Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Yep, I went there. Teamwork makes the dream work. A bit of a tired cliché, but frankly, teams are the very essence of most organizational cultures. We know the benefits of working in teams: enhanced employee engagement, improved relationships with colleagues, more creative solutions, gaining an understanding of different perspectives, and the list goes on. Whether it’s a new team that comes together during a merger or restructuring, to tackle a specific project, or a collaboration between different departments, these steps can help turn that new team into a dream team.

 

Establish a team leader. In some teams, this will be the person managing the individuals. If this is a cross-functional team, it still helps to have the team assign a leader or two who keep everyone on track.

 

Leverage Diversity: Diversity can mean a host of different things. When it comes to a team, yes, having people of different backgrounds and genders is critical, but diversity can also mean including people with different skill sets and business expertise and levels of experience. Look at the boards of some of the most successful companies and you may notice that there is diversity of expertise. Take a cue from them when assembling teams.

 

Establish ground rules. While it may sound simple, establishing expectations, deliverable dates, and responsibilities up front will help the team in the long run, as this way each individual understands the importance of their contributions to the larger group.

 

Course correct: It would be lovely if teams came together, did what needed to be done, and all got along swimmingly. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but it rarely happens! Personal agendas, office politics, challenging personalities, and egos so often get in the way. When that happens, have open conversations to remind people that this is a group effort and that everyone’s input and efforts are important to the outcome.

 

“R before T” (relationship before task): I credit this tip to my favorite professor from graduate school, who started each class with a time for us to share personal updates and catch up. It did bring us closer, and helped us to understand each other beyond our studies and view each other as human beings!

 

Celebrate team success: It can be something as small as a round of applause, a personal thank you note to each team member, a team lunch or happy hour. Marking milestones is crucial, as it lets the team know that they are on the right path or have accomplished what they set out to do.

 

 

Hire the best! With personalized service and proven results, Pillar Search & HR Consulting provides recruiting/search services and human resources consulting for exceptional non-profits and socially responsible for-profit firms. A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA, and works on the national level. To learn more about how Pillar can assist with your hiring and human resources needs, please contact

Mistake Mastery (Because Your Professional Life Does Not Come with a Magic Eraser)

An executive who I do leadership coaching with recently shared that a member of her team made a colossal, astronomical-amount-of-money, public relations nightmare mistake. She values the employee, and understands that mistakes happen, but the employee did not own up to the mistake, which only made it worse.

 

We have all been there. Making a mistake sucks. BIG TIME. And it can cost you – your job, relationships, reputation, credibility, monetary fines, and more. What can you do

when you make a major misstep on the job?

 

  • Own up to it.   I have seen this done well, and I have seen people try to assign blame to others when it was clearly their own wrongdoing. Being honest – and doing so quickly – is always the gracious way to own up to a mistake.
  • Be part of the solution. My first manager out of college used to tell the team “Do not come to me with a problem unless you also have a solution”, which made telling her that I had erroneously withdrawn $1,000,000, not the desired $10,000, from a client’s mutual fund account and was on my way to the mailroom to search high and low before it was mailed a bit easier to swallow. Oops. Have at least the framework of a solution so that steps can be taken quickly to work towards resolution so that you are remembered as much for being part of the positive outcome as you are for the source of the issue.
  • Apologize, and really mean it. Sounds obvious, right? Shocking, but there are many for whom saying the words “I am sorry” or “I was wrong” is a foreign concept. Humility and grace will get you far in life. And do it face-to-face, if possible. Just do not say it multiple times, or you run the risk of looking like you cannot handle the mistake.
  • Say thank you. To clean up the mess, several people may need to get involved. Thank each and every one for doing the extra work to help fix your mess.
  • What did you learn? The difference between a mistake and an epic failure is figuring out what the key takeaways are. Analyze what happened and use that knowledge to improve.
  • Document it. It will come up in your review if it was significant, so when the dust settles, write an accurate and unemotional as possible overview of the problem, what you did to correct it, could prevent in the future, and what you learned from it. That way, you leave nothing out and if and when it comes up again, you have the information at the ready. As a bonus, putting it in writing may help you to see holes in the process or workflow, which provides the opportunity to be more innovative.
  • Do not let it define you. Even if the outcome of this mistake is that you lose your job (and I’m sorry if this is the outcome), remember that mistakes are not labels. You are you and the mistake is the mistake. It is an opportunity to learn and grow. If you let it define you, you run the risk of operating out of fear, which will only result in being risk-averse and complacent.
  • Be kind to you. If someone came to you and told you that they had made a major error, you would likely show them compassion and understanding. Extend this same kindness to yourself.

