Podcast

Getting to the Next Level with Jon Mason

January 19, 2022

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You are in for a treat with this episode. This week I have a special guest: Jon Mason. Jon is the Global Learning and Talent Management Leader for the Corporate Functions of Takeda Pharmaceuticals, a top 10 pharma company.

Jon has worked in learning and talent development for almost 30 years with half of that being in the pharma/biotech space. He is an expert in developing talent and sharing some of his wisdom with you that could just be the thing to get you to the next level of your career.

In this episode, we are having a candid conversation with tangible takeaways about how you can get ahead in your career. Whether it’s within your current role, moving into people management, or even rising to executive leadership.

If you are looking for the competitive advantage that will soar your career, listen to this episode.

Note: Jon’s views on this episode do not reflect the company he works for. These are his personal insights based on his extensive experience and expertise development talent in the pharma/biotech space.



What You’ll Learn

How to advance your career at every level

Tips for getting your voice heard at a table of executives

Jon’s proven networking exercise so you know who and what to focus on

Insights on how to be inclusive when interacting with others

The benefit of coaching in your career development

The difference between committing to your development and owning it

And so much more…


Featured in This Episode

Connect with Jon on LinkedIn


Are you questioning if you’re in the right career? Take the free quiz and find out now.

Navigating Your Career Episode: Change What You Do Without Changing Your Title

Learn more about working with Melissa in Career Path Navigator or 1-1 Coaching

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Transcript

Transcript

Melissa

Welcome to Navigating, your Career, the only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start feeling better, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Melissa Lawrence. Let’s get started.

Melissa

Welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast.

Melissa

I am so excited to have this guest with me today, Jon Mason. Jon is a global learning and talent management leader at a top ten Pharma company. And before we get into the interview, I have to say that the views that he is expressing on this podcast are his and he is not representing his company on this episode. So he is someone that has almost 30 years experience in developing others, about half of that in the Pharma biotech industry. And he is sharing some very tangible tips and insights on your career development on how to find the right role for you on how to get to that next level, in your career, on how to advance your network and how to really get to the next level while feeling more like you.

Melissa

And it is so good.

Melissa

What he provides on this episode is just so valuable.

Melissa

So I can’t wait for you to give it a listen. So without further Ado, let’s go ahead and get started.

Melissa

Hi, Jon. I’m so happy to have you on the podcast today. Welcome.

Jon

Thank you, Melissa. I’m happy to be here.

Melissa

So can you tell everyone a little bit about you, who you are and what you do?

Jon

Sure. I am a learning and talent management professional. I’ve been in the business now for 20. It’ll be 28 years in May and which seems like a really long time. But I love my work and I work in the pharmaceutical industry where my job is to help promote the next generation of talent.

Melissa

That is very succinct because I know that you have so much experience and knowledge around developing people, helping them get to the next level and specifically working kind of the Pharma biotech industry for so many years. So I know this is just going to be like one of the juiciest episodes that I have because you have so much to offer, and I want to just kind of share a fun fact that Jon was not only my first manager in industry. So when I started working at Covance, that was my first industry position.

Melissa

He was my first manager that really took a bet on me because it was my first time coming into the industry first time in a centralized learning and performance center. But then we also ended up becoming great friends and he actually married me and my wife, Ellen. I did. Yes. How great is that?

Jon

That’s awesome. It’s still a memory that lives very large in my mind. It was a wonderful day, and I will tell your audience that you made it impossible for me not to hire you. Back in the day, I was imposed with phone calls until I had no choice but to hire you. But it was always my intention to hire you after I interviewed you. Love the energy and so glad that we’re still in touch today.

Melissa

Yeah. So that’s a good lesson. Persistence pays off, right. It’s also really that the relationship that you have with your manager can really lead to something greater where you have a personal friendship and connection and something that lasts for decades. So a lot of times people really struggle with their managers, and we talk a lot about that struggle that can happen when you don’t have a great manager. But the flip side of that is what happens when you have a great manager and you have someone that invests in you and that you have that personal connection where as you continue your journey and I moved on to a different role, we were able to have a different kind of relationship that blossom, did something really wonderful.

Melissa

So that is also a good question for people to have that that’s also possible.

Jon

Yeah. And that’s probably tip number one, right. It’s don’t only look at the job, look at the person that’s going to be your manager and make sure that there’s a connection there, because if you’re taking a great job with a lousy boss, you’re likely to have a lousy experience.

Melissa

Yeah. 100%. So can you share a little bit more about your career journey and how you got into the role that you’re in now?

