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  1. Why hot-desking is not so hot

    September 6, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Some years back, a friend who worked as team leader at one of the big consulting firms told me she had to get to work early the next morning to grab the desk she wanted. Hot-desking – regularly moving from one workstation to another instead of a dedicated desk space – had gone mainstream. It seemed like a great idea: she got the desk with a view in a quiet corner, met a range of diverse people each day and broke down some manager-worker hierarchies.

    It turns out that she hated hot-desking – and she’s by no means alone. According to recent research by organisational psychologist Dr Rachel Morrison, so do most workers. Dr Morrison, of Auckland University of Technology, asked a range of Australian workers about their experience of hot-desking. The answers surprised her. Many were quite the opposite of what the researchers expected to find.

    Rather than building more friendships and increasing collaboration and teamwork, relationships were worse. The study asked people about the demands they experienced in a shared environment (the study also covered open-plan offices). ‘We were expecting to find that people would accrue resources and perhaps make better friends and have increased supervisor support, but what we found actually was that hot-desking and open plan environments created worse quality friendships and lower supervisor support evaluations’, Morrison told ABC Radio National.

    ‘When people are feeling distracted or experiencing a lack of privacy and not enough social distance, they are responding by withdrawing, so they are trying to create their own social distance by not engaging in a friendly manner with their colleagues, by keeping their conversations quite curt, using headphones’. These are not behaviours that usually lead positive relationships. ‘There is less co-operation, less collegial behaviour when people are feeling stressed by the work environment’, says Morrison.

    Hot-desking means we are not able to personalise our working space. ‘Being able to do so fulfils some quite fundamental human need to make a space your own and feel at home there,’ explains Morrison.

    However, despite the disadvantages, the trend continues, and Morrison doesn’t see it changing any time soon. ‘It makes financial sense to be able to use space flexibly. Real estate and office space are a really expensive resource for a lot of organisations, so any time you can save money and use the same space several times in a day or for several people when people aren’t there all the time it does certainly save on cost.’

    So if you are hot-desking in an open-plan office and feeling irritable and unsociable, you’re not alone. Here are some tips for dealing with this modern workplace reality.

    1. Create activity-based workspaces

    Rather than devoting the entire office space to hot-desking, create different spaces for different purposes. Make a quiet space for quiet work, breakout rooms for team meetings and dedicated places for small group conversations and co-working sessions. One company has small, private ‘call rooms’ with a desk, lamp and whiteboard for quiet work and phone calls.

    1. Create ‘I’m busy’ and ‘I’m available’ signals in the workplace

    These could be actual physical signs for each work station, or a shared understanding of signals such as that wearing headphones means do not disturb. This is easy to do and you need not even be listening to anything on your noise-cancelling headphones for others to get the message.

    1. Use a mixture of fixed workstations, hot desks and working remotely

    Those who are in the office five days a week for most of the day get a fixed space; those who work two or three days, or who spend significant time away from the office, use hot-desking. Have a policy that those who need to get work done that needs a significant stretch of time requiring focused attention can work from home for most of the day or part of the week, depending on the length of the project.

    1. Communicate

    Some honest, polite discussion with your neighbours about noise levels or interruptions may be all it takes to keep the open-plan office working. Rather than moaning about them behind their back, have a conversation about what each of you needs. It may lead to exactly the creative shared solution that hot-desking and the open-plan office were designed to achieve.

    So what is the future of hot-desking?

    ‘There are good reasons to have activity-based workspaces’, Morrison concedes, ‘for example, places where people can go to do particular types of work like collaborative work or work that involves high levels of cooperation. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to work closely with others.’

    Morrison’s research found that where people are working closely with others in order to do their jobs, all of the negative impacts of hot-desking and open-plan working disappeared. ‘It was when people were working closely beside others but not with them that it became an issue’, she explains.

    ‘Thoughtfully designed offices that include hot-desking but that also include other breakout places or the ability to book a room when you do need privacy is a good way of having the advantage of both. That will probably be the move that organisations will have to make in the future.’


