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May

16

2017

Introverts vs. Extroverts: Leadership Challenges & How to Solve Them

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There are a variety of tests and surveys you can take to learn about your personality traits and assess your strengths and weaknesses as they fit in the workplace. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the DiSC Profile, and the Big Five are a few that come to mind — we even use DiSC here at HubSpot.

These tests and their subsequent results often hinge upon the different traits and habits of introverts versus extroverts. 

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These personality traits are more commonly associated with your personal life, but introversion and extroversion impact how you interact with everyone — including your coworkers. In fact, identifying whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert could help you be a better leader, too. 

All leaders have their own distinctive styles and methods for motivating and empowering teams, and while none of them are right or wrong, some can be adjusted to make team work environments as productive and successful as possible. In this post, we’ll dive into the exact differences between introverts and extroverts, and how they can solve common leadership challenges their personality types might face.

Introvert vs. Extrovert Definitions

Introverts are people who gain and recharge mental energy by being in quieter, less stimulating environments. Extroverts are the opposite: They gain and recharge their energy by being around other people in more stimulating environments.

Quiet Revolution co-founder and author Susan Cain says introverts “listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation.” She described the difference between introversion and extroversion using an example: After spending three hours at a friend’s birthday party, would you be more inclined to go home for the night and decompress, or keep the party going? The science behind the difference between introverts and extroverts lies in our nervous systems. One big difference has to do with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that induces reward-seeking behavior. When dopamine production increases in your brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative and more alert to people in their surroundings. And as it turns out, dopamine is more active in the brains of extroverts. For introverts, acetylcholine is the preferred neurotransmitter — one that gives people pleasure when they reflect inward and take a lot of time to think deeply or focus intensely on just one thing.

So, introverts aren’t necessarily shy, and extroverts aren’t necessarily party animals — the different types simply derive more pleasure from different levels of external stimuli. (And it’s important to note that there’s a spectrum of introversion and extroversion, and it’s possible to be an ambivert — a person who has habits and tendencies of both introverts and extroverts.)

Challenges can arise in the workplace because individuals with extroverted tendencies — such as a willingness to speak up — might be promoted first or get more attention from executives — especially in fast-paced business environments. But there are challenges that can come up when introverts are leaders, too.

How Introverted Leaders Can Improve

The Challenge: 

I asked Cain about her thoughts on how introversion can hinder leaders at this year’s Simmons Leadership Conference. “For introverted leaders, the temptation is to keep their heads down and focused; the challenge can be to interact with their teams as frequently and enthusiastically as their team members would like.”

The Solution:

Introverted leaders should determine effective ways to interact and communicate with their team members that are comfortable for both introverts and extroverts. Some suggestions include:

  1. Schedule weekly 1:1 meetings with team members so you can prepare in advance for giving feedback and discussing work.
  2. Host “Office Hours” for team members who want to chat in person outside of regularly scheduled meetings.
  3. Overcommunicate instructions and contextual information you might not share as openly in a team meeting.
  4. Use communication and team collaboration tools — like Slack, Asana, and Trello — to keep avenues of communication about ongoing projects and initiatives open without having to hold a meeting.
  5. Schedule meetings with a clear agenda for all team members invited.
  6. Encourage team members (and yourself) to prepare for team meetings in advance so everyone can contribute to the discussion. Introverts might need more time to read, write, and prepare notes for a meeting to feel empowered to speak on the fly, so encourage your team to read any pre-meeting materials and set aside time to prepare.
  7. Determine how different team members like to give and receive feedback — and whether it’s in person or via email, challenge yourself to tailor your feedback to its recipient.
  8. Explicitly communicate praise, either in person or via email, so team members feel appreciated. Where extroverts might prefer to be praised in a team meeting, introverts might prefer to receive praise in a 1:1 meeting.

How Extroverted Leaders Can Improve

The Challenge:

Cain also reflected that extroverted leaders can encounter obstacles of their own. “For extroverted leaders, the challenge is to let other people contribute ideas,” Cain says. “A study by Wharton professor Adam Grant found that introverted leaders of proactive teams produced better results than extroverted leaders did because they were more likely to encourage others’ input, while extroverted leaders were more apt to put their own stamp on things.”

The Solution:

Extroverted leaders need to balance different personalities on their team to make sure they motivate and encourage their team to excel without being so enthusiastic that they shut others down. Some ideas include:

  1. Host meetings that incorporate aspects that let both introverts and extroverts shine. For example, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos starts all meetings with the group silently reading prep materials together for the first 20-30 minutes. Then, the meeting evolves into a discussion without a set agenda. These two pieces let both groups prepare in the manner most comfortable for them.
  2. Rethink brainstorming. As it turns out, brainstorming alone can produce a greater quantity of good ideas than discussing in a group. Cain suggests a hybrid brainstorm wherein participants come up with ideas alone and come together in a meeting to share and improve upon them.
  3. Keep meetings as small as possible so everyone feels comfortable speaking up.
  4. Allow team members to prepare as much as possible. And if that’s not possible, offer the opportunity to provide feedback and additional thoughts in a follow-up meeting or email.
  5. Listen twice as much as you speak in meetings to avoid dominating the conversation.
  6. Identify visibility opportunities for team members that work for their personality types.
  7. Champion and advocate for more introverted employees who might not identify those opportunities as readily.
  8. Challenge introverted employees to practice skills they’re not as comfortable with in private settings. Encourage extroverted employees to practice those skills in a meeting or a more visible setting.

Listen Up

The most valuable leadership advice we can offer, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, is to be honest about your leadership style. Don’t be afraid to openly and transparently tell your team members about your personality traits. Tell them about your style, they’ll tell you about theirs, and you can all work together to communicate and work effectively.

For more ideas for making the workplace conducive to introverts’ and extroverts’ success, check out more leadership content on ThinkGrowth.org, our Medium publication.

What are your suggestions for making the workplace inclusive for all personality types? Share with us in the comments below.

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Oct

20

2016

Are You a Good Boss? [Flowchart]

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Earlier this year, I wrote about a little thing called “imposter syndrome.” It refers to the feeling we get when, no matter how much we’ve achieved, we feel like we don’t belong or don’t deserve to be in a position of leadership.

About 70% of us will experience it at some point, especially the bosses among us. No wonder why so many of us constantly ask if we stack up. And how do you measure that, anyway?

It turns out, we’re probably overthinking it. Sometimes, a simple question-and-answer flowchart can help us with that introspection, and answer the question, “Am I a good boss?”

You’re in luck. The folks over at Headway Capital have created such a flowchart, chock full of important questions to ask about your leadership style, priorities, and more. Check out the infographic below to see how you measure up as a boss — and where there might be room for improvement. (P.S. Love infographics but struggle with design? Download our free infographic templates here).


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Sep

2

2016

6 Negotiation Strategies Every Marketer Should Know

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There’s a reason why we love TV courtroom dramas. Beyond the shocking objections and confessions, it seems like there’s constant screentime for strong, powerful arguments.

As marketers, that last part is especially exciting. Whether we know it or not, we are unabashed nerds for all things negotiation — and it’s a skill that all of us should master.

That could be why we’re drawn to a well-written, televised version of a compelling argument. We love seeing people making a case for what they believe in, and wish we could do it as well ourselves, like when we’re trying to negotiate a budget allocation or a project.

But with the right strategies and skills, you can learn to negotiate. It’s practical, valuable knowledge that can be applied almost anywhere — especially in the marketing realm.

Why Do Marketers Need to Negotiate?

When I speak with marketers, it seems like there’s always something that has to be negotiated. A lot of the time, it’s the allocation of resources — budget, new hires, or time.

There are other marketing-specific times when negotiation is necessary, though. Maybe you’re working out a co-marketing agreement. Or maybe you’re trying to make a case for your own ideas.

Regardless, being prepared for these conversations is key. A big part of that is confidence — after all, 19% of folks don’t negotiate because they’re afraid of looking too pushy. We get it. Negotiating is kind of scary, especially when you’re new to it.

But arriving to these discussions with the right expectations and information can make them a little less intimidating. We picked six techniques that can be applied in a broad range of negotiations — at work, or wherever else.

6 Negotiation Techniques Every Marketer Should Know

1) Focus on interests, not positions.

In the context of negotiation, there’s a big difference between focusing on interests and focusing on positions. While interests refer to an outcome that will benefit you, positions refer to your stance on a particular issue.

Co-marketing, as we noted above, is a place where this concept plays out quite a bit. Let’s say a small business is trying to partner with one that has a larger reach.

  • The smaller company might think, “We want our names attached to yours.”
  • The larger might say, “Well, we already reach the same audience. What’s in it for us?”

Those are the positions of each company: “You should partner with us,” versus “We don’t need you.”

That’s where the smaller company has to think about the underlying interests of the larger one and how they might, in fact, need each other. 

“Larger companies may have a large reach, but what do they not have?” asks HubSpot’s Manager of Content Marketing Strategy, Lisa Toner. “Do they not have resources to create really great content for their audience?”

That could be an interest of the larger business: Gaining resources to create things like compelling design or apps. “It’s all about the pitch, and if you can offer an experience [your opponent] or their customers would welcome,” Toner says, “without them having to do the work.”

But determining these interests requires research and creativity, Toner says. And she’s not alone — in the book Negotiating Rationally, Max H. Bazerman and Margaret A. Neale note that “creative solutions can be found by redefining the conflict for each side, identifying their underlying interests, and brainstorming for a wide variety of potential solutions.”

So while your opponent might have a different position on the surface, you might actually have interests in common. Knowing what those are can help you frame the conversation in a way that sets you both up for success.

2) Have “if-then” scenarios — and a backup plan.

When you enter a negotiation, it’s valuable to have different scenarios and alternatives in mind. In business school, we were taught to frame these with an “If-Then Matrix”: A table with rows of “if”s — the things we wanted, but the opponent might say no to. Those were followed by columns of “then”s — the items that would become non-negotiable if the client refused the “if.”

Having options in mind can help to mitigate some of the fear that comes with negotiating. For one, it clarifies your priorities: A recent survey showed that 56% of women won’t negotiate a job offer because they don’t know what to ask for, which implies that a lot of people — male and female — haven’t considered what’s most important to them.

Maybe work-life balance matters more to you than salary. In that case, if your employer says no to your payment requirements, then flexible hours might become non-negotiable.

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Do this with all of the “if”s that matter most to you. If flexible hours are also met with resistance, then what will your sticking points be?

And that’s where we also need to consider the BATNA — or, best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Sometimes, no matter how prepared you are for a negotiation, you might not reach an agreement. Then what? 

You’ll need to know the answer to that question before you even enter the conversation — that’s your BATNA. In fact, have multiple alternatives in mind — the more options you have, the less likely you are to feel completely helpless if your negotiation results in a stalemate.

An “If-Then” matrix can be helpful here, too. Know which factors will be at play if you don’t reach an agreement, and what the implications will be for your customers, your company, your team, and yourself. Don’t focus on defeat — focus on what you can do, and the actionable items that come with it. 

Remember: Negotiation isn’t an all-or-nothing process. Think about your interests, then determine your options based on the ones that are most important to you.

3) Use creativity to your advantage.

When it comes to negotiation, creativity is key. 

In one study of MBA students, participants were divided into two groups for different workshops — one that focused on systematic problem solving, and the other on solutions that directed students to “have fun,” “refrain from criticizing your ideas,” and “look for new possibilities.”

Each group then had negotiate a budget allocation. The students that underwent the creative training — the one that emphasized unconventional ideas and outcomes — executed the task better than the one that went through a more traditional workshop.

Studies like that show the value of creativity in generating unique alternative solutions and possibilities, and that is a lesson that you should think about when creating your negotiation agenda. You see, if an agenda resembles an itemized list with strict topics like budget and personnel, it tends to put the focus on positions, like “I need 35% of the budget,” or “I need 10 employees reallocated to our team.” But it doesn’t address why those needs exist — the interests behind them.

To combat that, try to focus on more open-ended things like goals and concerns. In that case, you’re leading with the why — the underlying interests that are at the root of each side’s position.

Maybe your opponent is concerned that her team can’t handle its growing workload, and that’s why she wants to add 10 people. With that perspective, her interest isn’t really about personnel allocation, as much as it’s about preventing her employees from burning out. That opens the door to discussing more creative solutions.  

4) Think about what matters most to your opponent.

I know what you’re thinking. “We know. Focus on interests. We get it!”

It’s true. Understanding your opponent’s priorities can more quickly uncover those underlying interests that I keep harping at. And yes — they’ll also help you align their interests with yours, and determine mutually beneficial outcomes.

But thinking about what matters most to your opponent can also give you an idea of what kind of questions he might ask. And you can prepare responses for those questions, gathering the data to support your answers in advance.

That will also help you figure out which questions you want to ask during the negotiation. When my colleague, Juliana Nicholson, was writing an ebook, she really wanted to include a certain organization as a case study. But they were hesitant to be featured, she said, because they were “very sensitive to how we framed them.”

At the same time, she told me, they “really wanted the exposure.” Knowing that was important to them helped Nicholson figure out the best questions to put them at ease, and gave them a sense of control in the process — questions like, “Can we use your real name and logo, so that we can link back to your site and drive traffic there?”

