Project’s End: The Career Progress Dilemma

In more than one project, there’s been lots of happy talk about people’s future roles in the organization. Yet everyone knew that some colleagues simply wouldn’t have a place after the project, including themselves.

Beyond the formal career path discussions — if such things exist in your firm — I suggest that one should be very clear about the fact that this is a project. It’s incumbent on the project team to think about “what’s next?”. My experience is that while project may not lead to something within one’s own company, what it can lead to may be even better. As long as firms are clear about this potential trade-off, they’ll be able to recruit a better mix of colleagues to the project team.

To that end, I was struck by the Alliance approach suggested by two principals of LinkedIn itself: Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. Follow this link to an Econ Talk podcast and further information. A longish quote (Ben, I believe) from the podcast transcript will give you flavor of their argument:

[A]ctually I think one of the themes we are navigating here in The Alliance is both trying to get employees to sign up for an inspiring company mission. At the same time, you the company are trying to understand what that employee’s personal mission or vision is in their own life. And trying to define it toward the view that it’s both of those missions at once. Right? So it’s no longer: Subsume yourself toward corporate mission–rather than: Hey, maybe your long-term vision is you want to start your own company someday. Or you are really interested in some other field in addition to this field. So you are going to sign up for a tour because you care about our mission, sure. You really care about your mission. And we’re going to make sure that this tour of duty helps you get closer to being able to fulfill that mission. But it’s that recognition of the fact that there may be some difference. And that you are only looking for sufficient alignment, for a specific tour of duty.

Adapted from a LinkedIn comment regarding this post by Don McAlister.

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Virtual workers should interview themselves first…

Sara’s post at Pajama Professional about asking yourself tough questions before starting a home business (here) made me think about the challenges of telecommuting and virtual work.  I had been tagged for an interview about the topic — I didn’t make the cut — and my team is almost entirely virtual.  The topic is always on my mind when considering current and future staffing decisions.

Anyhow, Sara’s list inspired some riffs of my own, which highlight some pitfalls of virtual employment.  One should ask these when considering remote work arrangements.  These may even make their way into my own annoying open-ended interview questions!

  • Many colleagues find virtual work challenging, why will you be successful where other candidate would not be?  Sure, this is a chance to to highlight strengths and experience, but it should also ask prompt these questions: What most attracts you to this position? What sounds least attractive?
  • Why do you want to work in an environment where your won’t be able to socialize with many your colleagues and stakeholders?  This question is one I haven’t asked, but will going forward.  Stakeholder management and communications are paramount, at least in my firm, so how will a colleague how doesn’t apparently value work relationships fare?
  • How would you rate your managerial skills? Why?  Sara’s comments below are spot on (a few bracketed mods by me): Continue reading
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