November Book Pick – Give Away!

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
This month I picked Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. I picked up a copy of this book while traveling on business and I haven’t been able to put it down yet! I love it so much, I wanted to give you a chance to win a copy of your own to read on your Kindle Device.
Subscribe to my blog and email me here for your chance to win a copy of this book [Kindle Edition]! 
Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can still recieve the book via email as a gift from me and download the Kindle App for free to read.
In this NY Times Best Seller Duhigg provides a framework for understanding how habits work and a guide to experimenting with how they might change.

THE FRAMEWORK:

Identify the routine

Experiment with rewards

Isolate the cue

Have a plan

To understand your own habits, you need to identify the components of your loops. Once you have diagnosed the habit loop of a particular behavior, you can look for ways to supplant old vices with new routines.- Charles Duhigg

This book will change the way we think about what we do and why we do those things.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and email me here for your chance to win a copy of this book [Kindle Edition]! 

**If you have a book you would like to recommend for next month, send me a message for consideration. 

Before You Reply to That Nasty Email, Read This!

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Emails with subject lines of: “URGENT REQUEST” – “3 Request!!” – “Escalated Request” or even better, the one’s where they copy your manager or supervisor when you haven’t responded….those are just lovely, right?

Yes, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Those nasty emails exchanged between colleagues at work. The pressure builds up, people are not responding, deadlines are approaching and it’s……overwhelming. Before you hit send, wait! Take a deep breath; take your hands off the keyboard and slowly back away.

Here’s how to deal with keyboard bullies and nasty emails:

1. Write your response in a WORD document. Print it out and leave the building. Go outside your office and read it out loud to yourself (try to find a secluded place like a car or a stairwell). Now I suppose you may have questions about my strategy so allow me to elaborate.

Why are you writing in WORD? Because I don’t want you to accidentally hit “send” when you are trying to print (that’s happened to me before!!)

Why are you going outside? Because you need to immediately separate yourself from your computer so the urge to hit “send” isn’t so easy to act on.

Why are you reading it out loud? Because when you read your reply out loud it forces you get your feelings out of being bottled up inside and once you’ve released the emotion verbally, you can now clearly begin to re-visit what you wrote and make a conscious decision about the reaction to your email. Think about if the email was read by someone other than the intended receiver, how that would impact your personal brand and reputation.

2. Stick to the facts! You may have valid reasons to support your points but you don’t want that to get lost in delivery. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read emails back and forth full of assumptions and sarcasm. Emails that include comments such as “Usually it’s done this way” or “I thought you knew that considering your department handles ________.” Resist the urge to remind people how to do their job. It’s petty. When you give people more ammunition, they will use it. Don’t give them that opportunity.

3. Make it short and sweet. I know you’re probably thinking that many responses call for extended emails, but can I share a secret with you? People hate long emails! Especially the ones with bullet points and long paragraphs explaining your defenses. Stop it. They just want the problem solved and the time it takes you to write up a lengthy response in your defense could be time spent fixing the issue at hand.

4. Be the hero! When your supervisor or manager is copied in a nasty email from a colleague or customer, always respond positively and always have an attitude of reconciliation. Here’s a great suggestion, how about picking up the phone and calling that colleague? Or even better, if your co-worker is in range, it may be a great idea to get up and walk over to him/her and have a chat. It’s amazing how easily you can diffuse a nasty email situation when you face the person sending it with a smile. You’ll find most people are much less intimidating or nasty in person or over the phone. Now if you are able to resolve the issue verbally then I recommend you always send a follow up email reiterating your conversation. You never want to leave a nasty email hanging in the wind without a response. Showing you had a talk with someone instead of shooting a nasty email back says a lot about your leadership skills and proves your opponent wrong about your knowledge/capabilities to perform your job.

My 3 Email Rules:

Greeting. Always begin with “Hello, Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Dear….etc”. This is important because if the email is reviewed by someone else in a senior position, you want them to see your courteous response and respect given to the email sniper. This is your chance to display your professionalism.

Apology. This is very difficult to do when you are upset. The apology is not admitting you did anything wrong. It means you value the relationship with your colleague more than you value your ego. Example: “Unfortunately the shipment didn’t arrive” or “Regretfully, the customer declined the offer”. You don’t have to say “I’m sorry”, you can express your disappointment about the outcome and quickly move on.

