Thursday, December 24, 2015

Peace To Men of Good Will

St. Luke Chapter 2   The Shepherds and the Angels circa 4 b.c.
8And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.9And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. 10And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: 11For, this day, is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. 12And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
14Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.
15And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed to us. 16And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. 17And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. 18And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

The message of the angels, "peace to men of good will" has been translated/interpreted both inclusively and exclusively; that is, it could mean peace to all or just peace to some. From a Catholic point of view, it means the latter. 

In other words, peace is conditional on righteousness. This is self-evident, and a careful reading of scripture affirms this principal that if you want inner peace, then you must pursue a life of righteousness. You'll only have inner peace if you're a good and righteous person. Bad and sinful people don't have inner peace; rather, they have inner turmoil and restlessness.

On Christmas Day 1863 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem Christmas Bells which I think so eloquently captures this concept of peace to men of good will.
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men. 
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men. 
And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men." 
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men." 
Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

10 Things You Need to Do To Get Promoted

At the end of the year we tend to look back at the past twelve months and assess our successes and failures. So I wanted to repost this article as we plan for the next year at work.

10 Things You Need to Do To Get Promoted

by Bryan Neva and Allen Laudenslager

Over our 90 plus years of combined working experience, we've seen what it takes to get promoted into leadership or management positions, and it's probably not what you'd think.  So if you're aspiring to a leadership or management position within your organization, here's what you'll need to do to get promoted.

1. Look and dress the part
If you want to move up in any organization you must also look and dress the part.  Dress to impress.  Look at those who hold the next higher position than yours and dress like they do.  Also, consider getting a hairstyle similar to your superiors.


Always be clean and well groomed when you come to work.  If you’re overweight, you need to go on a diet and shed those unwanted pounds.  Overweight people generally don’t get promoted.  If you smoke, you need to quit, or at least try not to smoke at work by using nicotine patches.  Always use breath mints while at work, and go easy on the cologne or perfume: less is more.  

Studies have shown that attractive people generally are given more opportunities than less than attractive people.  So do whatever it takes to improve your appearance through better grooming, hairstyles, clothing, weight loss, healthy living, and fresh breath.

You shouldn’t think of this as misrepresenting who or what you really are.  If you were learning to play tennis, you wouldn’t wear Levis and cowboy boots so why wouldn’t you dress appropriately for your new job.  If you're in the military they have a strict dress code.  If you work at McDonalds they have a dress code too.  Even if it’s not your current job, but rather the job you aspire to, look and dress the part.

Some people have asked, what do you do when your personality is Levis and cowboy boots and your job is a three piece suit? You either have to accept that your job demands you display a different part of your personality at work or change career fields to one that more closely matches what you think of as your personality.

When I (Bryan) was in the Navy 30 years ago, there were sailors who worked in the greasy diesel engine rooms.  Most of them walked around the ship covered from head to toe in grease and grime. They'd even come to the mess deck and eat without washing themselves first.  It was really gross especially if I were sitting next to them. I'd lose my appetite and just leave. But there was one sailor who also worked in the engine rooms, but took personal pride in his appearance and was always clean and well groomed.  We jokingly used to kid him about his cleanliness, but he'd just say that working in a dirty environment is not an excuse for filthiness.  Guess what, he was eventually promoted over his peers.  

You have to think of going to work like going to a party or club and trying to attract the opposite sex, or going on a job interview and trying to get the job.  You only get one chance to make a good first impression.  But consistently dressing well can leave a lasting impression that will help you get promoted.

2. Be consistently outstanding in performing your job
Doing your job and doing it well is a very important prerequisite to getting promoted.  In fact, if you want to standout from your peers, you'll have to exceed your boss' expectations and give him or her more than what they asked for in a timely manner (even if that means coming in early, staying late, working Saturdays, and bringing work home with you).  When you do your job well, it makes your boss as well as the entire organization look good.


Think for a moment about the skill level of professional athletes.  Most good athletes were high school or college sports stars, but only a few of those made it into the pros.  Are the few outstanding athletes who do make it into the “big leagues” really that much more talented?  Or did they just put in the extra effort and time to hone their skills to the professional level?

There are plenty of people who do a good job, and they make up a majority of the workforce. Nevertheless, most high performing organizations have raised the bar so high that being good is no longer good enough.  If you're not consistently performing at a superior level you might be in danger of losing your job.  To get promoted you have to have sustained, superior performance.

