Tag: Relationships

Tying back to my post this past Friday on recruiting, I wanted to take a brief moment to share what-I-feel is a blunt and honest system for benchmarking your existing role within the context of what a “great role” is in consulting.  I have borrowed part of this system from a couple colleagues and expanded on various areas to make it fit within the context of what I have found to be true in my journeys (I call it the “satisfaction quotient” – very original, I know).  The premise is simple – you will never find the “perfect project”.  The quicker you accept that, the quicker you can start to see the silver lining across various areas that matter to you.  And your happiness and willingness to get up and jump on that plane Monday morning is the ultimate sanity savior when all else fails and you feel like you are running in circles.

Simply put, take a look at the following:
  • Client – The client you are working for: If you are working for a mom and pop shop that has a risk of being acquired at any moment, what would that mean for the body of work you’ve completed?  Similarly, are you working on a huge project at a massive company where your efforts may get lost in the mix?  Either way, I always like to look at the client I’m working for and the context of where they are at in their corporate history.  If their organizational context or place in history helps tell a better story – I consider that a huge win (e.g. if I am helping with a people/process/technology transformation for a client that is at a major crossroads and is about to take a huge step forward in the marketplace).
  • Industry – The industry you are working in: If you enjoy working in the health sector and are stuck on a public utilities project, is that something that is going to be beneficial for you in the long run?  Maybe, maybe not.  Perhaps your company has skills aligned by technology verticals in which case you are more or less fixed in delivering to one specific industry.  Does that industry interest you?  Does it have staying power?  Just remember that all the work you are completing will eventually fall on your resume and the more you can develop competency in a given space, the more marketable and in-demand your services will be.  So I hope you like it!
  • Scope – The scope of the project you are working on: If your project only touches a small part of the business or is a low-cost pilot or trial, is there a chance that your efforts are ultimately going to be thrown away?  Alternatively, if you think your project is huge in scope and may never really prove out the original ROI per the business case, will that perceived failure follow you for a period of time in your career?  Again, it all comes back to the story you are able to tell.  It’s always refreshing to step back after a project and say you were comfortable or proud of the accomplishments you made given the scope of the project (it never hurts to brag a bit).  I also consider the project context as part of scope (i.e. whether you’re working 40 or 100 hours a week).  I firmly believe that most people who are working long hours do so mainly because the sales team overscoped/understaffed a project rendering it nearly impossible to deliver given the known human capital constraints – hence why people work long hours/weekends to try and close that gap even though it’s probably not their fault.
  • Role – The role you have on the project: As with the scope of the project, your direct role, responsibility, and contributions to the project are key in determining whether you feel like a project is a good fit.  If you have recently been promoted and are ready for the next step – would it be best to take a PMO role where you don’t have anyone reporting to you?  This is just one more area where you are continuing to develop your story and expand your resume.  A lot of interviewers I have heard lately are increasingly asking, rather than what projects you’ve worked on, is what YOU SPECIFICALLY have done on those projects.  Make sure you are able to tell a good story based upon your position and responsibilities!
  • People – The people you are working with: If you are generally happy with the people you are working with, it can nearly drown out the rest of the categories mentioned.  This is perhaps the single most important area that many people fail to acknowledge (i.e. How many people have you heard complain about “hating their boss”, “hating their client”, or worse?).  It is extremely important for a self-worth and satisfaction standpoint to legitimately enjoy the people you work with.  I’m not saying you should be looking strictly for people you’d want to have a beer with, but these are the people you will ultimately spend more time with than your loved ones.  You may as well at least enjoy their presence.

Your satisfaction quotient is equal to the number of categories above where you say “I’m happy with this” relative to the overall set of areas (5 – Client, Industry, Scope, Role, People).  If you are batting more than 3 for 5 in the categories above, you are approaching consulting nirvana.  If, for some strange reason, you have stumbled into something like 5 out of 5 – you should keep your mouth shut and ride that wave as long as you can.  It really does not get any better than that.  And, if you are stuck with 2 or less – it might be time to navigate yourself on to something new.

