Career Transitioning Excellence (CTEx)
Managing this Project for 21st Century Professionals
Part II – How is Career Transition Excellence Achieved?
A Process in Itself:
In Part I we introduced our audience to the concept of CTEx and shared its importance as well. We also concluded how at some point in our careers we have a dire need for CTEx. In Part II of this series we will share how the CTEx process works and as professionals what do we need to do to leverage the process and benefit from it.
Being coached and mentored by one of the founding Fathers of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and doing business as an associate with pioneers in the field has been a great blessing for me in my profession. The very nature of this relationship with my former mentor has helped me apply the principles of LSS to one of the most passionate things I enjoy doing, “Career Counseling.” When I transitioned into my first job, I was fortunate that attending a simple campus interview was more than sufficient to bag the offer among other offers I had to put more effort toward. The game changed significantly within a year when I was into my first job where there were no campuses to go to and jobs board to sign up. As serendipitous as it could get, my colleague encouraged me to attend a national get together of professionals that just happened to be an hour away from where I lived. Here is where my second successful transition occurred.
My 1st CTEx Experience?
During the 1st two years of my job fresh out of graduate school in the early 90’s, I also registered with a professional association called ACS (American Chemical Society). It seemed that lady luck just shone onto my future and presented one “Dr. Roger Uhler,” a renowned and 36-year veteran chemist from Du Pont, who incidentally volunteered his time for a young scientist like me. The match making process of ACS seemed to bring us together in a rare occasion, as the odds of that happening was infinitesimally small. Talk about serendipity. In that period, Dr. Uhler viewed my resume that had already been brushed, twisted, cleaned, corrected, bandaged and what not, to produce its 11th version.
By this time, I was already into the job and even sought a promotion to everyone’s envy, given that I performed beyond the call of duty as far as my immediate manager was concerned. So when Dr. Uhler shared the 11th version of my resume, I literally swore on the telephone that he may have accidentally extracted the wrong resume given that he may be receiving several in addition to that of mine. As the good books had it, he insisted that it is my resume dressed up to express an entirely different message. I was simply astounded and ate the humble pie, however, discovered the language of the message in a resume. This version got me a face-to-face interview with an employer (I wanted to be with, in my first job, but didn’t qualify for some reason) at a lightning speed that was unexpected.
That was the turning point in my career and I used the same language in my presentations at work and any professional interactions I had then on in my career. It seemed foreign to several folks even senior to me, but worked wonders when I needed something done. This was what I framed as “Unique Selling Proposition,” a borrowed terminology from the good books of successful salesmen. I realized that my resume has to reflect a unique selling proposition to the reader, which is usually the hiring manager. This language is still valid today and grossly missing in hundreds of resumes I come across each time I am reviewing the same.
Since this experience, requesting capital investment at work to implementing change in a process, justifying design modification in processes all fell under one umbrella for me – The famous “Return on Investment,” (ROI) factor. I literally surrendered to the ROI concept when I started counseling professionals junior to me in age and experience. One of my former clients with an IT major swore there is no such thing as ROI in his industry to only concur with me a years later that it mattered more than he gave credit for. As I progressed in my career, counseling became so ingrained and fun that I started taking it up as a passionate hobby with my peers and other members outside of my employer’s that I networked with. In about a decade from the time Dr. Uhler started counseling me, he shared that it was time for him to hang his hat up and that I should turn around and start giving back to the community by taking that role to counsel. That is when I began framing in my mind as to how the CTEx process should or must work. Since then there has been several iterations of how the probability of success in the CTEx process can be increased.
How Does the CTEx Process Look Like?
Just as I was screened and selected for Lean Six Sigma training and application within GE (my 2nd job since graduate school), it dawned upon me that this is also a process and it shouldn’t matter to me as to who I counsel but following the process brought me success like clockwork. As I increased the number of professionals that I counseled, the CTEx process seemed to perfect itself each time. This meant it took less time, effort and resulted in a transition that wasn’t expected.
In Part II, we will discuss how CTEx was achieved for some of my clients over the years including sharing lessons learned on both sides of the isle (counselor and candidate). The process is laid out in steps and each step is discussed in deeper detail on what is involved to achieve the pre-planned goals and objectives.
- Get formally introduced to each other.
- In today’s world this would most likely happen on LinkedIn. A formal introduction on LinkedIn or email clearly showing the email ID of the candidate and counselor by a person known in common is done either voluntarily or at the request of either the candidate or referral bringing in the candidate.
- Dealing with warm referrals is a lower risk than initiating contact with a total stranger. Most of them would prefer a warm introduction on email. If possible, make a visit in person over a cup of coffee or something light.
- Seek letters of recommendation ahead if necessary (mutually)
- Appreciate that this is NOT a freeloading zone but some form of a paid service</
- Not knowing what they don’t know. Unless there is a cinch of spite, most of the candidates coming in assume this is a “help” while the counselor is thinking it is a “service.”
- Candidate should be the first to bring about the topic of investment and not state “How much would it cost me?”
- Respect the counselor and understand their profile before you accept to meet one. Read about them as much as you can and then appreciate their time no matter what direction the meeting goes. He or she is probably billing by time not dependent on a steady salary unlike your situation. Even if you got laid off, there is a severance and benefits package provided to you by your employer. Thus this qualifies to treat it like a paid service and respect the value they bring to your future.
