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  1. Steps to develop self-confidence when you are a new employee

    November 3, 2014 by Jenna

    When it comes to being new at any role, you can feel apprehensive and even a little bit overwhelmed with what you need to take in during the early days of training and development. You are also in a new environment with colleagues and associates to impress and that will naturally make you nervous. However, this isn’t an ongoing feeling and there are ways you can start building your self-confidence so that you can let yourself shine in the workplace.

    Jacqueline Smith from Forbes outlined ways to be more confident at work and I have chosen to outline nine key steps from this article below:

    Stay focused on you. “Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.” – Paul Coelho. Remember why you are here and what it is you want to achieve and don’t let distractions get in the way of pursuing your goals.

    Identify your strengths and capitalise on them. Be aware of what your strengths are and try and utilise them in your role as much as you can. By driving your best qualities, you can feel a greater sense of accomplishment and it helps you maintain engagement and stay energised. Don’t be afraid to outline these strengths with your manager. That way they can extend opportunities that will be beneficial to those skill sets when they arise.

    Identify weaknesses, and work on them. With your strengths there are also weaknesses and it is important to be aware of what they are. At the same time, judging yourself harshly or wallowing in self-pity over mistakes will not help you overcome them. The purpose of identifying weaknesses is to discover ways to improve on issues for the future or avoid repeating bad habits and mistakes.

    Believe in yourself. How will others start believing in you and what you are capable of if you don’t believe in yourself? While this may sound like common sense, doubt will hold you back from taking risks and pursuing opportunities. Set yourself achievable targets, mentally motivate yourself to keep moving forward and don’t be afraid to sell your personal brand to those around you in the right light.

    Closely monitor your successes. Keep track of your daily accomplishments from a to-do list or in writing. It helps you keep track of what you are achieving on a daily basis and as you progress whether you feel you would like to take on more responsibilities. This is also advantageous when reviews take place by management or even once the probationary period is reached to present your written accomplishments.

    Seek encouragement from others. This doesn’t mean that you are trying to seek constant praise. Ask people you trust or management to evaluate you on what your strengths and weaknesses are. You can also ask for feedback and direction on projects to see if you are meeting or exceeding expectations.

    Challenge yourself. As a new employee you will not need to rush this process as you can attempt this over time with baby steps. Accomplishing new challenges can be a great way to boost your confidence. Find projects and assignments that give you an opportunity to use your strengths and projects that stretch you once you feel further established in the role. Don’t be afraid to also raise your hand if colleagues or management need assistance on tasks as it shows initiative.

    Be a role model of positive attitude. By showing a positive attitude you will see how positivity will spread within your working environment. This doesn’t mean you always need to be smiling and acting cheerful. It can also be your attitude when you approach a challenging task and showing resilience at times of change. You need to be wary of how you react to situations as it can affect the outcome of assignments and relationships with colleagues or management.

    Don’t let failure or setbacks take away your self-confidence. Great successors didn’t get to where they are today without failing their first attempts and sometimes second or third attempts. It can bruise our confidence a little bit when things don’t go according to plan. However, the worst thing to do about it is to shrink away, hoping it all blows over and say to yourself, ‘Well I’m never doing that again!’ Admit that you have failed at the time, assess the situation and brainstorm areas for improvement. Taking a step back to review things is sometimes the best way you can move forward.

    How do you set yourself up in a new role? What are some of the struggles that you had to face and how did you overcome them?


  2. 3 LinkedIn Leg-Ups for Job-Seekers – By Susan Kealy

    February 18, 2013 by Jenna

    Last week, a friend of mine who recently started online dating, recruited in some assistance to help her find her perfect match amongst a mountain of online profiles. In the name of duty, I agreed to sacrifice a night of redecorating my lounge room to join a few girlfriends with a few bottles of wine to decide on our friend’s destiny (yes fellas, this does happen).

    After diligently assessing and critiquing what was on offer, I think that we all agreed the main take-out of the night was this; there are some truly god-awful profiles out there. This is not meant to have a go at people for putting themselves out there – I have a lot of respect for online daters – it’s just that getting the balance right when describing yourself in your online profile is not easy.