Notice how she cited a benefit in her question. She was asking for permission to do something — to use real identifiers of the organization, instead of a pseudonym — while immediately noting the positive outcomes of doing so.

And by posing it as a question, instead of stating it as a fact — “Doing X will result in Y” — Nicholson gave her opponent a sense of control over the process. Because she knew how much that mattered to them, she was able to phrase her questions in a way that addressed their interests in both control and exposure.

So don’t be afraid to relinquish a little bit of jurisdiction during a negotiation, especially when it comes to your opponent’s priorities.

5) Understand cultural elements — and how other cultures negotiate.

When you enter a negotiation, you’ll want to set the stage for a positive, proactive discussion. It goes without saying, then, that you probably don’t want to offend your opponent.

But accidentally offending your counterparts might be easier than you’d expect, especially if you’re negotiating with international peers. And that’s becoming more and more likely in business. HubSpot, for example, has offices in five different countries — that definitely shapes the way we do business.

It wouldn’t hurt to brush up on the business etiquette of your opponent’s native country. Here are some categories to consider when preparing for an international negotiation.

Physical Cues

In researching other cultures, I’ve learned that there are things I do naturally and unconsciously — like elaborately moving my arms when I talk — that would offend my colleagues in other countries. So in addition to doing my intellectual homework, I would have to physically prepare for a negotiation for my Chinese counterparts, and practice sitting still during a conversation.

My colleague, Leslie Ye, breaks down some do’s and don’ts on physical behavior in each country here

Silence

In the U.S., we often joke about the discomfort of an awkward silence. So it makes sense that other cultures — like Japan — use silence with the “hope the other side will speak,” writes University of Hawaii Professor John Barkai, and end up revealing something valuable, for the sake of saying anything at all.

But instead of letting the silence get awkward, use it to reflect. And if you do decide to speak first, take advantage of the quiet to think carefully about what you’re going to say.

Punctuality

Being on time is one of those things that starkly varies according to country. Just look at this guide to international business etiquette from my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich — how many countries have punctuality listed as important?

It’s important to know when you’ll be expected to be on time, and when you can anticipate the opposite from your counterpart. In France, for example, “you’re considered ‘on time’ if you’re 10 minutes late,” writes Kolowich.

Knowing how each culture treats timeliness will help you plan for and keep your negotiation efficient — and leave out the element of surprise if your guests arrive later than the scheduled start time.

6) Prepare your team.

You are so totally prepared for this negotiation. Great! What about the people sitting next to you at the table?

Even if you’re the one doing all of the talking, prepare any colleagues who will be present for the negotiation. Transparency is crucial here — your team should be briefed on any information that might arise during the negotiation, and privy to the same cultural and behavioral context that you’ve researched.

When your team has information, it gives them the opportunity to add their own valuable insights. When we become deeply ingrained in an issue, it can be difficult to look at it objectively. So make sure your team is equipped with the same armory you have — their perspective of it is an asset.

When it comes to preparing for any meeting, there are a few basic things you can do to prepare your team that also apply here.

  • Set clear ground rules: Make sure your team actually understands what the problem is here, and what the most desired proposed solutions are. Also make sure they know when it’s okay to contribute to the discussion, and what they should avoid bringing up.
  • Discuss non-negotiables: Your colleagues should be aware of the If-Thens. Prepare them with a list of things for which your side is absolutely unable to compromise — and let them know how to handle those objections.
  • Let them ask questions: Now is the time to clear up any uncertainties. If your team is caught off-guard, it will probably show. That can make your side look unprepared, which lends power to your opponent.

Ready to get started?

If you do all of these fabulous things to prepare — homework, research, introspection, and planning for less-than-desirable outcomes — then please, feel good about the conversation you’re about to have. We have a tendency to expect the worst (I know I do, anyway), and sometimes, numbers are the only thing that make us feel better.

So know this:

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Negotiating is kind of scary. But even if the worst case scenario actually plays out, by following these steps, you’ll be covered with a backup plan.

You’ve got this. And we’re always here to help as much as we can. Do you have a negotiation question, or story? Share it in the comments.

Marketing Ideas to Generate Business

Sep

2

2016

Are You Actually a Good Listener? [Flowchart]

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When you listen to someone speak, are you really listening to them … or are you listening to the voice in your head?

Hearing someone and listening to someone are two very different things. It’s all too common for people to wait for their turn to speak or think about what to say next instead of truly listening to someone. 

But being a good listener is a sign of emotional intelligence and social awareness. It means really, truly paying attention to what people are saying — and it’s a skill that’ll set you apart in both your professional and personal life. The good news is, becoming a good listener isn’t all that difficult — it just takes some practice (and self-awareness).

So, what do you think: Are you really a good listener? Quiz yourself by following the flowchart below from CT Business Travel. Then, keep reading for nine helpful tips for improving your listening skills.

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Aug

25

2016

How to Attract, Hire & Train the Best Marketers for Your Team [Free Ebook]

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Hiring marketers for your company is not an easy job. Ironically, a lot of it is actually about marketing to potential candidates. But the best marketer’s out there know when they’re being marketed to, and are therefore tuning out the old-school recruiting noise.

Those copy-pasted job descriptions filled with buzzwords and new challenges aren’t going to suffice anymore, which is why HubSpot Academy and Udemy for Business teamed up to bring you: How to Hire and Train Marketing All-Stars.

In this ebook, you’ll learn how to focus on career context to attract your target candidates, as well as how to spot future marketing all-stars who will be able to make their mark on your company.

By the end of this ebook, you’ll know:

  • How to reach your target candidates.
  • How to spot future marketing all-stars.
  • The inbound recruiting framework.
  • How to deliver on your promise with career training.
  • A new model for career training.

Download your copy of How to Hire and Train Marketing All-Stars now.

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Aug

11

2016

7 Ways to Build Credibility When You’re a New Leader

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Not too long ago, my alma mater asked me to give a talk about “what comes next” after business school. I was to address a group of MBA candidates about the discomfort of figuring out what to do with this fabulous new degree, and how to embrace the path to leadership. And in the process of preparing for it, I came across some pretty dismal statistics about the workplace.

Among other fun facts, I learned:

“Jeez,” I thought. “I’m not about to paint the best picture of the future, am I?”

But I kept looking. Instead of searching for more data on dissatisfied employees, I turned my attention to the ones who reported being engaged, happy, and confident at work. I wanted my audience to know that this positive reality existed, and I wanted to find out which factors contributed to it. And more often than not, it seemed, an employee’s satisfaction — high or low — could be traced back to his or her leaders. Download our leadership guide for actionable tips and advice from HubSpot's  Dharmesh Shah.

So what makes those numbers strong? What creates trust, engagement, and confidence within the workplace? We asked a few people — ranging from record executives to business school professors — who have learned a thing or two about leadership, and came up with a list of ways that new leaders can build credibility. (To learn more, check out our free guide to leadership.)

7 Ways to Build Credibility When You’re a New Leader

1) Actively listen.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not surprised to learn that we only remember 25% to 50% of what we hear. I mean, I can only listen to my mother’s story about the deer eating her hydrangeas so many times, right?

But at work, tuning people out can be dangerous, especially when you’re managing them. You might miss important feedback, directions, or updates. Even worse? If your team thinks you’re not hearing them, they won’t confide in you. That can diminish the chances that they’ll turn to you when they have questions or need help, which in turn prevents them from producing their best work. That’s a top management faux pas: Not helping your team succeed.

That’s why it’s so important to learn how to actively listen, especially in the early stages of building credibility and earning trust as a leader. It’s not an easy task at first — especially when we’re constantly overloaded with information and stimuli — but it can be learned with a few good habits. (HubSpot’s VP of Sales, Pete Caputa, writes more about that here.)

When colleagues are speaking to you, keep distractions minimized or at bay; try moving the conversation away from anything that might cause your attention to stray, like your computer or mobile devices. And don’t be afraid to do whatever’s necessary to make sure you heard the person correctly, even if it means repeating back to them what you think you heard.

2) Get to the point.

Not only do we only retain about half of what we hear, but now, studies say that humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish. So when you speak to your team, cut to the chase — you want them to remember the important parts.

The Brandon Hall Group listed what I like to call the “CSS” of verbal communication:

  • Clearly
  • Simply
  • Succinctly

The first, “clearly,” is particularly important — according to a recent Wrike work management survey, 37% of employees blamed “unclear priorities” for decreased productivity. So don’t water down your message with a lot of big words or details to prove your competence; not only does that detract from your confidence as a leader, which we’ll get to later, but it’ll undercut focus from your main takeaways.

But while you’re keeping things brief, make sure your team knows that you’re also receptive to questions and feedback. Only 20% of employees say that their managers take action when concerns are voiced, so when you invite input, you’re setting yourself apart as a leader.

3) Be consistent.

When I asked my friend Dessa — rapper extraordinaire and President of Doomtree Records — what her career has taught her about leadership, she said something that really resonated with me.

“Do what you say you’ll do.”

It seems simple in theory, right? But imagine this scenario: Being goal-oriented, you’ve taught yourself to eradicate the word “no” from your vocabulary. So you start off by saying “yes” to everything — more than any one person can actually take on — until you realize you’ve completely over-committed and can’t deliver on everything you agreed to. Been there? I have.

If you go from always saying “yes” to being so overwhelmed with commitments that you snap at new requests, it creates a major inconsistency in your leadership style. It makes your temperament look unpredictable, which can really stress out your team and make people less inclined to approach you. In fact, a recent study showed that employees actually prefer a manager who’s consistently mean over one with erratic behavior.

“One of the most important things for leaders to think about is consistency,” James Harder, Director of Communications at Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, told me. “If your messaging is consistent, it gives you more credibility. That is true with any phase of marketing, or for that matter, communication.”

So before you make a promise, be sure to ask yourself, “Is this a priority? Can I really take this on right now?” Knowing when to say “no” will create a balanced sense of priority among your team, and on your own to-do list.

4) Get to know as many people as possible.

When I asked Harvard Business School Leadership professor Ethan Bernstein for his thoughts on leadership credibility, he summed it up with one line: It’s “built by doing, enabling, and recognizing great work.”

So while you’re likely in a position of leadership because of your own achievements, it’s important to acknowledge that people around you do good work, too.

Why is that?

Well, to start, employee recognition goes a long way — 70% of employees in North America say that receiving recognition is “effective,” for example, when it comes to their engagement.

But by going beyond the parameters of your own team, you’re better able to recognize the far-reaching talent throughout your organization. That creates an opportunity to “design mutually beneficial partnerships” — another leadership lesson that Dessa says she’s picked up — which can accomplish a few things.

Reaching out to more people within your organization sends the message that you’re open to different perspectives. Since that kind of behavior shows that you’re looking beyond your own self-interest, it can build credibility. At HubSpot, for example, we follow the philosophy of solving for the customer first. So when our leaders are able to seek out multiple perspectives and talents within the company, it ultimately leads to more people improving and creating new solutions.

No wonder McKinsey identifies “seeking different perspectives” as a leadership best practice. It can lead to the beneficial partnerships that Dessa was talking about: The ones that reach across different departments to work toward a common goal.

5) Seek out speaking opportunities.

Remember all those lessons on the best ways to speak with your team? For those who don’t love addressing groups to begin with (and don’t worry — you’re in good company), effective communication might require a little extra effort.

That’s why my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, suggests that leaders go out of their way to find speaking opportunities. “Not only will it get your name out there,” which is always a good way to build credibility, she says, but “it’ll give you good practice. The more advanced you become in your career, the more you will be expected to speak.”

So how do you go about finding these opportunities? First, check out our CMO’s guide to becoming a better speaker. Then — once again — start with the people around you.

“I got my first few speaking gigs by emailing someone on my PR team,” Kolowich says. “I asked how I might be able to find events that could be a good fit.” As a result, she ended up being booked for several talks.

If you do reach out to your company’s PR department, just make sure to be specific. Identify your area of expertise, the geographical location(s) where you’d like to speak, and the types of events that interest you the most: Workshops, conferences, etc. And even if your organization doesn’t have a PR rep, these are the details you’ll need when looking for opportunities on your own.

6) Trust the training.

Corporate training gets such a bad rap, doesn’t it? When we think of it, many of us have visions of things like trust falls and kitschy name-games. But look beyond the stereotypes. Training has changed, and it can be highly valuable.

Most companies — 83% of them, in fact — have said how important it is for all leaders to receive some sort of training. But only 5% of employers actually have it. So while it might be easy to roll your eyes at the idea of training, think of it this way: Your company is part of the small percentage employers who actually care enough to invest in leadership development. (You are valued!)

That’s true no matter where you are in your career. Even if you’ve been with your company for years, writes HubSpot Principal Marketing Strategist Sam Mallikarjunan, “it’s probably been a while since you went through new hire training.” And because many of the people reporting to you have gone through this process recently, you might want to experience it, too.

When you have something like that in common with your team, it can heighten your ability to relate and empathize, which helps to improve credibility — leaders with empathy show a 40% higher overall performance than those without.

7) Have trust in yourself.

When I first started at HubSpot and felt a little nervous about my new role, someone suggested that I try Googling “new job anxiety.” I immediately felt better, if for no other reason than my fears seemed to be more common than I thought.

