PLAN. COMMUNICATE. LEAD.
It is a widespread belief among employers, recruiters, and employees that people who change jobs frequently make an impression of “job-hoppers”. This opinion makes many people stick to the jobs they hate or continue to coast in their comfort zone.
I do not agree with this general belief and I would like to present my subjective view on this topic, based on my own experience and objective facts and research, that prove that changing jobs tremendously boost our careers and benefits both the employee and the employer.
Understanding the difference between “job-hopping” and job change
This is one of the best questions to ask: how often is too often? Personally, I think the answer will largely depend on each individual, their approach to their career, and character. But during my research, I discovered a few facts which are worth mentioning in this article. I will let you digest these facts on your own.
It is generally considered OK to change job every 1-3 years. When people change jobs every 3-9 months, it might raise at least 2 red flags for the recruiters:
First red flag
When jobs aren’t clearly related, potential employers might find it hard to understand what your true interests are. It may seem like you are still searching for your calling and don’t know what you actually want and where you want to develop. The company might be reluctant to invest money and time into your onboarding knowing that you might leave in a couple of months.
“No matter how often you change jobs, your job history should reflect clear professional interests and expertise”.Source: hercampus.com
Second red flag
Staying at jobs less than 1 year might indicate that you are not dedicated enough to your professional development and challenges 👆, which rise with the new job. Staying with the employer for at least as long as 1 year may show that you took some effort to understand the specifics of the company and the job itself.
Interesting research has been done by Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams for hbr.org where they have outlined the most common job-change mistakes. I highly recommend you to read this article as it gave me and will give you interesting insights about what we need to pay attention to when we are changing jobs. This will help mitigate the risk of being forced to change again 😉
What does the research say about actually changing jobs?
Before I jump into my own experience and share with you a few eye-opening insights, let’s have a look at some research data and facts.
Firstly, Forbes.com published interesting research about why successful people change jobs more often. It is observed, that the more an employer tends to hire people who have spent years in a previous job, the less good that employer can do for your career. The real value of the individual at work is to be measured by accomplishments and not the years they have spent with the organization.
Secondly, if the company does not grow fast enough, it simply won’t be able to present you with new experiences and challenges. The companies that move and change slow, often drown in bureaucracy and, often useless, processes. Even worse, they pull you down with them. And you, instead of dedicating your time and energy to new ideas, business development, and improvements, learn the great new skill of “following the process” 🥱
Unfortunately, the following is true for big companies:
“The majority of large organizations treat people as a resource only, as if “human element is completely removed from their business result”.Source: forbes.com
Research underlines that staying with the same organization for too long makes you lose touch with the outside world, makes your “brain go to sleep” because you get into your comfort zone and don’t take up the new challenges. The same is highlighted in Businessinsider.com in the article “7 reasons to change jobs, even if you don’t want to”. The reality is that many people tend to start coasting, once they found comfort in their lives.
“The longer professionals coast, the more they have to lose”Source: businessinsider.com
And finally, when you change jobs – you will get better at evaluating future employers, and every time you change – you re-define your value personally and professionally 🙂
How changing jobs impacted my development – my experience revealed
I have changed jobs multiple times, actually 5 times over the last 7 years. Some changes were caused by the need to change the city or country, but most of them were caused by the need to develop, increase the salary (because I was underpaid), or change the position. Now when I look back at all those changes, I have reflected on them and came up with important insights 😮 Maybe they will help some of you to take your career development into your own hands and act upon it, opt for more challenging roles, stop coasting and stay open for a change.
Changing jobs helped me:
1. Re-define my role and make a better match between what I love to do and what my employer wants me to do
I love my profession and what I do. I love to manage and take full responsibility for my teams, the business I am entrusted to develop and enhance, the customers I serve. But each company defines the roles which would fulfill such needs in their own specific way. When I started – it was a long journey to get experience and fine-tune what I wanted and loved to do with what I was hired to do. Changing jobs helped me understand from different companies’ perspectives how the role can be defined and which role fits my needs best. If I had worked for just one company, I would have still believed that project managers focus only on timelines, scope, and budgets.
What is more, very often organizations are not able to cover all the aspects of your profession. For example, in one company I used to work for, I did not have the responsibility to manage the budgets, even though I wanted to. For a project manager, this is one of the key aspects. So, you must grow and continue to acquire skills independent of your employer.
