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Why you should stay in your current position 3 to 5 years October 24, 2012

Posted by thefieldgeneral in Leadership.
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In America we are driven to success. Money and power entice us to seek promotion and raises. This concept of always pushing for the next thing, can rob us of the valuable experiences of the current thing. Sometimes staying put, moving sideways, or even going backward is required for ultimate success. Patience and discipline lead to a greater reward. This is why you should plan on being where you are for 3 to 5 years.

Thanks to Amanda Yepiz @http://www.flickr.com/photos/trazomfreak/

I sometimes regret moving up too fast.  Some lessons are easier to learn at lower levels of the profession. Once you bypass those lessons by being promoted early, they become almost impossible for you to learn. They become gaps, weak spots in your skill set that may plague you for months or years.

There are 5 excellent reasons why you should wait 3 to 5 years before seeking promotion from a position. Of course, if you’ve got a “fries with that” job, it is not unreasonable to seek something better sooner.  But barring a job you can’t stand, here are the 5 reasons:
1.Opportunities abound
Many people feel that if they are not on the lookout for the next good thing, they will miss out. Assuming that you have to take opportunities when they show up or you will miss out isn’t necessarily helpful. It is a perspective thing. Are opportunities rare or plentiful? I submit to you that opportunities abound. They may not always be what you expect, but they will come when the time is right.
2.It takes around 5 years to develop true expertise.
According to Michael Hyatt, it takes about 10,000 hours to develop true expertise. This is about 5 years of work. This makes sense to me. Everyone starts out at an Apprentice level skill. Apprentices require significant supervision, training, and help to be consistently successful. It takes a year or two to move from Apprentice level skill to Journeyman. Journeyman can do all basic activities with consistent success. With sufficient assistance a Journeyman can perform well with all but the most complex projects. It takes another 2 to 4 years to move from Journeyman to Expert. Experts have mastered the basic and specialized skills of the job. They have begun to develop the subtle skills of Mastery that cannot be grasped without a firm foundation. They consistently perform well in projects. After reaching an Expert level of skill most people will move up, but some will stay in that position eventually developing true Mastery after 5 to 15 additional years. Masters have developed such a high level of skill in their job that their effectiveness often seems to be magical. The way to optimize your effectiveness at higher levels is to achieve at least true expertise at each level in the organization.
3.Organizational value increases exponentially as you remain in a position
Sometime after your 3ed year in a position, assuming you are progressing well, your value moves from slight incremental increases to an exponential gains. Mangers can back off and let you operate as you’ve learned all the basics. They can rely on you for more important and risky projects. This accelerates learning and visible successes.
Value acceleration occurs again after expertise is achieved. Masters at their craft are priceless. The key here is to watch your interest and passion. If your passion for the job is waning, it is time to change. If your passion is sustained, it may be you’ve found your nitch. Most Careers have two paths, Mastery and Leadership. One will sustain your passion, the other will eat your lunch. Pick wisely.

4.Seek responsibility, not position or money.
Responsibility is the key to advancement. As I’ve moved up in the company I want people who I can count on beside me. Having a better resume or getting promoted doesn’t make you more reliable. Taking on and succeeding at a responsibility without being promoted shows both competence and loyalty.
Also, if your boss is even remotely sane and you are doing a good job, he can’t complain about you asking for more responsibility. He can get frustrated with demands for position or money even if you are doing a stellar job. You can safely seek responsibility. Trust me, if you are successful, the money and position always follow, eventually.

5.Wait until you are invited to move up
Here is the final piece of advice. Don’t push the promotion. The worst possible career move is to ask to move up when you aren’t ready. When you’ve been doing the job for 2 or 3 years, start looking into what you want to do next. Assuming you’ve reached Journeyman level and become a reliable star for your manager, you can enlist your boss as an ally to get you ready. This is to get you ready, not make it happen. Most likely between year 3 and 6 one of three things will happen.

