December 10, 2013 by Jenna
It is getting into the silly season and many of us can’t wait to let loose and have a holiday! But while the anticipation is high and the excitement builds, it is important to keep a level head at all times, especially at work. You don’t want a silly mistake at the end-of-year Christmas Party to take away all of the hard work you have put in throughout the year, do you?
We have all been there, it has been a stressful day and you can’t wait to ‘kick of your heels’ and have a drink. But remember, as management is providing you this privilege to say thank you for all of your hard work this year, the last thing you want to do is throw that down the drain!
So while conducting research on this topic I found an article from Susan Adams in Forbes called How Not To Behave At the Office Party and it outlined some of the common mistakes that can be made:
Don’t Arrive Late – The early stage of a party offers a great chance to chat with senior executives in a relaxed atmosphere before it all gets too hectic.
Don’t Be a Wallflower – Don’t sit in the corner and chat with the people you work with every single day. Branch out and introduce yourself to people in other departments. You never know who could help you move up the ladder.
Don’t Lose Control – If alcohol is served, enjoy a drink or two, not 12. Getting drunk at a company-sponsored event may not get you fired, but it will make you the butt of jokes and could have a lasting negative effect.
Don’t Show Up the Boss – If he’s carrying on about something you know more about, keep it to yourself.
Don’t Tell Racy Jokes – No matter how much the atmosphere loosens up as the evening proceeds, there will still be people who can be offended–and who will remember it the next day.
Don’t Flirt – The office party is a no-flirting zone. Even if you think you’re just relaxing and being playful with an attractive colleague, your behaviour risks being construed as sexual harassment.
Don’t Speechify About How You’d Run the Company – It’s been a frustrating year, and you think you could do a better job than the boss. Keep that to yourself.
Don’t Vent – You can assume your colleagues have had as tough a year as you have, and that everyone might enjoy a good gripe session. Don’t hold it at the office party. This is a professional occasion, so keep your game face on.
So remember to make the most of your Christmas party by enjoying the atmosphere, connect with fellow colleagues and management, reflect on the year that has passed and make a toast to the upcoming year ahead.
Ever had that experience where someone has gone a little overboard at the office Christmas party? If so, how was the situation rectified?
Category: Performance, Workplace Matters
Tags: anticipation, Assessment, atmosphere, attitude, Behaviour, boss, business, career, colleagues, communication, company, confidence, culture, employees, employer, experience, feedback, guidance, impression, management, negative, office, opportunity, organisation, people, performance, Personality, privilege, Professional, reputation, success, Team, temporary, workplace
December 2, 2013 by Jenna
I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is that once we start feeling the level of stress build in our daily lives, for various reasons, we tend to push the feelings aside believing that it will either ‘blow over’ or that it will sort itself out. But the problem is, if we don’t take actions to start managing our stress levels it creates in the longer term reduced morale and health problems and overall decreased productivity.
Sometimes the idea of tackling your stress head on can seem like a much larger task than what it actually is. We are never going to live a life that is stress-free, but here are some tips below that you can start applying slowly and steadily to start getting your work/life balance back on track:
1. One thing at a time.
There can be many things piling up at once that seem overwhelming and create a lot of anxiety. But the fact of the matter is you need to pick one at a time in order to truly manage the task effectively. Of course you will be expected to be a multi-tasker, but prioritise your tasks in terms of timeframe and urgency, clear away anything that could be a potential distraction or obstacle, and tackle the task now! Even if it is something you don’t enjoy doing as much, you may as well get it out of the way, otherwise it can put more pressure on you by saving items to the last minute, especially when you know you have other pending tasks awaiting.
2. Simplify your schedule.
The more items you have back-to-back the more increased your stress levels will be. I too struggle with saying no but sometimes you need to focus on your priorities and if you have appointments space them out so that you are not rushing from one meeting to the next! This will allow you to be covered in the event of delays or meetings running over time. And for those not so urgent priorities, most people are flexible if you re-schedule to a more suitable time where you can perform at your best and be in the right head space.
3. Get moving.
Do something each day to be active — walk, hike, play a sport, go for a run, do yoga. And it can be for any timeframe that suits you and doesn’t have to be extremely difficult. But being healthy sometimes means stepping away from your desk and computer to let your mind relax and keep your body fit and healthy. I live by this, the healthier you are the more productive you will be, not to mention refreshed.
4. Develop one healthy habit this month.
This ties in with number 3, as stress tends to keep us at our desks we either limit our food intake or help ourselves to unhealthy, easily accessible snacks such as chocolate, soft drink etc. If you only get one day of the week to shop why not pre-buy nuts, fruit and vegetables, protein bars etc. This week one of the girls in our office introduced Kale Chips to share with one another as a healthy alternative. Keep your insides clean and you will feel less sluggish.
