Browse Category: Corporate Narratives

Articles published in City A.M. this week

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I am delighted to be writing for City A.M. again. Here are the first three articles I have done for them this year.

The top 10 interview questions you really should know the answer to

Interviewers like consistency, they enjoy being able to judge each candidate by a set benchmark. This is why the same interview questions come up time and time again.

 

The rules of successfully asking for a pay rise

Ok. You want a raise. Who doesn’t? But you are different. Obviously. You deserve it. Your friends and family have told you that you do for all the hours and effort you have been putting in.

 

How to handle “Do you have any questions?” in a job interview 

This is your chance to demonstrate that you have thought and processed what has been discussed, to show that you have done your research and to demonstrate your determination and interest in the position.

 

See all the articles published on the blog this week 

 

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (Part 2 of 4 – The Fix)

The Fix

Are you unhappy with your job? Thinking of chucking it all in, sabotaging your colleagues work or throwing something at your boss? Or are you contemplating quietly walking out, leaving the country and going to live a simpler life on an island? Thinking of changing jobs is normal for everyone – you have no monopoly on any of these thoughts – but doing it right, whatever that is, is important.

Career progression means changing jobs by definition – but why and how you do it can improve your life or totally screw it up. Changing jobs at the right time for the right reasons and in the right way may seem obvious – but emotions and feelings and irrational thought get in the way and can seriously mess up your career.

I have changed jobs and made a few career changes in my life and some were cleverer than others!

So before you start booking plane tickets, selling the house, moving to or from the big city, emigrating or physically throwing stuff at the boss, why not balance out the loud emotional voices of your feelings with some sober, boring logical stuff.

After finding out what the problem is the next step is to consider how to fix it. You may come to realise that the problem isn’t the job, but is a different factor causing you problems. However you may come to understand that your job is holding you back.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to find out how to FIX the problem before changing jobs:

  1. Is it really your job you are unhappy with or is it possible you are just unhappy in your personal life and this is overflowing into your work life?
  2. Is it something that you can fix? If you answer no – are you really sure? Have you asked other people what they would do to fix it?
  3. If so, have you done anything about it? List these things. What else could you do?
  4. Are you over-tired, over-stressed, over-amped and exhausted? Do you have the bandwidth to handle this? Do you need a weekend away or a holiday?
  5. Are you getting enough exercise and fresh air? If you say yes to this you are probably fibbing.
  6. Are you making sure that you switch off at weekends and in the evenings or do you have your laptop or iPad open all day every day? Do you have phone free days or evenings or even hours? What about family time or movie nights?
  7. What has changed since you started that job? In terms of you, the company, your personal life?
  8. Is it a need for training or a personal issue or your commute or a salary thing or the career prospects?
  9. Is it because of your employers, your boss, your colleagues, the location of the job and the commute or your actual job
  10. Is your employer or line manager aware of the situation and have you spoken to them about it? If not – why not?

 

This is part 2 of a 4 week series. Previously in this  (really exciting) career-based mini-series:

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Problem)

Coming up in the following two weeks:

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Decision)

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Deed)

 

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Performance Coaching is best one to one and designed for those who hate losing.

Group Coaching

I used to do a lot of group coaching. I do very little now and when I do, I take another coach along to help make the coaching more effective.  The groups I used to coach were typically groups of 12-15 from companies like Grace Chemicals, ThyssenKrupp, BASF and SAP. They were very typical corporate coaching sessions for middle management and the budget for the day was split between all the participants’ personal development budgets. German firms are better at this most – personal development is both encouraged by the companies and sought after by the employees.

Coaching PyramidThen Mercedes hired me to do an 1-2-1 session over ten days with a senior guy on a very sensitive issue and I loved it. More importantly than that – the results were better too.

Norming Training

Group corporate coaching normally is what I call “norming training” – it gets everyone up to a minimum level of competence. Or at least it should! Far too often norming coaching is seen as just something to survive and it is approached by participants and coaches without focus or energy.  Coaching without a specific target is harder to focus and too often includes handouts that soon become, and remain, dusty on unvisited shelves. Tennis coaching is fine and good and important – but preparing for a match against a specific opponent on “that court” is far more fun!

Norming training gets people from the bottom of a pyramid to half way up. It is important but it has its downsides and its limits.

One is the fact that the participants can’t open up completely to the coach with making them themselves vulnerable to the others in the room – who invariably are, will be, or are friends of, current or future competitors in the corporate or political career race.

