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  1. Bad Habits That Erode Personal Accountability

    July 15, 2014 by Jenna

    When it comes to taking on responsibility in a team environment, you quickly realise just how important personal accountability is. Each person on the team needs to play a part, it means taking on the tasks, following through and being responsible for the outcome.

    It means that there are certain bad habits that you need to banish, these include:

    Making Excuses/ Blaming Others

    For example:

    • ‘I have a lot to manage at the moment; therefore I won’t attend the team meeting. I’ll catch up next week’
    • ‘I’ll sleep in instead of going to training and I’ll make up for it later’
    • That you are ‘too busy’ to commit to the task and put it on the back burner, falling behind.
    • ‘So-and-so didn’t finish their part of the assignment so we fell behind’

    What could happen as a result of excuses: You will be considered unreliable or the group will not be able to trust that you are capable of delivering outcomes on time. Trust in the team is very important and once it is broken, it can take time to earn back.

    Possible solutions to excuses: We are all guilty of excuse making at times. When you find that you are starting to think or react this way, it is important to reflect on the task at hand and why you were chosen for this role. Reflect on how this task contributes to your team. Understand the implications of what could happen if you do not follow through.

    Do you have someone that you report to on a regular basis? If not, buddy up with someone on your team so that you both collectively can help keep one another on track. Sometimes a simple push is all you need.

    What could happen as a result of blaming others: Blaming others instead of trying to find a solution can create all sorts of unfavorable results. It can create tension in the team, break trust, communication etc. When problems occur, teams should be collectively looking for solutions together, not turning on one another.

    Possible solutions to blaming others:

    • If you have someone sharing a task with you and find that they are not performing then you need to address this issue directly with them. Start off one on one, as often the person may not realise they are doing it. If it still continues then get a manager or third party involved.
    • If you have a problem and choose not to communicate the issue or find a solution then you won’t achieve the desired outcome. Speak up if you are struggling, ask others for advice, after all, that is what your team is there for.
    • If you are being held accountable for a result of a group task that has failed a task, sometimes the simplest thing to do is say you’re sorry and offer to work on a solution for the future. Apologising does not make you weak, it shows courage. It shows responsibility.

    Lack of Motivation

    Examples are running late, being unprepared for meetings, not focusing or listening to what others are sharing, nor contributing thoughts or ideas to the team discussions.

    What could happen as a result of this: You appear distracted or disinterested to the team activity and other members will question your commitment levels. If you are unenthusiastic, others will not feel comfortable approaching you for help or provide you with further responsibilities. They will assume that you don’t care.

    Possible solutions: Organising yourself can be the best way to keep your goals on track and set your path towards success. If you have your tasks written down in front of you, it will remind you every day of what you need to achieve and keep you focused.

    You can start by asking yourself some simple questions:

    • Are you setting daily targets?
    • Are you writing the information down on a checklist?
    • Are you following up on your own progress regularly?

    As part of the team, members also have a right to know your progress, which should in turn keep you motivated knowing that not only does your work impact you but those around you.

    I personally become motivated when I see the time and dedication that my teammates are putting into their tasks. It makes me feel excited that goals are being achieved, and it challenges me to step up my level of commitment.

    Any great leader or manager that you know will tell you that they have to go through stages of being accountable for their team. It requires making decisions for the overall well-being of your team, taking responsibilities for mistakes or set-backs and collectively working together to find solutions.

    Remember these points next time you are in a group situation so that you can let the best part of you shine.

  2. Constructing great teams in SME’s requires compromise on all fronts – By Stephen Crowe

    July 1, 2014 by Jenna

    In theory when we choose members for a team we should only select members who have the skills and experience needed to achieve the team goals, and the behavioural traits that fit the required team functions.  But in the real world for small to medium enterprises having all the people with the required skills is often a luxury, and then  having enough of them to be able to filter on behavioural traits is just a dream.

    So what do we do?

    Well the reality is building teams without the ideal members requires us to sharpen the focus across a number of key areas.  Extra effort is required with:

    • Defining the goals vision and goals for the team
    • Defining the roles of each team member
    • Defining the success criteria and critically
    • Communication

    We are asking people to work outside their comfort zones so to maximise the team’s chance of success we have to make sure that all team members are pulling in the same direction and are aware of all the issues that will affect them.

    But there are some traits that cannot be compromised on.  All team members must have these if the team is going to succeed.  They include:

    • Willingness to compromise for the good of the team
    • Willing to learn
    • Willingness to commit to the team goals.