5. Do something calming.
What do you enjoy that calms you down? For those that may be less inclined to step out and try kite surfing like I did last weekend, finding a relaxation method like reading a book, painting, taking a nap, gardening, etc. it is important to find a bit of ‘me’ time to shut out distractions and do something that makes you feel good! Why not even try something new and creative that you haven’t tried before?
6. Simplify your finances.
Finances always tend to be a contributor to stress, whether it’s bills to pay, living expenses and transport costs, unexpected repayments etc. But do you currently set yourself a budget or a payment plan?
For example, I get paid once a month so I set out ahead of time what my total cost of bill repayments will be for the following month. I also include gifts or personal purchases that I may know of ahead of time or events that I need to pay for. Then I allocate myself a set amount to spend per week to spend on food, transport etc., while allowing myself to save some additional money on the side for any unexpected payments so that I am not left unprepared. That may sound like a lot of work but if you set this up as a routine, you will find this to be quite manageable and a great way to reduce financial stress.
Many of my colleagues will agree that a good ‘spring clean’ or even a 10-20 minute tidy of your desk and surrounds not only makes you feel better but it also allows you to manage your paperwork and tasks when you have enough room and you can see the tasks clearly laid out in front of you! It can be a very easy habit to be a hoarder or get side-tracked but getting organised with little tasks like this will help you tackle the larger tasks. Keep a routine so that you are doing this regularly.
8. Be early.
How many times do you tend to stress out because you are running late for your next appointment or meeting? Too many. When you are late you are filled with anxiety, regret and often you are unfocused and it can make you unprepared and not appear at your best. Similar to what I have covered in my previous blog about interview preparation, allowing yourself that extra time to get to a location will leave you more alert, refreshed and at ease.
My parents for example are great creatures of habit. They get up every morning at 6.00am to have time to walk the dogs, have breakfast and watch the morning news, water their garden and head to work. They have been doing that for years and have never looked back and again they have set this routine for themselves so that they can better manage their time and prepare themselves for the day ahead.
Do you have any handy tips that you follow daily to help cope with stress? What has worked for you previously and what hasn’t?
Tags: Assessment, attitude, Behaviour, candidate, career, colleagues, communication, company, confidence, distractions, employees, employer, experience, feedback, flexibility, goals, impression, information, job, morale, office, opportunity, organisation, people, perform, performance, Personality, prioritise, productivity, Professional, reputation, routine, skills, success, Team, Training, workplace
November 26, 2013 by Jenna
Completing the interview for that job you really want can leave you with a buzz of achievement. Naturally you can’t wait to hear a response, get the ‘ball rolling’ and find out what’s next? Waiting for a response can be a challenge of your patience, but it is critical at this stage that you show the best impression and through your follow-up to further demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate for the job.
At the interview:
1. The first step in effective follow-up after the interview is to be clear on the interview process. When is the employer looking to fill the position by? For some positions filling the role is critical for others the employer will take the time needed to find the best candidate for the role. When would your prospective employer want to fill the position by? If you are to be considered, what would the next step be? Are there any other stages of the selection process – i.e. psychometric testing, further interviews, reference checks etc.?
2. When you would be expecting to hear back from the interviewer? An interviewer will generally advise when they are looking to get back to candidates, if they don’t it is important to ask this question so that you don’t jump the gun to call back. There is a fine line between genuine enthusiasm and desperation – and by knowing the interviewers timeframes you will know when it is time to show your genuine enthusiasm for the next stage.
At the end of the Interview
Remember that out of the many applications that the employer has reviewed they chose you to come in and meet with them, so always make sure to thank them for considering you and for providing their time at the end of the interview. It’s not only common courtesy but it also allows you to build a sense of rapport with that person. This is also the perfect time to leave them with no doubt that you are genuinely interested in this role and why.
Within 24 hours after the interview
If you want to add a nice touch after the interview, why not send a thank you email?
Keep it succinct and to the point and professionally outline in a couple of sentences your thanks and genuine interest in being considered for the role. You don’t want to write too much or you will lose the engagement of the interviewer. You can also take the opportunity in that email to attach any further documentation that you think may be relevant for the employer to review for your application – i.e. reference checks or academic transcripts etc. And for those that still enjoy writing letters the old fashioned way, why not?
Now for the waiting game, when is it appropriate to follow up?
If the specified date has passed that the interviewer advised that they would call, then by all means touch base and see if there has been any progress. There are certain factors that may be causing delays, but at least you can know for peace of mind and also be aware of the new timeframe to receive feedback.
Should you continue to apply for roles in the event that you are waiting back to hear if you are proceeding with the next stage of the interview?
