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  1. Three great ways to share what you know

    July 14, 2015 by Penny Robertshawe

    If you’ve been working for a while you will have amounted a healthy set of skills and a level of professional expertise that you can be proud of. You didn’t achieve it all on your own though – many people helped you along the way by sharing the gift of their knowledge either through formal training or less formally on the job.

    Now it’s your turn. Share what you know with less experienced colleagues and discover that, it’s not only the recipient who reaps the benefits of shared knowledge, you do too. Here are three great ways it can be done:

    Brown paper bag lunches

    Brown paper bag lunches are a wonderful way to share what you have learned during your working life with your co-workers. The way that brown paper bag lunches work is for a group of co-workers to get together at lunchtime with their take-away lunches at regular intervals – say weekly or fortnightly.

    Each time the group meets with their lunch, one member in an informal, relaxed way, shares something they have learned that others may not know about. Let’s say it’s your turn. You may have been reading up on something interesting that could be applied to a work situation, or you may have attended a conference that featured an interesting speaker, or maybe you have used a piece of technology that others haven’t and you think that they might find it useful.

    You can share information from a past position or something that relates to your current role, it really doesn’t matter so long as it potentially helps your co-workers in some way. Brown paper bag lunches are also ideal for getting to know people at work better and promoting collaboration.

    Lessons learned

    Lessons learned is a retrospective process traditionally used in project management. It’s designed to capture both the negative and positive lessons that were learned during the execution of a project. A project can be anything from implementing new technology systems and creating training programs to organising a conference.

    The point is that during any project some things will have worked well and others may not have. Sharing lessons learned with others who are about to undertake similar projects helps the new team to avoid some of the pitfalls of past projects and to leverage on some of the positive aspects. If you’ve worked on any type of project, you can share your lessons learned in this way.

    Mentoring

    One-on-one mentoring can be immensely satisfying for both the mentee and mentor. The mentor–mentee relationship is essentially a conversation between two people. Because everyone comes to the table with their own set of professional and life experiences, as mentor you’ll soon realise that your mentee isn’t the only one who is learning in the relationship. As you progress with mentoring your colleague, your knowledge will expand, deepen and become more ingrained.

    Mentoring is also a great way to establish your reputation as an expert, demonstrate your leadership skills and advance your career. What’s more, mentoring can be a lot of fun and many mentoring relationships have been the start of long-lasting friendships. So look for opportunities to mentor others because the benefits to you are tenfold compared to the time and effort you put in.


  2. 8-point checklist for effective online training

    July 7, 2015 by Penny Robertshawe

    Are you using online learning to train your staff? Online learning gives staff the benefit of being able to do their training when it suits them best and dispels the need for having staff in one place at one time for training.

    Done well, online learning is engaging, meaningful and produces desired outcomes. Done poorly, it lacks sound learning strategies, achieves little towards meeting outcomes and demotivates learners. So before you invest in a training strategy for online learning, go through this checklist to assess a training program and ensure you’re not wasting precious resources:

    Communicate expected outcomes. Make it perfectly clear what your staff need to know by the time they’ve finished their training and why they need to know it – never assume that they know the expected outcomes of their training.

    Highlight critical information. Focus the learner’s attention by using headings, clear formatting, colour and plenty of ‘white space’.

    Build on existing knowledge. Help learners to recall prior knowledge so they can link new information with related information in their long-term memory.

    Cater for individual differences. 
Include different types of activities – branching scenarios, case studies, eLearning games, videos, audio and ‘chunked’ text – to engage a range of different learning styles and test knowledge.

    Ground learning to real life. Design activities that are relevant to learners’ real life roles and responsibilities in the workplace to emphasise the relevance of what they are learning.

    Give feedback. 
Let learners know how they are progressing by giving feedback on their activities, congratulating them on completing learning modules and helping them keep track of their progress.

    Encourage collaboration. Create a community of learning within the workplace by encouraging learners to share knowledge, insights and link their own success to the success of their colleagues.

