Living the European Dream – in Dublin and beyond

When the opportunity came up to move my career from Malaga to Dublin, I knew I had to take it. It was a difficult decision in some respects – I had a job that I enjoyed in Malaga, and I did make a few jokes about moving from “Spain to the rain”. However, I also knew, as everyone else working in technology in Europe knows, that Dublin is where things happen.

This city is the technology hub for our region. Around this corner, there’s Facebook; go around another and there’s Google; up that street is Twitter; up that one there’s Airbnb. And then, of course, there’s LinkedIn. I knew that I’d be taking my life in exciting new directions when I moved to Dublin. But it was only when I connected with an opportunity at LinkedIn that I realised just how transformative the experience would become.

Busting the Dublin myths

By then, I’d already bust the myths that I had in my head about Dublin as a location. For a start – the rain. Okay, it’s not quite as dry as the south of Spain, but it’s certainly doesn’t feel any wetter than where I grew up in Germany. It’s certainly not stopped me cycling to work pretty much every day for the last three and a half years.

I had expected to find different types of people in Dublin – but the extent of the difference really surprised me. The presence of all of those companies in a city that still feels like a community is a very special combination. It makes me feel like I’m living in a true global village. It’s diverse and dynamic but hugely warm and welcoming as well.

That came home to me when I decided to run my first marathon shortly after arriving in the city. It was a way of showing my commitment to my new home and getting to know the city a little more as well. I’ll never forget the feeling of people lining the street to support myself and the other runners. When we went through the suburbs, there were people offering us bowls of fruits and sweets on their doorsteps. It reflects the attitude of people here – and also how extremely fanatical they are about sport.

How LinkedIn took my Dublin experience to the next level

In no time at all then, I’d started to feel pretty settled in my new city – and very happy with my life working in Europe’s technology hub. I was what we at LinkedIn Talent Solutions call a ‘passive candidate’. I wasn’t actively looking for a new job; I wasn’t frustrated in my current role or desperate for a new challenge. However, when the right opportunity came up I could see immediately why I needed to take it – and that opportunity was LinkedIn.

In some respects, LinkedIn was on my radar already. I knew that it was an exciting business – and one of the reasons for Dublin being such an exciting place for a tech career. However, I hadn’t fully grasped the mission and sense of purpose it had until a recruiter from LinkedIn reached out to me and I began the interview process.

A mission that matters

I’ve always had an interest in the purpose of what I’m doing. I’ve been interested in politics for the last 20 years – and a lot of my passion for social media comes from the way it can be used to get a message out and further a cause. That’s why LinkedIn’s mission to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce really resonated with me. There was an aspect of coming here that felt like taking on a role with an NGO – and that really appealed.

That wasn’t the only LinkedIn difference that I found inspiring. Reid Hoffman’s principle of the ‘Tour of Duty’ was another idea that really resonated with me: it’s the idea of there being a contract between yourself and LinkedIn whereby you both aim to transform each other for the better during your time here; you may not be here for ever, but if you do leave here for another role, you’ll definitely be leaving better equipped than when you arrived.

Transformation with a difference

Transformation is a really important part of LinkedIn’s values – and the focus of that transformation culture is really unique. At other businesses, you’re often encouraged to think about your weaknesses and ways you could improve them; here the focus is firmly on your strengths and how you can leverage them more effectively for both you and the business. It’s very empowering.

I’ve been able to apply the principle of transformation to my approach to leadership. The result I’m most focused on as a manager is being able to develop people for their next play – that’s what really makes me proud. It’s part of how my team motivates me every day. When I come into the office and see people already at their desks, making calls, working at their laptops – the buzz that gives me is very powerful indeed.

My transformation journey at LinkedIn is now bringing my ‘Tour of Duty’ in Dublin to an end. I’m making the move to manage one of our enterprise teams in LinkedIn’s Munich office. I was right in thinking that moving to Dublin would take my career to places I hadn’t imagined – and how, thanks to LinkedIn, it’s led me to a new city, a new stage of development in my career – and more new experiences. To me, being able to open up new horizons like this is part of the European dream – and LinkedIn and Dublin both embody that dream.