  2. Tips on how to effectively lead teams

    May 5, 2015 by Jenna

    Leading teams requires great commitment and looking outside of yourself to meet their needs. We have provided some tips below to help set you on the right path to a great leadership experience: If you are new to a leadership role they might help guide your way and if you have been at it for a while they may serve as a useful reminder.

    1. Brush up on Your Communication Skills. Having clear and precise communication is important, and being honest and open with your team helps build a level of trust. Making sure all staff understand what the goals and expectations are and giving them the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas for feedback is important.

    2. Be Committed to Your Goal. Not only should you be explaining the importance of the company goals to your team, but you need to show by example that you support the goals as a leader. This involves setting out the tasks, having follow-up meetings and making sure that your team is on track with what needs to be achieved.

    3. Give Verbal Recognition. Verbal recognition for efforts and praise show your support towards the staff member’s accomplishments. It also boosts morale and positivity that encourages a mutual support among team members.

    4. A Team Leader Should Lead by Example. A great leader is someone who shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty or dig in to help when the team requires additional support. Someone who can encourage team members to take risks and support them when they do.

    5. Invest in Staff Careers. To ensure your staff are up to date with the skills they need for their role, you may need to invest in training, invest time mentoring or finding the right mentor, invest time to discover what they really need and want in order to do a great job.

    6. Resolve Conflicts. Any conflict within the workplace needs to be handled promptly and assessed by leaders as soon as it arises. Appropriate measures need to be taken to find resolution or negotiate a mutual agreement. Whether it is conflict in a task or between co-workers, leaders must step up to the plate to take action and problem solve the best way that they can.

    7. Teach Adaptability. The effective team manager should teach adaptability and flexibility to all their team members. This results in better communication, a greater sense of empowerment among staff and a faster exchange of information.

    8. Build Pride in Your Team. Positive reinforcement on success is a proven way to keep staff motivation high and build pride in your team. It will increase productivity amongst the team and encourage drive towards goals. You are also creating a positive working environment that employees are happy to be a part of.

    9. Give Your Staff New Responsibilities. Just as you have developed into your role of leadership, your team are looking for development opportunities. It is important that you help them by giving them the opportunity to take on new responsibilities as the opportunities arise.

    Have you lead teams during your career? What were your first experiences when it came to leading teams? What did you find was most successful? What did you learn from the experience?


  3. What are the next steps after gaining a promotion?

    April 28, 2015 by Jenna

    You have worked hard to get your promotion, now you have to set yourself up for success in your new role. Preparing to take on more responsibility will make the transition process run smoothly and will help set you up for future success.

    So what are the next steps after you receive the promotion? What can you do to keep yourself on track?

    1. Get clear expectations. The first thing you need to do is really understand your new role. What does the organisation expect of you? What does your manager expect of you? And what do you expect of yourself? Clarifying these expectations sets up a path to follow.

    2. Set your goals What do you want to accomplish and why? Set personal and career goals both short and long term so you can measure your progress on the path. Don’t be afraid to share your goals or vision with management and get their buy in as well,

    3. Talk to your boss. Get to know your manager and determine how you will work together. How and when will you communicate and what will help you succeed beyond the job description. These things are critically important to your mutual success.

    4. Focus on building relationships. You may have moved to a new department with new peers or report to and a new manager. The relationships with the people around you are part of that job! Invest time in building relationships with your new peers, people in other groups, your boss, your customers, and if you are a leader, your team. It makes your working environment more positive and productive if you have a level of rapport with your team.

    5. Learn what you need to learn. Remember you are new to this position so you cannot know it all on the first day! It is part of our development to learn new skills. Take notes, ask questions, request feedback to make sure you are heading on the path towards success. The earlier you set yourself up to understand the requirements and expectations of the role, the easier it will be to settle into the position and start delivering.

    6. Celebrate! Of course you deserve the time to celebrate your promotion and share the excitement with others. Take some time for yourself and those closest to you to celebrate your progress and accomplishments. Celebrating builds your confidence and awareness, and it sets you on the right path for even better performance.

    Sometimes we tend to rush from one project to the next without fully understanding what we have achieved. Every accomplishment is a stepping stone on the path towards your future. Show appreciation towards those who helped get you get to that next stage.

