Category: Career Development Tips
In this column, we share a lot of ideas and tips for building and moving forward in your career. But sometimes management can present obstacles to your success, whether it’s a personality difference, micromanagement, stifling a promotion, or undermining your hard work. Don’t simply live with the negative situation, or quit only to find another imperfect job in the future. Try the following tips to improve your relationship with your boss and empower your career.
Acknowledge Your Role
Rather than blame your boss for the obstacle you’re facing, put aside any emotional bias you may have (SHRM). Don’t gossip about your boss, and try to understand the situation more clearly (Tech Republic). Honestly evaluate your own role in the situation. Do you have unrealistic expectations of your boss? Do your professional skills measure up to the requirements of that promotion? Have you failed to earn the trust of your micromanaging boss? Have you really achieved all the goals of your current role? Do your work achievements reflect well on your boss and team? Think of this as your “HR root cause analysis.” Truly evaluate all the facts about your performance and relationships at work, then devise practical methods for improving these.
Communicate with Your Boss
In our “HR root cause analysis,” one of the corrective actions will almost always include talking with your boss. Difficult though it may be, coming to your boss in a professional manner is the right thing to do and will likely make a positive impression on him or her. When you do, come with a positive outlook with ideas for improvement. Don’t simply come with complaints and no attempts at a solution, which may only make your situation worse.
The best approach is to arrange a performance review meeting with your boss. Make it clear during this meeting that you want to grow professionally, and you’d like to find out what it will take to do so. Ask him or her how you’re meeting and not meeting the goals of your position, and brainstorm action steps to reach those goals. As you receive the criticism, take it with grace and not defensiveness.
If there’s something you need from your boss that you’re not receiving, simply ask for it in a logical manner (Chron) (SHRM). Make it an easy request to grant. For example, instead of simply complaining “You micromanage me too much,” ask if it would help your boss if you provided regular status updates to ease his or her mind.
Make it clear at this meeting that you are committed to your boss’ success as well (Chron).
Develop Your Professional Skills
After you’ve met with your boss, take this feedback to heart. If you’ve received concrete ways in which you can improve, make these your goals and stick to them. Exceed your boss’ expectations and you’ll likely gain his or her trust (Chron).
If your conversation does not go well, there are still options. Take your problem to HR, even if all you need is a second opinion on some aspects of the problem. It always helps to bring in a third party ro evaluate the situation.
If you need additional support, start by building your professional network by pursuing a mentoring and/or networking opportunity (Tech Republic). A mentor can provide a second opinion and unbiased advice on your career. This relationship just may provide the support you need to move forward in your career. Continue to build your network through events, LinkedIn, and pursuing one-on-one meetings with colleagues (Diversity MBA).
Prepare for a future job change and safeguard your interests by building a file that includes your updated resume, certifications, accomplishments, successful projects, and any awards you’ve earned (Diversity MBA). As you move forward within the company, or if you decide to seek advancement elsewhere, you’ll be ready to put your best foot forward.
A recent article in the The Washington Post listed some tips for getting caught up and I really liked it because the author pointed out:
“Rather than worrying about whether we have caught up, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy, we can try some of the following activities to restore ourselves and feel better about what we are accomplishing.”
Are we ever really caught up? Maybe it’s time to change the mindset to noticing what we are accomplishing instead of focusing on what we haven’t finished yet. It may be more motivating and more productive to think this way.
Feel better about what you are accomplishing and read 10 tips written by Joyce E. A. Russell here:
Rebekah Campbell, CEO of tech start-up Posse, does all her recruiting through LinkedIn, she says in her recent New York Times article. Why? LinkedIn’s new Recruiter service helps her search for the perfect candidates based on any and all aspects of an individual’s profile. This means your next prospective employer is looking for you based on elements like location, previous and current job titles, previous employers, university attended, current job length, and so much more.
With the knowledge that you could receive your next job offer through Linkedin, here are a few tips to make your presence even more dynamic on the platform.
- Write an extensive profile, using strong searchable terms. Ask yourself what you would type in to find someone like you and add those keywords, suggests Ted Prodromou, author of a book on using LinkedIn (NY Times).
- Add a professional-looking photo. This way, recruiters can pin a face to your name and you’ll be 11 times more likely to have your profile seen (Forbes).
- Update your headline, otherwise the default will be your job title. If you have a strong headline full of searchable keywords, your next employer will have an easier time finding you and you’ll stand out from the crowd (Forbes).
- Join interest groups (NY Times) – Search for terms related to your industry, and you can not only connect with like-minded individuals but with potential employers. Don’t know where to start? Join our TapRooT® Group – it’s chock full of fantastic root cause analysis professionals from around the globe. Join our network here.
