Smarts Are No Longer Enough

At Google, GPA’s are no longer the gold standard for hiring. Laszo Bock (Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, went on record in a New York Times interview, “GPA’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring and test scores are worthless…we found that they don’t predict anything.”

This is a hiring paradigm shift that is true in many organizations today. Soft skills are at the the top of Google’s hiring attributes which include: leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn. My coaching experience with many hiring managers across a wide variety of business, confirms these are important to most companies.

Most tech professionals face a big challenge when it comes to career success. Excelling in math, problem solving, computing and analytics are no longer enough, they must also demonstrate they have “soft skills”, team and leadership abilities and emotional intelligence. Consider this quote from Google Executive Eric Schmidt “The smartest people in the room sometimes can’t really communicate very well,” adding, “We select not just for intelligence but for the ability to communication with each other and as teams, nobody is a solo actor at Google any more.”

My coaching guidance around Google’s 5 Top Hiring Criteria:

1. Leadership. Google defines emergent leadership as the ability to step in and lead when faced with a problem, while also being able to step back and relinquish power as a team player. This is the dance of leadership–sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow. What matters is your assessment of which approach is the right solution for the team (and business) and your ability to influence, persuade and help others engage.
2. Humility. This is a big challenge for superstars. Hanging on to “ownership” and promoting ones work, idea, process and/or product is often a slippery slope —it can be tough to let go. Many tech professionals wrap their identities up with their ideas and view any debate or challenge to their work or credit as threatening. Most tech companies prefer open minds to creatively explore (with their team) the best way forward or the next “new thing.” They need smart people to do it but when their corresponding egos prove problematic to team and collaboration they can decide the smarts they are getting aren’t worth the pain. High achievers can fight too zealously when their skin is in the game (aka, “My idea, I’m the genius”) My tip: identify solutions without attachment. Granted, confidence and being able to persuade others to get on board is critical to influence. But its a fine line between communicating a point of view and allowing your ego run and bite you because others perceive you as arrogant or not a team player.
3. Collaboration. You know it already–there is no “I” in team but do you behave that way? You simply can’t succeed in business today without the ability to work effectively with peers–all kinds and styles of peers. Every 360 review I conduct validates this. Collaboration is a give and take equation—sharing information while demonstrating respect for the opinions and expertise of others. Creative exploration of best solutions to complex problems requires collaboration. If this is your challenge area, invest in my coaching to develop your skills or risk your advancement potential.
4. Adaptability. In our today’s business reality of continual and constant change, its no surprise that adaptability is at the top of the list. Hiring managers want to hire (and promote) people who are flexible –not rigid. Creatively problem solving requires intellectual flexibility. Bulldozing change won’t earn you a reputation for adaptability. During stressful times, demonstrate emotional adaptability (embracing change vs. fighting it).
5. Loving to learn. Demonstrating you are a continual learner is a HUGE career advantage. A wise university leader once told me, “Our objective is to teach our students to learn, to develop a life long love of learning.” This turns out to be smart hiring prep, Bock affirms Google wants people able to “process on the fly” to draw smart conclusions from independent information. Being curious with a passion for learning is essential to career success.

It’s no longer good enough to have technical skills or academic smarts to get hired or promoted. You need more, as it turns out, much more, to succeed. On the plus side, these 5 attributes can be developed. But I never said it would be easy – having a coach for this kind of work is the best investment you can make in your future success.

Leaders- Caution! Choose Change Chits Wisely

If you are a workplace leader or manager, change is part of the job.  How you manage change with your staff matters to the leadership success equation.

What do staff expect from their leaders?  Research claims primarily – order, direction and protection.  Staff wants leaders to maintain fair and consistent norms. Yet effective leadership often means changing norms and even mandating change to meet objectives.  This can be a paradox and clearly a challenge for leaders.

I regularly coach leaders with their day to day “people” challenges – helping them manage change is a part of my daily coaching conversations.

