My Business Coaching Podcast supports psychologically based and practice-oriented leadership, self-management and personal reorientation.
In the New Normal, “being observed” and “observing oneself” becomes a topic in video meetings. It affects our well-being when we observe ourselves and compare ourselves with others. In the podcast, we talk about the psychological background and give tips on how you can increase your well-being in video meetings.
Coachee “I feel like I am constantly under observation, especially by myself! Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve actually been sitting in virtual meetings all day, sometimes the negotiations even last several hours. I find the feeling of being seen by everyone non-stop really exhausting. And of course it’s not just everyone else, I also observe myself, whether I’m sitting straight or how I appear in comparison to the others. In the meantime, I am totally dissatisfied with myself and my appearance. What do I expect from the coaching? I hope for improvements in my body language and rhetorical skills. But of course above all, I want to feel more confident again and want to be satisfied with myself and my appearance!”
Karin: Since I am specialized in the topics of appearance, charisma and executive presence, this kind of requests are presented to me quite frequently. However, “being watched” and “watching myself” in video meetings has only recently become an issue. Fortunately, there are well-grounded psychological theories and up to date research results that I can use to help my clients here.
And that’s exactly what I’m talking about today with my colleague Lea Menzel. She is a psychologist and has conducted a study at the University of Salzburg on well-being in video meetings. Welcome, Lea, it’s great to have you here today!
Lea: Hello Karin, I am also very happy to be back!
Karin: Lea, could you please tell us about the study design and what your research questions were?
Lea: Sure. In the study, we asked around 150 people from the working world as well as students and trainees how they felt after virtual meetings using an online survey. However, it was particularly important that the meetings were video meetings, i.e. that they had their camera turned on, because we wanted to investigate the effects of self-awareness on the well-being of the participants. And self-awareness is triggered by a camera that is switched on.
Karin: Let me briefly describe the phenomenon of self-awareness. Psychologists define self-awareness as “observing one’s own behaviour”, e.g. with the help of a mirror or a video, and thereby drawing the attention to oneself. By seeing ourselves in video meetings, this self-awareness is triggered, because we observe our behaviour constantly and closely. How do I look? How do my gestures look? Do I have a straight posture? In addition, we can also observe the other participants, which activates a so called social comparison. This means I compare myself with the other participants in terms of how they look, how they behave, or what their contributions to the meeting are.
Lea: And it was precisely this social comparison that we were interested in! Because how we compare ourselves influences our well-being. And then we additionally looked at self-awareness and social comparison in the context of high or low self-esteem.
On the one hand, we were able to clearly demonstrate in the study that increased self-awareness led to a lower sense of well-being and satisfaction. And on the other hand, as suspected, this effect was again particularly clear in people with low self-esteem.
Karin: This seems very logical to me. But how do you explain this phenomenon?
Lea: Well, the underlying processes are really interesting! Depending on whether I have high or low self-esteem, I compare myself differently. So if I have high self-esteem and compare myself to others, I tend to focus on where I am better. If, for example, I observe that a colleague often slips up, speaks too quickly and seems nervous overall, then someone with a very high self-esteem thinks “Well I’ll surely do that better, I’ll speak slowly and understandably”. People with low self-esteem, on the other hand, tend to focus on weaknesses that they have in common with the other person. So they probably think: “Oh dear, I also slip up sometimes – I’m sure I’ll come across as insecure”.
Karin: And this of course affects well-being. Focusing on my strengths and highlighting them when comparing makes me feel better than focusing on my weaknesses.
Lea: Exactly, and this process is reinforced by the self-awareness in video meetings.
Karin: Could you give us another example?
Lea: Yes, of course. So let’s say I am rather insecure and don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience. When give a presentation, I get nervous and blush. Because I can see myself in video meetings, I notice exactly that, my face blushing. Now the pressure increases because I think “oh God, the others can see that too, but I want to come across as confident”, which is why I become even more nervous and red in the face and my discomfort increases.
Karin: So it is a negative downward spiral that is triggered by self-awareness. Lea are there any other negative effects that are typical for videoconferencing?
Lea: Yeah, so on the one hand my discomfort in virtual video meetings can also be intensified by the facial expressions of the other participants. Normally you wouldn’t see all the people listening to you in one picture. But with Zoom, you have an exact overview and if some of them look bored, annoyed, or angry that can make you feel even less comfortable.
And you can also be distracted by your own reflection, for example when you fix your hair more often and don’t quite listen to the others.
Karin: The results of your study are very much in line with the phenomenon known as zoom fatigue. Let me explain zoom fatigue. In Feb. 2020, Prof. Jeremey Bailinson from Stanford University presented the first scientifically based study on why video meetings are so exhausting and tiring for us. And created the name “zoom fatigue”. Prof. Bailinson identified 4 causes for zoom fatigue and one of them is exactly the self-awareness you have studied. The second reason was described very well by my coachee at the beginning. It is the feeling of being under constant observation. Normally in face-to-face meetings we look at the person who is presenting, but we also take notes in between or look somewhere else now and then. In virtual video meetings, everyone is looking at everyone else – all the time. And everyone also feels like they’re constantly being watched.
Lea: Yes, and the other reasons are that we perceive the faces of our video conversation partners too large for comfort, which signals to our brain: Someone is getting very close to me, so entering my privacy. And that stresses us out. Fourth and finally, we simply lack movement during videoconferencing. These 4 factors together make a day of video meetings extremely stressful and tiring for us.
Karin: As virtual meetings are an essential part of our everyday work life now, the question is: What can we do to increase our comfort level in the virtual space?
