Activating the best of you!

Dear Readers,

I just have to share this current scenario with you. Last week one of my career coaching  clients, in search of new and better employment, received a good job offer. It was good, but not great. But he didn’t want to risk losing the offer and was afraid that if he negotiated, they might rescind the offer.

So for all of you in that situation, please heed these three secrets of salary negotiation. Remember that knowledge=power!

The following is vital information for you to have, to practice and to use:
1) Organizations do expect you to negotiate! When they extend an offer to you, they typically offer a salary and package based on the low end of the range for that position. In other words, they do expect you to ask for more! A reasonable amount, that is. For instance, this client was offered $95k. He went back and asked for $110k.
So he asked for about 10% more, which is reasonable. And the company came back with a new offer of $105.

2) Tie your requests to supportive facts: When my client went back to negotiate I had him tie his recent accomplishments and proven impact and contributions to the request. He had had three winning client proposals in the last 12 months and he had earned an additional industry credential, and had spoken at an industry event. I coached him to share those assets and accomplishments, and to say how he plans to contribute to the company’s business momentum with his skills and talents.

3) Ask for other things, not just salary: My client also asked for an additional paid week of vacation. At this current company, after five years of employment, he now had 3 weeks paid vacation. This new company offered him only two and he asked them to match the extra week. He got it! Additionally, because he was currently employed I suggested he ask for a sign-on bonus to incentivise him to make the move. He asked for one and his new offer letter included a $5 sign on bonus!

In total, this client now has a $20k richer offer than before. He moved from $95 to $105 in salary, which is $10k more. Then, he negotiated for an extra week vacation worth around $5k. And finally, a $5k sign-on bonus. That’s a total of $20k more just for asking. And it was a fairly low risk as as well.

Onward to your successful negotiations!!

NOTE: There is a lot more to be said on the topic of salary negotiations. I welcome your questions in that area, and any other career related questions you have. I very much welcome a dialogue with you. Please send your questions to me at:  [email protected]


Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,

I’ve just accepted my first role as a manager after years of being

an individual contributor . Any tips on how to do a great job?

How do I best on-board my new employees for a great working relationship?

Are there best practices in bringing out the best in people?

Thank you,


Dear Andrea,

Yes, there really are strategies (almost) guaranteed to make you a great manager!

In working with hundreds of clients and colleagues over many years, sitting on both sides of the table myself, and hearing all kinds of stories, behaviors and situations as a coach, I’ve boiled it down to 6 best management practices. If you want to build a solid relationship of trust and integrity, get the best performance from your people, and have the most enjoyment along the way, here you go. From the beginning:



Everyone likes to feel welcomed to their new work environment.
Bring your employees on-board with a strong welcome and introduction.
Invite them to a team meeting where you introduce them, their background and their
their area of expertise.  Show that you know their background and what they have to offer.

The intent is to make them feel like a valued part of the team and begin to get to know the other team members.

Bonus Step:

New employees often appreciate getting a ‘buddy’–someone to go to lunch with at the beginning
and someone to show them ‘the ropes’. This is something most employees appreciate.


Have a one-on-one with your new employee where you explain the big picture mission of the company or organization. Be clear on how their work contributes to the mission. Explain the role of others in their department and other functions in the company.

Bonus Step:

Introduce your new employee to other key people in the company, outside of your own department. Proudly introduce them to your peers as well. Show that you are starting to build their visibility.


Let the employee know their specific goals and objectives and  what success measures will be used to evaluate them. Give examples.  Explain how past employees have been successful with you.  Be honest. Ask them their preferred style and to define past work environments that have brought out the best in them.
Be clear on when and how performance reviews are given.  Put any promises and performance goals in writing.

Bonus Step:

Show them the performance review  worksheet and or framework and have a discussion about how you view the various categories. Ask for their thoughts and questions to clarify requirements and expectations.


Everyone wants to be respected and listened to. Make sure to truly listen to your employee.
Ask them how they are doing, and respond to both their emotional and factual content.
Always show them respect and consideration in front of others. Save any negative feedback for private meetings. Conversely, share any and all positive feedback with others in earshot! Positive feedback goes a long way to ensuring extra energy and commitment.

