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Podcast Transcript

Managing Your Career Part Three

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:10  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we're uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Marsha, welcome back.

Marsha Clark  0:23  
Thank you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:24  
And this is our third and final episode in this little mini series on Managing Your Career With Intentionality. And I'm kind of sad that we're at the end of this discussion, because it's been really good, and it went way too fast.

Marsha Clark  0:37  
Well, thank you, Wendi. And I agree about this going too fast. I think after we did that six part series on conflict, having just three episodes felt like it wasn't enough.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:47  
It's a little short. It's a little short. So for our listeners who maybe haven't listened yet to the first two episodes in this series, I'd like for us to do just kind of a really quick review to set the stage for today where we're going to focus on one of your amazing tools to help with career transition.

Marsha Clark  1:06  
Well, I think that's a great idea. So the first episode in this series was called "The Myth of the Ideal Worker" and that's where we unpacked if you will, some of the traditional organizational and cultural expectations of what the ideal worker looks like.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:21  
Yeah, basically, that was the traditional model of the company man who left with his briefcase at eight a.m. you know, and who's willing to do whatever it takes and make huge professional personal sacrifices to help the company succeed.

Marsha Clark  1:36  
Yes, and most of the research behind that particular episode came from the Catalyst Group, and it included strategies for career advancement for high potential employees, both men and women.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:49  
Okay. Yes, and that's also where you introduced their model of how people focus their attention, looking internally or externally outside of their companies for opportunities.

Marsha Clark  2:02  
Yes, or both, right? So there are climbers who search internally for upward mobility, coasters who don't really actively look for new or expanded opportunities at all (they're content where they are), scanners who spend their time looking outward, scanning the horizon for new jobs or to get a sense of their value in their current role. And then the hedgers who spend time looking both internally and externally.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  2:28  
I love that model.

Marsha Clark  2:29  
Yeah, I do too. It gives us it gives us a framework and it gives us the language and strategies that can help us manage our careers with clarity and intentionality.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  2:38  
Okay, so that was the first episode in this little series. And then last week we talked about the power of potential and expanded on the characteristics and signposts for high potential employees.

Marsha Clark  2:51  
Right, and that was research that I brought you from Korn Ferry, which is an organizational consulting firm who looks at everything from how to hire high potentials, build them, develop them, grow them and reward them.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:05  
Right. Okay. And all of that brings us to today. So it's been a great exploration so far. And I know everyone is really getting going to enjoy digging our teeth into this new model of career transitions in your tool.

Marsha Clark  3:21  
All right. Well, let's dig in.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:22  
Yes. Okay. So the previous two episodes highlighted research from other groups, but the worksheets that you use to help people with career transitions, that's something you created, right?

Marsha Clark  3:34  
Well, that's right. And let me I want to be clear, for our listeners, I don't claim to be a career coach, right. I'm a leadership coach. But the at the same time, when you're coaching leaders, you know, I found that my clients had found themselves in transitions, and were looking to me for some support. So because it happened frequently enough, what I did was talk with several career coaches, as well as with clients, you know, over time, and that I built this worksheet, and then it's narrowed down to some pretty fundamental questions. And what I've heard repeatedly that with people that have used the worksheet is that it was helpful to get all of those, you know, dare I say, thoughts that are rattling around in our heads, how do we get them down in some organized way that we can then begin to use them? And and it gave them decision criteria for making a more intentional next step in their career.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:30  
Yeah, one of the things I remember distinctly about your career transitions content is how important it is to be really clear upfront about the nature of your transition or change, that even those first few reflection questions can be extremely informative and enlightening and helpful. And so what made you even think to bring people all the way back to these foundational questions as a part of their career exploration?

