Dear employer: it’s time for your performance review!

It’s a good time for me to make a list of the things I want to receive from my employer or client. I am developing new communications consulting clients and simultaneously exploring a few select “permanent” employment opportunities. Such a list will help my new manager or client and me evaluate whether we are a good fit for each other. Here is my first draft.

What I want to receive from my employer and manager

Reward me with generous, competitive compensation that reflect the type, level and complexity of the work I do and the value I add. Even if the economic environment has impacted your compensation curve, be creative and involve me in negotiation to arrive at a compensation structure that meets both our needs.

Support my career development. Give me increasingly higher visibility projects and more responsibility. Suggest “extra-curricular” activities inside or outside the company that will help me develop. Support my professional association involvement and education. Keep your eyes open for possible advancement opportunities for me elsewhere in the company. Give me formal and informal feedback frequently – no surprises at annual review time! Ask my internal and external customers for input on my performance. Offer me earned raises, promotions and titles before I ask for them.

Walk the talk of trust and integrity. The company’s vision and values establish high standards for ethical behavior, business practices and respect for team members. Company leaders and managers walk the company talk. Believe that I will represent you and our group with integrity. Allow me to work without micromanagement. Give me the credit I deserve for my work, even when I’m not in the room. Recognize me formally and informally for small and large accomplishments.

Offer and expect flexibility – trust me to manage my time and deliverables honestly. Don’t require rigid start and stop times or hours. Support me working from home or other remote location when the job can be accomplished successfully from there.

Respect my personal time. In other words, don’t send me email messages at night and on weekends, as it establishes a culture of never disconnecting from work. Or at least don’t expect me to answer your messages at those times. Support me in taking all the paid time off that I’ve earned. Manage our workload such that work weeks that are more than 40-45 hours are the exception, not the rule.

Nurture a friendly, healthy, FUN culture by caring about my needs, at work and to some extent, my personal life. Communicate as early and as much as you can about company and leadership strategies and changes. Make an effort to ask me how my kids are doing, how I spent my vacation and what sports teams I cheer for. Encourage me to take a lunch break, work out and eat well by setting the model for that behavior. Connect me with my teammates and partners within and outside our group. Lead a little bit of goofing off and laughter to relieve stress, reset perspectives and improve productivity.

In my past experience, interview time or evaluation time is primarily about my skills, experience, scope of responsibilities and how well I performed them. Through my personal growth, I’ve learned that to be a truly outstanding employee, I have to be a happy one. And to be happy, I need my career to support my lifestyle, not the opposite.

  • What is (or will be) on your list of what you want to receive from your employer?
  • Can you see yourself talking to your manager or an interviewer about your list? Why or why not?
  • Do you think I’m crazy to have such a list, when so many people are still desperate for a job – any job? 

Thanks for your feedback!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Conquering disappointment with gratitude

The celebration dinner I had in mind for last night became a consolation dinner. After the four very positive and progressively deep interviews he had, my dinner companion got the news late yesterday that the company offered the position to another candidate. Ouch!

The disappointment, back-story and experience of this particular candidate is familiar to many thousands of talented, deserving people across the country every day. I doubt the 12.1 million unemployed counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics even includes those who graduated from college during the tempest of the most depressed and depressing economic times this country has experienced in generations – or possibly ever! I have personally experienced the full spectrum of emotions related to “displacement” while at or near the pinnacle of my corporate career and a comfortable lifestyle – not just once, but twice during the past few years.

So what is there to be grateful about, given all that bad news?

What if instead of accepting the mindset of being unemployed, I embraced the excitement and possibilities of being an entrepreneur, parent, grandparent, and volunteer? What if I replaced the term “career networking” in my vocabulary with the mindset of reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances and making new ones? Instead of channeling my energy on feeling angry, frustrated or depressed, I laser focused on gratitude, trust and attracting opportunities?

If you have just finished shopping for your dinner at the local food shelf, and my views sound impossibly, insultingly and incredibly naïve, I apologize. And I will dare to say that these words are even more relevant to you.

Although I’ve never suffered the deep bruises of rock bottom hope- and homelessness that some have, I have had significant economic and emotional low points in my lifetime. I’ve been the beneficiary of public assistance and have rooted for coins in jackets and sofas to meet basic needs. I’ve mourned the untimely and unfair loss of jobs and loved ones. I’ve struggled at times to define who I am and what path I am meant to walk. And today, I am counted among the 12.1 million unemployed.

And yet, throughout my life and today I believe – actually expect – that there are always better days ahead, where my own efforts, ideas and skills intersect with my faith that the Universe will deliver everything I need. Not always when and how I expect or prefer (how about Friday, via UPS, with a pink bow!), but always in different and sometimes better ways and times than I could even imagine. I’ll share some examples with you in the coming days.

I’m keeping a daily list of my successes and things I’m grateful for. I review that list when I need encouragement and reminders. I also recommend watching Louie Schwartzberg’s Happiness Revealed project video – maybe daily for a while!

  • What are you grateful for?
  • What are your techniques for conquering disappointment with gratitude?

Thank you for your feedback!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Clever, creative, fun – I want that job description!

I get a lot of email messages – likely, you can relate. Today, one of them had a headline that got me to open the “Well + Good” wellness newsletter out of New York City, and boy-oh-tomboy did it inspire me! (I subscribed because my friend and fitness guru Dawn Doll, over at Revolution Cycle + Fitness, kept quoting it!)

The headline “‘50 Shades of Kale’ is bound to excite your taste buds,” linked to an article about a new cookbook by that title. You may recognize the not-so-veiled reference to a controversial book that caused quite a media stir earlier this year. (If you missed it and want to get caught up on the brouhaha, type “50 Shades” into your browser search field. Erase the history before the kids get back on the computer!)

The article was entertaining, provocative, educational and effective! I can’t WAIT to buy the cookbook and “get some healthy kale action” myself!

OK, kale action aside, I was inspired by the creative, clever and fun voice of the article and the cookbook. I allowed my own creativity to wither quite a bit at a job where I wrote and edited many corporate communications for many years, primarily in a conservative, factual style that was appropriate for that industry and company. I appreciated the many benefits and developed many useful skills there, for which I’m grateful.

At the same time, that environment didn’t nurture my creativity and I didn’t feed that need elsewhere. When that job ended earlier this year, I started interacting with a variety of people, exploring business opportunities and writing different types of communications — it was like a brown wool blanket was removed from my head and the creative juices started trickling between the synapses in my brain again! I literally feel younger, lighter and more energetic since I started doing work that I consider fun.

The Kale article and book were great reminders of priorities for the next stages of my career: work with people, products and companies that fill my creative tank, support the tomboy in me, inspire my passion and enable abundant fun. And if I hit a creative dry spell in one area of my work, find another source from which to water it – stat!

  • What feeds your soul at work? Or what in your soul needs feeding from your career?
  • If your current work suddenly ended, or thinking back to a point in your career history, would you look for new work just like it or something very different? In what ways would it be different?
  • I’ve always heard “Find a job doing what you love and you’ll never ‘work’ again.” What do you love, and have you ever had a job that didn’t feel like work?
  • If you’re not feeling the love at work, what’s holding you back from a change?
  • If you love your work, what’s your secret formula for loving it?

Let’s go get some kale!

Tomboy Tam