 

Life does not come with a magic eraser, so there is no do-over, but everyone, even the most successful legends out there, has a mistake or two (or more!) in their professional history. How you handle the mix-up and how smoothly you move forward is what will leave a lasting impression.

 

Cindy Joyce is the CEO of Pillar Search & HR Consulting. Pillar provides executive search services for non-profits, foundations, and socially responsible for-profit organizations desiring top talent looking for an occupassion, not just an occupation. In addition, Pillar works offers a full range of human resources consulting services. A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA and works on both the local and national level. For more information, please visit www.pillarsearch.com or email cindy@pillarsearch.com

 

 

 

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Upcoming Speaking Engagement! Boost Your Personal Brand with Lean In Boston Chapter

I am honored and excited to have been selected as one of the speakers at Lean In Boston’s next Chapter meeting, where I will be leading a discussion how to promote yourself on social media. Joining me will be Elaine Varelas, Managing Director, Keystone Partners, who will be leading a discussion on career boosters and busters. Follow Lean In Boston on Facebook for more details on what is sure to be an exciting event.

Save the Date!  March 30, 2016 5:30 p.m. at WeWork South Station, Boston, MA

About Lean In:

The book Lean In is focused on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions, and changing the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do. LeanIn.Org is the next chapter. Lean In is committed to offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals. Lean In believes that if we talk openly about the challenges women face and work together, we can change the trajectory of women and create a better world for everyone. Empowering women and closing the gender leadership gap are imperative for companies that want to perform at the highest level. That’s where Lean In comes in. Lean In’s programming helps women connect with peers and organizations counteract gender bias.

About Cindy Joyce and Pillar Search:

With personalized service and proven results, Pillar is your partner in executive search and human resources consulting. With over 20 years of experience, Pillar provides national retained search services for exceptional non-profits and foundations and early-stage or rapid growth for-profit firms. All share the characteristic of desiring top talent who want an occupassion, not just an occupation.     In addition, Pillar offers human resources consulting services, which was born of clients requesting help on projects beyond executive search, and includes human resources audits, creating a handbook, assessing organizational design, training, team building, and employee communications.    A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA, and works on both a local and national level. To contact Pillar Search, click here.

Onboard or Onward: Ensuring the Success of Your New Executive Hire

“About 40% of executives who change jobs or get promoted fail in the first 18 months.”

Fortune Magazine

Where does it all go wrong? Too often, the onboarding process is where things fall apart. I am not talking about “orientation”, which often is done day one and generally involves the basics of assigning a building pass, conducting a benefits overviews, meeting the team and reading a few policies. Onboarding is a longer process, and if done well (typically in partnership with Human Resources and managed by the new executive’s manager, or the Board Chair if they report to the Board of Directors) can almost guarantee fit. It is holistic and gradual. It is also very deliberate, and will require constant check-ins and open communication.  Here are five key activities that will help to ensure that your new executive will be successful in their new role:

Start to Onboard Before They are Actually ON BOARD!

The time between an offer being accepted and the executive starting is sensitive. They may be dealing with a counteroffer, having to say goodbye to much-loved colleagues, and are nervous about this new venture. Keep in touch. Reiterate your excitement to have them joining the team, and have a few people in the organization reach out. If there are organizational overviews, annual reports, strategic plans or other things that that they can read up on ahead of time, get those to them during this time so that they start to feel like part of the team.

Send an announcement out to the staff and the board a few days before their start date explaining their background and the job they are filling. This will help make them seem more familiar to the team when they come through the door, and as an added benefit they will not have to review their resume and background with absolutely everyone in their first week or so.

Relationship Before Task 

Ideally, new executives will meet with their team and people across the organization. One-on-one meetings are great, but remind those who will be meeting with the executive to get to know them before delving into the inner workings of their role or the issues they face. Building rapport with new colleagues and direct reports is critical in the early days.