Resolve. In response to nasty emails, there must always be a resolve offered by the receiver. Whether it be you working together with another person or team to get it done, or you actively staying on top of the issue yourself; there must be a resolve. If it requires you follow up in an hour then do so, even if you don’t have a solution, always stick to your word and send an update showing you are handling the issue that will eventually lead to a resolve. The sender likely just wants to know you are on top of repairing the problem. The longer you take to respond, the more escalated the problem becomes.

Here’s what you need to know about email politics

Your email response should never be about you and your feelings. Why? Because the goal is to take the attention off of you and put it back on the problem that needs to be solved. Your goal should always be to try and work together to solve the problem, even if the accusations within the email are totally incorrect. Stick to the facts, not feelings.

Nasty emails are personal. The sender is either trying to cut you down because they are intimidated by you or your good work and want to find a way to sabotage your reputation or they are having a bad experience with your department, division, or internal customer service (yes, there is such a thing) and it’s interfering with their productivity which may create a problem with their job security and that means war. But whatever their reasoning is, you need to focus on being the problem solver, not blame game referee.

In the end, it’s much easier said than done but I urge you to think about the reaction down the line, and not just about getting your point across today.

Emails have been the demise of so many companies and careers and I don’t want you to add yourself to that list.

This post was also featured on LinkedIn Pulse. Find it here.

How to Love Your Job and Your Salary

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Negotiating your compensation package does not have to be an arm wrestling match, but it does require you to think strategically and fully understand how to communicate your value. While you may be great at what you do, if you cannot find a way to communicate that to a future employer they will not be able to determine your value.

One of my favorite quotes:

We work not only to produce; but, to give value to time. -Eugene Delacroix

To be truly satisfied with a new position you have to get what you need coming into the job. Compensation isn’t just about money;it’s about the trade-off – how much you can get for what you are giving.

I have had many clients, colleagues and friends tell me stories about how they don’t get paid enough money in comparison to all the work they do. My response is simple: “Well, that is what you agreed to!” Or as my kids always say, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”.

If you are stuck in a situation where you don’t see growth potential in terms of compensation, it’s time to make a life choice. Either you are willing to tough it out because you love the work or you need to find a company that will pay you what you’ve considered to be sufficient enough to support your lifestyle. Compensation is a personal choice. It’s the bare minimum terms and conditions you are willing to accept before you take on a new position.

So what should you consider when negotiating a compensation package?

I cannot tell you what is best for you; only you can decide that. Things that may be a priority in your life may not be a priority for someone else. However, here are many things to consider while negotiating your compensation package.

Remember, compensation is not just about money and I believe most everything is negotiable (maybe that’s because I try to negotiate everything), especially when starting a new job so here are my picks:

Minimum desired salary (of course!).What you absolutely must have to meet your financial obligations, retirement, and leisurely spending. This should consider the work you are expected to do and your anticipated duties (you know, the stuff they will add on without paying you for it!).

Retirement benefits. Find out what the retirement package looks like and how much your employer contributions are. Ask about when you will be eligible to participate in the plan. These areas can often be negotiated and can also supplement your desired salary.

Health benefits.Your health is essential to your happiness at work. Find out details and terms of the health provider and when your benefits will start after your hire date. Again, this can be negotiated.

Vacation time/Sick leave. You need to know how much time will you receive and when can you begin to accrue or use it. To negotiate, try asking if they can bump you up a week or two in paid vacation time if you can’t get your desired monetary salary. You may be a person who likes to travel a lot, so think about adding that into your package.

Social responsibility. Does the company give back to any charitable organizations? Are they involved in the local community? Does this matter to you? If yes, add it in! Consider the image of the company you will work for. If their reputation is negative, that’s leverage to consider when negotiating. Their brand affects your brand and vice versa.

Flexibility. Is the company respectful of your family time requirements? Do they respect family commitments outside of work? Basically, can you leave work at 5pm (or whatever time works for you) to go pick up your kids, rush to class, etc., without feeling like you are going to be fired? Do they care more about the hours you work or about the work being done and the quality of work delivered? Can you work from home or are you required to finish your work only during working hours at the office? This flexibility could be just what you need to secure happiness in your new workplace.