Lea: Well, in general, it’s always good to create an appreciative atmosphere for every meeting, but especially in virtual meetings, the focus should be on making everyone feel comfortable, since well-being can be effected particularly quickly here. For example, virtual coffee breaks can help with this, because in virtual meetings a lot of us tend to start jumping straight into ticking off agenda items which can lead to a lack of the informal exchange that usually happens in face-to-face meetings. Virtual coffee breaks can also strengthen the feeling of togetherness, which in turn has a positive impact on well-being.
Karin: That’s right. Many of my coachees start their weekly team meetings with a virtual coffee and notice exactly these positive aspects: that it is good for the teamspirit, which has often suffered in the long period of remote working.
Lea: Is there any advice you give your coachees?
Karin: In coaching, I also encourage managers to consider, together with their team: How could we make our virtual meetings more pleasant? In other words, to create an appreciative virtual communication culture. For leaders, it’s also about thinking carefully about when video chats actually make sense. And when audio or perhaps even email chats would be enough. And introducing regular video breaks when zooming to allow for a non-verbal pause.
Lea: Exactly and of course each individual participant can apply that. So really make use of the video breaks and use them actively, for example by turning away from the screen so that your eyes see something else and you can completely relax your gestures and facial expressions.
Karin: That’s right, consciously relaxing is really important. Now, do you have any other tips what everyone can do for themselves to increase their well-being in virtual meetings?
Lea: Absolutely – On the one hand, it’s helpful to use the speaker’s view to get out of the focus of self-awareness. On the other hand, it helps against zoom fatigue to take out the full screen option and to reduce the size of the zoom window. This way, the individual faces don’t look quite so big and close anymore. And you can also use a second monitor to create a distance between you and the zoom room. And this distance also allows more freedom of movement.
Last but not least, it definitely helps to support each other with positive facial expressions and gestures, e.g. smiling at the other participants or nodding when someone speaks – so that everyone feels appreciated. Because in this way, well-being and satisfaction can be increased and the stress that arises from self-awareness is reduced.
Karin: Thank you very much, Lea, for these many and above all so concrete tips. I think there is certainly something for each of our listeners. And of course, thank you very much for being here and presenting your study to us.
Lea: Thank you for having me – I really did enjoy our conversation!
Which working environment corresponds to your ideal? What motivates you and makes you successful? People have different needs and therefore different expectations of their working environment. In this episode you will get to know your motivation type and the job factors that make you personally satisfied.
There is an art fairy tale by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen with the title “The ugly duckling”. A mother duck “accidentally” hatches a swan egg. The little swan is not accepted by the peers and is even bullied by the whole duck community. He seems too big, clumsy – just an ugly bird. Thank God the little swan is open for change, leaves the nest, experiences a lot of adventures, develops into a beautiful swan and joins – all’s well that ends well – a swan colony.
I like to tell this story when I get the impression that a client is working in an environment where his competences and abilities are not appreciated or needed. For example, there are top-class experts who are great in the laboratory, but unhappy in the leadership role and also overtaxed. Or communicative and extroverted people managers who feel that they are only brushing foils in a strategic staff position – and are really getting bored.
When it comes to a professional reorientation, it’s therefore extremely important to know which working environment fits best to you. There is a powerful exercise to determine the best fit environment, I call it “drawing the professional life line”. I ask my coaches to visualise their professional developmental path. And to fill in the most important milestones in a timeline. Depending on how they have perceived each milestone, it becomes either as peak or a down in the lifeline. When analysing the peaks my question is: Who or what was helpful for you? Who or what contributed to your success? Of course, the opposite is true for the draughts: Which environmental factors did not fit? What did you miss?
To illustrate this exercise, I’ll give you three examples. Maybe you can identify with one of my coaches Laura Keller? Maybe with the one who describes his professional life line as following:
The Master’s programme is a peak for me, the groups were smaller than in the Bachelor’s, there was much more contact with the lecturers and I particularly enjoyed the project semester, where we worked together in a fixed team for half a year. The first job, on the other hand, I drew a draught. Even though I was taken on at one of the top international consultancies. There was enormous competitive pressure and an elbow mentality. I have no problem working a lot and I like to perform, but a collegial atmosphere is simply important to me. And every few weeks with a different team at a new company – that was just not right for me. But of course, I also learned and performed a lot there. I feel very comfortable at my current employer, on the other hand, where the employees count and there is a collegial atmosphere. In addition, my team is really great, and I’ve become really good friends with two of my colleagues. That helps me a lot right now, because working in home office is not for me in the long run. I simply miss the exchange, the small talk and everything. And the joint team lunches in the cafeteria …
If you feel similar to this coachee, then a positive working atmosphere is essential for you. You prefer close teamwork and the feeling of security and stability. A respectful interaction is extremely important to you, nice colleges or even personal friendships in the team or the company motivate you.
Another coachee Georg LeBon would describe his professional motivation quite differently:
I need personal responsibility and a clear sense of achievement. That’s why I enjoyed working for the international management consultancy so much. The standards were high and absolute commitment was expected. But with a lot of effort, the goals were also achievable and good performance was recognised. We always received quick feedback and it was absolutly transparent which team performed how. These possibilities for comparison, the competitive spirit, that motivates me. Now I have been self-employed for 3 years and that is even better for me. I can motivate myself and my range of tasks is even more varied than in consulting: competitions, negotiations, changing cooperation – that’s great.
For this coachee measurable success plays an important role, and competition really inspires him. To be satisfied, he needs variety, progress must be recognisable and his curiosity satisfied. He perceives too much stability more as paralysing stagnation than as reassuring security.
