Accelerate your Career – 4-Eye’d Employee (pt 2)

The following is based on a presentation made to the UBCO (University of British Columbia Okanagan) female business students affiliated with the Sauder School of Business on January 28, 2011. (Presenters: Meryle Corbett, CMA,FCMA CFO of Kelowna Flightcraft Group of Companies; and Paulette Rennie, President of ValleyFirst Credit Union)
What strategies will make YOU successful in business? A group of C-suite executives agreed that the key to a rising business career includes four main characteristics. They are described below in our series, “The 4-eyed employee” :
So what are we talking about? The first “eye” or “I” attribute is the underlying foundation for business success:

INTELLIGENCE

The second “eye” or “I” attribute is the underlying foundation for business success:

INTEGRITY

1) Your Reputation is Forever – you own it (no one else)!!
Your reputation is your own personal brand. How you develop and nurture it is totally up to you. Large corporations are increasingly protective of their brand an reputation – the latest trends in risk management are related to “reputation risk”.
I learned a great lesson early in my career when I had a choice to exercise a little-known clause in a contract that was to my company’s advantage and the supplier’s disadvantage. The spirit and intent of this contract did not intend to provide such a favorable advantage to my company, and would have been a significant “sore point” in the supplier’s view. My choice? Exercise the clause and make a few more dollars, or forego the clause to keep the longer term relationship.
Have your own moral dilemma? consider the impact of your options in the next 10 minutes, the next 10 months, and the next 10 years before you make your final decision (click here to see the book by Suzy Welch, 10-10-10)
2) Take the “high road” – it will pay off later!
There will be moments in your career when you are the object of gossip or nasty politics. Sometimes our first reaction is to “fight back” and knock down our opponent regardless of the impact on others.
a) What goes around comes around:
A former colleague of mine gained a reputation as a tough-minded negotiator who loved to find weakness and then exploit it to the maximum. Deals were a game, and he had no mercy dealing with staff, nearly always leaving them frustrated or in tears. After a few years, people hated to deal with him. Eventually he moved on to another company and I have heard that many former colleagues have declined to do future business with him.
Here is a great book about eradicating negative people in the workforce:
b) Integrity in your reputation compounds over time:
Over the years, I have worked hard to always “do the right thing”. A great career opportunity came my way a few years ago – I was in heavy competition with some amazing candidates. One factor that eventually tipped the balance in my favor was my integrity and reputation.
A great reputation will open more doors throughout your career.
3) Invest in business relationships-accelerate your career
The greatest business people I have worked with have one strategy in common: they constantly build, nurture and cultivate business relationships.
a) Learn to golf early in your career – make key relationships
The game of golf is a terrific way to get to know your colleagues and potential business partners. In the first few holes, you will learn more about your golf partners than through months in the office: does he cheat? does he have a temper? how does he handle adversity? is he self-centric or interested in others?
Golf course time is a great way to build trust amoung your team, and there will be some deals that are initiated, or even completed, on the golf course. Keep all your business opportunities and venues open!
b) Make introductions regularly – expand your network and build future business
A mentor suggested this to me a few years ago, and it has been a great way to build a whole new network of contacts and to increase my credibility with others. Whenever I meet someone new who might benefit from an introduction to a person already in my business contact list, I will provide an email introduction:
“Joe, I would like to introduce Suzie who is in the XYZ business and interested in your ABC business. Suzie, I have known Joe for X years and he offers unique _______ that might benefit you. Both of your contact information details are attached below, please consider this an email introduction. I hope you find this business contact fruitful. Best regards, -name”
I have had many colleagues call or email me back a “Thank you” for providing them a new relationship or business opportunity.
c) Nurture your contacts in tough recessionary times – businesses will stick with you.
The aircraft maintenance division of my company has worked hard over the years to develop a word-of-mouth reputation for quality “git-r-dun” results. No matter what barriers arise during a maintenance visit (faulty parts, missing engineering documents, hiccups in the installation), our team will work overtime and bend over backwards to meet a customer’s deadline. During the past 2 years, this has helped us survive the recession and keep our hangars open for business.
4) Never burn a bridge, reduce your risk of loss
Keeping a focus on win-win throughout all business ventures and relationships helps keep positive momentum in your career. I was recently involved in 4 job reference requests, 3 of which ended up negative as a result of burned bridges.  Click below to read the story:
5) MRI = Most Respectful Interpretation
Ever get involved in an email exchange that went sideways from miscommunication or misinterpretation?
Ever have a personality clash with a fellow employee, supplier or customer?
Ever battle with your significant other?
One principle that can save grief  is a mindet shift to consider the positive aspects in communication first, in the interests of keeping relationships working.  This is a great teambuilding tool; it can be used as part of setting team groundrules on a project to encourage favorable working conditions:
6) Build Trust – it will save you $$ and time!
One of my favorite books is (click here: The Speed of Trust).  When I feel like my credibility is waning during contentious situations, I often stop, pull out this book and consider ways to rebuild trust among my colleagues.  The key question that drives my actions:  “How would I want to be treated in this situation?”
Consider the impact 9-11 has had on travel.  New security measures cost millions of dollars to implement in airports worldwide;  time in security lineups and travel delays create more waste in a traveller’s life;  human frustration coupled with wasted time and resources has made a permanent impact on our society.
In business, my world of negotiating contracts works the same way:  we can finalize a deal in one day with parties that we trust.  We will take days or weeks to perform due diligence and conclude contracts with parties we do not trust.  The time wasted defending positions, doing research and “covering butt” in contract clauses (not to mention increased legal fees to develop contracts) can be significant.
Building trust can save frustration and money – don’t forget to nurture business relationships and keep trust alive.
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