    Provide sound support. Ensure that learners can access support when needed to help them with issues like site navigation, questions about the learning and strategies for completing the modules in the time required.


  3. Keeping motivated when you are a Leader

    May 19, 2015 by Jenna

    Leadership takes on many responsibilities; it can be very busy and even tiring at times and therefore motivation levels can fluctuate. However, in this role you need to be able to keep yourself motivated because in turn it keeps the rest of your team motivated and thriving in the business.

    It starts with keeping in check your own personal motivation – your passions, continuing to challenge yourself with various projects and remembering why you committed to these goals in the first place. What you are trying to achieve?

    Sometimes the quickest way to lose motivation or even exhaust your level of motivation is to spend all of your time and energy trying to motivate and please the needs of your team. The truth is motivation is personal and you cannot force it upon others. Instead, leading by example through your own motivations, you can inspire others to motivate themselves and drive them to perform better. It’s showing the way towards success.

    Methods for self-motivation can include:

    • Learning new skills – What is needed for your current role? Where can you obtain these skills? Is there anyone who you can consult with for direction or advice?

    • Taking appropriate leave breaks to relax & rejuvenate – Clearing your mind of distractions (and resting), taking the time to find out more about yourself or pursuing a personal goal or hobby.

    • Spending time developing a self-improvement plan and setting goals – Where do you see your role developing in line with your business goals? Where do you see your team going and what do you need to do to help guide them there?

    • Investing in courses and training that can lead to growth and development – Are there any conferences within your local area that are providing information on areas of development? Have you looked into local educational institutions and what courses they provide? Are there any online resources that you could review outside of business hours?

    Building your own motivation by developing our skills and abilities also provides the knowledge and insight to pass on to others. If others within your team are seeking your advice or direction, you can provide recommendations and information on what you have looked into previously, helping direct others toward their future success.

    Make sure to also keep following up on your personal progress and what motivates you, whether it is every month or six months. That way you can help keep your motivation levels consistent and on track.

    If you are currently in a leadership role, what motivates you? More importantly, in what ways do you keep your drive and motivation consistent?


  4. Bad Habits Leaders Should Avoid

    May 12, 2015 by Jenna

    When you look up the term ‘leadership’ or ‘leadership roles’, you will find many articles on what to do to become a great leader. It is also important to be aware of bad habits that can hinder progress.

    I know I have been guilty of at least two of the items listed below, but the first step is being aware of these habits so that you can find the ways to improve your leadership performance:

    1. Taking credit for others’ ideas and contributions – We all know the famous term, there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’. It is very exciting when members of your team make a contribution that takes the organisation in a positive direction. However, the biggest failures one can make as a leader is to neglect to recognise and acknowledge individual and team contributions. If you are taking credit for someone else’s work, chances are you will start to notice your team working against you and not for you because they do not feel appreciated or valued.
    2. Using a position of power to control and intimidateothers — This autocratic style of leadership will often leave the team with a low level of autonomy. This can prevent creative ideas being presented as team members feel they do not have the right to contribute.
    3. Blaming others when things go wrong – It is important to recognise with the team when mistakes are made and that they have negative consequences in order to assess better solutions for the future. However, singling people out, pointing fingers, or making others carry the full weight of the failure is not reaction a leader should take. A leader needs to stand by their team no matter what, accept responsibility of when things go wrong, keep track of team members and progression, and have an ‘open door’ for team members to approach if they are experiencing struggles on tasks.
    4. Clinging to traditional methods and old ideas –In order to thrive in society most leaders need to think outside the box, take risks when needed and use innovation to be one step ahead of competitors. While traditional methods may have worked in the past, if you find you are constantly using the same strategy when the rest of the world is changing, you may fall behind. This includes those that refuse to learn new skills and tools to keep up with today’s market. If you are not trying to learn and adapt, you will fall behind.
    5. Failing to keep promises – Leaders who make promises but do not follow through risk loss of personal credibility, trust and the goodwill of others. If you have let down your team more than once, it can often take a long time to earn that trust back.
    6. Actingalone – Leaders who do not consult, collaborate or solicit input from others often fail to make enlightened decisions. Leaders also need to make sure they delegate tasks within the team appropriately so that they can stretch their teams’ abilities.

