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  1. 8 Ways To Get Ahead At Work

    April 8, 2014 by Jenna

    gold star

    Keeping your skills up to date is one of the key requirements for career progression, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.  Here are 8 more ways, outlined in WomansDay.com to get ahead at work:

    1.       Take on diverse assignments

    How often do you offer your assistance or ownership to new tasks? Letting fear of failure prevent you from doing a task will not help stretch you any further than where you are now.

    Perhaps there is an area of work that you are not familiar with or have not been trained on before. Why not take the opportunity to pair up with someone who is experienced in that field on a task and learn new skills? Management will appreciate your initiative to pursue new directions and learn about different sections of the organisation and roles of your team members.

    The more that you can get involved in at work, the more you are showcasing what you are capable of, and you never know what opportunities can open up as a result.

     2.       Put out fires before they start

    If you notice any potential conflict or errors on the horizon do not be afraid to speak up or use your initiative to try and solve the issue. This shows management that you can use good judgement in stressful situations and can be reliable in events when they may require an extra pair of hands.

    3.       Ask questions

    Many of us perceive the idea of asking too many questions as a sign of weakness or lacking the ability to follow instructions. In fact, you can save yourself a lot of heartache and potential problems occurring if you ask a lot of questions early on, especially when it comes to taking on new tasks or responsibilities. It is the role of management to train and guide you in the right direction, and if it appears that management may being going through a busy period find a point of contact within your organisation who may be able to steer you in the right direction.

    4.       Find-and learn from-a mentor

    While your manager can coach you on a current task, you can receive an incredible drive by directing your long term goals with someone. It is also a good motivator knowing that you have someone to be accountable to, who will follow up on your progress, whom you can receive advice from. A mentor can be anyone – a friend, colleague, or someone by mutual acquaintance (This links to a previous Challenge Consulting blog: Lessons I have learned from my mentor).

    5.       Get to the point

    Make sure when you are putting forward a new idea, proposal, and reason behind why you may want more responsibility that you keep to the point. Be confident with what you put forward and don’t waffle on. Management and colleagues will have other tasks that they also need to attend to, so they will appreciate it if you are a sharp shooter and don’t beat around the bush. Being more direct also shows that you taking the matter seriously and that you are looking for a more direct response.

    6.       Take control of your career path

    If you want advice on where to take the next step in terms of responsibilities and your career path, have you actively gone out to seek direction? Is management aware of your plans, motives, and goals? Have you set out a timeframe, follow up meetings, what training may be required? And are you following through on any feedback or advice that you may have been provided?

    Write things down, put reminders in your calendar, find your daily source of motivation and discipline yourself to follow through on what you have set out for yourself. After all, it is your life, only you can complete what you have started.

    7.       Mind your attitude

    Keeping an open mind to participate in any group or individual activity (or at least approach it with a smile) people will be more inclined to want to work with you or for you. Being proactive is much more beneficial than being a naysayer or complainer. You can use positivity to motivate others around you as well because having a positive working environment can be just as important as a positive mindset.

    There could also be a situation where you may not see eye to eye with a colleague or management on an issue at work. Instead of getting into an argument over the situation, address it sooner rather than later and try to collectively work together to find a solution. It is important in these cases to keep an open-mind and try to see the other person’s point of view.

    8.       Don’t boast about your accomplishments

    While it is important to inform management of your successes (and often we can be excited and wrapped up in the accomplishment) try not to extend every detail or repeat the same story over and over again.

    Accomplishments are important to take note of and keep on record, especially when times of review are approaching and you can specify what you have contributed to the company. Make sure you have a strong case if you are putting this forward to be considered for a promotion or salary increase. If management does not considered this a strong enough case at that point in time, make sure to ask the appropriate questions on how to get there, and if you can have a follow up meeting to discuss further opportunities.

    Have you followed any of these steps when it came to moving up in your career? If so, what direction did it take you? Was it where you expected it to go?


  2. How To Be A Top Performer In A Panel Interview

    April 1, 2014 by Jenna

    The interview process is becoming more and more thorough. There are often two or even three rounds before you are contacted and confirmed successful or not.

