No. 28 – Be Prepared for Company Changes (But Not Worried)

Change is the only constant—especially in business—so it pays to keep your ears and eyes open for these six warning signs that may signal trouble for your company:

  • Partnerships and co-marketing deals with other companies are canceled.
  • Two or more leading company executives resign or are fired.
  • One or more well-known figures resign from the board of directors.
  • Anticipated rounds of capital funding are reduced or canceled.
  • The stock price takes repeated hits.
  • There are spending and investment cutbacks.

One survivor of the corporate wars summarizes the downward slope of bad news like this: “First the bigwigs say, ‘We’re in transition.’ Then they say, ‘We’re downsizing.’ Finally, they say, ‘We’re closing.’”

Don’t work from a negative perspective but a realistic one, as things change constantly. Continue to expand your network of contacts, build your skills, and keep your resume updated

You can’t control change, but you can prepare for it.


P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 27 – Why I like Cowboys

Debra Benton and Rodney Sweeney

In business (and in Washington D.C.), too often a courageous-think-and-act-outside-of-the-box individual is pejoratively labeled a cowboy. As if being a cowboy is a bad thing! Whoa! That’s exactly what I want on my team.

Why? Because I know cowboys — real cowboys. They are about inspiration, not regulation. They don’t worry about rules but rather principles, values, and character.

Cowards are not tolerated among them. Courage isn’t about bull-riding, it’s about speaking up and saying what needs to be said when others are afraid to; taking action when others won’t.

They “cowboy-up” when things get tough, and they don’t quit on you. They keep their promises and don’t dodge and spin or whine. With a happy soul and maybe a grin, they speak directly and purposefully — and they mean what little they say. They don’t much go for windbags.

James Owen wrote the book “Cowboy Ethics” (Stoecklein Publishing). It’s what he, a Wall Streeter, felt his peers could learn from the Code of the West: “The West is a place where the fence is always tight but the gate is always open to friends and neighbors. It is a place where a man can make tough decisions without looking over his shoulder or worrying what someone else will think. A cowboy gets his strength from knowing what is right and what is wrong and being true to his beliefs. That is the essence of the Code of the West and the true cowboy way.”

And then there’s the line from “The Shootist,” John Wayne’s last film: “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.”

That’s why I like cowboys (and married one).

– Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 26 – Considering Leaving Your Current Job and Company? Take a Look Internally First

Sometimes, changing companies isn’t the best alternative, even for people who truly need a job change. If you think you fit with your current company but aren’t being adequately challenged or rewarded in your present job, it may make sense to consider moving within the company. Don’t assume this is impossible. If you seriously investigate the opportunities within your current company, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you discover. Dale Telford, former IT director at StarChoice, and the founder of the bITssol, puts it well.

Telford suggests, “If there comes a time where you feel you can’t go any further at your current company, talk with your superiors and let them know what you feel you’re capable of doing. Ask them for suggestions or if they know of a position open in another organization. That way, if you do find something outside of your current company, you will not be surprising anyone. You may also find that even though you did not think there was something else you could grow into, the company you currently work for may know your real value and create the position you want.”

Because keeping good employees has become a high priority at most smart companies today, your employer may be willing to facilitate your job change within the organization. Avoiding losing you to an outside competitor will help the company avoid the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement. There are benefits for you as well. You and your family will undergo less of a disruption, and the knowledge you’ve developed about your company, the people who work there, its systems and processes, and its customers and competitors will all continue to be useful to you.

A lateral or upward shift within the same company may be the ideal move for you. Even if the new department or division doesn’t turn out to be a perfect long-term career match, the new assignment could turn into a useful “bridge” job that keeps you sane and teaches you some new skills as you consider other options.

If you’re interested in pursuing an internal change, start by talking to your boss. Think carefully about how to approach the subject. Use tact and diplomacy to explain why you’re interested in a change without expressing bitterness, anger, or boredom with your current job. The last thing you want to do is to provoke defensiveness or hostility – after all, you want your boss’s help in making the shift. Talk in terms of your aspirations for the future rather than emphasizing your disappointment with the past and present. Don’t say, “I want a new job because the work here is depressing, dull, and pointless.” Instead, you can say, “I think I’m ready to tackle some new challenges and a little higher level of responsibility that will benefit the company.”

It’s unlikely that your boss will be in a position to directly link you with job opportunities in other departments; your company’s human resource or personnel department will have to play that role. However, company policy usually requires your boss’s approval for an internal job search. Further, it would scarcely be comfortable to proceed against your boss’s wishes, which is why it’s a good idea to start with him or her. And who knows? Your boss may surprise you by responding, “I had no idea you felt that way. Would you like to be considered for the new job that’s just about to open up in our department?”

– Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 25 – Your Go-To Approach — and Fall-Back Approach — Should Always be the Golden Rule

Consistently Follow the Golden Rule: What you want for yourself, you give to others. Do right and do it consistently in how you think, act, and interact with people.

Over the years there are versions of the “rule” that I’ve heard from colleagues. Pick one that rings true for you:

  • Do what’s right for the other person, and you’ll end up doing what’s right for you.
  • Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.
  • Be good to people, and they will be good to you.
  • Treat all people as you would like to be treated.
  • Good works on Earth align you in the right way with the universe.
  • You never want to do unto others what you would not want done unto you.
  • What is hateful to you, do not do to others.
  • As a leader, always be more than is expected of the people you’re working for and who are working for you.
  • You can’t ask others to do what you aren’t willing to do yourself.
  • Treat people like you want to be treated.
  • Do unto others before they split.
  • How would you want to be treated (or how would you want your mother, your son, to be treated)?
  • Treat others as they would like to be treated.
  • Don’t repeat what you didn’t like done to you.
  • Expect from others what you expect from yourself.

Any version works for giving the respect due to others – as good leaders do.

– Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 24 – Guidelines That Will Serve Your Children Well (and Us, Too )

Many years ago I found a book by Richard R. Conarroe, published by the American Management Association titled, BRAVELY, BRAVELY IN BUSINESS.

Getting out of college and anxious for a career I typed these notes on a sheet of paper, folded it and kept it in my wallet for over ten years to unfold and read periodically. Recently, I found that folded piece of paper and discovered the things that made for a successful career that many years ago still holds true. And they will for your children too. See for yourself:

  • Pick the people who can most strongly determine your success and stay in direct, personal, continuous touch with them.
  • Never assume that the way things are today is the way they will be tomorrow – or even after lunch.
  • Never fail to consider the future significance of what you say and do.
  • Know what it is you can do better than anyone else and do that.
  • Never say anything about anyone you wouldn’t say in exactly the same way to his face.
  • Search for the seeds of victory in every disaster – and seeds of disaster in every victory.
  • Don’t lie. If you can’t tell the truth, keep quiet. When you start lying, you are dead.
  • Never expect someone to keep a secret. There are no secrets.
  • Bet on people – but be prepared to lose.
  • Unsolvable problems don’t disrupt the routine; they are the routine.
  • Everybody’s motives are different. Make certain you know what motivates each person you deal with.
  • Know exactly what your goals are.
  • Follow your own instincts. They are probably no more wrong than everyone else’s carefully reasoned logic.
  • Build a reputation as a winner by smiling when you win – and when you lose.
  • Keep every promise you have made – or that others think you have made.
  • Never assume that others are operating under the same rules you are.
  • Success has many ingredients, but the greatest of these is confidence.
  • Don’t win too soon. You’ll miss half the fun of playing the business game.

– Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

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    Debra Benton Discusses How to Exceed in Your Career