    On the one side you want someone to know your good qualities, but blatant self-promotion can make you seem arrogant, and though you may want someone to know that you’re clever and professional, formal and ceremonious language can make you sound like a stiff. And don’t get me started with the half-naked pics. Tricky business this…

    This got me thinking about how jobseekers promote themselves online and in particular on LinkedIn. Because of the dearth of research on Linkedin for jobseekers, I have been self-tasked with uncovering some basic truths.

    There’s no question that what is revered by one employer or recruiter may disgust another, and that what people find appealing will vary by geography, demography, industry and personality. One important question is: can you play it safe when writing a professional LinkedIn profile, but still stand out and make a lasting impression?

    Getting your strengths and skills across, without making people want to vomit, slap you or even worse, discontinue reading your profile, can be a delicate balancing act. I’d like to share with you a few theories from psychology that may help you overcome some of the most violent emotional reactions that profiles can induce.

    1. Narcissism and The Hubris Hypothesis: Most people have a natural aversion to those who appear to think themselves superior to others (the hubris hypothesis), or appear narcissistic in character. You know that member of your extended group with the inflated sense of self-importance and the unyielding devotion to making sure you know how great they are. But in business, everyone will tell you that self-promotion is both necessary and desirable, as potential employers need to know why they should hire you. So what to do? The good news is that studies on the hubris hypothesis have shown that you’re much more likely to get away with self-promotion if you don’t compare yourself to others, and focus strictly on your own accomplishments. Meanwhile, third party validation, such as recommendations can help to verify your claims.
    2. Similarity-Attraction Theory: The more similar our attitudes and beliefs are to those of others, the more likely it is for them to be attracted to us – true of both the business and the dating world. This means that if you’re ideal job is with Gamblers Anonymous, don’t advertise last week’s winnings at the race track in the achievements or awards section of your profile (maybe don’t do this anyway). So, as with almost everything that we preach at Challenge Consulting, the key is relevance – start thinking “what is most important to my ideal employer, and how can I relate to that?” In other words, your LinkedIn profile can serve as a mechanism to demonstrate that you have what is valued and shared by your ideal employer, and an opportunity to emphasise particularly important characteristics such as skills, experience, attitude and personality
    3. CheeseMongering: Here I’m referring to ‘quirks’ and ‘playful whimsicalities’ such as titles that read ‘Captain of In-Between Opportunities’ and photos featuring middle-aged men dressed in full renaissance garbs. Although this may not be a strictly scientific term, or for that matter, a strictly scientific concept, I nonetheless feel it’s an important point to raise. I will concede that our counterparts in the U.S.A may have a slightly higher lactose tolerance than the Aussies, and in fact, I blame a number of U.S ’how-to’ references for even having to mention this one, but basically unless you have good reason for doing this, leave it out!

    Used properly, LinkedIn can open up opportunities for jobseekers in a way that has never before been possible. The power of connections that have been built over a career, and even over a lifetime, can now be harnessed more effectively, because important networks are transparent – we now know who knows who. Just as the dating game has moved its board online, more and more companies and recruiters are tapping into the connections found on LinkedIn to find their perfect match.

    The harsh truth is that a bad profile can actually do you more damage than good.  LinkedIn is a powerful minefield that can either blast you into your next opportunity, or explode in your face, depending on how you manage your information, your strategy, and your manners.

    To help you overcome your fear of the faux pas, and to show you how to navigate the social-media battlefield, Challenge Consulting is facilitating a two-hour introductory LinkedIn for Jobseekers workshop for only $90 + GST. For more information click here or contact Susan Kealy on 02 9221 6422 or [email protected]


  3. How Do You Deal With The Big Bad Boss?

    August 13, 2012 by Jenna

    I have heard many stories through the grapevine of managers who make employees nervous by always looking over their shoulder, managers who do not make any effort to listen or empathise with employees over workplace issues or concerns, to managers who will even claim credit for their employees’ accomplishments!

    But how do you deal with a bad boss and can you spot a bad boss at interview?

    If you have ever taken the Myers Briggs Type Indicator you would understand that there are many different personality types in the workplace, and of course no one is expected to be ‘best friends’ with their boss. However, if effective communication does not take place between both parties, or at least a mutual understanding of one another, then the workplace can turn into a sour, unhealthy environment to work in.