Jon

Sure. So back in the day, I started my career in credit card banking as a customer service telephone representative, and I went through a three week training program and was so impressed by the job that the women leading that program did. It really inspired me to go into learning and development professional. So I was still in school at the time, working my way through College and shifted to a focus in corporate education, which was a relatively new field back then and have grown my career since I started out in technical training, moved to web design and development of all things.

Jon

And then I moved into leadership development and haven’t looked back in more recent years. I’ve moved into the farm industry back in 2007 with Covance, and then in 2011, I moved to Pfizer, and now it’s Takeda, and I’ve held jobs in talent development, leadership development, organizational effectiveness. I’ve built programs for high potential talent, moving into vice President level women’s development programming. And I’ve done some diversity programming, too. So a lot of different angles, often within learning and talent management, which is where really my passion has been.

Melissa

Yeah.

Melissa

And what do you love about it?

Jon

I love to help people achieve goals and see their aspirations come true and help them to discover things about themselves that maybe they didn’t even know were possible and to help them to take that first step toward a goal, take a risk and see how that pays off long term. That’s where I get my excitement from.

Melissa

I love that because that is almost verbatim to what I love about what I do not working in corporate, but that’s obviously what I really loved about working and learning and development when I did. So tell me a little bit about why you love working in this space in a corporate environment.

Jon

I don’t have the ambition to be self employed. It’s just not my gig. So I like the comfort of working within a corporate setting because it provides some structure and stability that I like to have in my career. Also, I get to work with a lot of very diverse people globally, and that’s exciting to me. And working within the pharmaceutical industry, there’s such diversity and the type of talent that we have. We’ve got scientists, we’ve got practitioners. We’ve got folks that are experts in finance or human resources or other areas.

Jon

And so I get exposed to a lot of different people, and I enjoy that level of diversity.

Melissa

No, I think that’s great. I was just saying recently that I think it’s really important to be connected to your why with the work that you do and to be flexible on the how. So this is a really good example, because we have similar whys? But different How’s when people are navigating their career and what they might want to do for their next step, they might get really stuck in what’s available to them or what they see on an org chart or something like that, thinking that is what they need to do instead of just being connected to that why?

Melissa

And then being open and curious about the house.

Jon

Yeah. I think it’s really important when you’re looking at your desired career path, that you really maintain a level of flexibility for any type of novel opportunities that comes up that might not even seem like it makes sense today, but it could lead you further along your path toward what you want longer term. I always tell my folks that I’m coaching that you shouldn’t be too narrow or too broad in how you define your next step, because if you’re too narrow, you shut out opportunities. If you’re too broad, then people may not understand how to assist you in your journey and help you navigate the next steps.

Melissa

Yeah, it sounds a little bit like a Goldilocks approach spinning off of that, then is there any advice that you give then the people that you’re working with to help them figure out what that right level is for them? That’s not too narrow or not too wide.

Jon

There’s an exercise I do with folks, and it’s really simple, but I have found it to be very effective with folks. It’s kind of the old pros and cons list, right. But you do a little bit of a different take on it. What I do is I ask people to reflect on their career. Where have they felt like they’ve been super plugged in, motivated, excited to go to work every day. It’s that I can’t wait to do the next thing kind of moment. And that goes in your pro list those things where you feel like you’re making a difference, where you’re valued in the way that’s important to you and you’re doing meaningful work.

Jon

However, you define that. And then on the other side of the page, you list the things that you’ve done in your career that deflate you that take your energy away from you that make you feel like you’re not being valued or you’re not being recognized in a way that’s motivating or engaging you. And from that, you can create your own job description, and you don’t have to assign a name or label to the top of that. But you’ll have a really good understanding of what type of work you want to target.

Jon

And there’s a little bit of realism we have to put in here. There’s always going to be tasks within a role that might not be our favorite to do. But if we can have the bulk of our work geared toward that which energizes us, which gives us excitement and ability to contribute in a way that really makes us feel good, we’re going to be much more willing to take risks in our career. We’re going to be willing to support others along the way, too. And when we help others, we help ourselves as a firm belief that I’ve got.

Jon

So there’s some ideas for you?

Melissa

No, I think that that’s great. That’s really not surprised aligned with the work that I do as well with helping people figure out their ideal career path is really getting to know themselves really well and what’s important to them, what’s energizing for them, and also being aware of those things that are not and then kind of putting it together like a puzzle to figure out what are the things that are, what’s the next step or what are options that are going to meet those needs that are kind of in that pro side that you said.

Melissa

So I think that’s great. So what is your philosophy around career and leadership development?

Jon

My philosophy. I’d say it’s owned by you. You’ve got to own your own destiny. And so you have to take time to sit back, to reflect, to be honest with yourself, to listen to the feedback that others give you as easier, as painful as that may be, and then plan what journey is going to be right for you when you’re doing that, think without limits. Think broadly. Think about what you’d like to achieve, what you dream of achieving. And don’t be shy with yourself and be honest with yourself.