    If you receive the call to attend a panel interview, what goes through your mind? Lots of individuals find this process quite intimidating; however, that is not the intention of the employer. If you will be working in a department where you need to report to more than one person, it can be quite beneficial to meet all members of the team beforehand. You can also find out what their expectations are of the individual they want for the role.

    As with any interview process, there are ways to prepare and present yourself successfully in front of a panel.  I found an article on Careerealism that outlines these five steps:

    1. Direct Your Attention To Each Person On The Panel:

    Make sure you introduce yourself to everyone on the panel and engage with eye contact. Positive body language is important as well as showing each individual that same level of respect and attention. Even make a note to write down their names if need be to avoid awkwardness if you need to address them for questions afterwards.

    I tend to have this problem if I am in a group with people that I don’t know very well. I tend to give eye contact to just one person when I am talking. If you are the same, try and be aware of this and shift your focus to each individual in the room. Project your answers confidently to the whole group, and don’t forget to smile when you can!

    2. Expect To Repeat Yourself

    As you will be dealing with new people in the panel interview, you may find that you have to repeat some of the information from your first interview. It is to be expected. The panellists want to get to know you, understand your skill sets and how they will apply to their department and the role you are applying for.

    3. Find Out Who You Will Need To Impress The Most

    As every individual in the group is different, there may be some panellists that you need to work a little harder at impressing or winning over. It shows your ability to work with all different types of people and also how to problem solve on the spot.

    Make that pitch count, be clear and precise and do your best to make a lasting impression. If you are able to appeal to the toughest member of the group it may help influence the other members of the panel to look in your favour.

    4. Be Prepared For At Least One Zinger Question

    With most interviews there will be a question that puts you on the spot for various reasons. It can also feel a lot harder to address it to a group of people as opposed to a one-on-one interview. Take the time to brainstorm some difficult questions and practice your responses. This will help you to relax and address these questions in a confident, composed manor.

    5. Thank All Participants Promptly

    Similar to the first step, make sure you address each interviewer at the conclusion of the interview. Shake hands, thank them personally, and even collect business cards if you haven’t done so already.

    You can use the business cards to your advantage if you send a prompt thank you email to those that attended the interview. This will help keep you fresh and memorable in their minds and also shows a level of professionalism.

    Have you attended a panel interview before? What steps did you take to prepare for it? And what was the overall outcome?

     


  3. Considering a Career Change?

    March 25, 2014 by Jenna

    The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them. – George Bernard Shaw

    Change can either enhance the direction of your career goals and aspirations, or it may take you in the opposite direction. If you find that opportunities for advancement may extend to areas other than your current field of work, have you ever considered a career change?

    While researching this topic I came across an article by Grace Owen called How To Set Yourself Up For A Successful Career Change using six C.A.R.E.E.R. tips:

    Tip 1: Clarity – Where do you want to go next in your career?

    Take the time to sit in a quiet room and narrow down what career paths you would like to take to prepare for the transition. Write down your passions, what you have enjoyed over the years. Reflect on what your skill sets are and more importantly your transferable skills that can be of advantage to any industry.

    By steering yourself into a direction, it will help motivate you to pursue the planning process further and start taking action. For example, updating your resume and making contact with recruiters and professionals in the industry you are hoping you apply for.

    Tip 2: Attitude – Is your glass half full or half empty

    How you feel about your career and working life can lead you to feeling powerless or powerful. It is important to consider that first impressions count, especially when you are on the pathway to a new career. A person who projects confidence and enthusiasm towards a desired role are memorable during an interview. Whereas bitter comments or negative behaviour can often come back to haunt you.

    So be self-aware and let the best part of you shine, after all, you are competing with other talented candidates.

    Tip 3: Relationships – What kind of network do you have?

    Your network, personal and professional, is a valuable source of expertise and advise. It is vital that the people that you need are in place.

    How often are you keeping in touch with your contacts? Do you meet for coffee, attend networking events you even contact them on the phone?