    If you have been through a promotion recently, what steps did you take to continue to perform at your best and show that you were the right one for the job?


  4. 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.


  5. What Resilient People Don’t Do

    January 27, 2015 by Jenna

    We all respond to change differently. For some of us it comes naturally and we can go with the flow, as for others, having that sense of security removed can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Regardless of which type of person you are, it is important to develop resilience so that we can continue to move towards our goals regardless of the situation.

    So what does it take to be an emotionally resilient person? Perhaps it is best to start by clarifying what they don’t do in order for us to understand what it takes to be resilient. An article by Brad Waters in Psychology Today will be my inspiration for this week and I have outlined ten of his points below:

    1. They don’t cross their own boundaries – Resilient people understand that there is a separation between who they are at their core and the cause of their temporary The stress/trauma might play a part in their current story but it does not overtake their permanent identity.

    2.They don’t surround themselves with bad company– In any environment, your behaviour can be greatly affected by the people you surround yourself with. Resilient people surround themselves with other resilient people who give them space to grieve and work through their emotions. These supporters know when to listen and when to offer enough encouragement without trying to solve the problem, allowing the individual to remain in control of their decisions. Good company will help calm a situation as opposed to adding frustration to it.

    3. They don’t avoid self-awareness – Being ‘blissfully unaware’ can get us through a bad day but it’s not a very wise long term strategy. Self-awareness helps resilient people to know what they need, what they don’t need and when it’s time to reach out for extra help.

    Prideful stubbornness without emotional flexibility or self-awareness can make us emotional glaciers. While strong on the outside to stay afloat, you can get prone to massive stress fractures when experiencing unexpected changes in your environment.

    4. They don’t pretend there isn’t a problem – Pain is painful, stress is stressful and healing takes time. Resilient people understand that stress/pain is a part of living that ebbs and flows. As hard as it is in the moment, it’s better to come to terms with the truth or pain than to ignore it, repress it, or deny it.

    5. They don’t ignore quiet time – Some of us find the best ways to cope with stress and anxiety is to dull out with distractions such as television, eating, drinking too much etc. While not all distractions are bad, you still need to be mindful of the current situation you may be in and not use distractions as a means of avoiding problems. Somewhere in between shutting down or ramping up is mindfulness – being in the presence of the moment without judgement or avoidance. It takes practice, but finding a quiet space to reflect is well renowned for healing and resilience-building.

    6. They don’t presume to have all the answers – Sometimes we try too hard to find answers in the face of stressful or traumatic events, that activity can block the answers from naturally arising in their own due time. Resilient people can find strength in knowing they do not have it all figured out right now. They trust they will gradually find peace when their mind/body is ready.

    7. They don’t put self-care aside – Resilient people have a list of good habits that support them when they need them most. Anyone can build their own list by noticing those things that recharge their batteries and give them a boost.

    8. They don’t underestimate the importance of team input – Being resilient means knowing when to reach out for help from others. It also means knowing who will serve as a listening ear, and who won’t. A supporting team will help you reflect back on issues where you may have been too emotional or overwhelmed to do so at the time they occured.

    9. They don’t overlook other possibilities – Resilient people can train themselves to ask which parts of their current story are permanent and which parts can possibly change. This helps to maintain a realistic understanding that the present situation may be coloured by their current interpretation. Our interpretations of our stories will always change as we grow and mature.

    10. They don’t dwell on issues – When we’re in the midst of stress and overwhelmed, our thoughts can go at a hundred miles an hour. Resilient people can find reprieve accepting the situation and moving on. One technique that works for some people is the write down the issues causing the current stress.

    While writing is one resilience strategy you can keep in your back pocket, there are other ways that resilient people can get out of their head. Examples include healthy distractions like going to the gym or going for a walk, cooking or baking, volunteering or any self-care items as per point #7.

    How have you built resilience in times of change or difficult situations?