    In small team that is reliant on the input of every team member I believe these traits are more important than technical skill or experience.  A team that is willing to work together will gain synergy from their communal energy and drive that will far outweigh a fragmented but highly skilled group of people.

  3. Employer Brand – A Cornerstone To Successful Recruiting

    June 10, 2014 by Jenna

    After a long period of uncertainty our economy is finally showing early signs of recovery. As a consequence the optimist inside every business person starts thinking about growth and that often means more staff. So what does the recruitment scene look like in 2014?

    Well it is different to what your might have experienced previously. While we have rising unemployment we also have skills shortages in a number of important sectors. Due the uncertainty of the last five years good candidates are reluctant to change jobs unless they are really confident about the strengths of their new employer.

    What does this mean if you’re trying to attract good people? It is a new world out there and one of the keystones of recruitment success in this new world is your employment brand.

    Just as your business brand defines you to your potential customers, your employment brand defines you to your potential employees. It answers these questions (amongst others):

    • Why should I want to work for you?
    • Why are you different from your competitors?
    • What sort of work culture do you have?
    • What can you do for my career?

    Candidates get to understand your employer brand through a range of sources. One of the most important and influential is a trusted third party (usually an employment agency). If you work with a good employment agency one of the value added benefits is that they sell your employer brand to every candidate they talk to.

    Challenge Consulting is a recruitment services company that works with organisations in the Banking and Finance, ICT and Not for Profit Industries to attract, select and on board great talent. Please call to discuss any of your recruiting questions.

    Stephen Crowe
    Challenge Consulting Australia
    Managing Director

  4. Leadership – Be Prepared To Make The Tough Decisions

    May 20, 2014 by Jenna

    We can all be quite opinionated when it comes to leaders making decisions on behalf of their organisation, state or country. We are privileged to have people who are prepared to make those big decisions for us. But sometimes we can be skeptical and even cynical to those choices made for us. However, what would you do if you were in that situation? What if you were the one who had to make the tough decisions?

    A tough decision may be reacting to something that you are not exactly comfortable with for the sake of your business continuity. At times costs have to be cut, an employee may have to be let go and you will have to deal with a customer complaint.

    As a leader, you have the authority to make these decisions and to do what is best. However, if you are the type of person who spends their time dwelling over the situation for too long or putting off the difficult task until the result becomes worse, you may need to reconsider taking on this position of authority.

    How do great leaders make tough decisions? While researching this topic I found an interesting article from an American blogger Michael Hyatt, who watched an interview series on President George W Bush. He put together 5 important points on leadership lessons and decision making:

    1. You will make mistakes—it’s inevitable. To think that you are going to lead without making mistakes results in procrastination—something no leader can afford, especially in a crisis. This simply comes with the territory.
    2. You must surround yourself with trusted advisors. You can’t research every aspect of important decisions yourself. At some point you have to depend on the expertise of others. Ultimately, your leadership will stand or fall based on the quality of the advice you receive.
    3. You must make decisions with the information available. For leaders, the point of absolute certainty never comes. You will inevitably have to make the call based on the information you have. While you may be unsure, you must act. Pundits may criticise you later, but they have the benefit of hindsight. Leaders don’t have this luxury and must do the best they can with what they have available.
    4. You must take personal responsibility for the outcomes. If you make a mistake, you must own it—even if your advisors gave you bad information. And even if you were acting with the most noble of intentions. If you make a good decision leading to a good outcome, you must give your advisors and others the credit. If you make a bad decision leading to a bad outcome, you alone must take the blame.
    5. You must ignore public opinion when it gets in the way of principle. Chasing popularity is like chasing a vapour. It is here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, you have to make decisions based on principle and let the chips fall where they may.

    Leadership isn’t easy, but difficult decisions are necessary and leaders are required to act. Even if you are not in a leadership role, it is important that you keep an open mind, respect the decisions of management and team leader for both you as an employee and for your organisation. After all, would you really do things differently if you were in that situation?

    What difficult decisions have you had to make for your organisation? What did you learn from these choices?

  5. Is a Career in Financial Planning really for you? – By Lauren Eardley

    May 2, 2014 by Jenna

    As a Specialist in Finance Recruitment, I screen hundreds of resumes a day from people looking to break into the Banking and Finance industry. My inspiration for this blog comes from a trend I have noticed recently. That is there has been a significant increase in the number of people looking to break into one specific area: Financial Planning.

