What Your Manager Won't Tell You about What It Really Takes to Be Successful.
What's Stopping Me From Getting Ahead? isolates the 12 top behaviours that mid- to upper-level managers exhibit that keep them from getting ahead. Readers will learn that drive, knowledge, networking, dedication, and high energy are not enough if they're displaying other, self-defeating types of behaviour, such as failure to demonstrate their true personal integrity; using too much humour to build camaraderie; lacking real passion for change, and not taking enough time to make sure their boss looks good.
What's Stopping Me From Getting Ahead? helps readers truly understand how their well-intentioned behaviours can wind up sabotaging their careers. Using case histories and actual examples from corporations, along with specific, actionable strategies for breaking these bad behaviours, Robert Goldfarb helps professionals everywhere break through their career plateaus and break into the corner office.
Robert W. Goldfarb is the president and founder of Urban Directions, Inc., a global consulting firm. For 30 years he has consulted with CEO's and supervisors at every level, coaching on manufacturing lines, in corporate boardrooms, on sales floors, at law firms, universities, hospitals, investment banks and government agencies. His coaching has one objective: helping managers achieve their fullest potential by avoiding behaviour that damages careers. Goldfarb has written on managing in a changing society for the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and for Readers' Digest.
Prior to founding his consulting firm, Goldfarb served in line and staff positions at AT&T, Mobil Oil Corporation, Hofstra University and the National Urban Coalition. He graduated with honours from Columbia University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and holds an M.A. from New York University.
What's Stopping Me From Getting Ahead?
Author: Robert W. Goldfarb
Why did you decide to write this book, What's Stopping Me From Getting Ahead?
Robert W. Goldfarb: In doing my work I am called by corporations, worldwide, and asked "this employee is our number three person, we like her very much, we would like them to be President here, but lately people are saying they do not want to work with them. Would you spend some time with the employee?" I then meet with the employee after speaking with a number of other employees and then I will say "everyone knows how bright you're and how hard you work, you have been here for seven years, they liked you at one time but now they find you rather arrogant".
What I see in my work is very bright and competent people who begin to behave in ways in which cause grief among their associates, it really pains me as so many of them are terribly bright and they have to watch as people of less talent go by them and leave them behind. After a while I was caused so much discomfort that I knew I had to do something about it. Therefore I have decided that I would do something about it, so I wrote this book to help people avoid the small missteps that potentially could end a big career.
What behaviours can wind up sabotaging our careers, is arrogance one?
Robert W. Goldfarb: Yes, I think first it is important to know that old virtues remain current, you are always measured and evaluated by how hard and affective you work as well as if you get your job done well and within budget. Also, do you meet or exceed the objectives set for you? Those are of course are always paramount.
What I am finding, around the world is that fewer people are expected to do more work. As a result when you are part of a management team you are no longer excused if you are a little bit eccentric or a little bit difficult. People don't have the patience for that as the team is so focused on getting the job done and keeping their company alive in this economy that they will no longer excuse behaviour. Now management is saying 'if I ask you a question, give me the basic detail and don't drown me'.
This book is based on things that are currently happening; when you are managing a group of people it is expected now that you will get the very best out of them and if you are not an inspiring person, or if you are someone who is seen as always second-guessing your team or micro-managing them, after a while your boss is going to say 'we are not getting the results from your team and I think it is you'. The pressures in the workplace are so much greater and certainly one of the pressures is you cannot be seen as 'just good enough'. What was good enough three or even two years ago now is considered not good enough.
So we always have to give 120%?
Robert W. Goldfarb: Exactly. Everywhere I go that is expected and if it is not delivered then you find yourself in trouble. Younger people are so involved in texting that very often they will go to a meeting and be on their BlackBerry and texting and all it takes is one or two people to say 'who is that young woman? I'm not keen on her'.
What are the negative things employees do that might see them loose their job?
Robert W. Goldfarb: I think the impatience and the fact that fewer people are expected to do more and that teams are no longer willing to tolerate someone whom they don't find works well with them. There are so many good unemployed people out there and all that combined makes bosses look at not only how you do your job but the emotions that surrounds the people you work with.
What tips do you have for older woman who are re-entering the workforce?
Robert W. Goldfarb: It is terribly important that you do not in anyway date yourself in the workplace. It is very easily done, for example if you have just returned to the workplace after raising children you need to be seen as technically competent or you will very quickly find yourself unrespectable.
It is terribly important not to date yourself, if you're associates are younger and they are talking about a current rock star, it is important not to show your age by saying 'I kind of like them, but I have always been a Beatles fan'. If you are still relatively young don't say 'my daughter is going to be doing this next year '. These statements might sound perfect for a chat but the younger people will begin asking 'I wonder how old she is?'
In regards to technology it is important not to say 'I'd rather fax that than email it to you'. Two weeks ago a woman in a company that I do work with was told that management was going to give all employees in management positions a BlackBerry, she said to her boss 'I don't want one of those, I have a cell phone and I have a computer'. Two years ago the boss would have said 'take the BlackBerry they are good and I want you to learn how to use it' now the feeling is that if she is saying that, why would I bother?
Do employees need to be willing to step up and continue learning and changing their behaviours to be able to keep their job?
Robert W. Goldfarb: Exactly. I think what is important is that clearly you are expected to be a hard working employee and get the job done on time and well. Now bosses wonder 'does this person care about our company and organisation, are they committed to their job?' There are people who suffer because of this.
Employees who define themselves as 'laid back' need to ensure their bosses don't see them as 'laid back' or as indifferent or lazy. If they do you're going to be in trouble as your boss expects to see you as being committed and caring about the company as much as they do. If you are casual behaviour is misinterpreted as indifference or unwillingness then you will be someone they do not want in their organisation.
Every boss certainly looks at performance and then they begin to look at the emotions you arouse in the workplace.
What is important to remember in job interviews?
Robert W. Goldfarb: If you're applying for a job and you are being interviewed by three people in the room you need to look at all three, not just the most senior person in the room. If you only look at the President then one of the other two, when you leave the room, will say 'they didn't look at me once, I don't care for them'. You have got to make sure you look at everyone in the room and pay attention. The quietest person in the room might be the one who has the most to say about whether you are hired or not.
It is also important to be aware that when you apply for a job, if the person who is interviewing you is older and asks you questions that you find offensive like 'are you married, do you expect to have children?' Immediately you might think they shouldn't be asking that type of question. But, the answer is not 'that's really inappropriate'; the answer is 'I will work as hard as this job requires of me'.
Do you have tips on how to behave for young people in the workplace?
Robert W. Goldfarb: Young people in the workplace need to understand that their boss is not going to be as understanding as their parents are. Do not ask your boss:
Would you mind if I used my iPod when I was at my desk?
I never move from my desk so can I wear casual clothes all week?
What don't bosses tell employees?
Robert W. Goldfarb: Many bosses don't like discussing anything of a personal nature, they are very willing to say 'you were late with that project; we can't have that happen again'. But, if they feel that you might be offended by some of your personal behaviour they are not going to tell you, they will find a way to discipline you instead by not giving you a promotion or hire you. For example if you have bad breath you will be bypassed for a significant promotion rather than be told.