Jon

And don’t be afraid to say, I don’t want this or I don’t want that. Once you’ve got a good picture of that and I agree with you, that self awareness here is really key. So once you’ve got self awareness, you can begin that journey really thoughtfully. And then from that, you can build a plan on how to engage others to assist you through your aspirational journey. How can you get to help open doors for you to make introductions, to give you an opportunity. But in the end, you’ve got to be there and you’ve got to be beating the drum every day and making the moves and taking the actions to take yourself forward because people can’t and won’t do it for you.

Melissa

Right? There’s no one in your office sitting there thinking about how to get you to your next dream job, right?

Jon

Not even your boss is trying to get his or her.

Melissa

Yeah, right. They’re thinking about their own next best move or what they need to do. So even as supportive as they’re going to be, no one’s going to care about your career as much as you are, right?

Jon

That’s not to say that there aren’t others that care about your job, but nobody is going to care for it like you. And you’ve got to nurture it’s. The old gardener analogy, right. You’ve got to plant the seeds, you’ve got to tend your garden, pull the weeds and do the work to reap the harvest down the line.

Melissa

Right. That should be a garden Hopper.

Jon

Indeed.

Melissa

We got all sorts of analogies.

Jon

I have no doubt that this is the way it would go.

Melissa

So there are a lot of people who listen who are aspiring leaders or maybe just want to get to that next level, maybe from a manager to director level or even director to senior director, which is sometimes like a nuance. But do you have any advice that you would give to people that are really looking to get into that next level of leadership? And what maybe some critical criteria would be for them to work on.

Jon

Know yourself, know your unique skills and capabilities, and figure out how they align with the business needs and objectives for the role that you want to move into and then network, network, network. And when you’re thinking about moving into the next role, I was on a call once and I heard somebody say, Well, folks in this group want to be promoted. They want the next title. And our response on the phone was, well, if they want the next title, they can go somewhere else because it shouldn’t be about titles.

Jon

It should be about the work. And I think sometimes people get lost in the idea that they have to make that vertical climb from manager to senior manager, associate director, director, senior director, vice President. And while those titles are great bits of recognition and it can satisfy the ego in a lot of ways, it’s not going to influence the work that you do, right. That point may be able to be argued a little bit I mean, you’re going to have increasing levels of responsibility with each you should anyway.

Jon

But if you get too hung up on a title versus the type of work that you do, you’ll get lost. And I know that some people that I’ve coached in the past have been so stuck on the title that it made it seem like that was the only important thing to them, not the work that they would be doing. So you have to identify how you’ll contribute, how you’ll improve, how you will change the paradigm and make things better if you ascend to a new role versus just saying, well, I’ve put in my time.

Jon

I sat on my egg long enough. I’m ready to hatch and be a senior director. Now that’s not going to get you anywhere and be willing to flex. You might get offered an opportunity that doesn’t align perfectly with your plan. But I know a lot of people who took that oddball opportunity that wasn’t really sought after by other people. Maybe it was moving to a manufacturing site, or maybe it was moving to a new country and they were very hesitant to do it. But when they did that, that opportunity then helped them to set themselves apart for the next role, down the line and set them up for success.

Jon

And they were able to go further faster than their peers because the higher you go, the more competition there is.

Melissa

Yeah. I love that note around looking at the type of work that you want to do and making sure that whatever your next title is that you want, it’s aligned with the work that you want to do, and you’re not just chasing that title, and you’re prepared for that level of responsibility because I’ve seen that as well where people just want the title and they get into it and then they’re like, I don’t even like this work or they’re inheriting a team that they weren’t prepared to lead, and they kind of bet off more than they could, too.

Melissa

So I have another podcast episode called Four Mistakes People Make When Trying to Get Promoted. I talked about a little bit chasing the title, so I’ll link to that in the show notes as well. For anyone that wants to dig deeper on that, that’s just that great insight that you provided. So what have you seen be effective for leaders who want to get their voice heard or influence more effectively? I know you mentioned you did some diversity programming. I know this is something a lot of people struggle with is when you have a lot of even dominant personalities, or maybe you’re feeling intimidated at the table, like how you can really get your voice heard.

Jon

The first thing I’d say is trust yourself and don’t be afraid to share your opinion. We all have doubts. We all have some insecurities at different stages and times. And even if we’re really well seasoned and experienced I even have some doubts sometimes. Should I say this? And are they going to care what I have to say? And then I gather up the courage and say it and often it’s received very well and people are happy to hear a different opinion or a confirming opinion, and it validates speaking up.

