A Mutiny Through Lack of Engagement – A Silent Rebellion

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A mutiny occurs every day in organizations all over the world. They don’t usually make headlines or the business sections of publications. They may not display visible signs of hostility. They may not involve physically taking over a facility and relieving leadership of its command. The approach is subtler but devastating.

A mutiny is defined as forcible or passive resistance to lawful authority (Merriam – Webster’s dictionary). The word and concept, I observed recently while watching Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard in the 1962 movie classic, Mutiny on the Bounty.

The mutiny, in our context, is a revolution where people withhold potential and productivity. They will not give 100%. People who hold back on their best effort or potential. The revolt is on the inside. For example, they may not be totally engaged at work. They may give a quality performance, but not the virtuoso performance of their best effort. Some employees will adopt an “Over My Dead Body” mindset (OMDB), which means they theoretically would rather die than give their total cooperation to an organization or manager that does not respect or trust them. Workers may decide that the company does not deserve their best, therefore their masterpiece ideas, solutions and discretionary effort will be withheld; an insidious mutiny against unsuspecting leadership.

Mutiny on the Bounty is a story based on an actual event. The HMS Mutiny Bounty sailed in 1787, under the leadership of Captain, William Bligh. He was a difficult leader, whose ruthless leadership style focused only on the mission and not his men. One of his famous lines from the 1962 movie was, “Cruelty with a purpose is not cruelty, it is efficiency.” Captain Bligh was overthrown by members of his crew, led by Fletcher Christian (played by Marlon Brando) after demonstrating heartless behavior which led to the death of several of his men.

How do you stop a mutiny?

How do you stop a mutiny before it happens? Selecting a leader with the right skills, reputation and temperament is a good start. Open lines of communication and an atmosphere of trust through transparency and fair play creates a climate of accountability. In the movie, the sailors did not have their captain’s superior or someone in the function of Human Resources to hear their grievances. An effective human resources department provides an avenue for people to express their problems with leadership. Many times, such a person or department is not on-site. However, the organization may have an HR department or someone in that function to contact.

The beauty of our current leadership/managerial landscape is that many organizations have ascribed to the notion of a healthy work environment. There are employee surveys, satisfaction surveys, and engagement surveys to take the temperature or climate of the company. These surveys can uncover problems and managers can be presented with data and held accountable for changing their environment. These surveys are strengthened with direct contact with management and human resources to ensure the environment is conducive for maximum productivity.

It is imperative as a leader to gauge how your people are responding to your direction and the culture in your environment. A worst-case scenario may develop where people mentally abandon the company, but stay on the job, because you failed to address a toxic culture.

Managers can evaluate their culture through The Know System™ which could provide a simplified look at their environment. The Know System™ featured in the book The Isle of Knowledge is a fable about making better decisions. The story helps the reader to find the problems, solve problems and make better decisions.

The Know System™ is easy to use and helps the participants gather information to enhance the quality of their decisions and discussions. Let’s begin with 6 words from the word Know and a few related questions that relate to company culture.

1. Won – What would a winning culture look like to you? What type of atmosphere, level of engagement and customer satisfaction scores would represent success to you?
2. Know – What do you know and need to know about your culture and the people in your organization? (This can be enhanced with the words who, what, where, when, how and why, if appropriate)
3. Now – What are you doing now to ensure a healthy habitat? Are you placing priority on the proper indicators?
4. No – What are you doing that you need to stop doing? What goes against your culture and stated values that you need to say no to? What do your people want you to eliminate or stop doing?
5. On – You must always be vigilant to monitor culture and maintain a proper cultural air quality. What are you doing to track leading indicators of a great culture? How are you measuring your work environment? Some companies use a stop, start and to stay approach. What should they stop doing (say no to), start doing and continue doing regarding their culture? This could involve training, new goals and diversity and inclusion strategies.
6. Own – Do you own the culture as evidenced by leadership behavior? How are you holding yourself and others accountable? How are you reporting your performance and interest in a strong culture to your people?

When the organization does not feel like a respectful place, people feel that the company let them down and cannot be trusted. Mutiny or thoughts of mutiny are indicators the culture has failed or is failing many of its workers. They may resort to subversive action and taking matters into their own hands.