Expense/Reimbursement requirements.Ask about the corporate expense policy and reimbursement for business related travel expenses. Find out the reimbursement schedule and requirements.

You may want a corner office or dry cleaning services instead of a big retirement package or vacation time. The key is to find what is important to you and consider that when negotiating your compensation package.

What should you do during your interview to help with the offer?

Be confident.There’s no reason to ever feel like the company you are interviewing with is doing you any favors. It’s a two-way street! They need you just as much as you need them; otherwise, they wouldn’t be advertising the position and you wouldn’t be interviewing for it.

Keep your confidence level up when interviewing. Reiterate to the interviewer how valuable you are and continue to describe the quality work you are capable of delivering. The goal is to make it clear that you are worth the investment. Discuss big projects you’ve closed which caused significant profits for your previous employer(s). You want the employer to look at you and say “I’ve got to have this person work for me!

Ask about growth opportunities.Find out what, if any potential career development programs are in place. Asking this tells the employer you’re not a fly by night kind of worker. You want to continue to build a career with them. This matters in terms of return on investment (ROI).

The most important part of negotiating salary is being reasonable.

You can’t expect an employer to pay you what you want after you are hired. It’s a done deal! Once you sign that dotted line, negotiating time is over. What you get is pretty much what you will get paid unless you happen to get a raise/promotion after your first year. And even IF that raise/promotion is significant, you may be simply catching up to what you actually needed when you started rather than reaping the benefits of the increase.

Bottom line. Don’t expect an employer to pay you an outrageous sum of money if you have never made anywhere near that amount in your previous work history. Remember, your employer knows the industry and knows what the going rate is, even though they may consider your experience and work history as well. It’s important to remain respectful, confident, yet stern in your negotiations.

At the end of the day, if you are not happy with your compensation then you are not helping the employer and you are certainly not helping yourself.

Final thought: If you don’t know how to communicate your value it cannot be measured in compensation.

*This post is also featured on LinkedIn Pulse. You can find it here

Going to Work? Please Wipe Your Feet at the Door!

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Too many times we bring our life-baggage to work. Our frustrations tend to infuse their way into our daily work-load slowly draining our positive energy, engagement and productivity. We are human and I truly believe we should make no apology for it; but we can however, choose to create an atmosphere of positivity and energetic behavior to get the most out of our workday. Here’s how:

Take back control!

Before you go into work take at least one-minute to decompress before you walk through that door. Even if you are running late, stop and take a moment for youbecause that small moment can either make or break your entire day. It’s worth it and you’re worth it. Think of it as your gift to you. It’s your moment of peace, your chance to collect your thoughts and move towards the future. You deserve it! You need it and you should own it.

Imagine rushing all morning, frustrated because nothing is going your way and then rushing into work just to hear someone sarcastically say “Glad you could join us.” or overhearing colleagues make a snide comment about your tardiness. Taking that minute not only prepares you to face the day; it allows you to take back control over the day and all events forthcoming. In that minute you will have made a choice – a choice to either prepare for the challenges ahead or allow them to consume your thoughts, mold your behavior and control your emotions in a negative way.

Start fresh.

Each day is a new opportunity to become a greater you. Think of every day as a new beginning and an opportunity to leave yesterday’s mistakes behind. Don’t allow the negative events from yesterday or even moments before work to consume your thoughts, preventing you from moving forward. Studies show people having positive mind-sets at work make them more creative, productive and engaged. Here’s your chance to have a “do-over” so take it!

Fix it.

This is the hardest step for many of my clients. Let’s face it, when you’ve experienced conflict in your personal or professional life, making the choice to turn things around for the better is not your first instinct. But solving a problem at work will help you to lessen those stressors. Try going into work with an attitude of change. Be the solution, not the problem. It’s easy to point the finger and deflect attention away from you when you are having conflict either in your personal life or within the workplace. Instead turn that natural reaction off and turn the problem-solver attitude on. When you play a role in making something better, you feel better and those around you will pick up on your positive attitude, creating a healthy work environment.

So the next time you face your workplace entry, take a moment to yourself. Leave your baggage behind and enter prepared, renewed and more powerful than before.

You can either run the day or let the day run you!

