Category: Career Development Tips

Career Development: Become Indispensable at Work

July 16th, 2014 by

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!

Career Development: Lost Respect at Work? by Captain George J Burk

July 9th, 2014 by

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

 

This article was submitted by “Captain George” J Burk, USAF (Ret), Scottsdale, www.georgeburk.com. Contact: gburk@georgeburk.com

Career Development: Create!

July 2nd, 2014 by

“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

Career Development: A Conference Call in Real Life

July 2nd, 2014 by

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?

Career Development: Are You Addicted to Stress?

June 24th, 2014 by

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.

Stress-reducing ideas

Whether you’re addicted or carrying a healthy load of stress, don’t forget to balance your days with stress reducing activities.  

Learn 40 Ways to Relax in Five Minutes or Less

And enjoy a happier, more productive lifestyle.

Career Development: A “Beautiful” Way to Increase Productivity & Creativity

June 17th, 2014 by
I wonder if my boss will let me expense these?

I wonder if my boss will let me expense these?

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.

Learn more:

Want to Be More Productive? Buy Some Desk Plants

Feel Better, Work Better: How Flowers Increase Productivity

Need to Be Productive? Buy Some Flowers

Career Development: Set Yourself Up for Today’s Virtual Job Fair

June 10th, 2014 by

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:

Social Job Hunt

 

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?

Career Development: When Life Throws You a Curveball

June 4th, 2014 by

shutterstock_178055471I 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?

Career Development: A Lesson from the Baby Boomer Generation

May 27th, 2014 by

shutterstock_83910604As 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:

Open .pdf “Tip Sheet: The Importance of Taking 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?

 

Career Development: How Many Times a Day Should You Check Your Work Email?

May 20th, 2014 by

shutterstock_84842515I 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?

 

Career Development: Is Your Employee Ready for a Higher Level Job?

May 8th, 2014 by

shutterstock_70419277I 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.

 

Career Development: Are You Adverse or Averse to Grammar Tips?

May 5th, 2014 by

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!

shutterstock_127130564

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.

Answers:

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!

Career Development: Just Because I’m Nice, Don’t Assume I’m Dumb

April 30th, 2014 by

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?

Career Development: Living Your Purpose? Find Out at a Glance!

April 25th, 2014 by

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

career dev

Career Development: Top Four Tips to Remember Names

March 30th, 2014 by

introduction2I 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!”

5 Shocking Design Mistakes to Avoid in Your Powerpoint Presentations

March 24th, 2014 by

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.”

Career Development: Are You a Trustworthy Boss? 3 Qualities Revealed

March 17th, 2014 by

© Yanik Chauvin

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?

Career Development: Are You Irreplaceable? 6 Questions that Reveal What Your Boss is Thinking

March 10th, 2014 by
pink-slip-2

Avoid the Pink Slip!

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.)

Career Development: 6 Questions To Advance Your Career Right Now (and a Humorous Look Back)

March 3rd, 2014 by

Do you ever review old reports you wrote, important e-mails you sent, big projects you completed and cringe? Reviewing past work can be a little scary, but an honest self-evaluation can be a great opportunity to advance your career development.

A lot of employers send the message that, “If I don’t say anything to you, then you are doing a good job.” But this doesn’t do much for your career advancement and development. In fact, this kind culture can really make you feel stuck. And why do we give so much credit to what someone else says about our work anyway? We should avoid letting the comments of others define our potential and capabilities. And we should avoid giving someone else all of the responsibility for our own advancement.

Reviewing old work and writing out a self-evaluation for your eyes only just once a year is a proactive step for performance improvement. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming to do this.

Here are six simple questions to consider that will help you set your own professional goals and advance your career:

1. What are my strengths? (Not what other people think they are, what you think they are. Write them down!)
2. How can I use them more in my current tasks? (Brainstorm some ideas – you’ll be surprised at the results!)
3. What are my weaknesses? (Again, not what other people think they are, what you think they are. Write them down!)
4. How can I overcome my weaknesses? (The first step is developing a couple of new routines and then sticking to them.)
5. What can I do better this year? (Be honest!)
6. Where can I take initiative and become a better employee who contributes more? (Look around – opportunities are all around you, I promise!)