Jon

And I think every time we put ourselves out there and we speak up when we’re in doubt of ourselves. When you see the positive impact that you may have, it gives you more and more confidence. It’s confidence builder to take that risk and see it pay off. Other things I’d say, listen to the group, observe the way the game is played at your organization, really understand the culture where you are and take the risk to lean in and also know when you need to sit back and listen more and listen thoughtfully.

Jon

Another way to influence is to encourage other people to join the conversation, to have them share their viewpoints because you’ll be seen as being very collaborative and a team player, which can be helpful. The last thing I’ll say here is be adaptable when we know ourselves really well. We can then learn more about others and we can begin to pick up on the cues that people give us about what type of communication they need from us. Do we need to be more direct? Do we need to provide more details or facts?

Jon

Do we need to touch on the personal relationship? Do we need to emphasize team play and collaboration when you can really give people what they need from you in terms of communication styles, then you’re going to be seen as much more influential and your voice will be heard more because you’re tailoring it to people around you have. That’s why I think that something like Disk is critical. Disk Insights Herman Brain I’m a fan of Disk. Personally. It’s simple. It’s powerful, and it gives you a chance to step back and say, okay, my way isn’t the only way, and it also helps people because when we learn the different communication needs that others have, it can bring barriers between relationships down because I’ll recognize Melissa is not doing that to me.

Jon

That’s just Melissa’s way of being. So if I can just share in a different way, making a minor adaptation, it can have a big impact on our relationship. That’s important. Yeah.

Melissa

I was curious if you were still using Disk because you introduced Disk to me back in the day when I started working with you and in my business. So I brought it to companies that I worked at because I thought it was also very powerful and impactful super simple. People really resonate with it. It’s a lot more effective, I think, than some of the more complicated tools like Enneagram and some of these other things that have become more trendy. And I use it now. And my coaching business actually became a widely partner so I could administer disc assessments for my clients because people love it.

Melissa

It’s easy to use. It’s easy to understand, and you can people read it. You can understand where other people are coming from. You can use it to modify your communication. So it’s great.

Jon

Yeah. I tell people the reason I love it is because it’s simple. It has base validity. Nobody really argues with it. It is memorable, which is a differentiator from me. Between that and MBTI. Mbti is a great personal self awareness kind of gig, but it’s difficult to translate it to others because there’s so many different permutations. And Disk is more simple in that respect. So I like it a lot. And I have had coaching a senior leader one time who had two critical relationships that were failing and one was with her boss, and one was with a direct report.

Jon

And I used some basic tenants from Disk to help create an awareness for her to help her create her own awareness is more accurate of how her style was too front and center, and she wasn’t considering the style needs of her boss and her direct report, and that was creating the conflict and the tension that she was feeling and the beauty of it was a month later when we had our next session, she came in and she talked about some simple things that she had implemented that we had talked about and the powerful change, the powerful and immediate change that she saw in the relationship.

Jon

And that gave us a really good starting point to build from that’s. Great.

Melissa

I love that story. Thanks for sharing that. Let’s pivot a little bit around career development, and I feel like there’s a change, especially with the coaching industry, with making more personal financial investments into your development, which is kind of tying to what we talked about earlier about owning your development. And so you kind of working in a corporate environment. I was curious what your views are on personal financial investments, balancing kind of what your company might traditionally offer, like tuition, reimbursement or I don’t know how much conferences are offered right now because of covet, but more common coming back.

Jon

Hopefully virtual, but they’re coming back, right?

Melissa

Yeah. So what are your views on kind of filling your development gaps and kind of taking the ownership of your development a step further with your own personal financial investment, right?

Jon

Yeah. I agree that people need to make an investment in themselves, and we can’t expect our employer to do everything for us, and certainly part of the employer employee relationship is that I give you my skills and services and you do things to help me grow and develop and stay fresh in the area that I’m doing work for you. So I think there’s that kind of implicit contract between employer and employee. But I also think that it makes sense for individuals to say I’ve identified some needs that don’t fall into the parameters of what my employer should pay for.

Jon

And I need to make that investment myself, whether it’s a personal investment in reading the latest books on a topic that is of interest to me. Hiring a professional coach like you to come in and help them to kind of free up some thinking and to explore different opportunities and paths and ways that they might not know to do on their own, because I think that the value that a coach really delivers is they know how to get you thinking and how to get people to take steps that they might not think to take on their own.

Jon

They might be afraid to take on their own, or it just might not come to them because they’re stuck. And sometimes people are so stuck in a moment or a feeling or a situation that they don’t know how to get out of it on their own and to invest in yourself with a coach with continued education, with peer mentor groups and things like that really great use of time and money as far as resources go.