In the closing scene of Mutiny on the Bounty, Captain Bligh, who was overthrown and placed in a lifeboat with a few men and rations, finally arrived in England. He was not blamed for the mutiny; but it was “noted that officers of stainless record and seamen decided to revolt against him” and a mistake was made putting him in charge of the ship.

A mutiny may be disguised by a series of resignations and requests for transfers. Your top performers or the most influential members on your team may leave, causing a chain reaction of departures. Management must be perceptive, accessible and periodically check the culture pulse of the organization. People must believe that leadership is authentic, transparent and sincere and practices their core values. Trust will be enhanced when people really believe that they are the number one resource in the organization. Otherwise, silent mutinies will go unchecked, unnoticed, and people will be unfulfilled, and the cost to business, substantial.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

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Work: A Love/Hate Relationship

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We have a curious relationship with work. We jokingly refer to it as something we just love to hate. We tend to gripe about work in our conversations which are often grounded in negativity. We often view work as a necessary evil, the daily grind or just a job and something to pay the bills. It is to be tolerated until we can do something about it or find something better. We view work with a captive mentality. It is something that we do against our will, as if someone’s forcing us to do it. We complain about work when we are hired, fired, quit or retire.

There are statistics and anecdotal comments that reflect our ambivalence toward work.  70 to 80% of people dread going to work every day. According to the Gallup Corporation, only 18% are fully engaged in the workplace. Conversely, if we find the job we love, we are told that we won’t work a day in our lives.

The Hate Relationship

When we speak of the things we hate about our job, it is generally focused on the manager or the fact that we are underutilized or in the wrong job. Leadership is responsible for the culture, with assistance from our co-workers. We may not think we are able to positively impact environment, unless we are a manager. Therefore, we may elect to put our head down, shut our mouths and do our job. These are survival and coping techniques we use when we cannot leave the job and must stay on board for the sake of our family and future.

The Love Relationship

There may be a love side to work that is often not discussed. Rarely do we hear people say, “I love going to work, it is so fulfilling, encouraging and allows me to grow my skills to achieve my dreams. I love my job because it completes me; I cannot think of any place I’d rather be than at work.” We believe that the right job with the right manager and the right company, that fulfills our purpose, is out there, but we haven’t found it yet.

We should focus our attention to the overlooked facts that point to an affection some of us have for our jobs. There may be positive attributes that are lost in the stress and struggles from working in a toxic environment. If we look beyond the haze, we may see that work can amaze and provide us the opportunity to focus on personal dreams and enable us to acquire marketable and transferable skills. The workplace provides the option to network and meet people who will help us in our career development. Our socialization may be comprised of people we see at work.

Gratitude

It would be helpful to make a list of the things we love and the things we hate about your work. Find a quiet place and create a chart on a piece of paper or on your computer or tablet. Be very truthful and objective, as you complete these two columns. The nature of the job may fit into your strengths and your passions. For example, you may enjoy your manager and co-workers

After you have completed this assignment, study the items you have listed. Ask yourself the following questions;

  • How is this item contributing to my feeling about work?
  • How important is this item in my overall perception of my job satisfaction or dissatisfaction?
  • What can I do to increase or eliminate this as a concern?
  • Who should I talk to and explain my position?
  • How can I make the most of this concern to improve the overall development of my skill sets and career?
  • Am I honest about my assessment of these love-hate attributes?
  • How can I ensure that my response is benefiting the organization and putting myself in position to achieve my goals and dreams?

Where is the Love?

Gallup’s research also notes that people who are engaged at work usually have a best friend work. Early in my managerial career I noticed that certain managers surrounded themselves with people with whom they had a history. These individuals moved together from job to job and invariably brought these talented people with them. Apparently, they had cultivated a bond with these coworkers because of their talent and trustworthiness. There is a lesson we can learn from these relationships. They were an asset to each other as they climbed the company ladder. Therefore, work developed friendships and strategic relationships can benefit our careers. These individuals become investments and when they change companies, they can pave the way for us to join another organization.

My wife commented on how the corporate training programs enhanced my development. She knew me before I started working for the company. She saw me before the experiences and training programs and witnessed firsthand, my personal growth, development and transformation. When discussing difficulties at work, she would remind me to be grateful and express gratitude for the blessings I received.

