Vanguard Leadership Performance Consultant Matt P. shares his insight on creating a feedback culture—and as he mentions, it doesn’t need to be scary!
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times: “I’m open to feedback. Please share it with me as soon as you have it.” But once there’s something to share, feedback becomes the “gift” everyone wants to return.
For over ten years now, feedback has been an integral part of my professional (and personal) life. As a corporate trainer, leader, and now Leadership Performance Consultant, I recognize that feedback is an essential ingredient in the development and growth of others (myself included). I rely on both dispensing and receiving it. And others rely on my ability to articulate its importance and understand its impact to their career.
It’s normal for our skin to get too “thin” when it comes to feedback. And aside from the good game a person may talk, feedback is generally avoided. You can predict the result: Development stalls, or even halts completely. Feedback doesn’t need to be scary. And although it’s often misunderstood, it isn’t complicated. My advice: Run toward feedback! Dispense it with empathy, and receive it with gratitude.
So what is feedback?
Well, at its most basic, we use feedback to “grow, show, or know.” More specifically, this means providing “developmental” or “evaluative” (sometimes both) feedback to help someone. And that someone shouldn’t necessarily be an employee who is getting a message from a leader. Feedback works best when it’s given peer-to-peer, leader-to-direct, and direct-to-leader. We’re all in this together. So what are the nuances between developmental and evaluative?
At the highest level, developmental feedback is based on a desire to grow or develop someone at an individual level. It provides detailed information on how behavior or performance can be changed or maintained. It also gives minimal indication or performance relative to others. In contrast, evaluative feedback is usually for a defined period of time and aligned to a specific competency. It’s often tied to specific rewards or compensation, and focuses on outcomes or relative impact to others. Lastly, feedback is not coaching. But feedback informs and drives coaching. Feedback is factually based and past tense. “In yesterday’s meeting, you did XYZ. Here was the impact.” Coaching gets into where you go from here.
Often times, people give compliments in lieu of feedback. “Great job in today’s meeting!” Thanks. But what was so great? This is a prime opportunity for specifics. “Great job” is more of an opinion—a compliment at its best (at its worst, it avoids giving detail and thoughtful insight). Instead, try linking what someone did to the expected results of the job, or something the recipient is working to improve. And don’t worry; you can still be complimentary: “Great job instilling confidence in your stakeholders yesterday. During the meeting, you answered every question with detail, affirmed next steps, and assigned deadlines appropriately. As a result, everyone left with a better understanding of his or her responsibilities, as well as where the project is going.” See the difference?
Find your approach
In order to be truly effective, feedback needs to become habitual—think brushing your teeth or going to the gym. Each of us should be looking for opportunities, regardless of role or level, to make feedback more deliberate and disciplined. If you’re asking for it, reflect on what you can do to solicit for it, and make it safe and easy for others to provide it. Don’t get defensive. Seek to understand, thank the messenger, and reflect on what you heard. If you’re giving it, be thoughtful and specific with the message, and show that you’re invested in someone’s growth, not looking to nit-pick. Provide it often so it becomes routine and is expected by others.
So often what I observe is that feedback is only given when someone does something that falls on the furthest ends of what I call the “Nailed it! Failed it!” spectrum. If Cynthia does a “great job” in a meeting (Nailed it!), she gets a compliment (again, not feedback). If Cynthia messes up (Failed it!), she gets feedback about what she did “wrong” (and coaching may or may not accompany it). Resist the temptation to live on the fringe. Most of what we do in our careers are neither “Nailed it” nor “Failed it” case studies. We live in the “in-between”. And here lies the greatest room for feedback to work its magic.
Here’s an example: “Matt, I appreciated your participation and insight in yesterday’s staff meeting. Can I offer you some feedback? I noticed a few times throughout the meeting you were checking your phone. During one of these instances, you weren’t able to notice the non-verbal reaction several teammates had to something you said. Keep in mind that looking down at your phone instead of reading the room may serve as an impediment to your ability to counter resistance, read the room, convey commitment, and or effectively influence others.” This is an instance of where giving a precise and meaningful piece of feedback can help a teammate understand the impact of his behavior. And, should he chose to act on it, get better!