      Your boss will move up and pull you up with him. (Remember, he gets credit for your success too,,, if he’s got enough star players, his chance of moving up is substantially increased).
      Your boss or his boss will find an opportunity that fits your next step.
      An opportunity will move up will pop out somewhere laterally within the company.

Have you ever had a time when you wished you had been more patient before pushing for promotion or a new job?
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No Post this week. October 17, 2012

Posted by thefieldgeneral in Uncategorized.
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Due to business concerns, I won’t be able to post till this weekend. Stay tuned.

The simplest way to make your business succeed or fail. October 10, 2012

Posted by thefieldgeneral in Leadership, Project Management.
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I recently had an awful customer service experience with Laureate Medical Group, an Atlanta health care provider. This reminded me how critical Customer Service is. The only more critical issue is the product itself. The thing is, improving the product is hard and complex. Providing good customer service may not be easy, but it is relatively simple.

Most people think of customer service and certain negative thoughts pop into their heads. Phone Trees, Call Centers, and being on hold are all popular images.”Musac”, the poor imitation music that plays endlessly while you are on hold, sort captures the image as well. I used to call into one offshore call center that played a stylized version of the theme song from the good, the bad, and the ugly while you were on hold. I always wondered if the managers of that call center were just clueless, or if they were trying to tell me something.

Customer Service does not have to be depressing, however. In fact, most of us serve customers, internally or externally, every day. Customer Service is ultimately providing a service or support to an individual or company. Doing this well requires a focus on the customer’s needs and a thorough understanding of the product or service you are supporting. Everyone has customers. They may be people who are paying for your service. They may be your manager or another department. Serving those customers well is critical to business success.

Why is it important that we provide excellent customer service?It is the simplest long term way for customers to gauge their importance to your company, to build good will with those customers, and to sell them more product.

A customer that feels valued is likely to stay with you. A customer that feels unvalued is likely to leave. Customers tend to have significantly more exposure to non-sales components of your company than to sales. No matter how your sales people try to make them feel important, the day to day actions of your non sales staff say more. Don’t forget, even internal customers can be lost. It’s a sad day for a company when one department outsources the activities of another department because of ongoing quality issues.

Solving problems for a customer tends to build up good will. Many customers will even accept an inferior product if the service makes them feel important. Please don’t misunderstand me,it is not enough to feed the clients ego. Many companies teach their people to listen and nod and do nothing. This may work with some customers, but the savvy folk will recognize that you are not helping them. Nothing says you don’t matter like ignoring a customers need.

Seth Godin talks a lot about permission marketing. That concept is a little more complex than I can go into here, but the key to the concept is that your best salesmen and your best prospects, are your happy satisfied customers. Finding a customer is hard and expensive. Selling something new and useful to a satisfied customer tends to be easy. You have their attention and their trust. Apple is a great example here. I like their products, but their customer service has blown me away. After a couple of interactions, I am a fan

Word of mouth is another critical sales value that a satisfied customer will provide. Anyone who does high end sales or sales of non-tangibles like insurance or investments will tell you that a personal reference increases their likelihood of making a sale tremendously. Thus satisfied customers not only buy more for themselves, they recommend you to others.

The reverse is also true and even more powerful. Negative customer experiences are amplified through the megaphones of Twitter and Facebook. Frustrated consumers are no longer limited to telling only their friends and acquaintances. They can now scream it across the World Wide Web. Most major companies have taken to monitoring these mediums to help limit the damage dissatisfied customers can do.

Finally, the processes and policies of your company are designed to make customer interaction consistent and high quality. Think for yourself and do the right thing. Don’t be a robot and allow a broken process to drive away a customer.

I firmly believe that every employee is responsible for customer service. It’s our job to put the “Wow” into the customer experience as Michael Hyatt says. We need to make our customers feel valued, solve their problems, and act to make things work for the customer when processes are broken and not serving the need. If we do these things, we’ll see higher customer satisfaction and our customers will buy more product and tell their friends to buy from us as well.

Have you ever had a customer service experience that left you saying “that’s a great company, I’ll buy from them again”?

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