    Word of mouth can be a great way to find out about availability in the job market and your contacts can help open the door for you by providing introductions to different industries. Maintaining your relationships are very important so make sure you are putting in the time and effort to meet the needs of others and they will in turn support you.

    Recruiters, such as Challenge Consulting, are also available to help tailor your search to the industry that you hope to pursue. We also provide Career Guidance programs and Online Skills testing so that you can be aware of your options and results.

    Tip 4: Equipped – Are you investing in your own learning and development?

    By updating your skills, talents and knowledge, the more you will have to offer to potential employers.

    If you are interested in a certain industry or role that requires additional skill sets, why not take a course to familiarise yourself? You can then include the course results on your resume.

    Take the time to evaluate what you currently know and see if there are any areas for improvement. If there are, what steps do you need to take?

    You can also gain knowledge through reading, keeping up to date with industry news, seeking advice from a mentor etc. You are never too young or too old to keep learning something new.

    Tip 5: Excellence – What does excellence in your work mean to you?

    Putting your best foot forward in everything you do is important because you can gain the most from each experience. Whether the results are successful of pitfalls, each experience is something that you can pass on to others to motivate them to pursue their dreams. It is also valuable information to pass on to interviewers when it comes to providing examples on certain situations or aspects of your career.

    If pursuing a new career is definitely the avenue you want to take then you need to be proactive and follow through completely on the process to achieve your desired outcome.

    Tip 6: Reflection – Are you taking care of yourself?

    We all have a lot on our plate, but if we are not finding enough balance by getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising or getting fresh air, we can become sluggish and may not be performing at our best.

    Finding that balance is important and may require you to cut out bad-habits to achieve better results. Having a clear head and being refreshed can also help you focus on your options and make more accurate decisions in regards to your future career prospects.

    Have you undergone a new career change? Where did it take you? What was the overall outcome of this decision?


  4. Soft skills that you can apply in almost any role

    March 11, 2014 by Jenna

    As a jobseeker, you will find that your soft skills (people skills) are just as important as tertiary qualifications and hard skills (typing, mathematics, reading comprehension and software training). Employers are looking for roles to be filled and they are often high in demand so you really want to stand out from the competition.

    I found an article by Alison Doyle of The 7 Most Important Soft Skills an individual can have:

    1. Acting as a team player – Team work is very important within most organisations. While independent work is also vital, you need to make sure you can cooperate with others around you (this can also mean finding common ground with someone that you may not always see eye to eye with) and also take on a level of leadership when required.

    2. Flexibility is a valuable asset – Employees that are able to adapt to any situation can be reliable if anything is thrown their way. This can also mean being resilient to change in the workplace. The more experience you can gain making executive decisions and reacting to situations when needed, the more you can take on when you start taking steps forward in your career.

    3. Effective communication is paramount – Not being afraid to ask questions or share feedback when needed. You also need to articulate yourself well, be a good listener after you have spoken and use appropriate body language.

    4. Problem-solving skills and resourcefulness – During an interview, recruiters will ask you to name a point in time where you had to solve a problem or you were in a stressful situation and needed to resolve an issue. Do not be afraid to be specific and give examples. It is important to also not be afraid to raise your hand or offer to take charge to help resolve an issue if you feel confident that you have a solution.

    5. Accepting feedback and applying lessons learned – We all enjoy being recognised for our strengths, but we also need to be willing to regard feedback in terms of areas of improvement. Not only do you need to listen to the feedback but apply action and take steps for professional growth/development.

    6. Confidence is key – The only way you can contribute new ideas, opinions, projects and feedback in an effective way is through confidence. This skill can be developed over time, but you need to be confident in yourself to deliver in order to see results.

    7. Creative thinking – I think we all have creative ideas and ways of approaching tasks, it is just the matter of whether or not we share those ideas. It creates innovation and increased efficiency, and also showcases to managers what you are capable of.

    When it comes to the interview process, make sure to review the job description so when the recruiter asks you to relate to a situation, you can make specific reference to your hard and soft skills that would be appropriate to the role.

    What do you do once you land the role that you want? When the opportunity presents itself, showcase these skills, show the manager what made you a stand out in the interview to begin with. Action speaks louder than words.