Melissa

Yeah. I think it really goes back to owning your career and owning your life. I’ve seen a lot of people look to their company and say, Well, my leadership development program isn’t really helpful, so it’s their fault I’m not a good leader or it’s their fault they have this problem or with really any skill, like if there’s a communication skill program or whatever it is to kind of just offer what’s off the shelf that your company’s providing and then leave it there and kind of give the ownership to the company to make you better at whatever it is that you want to be better at.

Melissa

So I think it’s really looking at it differently. And before I was a coach years ago, kind of when budgets got tight in industry and we were no longer getting our professional associations reimbursed. That was kind of my first taste. It’s like first the conferences go away, and then it was, oh, you’re $150 a year for ATD you’re no longer going to be covered. And I remember that was kind of my first experience where I was like, Well, I have to pay for this myself. I know the company has to pay for this.

Melissa

They’re supposed to help me be good at this job they hired me for.

Jon

I went through that same thought process. What do you mean? I’ve got to spend my money.

Melissa

Really? Yeah. And I think that type of mentality is part of what makes us kind of sign off our destiny and what we think is possible for ourselves to what the company decides as possible for us, because we’re giving all of the power to the company instead of realizing you can really do anything that you want. And that’s really what helped me kind of make the decision to move into coaching for individuals and not work for a company anymore. Doing coaching was I really liked being able to be completely in service of the client with no bias to the company.

Melissa

So when I coached for a company, I always had to have that kind of advantage of looking at what’s going to be best for the company and the employee if they’re not happy in their job, how can we help them into a job that’s also with the company, as opposed to just leaving the company, if that’s what was maybe best for them. And now it’s just your boss doesn’t know HR doesn’t know I can just be in full service of you with, and it doesn’t matter what your company’s training programs are or what your boss thinks.

Melissa

So it’s definitely been a journey for me as far as looking at how you invest. But I remember just $150 a year, man, I really was like a lot. I remember complaining about that. Yeah, I was like this. They should add this to my salary every year. Right.

Jon

I totally get that. But when you make that decision to make that investment in yourself and to spend your own hard earned money on yourself, you recognize that maybe not in the moment, but you recognize later that it’s a gift you’re giving yourself and it’s taking that ownership and making a commitment that you don’t necessarily have to make if you’ve got somebody else paying your bill, and so you use the resources more thoughtfully and you engage with them or you do more work beyond what you get from that fee, and it can serve you really well.

Jon

I’m going to point back, though, to something you just said that in your coaching practice, you’re 100% in service of the client. Unlike in corporate, when I’m coaching people in corporate, I’m 100% in service to my coaching. And one of the things that I do with my leadership is if I’m going to engage with somebody in a coaching platform, the contract that I make with the organization is this is in service to my client, which is the employee. I’m not going to report back on anything that we talk about.

Jon

If you come back and you ask me, I’m not going to give you any information. I will not be doing any kind of evaluation of how well they’re doing in coaching or not. All I’m going to do is provide them coaching guidance, helping them to create self awareness and an action plan that can carry them forward. I’ll encourage them to share what they feel is appropriate with their manager, but I do see myself as 100% in service to the client, and the organization gets the byproduct of that coaching, right?

Melissa

No. I love that you have that freedom. I didn’t necessarily have that freedom with my experience. So HR had to be informed. And it was this big thing. So I really love that you have that freedom to be able to be in service of the employee like that, because that’s a really important boundary. So right now, as my business has grown, for example, I have some clients that have had their companies kind of add me as a vendor, and they subsidize the coaching fee or pay for my coaching.

Melissa

And that’s great for the employee. They don’t have to have the out of pocket expense. But that’s part of the boundaries that I have with the company is these are general topics you may coach on, and it’s confidential between me and the employee, and there’s no report back to the company. There’s no report back to their HR. And so that’s a battery that I established because it’s so important for me to have what you’re doing now with the company as being kind of in full service of the client.

Melissa

The other thing I’ll add, is I do think there’s a difference when people pay for their development on their own, and it comes out of their pockets because even some of my clients that get that subsidiation or get their coaching fee covered by their company, they don’t always show up the same way as someone that paid thousands of dollars for their own development. They’re showing up. It’s the same thing as if I offer a free training versus a paid training or paid program. Free training is like, oh, I don’t have to go.

Melissa

If I don’t want to. We’ll see they don’t really invest in it. Some do, but most of the time they don’t. But if they have to put their money out in the line, then they definitely show up differently because they want to get their results because it’s their money.

Jon

Yes, that makes sense.

Melissa

When I had to pay that 150 for ATV, I was like, going to all the freedom.

Jon

That’s right.

Melissa

The magazine, right?

