Posts filed under ‘Career Management’
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas provides lots of time for reflection, assessment and for expressions of gratitude. In the last week we have all been reminded just how fragile and how sacred life really is.
I’m sure we are all feeling thankful for our spouses, family, friends, and especially children, but I wonder if “my job”, “my work mates” or “my boss” appears on our “I am thankful for” list? If not then I wonder why? What can we do to move these further up our list in 2013? Some actions may be beyond our control, but upon reflection we may have more options available than we initially think. An EHS career is a terrible thing to be wasting.
I recently read that “work is as much a basic human need as food, beauty, rest, friendship and sexuality. Without meaningful work we sense significant inner loss and emptiness. People who are cut off from work because of physical or other reasons quickly discover how much they need work to thrive emotionally, physically and spiritually.” ( “Every Good Endeavor”, Timothy Keller,2012.) Can you relate to these sentiments? Our need to work goes way beyond a paycheck. In essence our well being is linked to our job and our feelings of self worth can either be buoyed or dashed by the workplace experience.
Most of us in EHS roles are responding to a deep sense of “calling” when we go to work. We should be thankful and excited by this chance. We have a mission to fulfill as we eagerly embrace new and exciting opportunities under the “sustainability” umbrella. All of us should be loving our jobs. We should be generating camaraderie with our workmates and enlisting them to the cause. We must believe we can make a real difference to our environment as well as to the health and safety of those around us. Does this prospect still pump you up? I hope so.
Now to a closing challenge: Did you dedicate your knowledge, skills, passion and time into improving the life experience of those around you in 2012?
2013 awaits us. In the new year ,let’s all resolve to make a world of difference.
With little Abigael from Colorado wiping away her tears as she realizes that television will no longer be dominated by the campaigning of “Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney” we can exhale a little and watch the respective campaign teams begin their post-mortems.
We can marvel how each candidate tirelessly shared his vision, rallied an army of supporters to win the minds and votes of the electorate and in the process devoured a mountain of cash.
In his book “The President as a Leader” (2011), Michael Siegel examines the skills of five recent U.S. presidents and concludes that four qualities are essential to have a successful presidency. These are:
- A compelling vision
- A committed and effective team that transforms words and images into realities
- The ability to select and deliver upon a few goals at a time
- The wisdom to understand the consequences of decisions that are made.
Powerful as these qualities are they are not unique in my view to the presidential role. They are fundamental to anyone in a position to lead others. May these serve as reminders to each of us that leadership provides a unique window of opportunity to make a difference.
Alex Pollock has been studying leadership effectiveness for more than 30 years. A former leader in environment, health and safety, and public affairs at The Dow Chemical Co., he learned that we all have leadership roles to play. He enjoys discussing new ideas and sharing practical ways we can all become better leaders.
As an EHS leader within a large corporation, I regularly get asked for input related to professional development. The difficulty in answering these questions is that there are no simple answers on this topic. Every company, person and situation is unique. However, there few items that have been helpful for me as a leader in my organization.
Having a plan of where you want to go and what you want to do is easier said than done. As busy as we all are, it’s really hard to set time aside to think about professional development. However, if you don’t have a plan, it makes it difficult to vision how you’re going to get somewhere. It’s like getting in your car and going on a cross-country vacation, and not having even looked at how you’re going to get there. A sketch or “mind map” can be really useful. As a part of this plan make sure to include both short-term and mid-long term components.
From there, you can incorporate the some of these short-term items as tactical action items into your annual goal setting to ensure you are taking the time to make progress on development. Developing a long-term plan can be tough. Work on developing skills that could be applied to multiple positions that possibly interest you in the years to come will provide more value (towards your long-term goals) rather than focusing on a specific title that might not even be available a few years down the road.
As you implement this plan leverage your resources to help you in this process. If you’re in a setting where you can make your career interests know to your manager, make sure to do so. I have found that having a manager who knows your professional interests can be very helpful. It provides more focused guidance and insight in many areas such as: skills development, expanding your network, setting annual goals and insight on opportunities not within immediate department/group.
A mentor or a group of trusted resources serve as a great sounding board and can be really helpful in providing feedback on career development and assessing opportunities. In many cases they have been in the same situation and can provide great input based on their experiences. I rely on a group of trusted resources. It allows me to get guidance from within my current organization, as well as input other resources outside my organization. With this approach I’ve been to: 1) continue to expand my network get great guidance from outside my organization, and 2) get specialized feedback when needed from individuals that know me and understand me and current organization well.