Make feedback more habitual by carving out time in one-on-ones, team meetings, and/or coffee chats with colleagues. After a while, others will see feedback for what it is—a conduit for insight and development, not penalization. The more people understand that it’s being given not only to address large skill gaps (appropriate, though not the norm), but to reinforce positive behavior and improve performance and overall development, the more people will seek it out—even expect and appreciate it! Create a safe, empathetic environment for giving and receiving feedback, and strive to make feedback more expected, so it’s accepted. Only then will it truly be the “gift” that everyone wants to receive.
— Matt P.
More careers blogs you may have missed
4 Hacks for Your Best Social Brand Ever In this step by step series on creating your brand, you’ll learn how to get started, glean tips from branding experts, and discover what really hooks an audience.
We asked 7 leaders from across Vanguard, “Why did you join Vanguard?”
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Christina Selby, Principal in Finance:
Our mission really resonated with me, and brings us all together to focus on what is best for our clients and crew. It’s also an exciting time to be part of the company as we continue to grow and look at how we can continue to improve ourselves to serve our clients better. There are lots of opportunities to continue to learn and many options for a long term career here.
2. Steve Holman, Principal in Institutional Sales:
I joined Vanguard because I loved the people, culture, and the values and integrity of the firm; I felt I was going to get the support I needed to grow and develop as a professional; and I wanted to be part of an organization that was truly doing good for others.
3. Joe Davis, Global Chief Economist and Principal:
The mission, the culture and the humility of the senior leaders I’ve met, struck me as unique versus the other investment firms I had interviewed with.
4. Lisha Davis, Head of the Innovation Studio:
To work for the good guys in a challenging industry, to develop strong leadership skills, to be challenged and stretched in lots of areas and roles.
5. Kevin Jestice, Principal in Information Technology & Security:
I knew Vanguard well from interactions through my prior employer and held the firm in incredibly high regard. Two months before my first employment conversation I visited Vanguard’s Malvern, PA, campus. When I returned home, I shared with my wife that if I ever wanted to look for a new job, Vanguard would be at the top of my list. I told her that Vanguard’s client first mindset was pervasive and that I really admired their approach to leadership. Two months later a recruiter called and I was all in. It was honestly one of the best decisions of my life (after, of course, marrying my wife and having our family!).
6. Manuel Calero, Principal in Retail:
A friend of mine worked at Vanguard and suggested I look into this company with a unique ownership structure. I did my research and learned about how Vanguard is owned by the Vanguard funds, and in turn, the funds are owned by shareholders of those funds. Though straight forward, it took me some time to realize the significance of that ownership structure on every action taken and decision made by the company—and it’s crew. When I finally understood that because of that ownership structure, Vanguard would never have to trade off doing the right thing for its shareholders, I knew I had to be a part of the Vanguard family.
7. Jodi Miller, Principal in Retail:
1) The mission – the dual focus on clients and crew 2) The culture and crew. I find the crew genuinely kind, caring, values-based, intelligent and hard-working! 3) Transformation – we are doing really exciting things internally, for example, in our Retail Investor Group, that will ultimately help us better serve our clients and crew!
7 New Year’s resolutions from Vanguard leaders for 2019
We asked 7 leaders from all across Vanguard, “What is your career-related New Year’s resolution?” Here’s what they had to say:
1. Christina Selby, Principal in Finance:
Spend time each week reading to increase my understanding of the asset management industry and the markets. There is so much change going on in today’s world and I want to make sure I carve out time to focus on my personal learning this year.
2. Steve Holman, Principal in Institutional Sales:
In the new year, I’m going to make a concerted effort to spend more time with front-line crew in their interactions with advisors and clients. I am still relatively new to my role as Head of Vanguard Retirement Plan Access (VRPA), so investing the time with our clients will not only force me to deepen my knowledge of our products and services, but it will also allow me to gain valuable first-hand insight about how we can serve clients better.