    How many of the soft skills listed above can you apply to yourself?

    As an employer are there any additional soft skills that you look for in potential candidates?


  5. How being a temp can make the way for your future

    March 4, 2014 by Jenna

    Whether you are a new graduate, preparing for a career change or on a working holiday visa, temporary work will not only help you get by with living expenses, it can help pave the way for future roles.

    When I had finished my Diploma in Event Management at TAFE, I was also taking on many paid and unpaid positions for different companies. My logic behind doing this was that I knew the events industry was very competitive and in high demand by candidates. I also knew that regardless of my Diploma I lacked practical experience in the field; however, being passionate about it I wanted to do what it takes to land the role that I was looking for. This is what I gained from temping and contract roles:

    It’s all about who you know – I researched organisations, I followed industry news on upcoming events, and I contacted Event Managers directly to offer my assistance in any way that I could to find out more about the industry and what is involved in organising events. I built a network of contacts and recommendations to help further my progression. It was also a chance to also prove that I was willing to work hard and learn new skills. Relationships you develop with industry contacts can also lead you to a more permanent role in the future.

    Working with different companies helps you to become more adaptable to different environments – The events industry is quite broad so I took advantage of it by working in offices directing calls and reception duties, processing payments and donations for not-for-profit events and data entry for client registrations. I even worked onsite on a customer service level at exhibitions, provided fine dining service for gala dinners and assisting with labour set up for conferences. This was a real eye opener, but it also allowed me the opportunity to ask questions and document my experiences. I think it’s a great opportunity to experience different work experience so that you can better establish was works and what doesn’t work for you.

    You can develop practical and transferrable skills – I found that by assisting in a corporate office environment to practical hands on experience I am still able to use these skills in the field of recruitment today. It is also important to remember that even the simplest of roles – such as putting labels on swipe cards or attaching name badges to lanyards are important ways for you to understand the processes involved before moving your way up in the industry of your choice. Don’t ever consider tasks in a temp position to be a waste of time and therefore not apply yourself 100% to your tasks. Companies are testing you at all times, and if you cannot complete the simplest of tasks then how are you expecting to move up into roles of further responsibility?

    • It gives you a routine and purpose – There is nothing worse than being bored or losing your daily routine when you are in between jobs or currently looking for work. Temping can help maintain a good working routine, even if it is short term. Having a level of responsibility is important too because it gives you a sense of purpose. When you are bored or not connecting on a daily basis you can develop a more laid back routine and you can start developing a less enthusiastic approach to job searching and work in general. Even if the temp role may not be in the exact direction you are hoping to move towards, just remember that each experience is a stepping stone, and you never know what opportunities can open up as a result.

    For those of you that are considering the path of temporary work, just remember to give each role and experience the best you have to offer. Have a positive attitude towards your assigned tasks and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I will always be thankful for where temporary and contract roles have lead me, the people I have met and worked with and the knowledge that I have gained.

    Have you worked as a temp staff member before or are currently working as a temp staff member? Where has it lead you on your career path?


  6. Enough is Enough! When it is time to move on

    February 25, 2014 by Jenna

    I covered a blog topic a few weeks ago on the pursuit of happiness at work and ways to keep a positive attitude during the daily grind.

    But there are also situations where your current role leaves you feeling empty. You may be experiencing the following:

    You are lacking passion – You wake up each morning without the sense of excitement or enthusiasm to go to work the way you used to feel. Each day you are like a robot filling time rather than delivering your true potential.

    You are consistently stressed, negative and/or unhappy at work – If you get anxious or unhappy even thinking about work, this may be a sign to move on.

    Your work related stress is affecting your physical health – We all get stressed from time to time, but if stress is consuming you to the point where you are losing sleep, becoming ill and are unable to perform tasks the way you normally would, then it is time to address it.

    Your skills are not being tapped – You may feel like you are not being utilised to your true potential, even if you may have made it clear that you are looking for more responsibilities. You may also feel like you have been excluded from certain activities or meetings or from the team in general.