For a lot of us, a big part of this stress can be traced to something called “imposter syndrome”: The sense that, no matter how much we’ve achieved, we don’t belong in a leadership position or deserve the success of having gotten there. A whopping 70% of us — especially particularly ambitious folks — will endure that feeling at some point in our careers.

But if we don’t even lend ourselves any credibility, how can we expect to build it within our teams? Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has discussed this phenomenon quite a bit. In her TED Talk, she even referenced the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” approach.

By “faking it,” Cuddy isn’t suggesting that you lie about your credentials. Instead, she’s encouraging the idea of doing what scares you the most — like public speaking, as we discussed above — and internally reciting whatever mantra you need to in order to make it happen (for example, “I am a rock star”). When you repeatedly face these fears, she says, you’ll get to a point where you realize — and believe — that you do, in fact, belong in this position of leadership.

When you think about it, confidence = credibility. Merriam Webster defines the former as “the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true,” and the latter as “the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest.” So believe in your team, believe in the training, and believe in yourself — the sooner you can, the sooner you’ll be on your way to building credibility as a leader.

free ebook: leadership lessons

Jul

29

2016

How to Deliver Negative Feedback & Why It Matters [Infographic]

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Most managers dread giving negative feedback almost as much as employees dread hearing it. It’s uncomfortable to tell someone they’re not performing well at something.

But the truth is, your employees want to learn and grow — and they’ll only learn and grow when the work and skills that need improvement are given some course correction. Giving them no feedback hurts more than it helps: 70% of employees say getting no feedback at all makes them feel disengaged.

It’s all about how you give that negative feedback. If you prepare and deliver it the right ways, then it can actually make your employees feel more engaged at work. In other words, tough love might work after all.

Check out the infographic below from Resourceful Manager to learn more about why bad feedback is better than none, and how you can deliver it in a positive way.

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learn how to build an inbound marketing team

Jul

28

2016

21 Things Recruiters Absolutely Hate About Your Resume

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I’ll never forget one of my first job interviews out of college.

I was applying for a marketing position at a technology company. (No, not HubSpot.) Because my college major had nothing to do with marketing or technology, I’d written “Relevant coursework: Statistics” in the education section of my resume in an effort to draw a connection.

When I came in to interview, everything was going great — until I met with one of the company’s VPs. He sat down, turned my resume over on the table in front of him, scribbled down an advanced statistics question, and pushed it across the table to me.

Crap.

Let’s just say it’d been a while since I brushed up on my statistics. I ended up reasoning my way through the problem, but it wasn’t a piece of cake — and I was stressed as heck. I learned an important lesson that day: Never put something on your resume you can’t back up 100%. That, my friends, is just one of the many things recruiters hate to see on resumes. Download these marketing resume templates to make your job hunt easier. 

Every recruiter has their own list of things they don’t like to see on resumes, and you never know who’s going to see yours. That’s why it’s important to avoid all the most common resume mistakes.

I spoke with some of the top recruiters here at HubSpot to find out the top 21 things recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to see on your resume. Needless to say, you may want to bookmark this one …

21 Things Recruiters Absolutely Hate About Your Resume

1) When you send it in a Google Doc, and then don’t grant proper permissions.

Before you send your resume to a recruiter, you need to convert it to a format that allows all recipients to read it as intended.

Ideally, this means converting it into a PDF format so none of the original formatting or spacing is lost in translation. You can convert a Microsoft Word document into a PDF by choosing File > Save as Adobe PDF.

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If you have to send your resume over as a Google Doc, at least grant the recipient proper permissions to view it by clicking “Share” in the top-right corner of your Google Doc, entering in the email address of the people you want to include, and choosing “Can view” from the dropdown menu.

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Or, you can let anyone read it by clicking that “Share” button and then choosing “Get shareable link” at the top. Then, choose “can view” from the dropdown menu and send that link to the recruiter.

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We recommend a PDF format, though. It’s much more professional.

2) When your email address is “soccergrl0721@yahoo.com.”

There’s a lot you can tell about a person from their email address … and you don’t want this to be how the recruiters find out you like soccer. Outdated names can be a red flag, especially for tech-savvy companies. In the same vein, if you’re still using a Hotmail, Comcast, Yahoo!, or AOL email address, it’s time to upgrade.

If you need to, set up a separate email for your job hunt that’s some iteration of your name. It’s easy enough to create a new Gmail account for free. If you’re interviewing for a technical job, you might consider using or creating an email address associated with your own custom domain to show you know more than the average person about the web and technology.

3) When you mention the wrong company. (Oops.)

Of course, no one ever means to address the wrong company in their resume. But if you’re including your intentions as a candidate somewhere on your resume (which we don’t recommend, by the way; see #10), then you need to get it right.

“It’s unfortunate when a candidate has a good resume or cover letter, but don’t proofread and put in the wrong company information,” says Emily MacIntyre, Senior Marketing Recruiter here at HubSpot.

Getting this right goes beyond proofreading; it means paying attention to the details of the transaction. Customizing your resumes to different companies is expected, but you need to make sure you’re sending the right resumes to the right companies. One tip is to save your different resumes with the company name in the title, like Kolowich-Resume-HubSpot.

4) When you get a little too creative with your fonts.

Recruiters are going to notice the font and formatting of your resume before they even start reading it — which is why it’s important to choose a font that’s easily readable and professional.

The most common resume font is Times New Roman, in size 12-point font and black. It’s a serif font, which tend to look more professional because they have what’s called “tails” on the letters. These tails make the letter look less block-like than sans serif fonts.

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Image Credit: Kensington Design

Serif fonts other than Times New Roman that are great for resumes include Georgia, Bell MT, Goudy Old Style, and Garamond. If you really want to use a sans serif font, try Arial, Tahoma, Century Gothic, or Lucida Sans. Check out this infographic for some more guidance on what makes a good resume font.

Oh, and only use one font. Using two fonts looks a little messy and unprofessional — and, worse, it can even look unintentional.

The only exception here is for designers. “I’ve seen some really wild, creative, and awesome resumes from designers, and since that’s their craft, I encourage that,” says Sean Marsters, Senior Product Recruiter at HubSpot.

5) When your high school is still on there.

Unless you’re in high school or college, you can leave your high school off of your resume, says Marsters. He says that college graduates with minimal experience might be able to get away with it, but to most recruiters, it ends up looking like filler information.

The only exception here? If you connected with someone through your high school alumni network. In this case, you’d only want to include it in a resume that you send directly to that person. Otherwise, it could be seen as filler information.

Pro Tip: Three to five years after college or graduate school graduation, you can actually move your “Education” section to the bottom of your resume. Again, the only time you wouldn’t want to do this is if you connected with someone through an alumni network, or if you know an executive there also went to your school.

6) When you have two degrees, but only one GPA.

If you have a college degree and a graduate degree, don’t only list the one GPA you’re proud of. This calls into question why you’ve only listed one GPA, and so obviously left the other one out, explains HubSpot’s Recruiting Team Lead Dave Fernandez.

The benchmark for being able to remove GPA from your resume altogether is five to seven years after graduation, which is when candidates tend have a solid track record of employment, says Andrew Quinn, VP of Learning and Development at HubSpot.

“But if you did well in school but had lackluster job prospects following graduation because of, say, a bad economy, you could definitely leave it on longer.” It goes both ways, he explained: If you had great jobs and accomplishments following graduation but didn’t have a good GPA, consider removing your GPA earlier. Just don’t remove one and not the other if you have multiple degrees.

7) When you list every piece of technology you’ve ever touched, seen, heard, smelt.

In the technology industry, it’s very common for recruiters to see candidates listing out experience with all the technology they’ve ever heard of. But unless you’ve cut and edited videos extensively, you can’t really put “Final Cut Pro” on your resume.

“Unless you’re confident in your skill set and experience in that area, don’t add technology just to add fodder,” says Marsters.

Same goes with languages you speak, or your college classes. “College students shouldn’t feel the need to list out every single class they took at school. In fact, you don’t need to add any classes — but it’s OK if you want to list a few important ones relevant to the job you’re applying for.”

Pro Tip: Unless you can hold your own in an interview on the subjects you’re listing, leave them out.

8) When you’re “Proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.”

Almost every single candidate feels the need to include this phrase on their resume — but recruiters hate to see it. Basic proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite is assumed for college graduates these days.

“Unless you can run pivot tables, VLOOKUPs, and complex data modeling out of Excel, then don’t include proficiency in Excel on your resume,” says Marsters. “Writing a 500-word essay in Word and sorting a column in alphabetical order in Excel does not count as proficiency in those systems.”

Pro Tip: If you want the Excel chops to be able to include it on your resume, here are the 10 best resources for learning Excel online.

9) When the formatting is all over the place.

Formatting speaks to the way candidates collect their thoughts and organize their ideas. As Quinn explains it, “A candidate’s resume is their ad to me. How are they structuring this ad so I get a clear picture of what they’re capable of?”

There are a few key things every candidate should check off the list before sending in a resume:

  • Is your formatting consistent across all positions? For example, if you’re bolding job titles, are all job titles bolded?
  • Are your margins even?
  • Are all items properly aligned? For example, if you’ve right-aligned dates, are they all lining up in tandem with one another?

Formatting consistency is another reason we recommend you send your resume as a PDF. (See #1.)

10) When you start off with a generalized summary.

Unless a company specifically asks for a summary at the top of your resume (which is doubtful), you really shouldn’t include one, says MacIntyre. They’re too easy to screw up — this is a place where candidates have put the name of the wrong company. Plus, they usually come off sounding stuffy and insincere.

Instead, lean in to a “Key Skills” section either at the top or bottom of your resume, in column format, that highlights the top six to nine skills applicable to the role you’re applying for. Be sure to change these skills for each job — and remember, leave out Microsoft Office Suite unless you’re truly proficient.

Pro Tip: Although you should leave this section off your resume, you should write something in the “Summary” section of your LinkedIn profile. Use this section to write out specific skills and achievements, link to your portfolio or blog, and talk about awards you’ve won or projects you’ve worked on. The information and skills on here should be applicable to where you’re headed in your career, not irrelevant past skills.

11) When you use the pronouns “I” or “my.”

Resumes are not the time to be using pronouns like “I” or “my,” says MacIntyre. However, you should still use first-person, not the third-person, when conjugating your verbs.

This is tricky to explain. Here’s how I think about it: Don’t use the word “I” in your resume, but assume the word “I” when you conjugate your verbs to ensure they’re in the first-person. So if you want to write that you develop promotional materials in your current role, write “Develop promotional materials,” as in “I develop promotional materials” — but without using the pronoun “I.”

  • Correct: “Develop promotional materials.”
  • Incorrect: “Develops promotional materials.”

12) When your verb tenses are wrong.

Speaking of verb conjugation … make sure all of your verb tenses are in the past tense for past positions, and in the present tense for current positions. Verb tense is evidence of attention to detail, which is important for any job — especially if you’re applying to a job where attention to detail matters, says Quinn.

Using the same example as above, here’s how I’d write out that responsibility on a resume if it were my current position versus a past position:

  • Current position: “Develop promotional materials.”
  • Past position: “Developed promotional materials.”

The exception here is if you’re talking about something that you did in your current position that “ended” in some way. For example, you’d use the past tense to write “Earned a spot in President’s Club for achieving XYZ” because it’s something you did that had a finite ending.

13) When you list your responsibilities, but not your accomplishments.

Sure, it’s helpful for candidates to list out what they were responsible for doing in their job. But it’s way more interesting to learn the results the candidates actually drove — and putting down more responsibilities than accomplishments is a red flag.

Here’s a great example: “Instead of writing ‘Handled all monetary transactions,’ write ‘Increased revenue by X% year-over-year, resulting in promotion to Senior Account Manager and entrustment with enterprise-level deals,'” says Fernandez. “The latter is much more telling.”

Include goals and metrics that recruiters can use to compare you against other candidates. List out the cool stuff you did in every position, and then choose the best four or five and turn them into bullet points like these:

  • Drove 37% improvement in newsletter clickthrough rates by rewriting sales copy.
  • Grew ecommerce sales 23% in just 6 months by redesigning and A/B testing all landing pages.

(For more examples of actionable data points, download these free resume templates.)

14) When you list outdated or irrelevant experience.

A resume isn’t a place where you just tack on a new section every time you add a new job or volunteer opportunity. You should be picky about which roles, skills, experiences, and accomplishments you include — all based on the role you’re applying for.

So unless you’re applying for a job that requires lifeguarding skills, you can leave out your summer lifeguarding job from college. If you’re further down your career path, list the more recent roles you’ve had that complement the job you’re applying for.

The only exception here is if you’re still in college, or you’re a recent college graduate with limited experience and you need to “fill out” your resume a little bit. In that case, don’t just write that you were responsible for monitoring the waters for people in need of saving; glean relevant skills, such as learning how to resolve challenging, ambiguous situations.

15) When there are large chunks of text.

It takes hiring managers all of six seconds to scan your resume before deciding whether they’re interested in you. If they see large chunks of text that aren’t broken up by bullet points, it’ll turn them off big time. Who likes reading large chunks of text?

It’s the same reason bloggers use headers, bullet points, and other formatting tricks to break up long blog posts. It all comes down to making it easier for people to like reading your stuff.