Strengths Finder 2.0Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like the approach – getting away focusing on areas of improvement and how to get better with them. It is about finding out everybody’s individual skills. Learning about what you´re good at and being yourself. Too many manager still try to be the best in multiple areas instead of building teams with the best level of all strengths needed to be successful. An easy read for a short flight with a huge impact on your future work. Management must read.

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surprise -people management is about people

Being in a leadership role now for some years in this crazy growing and changing world of technology, I see myself in a position to may give you some advises you can benefit from, when you develop into your next play – a role where you´re not only responsible for yourself anymore. A people manager role. There is this quote saying, that when you develop from being an individual contributor into a management position, it is not about how great you are and perform anymore, it is about how successful you can make your team. I saw people struggling on this. Why? Because by nature sales experts are restless fighters, chasing for their own success and having a high level of ego. I don´t mean that in a negative way, it is one of the skills you do need to have in that business.

So coming from a world where it is all about you and now it is all about your them is not easy. You really have to think it over. Take a step back, collect lots of feedback from your peers and have an idea about what really makes you happy. And I mean that not only in the sense of if it is the right decision for yourself. As I mentioned in the beginning, you take on responsibility for individuals and you absolutely should care. A high performing account manager is not necessarily a good people manager and a development into leadership role may even not be seen as a development because it feels wrong. Actually this is a step backwards.

If you made up your mind I have three advices for you, which worked for me very well.

1. always hire the best team

In my past years I did hundreds of interviews together with management peers. I have often been really surprised about the indifferent way they did their interviews.(Being later on surprised about why their team is not performing) Your success as a manager is the success of your team in total. So simple as that. You should have a high interest in hiring the best people for your specific open roles. Don´t only think about skills, experience and educational background. Consider soft skills, diversity and how the person would fit into your existing social micro cosmos. Be bold to hire people for roles where they maybe not the experts in. They may have an expertise on totally different topics you never have thought about and they have interesting stories to tell. Don´t limit yourself. The best advice I have for you in doing a perfect interview is, ask as much questions you can. Ask what you´re interested in apart from the job qualifications and prepare yourself to ask creative questions based on their background. (I don´t mean those nonsense questions like google used to have – sorry google.

2. be authentic, be interested and show empathy

Now when you manage your team, you´re in a relationship with let´s say 10 people or more. (In my perspective the span of control for a people manager ends with around 10-12 individuals) The fundament of this relationship should be trust and authenticity. You will be together with your team around 10 hours per day. This relationship mustn´t be friendship (sometimes it can be) and you don´t have to leave the professional path, but it requires as much intense work to keep it up like a friendship. What does this mean? It means all those little things which appear not to be important but at the end they make a difference and make you unique as a people manager. As the headline says – your business is now about people. Be interested in them. Don´t arrive at work, sitting at your desk and claim that you´re always open for them if they have any issue. Look at your individuals maybe a minute longer and build up pro-active empathy. What can you read in their faces? Did they have a good weekend? What kind of activity have they done? What kind of activity have you done? Give and take and absorb as much as you can. Don’t always talk about the things which are going well in your life. You can share your challenges as well. And never forget, personnel development is a key factor in performance management. You have to provide the platform for it and should know all the time, by what your individual is being motivated to achieve his next play. Lead by example and prove your authenticity in speaking about your career development as well. This makes you a great people manager.

3.always tell the why

Working in IT, technology, marketing or elsewhere in a fast changing working environment means you have to do quick decisions and have to cope with a fast pace. Your management style has to be versatile and to be adapted to several different situations during one day. Sure – you could be all the time very directive and just tell you team what you want them to do. But this turns out not to be very useful as you will not benefit from the skills and knowledge from it. You must manage your team by objective (MBO) and not by control (MBC). If you have tasks for your team, make your life easier and tell them the sense behind. Why do you ask them to do it – and especially why is it important to you personally? If the spirit is right, every single individual is happy to help you out. If you have considered number one of my top three people manager skills, you are surrounded by bright minds. They will claim and want to know anyway what´s the deeper sense behind. Do concentric briefing and give a holistic explanation. Make sure that everybody understands buys in and accepts it as q common task which is in line with the companies strategy. This leads to the best performance and results.

What you think? Did you have the same experiences with being a manager or being managed?

