Welcome to Hispanic Business LiveChat. We would like to welcome our guest John McKee, a 30-year veteran of corporate boardrooms and executive suites, taking your questions on practical tips, tools and strategies to help you function more effectively in the workplace.
Amanda from Las Vegas, NV
You must deal with professionals with a lot of training. Do you feel that most professionals with advanced training find it worth their while?
1. Hi Amanda – First let me say that a business or executive coach is often a reflection of his or her clients. We don’t teach people the technical skills but rather help them to make better use of what they know or have already. My clients generally are well trained and experienced. Interestingly, in general those with more advanced training are more likely to know precisely what they want from their coach; and that makes our work more likely to succeed in a fairly short time period. It’s actually a little tougher to work with those who don’t have the training or insight to know what they want to accomplish with a coach.
Alejandro from Atlanta, GA
What are the top three ways to increase your network and potential client base?
2. I am not certain if you are asking a general question or one specifically directed toward building a coaching practice Alejandro.(?) Either way, if one’s business is built on client or customer satisfaction; than I’d say ‘viral marketing’ or work of mouth has to be first and foremost. A practice that serves the needs of its clients extremely well will usually gain a great reputation pretty quickly. But most don’t look after their clients first, and so they feel like they aren’t growing as quickly as hoped. Never underestimate the power of referrals – regardless of your business. That said, I am a huge advocate of public relations activity – on a bang for the buck basis it is extremely cost effective. Finally, I’d recommend promoting your business or yourself as a brand within a local community.
Karen from Los Angeles, CA
What is the difference between "Exempt" and "Non-exempt?"
Karen is your question pertaining to HR Policy? If so, I may not be the best person to ask. Although I’ve managed companies and divisions in the past, I was very dependent upon my executive staffs and HR in particular. That said, I will tell you my understanding in the HR world is that some individuals are not entitled to overtime pay for their work ( usually management and supervisory types) while others must be paid for any hours beyond their specific schedules if they go beyond the mandated hours each week.
Ernesto from Los Angeles, CA
What is the best way to approach my supervisor about my yearly review? He seems to keep putting it off!
Supervisors who put off yearly reviews usually do it because they are either not prepared to deal with tough issues, or don’t have the wherewithal to handle a positive one. For example, Ernesto, if you have done a great job and are looking or expecting a raise or promotion; but the supervisor cannot give it, the (s)he may avoid the meeting. Regardless of the reason for it, you should be direct and say that you’d like to get together with him or her to discuss your annual performance review and when would be a good time for him/her to do that. If they cannot make a commitment to a specific time, explain that you understand they are busy but that this is particularly important you and something that is expected each year. If it is then stalled again, take it to your HR or Personnel Dept.
Shelly from Los Angeles, CA
What can I do to make my online resume more visible?
On line resume builders and websites are quite prevalent now Shelly. I recommend that anyone using online job search to job marketing sites use the recommendations made by that site provider because they generally know what their ‘audience’ (eg: the companies searching for employees or managers) want and expect. Here are a couple of tips I’ve seen used effectively: keep it short / no more than 2 pages, keep it objective using quantifiable numbers wherever possible instead of soft terms, use a splash of color on the headline, and have a brief statement at the top about who you are and what you want. Most companies don’t read the whole doc if it doesn’t grab them at the outset.
Sophie from Nantucket, MA
If I am looking for another position, how can I inquire about employment benefits without sounding greedy?
Inquiring about benefits or compensation is very OK at the right time. No one wants to get into a lengthy interview process only to find out that the job doesn’t offer what they need or expect. And the companies understand this as well. If employment benefits aren’t posted, but the job looks interesting, I’d suggest you say just that. “ I am interested in discussing this further, but don’t want to waste your time or mine if the whole package is not what I am looking for.” That should not insult or turn off any organization looking for staff or execs. Now, if you are already into the interview process, it’s fine to ask at this stage too. But I’d wait until the end of a dialog and then use it as a kind of last question in that discussion. You don’t want to look like it’s the most important thing on your mind – the job should be that. And remember, when we take a job for the $ or the bennies first and foremost, we risk not liking our job after we get used to the compensation package.
John from New York, NY
Does staying with one company for more than 7 years look bad on a resume?
John – this can often be a real ‘turn on’ for prospective employers. It can show loyalty and commitment to have been with a single company for 7 years. What could hurt you however is if your job progress is not there. By this I mean, you should be able to show that you have grown and been recognized for your contributions with job changes and pay changes. Either inside one company or with a couple is just fine.
Emily from Rancho Mirage, CA
What kinds of questions should I be asking a potential employer during an interview?
For the interviewee (you in this case Emily) having at least a couple of questions which show you have researched the potential employer is a really good idea. It shows that you cared enough to check them out and see what and how they perform. I always got cranky when I took the time to meet a potential new hire who didn’t know the least about my business – it just seemed like they really didn’t care a lot. Next, ask about the person who currently has the job or had it before it became open – what did she do that was great and what would the employer like to see more of in the role. Why did that person leave, was she let go or did she get promoted. Also try to learn about what the company would like from a new hire that is different from the last incumbent.