- Join discussions (NY Times)- When you contribute to online discussions in a meaningful way, you build up others’ view of your expertise. In addition to learning and sharing your knowledge, you may meet an employer who’s impressed by your knowledge and wants to work together. Join our TapRooT® discussion group for conversations regarding current events and other investigation topics. Join a discussion here.
Don’t let your LinkedIn profile become a static online resume. Build it up with these foundational aspects, and make sure you check your account weekly to answer messages, engage in group discussion, and reply to any job opportunities that come your way!
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Imagine for a moment that we actually treated one another with such an unbiased respect and unconditional belief that we were able to elevate each other to be the best we can be. It’s not just a military slogan. It can and does happen. I’ve experienced this kind of respect, belief and positive reinforcement in my own life.
I’ve heard and witnessed many incredible stories of how people, given little chance to live or to walk again, overcame their physical and emotional injuries to lead positive, productive lives. They, in turn chose to “Pass the salt and make a difference in other people’s lives.” One particular story I read about recently, where a man who was barely able to read was given an assignment that required him to not only read, but to speak in public and exhibit leadership skills. (I know from personal experience that man’s greatest fear is NOT standing in front of a crowd and speaking. Man’s greatest fear IS walking (or crawling) through a wall of fire.) The man’s personal transformation was called miraculous. He was told that GOD inspired his assignment, and he took it quite seriously. He became an eloquent speaker and leader and that helped him to prosper in other areas of his life and provided a better life for his family. How can this be done you ask? Glad you did and here are some tips:
Release the prejudice. The first step is we must relieve ourselves of the limitations we place on others. Eradicate (I like the word) negativity about ours and others limitations from our mind and memory; erase the mental models and phrases like, “She’s only” or “He’s always” or “They never,” or “He can’t.” We need to stretch our mind and our imaginations and visualize, “see”, them doing something great or being something great. Change our thought patterns from the negative to think “Just because he (or she) never did that before doesn’t mean that he (or she) can’t. It just means that he (or she) has never tried before because no one really believed he (or she) could.”
“None can be more negative on its impact than the limitation on human resource capacity.” Said Musa
Forget the past. Car windshields are larger than the rear view mirror because it’s far more important to see the ‘highway’ ahead than the ‘road’ travelled. Look where you’re headed, not where you’ve been. Whatever mistakes you and others have made and wherever you and they have failed before, or the horrible way you or they have been treated, leave it go! Those issues are totally irrelevant for today. The past is the past. It’s over! Everyone has a story. Choose to change your mental models. ‘See’ yourself and them as winners, not whiners and treat yourself and others that way. It’s sequential, inside out, not outside in. You and then others. Get your own ‘house’ in order first.
“Life is divided into three terms-that which was, which is and will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to live better in the future.” William Wordsworth
Remember your roots. We’ve developed and grown into the person we have become because someone, or in my case, many someone’s, believed in us. It was our parents, mentors, teachers, friends, God, all the above and many others. Along the way, there were (and are) people who believed in us and that belief helped us to believe in ourselves. When we stop, pause and reflect on where we began and where we are now and all those who’ve helped us and believed in us and then apply that same belief in others, the results can be (and are) amazing. Like all meaningful change, it has a beginning and middle but no end. It’s continuous.
“Believe in yourself and stop trying to convince others.” James De La Vega
Use words that encourage and inspire. Positive affirmations. A few examples like, “If I can, you can.” “You will succeed.” “You’re potential is endless.” “You’re more than capable.” “You’re smart and articulate.”
Assist them through the setbacks. I’ve discovered that few things in life have a trajectory that’s straight up. On the contrary, there are many issues from our choices that are often straight down. There are times when we ask, “What am I doing? Am I crazy for trying this? “What was I thinking?” “I should have asked for help?” Don’t let the negative thoughts get in the way. Bring them out. Talk about them with people you trust. Share your thoughts and then dismiss them. Vent! It’s healthy. Then continue with your encouragement and prayers. Caution: prayers work! Be careful for that which you pray. You might just receive it.
Encourage others to play it forward. Regardless of when and where I’m greeted by others, my reply is always, “I’m vertical, take nourishment and play it forward when God provides the opportunities.”
After a goal’s achieved, encourage others (and yourself) to establish and seek more goals and continue that pattern. I believe we have an obligation, or errand to help those around us; those who seek our help and are truly committed and enrolled in the process. What we don’t want to I do is become an enabler and weaken them emotionally, spiritually and physically. When we see others as better than they are or were and help them on their journey of self-realization and self-improvement it is one of the noblest things we can do for others. When they achieve success, it’s a win-win. Many, many others have done that for me and for you too, I suspect and often without us even knowing it. So…”Pass the salt and make a difference in all you choose to do. Make a person, place or thing a little better for your having been there.”