Many companies have a list of direct and indirect benefits that they provide for employees. These benefits may increase the likelihood that people will love their jobs. Additionally, successful companies try to match people with the jobs consistent with their skill or potential. The direct benefits are pay for education through tuition reimbursement programs. There are vacation days, paid leaves of absence, company matching as a part of their 401(k) benefits. We may argue that companies must offer these benefits to be competitive in today’s marketplace. Yet, there are positive programs that we can use to benefit ourselves and family. Taking advantage of these programs could increase our positive perception of the company. We have a greater chance of loving work when we take advantage of these benefits. If we play our cards right, we can use the organization to develop the necessary skills to achieve our life’s purpose.

However, benefits alone should not anchor us to an organization that is tearing us down and burning us out. I spoke to a vice president recently who stated that she stayed with a previous employer because of their benefits, when there were no personal growth and career development opportunities. She indicated that she probably stayed there four years too long, when she could have grown and been better off in another environment, enhancing her career.

We have a love/hate relationship work, but we should mine for the valuable opportunities, benefits and resources we need to grow our portfolio, relationships and life experiences. When we step back and are strategic and objective, we observe and anticipate chances for skill development and financial security. We can accurately project the company’s potential value to us. And when this happens our love for work may increase, along with our level of gratitude.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

 

The 4th Monkey – “Do No Evil”

I am reissuing, with a few modifications, my most popular blog post, for your consideration. The universal application of these age-old concepts is a tremendous value that should guide our behavior and interactions with each other.

We grew up with the story of the three monkeys. I imagine that many of us have the same interpretation of what they represent. We were exposed to pictures or statues. One monkey had his hands over his eyes, the second monkey with hands over his ears and the third monkey’s hands were over his mouth. They were see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura) and speak no evil (Iwazura). There were actions and behaviors demanded of us based on the three monkeys, but nothing was said about the fourth monkey. The fourth monkey was do no evil (Shizaru).

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The stories of the four monkeys were popular in Japan in the 17th century. Their origin is between 2 and 4 BC in China. The Storyologer web-site (www.storyologer.com) has this account of Mahatma Gandhi who carried around a small statue of the three monkeys.  “Gandhi had a statue of three monkeys in three different postures. One was shutting his mouth with his hands, the other was shutting his ears similarly and the third one had put hands on his eyes. A visitor to his house became curious and questioned Gandhi about the various postures of the monkeys. Gandhi politely replied, “The one shutting his mouth tells us that we should not speak ill of anybody. The one shutting his ears tells us that we should not hear the ill of anybody. And the one shutting his eyes tells us that we should not see the ills of anybody. If we do so, we will have all goodness and nothing but goodness.”

Travelers will often find local markets with carved depictions or artwork featuring the three monkeys. My wife was able to purchase an angelic model of the same concept. There are three angels; one was covering her eyes, one was covering her ears and the other was covering her mouth. However, the fourth monkey was not shown. The 4th monkey, when pictured, is usually shown folding his arms (the body language of being closed) or covering his crotch to signify inactivity.

The different interpretations of the four monkeys is fascinating. In Buddhist tradition it meant don’t spend your time preoccupied with evil thoughts. In the West it relates to not facing up to our moral responsibility, for example turning a blind eye. But in my household, the monkeys were presented to us as a model of proper behavior. Our parents wanted us to identify with the images, to supplement our moral code.

See no evil (Mizaru)

We were told to pay attention to people and location(s). The idea was that if we were in the right location, we would minimize seeing trouble develop before our eyes. This was applicable in school and at work. We were instructed against being at the wrong place at the wrong time or the wrong place right. We were also told not to look for bad things in people or in certain situations. There are people who see bad things when they don’t exist, which could explain the manifestations of bias, stereotypes and profiling. We were not taught to be naïve, but to be careful and respectful.

Hear no evil (Kikazaru)

We were told to shield ourselves from bad language and bad intentions. We should stay away from people who spoke ill of others and gossiped. If we were not in the wrong place we could minimize hearing things that we should not hear. We were also instructed not to listen to foul or vulgar language. If we heard people language, especially regarding someone’s evil intentions, we could use the evil information to do good or to help others, that would be permissible.

Speak no evil (Iwazura)

Speak no evil was used to discourage gossiping or speaking ill will about someone. We were told to watch our language and to speak kind words. “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything” was a part of this same philosophy. Adults told us that spreading bad news or malicious information could come back to haunt us. We should also, apply this same advice to the workplace.