    Regardless of your situation, the worst thing you can do is be passive and hope that things will go away.

    If you have exercised all options with your current role and still feel like it is time to go, take a look at some of the following steps by Alison Doyle from her article, What To Do When You Hate Your Job:

    Keep Your “I Hate My Job” Thoughts to Yourself

    This can actually sabotage your current role and potential opportunities if you are spreading the word in public about how much you are unhappy at work. And under no circumstances should you complain about your job or discuss about how much you don’t enjoy your job on social media streams! Once it is in writing it is out there. Take the time to plan a strategic exit from the current company rather than leaving on bad terms.

    Get ready and begin the Job Search

    Make sure you don’t quit on the spot and prepare yourself properly before taking those next steps.

    Update your resume, your LinkedIn profile and social networks and make sure that information being shared is relevant to what you are looking for. Have the time to create that wow factor before submitting resumes. Also take the time to research companies, recruitment agencies and so forth before submitting resumes. You can also seek career guidance programs to help steer you in the right direction of where you may want to go.

    When you are actively submitting resumes or CV’s, do so quietly and discreetly. Do not be corresponding about upcoming roles on your company’s email account or actively be searching on SEEK when you are supposed to be doing your day job.

    But most importantly, keep performing to a high standard in your day to day working routine. Looking for a new potential role does not excuse to put in half the effort. Remember, having a job is a privilege and should not be taken lightly.

    Moving on and leaving on good terms

    If your decision is to resign, do it gracefully, and offer the full notice period in your employment agreement to allow for any handovers, re-advertising of your position etc. There is no need to shout from the rooftops that you are leaving.

    If you have a good relationship with your boss or colleagues try and keep it that way, don’t let your only potential reference be your enemy!

    Have you ever had an experience like this where you needed to move on in your career? Where did it take you?


  7. New Year Finance Market Update: How to Compete For the Best Talent – By Lauren Eardley

    February 14, 2014 by Jenna

    Coming out of one of the busiest Januaries I have experienced in the recruitment industry, I feel compelled to share some of my findings on the early part of 2014. As a dedicated Finance & Credit Recruitment Consultant; my findings will be biased towards this sector.

    I was one of those lucky people to work straight through the Christmas period so I rode out the quiet days and clung on during the January surge. Whether it be a trend in just my own clients or a reflection of the market as a whole, there has been a definite increase in demand for experienced Analysts, Collectors, Business Development Managers, Credit Controllers and Support Staff across the Finance industry. I believe this trend is linked to the ‘non-bank’ smaller lenders making an aggressive push to take market share in lending; particularly on home loans. Borrowers who may have been disenchanted with ‘non-bank’ lenders since the GFC have increased their confidence and in some cases have turned away from banks due to their higher interest rates and increased lending criteria. This has meant a requirement for more staff for these businesses and an increase in jobs. This demand has subsequently been reflected by an increase in quality candidates looking to snap up the best jobs out there this side of Christmas (up 8% on January 2013). This is great for employers, however; more opportunity means more choice and competition for candidates.

    The choice that strong candidates have in this market has created the ability for them to demand more money; and trust me they are! Depending on your budget requirements and flexibility you may or may not be able to meet these demands but I have certainly witnessed my clients in this market becoming more generous in their salary provisions so it is certainly something to consider if you wish to compete strongly for the best talent.

    I have also noticed a certain ferocity in the competition for these strong candidates in credit and finance this year.  A great candidate is always interviewing for several positions at once and they have varying levels of honesty in describing yours as their ‘Number One Priority.’ This creates an obligation on the employer to differentiate themselves from their competitors on what matters most to a superior performer; the benefits. Now this varies from person to person, salary is of course the most obvious point of differentiation but I have also witnessed an increasing emphasis on finding ‘The Right Role;’ this comes down to something less tangible; Culture.

    The culture of an organisation comes down to a few fundamental points: management, team involvement, rewards, recognition and performance monitoring. While it is easy to stick an extra few Ks onto the salary, these cultural points are less easy to address (at least in the short term).

