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  1. 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.


  2. Writing a self-evaluation: Are you promoting yourself in the best light?

    November 25, 2014 by Jenna

    Self-evaluations are often used as part of a review process, either at the end of the probation period or as part of a performance review. They include providing a personal review of your workplace experiences and accomplishments to date. Many people find this process nerve racking. However, if you take the time to plan your evaluation properly it can be an enlightening and valuable experience for both you and your boss.

    Why do we write self-evaluations?

    Staff are asked to write self-evaluations for two main reasons; Firstly so that managers can get a staff members of perspective about working in the company or team; Secondly it gives you the opportunity to reflect on your experience in the role, your accomplishments and as well as areas for improvement.

    Where we fall short and how it should be viewed

    Errors can occur when individuals assume they need to answer the questions in the way they think their managers would like to see their review. They may also fail to ask for clarification on a question or subject or fail to elaborate when there is the opportunity.

    Sometimes the thought process of writing the review is a scarier process than actually writing it yourself and we can often put it off until the last minute.

    Self-evaluations should be a great opportunity to showcase your skills and display your best qualities as an employee.

    Take out some time in your busy schedule to block out distractions and take down points on what you have accomplished over this time period, you may surprise yourself!

    Benefits of writing a self-evaluation

    • Having your own voice: This is your opportunity to give an honest reflection of the work you have done for the company so far and outline how well you have accomplished your objectives.
    • Creating awareness: While management may provide you with assignments and tasks, they may not be fully aware of what other projects and tasks you complete regularly and what you are contributing to the company. It also increases your own awareness of what you are capable of and can build self-confidence.
    • Promoting your key skill sets: This is an opportunity to provide examples of when you had to use those skills to achieve outcomes. Perhaps even provide a list with dates to present with the document.
    • An chance to ask questions and seek feedback: Some potential questions you could ask might be: 1) Where do you see my role progressing? 2) Is there an opportunity for further training or mentoring in a particular field? 3) Are there any future goals or targets that I need to be aware of? 4) Do you see me taking on further responsibilities within my role?

     You also have to opportunity to provide feedback on your current working environment (what works and what doesn’t work). Perhaps you can even provide suggestions based on improvements within your work environment, show initiative.

    • Reflect on your personal development needs: While this can seem scary at first, establishing weaknesses can also open up the opportunity to discuss how management can best assist you to work on areas of improvement and how to further develop in that area you may be struggling in.
    • Building a closer bond between you and your manager/supervisor: By writing a self-evaluation, you can open up barriers and allow communication to flow more freely. Working collaboratively to achieve future goals and outcomes together as a team.

    Writing your self-evaluation

    Take the written evaluation seriously and consider the following:

    • Presentation – Check your spelling and grammar (as well as formatting – make sure the information flows well). If it appears like the work has been added in haste or looks rough around the edges, management may think you don’t take this process seriously.
    • Be specific when you can – include dates, examples, who you reported to (for validation) etc.
    • If there were problems or difficult situations, discuss the issue and provide feedback on possible solutions so that mistakes do not repeat themselves. Take responsibility and show your genuine interest in self improvement.
    • Re-establish your understanding of the role and how it ties to the goals and vision of your company/team
    • Highlight achievements, but make them relevant and try not to come across as arrogant or boastful.

    What feedback have you received before regarding the self-evaluation? What have you learned from writing your own evaluations?


  3. 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?


  4. 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?


  5. How To Ask For A Promotion

    April 9, 2013 by Jenna

    According to recent research, asking for a promotion ranks high on the list of one of life’s most anxiety-inducing activities. Do you think this is true?

    Most people agree that promotions are also one of the most vital things that you can do to move ahead in your career. But there is always that underlying question of when is the right time? Or even that subconscious fear of what if management says no?

    But with any increase in responsibility or salary, it is something that needs to be earned, not expected. Especially as a recent graduate stepping into the workforce, sometimes you have to start from the bottom and work your way up to get to that job of your dreams.

    For example, my cousin works for a law firm in the city and he puts his heart and soul into his work. When the opportunity arose for a chance to prove himself further within the company and be promoted to different section of the firm he didn’t hesitate. He came in to the office early, stayed back late, and pulled the extra yards needed. Needless to say I did not hear from him during the process as he had his priorities on showing management what he was capable of, but in the long run he got the promotion and we were able to celebrate together. He pushed through the challenges to win the goal. And he always takes on new challenges the same way.

