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  1. Bad Habits Leaders Should Avoid

    May 12, 2015 by Jenna

    When you look up the term ‘leadership’ or ‘leadership roles’, you will find many articles on what to do to become a great leader. It is also important to be aware of bad habits that can hinder progress.

    I know I have been guilty of at least two of the items listed below, but the first step is being aware of these habits so that you can find the ways to improve your leadership performance:

    1. Taking credit for others’ ideas and contributions – We all know the famous term, there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’. It is very exciting when members of your team make a contribution that takes the organisation in a positive direction. However, the biggest failures one can make as a leader is to neglect to recognise and acknowledge individual and team contributions. If you are taking credit for someone else’s work, chances are you will start to notice your team working against you and not for you because they do not feel appreciated or valued.
    2. Using a position of power to control and intimidateothers — This autocratic style of leadership will often leave the team with a low level of autonomy. This can prevent creative ideas being presented as team members feel they do not have the right to contribute.
    3. Blaming others when things go wrong – It is important to recognise with the team when mistakes are made and that they have negative consequences in order to assess better solutions for the future. However, singling people out, pointing fingers, or making others carry the full weight of the failure is not reaction a leader should take. A leader needs to stand by their team no matter what, accept responsibility of when things go wrong, keep track of team members and progression, and have an ‘open door’ for team members to approach if they are experiencing struggles on tasks.
    4. Clinging to traditional methods and old ideas –In order to thrive in society most leaders need to think outside the box, take risks when needed and use innovation to be one step ahead of competitors. While traditional methods may have worked in the past, if you find you are constantly using the same strategy when the rest of the world is changing, you may fall behind. This includes those that refuse to learn new skills and tools to keep up with today’s market. If you are not trying to learn and adapt, you will fall behind.
    5. Failing to keep promises – Leaders who make promises but do not follow through risk loss of personal credibility, trust and the goodwill of others. If you have let down your team more than once, it can often take a long time to earn that trust back.
    6. Actingalone – Leaders who do not consult, collaborate or solicit input from others often fail to make enlightened decisions. Leaders also need to make sure they delegate tasks within the team appropriately so that they can stretch their teams’ abilities.

    Failing to effectively manage issues – Leaders who dismiss the need to address, manage and resolve issues, place themselves and their organisation at risk.

    What are some of the experiences you have learned in a leadership role? What were the learning curves that you have experienced?


  2. When it comes to setting goals, don’t let obstacles hold you back

    October 14, 2014 by Jenna

    We have all been guilty of setting a goal and getting side tracked. But when it comes to your career progression it is important to break through the barriers that may be preventing you from achieving success.

    So what are some of the main obstacles that could be holding you back from achieving your goals? Is there something that you can think of right now? More importantly, what can you do to overcome them?

    While conducting research on the topic, I sourced an article on the top obstacles to your goals and added my personal perspective on ways you can overcome the obstacles:

    1. Procrastination – Are there certain items that you have been avoiding and you notice the paperwork and emails are slowly piling up? Do you keep telling yourself – I’ll do it this afternoon, tomorrow or next week? Does it suddenly become urgent and you wish you had tackled it sooner?

    Try this instead:

    – Firstly, be aware of it, admit it to yourself, and take action to change it.

    – If it is a tedious task that you don’t enjoy doing, get it out of the way first and don’t keep putting it off.

    – Set up a list of tasks and put them in order of priority for the day.

    – Set a timeframe in which to complete it, this will give it a sense of urgency and a deadline for you to achieve the task.

    – Repeat this process for longer term goals as well

    2. Lack of time – Whether it is work, family commitments, the daily commute etc. Different commitments will pull at your attention and dedicating time to your goals can be difficult. However, it is important to make sure that you are managing time to balance everything on your plate before you add more to your to-do list.

    Try this instead: Firstly, establish what you currently have on your to-do list and narrow down your top three priorities of the day. By setting yourself three realistic priorities to accomplish you will feel a greater level of satisfaction completing those items as opposed to trying to tackle 54 items at once with no results.

    3. Lack of organisation/motivation – Sometimes when we let projects and paperwork build it can appear overwhelming and you often don’t know where to begin.

    Try this instead: Pick one project and work on a specific goal around it. Get clear on what you need to do to achieve this goal – do research, seek training, and then write out a time frame in which you need to achieve it by. And most importantly, hold yourself accountable for it so that you are continually driving yourself and not losing focus on the task at hand.