Jon

Yeah, I’m right there with you.

Melissa

Any success stories you can share of how you’ve seen coaching make a big difference for an employee.

Jon

Me witnessing success in others, I should say, is when I see people, sometimes when you’re coaching, you can see or feel the light bulb go off. And in that light bulb moment, somebody will say, this is who I am. This is who I want to be. And this is what I’m going to commit to do to get there. And then they put themselves on the line and they take those steps that they need to follow through. And we celebrate the successes. Together. We learn from the successes and the failures, and we continue moving forward.

Jon

And it’s when somebody has that moment that says, Gosh, I didn’t know I could do this. I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t believe in myself enough to think that this was possible. But now I do. And now I want more because I know I can do it. And it might not be easy. But now I’ve got the skills and the resources available to me to be more confident in taking those risks and trying something new, trying something different. That’s what is exciting for me to see.

Jon

That’s what I would call a success story.

Melissa

Yeah, that’s great. And have you ever seen Coaching Network?

Jon

Oh, yeah. When somebody gets sent to you and they’re just doing it because they’re told to do it. And sometimes people really get invested in it. And other times, people just like I’m here because we’ve initiated this program and I have to be here. That’s when there’s not as much chance for success if they’re not committed to it, if they don’t want to be there, if it’s a break in their day. And easy thing for me to see is if somebody hasn’t done their homework and doing homework and quotes for our audience out there, if they haven’t done their homework when they come back, if they cancel meetings routinely, then that’s a sign that it’s not going to work, they’re just not invested in the process and don’t want to be there.

Jon

And ultimately, what will happen is that they will stop showing up or stop coming. And I’m not one that believes that a coach should have to chase people down. There should be something that they want to do and something that they really look to gain value from.

Melissa

Yes, I agree that’s another boundary that I’ve had when I’ve had interest in kind of bringing me on to coach someone’s employees. That’s the boundary that I have for them is that I will coach people for you, but I need to meet with them one on one, and I need to be able to determine if this is something that they really want because I don’t want it to be remedial or something that their boss is saying that they should have, but they really don’t want to be there because it’s not going to be a win win for anyone.

Melissa

We’re all going to lose in that situation.

Jon

Yeah, that remedial. This person needs coaching because they need to be fixed when clients come to me with that, that’s a huge red flag for me. And that’s when I say no, I don’t need to coach this person. I need to coach the manager of that. That’s great. So that they can develop a plan to work them through that, because if you off source that if you offload that to someone else to fix your problem employee, you’re not doing your work as a manager and you’re making it easy for yourself.

Jon

Perhaps. But you’re not building the relationship that you need to with that employee and you’re not going to build the trust or the engagement or be an inspiring leader to that person to really get them to make the changes that they need to enhance their performance.

Melissa

Yes, it needs to be their idea. I think when managers make that decision, they’re not thinking about how that’s going to land with the employee to say you need to improve. So I’m assigning someone to you because I don’t own. You have to talk to the manager.

Jon

It’s different for me if you’re talking about career coaching. Oh, you’re stuck with what you want to do next in your career, right? Have you thought about getting a career coach? Hey, great. Or even if you’re stuck in a certain area, a leader might say, you know, this isn’t really my area of expertise either. Maybe a coach would work. That could be good. But to say you’re broken, and we’re going to send you to a coach to fix you. Yeah, that’s not cool.

Melissa

Yeah. A little bit of stigma around that. I’ve heard some clients say that they have colleagues who are surprised that they had hired their own coach. Me when they were thinking, oh, I don’t like working with a coach. I have one assigned to me because I need to be a better manager. I need to be a leader. Why are you doing this for yourself? What’s wrong with you?

Jon

You know what? Rupaul has a good quote for this, right? Unless them bitches are paying your bills, pay them no mind or something like that. If they’re not paying your bills, pay them bitches. No mind. There you go. I don’t think we need to worry. What other people are feeling about. Coaching is not remedial. We all need a coach in our lives. At some point in time, we all need a helping hand. And sometimes our personal network is not the right group to go to. We need some professional assistance.

Jon

And that’s where folks like you and I come in.

Melissa

Yeah, I think it all ties back to that awareness. Like we were saying earlier, I say your brain can’t solve your brain’s problems so you’re not able to see the problem from inside your own head. So I think someone objective who can bring in new ideas and can see things that you can’t see and see where you might be, tripping yourself up. It’s really invaluable. What would you say to someone who’s hesitant to work with a coach?

Jon

Give it a try. Give it a sincere try. Put some energy into it. Really listen and be open. I can’t tell you the number of people that I’ve worked with, and it usually starts off with some type of assessment, right? Whether it’s Disk or Hogan, which is a really great assessment for people that are looking to move into senior leadership because it will help you identify who you are as a leader. What your potential derailleurs are? Things of that nature. I like that one. And 360 assessments.