    So you have put in the hard yards and worked above expectations, how do you go about asking for the promotion? Megan Alpern at Forbes outlines the following key tips:

    1. Do your homework – Assess what you have brought to the organisation so far and have it written down and prepared to present to management. Providing examples of how you have gone above and beyond can be very advantageous.

    2. Plan the Timing – As there is no perfect time to ask, however, a good time to ask may be when annual or semi-annual reviews take place. But also keep in mind the current economy within your team or department. Is your business struggling or thriving and is it a wise move to make the request now?

    3. Ask for the Meeting – Perhaps you are not near review time, you can request a meeting, but make sure to outline to management what you are hoping to discuss so that you do not catch them off guard.

    4. Know Your Numbers – It is best not to discuss numbers until you are technically offered the promotion, but make sure you are prepared to negotiate it if the conversation arises. And don’t sell yourself short!

    5. Follow-up – If you receive the promotion then you can go and celebrate, but if you don’t make sure you are not closing the conversation just yet. Assess what has been discussed and areas of improvement, and if conversations arise again in your department about a potential promotion later down the track, ask management if they would be willing to revisit the conversation again. They will appreciate your initiative!

    In the event of a less than favourable outcome, I am not saying that every request for a promotion will be accepted and there are a couple of other factors that you need to consider:

    • The answer may be no for now. Your current organisation or the economy may mean that you cannot be offered a promotion at this time. You may need to consider if you want to wait until things turn up or look for alternative employment. Alternatively, rather than stepping up could you take a sidewards step to take on new responsibilities or projects to develop the skills you may need in the long-term?

    • You don’t have the skills needed. Management may want you to pursue further training and development before considering you for this role. As we all need to continue to learn and grow, take this as a good opportunity to take on training as who knows where this could take you in the future.

    • Negative feedback – areas for improvement. Although this may be disheartening, keep in mind what feedback has been provided and start following the measures put in place to get past it. Then if the opportunity arises again, ask if you can revisit the topic of promotion.

    Have you been in the situation where you approached management for a promotion? If so, what steps did you take to do so and what was the feedback received?


  6. How Do We Improve Australia’s Skills Shortage?

    February 1, 2012 by Jenna

    You have probably seen this topic floating around since late last year, and as this is affecting Australia on a National Level, I thought it would be important to see what fellow Australians thought on the matter.

    The Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics defined the following in one of their recent publications: “A skill shortage exists when the demand for workers for a particular occupation is greater than the supply of workers who are qualified, available and willing to work under existing market conditions.”

    Recent studies show that while the unemployment level is low, the level of skilled employees also continues to drop, especially in the trade industry. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

    •  Engineering professions
    • Health diagnostic and therapy professions
    • Nurses
    • Automotive trades
    • Engineering trades
    • Food trades
    • Child care

    Have these professions become unattractive?

    A recent article in www.news.com.au pointed out that these firms would be hit the hardest by looming skills shortages for the next decade!

    While putting on my ‘detective’ hat and investigating the matter further, I have noticed a big gap between our ‘baby boomers’ that are now on the verge of completing their final years of employment compared to the those who have finished their education and are wanting to get into the workforce but not yet possessing the necessary skills/knowledge to pursue that particular field. This is where I had respondents agree that career guidance also plays a vital role for the newer generation within the workforce.

    I tend to find this links well with our recent News Article: Are You Learning as Fast as the World Is Changing? This article outlines that new training methods and skills are required regularly to keep up with the world today and as an employer, one must be open-minded to new recruits and be willing to offer the training and skills required to be one step ahead of not only competitors, but to also be recognised more within their particular industry.

    Another term that you may be familiar with on top of skill shortages is a skill gap. The Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics identify that skill gaps ‘occur when existing staff do not have the skills for the required positions.’ So, what about those already employed that would like further skills testing? Would the government consider increased funding for these subsidised studies?

    One of our poll respondents stated, ‘There are two things holding me back from further studies. Time and money. I genuinely believe that everyone, no matter the age, needs to keep learning in order to keep growing, and if the government can ease one of those problems, I would jump at the opportunity!’

    While the option to Import International Talent was not favoured as highly by our poll respondents, the overall feedback was that more than one strategy is required for any improvement in this field to take place.

    I believe that this weeks’ poll can be summarised by one of our respondents’ as this: ‘In short, we need a clear understanding of where & why the shortages exist as well as a collaboration from both government and private sectors to address it.”

    Let’s just hope that it won’t take a whole decade to see improvement!

    Haven’t had a say? What are your thoughts?




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