In today’s competitive job market I would say yes. It is important to keep your options open, especially in the event of temporary work so that if you are unsuccessful for the next round you can assess your options for what to do next. It is important to keep an open, optimistic mind in the job market; otherwise putting the pressure on one interview can be devastating if you do not proceed further.
What has worked with you in terms of following up after an interview or providing a thank you follow up? Even as an interviewer, what have candidates done previously to make themselves memorable after you have interviewed them?
Tags: achievement, Assessment, attitude, Behaviour, candidate, career, communication, company, confidence, enthusiasm, experience, feedback, genuine, goals, impression, information, job, management, memorable, opportunity, optimistic, organisation, people, performance, Personality, productivity, Professional, prospective, rapport, Recruitment, reputation, Research, skills, success, workplace
October 29, 2013 by Jenna
Anyone can say that they are flexible and adaptable when it comes to change, but when push comes to shove is it really true? When the going gets tough, do you hold yourself accountable and push forward?
I follow a lot of people that I consider to be ‘inspirational’. I find that the quotes they post, the experiences and blogs that they share and what they have achieved continue to guide me in the direction of the goals that I would like to achieve.
But it is not as simple as setting out the path and walking in that direction – there will be storms, there will be obstacles and there will be setbacks. And that is why when I reflect on the stories of those that have achieved great things; I am most inspired by the times when they faced trials, and what they had to do to overcome these.
Anything that you are passionate about takes work, it’s inevitable, and that is what makes the experience worth it when you get to the finish line.
This year alone has been an incredible journey for me personally. Just after new year’s day I was standing at the base of Mount Everest looking upon where some many other climbers and explorers have traveled before me and in August I encountered war history walking along the Kokoda Trail where many Australians fought and lost their lives. These were not only physical challenges but emotional, with experiences I have taken back with me that I will never forget.
While this was all planned way in advance and I was as thorough as I could possibly be with my planning, this did not mean that I wasn’t going to face challenges along the way. I also had to discipline myself in the following areas:
• Financially – Preparing for vaccinations, travel insurance, flights, meals, guides, porter fees, emergency spending money, gear lists, training fees etc. I had to budget and arrange payment plans well in advance to make this work.
• Physically – Taking extra time out of my ‘personal time’ (mornings and evenings) to physically prepare myself for the journey. I had joined an altitude training gym, bushwalking groups and regular gym appointments to make this happen, and sometimes the appointment locations were at least an hour away from where I lived. I also had to discipline myself to not turn down appointments for social plans or compromise my training goals or else I would have struggled when it came to doing these treks.
• Emotionally – Often the mind will not agree with what is beneficial for the body to prepare for these kinds of goals. Yes my body and mind were tired, yes I could create many convincing excuses as to why I shouldn’t do something, yes I could convince myself to eat that pepperoni pizza instead of salads or healthy foods. This was probably the biggest battle of all when it comes to changing your lifestyle for a goal is wanting to resort back to creature comforts!
• Time – Sometimes it is hard enough planning what you are going to achieve in a week let alone six months ahead or more! I had to diarise my time like you wouldn’t believe, and it made it so much easier to balance my work and personal life around this schedule leading up to my goals and also reminding myself of what was to come as there are often distractions or unpredictable situations that can temporarily take you off course.
You are probably reading this and thinking, ‘How did she stay with it? How could she have not made mistakes or broken her routine along the way?’ Of course I made mistakes! I am human after all. I would sleep in, eat that pizza and even whine or cry my way out of doing something because I was frustrated and tired. The point of discipline however, was that it made me more aware of what I was doing and if I slipped up I would have to make up for it, plain and simple.
But it took me practice to gain the right mindset in order to persevere with my goals. What I mean by that is, the natural response your mind will often have when you choose to follow those creature comforts instead of following your set out plan is to condemn yourself. That negativity then expands into feelings of doubt and your mind starts thinking, ‘What are you doing? If you screw up here how will you get to where you need to go? Give up now, there is no use…’ and so on. I become frustrated when I hear this being expressed from people that I care about because I know this mindset can be a hard one to shake, especially if you repeat it enough that you have convinced yourself that this negativity is true.
You will regret more however by not seeing what you are truly capable of. You will start seeing results once you start changing and adapting yourself to achieve goals, otherwise if you were to quit and never look back you will never know what could have been.
I recently looked up the definition of resilience: ‘the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched…’ Now isn’t that a great description of what change can do to us? It will place us outside of our comfort zone and put us in uncomfortable situations to the point where we sometimes think we can’t take it. But you will find more often than not that you can take it (with ups and downs along the way!), and you will know that you have grown once you have seen what you are capable of. I know I have.
When have you experienced resilience in times of change? What methods did you follow to discipline yourself and to persevere to get ahead?
