The Answers To Fifteen Questions That Have The Power To Affect Your Professional Life

Written by: James R. Weiss

The questions that I have included in this article are a composite of the questions that my workshop students and clients have been asking me for over thirty years. Obviously I could not include all of their questions so I selected the ones that I believe would be help you the most, especially now in a very depressed job market. I have deliberately kept the answers short and to the point. If you need clarification or questions of your own you can contact me.

Q What one activity could I focus on every day that would have the greatest impact on my career as a financial advisor who is trying to expand his business?

A As a financial advisor who wants to expand his practice I suggest you begin doing two things right now. First and foremost start networking within the community where you are doing business. If you haven’t already done so it is time to join several local community and fraternal groups. Let the people in your area know that you are “one of them”. Secondly, and equally important you should be advertising. This means paid advertisement in local newspapers and magazines as well as handing our business cards and literature at your free seminars and lectures. I’m a firm believer in giveaways, especially when they can lead to new paying clients

Q I am one of two managers at a family business that employs eighty men and women. Most of my responsibilities are shared by Mark, the other manager, who is also the owner’s nephew. My question is: I would like to be promoted to vice president next year when the position becomes vacant, but I’m afraid Mark will be selected because he is family. What should I do to improve my chances of being selected over Mark?

A If Mark is as competent as you are he gets the job and not you. It’s good old nepotism at work. My suggestion is to polish up your resume and get them out within the next five months or so.

Q My manager has made it quite clear that he does not like me working in his department. I have done everything I could to prove to him that I am a team player. I enjoy working for this firm and do not want to lose my job. Please tell me how to handle this situation?

A First and foremost, have you actually sat down and spoken to your manager about the problem? Have you asked him to suggest how you can improve your relationship? I suggest that you keep a detailed record of the conversations you are having with this person. I also strongly suggest that you should be talking to the people in your human resources department about this problem. If nothing else you have officially gone on record as trying to find a peaceful solution to this problem. One last thought, I would recommend that you ask your boss if you could both meet with a third person in the company so he can help you come to some kind of an agreement before this matter gets out of hand.

Q  I have been employed by my present company for more than five years. During this same time period I have never received a single pay raise. Pease let me know, how I should go about asking for a long over-do raise?

Before approaching your boss about a raise I suggest that you compile a detailed list of all your accomplishments during the past five years. Be sure to include the money you either saved or made for this organization. Now is not the time to be shy, especially when the future of your career is at stake. If your supervisor refuses to discuss your request or refuses to grant you a raise this is a strong signal that it is time for you to move on.

Q  My division is beginning a round of lay-offs. How do I go about keeping my staff from becoming demoralized by this mess?

You and your staff can not control the economy or your industry for that matter. Also you and your gang do not have the authority to make the decisions that affect your division; so I believe the best advice is to tell your people to pour their energies into what they can control. Their extra effort may help to lift the company out of its financial mess.

Q  I am a manager who is responsible for the out-put of ten men and women. My question to you is how much effort should I put into helping one of my employees who is not living up to my expectations?

I personally do not but a great deal of faith in those who fail to grow in spite of serious efforts to bring them up to speed. The first step is to let each of employees know what is expected them when they are first hired. By doing so you are setting the standards as soon as they are hired. After spend a considerable time and effort trying help an employee who has not improved it is time to cut him loose. If not, his poor performance will soon be affecting the others in your department. I further suggest that you document every aspect of your relationship with this employee. This way he has no recourse for action after he is terminated.

Q  How can I get two of my key employees to stop arguing? Their behavior is beginning to cause some problems in m y department. I depend on these two men and do not want to fire them or have them transferred. Please tell me the best way to handle this problem before it gets out of hand.

A   Here are several suggestions several approaches my other clients have found to be affective in dealing with disputes between their employees.

  • Get involved early. Don’t allow this problem to linger. It can ruin your credibility as a manager which can seriously damage your career
  • Don’t make this someone else’s problem. If they are in your department you are expected to fix this mess
  • Create a department policy for dealing with conflict
  • Conduct a meeting with both parties where you stress the negative impact they are having on the other members of the department
  • Instead of separating ask them to work jointly on one of your projects.
  • Ask another member of your team to act as a mediator to help resolve their conflict
  • If all else fails you must warn them that if they continue arguing they risk being terminated for insorbordination.