Make sure you’re using bullet points to list out your accomplishments underneath each position, and limit them to five or six bullet points per post. The order of your bullet points matters, too: Put the most important, relevant, and impressive ones first.

16) When it’s ridden with buzzwords and meaningless clichés.

So you’re a hardworking team player with exceptional problem-solving skills? That’s cool, but … what does that actually mean? Anyone could write this on their resume. (And believe me, they do.) It’s meaningless. You need to give solid examples that are sincere, BS-free, and backed by evidence.

For example, let’s say the job you’re applying for is asking for someone with a strong knowledge of the marketing lifecycle. Use your resume as an opportunity to showcase this — but don’t just write, “Developed a strong knowledge of the marketing lifecycle.” Write “Developed a strong knowledge of the marketing lifecycle and consumer journey through researching and writing in-depth articles on topics including SEO, content marketing, email marketing, branding, social media, and more.”

Same goes for corporate buzzwords: Leave them out. Sweep your resume for annoying jargon and business babble, and replace these phrases with clearly articulated ones that make it clear to the recruiter what you did and how you did it.

17) When you don’t explain your gaps.

Most of you know already that gaps in employment are red flags to recruiters — but that’s only true when you don’t explain them.

If you took longer than six months off of work, you may want to explain the gap on your resume — perhaps in italics or parenthesis. “Travelled abroad.” “Took time off for family.” “Took time off for personal reasons.” They just want to see a rational explanation — that you were doing something productive with your time, not just hanging out watching Netflix. 

If you’d rather leave your resume for the meat of your relevant experiences, you choose to address a gap by including a note in your cover letter or in the email you send to the hiring manager that your resume is attached to: “You’ll notice that there is a year-long gap between X and Y jobs. I’m more than happy to explain that further.”

Either way, be honest about it. If you’re upfront, you’ll seem trustworthy instead of fishy.

18) When it’s inconsistent with your LinkedIn profile.

If a recruiter is interested in your resume, chances are, they’ll look at your LinkedIn profile alongside it to learn more about you — and check for discrepancies. Make sure you’re updating your LinkedIn profile at the same time you’re updating your resume. The two don’t have to be identical, but they do have to be consistent. 

Pro Tip: Don’t want to tip off your current colleagues that you’re on the hunt for a new job? To make sure your LinkedIn profile edits aren’t broadcast to your network, log in and move your cursor over “Profile” at the top of your homepage, then select “Edit Profile.” Find the box on the right-hand side of your profile that says “Notify your network?” and toggle the button so it says “No.”

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19) When you get a little too crazy with the formatting.

Standing out from the crowd is a good thing, especially when you’re competing with hundreds, even thousands of applicants with a single piece of paper. But there is such thing as getting too crazy with the formatting. While recruiters have seen some really cool resumes — particularly from designers — sending a resume that strays far away from the normal resume format is a risk.

“If you stray too far from normal formatting, it can be hard to read and understand your resume,” warns MacIntyre. “Don’t get so creative with infographic-style resumes that the information becomes difficult to digest.”

If you’re willing to take the risk, gut check with a friend before you send your work in. But if you opt for a regularly formatted resume, that’s perfectly OK. There are a few, subtle ways to make it stand out from looking like literally everybody else’s. 

“You could stand in line at a college career fair and see 200 resumes in a row that all look the exact same,” says Marsters. “Recruiters don’t want to see word clouds or calligraphy, but it doesn’t hurt to find subtle ways to stand out from the crowd,” says Marsters. “Start by staying away from the top three options when punching ‘resume format’ into Google.”

(P.S. If you’re working on a marketing resume specifically, then use these free templates to get you started.)

20) When it’s basically a novel.

Remember how nobody likes to read a ton of text? Recruiters don’t want to flip through multiple pages to read about your experiences. A good rule of thumb is to limit your resume to one page for every ten years of experience. Chances are, recruiters won’t even get to page two — but if you absolutely must bleed onto another page, then definitely don’t exceed two.

If you’re having trouble cutting your resume down, think about tip #13 and make sure any outdated or irrelevant work experience is cut. You might also consider cutting your education section if you’re more than five years out of college or have a lot of solid, relevant experience.

21) When you pair it with unprofessional email copy.

There are a lot of jobs out there that ask people to apply via email. But think about how many emails those recruiters get. Do you think they actually open the resumes in every single one of those emails?

Not a chance. What you write in that email will make a huge difference in whether or not the person you send it to actually opens your resume and gives you a shot. That’s why you have to spend time crafting an email that’s concise, professional, and makes you sound appropriately enthusiastic about the position.

Your subject line should make it totally clear what the content of your email is — something like “Application: Content Writer”.

As for the email itself, clearly state the position name and team you’re applying for. Write 1–3 sentences explaining why you think you’re good for the position and why you’re excited about the role. Then, end with something like, “I’ve attached my resume in case you’d like to learn more about my background and experiences. Feel free to contact me by email or phone [give phone number here] with any questions. Thanks for taking the time to read my application.”

And finally, don’t forget to name your resume attachment something clear and professional, like Kolowich-Resume-HubSpot.

If you’ve gotten this far and your resume is clear of all these things, then you’re ready to send it in. Good luck with your search! (P.S. We’re hiring.)

What do you absolutely hate seeing on a resume? Share with us in the comments.

10 free marketing resume templates

Jul

21

2016

How to Say ‘No’ To Your Boss

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Technically, your boss owns your professional time. That means it’s perfectly within her rights to reprioritize what you’re working on if she thinks doing so is the best thing for the team.

But even good bosses can have a hard time understanding what’s being sacrificed when they assign new tasks and projects. And if you continuously allow your boss to pile new things on your plate, you’ll eventually find yourself delaying other work or not getting it done at all. In the end, that reflects poorly on you — and that’s not fair.

Saying “no” to your boss can be intimidating, but there are plenty of cases where it’s a totally appropriate thing to do. The key is learning how to say no in a way that’s tactful and helps your boss find an alternative solution.

This is a skill that’ll serve you well in every stage of your career. Being able to say “no” to the right things in the right ways will end up saving you a whole lot of time and pain.

So the next time your boss asks you to increase your workload, take on a task you think is a bad idea, or work outside of your normal hours … how do you know whether it’s an okay time to say “no”? And what’s the best way to decline?

When Is It Okay to Say ‘No’ to Your Boss?

There are some situations when it’s okay to say no to your boss, and some situations when it’s not. The first question you should ask yourself is: What situation are you in when the request comes in?

For example, if you’re within the first six months of a brand new job, you need to be more of a “yes-man” (or woman) than not in order to establish yourself as a hardworking, motivated, and competent team player. Putting in extra time and effort when you’re proving yourself to a new team is, frankly, what’s expected of you in a new role. Same goes if you’ve just received poor feedback or a bad evaluation at work and need to spend some time proving yourself again.

Finally, if you’ve recently said “no” to a request from your boss, you’ll want to think more carefully about this new one so you don’t come across as a naysayer.

But if you’ve proven yourself by being a high performer and a valuable coworker, then you can set some limits.

How to Say ‘No’ To Your Boss

Let’s walk through a few tips for setting yourself up to say no to your boss in a way that’s diplomatic and acceptable.

1) Respond right away, even if it’s just to ask for more time.

When that request comes in over email or in a virtual chat, it can be easy to “hide out” and pretend you didn’t see it until you have a well-formulated response. (Unless your boss uses the HubSpot Sales Chrome extension, that is. It notifies you when someone opens your emails.)

As tempting as it might be, don’t wait to respond until you have a rebuttal prepared. The more communicative you are from the get-go, the more trustworthy and professional you’ll appear — putting you in a better position to negotiate later.

But what should you say in that initial response?

If you take only one thing away from this article, this is it: Saying no to your boss doesn’t mean actually saying the word “no.”

While something like “No, sorry, I don’t have time right now” might seem like a totally legitimate response to you, an instantaneous “no” can not only be off-putting, but it could also signify to your boss that you’re having trouble prioritizing and executing on your work.

For the sake of your relationship with your boss and your integrity as an employee, you’ll need to tread more carefully than that. So instead, here’s what you might write in that initial response:

Validate their request.

Instead of just saying “no,” Leadership Development Expert Kirstin Lynde suggests responding first with words of affirmation.

“As soon as you get the request, you might say something like, ‘I understand why this is an important thing to get done,'” she told me. “Or, if you don’t think that, you might say, ‘I think I see what you mean.'”

This validates the request and shows your boss you’re listening without necessarily assigning you as the point person for the task.

Ask questions.

Once you’ve affirmed their request, Lynde suggests that you get curious.

“Ask questions. Say, ‘It would be helpful to understand a little bit more about what you’re thinking — about timing, the amount of attention you want me to give to this, and so on,'” she suggests. “You may have a totally different concept than your boss does of how long it’ll take and which skills will be needed.”

The answers to these questions will give you more context for you to frame your pushback around (or might reveal to you that you can take the project on after all, negating the “no” entirely).

Ask for a little bit of time if you need it.

If you need to, buy yourself some time to evaluate the request and whether or not you can actually do it. You might say something like, “May I have a half a day to think this through and see where it fits alongside my other priorities?” Unless it’s super urgent, a good boss is likely to honor that request.

2) List out why you need or want to say ‘no.’

Once you’ve established that you’ve received the request and bought yourself some time, use it to thoughtfully evaluate whether — and why — you need to decline.

Is it because you have a looming deadline on an important project? Or do you disagree with the strategy? Is it because you consider whatever’s being asked of you unethical? Or is it because you’re days away from a big vacation and you simply don’t have the availability to take on anything new just now?

As you brainstorm, write down these answers. They’ll come in handy later when you’re formulating a response to your boss.

3) Put yourself in your boss’ shoes.

Empathy can be a powerful tool when attempting to persuade. By considering the situation from your boss’ perspective, you’ll be able to frame a much more compelling argument later.

Ask yourselves questions like:

  • Why is your boss asking you to do this?
  • What business purpose does it serve?
  • If you declined the request, what would happen?

By considering the situation from her point of view as well as your own, you’ll be able to more easily come up with a solution that is agreeable to both parties — whether it’s executing on the proposed plan, or putting a different one forward.

4) Come up with an alternative solution.

If you’re still leaning toward a “no,” your strongest argument will include an alternative way to solve the problem. Your boss will appreciate the concern and effort you put into helping her find some way to get the task done, even if you’re not the one doing it.

For example, you might ask to postpone the task until some of your other priorities are finished, or possibly come back with a list of coworkers who might be up for the task. Have any colleagues who might be interested in growing their career through projects like this, or whose background is a better fit? That’s a great way to show you’re paying attention to and are interested in your peers’ professional development.

5) Ask your boss to help you reprioritize.

If not having enough time to complete the task is your main concern, ask your boss to help you reprioritize. This will give her a better understanding of what you have on your plate and what you’d have to give up by taking on a new task or project, while also giving her a chance to share her two cents on what’s important.

You might say something like, “In taking this on, I want to make sure I don’t drop the ball on other priorities. Would you mind helping me sort out my current projects and figure out where this fits in?”

Then, set up a meeting and share what you’re working on, how long it’s taking, and what you’d have to delay or stop doing if you were to take on the new project. To prepare, type our your notes neatly and clearly in a document you can share with your boss to show you’ve put time and effort into collaborating on a mutually beneficial solution.

If all goes well, you’ll end the meeting with permission to move around your priorities in a way both of you are happy with.

6) Choose your words carefully.

During this conversation, frame your responses in a way that makes it clear you’re thinking and concerned about the company’s interests — and choose your wording carefully.

“Most [good bosses] say they’re willing to listen to sound reasoning to find a solution,” says Diane Amundson, a workplace communications consultant. “It’s all about how you frame and phrase it.”

Here are some tips to help you get your ideas across effectively:

  • Acknowledge her idea. Your boss will be more open to listening to an alternative solution or hearing a “no” if you’ve first validated her suggestion.
  • Be direct, but tactful. This is a key business skill that’ll serve you well in every stage of your career.
  • Avoid negative excuses, like “It’s not my turn”; “I did it last time”; “I wouldn’t know where to begin to do that.”
  • Use positive phrasing. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this project because I have too much other work,” try something like, “I know this project is important for hitting our number this month, and I have a few ideas about how to reorganize the workload.”
  • Show you’re resourceful by doing your research and presenting other ideas.
  • Don’t get defensive. Position your message in a neutral, rational way. For example, you might say, “I understand your perspective, and here’s another way to think about the situation.”
  • Show you care about the team’s goals. You and your boss share a higher purpose: to accomplish your team and company goals. Acknowledge that you’re in it together, and frame your suggestions as ways to help that goal.

7) Be communicative.

Don’t wait too long before scheduling a conversation with your boss or letting her know that you won’t be able to carry out her request. If your boss sees you’ve left a conversation open-ended, she might think she’s being blown off.

The more communicative you are, the more trustworthy and professional you come across. Plus, keeping her in the loop will help you and her figure out an alternative solution with time to spare.

Pushing back on a request from your boss can be intimidating — especially if your boss is the kind of person who’s constantly sending you new ideas and pushing projects onto you unexpectedly.

But in the end, being honest about what you can and cannot accomplish is much better than setting yourself up for failure.