    Failing to effectively manage issues – Leaders who dismiss the need to address, manage and resolve issues, place themselves and their organisation at risk.

    What are some of the experiences you have learned in a leadership role? What were the learning curves that you have experienced?


  5. Tips on how to effectively lead teams

    May 5, 2015 by Jenna

    Leading teams requires great commitment and looking outside of yourself to meet their needs. We have provided some tips below to help set you on the right path to a great leadership experience: If you are new to a leadership role they might help guide your way and if you have been at it for a while they may serve as a useful reminder.

    1. Brush up on Your Communication Skills. Having clear and precise communication is important, and being honest and open with your team helps build a level of trust. Making sure all staff understand what the goals and expectations are and giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas for feedback is important.

    2. Be Committed to Your Goal. Not only should you be explaining the importance of the company goals to your team, but you need to show by example that you support the goals as a leader. This involves setting out the tasks, having follow-up meetings and making sure that your team is on track with what needs to be achieved.

    3. Give Verbal Recognition. Verbal recognition for efforts and praise show your support towards the staff member’s accomplishments. It also boosts morale and positivity that encourages a mutual support among team members.

    4. A Team Leader Should Lead by Example. A great leader is someone who shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty or dig in to help when the team requires additional support. Someone who can encourage team members to take risks and support them when they do.

    5. Invest in Staff Careers. To ensure your staff are up to date with the skills they need for their role, you may need to invest in training, invest time mentoring or finding the right mentor, invest time to discover what they really need and want in order to do a great job.

    6. Resolve Conflicts. Any conflict within the workplace needs to be handled promptly and assessed by leaders as soon as it arises. Appropriate measures need to be taken to find resolution or negotiate a mutual agreement. Whether it is conflict in a task or between co-workers, leaders must step up to the plate to take action and problem solve the best way that they can.

    7. Teach Adaptability. The effective team manager should teach adaptability and flexibility to all their team members. This results in better communication, a greater sense of empowerment among staff and a faster exchange of information.

    8. Build Pride in Your Team. Positive reinforcement on success is a proven way to keep staff motivation high and build pride in your team. It will increase productivity amongst the team and encourage drive towards goals. You are also creating a positive working environment that employees are happy to be a part of.

    9. Give Your Staff New Responsibilities. Just as you have developed into your role of leadership, your team are looking for development opportunities. It is important that you help them by giving them the opportunity to take on new responsibilities as the opportunities arise.

    Have you lead teams during your career? What were your first experiences when it came to leading teams? What did you find was most successful? What did you learn from the experience?


  6. What are the next steps after gaining a promotion?

    April 28, 2015 by Jenna

    You have worked hard to get your promotion, now you have to set yourself up for success in your new role. Preparing to take on more responsibility will make the transition process run smoothly and will help set you up for future success.

    So what are the next steps after you receive the promotion? What can you do to keep yourself on track?

    1. Get clear expectations. The first thing you need to do is really understand your new role. What does the organisation expect of you? What does your manager expect of you? And what do you expect of yourself? Clarifying these expectations sets up a path to follow.

    2. Set your goals What do you want to accomplish and why? Set personal and career goals both short and long term so you can measure your progress on the path. Don’t be afraid to share your goals or vision with management and get their buy in as well,

    3. Talk to your boss. Get to know your manager and determine how you will work together. How and when will you communicate and what will help you succeed beyond the job description. These things are critically important to your mutual success.

    4. Focus on building relationships. You may have moved to a new department with new peers or report to and a new manager. The relationships with the people around you are part of that job! Invest time in building relationships with your new peers, people in other groups, your boss, your customers, and if you are a leader, your team. It makes your working environment more positive and productive if you have a level of rapport with your team.