**This post was originally shared on LinkedIn. See it here

7 Reasons Why People Will Always Choose Apple

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Normally I don’t write on Technology, but today as Apple did it’s product launch, once again the nation became fascinated about what Apple had to offer. Here are my thoughts, also featured in LinkedIn Pulse Technology Channel Find it here and on Inc42.com Click here

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1. People trust Apple. When people trust your brand, they will continue to support it. Apple has extremely loyal customers. Even when people venture off to try other things, they eventually come right back to Apple, their first love. Sure, you may try an Andriod or Samsung device for a while as place fillers due to Apple’s immediate limitations but once Apple delivers, you’ll go back.
 
2. They show true leadership. What we experience when we buy an Apple product is the result of committed employees who believe in the Apple brand; employees who have pledged to achieve Apple’s mission. Apple users have had the benefit of experiencing a product created by committed employees who have worked hard to make the Apple product better. They have invested their time in trust to deliver a work of art; one we refer to as the iPhone. Apple has a following like no other. Even when others jump in the game to compete, Apple tends to consistently take the lead. I attribute this largely to its support system inclusive of its employees and customers.
 
3. It just keeps getting better. Every new product they offer creates a stir that no other electronic brand has been able to compete with. They not only meet the demand, they exceed expectations. Launching features such as the “Apple Pay” where you can make payments by holding your thumb down on your phone. They launched a new product – the Apple Watch – which is freakin’ beautiful by the way, (I must have the red one with the gold face). Even though you have to have the iPhone to use the Apple Watch, a sacrifice I am absolutely willing to make, it was never a real consideration for me, but now it is because Apple did it and I know it will be great. You see, Apple doesn’t just think about what people need now. They think about what people will need later and other industries help Apple to meet that need.
 
4. It’s pricing. Apple pricing is all about aspiration. Higher priced items are not attainable for everyone and that is what makes people desire Apple. Having an Apple brand product is a luxury. A luxury not many people can afford, but one that many people will sacrifice to get a piece of. There is incomparable value in an Apple product and people will always pay for what they consider to be of great value.
 
5. The Apple Experience. When using an Apple product, you experience a variety of things at your fingertips that you didn’t even think you needed but Apple thought of it first! They appeal to your subconscious, things in the back of your mind labeled under the maybe section now move to the forefront as must haves. If you want to be a part of the elite status of iPhone users, you have the option to get different styles, sizes and higher luxury add-ons with the product. Apple is magnificent in meeting the need you didn’t even know you had.
 
6. It’s simple. Anyone and everyone can understand how to use an Apple iPhone. The models are not so confusing that representatives have a hard time explaining the features to customers. The simplicity of the Apple phone is phenomenal.
 
7. Their product launch is KILLER! The transformative business moments they include in their performance. People rush to find out “what’s apple doing now” they want to be a part of something great. People just can’t take the suspense; they become consumed with “having to know”. The buzz alone makes you want to experience why everyone is so impressed. It’s genius!
Now granted, Apple is not perfect, but they are very close to meeting the majority of customer demands. They need to convince consumers they have improved their security, especially with new features such as the Apple Pay. But I have no doubt they will meet that demand too.
 
Apple may not always be first in line, but when they get there every one notices. Apple doesn’t just do it, they do it right. Resilience has always been in the bones of Apple and that’s why people want Apple to win.
 
At the end of the day everyone wants a piece of Apple pie.
 
What do you think about the new Apple launch? Write a comment to share your thoughts.

Four Warning Signs That An Overactive Ego Might Be Undermining An Executive’s Career

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Mary Davids:

Great Read!

Originally posted on Blanchard LeaderChat:

Eroding CliffWhen leaders get caught up in their ego, they erode their effectiveness.  Leaders with an overactive ego find themselves unable to center. Instead they are constantly moving from a sense of inadequacy to an overinflated sense of their own importance.

In his book Leading at a Higher Level, business author Ken Blanchard explains that “When leaders are addicted to either ego affliction, it erodes their effectiveness.”

“Leaders dominated by false pride are often called ‘controllers.’ Even when they don’t know what they are doing, they have a high need for power and control. Even when it’s clear to everyone that they are wrong, they keep on insisting they are right.”