Tags: accountable, adaptable, attitude, Behaviour, candidate, career, communication, company, confidence, culture, discipline, distractions, employees, employer, experience, feedback, flexibility, goals, guidance, impression, information, inspiration, job, negativity, opportunity, organisation, people, performance, persevere, Personality, productivity, Professional, reputation, skills, success, temporary, Training, work
October 22, 2013 by Jenna
Constructive feedback for most can be one of the hardest things to accept, I still struggle with it. Who wants to be told what we need to improve on? In an ideal world it would be great if we could be lavished with praise and be told what we want to hear, but how do we ever grow or gain further skills to accomplish what we want to achieve?
Whether you are an individual or running a business you are going to receive some form of constructive feedback, and receiving it for the first time can be painful depending on how you perceive it.
When I was younger I had this aspiration that I would work on cruise ships as a bartender. I had this image in my head of a job filled with fun, travel and luxury. So with very limited experience under my belt I applied for every cruise ship company I could find. No response. So I decided to complete a Cert IV in Hospitality, gain all of my qualifications and then try again. I started off working in ‘family’ restaurants and I soon realised I lacked any talent when it came to bartending.
I was also made aware of the fact that my style of service was a bit more formal and suited a ‘fine dining’ atmosphere. When my manager would say that to me I didn’t know how to take it. Was I not good enough in my current role? Did I not fit the criteria that they needed? I was trying my hardest so why wasn’t I suitable?
So what became of this?
My teacher at TAFE had a connection to the HR Manager at the Hilton Hotel, I went for an interview with them twice and before I knew it I was working for their Event Operations team looking after a more ‘fine dining’ approach for their gala dinners and conferences. And I really enjoyed it. So in a sense, the feedback provided was correct, I just didn’t see it at the time.
Constructive feedback can trigger a number of reactions, and you may be familiar with some of the ones below:
- Hostility/Resistance/Denial—Employees attack your credibility and the facts in the review. Employees do not acknowledge the issue, deny that the incidents took place, or downplay the impact of their actions.
- Indifference—Employees react to the feedback in an apathetic manner and do not fully commit to doing things differently.
- Lack of Confidence/Self Pity—Employees are uncertain in their abilities to succeed or are risk-averse.
- Responsibility Skirting—Employees may acknowledge the negative feedback but may play the ‘blame game,’ indirectly implying that they will not change.S
- hock/Anger—Employees become angry and say things impulsively or react in an emotional way
Now that I work at a recruitment company I get to experience first-hand how difficult it can be for consultants to relay constructive feedback to applicants that may not have made it to the second round of the interview process. It can be devastating to deliver that news to someone but it is also important that we provide this constructive feedback so that individuals can better prepare themselves in the future.
When it comes to receiving constructive feedback there are some important steps you can take to fully understand what is being delivered to you so that you can get the best out of that experience:
Listen carefully to what is being said to you.
- Be sure that you understand the feedback. Summarise or restate the feedback for the other person to be sure there are no misunderstandings.
- Take notes so you can review everything that was said at a later time.
- Control your feelings and try not be defensive.
- Ask for examples to clarify the feedback and put it into context.
- Decide what to do with the feedback: listen and change; listen and gather more information; listen and ignore.
- Consider your other experiences – have you been given similar feedback before? Does it fit a pattern? Is it time to change?
- Check with others – did other people involved in the incident or project have the same feelings about your efforts?
Listening was the first point as it can often be hard to do once your emotions set in or if you go into ‘defence mode’. This however, can save many misunderstandings and even teach you things about yourself that you didn’t even realise. You also need to show that you are open to receiving feedback as well. The includes body language and your attitude at the time, if you appear ‘closed’ then it will be harder for your manager or the person delivering the feedback to be open and honest with you. Trust me, it is really important to have people in your life that can deliver feedback openly and honestly to you, even if you find it difficult to accept at the time.
And just remember, all of the managers and individuals that you look up to have at some stage received constructive feedback too. The important thing is what you make of it and where you let it take you.
Tags: Assessment, atmosphere, attitude, Behaviour, boss, candidate, career, communication, company, confidence, constructive, criteria, culture, employees, employer, experience, feedback, flexibility, goals, guidance, impression, information, knowledge, management, opportunity, organisation, people, perceive, performance, Personality, productivity, Professional, reputation, skills, success, Team, Training, workplace
October 15, 2013 by Jenna
Whether it is in our personal lives or careers we all face stress at some stage. I tend to find it happens the more responsibilities pile up and the more you take on new challenges. While greater responsibilities often help us grow, we also need to find that balance as stress should not be something that rules our lives.
