What is Meant by the Frequency of Change in Your Organization?

Frequency refers to how often change occurs. There was a time when organizations were proud of their stability and consistency. Acquisitions were infrequent, co-workers with whom you attended new hire orientation twenty years earlier still were around to join you for lunch. A hard day’s work provided you job security. Words like “right-sizing” and “down-sizing” were not in the dictionary. Your job description had not changed for years.

Today, mergers and acquisitions are daily event. Yesterday’s technology upgrades quickly become obsolete. Roles, responsibilities, and relationships change faster than a name plate on a cubicle. If you are like so many others in your organization, you had had three to five bosses in the past five years. Kevin, a client, shared with me that the boss with whom he wrote his annual goals was not, for three years running, the same boss who reviewed his achievement to his goals at the end of the year. Another year, another boss.

In a March 2014 poll conducted by Inc. Magazine, 28% of the respondent’s business models changed in the last five years; 36% of the respondent’s mix of products and services changed; and 47% of the respondent’s financial structure changed.7 I frequently speak with clients who have received emails that a workgroup – for example, account management – has reorganized their staff and function, effective immediately. These same clients attest that it feels like the same workgroup just reorganized six months earlier!

I worked with a client company whose leadership and organizational structure was relatively the same for almost forty years. This same organization has changed its leadership and “go-to-market” structure three times in the last six years.

What Are the Benefits of Networking?

Networking is and will continue to be an important professional activity for business professionals. In fact, 60 – 70% of employed individuals located their most recent job opportunity through networking. In a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, these numbers were corroborated when 59 percent of 1339 respondents chose the category “by networking with friends and colleagues” as the strategy that led them to their most recent job. Therefore, networking was three times more effective as using an on-line job board and almost three times more effective as using a recruiter.

For business professionals looking for their next job or self-employed business owners seeking revenue, networking has many benefits. When networking, these individuals can

– practice how they verbally and visually present themselves to others.
– polish how they describe their goals, needs, and capabilities.
– meet colleagues who can introduce them to others who can help them.
– connect with colleagues whose work complements their own, creating new synergies and opportunities.
– hear what others are doing which may generate new ideas for them.
– try out new looks in their wardrobe, ensuring their wardrobe is polished, up-to-date, and ready for interviews and meetings.
– create opportunities for others to give them feedback on what they are doing that works and what they are doing that could improve.
– catch up with old friends and be reminded that they are not alone.

By and far, networking is the most effective strategy for business professionals to land a job and self-employed business owners to generate revenue.

Are You Accessible?

Being accessible is not just having an “open door policy” or ensuring your team knows your cellphone number. Accessibility is about creating an atmosphere where your colleagues can reach you – even interrupt you – and leave the interaction with a positive feeling.

Accessibility is the degree in which colleagues can reach you and benefit from the interaction.

Your office door is always closed. Are you accessible? Perhaps you possess low self-awareness of how your behaviors in your organization diminish outreach by others. You can be heard decrying “No one ever tells me anything!” and “How come I am always the last to hear about these things?” When you think about it, you may discover that you are less accessible than you think you are. Do any of the following characteristics seem familiar to you when you think about being accessible to others?

You rush frantically between conference calls or meetings with little time to talk to others.
You get easily annoyed when a colleague reaches out to you (especially if the outreach feels like an interruption).
Your back faces the entrance to your office or workstation.
Your interactions with your colleagues never seem to benefit them.
No one comes to you for help.

What Happened to the Art of the Introduction?

Let’s face it. At some point in the development of our society, we lost the ability to introduce ourselves to one another. I was not alive when this loss occurred, so I do not have firsthand knowledge of when this happened. I am not a sociologist, so I do not have the research fundraising skills to figure out why this occurred. I am not suggesting that our ancestors excelled at introducing themselves and that this ability mysteriously eroded over time. It does seem, however, that the attention we pay on introducing ourselves to one another peaked at some point in the past. Perhaps you can imagine the following “moments of introduction” throughout history.

Circa 1,000,000 B.C.

Grog: “Ugga.”
Sura: “Yug.”

