Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What Is the Most Important Part of Any Job Description?

“I remember it perfectly,” says Marc Cuspinera of his first day in 1989. “I couldn’t believe they were making me clean rocks. I’m a cook. I didn’t expect to be doing this. It’s not so great. But I get it. It’s true that all these details add up.”’  The Sorcerer’s Apprentices by Lisa Abend, pages 28-29.

Do you have a job description? Does it spell out to whom you report? Does it have a list of responsibilities and expectations? Does it have a final sentence, one last bullet point…
“Other duties as assigned?”

“Other duties as assigned” maybe the most important part of a job description and it maybe the least understood.

As the job interviewer, this is an important point to discuss with a job seeker. Be clear on expectations with the job seeker. Invite others who maybe be part of the interview process to explore this point with the applicant.
“Other duties as assigned” conversations give clues to how well the job seeker works with others.

With so many organizations from for-profit to not-for-profit to government running lean, working outside the job description is the norm, rather than the exception.

As a job seeker, give this point some critical thinking. Be clear on expectations. Be aware of your pride and how it might get you into trouble if asked to do
“Other duties as assigned.”  If asked to do “Other duties as assigned” and you respond: “That’s not my area.” “I don’t do ________.”  “I didn’t sign-up for this.” “That is beneath my education level.” This could begin your exit from the organization. Remember, the customer is anyone who relies on your work including your boss, your cohorts and those dealing with your organization. How you respond and treat your internal customers has significant impact on how your treat your external customer who actually contributes to your income!

As a job seeker, you may need to redefine and expand your definition of work. You may need to check reality with your perception. You may need to get out of your comfort zone. Flexibility, cohesiveness and collaboration are essential work-life behaviors organizations are looking for in those they hire. It is not productive to try to argue that
“Other duties as assigned” are not in one's job description.

Stretch your contentment. While contentment is in the here and now, self-discipline needs to trump contentment. Delay contentment for a greater good and better long-range possibilities. Most of all, its about looking beyond me to we. “Other duties as assigned” is about me to we. It takes a team to succeed and move forward, not an individual. As good as LeBron James was in the 2015 NBA finals, it was a team who won the title.
If you do have heartburn over a specific
“Other duties as assigned,” then have the courage to talk with your superior about this. Do not go triangulate, complain or gripe with your cohorts about your “Other duties as assigned.” This is not healthy for either you or your organization. Learn when to roll with “Other duties as assigned”  and when to push back. Discover the benefits for you and the organization to perform “Other duties as assigned.” Finally, learn to laugh at the unusual, unexpected “Other duties as assigned.”

“Other duties as assigned” reveals your willingness to sacrifice and become significant. As the father of a U.S. Marine, sacrifice is a given. A Marine recruit knows full well before they step off the bus onto the yellow steps at boot camp “Other duties as assigned” and sacrifice will be a lifestyle. “Other duties as assigned” may not lead to success, but it will lead to significance. Significance is the impact we have on other people’s lives, hopefully positive. 

Recognize that you can also do “Other duties as assigned” on your own without being asked. This form of “Other duties as assigned” might be a random act of kindness or an act of going the extra mile. Watch Netflix's Reed Hasting's encounter of “Other duties as assigned” and the impact it made on him.

Lean into
“Other duties as assigned.” It could impact your future beyond your imagination and expectation!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How Are You at “Networking”?

Networking is not what you know, its who you know. Who you know is key to creating a brighter future.

“The key to networking is to stop networking.” Nobody wants to have a ‘networking conversation.’ They are hungry for real conversations and real relationships. It just has to be authentic, genuine and sincere.” Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

What networkers don’t tell you, is that networking is like your smart phone - a source of  distractions! You have to know what to avoid and focus on what is truly essential.

Your overall goal in networking is to be significant to those you meet. What value do you bring to the conversation? What is the value of knowing you? Your title, your status, your success are about you and do nothing for those you meet.

Here are seven fundamental rules to effective networking.

First rule - dress so as not to draw attention to your appearance, but to the conversation you wish to have with others. This also means fresh breathe, a warm smile, eye contact and good handshake!

Second rule - when you enter the gathering space, don’t wait to be found, go find! This maybe a challenge for some introverts!

Third rule - have a crisp, professionally printed business card on high quality thick card stock with your key contact information and some tag line that summarizes your purpose and hints at the value you may bring to your card’s recipient. Your business card is your one-of-a-kind miniature billboard. It helps create that positive first impression. It needs to be simple, clean and easy to read. If you can’t get this info on one side of a business card, get help! The only thing I have printed on the back of my business card is a QR code for my website. There is lot’s of white space for my contact to jot down information.

Fourth rule - have plenty of business cards ready to handout at all times. I always have cards in the chest pocket of my sport coat or suit. Extra business cards are in my business card case in my sport coat pocket as well as my billfold and briefcase...even more in the glove compartment of my car! Be prepared.

Fifth rule - First, if you have a drink, keep the drink in your left hand so your right hand is ready to shake hands ( as well as not cold and wet!) Networking is not about telling, its all about asking and truly listening with good follow-up questions. This is at the heart of a real conversation and the beginning of a relationship. It is about being interested rather than interesting. People you come in contact with don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Great networkers ask great questions. The questions can be more important than the answers!

If someone shares something, refrain from telling your story on top of theirs. AND make sure you don’t try to one-up or compete with their story! Be secure in yourself. Ask another question about what they have just shared. And by all means, make sure your body language is in sync with your questions! There is nothing worse than asking a question as your eyes stray across the room!

A few of my favorite networking questions are:

- What has surprised or intrigued you about this gathering? Followed up with, ‘That’s interesting! Tell me more!’
- What are you expecting from being at this gathering? (This maybe an opportunity to help make this happen!) Followed up with, ‘That’s interesting! Tell me more!’
- Who would you like to connect with here at this gathering? (You maybe their connection and can help them out!) Followed up with, ‘That’s interesting! Tell me more!’
- What are you looking forward to doing or seeing? (Another opportunity for you to help make this happen!) Followed up with, ‘That’s interesting! Tell me more!’
- What has your interest and attention on the Internet or what you are reading? Followed up with, ‘That’s interesting! Tell me more!’

Notice that none of these questions are:
- What do you do for a living?
- How long have you been at __________?
- How long have you lived in __________?
- Do you know _________? He/she works in HR at your company.
- “I’m looking to ______________. Who do you know that I should be talking to?”

If the "What do you do for a living?" question pops out of your mouth (after all, we are creatures of habit!) follow it up with, "Wow, that sounds interesting!" or "Wow, that sounds hard!" or "Wow, that sounds amazing!" or Wow, that sounds awesome!" or "Wow, that sounds edgy!" This response shows you are interested and can get the person sharing more.

Sixth rule - ask for a business card. Jot down the date and key words about this connection.

Seventh rule - follow up with those you meet at the gathering, immediately. I recommend a handwritten, snail mail note with your business card telling the person you’d like to continue the conversation over coffee or tea. Then follow up with a phone call or email to make an appointment roughly 4 to 5 business days later.

Are there other networking behaviors you would add and recommend?