Do you have the right skills once you’ve been promoted?

I had a bit of a revelation this week…

Much to my dismay I didn’t get a job that I really wanted but in my heart of hearts I knew I wouldn’t get it, even though they said they liked me, for 2 reasons:

  1. They kept me hanging on for over 2 weeks to make their decision
  2. I admitted in the interview that doing a hard sell wasn’t my thing.  I don’t mind approaching individuals if we had something tangible to talk to them about but I don’t feel comfortable walking the corridors drumming up new business and “cold calling”

Bear in mind that this was for a client services role and not a sales/ new business role.  And I’ve done well in my career, developing my teams and increasing revenue through existing projects; hence why I have been promoted.  But the hiccup seems to appear at the Group Account Director level when you are expected to sell your services to new divisions of your client’s business.

So therein lies the rub…you are promoted to a new level because of your historic successes but there is not the support or training in your new role to ensure your future success.  For me personally this would be around sales techniques but for others it could be for e.g. around team management, technology, financial forecasting or business strategy.

Admittedly in my previous role I probably should have asked for training but to be honest it never occurred to me (call me daft).  It was only once I had my most recent interview feedback and also had a coffee with Jo Wright @ Phoenix Training & Coaching who gave me some invaluable insight into approaching businesses, that it dawned on me.

But why do companies fail to give you the support?  Do they presume you will naturally be good or at least learn as you go along or do they simply not recognise that an individual could do with support to succeed whatever their level within a company?  I acknowledge they have finite training resources but from my experience this is usually spent on more junior members of the team and not mid-senior management who are the driving force of the business.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not bitter about losing out on the job but it’s made me realize that I need to:

1) Reframe my thinking from “sales” to “nuturing relationships” and “solving problems”. I’m know I’m good at the last 2 but at the word sales; I freeze

2) Swot up on good new business techniques to futureproof myself

3) Darn well ask if I need additional training and support in a role

I’d love to hear of your experiences and what you think…..

 

My mantra …the 2 Ps

I’ve had an amazing summer with my daughter – the 1st one ever that I haven’t been working.  But now as she settles into her new school and autumn is most definitely upon us I turn my thoughts to work…

It hasn’t exactly been the most productive year for me so over the next few months I’m muttering my daily mantra “PERSEVERANCE & POSITIVITY” as I knuckle down and reconnect with old work colleagues, attend networking events and apply for roles which have my name written all over it – (apparently not judging by the number of rejections I have had this year).  But as the-font-of-all-knowledge (i.e. my hubby) puts it; it’s a numbers game.  When he said this to me the other day it was like a slap round the face as I was licking my wounds about a rejection.  It pulled me up short but he’s true.  There’s work out there just for me but I’ve got to hunt (stalk?!) it down.

However I take heart form the article I read this morning on The Pool about a 48 year old mother being given an internship at The Spectator.  How awesome is that?  What’s even better they did not request a CV, name, age or qualifications but they recruited purely on a set of tasks the applicant had to execute.

So where does that leave me as I turn 48 this week too?  A friend of mine who used to be in recruitment suggested that I should dumb down my CV if I want to go for less senior, more hands-on roles but I’m not sure how I’m meant to pare back over 25 years experience. Or if I really want to…I don’t mind taking a step back but it’s finding the companies who are forward thinking about recruiting the right person with the best cultural fit irrespective of age, sex and background.

It’s going to be a tough gig but I’ll get there by by-passing the traditional recruitment agency route and and approaching growing brands and agencies where I see myself fitting in and who, in return, will hopefully see the benefit of my experience.

Wish me luck!

Perseverance, positivity, perseverance, positivity, perseverance, positivity, mutter, mutter mutter….

P.S If a recruiter thinks they can help me then I’m all ears

 

What do you do when you’re having a “I can’t focus” sort of a day?

We’ve all been there haven’t we?  You go to work one day and the focus isn’t there and no matter what, you can’t seem to get it back again.  And we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it…surely we can’t work at 100% capacity the whole time? For me it’s usually for the same old reasons:

  • Too much whizzing round my head
  • I have too much to do and I don’t know where to start
  • Not enough time pressure to get a job done
  • I’ve had a really busy few days, riding on adrenaline and afterwards I hit a downer
  • Hungover
  • Tired
  • Or to be honest…I just can’t be bummed

However, even on a good day our attention span is pretty poor.  A 2015 study by Microsoft Canada found that our average attention span – “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted” ­– was 12 seconds in 2008. Five years later it was only eight seconds – one second less than a goldfish’s and according to Caroline Beaton’s article in Forbes as we have evolved as humans it has been instinctively hard to recognize and prioritize. Our attention problem is due to both lack of focus and focus on the wrong things.

I am fortunate as I work from home but I find it even more distracting at times than working in an office environment. However I have mastered some techniques to help me tune in. These are my tips and I do hope some of them work for you.