Robert from Los Angeles, CA
Any suggestions on how to handle a boss that changes my work priorities on a daily basis (resulting in rarely finishing what I start)?
Bosses often change priorities based upon a lack of direction they are getting or their inability to prioritize themselves, Robert. Talk to your boss and tell him that you understand that (s)he’s probably getting a lot of things handed to him and say that you want to help her or him get that job done. Let it be clear that you are there as his or her support and that the boss can count on you to get the job done. Once the boss sees that they are being made to look better by your performance they will usually give you what you need to get your job done as well. On the other hand, if the boss is just firing in the dark and burying you and others, you need to keep a cool head and look after yourself and your team during what could be a short term situation, Robert.
Kirsten from Chicago, IL
Women at my company have a difficult time getting ahead. Many, including myself, have been passed up for male counterparts when it comes to promotions, even though they have more seniority. How can I bring this to the attention of my company without being labeled as a "trouble-maker"?
Kristen, this one makes my crazy! It’s unbelievable that gender bias still exists in this day and age. In fact I am about to publish an ebook on this very subject. It’s very important for you as a woman to recognize the value of self promotion – many females have a tendency to think their work speaks for itself. It is entirely in your own self interest to help those in a position to help you in your career to see just what a contribution you are making. Don’t be too hesitant because they boys won’t be. Discuss this with your HR lead. I understand it will be hard if it’s a male; but it needs to be addressed. Don’t put yourself in the role of evangelical just a concerned employee.
Marcellas from Chicago, IL
What can I do to show my supervisor that I am ready to take on more responsibility?
Document your achievements and responsibilities in an objective manner using guidelines if they exist for your position. Schedule a meeting with your supervisor, Marcellas, and tell her or him that the purpose is to discuss your role and responsibility. If the supervisor and you have a good rapport, explain that you believe you are ready to move to the next level and that you wish to discuss that during your meeting. Good supervisors recognize enthusiasm and encourage it. Now bring it to his or her attention.
Simone from Burbank, CA
If I am interested in working at a specific company, can I submit my resume for 2 different jobs at this particular company? Or does this hurt my chances?
Simone, are you wanting to work at the company more than a specific job there? If so, I’d suggest you consider your priorities and decide what is the most important thing you are looking for. If however, you know that you’d like and could do either job; then it’s ok to submit resumes for both. I would recommend you tell the company or the company’s hiring managers that you have done this and if they ask be prepared to tell them why. If it’s a great organization, it’s likely the managers will recognize that someone would like to have 2 shots at it.
Juan from Boston , MA
My supervisor is extremely bored with his job. He has no motivation and just stays in his office all day playing computer games. I really like the company, but dont see any way to get promoted if our division just skates by all the time. Should I speak to him or his boss about this?
This, Jaun, is an all too common problem in American businesses today. It’s really a drag on our economy and our ability to compete as a nation at this stage. Try to talking to 'the bored one' first. Tell him that you’d like to stay and get ahead but that you just don’t think it’s going to happen under the current circumstances. He may surprise you. If not, go up the ladder to the next boss and discuss it there.
Ricardo from San Diego, CA
I was a pioneer in Hispanic marketing and advertising in San Diego. I have worked on marketing projects for several top Fortune 500 companies. However, now that I am approaching my 50th birthday, my work experience seems to work more against me than for me. Would it be better to approach upper-management directly rather than HR robots that never seem to understand the true concept and importance of having solid business experience?
Some companies have management which welcome discussions like you are proposing Ricardo; others however hide from them. You’ll have to decide if you think your management are up to an honest dialog about you and your role going forward. If so, I’d suggest you talk to those who are closest to your age so they at least understand your perspective. HR folks can often only parrot the company policy but do little else to help someone in your situation. If you believe ‘ageism’ is at play keep a record of it by the way. In your state, if you were to be let go at your age, an organization could be going over the line.
Derrick from Pittsburgh, PA
Any advice for new professionals with limited experience? How do I position myself as someone worth opportunities for advancement and get myself noticed?
Derrick – the fact that you are asking the question at this stage of your career means you are open to learning how best to succeed. Here are a couple of tips I’ve seen used successfully by people in your position:
Understand the “circle of success” - A common piece of advice given to managers is for them to spend a great deal of time getting to know, and working side-by-side, with their staff to ensure each employee has what (s)he needs to be productive. While that idea is well intentioned, it’s does not provide maximum benefit to all involved. Rather, it is more important that managers spend time helping their boss look good at every opportunity. When (s)he understands that you are able to help her/him succeed, you and your team will get more time, attention and resources facilitating maximum productivity.