I have on last example from Karolina Danzer for you:
I always wanted to be in the lead, so my first management position is also my first, big professional highlight. I like to take responsibility and I am not afraid of making decisions. I enjoy working with others, but it’s important to me that I can pull the strings and coordinate everything. As I said, the first leadership role with a medium-sized company in our region was great. But I want to go further, and my goal is clearly an international and renowned company. The greater challenge appeals to me, but the image is also important to me. I think it would be really cool to be in charge of a great product that is known worldwide.
Can you identify with this? Then recognition, responsibility and the role as a manager are decisive factors in your working environment. Status also plays a role and power and influence excites you.
People have different motivations, show different behaviour at work and therefore have different expectations of their working environment. What inspires one person – competitive pressure or free enterprise – might be annoying or even deterrent for another.
The psychologist David McClelland has researched and taught at Harvard University for 3 decades. His theory of motivation has become very well known – at least in professional circles. McClelland distinguishes three central needs or motivational areas, which are very different for each of us. These three areas of motivation are:
- Affiliation motives
- Achievement motives and
- power motives
These motivational areas have been researched very intensively. People with highly developed affiliation motives – like the person in our first example – need a positive working environment, closeness and are excellent team workers. In the home office they are often unhappy because they lack a sense of belonging. People with high affiliation motives can be very successful, satisfied and popular as team or group leaders. In higher management positions or in a very political-tactical environment, however, they often miss the community and open exchange.
People with high achievement motivation – like the coachee in my second story – prefer working conditions with a high degree of personal responsibility and personal influence on the work result. Quick feedback and, ideally, the opportunity to compare themselves with others motivates them. This motivational type chooses goals that are high but achievable. If these conditions are met – demanding but realistic goals, an achievement motivated person is optimally stimulated. Research shows that people with high achievement motivation are particularly often self-employed entrepreneurs. And as those are particularly successful!
Studies show a pronounced power motivation among managers in corporations. The motivation for power is apparently particularly conducive to advancement and, as our last example shows, people motivated by power feel attracted to large corporations and status. Yet – as research shows and common sense tells us – it’s positive when there is not only high power motivation but also high responsibility . Or an additional and pronounced motivation for affiliation.
There are by no means only “pure types” of these three motivation structures – on the contrary! In most cases we have a more or less pronounced, very individual mixture of the three motives. I have developed a motive test which I use in career coaching. It shows the characteristics of the three motives and thus the personal motivational profile of the coachee.
Looking back and analysing one’s own career development line is a very good way to determine the essential factors of the desired or ideal job. And you can do this very well in self-coaching. Draw a timeline of the most important stages in your career. Start with an important decision you have made and mark 5 to 7 career milestones as peaks or draughts. And now consider at each milestone what the central satisfaction or dissatisfaction factors were.
Was it the good working atmosphere or the opportunity for further development? Was it your manager or a mentor who inspired you? Was it the international environment, constant change and project diversity – or the exact opposite? Namely the domestic environment, the stable family business with traditional values and reliable structures?
You will certainly recognise typical patterns and identify the central factors of your individual and personal “great place to work”. If you take these factors into account when planning your career, you have definitely the best chances to be successful. Because instead of aiming for the blue, you now have the best chances of hitting the bull’s eye.
Study results show: The impact of social media on mental health is minimal. If we get enough exercise and sleep, social media is not harmful. However, it is very time-intensive: Generation Z spends an average of 3 hours a day on it. What makes social media so attractive? And how can we prevent this nice pastime from turning into an addiction?
Karin: First thing in the morning, we reach for our smartphone and turn off the alarm clock. And then we might just as well check the news and mails, tap the weather app and take a look at all the social media apps-like how is your own story received? What are the others doing?
This episode of my podcast is about social media or more precisely about mental health and social media. Once again, I’ve invited my colleague Lea Menzel to join me. On the background of her studies in business psychology, she has done some exciting research on this topic. And as a representative of generation Z, she is a very competent discussion partner in social media. Welcome, dear Lea, it’s nice to have you here with us again today.
Lea: Hello dear Karin, I’m also very happy to be back. Especially because this topic is really close to my heart. I think that more and more people are noticing the negative effects of social media. That’s why I think it’s so important that we look at the whole thing from a positive point of view, so how to deal with social media in a healthy way.
And that’s where I particularly enjoyed the research, because I use social media myself every day.
How did you actually come up with the idea to make an episode about it?
Karin: Actually, for two good reasons:
- a very personal occasion. During the first lockdown I dealt with social media more intensively and learned a lot: about the fascination and especially about the great influence in our society.
- I’ve recently been talking to a lot of coaches and HR experts about the need for belonging in times of social distancing. I found one idea very exciting: people who are maintaining contacts via social media are coping much better with the “new normal”. In that case, regular social media use would even be beneficial for psychological well-being at the moment…
Lea: I can imagine that very well! If you’re used to writing or face timing with your friends online every day, the change to “online contacts” isn’t that different.
Karin: Sure, so first of all, Lea, I would like to know: What media does generation Z use and how?
Lea: So, generation Z uses social media for private purposes like Snapchat and Instagram but also for networking with professional accounts like LinkedIn or Xing. We’ve been used to social media from a relatively young age, so social media consumption is part of our everyday life. Personally, I only know two friends who don’t have an Instagram and they stand out because almost everyone else uses it every day. But almost no one here has Facebook anymore, we all used it intensively in the past and now we need it, if only for university groups.