    4. Distractions – Meetings, phone calls, emails, reminders, social media connections or a colleague or manager asks you to drop what you are doing to complete and urgent task. Does this sound familiar? Wish you could block out the world long enough to complete that project? But how?

    Try this instead: Sometimes it can be as simple as advising your colleagues that you are working on an important assignment for the next hour or two and to approach you only if it is urgent.  You may need to divert your calls to voicemail for a period of time or put an out of office reply on your emails until you are done. And if your phone or other devices are set to make noises to remind you of appointments or when you receive a message, it may be best to set them to silent. Allocating the amount you wish to shut out distractions is up to you, as long as you can make the most of that time to be productive and achieve your desired results.

    What do you find are some of the major obstacles that you find come up with goal setting or pursuing a goal in your career? What steps have you taken previously to overcome them? What did you learn from the experience?


  3. How to make the most out of your working day

    June 2, 2014 by Jenna

    We can all create long term plans when it comes to personal growth and career progression. But how you approach your day-to-day routine also impacts your future path. So how are you making the most of your working day?

    Here are some suggestions that can get you back on track from an article that I found in the Sydney Morning Herald:

    Daily warm-up: Assess the important tasks that need to be accomplished for the day. Who do you need to speak to? What proposals/client requests do you need action? By doing this each day it will save you on letting yourself get carried away by distractions. Write down the points if you need to and keep them at your desk like a checklist.

    Tame Technology: Email pop-ups can be really distracting while you are on the phone or are in the middle of typing up a document. But you do not need to be checking your emails every time a new one pops up. If you have an urgent task to work on, limit your time to check those emails until you are done or at least in the right frame of mind to respond. If the emails do not require an immediate response, you can certainly put them on the back-burner until you have free time to address them.

    Compress meetings: This is important especially if you are the instigator of the meeting, to keep within the allocated time frame and to cover main points/outcomes and not get sided tracked. The longer you spend running the meeting, the more you will have to catch up on when you return to your current workload.

    Pick up the phone: If there is something that you need further clarification on, instead of discussing it over 4-5 emails, why not just pick up the phone and get a direct response? While it may be nice to have information in writing, don’t forget that emails can sometimes be misunderstood, and as they are not direct conversations, sometimes it can be hard to read tone etc. If you are also liaising with someone directly within your office, try to avoid emailing them when you can walk up to them and approach them directly. That will help you keep stronger working relationships.

    Forced isolation: Whether it’s once a day or week, turn off electronic devices, avoid distractions and even find a quite space if need be to work on those high-end tasks that need to be completed. It can also be an important way to clear your mind and establish fresh ideas if you are overwhelmed or just need a quiet space to think.

    Work in waves: Allow yourself times to cover urgent tasks at times of the day when you are reaching peak performance and make sure that you allow breaks and rest periods throughout the day. The body and mind need time to rest and repair otherwise you can become stressed and exhausted which can be bad for your health long term.

    Change expectations: Make sure communicate effectively your workload and what you are capable of doing so that you do not become a ‘yes’ man. By taking on too much and not having enough time to complete it all yourself, you will not be meeting your expectations or theirs. Manage your time and workload effectively so that you can bring the best results to the table.

    Have you applied any of the above options into your daily routine? What other methods do you follow to get the most out of each day?


  4. 8 Ways To Get Ahead At Work

    April 8, 2014 by Jenna

    gold star

    Keeping your skills up to date is one of the key requirements for career progression, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.  Here are 8 more ways, outlined in WomansDay.com to get ahead at work:

    1.       Take on diverse assignments

    How often do you offer your assistance or ownership to new tasks? Letting fear of failure prevent you from doing a task will not help stretch you any further than where you are now.

    Perhaps there is an area of work that you are not familiar with or have not been trained on before. Why not take the opportunity to pair up with someone who is experienced in that field on a task and learn new skills? Management will appreciate your initiative to pursue new directions and learn about different sections of the organisation and roles of your team members.

    The more that you can get involved in at work, the more you are showcasing what you are capable of, and you never know what opportunities can open up as a result.

     2.       Put out fires before they start

    If you notice any potential conflict or errors on the horizon do not be afraid to speak up or use your initiative to try and solve the issue. This shows management that you can use good judgement in stressful situations and can be reliable in events when they may require an extra pair of hands.

