How’s that for a catchy title? This is the perfect topic for this time of year, when people are evaluating their careers.
Recently I was asked for advice regarding bosses… here is a rewritten question which sums up the questions I’ve gotten:
I got this question from someone who is in a highly technical role… which means this person has deep subject matter expertise. I’ll try and answer in a way that makes sense to most people/jobs/roles.
Here’s my initial gut reaction: LEAVE. Don’t deal with the manager. The manager likely has a number of problems, including any degree of these:
They are unqualified for the job they got. The problem IS NOT that they are technically inept (on the flip side of the coin, having them be technically adept doesn’t mean they will be a better boss). The problem might be that they don’t know how to manage someone with deeper technical skills. They may be in over their heads with things such as empowering their team, how to manage in different managing styles (hands off vs. micromanagement), etc. They might simply be too immature in their career to have this job… which implies that perhaps they’ll grow into it, but do you have to suffer through their growth?
The manager is a narcissist. Let’s cut to the chase… perhaps I’m off-base here, but this last year I’ve been swimming in a pool with too many narcissists(one is too many for me). I’ve learned that this is more than just a mean name you can call your boss… there are a lot of people out there with narcissistic behavior. The problems and symptoms run a lot deeper than what a training or reprimand can do for them. If you want to feel depressed for a few hours, read up on narcissism – there are plenty of articles that talk about what it is and how to be around (work with, be married to, etc.) narcissists.
We could go on and list a dozen other problems, but let’s generalize and assume that your boss’s problem falls under one of these two issues. So where does that leave you?
If you are in a professional job, on a career path, my first bit of advice would be to work on LEAVING. Look for a new job. If you have expertise, if you aren’t appreciated, if the work conditions are not fun (or worse: they are hostile), there is no reason to subject yourself to daily torture. Working in a pleasant, fun, appreciative work environment is night-and-day compared to working at a job that you dread going to. If your boss isn’t going to change, it’s only a matter of time before you settle into the rut of work depression. Why subject yourself to that path?
Caveat: if you are in a low-level job, enjoy the ride. One of my first jobs was at Taco Bell. It seemed like everyone was crazy there… even (especially?) the managers. Me, my brother, and this other guy I think named Ron, had a super fun time. We didn’t let the craziness bother us because this was just a gig to earn some gas money… it wasn’t a career. If you are in a place like that, don’t worry about it too much… have fun! If you can’t, then, LEAVE.
If you are in a career, though, here are options:
LEAVE. I’ve already said that. It’s extreme. It might save your sanity.
Be Prepared. The old Boy Scout motto is splendid. Let’s say that you are unprepared to get laid off today. If so, you are probably afraid of getting laid off, losing the paycheck, etc. Where would you go?? However, let’s say you are prepared… and you get laid off. You might be thankful that you got laid off! Sure, you lost your job, but you are prepared (strong network, established brand, etc.). If you want to change how you feel about being in a crummy situation, work on career management, which can give you a glimmer of hope, and help you feel less trapped.
Hang in there, maybe. Assess the situation… how temporary/permanent is it? Is The Idiot (or the immature manager) the son of the owner? If so, it’s likely things won’t change anytime soon. If The Idiot might have a short lifespan at the company, will things change once he is gone? If not, then prepare to leave…
I guess you could try and help… but I’m assuming that it’s going to be too much work, and you might not get anywhere (except fired or laid off). You could talk to a their boss, but that gets weird (especially if their boss has loyalty towards them, or wants them to move up the ladder). If you have a big heart, go for it, but just watch out for your own mental and emotional health.
Have you noticed one of the categories of this blog (to the left) is “UNsocial Networking?” It’s towards the bottom of the list of categories. But what in the world does that mean?
I created that tag with a chuckle…. after all how, how can you be unsocial and network at the same time?
Indeed, I’m not suggesting that you should be unsocial. I wanted to make a distinction between old-fashioned, non-technology-based networking, and “social networking.”
