The Value of Empowerment

January 19th, 2018

Too often, new and inexperienced managers step into the role with an attitude that seems to make sense at first: “If I just work extra hard and maintain total control, nothing can go wrong.” They then proceed to hover relentlessly over their direct reports, not allowing a single mistake, a single moment of idle time, or a single lapse in productivity. They stay late, double check every project, and insist on being kept in every loop. Then they fail. And that’s when they begin to understand the value of empowerment. If you see a bit of yourself in this profile, take a step back and keep these key considerations in mind.

Refuse to be afraid of mistakes.

Or rather, don’t let your fear of mistakes control your decisions. Your direct reports are definitely going to mess up sometimes. And when they do, you’ll take ownership of their mistakes, like good leaders should. But mistakes have great value. The more your employees make, they more they’ll learn. And the sooner they start the cycle of mistakes and learning, the faster they’ll gain competence, personal investment, and meaningful, hard-earned skills.

Hard work isn’t always the answer.

Sometimes hard work wins the prize, and harder work wins even more and bigger prizes. But sometimes this isn’t the case at all. Recognize when it’s time to let go and trust others—even those who work under your aegis. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your team is step back and let them engage directly to solve a thorny problem on their own.

Free your hands and free your time.

If you constantly hover and micromanage, you may prevent a few clerical errors or squeeze a few more minutes of productivity out of your team. But at what cost? The time you spend devoted to this endeavor should really be invested in tasks that only you can take on—the kinds of planning, mission-focused, or concept based items that can’t be delegated or outsourced to others. If you give yourself time to focus fully on these tasks and do them well, you’ll be advancing the interests of your company and your own career. If you get bogged down in actions that can and should be handled by your team, both of you will be held back.

Listen and learn.

When your teams need the kind of help that only you can provide, of course you should listen and support them. Provide the resources, data, and guidance they need. But as a manager, sometimes what they really need from you is a quiet sounding board. Allow your teams to talk first. Chime in when it’s time.

For more management and coaching tips, turn to the recruiting team at PSU.

Battling Job Search Burnout

January 5th, 2018

Job search burnout: the struggle is real. Even when the job market is booming and unemployment is low—in fact, ESPECIALLY when these conditions are in effect—an extended job search can be morally, financially, and even physically exhausting (ask any anxious person who hasn’t slept in a few days). After a seemingly endless series of rejections or disappointing feedback from disinterested employers, it’s natural to start looking around for other ways to spend the day, and if job seekers don’t recognize the signs of burnout, they may be tempted to simply stop looking for work and abandon the process, regardless of the consequences.

But giving up isn’t the answer, especially if it means a stalled career or remaining trapped in an unrewarding job that adds no value to your career. Before you’re overtaken by burnout, recognize the signs and fight back.

Don’t be relentless.

If you berate yourself for every minute that you spend awake and not looking for work, stop doing that. The job search is NOT a full-time job, counter to what you might believe. Set aside one hour, or four, or 30 minutes every day to work on your resume, and when that period ends, pack it up. Recharge your battery, turn your attention back to your current job, or spend time with friends and family.

Drop the pressure or you may be tempted to drop your standards.

If you’ve decided that your job search is a “failure” after a month goes by and you don’t have a new gig, the artificial deadline you’ve imposed may push you to make desperate decisions, and desperate decisions are rarely smart decisions. Don’t accept an absurd commute, impossible hours, or a salary that’s less than you deserve. Settle in for a long climb; you’ll get there when you get there. You won’t get there at all if you panic, give up, and accept a job you don’t want.

Get help from a recruiter.

If you feel like you’re getting tired and losing the energy and optimism you had at the beginning of your job search, it may be time to seek help from an expert outside source. An experienced, established recruiter with wide and deep connections in your industry and your geographic area can help you find and impress the employer who’s looking for you right now just as urgently as you’re looking for them. In the meantime, your recruiter can help you polish your resume and your pitch until they’re tightly targeted to your ideal opportunity.

Contact our Cleveland County career management experts at PSU to learn more!

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