Everyone has a fear: heights, spiders, the ground opening up and swallowing you whole. (OK, maybe that’s just me.)
But fears at work can be particularly debilitating. What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough? What if the ground opens up and swallows my cubicle whole?
Letting fear get the best of you at your job can keep you from getting the recognition that you deserve—whether it hinders you from nabbing a promotion or stops you from applying for more challenging positions.
So what’s a timid (yet ambitious) person to do? We talked to successful CEOs, entrepreneurs and other go-getter titans at the top to hear about the take charge moves that got them ahead in their careers.
Unemployment has certainly been on the minds of professionals in the workplace — experts analyzing the numbers, and politicians trying to reverse them in recent years — but in addition to the number of employees out of work, there has been a change in the way that companies approach promotions.
For executives, there has been a chokepoint near the top, said Dana Manciagli, a former worldwide sales general manager and marketing executive at Microsoft and Kodak, respectively.
Don Causey was planning his retirement, selling off his profitable sporting newsletters, when his life took a horrific turn.
While on a safari on a long-anticipated trip to Africa, a tree tumbled onto him and broke his back. The process of getting medical transport to take him from a remote village back to Miami was arduous and costly.
Today Causey’s back is healed and, at 70, he finds himself in a post-retirement career – consulting for a company that sells travel memberships which include medical evacuation benefits.
It’s a profitable part-time gig that Causey believes is an important service to travellers. Plus, he said, “it keeps my mind alive and keeps me connected with a community I care about – just in a different way”.
Why is everybody so concerned about work-life balance? According to one urban legend, based on 1950s pop psychology, workaholics are greedy and selfish people who are bound to die from a heart attack. Not really. As the great David Ogilvy once said: “Men die of boredom, psychological conflict, and disease. They do not die of hard work.” This is especially true if your work is meaningful.
Most of the studies on the harmful effects of excessive work rely on subjective evaluations of work “overload.” They fail to disentangle respondents’ beliefs and emotions about work. If something bores you, it will surely seem tedious. When you hate your job, you will register any amount of work as excessive — it’s like forcing someone to eat a big plate of food they dislike, then asking if they had enough of it. Overworking is really only possible if you are not having fun at work. By the same token, any amount of work will be dull if you are not engaged, or if you find your work unfulfilling.
Maybe it’s time to redefine the work-life balance — or at least stop thinking about it. Here are some considerations:
NEW students are being warned a moment of alcohol-fuelled madness could ruin the chances of a dream career before their degree has even begun.
With tens of thousands set to converge on Queensland’s universities for Orientation Week, or O-Week, from today recruiters are cautioning one drunken snap or inappropriate comment posted online could spell disaster when it comes to entering the workforce.
Denise Love, general manager at Russo Recruitment, said employers were “trolling the social media space” to check out potential employees.
“What you do today is really the platform of where your career will go,” she said.
If you Google ‘change management consultants Australia’, you will likely have seven million plus results returned – almost 4 million of those in Melbourne alone. While this isn’t a very precise search, neither is a search for the right change management resource. If you looked, you’d then be overwhelmed with methodologies, resources and research telling you how to do it. But all you wanted to do was effectively manage some change, right?
Change isn’t something that happens once in a while, changes are constantly occurring throughout a business. It is not going to be effective for every measure of change, big or small, to call in the experts; however, when a substantial change is taking or has taken place your best option is often to get an outside opinion from someone who has done it before. The list of possible changes is exhausting, although some are more customary than others, such as, delivering a project, gap management, acquisition integration, or succession planning.
These change agents, Interim Managers, have hands on expertise. Change management is something that interim managers excel at. Rarely is it best managed by existing managers, as they struggle to keep up to date with current responsibilities as well as the new challenge. An interim change management project, managed by an experienced Interim Manager provides an opportunity to bring into the organization skills specific to the change management program, as well as the experience of managing similar change - usually in several organizations. Interim change management presents a different option - people who have done it and who still know how to do it.
At some point in time a gap will appear in your organization, you can be as sure of that as you can be about the sun rising at dawn. Employees will take sick leave, extended maternity leave, long service leave, and so forth, and someone must handle the increased workload. When this happens, the now undermanned business section doesn’t just shut down and stop functioning, in actual fact it must work harder. The problem with this is that it can often create employee stress, which is a health and safety risk, and just as importantly it blurs the focus of the “covering managers” who, in not wanting to let a colleague down, are often more likely to neglect their own core duties, believing that they have them covered and can easily catch up. Where this gap has appeared, is the perfect situation to hire an Interim Manager.
