In the quarter century that we have been working in the Hispanic and Latin American business world, we have often seen how many bright and earnest U.S. Latinos fail. Often times the limits that Hispanics, Latinos and Latins in the U.S. workplace encounter arise from the obstacles that first have to be overcome. What Rose Guilbault writes about Latinas (and women), also holds true for all Hispanics, Latinos and Latins in the U.S.: “For Latinas going to work in the American workplace is akin to crossing into a foreign border. There is a different language, a new set of customs, and culture that you must learn, often without a guide. And getting to the top requires scaling hills and mountain passes where the right preparation, equipment, dress, and smarts are only the basics to start the journey. … [Latinos] who were not raised by families that discussed the ins and outs and nuances of working in American companies around the dinner table begin at a disadvantage. Many of us began our careers without these insights and had to learn through baptism by fire.”
To make success easier, here are insights designed to help Latinos achieve success in the American workplace.
What to Ask of Your Manager
To be successful in any organization it is important that you perform your job well. This means you need to have the skills and expertise to carry out your duties. These are your “micro” responsibilities, what is within your immediate control. But to rise within an organization, it is important to have a “macro” understanding of your department, your division and your organization’s mission.
Here are the five questions you should ask your manager.
Where are we going?
It is important to know where your organization is going, and your department’s role in achieving these objectives. It’s the difference between being told to make arrangements to go to the airport (your “micro” task), and being told the company is headed to Paris (the organization’s “macro” goal). Where is the organization headed?
When will you know the “macro” objectives have been reached?
You must know:
What is the objective management wants to achieve?
What kind of workplace culture (approaches, beliefs, values, structure, operating principles) is required to reach this goal?
What organizational structure needs to be in place?
What skills and technologies are required of staff?
How will the goods and services delivered to market be different from what they are now?
Who will your customers be?
Who will your competitors be?
Will we make a difference?
Everyone wants to know that their professional lives have meaning. Everyone needs to see the “macro” impact of their organization in the life of the community in which they live, and in the businesses success of their customers. You need to understand why your company’s good or service solves customers’ problems, or makes clients’ businesses easier. If you work in the airline industry, for instance, management needs to reinforce the importance of bringing people together, whether as families reuniting or business partners meeting. That’s the value airlines bring to the communities they serve.
Why are others, customers and clients, depending on you?
It is important that your manager share the passion of what your organization does to inculcate dedication from employees. Before you can buy-in and have the commitment required from your organization’s Mission, it is necessary to get periodic updates of how your organization serves customers and clients.
How can you help management achieve “macro” goals?
Yes, it’s important that you perform your duties well. But there are also intangibles that define how you can improve your own career prospects within the organization. Ask your manager how you – and your department – can better help your organization achieve the “macro” objectives that shape everyone’s efforts. It’s important to be proactive in seeing how your “micro” contribution can make the “macro” objective a reality.
Building Authentic Relationships
Success is more achievable by being proactive and thinking in the positive. If you think that quietly doing your work, waiting to be recognized, is a winning strategy, think again. If you believe that surrounding yourself in the workplace by naysayers leads to success, you are mistaken.
The world is full of passive people, and it is also full of negative people. If you are passive, become proactive. If you have a tendency on looking at the “emptiness” of a half-full glass, get into the habit of appreciating the “fullness” of that same glass.
To do this, build and nurture authentic relationships. Here’s how:
Who, in your department, expresses a commitment to achieving your organization’s goals?
Befriend this person.
Who, in their day-to-day routine, contributes purposefully towards achieving the organization’s strategic goals?
Befriend this person.
Who, in your organization, has clearly outlined responsibilities that are instrumental in getting the organization where it wants to be?
Befriend this person.
Who conducts himself or herself in a manner consistent with the organization’s protocols and principles?
Befriend this person.
Who expresses his or her thoughts with candor and welcomes the contributions of others?
Befriend this person.
These are the individuals that have the professionalism that you wish to cultivate in your own development and career advancement.
The Importance of Body Language
Interviews and the "Presenter's Paradox"
“We assume when we present someone with a list of our accomplishments (or with a bundle of services or products), that they will see what we’re offering additively. If going to Harvard, a prestigious internship, and mad statistical skills are all a ‘10’ on the scale of impressiveness, and two semesters of Spanish is a ‘2,’ then we reason that added together, this is a 10 + 10 + 10 + 2, or a ‘32’ in impressiveness. So it makes sense to mention your minimal Spanish skills — they add to the overall picture. More is better.
Only more is not in fact better to the interviewer (or the client or buyer), because this is not how other people see what we’re offering. They don’t add up the impressiveness, they average it. They see the Big Picture — looking at the package as a whole, rather than focusing on the individual parts.
To them, this is a (10+ 10+ 10+ 2)/4 package, or an ‘8’ in impressiveness. And if you had left off the bit about Spanish, you would have had a (10 + 10+ 10)/3, or a ‘10’ in impressiveness. So even though logically it seems like a little Spanish is better than none, mentioning it makes you a less attractive candidate than if you’d said nothing at all.”
Excerpted from “The Presentation Mistake You Don't Know You’re Making,” by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Harvard Business Review Blog Network. To read the complete entry, click on the image of the cover of the Harvard Business Review above right.
Resume Review Service
There are generally two kinds of resume services, those that will write a resume from nothing, and others that will review, critique and revise your current resume. Resume writing services range in cost from $100 to $750. Resume reviewing services tend to range from $75 to $150. At Hispanic Economics, we are delighted to refer you to professional resume reviewing services that specialize in the specific needs of Latino and Hispanic job applicants, and at the special rate of $60 (normally $100). If you are interested, click on the image to the right to contact Resume Reviewing Service for a professional specialist. Please mention Hispanic Economics to receive the 40% discount and take advantage of the $60 rate.
Speak BUSINESS SPANISH like an EXECUTIVE
Whether you call yourself Hispanic or Latino, if you are living and working in the United States, you need to be fluent in Business Spanish.When you make language mistakes, you’re also making a bad impression. This book will help you —
—Be more competitive. “Bilingual” jumps out on a resume, and makes recruiters take notice. CareerBuilders reports that 88% of employers are enthusiastic about multilingual candidates.
— Get Faster Promotions. The higher you go up the corporate ladder, the more managers and executives you find who are multilingual.
— Earn more money. Employees who are bilingual make more money. The Census Bureau reports that Americans who are fluent in another language average 4-6% more in earnings depending the industry in which they work.
— Have more career choices. The world may not be your oyster, but Knowing Business Spanish makes you more valuable to employers throughout the United States.
To purchase this book on Amazon.com, please click on the book cover to the left.
The Latina's Guide to Success in the Workplace
The Latina's Guide to Success in the Workplace explores the complexity of the Hispanic/Latino identity and the impact of this culture on professional mobility. The author asserts that there are five obstacles which Latinas confront within their own belief system: the idea that women do not need an education; the assumption that the needs of men come first; a belief that it is sinful to desire money; the opinion that Latinas should not be ambitious; and the mindset that successful women in the United States lose their femininity. Throughout the book, up-to-date research, case studies, and inspirational interviews offer strategies for overcoming the cultural factors that limit Latinas and providing a roadmap for achieving success.
Features • Case studies that illustrate inspirational stories of Latina women • A list of recommended behaviors for becoming successful at work • Practical tips and techniques for creating a career path • Interviews with some of the most successful Latinas in the United States
Highlights • Includes original research on Latinas • Explores how certain cultural qualities in the workplace are favorable • Features books, studies, and reports authored by women • Examines the challenges specific to Latinas in America
To purchase this book on Amazon.com, please click on the book cover to the right.