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  1. Keeping motivated when you are a Leader

    May 19, 2015 by Jenna

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

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

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

    Methods for self-motivation can include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  2. 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.


  3. Changes to increase happiness at work

    January 16, 2015 by Jenna

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

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

    Develop a Structured Routine

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

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

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

    Become a Mentor

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

    Change Your Mindset

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

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

    Seek Out Opportunities To Give Back

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

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

    Switch Things Up

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

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

    Keep Learning 

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

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

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


  4. Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    December 16, 2014 by Jenna

    We are delighted to share this week’s blog from Virginia Herlihy, who works for an organisation called How Do We Do It. They provide in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. For those of you that may not know her, here is her background below and we hope you enjoy her featured blog:

    A note from Founder, Virginia Herlihy

    My passion for helping working parents find a successful way to manage their work and home lives has meant I’ve witnessed first-hand the issues that organisations face in attracting and retaining talent, particularly female talent.

    As a working mother of two and a successful small business owner, I’ve personally faced the challenge of combining work and family.

    It’s been critical for me to examine and understand my values and develop strategies to achieve success and satisfaction in both areas of my life.

    My background in executive coaching, training and group facilitation means I can help both organisations and parents acquire those skills and strategies– to facilitate greater work-life harmony and success.

    I’m proud to say, the feedback we’ve received means the programmes and coaching we’ve developed, work.

    Key Strategies for Achieving a Balance between Work and Home. How do Working Parents do it?

    •  45% of couples with children under 2 are both in the workforce
    • 66% of couples with primary school children are both working. Australian Financial Review 2011

    Today many couples are jointly responsible for sharing their work and family responsibilities, so getting some kind of work/life balance can be a real challenge. If you’re a working mother you probably feel that family and work are competing (and constant) demands. You’re likely to be juggling your own expectations and responsibilities about how you should perform in both areas, as well as those of your colleagues and family. While mothers might get most of the attention when it comes to the challenge of balancing family and work, fathers also struggle to juggle their responsibilities and aspirations.

    So, how do YOU do it? Here are some tips that you have time to read because they are short and that we know help, from our experience with working with hundreds of working mothers and working fathers.

    • Strategy 1

    Continue to identify, acknowledge and appreciate the benefits of what you’re doing that is working for you/what you gain from the choice you are making to be a working parent.

    •  Strategy 2

    Remind yourself that you are not alone, and your challenges are normal which is very helpful in itself.  Keep actively talking to others like you and sharing experiences. Your network and the tips they share will help normalise your experience.

    •  Strategy 3

    Stop tuning in to others negative judgements/biases of how you are supposed to make being a working parent work. You can only get this right for you and your family/work.

    •  Strategy 4

    Get clear on your version of success as a working parent by answering theses questions – What does success look like for me as a working parent? What’s most important to me about my life? What’s most important to me about my working life?

    •  Strategy 5

    Avoid the language of compromise/trade off/sacrifice, which is negative and implies loss. Instead recognise that you are making choices, which have consequences and benefits so consciously use the language of choice.

    •  Strategy 6

    Use a scaling technique i.e. rating things from 1-10, low to high – to assess how much you want to do something out of 10 in terms of your energy, motivation, ability, how important it is to others etc. You can also use this to get perspective and rate how important something is in terms of your life overall so that you are less stressed by it. Your intuitive response will give you useful information.

    •  Strategy 7

    Check your energy around choices you are making/people with whom you are interacting and see whether or not you are being drained or filled.  When you have choice, in your personal life particularly, you can limit your exposure to draining people, situations.

    •  Strategy 8

    Remember to position shift – consider the decision/situation from different perspectives, your position, the other’s position.

    Author – Virginia Herlihy, Founder and Director of How do YOU Do It – Working Parents Programmes tailored to your business.

    Contact details:

     Who is How Do YOU Do It?

    • We deliver in-house programmes to help working parents in Australia and the UK combine their dual roles. We’re specialists in helping businesses support their talent.
    • We help businesses solve issues including female attraction and retention, flexible working strategies, as well as “on and off ramping”.
    • We help working parents find success at work and at home and balance their responsibilities in both areas
    • The result is a win/win for both businesses and parents

  5. Job Satisfaction – Are you jumping ship too early?

    September 16, 2014 by Jenna

    Expectations are set high when it comes to finding a successful and fulfilling career. Personal happiness is above all else and often if that level of expectation is not met than the decision can be made to look elsewhere. However, if you find that you have a record of doing this on a regular basis without finding that level of satisfaction in the new role, then perhaps you are wondering – Is the grass really greener on the other side?

