Does Anybody Listen to You? 4 Steps to Becoming an Influencer

image

The things we do at work matter, but our achievements alone don’t necessarily add up to a successful career. For people who have reached a certain level of success through sheer hard work (as many high-achievers do early on in their careers), this can be a hard lesson to learn.

After all, if you’re putting in long hours and knocking critical tasks off of your to-do list every single day, shouldn’t you be the most successful person on your team? Unfortunately, many people reach a plateau in their careers because their hard work doesn’t carry them forward the way it used to. So what’s missing?

Continue Reading

My Microsoft Experience: from Promising Start to Personal Hell

In this two-part guest series, Ellen Chisa shares her experience at Microsoft and how its review system affected her psyche and productivity.

This first part gives an overview of Ellen’s time at Microsoft, providing  insight into the company’s environment as well as the successes and failures of everyday management. The second part discusses stack rank specifically.

image

Recently Microsoft decided to get rid of the stack rank system they used for reviews.

Stack ranking is a performance review system that ranks employees against each other. Also referred to as “rank and yank”, stack rank creates a zero-sum management system in which one person’s positive ranking means another person’s loss. Critics point out that a process that creates inevitable losers and requires managers to fight on behalf of reports is unfair and disconnected from performance quality.

I’m really happy with this decision: the stack rank negatively affected me, and many people I know. I saw multiple people have the same experience:

1.  Promising start (say, 1-3 years)
2.  Something goes wrong (a project, big manager conflict, etc.)
3.  The issue isn’t addressed when it happens and festers until review.
4.  Bad review, general angst, uncertainty
5.  Talented person quits and moves on to a great career elsewhere.

One obvious takeaway is that Microsoft was probably hemorrhaging a lot of talent. The more insidious one is the toll on its employees’ self-perception and effectiveness.

I wanted to write about how that feels. Here I outline what happened in my first eighteen months at Microsoft, which were interesting and challenging — to how things started to go wrong.

Continue Reading

The Only Sustainable Competitive Advantage: one vital lesson for success from 99u’s Pop-Up School

imageIt’s hard not to feel like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland these days, perpetually anxious and reaching into your pocket to look at your gadget and fretting, I’m late, I’m missing out, I need to catch up.

This anxiety only intensifies when you’re trying to get a project, your business, or even yourself off the ground. It’s tempting to always look outwards as you try to launch, because that seems like a smart, finger-on-the-pulse competitive approach. “Am I getting further than them? Am I catching up to them?” you wonder while looking into your telescope.

But all this fretting and fussing can be as much of a distraction as the always-receiving-information, always-working, and always-have-to-be-doing-something-itis that’s afflicting our culture. And when you pay too dearly for these distractions with your time and energy, you never get to really soar.

Then how do you take flight? These days, “self-awareness is the only sustainable competitive advantage.”

Continue Reading

Attain a Flexible Mind: The Best of the Internet

Kepp Your Head UpYo ho ho and onto the best of what we shared on the interwebs this week!

GitHub + iDoneThis: Bring in your commits!

We also teamed up with Draft to make it super simple to track your writing progress and share it with your team.

Why does Jeff Bezos give a hiring anti-pitch?

Self-promotion is part of your job.

You have to stretch, little by little, to attain a flexible mind.

imageLike our blog? Sign up for the iDoneThis newsletter to start receiving thoughtful articles on how to work better, useful tips, & exclusive content.

Loneliness at Work: The Best of the Internet

you'll never knowWeekend edition of link love! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week! 

Sending this one email to your boss can change your career.

Loneliness at work is everyone’s problem.

Vanquish procrastination. Seriously.

Face your weakness. Boost your confidence.

The API of You.

imageDundee’s Tip of the Week: We’re working on the start of an iDoneThis newsletter. Interested in being that super special person who will give us helpful feedback and suggestions? Sign up for some test runs until we learn how to fly here.

Send One Simple Email to Make Your Job Better

For better or for worse, bosses don’t spend much time thinking about your needs and worrying about to helping you with your career advancement. Bosses, like most people at work, are busy people with their own jobs, their own lives, and their own concerns.

