Welcome to another episode of The Impostor Syndrome Files! Join Kim Meninger and Nichole Harrop as they chat about building confidence in the workplace. Nichole shares her story of how she stayed on track and continued to pursue her goal of advancing to leadership, even after a series of rejections. She also offers practical tips and strategies on networking, communication and career advancement.
Tiptoeing into self-advocacy
Nichole discusses how to confidently share feedback with colleagues to ensure that you are treated with respect. While often intimidating, small steps can increase confidence and ease anxiety.
Nichole shares how she has always followed her instincts when roadblocks get in her way. She tries to see whether these roadblocks are a sign to redirect herself to a different goal. These moments of self-reflection have allowed her to stay in sync with what she’s trying to achieve. More importantly, Nichole shares how she also gives herself space to be vulnerable and acknowledge negative emotions, which allows her to course correct and re-align with her goal.
About Nichole Harrop:
Nichole is a Women’s Leadership + Career Coach, helping women get promoted at work. She has led teams in the corporate world for over 10 years. The world needs more female leaders, and she is here to create them. Nichole helps women to create a foundation of leadership in the workplace using her 5 core areas of coaching including confidence, self-awareness, communication, growth mindset, and networking to help them on their way to getting promoted. Tune into her podcast, Next Level Leaders.
Outline of the Episode:
[01:29] Nichole’s background and advocacy
[05:39] How resilience looked like for Nichole
[11:48] Confidence explained by experience
[19:11] Advice on building confidence
[20:44] Confidence helps build how you want to be treated
[36:18] Navigating a virtual environment
[43:21] Incorporating the habit into your daily life
[47:27] Asking for help is okay
And many more!
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Kim Meninger Welcome, Nichole. I’m really excited. You and I had a conversation a while back for your podcast. And here we are. Now I’m interviewing you. I’m excited to continue the conversation. I’d love to start by asking you to introduce yourself.
Nichole Harrop Yeah, Kim, thanks so much for having me. Our conversation on my podcast was so great. So I know today’s conversation will be equally as amazing. Everyone, I am Nichole Harrop, I am a women’s leadership and career coach. I have been a leader of different teams, I joke about being born and raised in a call center because that really is what I’ve done most of my life. So I’ve led different teams over the past 10 years. And what I absolutely have loved doing during that time is helping women advance their careers, helping them be more confident, and sometimes borrowing my confidence so that they can jump into these new roles or believe in themselves to take on something new. And that is truly what excites me and why I do leadership and career coaching. I also work full time. I have a part-time position as well. I like to stay busy. I have two young daughters two and four. And I live here in Utah. I’ve lived here all of my life and love it here in northern Utah. And yeah, that’s a little bit about me. Well, you really
Kim Meninger are busy. That’s amazing. Um, can you talk a little bit more about your own career journey? You mentioned, I love the expression borrowing your confidence, have you always been confident in your career journey?
Nichole Harrop I haven’t always been confident in my career journey. But I was confident in knowing that I wanted to be a teacher of some sort. And as I was growing up, I thought, oh, maybe I would be a teacher of children in schools. And I quickly realized, okay, that’s not actually what I’m interested in. Me, personally, I also didn’t do very well in a school setting. So I thought, how else could I be a teacher of some sort? And when I started working down here in Salt Lake at a call center, we were in our first week of training, and we had all the different teams coming in and introducing themselves. So I got to know the training team, a team that was referenced as team leaders, kind of those entry-level managers. And it just kind of like hit me that that’s what I was going to do so because they had that, that connection and feeling of okay, this is how I can teach people is by mentoring them, by leading them in this role. So I was competent in that feeling that I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So how did I take those next steps to prepare for that role is really what helped build my competence along the way, because there were certainly a lot of ups and downs, especially at that company, I think I was turned down for a team leader position, at least over eight times, I probably blacked out a few of them. But there were several openings throughout my career and whether it was a mismatch with the leader, whether it was a mismatch in timing, whatever that looks like, I kept getting turned down and I said, okay, I’m going to be upset in this moment. Take, you know, a day to gather my thoughts, and then figure out what I need to do to continue to improve that, like resilience helped build that confidence over time. So no, not, not always. But at least I knew where I wanted to go and what I could start asking for help along the way to get there.