    5. Learn what you need to learn. Remember you are new to this position so you cannot know it all on the first day! It is part of our development to learn new skills. Take notes, ask questions, request feedback to make sure you are heading on the path towards success. The earlier you set yourself up to understand the requirements and expectations of the role, the easier it will be to settle into the position and start delivering.

    6. Celebrate! Of course you deserve the time to celebrate your promotion and share the excitement with others. Take some time for yourself and those closest to you to celebrate your progress and accomplishments. Celebrating builds your confidence and awareness, and it sets you on the right path for even better performance.

    Sometimes we tend to rush from one project to the next without fully understanding what we have achieved. Every accomplishment is a stepping stone on the path towards your future. Show appreciation towards those who helped get you get to that next stage.

    If you have been through a promotion recently, what steps did you take to continue to perform at your best and show that you were the right one for the job?


  7. What to expect in a performance review

    April 14, 2015 by Jenna

    Performance reviews can seem intimidating and can make you feel anxious, but at the end of the day they are important in helping us develop and improve our performance. Whether you have been in an organisation for a few months or a few years, the performance review is inevitable. With correct preparation though, they don’t have to be scary.

    1. Be Prepared

    There is no harm in asking your manager ahead of time what to expect from the upcoming review. You can also ask fellow colleagues who have been at the organisation longer what they have experienced. Make sure that you are recording your work progress and achievements so that you also have something to present to management during the review process.

    1. Be Honest

    This is an opportunity for you to share with your manager your honest thoughts and opinions on your current workload and working environment. This means acknowledging if you are struggling in some areas and working with management on ways to resolve or delegate certain tasks. This is also an opportunity to shine and really show your manager where you are excelling (as long as you can back it up with examples).

    1. You are Part of a Team

    Remember that your performance review should not be just an opportunity for your manager to point out all of your failures. You should both be discussing how you are performing as an individual and a team member for the overall success of the company. If you have ideas or feedback to put forward on possible improvements or incentives for the team, now would be the time to do so.

    1. Know Your Accomplishments

    Don’t sell yourself short. A manager may not always be present during the time of an accomplishment and may ask you what you have contributed to the company so far. Don’t let it fall under the radar, even get a colleague or witness to verify it if it was a team effort or if it helped another person significantly. If you are a facts and figures type of person, present it to management with the data necessary to support your review.

    1. Be Open to Constructive Criticism

    These periodic assessments are provided to everyone in your team to help you improve. It is important to not take constructive feedback as though it is a personal attack or react in a defensive manner. Take the time to listen carefully to the feedback your manager has provided, and once you know they have stated all of the details, take the time to ask any questions about anything you may be unsure about. You can also ask what steps you can start taking to improve this area of feedback.

    1. Give Feedback

    There should be a point in the review session where you’re asked if you want to give feedback on your colleagues, your boss, or the projects you’ve worked on. Be honest, but professional with your feedback, especially about co-workers or the way a certain project has been organised. Don’t leave anything out, but at the same time provide value by offering suggestions for improvement instead of just complaining.

    1. Ask Questions

    Show that you were attentive and have initiative by asking questions at the end of the review on the next steps and areas of improvement. Be open to answer any questions provided by the reviewer as well. It’s a lot better to reflect on questions while the conversation is still fresh and even take notes on responses to reflect upon afterwards.

    If you’re honest and assertive in your performance review and know what to expect, you’ll leave your review with more positive motivation than ever.


  8. Bad News, You Didn’t Get The Job… What Next?

    March 17, 2015 by Jenna

    You were picked out of the crowd of candidates to attend the interview. You meet the recruiter and start to feel like you are building a strong connection. You leave feeling confident and on a buzz. Then you wait with anticipation for the follow up call. When the recruiter gets in touch they tell you that unfortunately you were not successful, and will not be proceeding further.

    At this point you will probably be experiencing feelings of confusion, disappointment and even anger. Do not react in a way you will regret. Instead think about the importance of maintaining relationships in your potential employment network. Remember that industry networks are all connected in different ways. So if one door closes, it doesn’t mean that another one isn’t waiting to be opened.