    While expectations are high to find a satisfying career, so too is the mindset that this will happen right away. In a society where we have instant access to everything, a dream job shouldn’t be any different, right?

    If you look at any successful business owner, entrepreneur, inventor, client etc. you will know that in order for them to get to where they are today they had to fight the ‘hard yards’ and work their way up to land that meaningful career.

    No job ever encompasses 100% satisfaction, but finding the balance of what you do love about the role and lining it up with your future prospects can often outweigh those tasks or items that you may not necessarily favor. The step we often tend to miss when it comes to getting there however, is that your needs have to be outlined to begin with. Then you will have to work to find that balance of satisfaction because it is personal for every individual, and management will not be able to deliver something that they are not made aware of.

    If you haven’t establish what job satisfaction means to you then changing roles may not necessarily be the answer you are looking for.

    While conducting research on the topic I found an article that outlines seven steps to finding job satisfaction wherever you work:

    1. Know Thyself

    What are things that motivate you? Companies can find ways to drive motivation but personal motivation is important as well. Only you know what keeps you awake at night and what makes you jump out of bed in the morning. When you know yourself, it is easy to increase your own job satisfaction as you will know what works for you.

    2. Keep Challenging Yourself

    Work has to be challenging enough but not so overwhelming that you find it insurmountable. Challenges at an optimum level keep you going. Perhaps you find that your work is not challenging anymore. In that case, learn to get more projects that are challenging now since you know the importance of job satisfaction in your life.

    3. Cross Learn

    Make cross learning and increasing your competency at work a culture you adopt. That means learn other skills that are only expected from people in other departments. If you are a sales person, learn to read financial statements. Cross learning can keep you challenged and will also open doors previously not an option to you. By knowing that options are open you become more relaxed and feel better about yourself.

    4. Improve Other Areas of Your Life

    When you are unhappy with other parts of your life you will also bring it to work. It is usually easy to blame other parts of your life on the low level of job satisfaction you have. Analyse yourself, are there other parts of your life you can improve?

    5. Stay Positive

    Whenever you feel you aren’t very satisfied with your job, learn to stay positive. There are many things to be thankful for when you have a job. Remain positive that things can change for the better. Look forward to good things like a possible promotion or salary increase or completion of a project. You may just see your job satisfaction level increase.

    6. Know the Role of Work in Your Life

    Work means different things to different people. Know the role of your job in your life. What does it allow you to do? Pay for the bills? Serve people in the community? Allows you time to pursue your hobby? Know what is the role of your job in your life and you will put it in the right context.

    7. Work Allows for the Search of Purpose

    Not many people are mindful enough to know what their purpose in this world is. Why not let work become a medium to allow you to search for that purpose? Imagine having eight hours a day just doing an exercise that slowly reveals what you are here in this world to do?

    If you still find that after exercising various steps that you still can’t find that level of satisfaction in your role that you are looking for, then it may be wise to look into alternative options. However, if you are still in early stages of a role and have not allowed yourself the chance to truly grow or find out where it will lead you then my advice is to not jump the gun. You could end up making a choice that you may regret. Weigh up your options, write down your goals. Let your organisation help to develop you further and commit yourself to the role, after all, you never know where it may lead you.


  6. If you’ve never considered using Temporary Staff in your business, maybe it’s time to join the bandwagon… By Lauren Eardley

    July 14, 2014 by Jenna

    The world of temporary work might be completely unknown to you or one you might not fully understand, however the use of temporary workers is on the up in Australia and has firmly established itself within labour markets worldwide. Challenge Consulting has offered temporary staff to our clients for over 21 years and we’ve noticed a significant and consistent increase in awareness and demand for temp staff across most industries.

