Friday, April 26, 2013

Creating Winning Resumes Audio Download

This is a recording of my recent interview with Pauline Bennett, Manager Organisation Development from the City of Whitehorse.

Pauline shares key insights from an employer's perspective about what you should, and most definitely shouldn't include in your resume if you don't want to be rejected within the 15 to 30 seconds that a recruiter will be reviewing your resume.

Either play or download this terrific information.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Key Steps When Planning Personal Success

Last week I surpassed 5,800 participants of the OTM Plan for Personal Success® program. The program enables participants to identify exactly what they want out of life and how they are going to create that life.

The program covers:
  • One Core Concept
  • Background Research - on yourself
  • Five Principles for Personal Success and Life Balance
  • Six Vital Strategic Areas for Success
The planning process always follows these four steps:
  1. Identify what you want to achieve
  2. Clarify your starting point
  3. Brainstorm the strategies/actions that will move you from where you are to where you want to be
  4. Prioritise those strategies/actions so that you identify their order and/or key strategies/actions that have the highest leverage for achieving your desired outcomes
You might wonder why you don't start with Step 2 first?

No matter what planning you are doing whether it be for your organisation, your team or yourself, you should always start with what you want to achieve. If you start with where you are then you are at significant risk of being 'blinded' by your current circumstances. For example if you are in a job that you don't like because it isn't fulfilling, you aren't challenged and not recognised for the value that you are providing, then this will make it hard for you to create a plan to achieve what you do want from a career if your starting point for your plan is your current situation. Quite simply your current situation will have very clear examples of why you can't have what you want out of a career.

Your current situation often provides motivation for you to move away from it, but when you create your plan you must focus on getting as clear as you possibly can about what success really looks and feels like. You must focus on the outcome you desire first.

What would a fulfilling career look like? What would your relationships with your colleagues look like? Would you be working more on your own, as part of a team or a mixture of both? What would 'respect' look and feel like up, down and across the hierarchy of your ideal organisation? Would you be travelling a lot or not all? What would your income be?

For each of your answers to these types of questions you must ask yourself why you want what you want and picture it as clearly as possible. "But what if I don't know exactly what I want?", I hear you ask.

If you don't 'know' exactly what you want then I encourage you to identify the questions that you would like answered. If you think about it, what you actually want is to have discovered the answers to your own questions. So discovering and exploring the answers to your own questions become the focus of your strategies and actions in Steps 3 & 4 of this process.

Fortunately we humans are amazing explorers. I'd argue that the world we have created has resulted largely from our ability to explore and discover the answer to our own questions, such as a famous question asked by Isaac Newton, 'How can electricity provide light?'.

When planning follow the four steps above, they are powerful and they work.

The OTM Plan for Personal Success® has just been launched on an online platform called Yes For Success so that anyone can now access this powerful process for creating the success and life balance that you desire.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A view of leadership from the 'other side'

Below is a dialogue between two colleagues. One of them Paul, is upset with his manager because he believes that while she preaches ‘collaboration’, she is in fact (to him) a hypocrite. His colleague Aiden provides a different perspective and eventually enables Paul to see that maybe his manager isn’t the hypocrite he thinks she is.

Paul: “Amanda is a hypocrite!”

Aiden: “What do you mean?”

Paul: “Well, she says that she wants us to collaborate, so I gave her my opinion about the Seymour incident and she’s pulled rank on me. I’ve been told that it’s her decision and that if I do what I said I was going
to do, then I’ll be in trouble.”

Aiden: “Hmmm. You’re saying that Amanda has asked you for your opinion, you’ve given it and she’s made a decision that is not what you want. Is that correct?”

Paul: “Yes. That is exactly what has happened. She’s a hypocrite!”

Aiden: “Paul, let’s slow down for a second. What behaviour does Amanda display when you believe that she has listened to you?”

Paul: “Well, that’s easy. She does what I want. That proves that she has listened. After all, that’s what collaboration is, isn’t it?”

Aiden: “Well, not exactly. If we slow down and listen to what you’re saying it sounds like Amanda has to do what you want otherwise she isn’t seen to be listening to you. Is that what you mean?”

Paul: “No, not really. But she asked me to give my opinion and then she didn’t take it. What’s the point of asking me what I think?”

Aiden: “The point is that Amanda is seeking more information by getting your opinion. Think back over the past few times that Amanda has asked your opinion, have there been any times when she has appeared to listen to you?”

Paul: “Yes, a couple. There was the Monroe issue and the Pothole issue where Amanda’s final decision was very close to what I thought we should do.”

Aiden: “So, from your perspective Amanda does listen sometimes?”

Paul: “Yes, sometimes.”

Aiden: “What’s your definition of when Amanda isn’t listening to you?

Paul: “That’s obvious. When her decisions are different to what I want.”

Aiden: “Paul, Can you hear what you are saying? It seems to me that you’re saying that unless Amanda’s decisions equal what you want, then she’s being a hypocrite because she hasn’t listened to you. Yet you agree that there have been times when her decisions have been very similar to what your input recommended.”

Paul: “I’m listening” nodded Paul.

Aiden: “Look at it this way. When you’ve been a boss in the past, don’t you expect your positional authority to count for something from time to time?”

Paul: “Yes”

Aiden: “In that case, isn’t it possible that Amanda really has listened? In taking your opinion on board she has decided to do something different. She has then used her positional authority, which she is entitled to use, to make the decision. What’s wrong with that?”

Paul: “Okay. I suppose that you have a point. In fact she did say that she was using her positional authority to ‘make the call’. I took offence to that for some reason, but I’m not sure why”.

Aiden: “Great. I’m glad you’ve been open to having this chat.”