There is a misconception around the concept about someone. This misconception has led people to adopt a code of silence in the workplace when a person is not pulling their own weight. We would rather silently complain or resign, before talking about an employee who was not working. We would not want to be labeled a snitch or a stool pigeon. In the streets people would say, “snitches get stitches”. To speak evil of someone means telling a lie, varying false witness or defaming their reputation. However, it is our responsibility to find a way to report injustice, illegal behavior and practices that undermine people and the organization. Our intention should be to speak the truth in love without malice or premeditated negative objectives.

One way to break the code of silence is by offering incentives to whistleblowers. These individuals are people who step forward and report unlawful activities in an organization. They are generally paid a 10% bounty if the measure goes to court and fines are levied against the lawbreakers. In neighborhoods where people know the perpetrators of violence, but fail to come forward, there are no such incentives. Residents may be afraid of retribution, as the rationale for their silence. We must also realize that justice requires telling the truth and this should not be regarded as speaking evil of someone.

Do no evil (Shizaru)

The fourth monkey’s actions are truly related to the others. The workplace is a common place for the four monkeys to be used as an operating system. Employee bullying and intimidation, sexual-harassment claims, the presence of racial discrimination, unconscious bias and sexually charged language and actions exists in many organizations. Where improprieties and liberties are taken with people’s rights in the form of disrespectful words and actions, there are laws in place to prevent and punish these actions. Employees, who adopt a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil mindset are not helping to develop a positive company culture or a respectful workplace

Do no evil is a perfect monkey to enforce the values of character and integrity. He reminds us of proper behavior and etiquette. Our choices have consequences and the more we can emphasize a positive corporate culture and a respectful workplace the more effective our organizations will be become. There is conduct and behavior norms which must be identified, emphasized and enforced vigorously. Character will minimize stress in the workplace and reduce the number of lawsuits and discipline related to improper behavior.

The do no evil mindset would influence our participation in the political process. Our dialogue in conversations around those who are different from us or have different opinions would be positively affected. If we operated each day thinking in terms of do no evil, we would be more empathetic in understanding of each other. We would put ourselves in the shoes of our neighbors and seek to understand their point of, listen to their words and lay the foundation for greater chemistry instead of conflict.

How can we create an environment in our workplaces, families and communities, where people are held accountable for their own unlawful actions and the private citizens who come forward can feel safe and protected? If the fourth monkey was modeled, we would have less of a cause to talk about Mizaru (see no evil) and Kikazuru (hear no evil).

Do no evil and speak no evil should be magnified and connected to many of our guiding principles of behavior.  The Golden Rule and its equivalent in many cultures advise us to treat people the way we want to be treated. The Platinum Rule which asks us to treat people the way they want to be treated. The 10 Commandments implores us not to do a series of acts which could be seen as evil, such as murder, stealing, etc. you are instructed to love your neighbor as yourself. If we began from a position of love it is easier to think in terms of speak and do no evil.

We must clearly outline expectations of behavior and the judgment related to them to improve the climate in our organizations, homes and places where people meet. Correct action is essential to achieving healthy results in our relationships.

The imagery and practices espoused by the 4th monkey holds the key to making this possible. I am hopeful that by emphasizing the fourth monkey, we can improve our behaviors, connections, interactions and relationships with everyone.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

The Core of More™ – Be Awesome from the Inside Out

There are crucial components to your development that must be examined to accelerate your progress. There is a core set of skills, values or principles which can be debated, but factually, these key ingredients build on your present state.

Let’s place four elements in this Core of More™. These elements confirm there is more in your core than you can imagine, yet you periodically ignore one or more components. They are Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go. These ingredients will enable you to gain rather than regress and achieve surplus, that is not necessarily excess.

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Let it Glow

Your light, however you define it, must be allowed to shine. Your talent, skills, abilities, capacity and resources must be a beacon of hope, a living positive example. Your light must be an indicator of your presence, purpose and performance. As we sang in Sunday School, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” When it shines, it has a glow, a luminescence that grabs people attention, pinpoints your location and potentially influences your behavior.

Let it Grow

Skill level and impact will expand and enlarge your contributions. Influence grows as your abilities are refined and increased. You will devote the time, effort, energy and insight received from teachers, mentors and coaches to improve knowledge and the quality of your work.

