Our Perceptions of Ourselves and Others and Their Impact

Our Perceptions

PerceptionsOur perceptions of who we are is our reality!

Our perceptions of others is our reality!

That is some pretty heady stuff.

What about others’ perceptions?

How others perceive you is their reality.

Do you know how others perceive you?

If you think you know how others perceive you, where do you derive that from? Did you ask them?

When our perception of ourselves is different from others’ perception of us, we run into problems at work. More than likely, it will cause us stress.

Roger Birkman and Perceptions

I just returned from attending the Birkman Next Generation Conference in Sugarland Texas. The conference was attended by hundreds of Birkman consultants who use the Birkman Assessment to help individuals and companies reach peak performance. This was the first conference not attended by Dr. Roger Birkman, who passed away at the age of 95 earlier this year.

Dr. Roger Birkman, a World War II pilot, was fascinated by the impact that perceptions had on pilot and crew performance. Dr. Birkman went on to study psychology at the war and later developed the Birkman Assessment.

The Birkman Method, as it is formally known, is a personality, social perception, and occupational interest assessment used to identify behavioral strengths, motivational needs, stress behavior, and occupational interests.

I have been using the Birkman Assessment for three years on hundreds of clients. I am still fascinated at what it reveals and how there can be major disconnects between our perceptions of ourselves with others perceive of us.

Examples

I am currently working with a gentleman who you could describe as an introvert. In the Birkman Method, he is referred to as low acceptance. He likes working by himself or with a small group of close colleagues. Many would assume he would want to work from home.

Does he want to work from home? NO! In fact, %^$& NO!

He very much needs to be around people. He does not necessarily want to interact on work projects with others, but he needs to be around people. You would never know this unless you talked with him about his need.

The world of coworking spaces has arisen just for these kinds of people.

I have written before about my client that I refer to as a Structured Anarchist.

Bob appears as a very orderly person. He loves rules and structure, or at least that is how he appears. In the Birkman Method, he is referred to as High Structure.

What Bob really loves is creating rules and structure. By the way, he is phenomenally good at creating systems. He just does not want any rules or structure placed on him when creating these systems.

Others’ perceptions of Bob did not align with Bob’s own perception of himself. He kept being placed in very orderly roles, but what he really wanted was to be placed in total and complete chaos where he could create order.

It was not until we worked through the Birkman Assessment that we identified this disconnect and he could articulate this strength. He no longer waits to be placed into a role, but he actively seeks out opportunities where he gets to create order out of chaos.

If you would like to learn more about Birkman Assessment, watch this excellent video below!

I came back from the Birkman conference charged up and wanted to share this video with you.

Do you see the impact that perceptions have on the workplace?

Feel free to reach out to me through my contact form if you want to discuss the Birkman Assessment any further.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for October 11

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

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Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

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References from Beyond Your Reference List

References

referencesReferences are a key component in getting a job. Who can verify that you know your stuff?

Traditionally, references are supplied when an employer is getting ready to make an offer. Recently, I have had two clients who had very different experiences as it relates to references.

Asking for References after a Phone Interview

I have a client who is a very experienced technology professional. He had a phone interview with a technology hiring manager with a regional retail firm. The interview went very well! Afterwards, the recruiter asked for a list of references.

My client became a bit incensed that he was being asked for references so early in the process. He did not want his references to be bothered until he knew he wanted the job.

The recruiter told him that they would instead contact the people who recommended him on LinkedIn. What!

My client was still incensed, but relented and supplied a list of references.

He asked me if they could do that? My response was YES!

Do you have LinkedIn recommendations from people you would prefer prospective hiring managers to not contact? You do not have to display all of your recommendations. You can hide recommendations!

Behind the Scene References

Behind the scene references have occurred for a long time.

This starts with an employee referral. When someone passes your resume to the hiring manager, he or she becomes a reference.

I recently had a client who got a job because of a behind the scene reference. I wrote about “Susan” in my post, Moment of Clarity – Fending off a Layoff.

Susan’s marketing position was eliminated, so she was facing a layoff. She interviewed for a position in the Learning and Development function. Susan has extensive experience in Learning and Development, but she had been in the marketing function for an extended period of time. After the interview, the hiring manager talked to few people who Susan had worked with in the past. These people were Susan’s behind the scene references.