2. Get a better position
In my IT experience, I have never worked in small companies, mainly in international corporations. The painful truth, which many people know and discuss among themselves, is that it is easier and faster to leave the company and come back (if you want to, of course), rather than investing time into trying to get a promotion internally. Very often you end up working at the same position on a trial period for the new role for some time when the new hire gets all at once – better position and better money.
3. Increase my salary
You might be surprised now when reading it, but money is a secondary priority for me. It is a tool for exchange, not a goal itself. And this is not because I have rich parents or inherited something, that I don’t put money as priority. I do not. This is because I know I am a professional, that I invest into my development and if others can see it, they will pay me my worth. Until know – money has always come together with the interesting job offer.
From personal observations, when people work in the same companies for years, their incremental salary increase is lower than if they changed the employer. Sometimes the difference is 20-30% or more. Numbers don’t lie as well: if you earn now, say, 5000 USD at the current position, and another company offers you, say, 6000 USD. Every month, which you keep working in the old company, you lose 1000 USD. Think about that 😉 That’s 12k per year!
One more argument to support this opinion. In any company – big or small, there might be a limit of how much money they are ready to pay. If you reached that limit, you might stay as you are for a long time or be pushed to change.
So yes, changing jobs benefits you financially to greater extent than as if you stayed with the same employer.
“You start with a base salary and your annual raise is based off of a percentage of that number. There’s a limit to how high your manager can increase your salary.”
4. Get a richer corporate and organizational experience and awareness
Each change gradually enhanced my experience. Step by step I gained a better understanding of how organizations function, what processes they have, how they make business, how they operate, and what type of culture they are building. This is a huge bonus to my already existing portfolio of skills. Now, when I join a new company, it is a matter of weeks, if not days, to figure out what is what and make my next steps in new job.
I have many colleagues and friends, who are not so keen on opting for a change. Some sit 9 or 15 years in the same company. This becomes a dangerous trap because the world and the environment in which we live nowadays changes rapidly. Skills, which we obtained 5 years ago, are no longer valid today or are re-defined. Take the example with Agile: it used to be applicable only for software development projects, but now due to such a hype around it – even those PMs who used to be very “inflexible” to changes, need to learn new skills and apply them in the new reality. I see how managers and employees, who sit in companies for years, don’t even have a slight understanding of what is changing and still try to fit Agile under their own understanding (in the best case). Worst case they keep ignoring it and they don’t dedicate even the smallest amount of time to read and understand what is going on.
5. Learn that the official job titles and descriptions do not accurately reflect the role
A certain level of disconnect will always exist and no one will help you understand what the actual roles are unless you try it. This is a trial and error method. But this lesson helps ask the right people better questions and evaluate the future employers better 😉
I hope this information was useful and it will help you look at the job change from a wider perspective. If you know someone who can benefit from this information, please share. If you have additional useful insights about career planning and job changes, please let me know I would love to hear about them. Let’s support each other in our continuous improvement. Sharing is caring!
I love to share interesting insights from my own life and work from the perspective of the Project Manager, especially when it is based on real hands-on experience. This time I decided to write about face-to-face conversations with team members.
How have I ended up having 1×1 with the team members?
The responsibility to conduct 1×1 conversations came when I changed the employer. For me, it has not been just a change of workplace. Now, when I look at it from the 2-year perspective, I realize that it made a major impact on me professionally and personally.
- 🥇 It added additional experience to my portfolio of skills. I used to work as an infrastructure project manager and I changed into agile project management and software delivery.
- 🎯 It shifted my focus to people and even better customer collaboration.
- 🎁 It adjusted my area of responsibility.
Once I started to conduct 1×1 meetings with the team, it has become an eye-opening experience for me. The thing is that without such conversations (formal or informal) the (project) manager lives in a vacuum, without proper access to project life behind the curtains (especially now, when we all work from home) and without any insight into what is going on “on the ground”, how people really feel and what challenges they face. If you do not see or know the real picture, you are blind in the field, meaning you might see only one side of the story…
Today, it does not matter in which company I work, whether having face-to-face conversations is one of my direct responsibilities or not, I keep having them, I keep asking my team members what is going on with them, give feedback and help them improve. They help me in return – by showing where I can do better as a leader and where steps are needed to make the project or product a success.
Why should you start having regular face-to-face conversations with your team members now?
Here are a couple of reasons why you should plan and conduct regular 1×1 sessions with your team members. If this helped me, I am sure this will help you too.
