Category: Career Planning

Is Your Feedback a Gift Card?

We often use the expression “All feedback is a gift.” During this holiday season it occurred to me that in fact, feedback is a gift card. A recent study estimated that if you don’t use a gift card within two weeks of receipt, there’s only a 20% chance that you will ever use it. Some cards even have an expiry date.

So are you in the two week “zone”? Or is the feedback you received still sitting in a drawer somewhere?

Most of us are engaged in setting goals, especially at this time of year. So how can you use feedback you’ve received and ensure it is reflected in your personal learning plans for 2011?

Here are 5 tips for spending your gift card:

1. Review all your feedback.
Consider what you’ve received in the last 3-6 months, including 360s, internal and external surveys, coaching from your boss and any informal feedback. Determine the themes and patterns. What is your feedback saying about how you need to grow?

2. Determine what resonates with you.
If you’ve had the same feedback three times, it is time to pay attention. For feedback that you don’t agree with, do some fact-finding. Make sure that gift card isn’t counterfeit.

3. Establish your learning goals.
Decide what you want to learn, how you’ll get there, when you’ll know you’ve been successful and your timing. Write this down and post it in a visible spot.

4. Communicate your goals.
Let your boss and others know so they can give you kudos for your progress.

5. Keep your eye on your gift card’s balance.
Take advantage of all the feedback you’ve been given. Try to spend it all.

Make sure you use your entire gift card. In 6 months when you review your personal learning plans, you’ll have an amazing sense of accomplishment.

All feedback is a gift!

Self-Esteem and Leadership

Imagine being told:

“You need to improve your presence.”
“Why can’t you think on your feet?”
“You don’t do well with conflict, do you?”
“You’re being defensive.”

As you move beyond your emotional reaction, you might ask if low self-esteem contributes to these statements. Is it theirs or yours?

What is self-esteem? Nathaniel Branden, the acclaimed author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem” defines self-esteem as a combination of self-confidence and self-respect. In other words, if you have good self-esteem you feel competent and you feel valuable. Who doesn’t want to feel like that? That is, I can get the job done and I am worthy of the job.

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. As a leader how you feel about yourself impacts everything you do in your leadership role.

If you have high self-esteem, you’ll be more effective in having difficult conversations, delivering persuasive presentations, taking tough decisions and helping others course correct. People will see you as approachable, emotionally grounded and courageous. More of a leader!

You’ll have better relationships, be happier and be more motivated.

How can you improve your self-esteem? Stay tuned for my next blog post.

OK, one tip: hang out with others who have high esteem (and who you respect). It’s contagious!

How to Improve Your Self-Esteem

“Low self esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on.”
— Maxwell Max —

If you don’t want to drive through life with your hand brake on, here are 8 tips on how to build your self-esteem:

1. Hang out with people who have high self-esteem. Listen to how they talk about themselves. Watch how they interact with others. Model their behaviours.

2. Turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk. In preparing for an upcoming presentation, you may think: “I’m going to get shot down.” Transform this into: “This is a great learning opportunity.”

3. Ask others for feedback. Make sure they give you some kudos. When you get constructive feedback, don’t take it as a slight (you did ask after all!). Look for the gift card. We all have “lesser strengths”, so hone in on new behaviours you need to adopt.

4. Ask for help. Rather than beating yourself up because you’re drowning in admin work or you can’t turn on a dime for someone, ask a respected peer how they handle similar challenges.

5. Set realistic goals. Stop comparing yourself to others. What’s achievable for you? When you achieve your goals, reward yourself.

6. Take accountability for your actions. Stop blaming your parents, your siblings or the boss from hell three jobs ago. As an adult, what you do and how you feel is your responsibility.

7. Stick to the Golden Rule. By treating others the way you want to be treated, for example, with caring and respect, they will respond in a like fashion. This will build your self-esteem.

8. Build your self-awareness and your self-knowledge. Do an inventory of your skills and strengths. Write down your personal and work accomplishments in the past month or so. Maybe you started a fitness program and stuck to it or you coached a peer at work. Look for your successes.

Engagement: It’s Up to You!

How engaged are you?

Engagement refers to your loyalty, passion and commitment to your work. It is apparent in the extra effort you make to meet the needs of your colleagues and customers.

Candidly answer these 7 questions: Never, Sometimes or Often?

  1. I recommend my employer to others as a good place to work.
  2. I feel that I’m working to my potential in this job.
  3. I’m thinking of leaving my job.
  4. I put in an effort over and above what is expected of me.
  5. I always speak positively about my employer.
  6. I am committed to helping my employer achieve its business goals.
  7. I enjoy helping others in their work in my organization.

If you don’t have 7 “Oftens”, you would benefit from some career coaching.

As a leader, it is also useful to consider how your employees would answer these questions.

What impact do you have on their engagement? It’s up to you! Your leadership excellence is the most critical factor in creating employee engagement.

Specifically, how you:

  • set direction
  • build trust
  • foster accountability
  • provide growth opportunities
  • communicate about the good, bad and ugly
  • reward your staff.

The payback?

Engaged employees. Employees who are loyal, productive and satisfied. When you foster a culture of engagement, both you and your employees will be more successful.

Are You “Career Smart”?

A recent coaching client described his devastation when his boss advised him that “his services were no longer required”. To all appearances, he was on a trajectory to success. He had an engineering degree coupled with an MBA and five years of progressively more senior roles in a fast growing industry. As “Michael” listened to the HR rep describe his severance package, he felt numb. He wondered how things could have gone so awry. After all, his recent 360° report validated his leadership capability. As Michael drove away with five years of his life in a banker’s box, it hit him: “I kept my head down for five years and didn’t even think about my career. I thought it would just take care of itself.” In that moment Michael learned the importance of being “Career Smart”.