3. Jodi Miller, Principal in Retail:
Increase my investment acumen. Specifically, being new to Vanguard, I want to learn more about our investment and advice methodology as a firm and how we build funds for our clients.
4. Joe Davis, Chief Economist and Principal in Investment Management:
Read even more daily than I do (from 2 hours/day to 3 hours/day). Finish my Python course I am taking online. Complete 20 read books in 2019.
5. Kevin Jestice, Principal in Information Technology & Security:
My career New Year’s resolution is to schedule more unscheduled time. Sounds funny, but my most productive and creative times come from talking to members of our team, drawing on white boards, and spontaneous interactions. I intend to free up more time in my days for those types of interactions by scheduling free time.
6. Lisha Davis, Head of the Innovation Studio:
Go completely paperless and create more teambuilding time.
7. Manuel Calero, Principal in Retail:
I love to read books that can help me be a better leader. Some of my favorites are Thinking: Fast and Slow, Factfulness, and The Captain Class. I often recommend books I think offer relevant and practical ideas for improvement, but I think I can do more than just recommend the book. For the new year, I am committing to hosting one lunch per month where I facilitate a hands-on activity that introduces a concept I read about in a way that makes it easy to apply to our day-to-day responsibilities.
4 Hacks for Your Best Social Brand Ever
In this step by step series on creating your brand, you’ll learn how to get started, glean tips from branding experts, and discover what really hooks an audience.
Omar S. heads the U.S. Investment Grade Taxable Research effort at Vanguard and was selected as a Toigo Fellow while getting his MBA at Columbia Business School. In this blog, he shares what the Toigo Foundation means to him as well as a recap of a recent event.
During Catapult, I was one of three panelists in the Investment Management Career webinar, where we talked about our respective career journeys, including my journey at Vanguard. We heard from Vanguard leaders, including CEO Tim Buckley and CIO Greg Davis, who shared their personal Vanguard stories, their perspective on the markets and the importance of diverse thought and talent. Additionally, the audience had the opportunity to learn more about careers in finance, particularly at Vanguard, whether it be full-time positions or prominent MBA programs.
The evening reception was a great way for participants to connect and hear testimonials from crew across various Vanguard divisions and learn how Vanguard is much more than an investment management firm. For Vanguard crew, it served as an avenue to learn the past, present, and future aspirations of an impressive group of applicants with deep, varied experience across the top business schools in the country. I often tell people that, financial assistance aside, the more valuable aspects of the Toigo Fellowship throughout my MBA experience were the small, intimate gatherings with leading corporate sponsors. I’ve long felt it offered a chance to have meaningful connections and conversations with potential employers, and these impactful discussions increased the chance to secure summer internships and full-time positions. We worked toward replicating that experience at Vanguard for the Toigo finalists, and I believe we succeeded.
The second day of Catapult saw several panel discussions and afforded Vanguard an opportunity to not only continue engaging with Toigo, but also for staff panelists for the Investment Management, Social Impact Investing, Emerging Markets, FinTech and Foundations & Endowment panels to hear perspectives from those on the front lines in those specialties. The day also included a Career Connections segment, where Toigo members heard insights from the co-head of Vanguard’s MBA Development Program and two current MBA rotation candidates. Vanguard’s final day of involvement included a Career Expo and Career Coaching Panel where we could, again, talk more to Toigo Fellow finalists and alums about Vanguard’s MBA opportunities as well as our culture, philosophy, and exciting growth.