- You will connect with people personally. Managers shall not be the unreachable, always-busy “stars”, who have no time to speak to their employees. They absolutely must show interest in people. Your employees should know that you are available and can come to you to discuss any important feedback or concern. This builds mutual trust. You, as a manager, will know better who you work with. People are not soulless resources who like robots have to work 24/7. These are your employees, with their own lives, problems, and wishes. So if you want them to respect you, first you have to respect them.
- Face-to-face conversations provide an excellent opportunity for feedback. I have noticed that in many corporations feedback is less personal, it is more like “just say something nice”. And people often say good things, more than mentioning the areas for improvement. When you connect individually you can provide actual feedback to a person, with some real examples, and listen to what this person has to say. We know that giving publicly negative feedback is not acceptable anymore, so giving it during 1×1 is something very useful. If you need some insights on how to give feedback, here is my article with useful hints: https://anastazjamichalak.com/feedback/
- You can track actual progress from feedback sessions. I personally have helped multiple people over our 1×1 sessions to adjust their behavior, shared with them my observations, listened to their side of the story, and helped develop an objective view of the situation. We together have set goals for enhancing the desired behavior and reducing the undesired. Isn’t this amazing? I wish I had such sessions in my time!
- Team members give insights into the health of the team and the project. Different nations and different people behave in various ways. Sometimes you keep thinking all is great until you speak to one of your employees to realize that you were simply blindfolded. Behind a normal situation in the team, there might conflicts and misunderstandings, and a lot of mistakes.
- You have a chance to make a real impact. In many agile books, international studies, and research articles it is underlined how important it is to match what people like and want to do with the job opportunity and responsibilities. This may significantly impact the job satisfaction among employees, help build strong teams and reduce the % of the personnel turnover. The best tool to do that is to have 1×1 conversations, learn how the employee wants to develop, and help build the development plan and match it with the opportunities in the project or company in general.
There are many more reasons why 1×1 sessions are so useful and helpful, but I hope I managed to cover the most important ones😉
Steps you can take now and get immediate results.
I can provide multiple arguments to back up my opinion about 1×1 sessions. But I believe that if I give you a few exact recommendations about how to get results now, you will be able to act and derive the value immediately.
So, what is important to know, in order to make those 1×1 meetings valuable?
- Have the 1×1 conversations at least once a month.
- Be honest. About good things and about bad things. If you are faking it – your team members will know it and you will lose their trust forever.
- Create an open environment. Make sure that it is safe to talk about things. Follow the rule “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”.
- Don’t make the meeting look too formal. Remember – easy and open environment.
- If you decide on something together over those sessions, make sure there is an action plan and it is followed.
- Never promise something you can not make happen. It will undermine your manager’s credibility. Never!
- Truly and deeply care about people. If someone is asking for help or support – check what is it that you can do to help. The 1×1 meetings are not just for you to gather input and give feedback, but also for your employees to share, get support and see the value of those meetings.
As you can see, 1×1 meetings are very helpful and they are crucial. Nothing can be better than seeing that your methods work and bring value.
What results have I achieved by practicing 1×1 meetings with the team?
I managed to achieve some amazing results in my work and I’d love to share a few of them here. You can make a difference too💪!
- I coached some team members to resolve conflicts with other team members.
- I coached my teams on customer collaboration.
- I managed to understand the root cause of some team member’s behavior and act upon that.
- I helped a couple of team members to ensure they make their work visible and convinced them why it was important for future promotion and visibility.
- I coached the team members to speak up more during group meetings and be confident that their opinion mattered.
- Through one-to-one conversations, I was able to better influence individuals when I planned a major change in the projects and I needed support to make it happen and have their buy-in. (P.S. This is a powerful tool, but be careful 👆 with using it).
I hope this information was useful and it will help you manage your work even better from now on. If you know someone who can benefit from this information, please share. If you have additional useful insights about 1×1 conversations with the team, please share, I would love to hear about them. Let’s support each other in continuous improvement. Sharing is caring!
Project Managers make sure that plans get executed and others do their job – on time, according to agreed quality, and within scope. They keep a helicopter view of how the project is performing inside and outside. But even though nowadays they have powerful tools for planning and tracking other people’s work like Jira, Azure DevOps, Trello, there are still numerous individual micro activities that have to be tracked somewhere. At first sight, those activities might look simple and insignificant, but if checked and executed on time help us create a professional image of ourselves. Activities like: “Check if the invoice has been submitted by customer”, “Make sure the new colleague was provided all accesses”, “Complete internal training”, “Prepare product demo presentation for the new client”. These are our own individual tasks and adding them to the planning tools will be complete overkill. So where do we keep them? In our heads? In our project plans? On Paper? Or maybe in One Note?