While computer-based social networking is not going away, I think that we’ve gotten away from basic principles of relationships, hiding behind screens and canned messages and false relationships. Sure, a lot of good does and can happen online… I’m even an advocate of using any tools at our disposal to accomplish what we need to (see my post on Career Management from yesterday).
I did, however, single out UNsocial networking because I want to focus on those principle-based strategies and tactics. Let’s really focus on relationships, nurturing relationships, helping others, etc. Pick up some old books, whether it is How to Win Friends and Influence People or any of Harvey Mackay’s networking books. Learn about relationships beyond being Friends on Facebook or Connections on LinkedIn. Don’t let those become the goal… lest you find your network is nothing but a house of cards.
Over the last few years I’ve given hundreds of presentations titled Career Management 2.0. I’ve done webinars which people from around the world have tapped into, to listen to Career Management 2.0.
I’ve thought about this for years. Career Management replaces “job security.” I’m sure career experts can give you a five, seven, or even twenty-one point list of what Career Management means… if I had to, I could come up with long list, too.
But here’s the bottom line: I’ve boiled Career Management down to two things:
Networking, which includes growing your network and nurturing individual relationships, and
Personal Branding, which is simply how others would define you (or, whatever elegant definition you want to give).
I can (and do) talk for hours about this stuff. I’m passionate about it. When I lost my job in January of 2006 I still believed in job security. I didn’t think that a guy like me would have a problem finding a new job. I did “all the right things,” and so somehow, someone owed job security to me.
Of course I was wrong. And along my journey, I finally realized that the power I was looking for was only that which I would create. Where I needed to start is listed above… and it’s the exact same two things I still focus on today.
As we close the year out, take some time to let this settle in. What have you done to strengthen your network this year? What will you do next year?
What have you done to strengthen your brand this year? What will you do next year?
If this is top-of-mind, you’ll have a fun career. Transitions will come and go, but they’ll be much less painful, and shorter, if you internalize Career Management.
A common question I’ll hear is “I’m on JibberJobber, Now What???”
Okay, not in those exact words… but one day there might be a book with that very title! (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my first book title: I’m on LinkedIn – Now What???)
Anyway, we’ve put together various resources on how to get up and running with JibberJobber. There is a getting started guide on Slideshare here. Because I continue to hear the question, though, I’ve decided to use the Focus Fridays as an opportunity to record video of how to get started… you can see the series here, or see individual videos at the links below (this will be outdated as early as this Friday, so to see the most current videos, click here):
Many of you know I have tried to blog every work day since I started this blog, almost nine years ago. That makes for a lot of blog posts over the years!
I got to the point where I couldn’t really focus on anything until I had my blog post written. Many of them are from the heart. Many of them share what others might consider “secrets” of a successful job hunt.
In the last couple of years I’ve missed a day here, and even a week there. I started to miss consistently. I would usually miss if (a) I was on the road, or (b) I was working on a heavy deadline. The way I dealt with travel or deadlines before was to write a blog post before the big event, and then schedule it to post on the right day. Not too hard.
I finally realized, though, that writing blog posts was not my primary business. Of course, I always knew that, but I was letting that become Priority Numero Uno…. and neglecting other things I needed to take care of.
I wonder if you are doing the same thing.
There are some things that we gravitate towards… things that are comfortable, or fun, or easy. But those things might not be the right things to spend our time on.
I invite you to make a list of the important things to work on, and the things you are working on, and see if they are the same things. Otherwise, adjust your time and priorities. Don’t spend time on things that will get you no return.
One of the things I love about Mark LeBlanc’s stuff is he says to work on three High Value Activities each day. Consistently doing that is a super high priority. Are you working on any high value activities each day?
On this morning’s Focus Friday webinar I was astounded to read a comment from Paul in Minnesota about how many levels of connections he reached before he landed his job.
Some context: on many of my webinars, I’ve repeated one of the greatest things I learned in my own job search, which is that you find your job leads from your third and fourth degree contacts, not from your first and second degree contacts. This is such a profound concept…. the idea that as we develop relationships with people, we continually ask for introductions. More often than not, you won’t have your first or second degree contact. Unfortunately, the way LinkedIn works, they mess up how we track this. But in JibberJobber we can track down to the nth degree.