Negative effects of stress to physical and mental health
While you may not even realise that you are suffering from stress, I have found from personal experience the following symptoms can occur:
• You begin to isolate yourself from those around you and interact less with others
• You experience fatigue due to lack of sleep
• Decreased morale and lack of enthusiasm to complete tasks – which in turn can result in poor results at work
• Increased headaches, aches and pains in the body and additional health problems over time
• Becoming emotionally sensitive or over-reactive about the slightest mishaps
I tend to find that I experience stress the most when I am trying to plan an event and I take on the role of ‘organiser’. While I can set out a plan in advance for a team or work project and feel like I am 100% on top of things, one can never be completely prepared for the unexpected. This includes setbacks, delays, emergency situations, individuals dropping out of projects, something going wrong etc.
Trying to do this on top of my daily routine, it can appear impossible sometimes. If I don’t try to deal with it appropriately I am now aware that I start to show signs of the symptoms above. I’m sure that most of you can relate, and sometimes that easy alternative is to switch off or even give up.
This option does not often result in a positive outcome, and since I don’t believe in quitters, I have developed stress busters to try and tackle what I am struggling with head on.
What you can do differently to help overcome stress
• Don’t sweat the small stuff – I remember reading this in a workshop that I attended recently thinking ‘easy for you to say’, but it really does help if you change your thinking slightly. It can be very common to worry when things are not going exactly to plan, but if we spend time worrying about all of the little things, how will you be able to cope with more challenging situations? You will be too exhausted! Have a back-up plan if need be or find alternative solutions and even if you have to tweak or change your plans slightly it is often worth it. But also keep calm and collected in the process, this will allow you to be able to react more clearly instead of letting stress cloud your judgement.
• Healthy mind and body – When people are stressed they tend to find that they have less time to do some of the things that can truly benefit their productivity.
• Putting healthy eating and exercise on the back-burner will often leave you feeling even more ‘burnt out’. Sometimes I struggle combining the two as I enjoy exercise but I love food, and often it can be bad habits like takeaway or sugar products. What have I learned from this? Well these foods result in constant highs and lows but I need a continual balance to be performing at my best. Find those super foods that are good for your body and also make you feel good, if this means taking the time to prepare meals in advance then do it, this will save you resorting to eating last minute fatty foods that leave you feeling sluggish.
• If you’re not a gym junkie then go for a walk or do some yoga at home. Clear your mind every now and again and this will result in better sleep patterns. I like to go for long walks sometimes after work or on weekends and I find when I come back I am so refreshed because I just needed that little bit of ‘me time’.
• The art of delegation – Most people consider this to be a weakness to ask someone else for help so they try to take on everything themselves which can result in stress levels going through the roof. Not only that but deadlines are sometimes not met and it can leave you feeling more like a failure. If you have others involved in projects that you are working on, ask them if they could assist, even if it may seem like a simple task to pass on it could end up freeing your time just enough to get other deadlines completed. Work together as a team and if times get quieter for you, offer your friends or colleagues a hand in return.
• Develop a hobby or read a book – If you find it hard to ‘wind down’ right away after work, keep your mind stimulated with something that you enjoy doing and you can eventually relax and calm yourself enough to rest. I enjoy writing in my spare time, painting or reading books by inspirational authors to motivate me daily. If you feel like perhaps you have lost touch with your hobbies, it is never too late to get back on track.
• Prioritising tasks – I have outlined this previously in my time management blog, but the more you organise your tasks in order of priority, the less you will often feel stressed or worry that you haven’t finished what you needed to do in a day. Don’t be afraid to communicate what you are doing as well to others so that they are not adding additional tasks to your workload if you don’t believe you will be able to achieve this at the time.
• Communicate to someone – Believe it or not bottling up stress can in fact create further stress and anxiety. Make it clear if you are struggling so that someone can help you overcome this. A lot of the time others will not be aware of what is going on if you keep it to yourself, the sooner you communicate, the sooner you can find resolve.
How have you learned to cope with stress over the years? Do you still apply certain principles today?
Tags: attitude, Behaviour, boss, candidate, career, colleagues, communication, company, confidence, culture, delegation, employees, employer, experience, feedback, flexibility, goals, guidance, impression, interact, isolate, judgement, management, office, opportunity, organisation, people, performance, Personality, productivity, Professional, reputation, skills, success, Team, temporary, Training, workplace
October 9, 2013 by Jenna
‘A goal without an action plan is a daydream.’ – Nathaniel Branden
We have covered personal goals earlier in September, but now I would like to focus on careers, and what I liked about putting together an ‘action plan’ is that it is more than just writing down an aspiration, it is something that drives what you want to accomplish.
You may be wanting to step up in your current role or you may want to change roles (or even career paths) but regardless of where you are I hope you can benefit from some of the steps I have found beneficial in putting career goals into action.
