Monthly Archives: April 2012

5 Keys to On-the-Job Success: No. 4 – Create a Desire to Help Others Succeed

The Roman Emperor Titus (39 – 81 A.D.) once said on reflecting at dinner that he had done nothing to help anybody all day, “Friends, I have lost a day.” It is embracing such a servant attitude that is so often lacking in the business world today. Imagine if Wall Street investment bankers, mortgage brokers, and auto company CEOs, and movers and shakers in Washington, D.C. had just made it their daily mantra: “how can I best serve your needs today?” we would not have nine-plus percent unemployment, record foreclosures, lost retirements, “gas guzzler” entitlement programs, and an economy struggling to find any sense of consistency.

One of the best displays of a servant attitude I have ever witnessed was from an administrative assistant name Amy. No matter what the complaint or who was complaining, Amy was first to offer an apology for any problems caused or inconveniences served up by others, which was usually followed up with “I will take care of that for you.” When I overheard her defuse an incident with her kind words and smile, I took her aside and said “You have such an awesome servant attitude, and it’s a pleasure to work with you.” Her eyes immediately teared up and she replied, “That is the nicest thing anyone has said to me in the ten years I have worked here. You have just made it all worthwhile.” Just a simple acknowledgement of someone’s desire to help others first is usually all the reward such individuals accept, albeit grudgingly, because they do it without expectation of anything in return—it is an outward expression of their inner spirit.

In the same way a burning candle loses nothing to light another candle, so it is with helping others.

  • The best approach is to embrace a worldview that includes helping others in all arenas of life and in a kind manner without expectation of any personal reward
  • Recognize that any individual recognition is most often the result of a team effort.
  • Those other team members may be just as visible as the individual being recognized—or they could be completely invisible, yet the degree of their “visibility” does not diminish the value of their contribution.
  • Serving in any role as a mentor or teacher to others on the job or in the community is a clear expression of the desire to help others succeed.
  • Knowledge works like money—the more you spread it around and keep in circulation, the more it grows.
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ENCYGNIUM Announces Upcoming "One-Minute Hiring Manager™" Video Vignettes to Help Job Seekers, Career Changers

Encygnium will soon be releasing a series of video vignettes to help job and career seekers better prepare for opportunities in a still-confused economy. All the one-minute videos in the One-Minute Hiring Manager™ series will feature former Fortune 500 hiring manager and principal at ENCYGNIUM Donn LeVie Jr. With more than 20 years’ experience in the earth sciences (NOAA, Phillips Petroluem Company), software development (Synercom Technology), process control (Fisher Controls), and microprocessor design (Motorola, Intel Corporation), Donn has reviewed thousands of résumés and cover letters, conducted countless job interviews, and helped hire and manage hundreds of professionals in technology, marketing, and communications. Donn, who wrote under the pseudonym “J.T. Kirk”,  is the author of Confessions of a Hiring Manager: Getting to and Staying at the Top of the Hiring Manager’s Short List in a Confused Economy and 50 Things You Can Do NOW to Help Keep Your Job. He offers his valuable experience and insight to show job and career changers how to perfect a strategy that makes the hiring manager’s candidate of choice.

The One-Minute Hiring Manager series will launch June 1, 2012 with the following one-minute videos on the ENCYGNIUM website (www.encygnium.com):

  • The One-Minute Hiring Manager: Your Résumé
  • The One-Minute Hiring Manager: Your Cover Letter
  • The One-Minute Hiring Manager: Job Interview Preparation
  • The One-Minute Hiring Manager: Salary Negotiation
  • The One-Minute Hiring Manager: Your Job/Career Strategy
  • The One-Minute Hiring Manager: Your PSKE™ Portfolio
  • The One-Minute Hiring Manager: Your Post-Interview Strategy
  • The One-Minute Hiring Manager: Translating Military Experience into Civilian Expertise

Videos in the One-Minute Hiring Manager series can also be customized for presentation on professional association websites, college and university websites, business and trade school websites, and corporate websites. Contact Encygnium to obtain additional information.

ENCYGNIUM focuses on teaching professionals how to transition to new jobs or  careers inside and outside of any organization sooner than later through  workshops, presentations, and personal consultations at regional and national  conferences. We do the same for corporations, professional associations,  colleges and universities, military bases and veterans groups, and trade and  business schools. All of our work is performed at conferences sponsored by associations and corporations, at higher  education institutions, and military organizations where scales of efficiency and effectiveness are  maximized. Conferences, military bases, and college campuses offer the best opportunities to help  large numbers of people seeking employment, planning new career directions, or enhancing current  employment and promotion potential.