Jon

When I work with people in their feedback. A lot of times they’ll say, wow, I didn’t think that I could get this. I came in here. My expectations were really low, and you’ve given me a lot to think about, a lot to chew on. And I want to continue this relationship. And it’s just because they opened themselves up to that one session so if you’re hesitant to work with a coach, schedule a session and see how it works. A lot of coaches. If you’re going into the external market, a lot of coaches will give you a free meet and greet so that you can determine whether or not it’s going to be a good fit to develop a good coaching relationship.

Jon

And I would say interview a few coaches because you want to find somebody that you can be open with, someone that you can trust, somebody that will push you and help you to figure out what you want and need to do. They’re not always going to make it easy for you. But, you know, a good coach doesn’t necessarily make it easy, but they will value and respect you. And you should feel that in the meeting that you have with them in that interim meeting. So give it a try.

Jon

Give it a try. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But if you put a sincere effort into it and you just open yourself up to having a successful experience nine times out of ten, you’re going to get that success.

Melissa

No, I agree. And chemistry is really important. That’s why I offer that little meet and greet like you mentioned, just to assess it.

Speaker 4

To make sure that we’re a good fit.

Melissa

That it’s a good space to be. We can be comfortable with each other, and they can kind of see my style and also know that I’m someone that they can be safe with so that they can be comfortable.

Jon

Yup.

Melissa

So one last thing I want to ask you is we talked about networking a little bit. What would you say is like some really kind of quick win networking tips that people can use to kind of increase their network or really improve it make it more valuable and not just random LinkedIn connections.

Jon

Right. Well, networking is key. I think it’s very important to shaping your career because it puts you in the driver’s seat of creating your own brand. And it’s important for your network to understand what your brand is so that they know how to utilize you. And so they know what opportunities to bring your way and what opportunities to send to other people. Also, by keeping your name on everybody’s lips, more opportunities are going to come your way because people are thinking about you and they’re going to want to help you grow in your career, and they’ll have greater confidence in putting your name in the ring when it comes to some really plumb opportunities.

Jon

So networking tips. First of all, it’s not nice to have it’s a must have, I would say, keep your relationships fresh. We tend to think, okay. I had a meeting with the senior leader over here, and now she knows who I am and she’s going to support me. But if you only have one meeting with her, she’s going to forget who you are. So you need to keep it fresh. Virtual coffees in person. You could do lunches. One thing I like to do is I like to grab people and take them for a walk for, like, 15 or 20 minutes.

Jon

You’re up your mobile. It instantly relaxes and makes the situation a little bit less formal. And it helps you to create connections with people. Don’t show up and say, okay, I’m here. What have you got for me? You’ve got to drive it. You’ve got to have a plan and you don’t want it to be some type of transactional. Hi. My name is John. Here’s my background, here’s my skills. And then what have you got for me or have them do the same for you. You’ve got to have a plan.

Jon

So what do you want from the relationship? And what can you give to the relationship? Because it can’t be take take. You want to show some curiosity. You want to learn about the other person, what’s important to them? What are they struggling with? What successes have they had? People like it when they get to toot their own Horn. So be interested and curious with them. There’s an exercise I do with people that I think has worked really well. And I have them map out their network and I do it with three concentric circles, right.

Jon

And they’re in the center. And then I have them plot out the people in their network based on geographic proximity. So if you’re sitting down the hall from me, you’re going to be very close to me in that center circle. If you work in Russia, then you’re going to be on the outer rim of the outer circle because you’re further away from me. And then when I have them do is identify the importance of each person in their relationship. How critical is this person to building their network, to building their brand, to helping them in their career and their work day to day.

Jon

And if they’re most critical, you put a box around their name. If they’re a medium priority network individual, they get a circle. And if they’re low priority, they get a triangle. Okay, third step, you connect the person on your network to you, using a line for the most critical. Very bold line. For medium priority, solid line, low priority, dashed line. After you’ve drawn that, you step back and you reflect on it. So are your people who are most critical to your success. Do they have that bold line, or is it a dashed line?

Jon

If it’s a dashed line, you’re not investing enough in building the relationship. So you need to put more time and effort into building that relationship with that individual. If somebody is in the triangle, meaning they’re the least critical in your network and you have a really bold line, that’s great. You’ve got a great relationship with them. Are you over? Investing in that relationship is a question I would ask, are they taking time keeping this relationship alive. Is it taking time from building other relationships? And from there, you can start to build out a plan for how you’re going to increase the strength of your most critical relationships.