    3.       Ask questions

    Many of us perceive the idea of asking too many questions as a sign of weakness or lacking the ability to follow instructions. In fact, you can save yourself a lot of heartache and potential problems occurring if you ask a lot of questions early on, especially when it comes to taking on new tasks or responsibilities. It is the role of management to train and guide you in the right direction, and if it appears that management may being going through a busy period find a point of contact within your organisation who may be able to steer you in the right direction.

    4.       Find-and learn from-a mentor

    While your manager can coach you on a current task, you can receive an incredible drive by directing your long term goals with someone. It is also a good motivator knowing that you have someone to be accountable to, who will follow up on your progress, whom you can receive advice from. A mentor can be anyone – a friend, colleague, or someone by mutual acquaintance (This links to a previous Challenge Consulting blog: Lessons I have learned from my mentor).

    5.       Get to the point

    Make sure when you are putting forward a new idea, proposal, and reason behind why you may want more responsibility that you keep to the point. Be confident with what you put forward and don’t waffle on. Management and colleagues will have other tasks that they also need to attend to, so they will appreciate it if you are a sharp shooter and don’t beat around the bush. Being more direct also shows that you taking the matter seriously and that you are looking for a more direct response.

    6.       Take control of your career path

    If you want advice on where to take the next step in terms of responsibilities and your career path, have you actively gone out to seek direction? Is management aware of your plans, motives, and goals? Have you set out a timeframe, follow up meetings, what training may be required? And are you following through on any feedback or advice that you may have been provided?

    Write things down, put reminders in your calendar, find your daily source of motivation and discipline yourself to follow through on what you have set out for yourself. After all, it is your life, only you can complete what you have started.

    7.       Mind your attitude

    Keeping an open mind to participate in any group or individual activity (or at least approach it with a smile) people will be more inclined to want to work with you or for you. Being proactive is much more beneficial than being a naysayer or complainer. You can use positivity to motivate others around you as well because having a positive working environment can be just as important as a positive mindset.

    There could also be a situation where you may not see eye to eye with a colleague or management on an issue at work. Instead of getting into an argument over the situation, address it sooner rather than later and try to collectively work together to find a solution. It is important in these cases to keep an open-mind and try to see the other person’s point of view.

    8.       Don’t boast about your accomplishments

    While it is important to inform management of your successes (and often we can be excited and wrapped up in the accomplishment) try not to extend every detail or repeat the same story over and over again.

    Accomplishments are important to take note of and keep on record, especially when times of review are approaching and you can specify what you have contributed to the company. Make sure you have a strong case if you are putting this forward to be considered for a promotion or salary increase. If management does not considered this a strong enough case at that point in time, make sure to ask the appropriate questions on how to get there, and if you can have a follow up meeting to discuss further opportunities.

    Have you followed any of these steps when it came to moving up in your career? If so, what direction did it take you? Was it where you expected it to go?


  5. How being a temp can make the way for your future

    March 4, 2014 by Jenna

    Whether you are a new graduate, preparing for a career change or on a working holiday visa, temporary work will not only help you get by with living expenses, it can help pave the way for future roles.

    When I had finished my Diploma in Event Management at TAFE, I was also taking on many paid and unpaid positions for different companies. My logic behind doing this was that I knew the events industry was very competitive and in high demand by candidates. I also knew that regardless of my Diploma I lacked practical experience in the field; however, being passionate about it I wanted to do what it takes to land the role that I was looking for. This is what I gained from temping and contract roles:

    It’s all about who you know – I researched organisations, I followed industry news on upcoming events, and I contacted Event Managers directly to offer my assistance in any way that I could to find out more about the industry and what is involved in organising events. I built a network of contacts and recommendations to help further my progression. It was also a chance to also prove that I was willing to work hard and learn new skills. Relationships you develop with industry contacts can also lead you to a more permanent role in the future.

    Working with different companies helps you to become more adaptable to different environments – The events industry is quite broad so I took advantage of it by working in offices directing calls and reception duties, processing payments and donations for not-for-profit events and data entry for client registrations. I even worked onsite on a customer service level at exhibitions, provided fine dining service for gala dinners and assisting with labour set up for conferences. This was a real eye opener, but it also allowed me the opportunity to ask questions and document my experiences. I think it’s a great opportunity to experience different work experience so that you can better establish was works and what doesn’t work for you.