What other advice can you add about saying “no” to your boss? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.

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Jul

13

2016

The 9 Worst Resume Mistakes You Can Make & How to Avoid Them [Infographic]

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Crafting a standout resume requires a whole lot of work.

Not only do you have to write the darn thing, but you also have to check (and double-check) for typos, even out your margins, make sure you’re not repeating the same action verb ten times … the list goes on.

While there are a lot of little things you’ll want to check before sending your resume to a recruiter, some are more important than others.

Download our 10 free marketing resume templates here.

In the name of prioritization, check out the infographic below from StandoutCV for a list of nine of the resume mistakes you definitely don’t want to make the next time you apply for a job — and how to avoid them.

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Jul

1

2016

How to Determine the Best Office Layout for Your Team [Flowchart]

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As businesses grow and add new people to their team, they often face the challenge of having to move to a new office space.

But there’s a lot that goes into that decision. What kind of office space suits your team and team culture best? How can you set up a space that encourages productivity and invites growth?

There are three main types of office spaces: conventional, virtual or remote, and shared space. Which of these suits you and your team best will depend on how many people work there, how often they collaborate, the IT equipment your team uses, and more. 

To help you get started in your search for an office space that works for you, check out the infographic below from Make It Cheaper. First, you’ll follow a flowchart to determine which of the three office spaces make the most sense for your business. Then, you can read up on the details of each one. (For even more ideas, read this blog post on seven innovative ways companies are changing the workplace.)

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Jun

28

2016

How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Career Path

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A couple of my teammates recently launched a tool called The Next Five to help people navigate through those times in their career where they’re feeling kind of stuck. You know, when you’re just not sure what the next step is on your career path.

And while we may think about this stuff from time to time — and maybe even sheepishly practice holding those conversations in the car on the way to work — I don’t think we often verbalize our thoughts on where we want our career paths to go (presuming we actually know the answer to that question).

So I did a little research to see how often people are actually talking with their managers about the next steps on their career paths. It’s pretty hard to find any good data on it (if you know of any, please send my way). But I did find this: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average tenure for today’s worker is 4.4 years. If you focus on just younger employees, that number halves.

What’s more, 91% of workers born between 1977 and 1997 report going into new jobs with the intent of staying less than three years.

While it sure seems like a jumpy career path is normal, there’s more to be said about the importance of these career discussions. To help you get the conversation started, let’s take a closer look at why they matter and how you can get the most out of them.

Why Do Career Path Conversations Even Matter?

Some workplaces look at job-hopping as a phenomenon we just need to accept in this day and age. And they’re probably right … to an extent. I don’t think many industries should expect to return to a time when people stayed at companies for decades. But we might be able to find more longevity out of our roles than we do right now.

Quite frankly, job-hopping sucks for more than just the organization that has to rehire and retrain someone every couple years — it sucks for the employee, too. Yes, maybe they get promotions and raises — in fact, it’s not an uncommon way to make your way up the career ladder. But it also means taking a risk, adjusting to a new team and a new manager — possibly finding out one or both of those are a poor fit — and figuring out the nuances of a workplace and job that you could end up hating.

Worst case scenario? You end up out of work at the end of all that, and you’re back on the interview circuit.

So I think it behooves all of us to have these conversations about what we want our career paths to look like with ourselves, and our managers. It helps us get closer to the work and life we want, and it helps clue our managers in on how to give it to us.

What Elements Make Up an Effective Career Path Conversation?

I’m gonna put my money where my mouth is and talk about my own experiences with these conversations.

I’ve had career path conversations with many bosses — the last formal one was around March — but I’ve also held them with people on my team. Both have been awkward … sometimes. But both have been totally normal and non-cringe-inducing just as often.

When I look back at all those conversations at a macro-level, the good ones (whether they were about my career or my teammates’) all came down to three elements:

  • Relationship
  • Timing
  • Forethought

1) Relationship

Technically, this shouldn’t matter. You should be able to have productive career path conversations no matter the manager-employee relationship. But it would be naive to think the relationship you have with your boss doesn’t play into how well these conversations go. That’s not to say the closer you two are, the better the conversations go — sometimes the closer you are, the harder it is to have frank conversations.

But the better you know each other, and the more ease you have talking with one another, the more likely you’ll have already sorted out communication styles that work. You’ll just know how to get from point A to point B with less pain and awkwardness, because you’ve done it before.

It also gives you the ability to “read the room,” so to speak. You can tell if something you said is being poorly received or misunderstood. Those soft skills matter when you’re talking about career paths because they can accidentally veer into uncomfortable territory and leave people feeling insecure if the communication is off.

If you don’t already have a strong working relationship, it doesn’t preclude you from pulling off a successful conversation. It just makes the next two items — timing and forethought — all the more important.

It also might help to run a few practice rounds with someone so you can make sure you’re clearly verbalizing what you intend. My colleague Katherine Boyarsky does this and can’t recommend it enough: “Have a mantra that you can repeat in your head during the conversation that helps center you if you go off on a tangent,” she explains.

Aim to be very clear, direct, and forthright with what you’re looking to do without putting the other party on the defensive. (And check out this article for some general tips on how to be less awkward with your boss. Trust me, you won’t regret it.)

2) Timing

There have been a few career conversations I’ve had in the past that were ill-timed. It didn’t turn them into an utter disaster, but they just didn’t seem to stick. The most common instances where the timing has been off in my experience have been:

  • My boss didn’t know I wanted to have the conversation/I sprung the conversation on a team member in our 1:1. When it comes to talking about your career path, you can’t expect great results from a conversation in which half the people in the room are unprepared. Give everyone some time to think about this. After all, it’s a massive topic that has a lot of moving parts to consider.
  • We tacked it on to the end of a meeting but didn’t have enough time to finish the conversation. Because your career path is such a massive topic, allot enough time to do it justice. I think career discussions are best when they take place over a series of conversations, so it’s alright if you just have a quick thought once in a while. But if you haven’t had this talk with your boss or employee yet (or it’s been a while), make a separate meeting dedicated to this, and only this.
  • I could tell my boss was distracted due to other sources of stress. This is where that “reading the room” I mentioned earlier comes into play. Even if you’ve pre-planned a career path meeting, sometimes things come up that distract one or both of the participants. If you’re picking up on some body language — or spoken language — that indicates distraction, reschedule the meeting.

3) Forethought

A lot of this post so far has been a 50/50 thing — managers and employees should both be held accountable for this career path stuff. But when it comes to forethought, this lies largely on the employees’ shoulders. We need to think about what we want to do in our career. No one can tell us the answer to: “What do you want to do in five years?

Sure, your manager, a mentor, or your family and friends can all talk you through that stuff, but it does come down to you to take ownership over the direction in which you want your career to go.

So, put some forethought into the ways your career path could take shape before broaching the subject with your manager. Some people tend to have really clear career goals, while others are a little more … floaty. That’s fine. If you find yourself in the “floaty” camp, here’s are a couple things to think about to get your brain going:

First, it’s okay to not know what you want from your career at all times. I tend to bucket my life in quadrants:

  • Relationships (friends, family, love)
  • Career (skill development, promotions, satisfaction from the work I’m doing)
  • Hobbies (beach bumming, ghost stuff)
  • Health (exercise, cooking, happiness, clean home)

Typically, not all of those areas of my life are banging on all cylinders at once. When life is going great, usually three — maybe only two — are rocking and rolling while the rest are in stasis for a bit. Sometimes, that thing that’s in stasis is your career. And that’s fine. You don’t need to be thinking about your career path all the time. But if you feel a general ennui, it might be that too many of those areas of your life are lagging — and one could very possibly be your career.

If that’s the case, ask yourself this …

What does the team look like today, versus a year from now?

First, think about this question hypothetically — assessing gaps that will need to be filled down the line, and aligning them with company goals. Then, talk to other leaders in the company and on your team about where they see the team going in a year, and what kinds of goals people might focus on in the future.

This is where your manager can help you, and where I have seen really successful (and non-awkward) career path conversations begin. If you can get a sense of what the organization’s needs will be over the next 12 months, you can start to see which of those needs you’re interested in helping fulfill — because even if your dream job is X, there’s not much anyone can do for you if the company’s investments are in Y.

Finally, remember that career progress comes from a lot of different places, and that progress is indicated by a lot of different things. It comes from skill development, networking, and aligning with projects that advance both personal and company goals. And all of that takes time.

If we want to benchmark our progress, we need to look at more than just promotions. Instead, we need to focus on whether we’re developing new skills, being given more responsibility and autonomy,putting ourselves in mildly uncomfortable situations that help us get better at stuff (hello, public speaking), working with new people in the organization, being asked for our opinion more often, or being pulled into meetings with people we respect and admire.

These are all really good signs of progress that are hard to formalize, but indicate you’re taking the right steps to get your career on the path you’re aiming for.

What Would an Expert Say About All of This?

I’m glad you asked.

That was all based on my experience — holding career path conversations with team members, and with my own manager. But let’s ask an actual HR professional who has spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff.

I talked to our Senior HR Business Partner Brianna Manning, and asked her for the advice she would give someone who was struggling to hold productive conversations about career advancement. She echoed two of the sentiments we’ve already talked about — preparation, and giving a heads up that you want to have this conversation. One point in particular Manning shared regarding preparation is the importance of establishing career trajectory dialogue from the beginning of your relationship together:

If your manager is well aware of what direction you want to take your career, they can purposefully plan on assignments and projects that help set you in the right direction. In fact, if you want to follow your manager’s path, specifically, you should be direct and let them know that. Ask them to lunch to talk through their challenges, and learn what kinds of projects they took on to help get the skills they needed for the role.”

If you feel unsure of how to start that conversation because you don’t have that solid relationship yet, she provided some sample language that helps make it less intimidating:

Try opening with something like ‘I learned about this really great resource to help us make the most of our 1:1s and layer in some career development focus — would you be open to trying it?’ or ‘I want to make sure we bake in time for communication around career development in our 1:1s, can we set aside five minutes for that on the agenda on a weekly basis?'”

But Manning hit on one other important point in initiating these conversations I would be remiss to gloss over: You have to build trust and credibility to have productive career conversations.

It’s really difficult for your manager to focus on your career path if you aren’t succeeding in your current role. Make sure you’ve got a handle on your responsibilities before setting your sights on the next thing. In some cases, it might be wiser to focus on the “now” of your career path rather than the next turn down the road. As Manning put it:

If you demonstrate that you always deliver on current responsibilities, and always try to go the extra mile, you’ll build credibility and trust around your own personal brand. This will open doors for you. Just remember that it all takes time. It can’t happen overnight.”

She emphasized that credibility also comes from owning the follow-through on those career conversations. If your manager has opened up some doors for you, make sure you own your progression by nailing those stretch assignments, introductions, or whatever it is you’ve been given an opportunity to shine doing.

What Should You Expect to Get From These Career Path Conversations?

If you’re expecting a specific result out of one conversation, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You wouldn’t expect your manager to come in and dump a promotion on your lap, so you shouldn’t expect to solve your career destiny in one swoop.

In order for those doors to open, all relevant parties must be envisioning you in a certain role for a few months, at least.

I would say the best results typically come from people that think about their career path often, and have frequent — whether formal or informal — conversations about it.

Most of all, those with the most interesting paths tend to just keep an open mind about the different, jagged, very weird ways we all make our way through our careers.

Need help doing a little soul-searching? Take a few minutes to check out The Next Five.

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Jun

24

2016

How to Appear Confident, Even When You’re Not [Infographic]

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You know the saying, “Fake it ’til you make it”?

It turns out that doing things that make you appear confident — even if you don’t actually feel confident  — can affect how others see you, and can ultimately have a big impact on your success. It can also affect the chemicals in your brain to make you actually feel more confident when all is said and done.

Think about the last time you felt unsure of yourself. Perhaps you were about to give a presentation in front of a group of people; or maybe you were feeling really awkward at a networking event where you knew no one. (Terrifying, I know.)

In these instances, there are a couple of handy things you can do to make it look like you’re feeling confident. And when you come off as confident, authentic, comfortable, and enthusiastic, you’ll come off as smarter, more passionate, and more likeable.

Check out the infographic below from Vegas Extreme Skydiving for tips on how to appear confident. Use them the next time you’re feeling unsure of yourself, whether you’re trying something new, forging new relationships, or taking new risks.

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Jun

1

2016

7 Ways Leaders Can Inspire Innovation Across Teams

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Innovation in the workplace poses a unique challenge: Growth requires your employees to take risks, yet chasing unproven ideas can often mean fundamentally risking your job.

While many companies find success confining innovation to specific departments or innovation labs, this can often limit the flow of ideas and constrain the development of new products.

When it comes to tackling innovation, leaders must carefully build a culture that tolerates change and provides the freedom to explore big ideas. To help you get started, check out the seven tips below. 

7 Ways Leaders Can Inspire Innovation Across Teams

1) Find your tolerance for growth.

Let’s hit the obvious truth first: Not all companies are built for explosive growth.

While enterprise leaders (and employees) may envy the nimble, adaptable cultures of early stage companies, legacy structures and processes provide tremendous value for many corporations. Unfortunately, strict frameworks can end up stifling innovation rather than fostering it.

