Three Dangerous Employee Mindsets I have Conquered (mostly)

May 16, 2012

My company announced today that several hundred positions will be cut tomorrow. I work for a great company and completely understand the business needs, especially in this economy. Of course this sort of situation creates a bit of anxiety – I can’t help wondering if I will be one of those “let go.”

Given that nerve-wrecking space, Kevin Jones’ latest post, 10 Dangerous Employee Mindsets, came at just the right time.  It served as a reminder and acknowledgement that I have developed a strong, healthy, independent mindset in my career development – and that this mindset will continue serving me well, regardless of layoffs or no layoffs.

Here are three of ‘vin Jones’ 10 dangerous mindsets and his counter to them, plus my own 2 cents. Be sure to read his post. It’s good stuff.

Dangerous mindset # 5: Your Career Advancement Ends When You Leave the Office.

Jones says:  If you love what you do your work will be a part of your life, not just a workday activity.You will read books and posts about it at other times… Then you will realize the career advancement is not just confined to your current position.

I say:  Despite busy projects with stupid crazy time lines, I ensure I give myself time to roam the web for creative inspiration and new ideas,  or to learn new development tools. I do this on my own free time, too. Because it is my passion, somehow it helps me to not be threatened by loss of job. I don’ t depend on it to validate my passion.

6. The path to success is clear: work your way into management.

Jones says: Management isn’t the only path to success.  In fact, sometimes, it is a step backwards.  

I say: Amen, Brother! I once moved into a full-time project management job because I was told I was good at politics, organizing, and process. Truth was, I was good at those, but mostly because I loved design and development, and so ensured I was following good practices. But I figured project management was a great step into higher-level management. I never wondered whether I’d enjoy management. I just knew, or thought, it was the thing to do. I pushed design and development aside, and was miserable. Now I am back in design and dev, turning out creative, effective work that stakeholders and learners give strong kudos for. I am happy. 

Mindset #7. Don’t rock the boat.  Keep’er steady.

Jones says: If you don’t rock the boat, someone else will rock your boat and throw you off.  Time to start rock’n.  Be bold (but not toxic).

 I say: I totally embrace this. Many are the  days when I assert some difference of opinion, call a spade a spade, question stupid processes, or point out waste that impedes creativity or quality.  Perhaps sometimes I come across as argumentative or difficult. I’m also pretty sure that people don’t have to second-guess my sincerity. Generally, my experience is that people at all levels appreciate courage and respectful forthrightness. I try hard not to be toxic or offensive, and am also plenty generous with sincere expression of support and enthusiasm. But it’s also important to take risks and speak my truth. Life’s too short to short to be a politically correct “Yes” man.

Those are just three out of 10 great points made in the post. Be sure to check it out. And don’t let fear hold you back. Be bold, be true, be passionate.


Work-Life Balance in a 2.0 world, part 2

August 4, 2011

Finally! Some of my favorite bloggers have recently described a bit of social-media overload.  Seems that brouhaha over the new Google+ platform may be triggering a tipping point in the form of “enough already!”

Another day, another social media platform, more fabulous stuff – better, faster, cooler, more now. Whatever.

George Siemens recently posted on “Losing Interest in Social Media…”  Speaking critically about social media’s societal impact and value, he wrote:

We are left then, with a small group elitist new media users, trying to build consultancy around the tools, and telling others how wonderful they are. What has social media actually done? Very, very little. The reason? Social media is about flow, not substance.

That social media is about flow, not substance, speaks to my personal concerns about social-media overload and its impact on my own work-life balance.

Awhile back,  I posted on my personal need to find “real life/virtual life” balance.   At that time, I started sensing that virtual life was negatively impacting real life, particularly around non-work stuff like spending time with family and friends, exercising and getting outdoors for hikes, etc, and just “being.”

So, to combat that, I decided to limit my time online. As Cammy Bean suggests in a recent post, I needed to Take a TechFast. I try to do a one-day mini-fast from technology every week. No PC, netbook, tablet, etc. And use my smart phone ONLY for phone calls with real, live voices. I fill the time with reading non-tech books, hang out with friends, talk to distant family, or meditate, cook, take a walk, or fuss over getting the tamping right on my new Italian espresso machine.

My next step is to work on limiting the amount of time I spend online on a daily basis. Easy to get hyper-absorbed once I log on. Time slips away, and I’m at the end of a day with fatigued eyes and a sense of bewilderment about how time flies.  Any suggestions on combating that?

Fallen from the Grace of Learning, Part 1

March 14, 2011

I don’t mean to mock or disrespect my religious brothers and sisters out there. But if there is a God of Career Bliss out there, then surely I have fallen from grace. Or at least veered down the wrong path. Let me explain.

A few years ago I was super-passionate about the field of adult learning and instructional design. As an instructional designer and learning consultant, I had a keen interest in exploring ways to leverage emerging technologies and social networking to enhance how we learn. I loved designing courses of all sorts. I loved consulting with clients to help prescribe the right blend of learning solutions for their situation. I loved tinkering with tools and techniques, from complex software and working with full scale development teams, to rapid e-learning and do-it-yourself solutions. Of course I sometimes cursed deadlines, writer’s blocks, and crashing software, but I was engaged.

And then I drifted. I moved away from my design and consulting roles and moved into project management. At the time I figured project management was a solid field and a good set of skills to learn. I also thought it might be a good segue into more responsibility and more pay.  And given that the economy was tanking (mid 2008), project management might lead to more options.

Most of this is true. I have certainly gained valuable experience. But there is a flip side.

I joined the PM team at a highly creative e-learning shop. It wasn’t bad at all. Though I wasn’t designing, I was able to leverage my background and still had a part in the creative solution. Then, a year later, I felt I wanted more internal training experience within a large Fortune 500 type company. I was in for a rude awakening.

My current company is a great company, and there are a lot of great people there. But as a PM, that is all I do. In this organization, roles are very segmented and specific. The PM role is very much focused on processes, risks, schedules, and the like. Though I am in a training department, my adult learning and instructional expertise rarely comes into play. In fact, PMs are really expected to be content neutral.

That’s all fine, but it’s not me.  As a role on its own, project management is not where my heart is. I miss the creative and intellectual stimulation of design and consulting.

OK, enough of that. Self-pity is a slippery slope, and boring, too. The moral of the story is this:  Do what you’re passionate about.

Whatever career topics you joyfully read about on your own time or will do for free, do that for pay. Don’t follow some path just because it might lead to more pay or more security. Both are over rated, and probably illusory.

"wrong way" road sign

Have tips or advice for a wayward ID? Wanna share your own story, organizational wisdom, or words of encouragement? I would love to hear from you!

Turns out that was true, and I’ve learned a lot. , and a great way to move into higher levels of management.