5 Keys to On-the-Job Success: No. 3 – Cultivate a Sense of Personal Integrity

Cultivating a sense of personal integrity is a quality that, when tarnished, is hard to return to its original luster. And when it is lost altogether, is very difficult to recover. A person’s integrity is wrapped up in their truthfulness about all matters, their honesty in dealing with people and projects, and their reliability to honor their word. Personal integrity is not a badge people wear on the outside, but it is more a reflection of the deeper nature of their character and moral, ethical fiber.

And personal integrity and personal ethics are not just about following the company’s code of ethics, if it has one. Personal integrity involves an ability to control impulses, to delay gratification, and to exhibit self-restraint; it’s about thinking through the consequences of potential actions and a willingness to assume responsibility if those actions are acted upon. Bernie Madoff didn’t have it; neither did the executives for WorldCom or Enron. The newspapers, Internet, cable news channels, and Facebook are filled with such stories on smaller scales every day.

Personal integrity isn’t a matter of degree where a failure to be forthright on a résumé can be dismissed away as a relative minor infraction. You either have personal integrity or you don’t. Managers routinely search court records, credit histories, Google, and social networking sites to glean information about potential candidates or current employees. Ultimately, they want to know “Who are you when no one’s looking?” Companies are not required to disclose the reasons for rejecting any potential candidate, and states with “at will” hiring laws can reject applicants for the most minute impropriety. You may never really know the reason why you didn’t get a job offer. It may have more to do with the goof post and picture you put up on Facebook more so than any shortcoming in your experience or knowledge. I and many other hiring managers will gladly extend an offer to someone who has high personal integrity but may lack some essential skills before we hire the whizz kid who, shall we say, lacks mature discretion about what he or she makes public about his or her personal life.

Conscientiousness is a trait that is critical for noteworthy effectiveness for any job, regardless of profession or position. Daniel Goleman writes in Working with Emotional Intelligence that “Conscientiousness offers a buffer against the threat of job loss in today’s ever-churning market, because employees with this trait are among the most valued.”[1]

Excessive conscientiousness (that is, conscientiousness without empathy or social competency) can be manifested in rigid conformity that suppresses creativity, fosters resentment from others, and the overbearing weight of micromanagement. When a conscientious member of my team needed to run errands in the morning, or attend a child’s school event, it was no problem to let them do so without having to make them take a half-day’s vacation (what the company guidelines said I had to do). I knew that such absences would not affect their work because their personal integrity and conscientiousness spoke louder than the company’s firm policy. While a “manager’s prerogative” wasn’t written into the policy, I (and other managers) assumed it was available to us.

Personal integrity, then, is reflected in ethical actions,  behavior that is above reproach, reliable trustworthiness, personal responsibility, and intolerance for unethical actions committed by others.

Because we don’t hire résumés; we hire people.


[1] Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books (1998), p. 94.

5 Keys to On-the-Job Success: No. 2 – Cultivate a Sense of Project Urgency

A sense of project urgency implies that your approach to project work is immediate, purposeful, and resolute. You are decisive about which solution to a problem to embrace after a careful evaluation of the problem, the potential causes, and an assessment of all possible resolutions, and how those fixes should be implemented. Such folks rarely keep others waiting or guessing as to how to proceed next. You believe in completing the project sooner rather than later.

Project urgency is not about operating at a harried pace or panicked mode, or constantly being in overdrive as projects come to a conclusion so you can meet budget or schedules. It’s not about putting out “brush fires,” though they will show up from time to time.  It’s about embracing responsiveness in the day-to-day tasks that focus on outcome or results that ultimately lead to successful project completion without having to endure frequent chaotic spurts.

Let’s briefly examine what project urgency looks like.

  • Cultivating a sense of project urgency involves the ability to prioritize the project tasks or deliverables (a product, document, or service) that provide the biggest payoff to the customer of the project.  Sometimes that involves negotiating with other project stakeholders on priorities, but negotiating priorities keeps the ship moving forward.
  • Project urgency demands focus on the stated deliverable requirements, commitment to the schedule for the deliverable, an obligation to provide the highest quality deliverable, and an awareness of the need to communicate clearly and often to other stakeholders in the project.  That means when the project is given the “green light,” let everyone know who may be a potential expeditor or an obstruction that the project is going forward and work through those process variables that may threaten your momentum.
  • Emphasizing project urgency at the expense of clear and frequent communications often results in unnecessary rework, sacrifice in quality, or an extension of the schedule because some of the parties involved in the project “didn’t get the memo” about steps taken to expedite the project.
  • You can’t toss aside due diligence or frequent progress assessment in order to have a sense of project urgency. In fact, urgency demands an evaluation of what’s working and what isn’t. Throw overboard those tasks, strategies, and meetings that impede your progress, but ascertain first whether they facilitate delivery of the project outcome.

Project urgency is the complement of project ownership. Project urgency is often the offspring of highly motivated individuals who come together and bring a focused, friendly, and self-confident element to the task at hand.