Marsha Clark  5:01  
That's a good question. You know, in my work with women, I found that sometimes, and dare I say many times, we just wanted to get out of what we consider to be a toxic situation. And there was a greater sense of urgency to move away from that toxic scenario even if I wasn't clear on where I wanted to go. I just needed to get out. (Yes.) And, you know, let me share the three questions or options and I think this will all make more sense to our leaders. So from some of the worksheets that I offer in this tool, is when you find yourself in a place of transition, you might find these questions and your answers to these questions helpful in clarifying and structuring your thoughts and aspirations. And we want to be conscious of whether we are one, moving away from our current position, so a way is, you know, the differentiator there. And this could be in a situation where I don't like my boss, I don't like my job, I don't like the culture of the company or organization I'm working in, I don't like the pay. I'm not, you know, I don't like the lack of development, those kinds of things is typically what I might be trying to move away from. And then there, a second option is moving with my position. And this is if I'm being divested, or my part of the organization is being divested or restructured, or outsourced or acquired or merge that list, you know, where I'm staying with the position, but I'm moving with it to something new. And then the third is moving toward, and the underlying differentiator here is toward, a desired position. So I've got clear career goals. It's positive career advancement, it's a developmental opportunity, it could be a new industry, a new company, a new geography, a new function.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:58  
Got it, got it.

Marsha Clark  6:59  
Okay. And so to move away from something often yields what I call temporary relief. We're taking ourselves with us, right? So, you know, in the spirit of wherever I go, there I am. So, our own "stuff", right, and I put stuff in air quotes, but it's, you know, our challenges, our inaffective behavioral patterns, they're going with us. You know, maybe it's that I needed to really have a hard conversation, but I'm not really good at hard conversations. It's just easier to change. So we're often going to settle for a less than desirable role or position because it's so toxic, or we feel that it's so toxic for us in our current role or organization. And this really doesn't empower us to make a decision from what I would describe as a place of strength. Right? Right. I'm at the mercy of, I gotta get out of this and I'm gonna go take the first thing that's available. And then to move with my position is typically a decision that someone's made organizationally far beyond my ability to influence and my individual or personal choice is to either go or to choose another option. And then in the third in moving toward a desired position, I believe, and certainly what I hear from clients, is one that yields the greatest desired result in a more sustainable way. So when we're clear in our own thinking about what we want, others are one, better able to help us get there, two, we have solid decision criteria on how to determine if it's this next opportunity is a good fit, and that can be regarding both the role and the organizational culture. And it best prepares us to initiate searches, initiate searches, rather than waiting for others to present us with opportunities. And then, when we're very clear, it also enables us to ask good questions during the job interview to determine that good fit and therefore, what is more sustainable.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:59  
Okay. Once someone reflects on the question of whether they are moving away, with or toward, then you ask a series of five other questions to help gain clarity around what to look for and consider with your career transition. So will you share those five questions and then walk us through the details of each one?

Marsha Clark  9:22  
Yeah. So the first question is what are the characteristics of the ideal role? And I just want to bring our listeners back when you think about some of the key formative experiences that we talked about, this is a place where that might come into play. (Okay.) And then the second question is, what are the characteristics of the ideal boss? And I'll talk about that in just a moment. And what are the characteristics of the ideal environment? So these are the clarity providing questions about role, boss and environment. And then what is my unique offering? What differentiates me from the competition, so to speak? And then the last question, question number five, what are my negotiables? And that's where we'll talk about pay and travel and relocation, some of those kinds of things.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  10:18  
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Okay, so let's dig into the details of each one of these questions for some reflection.

Marsha Clark  10:26  
All right, so the first one is, what are the characteristics of the ideal job? And so I offer some examples to people to get their brains cooking a little bit. So do I want a role where I will be able to direct or influence strategic direction? And on some of these where I think it might be a little tougher for people to connect to, I even give some possible interviewing questions because I'm a believer that you're interviewing that company or that boss or that person as much as they're interviewing you. (Absolutely.) So I might ask the question, and this could be of the executive recruiter or headhunter or whatever. How does this role guide or influence the teams or departments strategic direction? Just ask it straight up. You know, how does the strategic direction for this team get set? How would I participate in setting the strategic direction of my team or department? So I'm beginning to understand that if it's something that I want in the form of influencing the strategy, how does this role help me achieve that? Other questions to ask or think about is, do I want to local or regional a national or global role? Do I want to manage people? Do I want p&l responsibility? Do I want a customer facing role? So asking yourself about those, and you know, when people say, well, gosh, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I asked them to think about what were the characteristics of their most favorite or best jobs? And what did that give them? And then, is that something that they're looking for? And this is how I often help people, particularly those that are trying to, who really are in toxic environments and do need to get away, but I help them get clearer so it's not just moving away, it's also moving toward.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:14  
Exactly, exactly.

