Finding The Job That Fits You

If you are frequently bored, anxious or apathetic in your job, there is a high probability that your current job simply isn’t a good fit with your talents and skills. Success in your career is up to you. Finding a job that matches your interests, skills and talents is key to success and job satisfaction.

We all have unique experience and talents and it can often be challenging finding a job that fits our capabilities, potential and strengths.

A “right fit” job can look like different things to different people but here are the areas most people find important:

  • Having some degree of challenge.
  • Being recognized and appreciated by peers and supervisors for contributions.
  • An opportunity for advancement or development.
  • Being able to work with others we respect, like and/or can learn from.
  • Fair compensation for contributions (yes, money matters).
  • Enjoyment doing daily work tasks.
  • The opportunity to use core talents and strengths.

There are others, of course, but the list goes a long way toward increasing the potential for workplace happiness.

Marcus Buckingham, author of “First, Break All the Rules”, “Now Discover Your Strengths” and “Go Put Your Strengths to Work,” has spent his career researching and linking high performance to an individual’s core talents or strengths. His Gallup survey of nearly 2 million employees launched his “strength-based” revolution. Buckingham defines a strength as not merely something you are good at but also something you find so satisfying that you look forward to doing it again and again. Those in jobs that allow ample opportunity to do what they do best are more satisfied and more productive.

Sadly, Buckingham’s research suggests that only 17 percent of the work force believe they use all of their strengths on the job. Part of the problem is they settle for jobs that aren’t the right fit.

Management is the other part of the problem. Too often managers don’t focus enough on identifying their workers’ strengths and providing opportunities for them to leverage these strengths in their jobs.

What can managers do? Buckingham recommends managers focus on the following areas:

  • Establish a process to identify individual strengths. Ask the employee to identify their best day at work in the past three months (what were they doing and why did they enjoy it so much).
  • Determine what triggers and best supports these strengths (e.g., time of the day, audience, reward, recognition, goals, specific tasks etc).
  • Determine the employee’s preferred learning style. Buckingham identifies three primary styles: analyzing (these people need time and information); doing (trial and error) and watching (they like to study the complete picture).

The best leaders do not use a “one size fits all” approach with their people.

Workplace satisfaction is important to our personal well being — given that we spend about one-third of our lives at work. As a career coach, I encourage those seeking a new job to first identify their strengths and what workplace situations or experiences result in their being in “flow.” Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi identifies “flow” as a human “peak” experience of supercharged productivity, engagement and happiness. It happens when we bring our strengths and talents to bear on a challenging goal or task. Athletes often refer to this condition as being “in the zone.” If you have ever been doing something at work that you were so engaged that you lost track of time, you were probably in your “workplace zone.”

Frequently cited components resulting in achieving flow:

  • Immediate feedback, response or reward.
  • Highly challenging tasks met with high skills/talent/ strength.
  • Fully focused concentration.
  • Clear goals.
  • Feeling of “being in control.”
  • Loss of self-consciousness.
  • Altered sense of time.

The greatest leaders bring out the best in others. They know their people’s strengths and support an environment that eliminates distractions and impediments to performance and job satisfaction.

Leaders who help their people find work “flow” can expect exceptional creativity, productivity and job satisfaction.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your career coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach professionals all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com

Embrace Change

Times have changed, and today’s career path is not what it used to be. Consider:

  • The average American changes jobs every three years.
  • Today’s elementary/high school student likely will have 15 different jobs by age 38.
  • One out of every four workers today is working at a company where they’ve been less than one year.

Taking charge of your career is more important today than ever. A critical element for success in today’s job market is the ability (and willingness) to continue to expand our skills, knowledge and capabilities. The days of going to college and earning a four-year degree that will carry you through a professional lifetime are most likely over.

To secure the best jobs in a constantly changing marketplace requires a lifetime learning ethic. Those who demonstrate flexibility and adaptability and learn new skills will be the winners with today’s career challenges.

If career success matters to you, here are a few steps to consider:

Ask yourself: What career path is right for me? Evaluation of your “dream career” requires an honest self-inventory around purpose, values, interests and skills. Professional career coaches provide assessment, structure, support, challenge and strategic help for this process. Many advocate some type of “soul searching” to help you align your gifts, values and talents with your vision or purpose for your work life. The goal: to identify how you will increase the likelihood of “flow” — the state of satisfaction one gets when challenge and clear goals are aligned with talents and skills.