Karin: Well Facebook is out, Instagram is in. Personally, I can say that LinkedIn has become very, very popular. LinkedIn is not just a job portal, but also a social media platform – actually t h e business platform.
How much time does generation Z spend with social media?
Lea: During my research I found out that 3 hours a day is totally normal.
Karin: Wow, 3 hours – that’s quite a lot of time- especially when having in mind that this is a “before Corona number”, right?
Lea: That’s right, but you have to know that these 3 hours really include the use of every single social media app, like Instagram, Snapchat but also YouTube or WhatsApp, which many people use to make longer phone calls.
Karin: Oh yes, that’s important. As a psychologist I’m interested in the question: What makes it so attractive that you spend all this time on these apps? I think, to answer this question seriously, you have to distinguish between two different ways of using it: Active and passive, so do I post myself or look at what others post, like etc. Right?
Lea: Absolutely! Active use, so posting something, doesn’t take that much time, it’s rather the contact on WhatsApp. I think most of the time is used to look passively at what others post- for example just by using the search function on Instagram- there’s no end to it and before you know it you have scrolled through different posts for like another hour.
Another reason why you can reach 3 hours easily, is to be led back on the phenomenon FOMO (the fear of missing out). And I can definitely confirm this for myself – if I haven’t been online for a while, I’m afraid of not reading an important message or missing a story from my friends.
Karin: FOMO – an important term, thank you for that. Not missing anything, staying in touch, following friends or influencers, satisfies the need for social belonging.
There is this well-known need pyramid, which says that we all have typical needs like physiological needs for food or sleep or the need for security. The need for social belonging is an essential and typically human need. In these times of social distancing, a need that is very, very strongly affected. This makes it all the more important for many people to satisfy this need digitally.
And friendships can actually be maintained at a distance – a real enrichment. From your own experience, do you think this helps generation Z to manage social distancing better?
Lea: I do think that for us it quickly feels normal to see our friends via facetime or zoom and to talk to each other only virtually. Other generations probably have a really hard time with that. However, the people from generation Z are currently at the age where they normally like to party and meet new people, so I wouldn’t say that social distancing is easier for generation Z in general- but they can certainly better cope with the new alternatives.
Karin: That’s right, shared experiences can be simulated virtually only to a limited extent. And of course, these are just as important for relationships as exchange.
When it comes to active use, so posting, the topic of self-esteem and attention plays a major psychological role. Attention is extremely important in our individualistic society, a hard currency …. By posting beautiful pictures or clever sentences, I show myself, naturally from the side I want to show, so it’s a very conscious self-staging. And when my posts are liked, this is a strong positive reinforcement.
Lea: Exactly. Getting a like stimulates the same areas of the brain as eating a piece of chocolate or drinking an aperol spritz, so it makes us really happy for a short period of time.
Karin: Social media are time-consuming because they’re seductive. But is that bad? Or per se dangerous to our health? First of all, a clarification, what do we actually understand by mental health? There is one definition I really like: mental health is essential for enjoying life and for overcoming pain, disappointment and unhappiness at the same time. It’s a positive life force and a deep belief in our own dignity and self-esteem.
And there is a fairly recent and top-quality study on this, published by a London research team in 2019. It investigated the connection between social media consumption and mental health, but – and this is important – not in a one-dimensional way. Other aspects that could play a role were also investigated, especially physical activity and sleep duration.
Lea: That’s a good point, because when I’m using the internet a lot, I tend to move around less outside and maybe sleep less. And then these two factors, and not the social media use, are unhealthy.
Karin: That’s exactly what this study showed: the influence of social media on mental health was minimal, whereas the other factors had considerable influence. This means that it’s important for well-being and resilience to get enough sleep and exercise – which is commonplace. However, if we pay attention to sleep and exercise, there are practically no harmful effects of social media at all. So here, as everywhere else in life, it’s a matter of finding the right balance, of providing sufficient sources of energy in different areas of life.
Lea: I find this a really exciting study and it’s certainly right not to doom social media per se. Yet my research has also shown that there’s already a risk of addiction.
Karin: That’s important, as you mentioned before how likes directly to stimulate our brain. What are the first signs of social media addiction?
Lea: Well, for example if you can hardly imagine spending your time without social media, if you prefer virtual to the real contact or if you notice a clear change of mood when the internet isn’t working, or certain apps can’t be used.
In addition, it’s also a sign when your own social media consumption is played down in front of other people or you’re mentally consistent on the apps and you’re using social media despite stress or time pressure.
Karin: Inability of staying abstinent, playing down or denial – that sounds very similar to everything we as psychologists generally know about the addiction issue. Are there any specific tips on how to prevent it? Has your research revealed anything?
Lea: First of all, it’s a good start if you don’t start your day by checking social media right away – in other words, avoid exactly what you described at the beginning. Also take conscious digital breaks during the day, such as eating without your smartphone. In addition, a social media detox can also be totally beneficial, be it just a weekend or a whole holiday. I’ve done this myself a few times and experienced it as really relaxing every time.
Then it can also help to turn off the push messages and also only consciously use the apps that make you feel good. In other words, to remove the networks that cause negative feelings in you.
Karin: What could that be, for example?
Lea: For example, individual pages that you follow on Instagram. Personally, I’ve noticed extremely how good it’s for me to become aware that social media is only a projection and not reality and which pages on Instagram tend to cover this up and which ones do represent more a “normal” life. And then again, these do give me a better feeling in general.
Karin: So, conscious use, both in terms of “when” and “what”, seems to be a very important and good first step. Do you have a personal tip for our listeners before we finish?