Learn By Doing 

Too often, in an effort to get all the information to a new hire as soon as possible, they are introduced to processes way too soon. Guess what? They will not remember how to do an expense report or change their password or complete a sales report 30 to 60 days in when they actually need to do it if they are taught how to do it their first week. Have the right people meet with them at the start to review the process at a high level, and then have them set up a time to do it later when they can sit down with real data and learn from it real-time.

The Buddy System 

What we learned in grade school still applies: the buddy system works when the new kid starts. This should not be the executive’s manager, but a peer or high-performing direct report who has longevity and the personality to be an effective buddy. The buddy can manage the nicety of taking them to lunch on day one and being available to explain the intricacies of culture, relationship dynamics, and certain pitfalls to avoid, which are things that the executive may not be comfortable asking of higher-ups.

Check In Early & Often

I too often hear that executives join, get a ton of attention the first day or two, and then are largely left on their own. It does not feel welcoming, and it runs the risk of them going in a direction that is difficult to course-correct later on. Meet with them daily, even for 10-15 minutes, in the first few weeks. Move on to twice weekly, weekly….you get the point. Let them know where they are doing a great job. Let them know where they need to take a different approach. But LET THEM KNOW. Being clear on what is a success will lead to more success.

While by no means a complete onboarding process, following the steps above will help to ensure that your new executive hire is one of the 60% who will be a success in the first 18 months.

Cindy Joyce is an Executive Recruiter and the Founder of Pillar Search, an Executive Search and HR Consulting firm located in Boston that works with clients nationwide. She can be reached here.

Keep It Clean: Tips for Sprucing Up Your Personal Social Media in the Job Search

When you embark on a job search, you likely will immediately update your resume and spruce up your cover letter template. These are all incredibly important to do, but you may want to go further into your social media. Potential employers may Google you, so go ahead, do a search on yourself and see what comes up. They may do this search prior to interview selection, so you will want to ensure that you are making a good online impression and setting a positive tone.

Privacy, please: Set your Facebook and Instagram to private. Click here for instructions on changing your Facebook settings, and here for instructions on your Instagram settings.

Keep it clean: Make sure that any photos that you have posted or that are posted of you are not in questionable taste. You know which ones I mean. If you would not want your grandmother seeing it, you should not want it out there for potential employers to see. Going forward, when posting photos on Facebook, select the option of photos only being viewable by “Friends”.

Remove any rants: Twitter, by nature, is where you can spout off in 160 characters or less. If you tend to tweet, scroll through and remove anything that could be construed as a negative sound-off, especially if it has to do with your frustrations related to your job, organization, boss or colleagues.

Learn to leverage LinkedIn: LinkedIn is probably the first place that a potential employer will look. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is impeccable. Here’s how:

  • Start with a polished photo. Ideally, use a professional headshot. If this is not feasible, we all have that friend who takes amazing photos. Ask them to take one.
  • Look professional.  Avoid photos that obviously have cropped someone else out, or where you are wearing your favorite sports team gear. Ladies, I love a strapless dress or spaghetti strap as much as anyone, but in a headshot it will make you look underdressed or, even worse, not dressed at all, and that is not the impression you want to make as a professional.
  • You know where you have worked. Others may not. Take the time to write up a blurb about what each company you have worked at does. It helps the profile to flow better, and tells a more complete story.
  • Similarly, do not just list your job titles. Explain, even briefly, what you did in each job. This is your chance to shine and give a narrative of your work history.
  • List accomplishments, awards, volunteer efforts and anything that will demonstrate how talented and passionate you are. Do not be shy. This is the time to showcase what sets you apart.
  • Ask people for recommendations. It helps build confidence in both your work abilities and your relationship building skills.
  • Network, network, network. Some people are better at networking than others. If you are not one of them, take a deep breath, click on the “People You May Know”, and proactively reach out. Not only do higher numbers look better (as stated earlier, it shows that you are adept at building relationships) but some hiring managers that I have worked with will not even look at candidates with less than 500 contacts.
  • Ask people whose professional opinion you trust to give you feedback on your LinkedIn profile. This could include trusted colleagues, former managers, mentors, or a recruiter that you may be working with. They may see things that need improvement or accomplishments that you would be well-served by highlighting.

Your resume is just one piece of the puzzle. Make sure that your social media fits the brand that you are building or have built professionally to ensure that prospective employers view you in the best light.