    The length and smoothness of the recruitment process is also an initial indication to the candidate of the culture of the business. If the process is long and arduous and the hiring manager is taking 2 months to make a decision, this reflects poorly on the company and its brand; it is not a good look. And in this market where superior performers are available for no longer than 72 hours, I highly recommend moving quickly.

    I am more than familiar with the hoops that candidates have to jump through to get their foot in the door with financial institutions and alike: multiple interviews, psychometric tests, skills tests, background checks, yet another interview and I certainly understand the value of each and every step. The onus is therefore on the hiring manager to move the candidates quickly through each stage and for the recruiter (i.e. yours truly) to keep the candidate motivated and excited about the opportunity throughout the whole process. This is where specialist recruiters can really complement internal teams and make your life a whole lot easier throughout the selection process.

    If you need help harnessing and managing star candidates for your organisation, call Lauren Eardley our Specialist Finance Recruiter on 02 9221 6422.

     


  8. The pursuit of happiness at work

    February 4, 2014 by Jenna

    “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work” ― Thomas A. Edison

    Almost every job you will ever come across throughout your life, you will experience challenges or stressful situations. No job is perfect. But sometimes we let that stress or fear of the unknown prevent us from enjoying our current role or taking the leap into a new job opportunity. Of course, if you want to change careers or take a step up, you will often need to make personal sacrifices. But this fear shouldn’t drive your behaviour. Instead we need to consider, regardless of stage we are at in our career, how can we be happiest at work?

    Susan M. Heathfield listed Top 10 Ways To Be Happy At Work, and the key points for me were these 5 areas to take control of work and to make the most out of your day to day routine:

    1. Choose to be happy at work

    Happiness is a state of mind. Your job may not be perfect, it may not have turned out the way you had imagined it to when you went down this path, but there will always be aspects of your job that you don’t enjoy. But if you only focus on what you don’t enjoy, it is highly likely you are not giving yourself the chance to be happiest at work. When you are only focusing on the negative – it is likely to affect your performance too. You start avoiding tasks, you sleep in, run late, and overall you’re not committing 100%. The consequences of that could hurt the future of your career. It is your choice to be happy or unhappy at work. What would you rather be?

    2. Do Something You Love

    Take a look at yourself, your skills and interests, and find something that you can enjoy. There must be something in your role that you enjoy, otherwise what are you doing there? Assess your current situation and if you find that you are truly unhappy, then a career change or searching for a new job may be in order. You could even seek a Career Guidance Program or seek advice from a mentor.

    3. Take Charge of Your Own Professional Development

    I think a lot of the time we get confused and think that someone else is in charge of managing our professional development so we wait to be advised as opposed to taking action. We can of course seek guidance, direction and support from managers and mentors, but we need to be the one that is directing. So if you are not happy with the way you are developing professionally, do something about it. Have you approached your manager to discuss this? Have you voiced your concerns or helped find a solution? Have you worked out what steps need to be taken to lead to progression?

    4. Ask for Feedback

    If you feel like you are in a situation where you have not received feedback in a while regarding how you are progressing in your role and on tasks, then approach your manager. Set regular monthly follow up meetings if need be, but also keep in mind that feedback may also involve constructive feedback on areas of improvement. Feedback is required to help us grow, not to seek praise, so be prepared to accept what is provided and assess steps to improve certain behaviours to create better outcomes.

    5. Avoid Negativity

    ‘Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.’- Oprah Winfrey

    It’s often true, if you surround yourself with people who are always down and disappointed in life, eventually your mindset will swing that way. Negativity is contagious and it often only takes one person to start the trend.

    I always found that I would perform at my absolute best when I had other people around me that shared similar passions and pushed themselves for results. Because that too would push me to be better and perform better. People that could provide me with honest advice out of compassion and not jealousy or bitterness.

    Each of us has responsibility for our happiness at work. If something is not working, then change it. If it is out of your control, perhaps it is time to consider a new job, company or career. But if it is in your control, and you can improve it, why not give it a try – how do you increase your happiness at work?


