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  1. 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.


  2. Why Being a Team Player is Valuable for Workplace Performance

    April 29, 2014 by Jenna

    Each of us invests in our own personal development and strives to perform on an individual level. However, we tend to work in a team environment. Do we invest in our development as an effective team leader? And are you a team player at work?

    As an only child I love setting personal goals and challenges for myself. I like to believe that I am an independent thinker and I don’t mind working on individual tasks on my own. However, I also know that I have a reliable team to which I can approach for assistance, advice and even delegate to if I am overloaded with tasks.

    In my personal life I have had to manage and lead teams in events and trips which involved a lot of organisation. It taught me a lot about myself – my traits, strengths, weaknesses and what I was capable of when I pushed myself to the limits.

    While we are all trying to strive to be a top individual performer, I think it is important that we don’t forget the value of team performance when it comes to reaching successful outcomes at work. A man named Bob Kelly from Demand Media wrote an interesting article on this topic. He covered why teams are important and therefore why it is important that we are all effective team members within the workplace. Here are his reasons:

    Work Efficiency

    Teamwork enables you to accomplish tasks faster and more efficiently than tackling projects individually. Cooperating together on various tasks reduces workloads for all employees by enabling them to share responsibilities or ideas.

    Allow each individual to have a role that suits their specialisation or strength. And also avoid exclusion; try to give everyone an equal amount of responsibility and working together you can collectively encourage one another to get the task done.

    Improved Employee Relations

    What better way to get to know your fellow colleagues and what they are capable of than working on a project together? Building relationships and a positive workplace culture is vital within any organisation and it builds a sense of trust.

    By working together you can share success stories by brainstorming ideas and working together to achieve targets, and if the outcome is not what you expected you can assess areas for improvement in the future.

    Increased Accountability

    Accountability will increase when you know that not only one person relies on you to get the job done, but the whole team! It drives you and encourages you to put in 100% as it will contribute to the overall success of the group. It will also show your reliability and efficiency if team members need your help on future tasks.

    Learning Opportunities

    As a new employee, you can gain knowledge, new ideas and opportunities by working with more experienced employees. It also allows you to become more flexible and adaptable to different situations as you are working with others who may think and work in different ways to you. It opens your mind and your perspective rather than working alone and following the same routine. It is important to face challenges and compromise if need be to reach a successful outcome as a team.

    My final point is that in a team environment, it will make the process run smoothly if you approach a group task with a positive attitude. It can be difficult for some people who are used to working on their own or may be more of an introvert. Having a positive attitude allows you to be more open to opinions and allows you to make a good impression to your team. Be encouraging and supportive in the best way that you can.

    Have you relied on teamwork in the past to help you achieve results? What was the outcome? What did you learn from the experience?


  3. 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?


  4. How much does positive thinking influence your outcomes?

    October 25, 2011 by Jenna

    One fine morning a few years ago, my very lovely and well-meaning neighbour thrust a DVD into my hands. It was “The Secret”. Many of you will be familiar with this title. The book spent forever at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I still remember my feeling of absolute incredulity as I viewed the film. Was I being too negative as thoughts such as “you have got to be kidding me” and “what a load of nonsense” floated through my mind? 

    “The Secret states that desirable outcomes such as health, wealth, and happiness can be attracted simply by changing one’s thoughts and feelings. For example, if a person wanted a new car, by thinking about the new car and having positive feelings about the car, the law of attraction would rearrange events to make it possible for the car to manifest in the person’s life.” [Source

    Almost 22% of respondents to last week’s online pollHow much does positive thinking influence your outcomes? – selected “Completely – exactly like the law of attraction, my thoughts attract what I want”. 

    Fascinating. 

    To gain more of an expert insight into the “positive psychology” movement and philosophy, I approached our Organisational Psychologist, Narelle Hess, for some guidance. The articles she directed me to all cautioned that “positive psychology is much more than ‘positive thinking’, and offers a vast array of insight and direction for how people can function more optimally. Positive psychology offers us added insight into how we can embrace change, feel positive about who we are, and enjoy healthy, responsible and fulfilled lives. But, like anything else the application of this knowledge and information is very important. Particularly when it comes to how we apply positive emotions.” [Source

    This reflects the feelings of 75% of our poll respondents, who agreed that positive thinking helps them “Moderately – a positive outlook helps me to approach situations, but thoughts won’t work without actions too”. One commented: “You can think as positively as you like, however, it is your actions that will determine whether your positive thoughts come to fruition”, whilst another said “the power of positive thinking is incredible and certainly helps me, but in certain situations action is required. All the positive thinking doesn’t get the job done but it certainly helps and stops procrastination.”     

    Last week, I read Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done 

    I was particularly struck by a section in which he discussed how managers can motivate staff members by giving them tasks above their current abilities and outside their comfort zone. The important thing for the manager to do was to assure their staff member that it was okay to take some time, make some mistakes, and even to fail initially. The combination of setting realistic expectations within a framework of unleashing unrealised potential created an ideal environment for growth, achievement and a new level of productivity for the staff member, and therefore the company. 

    The interplay between a positive environment and attitude, combined with a realistic set of expectations and actions, created the optimum zone. There can be no result without action, but a positive yet realistic attitude certainly helps things along. 

    As a final, neat illustration of this, the person who responded to the poll with the comment “this week’s poll is the best ever and will win me tickets” was not the winner. However, if they, and you, continue to enter the poll, they might be a future winner. 

    As my dad always says when he buys his Lotto tickets, “You’ve got to be in it to win it”.   

    Our new poll is live! Tell us: Are we relying too much on email, rather than actual conversation, to communicate? Results published in next week’s ChallengeBlog …

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