“I’m confused. What’s more important to include in a resume: an objective or a summary? Is it better to include references or say they’re available upon request? Is it smarter to name prominent people (I know a few) as my references or list people who really know me? It is wiser to include all my years of experience or just my best years?”
No wonder you’re confused, you’re all options and no answers. Let’s sort through the possibilities one at a time.
Include an objective. It’s the lead story on your resume. It states the name of the job you seek. You don’t need to include a summary. It’s redundant: your resume is a summary.
Don’t attach a list of references to your resume. If you’re asked to provide references, immediately comply, and just as quickly, call your references with a heads-up description of the job you’re seeking, the name of the company, and the person likely to call.
About those references who just happen to be “prominent people”: Include them if you have reported directly to them, they valued your work, and they agreed to serve as references for you. Employers are interested in your skill sets and strengths; what you’ve accomplished that is relevant to what they need you to do for them. Your most effective references are those best suited to realistically describe your abilities: when, where, and under what circumstances you’ve been successful. Your least effective references are those who don’t have first hand knowledge of your abilities but support your candidacy as a personal or professional favor. Before providing names, be sure you have your references’ permission; be sure they fully understand the job you seek and are supportive of your ability to get it done.
When writing a resume, should you include all your years or your best years? Like them or not, highlight the last fifteen years of your work experience, focus on your most recent responsibilities and bullet point and quantify your accomplishments. No matter how memorable your earlier achievements, they’re history to a prospective employer. State them but don’t elaborate upon them.
“Should my objective be specific or general? And which resume format is better, the reverse chronological or the functional?”
Be specific when responding to a posting or want ad and be sure that your experience and your accomplishments warrant your application.
There are three types of resumes: Chronological, Functional, and Targeted. Chronological resumes begin with your most recent work history, and in reverse order highlight up to fifteen years of work experience. Functional resumes focus on skills and strengths rather than chronology. Targeted resumes are customized and highlight specific experiences relevant to the job to which you are applying. Employers prefer targeted/reverse chronological resumes because they clearly present what you’ve done, when you’ve done it and how successful you were at it.
“Should I follow up with employers after I’ve forwarded my resume or wait to hear from them? Should I follow up with employers after I’ve interviewed or wait to hear from them? And what should I say?”
If employers have requested your resume it’s appropriate to call and confirm they have received it; to ask if they need additional information and to answer any preliminary questions they may have of you.
It is appropriate to follow an interview with a call thanking employers for the opportunity to meet, to reinforce your interest in the job, and to ask if there are any additional questions they have of you or information they need from you. One good follow up call and you’re a strategist. More than one and you’re a nuisance.
The best of intentions can result in unintended consequences. For example:
Mister Fixer: You may be their manager but they think of you as the company handyman. You encourage them to come to you with their problems because you can fix anything. You wear your tool belt to work, at home, and in public gatherings. No matter the situation, you have the solution. What can go wrong? It’s not much fun when your co-workers, friends, and neighbors start handing all their work to you, assuming you want to do it for them. They’ll stop shirking responsibility when you stop inviting them to.
You’re everyone’s shrink. You’re the warmest, most comforting listener in the business. Your eyes mist over as you hear your employees’ woes and worries, hopes and desires. You really, really, really want to be there for them. What can go wrong? You can’t get a lick of work done for all that listening. If the situation isn’t an emergency, and it seldom is, defer the conversation to a more suitable time. And don’t be surprised or disappointed when that needy employee finds someone else to talk to.
You can’t say, “No” You have an endless capacity to do for others. You also have an endless need to be approved by others. Instead of saying “no” when your plate’s spilling over, you’re answering with the emotional equivalent of “pile it on, I’ll get a bigger platter.” What can go wrong? You get buried in other people’s projects and you’re still at work long after they’ve gone home. Get a life! You’ll be more productive and so will they.
You don’t ask questions. You figure that if you keep your eyes open and your mouth shut no one will know what you don’t know and you’ll keep your job. What can go wrong? Employers want employees who speak up and let them know when there’s trouble afoot. Be bold, step out of your shadow, ask questions, get answers, and be a visible, audible, stand up member of your team.
You can’t be bothered. You’re busy doing your job and you can’t be bothered with other people’s problems. What can go wrong? This one has “blindside” written all over it. Take time, every day, to find out what’s going on around you so you’ll know if you need to be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem.