Marsha Clark  12:16  
And so question two, what are the characteristics of the ideal boss, and I want to just acknowledge, we all know that our bosses are going to come and go. And I've had people who got hired by one boss, but by the time they started the job, it was a different boss, you know. And so when we move into a new role, so this could be whether it's internal to our current organization or a new organization, your first or if it's in the same organization, your next boss is the one who can represent you to others and helps establish that first impression and begins that initial building of your reputation in that part of the organization, whether it be new or the one you're in, but in a different area. And so some examples to think about here are, do I want a boss who's going to be a thought partner, somebody who can brainstorm with me or ideate with me, because I think out loud, and I'm creative, or whatever. I may want a boss who's a subject matter expert in a certain area, maybe they're really good at communications, or strategic thinking, or customer relations or business acumen, and I'm gonna learn from them, I'm gonna watch and learn from that boss. I want a boss who's going to be available and accessible. I mean, it has never ceased to amaze me that people will say, I haven't talked to my boss in six months. Why does that happen? Okay, you know, because they're busy, or they're travelers or whatever. I want a boss who has influence in the organization. I want to know that my boss is one who's willing to step up and speak up and, you know, influence things for the good. I may want a boss with with global experience. So you know, possible interviewing questions, and again, you can talk to whoever the recruiter or headhunter might be, what's the reputation of my potential boss? And if they don't know, ask them to find out. What's the most influential or impactful contribution that my boss has made in the last six months? And maybe I ask that of the boss himself, or I ask others because, you know, there's often team interviews and HR parts and all that. And then a more generic question is how would you describe my potential boss? You know, so ways to get down into more information about the person I'm scheduled to go to work with.

And so then question number three, what are the characteristics of the ideal environment? So some questions I would ask myself is, do I want to work in a for profit or not for profit company, or organization? Do I want to work for a public or private company? Do I want to work in a small, medium or large organization and keeping in mind that size can be defined by revenue, number of employees, number of locations, that sort of thing. But those are very basic and fundamental. But we know for profit, not for profit are really different. Public and private, very different. Do I want an organization that's in a startup phase? Do I want one that's experiencing accelerated growth? Do I want one in a turnaround or fix it situation? Or maybe I'm at that stage in my life where I need a steady state, right? You know, I got a lot of other responsibilities and I don't want to be involved in transformational change efforts or worried about whether I'm going to have a job next week because we're in trouble, all of that. So or do I want one that is in transformation, because I love creating new and better kind of things. And then thinking about the organizational culture as part of that ideal environment. Is it a collegial culture, you know, where we're peers and colleagues are important and supportive and connected? Is it focused on employee development? Do they promote from within? So will I have future opportunities inside this culture? Do they have a strong talent management and succession planning process so that I know that there's a structure that I need to learn about to make sure that if I want to take advantage of it, I know what it is? And is it considered a best place to work? And that can be that there are many categories for that, in general, best place to work for women, best place to work for mothers and so on. (Yeah.)