Many times have I observed how my colleagues chaotically wrote To-Dos on sticky notes, on paper pieces, or in some word documents, which later never got sorted out and got forgotten. For quite a long time I myself made use of Outlook reminders, flagged my mails, and used my best friends at hand: pen and paper. Until I started to use the Microsoft To-Do application. Time to digitalize as well 😎 I absolutely fell in love with the product, and whenever I recommend it to my colleagues, they love it too.
Why should you give it a try?
- it is accessible both from your PC as well as your mobile phone
- it is free of charge
- it is available at hand everywhere, whenever any idea comes to your mind and you can capture it before it flies away
- it has a simple design, it is easy to use, and it is convenient
- anyone can use it for their own good to keep themselves organized and never forget things.
As a Project Manager, I got convinced with my own experience how this app helps me manage my work better. I am going to share with you a few life hacks to make your Project Manager’s life easier too. If you are not a PM, you will discover a few ideas on how to become a better-organized person🙂
#Lifehack No.1 External Storage
Take it all out of your head and keep it in one place. Use your head for ideas and for information processing, it is not to designed to be used as storage. Create Lists and List Groups in Microsoft To-Do to store any To-Dos for yourself or others. I recommend having a structure. How do I do it? I defined major areas where I get involved. These areas I define as Groups. Each group I can divide into sub-categories as Lists. If I have 3 projects to run at the same time, I will have 3 different group lists where I will add different lists sorted by topic.
You can make it even easier by simply using Tasks and adding all your To-Dos there.
Groups and Lists can be used for anything: create shopping lists, dream lists, ideas lists, topics to study and research, track home assignments, or track your tasks if you participate in any volunteering activities. The world is yours🙂
#Lifehack No.2 Sharing Is Caring
I absolutely love this option. You can invite anyone to collaborate in Microsoft To Do and have access to your list.
How do I use it? I have 1×1 calls with some team members, I have a mentee, I have a mentor, I have a boss. With each of them, I have a shared list. If anyone wants to add a topic for discussion or action point, we both can add there and tag a @person who has an action item. Isn’t it cool? We are aware of what we agreed to do and we make sure these things get done, and not just discussed. That is the secret of progress.
And all this can be done with one click – by clicking on the “Add” button to create a collaboration link. Moreover, you can customize the List name and even add a nice icon to it. You know, to foster the collaboration with visualization.
#Lifehack No.3 Get It Done
You will absolutely love it. For any task created you can add steps required to complete it, notes, attachments. Most importantly you can add to it a reminder and due date. So when the time comes to control the execution or request anything important for the project on time – you will not forget. Remember to enable notifications, so that even if you forget to check your To-DOs, they will not forget you!
#Lifehack No.4 Top Priorities
I love priorities. Effective Project Managers always know what their priorities are. Daily I identify 4 or 5 topics, which absolutely must get done and ensure they get done by the end of the day. Simply speaking, this is my 20% of effort which brings 80% of the result. I can mark it with the “star” if I want to mark it as important.
The option I use – I add the priority to “My Day”. You should try it too. If I mark too many things as important, I may get lost. When I add to “My Day” only priorities – it keeps me focused. Moreover, it indeed brings satisfaction to mark the important tasks “Complete” at the end of the working day. I have a feeling of actual achievement and I know – my work for today is done. I am not drowning in the endless flow of tasks or priorities of others and I don’t need to stay overtime 🙂
#Lifehack No.5 Outlook Know-How
If your company officially uses Microsoft To Do, then it might be already integrated with your Outlook. And any flagged e-mail – is added into “Flagged e-mail” section in the application. Try it once, no more browsing through e-mails in search for all important ones.
I hope this information was useful and it will help you manage your work even better from now on. If you discovered other interesting ideas on how to use the app or know someone who can benefit from this information, please share. Let’s support each other in continuous improvement. Sharing is caring!
The only way to increase your credibility and improve self confidence is by delivering results!
It does not matter, how much time and effort you or anybody else has invested into that piece of work, if at the end there is no result to demo. Everything else – is just procrastination and doing something for the sake of visibility of being busy.
And before you disagree, let me back up my opinion. It costs enormous amount of energy to deliver meaningful results. No one will ever see or notice how much background work was done behind the achieved result. And this is why majority of people prefer to dive into the process of doing something, as if they have a lot of time ahead, waiting until blockers resolve themselves, expecting someone else to follow up, blaming external circumstances and keeping their conscious clean by saying how much work and time they invested into that task.