“Correction does much but encouragement does more.” Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
Becky Hammon was recently hired as the first female basketball coach in the National Basketball Association (NBA) by the San Antonio Spurs. She’s played professionally here in the U S and overseas for 17 years and begins her new position as an assistant coach next year.
In the Tuesday, August 12, 2014 edition of “USA Today Sports” an article written by Nancy Armour shares her exclusive interview with female basketball player Becky Hammon. “Even after all these years, Becky Hammon hears the voices in her ear,” she said. “The assistant coach at Colorado State University was constantly on Hammond telling her she was going to be the school’s first All-American. How she was going to do this. How she was going to do that,” she said. In the interview Becky Hammond said, “but when she started speaking all that, she started planting seeds. ’Yeah, maybe. Maybe I could do that if I worked really hard,’ Hammon said. “You have those people speaking really good things in your life and it grows and produces fruit later on,” she said. “But somebody had to initially plant those good seeds.”
”Hope and encouragement, especially hope, is probably one of the greatest things you can give another person,” Hammond said. “I mean, what a gift to allow that person to be able to dream, to be able to say, ‘Why not me?’ ‘Why couldn’t I be the first?’”
“Hope is the thing that perches in the soul-and sings the tunes without the words-and never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson
Life really IS like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end the faster it goes. When you leave this life, what will be your epitaph? What do you want others to say about you? How do you want to be remembered? When our time’s up, it’s up. No more make-ups or second chances. So…take time to be the person who others hear in their ears. Tell them how they’re going to do this and how they’re going to do that. Make the choice to become a planter of positive seeds then stand back and watch the ‘plant(s)’ grow. I know it works!!
Have you ever wondered what can make your work (and yourself) stand out from the crowd? Ever thought about what got your buddy that promotion, or how you can make the most of the position you’re in? Forbes.com shared 18 traits of exceptional employees on their blog this week, and we think these are great ways to amp up your professional game. Enjoy the first four traits below:
“1. They rewrite their internal monologues. A strong will to win knows how to push out the negative voices bantering back and forth inside one’s head and instead create a voice that challenges such negativity. In so doing, they answer their newly formed questions and turn the self-limiting “Why can’t I do [task]?” question into the exploratory “How can I do [task]?”
2. They have a healthy disregard for authority. Employees with a strong will to win consider the rulebook as more of a guide while still working within the confines of what’s “right.” In other words, exceptional employees know how to solve problems creatively while not breaking the rules.
3. They don’t wallow in regret. Exceptional employees feel good about their performance because they know they gave it their all. If a big fat “L” (for “Loser”) is the takeaway for the day, they will learn, adapt and move on.
4. They display grit. In my BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training) class we started with 174 students who wanted to be Navy SEALs, but only 32 of us truly desired it. Why? Because the latter group chose to enact the defining quality that bridges the gap between want and wish, purpose and passion. What I’m talking about is grit.”
Click here to read the rest of the article:
Non-verbal communication (body language) is significant because it reveals how we feel (sometimes in spite of what we say), and it also reveals how other people feel about us. Most of us are not formally trained in non-verbal behaviors but living in the world has taught us many non-verbal cues informally.
For example, have you ever met someone and felt like you didn’t like them but couldn’t pinpoint why? They may have thrown off negative non-verbal cues that you picked up subconsciously, and that is why you stepped away from the experience feeling like you didn’t like the person. You probably know more than you think you do about non-verbal communication from both positive and negative life experiences, and putting the pieces together will help you become a better communicator.
At the Global TapRooT® Summit we’ve shared best practices for decoding non-verbal behavior which is particularly helpful in incident investigation interviews.
When interviewing others after an accident or incident, it’s very important to gain the interviewee’s confidence and trust to put them at ease and help them remember important details. Today I’d like to share three quick tips on how to improve non-verbal communication that will improve your interviews.
1. Lower your eyebrows. When we relax tension in our faces, the rest of the body follows in relaxation. Close your eyes right now and release the tension in the forehead and brows. Notice how the rest of your body becomes more relaxed. Practice this before your interviewee arrives and your relaxed body language will help your interviewee relax as well.
2. Palms up. When we talk we often gesture with our hands. Palms up sends a message that we have nothing to hide in our agenda, and also conveys that we are open to receiving what the interviewee says. Palms down indicates that we have closed our thinking – it may send a message of conviction – that your mind has been made up about what caused the accident.
