ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Monday, December 23, 2013

Professional Development – Marketing Yourself In Your Workplace

In this era of uncertainty, job security is a thing of the past for most of us.  Thus, we need to perpetually market ourselves within our companies and through our network.  I’m learning to be more active on LinkedIn – something I joined a long time ago, but mostly ignored until quite recently.
Another workshop in which I was involved recently was Marketing Yourself.  We offered the workshop to a group of people who were job-seekers and taught them about personal branding, positioning, and target marketing.  It was astonishing to learn that many people had never realized that job hunting was actually service (not product) marketing.  As I’ve said so many times before – marketing services (yourself) is far more difficult than marketing a product.
Services are intangible.  They require either good references and testimonials or free samples.  The potential buyer (employer) needs some form of proof that you do indeed deliver the quality and quantity of services you purport to deliver.
One of the LinkedIn groups on consulting has a recurring question asking if we think a free sample is a good thing to do or something we ought never do.  Most people report that a free sample is a bad thing to do – that you should never give anything away.  I disagree strongly.  In my many years of consulting and public speaking I’ve learned that once people actually experience what I do and how I do it they are much more likely to hire me.  They learn quickly that I deliver what I promise and I deliver in my own unique and effective style.
During our workshop we helped attendees go beyond their canned (and usually ineffective) elevator speech in favor of a sentence or two designed to talk about the benefits to their potential employer.  I, role playing with them as the hiring manager, kept asking:  “What’s in it for me?”   Ultimately that is what you have to prove to the person contemplating hiring you.
My advice:  Learn how to market yourself internally.  What are your accomplishments?  How can you make yourself more visible in a positive manner?   Can you take risks?  Lead meetings?  Stretch yourself and take on more responsibilities?  Brand yourself in a manner to make yourself memorable.

Labels: , , ,

Negotiation Strategies for Women

Last week a colleague and I conducted a workshop for women on negotiation.  Surprisingly, we discovered that many of the issues that prevented women from getting ahead in the fifties still exist today.  
Women told us: We have to be “good girls”.  We are not allowed to ask, but have to hope that those we love guess (esp) what we want and give it to us.  Asking makes us appear greedy and selfish.  We have to be humble.
Many of the women believed (erroneously) that getting a promotion or salary increase would be offered to them if they did a good job on the additional assignments given them.  This was in contrast to what most men do, which is negotiate for the raise and promotion because they are given the additional assignment, and before they even start to complete it.
The feedback from this two hour workshop was incredible.  Many women came to tell us how much they got out of learning they were not alone in their beliefs.  Many reported the importance of hearing our suggestions for taking some risks and asking for what they wanted and needed.  They’ve asked us for more follow up and some role-playing practice.
The women who attended this workshop were all professionals, managers, executives.  Yet, they had the same fears and resistance to assertiveness that their counter-part females just entering the workforce report.
Women are still being brainwashed.   This is especially true for women born and raised in other countries.
So, if you want the women in your organization to take more professional risks and reach up for more – giving you, their employer more for your money – than you might want to consider offering assertiveness training and negotiation strategies for the women in your organization.  (Yes, a shameless plug for you to bring me in to conduct these workshops.)

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dress for Success

Dress for Success
Do you remember that book – it was the one recommending that everyone look like clones of each other in the standard man-tailored grey suit.  Women were to pretend to look like men. 
Well, when I suggest that you dress for success, that’s not what I mean.  Others will suggest you dress “one step above” what others are wearing and some will say, “dress for the job you want, not the one you have.”   These are both good ways to suggest you dress well, whether at work, or looking for work.
Don’t wear your old raggedy jeans when networking.  Wear a pair of tailored slacks.  Don’t wear a tee shirt, or hoodie, but wear a nice tailored blouse, shirt or sweater.  AND, please don’t tell me that you are a “techie” and therefore that’s how everyone dresses.
As my mother would have said, “if everyone else is jumping off the roof, does that mean you have to do it too?”

Your job is to look your professional best – not your shlubby worst.

Labels: , ,


My advice:  You need to re-energize yourself.  Join a club.  Exercise.  Socialize.  Get out of your rut and do something different.  Stop sitting on the couch watching TV and bemoaning your fate and get out there and do something FUN.

Most of all, check out your personal grooming.  Do you need to get a haircut, shave, trim your nails, wear decent clothes?   All of these say a great deal about what you think of yourself – and therefore what others think of you.


Getting Older and wanting to work

Getting Older and wanting to work
Getting older is not a crime.  Yet I hear so many career counselors parrot the words to deny your age, don’t put dates on your resume, dumb yourself down, and in other words pretend to be less than you really are.
I disagree.
It’s not about the numbers – it’s about the energy.  Do you look like you are dying or do you look energized, full of vim and vigor and ready to do the job for which you are applying?

How you look, dress, act, behave all tell a great deal about you.   When I talk with members of CSIX, (an all volunteer group dedicated to helping those out of work) I note that many of the out-of-work members of the audience look and dress as though they’d given up completely.  Depression gets in the way of energy.  