    You can develop practical and transferrable skills – I found that by assisting in a corporate office environment to practical hands on experience I am still able to use these skills in the field of recruitment today. It is also important to remember that even the simplest of roles – such as putting labels on swipe cards or attaching name badges to lanyards are important ways for you to understand the processes involved before moving your way up in the industry of your choice. Don’t ever consider tasks in a temp position to be a waste of time and therefore not apply yourself 100% to your tasks. Companies are testing you at all times, and if you cannot complete the simplest of tasks then how are you expecting to move up into roles of further responsibility?

    • It gives you a routine and purpose – There is nothing worse than being bored or losing your daily routine when you are in between jobs or currently looking for work. Temping can help maintain a good working routine, even if it is short term. Having a level of responsibility is important too because it gives you a sense of purpose. When you are bored or not connecting on a daily basis you can develop a more laid back routine and you can start developing a less enthusiastic approach to job searching and work in general. Even if the temp role may not be in the exact direction you are hoping to move towards, just remember that each experience is a stepping stone, and you never know what opportunities can open up as a result.

    For those of you that are considering the path of temporary work, just remember to give each role and experience the best you have to offer. Have a positive attitude towards your assigned tasks and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I will always be thankful for where temporary and contract roles have lead me, the people I have met and worked with and the knowledge that I have gained.

    Have you worked as a temp staff member before or are currently working as a temp staff member? Where has it lead you on your career path?


  6. The pursuit of happiness at work

    February 4, 2014 by Jenna

    “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work” ― Thomas A. Edison

    Almost every job you will ever come across throughout your life, you will experience challenges or stressful situations. No job is perfect. But sometimes we let that stress or fear of the unknown prevent us from enjoying our current role or taking the leap into a new job opportunity. Of course, if you want to change careers or take a step up, you will often need to make personal sacrifices. But this fear shouldn’t drive your behaviour. Instead we need to consider, regardless of stage we are at in our career, how can we be happiest at work?

    Susan M. Heathfield listed Top 10 Ways To Be Happy At Work, and the key points for me were these 5 areas to take control of work and to make the most out of your day to day routine:

    1. Choose to be happy at work

    Happiness is a state of mind. Your job may not be perfect, it may not have turned out the way you had imagined it to when you went down this path, but there will always be aspects of your job that you don’t enjoy. But if you only focus on what you don’t enjoy, it is highly likely you are not giving yourself the chance to be happiest at work. When you are only focusing on the negative – it is likely to affect your performance too. You start avoiding tasks, you sleep in, run late, and overall you’re not committing 100%. The consequences of that could hurt the future of your career. It is your choice to be happy or unhappy at work. What would you rather be?

    2. Do Something You Love

    Take a look at yourself, your skills and interests, and find something that you can enjoy. There must be something in your role that you enjoy, otherwise what are you doing there? Assess your current situation and if you find that you are truly unhappy, then a career change or searching for a new job may be in order. You could even seek a Career Guidance Program or seek advice from a mentor.

    3. Take Charge of Your Own Professional Development

    I think a lot of the time we get confused and think that someone else is in charge of managing our professional development so we wait to be advised as opposed to taking action. We can of course seek guidance, direction and support from managers and mentors, but we need to be the one that is directing. So if you are not happy with the way you are developing professionally, do something about it. Have you approached your manager to discuss this? Have you voiced your concerns or helped find a solution? Have you worked out what steps need to be taken to lead to progression?

    4. Ask for Feedback

    If you feel like you are in a situation where you have not received feedback in a while regarding how you are progressing in your role and on tasks, then approach your manager. Set regular monthly follow up meetings if need be, but also keep in mind that feedback may also involve constructive feedback on areas of improvement. Feedback is required to help us grow, not to seek praise, so be prepared to accept what is provided and assess steps to improve certain behaviours to create better outcomes.

    5. Avoid Negativity

    ‘Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.’– Oprah Winfrey

    It’s often true, if you surround yourself with people who are always down and disappointed in life, eventually your mindset will swing that way. Negativity is contagious and it often only takes one person to start the trend.

    I always found that I would perform at my absolute best when I had other people around me that shared similar passions and pushed themselves for results. Because that too would push me to be better and perform better. People that could provide me with honest advice out of compassion and not jealousy or bitterness.

