What a difference a year makes

Last year at this time I was at the beginning of a new stage of my career.  After an unexpected layoff and the first time not being employeed in nearly a quarter-century, I found myself in an unfamiliar place. 

I had spent my entire career working in IT shops of large corporations.  Three Fortune 500 companies had been my place of employment over 24 years.  Now I found myself in a company that was smaller than the departments I had been in.  Everything about this job was different.  The type of work, the type of company, the type of boss, the type of people, the type of office…. you name it, it was new to me.

I decided that I was going to go into it full bore, roll the dice, and just see what happened.  What I found was a job that has given me more fulfilment, more fun, and more excitement than anything I experienced in the corporate world. 

What has made this so much fun?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • The ability to trace my actions straight to the bottom line of the company.
  • The ability to make decisions without multiple levels of review, oversight and second-guessing.
  • The ability to get out of the box and be creative, harnassing the entrepreneur in each of us.
  • The ability to step out of your comfort zone and lead in various capacities (my role has expanded beyond IT into almost every aspect of the business).

Bottom line, I believe the fundamental thing that has made this job enjoyable is the ability to make a difference!  I’ve heard before that the number one thing employees want from their employers is appreciation.  No greater apprecation can be found than to believe you make a difference in an organization.

My encouragement for anyone going through an unexpected job change is to keep your eyes open.  You never know where your next opportunity will come from.  And no matter how different it may feel to you, it may end up leading to the most fun you’ve had (on the job) in a long time!   Good luck and God Bless!

Dealing with Fear? We all need a little love….

This is the third post regarding this topic.  Using the 1 Corinthians model of “what’s important in life”, I’ve learned to apply those concepts to dealing with the fears that life brings us. 

Fear is closely related to worry.  “Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.  Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of sorrow, it empties today of its strength”, according to Corrie Ten Boom, Holocaust Survivor

When you are dealing with fear, such as that caused by the loss of a job, you have to recognize that one of the most important things you need is a loving, supportive group of family and friends. 

Trying to get through tough times on your own is the worst of all approaches.  It’s really common for those of us of the “male persuasion” to try to muscle up and take things on “like a man” and suffer through the tough times.  But the truth is, we all need support.

But beware, it’s difficult to build this support system when you are in the frays of dealing with a problem.  Therefore, it’s important to build this before you face the need.  And, since you never know when you are going to hit a rocky spot, you need to begin now! 

The key to building your support system is to build your personal and professional network.  Fortunately, there are many tools today to help you do this.  Social networking tools, like Linked In and Facebook, are great ways to help build a record of your network.  But remember that it doesn’t stop at the keyboard.  A true network is comprised of both in-person and virtual relationships.

Last year when I was out of work, I made it a personal goal to network with at least two people per week on an individual basis.  I also tried to attend at least two networking functions per week.  Add that to the online networking I was doing, and I was building a network that not only helped get me through the rough times, but many of whom are still part of my network today.

So, my advice to everyone is to cultivate and grow your personal network.  There’s no better time than today.  Then, when you need them, they’ll be there.

Dealing with Worry? Hope, Hope, Hurray!

In my last post I talked about the need to have faith to get through the challenges in life.  Worries and fear are inevitable, but how we deal with them is entirely up to us.

Using the 1 Corinthians 13 model, I am proposing an age-old solution for getting through the rough spots.  After you have faith, the next item in the recipe is hope.  In the Old Testament, Jeremiah was faced with some pretty tough times.  How did he survive?  He turned his eyes on God, he kept the faith, and he held fast to hope.  He wrote “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him”.

Hope is a wonderful tool.  Hope springs eternal, we say.  Hope is all about having an optimistic attitude.  You don’t have to be a Christian to have hope.  We can all hope for a better job, a better lifestyle, or for even that perfect someone to come along.

When we’re facing tough times, faith is the first thing you need.  You need to find something to believe in.  That’s your rock.  That’s what you hold on to.  But once you have that established, you need to turn your thoughts to the future.

Imagine a better place, a better way, a better job.  Having hope is all about picturing yourself where you want to be, not where you are.

If you do this, you’ll find yourself thinking about yourself in that situation.  In this way you are positioning yourself in your mind for that better situation.  It’s a great way to get your mindset right for that new job or opportunity. 

So, have a little faith, and then hope, hope hurray.

Motivating for Change

If leaders implementing change recognize these factors, they are far more likely to not only succeed, but have a highly motivated workforce behind them to make it happen.

Over the past two decades, I’ve seen my share of change.  Change is certainly seen in the technologies we use and build.  But also I’ve seen change in the structure and styles of running business and leading teams.  Through all of the change, I have discovered five critical success factors for maintaining a highly motivated workforce, even those facing radical change.  In each case of a failed change effort, I can point to one or more factors which were either not considered or not carried out.  The five factors are as follows:
  •             Communications in every direction:  Up, down and sideways
  •             Honor the past, many aren’t ready to change and take it personally
  •             Give employees a chance to succeed (avoid no-win situations)
  •             Make every employee’s job valuable, no one wants to be seen as “overhead”
  •             Reward employees who embrace change

If leaders implementing change recognize these factors, they are far more likely to not only succeed, but have a highly motivated workforce behind them to make it happen.