    What is a Temporary Worker?
    A ‘Temporary Worker’ is an employee who is only expected to remain in a position for a limited amount of time. Temporary workers may have the opportunity to obtain a permanent position after that or they may have a set end date. They:

    • Work the hours that you need (Full-time/Part- Time)(Minimum 3 hours per day)
    • Get paid for the hours that they work and are not entitled to holiday pay or sick pay
    • Do not have a contract with the host company
    • Are on the agency payroll (i.e. Challenge Consulting pay them for you)

    Significant research has gone into the use of temporary workers as part of the workforce globally (www.staffingindustry.com). If you are wondering why you would ever need to use a Temporary Worker, research has found that the main motivation behind employers’ use of temporary workers goes further than just answering short-term demands. The numbers are compelling and the most common reasons for the use of temporary staff are:

    1. Flexibility (89.4% of employers voted this the number 1 reason);
    2. Value in answering short-term needs (87.8%);
    3. Benefit in identifying candidates for long-term positions (75.7%);
    4. Cost-effective solution to HR challenges (61.2%)
    5. Bringing external expertise into the business (49.1%).

    From the candidate’s point of view, there are significant benefits for professionals who offer themselves for temporary employment. The research found that professionals who chose temporary employment or an interim management position over a specific permanent assignment did so for pragmatic reasons;

    1. Availability of short-term employment positions even during times of economic difficulty (72% of employees);
    2. Opportunity for individuals to develop their professional network (70.7%);
    3. Opportunity to develop professional skills (66.7%)
    4. Possibility of finding stable employment (59.1%).

    Out of the 17 countries surveyed for the report which included the USA and UK, Australia had the most positive attitude towards temporary employment. Generally, the positive response was more common in countries where Temporary Employment has been more established. On a global scale, Australia has the 2nd largest proportion of temporary employees as a percentage of the total working population (2.8%), just behind the UK (3.6%). Employers and employees now know and understand the benefits of temporary employment and accept it as a positive fact of working life.

    Whether you are using temporary employees to replace a member of staff taking leave or to cope with an unexpected increase in activity; the speed of turnaround from agencies providing temporary employees was listed as the most important factor for employers seeking to recruit. Previous relationship and cost were both secondary factors.

    Temporary employment in Australia is predicted to increase and temporary staffing agencies like Challenge Consulting are likely to become more essential to support business. The ability to provide highly trained employees to sophisticated sectors at short notice is valuable and Challenge Consulting has the experience and resources to respond to your need quickly. If you are looking to employ temporary staff for your business over the Christmas period or any time of year, please contact our Temporary Services Recruitment Specialist – Melissa Lombardo on 02 9221 6422 [email protected].


  7. 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.


  8. How do you want to develop your career? – By Narelle Hess

    April 23, 2013 by Jenna

    I was recently invited to be a guest speaker at a lunch-and-learn session about career development, or more specifically how I developed my career.

    I began the presentation by asking the room how they got to be in their current career. Did you plan to be here? A splattering of hands went up around the room. Did you fall into your current career? Overwhelmingly the majority of the hands were raised. But we have already read about the impact of how much luck or chance can have on our careers.

    What is even more surprising to me, however, is how many people discount their current job or career as inferior because it wasn’t “chosen” or “planned”. There is this sense that those that always knew what they wanted are the ideal. But of course I am actually yet to meet someone who is that person who knew what they wanted to be, got there and it was happy ever after. If so, in the words of He’s Just Not That in to you (I can quote chick flicks can’t I?), ‘they are the exception.’ Because a career is not a destination, making a career decision is just the beginning of the start of our career development.

    1. Enjoy the ride – what can you learn now to help you at the next career stage?

    Most of us followed our interests, abilities, and skills applied for jobs and then somehow ended up where we sit today. I am one of those people. I had an interest in people so I studied psychology, but when I was 17 years old and began my university degree, I didn’t know what an Organisational Psychologist was. But it was these undergraduate studies, majoring in sport psychology, with an emphasis on motivation, performance and mental readiness that laid the perfect foundation for my current career.

    I think we each have an opportunity to enjoy our current ride. Whether it was planned or by chance – you can either lament the fact that you are not completely happy or take the steps you need to develop the career to where you want to take it. Learn about yourself through the projects you take on and the current stage in your career – what are your strengths, what do you hate, what do you love, and what are you most passionate about? A colleague at work noted for her career success came from “Always saying yes when asked to do something extra that may be out of your job scope.” – What are you saying yes to you? What can you learn now that will help you at the next career stage?