Jack Welch, the legendary and controversial CEO of GE, pioneered a method of  annual employee evaluations where GE would cull the bottom 10% of their workforce every year.  Managers could only rate 20% of their employees as "excellent”; 70% of their employees could be rated "good"; and the bottom 10% would have to be rated "poor" and subsequently let go.  Following in GE's footsteps, many other large companies adopted this scheme of annually culling their workforce.  Personally, we’re opposed to culling employees for many different reasons, but then again we’re not running GE. But if you consistently do your best at work, then you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Along with doing a great job at work is showing flexibility and adapting to change.  You may begin your career with a certain job description, but how you end your career depends on your flexibility and your willingness to accept change as inevitable.  There will always be some people who just want to be a designing engineer and have absolutely no desire to be the managing engineer. That’s perfectly OK as long as it’s a choice and not the result of not doing their best work.

3. Be completely honest and trustworthy
You have to be completely honest and trustworthy in everything you do.  These are virtues to strive for whether or not you’re at work.  If you make a mistake, then fix it and humbly admit it.  Don't try to hide your mistakes or blame it on someone else.  If you catch someone else making a mistake, help them fix it and make them look good and you’ll earn their trust and respect.  Let your work speak for itself and be your calling card so that when someone else comes behind you they'll be impressed with the quality of your work.  

Being honest and trustworthy is easy at the lower levels of an organization, but as you move up it becomes a bit more difficult as you’ll be faced with more ambiguous situations.  At the lower levels you can pass the buck of responsibility and decision making up the chain of command.  But at the higher levels you have to make sense of ambiguity and try to make wise and prudent decisions.  This is why it’s so important to have guiding principles in life to point you in the right direction when you’re lost and don’t know which way to turn.

We’ve both have been in jobs where the culture was to make unethical decisions if it helped the bottom line.  And if anyone in the organization actually tried to make a principled decision it actually got them into trouble.  All we can recommend is run, do not walk to the nearest exit.  Trying to fight the organization by making principled decisions will only destroy you.  But we promise you that if you consistently make unethical or illegal choices it will eventually catch up with you and cost you much more than simply changing jobs.

4. Prove you can do the job above you
Over time you have to prove to your superiors that you can do the job above you.  This means stepping up to the plate every chance you get to go the extra-mile.  If your boss goes on vacation offer to cover for her while they’re gone.  Maybe there are routine reports that have to be filed, do those for her.  In fact, try to relieve your boss’ work-load by taking on some of her collateral duties.

One way you can prove to your superiors that you’re ready for more responsibility is by furthering your education.  If you’ve got a technical background, consider getting an MBA.  If you don’t have a college education, go back to school and finish your degree.  Online distance education has made is so much easier than when we were young and you physically had to go to a brick and mortar school. Also, take seminars that will help you improve your job performance.  Or earn certifications that will prove your skill level.  Go to the self-help or business section of your local bookstore and peruse the books.  You may find a book that could be transformative.  

Remember that anything you master will not only prove to your current boss that you are motivated and prepared, it will prove exactly the same things to an future boss if you decide the current company doesn’t value you.

But as Dirty Harry said, “A man has got to know his limitations!”  So don’t fall prey to the Peter Principle by getting promoted to your highest level of incompetence.  It’s better to pass on an opportunity until you’re absolutely sure you can do the job.  It won’t help you in the long-run if you’re promoted and eventually fail.

5. Be well liked and respected throughout the organization
In order to get promoted you first have to be personally liked and respected by your colleagues.  And you have to be cognizant of who in your work group is the most influential as they can either help or hurt your career.  If you're working with jerks, then kill them all with kindness.  But never let them perceive what you really think of them.  As far as they’re concerned, make them believe you like and respect them too (even if you really don't).  Showing respect to others can be as simple as showing the common curtesy we should all show to another human being (even if they really don't deserve it). 


The next thing you need to do is be personally liked and respected by your manager.  If your manager doesn’t personally like or respect you, then you'll never go anywhere as they can sabotage your career.  If you're working for a jerk, kill him with kindness too, but look around for a lateral move within the organization.  Changing bosses can make all the difference and help you get ahead.  If a lateral move isn’t possible, it’s probably time to look for another job with another company.  If your boss doesn’t like or respect you, no matter how well you do your job it’ll never be good enough for him or her.

I remember when I (Bryan) first started in the Navy back in the early 1980s.  I was working on a hospital floor where there was a really dysfunctional working environment.  After working there for over a year, the charge nurse gave me a very poor evaluation (she actually gave everyone poor evaluations), so I found another job in the hospital. When my transfer came through, the charge nurse fought tooth-and-nail to keep me there saying they needed my help.  My superior pointed out to her that by giving me a bad evaluation she confirmed she really didn't need my help.  In her opinion I was a poor worker, but I was still good enough to continue working there; she couldn't have it both ways.  My next work area gave me a glowing evaluation when I left.  I didn't do anything different, it was just that the boss didn't like or respect me.

