12 Apr, 2009 | by

finishline

I have officially ended my transition; it lasted just over 230 days.  As I sit and look back at more than seven months of uncertainty, I thought this would be a good time to share some ideas that might help others facing their own journey.  Please keep in mind that I am not an expert.  I have no advanced degree in psychology or training as a career advisor, I am just a guy that made it through to the other side and has a point of view.

Network
The key, and you already know it, to surviving transition is networking.  Groan all you like, but there are plenty of statistics that show how few people land jobs through the online job boards.  Use them to be sure, just don’t count on them.  Recruiters aren’t the sure source they were in times past; companies are cutting corners everywhere, including the usage of staffing firms.  It all comes down to who you know.  And don’t wait until you see an open job to start your calls, it’s just as critical to get in the door for the job open today as well as being there before tomorrow’s job is even posted. continue reading »

12 Feb, 2009 | by

I am searching for a word, maybe it’s a phrase, but it eludes me.  I don’t say that often, I take pride in my ability to communicate complex ideas creatively and succinctly.  Yet, I can’t find that perfect word to describe a state of being many of us in Process Management live in every day.  How do you describe being the best but also continuously improving, at the same time?

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a leader in Store Operations at a growing retail company.  He had some interesting observations on some things I take for granted.  His point was simple.  In an organization with a young talent pool and longevity measured in months, not years, labeling something as “best” sets a standard to achieve, not exceed.  After all, once you’re the best, don’t you put your feet up and relax?  This got me thinking, is the concept of “best practice” outdated?  Can you implement a “continuous improvement”?

Let’s take a step back and define these terms.  Keep in mind, language is important.  In many organizations, like the one mentioned above, words are taken at face value.    What is a best practice?  It is a method that has been identified as the best approach yielding the best results.  What about continuous improvement?  Again, just like the name implies, it is an approach, or more an organizational culture, to continuously improve. 

continue reading »

19 Jan, 2009 | by

I wrote this 70 days before Inauguration Day

Will the downturn persuade British business people to learn from Barack Obama and the Germans?

German white collar workers who are not sent on at least 2 weeks training a year fear that they must be on the redundancy short list and will soon face the chop. (Their company is not investing in them – so they must be on their way out!). Their British counterparts (with some exceptions) consider that an offer of training implies a personal or professional deficiency and gingerly start checking the post for their P45. 

Is this the British fondness for the effortless amateur – the smooth-but-not-stirred James Bond? HR and PR departments are patronised with “I have 20 years experience giving speeches old boy – no need for training!” More like 1 years experience – repeated 20 times. 

Practice and preparation are the absolute life-blood of a good performance – even those in the Public Speaking Premier League like Winston Churchill and William Hague.

continue reading »

26 Nov, 2008 | by

Do you talk to your reader in your business letters?  Are you using language that is too formal or stuffy?  Worse yet, are you writing in a style that is too informal?

Formal Language
I talk to so many people that are confused about what is business appropriate in their written correspondence.  Many are convinced that the company expects them to use the old formal language.

Let’s look at an example:
Pursuant to your inquiry of March 17, 2008, I am enclosing some literature regarding our XYZ products.  Our organization is dedicated to providing the utmost quality and cost effectiveness.  We are confident our products will meet and exceed your standards of excellence.

This is too formal and most likely will bore your reader.  You should ask yourself if this is how you would speak to the customer in a face-to-face conversation. continue reading »