    2. Career goals to direct your action – and the skills to adapt to changing circumstances

    For me both long-term goals and short-term goals helped direct my path. But so often we stumble with the question where do I want to be in 5 years’ time? Naturally the flaw with long-term goals is the uncertainty. Because let’s also remember that 5 years ago the smart phone mayhem was only just beginning. Today because of that mania millions of new jobs and numerous new careers have been launched. How can we possibly know what we will be doing in 5 years when the job we will have then, may not even exist yet?

    But, having a vision or a long-term dream about where you want to take your career – helps motivate your efforts towards that direction. Another of my colleagues when asked what is career success? Stated “doing something you love/care about/passionate for” – for many living our passion every day doesn’t happen overnight, it takes hard work, commitment, education or skill development. Setting yourself a long-term goal, helps to keep us motivated as we take these smaller term goals to achieve this long-term vision.

    We of course need short-term goals to continue the momentum and motivate action. I review my direction in yearly increments, whilst also setting longer term goals to motivate these smaller steps. Each year I review where I am against where I want to achieve this year, often they are learning goals (i.e. a knowledge / skill or ability I want to learn). As one of my colleagues concluded career success comes from “achieving goals rather than spinning wheels”. What do you want to achieve in the next 12 months? What do you need help with that your current company can offer you to help to take that next step?

    3. You’ve got a friend in me – the importance of networking and mentors

    Without question, I am where I am today because of the people that saw in me skills and abilities that I didn’t have the skill yet to see in myself. During the course of the presentation I was asked how I made these connections. The simple answer is: being in the right place at the right time. You may have a great manager who you see as a mentor, who can help you create your long-term vision and short-term goals. If not, you may need to go outside your organisation.

    For me I was lucky enough to have mentors in my immediate managers. But I also stepped outside my comfort zone and expanded my network through attending professional association networking and professional development functions. It was through these experiences that I was able to connect with like-minded colleagues, which helped me to collaborate on projects internationally and across Australia – projects that I would never have had the chance to create if I didn’t go out there, connect and create them.

    Mentors were critical for career success for all of my colleagues – each one mentioned the need for others to believe in them and help them to stretch outside of their comfort zone. Who are your mentors? And if you don’t have mentors in your current organisation – what events will you attend to interact and meet with your future connections?

    I was asked at the end of the presentation where I plan to go to next – I didn’t have a succinct answer – I guess most of us don’t have a succinct answer. But for me I am going to be enjoying my current ride, I have a long-term vision, some short-term goals to motivate my effort – and of course look to connect with others to help create my next career opportunities. How do you want to develop your career?


  9. What are the best ways to cope with workplace stress?

    May 16, 2012 by Jenna

    Workplace Stress: This isn’t an uncommon term. We have all been stressed within the workplace, but whether you thrive or crumble on the daily adrenalin moments is a different story.

    Linking closely with my previous blog about effectively managing your time on a daily basis, for those that are in those situations of being in an environment that is likely to trigger stress, what are the best ways that you cope with it?

    When I worked in the events industry, it became common practice to expect that the unexpected would happen. Not necessarily to predict that something will go wrong, but it certainly teaches you to respond and adapt to any changes that may occur with an event last minute, and in some cases problem solve on the spot if need be.

    There were the times, however, when handling enquiries, liaising with chefs and the operations team, meetings, client calls and emails would get the better of you and this is where communication was a valuable tool, but often not enforced enough. Each team member that I worked closely with did not want to appear defeated or unable to cope with our assignments and we would often handle our stress in silence. This was often noticed by a tense atmosphere of mood swings, sending emails to one another instead of communicating directly, and late hours catching up on work from earlier that morning.

    At least our manager had a keen sense at detecting this tense atmosphere and had individual meetings with us to establish what was really going on.

    Working as a team environment however, one should never feel that they cannot speak up for themselves in times of stress, because the most harm that an individual can do to themselves is bottle up the feelings of anxiety inside.

    Some of the feedback that I received last week from respondents were:

    • Have a good work life balance so that outside of work, you have something else to focus on which is meaningful to you.
    • Ensure you advise your managers and direct reports of the reasons why you are stressed.
    • Try to avoid it in the first place! Stop for 10 minutes and go for a walk whenever it gets too much.

    A recent article on www.inc.com pointed out that once upon a time, society would work from 9.00am to 5.00pm. But now the demand for that has changed and in some cases individuals are expected to be available 24/7.