Self-evaluations are important to your career development. Next week, I will introduce a new way to look at self-evaluation questions (and we’ll find out if your boss thinks you are irreplaceable). Until then, here is a humorous look at the types of reactions we can have when we look at our past work. Taking charge of your own performance improvement through self-evaluation will ensure that the next time you review your work, you’ll think, “I am awesome!”

past_work_20px
(Comic courtesy of 20px.com.)

Career Development: What Kind of Procrastinator are You?

February 24th, 2014 by

Procrastination at work can grow from many root causes, including feeling overwhelmed by a project to avoiding tasks because we don’t enjoy them to being passive aggressive because of a conflict with a manager. Fear can cause us to procrastinate too – fear of making a mistake, fear of failing and looking really dumb, fear of the unknown.

So, if you are a perfectionist, this article isn’t about you. Contrary to popular belief, research shows that procrastination doesn’t have anything to do with not getting things done because you want them to be perfect. Perfectionists may even procrastinate less than the average person.

There is a quote that I have at the top of my “Important Reminders” list that helps me overcome procrastination,

“For every disciplined action there is a multiple reward.” ~ Jim Rohn

This quote  helps me break out of a cycle of procrastination because it reminds me that action will result in rewards — as opposed to inaction, which results in, well, nothing. Rewards or nothing? I choose rewards.

So if you are in the grip of procrastination today, just make an intention to mark one thing off your procrastination list. One thing leads to another, and pretty soon you’ll feel like you’re on top of your game again and reaping the rewards of your efforts.

Next week, I have another idea for you about how you can do a self-evaluation and break out of the procrastination rut with just 6 questions.

But for now, I’ll leave you with the following cartoon. I think it’s funny because it rings true for many of us. Leave a comment below, what’s your favorite flavor of procrastination? I have to admit – I tend to be a Sidetracker!

field_guide_to_procrastinators_20px

Image courtesy of 20px.com

Career Development Tip: Who Else Wants a Dream Career?

February 17th, 2014 by

moving-on-quotes-1If you’re not currently in the career you want to be in, one way to get there is to consider the short and long term skill requirements for that position. Understanding the skills, education, technology and experience requirements of a position, and then developing a plan to achieve them will help you obtain your long-term career goals.

This doesn’t necessarily mean obtaining a bachelor’s degree. There are many short-term training programs that will help you update your résumé and move in the right direction. Look around for training programs that you can fit into your busy schedule that offer a powerful learning experience for little time commitment.

For example, many employers are looking for people with TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis skills. With a 2-day or 5-day investment of time, you can add this valuable skill to your résumé and open up many new and exciting opportunities for your career development.

The first step is deciding not to stay where you are. Learn what is required to move ahead and take a step toward your dream career.

Career Development: A Pep Talk on Paper Can Help Your Career by George Burk

February 3rd, 2014 by

A pep talk on paper can help career –write goals improve confidence

We’ve all had times in our life when we’ve been down on ourselves, frustrated by events, people, work, our career path.  Some good news: a recent study has shown you can change your personal and professional paradigms and regain that old self-confidence that has been absent—and make a favorable impression on others—when you take time to write your aspirations, ambitions and goals.

“Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action(s) you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, destiny.”  Alfred Montapert

Write two-three paragraphs that outline your goals and that will help you to feel more empowered, confident and energetic, Gavin Kilduff, an assistant professor of management and organization at New York University said his research showed.  When you write your aspirations and goals, you see them in front of you and they become real.  This process can be especially important before you join a new group or speak at an event.

Adam Galinsky, a psychologist and professor at Columbia Business School said his experiments showed that individuals who used an exercise as this to energize themselves showed greater initiative at initial group discussions and appeared more competent as teammates.