3. Don’t overdo it on eye contact. Many people think that constant eye contact is important to communicate effectively, but it can be very intimidating for an interviewee. Make good eye contact but don’t stare. Make eye contact for shorter periods of time releasing your gaze occasionally.
If you want to learn more about effective non-verbal communication, mark your calendar to attend our new 2-day Interviewing and Basic Investigation course, June 1-2, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada right before the 2015 Global TapRooT® Summit.
Ever wondered what gets potential employers to do a double-take when they see your resume or CV? What gets them to set yours aside & call you for an interview? UK author and career coach Jeremy I’Anson shares his top 10 tips for getting your CV short-listed.
“Tip 1: Don’t be dull
Supercharge some of the statements on your CV by using the “So what?” test. Imagine you have an employer sitting next to you as you write your CV who asks “So what?” after every statement.
Look at these rather dull statements from actual CVs.
• Led a team of 20 sales staff
• Devised an incentive scheme
• Managed an office relocation project
Now transform those statements on your CV by adding a result to make those dull statements more interesting.
• Led a team of 20 sales staff… who exceeded all performance targets.
• Devised an incentive scheme… that reduced staff turnover by 20pc.
• Managed an office relocation project… with minimal disruption to the business…”
Chris Gaborit, Managing Director at The Learning Factor, created this video to inspire us to discover our passion and purpose and to achieve our greatest performance. Invest five minutes of your life to become inspired!
Lost respect at work? A few tips on how to regain it.
Many of us have experienced it. First, it’s the extended lunches. Then, you notice the late arrivals and unexcused tardiness. Next, are the assignments that aren’t finished, not completed to specifications or seem to take longer than usual to complete. When you confront the employee(s) all you hear are the excuses: “I can’t” or “That’s not my job.” That’s your first outward example of a “Wake-Up Call” that you’re a leader who’s losing credibility and respect … and you figure out you need to make some changes … and quick.
“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Benjamin Franklin
In every situation of which I’m familiar, regardless of the type of organization, when employees respect and trust their leaders and feel that respect and trust in return, you have a highly motivated employee(s) who are more creative and energized people who actually look forward to come to work every day. Every employee I’ve known, myself included, places a high value on a leader they can trust and respect and from who they can learn. That respect and trust is an important, intangible asset. You can’t touch it or taste it but you CAN feel it and you know when it’s there and when it isn’t in the workplace and in the relationship.
“Leadership is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” John Maxwell
If you need to re-establish yourself as a true leader who your employees and your leadership trust and hold in high esteem, here a few tips to help you reestablish that trust:
Appearances matter. Sometimes dress codes are taken to the extreme. It does seems odd to wear business attire when the company’s culture is T-shirts and jeans. Upgrade you attire to gain respect at work. Develop an approachable presence and internally and externally polished image. Look good … feel good. Don’t over spray with cologne or perfume to mask ‘stuff.’ You know what I’m talkin’ about.
“Appearances rule the world.” Fredrich Schiller
Establish regular feedback sessions with your staff. Leaders who don’t communicate regularly and openly with their staffs miss the opportunity to discover what people really think. Regular feedback sessions not only demonstrate how much you value their opinions, but you’ll also receive an objective, real-time assessment of their strengths and those areas that may need to improve.
“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” John C. Crosby
Trust demonstrated is trust earned. Empower your staff to own it. Encourage calculated risks and make sure they know you’ll have their back if things don’t turn out as expected. Trust them. Walk-The-Talk.
Watch your “pie hole.” Words and actions have consequences! If you believe from your intuition and subtle feedback from your staff that you do receive less respect at work, it may because your actions don’t mirror your words and vice versa. Words we use must always be respectful and clean, most discreet when it comes to personal issues and never openly criticize your staff. Praise in public and provide constructive feedback in private … with the door ajar … and with another person in the room with you … it is what it is … lesson learned.
“Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.” Plato
Know when to be quiet. Emotional tirades earn fear but no respect. Unless you’re one of those (all too many ‘leaders’) who ‘lead’ by fear, tirades may make you feel better but they do little to change the culture at work, except to make it even more toxic. Egg shells are designed to be broken at home, not walked on at work. Address sensitive work issues at a private, one-on-one level not letting your ego show and proudly exclaiming them at meetings and embarrassing the employee(s). The opposite philosophy is always true. When you praise and thank people for a job they’ve done well, always do that in public. Be generous and genuine.
“Nothing strengthens authority more than silence.” Leonardo da Vinci
Share your knowledge. As a leader, you have a great opportunity to be a teacher and mentor. The examples include work directly with a staff member to improve their written and/or oral communications or indirectly, when you lead by example. When you share your information and mentor others, you train and educate the organization’s future leaders.