1. My Profile – Understanding who I am and what I want to achieve
What you want to do with your career is not up to anyone else but you. As with personal passions are you in line with what you are passionate about professionally? What steps do I need to take to get to where you want in your career?
• Have you considered career guidance to reflect on your strengths, career interests and where you want to take your career next?
• Update resume and LinkedIn profile – are they all up to date and accurately represent you and the next career step you want to take?
• Audience – Who are you trying to reach out to so that you can start getting your career goals on track? Are you connecting with others through networking? Is your boss aware of what you are currently seeking or trying to achieve? Are you presenting levels of enthusiasm and reaching out for opportunities when they present themselves?
2. My Progress – Reflecting on my past achievements and what I have gained up until this stage of my career.
Let’s face it, what we have achieved or have made decisions on in the past have led us to where we are today. Whether it is training courses, networking events, recognition for hard work resulting in promotions/ publications etc.
Once you have accurately reviewed your previous achievements, ask yourself:
• What can you learn from these experiences to get you ahead?
• How can they be a benefit for you now (e.g. transferrable skills)?
• Is there anything that you need to be refreshed on?• What have you achieved recently to take you to that next step in your career?
• Are there any courses or projects that you can put your hand up for at the moment?
3. My Goals and Plans – What am I hoping to achieve and by when?
This is similar to what I have covered with personal goals. You cannot expect to complete any goal unless you write it down and put a timeframe on it.
Some people have one year, five year or even ten year goal plans. Take the time to brainstorm, set out a plan, and then for that first year break down the tasks to achievable timeframes (weekly, fortnightly, monthly, every six months etc.) Just think of it like a daily schedule that has been extended by twelve months!
It can be hard sometimes to imagine where you will end up in six months’ time let alone a year or more but having a sense of direction is the key. It’s the force that drives you even if the direction might change slightly or may not go exactly according to plan. Having written goals and plans lead you into action, and keep the list near you or in your calendar as a reminder so you don’t fall off track. It will save you from distraction. This helps me more than anything to have reminders and information written down so that I can act now and also plan ahead.
4. My Review – My continual follow up and reflection on where my career goals have taken me to move on to the next step
Managing your career means managing your progression. Once you have reached one of your goals and ticked it off your list it is important to reflect on the steps you took to achieve the goal. Established what had worked and what didn’t work so that you know what to avoid in the future.
• Have you received any valuable feedback or direction from someone along the way?
• Have any doors opened as a result of completing this goal?
• Do you need to tweak any of your remaining goals?
There can also be the case where your goals have not gone according to plan. If not handled properly it can leave you bitter and disappointed. It could even lead to you giving up on that direction all together. My advice on this point would be to make sure to evaluate all avenues before letting go of any goals. If you are not open to the prospect:
• That other doors may open as a result of this roadblock or
• Asking yourself if you could review this at a later stage (if it wasn’t the right time)
Then you could be missing out on potential opportunity. And if something is really bothering you, speak to someone you can trust – a friend, family member, a mentor or colleague. Having a second opinion can really help you make your decision.
Have you ever had a career action plan? If so, where has it taken you in your career?
Category: Career Choice
Tags: Assessment, attitude, Behaviour, boss, business, career, communication, company, confidence, culture, employees, employer, experience, feedback, flexibility, goals, guidance, information, interests, management, office, opportunity, organisation, passionate, people, performance, Personality, productivity, Professional, Recruitment, Research, skills, strengths, success, Training, workplace
October 1, 2013 by Jenna
My biggest time management mistake is I can’t say no.
Outside of work, if you ask anyone, I am always busy! And most of the time I love it, but there has got to be a time to have a rest day or just say no otherwise I crash and burn. If I don’t prioritise my tasks properly to what suits my work, adventure lifestyle and alone time then I can end up letting other people down and also feel disappointed in myself. It’s not a nice feeling, it is so much better to know you have done your best and to feel a sense of achievement!
This became a reality when I came back from completing the Kokoda Trail and I was skinny and very fatigued. Feeling more tired than usual I was finding it hard to pick up a routine again. I was then advised by a health professional that I was ‘over-training’ and should allow myself to rest for at least three weeks or the fatigue will continue to increase and it could take months to recover! Wow that was a reality check. Of course when I brought this up to my flatmate, she said, ‘And you have only realised this now?’
So I guess what I have gained out of that experience is that in order to be my best I need to effectively rest. I can still enjoy the aspects of planning and doing many outdoor activities and working but I need to be in touch with my limits in order to continue to stretch and grow further in the future. And of course, occasionally say ‘no’.
