Dear Experts, Are thank you gifts for references OK once I've accepted a job? I'm a new graduate and as this is my first job search, I have a few people who I would like to get small gifts to thank for helping me out. Not all of them are references, but a couple are. Is this completely taboo? Here is how our T.A.P. experts answered this question:@sweetcareersQ#186 Depends on reference, but it's ok to give a small gift. Books are a nice option. @ValueIntoWordsQ#186 Agree w/it being OK to send small gift; if possible, personalize that gift 2 individual personality/preference. @louise_fletcherQ#186 Not at all! I think it's a lovely idea and that kind of thoughtfulness will pay off for you down the line. @DebraWheatmanQ#186 Gift is unnecessary 4 providing a reference. nice thank you note is more than sufficient as expression of gratitude. @beneubanksQ#186 I sent a copy of the popular KnowHR book to my reference. It's a great way to say thanks and give back! @gradversityQ#186 I would just stick with a short, sincere thank you call. I don't think an actual gift is necessary. @dawnbugniQ#186 Expressing gratitude never taboo. Agree w/others thank-you notes sufficient. Small tokens OK too. @teenaroseQ#186 Thoughtful! References believe in you ... gift is nice touch, but I agree with @jtodonnell, not required. @AndyInNaplesQ#186 Big believer in "thank you" gifts and notes. Nothing extravagant. Always a nice touch. Shows you care. @jtodonnellQ#186 Not taboo, but not necessary. Thank you note will do. Helping others is part of being a good professional. Our Twitter Advice Project (T.A.P.) is no longer an active campaign. To find an answer to the above question, please use the "Search" box in the right-hand column of this website.
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It's that time of year again! Companies are setting goals and finalizing their business plans for the next 12 months. Business leaders might have high-level goals for their organization, but each team within the organization must have its own goals it wants to achieve to make the high-level goals a reality, and a detailed plan on how to accomplish them.
We recently asked our leading executives to share their best tips for team goal setting and business planning.
Here are their responses...
John Schembari, Senior Education Executive
Have the team review performance data. What does the data say? Why is this important? What should we do next? To help in this analysis, the team can review its organization's mission, vision, and/or brand statement. Once the team has determined two to three main goals on which to focus within its strategic plan, consider department—or organizational—strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. What strengths does the team currently have to meet these goals? How might the team seize new opportunities to achieve success? How will the team compensate for its weaknesses and mitigate the potential impact of threats?
After, consider the milestones/benchmarks—data, artifacts/evidence, etc.—that will determine progress toward each goal, articulate what ultimate success for each goal will be, define who is responsible for each goal, and the time stamp when each goal will be met. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART).
John Schembari is a current K-12 teacher/school leader academic improvement coach and former school building and district administrator. He loves to draw, travel, swing dance, and read nonfiction.
Kathleen Duffy, Founder, CEO, And President Of Duffy Group
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We began planning for 2023 in August. Our session was facilitated by an outside consultant who sent our 2022 plan to all participants and asked us to look at the SWOT. We met in person to update the SWOT; critical strategic issues were identified from the "W" section, and our strategic initiatives to support the critical issues were developed. A work plan was created for each strategic initiative with target dates for completion; we meet monthly to review the dashboard coloring our progress—red, yellow, or green. We also reviewed and updated our three-year metrics of success, such as company revenue, client retention, quality, and efficiency, to share a few metrics we collect.
Kathleen Duffy is the founder, CEO, and president of Duffy Group. The company's vision is to elevate recruitment research as an alternative to contingent and retained search. Since its founding, Duffy Group has been a remote workplace and a culture of work/life harmony.
Ana Smith, Talent Architect & Global Learning Strategist
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A quite popular and effective goal-setting framework for teams is OKRs (objectives and key results). They are an effective method for not only planning but also for measuring success on a team level. One shortfall at a company level is when they try to apply OKRs at an individual level.
The complexity that comes from setting individual OKRs generally leads to goals that are either not indications of meaningful progress or easily gamed. Instead, individual contributors should be assessed based on the extent to which their work contributes to team goals that add real value to the company and its customers.
Objectives and key results, or OKRs, have become one of the most popular frameworks for teams looking to plan and measure the success of their work.
With this system, leaders at each and every level of the organization start by:
- defining high-level, qualitative, inspirational goals, called “objectives”
- defining who will be the consumer of their team’s work, and
- determining what behavioral changes, they would expect to see in those consumers that could be used to quantify whether the team is achieving its high-level goals.