You will become a continuous learner and communicator, passionate about getting better in the priority areas of your life. Your light will get larger and brighter and more will take notice of you and more will be expected of you, as more are influenced by your presence. Your abundance will become a windfall to others, as you realize you are slated to get better, so others can benefit from your brilliance.

Let it Flow

As it glows and grows, it will flow in the execution of your skill set and in helping other people. Work will become easier and more natural. Executing your tasks will appear effortless, mainly because you are in your sweet spot and you are letting it flow. It is captured in an acronym SMILE (So Make It Look Easy). An athlete will comment that they let the game come to them or the game slows down for them as they improve their craft.

When you let it flow, you remove the barriers to your performance. Your actions are as a well-trained athlete, gliding through the race; a musician who makes playing the instrument look easy; a world class professional speaker in their comfort zone, delivering a powerful message. You are caught up in the flow.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , has a concept of flow which is defined as follows, “In positive psychology, as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”1. It is a state where skills are consistent with the challenges presented to you. In the state of flow, you lose track of time and you are consumed in passion”2. Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”3 When you Let it flow, your passion shows, as you let it flow.

Let it Go

Along your journey, there are nouns you must displace. There are people, places or things that are excessive weight that must be discarded. As a hot air balloonist will tell you, if they want to increase their altitude, sand bags must be cast over board or they will hamper your ascension.

There are personal situations that try to hold you back and hold you down. In earlier articles I refer to them as the Hindre™ a person or spirit of negativity that attempts to hinder or restrict your progress. They must be released if you are to soar to the rightful heights of your achievement. You may know these impediments, or you must be open to people giving you a second opinion on people who are plotting against you.

You must let go of destructive habits, attitudes, the wrong crowd, the wrong mindset or other roadblocks that are impeding your progress.

Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go, are part of the Core of More™. Apply these principles to help you achieve success in the professional and personal realms of your life.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
  2. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life
  3. wordpress.com/2014/08/24/working..

 

Protectionism in a competitive marketplace

Protectionism is designed to discourage others from competing for your talent or resources. Barriers are put in place to keep markets, company, or department restricted from outside forces. People try to artificially maintain or mandate the status quo, because it is a beneficial, but questionable policy.

Insecure organizations who are afraid to lose top talent will institute external mean to keep their people, which may deny their people freedom, benefits and promotional opportunities.

Protectionism is a preemptive strike aimed at discouraging others from hiring or tampering with your personnel. Countries try to control their markets by setting up impediments to prevent others from fairly competing with their industries and companies.

Protectionism is at work inside organizations. A regional manager was constantly near the top of the organization in sales. He experienced very little turnover in his sales organization, through promotions or resignations. Many in the organization were puzzled to learn that stellar results were not accompanied by promotions. Conversations with the regional manager revealed that the top performers, in his estimation, were somehow flawed and not ready to receive more responsibility. This manager’s protectionism policies were personally beneficial, yet detrimental to the career growth of many hard-working employees. He did not want to go through interviewing to replace them and training a new crew. Careers were inhibited because he had labeled them as insufficient to assume greater responsibility.

A successful sales representative accepted a promotion to the human resources department. She wanted to return to the field as a manager. After several years, she had lunch with a sales manager. He lamented the fact that she wanted to stay in HR. She was shocked at his opinion and asked why he felt she did not want to return to the sales force. He said he had been told by an HR director that she was happy with her new career path and it did not want to leave. Needless to say, she was stunned by the misinformation and the inaccurate portrayal of her career objectives. The protectionist policies of her department backfired and she subsequently resumed her sales career.

Protectionism leads to the creation of policies to restrict the penetration of their borders by competing companies. One company raided another company and hired some of their best sales people, when they started a new division. The losing CEO was angry by their practice. He instructed his lawyers to write a letter to the company stating his displeasure and threatened legal action. The response he received was carefully worded. The acquiring CEO defended his hiring practices. He asked the other CEO to see his actions as the risk of doing business. He suggested the people were leaving on their own volition. If the people were happy they would not have been so anxious to leave. Needless to say, the other company continued to hire his representatives, but at a slower pace.

People will gravitate to top talent. In the era of social media, networking events, savvy recruiters and employee referral fees, the best performers will be identified. There is an incentive to keep people happy and there is an incentive to recruit them to other organizations.

