Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mentoring for Success

NAGC Board member and Strategic Affairs Officer/Public Relations Manager at the Mississippi Department of Employment Security

Anyone who knows me understands I have been around a few blocks in my career.  I am neither a longtime communications professional, nor am I a lifetime public servant. Although I have held many titles in several different industries, I have always been a communicator and exhibit passion in what I do. Sharing my experiences and mentoring others is one of my great passions. 

My current environment has given me the chance to identify and mentor individuals in an informal setting, but in a way that allows them to reach their maximum potential. I love that! Nothing is as rewarding as working with someone who has a goal but who needs a little guidance to reach it. 

One recent success was an employee who has wanted to lead his department for several years. He had the knowledge but lacked the supervisory experience and the business acumen that made him the first choice for the position. But the head of his division went to bat for him and agreed to coach him on a more professional style of dress. I believed in him as well, and approached the division head about mentoring the employee on his management style; he readily agreed.

For the past three months, I’ve met with this young man weekly. I allow him to relate his challenges and successes for the week and we discuss how they were handled or how they need to be handled. Consistent regularly scheduled meetings are imperative to successful mentoring. Allow the mentee to vent; it gives them the opportunity to define their concerns and helps the mentor identify the mentee’s challenges, which may not always be obvious.

One of the greatest obstacles this employee faced was managing a department of people with whom he was a peer. This presents specific challenges because there are always advocates and detractors within your group, and sometimes, the people who fall into each category can be a surprise. As a mentor, I wanted him to understand that his co-workers’ perceptions might change due to his new status. It would not be personal, just a part of human nature. Preparing a mentee for the unexpected helps him stay focused on what is important.

This employee’s knowledge of his field was the advantage he brought to the role. He also brought very specific ideas for changes he wanted to make within the group. My goal was to help him see the value in the opinions of his team. Helping a mentee understand the value of the whole team allows him succeed as an individual, and provides the mechanism for him to mentor his own team.

Success for this young man came to fruition last week when it was announced that the chief position was his!  I like to feel I had some measure in his success, but the fact is he had the ability all the time it simply needed to be channeled. The greatest compliment I received is that he wants to continue our weekly sessions because he finds them helpful for his overall development. I continue to look forward to the opportunity to feed the passion I have for sharing my experiences and helping others reach their potential. I recommend that anyone who has been around a few blocks and picked up some lessons along the way help others exceed their goals. Become a mentor. The rewards are worth the time and effort!

NAGC's Mentor Value Program (MVP) is a good start for any prospective mentor or mentee.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Land the Government Communications Job You Want

By George Selby, Director for Communications & External Affairs

Can you stack the deck in your favor so you can practically assure yourself of landing your next great job? ABSOLUTELY.

Most people do not realize how much control they have over their job search and the number of job offers they receive.

Landing a new job that is right for you, is mainly up to Y-O-U. Yes, yes, I know, we've all heard about having the right attitude. But that, in and of itself is not enough. The right experience is not enough. The right education is not enough. Having the right contacts is insufficient.

But, the right COMBINATION of these and perhaps a few other elements are MORE than enough to get you the job you want, in the industry or occupation you want, and at the salary you want.

Make no mistake; it will take effort, sweat equity, plenty of preparation, and what appears to be a virtually "independent" attitude as to whether or not you get the job that will produce multiple job offers in a reasonable span of time.

This skill enables some people to succeed where others fail. Getting not just any job, but the right job for you, means:
  • Having all your ducks in a row, and I mean all.
  • Taking a hard look at yourself and being truly honest in your self-assessment.
  • Determining what your capabilities are and where your interests lie.
  • Having a crystal clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to become.
  • Shedding people who only want to rain on your parade; who dismiss your dreams and aspirations with scorn; who want you to follow the same paths to failure they have taken.  

And, it means building your well-based self-confidence to the point where you will walk into a job interview so well prepared -- so well-positioned -- that you will actually take control of the interview process!

Believe in yourself and do not lose heart. You can do it -- even in this economic climate.

Although the following recommendations may simply be common sense, or the reasoning may not be that obvious, here are ten specific things you can do to better your "Positioning:"

  1. IMPROVE, HONE, and PRACTICE your communication skills, both written and verbal. THIS IS CRITICAL.
  2. Clearly IDENTIFY the field in which you want to work. CRITICAL.
  3.  Become INVOLVED in the industry within which you want to work. CRITICAL.
  4.  Be POSITIVE and OPTIMISTIC, and also surround yourself with those who exhibit these qualities. CRITICAL.
  5. Wherever it is, whatever it is, if you make a promise or a pledge -- DELIVER. CRITICAL.
  7. LEARN what you can from willing mentors. 
  8. Get plenty of SLEEP (off the job!) so you are alert and at your mental peak all the time.
  9. If you are currently working and there is a "responsibility void," ASSUME the responsibility and by doing so, YOU GIVE YOURSELF the authority and you become the EXPERT.
  10. In fulfilling assignments, GO the extra mile, TAKE the extra step.

Finally, do yourself a HUGE favor. Unless you are really in a financial bind, AVOID taking a job just for the money. When you LOVE what you do, it's less work and a lot more fun.


www.toastmasters.org (inexpensive to join, high return on investment)

www.AARP.org/Work (of particular value for those 50+)

www.igotthejob.net (also see Lily Whiteman’s book, “How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job”) 

www.vault.com (one of my favorites; well written)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Georgia Disability Video Series Wins National Telly Award

By Derrick G. Silas, Sr., Web Manager, City of Enid, Oklahoma

Often, the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) spotlights the accomplishments of its members. Valerie Suber, a member of NAGC and Public Information Director for Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), rightly deserves accolades for production of the video series, "Voices Beyond The Mirror."

The video series was a production of GCDD with Atlanta-based SplendidVid. They won the bronze Telly award for excellence in the non-broadcast productions/social issues category. The Telly Awards honors the very best film and video productions, groundbreaking online video content, and outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs. Some big names that have recieved past Telly awards include, but not limited to, Coca Cola, Cato Fashions, Philadelphia 76ers, CBS, Doritos, Universal Studios Home Video, A&E/Biography Channel, etc.

According to Valerie Suber, the GCDD video was developed to celebrate the 40 years since the passing of the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Act of 1971 and to launch an awareness campaign to satisfy the GCDD's five-year strategic public relations plan.

The title of the documentary, itself, speaks loud and clear in my ears. When beholding a face in a mirror, one only knows in part and really never knows the person on the other side, but the video allows one to hear the actual voices beyond the bounds of the glass. As you listen to the video, there is a distinctive sound in each voice you hear. Those with DD are allowed to tell their story about their triumphs and/or struggles of everyday life.

Watching the video, personally, reminds me of the importance of accessibility in all aspects of life, especially in government communication. The video includes closed captioning for those that are hearing impaired as well as sound for those that are visually impaired. As  government communicators it is our obligation to ensure our organizations provide reasonable accommodations to policies and programs so that all individuals have access to programs and services. We should always provide necessary auxiliary aids or services for effective communication.

Take a look at the inspiring video below. . .

Derrick Silas also serves as the Communications Director for the NAGC Board of Directors.