And then question number four is what is my unique offering? And, you know, this, this one is hard because you think about really, what do I have that makes me any different from the other 12 people that are going to apply for this? So I want you to think about this in terms of if you're a headhunter or recruiter and you receive 100 resumes or applications, what would you reflect on your resume that would prompt the headhunter to put your resume in the pursue further stack versus the not interested stack? And this is really a crisp, succinct description. And you can use this crisp, succinct description, not only in the application, but also in the interview process. And I also want our listeners to know this is rarely one thing that makes you unique. It's often or more often a unique combination of knowledge, skills and experience that make up your competitive advantage. And I'll tell you, when I think about what my unique offering because I use this not only when I'm not looking for a job, but I use it in sales, right? So what makes me unique is that I have experienced life in a corporation from the bottom rung, you know, the entry level to corporate officer, right? So I know the rungs of the ladder, so to speak. I've seen a company grow from 5000 to 145,000, I spent half of my time in support functions, half of my time in customer facing revenue producing budgets. So that business, that breadth of business experience is useful to me as a coach and as a facilitator. Then I think about the fact that I went back and got my Masters of Science in organization development. So it is unusual to see people who do what I do who have the breadth and depth of business business experience, and a college degree that enables them to do this. (Right.) So it's that combination that is unique for me. And what I will tell you in thinking about how to describe your own unique characteristics, global experience, managing large transformational projects, launching new programs or products, in addition to knowing the impact of your competitive advantage, those are those are things to consider. And it's particularly important to convey what I described as the so what of your efforts. And you can do that most effectively if you're if you're looking at numerics, right? So the following are ways to think about the areas of your impact. Did you improve revenue? Did you improve profit? Did you increase customer satisfaction? Did you increase productivity? And that could have been through technology, through process improvement or through people. Did you do something that enabled you to bring your product or service a faster time to market? Were there quality improvements? Did you offer something that provided a competitive advantage? You know, greater market share, regulatory compliance, social responsibility, all of those are ways that you can talk about things you've done and some combination of those things that makes you stand out from the crowd.

And then question number five is what are my negotiables? And these are the first example of course, is what is my desired compensation package. So you know whether it be salary, bonus, equity instruments, vacation, benefits, all of that. And, you know, remember that knowing your market value and the market value of the role you're pursuing. So, you know, letting the interviewer know that you know this information. And so some of the suggested language that I offer to clients is, for example, if you asked me as the headhunter what is your compensation, what are your expectations, I would say something like, I know the market value salary for this role is $125,000 to $175,000. That lets him know I know the market value. Given my experience, I would expect to be paid at the top of that range. So now, you know my expectations. And remember, don't perpetuate your potential current under market salary or compensation. If I know I'm making 80 cents on the dollar, I don't want to just make what I'm making. I want to catch myself up. So and it's not especially if I'm going for a promotional type role, I want to make sure that it's the value the market value of that promoted role, not the one that I currently have. And that's why it's important to know that you're moving towards something because sometimes I'll take equal to or even lesser than if I'm moving away from something because I think it's so toxic. So ask for what you want and deserve. And, you know, when we're moving toward a desired role this can be easier for us, because we know what we're bringing to the table. Then some of the other questions in the negotiables, am I willing to relocate? That's yes or no. And if yes, are there any limitations only in the US, only in the southeast US, only Europe? You know, whatever that might be. Another typical question, asking yourself, am I willing to travel? You know, if yes is the answer, what percentage? Is it 25% of the time, 50 or 75%? And, you know, you may have some additional boundaries around trave., I'll leave on Monday and back home on Thursday night, I have to be home every weekend, you know, no global travel, whatever all those things are, getting clear about those before you ever walk into an interview you appear confident and clear. Do I want the flexibility to work from home a certain number of days per week, and then there may be other considerations. So for example, additional vacation time, you know, this is, you know, oftentimes when you join a new company, new employees get two weeks. Well, maybe you've had four weeks at your old company and you want to negotiate for that. And then some people that I've worked with, they want to make sure they have a work phone, and so that their personal phone they can separate those two. So that's a lot of information I know for our listeners to take in. But those are five questions that now give us the ability to have decision criteria about what is the best opportunity for us.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  22:59  
Yeah, and you've, I love this, you've made a spreadsheet where people can capture the answers to these questions. And so I'm going to describe this for our listeners. Think of a table with five rows, and one row for each different question. And then think of six columns going across the top and you want to - go ahead Miss Marsha. Share the column headings and all of that.