Kim Meninger Just what you said about being turned down eight plus times like I can imagine that there are people listening who have maybe been turned down once or twice and feel like, never going to do that again. Right? It’s like when you touch the stove, and you never touch the stove again, right? Like I’m not putting myself out there anymore. I’m not gonna, I don’t want that rejection. I don’t want to take that risk. How you mentioned, you know, the resilience piece, but how did that actually look like? How did you get yourself to stay motivated to keep putting yourself out there? Yeah,
Nichole Harrop I think a big part of that Kim was, again, that feeling like I’ve always relied heavily on how I feel in my gut, in my core towards things and if I feel like, okay, are all of these rejections telling me to do something else in a re-direction? Is that a different career path? Is that something else? Or is it truly that I am not finding the right fit of that leader because team leaders and managers of this company, like I spent more time with my manager than I, I spent with my spouse because we were together all day, working on different issues with our team planning, goal setting, all that kind of stuff, like you have to have a really great relationship. And so I tried to put it where it wasn’t on me and my skills, it was not a right fit for that particular leader. And that took some self-reflection of, would I have been the right fit? Was I applying because I’m excited about that next step? Or was I applying because this for sure was that next right leader for me? And once I started having those thoughts of making sure that it was an actual fit fell together, I stopped applying for certain leaders, because I started getting to know different leaders within different departments. And I recognized okay, I don’t think I would work as well with this person, because of X, Y, or Z, I think I would do really well with this leader, because of x, y and z. So then I started building more relationships with the leaders that I knew I would be a good fit with, complementary and focused on building those relationships so that when there was an opening, I could be eligible, and that it would be, hopefully, a no brainer to pick me. But I’m having those moments of that self-reflection, having a moment to feel my feelings. I certainly welcome vulnerabilities and emotions in the right place, you know, so when I got turned down, it hurt. You know, I put a lot of effort into that. And, you know, putting yourself out there, it’s a vulnerable place to be. And so I would take a moment, I’d asked my boss at the time, hey, can I take you know, 20 minutes and go sit in my car and cry, you know, call my husband or whatever that might have been? Because I needed to feel and go through the motions, and then be able to ask for feedback and say, okay, what are things that they’re seeing that maybe are perceptions? Maybe it’s realities, what could I do, do better, and because I, you know, kept standing up after getting knocked down, it made me stronger, and helped me get ready for the right fit eventually. And it was, it all made sense when it actually happened.
Kim Meninger There’s so much about what you’re saying that I love. And I really want to emphasize this point about looking at the fuller picture and recognizing that it’s not a fit because I think our temptation or our natural reflexive response, sometimes is to say, it must be me, there must be something wrong with me. And while I think it’s noble for us to always be asking how we can do better, and how can I grow? How can I develop? It’s really important that we look at that full picture and recognize where there simply isn’t a fit, and had you had the opportunity and been able to move forward with let’s say, one of those managers, that wasn’t a good fit for you, what kind of experience would that have been right? Like, would that have been what you actually wanted? And so just being able to create a little bit of distance between the situation and your own self-worth, so to speak, or how you see yourself is so important because there’s so many factors involved in these decisions.
Nichole Harrop Yeah, I often say my mantra that I’ve developed over my career is if it’s meant for me, it will be. And I say that as a reassuring thing, because you’re right, it’s not all, you know, woe is me, what did I do wrong? What could I do better? Of course, those are important parts of it. But there are certain things that aren’t meant for us. And even though like I talk to my clients all the time on, on my podcast about how when I was looking for a job, almost this same time last year, I was getting turned down for positions before even getting an initial phone screen, and I help people write resumes, I help people interview prep, I’ve hosted over 500 interviews myself, so like, I feel pretty confident in the overall process because I’ve been so heavily involved in it. And I still get turned down, I still get told no, I still get told I’m not a right fit. And that for me, instead of saying, oh, why am I not a right fit for them? I recognize that I’m not going to see that full picture, like you mentioned, that they actually aren’t a right fit for me and my skill set.
Kim Meninger Yeah, that’s such an empowering way to think about it. And in the absence of any other information, that’s a reasonable assumption, right? Like we will tend to go to the darkest places in our minds, but more often than not, there are a lot of talented people out there. I am sure you could have done any of those jobs really well, but there were likely situational factors that made it not the right fit for you, either one of you. And so I think that’s a really important mindset shift, especially for people who are actively in transition right now and are going through the pain and struggle of experiencing those kinds of rejections to remind yourself that it’s, you’re not the only variable in the equation. Exactly. So I know you mentioned doing women’s leadership coaching as well. What are the kinds of themes that you see today with the people that you’re talking to?
