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7 Signs that a Pink Slip is Coming!

7 Signs that a Pink Slip is Coming! It was my first ‘real’ job and after only nine months and one quick promotion, I thought I would be there forever.  To say I was blindsided when I was “let go” is an understatement.  I was beyond shocked.  I never saw it coming. I spent the rest of that day wandering around in a fog.  I kept going over and over the whole nine months and wondering what I had missed. Well a couple more “lay-offs” in my professional career and I started to realize that there are always signs when you’re about to be fired.  I noticed it with other people – I just wasn’t aware of when they were happening to me. So along with a few excerpts from an article on msn.com, I want to share with you what I think are the top seven signs that a pink slip might be coming. 1 – Are you no longer in the loop about, well, anything? This is a huge telltale sign. Suddenly you’re finding out about company news from the cleaning lady or the new girl in accounting. If you were formally in the know about all things business related, but now suffer from “the company’s doing what??!” disease, the writing is probably on the wall. 2 – Did you recently screw up big-time? We’re not talking a minor faux pas here. Did you lose money on an account that was previously bulletproof? Were you caught having “relations” on the boss’s desk with the boss’s sister? That’s probably not a career-enhancing move. Unless you’re a real neophyte, you know you have screwed up. And if you know, HR knows. It may not be the final nail in your coffin, but it’s a nail in the coffin nonetheless. 3 – Are people avoiding you at all costs? Eye-contact is difficult to make with someone if you know his or her head’s on the chopping block. Small talk is just as tough. It’s best just to avoid that person altogether. So if people are no longer doing that fun “stop ‘n’ chat” in the hall, or the coffee room empties when you arrive, then guess what…you may be a marked man or woman. 4 – Did your last performance review read like a train wreck? Most of the time, a performance review is a whole bunch of general niceties. The boss really doesn’t want to say anything TOO good, because everyone has room for improvement. But generally, they praise within reason and avoid anything too negative. So if your assessment of your performance reads “exceeds expectations” and your boss’s reads “has not met expectations”, well, that tap on the shoulder is coming. 5 – Has your company recently been sold or merged? This is rarely good news for about 90% of the staff. Sure, management is fine. After all, they negotiated the deal. But whether you were sold or merged, the outcome is the same…changes will be made across the board. A merger means duplication of many jobs. Duplication = redundancy. Being sold means new management, and they always have new plans for the company. New plans that includes cutbacks and layoff. Basically, pay attention to the other signs if there’s a new name on the front door. 6 – Are you currently being ‘retrained’ or are taking coaching sessions? Again, a tricky one. Retraining or coaching is often a way to try and save an employee who has lost his or her way. It shows that the company or your boss still cares. BUT, it also can have a flip side. It may be another one of those ‘cover the company’s butt’ scenarios, in which HR...

How Do You Compare With Great Leaders?

How Do You Compare With Great Leaders? In our last article, we talked about Vision being the one characteristic most often associated with great leadership.  One definition of leadership is the ability to turn a dream or vision of a desired future into a reality – with and through the cooperation of other people. The list below contains three more critical qualities of great leaders.  There are a few suggestions of how to develop these qualities in yourself or in others.  To turn this into an interactive exercise, rate yourself on these qualities 1-10, 10 being the highest.  Then take this list to five of your closest associates and ask them to honestly rate your skill level.  Be sure to discuss any gaps in your scores, being open and gracious to the feedback you’ve asked for. 1) Integrity – If you ask people what integrity means, the majority will reply, “Honesty.”  While honesty is a component of integrity; it goes beyond just being truthful.  This quality embodies the phrase “ethical leadership.”  It is the willingness to conduct yourself honestly and ethically at all times.  It requires a distaste for any dealings that are underhanded, shady or even win/lose type scenarios.  A leader with integrity will not touch dishonest dollars nor profit from an unfair advantage. I once heard a man say that he evaluates everything in his business by the simple standard “would I want my wife and kids knowing I’m doing this?” It seems some characters in recent scandals (Spitzer comes to mind) failed to evaluate their behavior against such a standard.  Whoever you use as your Jiminy Cricket, your kids, parents, God, it’s a beneficial question to keep in mind. How can you develop this quality of Integrity? A. When about to engage in something you think may be questionable, ask yourself, “Would I be comfortable with this course of action being publicized?” Enron officers failed to ask themselves this simple question. B. Stand up for what you believe in.  If you are asked to engage in something you believe is unethical, “blow the whistle.” C. Work on your own self-esteem.  Confident people are more comfortable standing up for what they know is right. “I have learned that integrity is the steadfast refusal to do anything I will dislike myself for having done.” “Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy.” ~ General H. Norman Schwarzkopf 2) Self Confidence – Self-confidence is necessary to inspire others to follow your lead. You must believe in yourself and your abilities to be a great leader.  This quality allows leaders to act in the face of disagreement.  Coincidentally, confidence also makes leaders more open to hearing others’ point of view. How can you develop this quality of Self-Confidence? A. Build yourself up.  Practice positive self-talk and remind yourself of your strengths, successes and potential. B. Face your greatest fear.  Fear can be healthy and a great confidence builder when overcome.  If you’re waiting for the fear to go away completely before you try something – you’ll be waiting forever. Great leaders “act in spite of fear”. C. Ask others for a list of your unique strengths and qualities.  Don’t limit them. “The qualities that people look for most in leaders are not infallibility or infinite knowledge but confidence in themselves and in their group’s collective ability to find a solution.” ~ Jerry Colonna, cofounder Flatiron Partners “Leadership is a delicate blend of self-confidence and humility.” ~ Harry Kraemer, CEO of Baxter International 3) Interpersonal Skills – Daniel Goleman in “Emotional Intelligence” stated that interpersonal skills are more critical to success than intelligence.  Great leaders must have a...

