Monthly Archive for November, 2012

FINDING WORK/LIFE BALANCE WHEN YOU WORK FOR AN OVERACHIEVER

(Recently Ivyexec.com CEO and Founder, Elena Bajic, shared her thoughts on how to find work life balance when you work for a “Dragon Boss”.)

I can relate to working for a “Dragon Boss.” Not so much because I ever did, but because I was a “Dragon Boss” in my day—long ago before three kids, a dog, a live-in mother-in-law and a house in the suburbs, far, far, far away from NYC forced me to re-prioritize. In my “Dragon Boss” days I was 125% committed to my company, my boss (who was the CEO), and to delivering versus objectives—flawlessly. Young professionals with few external distractions fared best on my analyst team since our success demanded single– minded purpose.

I was transitioning out of my all-consuming job and had identified my successor—a talented finance professional who was a mom with two children. I remember her leaving at 5pm her first week on the job. Here was the building opportunity of a lifetime and she was leaving at 5pm. She would make dinner for her children, help them with homework and then work until 1am to stay on top of the workload. She was a consummate professional. Work/life balance? I didn’t get it. Then…

I get it now. I recently returned to the work force after a prolonged hiatus to raise a family. I love my new job, but now I’m the one dashing out the door at 5pm when the rest of the office is in full swing, swallowing guilt over the early departure because I have a long commute home, and children to feed and tuck in for the night. I am grateful I don’t work for the “old me.”

If work/life balance is important to you, necessary for you, here are some must do’s to manage the expectations of your “Dragon Boss.”

  1. Before you take a job, be totally honest with your prospective boss about the hours you will be available to work and stick to them.
  2. Make every minute at the office count. Minimize the chitchat. Carry in lunch, if you can. Try to work with maximum efficiency every day.
  3. Make every minute of your commute count, too. If you take public transit, use the time to reply to emails, organize your day’s work and tomorrow’s, and catch up on paperwork. If you are driving, and can safely do so, use that time to return phone calls.
  4. Think through your game plan for the day and tomorrow.
  5. Never over promise, even if you are by nature an overachiever and believe you CAN DELIVER.
  6. Just make your best effort every day.

I wish you great career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

 

 

Great Questions To Ask During Interviews

(This excellent article by Elena Batic , founder and CEO of Ivy Exec was originally written for FORBES magazine.)

I recently interviewed a candidate for a key position at my company.  I’d had several phone conversations with him and had finally brought him in to meet the team in person.  He seemed to be just the right fit for us, with the skills and experience set to handle the job, and then some.

BUT….there was a “but”…

I was perplexed because each time we asked the candidate if he had any questions, none were forthcoming.    Despite all the time we invested in this candidate, and all the openings we gave him to “ask away”, we couldn’t gauge his interest level in the job opportunity or in the company. Hmm….

Then finally, he asked a question…a great question… How does “X” get done here? “X” being the most important piece of work the candidate would be responsible for, e.g., it could be building a piece of code, creating a financial model, creating a marketing campaign, or whatever…

What makes this a great question?  The information you’d extract from the answer is practical.  It helps you understand how you will navigate your new work environment.  It also helps you build an accurate image in your head of what you’ll do your first day on the job.  Sure, you should ask questions about the long term strategy and financial position of the company, but don’t forget to ask this simple question.  It will provide great insight into your future day-to-day experiences.

With this question you will learn…

*just how collaborative or individual the work process will be.

*exactly who/how many people you will have to work with to get your job done.

*how aggressive the work pace is / the timelines are.

*what physical resources you will have available to actually do the work assigned to you.

*how much “content” already exists and  is available to build on vs. how much “content” you will have to create from scratch, and

*how high the overall “expectations” bar for the role is set.

And a final note to all of those who are interviewing — always have questions prepared. Not just this question, but as many thoughtful questions as you can think of. If you don’t ask questions during an interview process, your interviewer(s) will wonder if you fully understand the opportunity and are serious about it. If you don’t ask questions, I guarantee that you will have a harder “sell” ahead to convince your interviewer(s) that you really do want to join the team, and you may not get the chance.

Questions you NEVER ask in a job interview:

  1. Never ask if you can change the job details.”
  2.  Never ask about gossip you’ve heard.
  3. Never ask questions about the interviewer’s background.
  4. Never ask about pay, time off, benefits until you have an offer firmly in hand.
  5. Never ask “Do you do background checks?”
  6. Never ask “What does your company do?”
  7. Never ask “How quickly can I be promoted?
  8. Never ask “If I am hired, when can I start applying for other positions in the company?
  9.  Never ask if the company monitors e-mail and Internet usage.”

To get more advice on how to accelerate your career during tough times participate in Ramon Greenwood’s widely read Common Sense At Work Blog <http://commonsenseatwork.com> He coaches from a successful career as Senior VP at American Express, author of career-related books, successful entrepreneur, and a senior executive/consultant in Fortune 500 companies. For more info go to free career coaching.