Q  I am very attracted to one of the young ladies in my department. Lately we have been spending a great deal of time working together on a project. To make a long story short I am beginning to have some very strong emotional feelings for her. Do you think it would be ok to ask Laura to have dinner with me? I afraid she would charge me with sexual harassment.

You well may be walking into a serious problem. The best approach is to continue your working relationship with Laura. If she brings up the topic of dinner go for it. This is the only option open to you right now.

Q  My district manager has been using the term “sphere of agreement” quite frequently during our meetings. What exactly does this term mean?

The term “sphere of agreement” which goes by many other names is actually one of the corner stones of corporate life. Your district manager is telling you and your colleagues that if you want to rise up the corporate ladder you must think, act and dress as they do. In other words you must be “in sync” with those who run the corporation. The message is quite clear. Be like us or be gone.

Q  Within the next two months I will be graduating college and entering the job market. Could you please give me some idea of how the hiring process works?

A  This is a very broad question. Most companies have their own unique format for hiring new employees, but there is a set of requirements that are common to all

  • The employer begins by determining the duties and responsibilities of a particular position
  • Advertises the new position in a wide variety of ways
  • The employer reads and evaluated applications and resumes then selects ten to twelve to be interviewed
  • Conducts interviews and selects the best candidate for the position
  • Position is offered to the new employee and benefits and salary are discussed

Q  What is a dossier and why do I need one for my interviews?

To begin with, your dossier is a collection of all your awards, recommendations and transcripts. More than 85% of all job applicants fail to create and bring their dossier to an interview. Here are several reasons why you must bring your dossier to every interview:

  • Your dossier is a unique statement of your qualifications
  • During the actual interview you can refer to the material in your dossier to stress your prior accomplishments
  • Your well prepared dossier will also let the interviewer know that you are serious about your career
  • Last, but not least the fact that you are astute enough to prepare a well-organized dossier
  • Tells the interviewer that you know how to play the “interview game”.

Q  What is the difference between your cover letter and resume?

The purpose of your cover letter is to attract the attention of the interviewer by providing one benefit after another. In one of my other publications I mentioned that only one cover letter in fifteen is ever read. Your well documented resume is proof of your education, professional employment as other pertinent information about your qualifications for the position you are applying for. If you are having a difficult time creating these all important documents please contact me and I will email you a resume and cover letter you can use as a guide. 

Q  Why is it important to develop charisma?

A   Charisma is often defined as the ability to influence other people positively by connecting with them physically, emotionally and intellectually. The word charisma is Greek for “divine gift”. Briefly stated the characteristics of a charismatic person include:

  • The ability to speak well and influence others
  • The ability to adapt to a variety of situations
  • Charisma is the silent message you are sending to other people which includes the way you speak, walk, smile and your approachability

If you are interested in learning more about how to develop charisma, read my recent article: How To Develop Unstoppable Charisma

Q  Several of my colleagues have been talking about their “rainbow self” lately. What are they referring to?

A ‘Your Rainbow Self” was term that was coined back in the early’90’s. The major components of the “rainbow self” include:

Your Emotional Self   What is your emotional attitude? The quality of your self-control. Your positive attitude and your enthusiasm for your career

Your psychological self   Can you be positive about yourself (self-esteem)?  What is your mental attitude like?

Your reflexive self   This is the ability to pause and refrain from giving immediate feedback. It’s also the ability to avoid arguments and refusing to become defensive.

Your spiritual self  This refers to you and those you seek to influence. It’s actually about being sensitive about those in your world.

Q  How much emphasis will a prospective employer place on your resumes?

Today, more than ever, employers want a complete a picture as possible of their prospective employees. Yes, a glowing letter of recommendation from a former employer will enhance your chance of being hired. While we are on the subject of looking for a new position I strongly suggest that check your Facebook page for any offensive material. This too can sand-bag the brightest candidates.

If you have any questions about the information in this article or if you need guidance with your search for a new career please do not hesitate to contact me