Bonus Step:

Periodically ask employee for feedback on how you are doing in showing respect and listening.
Share any concerns you have with them in those areas, too. Keep the relationship real and share.  Tell them more about your background, interests and perspectives on the job, the company and your role. Ask them more about their background and aspirations.


Discuss how often the two of you will meet. Set up a plan for the employee to provide you with status reports. Include the agreed upon goals and objectives and how their performance is meeting those goals. Ask the employee to red flag any problems as soon as they occur, before they might escalate. Nip problems in the bud with good communications.

Bonus Step:

Acknowledge and share when you notice employees are doing something particularly well. In writing or verbally, mention it to them and to other relevant colleagues and managers in the company. Share the news with your manager and show that you are giving credit where credit is due. Show that you care about their reputation.

That effort will go a long way in ensuring productivity and peak performance!


Discuss the employee’s goals and aspirations. Encourage their development and provide ways they can advance.
This can can include company training programs, outside educational classes, industry development opportunities and/or special projects.  Encourage your direct reports to learn more about other functions in the company and ways they can contribute more and develop more skills.

Bonus Step:

As your employee advances in competency, impact and contribution, proactively share company job listings and promotional opportunities you think they might be ready for, or could work toward. Discuss how they can develop their skills to reach the next level.


Your goal as a boss is to get the best work out of your employees. And the way that happens is by building a relationship based on trust, honesty and integrity.  Sadly, sometimes managers who are the hardest working, and brilliant, are blinded to the things they do that inadvertently  insult, demotivate and sometimes even  push their employees out the door. And often they are not even aware of what they’re doing, or not doing.

You do not want to be one of those bosses!!!

You want to be a GREAT BOSS. Please review and implement the 6 steps above!!

And Andrea, all the best to you in your management career,

Coach Joan

Marge Margulies in her Guernville studio (top) Marge’s exhibit at The American Craft Council Show, Baltimore (middle) and Marge out standing in her field (bottom image)

Local Career Story #3

MARGE MARGULIES: A Nationally Recognized Ceramic Artist, Here in Sonoma County

Little did I know when I received a fruit bowl as a housewarming gift that it was made by a nationally known ceramic artist who lives not far from me.  Marge is an East Coast transplant who found her true home in Sonoma County, as I did. We both attended college in Philadelphia and even went to some of the same Bruce Springsteen and Janice Ian concerts!
Growing up, Marge was an unusually intuitive little girl. She knew what was right for her. She remembers when she first got her hands in clay at the age of 6 . She felt a powerful and visceral feeling of attraction, knowing she loved it and wanted to do it, more and more, and forever!

That began a lifelong dedication to fine arts with a specific focus in the ceramic arts.

Luckily, being the child of an artist, Irving Margulies, a noted abstract expressionist in the 1960s,
Marge was encouraged in her passion and attended art classes throughout her childhood.
And exactly 30 years after her father enrolled in the Philadelphia Academy of Art, Marge entered the college.
Though her Dad tragically died when Marge was only 5 yrs old, she has been influenced by him, his work and his memory. She knew her destiny was to continue the Margulies art tradition. She has always lived with her Dad’s paintings around her, and interestingly, the distinctive and vibrant color palette of her father’s work is clearly seen in Marge’s work as well.

When Marge attended art college the focus was on studying and making art.
Many students went on to become art teachers, but Marge, true to herself, wanted to keep her hands in clay and
work in the studio. To do that she needed to figure out how to make a living at it.  Like many creative artists, she had a day job in restaurants for several years and gradually transitioned into full time art. She can now proudly claim  27  years of earning her living 100% as an artist.

(painting by Irv Margulies)

Marge submitted her work to notable ceramic shows and was readily accepted into many of them. Once in the shows, her work was purchased by wholesalers, galleries and the public . Her work has sold throughout the nation and is in many museum shops including the de Young in San Francisco. Marge’s work has been included in the Smithsonian Craft Show five times. And she has regularly exhibited at The American Craft Council’s flagship show in Baltimore.

Marge moved out to Sonoma County almost a decade ago. She had family in California and as she and her sister scouted different areas, she was viscerally attracted to Sonoma County. In fact, the first day they drove around Marge saw a for sale sign in Guernville, and stopped to look. Once she stood on on the deck of the home she knew it was ‘her place’ and within 2 hours it was– and within 2 months she had met her core group of friends; many of them artists of different kinds. She loves the quiet she finds living and working from her home studio.