Tips from the Coach:

  • Too much change is bad.  People do not have an infinite capacity to absorb change.  Choose your change chits wisely, strategically and frugally.  We mere humans have a finite amount of energy chits each day.  What do you want staff to spend their precious time and energy on?  If you are going to create a policy or process change—make sure its relevant and worthy of the challenges creating it may cause.
  • Don’t hold onto the past or deny inevitable change.  If the company change train has left the station without you on it—you keeping staff stuck.  Staff watches the boss to see how the boss responds or “reacts” to change.
  • Deal with problems!  Complaints regarding the boss avoiding problems and not dealing with them effectively–is the #1 complaint I hear from staff.  Staff count on the boss to resolve conflict and take care of obstacles to success.
  • Don’t put your direct report in the uncomfortable position of having to fend for themselves when it comes to answering unreasonable demands from your peers or theirs.  It’s a boss’s role to deal with problematic obstacles and challenges that impede staff success.
  • Don’t add to the drama factor.  Regulate your emotional reactivity to bad news.  If the boss gets upset, so does staff.  No one can spread the negative emotional “flu” virus like a boss!

Help is available for the people challenges of leadership—invest in yourself this year with leadership development.  Contact me:  360 682 5807 or info@pathtochange.com

 

 

 

Your EQ is Key to Career Success!

Research has powerfully proven that if you are a professional, particularly one in a leadership role (or want to be promoted into one), your emotional intelligence (EQ) capacities can make or break you. What matters is how others (staff, colleagues, key stakeholders/clients and other senior leaders) perceive your EQ abilities like self-awareness, emotional reactivity, adaptability and interpersonal communication in difficult or stressful situations.

In my many years of executive coaching experience I have met few leaders who really know how others truly perceive them. Staff is often reluctant to give leaders with hire/fire authority tough feedback. Additionally, few leaders have been given a confidential 360-feedback review. Sadly, leaders with the greatest EQ challenges are frequently those who have the greatest blind spots. Some find out after it’s too late.

Your EQ is essentially hard wired into the brain in early childhood. Its what helps or hinders you in being interpersonally effective in challenging, stressful or conflict workplace scenarios. If you are a leader you simply can’t afford not to pay attention to growing your skills in this arena. If others don’t trust you or you fail to persuade with your communication style you won’t last long in a leadership role.

EQ Career tip #1. Take my EQ assessment and find out your EQ strengths and challenges. I thoroughly researched the most popular EQ tools/tests available and have great faith in the profile that I have used successfully with hundreds of clients. I am offering 10% off through Feb 29th on this popular, practical and reliable tool.

EQ Career tip #2. Ask those around you to share impact/feedback with you. Don’t make assumptions about how others perceive you.

The good news is that EQ can be improved!! EQ is my coaching sweet spot. I know the formula to help you improve what matters most to your career success. It starts with a phone call—invest in yourself and call or email me today!

Call me to discuss: 425 736 5691(cell) or 360 682 5807 (office)
or email: pinelakemo@comcast.net

Referrals are greatly appreciated!! Please pass my practical tips on to any others you think would benefit.

In Career Transition, Follow Your Heart

The sad news of Apple CEO Steve Jobs passing hit me hard. He was a poster man for living a life based on passion and following your dreams. He inspires us to hang on to our dreams despite critics. My favorite quote from Jobs is from a commencement speech Jobs gave, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Powerful. In my work as a career coach, my intention is to help my clients identify their heart calling and proactively create that life. We spend much of our lives working. For most adults, a satisfying life includes work that engages and allows us to bring the best of ourselves to achieve meaningful goals. For many professionals, it can be difficult to figure out this life equation.

Follow Your Heart tip #1. Find a quiet place and start journaling your own voice. Many of us have been leading a life marching to the drum of other’s voices. When is the last time you heard YOUR voice? Can you recognize your voice when you hear it?

Follow Your Heart tip #2. Identify your talents and gifts. Create a list of what you believe are your innate strengths.