Are you Career Smart?

Answer these 7 questions, “yes” or “no”:

  1. Can you clearly articulate your transferable strengths and skills?
  2. Is there congruency between what you value most and how you actually spend your time?
  3. Do you know what engages you and what demotivates you at work?
  4. Do you have a career plan that is a roadmap for success?
  5. Do you know how the shifting work place will impact you over the next five years?
  6. Are you agile in adapting to organizational change?
  7. Do you have a learning plan that supports your longer term career plan?

Being Career Smart encompasses becoming highly self-aware, getting constructive feedback, adopting a curious mind-set, setting goals and being results-oriented. It also involves finding a fit between available opportunities and your skills, motivators, values.

If you responded “yes” to all seven questions, congratulations! You are Career Smart. Keep up the good work! Six or less is an opportunity. Don’t wait for others to open doors. Look at your “no” responses, develop an action plan to address each one and create a solid platform for your career and personal success!

CORE offers confidential, 1:1 career coaching from a team of highly experienced, knowledgeable, ICF-certified coaches.

Are You a Perfectionist? Change that Habit!

It used to be that when job applicants were asked to name 3 strengths, the response “I’m a perfectionist” was seen as desirable. Not anymore.

Because in this frenzied world where managing complexity is the norm, perfectionists often:

  • Slow down completion of assignments
  • Set unrealistic goals
  • Have difficulty delegating
  • Berate themselves or others when they make mistakes

If you are a perfectionist, ask yourself 4 questions:

  1. In a 24/7 world, is an excellent piece of work better late than good work on time?
  2. What is the worst thing that would happen if you make an error?
  3. How many times in a day do you witness other people making mistakes and how serious were the consequences?
  4. What is the cost of reviewing your work multiple times (e.g. time, money, stress, work-life imbalance)?

Striving to be perfect in all aspects of your life fosters self-doubt and personal disappointment.
And as a leader, creating unrealistic expectations for others creates anxiety and disengagement.

3 strategies that will help:

  1. Be aware of your perfectionism and try to break the habit.
  2. Ask yourself about the task at hand: is “very good” good enough?
  3. View constructive feedback you’re given not as a sign of failure but as a learning opportunity.

Be Career Smart: 7 High Gain Questions to Ask Your Boss

In my previous blog “Are You Career Smart?” I touched on the importance of getting feedback about how others see us.

Yet getting these revelations is rarely easy. Leaders often struggle with separating fact from fiction, want to dodge conflict or are simply time-crunched.

Instead of waiting for your boss to paint your profile, arm yourself with these 7 high gain questions:

7 Questions to Ask Your Boss About Your Career:

  1. What do you see as my key strengths and major development opportunities?
  2. In what areas do I need to build muscle?
  3. What are my blind spots?
  4. Where do you see me in one year? Two years?
  5. What are the gaps between my current profile and these roles?
  6. What obstacles do you see in terms of my future?
  7. What key message do you want me to take away today?

Listen with your head and your heart. Avoid being defensive or argumentative. Compare this discovery with how you see yourself. Tell your boss how you are going to apply this feedback.

CORE offers confidential, 1:1 career coaching from a team of highly experienced, knowledgeable, ICF-certified coaches.

Managing Time and Priorities

Ever wondered what really causes your time management problems? Our research shows that it’s not simply an overload of meetings, emails or work.

Time problems typically fall into at least one of four areas:

We are excited to be able to share our confidential self-assessment with you.

If you are interested in taking the self-assessment (for your personal use only please), please contact me, Joan Hill, at (905) 990-2515 or

Are You Someone’s Best Boss?

In our Coaching for Results workshops, we ask participants to describe the behaviours of their best boss ever. What did she do that motivated and inspired them to do their best? What specific actions did he take that forged engagement?

Our review of hundreds of responses over the past two years reveals the top 5 behaviours that the best bosses regularly demonstrate:

  1. Opportunities to Grow: Giving employees stretch opportunities to develop new skills and confidence.
  2. Open, Honest Communication: Keeping staff informed, asking high gain questions and actively listening to their input.
  3. Feedback: Providing balanced, constructive feedback in a respectful manner.
  4. Delivering on Promises: Doing what they say they will do, walking the talk.
  5. Caring: Demonstrating interest in staff, not just their results.

For more information about our leadership development services, please contact Joan Hill directly at or (905) 990-2515.


How “Interesting” is Your Personality Assessment?

Recently I’ve been researching personality assessments for clients who are looking for something more substantive than tools they’ve used in the past.

After narrowing the list, I tested several, curious to see how they compared with my self-knowledge and other assessments I work with.

A new tool, the Work Personality Index® intrigued me. It measures 21 traits including two that are so important in today’s work place: Dealing With and Managing Stress and Identifying and Managing Change. It also outlines recommendations that help enhance job fit and career satisfaction.

What were my results? During the debrief, I asked the coach what he thought about my report, given that he works with a huge number of coaches and consultants. His response: “interesting.” When I pointed out that that was the term my mother used to tactfully describe something that she didn’t like, (such as my new coif), he laughed and then volunteered that my report was “unusual.”

The good news: my profile is an ideal fit with my work, interests and preferences.

My high scores: Energy, Innovation, Initiative and Flexibility.

My low scores: Rule-Following and Democratic.

No wonder I’ve been happy helping clients learn, grow and develop in ways they never thought possible.

If you’re keen to try out this tool, please call or email me. We have a limited supply of complimentary assessments available this month.

In the meantime, thanks for giving me opportunities to create, challenge and break some rules!