The 4 Things That Make a Company Great: A Tribute

Time to read: one and one quarter minutes
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Two weeks ago, I had the distinct privilege to attend a reunion for the company that hired me in 2001, Guidant Corporation. As a result of an acquisition that turned Guidant into Boston Scientific (a dramatic series of events studied in MBA programs), former Guidant employees are everywhere. What's even more amazing is that 12 years after the acquisition, 400 people are excited to gather in a ballroom to drink beer and connect.

While I was at the event, I was thinking of you and how my experience at Guidant taught me what makes a truly great company. When you reflect on where you work, how many of these factors do you see (or not)? What can you do to influence these things, even in small ways?

Here are 4 things I learned from Guidant:

  1. Guidant prioritized employees. When I worked in HR, I was amazed at the decisions that got made about things like benefits, things that cost the company a pretty penny but were good for employees.

    Lesson: A great company prioritizes employees.

  2. Guidant had a culture of innovation. Each employee felt like they could contribute their gifts and make suggestions for process improvements that would actually be implemented. I had a lot of autonomy to create things I cared about like a van pool program for commuters.

    Lesson: Give employees freedom and let them do their best work for you.

  3. Employees felt connected to a sense of purpose. Our medical devices made a difference. Each year, patients would visit the campus for a celebration of their stories and our work. We were committed and deeply connected to a sense of mission and meaning.

    Lesson: People care deeply about the impact of their work.

  4. Employees belonged to each other. When I first interviewed, I heard things like, "Guidant is a family." In my roles, I interacted across many departments, and it was clear that we were on the same team. We cared deeply for one another. And still do.

    Lesson: Relationships matter. A lot.

If you've ever had the chance to work for your version of Guidant, you are lucky indeed. If you haven't, what can you do to make a difference?

With rebel love,

Christina

 

When You Work In Chaos, Do These 2 Things

Time to read: 1 min. 20 seconds.
When work gives you lemons...

When work gives you lemons...

I was talking with a client recently. Let's call her Polly. (Name changed to protect the innocent.) Polly works for a huge company that for generations has been a bastion of stability and happy employees.

Until recently.

For the past two years, Polly and her team have undergone multiple rounds of layoffs, worked to bridge differing cultures with colleagues from an acquisition, and navigated what sometimes seems like daily emails announcing more departures in upper leadership. They don't know who handles decisions, where to go for funding, or even if their projects will continue to be a priority in six months. They are getting used to their "new normal" and still, it's frustrating and discouraging to do good work in daily uncertainty and chaos.

Does this sound familiar to you? (Keep reading. I'll tell you what to do about it.)

Polly asked me, "will we ever have stability again?" (She knows I spent 5 years in this very environment. We had 3 CEOs in five years. Talk about chaos and ever-changing priorities.)

The answer to Polly's questions is yes... and...

It could be years before the company starts to chug along like a well-oiled machine. It takes a long time to redirect a big ship after a series of tsunamis. The company I worked for started to stabilize after 6-7 years.

In our conversation, Polly and I uncovered 2 excellent strategies for working in, and even thriving in, an ever-changing work environment. With her permission, here they are:

  1. Every morning, say to yourself, "I choose to be here." The fact is, you decide if you can tolerate the chaos or not. If you keep showing up at the office, you are signing up for whatever the company is dishing up that day. Knowing that you choose to stay is liberating. And, if you choose to go (which was my choice), that is liberating, too.
  2. Make lemonade. Seriously. Times of change and chaos need leaders - at all levels. Your company needs YOU. In the midst of the confusion are opportunities for you to step up and lead. Polly walked away from our session chanting this mantra:

    "Be the thing you are wishing for."

If no one is making decisions, you make decisions. If no one knows the priorities, you set your priorities. You may get it wrong. (So what? Sitting around worrying about the future is not advancing your career or making you happy so what have you got to lose?) More likely, you will shine as a leader and initiator and people will notice.

You've got this.

I hope this helps.

Christina

P.S. If you are working in chaos and want to chat about it, reach out to me anytime: christina@boydsmithcoaching.com

P.P.S. If you just had drinks with friends who complained all night about the chaos at their workplace, forward this email to them. They can sign up to join us here.

 

Do You Wish For a Free Lunch? You Can Have It!

Mmmmm…..lunch!

Mmmmm…..lunch!

You've heard the adage, "there's no such thing as a free lunch," right?

IMHO this is a rather cynical perspective that there is an ulterior motive behind acts of generosity and kindness, especially from a corporation. I am happy to report that there actually is a free lunch, literally. And I'm going to help you find your free lunch, even if it doesn't come in the form of food.

I am coaching and doing team development for a company that actually offers free lunch. For all their employees. Like, you walk into their cafeteria and fill your plate with fresh salad, hot soup, entrees and soft serve ice cream. As much as you want, for FREE. I've never seen anything like it in all my corporate years!

Munching on some delicious chicken salad got me thinking about you.

Sometimes it's hard to see the free lunch that is right in front of you. I know. I know. Some of you are going to write to me and say that you pay for your "free lunch" with your time and talent. (I count on hearing from you!)

Of course, you do. That is the employment contract. You work. We pay you.