If you (or someone you know) is in career transition or contemplating a career move —call me. Unlike many coaches I don’t make you sign up for a program. My coaching philosophy is simple. I meet clients where they are at –and no two are alike. I come from a genuine intention to understand and help my clients in any way that I can which includes support, asking powerful questions and providing a safe relationship to work through difficult challenges as a third party objective thinking partner. I am an accountability partner with continued focus towards your goals. I help clients identify how to “get out of their own way” and develop new effective behaviors vs. being stuck in old harmful patterns.

Contact Info: 425 736 5691(cell) or 360 682 5807 (office) or pinelakemo@comcast.net

Referrals are greatly appreciated Please pass this email on to any others you think would benefit from my practical Workplace Coach tips.

Coaches Increase Your Skills

Coaching in the workplace has increased dramatically in popularity in recent years as more organizations and leaders understand the power behind the approach. Coaching isn’t a “flavor of the month” business fad — it’s here to stay, and for good reasons. The business case for coaching is backed by solid research, data and results.

This column begins a series on coaching in the workplace and will review coaching concepts, techniques and examples of how coaching can dramatically affect performance and bottom-line results.

Simply stated, coaching is a leadership method and style centered on the development of the person (or team) being coached. At its core, coaching is about helping the person or team being coached change behaviors that affect their business goals.

Comparing workplace coaching to the sports field provides some valuable insights and similarities. Who can argue the value of coaches in the business of professional sports? Just as every major football team has a head coach, it also leverages a field of specialized experts to help develop specific skills sets — in individuals and for the team to optimize team dynamics and performance. Similarly, the purpose of workplace coaching is to champion, challenge and support. Workplace coaches, just like sports coaches, leverage skill development (practice, practice, practice!) and feedback (roll the game video), and provide insight (have you considered or did you know this behavior is having this effect?). The common theme, in both business and sports, is that effective coaching is a proven method to help individuals, teams and entire organizations rise to their performance potential.

Effective workplace coaching typically is:

  • An interpersonal relationship built on trust.
  • The leveraging of personal, interpersonal, leadership and business experience. In coaching, these skills are combined with techniques and activities designed to develop specific skills, new understandings and behaviors.
  • A method that recognizes that learning (including from failure) is an expected benefit of trying new behaviors.
  • A sounding board for the workplace “worried well.”

What coaching isn’t:

  • Being “touchy feely.”
  • Simply providing a pat on the back or being a “cheerleader.”
  • A substitute for personal therapy.

When and for what reasons are coaches typically used? Here are a few typical workplace scenarios:

  • To help new or inexperienced leaders with a potential for leadership who may lack specific leadership skills or experience.
  • Supporting “fast trackers” or high achievers.
  • To help valued employees with specific performance or emotional intelligence issues (such as an interpersonal, self-awareness or reactivity problem) or those individuals or groups that are simply “stuck.”

For senior level managers, executive coaches are frequently utilized for:

  • Individuals being groomed for senior leadership positions, including those who have demonstrated business success but may have identified emotional intelligence challenges.
  • The role of the impartial third-party “outsider,” one that can provide an unbiased or unemotional perspective on complex and difficult issues. Senior managers often find great benefit in having an objective sounding board (with no political or internal bias) to vocalize, rationalize and work through difficult situations.
  • Support during major organizational transitions, including helping the organization to develop top-to-bottom skills and programs for managing change effectively.
  • Helping leaders develop feedback mechanisms to help answer and address the question, “Why isn’t this working?”

The need for improved leadership, performance and results has never been greater. Our business reality today is one of constant change and global competition. Being successful in today’s workplace requires a never-ending development of new leaders with new skills — including the ability to build effective teams and a culture of organizational collaboration.

In a recent study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, 91 percent of leaders surveyed said the challenges they face as leaders are more complex than in the past. This same study identified the ability to effectively collaborate as a top skill that leaders must develop, while only 30 percent identified themselves as skilled collaborators! The good news — there is help!  Call me today- 360 682 5807.