Nichole Harrop Yeah, a lot of it is that first step of confidence. So I have five different pillars that I focus on within my leadership coaching as a whole. And of course, there are a slew of different things that sneak in, but I kind of go in a way of confidence. First and foremost, is the biggest thing. Because if you don’t have confidence, you don’t have that self-confidence, you are not willing to put yourself out there, you’re not willing to see or recognize the great things that you have done. How do we have you start working on self-awareness or moving on to that next step of communication, because communication may not be very great if your confidence is also not great. And same with that self-awareness. So I feel like the way I’ve set it up is kind of in a natural progression, that the biggest thing to focus on, first and foremost is that confidence piece and recognizing your value, recognizing your worth, and what you have to bring to your employer or to your customers, or whatever that looks like, and then gradually escalating to these other areas. As far as networking, how do you network, if you have no confidence, and may come off really awkward? Or it may come off in a way that you’re like, oh, my gosh, that was so embarrassing. We’ve all had those moments. And it’s probably coming from that lack of confidence in that initial approach. Same with growth mindset is the final focus, growth mindset and networking kind of hand in hand. How do you think bigger for yourself? And how do you think that you’re worthy of additional things in this lifetime? If you don’t have that foundation of confidence?
Kim Meninger I could not agree with you more. I think confidence is foundational to everything else that I help people with what, you know, obviously, we’re here. Everything ties back to impostor syndrome in my conversations. What are some of the, the biggest barriers to confidence from your perspective?
Nichole Harrop Yeah, I feel like with women, especially feeling like they maybe don’t have a voice or not sure how to share their voice. Maybe they’ve tried to share their thoughts or an opinion in a meeting and it didn’t go well. So being like, oh, see, that’s proof that I can’t share my opinion, or I can’t do X, Y, or Z, because they put themselves out there and it wasn’t received. Well, I see that a lot in my own workplaces that I work in now. And in previous workplaces, seeing women hold themselves to such a higher standard. And thinking of themselves or that instance as defining them as a failure, or that was a failure versus that just didn’t go well. And I’m going to do better next time. And again, having that self-awareness, some of that reflection of, okay, why wasn’t it received well? Was it, did I cut someone off when I started sharing my opinion? So initially, it came on as a threat. Was it something else that I was saying in a certain way, or tone that came off as more aggressive or anything like that having some of that reflection can certainly help. Because when you are taking a risk, you know, you’re putting yourself out there, and sometimes we are so much harder on ourselves than saying, oh, it didn’t go well. I’m going to try again next time. And that’s what a lot of our male counterparts will try and I that I think that’s amazing that they’re willing to say, hey, that didn’t work. I’m going to try something else. Where as women, it seems that the theme is more often that we prepare a lot kind of in the background, and then we’re like, okay, this is our grand moment. Okay, it didn’t go well. I’m no longer going to keep trying or this was the proof that I shouldn’t keep going forward. So kind of switching that around I think is most helpful in those situations is figuring out how can I continue to build my confidence by having some of that reflection after a meeting or whatever that might look like?
Kim Meninger Yeah, it’s so interesting what you’re saying too, because I’m going back in my mind to that touching the stove piece, right? If you’ve ever shared an idea, if you’ve ever mustered up the courage to do something that felt like a risk to you, and it didn’t go well, then it’s really hard to do it again. And I think that, like you said, women and… men and women are conditioned differently. So if we do that, we are much less likely to try it again, the men, they just kind of let things roll, they just have different triggers than we do. And so it’s really, really hard if you work in an environment where there is a lot of toxicity or just sort of dysfunctional kinds of behaviors because again, we tend to make that about ourselves. And so if you have an unsupportive manager, or if you work in an environment where you repeatedly get interrupted, or people aren’t respectful to one another, then you can easily experience what we’re talking about and conclude that, oh, well, I’m not worthy of sharing my idea when it’s really a function of the environment. And that’s something that without the kind of self-reflection that you’re talking about, or the, the ability to contextualize, you will always make it about you.
Nichole Harrop Yeah, and I love what you’re saying there. And it reminds me that I often tell clients, especially when talking about confidence, impostor syndrome, speaking up in meetings, for example, having a voice in whatever context that might be, is recognizing the traits of the leaders who do this well. When a meeting is getting out of hand, how does a great leader that you’ve witnessed bring things back? How does a leader handle when they are getting interrupted? What language are they using? How are they getting to a place where they are able to finish what they were saying? And then building those relationships with other people, if you notice, you’re constantly cut off. And some of these could be your, your close coworkers. You could say, hey, after a meeting, are you open to some feedback? I always like to invite the option to say no. And they’ll say, Yeah, what’s up, and I say, hey, so I’ve recognized in some of our recent meetings, that when I go to speak, I’m glad you’re so comfortable with me. But it does feel like you’re cutting me off at certain points where I’m unable to finish my sentence or my thought before you start chiming in. I was wondering if in future meetings, you could be more mindful of when you’re doing that, so that I can finish what I’m saying. Because I certainly value what you have to say as well. And I hope that we can always make time for everyone to share their opinion, without feeling like it’s so time constricted, that we have to cut other people off in order to have something to say.
