Monday, October 27, 2014

Think about your reference

Building relationships are critical to business success; sometimes even more so in the apparel industry. A referral means more to most hiring managers than your degree and sometimes even your experience. Likewise, the referee carries more weight if it is someone the hiring manager knows, trusts and respects. Before picking your references, think through all the details. Talk with a recruiter you worked with to find out what type of referrals may carry more weight. Scour LinkedIn before your interview to see if there are any connections to anyone you are meeting with. If there are, reach out to your connection before the interview to see how they know the person you are meeting. Ask how their relationship with the interviewer is (I know you will be shocked to hear that not everyone in the fashion industry likes each other.) A liked common connection could put you on top of a large pile of resumes.

What are some other ways you could use this common connection to secure the job? If you were the hiring manager, how much would that connection mean to you?

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Monday, October 13, 2014

What type of employee are you?

Over my career, I’ve had all different types of employees. Some have been very independent while others need a great deal of attention to perform. While everyone needs direction, not everyone needs a detailed to do list. Understanding what your employee needs is key to both their and your success. On the flip side, you need to understand what kind of employee your boss wants you to be. What does s/he respond to- your independence or your attentive behavior?

I prefer a team that is more independent than not. I consider my leadership role as the conductor. I make sure the team all knows where we are going, following the traffic signals and remove any potential obstacles that get in their way.  What does that mean exactly? I can help an employee problem solve to a resolution they might not have considered. Or if a team member is taking longer than expected on a project because they don’t have all the information they need, I can make a couple calls to uncover the missing data.

Where do I draw the line? Interpersonal conflict. I am not a therapist, counselor or parent. I will not step in the middle of a conflict between teammates. Each employee is responsible for their own relationships. I once had an employee, Jack*, in a conflict with a coworker. He didn’t feel as though Sally* respected him. Jack asked me to “tell Sally to respect me.” I almost rolled my eyes. If you have gone to your boss and said something like this, I want you to think about how immature that sounds. This employee just told me he can’t earn a coworker’s respect and wasn’t up for trying to fix the problem on his own. Admitting you don’t have a great relationship is one thing, but wanting your boss to fix your problem is a whole other issue. What would I have responded better to? “I don’t think Sally respects me because she didn’t get me the project completed on time as I requested. I feel like I have tried several things to build the relationship, but nothing is working. What are your thoughts on how I can change the situation?” This is something that would have worked with me. I could brainstorm with the employee. Maybe share observations about his behavior that could be creating the problem. My goal would be to give him the tools to solve his problem on his own. Think about your boss, what message you are sharing and consider his/her response before having the conversation. On the flip side, I know many bosses who enjoy handling their team’s interpersonal problems.

How do you need to change your approach to match your boss’s preferences? What is your style? How do you communicate your style with your team?

*Names are changed to protect the privacy of employees

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