“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Khalil Gibran
Suspend assumptions. Place any preconceived ideas you may have aside and really listen to an employee’s proposal with an unbiased perspective. If a conflict does arise, remain objective, stay fair, don’t show favoritism and provide the opportunity for everyone to succeed.
Remain involved. Said another way, get out from behind your desk and walk around the organization. Make the time and take the time to ask questions and then listen. Chat informally at company functions like an office party or get-togethers after work. Get to know your staff and encourage them get to know you. Leave your rank at work.
Be transparent. We’ve heard this many times of late. Change comes in many forms and many ways; some when not expected. When change is on the horizon, remain engaged with your employees and keep them in the loop as much as you can.
“One man’s transparency is another man’s humiliation.” Gerry Adams
Establish the limits (Boundaries). If after your efforts to change the dynamics and your team or staff remain disrespectful, or if one or two apples still spoil the barrel and rather increase their disdain, it’s time for more drastic action. Tell them their behavior is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. Explain the importance to maintain a civil level or respect and trust in the workplace. Then … document, document, document. This should be done as a routine practice, anyway. Then, at quarterly, semi-annual and annul performance reviews the behavior was documented and at your disposal.
“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has limits.” Albert Einstein
It’s never easy to regain trust and respect at work and with your friends and your family once those values have been lost. A good start is to have a high regard and respect for you … to love yourself but not be in love with yourself. Have that same regard and trust for your team and employees. Want to gain or re-gain trust and respect? Be trustworthy and respectful first. It’s inside out, not outside in … radiate and project what you want and expect outwards. This will most often encourage them to reciprocate.
“Men are respectable only as they are respected.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You should bring something into the world that wasn’t in the world before.
It doesn’t matter what that is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a table or a film or gardening – everyone should create.
You should do something, then sit back and say, I did that. ~ Ricky Gervais
This video is a hilarious because it highlights everything that can (and often does) go wrong on a conference call. Are conference calls productive? What do you think?
We all know that stress is bad for us both physically (increasing our risk for disease), and mentally (that overwhelming feeling). But in spite of our knowledge, did you know that we can actually become addicted to stress?
Who is at risk?
Type A personalities – those who operate at a maximum speed and aspire to achieve large goals. (Learn more.)
Type D personalities – those who struggle with negativity, depression, anxiety, stress, anger, and loneliness. (Learn more.)
So, how do you know if you’re addicted to stress?
Research tells us that moderate amounts of stress are fine, even desirable, because it boosts our focus and energy. So don’t automatically label yourself. If you are effectively managing your life and thriving under stress, it does not qualify as an addiction. The problem is when we wake up an internal craving for it, just as an alcoholic or drug addict would crave a high. If your life feels out-of-control, and in spite of your best efforts, you are not getting things done, you may be addicted to stress.
Whether you’re addicted or carrying a healthy load of stress, don’t forget to balance your days with stress reducing activities.
And enjoy a happier, more productive lifestyle.
I have a habit of buying a bouquet of flowers for my office whenever I go grocery shopping – a guilty pleasure. Today, I read research that makes me feel a little less guilty. Did you know that exposure to flowers can:
- reduce anxiety, negativity and depression
- promote creativity (a University of Exeter study noted a 45% increase!)
- enhance innovative thinking
- increase productivity
One study indicated that people feel happier and had more energy after looking at flowers first thing in the morning. Flowers may even have a positive impact on memory. If you have a green thumb, research suggests that growing your own plants increases the benefits, improving health, well-being, and life satisfaction.
These benefits were noted in women and men, the young and the elderly.
Today’s job fair leans more toward virtual than the meet & greet at the Convention Center that was popular before social media.
Here is an infographic from by MBAOnline.com that breaks down how may people have found jobs on the social network:
Is it time to clean up your social media presence?
It may be where you find your next big career opportunity. Sometimes we forget just how many people can see what we are putting online and this can work for or against us.
Here are 3 tips for cleaning up your digital footprint.
1. Search yourself. Put your name, in quotations, into three search engines and see what comes up. Is there anything you want to take off the internet? You may find old social profiles you no longer use (Myspace anyone?) that you are ready to delete.
2. Review the privacy settings. One thing to be sure of about the big three (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) is that their policies will change. You may have set privacy setting years ago and never revisited. Take some time to do so and ensure that the right people are seeing your posts.
3. Always use a flattering profile picture. You may have your Facebook privacy set so that only your close friends and family can see you, but if your profile is searchable, potential employers can look you up online and still see your profile photo, so choose wisely.