I was humbled by everyone’s willingness to help, and the coordinated effort between Human Resources and the businesses solidified a great few days with Toigo and served as a foundation from which we can certainly grow. I thought it was a wonderful collective effort and we received a lot of positive feedback.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, learn about our MBA careers opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Krista, a Fund Financial Services (FFS) Senior Financial Analyst, approached her team’s networking event with a clear purpose, “We want to educate crew on what we do and the many crucial processes we touch every day.” At a company like Vanguard, there are so many options for career development and, at times, it can be a little overwhelming. That’s why more and more teams like FFS are hosting networking events for crew throughout the organization to learn more about the department, the teams, and open roles. This event was set in the style of “speed dating” – a format where crew meet with team representatives for 10 minutes, then switch tables throughout the event. Those interested in pursuing careers in FFS got information about critical functions and groups, key initiatives, and how to build financial acumen. Attendees even got to learn more about competencies and skills needed to excel in these roles.
“The interesting thing about our team is that there is a transparent career path. You can go from an entry level position all the way to manager with a clear roadmap. The job is primarily project based, not day-to-day versus a typical daily operational role,” described Brad, a Supervisor in Fund Reporting. Krista added, “Attention to detail is important. We are constantly interacting with teams both internally and externally. Relationship management is also a key component.”
Brad shared with the attendees, “We see the full lifecycle of our reports (annual, semi-annual, quarterly) and they have to be diligently reviewed and ready to send to shareholders in strict adherence to the production schedule. You need to possess great time management skills to manage the entire process. I like that aspect – you finish with a tangible product at the end of the day. You get to hold it and touch it. When people ask me what I do, I can hand them a finished product.”
Jake said, “I joined our team over two years ago when there were nine analysts plus managers. Now we’re over 20. It’s an explosive period for our group and we’re looking for new talent. We hope to find people who are genuinely interested.
Critical thinking is an important part of the job. We may get a week notification that we’ll be trading a new product. We have to get ready for new processes quickly.”
Kelsey, who coordinated the event, said, “FFS has previously hosted speed networking events to provide an opportunity for crew throughout Vanguard to learn more about how we support Vanguard’s funds and clients, while building relationships and networking. We expanded the event and gave different groups from the Finance division a chance to represent their teams. Overall we had 28 different teams represented and over 95 crew attending!”
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Why I didn’t give up on my dream of working at Vanguard
“Thank you for coming in to interview with Vanguard, unfortunately…”
I didn’t get the job.
I felt like my world was over.
This was me in 2016: I was approaching my last semester of college and had no job lined up. I had also just found out my wife was pregnant. Needless to say, it was a very challenging and frightening time. And even though being declined for a job feels lousy, I knew immediately I would apply again.
You’re probably thinking, why reapply at a company that rejected you? Truthfully, I’ve always been fascinated with Vanguard! I come from a single-parent home with a tough military-widowed mother. My mother did an exceptional job raising three kids, however, I never had a good understanding of how investing works. In college, I would observe personal finance classes and try to glean as much info as I could. The more I researched, the more intrigued I became with the process of choosing investments wisely and setting appropriate goals. I also came to understand how much people trusted in Vanguard and came to really believe in its mission to stand up for ALL investors. I knew that if I had to start my finance career anywhere, I needed to start it at Vanguard.
So I applied again, and again I was called in to interview. This time, I focused on a set of principles to help demonstrate the interests and abilities I felt made me a good fit for the company:
You have to show your passion in both words and actions. During the interview, I discussed starting my own consulting practice to gain more experience in the consulting space. I shared what I learned from taking on such a big endeavor and how it related to the role I desired.
After you’ve shown that you can confidently take initiative, can you endure? While at school I was passionate about business and social impact and found an organization that combined both. By an interesting turn of events, I became the president of the organization. Although I was new, I didn’t let my naïveté slow me down and was able to lead the group through several projects. I shared in my interview how these experiences trained me to face demanding situations successfully.
I’m a firm believer that hard work over an extended period of time can yield great results. When I was first turned down by Vanguard, I made sure to keep my skills fresh and gain knowledge: I enrolled in a career prep class to enhance my interviewing skills. I studied everything I could about Vanguard: their products and services, their marketing style, and their culture. I even brought a portfolio of my past projects and an academic manuscript to show that I could dedicate myself to Vanguard and its mission.