    I have a friend that looks after the audiovisual side of events which as you know is quite a significant component of any event. While he works a set number of hours a day with setting up, testing equipment and operating for events, he is also expected to be on call after hours in the event that there are any ‘technical difficulties’. This means he can be called at any time, and often is called at any time. He is also on his phone constantly checking email updates from the events team to make sure he has the most up to date instructions for all upcoming events. But while the job will often encompass moments of stress, he loves his job and he doesn’t let the stress get the better of him.

    Having said this, he will also know when to say ‘no’ or advise if a job cannot be completed at a set time due to another job that he may be working on. He is assertive and realistic when it counts as well as competent to achieve tasks.

    This leads me to the multiple choice options of how you rated the ways to cope with stress in the workplace, to which the responses were as follows:

    • Avoid being a ‘Yes Man’: If you have a lot on your plate, do not add to the pile if you cannot do it in time. – 16% of you agreed to this, and I know I have fallen for this.

    And the following three options were looked upon as the same level of importance at 54%:

    • Communication: If you are overloaded, make sure to speak up and ask for help
    • Effective Time Management: Setting realistic achievement goals for the day
    • Having A Positive Mindset: If overwhelmed, take a break, then come back to the task at hand with more clarity

    I threw in the last option of a positive mindset because I have known so many people who have told me, ‘I don’t feel like getting up and going to work this morning,’ or ‘today is going to be a bad day I can just feel it.’ Now while we may have different situations at work causing us to feel that way, has this viewpoint ever really accomplished anything? How often if you look upon a situation negatively will the outcome be just what you thought it would be?

    What’s to say that we can’t change the outcome of a situation for the better if we look upon it with fresh eyes and less bitterness?

    To get to an even further point, if you are that unhappy with your employment, why are you staying in that current position?

    Another website I reviewed called www.helpguide.org outlines the importance of establishing what is causing the stress in your current situation. You may not even realise you are stressed and showing the common signs by dealing with it in the following ways:

    • Drinking too much
    • Overeating or undereating
    • Procrastinating
    • Using pills or drugs to relax
    • Withdrawing from friends, family and activities
    • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

    If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged as there are healthy ways to relax and recharge:

    • Go for a walk
    • Call a good friend
    • Write in a journal
    • Sweat out the tension in a good workout
    • Savor a warm cup of tea or coffee
    • Get a massage
    • Enjoy a good book

    If you find that time restricts you from doing these things, then perhaps you need to review my previous blog What are the ways in which you effectively manage your time?

    A website called angelawilson.suite101.com outlines that one of the ways to cope with stress is to recognise the ‘Good Stress‘ from the ‘Bad Stress‘. Good Stress gives you a optimal amount of arousal to give you the motivation and focus to achieve a task (such as running a race, taking a test, getting to work on time). Whereas bad stress, when out of control, prevents us from feeling content and being successful in our daily lives. It releases nasty hormones into our bodies and has a negative effect on our health.

    Some of the other coping methods include:

    • Decrease your body tension
    • Face your anxiety situations – doing those least favourite things first so that they do not build up into something worse when it could have been handled at the time.
    • Be truthful – when people are unhappy or struggling, you can often read it in their behaviour. If someone asks you how you are, telling the truth will better deal with the tension then saying ‘I’m fine’ when it is clear you are not.
    • Don’t Give Up – Some people get so overwhelmed by stress that they often shut down and stop reacting to situations around them because it has become too much to handle. Do not let the stress get the better of you!

    Well I hope some of these tips have proven to be useful in your day to day situation, and if you have not had a chance to respond to this poll then we would be more than happy to hear your thoughts below.

    Also, don’t miss out on this week’s poll: Are more people today settling for any job as opposed to finding their dream job? Your chance to win a Hoyt’s Cinema Double Pass are up for grabs!


  10. What are the ways in which you effectively manage your time?

    May 2, 2012 by Jenna

    Time Management. Isn’t that the word we all love to hate sometimes?

    Let’s face it, we can all be guilty of it from time to time. I’ve been reviewed in previous jobs for time management because I wouldn’t handle those difficult tasks first and by not speaking up soon enough which would result in it coming back to bite me.

    But we need to effectively manage our time, otherwise, when will we be able to find balance in life outside of our working environment? We are not machines, so why not get the most out of our time at work so that we can then find the time for our families and friends (and a life!)