What do you think? Have you ever received a career opportunity on social media?
I really enjoy reading the “Career Curveballs” channel on LinkedIn. I think learning from another person’s mistakes and hard times are as valuable as hearing from the experts. I recently read “The Most Important Mistake of My Life and How You Can Make Yours” by Judd Marcello which was posted on his website and then featured in the LinkedIn Career Curveballs channel.
This part of the article really stood out:
“People often talk about and write about purpose as if was a thing, e.g. tradesman, artist, developer. I have come to realize that for me it is not a thing, but my context. It is what I am here to do. It is within this context that I make career and life decisions, let alone my day-to-day micro decisions. When I make my next career move the decision criteria will be based primarily on whether or not I will be in the best possible position to apply my strengths in order to make a positive lasting impact on the business and the people involved. That is what I am here to do.”
You can read the article in its entirety here: The Most Important Mistake of My Life and How You Can Make Yours
What do you think? Have you ever made a mistake that helped to change the course of your career in a positive way?
As part of the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964), I find it interesting how we’ve changed our attitudes about vacations over the last couple of decades. When we were building our careers, most of us didn’t take many vacations at all — vacations were for wimps! Too much work to be done! Unused vacation days were a source of pride.
But the culture has changed over the years (and, well, we’re not getting any younger and realizing there are a few things we missed). And as usual, Baby Boomers who make up about 26% of the population, continue to influence the travel industry who caters to what we want because we control a lion’s share of the money that will be spent on travel.
Since the retirement age is getting older, part of what we want are exciting vacations that don’t eat up all of our vacation days at once so we can take several. So now we are seeing shorter international tours (7-10 days as opposed to 21 days) and shorter cruise itineraries. We are explorers so we are seeing more adventures like safari and backpacking tours (but don’t forget the amenities – boomers like to explore but we don’t like roughing it). So, younger generations, you can thank us for all of these shorter, more affordable options.
Finally, we are leading the workplace in vacation plans this summer. We’ve figured it out — vacations are important!
But in case you’re thinking of not taking one this year due to all the work to be done, here is an interesting fact sheet from the Boston College Center for Work & Family that lists 20 reasons why it’s important to take a work-free vacation:
What are your vacation plans this summer? Have your attitudes about taking a vacation changed over the span of your career?
I admit, this is one of my pet peeves. Probably because the work I do is done in chunks of time, and any interruption, (especially email), is a kiss of death to my productivity. Nothing annoys me faster than to have someone send me an email and then call me or come into my office and say with a wee bit of an edge in the voice, “Did you see that email I sent? I sent it an hour ago.” Well, I don’t check my email every hour. Sometimes I don’t check it all day if I’m really tied up on something.
Just how often should we be checking our emails anyway?
Minda Zetlin would disagree with my habit. In her Inc. article, “3 Reasons the Experts are Wrong About Email,” she asserts that reading your email frequently makes you and your team more productive, not less. She wrote that a lot of her work happens in email and her team members need more frequent feedback to do their jobs. She also feels she would miss critical information if she didn’t check it frequently.
Others are more in line with my way of thinking. Craig Jarrow, Author of Time Management Ninja, thinks you’ll get more done if you only check your email twice each day – once in the morning and once at the end of the day. He wrote that unless you are a customer service rep “email is not your job.”
Steve Plavlina even did an experiment and only checked his email and social media accounts three times a week to find out what would happen. He wrote a long list of key benefits including ease of maintaining focus on goals; enjoying the most productive weeks he’s had in years; and greater sense of time. In fact, he could only think of one negative: missing a disc golf game. (Read about his experiment here.)
After reading all of these articles, I surmised that there is really no right or wrong answer. I suppose it all boils down to whether or not email is one of the main tools you use in your job to get the work accomplished you were hired to do.
What do you think? How many times a day do you check your email and why?
I met Tom Foster, author of Hiring Talent, and heard him talk about management myths related to getting the right people in the right jobs. He said that managers spend too much time trying to climb inside the head of their employees to determine if they can handle the responsibilities of being promoted to higher level jobs.
A better method, he asserts, is to stop playing amateur psychologist, and instead give the employee a higher level project (work similar to what they would do in a new role), and wait to see how the employee performs.
Employees will give clues as to whether or not they can handle a higher level job by how they perform on the higher level project. He said when you pass the project (“the ball”) to the employee, you’ll see these signs when they are ready to move up:
1. They won’t give the ball back.
2. They won’t drop the ball.
3. They will carry the ball to the end goal.
Just because the person is great in a current position doesn’t mean the employee will be great at a higher level position. It may be that the employee is in the right position right now. However, if you are not promoting a capable employee, you are taking a risk that the employee may find a higher level job outside of your company. If you are on the fence about giving a promotion to a higher level job to one of your employees, try giving a higher level project to the employee at his or her current level, and use the employee’s performance as an indicator of his or her true capability.