Ana Smith helps people & organizations achieve their full talent potential by developing and co-creating people strategies and customized solutions, and turning them into impactful outcomes and collaborative relationships, using coaching as the "red thread."
Michael Willis, Sports Business Operations Executive
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I believe every employee should know three things about the company they work for:
While we work in teams, our goals and business planning should align with the company’s objectives. Everyone must be working toward the same outcome.
Team setting goals and objectives should be measurable. This is my favorite part. As a part of the accounting/finance world, I am heavily invested in the company’s annual budget. The budget can drive an opportunity to develop metrics.
Ø Prior year actuals to current year’s budget
Ø Current year’s budget to current year’s forecast
I like to calendarize the budget. This means that I spread the budget out over 12 months. So I don’t have to wait until the end of the year to realize a problem or opportunity. This kind of analysis will drive something to talk about every month.
By capturing trends in your analysis, you can visualize past performance versus how you are pacing in real time.
Michael Willis has 18+ years of experience working with accounting & sports organizations and has managed P&Ls of $10M - $125M+ with budgets of $3M-$50M+. He worked for the NFL for 22 1/2 years, mainly with the game officials working on the financial/accounting side of the business.
Mark Taylor, Product & Operations Executive
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It seems reasonable to assume that the tsunamis of work pushed our way in 2022 will not abate in 2023.
Setting goals and planning will be ineffective—the equivalent of holding one’s hand up against incoming tidal waves.
If planning is an attempt to manage overwhelm, a more effective practice is self-prioritization. Consider it the ongoing art of identifying and understanding those tasks that need to be done right now—and ensuring you stay half a step ahead.
Similarly, if goal setting is the company making sure they get value from you, delivering your tasks on a timely, accurate and complete basis—and presenting the results in an easily digestible form—will address this need.
Come the end of 2023, if you’ve identified and delivered strongly on those tasks that the business deemed important, you’ll be considered effective…
…and live to do it all again in 2024.
Mark Taylor has 20+ years of risk, technology, and product management experience working in global and regional financial services firms in the UK and the U.S. He's managed teams of 40+, successfully addressed 100+ regulatory issues, and has saved companies $15M+.
Sarita Kincaid, Tech Media & Influencer Relations Executive
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The most important rule of thumb when creating goals is to always align with the top business goals in your organization. These CEO-level goals are usually around revenue and market share growth but may also be, to a lesser extent, about brand, customer experience, or thought leadership.
Analyst and media relations professionals should always, especially in challenging economic times, ensure that their planning process starts with business goals to ensure that the value they bring contributes directly to C-level priorities. If top-level business goals aren’t being cascaded through the organization, interview relevant C-level executives to find out what they are being tasked to achieve.
Other than starting with organizational business goals as the guiding light of the planning process, I advise analyst relations professionals, in particular, against setting “counting” goals. These are metrics around the amount of outreach. Conducting 100 briefings a year isn’t significant if it doesn’t result in an increase in analyst perception, likelihood to recommend your company/product, or improved positioning in landscape vendor reports.
More on best practices for building an effective analyst relations plan.
Sarita Kincaid is a tech media executive with a demonstrated ability to build and grow award-winning programs. She brings a data-driven approach to influencer relations with a focus on developing strong brand advocates and aligning them with sales programs.
Lisa Perry, Global Marketing Executive
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With the new year approaching, it’s time to set your business goals for 2023. Here are five things you can do to get ahead of the new year.
1. Analyze Past Performance - Before developing your business goals, it’s crucial to analyze past performance to determine the health of your business. The results can help provide a snapshot of what’s going on with your business. The time spent analyzing, strategizing, collaborating, and building consensus is a valuable part of the process.
2. Set Goals - Eighty-three percent of the population does not have goals. Fourteen percent have a plan in mind, but goals are unwritten, and 3% have goals written down. The 14% who have goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals. The 3% with written goals are three times more successful than the 14% with unwritten goals. Source. I recommend using the SMART or OKR framework. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. OKR stands for "objectives and key results."
3. Align With Company Objectives - Ensure your goals align with the company’s overall objectives.
4. Prioritize - Now that you have developed your goals, it’s time to prioritize them based on their urgency, value, and importance. Allocate your resources, time, and effort where they’re needed the most.
