I listened to a good audio book this week: 25 Things to Say to the Interviewer, to Get the Job You Want: Being Qualified Isn't Enough. It’s a short book and an easy read / listen. Most of the points the book brings up fall into the “good, old-fashioned common sense category”, which doesn’t appear to be that common …
I think there is more value in the book as career guidelines than simply as points to make in an interview. A lot of the things from my career that I wish I could do differently fall into the points made in the book as do some of my pet peeves and some of the advice that I give to people I’m mentoring. During the MCA boards, we specifically look for many of these traits.
I always try to take one point from a book or whitepaper and apply it immediately. For this book, I’ve chosen the “be on time” point. As the book points out, being on time is more than being punctual (which is a prerequisite for professionalism in my book), it’s doing what you say within the deadlines you set. Of course, to do that, you have to set realistic deadlines and have good time management skills. Time management is where I’ve struggled the most lately. It seems that every deliverable is just in time, so I’m going to work on managing my time better and also re-learn how to say “no”.
When I used to manage people, many on my team asked what I expected of them. My normal answer to that question is something like: do what you say you are going to do in the timeframe you say you’re going to do it to the quality bar that is expected. As soon as you know you are not going to be able to meet your commitment, let me know. Simple enough? The second point falls into the "schedule chicken" category that kills projects (and drives me crazy).
I was fortunate to have awesome teams who delivered 90%+ of the time. Occasionally I work with people or teams who don’t do this and it drives me crazy, especially when I only have influence, not control. Occasionally (especially lately), I haven’t lived up to this and I’m sure it drove some people crazy.
Since we just started our 2007 fiscal year, I guess this is my new year’s resolution.