The hiring manager did not ask for a list of references. The hiring manager therefore, did not need to ask for permission.

Susan later found out one of those references was absolutely key in landing the position. If she had not done some detective work, she may have never known who had helped her land the position.

Usually, behind the scene references come from employees at your target company.

However, recently, I had a client get a positive reference from the neighbor of the hiring manager. The hiring manager’s neighbor was a colleague of my client at a company five years ago. How did the hiring know this? He did his homework on LinkedIn.

This is why it is critical that, when you leave a job, you never burn bridges. Make sure you leave on a positive note.

Have you receive references from beyond your reference list?

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Baby Boomers and the Ever Shrinking Workforce

Shrinking Workforce

shrinking workforce

click to enlarge

I have recently read a book and multiple articles on the shrinking workforce in America. Each of these left me a bit disturbed about the future.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has been steadily declining ever since the beginning of the great recession.

Why is it shrinking? Is it necessarily bad? I think so.

Why are people leaving the workforce?

In the recent article on CBS MoneyWatch – Why are people leaving the workforce? they quote Bob Funk, chief executive of global staffing company Express Employment Professionals.

There’s no clear reason why people are leaving the workforce, and the issue has ignited a fierce debate among economists. One trend that they seem to agree on? About half of the decline is due to baby boomers entering their retirement years.

The other half of the decline gets a little fuzzy. Funk notes that some portion of the unemployed either don’t want to work or don’t think they can find a job. His company commissioned a poll of the unemployed in May, he said, and found that 47 percent have completely given up looking for work. “That’s a real problem,” he said.

Approximately, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 years of age every single day.

Are they retiring and leaving the workforce? Some are and some are not.

My question for you is—If baby boomers retire at 65, is it because they want to or have to?

It is my belief more are retiring and leaving the workforce because they have to, due to health or because they just can’t find a job.

What do you think?

Unretirement

I recently read Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life. The author states that unretirement, which is staying in the workforce past the standard retirement age of 65 and delaying retirement, will save the retirement for baby boomers, save the economy, and save social security.

The bigger question is whether baby boomers can stay employed past 65? For most, this will mean creating a business or developing a portfolio career and not a traditional job.

The author projects that by 2020, the demand for workers will be high enough that employers will need to hire older workers. However, the author also questions whether current hiring practices can and will change to allow the hiring of older workers.

I agreed in theory with just about everything the author said, but he based a lot of his projections on the workforce expanding and not shrinking!

Left Behind: The Long-term Unemployed Struggle in an Improving Economy

A recent report from Rutgers University called Left Behind: The Long-term Unemployed Struggle in an Improving Economy states the the great recession continues to have a lasting effect on our economy. The report is a product of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, which conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,153 Americans between July 24 and August 3, 2014.

In the great recession, over half of the long term unemployed were baby boomers. Baby boomers were less likely to become unemployed, but if they did, they would likely enter the ranks of the long term unemployed (over six months).

Here are several quotes from the report

Two-thirds of all adults in the survey, including those who were laid off and those who never lost a job, say the recession had an impact on their own standard of living, a staggering number in American society

Even though the stock market has soared in recent years, just one in seven employed workers say its performance affects them a lot; another half say the market has a little impact on them.

The report clearly shows the impact of the great recession has long lasting effects. The booming stock market has helped those at the top, but not the common man.

The report paints a picture that is far different from the rosy economic numbers that are coming out of Washington.

What does all of this mean?

The average baby boomer will have to work long past 65 years of age, if allowed. Will they be allowed to continue to work?

My hypothesis is that the shrinking workforce is due to:

  • Baby Boomers who are retiring by choice
  • Baby Boomers who are retiring due to health issues
  • Baby Boomers who cannot find work and have given up looking. There only choice is to apply for Social Security and retire.

The last two groups will likely retire into poverty.

I do not like this picture!

What do you think?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for October 4

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

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Social Media

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Multi-Generational Workplace

Personal Brand

  • How To Pimp Your Personal Brand – And Why It’s Crucial To You Getting A Job – Social-Hire http://bit.ly/1wZimAi

Career

Baby Boomer

Career Pivot

 

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

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Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Position?