Marsha Clark  23:24  
So the column one if I'm going vertical down, ideal role criteria, ideal boss criteria, ideal environment criteria. So you know, bullet bullet bullet. What is my unique offering and how might this new role match what I think my differentiators are? What are my compensation requirements? What are the relocation, travel, work from home and anything else that I've identified in that category. And so what you do is, list all of that. And then what I encourage my listeners to do, my clients to do, is to assess your criteria against your current role.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  24:07  
So that's column two.

Marsha Clark  24:08  
That's column two. And you can use a 123, you can use a low, medium, high, whatever, you know, way of assessing that is up to you, but here's the important part. In my experience, two things can happen after I assess my current role. I can discover that maybe there are some things that I have forgotten about that are important to me, so I can update my criteria. That's sort of an aside. But, about half of the people that go through this exercise realize that their current role may meet more of their decision criteria than they thought. So let's just say, you know what, my current role matches about 80% but I've been so focused on the 20% that It doesn't, that I haven't appreciated the 80% that it does. So then we have a conversation about job enrichment rather than job movement, perhaps. Is there a way that you can pull in some of the 20% that it's not giving? (Right.) And then the other half, and this really is about a 50-50 split, are like, well, no wonder I'm so miserable. I mean, you know, because this matches 12%, you know, right here on the chart. And so both are important, right? When there's a higher match, I can go to work on Monday and feel better about my job. Right. I'm gonna, it's not with dread, it's not with you know, all that. And if it's so clear that it's not a good match for me right now, then I can go pursue others. And so column one is the criteria, column two assessing against current role. And then whatever new opportunities come your way. Okay, so opportunity number one is column three. Opportunity number two is column four. And so now, it's not just the what feels good, or I kinda like that boss. I mean, it gives you more solid criteria which I have found in the experience in working with clients, they're happier with the next job. (Right.) And they feel that they've made the right choice.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  26:16  
Right. Well, I love that you're giving it graphically. I mean, especially as I'm thinking through, like, if I'm going to make a change, I'm going through the interview processes with company one, company two, and company three, like now, when I'm done, like, at every interview stage, I'm coming back and I'm updating this chart with this is where it ranks for me now. (That's right.) And you can see, and then you'll you have an easier time making a decision for sure. And you're making the right decision.

Marsha Clark  26:46  
And you're making it based on something, not just a gut feel or I gotta get out so I'm going, you know, kind of thing.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  26:53  
So you're advising that we rank things on a scale from one to five, one being low and five being high. Okay, so then, what do we do with these numbers?

Marsha Clark  27:03  
So they're there, what you're going to do, then you're gonna plot them on your spreadsheet. And so, you know, you can use an Excel spreadsheet or, you know, however you would do that. And then you look down at the bottom, and you say, which one has the highest match? Yeah, right. Yeah. And if they're close, then is there some other differentiator that you want to bring into play or, you know, is one offering you a little more money, or a little better title or less travel or, you know, whatever those things might be if they're if they're close. But what I have found is that it's often pretty obvious where you want to go.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  27:37  
Yeah, yeah, you know, I'm, as we're talking through this, I'm thinking also, you could use this entire process to clarify and prioritize how to choose your time with organizations you volunteer with. Like, are you really getting what you need out of the organization that you're volunteering for?

Marsha Clark  27:58  
Well, that's a new twist. I hadn't thought about that. Say more about how you think that would work.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:03  
Well, I'm just looking at, you know, the things on here. Now, obviously, there's not an ideal boss, but if you're not the president of the organization, and maybe you're the secretary, or the treasurer, or you're the marketing person, or whatever, you know, what are the ideal things about that president that you want to work with an organization? And you know, and then I'm even going a step further in my head here and thinking, before you join your next board, maybe put the organization through this criteria, you know, ideal boss or president, ideal environment, you know, unique offering, not just from you, but from the organization's perspective as well, you know, what we're bringing, what am I bringing to the table? Compensation, obviously, you're not getting paid in a volunteer organization, but how are you getting compensated? What's the feel good, or the expanded influence that maybe you're going to have? Yeah, I really like using this even for your, for those of us who do volunteer activities as well.

