Enjoy family and feasting. Give thanks!
More posts to follow next week …
Enjoy family and feasting. Give thanks!
More posts to follow next week …
Most of us are probably accustomed to thinking about our work in terms of “job titles” and “job descriptions.” If someone asks me what I do, I tell them I’m a controller. If I were to create a description of my job I might start with the purpose, then list duties, and round it off with skills and qualifications.
Another way to think about jobs and work is with the concept of “roles, responsibilities, and expectations (RR&E’s).” These are explained in The Science of Success by Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, Inc.
RR&E’s are intended to “define general areas of responsibility and accountability.” Koch explains, “A person is accountable if he or she will bear the consequences (good or bad) of a decision. Both the person making the decision and the person delegating are held accountable” (p. 129).
Supervisors are expected to ensure that RR&Es maximize the employees’ contributions to the organization. Importantly, employees must take ownership to “ensure his or her RR&Es are current, accurate, and effective” (p. 129). No matter what type of management style exists in your organization, it is wise to take ownership of your role and your broader career development and progress.
Koch defines roles, responsibilities, and expectations, as follows:
A potential employer would expect to see your resume if you were applying for a job. Similarly, you should expect, at least in general terms, a written description of the potential roles, responsibilities, and expectations for the job you are thinking of pursuing. That way you can determine whether you have the appropriate skill sets and whether the role fits with your career plan and goals. New hires should work their their supervisors and take ownership of the job by documenting their specific RR&Es within the business.
Koch says, “Expectations should always be clear, specific, and whenever possible, measurable” (p. 130). They should challenge employees to take ownership, reach higher, and be creative.
Get it in writing. Just as agreements, goals, mission and vision statements, and policies should be documented in writing; an employer should come to a mutual understanding and document the roles, responsibilities, and expectations with each employee.
I first encountered Chip and Dan Heath’s writings when I listened to the audio book of Made to Stick several years ago. I was fascinated by their insights regarding influence and persuasiveness summarized by the SUCCES acronym: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories.
The Heath brothers also authored Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work in which they lay out four principles with the WRAP acronym for avoiding pitfalls in decision making:
Decision making can stretch us to our mental and emotional limits at times, but understanding the pitfalls and applying the Heath’s sound advice can make the process more smooth and enjoyable.
Are “book smarts” or “street smarts” more important? Although there is a place for both, we can tend to err on one side or the other. Young professionals with high GPAs tend to be noted for their “book smarts.” Several years into their careers they discover the necessity of developing “street smarts” that some of their peers might have come by more naturally.
Early in my career I tended to trust people and share a lot about myself. Perhaps, I reasoned, if everyone laid all their cards on the table, it would be easy to figure out how to create win-wins.
Do you notice any problems with this approach?
For example, in one of my early jobs I played a team-based game of business strategy that involved negotiation, sharing information, and trading. Much to my unpleasant surprise, I learned that not everyone shared my approach of making helpful information readily available. (Imagine that!) I learned that, although win-wins are often needed in order for people to advance, ultimately people are more interested in their own success than in mine.
Gratefully, getting a dose of reality can shake deluded idealism from a person fairly quickly.
Over time I learned that some of my assumptions, behaviors, and habits were flawed or at least needed tempered with a dose of realism. There is a place for being savvy or “street smart” — for example, “knowing how to close a sale, when to walk away from a deal, when to remain silent, and how to select winners as employees or colleagues.”
Whether street smarts are skills or attitudes, learned or inborn traits, a financial professional who aspires to a position of organizational leadership should seek and develop these attributes.
Here are five categories of street smarts drawn from Dr. Tony Alessandra:
Learn the theories. Develop “book smarts.” But never underestimate the importance of lessons from the “school of hard knocks.” Develop discernment and become increasingly savvy by carefully analyzing your experiences for lessons learned.
Think about a time when you were disappointed. Someone promised but did not deliver. Perhaps you had even made plans around your expectation that the other person would keep a promise.
What did you think of that person afterwards? Obviously, you could no longer trust the person.
Timely and accurate communication is crucial toward developing and maintaining trust in business relationships. Conversely, misleading or nonexistent messages engender distrust.
I experienced both the good and the bad in a recent situation. A supplier promised to quickly provide documents once I made a payment. I needed to provide these documents to a customer. Upon receiving my payment, rather than fulfilling the promise, the supplier said he would wait a few more days. I communicated this clearly and promptly to the customer, and I said I would provide an update as soon as I had one.
This conveyed to the customer that I was “on it,” and the customer’s response was one of gratitude even though the message I had conveyed was negative.
On the flip side, I have no trust in that supplier because I know in hindsight that I was misled by someone who lacked integrity.
Building trust requires a long-term pattern of delivering on the promise. Conversely, destroying trust is as easy as promising and not delivering.
Most of all, if you want to build trust, you must manage expectations. Do not induce people to “play ball” with you by misleading them about what they can hope to accomplish from dealing with you.
Some people will see right through your empty promises. Less savvy people might initially be impressed, but once you disappoint them, they will start to spread the word that you cannot be trusted.
How do you manage expectations? Again, one of the keys is communication. Convey relevant information in a timely manner. Filter information before you pass it along to make sure it is reliable. For example, even though I had been “promised” that I would receive information from the supplier, I had to temper my “promise” to the customer because I did not know whether the supplier would make good on his promise.
Become a reliable person. Listen more than you speak. This will help you know what you can legitimately promise. Don’t promise unless you know you can perform. If you have done all you can but an unexpected contingency materializes, the bad news will get worse with age. Quickly communicate the relevant details you know, along with your action plan for fixing the problem.
Don’t be like the supplier who promised but had no intention of delivering. Also, even if you do have the intention of following through, make sure you really have the capability to do so before you make a promise. This means you have to honestly assess and come to terms with reality, not mere delusions or wishful thinking.