That’s not to say that is my only time management mistake, however, the more I start to make myself aware of these pitfalls, the easier I can avoid them. The other key time management mistakes I need to focus on, and some of you might relate to these as well, are:
1. Failing to keep a to-do list
Not only are to-do lists helpful for your memory with important tasks and deadlines, it also helps you prioritise the way in which you will complete each task. You can order them in terms of priority, by time period to complete them etc. It’s providing a written account of what you are responsible for, and if it’s written down you’ll have fewer excuses as to why you didn’t complete the task (it saves you procrastinating!).
2. Not setting personal goals
Goals give you a destination and vision to work towards. You will manage your time more effectively if you know the difference between what is a priority (something that drives you) or what is merely a distraction.
3. Not prioritising
What links to point number one, it is important to take note of timeframes for the high priority tasks to those that can be put on the backburner until a later time. There will be circumstances where you are taking on many tasks at once and may be unsure as to which one is more important. Make sure to communicate and confirm your priorities. Your manager may not realise that you are doing two other projects on the side before he/she walks over and hands over something else. Nothing looks worse than to accept a task and then fail to deliver because you didn’t ask enough questions. When you take on a task you are accountable.
4. Not taking breaks
While you may feel you are ‘saving time’ by working through your lunch break or sitting in front of your computer for long hours of the day, you could actually be doing yourself more harm than good. Just as the billboards advise when you have been driving on the road for many hours, ‘Stop, Revive, Survive’. The body needs time to recover, and it can be anything from a ten minute walk, having lunch outside away from your desk, having a five minute stretch or having a snack. Look after yourself so that you in turn can provide better results. Working like a robot will only leave you looking and behaving like a zombie!
What time management mistakes are you guilty of? What advice have you given to someone on managing their time effectively?
Tags: achievement, Assessment, attitude, Behaviour, career, circumstances, communication, company, confidence, employees, employer, experience, feedback, flexibility, goals, guidance, impression, information, management, office, opportunity, organisation, people, performance, Personality, prioritise, productivity, Professional, skills, success, Team, Training, workplace
September 24, 2013 by Jenna
I am an only child, so naturally I have grown up to be quite comfortable working independently and doing things on my own. I don’t mind being the organiser, going on trips on my own, working on projects and deadlines to achieve what I need both personally and professionally.
But there will always come a time where I tend to realise that ‘I can’t do it all’ and I get, well, burnt out. I am not superwoman, I am human, and while I am capable of achieving great things on my own, some of the experiences I have had in my life would not have been so successful without having a team by my side.
I understand that some people will embrace teamwork with open arms and others shy away from the concept, and I can relate. Sometimes it can be awkward to work with someone you barely know or you may have a more introverted personality. But I think it is also important to consider the value of what teamwork can achieve for all of us.
1. A sense of accountability
I believe when you are allocated a task or responsibility in a group that you are driven to achieve higher standards because you know that you are contributing something to the entire team and not just for yourself.
How often have you created a personal goal and then talked yourself out of it?
It’s a lot more difficult to do that when you are in a team. You have someone to report to or you need to keep following up yourself to keep everyone on track. And based on personal experience, the ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘I’m too busy’ excuse is often met with a ‘toughen up princess’ response. We are all busy individuals with different responsibilities and excuses (or sometimes what I like to call the pity party) are not going to be passed for special people in the group, we are all on an even playing field. We are kept accountable.
2. A helping hand
Of course when you are experiencing a personal problem or a down period and are struggling, team members step in to encourage one another, provide advice and they will even help you share the workload if necessary to help you get back on track. I have had a few moments where I have been panicking due to deadlines rushing in and items not working out to plan, and sometimes have even broken down into tears due to a combination of stress and exhaustion. If you have built close relationships within your team, they can sense when something is wrong and sometimes without even asking, a helping hand is held your way.
3. A competitive drive
When I refer to competitive drive I’m not referring to competing against one another in your team, I have seen this happen firsthand in previous office environments and I have found it to drive the team further apart rather than draw them together.
However, you may have a competing business in the same industry or an opposing sports team and the saying ‘strength in numbers’ comes into play. You stick your heads together and come up with new strategies, brainstorm new ideas and overall have a fresh perspective on goals and tasks. Once you have established the outcome you want to achieve as a team you feel stronger, more capable of taking on the odds of any challenges thrown your way. And you play to win!
4. Personal development and growth
I have to say over the years I have grown to learn a lot about myself in team environments. Interacting in a team environment involves:
• Patience – As things may not go according to plan or there are delays. You are all in this together, so losing your cool at someone or having a tantrum in front of the group will not make the situation work more favourably, not to mention you are the one that will feel foolish afterwards.
• Having an open mind – to new suggestions and perspectives, this also includes not being quick to judge one another if they take on a task differently to you.
• Having a positive mindset and how it increases team morale – The ability to encourage others and support one another as much as they support you. Try to enjoy the experience and get to know one another, make an effort to be a team player.
