Welcome to the blog tour for Winning the Game of Work, by Terry Boyle McDougall! Today I have an excerpt from the book, and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
You can be happier and more successful when you learn to play the game of work. If you’re not currently satisfied in your career, it could be because you’re playing by the wrong rules.
In Winning the Game of Work, Terry Boyle McDougall shares the rules she learned from wise mentors and coaches, as well as the lessons she learned the hard way. She entered the workplace as an ambitious “go-getter” and was confused about why she wasn’t advancing at the pace she expected. She learned that being smart and working hard aren’t enough. The reward for developing a strategy for the game of work is success and happiness with less stress and duress.
This book will help you:
- Get recognized for your value on the job
- Develop and appreciate your unique “superpowers” at work
- Cope with a bad boss without burning out or getting fired
- Get the promotion you deserve
- Deliver more impact on the job with some simple hacks
- And more…
Winning the Game of Work is the essential guidebook to help you develop your unique skills as a “player.” Now is the time to see the whole field, make the savvy moves and win the game of work on your own terms!
Giveaway: You can win a $25 Amazon gift card!
Excerpt from Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms by Terry Boyle McDougall. (New Degree Press) Released April 2020.
Becoming Your Own Agent: Understanding and Leveraging Your Value
Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul. –Maria Montessori
Often you may not recognize things about yourself that others can see clearly. As I’m fond of saying,
“You can’t read the label when you’re inside the bottle.”
The purpose of this chapter is to provide you with perspective and resources that will help you see yourself the way others see you.
When you understand how you’re viewed, you can make intentional changes so that your self-image and the image you project are much more aligned. This is the first step to being compensated for the value you provide to your organization.
Lessons from HGTV
I’m going to confess a deep, dark secret . . . I’m a sucker for HGTV. I love settling in for marathons of House Hunters, Property Brothers, Fixer Upper, and scores of other real estate–related shows. I find something strangely appealing about watching people search for their dream home in Malibu or renovate their mid-century modern in Kansas City.
I won’t call it a guilty pleasure, because after hundreds of hours of HGTV, I’ve learned a valuable career lesson. Buyers abhor uncertainty and will put off buying or require a big discount to overcome any perceived risk.
You’re Always Selling
If you’re wondering what “buying” has to do with your career, it’s simple. Anytime you’re trying to influence someone—be it your boss, a colleague, or the hiring manager at a company you aspire to work for—you’re selling, and they need to buy in order for you to achieve your goal.
Getting hired is an important sales job. Bringing on a new employee, like buying a house, can be fraught with risk. Organizations make a significant investment when they hire a new employee. Interviewing takes time. When a candidate is hired, they need to be trained and introduced to the people they’ll work with.
They may need to meet and form relationships with clients. And all this happens before the new employee ever starts creating value for the company. If the new hire doesn’t work out, a lot of effort and political capital will have been wasted.
“I Just Need a Chance!”
I’ve heard this refrain hundreds of times: “All I need is for someone to take a chance on me—once they hire me, they’ll see I was worth the risk.” I’ve said these same words myself at times in my career. It was frustrating when I was ready to move up and I couldn’t seem to get my foot in the door.
However, I understood it much more clearly once I became a manager. Given what is at stake for the manager, most aren’t keen on taking chances without ample evidence that it will pay off. Even if you are able to do a particular job, your résumé needs to say that clearly.
For most managers, they want some assurances that the person they’re considering has at least some experience similar to the job they are hiring for. Even when a candidate has had similar responsibilities at another company, it’s often hard to get clarity on the intangibles like work ethic, cultural fit, and the quality of their work.
Prove It to Me
Some of my worst hiring mistakes were when I convinced myself that someone was a good bet rather than making them convince me. I gave them the benefit of the doubt rather than insisting that they prove to me that they were worthy of my trust and confidence. When I look back, I recognize that I had some reservations, but I didn’t delve deeper when I should have.
