STRENGTHENING THE SPACE BETWEEN PEOPLE AND BUSINESS

Walking Into A New World

Welcome to my inaugural blog.  As many of you know, I am the Tulsa Career Coach at www.examiner.com and write an ongoing article there. I hope you will continue to support me there and include my blog in your choices, as well.

In this blog, I hope to hold an ongoing conversation with you regarding relevant topics like effective leadership, the strength of remaining poised in grace under pressure, power tools to escalate your career, how to work alongside those who are not like you…even when you don’t like them and other topics that are important to your career or you would like to discuss.

I hope to share what I learned getting yanked up the corporate ladder, as well as my ongoing discoveries as a solopreneur. In return, I hope you will share your stories, as well.  We are much stronger together than standing alone.

There is nothing as critical in your life as having the courage to take a step toward something new. In 1998, I woke up one morning and decided there had to be more…more to life…more to my career…more to me.

I was working at a large university and loved my job.  I was a single mom of two wonderful boys who were both in college. Perhaps, it was empty nest syndrome or just realizing I needed something new.  Whatever the motive, I decided to throw out my resume to see where it might land.

Having been ‘born and bred’ in Oklahoma my entire life, it was a bold move. I was surprised at the quick response and began exploring opportunities. I quickly realized that I didn’t really know much about working in a large company or all the facets of the human resources function.  However, I decided I would be myself, be upfront about what I did know and convince interviewers I could quickly get up to speed on what I didn’t.

A very large Fortune 500 company in Florida invited me to interview for a Compensation Manager position.  I accepted the invitation and began learning everything I could about what compensation managers do.  It wasn’t that it was outside my experience – I had managed compensation in an educational setting, but that had absolutely nothing to do with the job for which they were interviewing.

I expected them to use behaviorally based questions and had a book with me, which I devoured during the flight, that had 1000 of the most frequently asked interview questions by function and provided great responses. I felt prepared.

It was an 8-hour interview day. I was escorted to a different interviewer by the hour and was even interviewed over lunch. Everyone was prepared and seemed to be very serious about finding the right person for this position. Lucky for me, they did ask many of the questions I had prepped for and added a few surprises, as well.

As I walked out of the final interview, I felt good about the day. It occurred to me that my experience, while not corporate, had given me a good foundation for this interview marathon. Whether I got the job or not, I was not embarrassed by my performance.

As a last stop before leaving, I was escorted to the hiring manager, whom I had met with first thing in the morning. He was very candid about what he perceived as my strengths and what development I needed. He asked if I would mind driving 15 miles to corporate headquarters for one last interview with his vice president. Of course, I enthusiastically said, “I would love to.”

At this point, my mind was mush and I was physically exhausted facing what could be the most important interview of the day.

The VP was waiting on me and welcomed me into his very impressive and, somewhat, intimidating office. Interestingly, the questions he had for me were about my plans. He wanted to know what motivated me, what authors I read, whose leadership philosophy I followed and what I would do in certain situations. In addition, he wanted to know my plan for ‘getting up to speed’, if I was hired. Needless to say, these questions were not in the book.

I think because it was the end of a very long day, I found it easy to respond from the same place inside that had propelled me to begin this journey. Let’s just say, it went well. That day I learned that the most powerful strength we have is our ability to know who we are and articulate what we want.

After the interview, I drove back to my hotel on the beach. I had no idea if an offer would come, but I knew I was on the right path.

The following Monday, I received a verbal offer that doubled my current salary and provided full relocation and a signing bonus. I had entered a whole new world I knew nothing about. I found this both exhilarating and paralyzing, all at the same time.

Lesson #1 – Never let fear take control of what you want.

Stay tuned for what came next -

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Hello world!


Dear Boss,
I appreciate working here and am thankful to have a job. I like the people I work with and care about them. I listen to you and try to please you when given the opportunity. Here is what I need you to know:

I’m not sure you are aware, but my name is Bob. I am married, my wife’s name is Cheryl and we have a new baby girl. Her name is Zoe. We bought our first home in Tulsa this year, right before the death of my mother. You have never called me by my name or asked me about who I am. As a result, I don’t feel like I matter. When I am in your office to discuss work and you choose to type, read email and/or take phone calls, I don’t feel like you are interested in what I’m saying. As a result, I don’t feel valued.

When we launched the new product last Fall I was very excited. At my former company, we tried some cutting edge marketing strategies that were very successful. I emailed these to you as a suggestion, but you never replied. As a result, I felt invisible.

I have never been late to work. The only time I have missed work was 2 days when my new daughter was born and 3 days when my mother passed away. I eat at my desk and usually use this time to read and respond to my email.

During the new product launch, I worked 1-2 hours late every day for 3 weeks and most Saturdays, as the whole launch team did. You never recognized those of us on the team who put in the extra time to make the launch a success. As a result, we were de-motivated.

Due to financial constraints and the down economy, we have downsized our employee population. Those of us who remain are expected to take up the slack and do more with fewer resources. My team has been meeting to explore the most effective way to get the work done and balance the workload. When we asked to meet with you to discuss our ideas, you were too busy. As a result, our team morale is very low.

The work our team did to make the product launch successful did not go unnoticed by our competition. I have been recruited to work for a competitor. The job offer is a promotion and starts at a higher salary. I realize I would not be afforded this opportunity if I had not been an integral part of the team working on a high profile product. As a result, I am resigning.

If I chose to stay, I would run the risk of never being mentored or coached by an effective leader who is interested in developing the talent around which he/she is surrounded. I am worth more than that. I owe it to myself to do what is best for my family and my career. As a result, I have made sure these things are available at my new employer.

I wish the best for you and hope you discover that YOU are an important part of the process. You never really understood we were waiting for you to show up, we were waiting for you to lead.

Best regards,
Bob

 

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