  6. The time for change – By Narelle Hess

    January 6, 2015 by Jenna

    It’s strange how a brand new year makes us re-assess our life and priorities. As the clock struck midnight to the end of 2014, I know many friends and acquaintances that were so happy to open a brand new blank page. A new year provides us a chance to make resolutions for those changes we want to make. But as we all know most NYE resolutions fail. Why? For most it can be summarised in two key roadblocks: fear of change and our own self-doubt. We all know there are areas of our career, relationships or personal development that need to change – so how do we overcome the fear and self-doubt?

    The first key roadblock is the fear of change. Forced and unforced change leads to an unpredictable response. From denial to frustration to anger to tears to joy and right back around again. I’ve worked with those on the precipice of wanting to change, coached those leading organisational change, and supported those experiencing forced changes. All take effort, commitment, and hard work. But as one of my clients said to me just this week: “without risks come no rewards”. Without change there is no progress. However, for change to be successful we not only need to commit to the needed changes, we also need to identify a support team. Because you will go through that unpredictable emotional response, you’re only human. What changes do you need make? And more importantly who will help you keep accountable and cheer your successes towards the changes you need to make this year? (To watch a TED talk on what fear can teach us click here).

    The second roadblock is our own self-confidence to make these needed changes. Most of us suffer from imposter syndrome. I am constantly waiting for someone to unmask me. Discover my inferiority. Most of us feel this way. Even award winning scientists needing to “sell” themselves for a new job to leading executives tasked with taking a new leadership challenge. I have met clients from all corners of this country and even different corners of this globe. Analysed many psychometric profiles, coached, trained, facilitated, debated and had many invigorating conversations. People are fascinating and all have more strengths than what they acknowledge and appreciate. We each have so much potential to do amazing things, if we allow ourselves to. Take some time to identify and acknowledge your strengths, and value them. What are your key strengths that will help you make the changes you need to make? (To read more about the Self Saboteur click here).

    And with that, it must now be time for me to write my own new chapter. After 10 years building my career at Challenge Consulting, I’m about to embark on a brand new career adventure. I’m proud of what I’ve built and I’m equally excited to see where Steve and the team will go next. You are all in very capable hands. I’m taking with me fond memories, much laughter and joy, great friendships, exceptional mentors – and most importantly – the lessons that each of you have given me – be it a client that has challenged me, your moment of personal discovery, or an example of great leadership. You all have made the last 10 years exceptional and helped me to develop the all-important skills I need to jump into this next chapter. (To read more about how I developed my career click here).

    I wish you all an abundance of success. Take the time you need to identify the changes you need to make, develop your own plan, and more importantly develop the self-confidence you need to write your next chapter. For those that want to follow my next career adventure, you can connect with me on LinkedIn at http://au.linkedin.com/in/narellehess

    I will now leave you in the very capable hands of my colleagues at Challenge Consulting to support your recruitment, psychometric testing, career transition, and organisational development needs. Find out more about the team here or call the Challenge Consulting office on 02 9221 6422 to discuss your requirements.


  7. Work-life balance: Collaboration NOT Separation

    December 9, 2014 by Jenna

    I can remember a time when I lived and breathed work. It wasn’t healthy. I was pulling longer hours out of fear of not looking productive enough, and while I had a passion for that industry I eventually started to resent it. My employer at the time did provide many benefits within the workplace, however, outside of work I may as well have been a ghost to my family and peers.

    For every individual work-life balance is different. Some of us love to work the longer hours because that is the lifestyle that they prefer. Others need to have a more flexible workplace that allows parental care/leave, opportunities to work from home etc.

    The problem that we have with the concept of ‘work-life balance’ however is that we imagine work and life as two separate entities that are not meant to intertwine. Therefore it becomes a constant struggle of which one do I choose as opposed to letting them co-exist.

    I am very fortunate now to work for an employer that provides a very flexible workplace that meets the needs of all staff members. And because of this I was able to achieve some extraordinary goals in my personal life without having to compromise work commitments over my personal goals.

    Both can work together if we let it, it just requires certain changes and planning to make it successful.

    When I was training to trek towards Everest Base Camp, I would often have to do altitude training in Mosman in the mornings, and one night a week I would do endurance training with a woman’s walking group. I would sometimes bring a giant backpack with me to work so that I could go directly to training without worrying about rushing home first and arriving at training late. During down time I could enjoy spending time with friends and family as a reward for getting through the working week and training requirements. It also required discipline to maintain momentum and setting a routine for myself daily to reach those goals.