“I’m smarter than you are”. You have a habit of letting everyone know you’re the smartest person in the room. What can go wrong? No one cares if you’re smart when you make everyone else feel dumb. Since the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and you’re just one of the parts, learn how to bring out the best parts in others.
“I didn’t know it was due today and I don’t know how to do it so will you do it for me?” You’ve turned helpless irresponsibility into a virtue only you value. What can go wrong? Your future. If you don’t know how to do something, find out, learn how, practice it, and teach it to someone else. If you’re the last one to discover what everyone else knows, meet with your boss, talk with your co-workers; ask questions, confirm assumptions, and share ideas.
“That’s not my job.” This is my job. That’s your job. Don’t touch my job with your job ‘cause you’ll mess up my job. I get paid to do my job. I don’t get paid to do your job. What is your job? Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. What can go wrong? What part of TEAM don’t you understand?
January 15, 2013 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Want to be the best at what you do?
“She’s the best boss I’ve had because she’s as open-minded as she is clear about expectations. I always know where I stand with her because she’s willing to tell me the truth in ways that I understand. She’s never hurtful, always constructive, and trusts my ability to learn and grow on the job.”
“He’s the best manager I’ve had because he keeps us informed and encourages us to do the same with him. We don’t have to be concerned about personal agendas or blindsiding when working with him; it’s always about what’s best for the organization, and because of that, we get on board quickly when transitioning through change.”
“She’s one of the best leaders I’ve had the pleasure to follow. Change is the name of the game here, and we know that whatever direction we head, she’ll be focused on the end-in-mind. Because of that, and her sure-footedness, we’re lined up with her.”
“He’s a great supervisor. He knows what he knows and as importantly, he knows what he doesn’t know, and empowers those of us with complementary capacities to step up, close the gap, and work together to move us toward successful outcomes.”
“He’s really a youngster when compared to the rest of us on his work team, but he can teach us old war-horses a thing or two when it comes to optimism, energy, and a can-do attitude. He’s a great team builder, respectful of the intelligence and wisdom of his seniors and at the same time able to motivate us to achieve more than we have or thought ourselves capable. He makes us feel hopeful about the future. I wish he were my grandson, that’s how proud I am of him.”
“She’s a natural leader. She’s honest and respectful; she can see the big picture and at the same time can help us to see what it takes to achieve it. She knows when to be hands on and when to be hand-off. She understands what the people around her need to get their jobs done and she provides it. Sometimes that translates to getting us the physical and financial resources we need. Other times it’s encouragement and a well placed kick in the derriere. Whatever the situation, she’s pitch perfect in her delivery. “
“Sometimes the best leaders are the most humble. Our manager is one of those. He’s understated in his manner yet so clear in his commitment to excellence and in his belief in our ability to perform at the highest levels of excellence, that he motivates us to consistently give our best.”
“We’re going through enormous change in our organization and as we all know, change can create stress. I won’t kid you, we’re stressed here, but we’re able to keep it together because of our boss. She’s capable, calm, and considerate and because of that, we’re able to behave in ways that emulate her spirit. I’ve worked in other businesses where change equated to high turnover. Not here. Thanks in large part to our boss’s sure and steady hand.”
“I don’t know if you’d call our supervisor a leader or a top notch manager. I just know I’d always want to have him next to me in a fire-fight. I’ve never seen anyone as able to quickly anticipate what’s required and quickly respond with resources that meet the need. He’s a great trouble shooter, knows which fires are apt to turn into conflagrations and which will burn out on their own accord. He makes change exciting and preventive maintenance a talent worth rewarding.”
January 8, 2013 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Q: I’ve heard that I’m supposed to send a thank you note after every interview. I think that’s nonsense. Interviewers don’t give me anything so why should I thank them?
A: You’re not the only one who questions the notion of sending thank you letters to prospective employers, so this is a good opportunity to reframe the issue. The purpose of the letter is to move the interview process forward. Open with a “thank you for seeing me this past Wednesday afternoon to discuss my candidacy for your open position in materials management” then move on to the intention of the letter, which is to emphasize your ability to do the job and your desire to work for their company. Close with a “looking forward to our next conversation”; sign, seal, stamp it, and you’re done. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Q: I’ve sent out hundreds of resumes and cover letters and haven’t received a single response. I’m an English major, confident about my writing style and have been told I write very well. I’ll send you samples and hope you’ll tell me what I’m doing wrong.