Be patient, the opportunity you are looking for quite likely won’t happen overnight. It may take time for an opportunity to arise. Sometimes it is simply being the in the right place at the right time, but usually there is more to it than that. With an aging workforce and change within large companies over time, opportunities will arise. If you spend the time now on professional development, you can position yourself well as opportunities arise in the future.
Mark Manninen is an Environmental Permitting Manger within 3M Co.’s Corporate Environmental Operations. In his current role, he leads a group of environmental engineers and scientists responsible for environmental permitting for all of 3M’s U.S. manufacturing and research and development operations, as well as providing permitting and compliance support for 3M international locations.
I recently had the opportunity to share the key lessons I’ve learned in almost thirty years of managing and leading work groups. The exercise of reflecting on my work left me with a heart filled with gratitude. What a privilege it was to be part of the daily lives of those that walked with me, some for months, but many for years. I also realized that I got so much more from these experiences and relationships than I contributed. My learnings include:
- Leadership is not about position, it’s about who I am as a person.
- Leadership is not about being served, it’s about the opportunity to serve others.
- Leadership is about setting the vision and saying “thank you”.
- I can’t change anyone. I can counsel and coach them but ultimately change comes from within them and not me.
- People change as they climb the ladder. Unfortunately, egos get bigger. Be sad but not surprised.
- Ego is “edging God out” and many others who care.
- I can do so much more through others than I can accomplish myself.
- I get much more from people by encouraging them.
- I learned little when I was talking. Listening is an essential life skill.
- People need to know I care before they care what I know.
- Money demotivates more than it motivates.
- Perseverance serves you better than bursts of brilliance.
- Blessings are always around you…even when you can’t see them.
- I can’t control my circumstances but I can control my reactions.
- Moments of being in “flow” are rare but priceless.
- Be truthful in the small stuff and you won’t be found wanting in the big stuff.
- I must tell people how much they mean to me now…not later.
I hope you find these lessons thought-provoking. They have been wonderful guideposts for me.
For more than 32 years, Alex Pollock was an influential leader of business operations for the Dow Chemical Co., providing strategic expertise in the area of EH&S, Sustainability, Change Management, Merger Management, Public Affairs and Community Relations. He retired from Dow in June 2008 to pursue his passion, through his own company Equipping You LLC, to encourage and equip EH&S leaders to bring the very best out of their followers.
With more than 30 years in the oil and gas, and hard rock and coal mining industries, Sandy Stash has significant experience representing business on controversial natural resource, public health and environmental issues. A petroleum engineer by training, she spent her early career as one of the first women to work as a drilling engineer and drilling rig foreman at ARCO locations across North America. Today she is the Global Senior Vice President of Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Operational Assurance at Talisman Energy. Her current project is introducing a holistic operational management framework that will govern risk management across Talisman’s global businesses. We spoke with her at NAEM’s recent Environmental Women’s Leadership Roundtable about her career.
GT: You were one of the first women to work as a drilling engineer. What was it like for you back then?
SS: Actually, it was a blast! In all seriousness, I made a conscious decision, particularly as a woman, to get some good solid field experience. The first thing I learned about was the equipment. I also gained a better understanding of the culture of the oil industry. And finally, I learned an awful lot about influencing people because as you might imagine, I was a 22-year-old female thrown on a drilling rig, ostensibly to be “the boss,” yet I really didn’t know what I was doing. I think I learned a lot about how to listen to people, how to influence them and how to build the teamwork necessary to make me successful.
GT: Throughout your career, you’ve also been involved with driving change in a lot of complex organizations. What are some of the strategies you’ve used?
SS: Well, first of all, it’s very, very hard work because I think that as human beings we tend to be change resistant, so I think it’s important to take the time to understand everyone’s perspective. Number two, there’s a bit of collaborative work that needs to be done to come up with a common vision. In other words, it’s a lot easier if you own part of the change, rather than having someone else telling you that you need to change. The third thing is that once you’ve made the decision, you need to be very clear about who is accountable for the outcomes. And finally, and this may be the toughest part, you’re always going to have some people who don’t want to get on board, and you need to get them out of the way.