Circa 1910

Gregory: “Good afternoon. My name is Gregory Van Pelt. It is a pleasure to meet you. Lovely day, is it not?”
Suzanne: “Good afternoon, Mr. Van Pelt. My name is Suzanne Rockefeller. The pleasure is all mine, I am sure. It is quite the lovely day.”

Circa 2015

Greg: “What up.”
Sue: “Yo.”

What happened? Is it the head-spinning advances in technology, growing networks of global economies, and changing workplace demographics that we discussed in the introduction of this book? While I do not know the answer, I do know that the degradation in your ability to introduce yourself is causing you to miss an opportunity to make a strong first impression. You are more likely to say good morning to Siri than to a colleague. John Clancy, President of Radius Worldwide, a global software services company, understands the importance of a strong first impression. John has held a number of senior leadership roles throughout his career and has met hundreds of new colleagues, investors, and customers along the way. “I can’t stress enough the importance of the first few seconds you have when meeting a new person. With a strong introduction, you have the opportunity to create a connection that provides you a surplus of goodwill. No one wants to start a relationship in a deficit, which takes even more effort to turnaround. Making a good first impression is critical to laying a strong foundation for future interaction.”

Why Don’t We Introduce Ourselves Well?

Regardless of your comfort level or skill, you are probably one or more of the following when you introduce yourself to a new colleague:

Inconsistent. Sometimes you introduce yourself to others effectively and sometimes you do not.
Uncomfortable. You find introducing yourself to be uncomfortable; you either introduce yourself quickly or you avoid introducing yourself altogether.
Inattentive. You pay little attention while you are introducing yourself – it is over before you even realize it.
Underskilled. You do not know how to introduce yourself effectively.
Underinvested. You do not value the importance of a strong introduction, and you have not thought about building your skill for introducing yourself to others.

Whether you are inconsistent, inattentive, or underinvested, introducing yourself effectively is one of the foundations for raising your visibility and value in your organization and industry. If there is one behavior I could change that would help me feel this book is a wild success, it would be shifting your mindset regarding introducing yourself – shifting from the belief that introducing yourself is unimportant to the belief that introducing yourself is a critical behavior to embrace in today’s fast-paced and frenetic organizations.

Which Visibility Accelerator Needs the Most Attention?

As you work to raise your visibility in your organization and industry, certain activities and behaviors are more productive and will accelerate your efforts. These “accelerators” are like putting rocket fuel in a Honda Civic. When you “step on the gas,” you will enhance your presence and reputation faster than ever before. And these activities and behaviors can be easily integrated into your already busy workday.

Which of the following visibility accelerators needs the most attention on your end?

Introduce yourself – the degree in which you introduce yourself to new colleagues and make a great first impression.

Be accessible – The degree in which colleagues can reach you and benefit from the interaction.

Be responsive – The degree in which you get back to your colleagues and foster progress.

Interact with others – The degree in which you engage one-to-one with colleagues in your organization and industry.

Participate with a purpose – The degree in which you engage in one-to-many activities with colleagues in your organization and industry.

Engage with industry associations – The degree in which you interact and participate with colleagues outside of your organization.

Manage your reputation – How your colleagues think or speak about you when you are not present.

Value is the New Corporate Currency!

The head-spinning advances in technology, endless bottom-line financial pressures, and growing networks of global economies demand a need for superior performance and sustainable efficiencies. Organizations aspire to motivate their employees to do better, be more productive, and get more engaged. Leaders seek ways to create a common language behind which organizational goals and activities can align. What can replace the void that is being creating by the slow demise of performance management systems?

The answer is value creation. The language being used to define success is slowly and quietly shifting from performance to value. If you listen, you can hear “value creation” everywhere. I’ve been listening. I hear recruiters talk about the importance of creating value. As one recruiter said at a panel I attended, “Don’t tell me what you did. Tell me the value you created for your employer. Tell me how you made a difference.” I hear entrepreneurs talk about ensuring the products and services they aspire to bring to market create value in ways that don’t currently exist. At my Apple iPhone orientation, an Apple employee enthusiastically espoused that “the thousands of apps that you will now have access to will add value to your life.” The good performance of the iPhone was assumed – it was the value of the apps that excited him.