A: I read your samples and yes, you do write well. The problem isn’t with your style, spelling, or sentence structure. It’s with your lack of specificity. Your resume and cover letter highlight variety and breadth, not specificity or depth. Your objective indicates what you want instead of what you can do. Resumes that hit the mark begin with, and focus on, a clear objective: what you can do for the company that hires you. They outline job experiences and accomplishments that prove the point: clearly stated, quantifiable ways you’ve benefited past employers by driving top line or protecting bottom line.
Q: A friend of mine suggests that my habit of “eye rolling” might explain why I’m never called back for second interviews or made job offers. I know I do it when I hear things I think are absurd, but I’ve never considered that I could be doing it on job interviews. Now I wonder if I can stop myself. Any ideas?
A: I’d start by asking friends for more real-time feedback, so you can identify the stimuli that cause your responses, and work hard to eliminate them. If you’re concerned that eye rolls, grimaces, shrugs, and sighs of exasperation might escape your attention but not that of an interviewer, pay attention to your internal response to the conversation. If the person says something with which you disagree or take issue, probe for better understanding and probe respectfully. Here are examples of safe yet honest replies: “I’m surprised by what you just said, tell me more…” Or “I’m interested in your comments, tell me more”; “Your reaction surprises me… tell me more.” “I’d like to hear more about why you say that, so please, tell me more.”
Q: Company A has made me an offer. I’m also interviewing with Company B. I would rather work for B. How can I keep my options open and not kill my chances with both companies?
A: When employers make an offer they want an answer, and at minimum they want to know when they will get one. Therefore, thank Company A for the offer; indicate that you’re very interested; and promise they’ll have your answer in 72 hours. Call Company B; tell them you have been made an offer and that you have 48 hours to respond. Ask them what choice they would make, were they in your shoes and knowing what they know about your chances with their company. If they tell you to accept the offer in hand, you have your answer.
December 18, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Thanks for your calls, emails, and the questions you’re asking. Here are a few examples:
Q: I have a question about my resume. I’ve worked for many companies, held both hourly and salaried positions, volunteered for countless committees, and traveled to every state in the US. Because I’ve accomplished so much I can’t possibly include it all in a two- page resume. I figure it’ll take about five pages if I use small type. How many pages am I allowed?
A: If you were writing an autobiography, you could pen all the pages your heart desires. But you’re not. You’re writing a two- page resume in readable type that spells out the value you offer an employer by specifying and quantifying your work related accomplishments and connecting them to your clearly stated objective. If you have content that’s off topic, take it off the resume. Most resume readers, on average, review a resume in 20 seconds and make a determination: it’s in or it’s out. The more focused and succinct your written presentation, the greater your likelihood of making it to the in box.
Q: When I go to work sites or on line to fill in applications I notice that I’ve already answered most of the questions on my resume. Is it OK to just attach the resume to the application instead of wasting time copying one to the other?
A: If you are asked to complete an application, do it. If you think it’s optional, it isn’t. Do it. Print your answer to each question, fill in each line, check each box, and print legibly. The application form will ask that you provide a list of professional references and contact information, provide it. And now for the good news: after you’ve completed that assignment you can hand it in, along with a copy of your resume.
Q: How many on-line or newspaper openings should I pursue at one time? I think I should go one at a time and not proceed with a new application with until I know if I have the job. What do you think?
A: I think you should pursue every opportunity you can chase down and everyone that comes your way. A successful job hunt is a numbers game that requires long-haul energy, optimism, and self-confidence. There’s a direct correlation between improved odds and optimism/confidence. The more you have going for you, the greater the odds you’ll land something.
Q: I notice that some interviewers spend the entire time talking and don’t ask any questions. What should I, as the applicant, do in that circumstance? I don’t want to interrupt but how else will the employer know what I have to offer?
A: Some interviewers are naturally gregarious. Once they get going they can be hard to stop. Some are naturally excited about their companies and go on at great length about possibilities and potential. Your job as the applicant is, from the moment you are introduced, to demonstrate your energy, your interest, and your ability to add value to the discussion and to the company.
Q: I have a tough time with interviewers who don’t acknowledge what I’m saying to them. They just ask one question after the other, and don’t give a clue about what they’re thinking. How am I supposed to know where I stand if they don’t tell me?
A: Focus on each question and answer it to the best of your ability. Periodically ask the interviewer if he/she would like more or different information than what you are providing. Bottom line, you won’t know where you stand until you get a call back for another interview or are made an offer.