At the other end of the spectrum are the fear-driven leaders. Blanchard says these individuals are often characterized as “do-nothing bosses.” They’re described as “never around, always avoiding conflict and not very helpful.” Their fear of making a mistake…

View original 382 more words

Winner of June’s Book Pick!

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Congrats to the winner of my June Book Pick of the month, Charlotte Cuevas.

Stay tuned for my next pick of the month giveaway!

All the best,

Mary V. Davids

Mary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC., and creator of the Honest Model™. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing workplace performance, career coaching, leadership coaching and training & development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. To connect with Mary, you can follow her on twitter @MVDavids or you can email her at maryd@honestleadership.org

Why Honesty in Business Equals Success Part 2

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What does honesty really mean?  Here’s the real truth.kid sneaky

Being honest is a learned behavior.

How it begins:

It’s a natural instinct to be untruthful. It starts when we are young, we make a mistake, break something, go against our parents’ rules and then we lie about it. We don’t want to be punished or end up losing our privileges so we learn how to get away with our wrongs by covering them up with lies. Eventually our subconscious mind ties honesty to penalty. In our adult years, we continue to carry on this behavior when we deal with our friends, family, colleagues, employers and customers. We tell people what they want to hear even though we know we should tell the truth. We disguise lies as “keeping the peace” or trying not to hurt someone’s feelings. We tend to conveniently blur the lines between being positive and being dishonest.

The older we get we have more at risk; such as security stability, social status and livelihood. These are the things we fight to protect. The greater the loss, the greater the lie; we begin to convince ourselves one cover up after the next is a justifiable sacrifice to remain comfortable. Eventually lying becomes an excusable behavior; after all we are only protecting that which we consider valuable right? To guard our future, we make this “sacrifice” as a resolve to error, failing to realize dishonesty is actually a hindrance from progression. It is a temporary fix and when carried on it multiplies, eventually interfering with our would-be promising futures.

A lie will eventually catch up with the initiator.

You see, once a liar feels like they are getting away with such behavior, it becomes a game or often second-nature, so much so that they forget about the repercussions and begin to feel comfortable with the risk of being caught. In business, no such risk is a smart decision. Even if a business is flourishing now, built on a foundation of lies it will eventually come crumbling down. Look at companies like Enron, or deceivers like Madoff. The bigger you are, the harder you fall. The more money you make, the greater risk there is. Keep it honest and you’ll never have to look over your shoulder worrying about when you’ll get caught.

Just as we develop a behavior to be dishonest, we can also develop a behavior to be honest.

We can learn to be honest just as we learn anything else, through practice. The key is to challenge ourselves to become more and more honest in our reactions to others and really think about our responses before we open our mouths. Granted, this is much easier said than done, but it is something we can work towards each day. Eventually, it will become a way of life and you’ll find being honest is much more rewarding long term vs. the temporary satisfaction dishonesty provides.

Have you read part 1? 

Why Honesty in Business Equals Success Part 1

MDD-160Mary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC., and creator of the Honest Model™. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing workplace performance, career coaching, leadership coaching and training & development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. To connect with Mary, you can follow her on twitter @MVDavids or you can email her at maryd@honestleadership.org

Is the Objective Statement Dead? by Rich Grant

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I found this to be a great read. What do you guys think about objective statements?
Is the Objective Statement Dead?
By Rich Grant
Early in my career, my resume had an objective statement, “seeking a financial-related career with a company looking for a hard-working, well-organized person with a strong math and accounting background.” That never worked out for me.
Back in the 1980s, putting an objective statement on a resume was typical. One reason why objectives were valid back then is that people didn’t have a hundred different resumes with different objectives; it was a major chore to customize a resume to a specific job. Unless you were a speedy typist on your IBM Selectric, you had one objective (maybe two) for the duration of your job search. When employers received resumes (and actually read them!), they could be fairly confident that the objective statements truly reflected the career aspirations of the applicant.
Today, the objective statement has fallen out of favor. Because resumes can be edited so easily and tailor made to the specific job, the reader is left to wonder, does this person really have a life-long mission to become a marketing specialist at a large bank that happens to have “Bank” and “America” in its name? If 100 people apply to a cost accounting position, do they all really need to have an objective statement that says, “to secure a position as a cost accountant where I can utilize my expertise in blah, blah, and blah?”
Read the full article here: Is the Objective Statement Dead?.