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Water Cooler

Information and insight about your career and the workplace at large
July 2005

News and Views

This month's summaries of news items happen to come from one source:Equity Skills News and Views, South Africa's most widely distributed and read independent human resources newsletter. Congratulations to publisher Jeff Sacht for putting out such a useful publication.

If you want people to take you seriously, i.e., if you want them to think you are credible, you must be both honest and competent, says Ken Keis. To develop your credibility, Keis recommends taking the following steps: (1) personally commit to becoming competent in your field by choosing a field that is a good fit for you and/or by being mentored; (2) be honest and courageously authentic about your level of experience; (3) surround yourself with competent individuals; (4) enjoy the feelings of confidence, calmness, certainty, productivity, and positive attitude that competent people inspire; and (5) insist on competence from others and, when you find it, embrace and honor it. More

Save this one for your next promotion to management: If, as a manager, you get frustrated by the difficulty of engaging colleagues in significant change, consider that you may be managing "one level too low." "Too low" can mean getting mired in the details rather than planning strategically for the future. This is surprisingly natural, writes consultant Jonathan Byrnes. Managers are promoted because they're good at their jobs, he explains, and so tend to manage in ways that were successful before they were promoted. Yet, managing appropriately at different levels of an organization requires different skills, activities, and time horizons. Managing too low creates roadblocks to both the organization's success and to one's own ability to rise in that organization. What to do

We know that children are not "little adults." Neither are women "men in skirts." . According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce, employers must stop treating them that way if they want to fix their "retention problems." Hewlett, founder and president of New York-based Center for Work-Life Policy, and Luce, global managing partner for Ernst & Young's health sciences industry practice in New York, say that like it or not, large numbers of highly qualified, committed women find that, for various reasons, they need to take time out from their careers. The trick is to help them maintain connections that will allow them to come back from that time without being marginalized. Hewlett and Luce want employers to encourage flexibility over the entire arc of an employee's career, remove the stigma from taking time out, stop burning bridges, provide outlets for altruism, and nurture ambition. Details


How can women be better at bargaining for higher pay? Father and daughter Lee and Jessica Miller, co-authors of A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating, were invited to National Public Radio's (NPR's) Morning Edition to discuss that very question. Interviewed on June 8, 2005, the Millers point out that while women don't necessarily have a problem negotiating salaries that are on par with men's salaries, it is true that women don't enjoy the idea of having to negotiate, because they place greater value on relationships (men tend to look more at outcomes). To negotiate more effectively, women must be prepared (i.e., know what their job is worth both in their company and in the open market), have other options so that they can walk away if the offer doesn't match what they want, let the company be the first one to mention a specific salary number, and develop the confidence to be comfortable negotiating for themselves. Listen to the interview

NEW: WaterCooler Professional—The Miniseries

In 2005, "Making It Work for You" evolves to "WC Professional," a miniseries of action steps to being your own mentor. Follow this 12-month plan and by January of 2006, you'll have taken a big step towards being your own best advocate in the workplace.

July: For personal fulfillment, learn to manage your energy rather than your time.

The year's half over. Are you in control of your job, or is your job controlling you? The key to controlling your job, as I've recently learned, is not time management. Rather, it's energy management.

I learned how critical energy management is from Susan Rose, colleague and president of the design firm Two Sisters Creative when she recommended the book The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The book's premise is that managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal and professional fulfillment.

I.e., as workers, we benefit by modeling our performance on the training regimens of world-class athletes.Instead of performing 90% of the time, leaving only 10% for training and recovery, we can reverse these percentages and incorporate "interval training" as a way of working (and a way of life).

To manage energy well:

1. Work for 90- to 120-minute intervals, then refresh.

2. Think of work not as a marathon but as a series of sprints.

3. Drink lots of water; eat most of your food early in the day.

4. Pay attention to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of your life so that you can manifest the energy, connection, focus, and alignment you need to stay happy and fulfilled.

5. Build in periods of strategic recovery. Include at least two cardiovascular and two strength workouts each week

6. Connect to the larger purpose in your life by asking yourself two questions: Who are you at your best? At the end of your life, what would you identify as the three most important lessons you learned?

Finally, make the above concepts and behaviors into rituals-thereby conserving energy for the other things in your life that require sustained willpower.

Intrigued? You can find Loehr and Schwartz's book in the library, or get it through


WaterCooler (WC) Personal: Problem-Solving 101

Even if you are "fully engaged," problems can still threaten to sap your new-found determination to achieve personal and professional fulfillment. The problem might feel too big to solve, or too hard to think about, creating a feeling of "overwhelm."

Yet if we're willing to just look long enough at the problem— and sit with our impatience at wanting it resolved—the solution will come.

When you're "stuck," try some of the techniques listed below to shake free.

1. Accept that you wish life were perfect, and that you don't feel like dealing with the evidence that it's not.

2. Rename the problem "a challenge."

3. Try to find the heart of the challenge.

4. Sustain your energy.

5. Maintain a good relationship with yourself. "Good enough" really is good enough.

6. View the resolution of the challenge as an accomplishment, and add it to your kudos file.

Want to get more inspired about problem solving? See Appendix 6C, "Problem Solving 101," in Mentor Me: A Guide to Being Your Own Best Advocate in the Workplace.

Coming Soon

Mentor Me on TV: Residents of the Washington DC metropolitan area can see me and a fellow author, Pat Rothacker, talking about our respective books on Fairfax County's Cable Access Channel 10. Viewing dates and times: July 11, 6:30 pm; July 12, 9 am; and July 14, 2 pm.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA, July 17, 12:30 pm. Contact: Laura Dely; or call (703) 892-2565.