    Each of us has responsibility for our happiness at work. If something is not working, then change it. If it is out of your control, perhaps it is time to consider a new job, company or career. But if it is in your control, and you can improve it, why not give it a try – how do you increase your happiness at work?


  7. Should I stay or should I go?

    February 26, 2013 by Jenna

    To follow on with a blog that I wrote earlier this month on ‘choosing between making money and following the career that you love’, have you reached that point of career where you are debating whether to leave your job?

    It is first important to consider the reasons why you would want to move jobs and assess if this is enough reason to take the plunge and hand in your resignation. Common factors could be, but are not limited to the following:

    • You aren’t performing to the best of your ability – sometimes lack of motivation or challenges within the role can cause you to take a less attentive approach to your daily tasks.
    • You can’t picture your future with your current employer
    • The cons of the job outweigh the pros
    • Your skills are lagging and your position offers no opportunities to update them – this can apply to individuals who have been in the same role for many years without the prospect of progression
    • Your company or work situation has changed radically since you were hired
    • Your salary isn’t enough
    • You want to live somewhere else
    • Difficulty connecting with management or members of your team

    Are all of these ringing true for you?  Well you are not alone. As individuals we crave knowledge and challenges as part of career growth. Even as a manager you have to face many different challenges and changes the more the industry or economy changes around you. So naturally if you are feeling like you are stuck in the same routine role with no recognition or chance for progression, will you still continue to be performing at your best? Or will your eyes glaze over and you find your passion for the role begins to diminish more and more?

    The next thing to consider is what opportunities are available for you in the current employment market. According to Greg Savage, blogger for The Savage Truth, this is what he had to say about the current employment market in Sydney:

    The Australian economy is in much worse shape than the politicians would have us believe, relying so heavily as it does on the resources sector (which clouds recession in other sectors) and facing the very real impact of the carbon tax. Hiring was subdued throughout 2011 and indeed, the latest surveys of hiring intent show sentiment to be at its lowest point since 2008. However it is also true that some companies are hiring specific skills sets. Indeed, we see many employers laying people off, while hiring at the same time, as they re-calibrate their skills balance sheet.

    Even so, we describe the Sydney market as cautiously optimistic, and we are seeing more orders, albeit in very niche areas such as PR Account Managers with health care experience, UX designers and Social Media Community Managers.

    While there may be a high level of competition out there at the moment for positions, I think it is important to weigh up the pros and cons of your current situation and ask yourself, does this make me happy? Does this job just get me through the day or do I go home feeling pleased with my accomplishments? Am I learning new things? Does it give me the balance I need on a day-to-day basis?

    No one should compromise happiness for a job, nor should they let any aspect of their current role prevent them from performing at their best.

    In order to make this change happen the decision has to be yours. And if you want to move on or are seeking something badly enough, then you will do your planning and preparations and work hard for it. Even in your current role, if you are finding lack of inspiration, have you stepped up to management and asked them for more responsibility? It’s always important to look at all avenues, and remember attitude can affect the outcomes of situations as well, so try to take every step and situation as optimistically as you can.

    But often we see this as either or situation, but at any point in your career, you have up to 10 options – not just 2.

    1) Remain in Current Role – No content change

    Recognition that your current role provides you with your desired level of challenge and development at the moment.

    2) Enrichment – Develop current job

    Considering what job tasks you wish to do more of and negotiating with others to take over those which no longer motivate you.

    3) Vertical – Seek promotion

    Considering what would be the real gain for you in seeking increased responsibilities.

    4) Exploration – Test out options

    Seeking project work, or deputising in another job function to test out how you like it.

    5) Lateral – Sideways move

    Moving to a similar level of job task difficulty but with different job content.

    6) Realignment – Moving down

    Downshifting to less responsibility for a short- or long-term period.

    7) Relocation – Change business unit

    Deciding that work of a different nature from your current business unit is more appropriate for your career future.

    8) Redirection – Change career field

    Changing the career stream or field of work with your current employer.

    9) Proposal – Create new job

    Submitting a proposal for creating a new job which would meet the needs of your employer and you.

    10) External – Change employer

    Deciding that work of a nature different from your current employer is more appropriate for your needs and career future. (Source: Paul Stevens, Worklife).

    Which choice are you going to make with your career?




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