Both men found that once a person projects self-confidence to the group and its members perceive you well, ‘see’ you as real and genuine, the effects can be long-term. Specifically, they said that individuals who initially acted more confidently with the group established patterns of positive, assertive communications that continued and became self re-reinforcement attitudes and behaviors.  No one I know wants to admit they’re not confident. Confidence is critically important to effectively communicate your aspirations and goals.

“It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life; it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power.”  Robert T. Kiosaki

As a burn survivor, I know from first-hand experience the importance and role that self-confidence played and play s in my survival.  I learned early on that if I were to become a survivor, not a victim, I had to re-learn how to practice positive self-talk.

To write your goals and aspirations is but the first step. After this is done, the next step is to make a commitment to yourself that you’ll seek to achieve them. Share your aspirations and goals with family and friends.  Share what you hope to achieve and ask for their feedback and support. This is a process…it’s continuous…when one goal’s achieved move to another and create bigger goals. Practice positive self-talk.

If you don’t have time to write down your ambitions before you meet a group, mentally review your achievements and your goals.  That’s real-time reinforcement and may give your confidence a “shot in the arm,” and not look like you’re timid, disorganized or disinterested. Its great mental hygiene and positive reinforcement.

“A man without ambition is worse than dough that has no yeast to rise it.”  Henry Ward Beecher

A few other tips from the above mentioned persons and this writer:

Be prepared. Yes, that sounds simple enough. But you may be surprised (perhaps you’re not) how many people aren’t prepared to appear before a group.  Self-confidence comes from the knowledge you did your homework. That empowers you to come into a group like you own it. And…you DO own it! If you don’t believe you do, you set yourself up to fail.   Regardless, if you’re networking/ searching for a new position, conducting a weekly meeting or staff training, make certain you have done your homework so you’re up-to-date on the latest news, concepts and prepared to dialogue the issues saliently and thoroughly. If you don’t, your audience will soon realize that you don’t know your material. If you lose them, it’s almost impossible to regain their attention, interest and their confidence in you.

“Give me six hours to shop down a tree and I will spend four hours sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln

Look the role.  Simple tips but important none the less.  Good posture, back straight, make eye contact with as many as possible…hint:  a great tool to make effective eye contact is to discover the color of the person’s eyes. Always dress appropriately; that shows others you’re confident before your first “hello.”  Don’t have anything in your mouth…gum….candy.

Demonstrate your interest.  I’ve learned that most people like to talk about themselves, their family, hobbies, and travel.  I do! So…ask questions. The office break room can be a great place to strike-up a conversation with some others you may not see that often. Express an interest in their lives and what they do. The same concept is valuable ice-breaker at professional meetings and seminars— before the event begins, at lunch and at scheduled breaks.

“Snobs talk as if they had begotten their ancestors.” Herbert Ayers

Don’t be a snob.  Be the real you. If the real you IS a snob, good luck! How’s that worked for you? Maybe that’s the reason your ‘friends’ and associates seldom return your calls, emails and texts; don’t invite you back; they seem to never be available.  Positive attracts positives; negative attracts negatives; snobs attract other snobs. Few things in life turn me off than a person who tries to embellish any number of events in their lives. You’ve been to Hawaii once they’ve been there twice and so on.  One upmanship. The examples are endless.  They also try to impress with technical jargon or words that others may not know or understand.  Acronyms unknown to others can alienate those around you.

“Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses or avoids.”   Aristotle

Demonstrate class. Be gracious and show respect to others.  When you take the time to actually write a thank-you note to your boss, mentor, friend or another person for their advice, a person who invited you to dine with them; a host or friend who invited to speak at an event; a colleague who took the time to help you with a project; or an unexpected gift. Not an email, text or even a phone call is sufficient.  When you write a note, address it, place a stamp on the envelope and mail it, the effort shows you care. This is a lost art in our culture.  It’s not taught at home any more.  Technology has overtaken our lives. The “drive-through” get it now mind-set.