Kim Meninger Wow, I can imagine that there are some people listening that are thinking, I will never say that. That’s such a scary thing. Because that, I think, that goes into the communication piece, which I also, also think of is tied in somewhat to conflict management and self-advocacy. There’s a lot of different layers to what you’re describing. And not everybody has either built those tools or you know, grew up… And sometimes there may be cultural factors or societal factors that make it really difficult to have that conversation. What advice you have for people who are thinking, oh, my gosh, I can’t imagine ever saying that to someone?
Nichole Harrop Yeah, it’s and I’m so glad that you asked that. Because it can feel really scary. I still get a little nervous when I’m approaching someone with feedback. And I’ve had practice with this for years and years, I think the biggest thing is coming back to those relationships. If you don’t have a good relationship with this coworker, I would figure out how to approach that with maybe it’s your leader. So let’s say I’m an entry-level team member, I have another entry-level team member who cuts me off a lot in conversations, but I’m not very close with them. So what I would do in that situation is talk to my leader, whether that’s, you know, a direct supervisor, that next level up and say, hey, I’ve, I’ve recognized in some of these meetings that this person is speaking over me quite a bit. I’m not very close with them as far as like building a relationship with them so far. I’m not sure how to approach how to have that conversation. And maybe they volunteer to do that for you and say, oh, I’ve also recognized that. Maybe they didn’t, so they’re going to be more mindful and maybe they say in future meetings, that they’ll advocate for you. So finding those advocates outside of yourself is also helpful. And if it’s someone that you are comfortable with, think of a sibling and or a spouse we’re much quicker to point out excuse me, like you cut me off. I need to finish my sentence or you get upset or mad. What? Right? Because we’re so comfortable. There’s those different levels of comfort, where, you know, with my sisters, I could easily say I wasn’t done talking and they would instantly apologize. Okay, sorry, go ahead. Where I would not say that to like a CEO of a company that I was in a meeting with for the second time in my life. So it’s that self-awareness piece that comes in with the communication, the self-advocacy, and you know, having those conversations, building relationships, I think is the biggest thing that has helped serve me throughout my career is caring about people outside of the workplace, and building those relationships, caring about what they are doing over the weekend, what fun things do they have coming up? What do they like to do for fun, building those relationships with the people I work with, so that my day goes by faster anyway. And then I figure out how I can serve them and vice versa. But those are the people who when I think about having these conversations, I would want them to tell me if I was doing something that where they felt disrespected, or that they weren’t able to say what they needed to say, because I was speaking over them. So kind of flipping the script. And would you want to hear that, and how would you want to be approached? And one of the easiest ways I think is asking, hey, are you open to some feedback? I send a Slack message of, you know, virtual messaging, and say, are you open to some feedback? They say sure, what’s up? And then they’re freaking out because what is she gonna say? And I’ll say something like, did you intend to cut me off when we were talking about this subject? I was talking about this thing. And I felt like I didn’t get out what I needed to say before you jumped into share your opinion. Was it your intention to speak over me in that moment? So then you’re saying, was it intentional? Did you mean to do that? Because most often, they’re gonna say, oh, my gosh, no, that wasn’t my intention at all. I was really excited about the topic, and you think about talking with your friends. And then you’re like, how did we get over here? We started over here. I don’t even think you answered the question that we were initially talking about, right. So in our own conversations, we tend to jump all over the place, and sometimes aren’t aware of how we got there as well. So asking that intention piece, so that they can also be more mindful about it in the future. And that can be one of those first steps of lightly, you know, stepping into saying, hey, I didn’t really appreciate that you were speaking over me in that meeting.
Kim Meninger I love that. I think that’s such a great way to, you know, tiptoe into greater self-advocacy, really establishing how you want to be treated. And that’s important to our overall development as leaders within the workplace because it’s really easy to, once you let something like that go, then you start to let other things go. And it becomes sort of cumulative. And so mustering up the courage, no matter how scary it might feel, to have that initial conversation is really, it’s a muscle that I think it will build over time and will be really useful.