    Before throwing in the towel and accepting defeat, you can run through the following steps to help lead you on a better the path towards success:

    • Thank the recruiter/employer for their time – After all it isn’t easy for the person conducting the interview to deliver bad news to a potential candidate. To react badly only shows that you are emotionally reactive and respond to feedback negatively. It could also put you on the back bench for future roles if you behave in a manner that is rude or sarcastic.

    • Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback – The best way to make improvements is to gain feedback to learn for future opportunities. Advice on how you performed during the interview (body language, eye contact etc.) or how you answered interview questions can be really useful for upcoming interviews. If the feedback relates to experience or skill sets, you may even want to consider educational courses or work experience that may help further develop those areas.

    • Let the recruiter know that you would like to be considered for other suitable roles that become available. This keeps communication open and allows you to keep connected to potential employers.

    • Don’t hesitate to get out there and start applying again right away – You probably don’t feel like applying for more jobs when that feeling of rejection hits you, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing out there for you. It is important to stay focused on the goal of finding the job that’s right for you and not give up. Reach out to people within your network to let them know that you are searching for new opportunities. Register with a recruiting company that works in your chosen field. You can also seek out networking opportunities to start building more connections.

    • Keep practicing your interview skills – This may sound like common sense, but the more practice you get the more confidence you will have when you interview. Practice for different interview methods e.g. one on one, panel or video interviews. Ask connections who are responsible for hiring people what they look for in the ideal candidate and practice their useful tips.

    Remember that the application process is competitive and that we can’t win them all. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t take further measures and practice further steps to help us land our next great role.

    What was the best feedback you ever received after an interview?


  9. What Resilient People Don’t Do

    January 27, 2015 by Jenna

    We all respond to change differently. For some of us it comes naturally and we can go with the flow, as for others, having that sense of security removed can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Regardless of which type of person you are, it is important to develop resilience so that we can continue to move towards our goals regardless of the situation.

    So what does it take to be an emotionally resilient person? Perhaps it is best to start by clarifying what they don’t do in order for us to understand what it takes to be resilient. An article by Brad Waters in Psychology Today will be my inspiration for this week and I have outlined ten of his points below:

    1. They don’t cross their own boundaries – Resilient people understand that there is a separation between who they are at their core and the cause of their temporary The stress/trauma might play a part in their current story but it does not overtake their permanent identity.

    2.They don’t surround themselves with bad company– In any environment, your behaviour can be greatly affected by the people you surround yourself with. Resilient people surround themselves with other resilient people who give them space to grieve and work through their emotions. These supporters know when to listen and when to offer enough encouragement without trying to solve the problem, allowing the individual to remain in control of their decisions. Good company will help calm a situation as opposed to adding frustration to it.

    3. They don’t avoid self-awareness – Being ‘blissfully unaware’ can get us through a bad day but it’s not a very wise long term strategy. Self-awareness helps resilient people to know what they need, what they don’t need and when it’s time to reach out for extra help.

    Prideful stubbornness without emotional flexibility or self-awareness can make us emotional glaciers. While strong on the outside to stay afloat, you can get prone to massive stress fractures when experiencing unexpected changes in your environment.

    4. They don’t pretend there isn’t a problem – Pain is painful, stress is stressful and healing takes time. Resilient people understand that stress/pain is a part of living that ebbs and flows. As hard as it is in the moment, it’s better to come to terms with the truth or pain than to ignore it, repress it, or deny it.

    5. They don’t ignore quiet time – Some of us find the best ways to cope with stress and anxiety is to dull out with distractions such as television, eating, drinking too much etc. While not all distractions are bad, you still need to be mindful of the current situation you may be in and not use distractions as a means of avoiding problems. Somewhere in between shutting down or ramping up is mindfulness – being in the presence of the moment without judgement or avoidance. It takes practice, but finding a quiet space to reflect is well renowned for healing and resilience-building.