Jon

And then how are you going to keep them fresh? The virtual coffees, the walkabouts, the lunches. And it doesn’t all have to be intense work related, sometimes, especially with the right people. You might want to work on the personal relationship because that’s meaningful to them and keep it fresh. Some people I remember I got a piece of advice one time much earlier on my career. I was having a real difficult time getting a breakthrough in the relationship that I wanted with one of my most critical stakeholders.

Jon

And I was having a conversation with the head of HR, and I said, you know, I’m stuck here. What advice would you give me? And she said, John, this is going to be perhaps not the most conventional advice that you’ll ever get. But we work in this building right next to us. There’s a pub. And during the workday, this guy is busy, busy, busy, busy. And it’s tough for him to give focused time and energy to people, but he enjoys a drink out. So invite him out for a drink at the pub next door after work one day.

Jon

And you might have a breakthrough moment. And indeed I did. And it worked out really great. And I’m not saying that you have to go out and get all liquored up to create a relationship with somebody. You can have a Diet Coke or a glass of water if you want to. But think about doing things that can help you build the relationships that you need. And as you seek connections with senior leaders, you might need somebody already in your network to broker a connection, get them to make an introduction.

Jon

The last tip I’ll give is you may have more success setting up meetings with people for 15 or 20 minutes than scheduling a half an hour or an hour block of time. Psychologically, it seems like people are giving up more if they have to give up a whole half hour, and if they don’t know you, they might be more reluctant. But if you schedule it for 15 minutes or 20 minutes, it seems like, oh, yeah, I can give that time. And it gives me ten minutes between my next meeting so I can grab a cup of coffee or use the restroom so those things can help you, too.

Melissa

Those are all really great tips. I’m so glad we’re going to have the transcript available in the show notes. So for this exercise that you provided, we’ll be able to easily extract that so people can use that. That was really helpful. So as we close out, is there anything else that you would like to share? You’ve provided so much today.

Jon

I would say your strength comes from your authenticity. Be who you are, know when to lean into what makes you you and celebrate. That because I think that’s the best thing we can do for ourselves, and it will be an attractor to other people. Know also that at times we may owe overuse our strengths and they can become potential derailleurs. So recognize when you need to adopt your style to others so that they hear you and recognize the value that you’re bringing to the table. I don’t want you to try and change who you are or to wear a mask at work to be what you think an organization or a leader wants from you, because that is a recipe for disaster.

Jon

But know when to amp up your own style. No one to dial it down and enjoy what you do. The more you find work that engages you and makes you feel grateful for the opportunity to lend your talent to an organization. The more success you’ll have.

Melissa

That is great advice and great parting words. So if anyone wants to get in contact with you, should they reach out on LinkedIn? Are you open?

Jon

Yeah. Okay. Linkedin is great. Jon Mason, J-O-N no h. And I’m easy to find.

Melissa

Every time I spell your when I write your name, I think, oh, so nice. There’s no H it’s so you.

Jon

Hey, that’s another tip for your audience. Don’t spell people’s names wrong. Pay attention to how people spell their name. And God, I used to work with one guy and he would always pronounce everybody’s name wrong. We worked with a global audience and he’d say, Well, your name is really hard. So instead of calling you this, I’m going to call you that. And I was like, that’s so rude. Names are so personal.

Melissa

That’s not acceptable at all.

Jon

Learning how to pronounce. Learn how to spell do the right.

Melissa

Don’t be afraid to speak up and correct someone. If someone calls you by the wrong name or mispronouncing your name, it can feel a little awkward and uncomfortable. So maybe you want to pull them aside or whatever way you’re most comfortable, but I think that’s just a basic level of respect. So I wouldn’t let someone call you the wrong name, right?

Jon

Agreed. Agreed.

Melissa

Other tangent numbers.

Jon

I know. You know, I’ve seen a lot of emails that say, hey, great talking with you, by the way. I’m John without BH.

Melissa

All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I am so grateful for your friendship and that you were my first manager in industry and that you’re now able to come on the show. It’s just full circle. And I love that so much. And you’ve just provided so much value and so many tips for the listeners. So thank you so much for coming on.

Jon

You’re welcome. And it has been a full circle moment for me, too. It’s so great to see you following your passion and living your dream and helping people out in a way that I know only you can. So many wishes for continued success to you. And thanks for having me here today.

Melissa

I get asked all of the time. How do I know if I’m in the right career now you can find out I created a free quiz using my criteria for what makes a great job fit. You can take the quiz at my website, www.melissamlawrence.com and in less than three minutes, you’ll know the answer so you can stop guessing and take some action. And as a bonus, if your job isn’t a great fit, you’ll get some resources to help you decide what to do about it.

Melissa

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