To combat this, leaders of all types need to fully understand their growth journey and what it takes to get there. To do so, it’s helpful to have CEOs and boards collaborate to establish a tolerance for growth and create cadences for employees to work within.

Remember: The push for innovation should be tailored to the needs of each particular company and team, not on the performance of a competitor.

2) Craft the right story.

The case for innovation can be made from the C-suite, but employees will drive it forward — and they’ll need a reason to create and chase new ideas.

Inspiring innovation requires a compelling story that resonates across every department in your company. That story starts with company values that reflect a dedication to innovation and real-world impact.

Effective storytelling means giving your managers and staff a big problem to solve, not simply pushing little innovation projects here and there. For example, GE Healthcare pushes the narrative that everything its people do and build is to make the world a healthier, better place. And this notion is reflected across all of their accounts, assets, and efforts:

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Once you have a big idea or problem to fall in love with, your innovation projects can be productized. This larger structure offers a way to create strong leaders and gives managers context to approve and encourage new ideas.

3) Rethink your team structures.

Speaking of managers, they’re often the group most likely to derail any cultural shift — particularly one that requires taking risks. While the C-suite might have a tolerance for risk, entrenched management and salespeople may have a much different comfort zone. To break through the management firewall, you need to either incentivize risk, or simply rethink your overall structure.

Nearly four years ago, my digital agency — 352 Inc. — radically altered our team structures and processes. In doing so, we built cross-functional web development teams (designers, developers, and strategists collaborating on a single client project to completion) and adopted a lean startup methodology across the company. While the process was key, we also eliminated most of our management hierarchy — turning project managers into servant leaders.

This shift fully empowered our teams to communicate directly with clients, manage relationships, and build a solution that best fit the needs of the project. By removing the barriers to employee-owned innovation, we’ve seen higher quality work, happier clients, and more productive teams.

4) Measure employees on value-based metrics.

Unfortunately, you can’t expect employees to pursue innovation just because you’ve said it’s important to the business. For innovation to stick across the company, it needs to be a job requirement rather than a suggestion.

While your story should encourage employee buy-in, performance reviews should include a focus on innovation. Employees should be measured and rewarded for the risks they take — even if they don’t necessarily pan out.

Once you have these metrics in place, you’ll need to provide a way for staff to truly pursue innovation. This leads me to my next point …

5) Structure innovation time for maximum impact.

Just like finding your tolerance for growth, most companies will need to find a way to give employees structured time to focus on creating actual, working products.

At 352, we’ve embraced hackathons as a good way to create and validate new product ideas. During our hackathons, we encourage employees to build a functioning product with a marketing plan and launch strategy in just three days. Finished products are judged by industry leaders and their peers within the company for market viability and utility.

In the past two years, we’ve launched three of these products into their own businesses, rewarding employees with ownership in the ideas they build.

The lesson? While brainstorming and whiteboarding have their place in the innovation process, be sure that your teams actually have time to turn those ideas into a reality. 

6) Look outside your own walls.

Even the most nimble organizations can suffer from red tape, compliance requirements, and legacy workflows. And while a large IT structure has obvious benefits, it can also constrain and slow innovation. Luckily, external innovation partners — like startups and agencies — can focus on a single problem and quickly develop a solution.

In 2014, an internal Cox Automotive startup group approached us to help build a web app that allowed anonymous negotiation for a new car purchase. Rather than struggling through internal development red tape, we rapidly built the product with cutting-edge, open-source technology.

Once we’d validated the product with actual end-users, we worked alongside their internal IT team to build compliance standards and infrastructure requirements. This flexibility to work outside the typical chain of command allowed the opportunity for the app to find product/market fit and grow with actual customers much quicker than an internal innovation team could achieve.

7) Celebrate and encourage learning.

The celebration of failure is in vogue throughout Silicon Valley, but that’s often shortsighted. It’s vital to be entrepreneurial, but innovators that come from more traditional industries can quickly fail themselves out of a job unless they focus on the lessons that failure brings.

A culture of learning fast, rather than failing fast, will ultimately drive sustainable innovation. 

Getting Started

At the end of the day, inspiring a culture of change and innovation requires strong storytelling, employee empowerment, and a willingness to look outside your organization to find answers.

Innovation won’t happen overnight, but it will have long-term impact when managed well by visionary leaders.

What do you do to encourage innovation in the workplace? Share you thoughts in the comments below.

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May

27

2016

9 Resources to Help You Become a Better Leader

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Some things in life are relatively straightforward to learn. 

Want to knit a scarf? Head the local craft store, pick up a book, and get to work. Sure, your gauge might be all over the place and your transitions between balls of yarn might be haphazard, but you’ll still end up with something good enough to keep you warm during the winter. 

Learning to lead others isn’t so linear. 

Sure, you can pick up a book to get you started, but that’s all it will be — a start. You’ve got to read, and listen, and ask questions, and make mistakes, and course-correct, and then you might be at a “good enough” level. 

If you’re on that leadership development path and looking for some more materials to help you along that journey, we’ve got you covered. Below are some of our favorite podcasts, tools, tips, and resources to become a better leader. 

9 Resources to Help You Become a Better Leader

1) Bill Walton on The Growth Show

Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you can learn something from Bill Walton. The NBA legend worked alongside two of the most prominent leaders in basketball: John Wooden, his basketball coach at UCLA, and Larry Bird, his teammate on the Celtics. In this episode of HubSpot’s podcast, The Growth Show, you’ll hear more on what made those leaders so special — and apply those insights to your own career.

2) Speaking.io

While public speaking isn’t a requirement for being a strong leader, it certainly can help you differentiate yourself at work. Whether you’ve got to nail a presentation in front of a room of execs or you’re worried about presenting an idea to your manager in your next 1:1, knowing how to frame your idea and effectively communicate it to your audience is incredibly important. 

This resource is a near one-stop-shop for public speaking tips. Check it out to get advice on everything from developing your idea, to designing your slides, to actually delivering your presentation. 

3) Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown

Though it can be tempting to feel like you have to master everything to be a leader, the most exceptional leaders embrace their vulnerability — and use it to their advantage. 

If you’re struggling with being vulnerable with your team, look no further than Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. In the book, Brené Brown dives into a decade of research to unveil the power of vulnerability, and gives tips on how you can open up more in your own life.

4) The Radical Candor Framework

Think about the hardest piece of feedback you’ve ever gotten. Chances are, it was rough to receive … but you were better in the end for it. 

That’s exactly what happened to Kim Scott. After an important presentation, Scott’s boss, Sheryl Sandberg — yes, that Sheryl — had some feedback. Harsh feedback. The kind of feedback that stings. But because Scott knew that Sandberg was coming from a compassionate place when giving the feedback, Scott accepted it, moved on, and became better.

Scott took this pivotal interaction and used it to develop a framework for giving better feedback at work. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, I’d highly suggest taking the time to read her framework.

(We also had the pleasure of having Kim Scott on The Growth Show. If you’re interested in hearing more about her perspective on leadership, listen to her episode below.)

5) CareerLark

Speaking of feedback: While you’re putting all the advice from all of these books, blogs, podcasts, and frameworks into practice, don’t you wish someone would give you feedback on how you’re doing? 

Enter CareerLark, a Slack bot that helps you seek out on-the-fly advice on skills you’re most interested in improving.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say the skill you’d like to get better at is public speaking. You could use CareerLark to ping your boss after your next big presentation to get real-time feedback on how it went — all through Slack. 

Micro-feedback in real-time? Great for your skill development (and great practice for your boss, too). 

6) Advice From Real People

Sometimes, getting feedback from someone who isn’t in your company or industry can be the most enlightening. If you’re looking to step outside your bubble, here are a few apps to help: 

  • RealTalk: This app features interviews and advice from real people in tons of different industries. Learn what it’s really like to be in a job — it could help you better benchmark your own experiences and uncover new ways of thinking. 
  • Advice.vc: Even if you’re not in a startup, turning to a venture capitalist (VC) for advice could get you through the trickier situations at work. For $20 (which gets donated to charity, not pocketed), ask a VC expert about a problem you’re facing, and get help finding a solution.
  • Glassbreakers: If you’re a woman struggling to find a mentor in your industry, check out this tool. It’ll match you with another brilliant woman in your space who could give you great advice about developing your leadership skills.

7) Online Courses

So far, the leadership resources largely have to do with management and communication … but that’s not the only way to level up in your career. 

Sometimes, it’s about becoming really, really good at a certain part of your job (or a skill that you want to be part of your job one day). For that to happen, you just need to hunker down and learn it. 

An online course can be a great way to do just that. While where you find an online class differs greatly by the skill you’re looking to develop, here are a few places I’d recommend checking out if you want to improve your marketing-related skills:

  • Inbound Certification: If you want a deep dive into some of the most important aspects of marketing today, check out our free certification. 
  • Design Lab: Want to up your design skills? Check out Design Labs. You’ll be given real assignments to build your knowledge — and a mentor to help you through each one.
  • Codecademy: Learn to code — for free — at Codecademy. This is especially helpful if you’re the type of person who learns best through lots of hands-on experience.
  • Lynda’s Excel Courses: If you’re interested in advancing your data analysis skills, you’re gonna have to learn how to use Excel. Period. Check out Lynda’s Excel courses for more help. 

8) Industry-Specific Slack Communities

Many of us are on Slack all day to communicate with our coworkers, but there are lots of opportunities to use the platform to connect and learn from folks outside our company. In fact, many industries have Slack groups you can join to talk about the latest trends and get advice on problems you’re facing. (Or lurk in the background like I do to absorb as much information as possible.)

To find a community to join, I’d recommend checking out these two resources: 

9) The Next Five 

Maybe the resources above haven’t appealed to you. Maybe you’re at a loss for what kind of skills you want to develop. Maybe you’re not even convinced you want to be a leader in your field at all … but you aren’t sure what to do next. 

If you’re already doing a little soul searching, you should take a few minutes to check out The Next Five. It’s a free assessment that can help you identify the next step in your career.

Bonus: Your “diagnosis” will come with looooots more resources to help you make meaningful progress toward that new goal. (Because the only thing better than nine leadership resources is tailored resources to your specific situation … am I right?)

What are some of the most helpful leadership resources you’ve come across? Share your favorites in the comments. 

May

24

2016

Why Emotional Well-Being Matters at Work [Infographic]

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There’s a common misconception about happiness in the workplace. It goes like this: Great work leads to big success, which leads to happiness.

Sounds like it should work out that way, right?

Turns out that model for happiness is totally backwards. Happiness isn’t a destination; it’s a starting point — one that enables positive outcomes at work. When employees are happy first, they tend to work harder and be more productive. At the same time, the companies happy employees work for tend to see less turnover, higher revenue, and smoother operations overall.

To help illustrate the research behind why emotional well-being matters at work, the folks at Happify created the infographic below. Check it out to learn why companies should care about employees’ emotional well-being, what they can do about it, what employees can do about it, and where money fits in to the equation.

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10 free marketing resume templates

May

23

2016

How to Make Remote Work Actually Work

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One of my favorite things about working remotely — which I do a few times a month — is the freedom to get comfortable. When I work from home, I’m usually find myself in one of three positions: sitting up at the table, laying down with my laptop, or buried in a pillow avalanche on my couch. (Sound familiar to anyone?)

While most offices have a few full-time remote workers — and probably a few that operate like I do — the idea of more remote employees may be one companies need to get used to.

Why is remote work becoming such a big deal? Well, from where I’m sitting (currently “sitting up at the table”), it’s simple: Because good candidates are asking for it, and technology’s making it an easier thing to demand — no matter what the position entails. 

For employees, this is great news. They can live where they want, spend less time and money commuting, and wear their bathrobe to meetings. But what do companies get out of it? 

According to research by online freelance marketplace Upwork, sourcing and onboarding in-office employees takes an average of 43 days, compared with three days for remote employees. Not to mention, being open to remote team members widens the talent pool. 

So to help you sort through the operations and expectations that employers need to consider to make remote work effective, let’s walk through some practices that make it easier for me to communicate and collaborate with my remote teammates.

How to Make Remote Work Work

On Setup & Technology

I have very little in the way of tech savvy, but I do know that a good operational and technical foundation helps remote workforces stay productive. This is where two key teams come into play: Finance & Accounting and IT.

It starts with a commitment — if you’re interested in making it — to investing in your remote team as actual employees that will grow with the company. Not contractors. Not freelancers. That investment means working with Finance & Accounting to understand the administrative costs of paying employees in different states or countries. Are there visa costs you’ll need to consider? Will employees need to travel to the office on a regular basis — and if so, is the company financing it? Do they have the technology they need at home to communicate with you effectively? Again, are you financing it if they don’t? 

These questions extend to IT and the infrastructure they’ll need to set up, too. They’ll want to build in security measures for employee devices, and will need to equip your office with the technology your in-office team needs to communicate with remote team members. This includes chat software, remote meeting software, telepresence devices, and potentially some high-tech conference rooms to make coordinating all of that seamless. One of my teammates who works remotely half the week and works with our global offices quite a bit actually takes pains to dial into meetings on video, specifically. She found it difficult at first but says it made her far more productive being visually present in meetings, and is grateful to have the infrastructure to support that.