    The RG146 qualification has become more prevalent on resumes even for applications to roles which are not related to Financial Planning. This inspired me to uncover my candidate’s motivations and understand; what is so attractive about Financial Planning?

    The vast majority of candidates I speak to are recent graduates in the field of Business, Commerce, Finance or Accounting. Financial Planning is one of many paths that a graduate from these subjects can choose to go down. Based on my research and insights, a candidate’s attraction to Financial Planning can be summarised into three main points:

    • An opportunity to use their degree and pursue their field of interest
    • Personal Financial reward
    • The opportunity to directly help people with their financial goals

    So how fulfilling is Financial Planning in reality? I spoke to Bill Gilroy, Ryan Sparks and Gabrielle Bell of Ipac Securities to get the inside story on how to get into Financial Planning and what to expect.

    Both Ryan and Gabrielle are relatively early in their Financial Planning careers; they both studied Business and Commerce at University and were successful in gaining experience from a graduate program: one with Macquarie Bank and the other with Dixon Advisory. Their initial attractions to the industry were much the same as those of most of the candidates I spoke to; with the main motivation being the opportunity to help people. Working with Ipac securities has given them firsthand experience of Financial Planning beginning with a specialism and more recently branching out into more holistic advice.

    They advised that the type of Financial Planning you go into depends on your own choices and the type of firm you work with. You could specialise in a certain area of advice such as investments, insurance, retirement preparation, tax management or Self-Managed Super Funds, or offer more holistic advice. There is a stigma that Financial Planners are all about sales however the recent FoFA legislative changes which came about mid-2013 have meant enhanced clarity on charges for advice and products. This has put greater emphasis on Financial Planners actually helping their customers achieve their financial goals rather than product placement.

    As a Financial Planner, the salary and bonus structure can vary dependent on the company you work for. Some Financial Planners receive a base salary with a modest incentive structure others will place more emphasis on a generous commission structure. Both create very different cultures within a firm so make sure to find a structure that matches your motivations.

    Gabrielle and Ryan’s best bits of the job were centered around engaging with people and using their privileged position to be able to understand their situation and provide a solution. They both enjoy the personal aspect of the role, being empathetic to a client’s needs but remaining professional. They have flexible working arrangements and are happy with their remuneration structure.

    Any negatives? Pressure; being responsible for a client’s finances, particularly following a redundancy or the loss of a loved one can be intense. It is important to maintain an emotional distance from a client’s situation and provide impartial advice.

    Overall the expectations and reality explored for this article were closely matched. Working as a Financial Planner is rewarding. This comes with a caveat however; the industry is broad and there are a wide variety of firms out there all operating in very different ways, with different salary structures, cultures, specialisms and motivations. It is up to you to work out where your strengths and motivations lie to allow you to become the most successful Financial Planner you can be.

  6. 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?

  7. 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?

  8. The good, the bad and the ugly of Christmas Parties

    December 10, 2013 by Jenna

    It is getting into the silly season and many of us can’t wait to let loose and have a holiday! But while the anticipation is high and the excitement builds, it is important to keep a level head at all times, especially at work. You don’t want a silly mistake at the end-of-year Christmas Party to take away all of the hard work you have put in throughout the year, do you?

    We have all been there, it has been a stressful day and you can’t wait to ‘kick of your heels’ and have a drink. But remember, as management is providing you this privilege to say thank you for all of your hard work this year, the last thing you want to do is throw that down the drain!

    So while conducting research on this topic I found an article from Susan Adams in Forbes called How Not To Behave At the Office Party and it outlined some of the common mistakes that can be made:

    Don’t Arrive Late – The early stage of a party offers a great chance to chat with senior executives in a relaxed atmosphere before it all gets too hectic.

    Don’t Be a Wallflower – Don’t sit in the corner and chat with the people you work with every single day. Branch out and introduce yourself to people in other departments. You never know who could help you move up the ladder.

    Don’t Lose Control – If alcohol is served, enjoy a drink or two, not 12. Getting drunk at a company-sponsored event may not get you fired, but it will make you the butt of jokes and could have a lasting negative effect.

    Don’t Show Up the Boss – If he’s carrying on about something you know more about, keep it to yourself.

    Don’t Tell Racy Jokes – No matter how much the atmosphere loosens up as the evening proceeds, there will still be people who can be offended–and who will remember it the next day.