  9. We can each set a daily goal but what is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal for 2014?

    January 13, 2014 by Jenna

    “A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as a unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.” —Collins and Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

    Many of us have heard of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) when it comes to business, but how often are you setting a BHAG in your personal life?

    While working together to achieve a BHAG for an organisation is very important, you also need to make sure that you are setting personal goals that keep driving you – something that you will remain passionate about throughout the year. Not only will it help you build the confidence and enhance your ability to take on daily tasks but when you achieve your personal goals it will teach you more about yourself – your limits, what you are capable of, and where your goals can lead you in your future.

    You may have set goals before, and this blog may be triggering a ‘been there, done that’ response, but perhaps you need to set something bigger, more challenging, and even something more worthwhile to pursue this year. After all:

    ‘Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’ - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    A BHAG can be different for everyone. For 2013, I learned that I was able to achieve some pretty big goals, allowing myself up to a year in advance to train and prepare, and I overcame some incredible obstacles along the way. For me it was Everest Base Camp (Nepal) and the Kokoda Trail (Papua New Guinea), and I made it back in one piece to tell the tale.

    You also need to understand that the bigger the goal, the more mixed responses you will receive from others, especially from those that have yet to step outside of their own comfort zone. For many people in my life, those types of adventures were not often considered a ‘holiday experience’ and I was often told, ‘you’re crazy’ or asked, ‘why out of all places would you go there?’ Frankly I can’t blame them, because not everyone shares the same point of view.

    Realisation 1: I knew that I was not achieving these goals to please everyone or show them that I could do it. These were my dreams, my challenges and my goals to achieve. At the end of the day, I knew that those closest to me and those who knew that I was passionate about achieving my goals would be there for me regardless of how unfathomable the idea may have seemed. You will come across ‘naysayers’ and difficult people at certain stages in your life, but do not hold grudges against them and instead use them as a stepping stone to help you achieve success.

    Realisation 2: To achieve the goal it often has to be mind over matter. I could have the plans laid out in front of me, the best resources available, and the door of opportunity open waiting for me to walk through, but I had to make that conscious decision to step forward and keep pushing myself mentally to get there. As Sir Edmund Hillary once said, ‘It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.’

    The temptation to sleep in, eat unhealthy food or make up excuses to miss training did not work in my benefit. This applies in any circumstance but the moment you realise you have done so, take the necessary measures to get back on track again and learn from your mistakes. If a similar situation arises again you can then find ways to avoid the temptation and grow stronger.

    Maybe you are already a high achiever at work and for you a BHAG for this year may be to make more time to do the little things in your life that make you happy. It can be hard to make time, but will you be a more balanced and fulfilled person as a result? I think you will be quite surprised once you start making the steps to get there!

    I found an article recently on Inc.com that outlined ‘What is distinctive about BHAG-driven leaders’:

    The true BHAG-orientated leader is less interested in success. You’re more interested in the sheer exhilarating pain of the journey. You’re not going to have that immediate gratification of accomplishment. You are going to be immersed in it and working and suffering toward it for a long time–the way artists suffer. You have to enjoy that sense of extended discomfort. It’s the quest, it’s the training, it’s the growth, it’s pushing yourself. You really get off on that. If you think standing at the top of the cliff is where the joy is, you don’t understand it. The real joy is in all the pain and growth and suffering and creativity required long before you get to the summit.

    Now a BHAG goal does not necessarily mean you need to physically climb a mountain, but there are things in our lives that appear so gigantic that they may as well be the in the same ball park. And it may even be so big that it will take you past 2014 to achieve it. But what is holding you back from starting now?

    Realisation 3: It is okay to ask for help when it comes to achieving your BHAG. I have moments where I get so driven to achieve the goal that when a helping hand is offered I quickly dismiss it at the idea that ‘I must do everything on my own’. We can only juggle so much, and when I would get set back due to ‘overload’ or ‘fatigue’ it was only my pride that was bruised in the end. So what did I do to overcome this?