If you start with all of this built into your budget from the get-go, two things happen: 1) you’re not hit with surprise costs, and you can do a much better job with hiring planning; 2) you end up with streamlined operations for onboarding remote employees so their experience starting with your company is as good as it would be for anyone else.

On Communication

The best IT setup in the world doesn’t help unless we’re all using it toward the right ends. At the risk of being trite, the most successful relationships between in-office employees and their remote team members comes down to good communication from both parties. And figuring out what good communication means is kind of a beast. So bear with me while I try to break it down to its most pertinent parts for our purposes here.

Combat “face time” with over-communication.

One of the challenges remote work presents is the lack of “face time.” Think about all those random one-off conversations you have in the hallway, or at the water cooler, that wouldn’t be possible if you weren’t in-office. 

To combat this, you really need to nail the whole “regular and effective communication” thing. 

Sam Mallikarjunan, who works from his home down south most of the time, found that a lot of the “random collisions” he used to have in the hallway don’t happen anymore. (Obviously.) When I asked him how he makes up for it, he said “I just over-communicate. I have to proactively find opportunities to work with other people. I make a point of reaching out to people more often to tell them what I’m working on if I think it might be useful to them, and I actively talk to other people about their projects, too. There’s a lot less ‘the ball is in their court’ mentality when I’m remote.”

That proactive approach to communication is something that remote team members may start to pick up on just because they’re experiencing the need for it first-hand, so it’s equally important to have in-office employees reciprocate. Make it a practice in your company to systematize communication — to me, that means in-person decisions and conversations are always formally recapped over email, in your group chat client (provided it’s not in a room with only casual participation and monitoring), or for the big stuff, in a team meeting.

Use your words.

I have this theory that if street signs were properly punctuated we’d all be better writers. My favorite example is the “STOP CHILDREN” sign.

STOP THEM FROM WHAT?!

When communicating without the benefit of body language or tone, clarity with written and verbal communication is more important than ever. In an ideal world, everyone’s already really good at finding the right words to say what they mean. But that’s not reality, so we’re left with a few options here:

1) Try to be better at it. If you’re writing an email, take a beat to reread what you’ve written. See if you’ve really communicated what you’re trying to say clearly and succinctly. Consider whether you’ve included enough context for everyone to understand what’s going on. If you’re having a phone or video conversation, take a moment before responding or posing a question. And if what you said makes no sense, own it and say, “Sorry I don’t know what I’m trying to say, let me start over.”

2) Know that reading comprehension matters. If you’re on the receiving end of a communication that makes you go: 

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Image Credit: Giphy

… ask clarifying questions before responding with an equally confusing answer. I try to either copy and paste the exact copy from the email, quote it, and then ask my clarification question — or if it’s a verbal conversation, repeat back what they said before asking my clarifying questions. It’s important to avoid layering confusion on top of confusion.

3) Avoid reading into tone. People’s tones suck sometimes. Especially over email. If a typically bubbly person didn’t include a barrage of emojis or explanation points, they’re probably just running late, or feeling stressed … or something else that has nothing to do with you.

Put some alert metrics in place.

We’ve used the term “pothole” metrics before — the numbers you report on regularly that, if they get out of whack, signify a deeper problem with a part of the business. I like to use that principle here as a way to be sure we’re all catching everything that’s going on if communication ever fails. I also like to expand that principle out to encompass the good stuff as well as the bad stuff.

These could be numbers that indicate someone’s doing well or struggling — for example, setting up traffic waterfalls if a team member’s work is directly tied to hitting a traffic metric. But they can include non-numerical things, too — like hitting project milestones for people that work in roles that are more about discrete deliverables that have changing definitions of success.

Frankly, this is a good exercise to go through for every team member — yourself included — whether in-office or remote. Really, it just means everyone knows what “good” looks like, and you’re all able to break down “good” into its component parts so you know if you’re making reasonable progress.

On Management

If managers are interested in hiring remote team members, they’ll have some specific responsibilities to keep things chugging along nicely. Most of this is just about setting the right precedent for how to think about remote work for your team — I’ve broken it down into the stuff you need to do proactively, and what you need to squash.

Do this:

Over-communicate the work being done by remote team members, and the value of that work. Yes, they should do this on their own. We talked about that earlier. You have to be the champion of your own career, and self-promotion is part of life … and all that jazz. But sometimes people forget. Or they do say it, but it’d sure help if someone else reiterated it. 

This becomes particularly important when someone’s work output isn’t very visible. For example, if your job is to write one article a day, it’s pretty easy for people to see that you’re doing your job. You either wrote the article or you didn’t, and everyone can see it. If your role is to build operational efficiencies into backend systems that four people in the company touch … it’s really easy for that work to disappear.

Squash this:

To that end, don’t let resentment or pettiness build toward remote employees — particularly those that are part-time remote. This starts to manifest itself in little comments like: “Oh is this one of the days so-and-so is in? I can’t even remember.” Letting that kind of stuff slide is what makes it seem like in-office employees inherently provide more value than those that are in less often. Worse, it perpetuates the notion that face time is more valuable than work output, which I think we’re all on board with as being total bunk.

Do this:

Encourage other people on your team that are in-office and have roles that allow them to work remotely … to work remotely sometimes. That pettiness I was just talking about? It’s a lot less likely to happen if working from home once in a while doesn’t feel like a special privilege levied on a few special snowflakes.

Squash this:

This is where things can get tricky, too. Remote work only works when it works. Notice how I said you should only encourage remote work when people have roles that allow them to work remotely? We all know not every role makes that possible. But beyond that, not every person is always a good fit for remote work at every point in their career, either. I’ll volunteer myself as an example of someone who, when starting a new role, would struggle to not be around people while I get my footing.

Or if someone is having performance issues, it may not be the right time to green light remote work. That’s another reason giving feedback early, often, and candidly is important. And that rationale extends to remote employees that start having performance issues while they’re already engaged in a remote work agreement with you.

Finally, always remember to do this:

We talked earlier about treating remote employees not like contractors or freelancers, but like actual full-time employees. That means they have career ambitions, and are probably interested in growth and promotion opportunities. Be sure to keep them in mind for new projects, promotions, and additional responsibility. If good people fall out of sight and out of mind, you might lose ’em.

After you’ve got the infrastructure set up, to me, most of this really comes down to good hiring. Get the right person, for the right role. If you’ve got capable people you can trust in a role, you should be able to trust that not only are they doing good work, but that they’ll let you know if and when they need something different from you.

The right person can make even roles that you don’t think will work in a remote scenario, work. (Unless that role is chef. Then you definitely need to be at work.)

How do you make remote work work? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

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May

12

2016

15 of the Best Slack Apps, Integrations & Bots to Try

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These days, teams of all shapes and sizes — from NASA to charity: water — are using the real-time messaging app Slack as a tool for communication and collaboration.

Over the past few years, it’s become a robust platform thanks to all of the fun and useful integrations folks have built on top of it. Nowadays, there’s a whole lot of really cool stuff you can do in Slack, from polling your teammates, to tracking bugs, to adding GIFs to your conversations.

The Slack App Directory is the best place to find apps and integrations you can connect to Slack. But with so many available, finding the best of the best can seem like a bit of a crapshoot. That’s why we created the list below of 11 of the best apps and integrations on Slack. Check ’em out, and consider implementing the ones that make sense for your team. Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

Before we get into the apps and integrations themselves, let’s quickly make sure we all know how to add an app or integration to our Slack teams.

(P.S. We’d love for you to join HubSpot’s open Slack team, #inbounding. Request an invite here.) 

How to Add an App or Integration to Slack

You can add an app or integration to Slack either through the Slack App Directory or by clicking on an individual app’s “Add to Slack” button.

To add via the App Directory: Either click here, or open Slack and click your team name at the top left-hand corner, and choose “Apps & integrations.”

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To add apps via an “Add to Slack” button: Look for these “Add to Slack” buttons around the web to add your favorite apps in one click. They look like this:

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If you’re having trouble adding apps and integrations to your team’s Slack, it may be because you don’t have the proper permissions. Team owners and administrators can limit who can add apps to a Slack team, so talk to one of them if you have questions.

Note: Want to see which apps and integrations your team is currently using? Check out the Slack App Directory and click “Configure” at the top right. You can filter this list by app name, who added it, or the permissions it uses.

15 of the Best Slack Applications, Integrations & Bots You Should Try

1) Simple Poll 

Poll people easily right within Slack.

Simple Poll is a great polling app that’s super easy to use. It’s easy to create a poll, for your team members to respond, and to figure out which answer got the most votes.

Once you add the app, all it takes to poll your team is a simple slash command. Type /poll “Poll question?” “Option1” “Option2” “Option3” and a poll will be created for you and sent out by a bot, without any specific team member’s name linked to it.

For example, a poll written in Slack like this:

/poll “where should we have lunch?” “chipotle” “2nd street cafe” “that new hummus place”

… Will end up looking like this:

simple-poll-example-slack.png

By default, it’ll add the “1,” “2,” and “3” icons to the bottom of the post so folks can easily respond by clicking on the number emoji that corresponds with their preference, instead of having to fish for it in the “Reactions” option.

2) GrowthBot

Ask questions about marketing, sales, and growth.

Here’s a Slack app from the desk of HubSpot Founder & CTO Dharmesh Shah. Slack users who work in marketing, sales, and other growth-focused organizations can ask GrowthBot simple questions about different systems, analytics, and trends.

To ask GrowthBot for help, users can either:

  • Start a private message by chatting @growthbot.
  • Use Slack’s “slash” command to chat with GrowthBot by typing /growthbot

Here are some examples of questions GrowthBot can answer:

growthbot-3.png

3) Marker

Send annotated screenshots directly to Slack.

If your desktop is anything like mine used to be, it’s flooded with screenshots that you take — which are tedious to look through and move later. But the process of saving screenshots, annotating them, and sharing them with your team doesn’t have to be so manual.

Enter Marker, an incredibly useful Chrome extension for folks who regularly find themselves sharing screenshots with teammates on Slack. (It also integrates with Trello, GitHub, and other apps.) Once you install the extension and the app, you can capture your whole screen or a selection, annotate it, and send it to a person or channel on Slack.

On top of letting you annotate the screenshot with arrows, text, and emojis, the app automatically attaches the URL of the page where the screenshot was taken and sends it along with the picture.

Here’s a video showing how it works:

Although the main use case the folks at Marker talk about is bug-tracking, you can use it for a lot more than that: reporting small typos, capturing parts of interesting articles, sharing ideas for where to go to lunch, and so on.

4) Intro

Pool your team’s connections into a single network.

If you’re looking for ways to leverage your network and soft connections better, here’s one way to do it using Slack. This app lets you set up a private professional network for your Slack team. Mitali Pattnaik — the app’s co-founder — calls it, “the professional network for the messaging/conversation era.”

When you install the app, it’ll give your Slack a full member directory of your team, and it creates a private network for each Slack team by combining team members’ social connections. The members of your team will get a notification to create and edit their profile. For folks who aren’t Intro members, the app will collect data from various public sources like LinkedIn and Twitter, according to Pattnaik.

Then, you can use your new Slack team network to source potential job candidates, find new prospects, and ask for introductions from you coworkers. So if you want to know whether anyone on your team knows someone in Google’s San Francisco office, or whether anyone on your team went to business school in Europe — then you can at least start your search right in Slack.

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Image Credit: Intro

To search for people and companies in your team’s network, you can use the slash command /intro with a person’s Slack username, full name, email address, or you can search for people at a company using /intro (company name).

5) Giphy

Add fun, random GIFs to your conversations.

Ever wanted to share an emotion or a reaction that would be better described with images rather than words? Enter Giphy.

In Giphy’s Slack app, all you have to do is type in the slash command /giphy and any phrase — from “awesome” to “bagels for days” to “WHAT IS HAPPENING.” (Yes, they have GIFs for pretty much everything.) Then, the app will use that phrase to call in a random GIF from their gigantic library of GIFs, and it’ll post it along with the command.

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Image Credit: Giphy

Use it to express yourself, to lighten things up, and to set a maturity rating for your team.

What’s fun — and sometimes weird — about the Giphy app is that you never quite know what you’re going to get. You could type in /giphy need pizza ten times and get ten different GIFs. So if you’re looking for accuracy, here’s a pro tip: Use the /giphy command a few times in direct messages to Slackbot, then save and share the GIF you like best.

6) Diggbot

Discover great web content curated by Digg.

If you’re looking for a way to discover new content like news and video right in Slack, Diggbot is the best app for it.

Every day, Digg aggregates 10 million RSS feeds from virtually all publishers, and collects 200 million tweets daily — 40 million of which include links. Their algorithms process all of these links in real time (about 7.5 million per day), and then human editors come in and cherry-pick the best stories and videos.

Diggbot sits on top of all this data and gives you the resulting stories and videos right within Slack. They’ve done it in a way that feels natural and conversational. You can use Diggbot to search for the latest news on any topic or from any publisher, get trending news alerts, and get the twice-daily Digg Edition right to your Slack channel.

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Image Credit: Gary Liu

Here are a few of the top slash commands from Digg CEO Gary Liu:

  • /digg: Gives you a cool, fresh link. Simple.
  • /digg (keyword): Lets you search content by keyword.
  • /digg (domain): Lets you see top trending stories for a domain (e.g., “/digg nytimes.com”).
  • /digg trending: Gives you a list of stories that are trending on the internet.
  • /digg fun: Gives you something fun.