Exploration: Most career development involves some level of exploration. Job shadowing, exploring career trends, job availability and information interviews can be helpful strategies.

Identify career goals: Stephen Covey advises us to “begin with the end in mind.” Understanding where you are going is important. You can’t hit what you aren’t aiming at. One study of Yale seniors in 1973 revealed that the 3 percent who had written goals accomplished more (financially) in their careers than the rest of their class combined. Yet studies indicate that few of us have written down our goals. Career goals provide both focus and energy.

Assessment: Taking an accurate assessment of your core strengths and identifying skill “gaps” is vital to realistic career planning. There are a number of assessment tools available, with “360” evaluations (feedback surveys from multiple raters associated with you) being one way to help identify both strengths and developmental needs.

Getting honest feedback from your superiors and peers on the areas you need to change — and then honestly and genuinely addressing them — can be the difference between a mediocre and a highly successful career.

New job assignments: Career development requires getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. Most successful leaders report that they learned their greatest leadership lessons through difficult work assignments and accepting new job/task challenges. A few new job tasks for you to consider:

  • Manage something new and/or unfamiliar (a product, team, technology, etc.).
  • Coach an employee with a performance challenge.
  • Work with a dissatisfied or challenging customer.
  • Manage an intern.

Continued academics: Consider new technical training, certifications and/or going back to school for your advanced degree. Imagine that interview where your potential new boss states, “Hmm, I am sorry you have a master’s degree; we were looking for someone who has demonstrated less commitment to self-advancement.” Being competitive in today’s job market requires continual learning and updated skills.

Professional career development: Many of today’s most successful professionals have used career or leadership development coaches to help them advance. Hiring a career coach is an investment in you. For some, it can be the difference between going to work every day to a job they dread or one that is satisfying and rewarding.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your career coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach professionals all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com

Goal Setting

Goal setting is a smart practice for all workplace professionals. Setting goals can help provide focus, order, direction and inspiration to your work life.

Start by reviewing the past. Take a look in the rearview mirror during the past year. What are you most proud of accomplishing? What did you learn? Identify any workplace disappointments: What didn’t you accomplish? How did you get in your own way? This is an important exercise because what we are unconscious about can rule us.

As an executive and leadership development coach, I have suggested (and gleaned from clients) many workplace resolutions designed to increase leadership and the health and performance of teams and organizations. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Become an extraordinary listener. Listen more than you speak. Everyone has heard the old saying, we have two ears and one mouth, so use them proportionately, but few heed this advice. I have never heard a leader criticized for listening too much — only too little. It’s difficult to get input (and therefore buy-in and commitment) when you are in “tell” mode.
  2. Put time aside each day for reflection, planning and prioritization. Franklin Covey suggests starting each day with a 15-minute check-in identifying your priority tasks vs. items that would be nice to get done today. Knock out your priority tasks first. This will help you stay focused rather than frantic and in “firefighting” mode each day.
  3. Establish a procedure to capture ongoing learnings, such as a debrief or postmortem following projects, meetings or presentations. Keep asking two questions: What can I (we) learn from this experience? How can I (we) improve this next time?
  4. Keep adding to your skills and workplace tool bag. Learning something new will keep you engaged and interested. Being a lifetime learner will be essential to thriving in this new world economy. Read books, take courses, trainings, etc., that help you further develop your workplace skills. Wise organizations will invest in further training and development of their most valuable asset — their people.
  5. Find a mentor or coach. This should be someone you can confide in, learn from and who will model best practice for you (someone with the necessary time and energy to partner with you). Professional coaches provide a confidential third-party, nonbiased perspective; they can help guide, challenge and support you in becoming the best you can be this year.
  6. Don’t try to do it all. Delegate more. Help those under you grow by giving them opportunity (and lighten your own load for your work/life balance). When delegating, do so with clear parameters of freedom (like budget, time, etc.), specify what success looks like and provide necessary resources. Consider outsourcing if necessary instead of asking you or your people to give up personal lives.
  7. Do a reality check. Find out how you are perceived by others. Inquire and be curious (not defensive) about how your actions and words affect your co-workers. Take a 360-degree feedback survey (a multirater review that gives you feedback from all around you: boss, clients, co-workers and direct reports).
  8. Increase your self-awareness. Not knowing what we don’t know can be a killer. (How many times have we heard, “I never saw that coming!”) Identifying your behavior patterns under conflict, stress or when challenged can be enlightening. Do you point fingers at others or take personal responsibility? Do you give away your personal authority or approach challenges collaboratively, calmly and openly? Dysfunctional emotional intelligence patterns can stall a career. I equate leadership development ultimately to self-development. It’s a worthwhile journey.
  9. Get in touch with your inner authentic voice. Sometimes it’s hard to even hear our own voices due to the “noise” of others, the “shoulds” or outside pressures. Find some quiet time to reflect on what matters to you. Think about the big life questions: what are your values, your purpose, why are you here and what do you want to accomplish?
  10. What is your career vision for the next 5 and ten years? What do you want to create? Write it down, along with your plan. Research demonstrates that the act of writing down goals is powerful.