Anyway, Paul wrote this comment on our webinar today, in response to talking about the free vs. premium levels of JibberJobber (note that we were talking about the email2log feature… which is premium, but the tracking to of referrals is in the free level):
I’ve heard this type of gratitude for JibberJobber before… and I love hearing it (especially on a Friday, what a great way to end my work week :)). But what floored my was what Paul was doing: 22 Levels?
That is so awesome! That is how an effective job search is done! Talk to people, ask for referrals, do informational interviews….!
In the article, Martin (who you may have heard of before – he has authored a number of best selling career books (in the Knock em Dead series)), has a section titled: Build A Career Management Database From Your Social Networking Leads
I want to share some of what he wrote, and my thoughts:
>> Building a career management database on your desktop now, and nurturing it over the long haul, is a critical component of your long-term survival and financial security.
Yep, that’s what we have been preaching for almost nine years now. But don’t build it on your “desktop.” In the last nine years how many PCs have you gone through? How many files, folders, programs, etc. have you lost by switching from one computer to another? Instead of building this critical component of your long-term survival and financial security” on your desktop, build your long-term database in JibberJobber. It’s an absolute no-brainer. The desktop is not the place to put your critical component (aka, your career management database).
>> In addition to job postings, you should create folders for target companies that gather together all the insights you unearth about that company and your contacts within it when they are not already captured as networking contacts on your social media sites. You should capture the same information about recruitment firms and your contacts within them.
Absolutely. Most job seekers start their tracking system thinking they need to track information about the jobs they are applying for, and hoping to interview for. This is important, but I would suggest that it’s more important to track (1) relationships and communication with network contacts, and (2) information you gather about potential target companies.
Here’s one point I disagree with… Martin says to track information about “your contacts … when they are not already captured as networking contacts on your social media sites.”
I think that a social network site, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Xing, etc. is a great place to find contacts, research contacts, gather information… but it IS NOT the place to track information such as when you met them, what conversations you’ve had with them, when you were supposed to follow-up with them, how strong your relationship is, who introduced you to them, who they introduced you to, etc. These are all things that you aren’t going to do in a social networking tool, but you can do all of them in JibberJobber.
JibberJobber is like a hub for collecting and tracking information that you glean from other sources, whether from various social sites, news articles, job postings (which sometimes have names and email addresses), face to face meetings, etc. Don’t let the whimsical features of a social platform decided whether you can or cannot track this stuff the right way – use the social tools to collect information, and then go to JibberJobber to record everything you want to track.
>> Additions to your professional knowledge base should be made at the time they accrue. For example, when you establish contact with recruiters who work in your industry, save all details about the person and the company in a document, and store the document within the appropriate folder at the end of your day. If you don’t capture the information for retrieval as you gather it, you’ll remember it for a couple of days, but you’ll have long forgotten everything when next you need it a year or two down the road.
That is absolutely right. Don’t worry if you haven’t been tracking this information… or if in the future you forget to track something here or there. You aren’t going to track 100% of everything you come across. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss stuff. But the more you track, the more valuable your tracking tool (aka, JibberJobber) becomes to you.
>> Organize yourself to capture information today that you can use throughout your work life and you create an important foundation for your future security.
Absolutely. This is why you should use JibberJobber. Remember, JibberJobber is not a job search band-aid… that is, you scrap it when you land your next gig. JibberJobber is a long term career management tool that will be with you during your twelve to fifteen transitions!
Martin says: “…statistics predict between twelve and fifteen job and career changes throughout your work life. Carefully storing and organizing the professionally relevant intelligence you capture during this job search will supply your next transition with a starting point far superior to anything you have at your fingertips today.“
Organizing. Far Superior. Good stuff. If you aren’t serious about using JibberJobber yet, this article should be the little nudge you’ve needed.