  1. Exercise is always key for me – whether a good workout at the gym, a walk with the dog or even pavement pounding the streets of London. It gives me some headspace and allows me to ruminate and help rationalise thoughts. Interestingly some research by the University of Michigan showed that walking in “nature” helped refocus and for me they have a point.
  2. I put the big stuff to one side and work through a list of quick wins which don’t necessarily need the brain power but at least I’m achieving something e.g. filing, invoicing, expenses etc.  This then often leads me on to the bigger stuff.
  3. Eat healthily and drink plenty of water – if I do this I feel so much more alert and my concentration increases.  Eating sugary or carb-laden food makes me sluggish and I lose the will to do anything.
  4. I listen to a focus playlist on Spotify.  This really works for me and resets my mind and concentration.  I don’t have to listen to it for that long but gets me into the right frame of mind. Apparently ambient noise is the creative sweetspot according to Helpscout.net. Although weirdly I can’t bear having music on in the background when I’m trying to read a book.
  5. And as per Life Hacks tips I try and avoid looking at my emails the whole time and the same goes for social media too.  This is sooo difficult as they both have become entrenched into our very being.  I now limit myself to Facebook to once a day and save browsing through LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for 1st thing in the morning and in the evening.  (I could be telling myself a little white lie here…but honestly I’m trying!).
  6. Do something I love e.g. researching for my next blog posts for relevant articles and photography, think about new business opportunities.
  7. Work in a different area rather than my desk or even work remotely

So what do you do?

With age comes acceptance, knowledge and a certain mellowness

…..so don’t leave me sitting on the sidelines!

I had my 30 year school reunion last week. My arm was twisted by a friend – the only one I regularly keep in touch with and, as she was coming down from Cumbria and she needed a bed for the night, I couldn’t really refuse. However it was with trepidation that I entered the wine bar partly because the last one I went to well over 10 years ago was so hideous.

And you know what it was actually quite a pleasant experience. I’m sure fueled by too much rose, adrenaline and nerves. I looked around the room and everyone looked the same although weirdly a lot taller than I remembered (I was always a titch). As I stood back and observed, people mingled and then resumed the cliques we had had back at school. We were and are a right mixture of personalities and professions (& I include full time mums in this) but those 7 formative years of boarding school have given us an underlying lifetime bond. If I think back to the previous one we were all in our early 30s paving out careers, families and a place in society and had something to prove which made the event, for me, wholly uncomfortable. This time round there was a much greater acceptance of who we are giving a far more relaxed a day enjoyable evening.

I think the same thing applies to our careers…

In our 20s and 30s we want to get noticed and we strive and stick our elbows out to get there. We may not have all the experience but we strut and talk the talk to get what we want perhaps to the detriment of others and putting those solid work foundations in place. Fast forward to women and men in their late 40s who have had the ups and downs of a career but can offer knowledge, transferable skills, insight and maturity in making business decisions.  We might not be the trendy bright things of today (although we were!) but we shouldn’t be overlooked at work. We are the voice of reason.  We still want to learn and progress and be excited in the jobs that we do, it’s just that we may not look particularly hip and trendy.  The young can learn from our experiences whilst we can learn from theirs and discover their world of what’s hot and what’s not, emerging trends and technologies whilst we can help shape a great future for them and the businesses we work for.

Go on, give us 40 somethings a go.

The value of networking

I’ve had lots going on recently; holiday, a new puppy, some consultancy work and I ran my second networking event. So unfortunately my blog has taken rather a back seat of late. On the plus side it means I’m busy and stimulated which make me happy.

So back to my topic this week networking.  Firstly, not just the formal activity of networking but those general inroductions you make through everyday life and through work.  For example, over the past 6 weeks I have been immersed into the world of DHL and last week I had the opportunity to help run a workshop for the Life Sciences & Healthcare sector.  Working with the global head of this sector and key members of the marketing team was inspiring.  Their passion and knowledge couldn’t help but rub off on the rest of us who were there from Blackdog and I am sure the work we will do for them will reflect that.  But it’s also those casual conversations and off-the-cuff remarks which really help the partnerships too.  Our conversations spanned from work to football to sneaking extra children and dogs into hotel rooms, custard, living abroad, taking home comforts back to the US i.e. Cadbury’s chocolate and even Little Britain! Finding those common links which helps you understand that individual on a more personal level will also strengthen the business relationship.

Back to the “physical” networking events. There are so many out there; those that are for women only such as Athena, referral events; BNI to name a couple but I wanted to start one which is more about supporting individuals and local businesses. “Networking @ No. 18”.  Two in and I’ve found it fascinating. Listening to other people’s ideas and realising that your experience and skill set doesn’t always have to be the right answer or the way forward. People’s minds work in different ways and it’s that different perspective that I am relishing.  I hope that it will make me think broader and deeper when I do my work and take the time to look at it from all different angles – not with a straight communications head on. At the end of the day, for me, it’s not just about trying to win new business but supporting individuals and other businesses to grow and flourish.