Labels: , ,

Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning
I’m too busy.  I haven’t the time.  Can’t we do this in two hours?
When trying to plan for the future, or make major changes, transforming an organization, it takes time.  As Gil Amelio was reported to have told the executive team at National Semiconductor when he took over as CEO:  “if we don’t take the time to think, plan, organize and change, nothing will change.” He took his executive team away for days at a time each quarter in order to transform the organization.
Jack Welch did similar retreats when he took over and transformed G.E.
I am about to conduct a six hour strategic planning session for an association of women – and instead of the board members making the time, we are hearing excuse after excuse as to why they can’t attend for the entire six hours.  Yet, the work they really need is about a two or three day retreat.  Since this is a volunteer organization, we need to do the best we can do in a very short period of time.

This group will also need Board of Directors training, job descriptions for the board members, policy and procedures and a host of other processes to enable them to grow the way their CEO wishes to see them grow.  All in good time, I hope.

Labels: ,

The Tyranny of Pleasantness

In my book Conflict in the Workplace: Causes and Cures, I devote a whole chapter to The Tyranny of Pleasantness. 
When people are afraid to speak out because they are seen as not a team player, or contrary, or some other bad thing, decisions are made that may not be the best.  Remember, the camel is a horse designed by a committee.  All too often, the one who sees it differently – and probably better – has been shut down so often in the past that he or she stays silent.
Would women have had the vote if a group of them didn’t speak out?  Would the Civil Rights Movement have occurred if people weren’t willing to speak out?  Could we have finally given gays some rights if they had reminded silent?
Would we have stopped the mutilation and the holocaust and the killing fields – if we had chosen to speak out earlier?
All that is necessary for evil to happen is for good men to remain silent.
And not just about good and evil – what about taking men who had been confined to wheel chairs because of spinal cord injuries and teaching them they could play basketball – what about helping to relieve the depression and hopelessness of quadriplegics by teaching them to write with their mouths – and to have gurney races down the corridor of their hospital?  (P.S. The nurses hated me, but the Chief of Psychiatry gave me full rein.)
What about so many changes that come about because someone is willing to say, “let’s not do it the way we’ve always done it – let’s try something different.”?

Finally, what about all the innovations that come about because of “kooks”, “nerds”, “loose cannons”, curmudgeons and “dreamers” – who dare to try?

Labels: , ,

Creativity Stifled

Creativity Stifled
Before I really start on this theme, I need to once again assert that when I talk about creativity I am talking about it in all forms, not just music and art – or creating the great innovative breakthrough.  Creativity is the ability to think independently and to come to new solutions, new ways of considering things, new ways of behaving, etc.  It’s being aware of your surroundings and responding not merely obeying and following.  It’s improving processes, treating people intuitively and allowing yourself to be yourself, not merely a clone of others.
When we watch young children we see them as curious, energetic and incredibly creative.  What happens?  Why, as they age are most of them afraid to take a risk? 
It seems to me that all too often parents, teachers and others stifle this natural tendency to explore by making sure kids color within the lines, follow instructions, do exactly as they are told, follow tradition, and all the other words we use to force conformity.
What happens to the creative kid in school who wants to try a different approach to solving a problem?  
Why do we see “a nation of sheep” – people who value conformity and “not making waves” as more important than expression of ideas?
Who ever said “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”?
Speaking out is so important. 

The world is a dangerous place,
not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.
Albert Einstein.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Human Resources Blind-sided

Human Resources blind-sided

I know I’ve written about this a zillion times at the least – but based on something I observed recently, I feel compelled to write about it again.

Psychological research indicates that the first person heard in a dispute is most often the one believed.  If someone makes an accusation there is the presumption of guilt.  We see this in the criminal justice system all the time.  Jurors report that they start with a presumption of guilt because they believe the case would not have come to trial if the defendant were not guilty.

In the business world, an allegation – a complaint – is made to HR.  Without interviewing the person being accused, or bringing the protagonists together, HR accepts the allegation as true and then either looks for evidence to prove it (rejecting evidence that might disprove it) or just merely accepts that it is true and punishes the person having been accused.

Guilty – without due process.  Guilty – without being able to confront the accuser.  Guilty – without having the opportunity to tell his/her side of the story.

HR pretends that it is protecting “confidentiality” by not disclosing the accuser, the circumstances of the allegation, or any other facts that might help the defense.  HR pretends it is protecting “confidentiality by not attempting to bring the parties together to mediate the dispute.

HR is not judge nor jury – it just thinks it is.

HR is not a qualified investigating body – it just thinks it is.

When training HR professionals in the corporate/government world and when teaching budding HR professionals studying for their MBA degrees, I emphasize the importance of neutrality and teach how to go about interviewing, investigating, mediating, concluding, etc.  

Labels: , , , , ,

Tikkun Olam

Tikkun Olam

Although the literal translation is “repair the world” all practicing Jews consider this phrase a mandate to do service to others – community service – voluntary service…. Helping those needing extra help.