    Don’t Flirt – The office party is a no-flirting zone. Even if you think you’re just relaxing and being playful with an attractive colleague, your behaviour risks being construed as sexual harassment.

    Don’t Speechify About How You’d Run the Company – It’s been a frustrating year, and you think you could do a better job than the boss. Keep that to yourself.

    Don’t Vent – You can assume your colleagues have had as tough a year as you have, and that everyone might enjoy a good gripe session. Don’t hold it at the office party. This is a professional occasion, so keep your game face on.

    So remember to make the most of your Christmas party by enjoying the atmosphere, connect with fellow colleagues and management, reflect on the year that has passed and make a toast to the upcoming year ahead.

    Ever had that experience where someone has gone a little overboard at the office Christmas party? If so, how was the situation rectified?

  9. Feedback – It’s not a dirty word

    October 22, 2013 by Jenna

    Constructive feedback for most can be one of the hardest things to accept, I still struggle with it. Who wants to be told what we need to improve on? In an ideal world it would be great if we could be lavished with praise and be told what we want to hear, but how do we ever grow or gain further skills to accomplish what we want to achieve?

    Whether you are an individual or running a business you are going to receive some form of constructive feedback, and receiving it for the first time can be painful depending on how you perceive it.

    When I was younger I had this aspiration that I would work on cruise ships as a bartender. I had this image in my head of a job filled with fun, travel and luxury. So with very limited experience under my belt I applied for every cruise ship company I could find. No response. So I decided to complete a Cert IV in Hospitality, gain all of my qualifications and then try again. I started off working in ‘family’ restaurants and I soon realised I lacked any talent when it came to bartending.

    I was also made aware of the fact that my style of service was a bit more formal and suited a ‘fine dining’ atmosphere. When my manager would say that to me I didn’t know how to take it. Was I not good enough in my current role? Did I not fit the criteria that they needed? I was trying my hardest so why wasn’t I suitable?

    So what became of this?

    My teacher at TAFE had a connection to the HR Manager at the Hilton Hotel, I went for an interview with them twice and before I knew it I was working for their Event Operations team looking after a more ‘fine dining’ approach for their gala dinners and conferences. And I really enjoyed it. So in a sense, the feedback provided was correct, I just didn’t see it at the time.

    Constructive feedback can trigger a number of reactions, and you may be familiar with some of the ones below:

    • Hostility/Resistance/Denial—Employees attack your credibility and the facts in the review. Employees do not acknowledge the issue, deny that the incidents took place, or downplay the impact of their actions.
    • Indifference—Employees react to the feedback in an apathetic manner and do not fully commit to doing things differently.
    • Lack of Confidence/Self Pity—Employees are uncertain in their abilities to succeed or are risk-averse.
    • Responsibility Skirting—Employees may acknowledge the negative feedback but may play the ‘blame game,’ indirectly implying that they will not change.S
    • hock/Anger—Employees become angry and say things impulsively or react in an emotional way

    Now that I work at a recruitment company I get to experience first-hand how difficult it can be for consultants to relay constructive feedback to applicants that may not have made it to the second round of the interview process. It can be devastating to deliver that news to someone but it is also important that we provide this constructive feedback so that individuals can better prepare themselves in the future.

    When it comes to receiving constructive feedback there are some important steps you can take to fully understand what is being delivered to you so that you can get the best out of that experience:

    Listen carefully to what is being said to you.

    • Be sure that you understand the feedback. Summarise or restate the feedback for the other person to be sure there are no misunderstandings.
    • Take notes so you can review everything that was said at a later time.
    • Control your feelings and try not be defensive.
    • Ask for examples to clarify the feedback and put it into context.
    • Decide what to do with the feedback: listen and change; listen and gather more information; listen and ignore.
    • Consider your other experiences – have you been given similar feedback before? Does it fit a pattern? Is it time to change?
    • Check with others – did other people involved in the incident or project have the same feelings about your efforts?

    Listening was the first point as it can often be hard to do once your emotions set in or if you go into ‘defence mode’. This however, can save many misunderstandings and even teach you things about yourself that you didn’t even realise. You also need to show that you are open to receiving feedback as well. The includes body language and your attitude at the time, if you appear ‘closed’ then it will be harder for your manager or the person delivering the feedback to be open and honest with you. Trust me, it is really important to have people in your life that can deliver feedback openly and honestly to you, even if you find it difficult to accept at the time.

    And just remember, all of the managers and individuals that you look up to have at some stage received constructive feedback too. The important thing is what you make of it and where you let it take you.