Paul; “Yeah, so I am I. I was going to go and do something that probably wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. In fact,, I probably would have undermined Amanda if I had continued with the action that I was planning to do. I suppose there are just times when I’m not going to fully understand Amanda’s decisions. I suppose I’ll just need to trust her and keep asking questions. That can’t hurt, can it?

Aiden: “Of course not. And my experience with Amanda is that she does listen and does try to explain why her decisions are what they are. I think that sometimes we don’t listen to her because we’re so focused on what we want. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt for us all to have a chat about these issues at our next meeting.

Paul: “You really think that she’d be up for it?”

Aiden: “Yeah, I do.”

This dialogue highlights how powerful mental models (see How what you think affects what you see) can be and how they can influence what we see and don’t see. In this situation a manager who collaborates with her team is seen as being a hypocrite simply because she at times, makes decisions that aren’t exactly what her team members want her to do.

Collaboration exists when people work as a team. Teamwork requires members to perform their role from both a technical role and team role (see What Makes People Tick Personality Profile & Job Fit Assessments) perspective. In this context it is fair and reasonable for a leader to exert their positional authority from time to time when making decisions. Providing the leader is constantly seeking and absorbing input from team members, there may be times when the leader has to make a decision and that decision may not be popular with the rest of the team. The nature of a leadership role means that leaders are exposed to information that other staff are not able to access. (at least not in the same timeframe). This means that sometimes leaders have access to information as an input to their decision-making that other team members may not yet know. This can create a paradox for the leader who wishes to be known for their collaborative style because there are times (such as employee disciplinary processes) when a leader is not able to share all the information with their team members.

A way to manage this situation is for the leader to declare when they are expressing a view from the perspective of their formal position and authority, compared to when they are simply expressing a view. For such a system to work the leader will need to conduct a series of conversations with their team about how such a system should work. The intention of the system is to enable team members to be able to speak candidly with their ‘boss’ (see the video Transparency – How leaders create a culture of candor).

If conversations such as the ones just described had been conducted throughout Paul and Aiden’s team’s history, it is unlikely that Paul would have been so convinced that his manager, Amanda, was a hypocrite.

What have been your experiences with regard to the challenge of having a collaborative leadership style, with making decisions when required?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Addressing The Challenges Of Going Back To University

The Australasian Survey of Student Engagement identified that 27% - 34% of university students intend to drop out of university prior to completing their degrees.

Reasons for dropping out include:
  • Stress
  • Workload difficulties
  • Preference for current employment over study
  • Boredom
I know what it is like to have the strong desire to drop out. I took 7.5 years to complete my first degree which was supposed to take 4 years. The last 3 years of my program seemed to drag on forever. Every semester I would seriously consider quitting. My partner (now wife) kept urging me to stay course. "You won't regret it!" she urged.

Truth be known I wasn't the greatest student back in those days!  'P for pass' was my mantra. Hardly a mantra for success!

When I finally graduated I did two things:
  1. I swore I would never go back to university; and
  2. Got a job in a field related to my studies because there weren't any jobs available and unemployment had reached 11%.
The fact that I had completed my degree definitely mattered when it came to getting my first job because I was competing with other folk who also had degrees. My part-time work experience in the fitness industry also mattered.

It was this experience that taught me that my partner was right. Completing my degree did matter even if I didn't get a job as a teacher. I learned that, to a large degree, my qualification was like a bus ticket. There are certain buses that you just can't get on if you don't have the ticket.

For a number of years I continued to swear that I would never go back to university. However as they say, you should never say, "Never!".

Toward the late 1990s my career had taken off and I had reached the senior levels of the organisation for whom I worked. But I had hit the glass ceiling. Unless I continued my education and gathered some more tickets then my career options would be limited. At the end of 1999 I decided to enrol into my first post-graduate program and commenced that program in July 2000. As a Distant Education student who was working full time it was a real challenge. Balancing work, play and study was difficult. To add to my challenges I had become a first time father in January 2000. I had bitten off a lot! Maybe this story resonates with you?

However between graduating from my teaching degree and commencing my first postgraduate studies I had become a student of leadership. I had been doing a lot of reading about leadership and success and had discovered that I had far more control over my success than I had realised. And I put what I had learned into practice throughout my postgraduate studies. After graduating from my Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management I immediately enrolled into a Master of Management program. My grades averaged a High Distinction and I loved the learning experience. All the while I was working full time and by the time I completed my Masters program we were about to have our third child (I now have five children!).

I understand what it takes to complete a degree when working full time and having significant family commitments. I also understand how managing your energy contributes to your ability to 'manage' when you have competing demands on your time. Which is why I want to share my ebook "Energy For Success - Seven Steps For Generating The Energy You Need For Success." with you.

My complimentary ebook walks you through a simple seven step process where you will be able to quickly identify the key elements that generate energy for you, and which elements in your life drain your energy. You will then be able to create a re-enforcing cycle for energy that will enable you to have the energy to be a success throughout your postgraduate program.

One of those steps involves identifying the times in your life when you have felt full of energy and been able to perform at your best. What factors were present when you felt like that? What was it about those factors that seemed to really matter?

For me, I know that feeling fit and healthy gives me the sense of being able to tackle any task, no matter how big or small it is. When I don't feel fit and healthy it is amazing how challenging even the smallest task can seem. So, it would seem that being fit and healthy is a key factor for my energy. And it is. What are your examples?

Once identified these factor often relate to each and provide you with amazing insights about what you should and shouldn't do to ensure that you have the energy to complete your program.

If you'd like to learn more and be able to create your own cycle for generating your Energy For Success simply click this link and follow the prompts.

Gary Ryan helps individuals, teams and organisations move Beyond Being Good.