A Few Thoughts on Talent Spotting

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In terms of accomplishments — we can all be a bit “star struck”.

We gravitate toward proven winners. This is for good reason. (Success isn’t optional.) But, while proven competence is one way to discern talent, we fail to consider that opportunity also plays a crucial role. If an individual isn’t afforded the opportunity to shine, their potential will be left undiscovered.

Enter this HBR post, discussing the importance of potential when hiring team members.

However, while we may under-estimate new hires — we also routinely overlook individuals already in place. People right under our noses that have what it takes. Curious and flexible. Ambitious and resourceful.

I like to call them “explorers”.

You must first focus intently and identify them. Consider behaviors that might signal potential. Is an individual always ready for new experiences? Adept at handling unforeseen circumstances? Particularly open to feedback? Able to write a “script” when one does not previously exist? After reflection, offer them opportunity — sponsor stretch assignments for example, so “explorers” on your team can be discovered.

Let’s start out 2018, with a campaign to find and challenge them.

Dare to look beyond your established high potential program.

They could be right there, at the ready.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

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Considering Happiness at Work

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When a construct becomes culturally significant — words naturally arise to describe it. The language of that culture expands to accommodate its importance.

In this country, the term “engagement” has finally gained a certain level of notoriety — helping us move beyond the 9 to 5 definition of our jobs. With that recognition, we are beginning to acknowledge that work isn’t “just work” for many of us. But, ask yourself this question: Why is engagement so vital?

Within other cultures —  the words have already been developed to answer that question and represent its importance. In Japan, for example, the storied concept of Ikigai, represents our “reason for being”. (See the Venn diagram below, with intersecting circles representing what you love to do, your strengths, what the world needs and what you can be paid for.) In Scandinavian cultures, the word was “Arbejdsglæde” captures this. Translated into English this means “happiness at work” or “work joy”.

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These are more than compound words — slinging together “work” and “happiness”. Ultimately, they capture the multi-faceted construct that to feel worthy, we all need to contribute in a way that we deem meaningful.

This conversation elevates the entire realm of work.

I’d say we need 100 words to capture that and engagement is just a start.

Read more about it:

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Seeing Ourselves in Context

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One of the most challenging thing to do is to see ourselves (and our actions) in context. This is particularly difficult when we work within an established organization. We can become distracted from our mission by so many long-standing biases, including “the way it’s always done”.

When organizations reach an impasse, functions often express that they cannot work together. To be certain, there is myopia operating. Groups are too close to their own work to see how they affect others. Or they simply don’t have the time or inclination to examine what might really be happening.

The art of blame is mastered — however they haven’t considered the larger picture. We cannot fully understand things until we back off and see things from another perspective.

We often think of clients or customers, but rarely think of how we affect our peers. Most of us do not fully understand the demands placed on those in roles that touch our own.

If we took the time to do this — we might see our own actions in context.

Silos hurt all of us.

It’s a start in the right direction.

Great things can follow.

Read more about it:

Please note: I’m sharing more frequently — 30 Thoughts for 30 Days!

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

The Everyday Guide: Personal Branding in a Noisy World

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We all possess some form of a personal brand, whether or not it is actively constructed. If you desire to be noticed for the right reasons — that brand must be clear and concise. If it is muddled, you might be lost in the shuffle.

That brand can also be stretched beyond recognition. You may not even recognize it.

(It’s a noisy world out there.)

When people consider you (or your work) it conjures up a certain “gestalt”. While you may think your brand is clearly written in your resume or LinkedIn profile, much is invisible. It is what you do, share and say everyday.

However, it is vital to be noticed and understood. It is devastating to be misunderstood. (I’ve personally experienced this.) What you stand for as a friend. As a colleague. The type of work you envision. The roles you are aiming for. What you wish to accomplish. As, Tom Peters declared in his now classic article — we each must accept the indisputable existence of the personal brand.

It follows that building this brand requires thought — and action — and more thought.

That must begin with you.

You are person 0.

If you could conjure the ideal personal brand that represents you in the future — what would others say? How might that compare to what others would say in this moment?

You have an opportunity to impact that brand. To choose its components and even utilize it as a compass for your career. To delineate the value you bring and to decide the channels that broadcast value.

However, you must first build self-awareness.

You must ask the question again (and keep on asking).

Who are you?

Please note: I’m sharing more frequently — 30 Thoughts for 30 Days!

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Read more about branding here:


Ambition is misunderstood

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Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

Ambition is often misunderstood.

In the world of work —  the notion of personal ambition seems to be either maligned, stifled or glorified. There is no in-between. No shades of gray, where we can meld our duties with the need to manifest our ambitions within our work.

In fact, I’ve observed that personal ambition is offered a very narrow lane. Only accepted for the likes of tech founders or CEOs. For the rest of us, the connotation is murky. Often negative and rarely supported.

Ambition should be embraced in so many more situations — and in many more of us. (It is the root, the spark, of so many great things.) We’ve all suffered through periods of time that we could label as a “crisis of contribution”. The place where we are unmotivated and disengaged, Where hat we envision to accomplish through applying our strengths — just doesn’t align with our work.