5. Track & Measure Results - Evaluate your progress towards your goals by tracking and measuring your results on a weekly or monthly review. Look at the progress you’ve made, what challenges you’ve encountered, and what you need to change or do next. Most importantly, celebrate the wins!
Lisa Perry helps companies build leadership brands, driving loyal customers & delivering profitability. She does this through a process that builds brands consumers love. Her goal is to help companies develop, monetize, and grow their brands.
What are your best tips for team goal setting and business planning? Join the conversation inside Work It Daily's Executive Program.
It's that time of year again when job seekers think they should stop looking for a job throughout the holiday season. No one will be hiring anyway, so you may as well take the rest of the year off, right? Not true, according to HR and job search experts.
Although some companies may have no budget left for hiring, others still have openings they need to fill by the end of the fiscal year. That means it's unwise to assume a company won't be bringing on new candidates unless they announce a hiring freeze.
The savvy job hunter maintains job search momentum throughout the holiday season and finds fresh ways to leverage networking to open doors with hiring employers. After all, there are increased opportunities to network offline throughout this period, and each event you attend offers the gift of connecting with people you haven't met or haven't seen in a while.
Also, since the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual networking has become an essential part of your career, allowing you to continue to grow your professional network from the comfort of your own home. Over the holidays, attending a few virtual networking events will be easy, since you should already be familiar with them from your experience working from home or attending some in the past.
As you launch your own holiday networking campaign, make sure you avoid these “naughty" tactics and follow the "nice" holiday networking tips instead.
"Naughty" Holiday Networking Strategies To Avoid
1. Focusing only on your search needs. Leverage a give-to-get strategy instead by cultivating your relationship with the people you encounter in your holiday merrymaking. Ask them astute questions about their workplace needs, and look for ways you can help.
2. Asking for jobs, information, or leads without offering to give one or more of the same first.Above all else, the holiday season is a time to connect in meaningful ways with people you already know and those you don't. You can't do this if your sole focus is on you.
3. Pushing your job search agenda on influential contacts. If you focus on proving your usefulness first, you won't have to push your agenda at all.
4. Sending out networking requests disguised as holiday greetings. Remember: you don't have to ask for something each time you connect with your network. Focus on giving something every time instead.
5. Expecting quick responses from anyone about anything. The closer we get to Christmas and New Year's, the more delay you can expect in any job-search-related communication. Accept this and move on.
Focus your holiday energies on leveraging these "nice" door-opening strategies even Santa would love...
"Nice" Holiday Networking Strategies To Try
1. Attending a wide variety of holiday events and being prepared to make connections. Whether you're going to parties or open houses, joining a friend for a company event, or enjoying dinner with one or more friends, use every outing to gather insight and information. Replace your usual holiday networking outings with virtual networking events if you have safety concerns (or just like the convenience of it).
2. Preparing a two-sided business card for on-the-spot networking. Present your personal branding statement on side one, and showcase your experience, credentials, and impacts briefly on side two. If a two-sided card is too small, try a fold-over card that allows you to print text inside and out. If this is still too small, why not try a postcard instead?
3. Building a holiday list. Like Santa, you need to know what everyone on your target list is seeking. Ask the contacts and job seekers you meet how you can help them, and keep a record of their responses for immediate follow-up. Look for ways to refer job seekers to recruiters and companies, and suggest recruiters and companies to job seekers.
4. Proactively referring potential candidates to recruiters, companies, and hiring managers. Be the star in your network by preparing a brief intro about job seekers you know and feel comfortable recommending, then offer their contact information (with permission, of course) to recruiters and companies that match the job seekers' search targets.
5. Following up promptly. Don't let those holiday connections go to waste! Make sure you follow up with new members of your network soon after meeting them, to let them know how nice it was connecting with them, and to keep the communication lines open.
6. Using the period between Christmas and New Year's to re-contact all previous interviewers. Let your past interviewers know that you're still available. I've known more than one candidate who reopened an opportunity by proactively reaching out during an otherwise slow period.
7. Sending out New Year's greetings to influential contacts in your network. Include a short, brand-driven message about your value proposition, assuming that you have previously sent a holiday message with zero branding included. This strategy allows you to refresh the memories of your influential contacts with your candidacy as they put the holidays behind them and return to work in the new year.
Remember persistence and assertiveness are always in season. When paired with smart search strategies, your holiday networking can yield a bounty of new gifts in the new year.
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If you don't have a strong network, your career will suffer. It will also make your job search more difficult than it needs to be.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.