    Of course there were times when I would need to work back later than expected, or perhaps I would have an off day and sleep in and not go to the gym, after all we are only human! But for the most part I was able to maintain both work and personal success and I kept my workplace informed about my goals and what I was trying to achieve.

    You may not always have an even allocation of time to do everything you want to do, but be realistic with what you are trying to achieve on a daily basis and what it important for your to spend time on. If you are juggling too much or agreeing to take too many things on at the same time, you will burn out and be disappointed in yourself. That is another important piece of advice that I have come to discover about myself over the years is to know your limits. This will help you better establish whether you are capable to put your hand up to take on another assignment or goal, or whether it will be much easier to delegate it to someone who is more than capable and available.

    Working for a job that you love and enjoy is also a key factor in making your work and personal life co-exist. Otherwise if you are working 80% of the time at something you no longer have a passion for, it can affect your mental well-being as well and create a negative mindset. This can therefore effect relationships with those around you. If you love what you do, you will find that your attitude and outlook on life can really make a difference for you in a positive way.

    How do you get your work and lifestyle to collaborate? What steps do you need to take to ensure you get the balance that you need?


  8. 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?


  9. How to handle the toxic employee in the workplace

    November 17, 2014 by Jenna

    During your career life-cycle, you may end up working with someone that you may not see eye to eye with. Individuals that can be placed in any of the following categories – complainers, controllers, gossipers, bullies, judges, or someone who is not flexible with accepting another opinion or feedback. This can make your working environment tense, it can increase stress levels and it can also give you a more negative outlook towards work. However, there are ways to rise above it so that it won’t affect you on a daily basis.

    An article on by Travis Bradberry on SBS News provided insight on How to Handle Toxic People and I have highlighted the most important points to share from this article below:

    Don’t give up too easily

    It’s important to fight through another day, that’s what all great successors do, even if there are toxic individuals in your workplace. Try and be aware of your emotions and respond appropriately so that you can stand your ground when the time is right. If you leave your emotions unchecked and let items build up, it can lead to more damage than good.

    Stay aware of your emotions

    You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognise when it’s happening. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to regroup and choose the best way forward. Buying yourself time to assess the situation can often save an emotional reaction or putting your foot in your mouth by saying something that isn’t necessary.

    Giving yourself some time to assess a situation can also allow you to provide a better and more calculated response to set the situation straight.

    Establish Boundaries

    When you need to face your toxic co-worker on a daily basis it can feel like you are in a trap that you can’t get out of. You may think that this is out of your control and you can feel defeated and have to put up with being in their presence 24/7.

    If you set boundaries and decide when and where you’ll engage a difficult person, you can control much of the chaos. You can establish boundaries, just make sure you do it consciously and proactively. Otherwise you could find yourself getting wrapped up in difficult conversations or situations more often than you have to.

    Don’t let anyone limit your joy

    When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they have done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take away from them.

    While we value feedback and opinions of others, we don’t have to compare ourselves with other people and it’s important to take options with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what toxic people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within.

    Don’t focus on the problems – only solutions

    When you fixate on the problems you are facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress. When you focus your actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress.

    By focusing your attention on the toxic person, you are giving them exactly what they want. It gives them a sense of power over you. By focusing on how to handle the toxic person as opposed to thinking about how troubling they are, you are effectively putting yourself back into control and it will help with reducing stress when this person is around you.

    Squash negative-talk

    There is nothing wrong with feeling bad about how someone is treating you, but your self-talk (the thoughts you have about your feelings) can either help intensify the negativity or help you move past it. Negative self-talk is unrealistic, unnecessary and self-defeating. You should avoid negative-talk at all costs.

    Use your support system

    To deal with toxic people, you need to recognise the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person. Identify these individuals in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Having someone provide a solution who does not have an emotional connection to the situation can really open up a new perspective.