The next thing you need to do to get promoted is to be liked and respected by other managers (your manager's peers).  They too have influence with the decision maker and can help or hurt your career.

Finally, you have to be liked and respected by your manager's boss.  Any chance you get to make a positive impression with this person can only help your career.  Emails, presentations, exchanging pleasantries are all good ways to make a good impression.  But be careful not to let them perceive you’re sucking up to them, that’ll turn them off.  Less is probably more when it comes to dealing with this individual.

You should think of going to work like being an actor in Hollywood trying to win roles and eventually winning the academy award, a political candidate trying to win votes and getting elected to public office, or a salesman trying to make a good impression and closing the deal.  This is not about being disingenuous with others; it’s just like going to a wedding and being kind and friendly to the other guests so that the wedding can be fun for everyone there.  So, make the same effort at work.

The Golden Rule says, “treat others the way you want to be treated.”  But the Platinum Rule says, “treat others the way they want to be treated.”  In order to be liked and respected by others, you have to follow both the Golden and Platinum Rules. Once again, you really can't fake this.  You must truly care about the people around you. That doesn't mean you will like and respect everyone, just that you must care that they succeed and that the organization as a whole will make its goals.

6. Don’t criticize or complain about anything
Being negative won't get you anywhere in an organization.  In fact, in time it'll probably get you fired. Organizations don't like malcontents or dysfunctional behavior.  They want everyone to be happy campers even if the working conditions are in fact miserable and your superiors are misbehaving.  So if you want to get promoted, you'll have to become stoic at work.  There are two old clichés that really apply here, 1) "if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all", and 2) "it's better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak up and prove to be one."


The less you say at work, the better off you'll be positioned to getting a promotion.  Other than benign details, be guarded about sharing too many personal details about yourself with anyone.  If you're having personal problems at home, don't bring them to work.  Don’t be rude about it, just be coy about discussing your personal business.  Think of professional television and radio personalities, you may think they’re being open about themselves, but in fact if you listen carefully they’re actually being quite guarded about sharing details about their lives.

As far as your colleagues are concerned, don't say anything negative about anyone else.  If someone says something negative about someone else, retort by saying something positive about them.  

Euphemistically phrase everything you say.  For example, if something is going really badly, say it's challenging.  If you work in deplorable conditions, say you work in a rugged setting.  If someone is behaving badly, say they were having issues.  You get the idea.  In other words, don't call a spade a spade, instead be very diplomatic in everything you say.  Bridle your tongue by thinking about what you’ll say or don’t say before you even say it.  And never use profanity or foul language at work.

Be very careful if you go out for drinks with coworkers.  A little bit of alcohol can lower your inhibitions and you may say something they can use against you later.  In fact, it’s probably better just to order a soda.  Just tell them you’ve got to drive.  

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if things are really that bad you might be happier looking for an exit.  No one likes working in a toxic, dysfunctional work environment.  There is no shame in recognizing that the place is broke-beyond-repair and you just can’t fix it.

7. Keep your business expenses to a minimum
When you're on official business or travel, keep your expenses down to a minimum.  Think of business travel like you're spending your own money when you go on vacation.  Economize. Companies generally don’t mind paying legitimate business and travel expenses, so just follow the organization’s rules and regulations on business and travel and try to come in under budget.

Here’s some ways to economize.  Choose the least expensive airfare even if that means having a lot of connections or some layovers.  Try to carpool with other travelers by renting only one car for two to four employees.  Drive rather than fly if the destination is within driving distance.  Stay at inexpensive hotels, and eat at inexpensive restaurants.

8. Keep your creative ideas and solutions to yourself
The only person allowed to be creative in any organization is the person at the very top.  Everyone else is only allowed to carry out their creative ideas and solutions.  You have to walk a fine line here.  

Many organizations that claim to want creative solutions to their problems really only want creative solutions that don’t violate established policies or procedures.  The problem for you is that if the established policies or procedures could fix the problem they wouldn’t be looking for a creative solution!  Whenever possible frame your solution as a one-time exception to the rules so that you don’t make the bean counters too nervous.

9. Share your superiors values and interests
People who get promoted more or less share their superiors values and interests.  More often than not, you’ll get promoted because your superiors personally like you.  And they’ll like you more if you share their values and interests.  But you have to be very careful here if you want to maintain your personal integrity.  

