Team you

164505860_94fbfd0a84_mHave you identified your team?  Not the team you work with, the team who is going to help you achieve your goals?  I actually have several “Team Meg’s” who I consider extremely critical to my success.  

I hand pick those on the team based on what kind of help and support I need.  Do I need someone to help motivate me?  Teach me something?  Keep me focused?  Hold me accountable

My team makes that happen.  For example, I might realize that I don’t have the best grasp on (or respect for) grammar, and yet I love to blog.  No problem, my team has my back

You see, like most things in life, accomplishing your goal is easier with help.  Sharing your goals with others will focus your energy and keep you accountable, whether this is a performance goal, a fitness goal or a career goal, leveraging your friends and your network increases your chance of success.

Learning to share your goals first requires you to see the bigger picture and realize that you can have a much bigger impact and make much more progress when you learn to collaborate.  You might suggest I’m cheating, taking things that are hard and getting a lot of help to make them easy and I would say, exactly

No one said that you couldn’t get help, so why wouldn’t you give yourself that edge?

One of the biggest tricks to getting the right “team you” is to have a good sense of what you are good at and what you are not.  You might be surprised to find out that there are people you know who are good at what you lack. 

So I ask you, have you assembled the right team?  Are you sharing your goals with them so that they can help you?

Shock and awww

2905557224_bd7fd1e8e6_mWarning!  This post contains outright bragging and shameless pride.  Read at your own risk.

As many of you know we’ve been working on the project that must not be named over here at ORCL for quite a long time.  So long, that it has been easy to lose sight of just how big it is. 

Of course, we’ve had a lot of support, and that helps.  For example, our good friend Naomi Bloom called our products the second coming, clearly a sign of her deep religious belief (and faith) in our plans.  I totally understand too, why wouldn’t people get excited about a project that is entirely secret and vague.  Frankly, there are days when I’ve wondered myself if it was real and I’m being paid to help build it.

I am not new to the idea of re-architecting large-scale products.  In fact this is my fifth time redesigning a major product for technical and functional architecture improvements.  Of course, not every time was actually successful.  The time, effort and commitment to do a project of this scale makes it risky at best.  Let’s just say, if I were Stephen Colbert I’d know exactly how to describe what it takes to make something like this happen, but since this is a family blog, I will use the word brave.

So, while I am still not giving you any details on the what, when or how of this product, I am telling you today how amazed and honored I am to be working on a product that requires such commitment and bravery.  This is a project that could have failed many ways, but only succeeded with tenacity and vision

This Fusion project is one I will be proud of forever, and I fully expect it to cause people to stand up and take notice.

So, to everyone who has been working on making Fusion a reality, at every level, I would like to take a moment and tell you that this has truly been one amazing and exciting ride.

Career Gifts

Beware of geeks bearing gifts

I mentioned last week about reading the book the Leadership Pipeline.  When thinking about the phases of leadership outlined in this book, and the values and traits that are required at each level, I’ve had a few moments of pause. 

Frankly, there has been some internal cringing as I am reminded of Michael Scott -worthy behavior I have exhibited.  Then there was the realization about how lucky I have been.

Sorry, for those who were looking for entertainment in this post, today I want to talk more about those career gifts I was given that I didn’t recognize at the time

The first falls under a category I think of as micro-coaching.    The feedback you are given informally, often as just a passing comment, that makes you think and helps you grow.

My best example of micro-coaching was from a colleague and good friend (we’ll call him Max) who helped get me promoted to my first Vice President role.   

I was complaining to Max about the extra workload and wondering if I was going to be able to do the job.  He explained to me that the nature of the job was that there was always going to be more work than time and that my job would be to decide which things got done and which things did not. 

At the time I thought he was crazy, now I realize this was exactly my blind spot.  If I had not shifted my perspective on this topic, I would never have been able to scale as the job required.  I will not say that the change came easily, but it helped a lot to be pointed in the right direction.

My other big career gift, was when I got a job that stripped me of all my technical resources.  I was put in charge of a development team, who worked in a technology I did not know myself.  While, at the time, this was terrifying, it has proven to be one of the biggest career gifts I was ever given.  Being required to learn to manage people to do tasks I had no ability to do myself, gave me so many great tools.  When you cannot take a task on yourself, you value the skills of your team so much more and you have no choice but to learn to delegate to the appropriate level.

Both of these career gifts are powerful since their value is about perspective.  At the time I would have described the events so differently, but today I see them as seminal to my professional development. 

What career gifts have you given to others?  What have you received yourself?  How do you view them differently today than you did when you got them? 

I would like to say thank you to everyone who has helped show me the way in my career so far, and for those of you who are still helping me today.  These gifts are the ones I cherish forever.

Leadership Pipeline vs. Succession Planning

2281908304_b131819bbb_mIn typical fashion I’ve been thinking a bit too much these days, and the current topic is Succession planning.  I mentioned awhile back that I was under the impression that the concept of Succession Planning was too limiting. 