Lea: Sure! My friends and I like to use the App Forest, because every minute you are not on the phone is invested in a tree and if you’ve not been on the phone long enough, the tree is actually planted. So, this also has a great environmental aspect.
Karin: That sounds really good and thank you very much for being here again, dear Lea!
In the latest episode of MY BUSINESS COACHING PODCAST, brand management expert and book author Dr. Miriam Jentschke and I apply the Costumer Experience Journey (CEJ) model to self-marketing and networking. Marketing activities are precisely aligned with the five stages of this journey, always with the customer in focus. In our EMPLOYER EXPERIENCE JOURNEY, we focus on potential clients and employers. What are their needs at the various stages of the journey? And how can I create value? In the podcast, IT specialist Max takes the journey – accompany him on his five self-marketing stations! This is an important topic, because especially in times of social distancing and home office, it is important to find new, innovative ways of self-marketing and networking.
The conversation in extracts:
Today’s episode is about self-marketing and I am very pleased to have Dr. Mirjam Jentschke as our guest today. She is a brand management expert and in spring Springer Verlag published her book on “Consumer-centric brand management – effective brand management along the customer experience journey”. Bringing the customer experience journey approach together with the principles of classic brand management is new. I read the book with great interest and wondered whether this approach could be applied to self-marketing. And whether Dr. Mirjam Jentschke would one day be my guest. And happily she said yes to both.
Dear Mirjam, welcome, I am very happy that you are here!
Thank you. I am happy to look at the approach presented in the book from a completely different perspective.
Self-marketing and networking are essential for any career. High competence and good performance are not enough, I also have to make them visible and have a sustainable network. So far so good. In times of social distancing and working remotely, many things that used to be tried and tested no longer work. A very planned and structured approach to self-marketing is required, as chance encounters and lunch and coffee dates are no longer possible in this way. Here we can learn from the marketing expert! Mirjam, what’s so special about the Customer Experience Journey – CEJ you abbreviate it, right?
Yes, that’s right. The Customer Experience Journey is a purchase decision model used to align marketing activities with the customer. It describes 5 phases that a customer goes through in the purchase decision process. In this model one looks at what needs the customer has in the different phases of the journey (what bothers him, what he likes) and what contact points so called touchpoints there are. On the basis of this, measures can then be defined. There are two special features: First the stronger focus on the customer and his needs and second the objective of a lasting, sustainable relationship with the customer, assuming that it is more costly to build up and acquire new customers than to keep existing customers in the journey.
And exactly these two aspects are also super important for self-marketing! You should keep an eye on potential partners or employers and ask yourself: What interests these people? What needs do they have? How can I benefit? With this empathic approach, most of my coachees also feel much more comfortable than if they feel they have to impose themselves. With self-marketing they now create benefits for the network partner, for the company – and in the end of course for themselves.
This is exactly where the customer journey approach helps, because it is based on precise knowledge, but also and this is new an empathic relationship with the target group. It is important not only to regard potential employers and superiors as an anonymous mass, but to empathize with them. This is where the persona approach helps.
OK, what do marketing experts understand by the persona approach?
The persona is an exemplary person from the target group/ addressee circle, which is described in a pictorial way so that one can put oneself in their place and understand their needs better. What are professional and possibly personal interests and with regard to possible points of contact: Where can I meet this persona? Which media does she use? What are the expectations in terms of social interaction? What are values that are important to her?
I find it very helpful to personalize the target group. And then to put yourself in this persona. In coaching, I call this change of perspective, i.e. taking the addressee’s point of view, putting yourself in his shoes, so to speak.
Let’s take a concrete example of this. An expert from the IT sector, we call him Max, wants to structure his self-marketing according to the CEJ. The persona would be a typical manager, e.g. divisional manager?
Transferred to the CEJ model, he is in the 1st phase of the CEJ, the brand preference phase, here there is no concrete reason for the divisional manager to make contact, but rather it is a matter of getting to know a person in general in the sense of a brand, a non-targeted “getting to know someone”. One looks for inspiration, emotional needs are in the foreground. This is where Max has to prove his own competence, i.e. classic personal branding
Classic personal branding – a central keyword at this point, which I like to call a “clear personal profile” in career coaching. This needs to be developed in a targeted manner, documented concisely, and communicated convincingly (in the CV, on the Intranet, contributions in social media).
The focus here is on classic push communication, one tends to go broadly and the communication is not yet directed at specific people – e.g. posts on own competence areas on LinkedIn, on the intranet – In the automotive sector this would be a classic TV campaign to introduce a new model.
Exactly, interesting. Now there is a need for a divisional manager to fill a team management position in the IT department.
Yes and here starts the second phase, the orientation phase, the target group, the division manager now has a concrete need. Here, the division manager is interested in potential candidates who meet his requirements and correspond to his concrete objectives.
And ideally, self-marketing has already worked so well in the brand preference phase that the persona thinks of and speaks to the IT expert Max …
Clearly, and on this you can build up communication and exchange that meets the very specific needs of the division manager. One should think about how to contribute to the objectives of the division manager with his competences, e.g. projects, publications, which are particularly relevant to the concrete needs of the division manager e.g. via personal messages (e-mail, telephone call, LinkedIn Message).
In phase 1, the brand preference phase, you gave an example from marketing, which I found very helpful. What would be the equivalent in this orientation phase, the 2nd stage of the “Journey”? I’d be happy to hear from automotive marketing again.
When customers need a new car, they usually look for the models of their preferred brand on the Internet. There they often get search engine advertising for their preferred model and test drives are offered.