One of the themes of this site is taking ownership of your own career.
Your employer does not own your career. Your parents do not own your career. Your friends do not own your career. Your teachers do not own your career.
You own your career.
Think about the cares and concerns that you must deal with on a daily basis. Work is certainly one of them. Also, you might have a family, pets, a house or apartment, a vehicle, relationships, and so forth.
All of these (and much more) require daily care and maintenance.
Guess what? Everyone else I mentioned — even your friends and relatives who love you and want to see you be successful — have their own list of items that take up precious time out of their day. Their primary vested interest is in themselves and what can benefit them.
The last thing you can expect them to worry about is the long-term progress of your career. If you sit by and wait for someone else to “hold your hand” through the ups and downs, challenges and threats of your career development, you will be in for disappointment.
Maybe you have never considered that your career is yours. Maybe it is time for a wake-up call to start thinking and acting like an owner.
How does an owner process decisions? What are the behavior patterns of an owner? Here are a few thoughts:
Much more could be said about the motives, goals, and enduring success of someone who takes ownership. What is one specific change you can make today to shift your thinking and actions toward taking ownership of your career?
I wrote previously about the four stages of learning. We progress from unconscious incompetence (“you don’t know what you don’t know”), to conscious incompetence (“you know what you don’t know”), then conscious competence (“you have a solid grasp on the subject matter, but you have to think about it”), and finally unconscious competence (“you know the subject matter like the back of your hand”).
How does one apply this paradigm to learning?
Consider a person who is unaware (i.e., unconsciously incompetent) of the concept of emotional intelligence. Perhaps this person has a measure of EI without consciously realizing or understanding it. Or perhaps this person has developed habits of thought and behavior that discourage self-assessment of blind spots and drive away others.
What should a person do in this situation?
Finance professionals should never stop learning. We have to constantly apply ourselves to develop and grow. We can routinely progress through the four stages and apply the paradigm of learning whether we are developing technical skills, knowledge of our field and industry, social and relational skills, or more.
In what areas could you benefit from working through the four stages of competence? How can you help others achieve success in the process?
Think about the last time you tried something new. Perhaps you started a new job. Or maybe you took up a hobby that required a particular skill set, such as sailing.
Continually learning characterizes our growth and development throughout life. Early on we learn to communicate using gestures and language. We develop physical and cognitive abilities to overcome obstacles and accomplish our objectives. Especially in the modern world characterized by rapid change, we constantly have to adapt to new challenges and opportunities.
I was recently talking with someone about emotional intelligence and its contribution toward career success. Just as I had been ignorant of the topic prior to reading articles and delving into a study course recently, this person had never heard of EI or EQ.
After explaining emotional intelligence on a cursory level and sharing a resource about the topic, I mentioned the following four-step paradigm that I was exposed to in a training course:
To put this in perspective, consider someone who didn’t know about emotional intelligence and had perhaps unconsciously developed habits that ran counter to sound EI principles. Becoming aware of emotional intelligence could be the first step toward new levels of professional success.
Soon I will share some practical tips on applying the four stages of learning.
I wrote previously that a finance professional should always be confident. This is certainly enhanced when you are prepared. I had a few job interviews early in my career for which I was not adequately prepared, and this showed in my level of confidence. I did not get a second interview in those scenarios.
My success has always been enhanced when I have been confident. Here are seven insights drawn from Kent Sayre about increasing your confidence:
I especially appreciated the tip about considering best and worst case scenarios. Sometimes we can stress over vague fears and lose our confidence. If we can quantify what we are concerned about, we can find ways to accept, avoid, reduce, or share risks. If we are unable to quantify our fears, we have no need to be afraid. Instead, we can focus on the positive benefits from success and leave behind vague, general dread.
How can you relate to people whose backgrounds and motivations are different from your own? How can you creatively tap into and channel others’ motivations for recognition and accomplishments beyond paying them more money? As a finance professional, should you primarily focus on numbers or people? How can you develop a reputation for being approachable and collaborative?
Developing emotional intelligence can help us become mentally active to recognize, analyze, understand, and manage intense feelings — whether our own (intrapersonal) feelings or the feelings of those around us (interpersonal).
Social and leadership skills can be developed over time, and they tend to become more important as a finance professional moves to higher levels within an organization. Technical skills and cognitive ability are vital, but don’t neglect emotional intelligence. Customers, employees, coworkers, and investors are among the groups with whom aspiring CFOs must learn to build relationships, channel motivation, manage conflicts, and develop win-win solutions.
I recently completed a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) self-study course on the difference between IQ and EQ (Emotional Quotient). The course helped me understand basic concepts and models of emotional intelligence.
Here is an outline of fifteen components of EQ organized under five major categories:
1) Self regard
2) Emotional self awareness
5) Self actualization
7) Social responsibility
8) Interpersonal relationships
9) Stress tolerance
10) Impulse control
11) Reality testing
13) Problem solving
Daniel Goleman, author of Working with Emotional Intelligence, divides EQ between personal and social competencies:
What are signs of a high EQ for a financial professional to recognize and develop? The course suggests several:
Among negative behaviors to avoid, the course lists blaming others rather than taking responsibility for one’s feelings, analyzing others when they express their feelings, trying to make others feel guilty, lying about feelings (or exaggerating/minimizing them), letting things build up, reacting strongly to minor issues, being unforgiving, acting on feelings rather than talking about them, and playing games and being evasive rather than direct.
Assess yourself based on the following questions that apply Goleman’s model from Working with Emotional Intelligence:
In summary, to develop EQ, the course suggests knowing your own emotions, motivating yourself, recognizing emotions in others, managing your emotions, and effectively handling relationships.