Promotions and job fit

200915795_801b42a1fcSo often I see managers and employees confusing promotion with recognition.  This is a real shame, as often this doesn’t work out well for anyone.

Job recognition should come from your performance review and ideally as part of regular and continuous feedback you get from your boss, your peers and others that you work with.

Too often life imitates art and managers wanting to keep someone happy,  will grant a promotion with little or no consideration to the job fit question.  Promotion involves taking on a bigger or new role and should only be done if that role is a good progression for the individual.

I’ve seen a lot of cases where this is not done well and everyone can be hurt as a result.

The most frequent promotion blunder, is putting someone in a management role when this is not a good fit for their skills.  This puts not only the individual in a tough spot, but it also impacts those unfortunate individuals who are now reporting to someone who does not understand what the job requires.  Moving into a manager role is not a path to individual recognition, but rather a complete shift in the job skills, values and priorities.

I’m growing into the belief that we need to find better and more effective ways to recognize people vs. putting so much pressure on the promotion process.

Promotion should not be the individual  goal, job fit should be the goal.

If we do a better job identifying the roles that fit us and how we can best contribute, then it is much more clear when a promotion would be needed.  A promotion is really only then needed when you outgrow your current job.  Nothing more.

If you are not getting the right kind of challenges in your role, you need a different one.  If you are succeeding at your current role and are not bored or feeling underutilized you should consider this a great job fit and celebrate your own professional nirvana.

I think the message I learned at my first yoga class fits here precisely, you are not here to compete with anyone, not even yourself.

The sooner we focus on getting our job fit right, the happier and more successful we will be.

So the next time you talk to your boss about your role, I suggest you focus the conversation on job fit.  If that takes you both to the topic of promotion then so be it, but if not, hopefully it will lead to more job satisfaction and success.

Self-serving feminist or pro-diversity?

2735639664_05f2272192Recently I flew cross country (twice actually, long story) so I was able to catch up on my quality reading (People, US Weekly, Men’s Health, etc.).

Ironically, one of the topics that I read (Men’s Health) was about the advantages women have in the workplace due to our Venus-like characteristics.

The funniest part, was the accompanying photo of a woman, in a low cut dress, sprawling  on a sofa.  It really gave you a sense that the author was attempting to raise a nuanced conversation about gender differences in the workplace, but I digress…

I then came back to work and stumbled upon this outstanding presentation where a handy plug-in was being authored to replace that annoying

.. content authored by women, because the stuff that is made by women really, generally, isn’t as good.

Very reminiscent of the question what have the Romans ever done for us?  To which I say [incredulously].. oh… peace! …Shut Up!

The truth is that diversity, in general, is a good thing.  Different points of view and different perspectives and different skills are helpful and can make a team more effective.  When talking about women (something I know more about than other minority groups) you are also talking about [roughly] 50% of the population, at that point it’s not just about different skills, it’s about size of the market of total talent.

Consider the approach they took in Norway, mandating a [gasp] quota of 40% female participation on boards, and all without requiring photos of plunging necklines.

The truth is, diversity is best served when the organization makes an effort to protect against blind spots, and when minorities show themselves to be capable for the roles.

I feel privileged to work for a company like Oracle, that has made a real commitment to women in leadership.  I am also very grateful to be working at a time where awareness, opportunity and a voice are available to everyone.

I strongly believe that we live in a time where we cannot afford to squander any talent that is available to us, not if we want to compete in a global economy.  This is not an EEO issue, it’s a common sense business issue.

While I know that we are probably a long way off from a day where these topics are discussed without the sophomoric element, I say, if it takes a sexy-photo to get people to read an article on gender diversity… well it’s a step in the right direction.

So, Bravo Men’s Health.

I am my own customer profile

middle-manager(1) I was thinking on the drive in today about how lucky I am to know exactly what the users of our Talent products do each day.

I know what they do because I am one.  Not just in the sense that we use our own software here at Oracle (which we do), but in the broader sense of the profile of the people we want to help with our  solutions.

Talent applications are unique in that they are built/implemented to help organizations be strategic with their talent, but they are primarily used by individual employees and managers.

Luckily, I happen to be each of those.   So I get to build a product that helps me.

And here is what I want.

As an employee I want to add value to my company in exchange for my paycheck.  I don’t just want to do work, I want to do work that is meaningful to the company.  I want to know what I should work on, how I can do it more effectively and I want to be rewarded if [when] I get it right.

As a manager, I want to help my people succeed.  I want to help them have the tools and skills they need to do their best job.  I want to help them grow, I want to focus their efforts on the most important problems and I want to reward them for their accomplishments.

I was reminded in my thinking about a session I attended at PBWC a few months back where Dev Patanik was telling about his book Wired to Care.

Wired to Care tells the story of how companies prosper when they stop worrying about their own problems and start caring about ordinary people.

I realized how fortunate I am to be working for a product that I care so much about.  I care about it not only as something I’m paid to do, I care about it because getting it right is so important to me.

And in the end isn’t that really what it’s all about?

But enough about me, let’s talk about you… what do YOU think of me?