Secondly – the higher you get up the performance pyramid, the less coaching is about transferring skills and the more it is about what’s in your head. Ian Barclay coached me in Johannesburg. He was Pat Cash’s coach and I was a young, ambitious tennis coach totally focused on learning all his best coaching techniques and skills. He said that teaching beginners, like he taught Cash initially, was all about skills and just 5% about what’s in your head. By the time Cash was playing serious professional tennis, the ratios had reversed and it was now at least 95% head and the rest skills. If you are helping people with what’s in their head – it’s personal. Huge trust is needed and that’s best done very carefully and sensitively without others listening in.

Performance Coaching

Most of what I do now is performance coaching – in other words coaching aimed at a specific event with a time limit and a specific outcome.* It is taking people who are already quite competent and pushing them up the pyramid – leaving good, and the competition, behind. Coaching people who want to work to step up from being “good enough” and who now want to make Partner, bring in the business and the bonuses and get promoted. Since that session with Mercedes I have worked in the same way in politics, career development and with corporates: –

  • Politics – preparing wannabe MPs for selections and selection speeches, successful MPs for their maiden speeches, campaigns for elections, the No2AV referendum campaign and even the Sri Lankan Prime Minister for an address to the United Nations
  • Career/Personal Development – preparing graduates and senior executives for interviews
  • Corporate – preparing business development, management and MBO teams and individuals for major events, pitches and proposals.

All of them are focused on specific events, with defined time limits or dates and a specific win/lose outcome. It is for those want to perform as well as they possibly can – not just a bit better than the others and who resent being called “good enough”. It is for those who, like me, hate losing or coming second. If you know somebody who might fit into one of those categories – why not forward this post to them and introduce us by email?

 

*I have also worked on ongoing campaigns, e.g. against Human Trafficking, but there is a difference to this type of campaign – they are drip, drip, drip although they obviously include specific events and critical dates.

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (Part 1 of 4 – The Problem)

The Problem

Are you unhappy with your job? Thinking of chucking it all in, sabotaging your colleagues’ work or throwing something heavy at your boss? Or are you contemplating quietly walking out, leaving the country and going to live a simpler life on an island? Thinking of changing jobs is normal for everyone – you have no monopoly on any of these thoughts – but whatever IT is, doing it right is important.

ID-100137247Career progression means changing jobs by definition – but why and how you do it can improve your life or totally screw it up. Changing jobs at the right time for the right reasons and in the right way may seem obvious – but emotions and feelings and irrational thought get in the way and can seriously mess up your career.

I have changed jobs and made a few career changes in my life and some were cleverer than others!

So before you start booking plane tickets, selling the house, moving to or from the big city, emigrating or physically throwing stuff at the boss, why not balance out the loud emotional voices of your feelings with some sober, boring logical stuff.

The first thing to consider when deciding to change jobs is what the Problem is.  Is it you or is it them? Is it the job or the employer? Without knowing what the problem is finding a solution is impossible.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to find out what the problem is before changing jobs:

  1. Why do you want to change jobs? Make a list of five reasons in no particular order. Write them down. Seriously, it helps.
  2. Do you want to change professions or just change your employer?
  3. Would it be different if you were doing the same thing for someone else? Are you sure? Explain why? Write it down!
  4. Are you in the right job – or just at the wrong place or with the wrong people?
  5. Why did you choose your current career? What attracted you to your career in the first place?
  6. What has changed since? If anything?
  7. Why do you think that is?
  8. Why did you choose your current employer? What attracted you to your current employer in the first place?
  9. What has changed since? If anything?
  10. Why do you think that is?

This is part 1 of a 4 week series. Coming up in the following three weeks are the (really exciting) sequels to this career-based mini-series:

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Fix)

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Decision)

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Deed)

 

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

business development

Business development – 6 Rainmaking secrets

Rainmaking has nothing to do with changing the weather – it can stay this hot forever as far as I am concerned. It was the very first blogpost I wrote and I think it is still valid – although I no longer use a Blackberry as I have been a fully paid up member of the dark side since I first saw an iPhone!

Business development, or sales or being a finder* is the easiest key to being immune from redundancy and staying on the path to promotion – not the lonely path but the tarmacadam one – the well lit one, with butlers offering champagne, while applauding superiors smile on you and nod approvingly and colleagues snarl and get left behind, version. So here it is. Enjoy…

6 Rainmaking secrets

1. The easiest way to get what you want (i.e. a client’s money and being known as the King or Queen of rainmaking) is to give your clients what they want – or need. Whose money is it anyway?? It’s all about the clients – their company, their problems, their fears, their needs, their threats and their wants. Research your audience, personalise your pitch by using relevant case studies and only use admissible and appropriate language and jargon. Only talk about yourself and your company, when relating how your qualifications, experience and abilities can help them get what or where they want.business development

2. Find out what they want – where they are and where they want to be. Listen aggressively and ask questions. Pay attention to what they say – ask questions to gain more detail or to check that you have really received what they have broadcast, summarise back to them your understanding of their situation, take notes, use their names. Prescription without diagnosis is pants!

