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Steve, you raise some sound suggestions, especially the ideas of taking more control of the process as an employee and changing the language from "feedback" to conversation. The idea of feedback in the business world has gotten to be so institutionalized and rigorous that it seems almost more like a punchline than a meaningful business process (plus, I believe it likely appears on many of those "bull**** bingo" cards that one can use at a meeting to entertain himself). Having just done this myself as an employee (having a discussion with my manager to discuss not only performance but how to align my development needs with the company's objectives), I can certainly say that taking more control of your destiny in this manner certainly helps to reduce stress. In the worst case, it reduces the uncertainty that can make your future path unclear, which in turn makes it harder to make career decisions.
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Steve - your post inspired me to write one of my own discussing "business sense" (i.e., business orientation) and how one might build it. Interested to see if you have any other ideas on how one might grow this talent. http://gregstrosaker.com/2010/02/building-a-better-business-sense/
Toggle Commented Feb 16, 2010 on Talent For The Long Run at All Things Workplace
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Steve, I agree completely that "business orientation" (or, as I've heard said elsewhere, "business sense") is that one intangible that takes someone with a particular skill (marketing, engineering, IT) and suddenly makes them infinitely more valuable to the organization. Such people are able to quickly and credibly evaluate ideas in the context of the company's products, markets, customers, and organization and eliminate the 90% that won't work to be able to focus on the 10% that might. It's the person that recognizes that their own ideas or priorities may not jive with what the company needs to do and they can quickly sacrifice their own goals in pursuit of the company's. Of course, they get things wrong same time, but they are usually quicker at sensing when something isn't going right and either kill the activity or project or make course corrections. It'd be interesting to see a post (here or elsewhere) on how to identify people with this capability. I do believe that some of it comes across on the resume (through an ability to state accomplishments in the context of gains to the company) but perhaps even more so through behavior-based interviewing.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2010 on Talent For The Long Run at All Things Workplace
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I still think it's important to keep your "BATNA" in mind (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement), so that you know what your walkaway point is. Of course, this isn't a tip that helps keep the negotiations cordial, but it does help you recognize when the time has come to agree to disagree and at least part ways amicably.
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Steve, These are good fundamentals on how to find common ground; understanding another person's point of view by putting yourself in their position (as best as possible) always helps move agreements forward. Greg
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Steve, I like your idea of basically "earning" permission to be yourself (presuming "yourself" is in fact a bit different, maybe outlandish) by first focusing on delivering results. Nonconformance is terrific if the goal isn't simply to be, well, nonconforming. Focus on delivering value, and then the methods on how you do so can truly become your own.
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Thanks for pointing out this video Steve. This is frankly why I'm glad I left engineering and moved into marketing. While there is certainly a slim portion of the marketing population with "2 year associate degrees", most of us in technical or industrial products have done our time in engineering and wanted something more. Your closing paragraph states it perfectly - we wanted to better define and communicate how to solve problems for our customers. Not to sound like sour grapes, but the bigger problem I see is too many engineers who don't view what they design as "solutions" with the value to be defined by the customer, and instead want to boast about the features without a clear understanding of whether said features meet any sort of need. The good engineers are open-minded and avoid the "not-invented-here" mentality, and they are precious assets to your company.
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Your advice to allow a post to rest for a bit before publishing is sound not just for blogs but for any document you create. It can be very difficult to have the patience to do so, but there are certainly plenty of instances we can all recall where an outstanding point occurred to us (or worse, recognition of an error) soon after clicking the "publish" button. Of course, it is always possible to go back and edit later, but this feels like fighting fires and early readers will get the original, "sub-optimal" text.
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