Do You Have The #1 Quality of Great Leaders

Do You Have The #1 Quality of Great Leaders Too often leadership development has been a process of turning out exact replicas of a certain personality type.  Commanding, egocentric and persuasive leaders have, in the past, been seen as ideal.  Even years after the corporate scandals of Enron and WorldCom, where some of these larger-than-life personalities were at the very root of the problem, one would think we’d be over our infatuation with charismatic leaders. Of course there are common qualities that great leaders possess: courage, integrity, tenacity, just to name a few.  But these traits can come in many different forms.  One could argue that the leadership styles of Mahatma Ghandi, Lee Iaccoca and Colin Powell are vastly different while there are some traits they all had in common. The question is can these traits be developed? Is something as intangible as integrity teachable? Or is it an innate quality that you either have or you don’t?  While the actual quality of integrity may be difficult to measure, the behaviors that exhibit integrity are easily recognized. “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born”. ~ Warren G. Bennis This article and subsequent articles contains ten critical qualities of great leaders – starting with the #1 Quality of Vision.  There are a few suggestions of how to develop these qualities in yourself or in others.  To turn this into an interactive exercise, rate yourself on these qualities 1-10, 10 being the highest. Then take this list to five of your closest associates and ask them to honestly rate your skill level.  Be sure to discuss any gaps in your scores, being open and gracious to the feedback you’ve asked for. VISION – “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but has no vision,” said Helen Keller.  Vision is the one characteristic most often associated with great leadership.  One definition of leadership is the ability to turn a dream or vision of a desired future into a reality—with and through the cooperation of other people. A shared vision will inspire others to follow your lead.  It is the desired state or goal that a leader focuses on in order to deal with setbacks, resistance, personal weaknesses, etc.  Nelson Mandela comes to mind.  His vision of an apartheid-free South Africa helped him deal with persecution and imprisonment which he endured for over 25 years.  A clear vision pursued with conviction and persistence is more than half the battle. Great leaders also have the ability to stay focused on their vision while managing day-to-day activities.  This vision should then guide the goals and activities of people who work with this leader. Where is your vision carrying you? Where will it take your organization? How do you develop this quality of Vision?  Here are some suggestions: 1) Articulate your organization’s current Vision. 2) Assess whether your strategies and goals support this Vision. 3) Periodically evaluate whether day-to-day activities, meetings, projects, are in line with your organization’s strategic plan to achieve its Vision. “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.” ~ Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus, University of Notre Dame “To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t know where he is going.” ~ Joe Namath “There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why...

The real impact of holding on to low performers

The real impact of holding on to low performers In the last article article, we talked about the number one mistake companies make – holding on to low performers. Here are some consequences of employees not carrying their fair share of the work… Others are left to pick up the slack. Top Performers begin to resent the underperformer(s), as well as the manager who allows them to stay. [When the underperformers know they are not meeting expectations] they have to deal with personal disappointment. [When the underperformers don’t know they aren’t meeting expectations] they are being set up for future failure. The manager is likely so busy managing the underperformers that s/he neglects the development of Top Performers. The bottom-line of all these consequences is that team and business results suffer.  And yet, ironically, suffering is what you are trying to avoid by not addressing the situation. As with most things in life, you either suffer the effort of action or the results of non-action. Think of health and wellness.  Either you endure the “pain” of exercise and restricting what you eat or eventually you suffer the pain of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.  It’s long term thinking versus short term thinking. For the health of your business, carefully consider the long term consequences of keeping underperformers, and then take the actions necessary today to ensure your...

The #1 Mistake Companies Make

The #1 Mistake Companies Make Since 2002, I’ve been working with businesses both big and small.  There is one thing that stands out to me that successful businesses do better than struggling businesses that ultimately fail.  It is so simple – but it’s not easy.  What is it? Letting underperformers go.  That’s it.  Not letting low performers go is the biggest mistake I see companies make. It’s also the second most common reason I get hired to consult with companies.  First and foremost, I get contracted to help them hire Top Performers.  Second, I get hired to coach, develop, and hopefully turn around underperformers. Sometimes the underperformers I coach have been underperforming for YEARS.  Why is it when someone obviously isn’t succeeding in a position have they been allowed to flounder for so long? The three most common reasons are: 1. The manager is overly empathetic to the person’s challenges.  “They are a nice person with a family and they try really hard.” 2. The manager not only wants to avoid the gut wrenching job of having to let the person go but they are worried about the consequences.  “What if the person I fire becomes litigious or what if the next person I hire is worse?” 3. The manager hopes for the best.  “Maybe the person can turn it around.  Perhaps I as a manager have not given them the proper direction or support they need to succeed.” In all of these scenarios, the managers are overly focused on the needs and challenges of one individual.  Instead they need to think like Kerry Patterson, author of Crucial Conversations suggests, “It is my job to keep the company as competitive as possible thus securing the jobs of every employee and not just the one.” If we truly understood the impact of allowing underperformers to remain in our organizations, we might be more willing to take on the difficult task of letting them...

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