December 11, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
You’re rocking along, loving life, your job, your co-workers and ka-bam, you read the morning paper and find out your company’s been sold to a competitor. You bolt from the house, hair on fire, tear into work, the place is spinning, phones are ringing, rumors flying, and the sky is falling. After frantically searching for someone who ought to know you corner your boss who tells you, eyes averted, (long pause)… don’t worry. Yes! Momentary reprieve. I’m safe. I won’t worry. I’m just fine. I’m OK. You look for him later, for a little more assurance, and he’s in meetings. All day. Every day.
By the end of the week you’re all nerve endings and no nerve. You’ve managed to avoid your customers, your neighbors, your friends, and your spouse. You’re scared to go to work and don’t want to go home. Wherever you are, you want to be somewhere else. You’d curl up in the cabinet under the copier but three of your colleagues have already moved in.
Finally. A meeting. All hands. Sounds official. CEO. Be there.
You are. Wide screen TV. HR introduces Head Honcho who conferences in from an undisclosed location.
After a minute, maybe two, you tune out. For the next five minutes, (fifteen, fifty?) your brain picks up a different frequency; one that’s telling you the planet is about to explode. You tune in to the CEO just as he’s signing off: The future of our company will be even greater than the past. That’s good news!
You’re getting two messages from two messengers: Your CEO says the company’s future will be better than the past. Your brain says find another job. The company’s future will be better. That’s good news. But the company’s future may not include you. Find another job because it’s up to you, not the company, to take charge of your career, meet your financial obligations, and make you feel whole. Whether you choose to stay or to leave, develop a plan and work it.
Go slow to go fast. Get centered and think before you act. Focus on what you do best and how you contribute most. Name it, so when you say it, new owners or prospective employers will immediately know what it means and how you make a difference. Focus on organizing your resume around the job you want that delivers defined benefits to this or any other employer.
Tighten your resume. Lead with your objective and follow with your experience. List your current position, name of employer, location, dates of employment, and in reverse order, list the positions you’ve held. Highlight responsibilities and accomplishments that are congruent with your objective. Keep it brief, easy to read, and error-free. Next: Create your cover letter.
Your cover letter should focus on the specific job opportunity you seek. Address it to the individual to whom you would report. Make your case by getting right to the point: This is what I do and here’s how I add value to the business. Next: Stay in the game.
Network externally: Crack the “unpublished” market and you’ll find up to 75% of what’s available. Respond to on-line and newspaper ads and you’ll find the other 25%. Put your energy where you get the greatest return on investment. Network internally and externally: Contact people you know and respect, who can put you in touch with people they know and respect, who know of opportunities that match your credentials, talent and abilities.
Heads up. Demonstrate your ability to move through turbulent change with professionalism and composure. Think strategically, work objectively, behave optimistically, and you’ll land on your feet.
December 4, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
“I love this company. The people are great and I really like what I do. Everyone is friendly, smart, and considerate. And I’m worried sick. Why? I think our jobs are going to be outsourced and no one’s going to tell us until the day the doors close.”
What are your options?
“I don’t have any because it hasn’t happened yet, so I can’t do anything. I’m sure something bad is around the corner and I can’t stop it. There’s no point looking for another job if nothing bad does happen, right? Or is that wrong?”
Let me understand this: you’re worried that you’re going to lose your job. You don’t want to consider alternatives if you don’t lose your job. You prefer to wait and worry than make a plan and take an action.
“That’s it! And let me tell you, I am plenty worried these doors are going to shut and there’s nothing I can do to keep them open. So that’s my problem. I hope you can fix it.”
That’s how it feels for employees who suffer the alternating currents of angst: they love where they work and they’re scared witless that their companies will be sold, services outsourced, or production off-shored. They feel unsure, insecure, stuck in time and immobilized by turmoil. How about you? If this is your story, I can’t re-write it, but you can.
Pick up a pencil, crank up the computer, pull out the phone book, and get ready to take action with a new attitude, a job search strategy, a fresh resume, and a network of people who urge you forward and don’t hold you back.
New attitude: You get to choose. You don’t need permission. That’s right. You get to choose if you want to stay in this job or if you want to leave for another one. You get to choose if you want to accept another job or you want to reject one that’s offered. Your employers get to choose and they don’t need permission. They choose where, when, and with whom they open or close, grow, shrink, or stand still.
Job search strategy: When you like what you do and share the values of people who run the company where you work, you have a great match. When you can describe that match to anyone you meet, in as few words as possible, you’re on the right track. So right now, write now. If you can put it on paper, you can say it. Once you can say it, you can network with it, interview about it, and negotiate to get it.
