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  1. Do you know what your employer expects of you?

    October 28, 2014 by Jenna

    Your role has been assigned and management has worked with you to outline your job description and your daily tasks. Now that the reigns have been passed to you, what are the key personal characteristics your manager is looking for?

    I found five characteristics that I have elaborated on that I believe you can apply regardless of what role you are currently in:

    Positive Attitude

    Your attitude will not only affect your relationship with your manager, but it affects your entire work environment (your colleagues, clients, suppliers etc.).

    Employers are looking for someone who looks forward to coming in to work each day. Someone who willingly takes on new challenges and finds ways to accomplish even the most tedious of tasks without complaint.

    We have all been there and know what it is like to be in an environment with someone who is not flexible or enthusiastic about the task at hand. Someone who complains to get out of an assignment or has nothing positive or encouraging to contribute to the group.

    How can you expect managers to trust you will do well in a higher level role if you are not making your current position appear positive? If you are feeling in a motivational slump, try to find ways to clear that negativity so that your thoughts and behaviour create a more favourable lasting impression.

    Dependability

    Being dependable means you follow through on tasks you have committed to. Whether it is a task set by management or a team assignment, your contribution to the task contributes to the overall success of others (and the company), not just yourself.

    Dependability means holding yourself accountable to meet deadlines. It also means knowing when to speak up if you are struggling so that items do not fall behind. To consistently be dependable you need to be well organised and disciplined.

    Continual Learning

    Brushing up on your skills or learning new skills allows you to contribute more to your organisation. You can help the company develop by taking on training in your current position. This helps you become more indispensable in the workplace.

    Continual learning doesn’t mean you need to study on the side part time while trying to balance a full time role. Asking questions, taking advantage of training programs at work, and reading books all count as learning opportunities. You will be seen as showing more initiative in your personal progression.

    Another important note is to accept feedback when it is provided and apply it.

    Initiative

    While you may be comfortable with your daily routine, when is the last time you thought outside the box, or even stepped outside of your comfort zone? Have you tried contributing new ideas lately? Or even volunteered to take on a challenge that no one else in your team has put their hand up for?

    This will give your employer a chance to see you in a new light. To show a side of yourself that you may not have had the chance to show before. You won’t be successful every time but it’s a good way to establish where your strengths are and learn from your experiences.

    Cooperation

    Almost every job will comprise of an element of teamwork and being able to co-exist with others to collectively achieve goals. Each team member will have strengths and skills that they contribute to the team. Working in harmony will make it much easier to reach success.

    Not only will getting along with team members make your environment more enjoyable, they can encourage you and motivate you to achieve your best and vice versa.

    Managers need to know that they can rely on their team to perform and it won’t help if you are the missing link.

    Don’t be afraid to contribute ideas and show how your skills can help the overall outcome of a group assignment.

    Do you follow any of these traits? What do you think your employer expects from you the most? How do you meet those expectations?


  2. 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?


  3. What do you need from your manager?

    April 30, 2013 by Jenna

    In order to be effective team members, or to become effective team leaders, supervisors or managers, we first need the direction of a great leader.

    ‘Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.’ —Peter Drucker

    Have you had a great manager that stands out in your mind? How did they help you develop your career? Or perhaps you are currently a manager? Do you know what your team members need?

    Melissa Raffoni submitted a blog in the Harvard Business Review on Eight Things Your Employees Want From You (as the manager):

    1. Tell me my role, tell me what to do, and give me the rules. Micromanaging? No, it’s called clear direction. Give them parameters so they can work within broad outlines.

    2. Discipline my co-worker who is out of line. Time and time again, I hear, “I wish my boss would tell Nancy that this is just unacceptable.” Hold people accountable in a way that is fair but makes everyone cognizant of what is and isn’t acceptable.

    3. Get me excited. About the company, about the product, about the job, about a project. Just get them excited.

    4. Don’t forget to praise me. Motivate employees by leveraging their strengths, not harping on their weaknesses.

    5. Don’t scare me. They really don’t need to know about everything that worries you. They respect that you trust them, but you are the boss. And don’t lose your temper at meetings because they didn’t meet your expectations. It’s often not productive. Fairness and consistency are important mainstays.

    6. Impress me. Strong leaders impress their staff in a variety of ways. Yes, some are great examples of management, but others are bold and courageous, and still others are creative and smart. Strong leaders bring strength to an organisation by providing a characteristic that others don’t have and the company sorely needs.

    7. Give me some autonomy. Give them something interesting to work on. Trust them with opportunity.

    8. Set me up to win. Nobody wants to fail. Indecisive leaders who keep people in the wrong roles, set unrealistic goals, keep unproductive team members, or change direction unfairly just frustrate everybody and make people feel defeated.

    Does your manager know what you need to be successful?

    It is up to each of us to make our expectations and needs clear to our manager. While it may be an easier option to blame the boss when things go wrong, remember that management is also dealing with many other tasks on a broader scale and they too are human and make mistakes. And even while they may appear to be busy, it is important for you to approach them and provide feedback when needed. Taking accountability and showing initiative by taking action is part of the way we grow, both personally and professionally.

