Successfully Managing Your Business Meetings

One of the things I truly appreciate about webinars is that they usually start on time, rarely run into overtime, or fall into the meeting that births another meeting category.

Nothing is more exasperating than a meeting that goes into overtime. So how do you keep a meeting within the allotted time frame without squashing creativity and discouraging interactions by meeting members?

Keeping your meeting on topic and within the allotted time takes discipline and effort, but not everyone takes the time to get it right. Plus, with so many ad hoc meetings, few people have the time to think through their meetings in advance and have a structured plan.

Here are a few helpful meeting tips:
1.      Along with invites, make the purpose of the meeting clear by sending out the agenda points to attendees in advance. It also helps to include the items that will not be discussed at the meeting.

2.      Pay attention to the number of possible attendees. Invite too many people, and vital topics may end up short of air time. Invite too few people; you may need a wider variety of opinions.

3.      Pay special attention to people who are prone to long-windedness. It is a good idea to inform attendees that they should keep their comments short and to the point so that others can get equal time.

4.      Setting the right tone regarding contributing input at the meeting will help attendees see you as the steward setting the direction of the meeting and the leader who encourages attendees to share their ideas.

5.      It helps to acknowledge when topics go off on tangents. Acknowledge the speaker but let it be known that an in-depth discussion of the info the person presented cannot be accommodated at the current meeting. Addressing the elephant in the room head-on can help appease the dissenter and get your meeting back on topic.

6.      Be careful as you transition from topic to topic, and above all, work towards ending the meeting well, which sets the stage for continued conversation on the topic discussed and for the work to continue.

After the meeting, document the conclusions, email attendees the follow-up steps, and who is responsible so no one can say they are unsure what findings were identified at the meeting. 

Be Your Authentic Self at Interviews

I recently heard a colleague tell a candidate during Interview Preparation to be her “authentic self during an interview.” This led me to muse, is there an authentic interview self? Or is the interview a performance where you need to play a prescribed role?

How do you convince someone hiring for an important project to “choose you” for this perfect of all roles? How do you appear confident and competent but a good listener and note-taker? This interview approach, while not precisely straightforward, is entirely doable. First, be your authentic self. In short, “Just do you.” This tactic may evidence some of your quirkiness, but on the plus side, there will be no surprises once you start the job.

Listen carefully to the questions asked, then pitch your responses straight down the middle. If more info is needed, the manager will ask a further question. Speak in clear sentences, which allows the interviewer to take good notes, which they will need when discussing your candidacy with others, so your responses to questions should be clear and concise.

In addition:

1) Do not embellish your competencies because you want the position or believe that the role is the next logical step in the plans for your career. This overreach approach will not entice someone to tie their career future to yours.

2) Be honest when detailing your capabilities. The role described in the interview process does not always match the job description, so we need to listen and adjust our presentation. Do you have a record of measurable success? Show your expertise using numbers and timeframes to validate your facts. Does their response to your answer mirror or validate the info in the job description?

3) Among the needed skills, products, or processes the interviewer mentions, are there any with which you are unfamiliar? Are you the fast learner everyone says they are when they interview? Or are you the courageous interviewee who asks if someone at the firm is already an expert you can tap into if you have a question?

5) When stumped for something to ask the interviewer, try utilizing my favorite “back-on-the-good-foot questions,” “Can you tell me more about XXX?” or “How are you using XXX” or “What has been your experience with XXX product? But be mindful not to deviate from being your authentic, knowledgeable, competent self. 

The secret to any successful job interview is to be yourself,  to “Just do you!” But in addition, you also need to convince the manager that you are a qualified fit for the role. This is the indescribable karma that needs to be fostered between you and the hiring manager. It is the middle ground and the elusive goal you seek, which can simply be called “Interview Success.”

The secret to any successful job interview is to be yourself,  to “Just do you!”

Consider a Mid-Late Career Wind-down Job

Changing to a wind-down-career job may help mature workers reengage in their careers. As career disinterest sets in, some workers may begin to devalue their existing employment and skills as they adjust to near retirement or an end to the fight to scale to their perception of a fulfilled career.

For some, it may mean acknowledging that they are no longer viewed or valued as growth assets to be invested in or considered for important long-term projects, promotions, or career advancement at their current employer.

Mid-Late Career or Near Retirement/Mature candidates often mention burnout, boredom, and a lack of emotional involvement in their duties at their current employer. Some try and successfully distance themselves emotionally from their current occupations and colleagues as they consider the next phase of their careers.

Many Mid-Late and Pre-Retirement candidates are leaving their current jobs and choosing some form of “wind-down” employment.” The wind-down job may be a temporary position in their field of expertise and a proper bookend to a long-standing successful full-time career. Or it may be an entirely new type of role since they may consider transitioning into a different industry or acquiring a unique skill set.