I grew up in a service organization called “B’nai Brith” – sons of the covenant.  I was in the youth group (B’nai Brith Girls) where I was taught leadership and team work.  I became President of my club, Regional President and later held District office.  We had incredible professional staff training us in running meetings, public speaking, leading, managing and motivating others.  It was an incredible experience.

During these years much of my volunteer work was at the Bronx Veteran’s Hospital, where I worked with men in the locked psychiatric wards, as well as in the paraplegic and quadriplegic wards.  The experiences I learned during those years has stood me in good stead – including to today.

Later, I was the youngest President (age 18) of the women’s group – The Franklin Chapter of B’nai Brith. 

These early experiences led to my involvement over the course of the next XX number of years on boards and committees of many other service/community organizations.
I’ve written about the value of doing service to others – the value to them – as well as to the value of the person giving service.  I truly believe life is so much better when it is larger than just yourself.

Tikkun Olam and B’nai Brith are concepts for voluntary service.  That’s much different from someone holding a gun over your head (either real or virtual) to force you to give some of your money, or your time, or both to others.

Please consider what you personally do to help those less fortunate than yourself:  Tikkun Olam.

Labels: , , , ,

Change Management

Change Management

My consulting practice – and my teaching practice – have much overlap as I am sure you are realizing as you read this (self-serving) newsletter.  Managing change in the workplace (another course I teach) requires great skill and facilitation.  Change is frightening to most people and they resist it in a variety of ways.  The skill lies in being able to let them express their concerns – deal with their emotions (not force them underground) and work with them to make the changes, accept the changes, and even champion the changes.  I love doing this work.

Labels: , , ,

Investigations of Allegations

Investigations of Allegations

Whether it is age discrimination, sexual harassment, or other insults – often when an accusation is made, the person doing the investigation/evaluation assumes guilt and looks for proof to find it.  I work at being neutral – and when I train others I train them to look for evidence for both innocence as well as guilt.  I often find that what really happened was meant differently from the manner in which it was accepted – and again mediation, instead of punishment solves the problem better – and allows for all potential collateral damage (other people in the organization being upset by the decisions) to be minimized.

Labels: , ,

Conflict Resolution

My ability to interview and develop trust has enabled me to find out where the real problems lie and to help troubled employees and managers find solutions.  Not only do I teach conflict resolution – I actually go in and interview, investigate, and work with people to implement solutions.

My book:  Reducing Conflict in the Workplace offers solutions to workplace related problems.
As you can imagine, this work started during the years when I was a therapist and forensic evaluator.  I worked with parents going through divorce fighting for custody and visitation.  I was one of the first (if not the first) local professionals to change the fight into a mediated settlement.

I really believe most disputes can be mediated – and by that I mean, the professional mediator working WITH the clients to help them reach a solution that satisfies them.  Too many mediators actually act as conciliators or arbitrators – which is not the same thing at all.

Labels: , , ,

Leading for Creativit

Last month I tempted you by offering the opening remarks I made in my speech about managing for creativity.  Let me add, that this talk – and the work I do in this area – comes partially from the research I did with 50 C level executives asking them how they managed for creativity. 

We create processes to allow for experimentation and new ideas.  We reward innovation in processes, interpersonal relationships, and product development.  We create freedom and trust enabling people to try without fear of ridicule.

All too often our systems demand conformity “this is the way we do it because this is the way we’ve always done it” or “it’s tradition” and preclude new ideas.  We work together to stretch the box (as in “thinking outside the box”.)

Labels: , ,


Over the past 30+ years, I’ve worked with individuals on the fast track for promotion, C-level executives, professionals wanting growth and politicians wanting to improve their “style”.  My most recent book:  Leading and Managing a Global Workforce contains many examples of the work I’ve done with individuals and groups (management training groups.) 

Some clients have called me their “secret weapon” because with my counseling them, they have solved significant problems at work, have shined during meetings, and have been promoted because of the changes they’ve made in their approach to others in the workplace.

I’ve taught managers to manage – supervisors to supervise – and potential leaders to lead well.  Of course I also taught the MBA course:  Leadership and Organizational Behavior.

Labels: , , ,

Process Improvement – Quality – Streamlining

When working with many clients, both private and public, I find myself offering many suggestions for process improvement.  You might remember that in my early business career, I streamlined and re-engineered systems and was what in those days was called “an efficiency expert.”  (No, I never did time and motion studies!)

I was a member of the streamlining council for Joint Venture Silicon Valley and in this capacity went into cities to streamline their permit processing.  This led to some interesting contracts during which my contract included going into many areas of these agencies to improve processes, reduce redundancies, and get rid of unnecessary rules and regulations. 

My clients included cities, transportation agencies, accounting offices, law offices, and High Tech companies.
Now, in addition to the other courses I teach, I apply that experience to:  Quality and Performance Excellence, in the Keller Graduate School MBA Program.

Reducing unnecessary processes and regulations – with the help of the employees involved themselves – helps relationships with the communities/people being served, reduces costs – therefore allowing for less taxes if you are a government agency  – and increases the bottom line.

Labels: , , ,