A couple weeks after the next round of interviews, I got THE call again:
I was being offered a position in the company! It was a lot of effort and a long wait, but achieving the goal I had worked so hard for is indescribable.
So, was my journey worth it? Has it been everything I hoped it would be? Stay tuned for part two where I’ll share what it’s like to work at Vanguard – and how I feel now that I’m hired.
As a video producer and motion graphics designer, people are often surprised to hear that I work at Vanguard. “Isn’t that a financial company?” they ask. But as part of Vanguard’s Marketing and Communications department, I get to produce, direct, and edit videos for vanguard.com, social media channels, and live event experiences. I also design and build motion graphics in addition to providing photography services. My team is comprised of highly-experienced designers who came to Vanguard from very diverse backgrounds. Collaborating with designers, writers, and marketing managers across my department is the best part of my job.
How I got to Vanguard
I’ve been producing video since I was 9 years old and worked in the live control rooms for both a national television network and a professional baseball team. So how the heck did I wind up at Vanguard? I’d known about Vanguard for years—the investment giant in Philadelphia’s backyard. I heard great things about Vanguard as a place to work, and though it’s a financial company, I knew there were communications and creative job functions throughout the company. I looked for the perfect “foot-in-the-door” position that would allow me to learn the business (and teach me how to manage my own retirement plan!), with the goal of eventually moving into a communications role. Friends thought it was a risky idea, but I had confidence in Vanguard as a stable place to work and an opportunity to reach my career goals. Little did I know that someday I would see my work in the middle of Times Square.
I started as a Retirement Plan Processing Associate. The robust training and onboarding process was intense, but a great opportunity to build relationships with my class—friendships that are still going strong 10 years later. After two years serving about 70 retirement plan sponsors spread across the country, I landed a job on an internal communications team. My plan was working! In my 5 years on this team, I had opportunities to write scripts, design graphics, and produce videos from concept to completion. I often worked directly with members of Vanguard’s senior staff, which was both exciting and an incredible learning experience. I was then promoted to Lead Multimedia Designer in Vanguard’s marketing department, where I’m able to use my 25 years of video production and design experience to serve our clients, at a company that truly makes a difference.
My “little” Times Square project
Vanguard was launching a new fund with the Nasdaq exchange, which gave us the opportunity to advertise on their iconic video screen in the heart of Times Square. I was asked if this unique project was something we could handle. “Of course,” I said. But… we only had a few days to write, produce, approve, and deliver the video. Our creative team worked together very closely on sharpening the messaging and designs. We wanted to ensure our message was short and sweet for New York’s fast walkers. Then there was the added challenge of fitting our graphics and content around the tower’s 26 windows.
The video was one of the fastest—and definitely biggest—projects I have ever worked on, which only added to the thrilling experience. It was great to see how our creative team rallied together to get the video not just done, but done well, and on time. In the end, I was lucky enough to attend the launch in New York with about 20 fellow crew members from across the company. And at the opening bell, there it was—the animation we made just a few days prior! It gave us all chills, and needless to say, there were plenty of high-fives and selfies!
I’ve been quite introspective about my Vanguard career since seeing my work displayed in such an iconic location. What some called a risky career move turned out to be the best decision I ever made. My time at Vanguard has been adventurous and rewarding in more ways than one. From serving clients, to working with senior staff, to camaraderie with a fun and diverse marketing organization, it’s been a great 10-year journey that leaves me even more excited about the future.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
To wrap up National Career Development month, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer Greg Davis offers insights into key moments from his time at Vanguard.
One of my favorite parts of National Career Development month has been reading other crew members’ meaningful career experiences. Kristin L. shared the importance of gratitude towards those who helped shaped her successes. I learned how Amy M.’s military background drove her accomplishments in civilian life. A realization about company culture led Dan K.to become a longtime crew member. And Jordan W. expressed how a supportive work environment can lead to significant achievements.
Now, I would like to continue the trend and share the moments that influenced my professional journey:
Knowing when to let go.