  10. Stress Busters – How do you deal with stress?

    October 15, 2013 by Jenna

    Whether it is in our personal lives or careers we all face stress at some stage. I tend to find it happens the more responsibilities pile up and the more you take on new challenges. While greater responsibilities often help us grow, we also need to find that balance as stress should not be something that rules our lives.

    Negative effects of stress to physical and mental health

    While you may not even realise that you are suffering from stress, I have found from personal experience the following symptoms can occur:

    • You begin to isolate yourself from those around you and interact less with others

    • You experience fatigue due to lack of sleep

    • Decreased morale and lack of enthusiasm to complete tasks – which in turn can result in poor results at work

    • Increased headaches, aches and pains in the body and additional health problems over time

    • Becoming emotionally sensitive or over-reactive about the slightest mishaps

    I tend to find that I experience stress the most when I am trying to plan an event and I take on the role of ‘organiser’. While I can set out a plan in advance for a team or work project and feel like I am 100% on top of things, one can never be completely prepared for the unexpected. This includes setbacks, delays, emergency situations, individuals dropping out of projects, something going wrong etc.

    Trying to do this on top of my daily routine, it can appear impossible sometimes. If I don’t try to deal with it appropriately I am now aware that I start to show signs of the symptoms above. I’m sure that most of you can relate, and sometimes that easy alternative is to switch off or even give up.

    This option does not often result in a positive outcome, and since I don’t believe in quitters, I have developed stress busters to try and tackle what I am struggling with head on.

    What you can do differently to help overcome stress

    • Don’t sweat the small stuff – I remember reading this in a workshop that I attended recently thinking ‘easy for you to say’, but it really does help if you change your thinking slightly. It can be very common to worry when things are not going exactly to plan, but if we spend time worrying about all of the little things, how will you be able to cope with more challenging situations? You will be too exhausted! Have a back-up plan if need be or find alternative solutions and even if you have to tweak or change your plans slightly it is often worth it. But also keep calm and collected in the process, this will allow you to be able to react more clearly instead of letting stress cloud your judgement.

    • Healthy mind and body – When people are stressed they tend to find that they have less time to do some of the things that can truly benefit their productivity.

    • Putting healthy eating and exercise on the back-burner will often leave you feeling even more ‘burnt out’. Sometimes I struggle combining the two as I enjoy exercise but I love food, and often it can be bad habits like takeaway or sugar products. What have I learned from this? Well these foods result in constant highs and lows but I need a continual balance to be performing at my best. Find those super foods that are good for your body and also make you feel good, if this means taking the time to prepare meals in advance then do it, this will save you resorting to eating last minute fatty foods that leave you feeling sluggish.

    • If you’re not a gym junkie then go for a walk or do some yoga at home. Clear your mind every now and again and this will result in better sleep patterns. I like to go for long walks sometimes after work or on weekends and I find when I come back I am so refreshed because I just needed that little bit of ‘me time’.

    • The art of delegation – Most people consider this to be a weakness to ask someone else for help so they try to take on everything themselves which can result in stress levels going through the roof. Not only that but deadlines are sometimes not met and it can leave you feeling more like a failure. If you have others involved in projects that you are working on, ask them if they could assist, even if it may seem like a simple task to pass on it could end up freeing your time just enough to get other deadlines completed. Work together as a team and if times get quieter for you, offer your friends or colleagues a hand in return.

    • Develop a hobby or read a book – If you find it hard to ‘wind down’ right away after work, keep your mind stimulated with something that you enjoy doing and you can eventually relax and calm yourself enough to rest. I enjoy writing in my spare time, painting or reading books by inspirational authors to motivate me daily. If you feel like perhaps you have lost touch with your hobbies, it is never too late to get back on track.

    • Prioritising tasks – I have outlined this previously in my time management blog, but the more you organise your tasks in order of priority, the less you will often feel stressed or worry that you haven’t finished what you needed to do in a day. Don’t be afraid to communicate what you are doing as well to others so that they are not adding additional tasks to your workload if you don’t believe you will be able to achieve this at the time.

    • Communicate to someone – Believe it or not bottling up stress can in fact create further stress and anxiety. Make it clear if you are struggling so that someone can help you overcome this. A lot of the time others will not be aware of what is going on if you keep it to yourself, the sooner you communicate, the sooner you can find resolve.

    How have you learned to cope with stress over the years? Do you still apply certain principles today?

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