Recently, we had an excellent series of discussions with a real thought leader on the topic Kim Lamoureux at Bersin and she got me looking more closely at the relationship between Career Development and Succession Planning (sort of a top down vs. bottom up lens).

Then, I had the opportunity to attend an outstanding workshop by Patty Azzarello and she suggested a great book I’m currently reading called the Leadership Pipeline

All this has brought me to the conclusion that thought leading companies are not just thinking about succession, they are thinking about the entire leadership pipeline.

It is this desire to think more broadly about leadership and top talent that makes a scalable Talent Review process so critical.  Identifying (and investing in) future leaders is a process that allows companies to build a pipeline for future success.

The macro-economic climate including globalization, recession, M&A, etc. make this even more important for companies who consider human capital a competitive advantage

So I ask you, can you afford to leave this to chance?  Do you really believe you can hire your way to all the talent you will need to compete in the marketplace today?  What about in ten years time? 

Can you afford to under-utilize your talent? 

What about your competition?  Are they going to do this better or are you taking steps today to win the long game?

Manage your energy

2236367463_62013e10fe_mI used to think that I was the only one that had large swings in energy, but lately I have come to realize that this is just one of those things that we don’t want to share, so we might think it’s unique to us.

The reality, for me, is that I have pretty wild swings in energy (and thus productivity). It’s incredibly frustrating to me to have days of low energy, since on those days everything is hard.

On low energy days, often I can’t even muster up the will to work on anything even moderately difficult. I begin to procrastinate, since everything is too hard to start. If I stack up too many low energy days, complex tasks take a very long time, and my quality and quantity of output suffers.

Conversely, on high energy days everything is easy. I get huge amounts of work done, I am proud of what I did (and often those accomplishments give me more energy so everything goes great).

Lately I’ve been observing myself more closely, attempting to find out both what things give me energy and if I can will myself to have more of it.

While I can’t say I’ve perfected this, at any level, I have started to make some progress in actively discovering what gives me energy. I’ve started to predict when I will have high energy. I’m attempting to adjust my work, to better align with my energy flow.

I have always done this to some extent, but I’ve decided it’s time to be purposeful about the management of my energy.

I have given myself permission to do things that might appear less critical to my work, if it gives me energy. I have adjusted the things I work on during my high energy times of the day and week. I have saved administrative (and mindless) tasks for my low energy times.

I am learning that building energy is something I need to perfect. My job is not going to get smaller, I need to get bigger. I do not intend to grow my capacity by putting in more time, I intend to grow my capacity by getting better. Better at channeling my energy, better and creating energy and more efficient on how I use my high-value time.

I have noticed a real difference already, and I’m liking the results. Turns out, having high energy feels good and makes me want to do more.

What are your tricks for building energy? Specific things that build energy for me include:

  • thinking and talking about “big” things. Problems, ideas, concepts and trends that do not have easy or simple solutions — things that require learning
  • sleep — without sleep I’m cranky and that hits my energy hard
  • challenges met — identifying and conquering challenges give me enormous energy — thinking about things I did well and how I can do better
  • processing time — without some processing time, I get too overloaded with all my thinking. I process best by not thinking directly on a topic: sleep, reading something completely unrelated and effortless, driving, yoga, meditation. Anything that gives my brain a break
  • reading blogs and getting new ideas

What works for you? Have you learned to create energy for yourself?

Let it go already

55917472_ed7a8f51b2_m I probably have one of the most interesting jobs when thinking about the topic of career development

As someone who designs systems for talent management, I’m actually paid to study things like career development. 

As someone employed I, of course, care about the topic for myself and as a manager of managers, developing people to face the future needs of the business, is a big part of my job. 

Then, of course, as a geek, I totally love having a problem that I care deeply about, and am required to look at from all angles

Yup, good to be me.

In the last few months I have heard some advice that was very specific and unexpected in two entirely different contexts and from two different people.  This is the kind of phenomenon that makes me pause and take notice.   

The advice was to get over it. 

The specific topic was how not getting over it can hold you back in a serious way.  Focusing energy on disappointment and angst  is energy not spent on something productive and that lost opportunity cost hurts you much more than the thing you are fussing about.

So, next time you hear that some complete git got a promotion or recognition that they didn’t deserve consider the following:

  1. Are you sure that they didn’t deserve it?  Disconnect your emotional brain and recognize that even jerks can do good stuff.  Sure, maybe they didn’t do something as great as you, but really this isn’t about you is it?
  2. Maybe you should learn from them.  Not to be a jerk of course, but to understand why they are being recognized and you are not.  Is your desire to label them really a green eyed monster coming out?  Does your higher self recognize that they have done a better job of self promotion or focusing their energy on more career relevant connections or tasks?  Is that something bad about them, or something lacking in yourself?
  3. Are you still under the misperception that careers are fair?  The sooner you let that go, the better equipped you will be to succeed.

So, time to dust yourself off and let it go.  It’s not helping you. 

You are uniquely skilled and you know what it takes and most importantly, you learn from what doesn’t work and build a plan that gets results.  Any energy you waste on jealousy or angst is energy you are not focusing on your own objectives and that is holding you back.