During the early part of my career, I was leading a small team of traders in our Fixed Income Group and it was my first time as a manager. Since I was accustomed to more technically driven responsibilities, I knew I had to shift my mindset to a people focus. A great boss gave me some very perceptive advice, “When your traders can do the job 80% as well as you, let them do it.” I realized I had to learn when to give up some control. It was an eye-opening moment.
It can be tough as a leader to let go at times, but I found that this approach has multiple benefits: it frees you up to tackle other more strategic issues that need your attention and it shows your team that you have confidence in their abilities. While it may be faster to do some tasks yourself in the short-run, teaching someone to do it on their own is a better long term strategy for the entire team. True leadership requires the humility to accept handing over the reins.
On successful teams, each member knows they’re essential.
Another memorable moment happened when I began working under Tim Buckley, Vanguard’s Chief Investment Officer at the time. Tim is very forward looking and he taught me to be deliberate about building the right team – it should be composed of talented collaborators who have the ability to run together towards a common goal. Because of Tim’s example, I often stress the importance of developing people, it’s a critical element for long-term investment success. But what do you do when you discover a member of the team isn’t performing at the right level?
Ultimately it comes down to continuously growing as a team and acknowledging when someone needs additional coaching. I have found that being candid is appreciated, even if it is an uncomfortable conversation initially. We should always remember that giving feedback enables someone to understand their strengths and opportunity areas, which are critical to their long term success.
Always consider what needs to happen now to be successful in the future.
As a final thought, I want to share some advice around another big moment – choosing your next role. As you assess your career goals and dreams, ask yourself three questions:
What are you passionate about?
What are you good at?
Which job leverages both of these?
When you find a position that combines your interests and talents, you have found your dream job. But, the key to answering these questions effectively is self-awareness. You may be passionate about music, for example, but unable to sing a single note on key. Identify how much time and energy you want to invest in developing skills before pursuing a role or industry.
A word of thanks.
I am thankful to have had opportunities to serve in multiple roles in areas that I was very passionate about and that aligned well with my skill-set. But it wouldn’t have been the same without the right team, the right leaders, and the right company.
I grew up in suburban Western Pennsylvania about 30 minutes outside the city of Pittsburgh. I graduated from Slippery Rock University (SRU) with a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. I always loved the greater Pittsburgh area and never even considered a move some 300 miles across the state to the greater Philadelphia area. Even before I applied to Vanguard, I told myself (and my parents) that I would spend one to two years at Vanguard and then seek out a job “back home.”
It was the spring of 2008 and the Great Recession was just months away. On April Fool’s Day, I received a phone call that I was being extended an offer to join Vanguard’s Technology Leadership Program. (Yes, my offer letter is dated April 1!) My first role was a Systems Operations Analyst within Global Technology Operations. There, I joined a team of talented technicians who served as guardians of Vanguard’s critical web infrastructure. This position helped me hone my technical and professional skills while building a strong network of peers I keep in touch with even to this day.
In late 2012, an opportunity to join a team within Global Support Services (GSS) appeared in our internal job posting system. With my manager’s support and guidance, I was able to successfully apply for and obtain this new position. This role exposed me to many different U.S.-based teams across the company and I also got the opportunity to work with our growing office in Australia. As I continued to develop in my role, my manager and I had regular discussions about my career path at our weekly 1-on-1 sessions. One week in late February 2016, I had found a role that would be a perfect fit for my goals. It turns out that my manager saw the same role, too! Of course, we both agreed that I should apply for the position.
After interviewing for the new role in the spring, I moved to the Next Generation Apps team. In my current role, I support the software build pipeline responsible for software releases (deployments) which happen every four minutes. There is never a boring day in this role and no problem is the same. My team members are some of the most talented technicians I’ve ever met during my tenure at Vanguard.
We work well together, which is especially important considering that we’re charged with promoting progressive software development practices and technologies across the entire company.