The hiring CEO delivered a very powerful message. What can be done to minimize employee’s propensity to jump ship? What can be done to the culture to make them want to stay with your organization longer term?

Organizations can change managerial mindsets to mandate mutual benefits for all parties involved. This philosophical shift is initiated and enforced by senior leadership. Intuitively, it is difficult to pour a lot of effort and time into someone, only to see them walk away to a perceived better opportunity. As stated earlier, there are risks involved in developing people. At some point, you will have more people than you have promotable positions. This may cause some people to be patient and wait for better jobs internally; however others may be impatient and look for greener pastures outside of the organization. You have to chalk this up to the price of doing business and wish them well.

There are tremendous advantages short and long term for a full scale long term development program. This may ultimately lead to future business alliances and collaborations with companies who have hired your people. It may also be a recruiting tool for prospective employees. A reputation for hiring and developing talent can lead to an influx of extraordinarily qualified candidates. Higher employee engagement levels and productivity is currently seen as a positive benefit of a stronger culture.

If you constantly assess and provide opportunities for personal and career growth, you minimize employee flight. Today, Millennials are subject to career impatience, if you do not sufficiently reward and challenge them, your organization will constantly be under pressure due to rapid turnover.

Sensors can be put in place in the form of stronger leaders and mentors to assess and regulate career development. Employees will gain an up-to-date, real world view of their skills and abilities and prospects for career development. Organizations have established career academies, equipped with resources, such as class room work and online training programs to help employees can grow their technical and life skills.

Protectionism in theory is about holding on to your talent against unfair pilferage, but it will work against you in the long run. You must update your training and development practices to create stronger leaders. Additionally, you must:

  • Pay attention to the company culture to treat people with respect and harness their skills and abilities.
  • Provide an honest assessment of performance through clear cut performance objectives and regular evaluations
  • Career discussions should be held to understand and to share employer and employee expectations
  • Develop confidence in your training and development program to rapidly replace people who leave the organization or leave the team
  • Strong managers and leaders are necessary to ward off protectionist tendencies, as they strive to develop the best teams imaginable

Organizations have been known to offer retention bonuses during a time of uncertainty, such as during mergers and acquisition, to keep their top talent. A variation of this practice is to ensure that the best performers receive the best rewards, whether financial, special projects or greater career opportunities.

Protectionism is usually a policy instituted when an organization fails to put a coherent people strategy in place. In their haste to prevent people from leaving, they  blame outside forces for problems in their culture. Protectionism practices that strikeout at the employee or toward outside forces are rarely successful. Organizations should look internally at their leadership practices and career development strategies, to see if they can be more conducive to creating a culture where leaving the organization is to difficult for an employee to imagine or implement.

Copyright © 2014 Orlando Ceaser 

Free e-book, Leadership Greatness through High Performance Poetry at http://www.orlandoceaser.com

8 Ways to Rebound and Get the Next Job

You were just given the news.  The boss called you into their office or you received a telephone call.  Someone else was given the job you wanted. How will you handle the disappointment?

Much has been written about getting the right job.  There are books, seminars and counselors who specialize in helping you attain the job of your dreams. This article will focus on what to do immediately after the event.  

Your reaction to bad news may surprise you, especially if you did not consider not getting the job.  This became clear in our Presidential elections. The objective is to prepare for getting the job, but you should have a Plan B or Plan C, just in case the unthinkable happens.

It is important to anticipate bad news and respond with professionalism.  How you respond may put you in a better position to land the next job.  Many times the way you handle disappointment will demonstrate your character and impress someone enough to keep you in mind for another assignment.

1.    Ask for specific feedback

If you are to be more competitive in the next interview you need constructive feedback. This feedback should be able to be converted into goals.  Ask for more tangible feedback than, “You did a good job.” “Just hang in there” and “Something will come your way, it is a matter of time.” 

Many people are reluctant to give solid feedback because they are afraid of being sued or causing ill will by hurting someone’s feelings.  They do a grave disservice to the applicant if they have specific information and decide not to give it.  Additionally, some people may not have developed the expertise to give quality feedback. You will have to press them for specifics and guide them by asking for feedback is specific areas with specific examples.  