Nichole Harrop Yeah, and I, I really learned through all my struggles, because trust me, it was never like this beautiful pathway of leading to my, you know, success. I stumbled a lot along the way, I had plenty of times where I had conversations with my boss, where he was like, hey, you got a little bit, you know, heated in that conversation. And, you know, he’s looking out for me and my best interest. So he’s saying how that could be perceived and whatnot. But I think it’s important to recognize how you want to be seen as a leader amongst your peers, and kind of commanding some of that respect in a respectful way. So you’re saying, I don’t want to be walked all over. So you’re saying how you want to be communicated with or, in this example, you don’t want people to talk over you. So you’re going to kindly approach that in however way you feel is best for yourself. But when you’re doing that, you’re setting that kind of standard of not being passive-aggressive, because I’ve done that in my career. And it didn’t serve me well, because it’s very confusing. Were you actually mad or are you not? I’m confused. So I try to be very direct and specific. And some people say, oh, that’s really blunt, and that’s overwhelming or that’s a law or whatever that might be, but I feel if I’m communicating in a kind way, how I want to be, you know, spoken to or communicated with or what have you, just communicating your needs and your wants and being respected. Hey, how would you like to be approached in these situations? If this does happen again, if you are, you know, for the example we’ve been using, if you are speaking over me in a meeting, how would you like me to give you feedback in the future, so that they can be aware and that you’re setting that next step of, okay, if it happens again, this is how we can communicate about it. So that it’s not an awkward thing, it’s not an awkward conversation, you don’t feel like you’re, you know, smacking them on the hand or something. It’s that respectful communication of making sure that both of you are feeling heard and respected within those meetings.
Kim Meninger And I really want to come back to where you started with the importance of relationships too, because I think this is a much easier conversation to your point, if you have a relationship with somebody. When there is not a whole lot of connection there, or it’s all business, it’s really hard to try to relate to somebody on this level. And I know that relationships in the workplace come more naturally to some than others. I, personally, I think that women often struggle in a couple areas. Number one is this fear or feeling that I don’t necessarily have something of value to bring to this person. And so till I feel like I have something really important to share with them or to offer to them, I’m not going to reach out because again, that, that fear of rejection. And then the other piece, I think sometimes too, is we’re really good at friendships, we’re not necessarily as good at building more strategic types of business relationships, especially with people that we don’t necessarily like, or don’t think we can fully trust. And so I often joke that, you know, we have the same criteria for our personal friendships as we do for our work relationships. And there’s sort of this, if I don’t want to invite them over to my house after work, then I don’t want to voluntarily spend any time with them. And that’s unfortunately, not how the workplace works. We have to get comfortable being uncomfortable with people that we don’t necessarily like or would otherwise choose not to spend time with. So do you have thoughts on the relationship side?
Nichole Harrop Yes, yes. So many thoughts. And I wrote some things down. So the value exchange, again, going back to self-worth, especially surrounded around women, I would say, and you’re never going to know how you can offer someone value if you don’t start first having the conversations. Not everyone on LinkedIn is out there, you know, saying, hey, I need this. Can you help me? Sure, there is some of that, especially with people looking for new jobs, new positions, what have you, which is really great, but you don’t see general asks of, hey, I’d love to learn more about this program, who has experienced and wants to mentor me, basically, that doesn’t always work out. Because there isn’t that relationship piece connecting them. Sure, there might be someone that wants to sell them a service or something like that, but then it begins to be maybe not as genuine of that connection. So I have always approached that value exchange is building the relationships from the basics of caring about them. Like, I said, if they’re going on a vacation, when they come back, Hey, how was it? Like, what was your favorite thing? What did you enjoy most about your trip? Instead of the basics of like, how was your weekend? Good, good, real basic, you don’t get much of value out of that. So maybe what was a high or what was the low over your weekend, or what was one of your favorite memories that you built with your family while you were on this vacation, and you’re showing that you truly care about these people that you’re building those relationships with. Now, this can’t happen with every single interaction that you have, because there’s probably not enough time in the day to build these super deep connections with people. However, I definitely recommend building these within your team. So the people who are to the side of you, the team members who you could potentially one day lead, build relationships with these people because that’s one thing that served me well was when I was preparing for leadership. I