    • I sought out a trainer/mentor – Someone I could seek advice from and also someone that could check in on my progress so I could be held accountable. We can push ourselves, but sometimes it is great to be pushed by external forces as well. Not to mention having someone to encourage you and motivate you gives you a great amount of positive energy!
    • Taking breaks to catch up with a friend/colleague – Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the task that we don’t let our mind rest! Do something fun with someone close to you, even if it is a ten minute coffee catch up. Release, have a conversation, laugh and relax.

    Even if it seems very out of focus now, write down your BHAG and let your goals mould and form into something. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your goal, no matter how crazy it may seem! Do your research, take the necessary steps to plan and prepare as well as reach inside yourself to find out what you are capable of.

    Have you achieved a Big Hairy Audacious Goal before? If so, what did you have to do to achieve it? Where did it take you?


  10. Confrontation and Conflict – How to deal with the difficult co-worker

    December 17, 2013 by Jenna

    I have always had trouble with face-to-face confrontation. And I personally don’t believe anyone actually enjoys confrontation, especially if it is between a fellow colleague. But I also know first-hand of what avoiding it can do to you.

    In earlier years of my career, in more junior roles I made the assumption that since my role was less authoritative within the company that being a ‘yes’ man made me appear more cooperative and supportive in the workplace. In reality it created the following:

    1. I didn’t present the opportunity to have a voice – I was unable to share new and creative ideas that could potentially boost more business because I just did what I was told.

    2. I was passive - If I potentially saw  flaws in a process or procedure, I would not speak up about it to avoid issues that may have otherwise saved the business time and money.

    3. I felt dominated by fellow colleagues – By not being able to speak or stand- up for myself in situations I was often dominated by other colleagues and in turn was unable to shine to my fullest potential.

    4. I bottled up emotions – Bottling up emotions can often make you a ticking time bomb, which often resulted in me breaking down at the oddest of times because I had been letting something build and hadn’t dealt with it properly.

    Does any of this sound familiar to you when conflict presents itself?

    At this time of year, when deadlines need to be finalised and the pressure is high it is important to keep your cool. Understand that you are not always going to see eye-to-eye with everyone, we are all individuals, but ignoring that person or hoping a conflict will go away may not always be an effective method either. And it could result in you overreacting because you have bottled up your emotions for so long, as per point 4 above.

    So how can you take control of difficult scenarios before they get out of hand? Confront them head-on, and remember:

    1. Be respectful of differences and listen carefully: It is important to understand that there are different perspectives on situations and that people can get offended by situations or behaviour differently to you. You never know, you may have initially created the tension without even realising it! It is not always the matter of I’m right and you’re wrong so take care and give respect to that person when they are telling their side of the story and try not to cut them off or interrupt them constantly during the confrontation. You would like to be treated with respect so make sure you are showing a level of professionalism towards your colleague, not matter what.

    2. Always take action and communicate directly when conflict occurs: The later a conflict is addressed, the more embellished it can become in one’s mind and it can end up being blown out of proportion. The same applies to office gossip or discussing the issue or frustration with other co-workers and not the direct source. Hearing about someone else in the office being mad at you by a third party can’t help but cause personal offence and can create unneeded tension and bitter feelings.

    3. Be mindful of your tone/language – If you approach the conversation ‘hot headed’ most likely chances are the level of tone in the conversation will increase and could create a screaming match! So try and keep the level of conversation even and calm as well as professional when describing a situation or how you feel.

    4. Ask for help – In some circumstances if a conflict is still occurring you may need a third party individual to sit in on the discussion to provide an unbiased opinion/outcome. This could be your manager, a human resources professional, or a manager from a different department.

    5. Make sure the conflict is resolved – Did you shake hands at the end of your meeting? Is there anything in writing (perhaps email etc.) that confirms the outcome of this conflict and steps to follow to prevent this from happening again? Are you leaving your door open so that in the event that similar feelings/circumstances arise again that you can keep the communication open?

    The more that I have learned to be able to confront issues as they arise and have open communication between others, the more grateful I have been. I have also learned a lot about myself, how to treat others within the workplace and personally, which has saved everyone a whole lot of frustration, angst and provided a much happier workplace for us all.

    Have you ever had a conflict with a co-worker? What steps did you take to address the issue? And what was the outcome?


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