    Managers are not expected to be mind-readers however, when it comes to employee goals and expectations. In order for effective progress to be made, communication needs to be established between both parties to achieve company goals, personal goals and when processes/procedures need to finalised by (setting deadlines, follow up meetings etc.).

    Companies across Australia are about to be busy with Performance Appraisal Meetings – what feedback will give to your manager? What do you need to be most effective in your work?

    I personally need a manager that I can approach to ask questions or report issues to. Who can make the time to sit with me to discuss upcoming tasks. Not only that, but someone who can allow me to get the job done and make decisions on my own and I can report to back to if I have any questions/issues.

    If you set out your needs and management sets out their needs, it is then the process of collectively working together to achieve those goals and move forward. In order to work collectively however, you will need to consider the following:

    • Not all goals/strategies may be agreed upon when meetings take place. Certain goals may be put on hold to be re-evaluated at a later stage. However, take the opportunity to ask management to review this again if you are truly passionate about it and believe it will benefit the overall business.

    • Try to understand from a bigger picture where your goals tie in with the company goals. This will help you to understand management’s perspective and will help further build your bond between one another instead of creating a barrier.

    • You need to be adaptable and flexible with the feedback we are provided with. This needs to be taken into consideration from the manager and employee perspective, as you will both have the opportunity to share your opinions. Don’t take constructive feedback too personally. As one of my articles in this week’s news outlines, use feedback to your advantage.

    I have been in situations in the past where management has offered me the opportunity for advancement for hard work and effort, and I have also been advised on times where I needed to step up my game and it does leave you in a situation of vulnerability as negative feedback can feel like a personal attack. The shields go up and you may end up spending a long period of time reflecting on the negative instead of looking for positive solutions.

    Listening to management’s feedback and then offering feedback to work together towards a solution is the best way that I have found dealing with feedback and also getting my own needs met within any organisation. It could even be something like ‘further training’ required in a particular field or area of your job and you should never be afraid to ask, especially if it offers advancement within the company.

    Have you compiled a list of items that you would like to discuss with your manager? It’s never too late to do so. Take the time to assess the most important items or ones that require more immediate action. Also make sure to review what goals will overall benefit your career and the organisation as a whole.

    Are you prepared to take action and approach management about your needs/goals? You don’t need to wait until the performance review, and you can even arrange a meeting if you would like to discuss items in more detail. In order for changes to take place, someone needs to be the initiator, so why not take the stand and be the one to enforce it. You will feel better knowing that you took the steps to voice you needs rather then spending your days wondering ‘what if’?

    As a manager, what feedback have you received from your team? How did you handle this feedback and what did you provide to your staff in return?


  4. How often are you changing jobs?

    January 29, 2013 by Jenna

    Since I work in the recruitment industry, I speak to people looking to make a job change daily. As the New Year commenced I saw an increase in the amount of enquiries from potential candidates looking to make a fresh start for 2013. So it made me wonder how often do people change jobs, organisations, careers AND why?

    According to the latest Australian Labour Mobility statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, less than half of the Australian working population have been in their job for 5 years or more. 56% of Australian workers have been in their job for less than 5 years and 20% have been in their current job for less than 12 months.

    More than half of these job changes happened based on the choice by the individual, with 60% of men and 66% of women who changed jobs in the last 12 months doing so voluntarily. Most people went into similar jobs, with only around 5% of Australian Managerial staff and 10% of Australian Labourer staff who changed jobs also moved into a new career area. So with my recent career change, that puts me in the minority!

    We of course all know that the number one reason people choose to change jobs is their immediate manager or work environment. But what are the other incentives people ask for when looking for a new job?

    • better pay or conditions
    • job security
    • closer to home
    • more (or less) responsibility at work
    • more (or less) flexibility at work
    • career advancement

    For me what was most important was an increased flexibility. I worked in a job with an around the clock roster, which meant I was working strange hours and weekends most weeks. For me flexibility meant working business hours Monday to Friday so I could have time to pursue my outside of work interests. So my definition of “flexibility” is quite different to what others would be looking for.

    For others, increased pay could be at the top of list of “must-have”. However, pay can only take you so far, because if you do not enjoy the job or the work environment how long will you stay content in the job before taking the next leap? And although a new job can help you with your career advancement, can too many new jobs in too short a time period make you look like your lacking commitment or unreliable to a future employer?

    There are many advantages and disadvantages for making a job change, including:

    Advantages

    • develop your skills within different organisations or industry sectors
    • take the next step within your career
    • an increase in salary, depending on the new role you apply for
    • develop a new network of contacts within your industry to build your profile in the career area or industry

    Disadvantages

    • if you are changing jobs too frequently, will employers question your commitment or capability?
    • having to start from scratch – will you be able to develop the skills as quickly as you hoped if you are starting from scratch in new organisations frequently?
    • you may make a jump too soon, and realise you made the job change for the wrong reasons rather than for you really need in your career.

    Whether a job change is a good or a bad thing for you career depends entirely on the individual and their career goals. Always think about where you want to go, what’s most important for you? And is it a job change that will allow you to realise this goal or looking for new opportunities within your current organisation? Because sometimes, as the song goes, it is better the devil you know.

    Have you ever made a job change you regretted? What did you learn from the experience? Or what about one that was perfect for you? What advice would you give to those contemplating a job or career change?




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