The dreaded question – Why do you want to leave your current position?

leaveThe one question most candidates dread is,  “Why do you want to leave your current position?”

You cannot say “My boss is a jerk,” or “The work environment is toxic.” If you do, the interviewer will likely think, “Next candidate please!”

When asked this question, you absolutely, positively avoid saying anything negative. There are two reasons to not go negative:

  1. It will give the impression that you may be part of the problem. There are two sides to every story. The interviewer knows they are only hearing one side.
  2. By getting negative in an interview, you cannot avoid degrading your own attitude. If you followed my instructions in my post 3 Steps to Walking Into Your Interview with Confidence, you will be feeling good about yourself. This is key!

Pivot the Answer to What You Want

When you are asked the Why do you want to leave your current position? question, you can respond in the following way:

My current job is fine (which may or may not be true), but what I am looking for is…and then state what you are looking for in your next position.

Next, ask a question about the possibilities of getting what you want. For example:

Can you tell me about the initiatives you have in the areas of…?

It is important that you, rather than the interviewer, redirect or pivot the conversation back in a direction that you want to take.

Be prepared for the interviewer to probe for more information, but absolutely do not go there. Resist the urge at all costs.

I have previously written about three client examples. Take a look at these now:

All three examples were derived from real situations. In all three situations, the interviewee had a planned response prepared for the dreaded question.

Being Prepared with Interview Questions

You should come into any interview with at least 10 questions that you would like to get answered. Print them out and keep them in front of you. Take notes and record the interviewer’s answers on the paper. By writing down the responses, it gives you time to think about where to take the conversation next!

Controlled pauses (that is my term) give you a chance to think about the flow of the conversation.  Another example of a controlled pause is to restate the question you were just asked.  Let me make sure I understand your question. You asked…

Remember it is YOUR DAMN INTERVIEW!

Be prepared for the most common questions and the dreaded question – why do you want to leave your current position?

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

What I Learned About Corporate Culture From My Cat

Corporate Culture and Cats

Corporate CultureI recently learned a lot about corporate culture from my cat, Jack!

You are probably wondering what I could learn about corporate culture from the cute guy in this picture. Jack is pretty cute, but what the picture does not tell you is he is quite large.

Jack is 17 pounds and, as you can see from the picture below, when stretched out against a meter stick, he is quite long.

Corporate Culture

Click to Enlarge

Jack is that guy or gal at work who seems likes a really nice guy until… something changes.

He or she then becomes a completely different person.

Maybe you just hired someone new into your department and, suddenly, the dynamics change.

Maybe your company was acquired and the corporate culture shifts.

Changes in Corporate Culture

Corporate Culture

Click to Enlarge

A couple of months ago, we took in a stray cat who we call Rex. Rex was probably abandoned by college students who live in the apartments behind our condo unit. Rex is quite gentle and much smaller than Jack. Rex is eleven pounds.

We kept them separated for about a week, letting them get to used to one another. What we discovered was that Jack is a real bully.

The corporate culture in our household changed dramatically.

Jack would try to monopolize space. He was protecting his turf.

Have you seen this at work?

Rex figured out how to sit on the bar and watch Jack. At the right moment, he jumps down and walks by Jack. Suddenly, he runs up the stairs with Jack in close pursuit. Rex is a lot faster than Jack, and he knows it. Rex knows how to bait Jack.

Just like office politics.

Rex and Jack’s behaviors are slowly getting better. We are policing their behavior and rewarding good behavior.

Life after Acquisition

I have worked for two successful tech start ups. The cultures of the two were polar opposites of one another but that only became apparent after there was an acquisition.

In 2000, I went to work for a semi-conductor start up that was acquired in 2001. After the acquisition, not much changed. We added new people and they seemed to seamlessly fit in. The founders were very clear on the culture they wanted to create, and hired only people who fit their vision. I stayed for almost four years after the acquisition because of the corporate culture.

In 2007, I went to work for an HD video start up that was later acquired in 2009. Almost immediately after the acquisition, the culture changed. It was just like us bringing Rex into our household.

