Two Career Mistakes Women (and Men) Make

This weekend I celebrated the launching of Ask Ajna with it's founders Marian Cartwright and Jae Lynn Rangel both fellow alumnae of the Power of Self leadership program for women created by leadership guru, Marsha Clark

Ask Ajna is a new iphone application offering career advice for women. I think men will also find it beneficial, particularly in honing negotiation skills.

Ask Ajna stems from Jae Lynn and Marian's desire to share with others what they wish they had known 20 years ago, including how to avoid making the miskates that they made as young women executives. Here are two of my favorites from the list of mistakes women make delivered by Ask Ajna:

    1. Thinking your work speaks for itself. 
    2. Confusing Effort with Results. 

    I find that my women clients have a much more difficult time sharing their accomplishments, particularly in a way that emphasizes results. Many fear that taking credit for results diminishes the efforts of others or comes off as bragging. It's easier for them to talk about working hard or ackowledging the contributions of others. Yet accomplishment that goes unrecognized leaves many women ultimately feeling resentful and bewildered. 

    So, the next time someone asks you what you've been doing, answer with a result you've accomplished that makes you proud. For me, I just helped a client gain the job he wanted by preparing him well for an interview. I love it when I help my clients get great results in their work.  

    Career Advice from Maya Angelou

    Maya Angelou inspires me to be a kinder and better person. Turns out she would also make a great career advisor. I recently came across this quote:

    You can only become accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off of you.

    Finding the things you love doing is not always easy. Sometimes career unrest arises from doing work you do not love and there is no cure short of moving on. For many of my clients though, the cure for career malaise can be as simple as learning (or just remembering) who you really are so that you can figure out how to love the job you're with. By knowing your natural strengths and talents, noticing when you are most happy, and taking steps to spend more time in areas that leverage you at your best, you may be able to turn the job you loathe into the job you love.  

    Not sure where to start? Take the Clifton Strengthsfinder ($9.95) and the Values in Action Inventory (free) to learn more about your strengths (the things you do well and love doing). And then look for ways to exercise those gifts in your work each day. 

    How to Improve Your Next Strategic Planning Retreat

    Lately I've been working on retreats for law firms, foundations and other clients.  One tool I recommend before any important retreat or strategic planning session is a pre-retreat survey. Why?

    Research shows if you wait until the meeting to get input, you won't get the full story. That's beause people who speak the loudest and who speak up first often sway the opinions of others.

    By collecting input ahead of the event, you can get a good idea coming in of what's really on the minds of your participants.

    My recommendations for a good survey:

    1. Make sure it is trusted as confidential and anonymous.  You can do that by asking a third party to collect the data for you.  
    2. Include both open-ended and multiple choice or ranking questions.
    3. Leave room for comments.
    4. Ask for helpful demographic data (years with organization, office, job) but not in such detail that anonymity is jeopardized.
    5. Use an online survey tool such as Survey Monkey to make data gathering easier. 
    6. Ask what issues are most important for the group to discuss at the retreat and for recommendations for making the retreat more successful.
    7. Keep the survey short enough that it can be completed in about 10 minutes.
    8. Provide a summary of the survey responses to the participants (but only if you have made absolutely clear in advance of administering the survey exactly what will be distributed).