Consider this: You can choose to see the benefits of that contract through a lens of scarcity and cynicism (i.e. what you don't get, what you deserve and are not getting, how you are stuck) or you can see it from generosity and gratitude (i.e. how your life is easier, "I can't believe I get _____!" How you are always free to make a different choice.)

Here are some contenders for your free lunch. See if one of these is yours or sparks your gratitude cells:

  • You can visit the doctor whenever you want because you have health insurance. Even better if the company covers your family. (As someone who was self insured for many years, I can tell you the free lunch of insurance is pretty awesome.)
  • You have the flexibility to leave the office for appointments or your child's holiday pageant.
  • You get to work out during the day.
  • You get bonuses or spot awards or cool little gifts for years of service.
  • Paid professional development.
  • Affinity groups.
  • Great colleagues.
  • Collaboration.
  • Making a contribution in your industry.
  • Selling a product and/or service that brings people pleasure and/or changes lives.

Sometimes in the bustle and stress of working life, it's easy to stop seeing the generous and kind things that happen to you every day. What free lunch is right in front of you?

Have a great week!

Christina

P.S. If you love the Corporate Rebel Unplugged Video Podcast and Newsletter, please share it with some friends. Next week you'll get an interview with a woman who will show you how easy it is to live and work from pure joy, even when things are hard. Your friends can join our merry little tribe here.

 

Hungry to play a more strategic role at work?

Read time: 1:56.87 minutes

I coach MBAs in career planning and leadership development at the University of Minnesota. If you are an MBA or one of your friends is one, you know they are determined to advance their careers as fast as possible. When I worked in Human Resources for a major medical device manufacturer, MBAs would come into my office on a somewhat regular basis and say something to this effect:

“I’ve been here for 6 months. How come I haven't been promoted to vice-president?”

Now, you don’t have to be an MBA to crave a role where you get to set strategic vision, manage a large team, and be included in the exciting and confidential things that happen in those rooms with big conference tables. You don't even have to want to be a people manager to want to play a strategic part in your company.

The question is how do you prepare yourself for a higher-level strategic role?How do you make sure you are the one who is considered for the next promotion? How do you plan your career so you end up where you want to be, no matter the level?

The truth: patience is key.

Also key: visibility, your relationships, seeking new challenges, demonstrating your growth mindset, and finding a mentor.

Here's what I mean:

  1. Visibility: Toot your own horn. I know, it feels vain to do so. And you must. No one is paying attention to your accomplishments like you are. Make sure those with the ability to influence your career know what you can do.
  2. Relationships: Most opportunities come through relationships, from people who know, trust, and respect you. Make sure lots of people know, trust and respect you by growing and maintaining your network.
  3. Seek new challenges: Keep your eyes open for ways to get involved in the hot strategic initiatives for your company. (This is also good for your relationships.)
  4. Growth mindset: Be someone who supports change and progress. Never let the words, "that's the way we've always done it," fall from your lips. (I mean this so seriously that I've said it for 2 weeks in a row!)
  5. Find a mentor: Work with someone who has a broad perspective, who values what you value, and who is a few steps ahead of you on the career path.

These 5 steps will have you on the path toward strategic influence in your job whether you are a business analyst or a vice-president.

Good luck!

Warmly,

Christina

P.S. Will you do me a favor and share The Corporate Rebel Unplugged Video Podcast and newsletter with your friends and colleagues? Just forward this link (http://unplugged.thecorporaterebelseries.com) to them. I can't wait for you to see the first interview on November 30th! (You don't need to sign up. It will come as part of your regular subscription to my newsletter. Bonus!)

The way you spend your day….

Estimated read time: 1 minute

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I want to check in with you about how things are going in your job.

I know you struggle with burn-out, overwhelm, and what to do next. You keep thinking things will change if you just work harder, take on more responsibility or give the changes in your company more time. Being stuck is a total drag.

These struggles have me thinking about a funeral I attended for a colleague from my corporate days. He worked hard, sometimes staying at the office on Christmas Eve, traveling internationally, sacrificing for the company and putting many things off “until retirement.” The church was simultaneously crying and laughing hysterically at the stories his children told of the things their dad was finally doing in his retirement. He was just beginning to enjoy all the things he had worked for when he died 2 years in.

When I hear you say, “I’ll wait until next year. Maybe things will get better on their own,” or “I can put up with anything until my kids are out of college,” it breaks my heart. Time is short. Your life is valuable. The time to bring back joy, balance, health, and meaning is NOW. Retirement is too far away. Even next year is too far away.

This quote makes me think of you everyday:

How you spend your days is how you spend your life. ~Annie Dilliard

You are the one with the power to make things better for yourself. Waiting for your company to make things better for you is only going to make you another year older.

If you are:

  • waiting to see if things will get better on their own;
  • procrastinating on making a change because you’re scared of the financial consequences;
  • skeptical that things can ever be better in your job;
  • wishing you had the roadmap to professional fulfillment,

Let’s hop on the phone. Email me at christina@boydsmithcoaching.com to schedule a session with me.

I promise you they can be better. Don’t wait another year to create your life and work on your terms. The time to be happy at work is now.

We’ll spend 30 minutes creating an inspiring and empowering plan for things to be better NOW.

Whether we end up working together or not, I can't wait to connect.

Happy Halloween!

Christina

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