Message of the President
Written by Chet Jeppesen
Recently I had the opportunity to read a great book full of career advice that not only benefits individuals as job seekers, but it also benefits those who are working and seeking opportunities to improve in their current employment. The book is Don’t Crap Where you Eat! 15 Tips for Building a Great Career written by Bill Ward. I have to admit, I did take a special interest in this book because it was written by my cousin.
Mr. Ward writes the book in the content of a story showing how Henry begins his career with a new firm right out of college. I am not going to tell the whole story because I don’t want to be the spoiler for those who may want to read it. I will share one section that has an impact on me and hopefully will have the same impact on each of you.
Henry was called into the office of Alice, the Human Resource Manager. During the visit with Alice, Henry was informed that she was concerned for him and his potential with the company. She shared an example of an employee who was walking down the hallway with his pants unzipped. Alice reached out to shake his hand in order to get close enough to inform him his pants were unzipped. The man was embarrassed but also grateful to her for letting him know.
The receptionist, who watched Alice delicately inform the co-worker about his unzipped pants, thanked Alice for telling him, as she had noticed earlier in the day. But because she did not want to embarrass the man, she remained silent. So rather than letting him feel embarrassed for a brief moment, he now had to wonder how long his zipper had been undone.
The comparison here is in regards to feedback. Just as Alice did not allow the fellow to continue walking around with his pants unzipped, Alice valued Henry as an employee and wanted to give him valuable feedback that would benefit him in his career.
How would each of you respond to feedback? When you conduct a survey of your co-workers, employees, employers, or even customers, do you value the feedback they provide, or are you quick to take offense to the feedback. I have been taught many times that we have two ears for a reason. One ear for information to come in, and one for the negative to go out. However, constructive feedback is a valuable resource for each of us. Feedback provides us with an opportunity to see what is happening around us and allows us to make a change. Feedback also helps us in finding out what our image from others really is.
I attended a training on workplace excellence in May. As part of the training, we learned of many “soft skills” businesses look for in employees. Do we know what our reputation is?
The instructor shared an experience of one of her friends. Her friend went to her and told her that some of his friends said he was annoying. He asked her, “Am I annoying?” Her response was, “If that is the way people view you, then I guess you are annoying.” Obviously, he did not like the response. But the truth is, people view us based on our conduct.
When thinking of career planning, improvement, or continuing in business, think of your reputation. Ask for feedback from others as an opportunity to change or improve. Don’t take offense to viewpoints of others, but look for them as an opportunity to do better. Not only should we look for ways to improve ourselves, but don’t forget to help others. Hopefully, you would be willing to let someone know if their pants were unzipped to help them avoid personal embarrassment. Let’s work together to continue to improve our great community.