Recognize that Results = Rewards. Companies spend a great deal of money on new systems to help automate and, hopefully, increase efficiency for the whole company. After these big investments, managers are told to become “experts” with the systems and procedures to ensure the intended benefits are realized. This often creates an environment where many managers think that the most important task at hand is to learn the in’s and out’s of these systems and takes their eye off the real task at hand for which their ultimately accountable. To ensure upward mobility, remember to put the primary focus on your department’s core objective in the context of the company’s overall objective.
Alicia from Los Angeles, CA
I plan on working for a few years between my bachelor's and master's degrees -- to gain experience. Would it be better for me to stay with one firm and show my dedication and abiltiy to advance? Or would it be better for me to have diverse work experience with more than one employer?
If it’s only a few years Alicia, I’d recommend you stick with one company. When employers are looking at resumes, they want to see some amount of perseverance and not too much movement in less than a few years each time. Otherwise it makes them concerned that you won’t stay with them very long and are more concerned about your well being then theirs. (Which you should be but they don’t want to know that.)
Raphael from Portland , OR
Are there any clear indicators to tell when your job is not right for you anymore?
I work with a lot of people who tell me they 'can’t afford' to leave their current position. And it's clear they don't like their jobs. I ask them if they like what they are doing, do they look forward to going to work most of the time, is it challenging them intellectually or creatively, and does it reflect what they want to stand for. If you can’t say yes to a couple of these, it’s time to start looking for a new job, Raphael.
Arturo from Washington D.C., WA
I'm a 45 year old 'organization man'. I've been with my company for roughly 15 years now and would like to be considered for senior executive positions. I've consistently showed initiative and quantifiable value to the company, but is there anything I can do at this position to boost me to the executive ranks?
Arturo, I am going to ask you straight up if you have seen others come in after you who have been promoted already. If yes, why? What did they offer that you didn’t? What don’t you have that they did? From what you say, it seems like you job performance is good and solid. Have you told upper management that you want a promotion? And if so, have you asked the senior execs what they’d like to see from you so that they could move you up a notch? Finally, be on guard that someone may have already decided that you have gone as far as you are going in that company. If so, don’t fight the system, just look to move to another organization.
John from West Lafayette, IN
Do you think corporate boards are opening up the doors for minority representation? Have you seen a upward trend on recruiting more minority board members? Thanks
I definitely see more boards being more open to minority reps. This trend is catching fire and only going to get bigger and stronger Jonh.
John from West Lafayette, IN
Which are the key challanges that a more diverse workplace face?
Diversity brings with it a greater opportunity for new and fresh ideas than we've had in decades. Because of that it can also challenge the old and previously successful ways within an organization, John. We must be conscious of the fact that some will resent being challenged and that some will not understand new ways of looking at issues. If we can work co-operatively and recognize that other need some time to change I believe we can really get this country moving again in the right direction. For those of you in positions of power, embrace diversity in total and push it aggressively. Help the others to see the light.
Susie from Miami, FL
I'm 38, a financial executive at a good firm. The problem is I am interested in dabbling in real estate. What are the chances of me undertaking a succesful career change at this age? My experience in real estate is fairly limited.
I have real estate professionals whom I work with who were older than you when they started Susie. And by the way, if most women alive today will live to be about 103 years old, it strikes me that you're only 1/3 of your way thru this journey! Be aware that there are more agents today than at any time in our history however.
Marco from Orlando, FL
It is really difficult to get a raise where I work, but my workload is always increasing. Is this fair? Should I be asking for more money if I'm doing more?
Marco - more and more companies are pushing employees and management for greater productivity now. It seems to be someone's idea of being able to maintain profit without investing in the business. If you feel you can make more doign the same job elsewhere; then I'd recommend you polish you your resumne and start looking. If not, well than consider either staying and living with this new reality or upgrading your skillset and changing roles entirely.
Patty from Jacksonville, FL
I recently started my own business and was lucky enough to have recruited a hand full of really good people. I've communicated my limited financial position to them and they've been unerstanding, but is there anything I can do beyond pay raises to keep them around for a while?
Patty - hats off to you for being upfront with your team. Consider using non financial incentives such as time off or titles to help offset the lack of funds. As well I am an advocate of frequent but small incentives like team contests where people can win a dinner for 2 at a great restaurant, or a movie night, or if the budget allows, maybe a car lease for a year, or shared memberships. The most important of course would be stock options which could have real value if your new business succeeds.
Vishala from West Los Angeles, CA
I am thinking of retiring. I want to work part time, a good part time position. What advice do you give for people in my position?
Yes - by all means keep working, Vishala. I don't know how you'd define a good position however so it's tough for me to recommend something specific. I'd ask myself: what do I love doing? Is it about being around people or is it task oriented? How important is the cash - more or less important than simply looking forwared to getting up and going to the job? At your stage in life, you are entitled to being happy.
This concludes our Hispanic Business LiveChat. A big thanks to business success coach John McKee. For more from Mr. McKee on practical tips, tools and strategies to help you function more effectively in the workplace stay tuned to HispanicBusiness.com.