- Validate roles and responsibilities upfront with clear documentation
- The counselor’s role is NOT to:
- Act as a head hunter
- Provide you leads
- Share his or her contacts in the industry
- Find you a job or land you an interview or lead
- Make sure you are doing what you are supposed to be doing
- To share a list price for their counseling package
- The candidate’s role includes:
- Understanding the process of a successful hire despite the economy
- Asking for referrals from the counselor and being tough on them
- Screening and finalizing on one of them if need be
- Proactively using the tools of project management and lead the efforts
- Quantifying counseling benefit & proposing investment fee
- Collaboratively setting project terms and conditions for use as a guideline
- Being fair and square no matter what the problem you face
- Showing loyalty to your objective and being transparent to your counselor and staff
- Expecting the counselor to deliver on his commitments as well
- Display willingness to terminating agreement if necessary after a detailed discussion
- Ensure all forms and tools of technology are available on mutual sides
This list includes the following (NN Non Negotiable):
- Mobile Telephone (NN)
- Active Email (NN)
- High Speed Internet (NN)
- Skype (including headsets, webcam and paid account for calling
- VOIP Land Line
- Printer with scan, print, and copy facilities (NN)
- Laptop with right memory, speed and anti-virus packages (NN)
- Active account on LinkedIn, Face book, Twitter, Plaxo, and other (NN)
- If they refuse to be associated with such networking sites, it is a red flag for the counselor to stay away!
- A three-pin binder along with a hole-puncher to add in documents (NN)
- Remote access to internet by your mobile service provider (NN)
- Missing on any of these has an impact and they are reasonable for a professional
- Don’t leave home without the folder in your backpack
- Treat it like a real Lean Six Sigma project in your career and do whatever it takes
- This is an LSS project where the defect is “bench time without pay”
- Start with the project charter and end with fulfilling the contents of it
- In your 1st transition project, you will learn that it is much beyond LSS
- This would require a team and sponsors and do not rush without a team
- Focus on this project to completion to reap the benefits of a lifetime
- Assign clear milestones using the tools of project management
- Milestone (s) of success can be defined using the BIFN technique
- A “Backward Integration of Forwarding Needs” process
- Project Management skills come into play here as a critical element
- Respect documentation and maintain it diligently and be open to audits
- Shrugging documentation on tools such as MS Excel shows reluctance
- Ability to perform analytical is a must
- If candidate refuses on such aspects counselor increases risk of failure
- With an objective so important, lack of time should never have to be an excuse
- Celebrate the milestones in a minor way if that helps motivate yourself
- Set time for frequent reviews to check for progress in direction and magnitude
- Project review is the most important tool, and so conduct frequent reviews
- Choose an informal review, so that the actual review is a grand pass
- Determine the root causes for the 3Dsto reduce and/or eliminate the same
- Using the RCA tools, prevent future delays or gaps in your success plan
- Leverage data effectively and efficiently to seek your success objectives
- Ask for lessons learned and best practices to avoid reinventing the wheel
- Control the causes for success in objectives and achieve the desired output
- Once you have determined the causes for success, lock and control them
- With “bench time without pay” as metric, all inputs would relate to time
- Get ready to validate the time and motion study for your project
- Seize pictures and create videos wherever applicable but be professional
- Establish a working model to utilize in need during future transitions
- The working model can be duplicated toward any situation once mastered
- Do not feel shy to publish with a co-author after permission from counselor
- Validate the model each time you work it to your success
- Pay up according to terms and conditions laid out and validate your ROI
- Pay advance and interim and final amounts diligently
- Check all payment modes ahead of payment time with counselor
- Resolve issues openly and never be negative
- Endorse your counselor and bring referrals based on your success story
- With results achieved on your side, endorse counselors on LinkedIn
- Endorse someone in your previous job as well
- Ask for endorsement from the counselor based on your performance
When the candidate shows a great attitude and gratitude, there is a strong tendency to achieve results beyond belief. By executing this methodology, the candidate in turn is able to create successful transitions in his own career from their first experience. This methodology is a one-time learning and a lifetime of application in value.
Transitioning in one’s career can be challenging depending on the nature of the transition itself, the timing, location, economy, skills and other presiding factors. Thus executing the transition is itself a process that most professionals ignore and pay a dear price when they have to bear the consequences of either a delayed or missed timing. Sometimes the transition goes awry and a sense of guilt can take over thus damaging the self esteem of that person, the family associated as well as other aspects of their lives.
A summarized conclusion of Part II as shown below for your reading and expectations before Friday this week on Part III of this series, where we would share testimonials on how the CTEx process worked for them in their career transitioning processes. The testimonials include situations of career successful transitioning between cities, countries, continents, industry to academia, college to corporate, unemployed to employed, and “laid-off-to-being-hired.” Each of these situations brings a flavor to leverage and utilize in our own careers successfully. There were some situations where the process was terminated as the elements to success were found to be lacking while such examples also show us what not to do.
- Follow the 12-Step methodology with rigor
- CTEx works is less stressful when on a job than when without
- Be careful and diligent in selecting your counselor – get their track record
- Don’t be shy or reluctant to terminate agreement with counselor if needed
- Be cognizant of what tools of technology to use, for example:
- Meet in person with your counselor when in town
- Call counselor and follow with email when away by a long distance
- Email and calls have to be balanced based on need and relevance
- Follow general etiquettes of technological tools in this process
…to be continued in Part III this week.