  • Bullying behavior started
  • Managers and their teams started to protect their turfs
  • Hiring practices became very political

I left thirteen months after the acquisition when my ethical boundaries were crossed.

The similarities between what happened after the acquisition and bringing a new cat into our household was striking!

What Was Different?

In the first situation, management clearly defined the culture and their hiring practices mirrored the culture they wanted to create. After the acquisition, that culture endured for a very long time, even in very tough economic times.

This did not happen in the second situation—the culture they created was only skin deep. The corporate culture was only a facade which they were able to maintain in good times but not bad.

A good litmus test for a prospective employer is ask what changed in the last recession? Did the corporate culture change?

Have you experienced a corporate culture that can endure change?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for September 27

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

Most Popular

Multi-Generational Workplace

  • Managing People from 5 Generations – Rebecca Knight – Harvard Business Review http://bit.ly/1mvgz5p

Social Media

Career

Job Search

Career Pivot

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

Join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

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Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

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Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

You can also download my whitepaperDon’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Are You a Generalist or Specialist

Generalist or Specialist

generalist or specialistHow you manage your career depends on whether you are a generalist or specialist.

When I started my career in the 1970s, large corporations valued generalists. In my 22 years of working for IBM, they let me take a variety of career paths. It also suited my personality, because I have a lot of varied interests. After a few years in a job, I would get bored and wanted to do something new.

IBM allowed me to work with a lot of leading-edge technologies that are still around today. Some of these included:

  • Word Processors – I worked with early word processors even before the IBM PC was released.
  • 3D printing – I was working with early 3D printers in 1989.
  • HTML and Internet Applications – I was designing Internet applications in the 1990s, long before it was common.
  • Advanced Router Design – When I left IBM in 2000, I developed curriculum to teach major equipment manufactures how to design next generation routers and switches.
  • High Definition Video – In 2007, after spending a couple years teaching high school math and working in the non-profit arena, I went to work for a HD video conferencing start up developing a training and certification program.

I am a generalist. I have enjoyed working with a lot of different technologies and methodologies. My challenge was that I got bored about every three years and wanted to move on to something different.

Specialists Rule

A fundamental shift started about twenty years ago. As technological change sped up, the need for specialists increased. Starting in the mid 1990s, I saw many move on to become specialists—and they were generously rewarded…for awhile. If you developed skills and became a specialist in an area that was in the early adoption phase, you could make a lot of money, again, for awhile. That was only true until others developed those same skills. The key was to identify correctly which skills would be desirable to have a year or two ahead of the demand.

This is easy to see in the world of technology, but does it apply elsewhere? YES!

In the world of Human Resources, you could be a generalist or a specialist in recruiting, compensation, benefit programs, diversity, HR IT, etc…

In the world of sales, you could be a generalist or a specialist in B2B or B2C, Internet sales, Channel sales, etc…

The challenge is that, if you are a specialist, your skills may not be valued in 5, 10 or 15 years. Let me give a few examples of skills that have become obsolete:

  • Experts in direct mail (snail mail) marketing – With the exception of credit card offers, what industries still market through direct mail?
  • Travel agents – When was the last time you talked to a travel agent? Fifteen years ago, this was still a valued skill.
  • Specialists in the complex process of laying out news print for your daily newspaper – When did you last pick up a paper newspaper?
  • Photo-Journalists – Why have photo-journalists when everyone has a camera?

These were all valued skills just a few years ago.

What if I am a Generalist?

Generalists are typically more valued in smaller organizations. Small organizations typically cannot afford to hire a lot of specialists. I have a client who is a marketing generalist. She like to write press releases, e-mail marketing, social media, direct mail, creation of collateral,….. You will be more valued in smaller organizations who need their employees to wear a lot of hats.

What if I am a Specialist?

Specialists need to stay on top of their areas of expertise and be willing to move when their expertise becomes a commodity  or obsolete. This requires vigilance and the willingness to move with industry trends. You must be aware of disruptive trends in your industry.

Examples of Disruption

Taxi and Limousine Services – Will Lyft, Uber, Sidecar or even Google’s Driverless car make these businesses obsolete?

Local Television News – When did you last watch the evening news? The local news programs are still around, but will they be in ten years?