Til Next Time,

Michael

As a follow up to Thursday’s post on collaboration with other firms in a multi-vendor environment, I felt compelled to follow up with a piece on working in a multi-vendor environment.  I realize my words may have come across a bit rash, and it may seem like I loathe the concept of working in these sorts of constructs.

Quite the opposite actually.  I have been able to have some great success working in these confines and believe that organizations actually see a ton of benefit when these sorts of sandboxes are created.

Let me share just a few of the benefits of working in a multi-vendor environment:

  • Multi-vendor environments force everyone to be on top of their game all of the time, lest they want to see themselves cut out for better resources or firms via what-I-like-to-call Corporate Natural Selection
  • I firmly believe that the level of efficiency, productivity, and quality of work increases exponentially when there are people with different paychecks fact-checking and following up on each other’s work
  • Having diversity of thought when approaching a program of initiatives or area of the business allows clients to use their skills more in an advisory manner where they get to pick and choose the best ideas from multiple sources (and so that it’s not just one firm’s stock templates/processes that are force fed down said client’s throat – because we all know how well that tends to go… #Sarcasm)
  • More firms = more people to network with, and I think everyone should have at least a part of their imagination reserved for “what happens” if and when they need to move on to a different project, firm, or company to progress their career
  • Selfishly for the organization, the presence of more vendors usually allows supply chain teams to drive down rates so that the professional services providers have to take lower margins in order to sign the work, resulting in much lower cost of delivery for projects

Again, I cannot express enough how excited I am when I get to work in multi-vendor environments.  Even when the building’s on fire and everyone is racing to cover their butts, it provides if nothing else great enjoyment because everyone has to be on their toes.  Thursday’s post was really about my loathe for rework, and the massive waste of time that will inevitably fall upon us for sitting in “current state definition” meetings (meetings on meetings to talk about meetings – yay!).

Til Next Time,

Michael

Happy New Year

Cheers to a successful 2013 and looking forward to an even better and more successful 2014!  I wanted to take a quick opportunity to wish you all the best and thank you for being a follower of michael-wiggins.com.  When I started out on this journey to develop a site to supplement the traditional resume measures (i.e. what I have managed, where I have worked, who I have worked with), I never could have expected it would be this rewarding.  Thank you to all those who have helped make the site a success and I look forward to (hopefully) continuing to drive relevant dialogue in the matters most important to Corporate America throughout 2014 and beyond.

I feel that far too often we get settled in the traditional templates, processes, and ways of thinking, and I hope sites like mine continue to press the envelope and help everyone ask the difficult questions that will help companies innovate and drive forward to the future with bigger and better ideas.  When we reduce ourselves to a rhetoric of bullet points on a resume, I think we lose a lot of our spirit and our personality.  We throw away our opinions and personal beliefs in order to regurgitate a series of accomplishments that are largely void of original human thought or opinion.  I feel like this is really hurting our society, and I hope that we can all agree to be more mindful of human interaction and personal engagement going forward.  Sometime in the not-too-distant-future, I hope we are all benchmarked not only on what it may say on our resume, but rather, a larger body of opinions and skills that may have previously been brushed under the rug.  This is a topic and conversation that I look forward to adding a lot more color to over the coming months and years, so please don’t hesitate to chime in and let me know if you think I’ve gone off the reservation!

Again, Happy New Year and I look forward to hearing more of your stories and thoughts in 2014!

Til Next Time,

Michael

Funny Workplace Ecard: I need to get some business cards so I seem like the kind of person who has business cards.

So a quick blurb about business cards.  You know, those things your company helps you get in your first couple weeks on the job, mostly so they can teach you how to use your internal procurement systems (which, by the way, will definitely have their own rant at some point – promise)?  The 500-pack that you swear you’ll never use, and laugh about a few years from now when it’s still unopened?  Those pieces of ancient history which are no longer relevant because everyone has embraced the digital age, wants to reduce our carbon footprint, and hates the thought of killing trees?  Don’t shoot the messenger, but…

I actually think they are wildly useful.  And have formed the basis of many key relationships for both myself and many of my close colleagues.  And you should never leave home without them.