was meeting with team members, I was mentoring them on different things. I was showing them how I knew where different information was stored. And I was seen as a leader amongst my peers before I became that with my title. So that can be helpful as building those relationships. And they might and you might eventually drop in Hey, you know, how are you feeling about work? Is there any areas that you’re struggling with or that you’d want to learn more about or be trained in or cross-train with different departments and If they say, Oh yeah, I’d love to learn more about the product team and how you know, new products are thought about or whatever that might be, you might not have the answer. But what you could do is then go to your leader or even talk to them. Have you talked to our leader? Have you talked to anyone else on the team to see if they’ve done that? You’re giving them options, which aren’t your own like knowledge or understanding, or maybe things that you already have in your wheelhouse, you’re sharing opportunities for them to, oh, go talk to my manager, oh, maybe I could even talk to the head of product, what would that look like, and getting connected through your leader or other people within the department because that is where you start creating the value. I pride myself on not knowing all of the things. I mean, I love to be able to be that person. But when I don’t, I pride myself in the connections that I make, because I know who to go to for that information. I never want to be the only person with the information because to me, that’s not the kind of leader I’ve ever wanted to be. I want to be an empowering leader, I want to be someone who has resources to share the greater knowledge. So I say, Oh, well, have you thought about this? Have you thought about that, and doing that for yourself as well. So there’s that value exchange piece. And then friendships versus working relationships? 100% I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. And I’m okay with that. And I don’t want to be everyone’s cup of tea, because that means I’m probably not sharing who I truly am at my core often enough, if people are like, oh, yeah, I love her. What do you love about her, and they’re like, oh, like, she’s great. But it’s probably because I’m not sharing my opinion enough. And I have polarizing opinions in the workplace. There are some times where me and my own bosses can get a little heated in discussions because I am trying to advocate for something that they say isn’t going to happen. And so I will get passionate about those kinds of things. And I know that that can ruffle feathers in a way if I don’t have that foundation, foundation of a relationship. But there are certainly people who I have not cared to work with based on their own work ethic, based on the way they treat their employees, certain things like that, where I know, if I’m working on a project with them, they aren’t going to do any of the work. But if I’m doing it, they’re also going to take the same amount of credit, as if they were right next to my side. And so it’s learning those relationships and setting boundaries and being okay with not being, not connecting with every single person. But when I have those relationships, I try to find ways that we can connect because if I’m going to be working with these people, I need to have some sort of foundation. So that’s helpful for me to say, like, I know, I have to like something about them at some point. So I know, I know, we’ll find common ground somewhere. And there’s tons of people who I like outside of the workplace, who I never got along with inside of the corporate world. And that’s okay, too.
Kim Meninger Yeah, oh, gosh, so many great things there. I want to go back and just say how much I appreciate your talking about building relationships with your peers, and how helpful that is, if you want to advance to a leadership role. I often give similar advice. And I think that if you don’t have a reputation for having good relationships with your peers, or there’s some friction there, that, that could be a sticking point for people who are making the decision about whether or not to elevate you into a position that has leadership over those individuals because it will be really hard for you to get things done with them if they don’t see you as a credible leader. So first and foremost, if you have aspirations of becoming a manager, really investing in peer relationships is important. The other piece of that is you don’t know when one of them is going to become your manager. You don’t know if suddenly you’re going to be reporting to them. And so that’s really important too to understand them well, to have a good relationships, because the dynamic might change at some point. And, you know, I love what you say too about the common ground piece. I think that’s really important is to recognize that people are different from us, there are people who are annoying to us because they have different values than we do, because they have different life experiences than we do. Maybe they have different struggles that we’re, you know, the person that we see as lazy, maybe somebody who’s just really stressed out at home and isn’t safe talking to us about that. So I think that’s a really important piece, too, is to just kind of think about what would allow us to connect, even if we don’t become best friends, what would allow us to work together as comfortably and effectively as possible. Exactly. Do you have thoughts on, because I know that people will always ask me this nowadays of yeah, but what about making connections in a virtual environment? Like, what if I can’t see them in person? Yeah.
