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  1. Do you know what your employer expects of you?

    October 28, 2014 by Jenna

    Your role has been assigned and management has worked with you to outline your job description and your daily tasks. Now that the reigns have been passed to you, what are the key personal characteristics your manager is looking for?

    I found five characteristics that I have elaborated on that I believe you can apply regardless of what role you are currently in:

    Positive Attitude

    Your attitude will not only affect your relationship with your manager, but it affects your entire work environment (your colleagues, clients, suppliers etc.).

    Employers are looking for someone who looks forward to coming in to work each day. Someone who willingly takes on new challenges and finds ways to accomplish even the most tedious of tasks without complaint.

    We have all been there and know what it is like to be in an environment with someone who is not flexible or enthusiastic about the task at hand. Someone who complains to get out of an assignment or has nothing positive or encouraging to contribute to the group.

    How can you expect managers to trust you will do well in a higher level role if you are not making your current position appear positive? If you are feeling in a motivational slump, try to find ways to clear that negativity so that your thoughts and behaviour create a more favourable lasting impression.

    Dependability

    Being dependable means you follow through on tasks you have committed to. Whether it is a task set by management or a team assignment, your contribution to the task contributes to the overall success of others (and the company), not just yourself.

    Dependability means holding yourself accountable to meet deadlines. It also means knowing when to speak up if you are struggling so that items do not fall behind. To consistently be dependable you need to be well organised and disciplined.

    Continual Learning

    Brushing up on your skills or learning new skills allows you to contribute more to your organisation. You can help the company develop by taking on training in your current position. This helps you become more indispensable in the workplace.

    Continual learning doesn’t mean you need to study on the side part time while trying to balance a full time role. Asking questions, taking advantage of training programs at work, and reading books all count as learning opportunities. You will be seen as showing more initiative in your personal progression.

    Another important note is to accept feedback when it is provided and apply it.

    Initiative

    While you may be comfortable with your daily routine, when is the last time you thought outside the box, or even stepped outside of your comfort zone? Have you tried contributing new ideas lately? Or even volunteered to take on a challenge that no one else in your team has put their hand up for?

    This will give your employer a chance to see you in a new light. To show a side of yourself that you may not have had the chance to show before. You won’t be successful every time but it’s a good way to establish where your strengths are and learn from your experiences.

    Cooperation

    Almost every job will comprise of an element of teamwork and being able to co-exist with others to collectively achieve goals. Each team member will have strengths and skills that they contribute to the team. Working in harmony will make it much easier to reach success.

    Not only will getting along with team members make your environment more enjoyable, they can encourage you and motivate you to achieve your best and vice versa.

    Managers need to know that they can rely on their team to perform and it won’t help if you are the missing link.

    Don’t be afraid to contribute ideas and show how your skills can help the overall outcome of a group assignment.

    Do you follow any of these traits? What do you think your employer expects from you the most? How do you meet those expectations?


  2. Want to be more productive?

    April 22, 2014 by Jenna

    Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

    –          Paul J. Meyer

    We all need productivity; it is the driving force in our lives that leads to the results we want. Being productive encourages us and motivates us to strive for something better and to be better. But there can also be times when we say to ourselves, ‘I could be more productive than this,’ or ‘How can I be more productive?

    For those of you that need a productivity boost, here are some helpful things to consider from an article I found on Careerealsim:

    1. Time Management

    Find those peak times of the day where you feel most productive to get the important tasks accomplished. For example, if you feel more refreshed in the morning, take that opportunity to utilise your energy and show your personal best.

     2. Exercise

    While it can be hard to find the motivation to exercise, once you begin a routine you will see the benefits. Not only does exercise make you look and feel better, but once you reach that level of accomplishment it creates momentum for you to strive for further achievement in your daily life. Plan a time that works for you, whether it’s before work, in your lunch break, after work or just planning outdoor activities on the weekends.

    3. Being Reactive

    While multi-tasking is a great skill to have, if you are the type of person that accepts each tasks and hops from project to project, chances are you are not going to be very productive. Taking on too many projects at once can also increase stress levels and be very bad for your health.

    Take charge of one task and complete it before moving on to the next one. This will make you more productive and appear more reliable to management when it comes to allocating future tasks.

    4. Priority List

    It is very important to establish what needs to be accomplished first and what urgently needs to be focused on so that you can manage your time and tasks better. If you don’t prioritise, the tasks will most likely run you. Establish time-frames, set it out in your schedule, avoid distractions and get it done! This can also apply to tasks that you may not necessarily favour the most, if you get them done early, then you won’t dread having to do them at the end of the day.

    5. Setting Boundaries

    This links to the priority list, and will vary for every person. But if you want to focus 100% on the task at hand you can set out boundaries so that you are not interrupted during that period of time. For example, you can try not taking phone calls for an hour, or if you are in sales, allocate 10 calls you need to make within the hour etc.