I was anxious to get the roles filled and get on with the normal routine. Only later did I realize that I’d let my own impatience or optimism cloud my judgment. This would be analogous to buying a house and taking the homeowner’s word that there were no problems with the furnace rather than consulting a home inspector to confirm it.
Creating Career Curb Appeal
Enter the lessons from the HGTV gurus! When a homeowner is trying to sell a home on those programs, professionals advise the seller to get their property ready for the market by creating curb appeal—clean it up, declutter, paint, cut the grass, get new carpet, and even pay a company to stage the home.
This allows the home to be shown to potential buyers in the best possible light. It eliminates the need for potential buyers to overlook the stains on the carpet or the neglected garden. When a home looks like it’s “move-in ready,” buyers are inclined to believe what they see and want to buy.
“As Is” Requires a Leap of Faith
Alternately, when homeowners list their homes “as is” and make no investment in fixing up the home before listing it, it is typically sold at a big discount. The uncertainty of potential problems is priced in.
The beauty of many programs on HGTV is that experienced real estate and building professionals will examine a fixer-upper and can tell if the issue is just cosmetic or if it’s an expensive fix. Your average buyer doesn’t have the time or expertise to do that and therefore shies away from buying “as is” homes. They just want to close, move in, and get on with their lives.
Most hiring managers don’t have time to examine each candidate’s potential in any depth. They are like the home buyer that just wants to buy a “move-in ready” house.
Taking time to hire a new employee is a huge disruption from their day-to-day job. The last thing a manager wants to do is invest time and effort to hire someone, then not have them work out. The consequences could be costly in both lost productivity and reputation.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
When you’re looking for a job, make your value and attractiveness immediately visible on your résumé and LinkedIn profile. When you get a screening interview, be ready with clear examples of how you’ve been successful in previous roles that align with the job.
Be sure to bring the energy as well. Many managers will choose to hire someone who really wants a job over a slightly more qualified candidate who doesn’t show a high level of interest in the position. Blasé is not a good look when you’re serious about getting a job.
Invest to Reduce Perceived Risk
What can you do if you want to pivot to something new or you’re a new graduate who doesn’t have any professional experience? Invest in yourself to reduce the perceived risk of hiring you.
Here are a few things that you can do to gain career curb appeal:
- Learn to tell your story in a concise and compelling way.
- Spruce up your résumé.
- Get your LinkedIn profile to all-star status.
- Get some additional training in areas where you have gaps.
- Make sure your image fits the role that you’re aiming for (invest in a stylist if needed).
If you’re not sure what blocks stand in the way of your career goals, hire a professional. Like a realtor advising a homeowner on getting their home to appeal to the largest number of buyers, a career coach can help you get yourself ready for the job market so you’re also in demand.
Trying to Get Hired “As Is”
Years ago, when my boss left the large bank we worked for, I applied for his job. I had been his right-hand person and was heavily involved in the operations of the department and the interactions with leaders in the business. In the months after he left, I stepped up to provide leadership to the team and felt that I had a good shot at being officially promoted into the role.
Assumptions Can Lead to Big Mistakes
I applied for the role, but I didn’t do anything special to prepare myself for the interview. I had been at the company for about eight years at that point and would be interviewing with people who I had worked with in different capacities over the years. I assumed that they understood the value I brought to the organization. In retrospect, that was my big mistake.
Because most of the interviewers supported other businesses and were in another city, they actually didn’t understand what I did. Their knowledge of my expertise and contributions was shallow. In addition, I hadn’t interviewed in the eight years since the company hired me.
A Crushing Humiliation
The first interview was with human resources and was basically a screening interview. I did well enough to be granted a second interview. The second-round interview was with a panel of marketing leaders from other areas of the company. I had never been in a panel interview before and wasn’t sure what to expect. Disappointingly, in the interview, I became anxious and didn’t perform well. Let’s just call it what it was—I bombed!