Nichole Harrop So there’s that level of connecting with the people who you work with. And I work for a mall, I’ve worked remote for the last few years. And that does take some additional effort because you don’t have the leisure to see them right next to you. And you overhear them talking about another thing, like maybe it’s a different vacation they went on, oh, I’ve also been there, what did you like about this place that we now know we have in common, you’re not gonna have the luxury to hear that. So you’re gonna have to make additional effort. And that is something that not a lot of people do proactively because they’re busy in their day-to-day, they’re, you know, answering phone calls, or whatever it might be at that entry-level. That’s what I focus on a lot with the people who I help coach are those entry level people who want to become leaders eventually, someday. But yeah, that’s a lot of the conversations in whatever group messaging platform that you have, maybe it’s teams, maybe it’s something like Slack, figuring out a way to build those connections with the people that you are working with a big part of that is having your camera on in meetings. At my workplace, I always have it on and there are some meetings where I am the only one with my camera on and it can be a little bit awkward because I’m like, I can’t see your reactions, I can’t read your, your, your cues, like I love to be able to see that body language. But I want people to know I am present I am in this meeting. You know, maybe I am like doing my dishes. If I’m doing a one-on-one with one of my team members. And I have any in lunch, sometimes I have my computer and I’m putting together a sandwich. And we’re chit-chatting, because that’s real life. And I want to show my team members that I’m okay with them having real life too, I don’t expect them to be all put together all the time right in front of their computer 24/7. So it’s kind of that give and take. And I feel like when I do that, as their leader, they feel like okay, I can, you know, lean into some of that as well. I don’t have to, you know, be sitting at my computer and not leave to go grab a coffee or to grab a snack or something, I’ll proactively tell my team, like, please take an extra, you know, 15 minutes to yourself to go like sit and enjoy, like go sit in the window and like enjoy the sun coming in or something simple like that because I want to have that freedom to do that as well. When it comes to networking with people outside of the workplace, I set a very low like barrier. For me, I’m like an all-or-nothing type of person. So I’ll say 2 people per week, I’ll set a calendar reminder of I’ll say like LinkedIn networking and schedule it for like 20 minutes, maybe it’s even 15 minutes, I don’t have that be an ongoing recurrence. And I will say, I’ll go find people that I like on LinkedIn, who are in either similar roles, the easiest connection is people in your similar role. So if you are like me, the people I lead our customer service representatives. And so I could go in to LinkedIn and find any company. So what company do you think is cool, doing cool things out there, go search that company name, and filter by customer service rep or whatever their team, like, they might have a different type of name. But you’ll go find that and you’ll connect with people and say something very similar. And I have a podcast episode you can check out with these as well is having a message saying hey, I am also a customer service rep for this company. And I’d love to get to know more people who are in similar type roles as me. So I can understand, really like what the experience is for you and how that relates to my current company. And honestly, I’d love to, you know, expand my network of people who are really great to have within my own network. So you’re sending an initial message, I always say to do the Connect and then select add a note. It’s you don’t have to have any paid membership to do that. You’re just clicking connect and a note and that’s where you’re saying, Hey, we have similar titles. I love to get to know more people in these types of roles. It’s kind of like, these days on you know, any social media platform when you have an unread message you’re like great what someone trying to sell me right now. So when you click on those and you see someone who’s in another similar role is you you’re like, Oh, this is great. I would love to get to know someone else a little bit better. And you can easily ask a question of, you know, I see that you’ve been there for two years, what has been something in the last six months that has been really exciting for you in your role or something like that, that you’re getting. You’re asking them a question about themselves. Because some people even when I reach out, they’ll accept my message, but they won’t respond. So then I’ll go and send another message that, you know, thanks so much for connecting, I’d love to get to know more about you and ask them an open-ended question that’s geared towards them. Because it’s easy to talk about ourselves before we recognize like, okay, let’s test the waters. And then we can talk about, you know, whatever it might be. But that’s a great opportunity for you to say like, you know, what, what are other opportunities out there? Are you open to changing positions? Are you working for a well-established company who’s been around for 20 plus years, and you’re looking to potentially get involved in a startup? What does that look like? What has their experience been? I feel like so often in the interview process, we don’t look for jobs until we need one. And then we try to fit what they want, versus making sure that’s reciprocal. And so then we get these jobs. And we’re like, oh, my gosh, this what, why am I here? I don’t even like what I’m doing. Like, why did I and then we stay because we think we need to stick it out for a certain amount of time. Because we don’t want to be considered a job hopper and all that kind of stuff. And then you’re like miserable for the next year and a half or so because then when you start looking for new jobs, it’s not ideal timing. And so it can just be really messy. And the easiest thing you can do to combat that is to start asking questions, so that you know companies that you would be interested in applying for, and find that next position before you actually have to by being laid off, or whatever that situation might be.
Kim Meninger That’s such a powerful tip. I think you’re so right about that. I, I think although I know, it’s easier said than done, because people are busy. And not everyone is comfortable with this. I just think if you can find a way to work this into your everyday routine, treat it as part of your job description, just like you wouldn’t not show up at your staff meeting, right? Don’t neglect your network. And the kinds of conversations are so powerful because you get introduced to opportunities you would likely never otherwise, come across. You get information from people, you get insights from people, we only know what we know, we don’t know what we don’t know. And the ability to broaden our horizons, bring people internally or externally into a conversation about where we are and what we want. And doing that from a place of personalized connection just gives us so many more opportunities to find the right fit, that’s going to be much more likely, like you said, you’re much more likely to find something that works for you than if you feel like you have to, in a desperate moment, force-fit yourself into someone else’s job description.