How does value exist within your organization? Has a conversation about value begun? Does your organization realize it has overinvested in performance management and underinvested in value creation? Whatever your situation, value is the new corporate currency. It is the vehicle upon which the exchange between individual contributions and organizational rewards is occurring. Slowly and quietly, numerical and bell curve-based performance management systems are being shipped to the scrap heap as business leaders seek robust and meaningful ways to increase individual contributions.

Measuring the value that you create for your organization is gaining your boss’ attention. Why? Value requires a foundation of good performance, ties your performance to business objectives and financial metrics, and creates a new way to motivate and align you in ways that are more rewarding for everyone involved.

How to be on Time

Being on time is an important part of my public profile. Whether as a corporate employee or an independent consultant, I have always believed there are a million ways to be early and yet, if you are late, you are late. Of the hundreds of meetings that I’ve attended as an independent consultant over the past seven years, you can count the number of times I have been late on one hand, regardless of where the meeting is being held.

When leaving for a scheduled appointment, there are a few assumptions that I make. The first is that I always want to arrive at my location at least 15 minutes early. This allows me time to park or check in with the security desk. I always bring other work to do in case I arrive more than 15 minutes before a scheduled appointment. Secondly, I always assume that some unexpected issue is waiting on the highway. After all, you are joining a traffic system where thousands of other people are making their way as well – who knows what can happen? Whether it is ongoing congestion, a person changing a flat tire on their car, or road work, there always seems to be some sort of situation encouraging a slowdown. Lastly, I take weather into account. Snow and rain complicate roadways and slow traffic down considerably.

To be on time, here are four things I take into consideration:

What is the time of day? – Traffic patterns can vary greatly by the time of day. When traveling on routes 128, 93 or 95, the clearest part of the day seems to be after 10:00am and before 2:00pm. Before and after these times is exposed to rush hour congestion. So, if I have an appointment before 10:00am or after 2:00pm, I always add at least 30 minutes on my travel schedule.

How far away is it? – The longer your trip, the greater the likelihood that a problem can arise. For locations greater than 30 minutes away, I always add 15 minutes on my travel schedule.

How familiar am I with where I am going? – How many times have you been sure you know where you are going, only to realize how lost you are once you are near? This seems to happen to me often. For first time location visits, I always add 15 minutes on my travel schedule in case I need to conduct a turnaround or stop and ask for directions. (Yes, I am a male and I do ask for directions!)

How’s the weather? – If it is snowing or raining out, I always add 15 minutes to my travel schedule.

For example, if I have a meeting in downtown Boston, at a new location, on a snowy day, and that starts at 9:00am, I always leave my house in Wakefield by 7:15am. (On a Sunday morning, this is about a 20 minute drive). This provides me an hour to navigate congestion during the rush hour on a snowy day, locate where I am going, and additional time to find parking and make it through a security check-in. If I arrive earlier than planned, I always have client work on which to focus. I can grab a cup of coffee and plan the rest of my workday. Most importantly, I can breathe easily that I am on time for my appointment.

Try this strategy – it works! Watch next week for my blog as we will explore ways in which you can raise your visibility and value in your organization and industry.

Why Join Industry Associations? (Part 2 of 2)

You can engage with your industry for a variety of reasons including:

Identify talent. Due to changing demographics, the employment marketplace continues to be highly competitive. Your organization’s fast-changing technologies make some skills instantly obsolete and some skills inordinately valuable. Your organization’s fast-changing business model requires talent in new locations across the globe. Your organization’s strategic growth demands that a talent pipeline exist at all times, not just when a need arises. While talent is easier to find due to technological advances (i.e., resume readers) and social media (i.e., LinkedIn), talent is harder to land as everyone else is using the same technology and social media tools. Industry associations provide rich reserves of talent in which you can tap to help you and your organization fill the pipeline. Some of these individuals may be between jobs, while others are actively and happily employed. Regardless of their status, you will meet many talented colleagues who can fill current or future needs through industry associations.
Hear best practices. Industry associations provide services to their members that focus on building community, providing education, and creating opportunity though:
Meetings. Industry associations host member meeting on a recurring basis. These meetings may include opportunities to raise your visibility with colleagues, discussions regarding the industry, or presentations by industry experts.
Workshops and webinars. Industry associations host workshops and webinars for members, usually with an external speaker or facilitator, to help members build their skills and learn new information.
Panels. Industry associations host panel presentations comprised of industry leaders (maybe you!) to share information and create dialogue.
Conferences. Industry associations host one- to three-day conferences designed to bring together thought leaders and vendors to showcase the very best that the industry has to offer. The downside is that industry conferences are usually located at beautiful destinations, held in gorgeous conference centers, and surrounded by luxurious accommodations. Not a bad downside.
Introduce best practices. Perhaps you are attending an industry event during the workday. Perhaps your organization has paid for your industry association dues or registration fees. If you are attending industry events where information is being shared, it is expected that you introduce best practices back at your workplace that will help your organization achieve its goals. If you don’t share what you are experiencing at an industry event with your boss or introduce best practices to your organization, your boss may begin to question the value of your participation. Many of your colleagues have heard about how to implement a Six Sigma process improvement, how to integrate changes to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and how to transition to a WordPress website at an industry meeting. Hearing about these best practices is interesting – introducing them back to your organization is priceless.
Meet experts. You have a lot going on at your organization and a key asset to accelerating your progress is meeting someone who has already done what you are doing. Whatever you are attempting to introduce or implement at your organization, there is someone who has “been there, done that.” Industry associations are fantastic places to meet colleagues who can provide you valuable insights, compelling lessons, and meaningful recommendations to ensure your success. In some cases, the experience of a colleague pays for your membership many times over.
Demonstrate openness. Your fast-paced organization demands your attention and effort 100% of the time, but your fast-paced industry also makes it challenging to stay current. By engaging with your industry, you demonstrate to your internal clients and colleagues that you are not satisfied with the status quo. If you want to keep your organization on the cutting edge, you have to stay sharp. Industry associations are a great place to sharpen your edge.
Looking for ways to raise your visibility and value in your organization and industry? Try joining an industry association group for the benefits listed above.

Why Join Industry Associations? (Part 1 of 2)

As you work to raise your visibility and value in your organization and industry, your desire to attend an industry association meeting probably feels like a dream. Your ability to attend industry meetings during your workday, after your workday ends, or on the weekend is compromised in the following ways:

Lack of energy. You are so exhausted by the demands of your job that the thought of getting excited and energized for an industry activity, especially after your workday ends, is beyond your capacity. By the time the clock strikes 6:00 pm, you are physically tired and mentally tapped-out.
Lack of time. You have too much to do! So many of your colleagues are depending on you to do your job that the idea of taking time away from work seems impossible. How can you find time when your calendar is double- or triple-booked? Your fear of the volume of work waiting for you when you return from being away for the office is a major disincentive.
Lack of information. You are so deep into the activities, tasks, and requirements of your job that you are not even aware of industry activities that are going on around you. You are more focused on joining a conference call or getting to a conference room than you are on attending an industry conference. Even if you wanted to attend an industry event, you would not know where to start.
Lack of support. Even if you register for an industry meeting or event, your attendance is at risk due to last minute “issues” at your organization. An urgent phone call from you boss politely asking you to alter your plans is more likely than you attending the industry event. Or, your boss believes that engaging with your industry is something you do after the workday ends or on the weekend. If you do attend an industry event, you are distracted due to an onslaught of emails and phone calls from work. While it is nice to be needed by your colleagues, you wonder why your colleagues can’t seem to get along without you, even for just one day.
You are not alone. In today’s fast-paced and fast-changing organizations, it is hard to find the time, energy, and support to attend industry events. However, in addition to raising your visibility and value within your organization, it is more important than ever to raise your visibility outside of your organization as well.

Read more about the benefits of attending an industry association meeting in my next blog.