Refresh your resume with a lead objective that crisply states what you do best that you want to do next. Follow that with a reverse chronological listing of dates and places of current and past employment. Specify accomplishments that validate your job-worthy credibility and the viability of your job objective.
Networking: Build a directory of people who share your values and interests, and include their phone numbers, email, and land addresses. Call each one of them and request 20-minute meetings (keep it brief and keep it simple). Describe your job objective and professional goals. Ask for names. You want names of people you can contact who also share something in common with you; people who just might know of a good match for you. Follow-through. Get more names. Follow through. Get more names.
Stick with people who have broad perspectives, encouraging behaviors, positive dispositions, and objective insight. Ask them questions and listen to answers. Stay on message, stay the course, and you’ll find the job you want that wants you. Then you get to choose.
November 26, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Whether you’re looking for a job or just thinking about it, you have work to do before you head out to your first interview. Here’s a quick list of gotta-do’s before you get going:
Self-assessment: This is your starting point. You need to clarify what you do well and enjoy doing before you start interviewing. Validate your perspective with those who know and can assess your performance. If they give you a thumbs-up, ask them to be your reference.
Resume: Top and center your name, address, telephone number, and email address on each of no more than two pages. Use the same font (Times New Roman, Ariel, Tahoma are all good choices) and type size (12 pt) throughout. Next, state your objective (that’s the job you want) and follow with your formal education. Include the name and location of the college or university that confirmed your degree; the degree you earned; academic distinctions; and the year you graduated. Follow education with work experience. Begin with your current or most recent employment and in reverse chronological order list the name of the company/companies where you’ve worked, their locations, followed by your job titles or positions, number of years employed. Summarize in one or two sentences the responsibilities of the job. For each position you’ve held, include a minimum of three quantifiable accomplishments.
Telephone answering machine/service: When you record your personal, professional sounding no frills greeting, first identify yourself, then ask for the caller’s name, message and phone number.
Email: If you are concerned about security, create a separate email account for your job search. Shut down any websites or postings that could be interpreted as embarrassing, compromising, or potentially damaging to your reputation. Proofread, spell and grammar check messages, resumes, and cover letters before sending them.
References: Prospective employers will expect you to provide them names and contact information for at least three individuals to whom you have reported and who are willing to provide information on your previous employment. It’s up to you to secure their permission.
Research: Employers expect you to do your homework. Check out their company websites; Google the company name for articles in mainstream media and trade journals. If you want to know what the consuming public thinks about how they conduct business, check with the Better Business Bureau.
Dress for success: When you start looking for a job people start noticing how you look. Don’t wait for an interview to be at your best. Develop and maintain a healthy life style with proper hygiene, good nutrition, exercise, and a good night’s sleep. Be as mindful of your behavior as you are of your appearance.
Networking: Spend the majority of your search time where you get the greatest return on your investment: network. Connect with people you know who know people you don’t know, so you can tap into the Hidden Job Market. Here’s the deal: employers with jobs to fill don’t want to be inundated with a torrent of applicants and applications. They’d rather use their discretion by focusing on candidates referred to them by individuals they know and trust. If you’re networking with the same people and you’re a good match, you’ll get the interview. The more you network, the better your odds of finding and landing a job.
Telephone screening calls: Companies save time and money screening applicants by telephone. The conversation is likely to be brief, so you’ll have to know what you want and how you benefit companies where you work. You’ll need to listen well and ask questions that move the process forward. How you sound is as important as what you say, so be positive and energetic.
October 31, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
If you’d like to improve your working life with a job that’s a good match to your skills, abilities, and temperament but the thought of interviewing has you stuck in neutral, work hardest on what you fear most:
If you don’t how to respond to open ended questions, get a list of them and get to work on your responses. Get them so grooved that you can’t wait for a chance to answer them, in fact, create opportunities to answer them.
If you’re so introverted you can’t bear the thought of networking, stop reading this column right now and make an appointment with someone who can help you find a job.
If you’re a first class procrastinator and arrive late for every appointment you make, change your behavior today. All day. Everyday. When you give your word, honor your obligation. You’re defined by your actions, not by your best intentions.
If you see yourself as a non-conformist, wearing clothes that fit your mood rather than fitting the occasion, change your mood to business casual. Keep your mood there for as long as it takes to get a job.
If you struggle to smile because you’re not into smiling, think of something funny, and beam, grin, and laugh out loud. Get into the habit of having something pleasant plastered across your face.