Achieving results is difficult. It takes dedication, energy, responsibility, accountability, total ownership and maybe a little bit of luck. But the reward – is your self confidence and “can do” attitude.
Despite the fact that there is a global virus 🦠 which is drastically changing the way we used to live and work, I see it as an opportunity. And if you zoom in, you will be able to see it too.
We have started working from home. We are not as seduced by entertainment as we used to be before the global pandemic: no cinemas, no travel long, no restaurants, no big weddings, no more than 5 people gatherings…. Apparently, now we have huge amount of free time☝️
This free time can be easily shared between 2 most important things: family and personal development. Family is sacred, of course. Would you just imagine for a second how much you can learn and how many new skills you can develop during this period?
Pandemic will certainly come to an end. All those fabulous entertainment opportunities will come back and we will land again into the “ no free time” trap. So let’s seize this chance now, learn, develop, research and “go to bed smarter, than when we woke up”😉.
The difference between theory and practice is in practice.
Recently I am reading a lot on the topic of Agile and Agile Project Management. There is a lot of emphasis on self – organizing teams, self- management, productivity and effectiveness on the team level. This all sounds so exciting, almost like utopia🙂.
But here is the catch🧐 In reality and on real projects, there is no one right way for things to happen. Projects are not the same and people are different. Especially the catch is with people: many like to focus on technical tasks only, they don’t want to manage their work or undertake management initiatives…
Same with processes: you shouldn’t just blindly follow and stick to the book, at least because of the uniqueness of the projects, products and people and environment.
The solution I found handy is to continue reading and getting familiar with best practices, experiment but keep your mind open and decide what to apply to your unique situation in the project, what to throw away, what to modify, so that the chosen practices and processes bring real value.
If you don’t know what you want – you will do what others want you to do. As simple as that.
This should be a minimum sufficient reason to figure out what you want to do, in which direction to develop, what kind of job to do. Especially it concerns those who work for smaller or big companies.
It becomes especially relevant in the context of personal and career development. There are so many jobs opportunities, learning offers and certifications that it is easy to get lost. This is why it is crucial to select that specific knowledge and information that brings value and is aligned to your own goals and plans.
What is more relevant: goal or the journey towards this goal?
Deadlines create a sense of urgency and craft the purpose. The goal is something concrete, tangible, and feels more like a project, which you undertake once and do not repeat. It does not bore you, it actually gives you drive and energy and perhaps the reason to wake up in the morning😀.
On the other hand, the goal is just a dream, a group of words, until it is achieved. The real work happens behind the scenes. All the ups and downs, challenges and unknowns. Imagine that everyday on your way to your goal you learn something new, you experiment, observe, succeed, and fail. It fills the time with a lot experiences. Have you ever had a feeling of emptiness once the goal is achieved? This is because the goal filled you with purpose and gave a reason to go ahead, find workarounds and solutions to interesting and boring problems to ensure you get to that final destinations, when you can call the goal “achieved”.
Maybe this is that secret “makes sense” button? To continuously create goals so that the journey never ends?
It is an absolute must to keep developing personally and professionally. But when can we find time for it if managing projects and teams consumes all available slots?
As Managers (not only managers, of course) we are all consumed by our workload and responsibilities. We have a result measured work, which means it does not matter how much time we need to spend on certain activities as long as it gets ✅ done. Which often leads to working extra hours for many days in a row. Which also means that this eats our time which we could have invested into personal development. We also could possible agree that after long day at work and extra hours our brain simply says enough and does not want to consume any educational overhead😬. So what to do about it?
The only thing which can help is to manage our time better. It is always possible to find time for learning something new or mastering a new skill. As long as we can prioritize and get as effective as possible during actual working hours. It is also important to know when to have a hard stop 🛑 .
Maybe then we won’t need overtime? Maybe instead of sitting extra hours and finishing incomplete activities, we could have managed our time at work better and invest this time into education instead?
There is something I had to learn the hard way. This is about being able to base your feedback and call for action on pure facts.
This is why meeting meetings, decision logs, changes have to be tracked and documented. Otherwise, in case something goes off the track – how will you be able to go back and prove why this event happened or what lead to specific results?
Your management is not involved into project activities on the day to day business. When you ask for their support or escalate anything – they will highly likely ask for evidences. And if you were diligent enough to collect them – you will be able to provide them in the form of facts☝️.