    6. They don’t presume to have all the answers – Sometimes we try too hard to find answers in the face of stressful or traumatic events, that activity can block the answers from naturally arising in their own due time. Resilient people can find strength in knowing they do not have it all figured out right now. They trust they will gradually find peace when their mind/body is ready.

    7. They don’t put self-care aside – Resilient people have a list of good habits that support them when they need them most. Anyone can build their own list by noticing those things that recharge their batteries and give them a boost.

    8. They don’t underestimate the importance of team input – Being resilient means knowing when to reach out for help from others. It also means knowing who will serve as a listening ear, and who won’t. A supporting team will help you reflect back on issues where you may have been too emotional or overwhelmed to do so at the time they occured.

    9. They don’t overlook other possibilities – Resilient people can train themselves to ask which parts of their current story are permanent and which parts can possibly change. This helps to maintain a realistic understanding that the present situation may be coloured by their current interpretation. Our interpretations of our stories will always change as we grow and mature.

    10. They don’t dwell on issues – When we’re in the midst of stress and overwhelmed, our thoughts can go at a hundred miles an hour. Resilient people can find reprieve accepting the situation and moving on. One technique that works for some people is the write down the issues causing the current stress.

    While writing is one resilience strategy you can keep in your back pocket, there are other ways that resilient people can get out of their head. Examples include healthy distractions like going to the gym or going for a walk, cooking or baking, volunteering or any self-care items as per point #7.

    How have you built resilience in times of change or difficult situations?


  10. Changes to increase happiness at work

    January 16, 2015 by Jenna

    We’re now settling back into our work routines for the New Year and as 2015 is a time to set out new goals and resolutions, why not aim to make changes that benefit your happiness and well-being at work?

    There are some simple steps that you can apply regardless of your role or background, and an article by Catherine Conlan will be my inspiration for this week’s blog. Here are six steps that you can apply below:

    Develop a Structured Routine

    Setting a structured routine gives a better indication of what to expect from your day and prepares you for what lies ahead. Sometimes this will require you to plan the night before, compile a list of priorities etc.

    Setting up a list of tasks and duties for the day can also save on procrastination as you have made yourself aware of what important deadlines need to be achieved. Be specific with what details you set out in your routine and what you want to achieve so that you can maintain it for a long term basis.

    Other routines may also include healthy eating plans and exercise routines which in turn can help improve daily performance.

    Become a Mentor

    If you have experience in your field and are looking for opportunities to share your knowledge and direction with other junior employees or candidates, there is a lot of fulfillment in helping others. You are not only leading someone in the direction of their future career, but you will be challenged by them to provide insight, reflect on what you have learned so far and review your career development up until this point. This can be a rewarding experience.

    Change Your Mindset

    Approaching your job as a daily investment towards your personal development will motivate you to pursue further responsibilities within the role and seek training and development in your career.

    If your daily mindset is going to work because you have to or because of financial gain, you may be limiting your motivation level and ability to perform at your best.

    Seek Out Opportunities To Give Back

    If your employer has a community service program that you can get involved in, why not take the opportunity to do something good for someone else and get away from your workplace for a few hours a week.

    Volunteering your time can allow you to develop different skill sets, and may inspire you to take on different volunteering opportunities in the future.

    Switch Things Up

    As your goals and targets will change throughout the year, make sure in turn that you are creating and adapting your routine to suit these goals. If the routine is not working to meet your personal development goals, you need to take measures to assess what isn’t working and make changes sooner rather than later.

    We also as individuals need to change processes regularly to keep us engaged and motivated, otherwise the routines can become stagnant. It is important to keep reviewing your routine over time and managing it accordingly.

    Keep Learning 

    If management would like to you take a course to further develop a particular skill or to be trained on new database/software, it is important to take up the opportunity.

    If you also feel that taking on some new training will benefit the organisations’ success, present it to the manager and don’t feel that you need to wait for training to be offered to you first. Pitch why you think the training would be beneficial and review with management to see if now is the right time to pursue it, or if there is an opportunity to pursue options in the future.

    What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? What measures will you take to develop your career and reach daily satisfaction?




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