Cable Television – Why have cable television service when there is Netflix, Hulu, etc?

Facebook Marketing – Will Facebook be relevant in 10 years? It did not exist 10 years ago and may not be relevant in another 10 years.

Give it some thought.

Are you a generalist or specialist?

Are you prepared for disruptive change that is coming?

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

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When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

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Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Childhood Dream of Driving Trains Comes True – Case Study

Childhood Dream of Driving Trains

Childhood Dream

Click to Enlarge

We all remember growing up with our childhood dreams. Maybe it was to be a policeman or fireman or cowboy. For most of us, we let each childhood dream fade away. We went about our lives growing up, getting an education, getting married, having kids, and pursuing a career that put food on the table and paid the mortgage.

Sound familiar?

Let me tell you the story of Mike Martin.

Mike was born in the mid 1950s and grew up in New York State. He will tell you he liked anything with wings, wheels, or keels. He was fascinated by anything that moved.

After graduating from high school, he attended SUNY Farmington where he received an Associates Degree in Aerospace Technology. He then moved to Texas and started rebuilding airplane engines. When that company went bankrupt, he ended up working in machine shops. That was okay, but that was not going to get him ahead in his career.

At the time, people told him that he was a really good with people and should go into sales. Mike said okay!

Sound familiar? He did not follow his passion. He did what many of us do in that position—he did what he was told to do.

He spent the next 20 years as an outside sales guy…driving a truck and selling various maintenance supplies like cables and wiring. He liked being out and about. As years passed, margins on his commissions got leaner and leaner. It became very hard to make money.

Sound familiar? Many of us have seen our chosen profession whither in the new economy.

Now in his early fifties, he returned to college to get a Bachelors Degree in Pilot Science. Over the years, he had achieved his pilot’s certification and loved to fly planes. Remember that, as a kid, he loved anything that had wings, wheels or keels.

After graduating, he worked at an executive airport for awhile but found the work environment less than inviting. So what did he do? He returned to sales!

Sound familiar? When things do not initially work out, many of us revert back to what we know.

He looked at becoming a school teacher. That was a tough transition.

That is when Mike found Career Pivot.

Birkman Assessment

He took the Birkman Assessment and it told him the following:

  • His core interest is music. As most of you know, it is tough to make a buck in the music industry.
  • He was well-suited to piloting, driving, operating, or navigating transport vehicles or material moving machinery (e.g., aircraft, automobiles, water vessels, construction cranes, locomotives, tractors)

Sound familiar? It was his childhood dream!

We talked about what motivated him. We talked about what made him happy.

He had to be playing music and he got to do that through his church. He now realized how important it was to him. Now he just needed to get to driving something, being outdoors, and helping people.

Following His Dream

Mike looked at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) but they had no positions.

He then looked at Houston Metro Rail and saw that they were expanding. He applied to be a Light Rail Vehicle Operator.

They replied back and asked him to take an assessment. He passed. He did not think they would want him.

They asked him to come in for an interview. He studied up for the interview by reading an article on how a gentleman had become a driver for the London Underground. He prepared cards with all of the questions he thought they would ask him and studied those cards right before the interview.

It was a panel interview where they asked him to open and close a special drivers seat. The secret was there was a special pin that had to be removed to get the seat to close. He did it flawlessly. In fact it was fun. They were watching to see if he would get frustrated.

After the interview, they took him out into the rail yard to see if he could physically do the job; throwing some switches, climbing in and out of the train, and walking the yard.

This is when Mike started to get excited. This was his childhood dream. He was going to get to drive a train.

Several weeks later, he was told to report for a 10-week training program. Mike moved his RV to Houston and started the class. He was being careful. He did not want to rent a place if he did not make it through the training.

He made it with flying colors!

Mike drove trains for a few months, but was moved to the team testing the new red line. He gets to spot problems and propose solutions.

The money is decent. With overtime, he does okay. More importantly, he loves what he is doing! His family is still in Austin and he goes home on the weekends.

He wants to move up to be a supervisor and a trainer. He sees himself working there for as long as he wants.

This was all triggered by a simple assessment pointing him back to his childhood dream.

His childhood dream came true in his 50s.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group