I find the next two phases super exciting. Because the CEJ does not stop with the purchase, i.e. “the area manager has hired Max”.
According to the CEJ model, in the phase of the first cooperation, the so-called “utilization phase”, it is important to confirm the choice of the divisional manager by establishing a personal relationship and, of course, by good work performance. We know that this positive reinforcement is very important to justify one’s decision to oneself and to others. One wants to have the good feeling of having made the right choice.
Exactly. Now, from a psychological point of view, there are two ways to build a relationship. 1. by learning something from the other person and 2. through shared experiences. Keeping this in mind is especially important when working together remotely. Here you have to actively invest! So: Max should, if possible, initiate a personal meeting with the boss in a joint project, if possible …
In the automotive sector, content relating to the use of the car is published, e.g. customer magazines with travel tips or brand-related experiences such as guided weekend trips.
The 5th and last phase, the repurchase phase in the model also fits perfectly with self-marketing and networking again. Here it is about permanent contact in order to prepare a repurchase. In our example, the division manager would change jobs. So what are her needs and how can Max stay in positive contact?
In this last phase of the journey, personal communication remains the main focus. Occasions such as birthdays can be used for an update, to inform about one’s own career progress or new projects or news from the old department, personal meetings if necessary (but of course you can also stay in touch more anonymously and without obligation by using your LinkedIn. – and here the circle closes again – maybe there are new vacancies at the old boss.
That’s right, and maybe it will fit perfectly into Max. I think the CEJ model is really perfect for structuring your self-marketing and networking and to pursue it consistently and with a long-term orientation. From your point of view, is there one more important aspect at the end?
It is important to respond to the needs of the target group to orientate your self-marketing activities towards the “Employer Experience Journey”, but you have to do this in your own way and keep your identity, keyword personal brand, because otherwise you lose authenticity and become interchangeable.
Thank you for the keyword authenticity, it is always very important to my coachees to remain authentic. And I think the term “Employer Experience Journey” is perfect – you can recognise the marketing specialist!
Many, many thanks for the interview, for your time and above all for your creativity in transferring the model to self-marketing.
Thank you. I learned a lot!
The new episode of my podcast is about “inner career”, about living in harmony with ones own values and self-image.
In his research on management careers, Edgar Schein, a world-famous social scientist, has identified eight different career anchors. Autonomy/independence and security/stability are two of them, pure challenge and work-life-balance two others. My coaching practice shows that very few people have only one anchor, but usually two or three guiding principles. If these are contradictory, as in the case of my coachee Paul Hoffmann, it can be difficult to make a professional decision. Feel free to listen in!
The conversation in extracts:
Paul has asked me for a coaching concerning professional reorientation. I’ll let him describe his topic himself:
Since our company has been bought up by an international corporation, there are more and more regulations and process rules and standards and I don’t know what else to follow – it’s less and less fun! And two very good friends have also been telling me for some time that I should set up my own business together with them. Their business idea is really good! Because our company has been hit hard by the crisis, I could certainly negotiate a good termination agreement now, so if not now, then when? But I just can’t decide…
At first glance, this actually sounds like a typical decision dilemma: should I go or should I stay? But intuitively I first let my coachee determine his career motivation with my career anchor test. And indeed, it turns out that his two most pronounced career anchors could hardly be more opposite.
The highest test value you get is with autonomy/independence. People with the career anchor autonomy have a primary need to work under their own rules and ‘steam’. They want to decide for themselves which priorities they set and which methods they use. They experience company regulations and rules as restrictive.
Absolutely, that is exactly how it is. The many process regulations and standards leave me less and less room for my own ideas and creative freedom.
Almost equally highly developed is another career anchor, and that is security and stability. People with this career anchor seek stability and continuity as a primary factor of their lives. They avoid risk and are generally ‘lifers’ in their job.
Yes, that is also true, of course. Although I am annoyed by all the bureaucratic stuff, I feel very close to my company. And I also have responsibility for my family. It’s different with my two friends, they’re free and unattached. Their main concern is to implement their business idea, sell their own product and start a company. The involved risk even encourages them.
Both of them obviously have a strong entrepreneurial orientation. This career anchor is only moderately pronounced in your motivational profile. The risk of starting your own business, becoming an entrepreneur goes against your need for security.
Now I would like to explain the model of career anchors. It was created by Edgar Schein. He developed it several decades ago based on long-term empirical studies. He tracked the careers of MBA graduates at MIT. In doing so, he focused on two main research questions:
1) What are the main motivators, needs and goals behind the careers?
2 What are the values behind professional engagement?
So it is about an ‘inner career’, about living in accordance with one’s own values and self-image. And that’s exactly why this concept is so popular and relevant in the 21st century. It is very, very important for many, especially younger, specialists and managers today to realise and develop themselves individually in their careers and express their own self-image.
Our own value concept develops long before the actual professional phase starts. However, it is becoming increasingly clearer through professional experience. So eventually we know what suits us, like “that’s mine” and “that’s not”. Our self-image functions as a compass, but also acts as an anchor that limits our choices. It keeps us ‘on course’, so to speak, or in a ‘protective harbour’. When people reflect on the choices they have made so far, they often realize that they are being pulled back to things they had tried to leave behind. The anchor as a metaphor means this “being pulled back”. The ship can sail in one direction or the other, but the anchor lies in the depths and limits the range of the ship.
In his investigations of management careers Edgar Schein identified 8 different career anchors, autonomy/independence on the one hand and security/stability on the other hand are two of them. By the way, the entrepreneurial orientation that Paul’s friends have at their disposal is a third career anchor.
