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Water Cooler

Information and insight about your career and the workplace at large
April 2005

News and Views

More than a dozen prominent leaders spoke at the Women's Center's 20th Annual Leadership Conference last month, and they had much wisdom to offer. Jean Otte, founder of Women Unlimited, cautioned women to guard against perfectionism by getting in on the action and making something happen, however "imperfect" it may seem. Lillian Vernon, catalog sales entrepreneur, said to remember that you are always "good enough." Cari Dominguez, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, shared her stories of working to break the glass ceiling that prevents women and minorities from advancing, and encouraged listeners to step forward and soar. And Cynthia Huheey, Executive Director of the Women's Center, urged attendees to reach out and find supportive women friends to overcome the doubts that can accompany them on the road to success.

Fast Companyhas assembled a list of the best jobs to pursue in the next five years. Drawing on the work of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and an innovation expert, the article identifies the 25 top jobs for 2005. The list is based on four criteria: high demand for the job, the job's salary range, the amount of education needed to perform the job, and how much room the job offered for innovation and creativity. Profiles of individuals who currently hold those jobs are included. Details

Hiring and keeping the best talent is tough even in a tight economy, and experts say the talent supply will get shorter as Baby Boomers begin to retire. Companies known for best practices in recruitment and retention use specific strategies to keep good people. You can use their wisdom to your advantage when you're looking for a new job. To determine how "enlightened" your potential employer is, find out if the company uses the following five best practices: (1) an emphasis on training; (2) an emphasis on benefits and on helping employees achieve career and personal financial goals; (3) a rigorous interviewing process, to make the best match for the employee and the employer; (4) good treatment of part-time employees and low turnover; and (5) a leadership pipeline for women. Source: Sales and Marketing Management Performance e-Newsletter, 3/22/05


ToolBox

Do you know the top 10 tips for making a sales pitch? (Don't fool yourself: everybody makes sales pitches, whether you're a meeting planner trying to convince your board that a certain destination is perfect for an event, or a manager trying to convince your boss that your department deserves special recognition from the top for its achievements.) Click here to find out.

Still available: a copy of my article, "Forgoing the formalities of mentoring," which appeared in the December 10, 2004, issue of Association Trends. This article can help you start an informal mentoring program at work, especially if you've been told there are no resources to start a formal mentoring program. Get the article by emailing me and requesting the PDF file.


NEW: WaterCooler Professional—The Miniseries

In 2005, "Making It Work for You" evolves to "WC Professional," a miniseries of action steps to being your own mentor. Follow this 12-month plan and by January of 2006, you'll have taken a big step towards being your own best advocate in the workplace.

April: Revisit your goals and find a way to multi-task with moxie.

Three months ago you set your annual goals. How are they coming along? If you're like many people, perhaps your goals have gotten lost in the hectic pace of the day-to-day to-do list. So this month, the beginning of the second quarter of the year, consider revisiting the goals you set and seeing if there's a way to align your goals and activities that maximizes achievement while minimizing effort.

Jeff Davidson set up a simple system for doing this in his innovative time management book, Breathing Space (New York: Mastermedia Ltd.). Here's how it works:

1. Determine your three top-priority goals (A, B, and C).

2. Don't make a list of action steps for each goal, because this could leave you with an overwhelming to-do list. Instead:

3. Pair up Goals A and B, Goals B and C, and Goals A and C.

4. Now think of one activity that could accomplish Goals A and B simultaneously. For example, suppose Goal A is to learn how to organize and implement a conference on e-learning this year, and Goal B is to promote your potential by connecting with people in management positions (including those more than one level "up" from you). One activity that accomplishes both goals is volunteering to work with the meetings director and her team on logistics for the next e-learning conference.

5. Use the same process for the other goals. Think of one activity that could accomplish Goals B and C simultaneously, and Goals A and C simultaneously.

6. Then put your plan into action.

Some people might call this multi-tasking. I call it multi-tasking with moxie!

WaterCooler (WC) Personal: The Flip Side—When One Activity Yields Three Benefits

Here's an example of how you can find a way to maximize the payoff from dovetailing your goals and the action steps needed to achieve them.

On March 12 I was honored to speak at the Women's Center's 20th Annual Women's Leadership Conference in Tysons Corner, VA. My topic, of course, was mentoring yourself in the workplace.

The session participants were enthusiastic, especially so when we were doing an activity that involved standing up and communicating about change. At that point the photographer walked in, amid all these vertical, engaged women—well, you can imagine his surprise at having to figure out how to get the photo he was hired to take! No traditional "grip and grin" shot, that's for sure.

Many of the participants shared excellent insights about one change they could make to achieve their goal of acting as their own best advocate in the workplace. One woman, for example, said she was going to express her interest in working on a certain project outside her department, and figure out, with her boss, how she could get included.

This one action step benefits her three ways:

1. she gets to showcase her talents in another arena and add new skills to her already strong credentials,

2. it gives her a natural way to "network across the white space" in her organizational chart, and

3. it serves as a subtle means of self-promotion, something which which women often struggle.

What one step can you take that could pay off multiple ways? Here's a list to get you started.


Coming Up

Mentor Me on TV!

National Active and Retired Federal Employees, April 26, 12:30 pm, Merrifield, VA. Taping for the Cox Cable Channel 10 TV show called NARFE PRESENTS, which features topics of interest to seniors, such as medical and legal advice, and human interest topics such as writing one's memoirs. Air date TBD.