I felt so humiliated, not only because I hadn’t presented myself in my best light, but also because I would continue to work with and see these people at departmental events. I felt like they would be looking at me as a lightweight and unworthy of performing at a management level. It was embarrassing.
Getting Professional Help
Frankly, I don’t like viewing myself as less than an all-star. Though I realized that I wouldn’t be progressing to the next phase of the interview process, I was motivated to get at the heart of my disastrous performance.
I hired a career coach to help me get over my interview anxiety. With her help, I learned how to talk naturally and persuasively about the value that I brought to the organization. I used the PAR method to concisely frame up:
- The problems I encountered
- The actions I took
- The results I delivered.
Going From “As Is” to “As If”
My career coach also helped me recognize how to package myself so employers would see me as ready to deliver value at the next level. I went on a shopping spree and bought some suits and dresses that were more tailored and higher quality than what I typically wore to work. I was dressing for the job I wanted rather than the job I was currently in. I started acting “as if” I were already at that next level.
The recruiting process for the open role continued, and eventually a candidate was offered the position, but she declined to take the job. The hiring manager didn’t feel comfortable offering the role to any of the other candidates, so he started the recruiting process again from square one.
Disappointment Turns to Hope
I reapplied for the role, and using the skills and new mind-set I’d practiced with the help of my coach, I progressed to the final round of interviews. It was down to me and an external candidate. I felt much more confident going through the process the second time, and I was able to easily communicate the value that I provided for the organization. I was hopeful that this time I’d earn the promotion.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. When I found out that they offered the role to the external candidate, I was disappointed. But it didn’t take long to realize that the universe had a different plan for me. The day I learned that the other candidate had accepted the job, while I was at lunch, a recruiter left a voicemail about a role that was a great fit for me at another company.
Persistence Pays Off
It was as if I was being told that since I’d prepared, something bigger was in store—and indeed there was. That message began an active period of interviewing. By the time I finally moved on from that company, I had two job offers and was actively interviewing with a third company.
The investment I made in improving my skills and promoting myself mentally to the next level resulted in the outcome I’d been seeking. Instead of naively expecting people to see me the way I saw myself, I learned to present myself in a way that made them feel confident “buying” and gave them no doubt that any investment in me would be worth it. The investment I made in myself paid off.
 Montessori, Maria. Brainyquote.com. Accessed February 2, 2020.
Terry Boyle McDougall is an executive coach, speaker and best-selling author of Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms. She works with managers, executives and professionals who want to draw upon their greatest, most authentic abilities to positively impact their organizations. She supports clients who are creating change, driving innovation, and navigating transitions.
Terry relies on both her formal training as a coach and firsthand experience as a corporate leader to support her clients as they work towards their goals. In coaching engagements, Terry serves her clients as a partner and encourager as they break new ground; as a sounding board, supporting them as an objective listener; as a scout, who sees the larger context, their possibilities and potential; and, as a catalyst, helping to spark their commitment and action.
After 30 years of corporate business experience, 15 of which were in senior managerial roles, Terry chose to become a coach to concentrate on helping leaders step fully into their potential to lead satisfying careers. Though the majority of Terry’s professional experience is in financial services and marketing, her work exposed her to a wide variety of industries, business climates and corporate transitions such as mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and restructures.
Areas of leadership skills development include: Goal setting Prioritization Staff management Delegation Strategic thinking Decision making Project management Facilitating meetings
Change management Effective communications Customer relations (internal/external) Onboarding & career transition
She has worked with clients from: AbbVie ACCO Brands BMO BMW Chubb Ernst & Young Four Square Hyatt
JLL JPMorganChase Kendra Scott MediaCom
Mindshare Motorola Newsela Nuveen
Univar Solutions USG Corporation Wells Fargo Zillow
EDUCATION CERTIFICATIONS University of Maryland, MBA College of William & Mary, BA, Economics iPEC, Coach Certification Training ICF, Professional Certified Coach iPEC, Master Practitioner, Energy Leadership Predictive Index, Talent Optimization Partner
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