Marge’s passion is in creating work inspired from the forms of nature and in creating beautiful and distinctive work that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Her newest work, inspired by succulents, explores how forms fit into one another. She is always considering the dimensions of color, form, texture, surface and line.

Another distinctive aspect of her work is that it begs to be touched. When I opened my fruit bowl gift
I just wanted to hold it and stroke it. It was so smooth and lovely.  Some of the textures she creates have a delicious surface, and her glazes are unusually  rich, with each surface fully saturated with color.

(One of Marge’s new succulent ceramic pieces)

Marge is an artist who always aims to evolve. Each winter she challenges herself to come up with something new. This year’s innovation is really something. You can see it in the display of her work in the middle image above. Look closely to see how the edges of the work look like they are sculpted and match the work on the base. Right now she’s fascinated by the use of a precision measuring tool which has surprisingly led to an extra layer of fluidity.

Marge’s statement to me about her work:

” I’ve always been activated by my own ideas. The color and shape of my work is done to please me, and I feel so fortunate that others respond to it, too. Joan, you started with a fruit bowl and now you’ve become a serious collector of my work, thank you! And I feel so appreciative that I have clients who have been collecting my art pieces for over 20 years. And I’d like to mention my love of my community, a place of art lovers, sensitive and intelligent people who  come together for community and care for one another and for our environment. Sonoma County is a continual source of inspiration.”

Marge also invites us all to visit her studio either by appointment or when it’s open to the public for Art at the Source, an amazing program that allows you to visit Sonoma County artists right in their studios, watch them work, talk to them, consider purchasing a piece. Art at the Source Open Studio event is the first 2 weekends of June.

You can also see Marge’s work at:

Bubble Street Gallery, Sausalito

Russian River Art Gallery, Guernville

Healdsburg Center for the Arts, Headsburg

And please, dear readers, send me your ideas for more local career stories!

Onward to your career success,

Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,

I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job. It’s not working out with my new manager. I didn’t choose him and he didn’t choose me. When my former manager left, the company decided to bring in someone from the outside, presumably to inject new ideas. But all he seems to inject is sarcasm and criticism. So far, two out of five of his direct reports have left and he’s replaced them with people he’s worked with before.  I think he’d be happy if I left, too, as he only seems to look for problems with my performance.

I’d like to stay at the company. I’ve been here for six years, earned two promotions and really have enjoyed my work.  Please help. I’m not expecting a good review and I think the writing could be on the wall.

Appreciate your ideas,



Dear Bill,

I’m sorry, but you’re in a situation where change is being thrust upon you.  You are in a burning building and the best advice is to get out before you really get hurt. The winds of career change are blowing and you need to pay attention and plan your next move. I don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but you are not in an unusual situation. In this last month alone I’ve heard many variations on your situation: Employee has a multi year tenure with a positive track record of contribution and reward. New boss enters the scene. Neither side had chosen one another, it’s a bad fit and over time the team gets replaced.

My advice at this point is: Start your job search now. You can have a two prong strategy where you look both in the company and outside. But, if your manager clearly doesn’t like you or your performance, don’t be surprised if your internal reputation has been tarnished. I’m sorry, but that happens often.

But let’s rewind for a moment and pretend you had written to me when you just inherited your new manager.

And for those of you reading this article who’ve just inherited a new boss, please pay attention and read carefully.

Here’s what I would have recommended:

  1. Set up a  30 minute meeting with your new boss.
  2. Do a lot of preparation and come in with an agenda. It includes:
    your key contributions, the skills they represent, your aspirations, work style and your desire to continue to contribute, grow and take on new challenges
  3. Plan some excellent questions:  How have direct reports been successful with you in the past? What is your preferred communication style? What are the key skills and behaviors you are looking for in this position? What are the key outcomes you’d like to see?

In other words, get to know his definition and style of success. Reflect it back to him and try to keep him apprised of all your work and accomplishments. That is putting your best foot forward for success with a new boss.

Then watch and see if he’s consistent and if he gives you the opportunities he has promised. If you collect the data points and they point to a negative situation, then start your new job search.

Yes, we need to all learn to see the signs that the winds of career change are in the air. Your career change winds are clearly blowing, Bill. Best of luck to you and please, get moving!

Coach Joan