• How to respond in emergency situations – Thinking on your feet but also responsibly to look out for your team and their needs. Again the importance of keeping calm therefore being more aware of what is going on around you.
• Communication to help solve issues and not to let tension build – especially if you are in disagreement with certain members of the team. Also to speak up when you need help or would like to assist.
• The importance of being organised and punctual – Allowing yourself to be viewed as reliable within the team. The more reliable you are, the more responsibilities you can also take on amongst the team.
What has teamwork taught you? When were some of your winning team moments?
Tags: accountability, attitude, Behaviour, career, communication, company, competitive, confidence, culture, deadlines, employees, employer, environment, experience, feedback, goals, guidance, impression, opportunity, organised, people, performance, Personality, productivity, Professional, reliable, Research, skills, success, Team, Training, workplace
September 17, 2013 by Jenna
When I contemplate on goal setting I tend to think of it as a way of setting my path towards the future and what I would like to achieve, whether personally or in a career sense.
Goals motivate you, challenge you to your limits and teach us lessons throughout our journey. Sometimes these lessons show you what you are capable of once you have achieved those goals and if we fail or need to take a step back we learn what could have been done differently or ways to improve for the future.
A goal begins with a thought, an idea, a dream or a vision. But thought without action creates nothing and that is where goal setting comes into play.
Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T ) goals.
Before I begin to set out a goal I like to ask myself the following questions:
• Have I written down what I want to accomplish? It may seem like a simple process but often when we think of something and don’t write it down we then become distracted and the goal ends up being put into the ‘to do’ basket for a later time. Not only is writing down the goal important, but also weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of what you are about to do to make sure that it is something you are capable of achieving within a period of time.
• Have I told someone about it? Believe it or not, by letting others know what you want to achieve can help motivate you and also holds a sense of accountability when it comes to keeping on track with your goal setting.
• Have I broken down the goal into smaller tasks to achieve within a timeframe? I tend to find what can put an individual off of goal setting can be the size of the goal, especially if you plan the goal years in advance. With everything else going on in our lives and our schedules, big goals can seem cumbersome and therefore too hard to pursue further. But if you set smaller tasks within a timeframe and something that can balance with your everyday lifestyle, the less overwhelming it will seem and the closer you will start stepping towards achieving that goal.
• Am I keeping a record of my experiences so that I can evaluate them when assessing future goals? Don’t be afraid to record your achievements, after all, accomplishing something allows you to know what you are capable of and you can also assess what worked or didn’t work for future opportunities. Also, you may never know who may approach you one day wanting your advice on a similar goal or path to take.
• Am I having fun and celebrating the achievements along the way? Once committing to the goals and putting the plans into action are you taking the time to enjoy the experience? Are you celebrating (no matter how big or small) those little accomplishments along the way? Are you taking the time to acknowledge those who have helped you along the way? I tend to find balancing your personal happiness and relationships along the way are vital to an ultimate fulfillment in achieving your goals.
• What’s next? I remember a couple of months ago being asked this question and being stumped! We don’t need to limit our goals to just one at a time, as long as we organise the goals and allow a proper time frame to achieve them our goals can become stepping stones to the next one and then the next. As the saying goes, ‘When one door closes, another one opens.’
When I booked the Kokoda Trail it was almost a year prior to the trip taking place. I allowed this time so that I could complete the steps needed to make this goal happen. Items such as finances (to pay for the trip, transportation, emergency expenses, gear), purchasing the right hiking equipment (by doing the appropriate research and testing this beforehand), training preparations (scheduled gym sessions and training walks with a pack on), and trying to learn the history/geography of the trail before going on the trip of a lifetime.
This didn’t mean that I didn’t have setbacks along the way, such as neglecting training because I was ‘too tired’ or letting other distractions throw me off the planning process. However, I had booked this trip with a close friend of mine, and during my low times I would receive a text reminding me of my next trek training date or we would send emails of the latest news updates of the area or inspirational images of places we were going to see along the walk and it really helped motivate me.
This motivation and preparation led me to take on something that I was passionate about and that I wanted to accomplish. And while the Kokoda Trail itself had elements of unpredictability and challenges, if I had not taken the necessary measures to prepare for this goal I wouldn’t have been able to take with me the great experience that I can now share with others today. So if your goal is something that you are passionate about and that you can realistically achieve, stick with it and don’t let yourself get side tracked, because after all it is your life and you don’t want to spend your time regretting what you didn’t do.
What are your goals and dreams for the end of the year?
Category: Career Choice, Performance
Tags: Assessment, attitude, Behaviour, career, Challenge, communication, company, confidence, employees, employer, experience, feedback, flexibility, goals, guidance, information, motivate, opportunity, organisation, people, performance, Personality, preparation, productivity, Professional, Research, skills, success, Team, Training, workplace