I’m convinced it is ambition grumbling to do more.

Waiting for its chance in the sun.

The chance to do great things.

Ambition should be reckoned with.

It is not always synonymous with greed or selfishness.

And it isn’t always blind.

Want to read more about ambition? See a great list here.
I enjoyed this one:

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Find Your Audience

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Social media is a great tool.

It is quick and nimble.

However, it can never take the place of carefully considering your audience. If we share a message and it gains no traction — we not only have to examine our content, but who it might be reaching. The conversation could be right. It’s the listeners that are all wrong.

Personal branding can also prove useful.

There is ground to be gained by refining our image, resume or developing our personal “pitch”. However, if no one is responding — we have to wonder who is really noticing that crafted presentation. We have to examine where our efforts are landing. To whom are we speaking? Under whose umbrella do we fall? Who needs to hear us?

If we have no audience, no takers — we haven’t shifted a single mindset.

We are just talking into thin air.

With all the hard work that goes into developing our message, a product, a white paper — the effort deserves an audience.

Take another look around. (Whether you aim to affect a school, your workplace or a project’s direction.) When someone truly responds to your message, who are they? Their challenges? Goals? What are you affecting?

Your audience wants to be discovered.

Be sure to find them.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.

Being a Mentor is About Seeing Yourself as a Mentor

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Please note: While the opinions below are my own, I was compensated by Johnson & Johnson for this post.

In the United States more than 50% of the work force is women. Yet, less than 15% hold corporate board seats within global companies. Organizations that embrace women on their boards enjoy a number of potential advantages, including financial performance and problem-solving capabilities. However, the numbers remain dismally low.

It is clear that we are missing something vital — an unsung element that could possibly help more women reach their potential.

One such element that may be vastly underutilized is mentoring.

Without mentors, meeting our potential can elude us. We might fail to build the mastery and confidence we need, or envision our own potential. While there is ample research to back up the merits of mentoring, we need to pause and reflect on the topic.

Why are so many women seeking mentors — yet cannot find them?

It is time to pause and openly discuss this question.

One great example of elevating the mentorship conversation is Johnson & Johnson.

At Johnson & Johnson, they have a steadfast commitment to the role of mentoring in women’s careers — as they are committed to igniting the power of women to create a healthier tomorrow.  More mentors are stepping forward. Two ideas are central to this initiative. Firstly, mentoring is a valid tool to increase the number of women in management (at Johnson & Johnson this is 43% in the U.S.). Secondly, reaching out to young women in their formative years is critical. Through Johnson & Johnson’s mentorship partnership with Girls Inc., women executives are being paired with high school students who would like to make an impact within their own communities.

Why are mentors so scarce? While we often offer support to initiatives that seem worthy, our directed energy may not fully match our commitment. Not because we do not believe in what we are supporting, but because we are unsure how to move forward.

Check out their video, “Igniting the Power of Women & Girls Through Mentorship,” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NKs-IMDDL0.

Why are mentors so scarce? While we often offer support to initiatives that seem worthy, our directed energy may not fully match our commitment. Not because we do not believe in what we are supporting, but because we are unsure how to move forward.

Becoming a mentor can feel like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t need to be. We can all do more.

The bottom line is this: We hesitate to step forward and mentor women. Yet, mentoring relationships can alter someone’s life and career — serving as a loud, positive internal voice in an often noisy environment.

Strong, empowered women are raised by many.

Addressing the reasons behind our hesitation is vital. Research has pointed to the reluctance concerning time commitments and concerns about appropriate expertise. We need to collectively move past these thresholds. Move beyond our fear of a misstep, when we can do so much that is right.

Let’s pose a collective challenge.

Mentor another woman — a young girl, a student. A less established co-worker. Another woman’s daughter. Your niece. Your neighbor.

Someone who might truly benefit from your knowledge and experience.

A few things to consider:

  • You may not see yourself as a mentor — but you do have that capability. Every time a contributor reaches out to you, it is a signal. A signal that you may be viewed as a mentor. Explore the following questions: How can I help or support this individual today? Is there something I have learned in my journey that may help another woman evolve positively? To help them grow?
  • Mentoring is about small steps. We tend to think of mentoring as an overwhelming, grand commitment. However, it takes a community of people to build a strong career. Small moments can matter. They sum to a notably stronger foundation on which to build a career.
  • Be honest about your own journey. Although it may not feel entirely comfortable, reflect on the moments where you needed guidance and received it (or did not). Use these moments as a guide to help others.
  • Consider sponsorship as well. If you remain hesitant to make the mentorship commitment, consider sponsorship as an alternative. Shine the spotlight on another’s work. Make an introduction. Encourage productive collaboration. Help build stronger networks of expertise.

We do not need justification to nurture another’s talent or recognize a job well done.

Mentoring is about seeing ourselves in a supportive role.

It is about being generous.

Sharing what you know.

Supporting the same inflection points, where you may have needed a boost.

It is about building someone up.

Helping someone see their own potential.

Mentoring is the right dynamic.

You are perfect for the role.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.