Over the course of these past nine years at Vanguard, I’ve had the opportunity to receive career advice from a variety of crew members, most of whom measure their tenure in decades. These same coworkers have advised me to keep growing professionally and personally. In that vein, they’ve encouraged me to never become complacent, always be on the lookout for a better way to do something, and always be an advocate for yourself.
With the support of my manager and team, I completed my master’s degree at Penn State in December, 2016. It took over two years of night classes after a full day’s work and plenty of declined social obligations. While I was supported by the people I worked with, Vanguard’s generous tuition reimbursement program provided the financial backing and incentive to advance my education. I am certain that I wouldn’t have chosen to advance my education without this critical support in place. Every step of the way, my leadership team encouraged me to do my best work while giving me the opportunity to figure out solutions to tough problems in my own way.
One of the biggest benefits of working for Vanguard is the ability to take on different roles and move around the company. The ease of mobility has allowed me to develop an appreciation of the work that goes into running a company with nearly $5 trillion in assets under management. It also is a great way to build a strong network of colleagues who you can count on to help out when something isn’t quite right, whether at work or elsewhere.
If I could share one piece of career advice with others, it would be to always feel comfortable with changing things up periodically. Rotating through three different positions in the span of nine years has provided me with immeasurable benefits. I often tell my friends and family it’s why my plan to stay “just one to two years” became nearly a decade.
If you’re seeking an environment where you can make a difference and develop professionally, check out our career opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com
Kicking off National Career Development Month with gratitude
During the month of November, many Americans begin looking forward to Thanksgiving and reflecting on those things that have brought them gratitude. In recognition of the holiday, some practice “thanks-living,” the act of recording at least one thing you are thankful for in your life for 30 days. The intention is to allow us to focus on all the blessings we have in our lives and appreciate the positive.
In addition to a time of thanks, November is also National Career Development month. As we can all probably attest, the term “career development” can have different meanings to different people. What we can likely agree on is that career development has a considerable impact on how we feel about our jobs, which is significant since we spend the better part of our waking hours at work.
As the new leader of Crew Development at Vanguard, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on both National Career Development Month and the many, many people that have made my own career such a rich and fulfilling one. I have seen time and again the benefits of showing gratitude towards those who had an impact on my career development. I also believe that my mindset of gratitude has made me a better colleague and leader overall.
With those thoughts in mind I wanted to share my thanks on this November 1st with:
My parents: Without their unwavering support of my education, most of my career achievements would not have been possible.
Minette B: My first boss out of college, for teaching me the value of candor at the onset of my career.
Anthony C: My Organizational Development “partner in crime” (or colleague) for many years, for his willingness to have an open dialogue with me on so many things; strategy, change management, diversity in the workplace, leadership standards, and much more that have made me a better leader and person.
Jennifer K: For a hand-written note she gave me when I was leaving Kohler Company that I will never forget. Just thinking of her words still gives me goose bumps & cemented my desire to help people achieve fulfilling careers.
Laura K: My leader and role model at Kohler Company, for being a great example of what it really means to be a senior business leader (that just happens to be in HR).
Doug H: Of Whirlpool Corporation, for his selfless support of my career goals and unwavering belief in my abilities.
Tamara T: For her kindness, patience, and candor as my on-boarding buddy, who has been invaluable as I assimilate to a new role, company, and industry.
Lynda R: For seeing potential in me and being willing to take a chance on an external candidate for such an important role at Vanguard.
Richard L: Who is truly my better half, for his enduring support, love, and encouragement while also helping me make sure I keep my feet on the ground.
While writing this post it struck me how difficult it was to keep my list of thanks to a number where the proverbial Oscars music didn’t start up and I lost my audience… I consider myself fortunate that there are so many people who have had a tremendous impact on me in my career, even beyond this list. I am reminded of a simple quote from Margaret Cousins: “Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” With this in mind, on this November 1st I am asking all of you to challenge yourself in two ways:
Think through and THANK those who have had a positive impact on your career.
Ask yourself what actions you can take to be on someone else’s list next November.