Want to know more?
Foster said it was critical to not only understand the work that is being done day in and day out at your organization, but to also study the different levels of the work within your organization. He talked about a scientific measuring stick “Time Span” (Time Span Handbook – 1964) – the length of time a person can effectively work into the future without direction, using discretionary judgment, to achieve a specific goal. He believes that time span, technical knowledge/skill, interest/passion and habits are the best indicators of an employee’s capabilities.
For more information, read Hiring Talent.
Grammar – love it or hate it? If you are averse to learning grammar tips (“averse” means you dislike them … “adverse” means unfavorable, like “adverse weather”), this post won’t be too painful.
In fact, this quiz may make you feel smarter once you refresh your knowledge, and will also help you give a better impression in the workplace. And if you feel pretty good about your grammar skills, take the quiz as a quick brainteaser to flex your grammar muscles!
Quiz: Ten Words That Are Commonly Used Incorrectly
Fill in the blank (the answers are at the bottom of the post):
1. When it comes to company culture, we all share the same [principles | principals].
2. [Whose | Who's] laptop is this?
3. We want to [ensure | insure] that this mistake never happens again.
4. Why did you [imply | infer] at the meeting that I would not be receptive to your idea?
5. Root cause analysis training [complements | compliments] his college degree for a quality engineer position.
6. This candidate has a college degree but that [criteria | criterion] alone does not qualify him for this position.
7. There was a small [number | amount] of people at the staff meeting.
8 I hear that [alot | a lot].
9. [It's | its] exciting to know that the next Global TapRooT® Summit is scheduled in Las Vegas.
10. The marketing campaign did not [ellicit | illicit] the response we were hoping for.
1. Principles. “Principle” usually means a standard or rule; “principal” often refers to a person but can also mean first or foremost i.e., “the principal quality we are looking for is trustworthiness.”
2. Whose. Who’s is a contraction for “Who is” – “Who is laptop is this?” doesn’t make sense.
3. Ensure. Ensure means to guarantee. Insure usually refers to financial or insurance policies, although some stylebooks say they can be used interchangeably.
4. Imply. The speaker implies; the listener infers, i.e., “He implied that I was dishonest, at least that is what I inferred from our conversation.”
5. Complement. To complement means something goes nicely with something else. A compliment is something nice you say about someone.
6. Criterion. Criterion refers to one item; criteria refers to more than one (but as our reader pointed, sometimes is used to refer to one item).
7. Number. Number is used when you can count the number of things. Amount is used when you can’t count it in numbers. (“He had a huge amount of contempt for anyone who tried to teach him grammar.”)
8. A lot. Two words. Always.
9. It’s. “It’s” is a contraction for “it is.”
10. Ellicit. Ellicit means to coax, illicit means unlawful or illegal.
How did you do? Comment below!
Amy J.C. Cuddy wrote about why people make snap judgments about another person’s competence based on how friendly they are in her article “Just Because I’m Nice, Don’t Assume I’m Dumb.”
Would it surprise you to read that most people will stereotype you as less competent if you have a warm personality? Cuddy’s research indicates that they may. Read her article about the warmth/competence model and how to avoid wrongly sizing up your colleagues and co-workers: (Read article.)
What do you think? Have you ever discounted how competent a person was based on his or her warm and friendly personality?
In the busy-ness of life, it is good to pause from time to time and reflect on whether or not you are living out your purpose. This is a cool graph that will tell you at a glance. And remember,
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~ Steve Jobs
I admire people who can always remember a name, but I’m not one of them. I’ve never been creative enough to use the trick of associating a name with something about the person (like, David Bayer has thinning hair … at my age, everyone’s hair is thinning so that would just confuse me more). The ability to remember names is a valuable business skill so I have picked up some tips I can use. Here are four ways to help remember important names career development.
Focus on the person, not yourself. This is in the #1 spot because it truly is the #1 tip. If I’m too focused on how I’m presenting myself or on what brilliant thing I want to say next, it totally blows any chance at name recall. The truth is, most of the time we can’t remember a person’s name because we were thinking about something else when we were introduced to that person.
Verify the name. Names have many variations. William may prefer to be called “Will” but the conference planner’s assistant typed “William” on his badge. Here’s your chance to verify the name, “Hello, William … oh, do you prefer William or … ?” “I prefer Will.” “Okay, Will, are you enjoying the conference?” Verifying the name will allow you to repeat it several times without being obvious that you’re using a memory trick.