When you’re seen as a positive communicator, it enhances your credibility with friends, co-workers and hosts and establishes a level of confidence and professionalism in the minds of your friends and those you’ve met along the way.

All it takes is 5-10 minutes to sit and jot down your aspirations, goals and accomplishments. The benefits can be (and are) long-term. This is the power of positive self-talk; the power of positive thinking. Self-confidence is sequential, inside-out and it’s critical to our personal hygiene—our well-being and our careers.  This can also be accomplished by Mind-Mapping. Think pictures/visualization. Want more information on this? Let me know.

So now! Where are you going? How will you get there?  How will know you’ve ‘arrived’?  Who will be on your team?

This article was reprinted with permission from the author, Captain George Burk, USAF (Ret), Plane crash, burn survivor, motivational speaker, author, writer. Visit his website at www.georgeburk.com   or contact Captain Burk at gburk@georgeburk.com.

Career Development: Dump the New Year’s Resolutions – There’s a Better Way to Success

January 27th, 2014 by

As we near the end of January, many of us have already given up on our New Year’s Resolutions.

One reason this happens is because the enthusiastic day that we wrote the resolutions to be a better person, (better at managing our money, our careers, our relationships, our health), we failed to take into account that a day would come that we’d feel “off” our game.  You got the flu. A close friend or family member passed away. You get laid off. The furnace had to be replaced.

So we fail to achieve our goal the day the crisis hit … and then failed the next day… and then next day. Then the self-flagellation begins.

There is hope!

This author talks about how we can make a shift from creating a resolution or “goal” that is likely to fail when obstacles and setbacks arise to creating a successful “behavior.”

Read Dave Asprey’s article:

The One Simple Behavioral Secret Will Help You Meet Your Life Goals in 2014

and learn how to create sustainable behavior and that moves you in the direction of a spectacular 2014.

Career Development: One Way to Overcome a Common Obstacle to Your Professional Goals

December 2nd, 2013 by

With the New Year on the horizon, it’s time to think about professional goals for 2014. You may already be thinking about additional training that you could attend to enhance your career development (like the 2014 Global TapRooT® Summit!).

The problem with setting goals like these is getting over the obstacles. A common obstacle that causes us to push career development goals aside is that we are just too busy — the demands of the job take precedence.

How can we accomplish our career goals next year if we are weighed down with our day-to-day responsibilities?

Jack Zenger says, “involve your manager in your personal development,” and makes a special point to tell his readers not to inform our managers, but  to involve them.

Check out his three tips for getting your manager involved in his Forbe’s article:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jackzenger/2013/08/29/personal-development-isnt-personal-3-tips-for-getting-your-manager-involved/

Stand Out in the Job Market: Use Your Valuable Root Cause Analysis Training

November 18th, 2013 by

7895-327x450Looking for a job where you can use your TapRooT® skills?

If you are not using the skills you learned in training, you are missing key opportunities for professional development. The proactive and reactive tools your training provided will not only enhance your career but will also contribute to the greater good of saving lives and preventing injuries.

If you have been using your root cause analysis skills for awhile and are interested in a career change, one thing that will stand out on your resume is a record of your demonstrated TapRooT® successes. When you share multiple examples of problems solved or leading teams to success, you will have a significant advantage in the job market.

Remember, TapRooT® is not only a valued skill for employers looking for accident investigators, but is also a valued skill for companies that:

  • need to solve quality-related issues
  • have equipment downtime problems
  • experience failure to achieve optimal operational success

Keep up with the leading companies looking to hire people with TapRooT® root cause analysis skills by looking at this link:

http://www.taproot.com/archives/category/career-development/job-postings

Need a refresher? We have several 2-day courses coming up in June:

http://www.taproot.com/store/2-Day-Courses/?coursefilter=Incident+Investigation

And finally, if you have been thinking about getting training to become a TapRooT® Team Leader, get more info about our advanced 5-Day Team Leader Course:

http://www.taproot.com/courses/#5-day-root

If you have a success story to share about how TapRooT® has helped your career development, please share it by commenting below.

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