Think about it: when you first meet someone, 99% of that interaction is going to be words spoken between you, your ability to engage with that person, and the common interests, products, needs, or skills which you are able to discuss.  I am not going to debate that.  And, whether or not you choose to follow up with someone is definitely up to you and will likely be influenced by the mutual perceived value of that interaction and your ability to help each other later on down the line.

But I cannot tell you how many times I have met someone, really enjoyed their presence, and then totally forgotten their name or moved on to something else requiring more focus 5 minutes later.  Hence, no ability to add them on Linked In, shoot them a follow up note, or do deeper research into their role, company, or industry.  And, you know what?  Shame on me for that.  But the bigger “shame on me” in my opinion is not at least giving them my business card.  I have zero excuse.  I should have them on me at all times.  Because even if they don’t carry theirs with them – I should be confident that my interaction with them was engaging enough that, when they go to clean out their pockets that day (or later that week, the next month when they finally do dry-cleaning, whatever – I don’t judge!), odds are that seeing my business card will make them recall that interaction.  And, in the event that I am able to get one of theirs in return – I am going to do the exact same thing.  I may not follow up immediately, maybe not even in the next month.  But when I stumble upon that business card later or add that person to a professional network/contact list of mine, I have provided some form of cement, something tangible, to that relationship which may not have been there without the trusty business card.

Listen, I know they aren’t for everyone and some people are anti-business cards.  I get that. But for those of the rest of us that still need some traditional crutches or subtle reminders over time to connect with someone, look someone up, or add someone to our professional records – they are a fantastic way to ensure there is something physical to back up a relationship besides the memory of a great chat.  I am a huge advocate and invite you to reassess whether or not it may be time for you to issue your next order for a fresh set.

Editor’s note: Sorry for all the continued someecards images alongside the articles.  To be honest, I was really just aiming to get some color behind the blog.  And – I’ll admit – I think they are generally wildly entertaining and provide witty commentary on issues facing us all.

Til Next Time,

Michael

I always appreciate mentorship programs, not only because of the value they provide the mentee (a possibly fictitious word that I’m going to use to mean “one who is being mentored”), but the great value that they are able to simultaneously provide the mentor.  Having been on both sides of the equation many times before, I may even go so far as to say being the mentor may actually be more of a useful learning experience.

For the mentee, mentorship provides substantive value in that it allows for them to have a sounding board and an outlet to feel like their voice is heard.  It gives them (hopefully) independent, unbiased people to talk to about whatever may be of concern to them, and get valuable feedback from another experienced lens.

For the mentor, mentorship provides a great way to hear things from another person’s perspective.  It allows for them to gain insights and observe thought processes for other (typically more junior) individuals.  And in an age where everything is changing seemingly all the time, that can be invaluable information.

There is something to be said for helping someone air concerns, talk strategy, or generally discuss life events or work activities.  One of the greatest qualities I think we all can have as members of society, corporate citizens, or friends in friend circles is the ability to listen.  And that’s what being a good mentor is all about: the ability to listen, understand another person’s situation, and respond with something constructive or useful for that individual.  Often times, the conversation or net outcome is something that both sides can index in their memory bank to recall moving forward.  Then, in the future, there is a reference point from which to start when dealing with similar situations.  Some of the wisest people I know are not wise because of anything they personally have done in a vacuum.  Rather, it is their ability to always recall in vivid detail a relevant story to draw on which provides the best “Aha!” moments for everyone involved.

One final point: age really is nothing but a number in this case.  I have seen several mentorships take place where the person being mentored was in fact older or longer-tenured in an organization.  And that is not a bad thing!  These types of relationships and mentor arrangements can be equally as valuable as any other more “traditional” setup.

As always, hope you enjoyed the quick thoughts.

Til Next Time,

Michael

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