THE OFFICE: “Performance Review” Photo: Justin Lubin/NBCU Photo Bank
“Can I pick your brain?”
Five words that make up the most thoughtless, irritating and generic way to ask for advice — and any person who is a rock star in their industry has heard it more than a dozen times.
The phrase, while well-intentioned, is overused, vague and way too open-ended. When conversations start this way, there’s no telling where it’ll go or how long it’ll take.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for giving — and receiving — advice. Offering advice is a sign of good leadership, and asking for advice is a sign of intelligence. If the exchange goes well, both parties benefit.
But the process can derail in many ways. It can quickly lead to “frustration, decision gridlock, subpar solutions, frayed relationships and thwarted personal development,” according to Margolis and Garvin.
To avoid those consequences, here’s some guidance on how to ask for advice without annoying the other person:
Scholarly Communication | Career advice | Mentoring |Academic Librarianship
by Charlie Rapple | May 9, 2019
Last week, I was part of a panel at the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP’s) first regional event in Oxford, UK. Hosted by Oxford University Press, and organized by Isabel Thompson (Holtzbrinck), Vanessa Fairhust (Crossref) and Sara Grimme (Digital Science), the evening’s focus was Building Your Career in Scholarly Communication: Tips, Tricks and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know! Here are some of the highlights (IMHO) from the talks (my own given in a bit more detail, given that I have better notes!).
Highlights from Andy Sandland (Senior Business Development and Strategy Manager at Oxford University Press) (slides):
Career development is not all about vertical ascent. Career breadth gives you knowledge of different departments, helping you be more efficient because you understand colleagues’ needs better. “You have a shortcut to a trusted relationship.”
“What are you planning to do when you graduate?”, is a question that I often ask undergraduate and graduate students. Responses are as wide ranging as the student population itself. There is the predictable “Good question”, the more resigned “I don’t know” and the more altruistic variants on “save the world — make a difference”. Most though have a common goal, either continue on in their academic pursuits or…..get a job. A recent article (published by BBC) on a study done at University of Westminster revealed many of the experiences I have had over the years are not unique, but rather data points in the much larger phenomenon of recent graduates not being able to find a job. (article here)
Before coming to Washington University in St. Louis almost ten years ago, I spent 17 years in the private sector, working as a project manager in the civil engineering\architecture business. Part of that time was as a self employed consultant, part working for a major engineering software provider, and part working directly for engineering companies. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the real-world project experiences that have shaped my professional career. All of these experiences had a common denominator. You must bring value to the job.
Sharing these experiences have led students and recent graduates to my door to ask for my help in finding gainful employment after graduation. They come with CV in hand and want to know what to change and how to modify content to get a job. They are crushed to discover that almost no one cares which lab they worked in during college, what their GPA was, or who they were a TA for (and how many times). They make the changes only to find that it’s still not enough to land their dream job….or any job. The disconnect between resume and interview is real. read more…
by Mary Ellen Bates The Reluctant Entrepreneur |April 29, 2019
I’ve seen a lot of myths about consulting, all of them as hoary and false as the idea that if you build a better mousetrap, people will beat a path to your door. Following are the infopreneur myths I’ve found to be most prevalent… and wrong.
#1. Consulting is what people do when they’re between jobs
In my experience, you can’t both start a business and look for a job; either you are focused on finding what your clients need most and how you can meet those needs, or you’re focused on finding who will hire you for your skills.
#2. The services I provided as an employee will be valued by consulting clients
Broadly speaking, employees are paid to maintain processes, while consultants are paid for outcomes. While you may do the same type of work as a consultant as you did as an employee, the focus – and what your client is paying you for – is very different. Read more…
The actions you take during your first few months in a new job have a major impact on your success or failure. Build positive momentum early on and it will propel you through your tenure. Make some early missteps and you could face an uphill battle for the rest of your time in the job.
The biggest challenge leaders face during these periods is staying focused on the right things. You are drinking from the proverbial fire hose while trying to get settled and figure out how to start to have an impact. It’s easy to take on too much or to waste your precious time. So, it helps to have a set of questions to guide you. Here are the five most important ones to ask…and keep on asking on a regular basis:
How will I create value?
This is the single most important question. Why were you put in this role? What do key stakeholders expect you to accomplish? In what timeframe? How will your progress be assessed? As you seek to answer this question, keep in mind that the real answer may not be what you were told when you were appointed or recruited for the job; it may also evolve as things progress and you learn more. Remember, too, that you will probably have multiple stakeholders to satisfy, not just your boss, and that they may have divergent views of what constitutes “success.” It’s essential to understand the full set of expectations so you can reconcile and satisfy them to the greatest degree possible. Read more…
Leadership | Continuing Education | Professional Development | Influencers
by Steven Bell | Mar 20, 2019 | Filed in Opinion
If leadership is mostly learned rather than an innate ability, then continuous learning is a vital contributor to leadership growth. “Never stop learning” is good advice, but it is one of those tasks that’s easier said than done.
This column is predicated on the idea that no library leader is fully formed, possessing all the skills required for success. Rather, the path to leadership is one of continuous learning. I routinely see library literature and social media posts about low library worker morale and toxic leaders, leading me to question how it is that our profession has so many awful leaders. We have an abundance of leadership development programs. Many academic institutions have internal management and leadership programs. There is no dearth of opportunities to develop and improve as a leader. Possible causes for this failure are many, from library leaders simply not giving a damn to a total absence of self-awareness. For those leaders who do care about staff morale and strive for a workplace where staff want to be, constant learning is a must. So allow me to share some ideas that I’ve recently come across for making a stronger commitment to learning to be a better leader. Read more…
Making a good impression at a job interview involves a lot more than just dressing appropriately, being on time, and researching the company. Here are five key questions to answer for yourself if you want to make it to the next round.
1. How will I strike a balance between selling myself and praising the company?
Everyone knows that pitching yourself is key, but overdo it and you’ll turn the interviewer off. You need to strike the right balance between talking about the company you’re interviewing with and talking about yourself. Suppose you start off with, “Here’s why I’d be great for this job. Here are my accomplishments.” You’ve just dug a hole for yourself, because you’re making the interview all about you.
Instead, start with explaining how you admire the company, its accomplishments, and leadership. If you can, show you know something about the person interviewing you. Express your excitement about that particular position. In short, talk about the opportunity–and then show why your qualifications make you such a good fit. Your interviewers will be impressed. You’ve made the connection between the job and your abilities, and so will they. Read more…