If you can’t seem to stop talking when you’re nervous, work on calming your nerves. Turn apprehension into aspiration. Role-play your practice sessions with a live audience; invite individuals from a variety of experiences and backgrounds to grill you until you’re well done. And know this: if you’re really prepared you should expect to feel tension before show time; that means you’re anxious to enjoy the experience.
If you’re talking in circles instead of getting to the point, you don’t know the point you’re trying to make. Figure out where you’re going before you start talking, then begin your response with your conclusion.
If you rely on joke telling to lighten the mood and your idea of funny doesn’t match that of most interviewers, take the hint, don’t tell jokes. Instead, follow the interviewer’s lead. If she asks questions, answer them. If she asks for explanations, give them. If she asks you to tell a joke, take a pass.
If you have trouble listening to what others are saying, you’re engaging in the conversation that’s going on in your head. When you interview (and any time you’re with others) focus on the speaker, and confirm your understanding of questions or viewpoints by restating what they’ve said before responding with your perspective.
If you over-sell your interest and over-toot your talent, you’ll wind up with a job that breaks you down, burns you up, or bums you out. An interview should be a discussion aimed at evaluating qualifications that determine fit; those of the applicant for the job, as well as the job for the applicant.
If your interview style is “I have a hammer and you don’t” and hitting people over the head isn’t getting you any job offers, put down that hammer. Instead of coming across as a tell-all, know-it-all, let the interviewer be the expert. Ask open-ended questions and listen, probe to learn more, stroke your chin, and say things like, “ahhh, yes, I understand…”.
Two of the biggest mistakes you can make on an interview are thinking you have the answers when you don’t know what the problems are, and thinking you know the problems when you don’t know what the answers are. Change your thinking and you’ll improve your prospects for success.
October 17, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Respect, honesty, and loyalty are value- laden words that mean different things to different people for different reasons:
“My boss doesn’t respect me”, she said. “He’s hurtful, he makes me angry and I don’t want him anywhere near me.”
He doesn’t respect her. From what she said and how she said it I assumed he used foul language and called her demeaning and humiliating names. I asked her for some examples of what he had said or done that had been so offensive.
“He never listens! I try to share my perspectives with him and he’s already sharing his with me. I try to tell him how I think the work should be done and he’s telling me his version of what right ought to look like. He’s so disrespectful I just can’t stand it.”
He doesn’t respect her because she thinks he doesn’t listen to her. I get it. And what I get is different from what I thought she meant. Instead of dealing with harassment, a hostile work environment, and a trip to the local EEOC, she’s describing issues better addressed through assertiveness training for her and constructive feedback for him.
“My employee isn’t honest”, said this boss. Not honest? This sounds like a case of deception, maybe a little pilfering, password violations, or worse… this could involve breaking and entering; grand theft auto; we could have another Enron on our hands. Just to be on the safe side, I asked him to give me some examples of what he meant by “isn’t honest”.
“Like I said, he’s not honest. He thinks he’s doing a better job at work than he is. He’s deceiving himself if he thinks he’s going to get a promotion anytime soon.”
OK. I got ahead of myself. It’s not that the boss thinks his employee is a crook. He’s saying that his employee isn’t self- aware; that how he sees himself differs from how others see him, and that difference can keep him from advancing to the next level.
“It really bothers me that our employees aren’t loyal”, said the store manager. Aren’t loyal? They must be out for themselves; leaving to join the competition; sharing company secrets; going on line with pictures or stories better kept under wraps. Before I get carried away I better check out my presumptions; ask for a few examples of what she means when she says they ‘aren’t loyal’.
“Not loyal…” she says, with the tight lipped cadence of an exasperated mom to a forty year old who doesn’t get the concept of don’t- play-in- traffic, “means they don’t realize work isn’t done until it’s done. Our leadership demands that we show our loyalty everyday by working however many hours it takes to complete the mission; coming in early and staying into the night, if need be. We have no patience with people who (and here’s where she’s pointing her finger and slowing down to be absolutely understood) aren’t loyal enough to recognize that for most of us, making the company money affords us the right to enjoy a personal life, not the other way around.”
Oops. That’s not where I thought she was going. And it’s a good thing that I asked because when I’m in a rush, saying “got it” when I don’t, I end up confusing other people’s intentions with my definitions.
“But I assumed that’s what you meant”, is an excuse for taking a direction or making a decision based on our mistaken impressions. “What I thought you said” is a lame way of blaming someone else for obscuring a message that we didn’t take sufficient time to clarify.