GT: You have been involved with structuring the EHS guidelines for Talisman’s hydrofracking operations. One of the most important components you identified was a commitment to transparency. Could you explain why you included that?
SS: Hydrofracking or ‘fracking’ comes under a lot of pressure because of the concerns that people have about the materials or the chemicals that go into the frack jobs. Truthfully, it’s a very, very small percentage because mostly it’s water and sand, but we feel that we can dispel a lot of concerns and bad information by just fully disclosing what chemicals are in our frack jobs. And finally, by being transparent about chemical usage and whatever it is, the next very important step is that you actually set metrics to improve, reduce or increase whatever the metric is. So transparency leads to very important target-setting, which is important for all of us to continuously improve our businesses.
GT: You also said that your attitude when it comes to incidents is “Not on my watch.” What did you mean by that?
SS: I think that as HSE professionals we should be preventing accidents, not responding to them. We may always have the need to respond, but the more we can do in the way we design our plants, operate our plants, train our people and create clarity around people’s accountability, the better we will be at preventing accidents in the first place.
For more interviews with speakers from the Environmental Women’s Leadership Roundtable, please visit www.youtube.com/NAEMorgTV.
Amy Franko, Founder and CEO of Impact Instruction Group, shares her advice for the behaviors and attributes aspiring leaders should develop.
One of the greatest leadership challenges we face continues to be the unlocking of human potential in our workplaces. For the last decade I’ve read Gallup and Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson) workplace surveys, which uncover data like “only 38 percent of employees believe senior management is sincerely interested in employee well-being” ; “only one in five employees is truly engaged, heart and soul, in their work”; and “nearly 38 percent of employees are mostly and entirely disengaged at work”.
What would an organization look like where passion abounds?
In his latest book, “What matters now” Gary Hamel suggests we can learn from some things from Web culture, which is a “testament to the power of intrinsic rewards”. The Web compounds our passions, he believes, because online…
- No one can kill a good idea
- Everyone can pitch in
- Anyone can lead
- No one can dictate
- You get to choose your cause
- You can easily build upon what others have done
- You don’t have to put up with bullies and tyrants
- Agitators don’t get marginalized
- Excellence usually wins
- Passion killing policies get reversed
- Great contributions get recognized and celebrated
“Organizations will never be fully capable until they are fully human”, proclaims Hamel.
What are ways that we can magnify rather than shrink human passion in the workplace? What are those attributes that you feel are essential to keep us “engaged” at work? What are our responsibilities and the responsibilities of those in leadership roles to embed these traits in workplace culture?
If we want to change the workplace survey results we must all be the change we wish to see.
As I get older, the memories seem harder to come by, but I still remember very vividly attending what I think was the second EHS Management Forum in San Diego. Who could forget cocktails by the bay watching the sun go down? What was really memorable, though, was the information we shared, the ideas we generated and relationships we formed over those three days. It has only gotten better over the last 20 years. But much has changed.
For the better, environmental management is now more strategic and more visible in the organization. I remember my first meeting with the Chief Executive Officer — 20 years after I started with the company. We now meet with the Board of Directors annually.
I am also impressed with the quality of the younger environmental professionals that I work with and those that I interact with through NAEM. They are enthusiastic, dedicated and want to make a difference. They are smart, they have a global view and good business sense. I have no doubt they will continue to make improvements in the global environment.
Unfortunately, with the added visibility comes more stress and pressure to perform. Even as government enforcement has increased over the years, so too has the business pressure to do more with less. More challenging still, is that there are fewer black-and-white issues and more with shades of gray. We are not doing things because the government requires it, but because our shareholders expect it, NGOs are demanding it or the public thinks we should. But what is the impact on the bottom line? Sustainability provides an opportunity to be even more integrated with business processes and to become more strategic. But that requires environmental professionals to be more cognizant of business issues and to provide environmental leadership tempered by business reality.
As I look back, I am a little disappointed in my generation, despite the progress we’ve made. Yes, the environmental movement took hold and blossomed during our tenure, and the environment in the U.S. is cleaner today than it has been possibly since before the turn of the century. However, the choices still seemed to be framed as “black hats versus white hats” and many in the public believe the environment is dirtier than ever.