3. Treat people like people. People buy from people they like and trust, especially with the declining trust in that corporate logo on your business card!!! Don’t rush in and knock people over – assess and respect the speed and mood of your audience. Be in the room, employ attentive eye contact, and switch off your Blackberry! Focus on being a human who can help. Long-term loyalty is built up by real long term commitment – relationships count, especially in a credit crunch. (Pitch productivity success rates are great for managers, rubbish for pitch teams – focus on gaining or retaining happy trusting clients one at a time – the numbers and the ratios will look after themselves.) The risk/reward ratios of the client are what you should be focusing on – your impact on them, their career and their organisation is much more than just the project investment or your fee structure. It is where you as a professional could take them, their organisation or their career. ROI and a trusting relationship are a very strong pair.

4. Be prepared to do without PowerPoint – especially in small pitches over a coffee or at lunch. This is a good rule as it should stop you from depending on, and using, the same presentation for everyone and merely changing the name and logo on slide 1. Simple graphs and big pictures are much better than crammed details in small font. There is a difference between presenting findings of work already commissioned (educating) – which may well warrant 50 + slides – and pitching for business which should be far more concise. (See – I even hated PowerPoint then!)

5. Competence is compelling. Memorable stories and case studies add credibility. They help you sell the pie and gravy and make you avoid listing mere ingredients. If your USP is global reach (and global reach is decisively relevant to them!) talk about how your global reach helped a client – anonymous but specific. The matching of you competence and its relevance to the client is crucial. (I know I still witted on about storytelling as being essential form of communication – it always has been and always will be – so you may as well adopt it now.)

6. Be prepared for probing questions

Questions and objections indicate either that more reassurance or proof is required from your side, or that they are thinking of giving you the work but need to understand the mechanics of going forward. Remember, most people will have to defend or justify their decisions to others so make sure you equip them with the answers they need – as long as they are valid, of course. Avoid the embarrassment, professional shame and reputational damage of being a hapless, cringe worthy, incompetent victim like those seen so often on Dragon’s Den. To do this you must have identified the MKTAT Questions (Must Know The Answer To) AND THEIR ANSWERS especially in terms of process details and duration, price and price justifications, mechanics and personal knowledge of relevant case studies and how to take it further.

* Lawyers speak of finder, minder grinder: grinders – someone who is never seen, does the work, a back room resource – usually junior; minders – effectively a key account manager and finders – usually partners or those that become partners – the people who bring in the business. Apparently you have to be good at two of those jobs to survive and flourish. If you are a good finder becoming Partner is almost inevitable.

really bad PowerPoint

How to make really really bad PowerPoint presentations.

I hate PowerPoint. Or more exactly I detest the over reliance of so many presenters on PowerPoint. People who use PowerPoint as a crutch, who start their presentation prep by opening their laptops rather than getting out pen and paper.

We can’t all afford to hire Nancy Duarte and her team but we don’t have to bore people to death with really bad PowerPoint presentations.

How to avoid making a really bad Powerpoint Presentation

  1. Powerpoint bulletpoints! enough said (and yes I KNOW this is a numbered list – irony?)
  2. your Powerpoint fonts are hard to read
  3. your Powerpoint slide colours are awful
  4. awful Powerpoint slides – get good pictures!
  5. your slides have too much data
  6. your messaging is unclear
  7. do you want to persuade or inform?
  8. ….

The PowerPoint sin-list goes on and on – things you really should not do in a PowerPoint presentation – but if you insist should at least be done better. I could bore you for hours about this but this guy does it far better than I could so watch and enjoy! It’s a few years old but just as good and as valid as ever!

 

 

The New Website is here. At last.

My website was once the love of my life. Then it started to annoy me.

I couldn’t find anything. It was like a small house that had a new extension every couple of months – for several years. The purpose of the site became less and less clear and I was finding content repeated in difference places, unconnected and generally a bit of a shambles. Then one day I said to somebody that they could find an article with a list of interview question on my blog. They couldn’t – and neither could I!

Now that is just not good enough for any site – let alone someone who preaches about clarity of thought!

So the website went in for some serious repair. So much so that the site went down for two weeks and was replaced with a holding page while we worked on it, argued over layout and content. I culled and edited and shortened content – killing off some favourite children along the way. I took a deep breath and asked a friend for some input. Despite my fears, it didn’t kill me – but external input improved the site in a huge and positive way.

Today I have been going through old blogposts fixing formatting that looked clunky and overweight. I haven’t finished yet but there is a lot on so will have to repair and add a bit every day from now on.

But there is only one way to start – by pushing publish now. The new Peter Botting website is there!


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