Career path acceleration
Career path and the manager 1 on 1’s was last weeks blog topic. These updates are important because without them, your manager doesn’t have an inventory of your current skills and accomplishments to sell on your behalf when new opportunities become available. If they don’t know what you are doing, they are not able to sell you into that new opportunity and your career path will stall. That post can be found here and it explains why your manager shouldn’t know and doesn’t know about your skill set. This week, I lay out a format you can use to deliver effective updates during your manager 1 on 1 so your career path can progress. For some of us, the manager 1 on 1 can be a new thing. For those that are having a regular meetings, I believe that most of us are not leveraging the meeting in a way that will benefit our long-term careers.
Before we talk about what we should be explaining to our manager, let me first say that your VP is probably having a weekly 1-on-1 with the CEO.
I don’t know any CEO’s that do not meet with their direct reports on a regular basis. I don’t know many executives that would accept a role if they were not able to have regular communication with their CEO. If these meetings are happening at this level, they should happen at your level. How do you think the VP was promoted to where they are?
The manager 1-on-1
Set up a regular meeting with your manager. It can be weekly, every other week, or monthly but get something on the calendar and stay consistent. A simple email to your manager should suffice.
I’d like to set up a bi-weekly manager 1 on 1 with you so I can make sure I am delivering what you are looking for and keep you updated on my progress. The meeting would be about 30 minutes and my goal is to come to you each week with an agenda that contains
- What I am working on
- What I will be working on
- What I can improve on.
I am not sure if there is anything else you would like to discuss, but just want to make sure I am meeting my objectives and taking the advantage of learning from you.
The last few 7 words may be a bit much depending on your situation, but you get the idea. Send the email and don’t miss this meeting! Just the fact that you are keeping consistent with your meetings will give your manager confidence. Keeping a consistent tempo with your communication will be considered prior success when it comes to providing updates and give confidence that when you are assigned a risky, involved, long, or high-profile project. Regular updates usually translate to “no last minute surprises” for your manager and this is a good thing.
Because all managers really want is consistent and predictable performance. The last thing they want is a last-minute surprise.
Within each meeting give the following and keep the format consistent and predictable.
- What you are going to work on during the next rotation / cycle
- What you accomplished during the last rotation / cycle (should be what you predicted you were going to accomplish during the last meeting)
- What you learned or would do differently on the project. “This was a great project for me because I got to learn ABC”. “If I were to do it again, I would try “x” instead of “y”.
Trust me, your manager will be wondering what Martian stole you and replaced you with #SuperFlyEmployee. You can tell them you have been reading the Economist Career Advice Executive Eduction blog and HRNasty. Over time you will give your manager confidence that you are self-directed and your career path will take a new direction.
The point is that you are setting goals, you are tracking against those goals and you want to improve performance. If you do this consistently, your manager WILL start assigning you work.
Your manager may have feedback on what you should be working on and other ideas you can try, and this should be expected. They are wiser and smarter.
Why does this work?
Let’s say you put together a new on-boarding program for new hires or new customers. Your manager hears about it because a new hire / customer just commented on how effective it was. Your manager says to you: “I heard you put together a really successful on-boarding program. Newbie Nancy was talking about how much it helped her.”
15 years ago, as the Quiet Performer, I would have responded to the above, but ONLY if asked:
- “Yes, I had some help on that. Glad you heard good things about it.”
15 years ago I would not have imagined going to my manager and explaining what I did on my own initiative.
15 years later, the methodical and purposeful HR professional would set up a series of meeting and “explain” the following before the I even started to work on the project. My career path has not been the same since.
Beginning of Rotation 1:
- I am going to put together an on-boarding session for our new hires. Here are the steps I am going to take.
- On-boarding is an important new hire experience because the first two weeks will reinforce the decision made to join Acme Publishing. If they don’t like the first two weeks of their new job, it will be hard for Acme Publishing to dig out of that negative perception.
- I am going to talk with some recent new hires and find out what they think would be valuable in an on-boarding session, and see how we can improve the process.
- I am going to involve some senior folks from the various departments. I will put together a rough draft of their presentation and ask them to make edits. I will ask them to recommend someone to deliver their respective portion and sell it as a learning opportunity for public speaking so the speaker has “prior success”.
- Once I have a draft of the on-boarding session, I am going to deliver it to a few of the current employees and ask for feedback.
- Do you have any advice for me? Is there anything I am missing or you want to see in the program?
This gets the manager on the same page. If there are higher priorities, this is their opportunity to get me working on what is important to them. If my methodology is not what they want to see, they can make corrections. Either way, I just got buy-in.
Beginning of Rotation 2:
- Here is what I worked on during the last rotation:
- I met with recent hires and received feedback on the new hire process. Here is my data: x, y and z.
- I showed the Sr. leaders of the various departments my drafts and received final versions from 3 of the 4 VP’s. Unfortunately, the last VP is on vacation.
- I have names of the 4 presenters from the 4 different departments that will actually present.
- As a test, I delivered the session to 5 current employees and have made adjustments based on their feedback.
- What I am going to work on next rotation:
- I am going to talk with recruiting and find out when the next batch of new hires is coming in and set a day to deliver this training
- I will have a short survey at the end of the session to collect feedback from the new hires to make sure the time was valuable.
- I am going to make any necessary changes based on feedback.
- What I learned, what I would do differently
- I learned that new hires are hesitant to provide negative feedback in a group setting so next time I will approach them individually and reinforce that their feedback is so we can improve the process.
- I should have checked the schedules of the VP’s. I didn’t know that one of them was going to be on vacation. I didn’t have all the presentations I wanted in this first session.
- The current employees had a lot of culture points they wanted to add and that isn’t something I had considered so I will be adding them in.
The above explains our accomplishments and our learnings without coming off as the douchebag braggadocio. See the difference in how the Quiet Performer and the HR professional set themselves up? Neither one of them came off as a braggart but if I was the manager of these two employees and had a career opportunity or project, guess who I am going to go talk to. It isn’t that I am hating on the quiet performer. Without me the manager realizing it, the HR professional just made it a lot easier for me to approach them and my career path looks very different. I know they will check in, I know they will ask for ideas, I know there won’t be any surprises. Even if the Quiet Performer put together a better on-boarding presentation, guess who is going to receive the next big opportunity?
Like a Boss!
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.