaker, Charleston Wine Pairings

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? I sing the National Anthem for the RiverDogs, The Charleston Battery and The Stingrays. I also enjoy running the bridge…it’s so beautiful after a long day!

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? 2 years

What inspired you to become a member? The Speed Networking event last year when I met so many inspiring women.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? It has really opened my eyes to all of the incredible, independent women business owners in the lowcountry and inspired me to start my own!

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? It is truly amazing how we women do it all with the pressure that the media puts on all of us to look perfect, be the perfect wife/mom and have a hot dinner on the table when our husbands get home (with heels and a cute dress on of course). I certainly don’t live up to these standards, but I do my best!

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? THINK POSITIVE! Believe in yourself, focus on your dreams, and NEVER let negativity stop you.

The Job Coaches: Rules teach art of negotiation

December 9, 2011

Nothing aids success as much as the ability to negotiate. Inside the organization, getting the position, promotion, pay increase, corner office or the authority to launch your project requires negotiation with superiors and colleagues.

In the outside world, everything from entering a market to signing the right contract is a negotiation. The list is endless.

Rule No. 1: If the item to be negotiated is important to you, do the research. To be sure, understanding every aspect of the issues and parties involved in the negotiation does not guarantee success. But a command of the facts and a clear-eyed appraisal of the situation will greatly minimize the prospect of failure.

Rule No. 2: Understand the communications revolution that is just beginning so you can separate what is factual and reliable from the coming avalanche of background noise.

Organizations have already changed. Layers of managerial authority have been removed and the old rules, policies, procedures, buffers and reporting systems have largely been replaced with standards of procedures built on information exchanges.

Now, new technologies are altering the ways people get their information (and misinformation) and interact to interpret it and pass it on.

Consider just one new product, recently reviewed by Walter Mossberg in the Wall Street Journal: Motorola Cliq, he writes, provides, in a hand-held device with easy screen access, a method of consolidating communications and social networking that allows people to constantly display their own status and keep up with others on various services such as Facebook and Twitter.

What this means is that the line between what is inside the organization and outside has been erased. Anything impacting an issue to be negotiated may be immediately available to a multitude. Separating the knowledgeable judgments of the well-informed from the opinions of people who don’t know what they are talking about just got harder.

Rule No. 3: Set the discussion agenda by framing the issue in a way that can benefit you. Dealing with children has given lots of women this practical experience.

“Do you want to wear your red jacket or your blue jacket to school?” usually works better than “You need to wear a jacket today.”

Rule No. 4: Power is important. Realistically appraise where the power lies and plan from there. You are a skilled, hard-working, and valuable employee but underappreciated and fed up.

Ready to tell the boss you are leaving if you don’t get what you want? Run through your mind the scene where, after hearing you out, the boss stands up, offers a hand, says “good-bye” and wishes you good luck in whatever you do next.

Or would you be better off lining up a new job first and then having the conversation?

Rule No. 5: Walk a long way in the shoes of the other party. Anticipate the possible responses to everything you will say and offer and refine your presentation accordingly.

Rule No. 6: Prepare for a long negotiating process, consider the possibility of flare-ups and be prepared to always remain professional.

Rule No. 7: Pick your walk-away point. We all want an ideal outcome, but we seldom get everything we ask for. Decide what is minimally acceptable to you in advance.

Finally, a word about women, power and negotiations. As any number of studies have shown, women do not prove to be nicer, softer or less effective as managers or negotiators than men. But a number of prevailing sex-role stereotypes that hold men and women to different standards. You have to find your balance on a playing field that is still a bit tilted.

Dorothy Perrin Moore, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship Emeritus, The Citadel.The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, October 30 2009.

C4W Member Profile: Vikki Matsis

December 7, 2011

What is your profession? Manager of the Notso Hostel.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Singing every Thursday night at Fish Restaurant on King Street.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? One month.

What inspired you to become a member? Jane Perdue is a friend and a great inspiration to me. She is an active member and I wanted to become a part of a strong community.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? It has inspired me to step into my power in the strong leadership position I hold at work.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? It has positively affected my life in that I am yin to the world’s yang.  I can influence strong, progressive change as a compassionate, deeply caring person.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? Turn off the television. Your thoughts determine your future- what goes in willinevitably come out. Meditate on what brings you happiness and work towards keeping your peace of mind.

The Job Coaches: Coping with a difficult boss

December 2, 2011

Think you’ve got the worst boss in the world? Well, your boss may have serious competition according to a recently released five-year comparative study commissioned by Lynn Taylor Consulting.

photoAccording to this study, seven out of 10 people believe bosses and toddlers act alike.

“Self-oriented” is noted as the top offending boss behavior, with stubborn, overly demanding, impulsive and interruptive rounding out the top five.

A recent Gallup management study of one million employed workers confirmed that having a poor relationship with the boss is the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs.

“People leave managers, not companies … in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue,” Gallup wrote in its survey findings.

However, with the economy in tatters and jobs hard to come by, quitting may not be a viable option.

While you cannot control how your boss behaves, you are in control of how you manage the situation.

–Is your boss a glory grabber who takes all the credit for your good work? Sure it rankles to see the boss accept all the praise and fail to mention your contribution, but there are a few things you can subtly do to favorably remind others of your involvement. Send e-mails containing pertinent work information to your boss and include other key management personnel in the distribution. Casually mention your input on a project if you get to share an elevator ride with your boss’ boss.

–Are you dealing with a weathervane boss who changes the rules without notice? The most effective way to deal with this impulsive behavior is to clearly define the work outcomes with your boss when the assignment is given, and then send a confirming e-mail to him/her that outlines the established expectations. When your boss flip-flops on what is to be done, calmly share the e-mail and renegotiate the results.

–Does your boss remind you of a helicopter hovering overhead, constantly interrupting and micromanaging your work? First, you need to recognize and accept your boss’ deep-seated need for control; and then manage around it. Reassure him that you have the bases covered and keep him updated on your progress by sending periodic e-mails, reports, phone calls, a quick coffee chat or whatever communication vehicle your company uses.

–Could your boss be doubling as a secret agent, that mysterious person who’s missing in action and who communicates irregularly? With a boss like this, you must take responsibility for getting on his radar (sure it’s a pain, but failing to do so only hurts your performance review) by scheduling meetings or popping into his office to quickly chat, ask questions and confirm work assignments.

Bosses typically fall into one of three categories: those who are totally clueless about their behaviors, those who know they aren’t a good boss and do want to get better, and those who plain don’t care.

If your boss falls into one of the first two categories, you may want to discuss your concerns with them. Organize what you want to say, present it in a thoughtful manner and do not respond in anger, which only hurts you.

If your boss falls in the last category and/or may be behaving unlawfully, talk to your HR representative if your organization has one; otherwise speak with another trusted person in management or decide if you can continue to work for the company.

Always take the high road in dealing with a bad boss so your performance is above reproach.

Jane Perdue is CEO of The Braithewaite Group.The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, November 20, 2009.


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