Hear the name, speak the name, listen to yourself say the name. Studies show that if you don’t repeat those actions within the first 10 seconds, you”ll forget the person’s name. “Hello, David, nice to meet you.” “So, David, what are you working on at the Mill?” “Traveling anywhere this summer, David?” If repeating the name makes it too obvious that you are using the repetition method, look at the person and say the name silently to yourself several times when the person takes a drink, turns to say something to someone else, or some other appropriate moment that doesn’t steal your focus from what the other person is saying. Or, do what Franklin Roosevelt did and picture it written across the person’s forehead.
Ask how to spell a difficult name. Just like studying for the spelling bee — focusing on the spelling of the name will help you with recall. Another way to keep it in your mind is to imagine writing it letter by letter.
These tips will help you recall a name, but it they fail, there is nothing wrong with honesty, “I remember you well, but your name just slipped my mind!”
We are gearing up for the 2014 Global TapRooT® Summit week that begins just one week from today, and as we put the final touches on our Powerpoint presentations, I thought this would be a good time to share Jesse Desjardins slides about how to make them great. Jesse says, “You don’t make friends with bad PowerPoint presentations.”
Last week we learned how to find out what our boss thinks about us. But what if you are the boss? Do your employees think you are trustworthy? Here are 3 qualities that prove you are.
1. What you say and do are aligned with your company’s value statements. Have you looked at the mission statement printed in your employee handbook and the core values you brag about on your company website lately? Your employees know the message you are sending, and if they are not living those value statements under your leadership, you are losing major points in trustworthiness.
2. You don’t change your story. Does your story change depending on who you are talking to? Employees don’t trust bosses when they hear them changing their stories. Whether you recognize it or not, your employees are listening when you are talking to other company members or to clients. They are watching you interact with others when they are copied on e-mails. Don’t lose trust by making them wonder what you’re trying to hide.
3. You do your job. Untrustworthy bosses only appear to be doing their jobs. They may not bother to be up-to-date on the skills necessary to perform their jobs effectively, so they fake it, or worse, blame their mistakes on employees. This kind of dishonest behavior will ensure your employees always keep an updated résumé ready to go.
What do you think? What characteristics are important to prove trustworthiness as a boss?
Last week we learned how to do a quick self-evaluation of our job performance. How did you do? This week we’ll dig a little deeper and look at it from a different perspective, not what we think about ourselves but what our boss thinks about us.
While unemployed workers seem more optimistic about finding a job in 2014, the pressure to be more innovative, productive and flexible has never been greater. If you are currently employed, you may not be thinking about what this means to you … but you should. Don’t be blindsided by an unexpected layoff.
Here are 6 critical questions to ask yourself to find out if your boss thinks you are irreplaceable.
Question #1: What skills do I possess that meet the current and future demands of my job market?
It is crucial to understand the current wants and needs of the job market even when we are employed. We have no control over this factor but we can work to understand market trends and tweak our skills to align with them. Your boss is thinking about the capabilities of workers in your position, so make sure you are up-to-date.
Question #2: What am I doing to improve my performance for the facility I work for?
Seek to improve your personal skill set on a daily basis. Today’s successful employee is not simply doing what they are paid to do but looking to bring value to what they provide. Get noticed!
Question #3: What is the main thing I do during my work day that keeps my boss from replacing me right now?
If you want to measure how easy your boss thinks it is to replace you, you need to consider 1) current competition for your position and 2) how well you understand what your boss wants you to do. Staying competitive and doing what your boss needs done secures your position.
Question #4: Do I engage each day in the most important tasks associated with my position?
Strategic focus is looking at the day ahead, and deciding to spend your time on the most productive activities. Stop chasing rabbit trails. Choose the activities that have the greatest impact on your bottom line.
Question #5: Am I relying too much on digital technology to communicate with my boss?
Email won’t shed much light on your personality and admirable characteristics. It may be tempting to e-mail every communication to your boss, but picking up the phone, or walking into his or her office for a face-to-face will increase your positive interaction and relationship. Do face time. Not Apple FaceTime, but real face time.
Question #6: Do people seek my advice in my area of expertise?
Position yourself so that people you work with seek you out as an authority to make decisions in your area of expertise. When you become an expert inside and outside of your organization, you increase your value.
So, now you have an idea of what your boss is thinks about you. But what if you are the boss? Do your employees trust you to see the hard work they are doing? Next week we will talk about 3 qualities of a trustworthy boss.
(And for more info about being irreplaceable at work, read: Invaluable: The Secret to Becoming Irreplaceable, by Dave Crenshaw.)