The Alliance – eine Allianz fürs Leben

Irgendwie kam mir dieser 80iger Jahre commercial spot einer großen Versicherung wieder in den Sinn, als ich dieses Buch las. Nicht nur weil der Buchtitel dieses nahelegt, sondern auch weil eines der mission statements, der Wechsel des Arbeitsverhältnisses von lifelong employment hinzu einer lifelong alliance ist – eine Allianz fürs Leben.
Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha und Chris Yeh liefern ein kurzweiliges Werk ab, das Grundlagen des performance managements vor allem für first line manager aus einem anderen Blickwinkel betrachtet. Nämlich der Herausforderg des talent managements im networked age.
Natürlich wäre eine typisch europäische Schutzreaktion, das Ganze mit dem üblichen über-amerikanisiertem Geschwafel abzutun und nicht ernsthaft in Erwägung zu ziehen.
Doch das wäre falsch. Aufgrund seiner einfachen Struktur und der Einteilung in 3 wichtige Säulen, kann dieses Buch gerade für die Manager, die bisher keine Erfahrung mit amerikanischer Unternehmenskultur unter dem Einfluss von Silicon Valley hatten, sehr hilfreich sein. Und zwar für den HR-Manager sowie für den mittelständischen Unternehmer.

Wenn ein Arbeitsverhältnis beginnt, beginnt es in der Regel auf der Basis von gegenseitigem Misstrauen. Nach dem Vorstellungsgespräch oder währenddessen verspricht der Bewerber 100%ige Loyalität und Kontinuität. Der Arbeitgeber tut es ihm gleich. Resultat des Vertrauensverhältnisses, ist ein Arbeitsvertrag mit einer Probezeit, der dieses Vertrauen von Anfang an in Frage stellt. Das Arbeitnehmer-Arbeitgeber Verhältnis ist zerstört.
The Alliance hinterfragt diese Unehrlichkeit und schlägt als Alternative ein Verhältnis auf Augehöhe vor, in dem beide Parteien von Anfang an eine Allianz bilden, um während der Dauer der Beschäftigung für beide Seiten das bestmögliche Ergebnis zu erzielen.
Für den Arbeitnehmer eine tour of duty in der er sich nach seinen Wünschen beruflich weiterentwickeln kann – und für den Arbeitgeber die bestmögliche Nutzung der Fähigkeiten, des know-hows und seines Netzwerkes (network intelligence) zum beiderseitigen Erfolg.
Aber eben nicht nur so lange wie das Arbeitsverhältnis dauert, (und es ist beiden Seiten von vorne herein klar, dass dieses Arbeitsverhältnis eben nicht lebenslang dauert) sondern auch darüber hinaus durch den Aufbau und die Pflege eines Alumni Netzwerks.
Dieses Buch ist eine gute Ergänzung zu schon bekannten Büchern, die sich mit performance management eingehender beschäftigen wie z.B. Ken Blanchards Situational Leadership. Gerade junior managern würde ich es ans Herz legen, um von Anfang an eine moderne Unternehmenskultur zu schaffen. Aber auch Fachkräfte im Personalwesen bekommen hier gute Erkenntnisse, warum sich der heutige Arbeitsmarkt so stark verändert hat und wie man darauf in Unternehmen reagieren sollte.

Der review auf goodreads ist hier.

Get shi**t done – a review

Get Sh*t Done!: From Spare Room To Boardroom In 1,000 DaysGet Sh*t Done!: From Spare Room To Boardroom In 1,000 Days by Niall Harbison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After finishing this book I am not quite sure what I have read. Is it a guide for future entrepreneurs or will I be promoted to the boards room within 1000 days (like the title is promising?) Certainly not. My intention was to rate a 2 stars instead of 3 because of that. But the fact, that the editor comes up pretty straight forward and mostly honest, (he confessed that even the title is more about marketing then waterproofed content), I give it another star.
The book is more a biography then a reliable source of information. In some stages the editor makes dangerous assumptions according to education, science and arts and is missing a prove of concept in most of his theories apart from his own ones.
Because it is written in a kind of way you would have a chat with your lads about it, makes it a way of entertaining.
Is there any innovational fact or wisdom behind? I would say no. Read Dave Carnegie, Seth Godwin, Ken Blanchard and Keith Ferrazzi and you will probably have a better insight about how to get sh**t done.
Read it while you commute with Dublin Busses, Dart or Luas. You will be quickly done.

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