Nichole Harrop Yeah, and when you’re doing that proactive networking and connecting, you’re learning, hey, what kind of tools do you use? Do you, how many like programs are you using? When I worked for a well-established company, and I say that when I mean, like sometimes they’re very outdated and not with the times, like we had probably 20 programs that we were actively using to go do different things. What are they doing to streamline processes? Oh, you work out of six? Like, how does that work? Like I’d love to learn more about whatever program, maybe it’s a CRM, different software that you’re not familiar with. But what if you go apply at some point, and they’re like, oh, we want someone who will, you know, know, Salesforce, or Zendesk, or whatever it might be. You’re like, I know that because I, I’ve networked with people, and you know, maybe you have a video chat someday and say, hey, I’d love for you to like walk me through what this looks like for you when you’re working with a program so that when I go to apply for other places, I can be more confident in the programs that they use. And then that also helps you because if there is an open position for their company, not only are they referring you and feel confident about that, they could potentially get a referral bonus, which is always great. And then they help you in return and they can give you help with interview prep, they can paint a picture because what makes you nervous in an interview process is you don’t know what’s coming next and no one likes being in that spot. So when they say hey, first you’re going to talk with so and so and then it would progress here and these are the types of questions that they would ask. You know, you could ask something like do they ever ask anything kind of like, like out of the box, like, what animal are you or something like that some companies will ask. And so it’s good to know those in advance. And then also obviously, like practicing a lot of the general questions, speaking them out loud, I do that a lot in my car. When I’m driving somewhere, I’ll be like, oh, let’s practice this interview question. Because even though I do it a lot, when I’m put on the spot, it’s a different kind of situation where I’m like, okay, I need to make sure I’m not using filler words, I need to be precise, I need to be specific, and all that kind of stuff. So I’ll do that as something for fun for me to fill some time too.
Kim Meninger I love that. And everything that you’re talking about, you know, going back to the beginning all of these different tips and tools that you’ve shared with us all tie back to that foundational level of confidence, right? Because you have to believe in yourself before you can go out there and practice some of these things that you have shared with us. And I feel like this conversation has given some really practical tips for people. I’m so grateful that you were willing to spend time and share that. As we are wrapping up today, do you have any final thoughts that you want to share?
Nichole Harrop I think if you’re struggling with confidence, and you think, well, you know, they say have a foundation of confidence, well, I don’t have that, then what? Ask your peers, ask your closest friends or family members, what things they perceive that you are good at? What strengths do you have within the workforce? Borrowing that, like I said, that borrowed confidence is sometimes really helpful, because when we hear those good things that aren’t often talked about proactively enough, I feel like I try to give out those compliments. So people can, can be like, oh, I really am good at X, Y or Z thing. So asking people about that feedback, ways that you, things that you do well, so that you can start leaning into that, okay, is that a strength? I never knew that I was really good at process improvement until I had several people say that as feedback. And now I say that that’s one of my superpowers is being able to take a process as it is and make it even better. So doing something like that, as well as leaning into maybe it’s like an Enneagram assessment or the Strengths Finder, the Gallup Strengths Finder, that can be really helpful to start doing some self-exploration, maybe it’s Myers-Briggs. You can look into those things to say what are my strengths, based on how I’m answering these questions? And how can I lean into those things that they are saying are my strengths and start to believe more of that, instead of letting that self-doubt or impostor syndrome start to sneak in?
Kim Meninger Yeah, those are such great tips. Thank you so much, Nichole. Where can people find you?
Nichole Harrop Sure. I am on LinkedIn, you can search my name Nichole Harrop. You can find me on Instagram. Same thing at Nichole Harrop. My website is probably the easiest way to find different avenues, whether that’s my podcast or different ways to connect with me. So it’s www.Nicholeharrop.com.
Kim Meninger And all of those links will be in the show notes for anybody who is interested. And thanks again, Nichole. It was such a pleasure to talk to you. I will just add quickly that you and I met through social media networking because we’re both part of the same podcast accelerator program and you reached out to me on Facebook at the same time I reached out to you on LinkedIn. And the rest is history. So I think we are living proof that it works.
Nichole Harrop Exactly. Yes. Get out there, start connecting with people and you never know where it will bring you.
Kim Meninger Exactly. Thanks again, Nichole. Appreciate it.
Nichole Harrop Thanks, Kim.