2.    Be open to the truth

If you ask a question you must be able to live with the answer.  Feedback that is factual and delivered in a truthful and caring manner is invaluable to your growth and development.  Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men hurls the phrase while under cross-examination that “you can’t handle the truth.”  This must not apply to you.  Self-examination and honest introspection may help you anticipate the words of the interviewer.  Sincere feedback must be accepted graciously and implemented.  It must not be viewed as vicious criticism given in a defensive environment.

3.    Search for reasons you can control

Be careful not to rush to or land on a reason that you can’t control.  There is nothing worse than being denied a job and feeling helpless to improve your chances.  Be patient and don’t rush to play the age card, race card or the gender card or any other card that you can’t change.  If you are denied a job because of discrimination you have a right to pursue legal recourse, but let’s not rush to that assumption when there are other reasons that may preclude you from getting the job. 

4.    Be open to growth assignments

Do not be so narrow in your perspectives that you eliminate other assignments that could strengthen your portfolio and therefore your chances of getting your desired job.  Oftentimes, companies may not want to take a risk on a candidate, but if that person has a breadth of experience in other jobs, it minimizes the risk.  Another advantage of additional assignments is that they increase your knowledge of the company and increases the number of people who can validate the quality of your work.

Analyze other assignments not from the viewpoint of can you do them, but what can they do for your future.  It may be just the job you need to convince management that you have what it takes to get the job you want. 

5.    Increase your contacts through networking

People rise in their careers in part, due to the number of people familiar with my work.  In many conference rooms across the nation succession planning committees gather to determine who will move up the corporate ladder.  The more votes you have around the table, the better your chances for advancement.  Contacts made at company functions or industry meetings may be invaluable.  Inter – departmental teams are an excellent place to volunteer because in today’s matrix organization you need to learn to work with others who may not be reporting to you.  There are networking events on social media sites and organizations you can join to help you meet people who may become helpful in your career. 

6.    Don’t make impulsive decisions and burn bridges

Control your emotions.  Don’t make a hasty decision to quit or say something destructive. You must thoroughly analyze your situation.  There is an abundance of quality talent on the open market. As with any relationship, take the time to reflect on what transpired. 

A rash decision may hamper career development.  If it doesn’t work out, rather than stay to work on their skills, people leave and go to another company.  They may get more money, which makes their decision look good.  However, if there is any area needing improvement, it really should be addressed as soon as possible or it will come back to haunt them, as history repeats itself.

The worst time to look for a job is when you are upset. Your judgment may be impaired.  You may strike out with an I-will-show-them attitude and not evaluate all of the particulars of the new offer.  As in a relationship, you should not evaluate options when you are angry or disappointed.  You do not want to look back regretting an employment decision made without the benefit of a reasonable cooling-off period.

The corporate world is shrinking.  One cannot afford to leave under bad conditions, because the bad blood shown to an employer can come back to haunt you. 

7.   Accept losing to a better candidate

Sometimes the level of competition is so steep that management is in the enviable position of having more talent than it can use.  This is no consolation for someone who has worked hard for the job, but it is a fact of life.  The timing may not have been right or someone had a better relationship with the decision maker, which served as the tiebreaker.  There is also the possibility that you had a bad interview.  An interview is like an audition.  Academy Award winners and those possessing a Tony Award for the stage have lost out on key roles because they had a bad audition.  You may do your best and still not get the job.  The important take away is that you did your best.  It is important to accumulate a variety of experiences and interests, because you never know what will be the tiebreaker in intense interviewing scenarios. You will be the better candidate in the next round of interviews. 

8.    Model the right behavior

Your employer is not the only person observing your behavior.  Colleagues and others within the organization will want to know how you handle the pressure of not gaining an assignment.  This is a perfect opportunity to model the characteristics of a team player and someone patiently awaiting an opportunity by striving to improve every aspect of their performance – a model not a martyr.  If you are persistently passed over with little or no feedback or receive insincere contradictory commentary, you may have to make a decision to go where they may appreciate your talents.

Accepting bad news is never easy.  We don’t like rejection.  This fact is wired into our genes.  There are factors in acquiring a job that may be beyond your control and the timing may not be right.  You should, however, do everything within your power to ensure that you are ready for interviews, from the standpoint of skills and experience.  If you do not get the job, the answer may not be “no,” it may be read as “not now.”  The moments immediately after this discovery may lead you toward landing the job that you really want.

Copyright © 2012 Orlando Ceaser