7) Kifi

Save every link you and your team share on Slack, and easily find them later.

If you and your team send a lot of links to one another on Slack and find yourself scrolling back through conversations to find these links later, you’ll want to check out this app. Kifi is one of the best bookmarking/curation tools in Slack’s App Directory. 

Here’s how it works: Every time you or someone on your team shares a link on Slack, that link is automatically saved, or “kept.” Kifi creates a full-text index of every webpage shared, which makes them much easier to find in Slack later. Anyone on your team can search all sent links using the slash command /kifi (search term). (Learn more about setting up Kifi integration with Slack here.)

Even cooler? Using the Kifi browser extension, you can also find these links in Google Search. Search for anything deep within a page, and Kifi will redirect you to where your team was talking about it on Slack.

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Image Credit: Eishay Smith

8) Humblebot

Get daily messages with ideas for practicing humility.

Success, happiness, and effective collaboration rest upon things like humility, integrity, patience, modesty, and courage. Humblebot is a really simple Slack app that addresses the first of these character ethics.

Here’s how it works: When you install the app, you’ll receive a little message in Slack every morning with a tip or task for how to be a better person. Examples include “Send someone a thank you note today” and “Ask someone for their opinion today.” 

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Image Credit: Humblebot

These little reminders will help you be more humble on a more regular basis. Being humble shows you have a clear perspective and you’re self-aware, which is a sign of emotional intelligence. And despite the app’s simplicity, it can make a big difference in your day — and your coworkers’.

9) Google Drive

Share Google Drive files in Slack, and find them easily later.

A lot of people use Google Drive to store files securely online, access them from anywhere, and collaborate with others. If you’re one of these people, the Google Drive app is a great way to make sharing files among teammates a lot easier.

First and foremost, the app lets you share Drive files right in Slack. All you have to do is paste the shareable link in a Slack conversation, and it’ll import the files in Slack. Here’s the message you’ll get the first time you share a Google Drive file in Slack:

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If you haven’t already connected your Google Drive to Slack, then Slack will guide you through the quick process of letting it “read” the file. (It’ll only read and index files you decide to import.)

Once you have everything set up, you’ll be able to share the document right in Slack. The message will look like this:

slackbot-sharing-google-doc.png

The best part about this app is that the files you import are easily searchable. Note, though, that they won’t be actually stored in Slack — they’ll continue to be stored in Google Drive. (Read this blog post for more Google Drive tips.)

10) Google+ Hangouts 

Easily start a Google+ Hangout with team members in your Slack channels.

Here’s another great Slack integration for those times when you want to take a conversation face-to-face on a video conference call with a team member who isn’t in your office. To do so, simply type /hangout to launch a Google+ Hangout in a new window:

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That command will provide you with a link that you can use to quickly hop on a video call. 

11) Statsbot

Get analytics updates for specific metrics on-demand.

If you use analytics tools like Google Analytics, New Relic, or Mixpanel, then Statsbot is a great app to add to Slack. Quite simply, Statsbot integrates with these tools and monitors your metrics. Then, whenever you want an analytics update, all you have to do is ask Statsbot for the number and you’ll get it instantaneously.

This saves you the time of opening up a new browser window, signing in to your analytics application, and searching for that number manually. Plus, you can ask for an unlimited number of data requests, reports, and alerts and the app stays free.

In the example below, you’ll see the user opened up a conversation (either with his or her team, or with Slackbot) and @-mentioned Statsbot. He typed in: @Statsbot: new users this week. Check out the conversation that follows to uncover some of the bot’s capabilities.

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Image Credit: Statsbot

12) Tomatobot 

Set work and break timers to boost productivity.

Ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? It’s a productivity technique where you work for 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break. This is more effective than forcing yourself to commit to long periods of uninterrupted work, which can often have an adverse effect on your productivity.

When you add the Tomatobot app to Slack, you’ll be adding a few useful tools that’ll track your work using the Pomodoro Technique. For example, you can chat the Slackbot and tell it when you start working with the simple slash command /startwork, and you’ll receive a message when it’s time to take a break. Use the command /completed to indicate when you’re done with a task.

You can also record any reminders that might distract you so you can forget about them until your next break by typing in /distraction. (Learn more about the slash commands for this app here.)

Note: Without adding the Tomatobot app, you can set up manual reminders using the native /remind command, kind of like you would with Siri on your iPhone. For example, type in /remind me to take a break in 20 min and you’ll get a message from Slack that says:

slack-remind-command.png

Twenty minutes later, you’ll get another message that says:

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13) Monkey Test It

Test your website for common bugs.

Here’s a great Slack app for smaller organizations. Monkey Test It offers what they call a “hands-off approach to automated testing,” which tests for common issues like broken links, missing images, and JavaScript issues. It sends out “monkeys” to click every element of your page and look for any common errors that pop up.

Normally, you’d go to their website, plug in the URL of your website, and click “Test now” — but if you use Slack anyway, why not trigger a test using the free integration?

With the Monkey Test It app installed, anyone in your organization can test your website for common bugs using the simple slash command /monkeytest (http://www.your-website.com). From there, the results will show up right in your chat window, no code required.

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Image Credit: Product Hunt

14) Lunch Train 

Plan group lunch outings without spamming your channels.

Use Lunch Train to plan group lunch outings with the help of one simple Slack message. Instead of asking a large channel to lunch, then proceeding to pester them with notifications as people chime in, users can kick off a group outing by typing /lunchtrain. The bot will send one Lunch Train invitation that other users can “board” without the Slack channel itself receiving multiple notifications whenever another user joins the lunch plan:

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Lunch Train only sends users notifications when they join a Train and when the Train is leaving the “station” (get ready for funny train puns):

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Source: Lunch Train

15) Trello 

Work on your team’s collaborative to-do list without changing tabs.

If your team shares to-do lists using Trello, try this Slack bot to easily share and add Trello cards and approve users. You can authorize Trello for Slack by typing /trello help and one-click logging into your Trello account. Here are some examples of how you can use the Trello bot for Slack:

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What are your favorite Slack apps and integrations? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

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May

10

2016

How to Figure Out the Next Step in Your Career [Quiz]

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Where do you see yourself in five years?

Of all the interview questions out there, this might be the most difficult.

These days, career paths aren’t linear. The age-old corporate ladder model of putting in a few years as an individual contributor, becoming a manager of a small team, and climbing your way through senior management or director roles is not right for everyone.

To say the least, career development is complicated. And often, a lack of open conversations around the personalization of career planning makes it worse. Maybe you’re unsure how to bridge the leadership gap between your current role and becoming a manager. Perhaps you know you’re not suited for managing people, but you don’t know how to advance your career otherwise. Even as a director, it’s easy to feel stuck in the trajectory of upper management.

To help you plan confidently for your next five years, HubSpot has launched a brand new career assessment called The Next Five. Tell us your interests, strengths, and working style, and we’ll help you identify a next step that’s right for your long-term professional goals.

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The Next Five, however, is not your average quiz. With your result, we’ll include a detailed plan that encourages you to rethink the idea of a career path. Each tip is paired with customized articles, ebooks, videos, and more that will help you score visibility for your work and bring value to your company.

No five year plan? No problem. With The Next Five career growth assessment, discovering your next step has never been easier.

take our five-year career plan quiz

May

4

2016

The New Manager’s Guide to Effective Leadership

New_Managers_Guide.jpgCongratulations! You’ve recently been promoted to a new position as a manager.

You now have a team, perhaps the opportunity to hire, and the chance to guide and grow your new direct reports. Are you ready for this?

You may be feeling excited, afraid, nervous, or empowered. You may also be experiencing the very common imposture syndrome: the fear of getting caught as a “fraud” due to not being competent or fully prepared to deserve your new position. But here you are, and the best thing you can do is to lean in to this experience as an opportunity for your own development. 

To start, here are a few recommendations that I learned from my mentors when I began as a new manager. From finding your leadership style to learning how to navigate a working relationship, these tips are meant to help you get off on the right foot. 

(Not sure if management is right for you? Register now for HubSpot’s new career growth assessment and we’ll notify you when it’s ready.)

Find Your Leadership Style

One of the biggest challenges when going from individual contributor to people manager is having to change the way you value your own impact. Every day prior to this promotion you were evaluated on the impact you personally had on the business. From here on out, you’re evaluated on the impact driven by your collective team.

This comes with some good news and some “bad” news:

  • The good news – You and your team combined can most likely have a larger impact on the business than you previously were able to alone.
  • The “bad” news – The impact your team has is not entirely in your direct control — it’s in the control of the individual team members and their efforts. Your new role is to inspire, guide, coach, and most importantly, lead.

To help yourself enter this mindset, you have the opportunity to define how you will be as a leader. What your personal style will be? To start, visualize what your interactions with your teammates will be like, how you’ll carry yourself, and how you’ll communicate. For example, you can ask yourself:

  • What will you, the new manager, want to look like to your team?
  • What kind of manager style do you naturally have or want?
  • What attributes have you seen your previous managers demonstrate, and which will you try to emulate?

By answering these questions for yourself, you’ll be able to develop your leadership persona or the best portrait of yourself as a leader. Write it down, reread it from time to time, and do your best to encompass this new state.

Get to Know Your New Team

The next step is to decide how you’ll work with each of your employees, and I believe the best relationships are driven by clarity and curiosity. Let’s first dig into the latter.

If you’ve inherited a team you used to work with laterally, or were promoted within your current team, you most likely already know your new direct reports pretty well. However, do you know them enough? What don’t you know? What else can you learn? 

I suggest one of the first things you do is to have a second interview with each of your direct reports. Grab coffee, go for a walk, and use that time to really get to know that person. If it helps, here are a few things you can ask:

  • What do they like about their job today? What don’t they like?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • What other work experience do they have?
  • What are some of their goals, personal and professional?
  • Have they ever had a manager they really disliked, and if so why? What happened?

The best favor you can do for yourself now, and onward, is to never assume anything about another person. Instead ask. For example, imagine you were giving an employee a brand new project. Perhaps your instinct is to walk them through how to do it step-by-step. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve never given her this type of project before.

But how do you know if that’s really the amount of support they need? Before deciding how you can best help, ask them if they’ve done something like this before and gauge their true comfort level. That way you’ll know to be hands-on or hands-off with your direction.

Set Up Your Working Relationship

Now let’s talk about clarity. Think back to a prior boss that never seemed happy with your work. Why do you think that was? Perhaps it’s because you never really knew what she was looking for, or you didn’t have a full understanding of her expectations. (Or worse, maybe she hadn’t decided what her expectations of you actually were.)

One of the best things you can do as a new manager is set context and goals as clearly as possible. And that might begin with taking the time to make a bunch of decisions on your own first. For example:

  • How will you know when your employee is successful?
  • How will you communicate what that success looks like to him/her so you’re on the same page?
  • What expectations will you set in regards to your style and how you can work together best?
  • How will you use one-on-one time?
  • How will you explain your expectation for one-on-one meetings so you’re on the same page?

Communicating your expectations clearly will remove ambiguity and set up your employee for success.

Create More Leaders

Most likely when you get promoted, you’ll need to figure out how to move all the work you used to do off your plate. And you may do that by delegating those projects to your new team. That’s great! The question is if you can do this in a way that supports you and them.

Delegating projects is a great opportunity to help someone grow into your old shoes. See if you can help someone reach the role you were previously in. If you do, it will free up your time to make higher-level decisions and support the team as a whole. It also means the person receiving the project can stretch and learn work they may not have done before.

Sounds like a win-win? It absolutely can be, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. In order to solve for a person’s long-term growth, you need to delegate a project in a way that helps him become a decision maker versus a task do-er.

How do you know which is happening? It depends on the way you teach. Are you helping someone memorize a series of actions (most likely to execute a project in the same way you used to do it), or are you taking the time to explain your judgment around the project? The latter requires you to share context for why you take different actions this way.

Note: There’s nothing wrong with teaching someone how to do something step-by-step. Just make sure you’re explaining your decision-making behind it, so a teammate walks away with the same judgment you have. That very judgment hopefully can be applied to similar projects. Now they’re a decision maker. 

Plan for the Long Term 

Being a new manager is hard — and that’s to be expected. The best thing you can do for yourself is communicate clearly and frequently, make yourself open to feedback from your team and your boss, and use your resources.

Perhaps you can get a group of other new managers together and grab lunch. It’s great to talk with folks who are in a similar scenario to reflect on your experiences — if only to know you’re not alone.

You can also look into trainings in your area. Would your boss support you going to a one-day training here and there? 

You could also suggest setting up skip-level reviews, meaning your direct reports meet with your boss every so often to share their feedback on you. This can be extremely helpful. Perhaps there’s a small thing you could change or improve that would make all the difference. Wouldn’t you like to know that? 

Most importantly — and my favorite — find a mentor. It could be someone inside or outside of your company, as long as it’s someone you really trust. Nothing beats one-to-one guidance. 

Remember: Being a good manager doesn’t require knowing all the answers. Stay open minded and confident in yourself. You’ll be great.

What tips do you have for new managers? Share them below.

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