Having spent more than 35 years toiling for “big business” it is rather disheartening that there is little or no credit for everything business has accomplished through the years. Still, I’m an optimist. I think the environmental profession can continue to drive progress if we can develop a more nuanced understanding of environmental issues. What do you think?
How can we help people understand the true state of the environment? How can we better frame the environmental problems that do exist to develop better solutions? How can we educate the public better on environmental issues? And how do I get rid of this black hat?
Mike McGuire is Manager of Global Environmental Strategy for Deere & Co., where he is responsible for sustainability strategy development, environmental assurance, external reporting and supply management environmental assurance. He served as the President of the NAEM Board of Directors from 2003-2004.
At a February meeting of my company’s environment, health and safety (EHS) leaders, a guest speaker reminded the group how important relationships are in effective EHS management. The following day, I picked up the Feb. 20, 2012, issue of Time magazine that featured a cover article on the science of animal friendships.
I’m certainly not suggesting that animal friendships can teach us how to develop effective workplace EHS relationships, but these two incidents did remind me how the relationships we build as EHS managers directly impact the organization’s EHS culture. Here are a few of my observations on relationship-building principles that have worked to strengthen EHS culture in organizations:
- Emphasizing the team over the individual: This applies to EHS programs, projects involving cross-functional teams, safety committees, awards, and just about everything else within an EHS context except, perhaps,filling out regulatory agency required reports. The fact is that the EHS function can accomplish almost nothing on its own. Without interdepartmental relationships founded on trust, the EHS role can be lonely and frustrating.
- Acting as an enabler: Before approaching a person or team of people with an EHS issue, answer the questions: “What’s in it for each of them? And how can I help?” This exercise will start you down the path toward a consensus-based solution and help you develop an enabler’s mindset.
- Validating the other person’s perspective: When business leaders and core business process owners feel that the EHS people are cognizant of the demands of their jobs, understand the pressures they face and are aligned with the overall goals of the enterprise, they will be more receptive to EHS initiated projects, and more likely to include the EHS function in decision-making.
- Standing for what’s right: EHS managers who consistently act in the best, long-term interest of the organization (rather than doing what’s expedient, politically advantageous, or in the near-term interest of the EHS function) will, over time, build credibility and respect. These are characteristics of healthy EHS working relationships.
I am sure there are other important principles to relationship-building. What other principles or relationship-building experiences have had a significant impact on EHS culture in your organization?
Over the years, I have seen many lists of attributes of a good manager. I’ve read business articles with lists of the top 10-25 traits of a good manager and books that spend hundreds of pages describing qualities that a manager should have to be successful. While there is plenty of good information in all those sources, I believe we only need to look to successful sports managers to distill all those words into the four key qualities. The qualities that define a championship coach are the same attributes that can help EHS and business managers succeed. They are:
1. Recruiting: All successful managers choose good employees. They select employees that bring skills to advance the team. They not only hire good people, but they hire the right good people. Good managers learn the strengths and weaknesses of their teams, understand what is missing to achieve the organization’s goals, and bring in the right people.
2. Prioritizing: A good manager can see the “end zone” and prioritize the necessary steps to reach that goal. This means sorting through the busy work and identifying the key activities/programs that will lead to long-term success. Letting go of activities that may seem good but don’t advance the organization can be difficult. There will be things that won’t get done, and that’s okay because they weren’t the important ones. Think of this as your game plan.
3. Delegating: You can’t just hand out assignments and expect your organization to grow. Delegation is a plan agreed on by two parties that establishes expectations, activities, and timelines. It ensures that the strengths of the individual are used fully within the team, and allows all members to contribute to the success of the team. Employees need a sense of the importance of what they’re working on – its importance to the company, its importance to customers – and need to know their role in accomplishing the goal. Employees who understand these items are more easily empowered to succeed. This is your play book.
4. Coaching: You must develop your people to do their jobs better than you can. Inspire them to be the best and transfer your knowledge and skills to them. This is the only way that you will be able to take on new challenges yourself. Think about how many championship coaches have had assistants that have gone on to be champions. A good coach or manager is not afraid of his team succeeding. Trust me: There is an infinite amount of work to be done and good managers will always be in demand.
What do you think about this list? Do any of these traits resonate with your experience? What advice do you have for those who are trying to develop these attributes?