    Everyone will have a different tactic or strategy that they like to follow, and for some people time management comes more easily than it does to others.

    I used to work for a company that tried the use of a GO ZONE, where we would take an hour at the same time every day to strictly work on the very important tasks on our priority lists without allowing any distractions. This meant we would have to close our emails if need be, set our phones to voice mail, and not make any attempt to interrupt our fellow colleagues until we set that time for our tasks. For a while I found it was working too, but in the world of events it was not an easy strategy to follow, because as you can imagine, every event held is different, and there is always something last minute or urgent that pops up that you have to drop what you are doing to look after.

    One website I reviewed called smallbusiness.chron.com outlined the common signs of bad time management:

    • Procrastination – avoiding the bigger issues/tasks of the day
    • Tardiness – being late for work or appointments as a result of too many tasks to complete or lack of sleep due to stress
    • Stress and Fatigue – Not having enough hours in the day, therefore longer hours result in less sleep and stress will also prevent a good night’s rest.
    • Lack of Preparation – Poor time management can result in reports not being in on time, presentations not being properly researched, or meetings with clients/customers not going as planned because of the lack of preparation.

    Recently I attended a breakfast event on Managing Your Time – The Recruiters Guide. Even though it was targeting our line of work specifically, there were still a lot of ‘common sense’ steps that could apply to any business and it was good to be reminded of this. The presenter stated, ‘Productivity is a measure of how much you accomplish, not how busy you are.’ Haven’t we all been there where we have so much work and yet it doesn’t feel like we are getting anywhere?

    He also mentioned about our body and how we have natural highs and lows in our energy and motivational levels and we should prioritise the client face to face time or telephone calls during that high period and perhaps set aside the paperwork, data entry, and more routine tasks to our low periods of the day. I have a friend that told me that he doesn’t officially wake up until midday, so I guess you could say his client/customer time would be in the afternoon!

    Another good point which I am often guilty of is ‘Deal with the worst/hardest task of the day first’, something I think we are all aware of but often avoid. And to be honest, if we did those hard tasks first then we would not have to think about it and let it distract us and build up until we finally take the plunge and do it.

    And of course diary management, especially when multi-tasking, is always the best reminder of how are working day will be set out, not to mention a helpful reminder for appointment times. And really there is no excuse when it comes to diary management. We have Microsoft Outlook Calendars, Phone reminders, Written Diaries, Wall Calendars, you name it! At any quiet time of the day you can lay out a plan of your working week, even set appointments way in advance.

    I put together these key points in last week’s poll to see what you as the respondents would rate them on in terms of importance:

    • By doing the most time consuming and least favourite tasks of the day first, allowing you more time to effectively manage the rest of your day – 58% agreed to this
    • Having a GO ZONE where you set aside an hour or two to do your tasks without checking your email or phone allowing distractions – only 21% agreed to this
    • Setting your diary for meetings so that you can better balance the time period in which to complete the remaining tasks – 47% agreed to this
    • You don’t have time to come up with set strategies, you take on the tasks of each day spontaneously – 16% agreed to this

    Everything has a different deadline, I prioritise according to the size of the task and proximity to that deadline. Hasn’t done me wrong in the past! Or if nothing is particularly urgent… I do the fun stuff first. I find it motivating to be able to mix my day up so that it suits me.

    Another website I reviewed called www.thundersgarage.com listed some top tips for effective time management:

    1. Spend Time Planning And Organising

    2. Set Goals

    3. Prioritise

    4. Use A ‘To Do’ List

    5. Be Flexible

    6. Consider Your Biological Prime Time

    7. Do The Right Thing Right

    8. Eliminate The Urgent

    9. Practice The Art Of Intelligent Neglect

    10. Avoid Being A Perfectionist

    11. Conquer Procrastination

    12. Learn To Say ‘No’

    13. Reward Yourself

    While a lot of these points may seem very straight forward to you and you may have heard this all before, as we can sometimes slip out of the organisational stream or become easily distracted I think it is important to often be reminded of effective time management skills.

    This blog will link with this week’s poll: What are the best ways to cope with workplace stress? which will put you in the draw to win a Hoyts Cinema Double Pass so don’t delay!

    Haven’t had your say? Why not add a comment below.

     

     

     

     




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