My coaching practice shows that very few people have only one anchor, but usually two or three core anchors. If these are contradictory, as in the case of Paul, then it can be difficult to make a career decision. Or it can be difficult to find a professional home where you feel completely comfortable and at home.
I have developed a short test that shows my coachees their scores on every single anchor. This resulting, individual pattern is reflected in coaching and together with my coachee I draw conclusions about suitable career options.
What I really like about my friends’ business idea is that the product really makes sense, it is sustainable, climate neutral and I can identify with the idea really well- which is also important to me.
That fits well with the fact that the career anchor of meaning and value orientation is also in the upper range for you. People with this career anchor want to fulfil their values in their working environment and stress the importance of meaningfulness in their jobs.
Work-life balance is another anchor and it also plays a certain role for you. It is important to you to spend time with your children and you told me that you are a passionate mountain biker.
That’s right and I’m afraid that if we start our company there won’t be enough time for that anymore. My two friends are kind of workaholics, and they’re just unattached. But I want to be around my children and I am no fun without my sports.
The career anchors are only one part of the “career panorama”. The career panorama is a model I have developed for my coaches and it is very helpful for every professional and also personal reorientation. Another part of the career panorama are the core competences I presented in the last episode. And there are some more panoramic aspects – but there are also more podcast episodes. However, the career anchors are a very central and valuable piece of the puzzle in the overall picture, precisely because it is about values and values act as a compass for our lives.
For Paul, the analysis of his career anchors was very helpful. He realized that although he needs freedom of movement, being self-employed or starting a own business would be too much of an obstacle in his basic need for security. He decides to try to achieve more degrees of freedom in his current job and we work out strategies and ways to achieve this in our coaching sessions.
I feel sorry for cancelling on my friends, but above all I am really, really relived!
The fourth episode of MY BUSINESS COACHING PODCAST is online!
In this episode I will have a chat with my colluege Lea Menzel, who is the expert in CV matters in our team. Thanks to her studies at the International School of Management, she also knows a lot about intercultural differences in selfpresentation. We will talk about the relevance of a really good CV, the most important do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing one and the intercultural differences in selfpresentation. We will also take a closer look at the Hofstede model, which explains intercultural differences according to five cultural dimensions.
The conversation in extracts:
- Clear structure
- Chronologically descending structure
- Short and clear formulations
- Full details of all professional positions
- Match qualifications to job requirements
- Highlight job title and educational qualifications
- Time data with month and year
- Photo in very good quality with appropriate business clothes
- Check contact information
- Save resume under first and last name
- 2 pages
- No passport photo or private photo
- Too many different colors or fonts
- Irrelevant or unnecessary private information
- Contradictions in content to other sources (online profiles etc.)
- Grammar or spelling mistakes
- Cover up gaps or lie
- Obvious use of patterns and templates
- No photo
- No date, no signature
- No certificates
- No date of birth, no place of birth
- No religion
- No marital status
- No salary expectations
- Optional: Objective or Personal Profile
- References (or on separate page)
- Or: References available on/upon request
UK: Curriculum Vitae/CV
- No photo
- No date, no signature
- No certificates
- Gender, marital status, age, birthplace, religion rather omitted, but is possible as “Personal Details
- No salary expectations
- Optional: Objective or Personal Profile
- References (or on a separate page)
- Or: References available on/upon request
USA: Cover letter
- Date: e.g. June 28, 2015
- Mr./Ms. (with dot)
- Dear Ms. Smith: Then capitalization
- Sincerely, (with comma)
- Subject line between address and salutation:
Ref: Advertisement in New York Times for…
Dear Mr. Smith:
- Return address completed with Germany
- Phone number with international prefix and e-mail address
- No salary expectations
- Concrete announcement follow up: e.g. I will call you next week to discuss …
UK: Covering letter
- Date: e.g. 28 June 2015
- Mr/Ms (without dot)
- Dear Ms Smith (with or without comma)
- Sincerely, (if after salutation comma)
- Sincerely (if after salutation no comma)
- Subject line between salutation and main text:
Dear Mr Smith
Ref: Advertisement in London Times for…
I am applying for the position of…
- Return address completed with Germany
- Phone number with international prefix and e-mail address
- Optional: salary expectations
- More cautious announcement follow-up: e.g. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this post furthe
German curriculum vitae
- Date, no signature
- Enter date of birth, place of birth, marital status
- optional Religion
- optional salary expectations
- optional references
- No photo
- No date, no signature
- No certificates
- No date of birth, no place of birth
- No religion
- No marital status
- No salary expectations
Do you actually know which competences characterize you personally? No? Then you are in good company. Most people can’t name what they are particularly good at. This is due to a typical thinking error: The things we are especially good at are nothing special in our own eyes.
In this episode of MY BUSINESS COACHING PODCAST I will talk with my coachee Steven about the relevance of exactly these core competences in private and professional settings, how I determine these in my coaching sessions together with the coachee and what a so-called “strength shower” is.
By the way: This episode is part of a miniseries on professional and personal reorientation.
The conversation in extracts:
Do you actually know which 3 – 5 competencies characterise your personality and play a major role by achieving your successes?
No? Then you are in good company. Most people can´t name what they are particularly good at. This is due to a typical thinking error: the things we are especially good at are nothing special in our own eyes. I´ll give you some examples:
“It’s nothing special that I can immediately recognize the two number rotations in a 5-page table” is an example of such a thinking error.