That’s obvious. But the upshot is a harsh reality: your boss most likely has very little sense of what you’re accomplishing or even what you’re doing with your time. If you aren’t proactive about reporting your accomplishments, you’ll never get recognized for your good work.

image

The Power of One Simple Email

For many people, the thought of being more proactive about sharing accomplishments at work can be daunting and a real turnoff. Eric Barker at his blog, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, provides an elegant solution to this problem that takes minimal effort and doesn’t require you to turn into a loudmouth braggart.

Every week, Eric writes, send one simple email to your boss that’ll make your life better.

Continue Reading

Jessica Stillman, Writer and Non-Pod Person, on Work

Jessica Stillman is a columnist at Inc.com who writes about work, unconventional careers, productivity, leadership, and entrepreneurship. She also writes for Brazen Careerist and Women 2.0, among other fine publications. 

Her Twitter bio urges, “Have a career. Don’t turn into a pod person.” We talked with Jessica about how she managed to do just that, the benefits of quitting, productivity personalities, and the future of work.

Continue Reading

The Entrepreneur’s Journey: Slowing Down and Why Grandma’s Always Right.

Are entrepreneurs always dissatisfied?

It’s hard to stop and bask in your own achievements. It’s why we strive to build a tool that shows you how far you’ve come to motivate and inspire. Daniel DiPiazza, who works with plenty of young go-getters brimming with restless, entrepreneurial spirit, reminds us about the importance of learning to relax and appreciate your own hard work.

Grandmas have an uncanny way of presenting elegant solutions to life’s most vexing conundrums — wisdom without tripping the alarm system. Every day, mine would take me on a short walk from our suburban duplex to the small office where she practiced law at her own firm. I always thought the walks were social outings, but looking back, I know now they were opportunities for her to teach me her life philosophies.

At seven, I just wasn’t ready for the sophisticated dose of grandmotherly psychological judo I received, but her words stayed with me.

“Do not be beholden.”

We talked a lot about entrepreneurship, self-direction, motivation, and self-image on our walks. These may seem like heavy topics for a first-grader, but I am certain I would not be the person I am today had we not had these talks. One thing she said to me still rings crystal clear:

“There is no greater pleasure than working for yourself. You do not want to be beholden to anyone else. Chart your own path.”

image
Photo: Cornelia Kopp

As I got older and started working, something didn’t feel right. I never really felt like I fit in anywhere that I worked. At first I thought it was the job. Or the boss. Or the co-workers. Or the uniform. Until I ran out of “or’s”.

That’s when I realized — it was me.

Continue Reading

Making Your To-Do List Work

The Wall Street Journal‘s At Work blog put together a great collection of 10 career and work resolutions for the new year. We can definitely get on board with: Redo Your To-Do List.

Heidi Grant Halvorson explains a particular strategy called if-then planning:

The trick is to not only decide what you need to do, but to also decide when andwhere you will do it, in advance.  The general format of an if-then plan looks like this:

If (or When) ___________ occurs, then I will ________________.

For example:

When it’s 3 p.m. today, then I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and work on that project.

If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, then I’ll go to the gym before work.

If it’s Tuesday morning, then I will check in with all my direct reports.

This technique is also called implementation intention, a planning strategy that helps automate a desired action with cues and context.

Read the science behind making to-do lists for more details and strategies like implementation intention to help you become a to-do list master!

Toot Your Own Horn or Get Left Behind

Women face tough challenges in accessing leadership opportunities. Just look at the numbers. While women make up 51.4% of middle managers, they account for a mere 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs.

image

During law school, I participated in a clinical program where students work in the field while receiving practical training and guidance. While discussing a self-evaluation written after a client interview exercise, I noted that I’d been pretty hard on myself, commenting lightly, “Well, who thinks they do everything great?”

“Plenty of people do,” my supervising professor replied. “And they’ll say so, even when they’re not.”

While the extremes of egotism can be awfully distasteful, there is something to tooting your own horn. Among the complex reasons for the promotion paradox that women face, including harmful gender stereotypes and perceptions, is a lack of confidence in communicating achievements, in saying so even when they actually are awesome at what they do.

Continue Reading