The wind-down career can be a short-term assignment or a last corporate full-time position between the end of a current job and full retirement.

As I work with mid-late career resume-writing or career strategy clients, they tell me they relish and enjoy the project-focused aspect of their wind-down career jobs. And, what they value the most is the knowledge that they are performing at the highest level, valued for their contribution, and making a difference. Wind-down jobs can be fun if you can use your transferrable skills and learn new ones.

And it certainly helps if there is a sense that you are truly impacting the organization and guaranteeing an outcome. “I am not washed-up or done,” a feisty client told me yesterday, “I have been re-purposed!”

A wind-down-career job can be just the thing to revitalize the mid-late or pre-retirement stage of your career. The point where you are “done-ish” with your career but not quite ready to “stick a fork in it.”

Updating your resume? Are you a Storyteller, Bottom-up, Scalper, or a Renovator?

Some people treat their resumes like career autobiographies, into which they keep adding more info over time. Some assume the longer the resume, the better, or they utilize the pay-by-the-word look, using the tiniest font in jumble-length paragraphs, all crammed into a single page.

Taking either of these approaches to your resume can result in an unbalanced picture of your work history. Neither of which is going to impress employers.

Jobseekers’ approach to writing their resume can be broadly broken down into three categories.

·       The  “storyteller,” i.e., the job seeker who never removes anything from their resume? They will add some information occasionally, but they never remove anything. This “improvement by addition technique” may be a sound approach to topping off your tank before a long road trip; but it is not a great approach to enhancing your resume.

·        The “bottom-up” resume writer? Do you start from your earliest jobs, about which you add lots of detail since those WERE the fun days, right? The resultant resume is bottom-heavy and weighted towards your early career and skill sets that may longer be as valuable as they once were.

·        Or are you a “scalper?” This resume writer ruthlessly removes anything on their resume that is not current and relevant. The trouble with this hard-nosed approach to past experiences is that it obscures the interviewers’ view of your overall career-building climb or your diversity of skills and achievements.

My recommended approach is the wholesome but strategic “Resume Renovator” upgrade tactic i.e., building your new resume and career profile by striking a balance between detailing recent experience and achievements while including valuable prior experiences.

The resume renovator will take this approach each time they prepare their resume. They will detail and acknowledge their long and fruitful career but may edit out some of the early jobs entirely. They also consider the types of jobs they are applying for and align their resume and experience to validate their suitability for the roles.

How do you approach updating your resume? Are you a Storyteller, Bottom-up, Scalper, or a Renovator? 

Mid-Career Resume Writing Services:

Are you a Place Holder or a Outcome Guarantor?

Yesterday a client called to have a career assessment and to update their resume. Although successful and a recognized achiever, she is now career restless.

She believes that her company is now playing it safe and utilizing her as a guarantor of the vast sales figures she delivers. Her work is repetitive, redundant, predictable, and dull. She feels overlooked and undervalued. How can this be?

A year ago, she was on the fast track with her third promotion in just five years! And it is rare and challenging that a client seeks to change companies because they would like to face a challenge or possible failure, beat it, and grow, which takes confidence and bravery! YOU GO, GIRL!

After our call, I wondered whether she was now genuinely performing at a mediocre level as her current projects appeared. Then this article on the “The Gravitational Pull of Mediocrity,” published by Oliver Burkeman some six years ago, jogged into my mind.

Burkman said: “Being a second-rate performer is not simply the curse of being an over-promoted underachiever – it is the default state of the universe.” So it seems that if you do your job well, you may be rewarded with promotions until you reach the position where you become a guarantor of the necessary outcome.

And you do not need to be undervalued or bad at your job for this to occur. At many organizations, terrible ideas and solutions often crowd out good ones if they guarantee expected outcomes.

In many company cultures, “just stay on course” is enough. So please be careful about becoming a guarantor of an expected and needed outcome. The result may be to become a placeholder which is where you remain.

The tech investor Ben Horowitz once said: “As soon as someone on a given rung at a company gets as good as the worst person the next rung up, they may expect a promotion.” Consequently, the achievement guarantors and some of its talent will become restless.

To forestall that reality, companies need to shift the mediocre-performing employees they have created into positions to pursue new challenges, force them to keep growing or push them out.

Some professionals settle into an achievement plateau because the mediocrity acceptance level at their job is tolerable. So as long as their superiors are satisfied with them in their role and they deliver the desired results, they are rewarded until they are not!

Does this describe where you are in your career? Have you plateaued? Are you beginning to feel irrelevant?