    Test different methods

    You will be faced with different tests when it comes to dealing with difficult people and interactions. This will involve practicing different behaviours, and sometimes learning from failure. However, the more techniques you try (as each individual behaves differently) the more you will train your brain to handle stress more effectively and decrease the likelihood of ill effects.

    In summary, the best way to handle working with a difficult person is to first understand your own emotional reactions and knowing what makes you tick. That way you can better establish how to avoid setting off a time bomb and keeping the workplace functioning in harmony. It will also help to maintain a positive outlook to your role and your working environment.

    Have you recently faced a toxic or difficult person in your workplace? How did you handle it? What worked and didn’t work?


  10. Don’t forget your office etiquette!

    November 10, 2014 by Jenna

    When we think of the term ‘etiquette’, we often think of table manners or presenting ourselves professionally and politely in a social setting.

    Whether you are new to a role or have been working in the company for a long time, office etiquette is also an important factor that needs to be applied daily. You may be wondering, ‘What are some of the office etiquette factors that I need to be aware of?’ A recent article on Careerealism.com outlines the basics so that you don’t get caught out making these mistakes:

    That Text (Or Facebook Update) Can Wait

    While smartphones and tablets are advantageous in providing us with information instantly, setting reminders, etc. Be careful not to all them to become a hindrance when it comes to your meetings or presentations.

    How would you feel if you are trying to close a business deal with a client to observe them as they stare at their phone and answer a text during your pitch? The same would apply to an internal meeting with staff if you are sharing ideas with the group only to see that no one is paying attention because they are reading their Facebook updates.

    While we all believe we are great multi-taskers, if we lack engagement or connection with others it can be damaging to workplace relationships. You may also miss out on information relating to important tasks which in turn could affect your performance. So make sure to prepare in advance for your meeting. Advise management and others that you are attending meetings so that you will receive less distractions, and if need be, switch off any devices that may ‘beep’ or ‘ping’ during that allocated time frame.

    Engagement and human interaction is still a vital part of business and maintaining connections with others so make it count. Be present.

    Pretend There’s A Wall

    This needs to be considered in an open office space. While you have free reign to walk around and interact, it is still important to respect and consider others and their personal space. This includes:

    • Talking loudly or over someone else’s shoulder when they are on the phone
    • Keeping your paperwork and office items within your desk space and not allowing it to spill over onto someone else’s desk
    • Setting your phone to silent every time you receive a message or call

    If you are respectful of others and their space, they will be respectful towards you in return.

    For Workplace Fashion, Go With The Crowd

    This doesn’t mean that you need to wear the latest Cue dress or business suit, but obviously be aware of your office environment and how others present themselves. Different workplaces will allow different dress codes but you don’t want to appear like you have rolled out of bed when others are dressed in corporate attire. Find out from management what they expect from you in terms of attire, and remember that how you present yourself is showing a representation of your company image. So why not dress to impress?

    Gossip On Your Own Time

    Whether you are the source of it or partaking in it, office gossip (or gossip of any kind) should be conducted in your own time and not in the workplace. It’s not only a distraction, but it can also create tension in the workplace if the gossip is of negative nature. If someone else is trying to administer it, take your initiative to coordinate an appropriate time to discuss topics. For example your lunch break or at after work drinks. Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you are too busy at the time to join in the conversation, otherwise it could affect your workplace productivity too.

    Believe It Or Not, You Can Still Learn Some Things

    This involves paying respect to other employees’ ideas and contributions to tasks, even if you would do the job differently yourself. Take the time to listen to what they have to say, especially if they have new suggestions that could improve outcomes of tasks, because you would hope for the same respect in return.

    While you may have been hired as an expert in your field you should still be open to new suggestions, feedback and even changes within the workplace. It is never too early or too late to learn new things.

    Don’t Search For Jobs On The Job

    Believe it or not I have heard of employees doing this before, and to get caught doing so at your current place of work is quite embarrassing. It also demonstrates a lack of respect and loyalty to your current employer.

    The same thing applies to telling colleagues that you are looking for another role before bringing it up to management. As office gossip can go around, this may potentially damage your current position before you even find the potential new role. If you feel it is time to move on, keep your job search within your own time and conduct it with discretion.




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