Monday, January 26, 2015

What does the weather report have to do with career success?

Fortune 500’s are so large they contain their own weather systems. Beautiful sunsets and raging storms will come from all corners of the company. Keep up to date on the going ons at your current employer. Every company has habits which make it easier to predict when divisions will expand, be sold off, or combined. Take note of who comes out ahead in these situations and who loses. Make sure you take the winning position, so when the weather hits, the outcome is in your favor.

There are many ways to get corporate weather reports. My favorite and I think also the most entertaining method is to find the old guru who seems to know everybody in the company. Go to lunch with the guru every chance you get. Not only will the guru tell great stories, but you’ll also get insights into the health of the company and rumors of company changes. Identifying the guru is critical and will take some trial and error. If the guru’s information turns out to be correct more often than not, then you are in good company.

Another way I check the corporate weather reports is to devour every corporate communication and CEO speech. I like to block out an afternoon and consume everything at once. I read the quarter’s communications, watch the C-suite speeches and check the company’s social media feeds. When I read it all in a single sitting it is easy to connect the dots of the common messages and to gauge the optimism or fear presented in the communications. This is a bit of detective work and will become more useful with practice. After I consume all the communications I make a few predictions for the next quarter and then check how correct I was. Over time I have gotten pretty good and reading what’s not being said.

Lastly I read industry journals and blogs. These are external sources and not always as reliable, but they provide valuable insight into the larger ecosystem the corporation belongs to. Knowing that the entire industry is doing great is powerful information to use when negotiating a raise. Also knowing that the entire industry’s outlook isn’t so great can be valuable information for determining if it might be the right time to move on.

- Be informed!