Marsha Clark  29:09  
And the ideal environment can be what is the board? Right? I mean, who's on the board? Right? What am I trying to achieve by being on this board? Now I like that. Yeah, that's great. That's a great new add.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:20  
It's a new add. So when you've used this tool with your coaching clients, what's been your experience with their results and will you share a couple of examples of how it's worked for them? Like in general, not confidential information.

Marsha Clark  29:33  
Right. So one, they they told me that they had greater confidence making decision in their next role. So rather than hemming and hawing and wondering and you know, flip flopping and all that kind of stuff, greater confidence, let's make this happen. They stayed with their next role longer because their criteria was clear and it met it and therefore they were happy. They felt that being more deliberate helped them to build their resumes for even greater next roles. So the fact that I went and I identified an ideal role, often gave them new skills, new experience, new perspective, new breadth and depth, that look good on their resume for the next new opportunity. And just the bottom line, they were happier with their choices.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:25  
Yeah, I can see how it would give you just getting it out of your head, as we say, and getting it down on paper would give you more confidence. That number, the first one that you said, definitely more confidence and a sense of excitement and expectation of the possibility with the new role.

Marsha Clark  30:48  
I think absolutely that's right. And, you know, I also love that you brought in some new ways, expanding on the ways to use it, the tried and true tools, and I hope our listeners have found value in this.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:01  
Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so parting words of wisdom, what do you want to share today about career transition?

Marsha Clark  31:07  
Yeah, I think it's almost inevitable we're going to have them whether we want them or not, whether they're on our own initiation or not. And I'd say that even though what I've set out is a pretty simple set of reflection questions, it's not a simple process that you can just sit down and bang out in a few minutes and go okay what now what. To do this well, in a meaningful way, take some time and some deep consideration and doing the self reflection and even some soul searching at times. And that I think the reward is so worth it. It's definitely worth the time and energy it takes to do it well.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:52  
Yeah, well, Marsha, thank you for sharing this process and this tool with us and for this entire little mini series that we've started off the new year with on managing your career with intentionality. And next week, we're going to kick off a another little series focused on Marsha's favorite tagline, Women Supporting Women, and I can't wait to have us interviewing some of our very favorite people.

Marsha Clark  32:19  
Well, I can't wait either. Yay! And you know, there's lots of variables that have to be considered when we're making these important career and even life decisions. And, you know, again, I hope you find it, the information useful, and good luck to each of you as you're embarking on that. And, Wendi, thank you for helping us work through the series. And you're always an enthusiastic supporter of the content tools because you've used many of them. And yeah, I love the new twist again, and the next few episodes are going to be a real treat, you know, surrounded by women that we know, love and trust. And so you know, until then,

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  32:57  
Yes. Until then, thank you for joining us on this journey today for authentic, powerful leadership. We invite you to download, subscribe, and please share this podcast from wherever you like to listen. And visit for links to the tools and other resources we talked about today. Subscribe to her email list and get her book, "Embracing Your Power", and get ready. The next one is coming out soon.

Marsha Clark  33:29  
All right, thank you for that. (And much clenching over here.) You know, again, listeners, thank you as always and let us hear from you if there's anything we can do to help you. I do have some other tools that are also available. I'm just sitting here thinking Wendi, we probably ought to do something on my Ending Well tool, which is about people who are leaving a job. And then what they need to do in preparation for to have a good handoff. And then the others the First 60 Days when I've taken the new job, some ways that I can accelerate my learning curve. So if you need some of those tools or would like to talk to us about those, let us know. We're available through the website. So thank you very much and as always, and we're really going to hit on it hard, "Here's to women supporting women!"

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