Interim managers are an effective strategy for gap management. Although it may appear like a simple duty to fill a gap, effective gap management can be more arduous than anticipated. The needs for the business must be met along with finding a suitable candidate to fit in with existing employees. A focus on the skill, experience and competency gaps that commonly arise should be a major priority. These are often gaps that need to be filled only temporarily because the assignment is a temporary replacement or after a change, whilst the rest of the company learns and then shrinks the gap so that the interim contractor is no longer necessary.
One of my clients, on receiving a resignation from a Sales Director, decided that they need a strategic restructure and refocusing of the sales team, but then needed a coaching leader long term. These were two different skill sets. They employed a sales strategist to address the restructure and set the plan and then recruited a permanent sales director at a lower salary to manage and coach the team. Results not only turned around quickly, but they were sustained by the “coaching” manager. Retaining the strategic manager longer term would have resulted in restlessness and the strategy not sticking, while hiring the coach up front, would have made strategic change a laborious process.
This approach is slowly developing in Australian businesses today but has taken off in the UK and USA, initially as a response to economic circumstances. Ironically, USA growth comes in the face of some structural obstacles around health insurance and taxation, which don’t exist in Australia. Of course, ‘time is money’ and Interim Managers can often be sourced and placed within a week as opposed to the weeks, possibly months it would take to find a permanent replacement or alternatively delegate the extra tasks internally. The most common gap management projects include sales force restructure, performance management introduction, CRM or other software project implementation, advertising agency review - and many more.
Closing the gap is not only a smart business decision it is absolutely imperative in order to maintain progress. While using in house employees is one option, an interim employee will be a more common feature in agile businesses in the future. It will prove to be far too expensive to reflect and wish you had made the ‘other’, more agile choice.
Interim management represents a ‘fast start’ opportunity for companies to execute change, new strategies, new initiatives or a host of other business execution challenges - without adding to permanent executive employee numbers. Although their position within your company is short term, an interim manager can make a positive long term impact upon your business.
It is not a stretch to say that a lot of businesses today are under duress and being forced to re-evaluate their normal business processes. This is a perfect opportunity for the Interim Manager. Most businesses have new mission critical projects that need doing, but having the existing executive team labour over them while fulfilling their other responsibilities is a recipe for failure. Interim assignments usually range from three to nine months, while some are made longer upon agreement. Interim Managers are uniquely focused on a project deliverable rather than future employment. Their role is specific and temporary and a successful outcome fuels their reputation for new assignments.
There are two key points when considering when to use an interim:
Firstly, interim management will work in any industry function as long as it matches two simple criteria
- The role is at middle-to senior-management level
- There is a need for highly specialised knowledge or experience
Secondly, the quality of the interim manager is the major success factor. Interims are usually less expensive than consultants, with higher average rates than employees – but they are focused on your specific goals. An interim manager may be exactly what your business needs in uncertain times. There are various factors that need to be considered, however, to ensure that they will produce the results you need.
- Make sure needs are well understood – preparing a project scope, defining milestones and quality measures, and deciding on the timescales are imperative
- Recognise that hiring an interim brings you the skills, specialist knowledge, and flexibility you or your business may be currently lacking
- IMs are an asset and it is a client to client relationship – form a relationship that lasts, as you may need them again
- Be clear about project team structure. Decide who the interim manager will report to, what resources they will have available and be sure you know how they will be managed
- Set high expectations - of both your recruiter and the interim manager
Hiring an interim manager is vastly different from a normal hiring situation. Interim managers are generally sourced within days as opposed to the weeks or months needed for a permanent position. Recruiters who understand this function have databases and contact networks that allow these resources to be found quickly and the engagement of interims carries inherently less risk than hiring permanent employees. Leading providers will ensure that genuine independent contracts and comprehensive insurance coverage supports all interims.
The assignments are typically less than a year with an understanding employment will be terminated upon completion. Contracts are usually for an initial period, can be renewed and the engaging company has the ability to terminate without cause at any point in the relationship.