“Everyone has a good friend in every department of the company who can be asked for a favor”. Anyone who thinks that does not realize that he or she is particularly good at networking.
I have actually achieved a sudden insight with a coachee recently. I was able to convince her that it is not a matter of course to speak 5 languages fluently. She really was´nt aware of her talent for languages!
It is one of my major fields of expertise to do career coaching and to accompany my coachees during a professional reorientation. In the beginning we always determine their core competencies. There are several reasons why the core competencies are, so to speak, the core of the career coaching.
Reason no. 1: If you know your core competencies, you can use them consciously and communicate them confidently.
Reason no. 2: The more you are able to use your core competencies in a job, the more successful and satisfied you will be. There are even studies that show that people stay healthier and are more stress resistant if their core competencies are required in their job .
Reason no. 3: The exercise I use to determine core competencies is very powerful and absolutely motivating!
This exercise is called “Success Stories”. I provide my coachees with a set of questions as a guideline and ask them to describe three successes using this guide. These do not have to be “world saving projects”. It can be smaller or larger, professional or private achievements. The main and crucial point is that the client feels really satisfied with the outcome, is proud of it. Some people find this exercise very easy, others really have to think about it. Yet without exception, in the end everybody says: It was a good experience to reflect questions like: “what does success actually mean for me? What are my successes? And how did I achieve them?”
I would like to invite my – obviously fictitious – coachee Steven to tell his success story:
Coachee: Well, this success story is about the fact that I integrated two teams against considerable resistance and led them to a great project success. This success has welded the team together perfectly and today the project is still considered a technological milestone!
It’s already been a few years since I had just taken over my first team leadership. The new vice president was restructuring the organization and in this change process my team and a neighbouring team should be merged. The colleague who led the neighbouring team was super experienced and extremely popular with his team. Surprisingly, however, I was given responsibility for the management of the new, merged teams. No one could be more surprised than me! In retrospect, I found out that the new vice president was very convinced of my strategic abilities because he knew me from two really successful project presentations.
Of course I swallowed at first, but then I was happy and immediately saw the opportunities we would have with the combined competencies in the new team. But of course I also saw the resistance. The neighbouring team could absolutely not understand why I as a youngster was given the leading role – and not their beloved Harald.
What did I do? First of all I consulted my mentor, talked to friends and experienced colleagues. They all had interesting suggestions for me and provided me with new ideas and perspectives. Then I developed a very structured approach. The starter was an extremely well-prepared acceptance speech, in which it was important for me to be honest and credible and at the same time positive and convincing. I even rehearsed the speech a few times in advance and it was very well received. Afterwards I had one-on-one interviews with everyone, picked up everybody, did a team workshop – the usual things, but very consistent, structured and with personal commitment.
Through my network I then learned about a technically enormously challenging project – with the highest visibility, but also many uncertainties. I decided that I would try to land the project for my new team – quite a risk, to be honest and I had to acquire a lot of knowledge very quickly …To cut a long story short: In the end, the project became a huge success, which welded the team together and still represents a great reputation for me today.
So, what skills and competencies could I gather from Stevens story?
– Well, Steven, first of all you are very structured. You told your story in a very structures way, I immediately knew what it’s all about; and your plan to integrate the two teams was also very structured
– And you are really strategic, that’s why the vice president gave you the leading role
– You are obviously a good presenter, that´s why the vice president spoted you in the first place; and you did a great job on the project presentation
– You have a stable network and you use your crowed as sparing partners. Via your network you learned about that exciting project and got it into the team
– You spot opportunities and courageously seize them – the management of the new, merged team, the prestige project – just to name two examples
– You are really ambitious and prepare yourself very well …
This feedback goes on for a while in the coaching and I call this “shower of resources”. It’s like a wonderful, refreshing shower to get your strong points and resources reflected!
Steven now tells his second success story. It´s quit technical, so I won´t get into details. The third story is really interesting and completely different: a private success – Steve has organised a surprise party for his best friend’s 40th birthday and managed to have common friends from half around the world on the guest list.
In the end, his core competencies are crystal clear, they are evident in every success story. I invite Steven to present them by himself:
Coachee: I have a high persuasive power through personal credibility, I have courage and a clear opportunity orientation, I approach tasks very strategically and at the same time in a structured way. Furthermore, I characterize with learning agility and willingness to develop and I am an active networker.
Great, and I really do have all these strengths and can prove them, if necessary, through success stories, i.e. through examples from my biography!
Now I`ll give you some background information about Positive Psychology, which is fundamental for my career coaching.
Positive Psychology focuses on research questions like: What makes us happy and content? What lets us stay healthy and stress resilient? Positive Psychology is strongly linked to the name Martin Seligman. Seligman, a famous American psychologist, has been working for quite some time on the following question: how can people be characterized based on their individual strength? He has done a lot of research and developed a so-called character strength test. This is available for free in the internet www.viacharacter.org . You can fill out this test online and receive your results immediately. I recommend the test because it is scientifically based. And it is really exciting for everyone who is interested in their personality or in psychology in general. However, the results are not really linked to business related questions.
In my business coachings I focus on core competencies which are typical for the job-related personality. Those who can use their core competencies feel authentic. “That is really me” is what they would say.
There is a very strong intrinsic motivation to use one’s own core competencies and it is joyful to be able to use them. No wonder that exactly these competencies make us successful!
On the other hand it is absolutely demotivating when your own core competencies are not brought to bear. You cannot be effective in such a situation or position!
Therefore I strongly recommend to work out your core competences by writing and analysing your success stories.
By describing your past successes you are writing the first chapter of your future professional success!