The challenge for most people, of course, is sticking to their goals. Whatever your goals, keep them to a manageable and a realistic number of goals. To increase the likelihood you will keep yours, find a coach or support person to help you keep focus and accountable for what you want to achieve.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your career coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach professionals all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com

8 Ways to Build Trust and Your Career

Developing and maintaining trust is critical to success in your career, workplace teams, leadership and business. It is the foundation for individual and team performance. But trust can be difficult to earn and far too easy to lose.

Think of having a personal trust account much like your bank account. Every action you take with your customers, team, boss and direct reports is either a deposit into the trust account — or a withdrawal.

If you overdraw, you risk bankruptcy. Careers and businesses can be derailed because of a single incident and overdraft on the trust account.

How do you gain and keep trust? This isn’t rocket science — more like everything you learned in kindergarten. Here are a few guidelines:

  1. Do what you say you will do. If you commit to something, take responsibility and deliver. Better yet (to build overdraft protection), exceed their expectations. One of the surest ways to destroy workplace or client/customer trust is to overpromise and underdeliver. Avoid automatically saying yes to all requests. Know your limitations and resources. Commit to only those requests you know you can deliver on.
  2. Be genuine and congruent. Most of us can spot a faker, pretender or workplace politician. Sometimes you can’t put your finger on it — you just know something about this person isn’t trustworthy. A caution flag goes up in our hearts or gut that says, “Something is wrong with this picture.” When the words the person is speaking don’t match up with their non-verbal cues (the video we see doesn’t match the audio we hear), we lose trust. Be mindful of the messages you are sending — your tone of voice, eye contact and other non-verbal signs. Trying to fake or hide how you feel and what you think and want can increase the likelihood of others mistrusting you.
  3. Be clear and concise in your communications (including e-mail!). Communicate to be understood. Ask others to repeat multifaceted instructions or complex ideas for clarity. If you are one of those people who use too many words or don’t know when to stop talking, people may avoid you. Pause and let someone else in the conversation versus rambling or overexplaining yourself.
  4. Listen well. Be careful about spending too much of your communication time in tell or lecture mode. Spend an equal or greater amount of your time listening to understand the other. By the way, if you are crafting your reply or rebuttal in your head while the other is talking — you aren’t listening. Many leaders spend too much time telling and not enough time listening. I’ve never heard a leader criticized for listening too much. To listen better, be curious, paraphrase (you’ll pay closer attention if you know you have to summarize their words) and ask clarifying questions.
  5. Avoid gossiping. What happens when you hear a co-worker back-stabbing another co-worker? Likely you make a note to self not to trust him or her because it’s logical to assume one day you may be the target. If you have an issue with someone, have the courage and integrity to take it up with him or her directly. Back-stabbing is often a career derailer.
  6. Generously give credit to others. Self-promoters are typically not trusted. Spend less time promoting yourself and more time giving credit to your team or direct reports.
  7. Don’t hide the truth. Be transparent with co-workers, bosses and clients/customers. Most of us don’t like surprises and have no tolerance for being lied to or misled. It is often an “unrecoverable” in the trust account — ask anyone hurt by Enron or Wall street bad apples.
  8. Be flawless with your word. Honesty and integrity will get you everywhere. There is no better mantra for success and building trust in the workplace — period.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your career coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach professionals all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com