If your superiors are politically liberal or conservative, don’t pretend you’re a liberal or conservative just to ingratiate yourself with them.  If your political views are different, just keep your opinions to yourself.  If your political views are the same, then nod in agreement.  If they play golf but you don’t, don’t  pretend you like golf too.  Just say you’ve never tried golf before and you've always wanted to learn to play.  Maybe they’ll invite you along to learn to play golf and you might discover a new hobby.  If you don’t have much in common with your superiors, then just show an interest in what they like even if you personally don’t like it.  There’s nothing disingenuous about showing an interest in others and their hobbies.  All you’re doing here is managing which parts of yourself you share with others.  In exactly the same way you wouldn’t bore your wife with a review of a football game if she doesn’t like football; you’d save that discussion with your buddies who love football.

The one thing you do have in common with your superiors is your work.  Try to learn more about the organization and the industry you work in.  Start picking their brains and asking open-ended questions so you can learn more and become a more effective employee.  Start doing your own research on the industry and problems they face.  Maybe you can come up with creative ideas that you can do on your own to help your organization become more competitive. 

10. Do Not Drink the Kool-Aid
"Drinking the Kool-Aid" is a figure of speech which generally refers to people who unquestionably accept a philosophy or go along with peer pressure, or group thinking without critical examination.  It is a severe criticism of those in an organization who don't think for themselves, go-along-to-get-along, or engage in sycophantic behavior.  

This figure of speech has it's roots with the infamous American religious cult leader of the People's Temple, Jim Jones, who on November 18, 1978 in Jonestown, Guyana, demanded his followers commit suicide with him by drinking cyanide-laced, grape-flavored Kool-Aid.  He is responsible for the murder/suicides of over 900 people.

Most companies will not ask you to Drink the Kool-Aid or do anything unethical, illegal, or morally questionable.  However, there are some organizations where you’ll only get promoted if you’ll figuratively Drink the Kool-Aid.  But that’s not the type of organization you’d want to work for anyway.  

In those unethical organizations, they’ll want you to blindly follow whatever they tell you to do.  If they want you to get rid of a good employee, you'll have to do it without losing sleep over it.  If they want you to do anything questionable, unethical, or illegal for the good and profitability of the organization, you'll have to do it and not bat an eye. They'll ask you to reach into your own pocket to pay their legitimate business expenses. They'll pay you far less than you're really worth in the market place. They'll consistently ask you to put in sixty to eighty hours a week so they don't have to hire more people. And they'll motivate you by hanging your job security and livelihood of your family over your head. If that’s the type of company you work for, don’t waste your time and energy trying to get promoted. Just start looking for another organization that values honesty and personal integrity even if it means taking a pay cut. Over the long-run, it’s much better for the welfare of your family, your own health, and your long-term career success for you to just find another job than to fight within your organization.

We've both worked for unethical companies like those described above, and the big career limiting choice we each made was to Not Drink the Kool-Aid.  Many of our colleagues in those companies chose to Drink The Kool-Aid and were subsequently promoted over us.  As far as we know they thrived in their careers whereas we both suffered. But we were more concerned about doing what is right rather than in just doing the right things to get ahead.

Conclusion
In short, getting promoted is a combination of doing your job extremely well and playing politics. Some people have a really tough time playing politics; they feel they're being disingenuous with others.  But we're all complex, multi-dimensional people with many facets to our personalities.  

You may be an engineer who loves riding motorcycles, a technical writer who loves building sailboats and campers, an accountant who rides mountain bikes, a janitor who's the part-time pastor of a small church, a waitress who writes romance novels, a businessman who likes to volunteer at soup kitchens, a physician who plays guitar in the church band, or a scientist who sings in the community choir.  The point is that you may only display a small part of who you are at work and that’s OK.  In fact that’s a big part of the points we’re making here. You aren’t changing who you are when you follow these ideas, you are just selecting which of your existing facets you will show at what time to further your career.

Doing all these things we suggest is no guarantee you'll ever get promoted into a leadership or management position.  Oftentimes, the best and most qualified people don't get promoted, and that's just a sad fact of life.  You may read these 10 things and decide that trying to get promoted is really not for you, and that's OK as not everyone is cut out for leadership or management positions. Sadly, the big reason we've seen people aspire to leadership or management positions is simply because they want more power and money. Ideally it should be because you'd like to make a positive difference in your organization. Nevertheless, if you consistently follow these 10 things we suggest, you'll greatly increase your chances of getting that promotion you've always wanted, and you'll do it in an honest and ethical manner.  

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