    So what constitutes a ‘Bad Boss’? For those of you out there looking for work, these tips from forbes.com can help you spot a bad boss in the interview process, that way you can decide if this is the right choice for your career before taking the plunge:

    1. Pronoun usage. If your interviewer uses the term “you” in communicating negative information ( such as, “you will deal with a lot of ambiguity”), don’t expect the boss to be a mentor.  If the boss chooses the word “I” to describe the department’s success—that’s a red flag.  If the interviewer says “we” in regards to a particular challenge the team or company faced, it may indicate that he or she deflects responsibility and places blame.
    2. Concern with your hobbies. There is a fine line between genuine relationship building, and fishing for information, so use your discretion on this one. If you have an overall good impression of the potential boss it may be that he or she is truly interested in the fact that you are heavily involved in charity work, and is simply getting to know you. On the other hand, the interviewer may be trying to determine whether you have too many commitments outside of work.
    3. They’re distracted. If your interviewer is glancing at emails while you’re speaking, taking phone calls, or late to the interview, don’t expect a boss who will make time for you.
    4. They can’t give you a straight answer. Listen for pauses, awkwardness, or overly-generic responses when you inquire what happened to the person who held the position you are interviewing for, and/or what has created the need to hire.
    5. They’ve got a record. Ask the potential boss how long he or she has been at the company, in the role, and where he or she worked before coming to it to get a feel for his or management style, and whether it’s what you respond to.  For example, bosses making a switch from a large corporation to a small company may lead with formality. On the other hand, entrepreneurs tend to be passionately involved in business, which can be a help or a hindrance, depending on your work style.

    Now for those of you that have been working in your organisation for a long time now, I am sure that one way or another one can relate to a situation or moment where you had clashed heads with the boss, and others are sadly dealing with a permanent ‘dispute’ day-in and day-out in the workplace.

    But my main question to you is, how do you handle these disagreements or situations with your boss? Because believe it or not your decisions/reactions can either destroy or improve your chances of a successful career.

    Kevin Kruse at Fast Company has offered this  six point plan for dealing with a bad boss:

    1. Make sure you aren’t the one with the problem. – Have you always thought your boss was an idiot no matter where you worked? Do your teammates seem to think the boss is OK?  Any chance you have unrealistic demands? Or maybe the boss slighted you years ago but you’re holding onto that grudge like a dog on a bone? Are you negative all the time, about everybody? Don’t let this possibility insult you. Take a deep breath and really think about it.
    2. Realize that your boss is human, and imperfect. – We need to realize that people become bosses and don’t always get the training or coaching they need to succeed. They, too, have demands, pressures, to-do lists, and maybe even their own bad boss. They make mistakes sometimes. (Don’t you?)
    3. Coach up. – Don’t accept that the boss has all the control, all the power, and all the responsibility. View your job, and his/her job, as a shared accountability. Ideally you can muster the professional courage to ask for a meeting to talk about “your job” and performance. In the meeting explain what parts of your job are going well and are enriching, and how you think things could go better.
    4. Focus on the positive. – If your boss just isn’t coachable, and just isn’t improving, then think about all the positive aspects of your job. Are you learning new things? Do you like your coworkers? Does it give you a flexibility you need to take care of kids or personal items? Are you paid a lot of money? Hopefully the good elements of your job outweigh the bad boss behaviors, and you can get personal daily engagement by recognizing these other blessings.
    5. Wait him/her out. – If your situation is just irreconcilable, can you just wait for your boss to move on, or for you to move to another position that reports to someone else? In large or fast-growing companies, it’s not uncommon for people to get a new boss every year or two. If this is your environment, your strategy should be to grin and bear it and realize that this too shall pass. If, however, you are in a small businesses or a company with little growth, a wait-it-out approach might not be possible.
    6. Quit. – If all else fails, you have to quit. For the sake of your mental and physical health, and for the sake of your friends and family, you have to find a new job. The truth is that if you’ve been working for a bad boss for long, you probably aren’t in a position to get a better job. I hate to be so direct, but great talent always has options, and usually doesn’t work for a bad boss. This is the key point: You have to be the CEO of your own career–you have to be mindful of your career.

    If you find that even after attempting most of the steps above that you have not achieved any higher ground or at least seen any improvement in the workplace then perhaps you need to ask yourself if this is the right environment for you to be working in? There can be situations where it just doesn’t work out, and as point 6 shows above, it is better for your mental and physical health as well as your personal life to make that decision to move on.




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