    If management or a supervisor approach you to ask you to complete another task, make sure to advise them of your current workload and availability. It is better that they are made aware of your workload so that they can advise you on how urgent the task is. It will also give them an indication on whether you currently have the capacity to complete it or if they need to delegate the task elsewhere.

     6. Commuting and Traffic

    Delays commuting to and from work can vary, so try assessing timetables and possible scenarios the night before to avoid being late for morning projects. Taking that extra time to plan and get in earlier will save the stress and anxiety you would feel if the worst case scenario were to happen.

    Some organisations may even provide you with the opportunity to work from home if you can access your emails and database remotely.

    What are some of your routines that help you stay more productive at work? What steps have worked and what didn’t work?


  3. Soft skills that you can apply in almost any role

    March 11, 2014 by Jenna

    As a jobseeker, you will find that your soft skills (people skills) are just as important as tertiary qualifications and hard skills (typing, mathematics, reading comprehension and software training). Employers are looking for roles to be filled and they are often high in demand so you really want to stand out from the competition.

    I found an article by Alison Doyle of The 7 Most Important Soft Skills an individual can have:

    1. Acting as a team player – Team work is very important within most organisations. While independent work is also vital, you need to make sure you can cooperate with others around you (this can also mean finding common ground with someone that you may not always see eye to eye with) and also take on a level of leadership when required.

    2. Flexibility is a valuable asset – Employees that are able to adapt to any situation can be reliable if anything is thrown their way. This can also mean being resilient to change in the workplace. The more experience you can gain making executive decisions and reacting to situations when needed, the more you can take on when you start taking steps forward in your career.

    3. Effective communication is paramount – Not being afraid to ask questions or share feedback when needed. You also need to articulate yourself well, be a good listener after you have spoken and use appropriate body language.

    4. Problem-solving skills and resourcefulness – During an interview, recruiters will ask you to name a point in time where you had to solve a problem or you were in a stressful situation and needed to resolve an issue. Do not be afraid to be specific and give examples. It is important to also not be afraid to raise your hand or offer to take charge to help resolve an issue if you feel confident that you have a solution.

    5. Accepting feedback and applying lessons learned – We all enjoy being recognised for our strengths, but we also need to be willing to regard feedback in terms of areas of improvement. Not only do you need to listen to the feedback but apply action and take steps for professional growth/development.

    6. Confidence is key – The only way you can contribute new ideas, opinions, projects and feedback in an effective way is through confidence. This skill can be developed over time, but you need to be confident in yourself to deliver in order to see results.

    7. Creative thinking – I think we all have creative ideas and ways of approaching tasks, it is just the matter of whether or not we share those ideas. It creates innovation and increased efficiency, and also showcases to managers what you are capable of.

    When it comes to the interview process, make sure to review the job description so when the recruiter asks you to relate to a situation, you can make specific reference to your hard and soft skills that would be appropriate to the role.

    What do you do once you land the role that you want? When the opportunity presents itself, showcase these skills, show the manager what made you a stand out in the interview to begin with. Action speaks louder than words.

    How many of the soft skills listed above can you apply to yourself?

    As an employer are there any additional soft skills that you look for in potential candidates?


  4. 4 Key Lessons on Teamwork

    September 24, 2013 by Jenna

    I am an only child, so naturally I have grown up to be quite comfortable working independently and doing things on my own. I don’t mind being the organiser, going on trips on my own, working on projects and deadlines to achieve what I need both personally and professionally.

    But there will always come a time where I tend to realise that ‘I can’t do it all’ and I get, well, burnt out. I am not superwoman, I am human, and while I am capable of achieving great things on my own, some of the experiences I have had in my life would not have been so successful without having a team by my side.

    I understand that some people will embrace teamwork with open arms and others shy away from the concept, and I can relate. Sometimes it can be awkward to work with someone you barely know or you may have a more introverted personality. But I think it is also important to consider the value of what teamwork can achieve for all of us.

    1. A sense of accountability

    I believe when you are allocated a task or responsibility in a group that you are driven to achieve higher standards because you know that you are contributing something to the entire team and not just for yourself.

    How often have you created a personal goal and then talked yourself out of it?

    It’s a lot more difficult to do that when you are in a team. You have someone to report to or you need to keep following up yourself to keep everyone on track. And based on personal experience, the ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘I’m too busy’ excuse is often met with a ‘toughen up princess’ response. We are all busy individuals with different responsibilities and excuses (or sometimes what I like to call the pity party) are not going to be passed for special people in the group, we are all on an even playing field. We are kept accountable.

    2. A helping hand

    Of course when you are experiencing a personal problem or a down period and are struggling, team members step in to encourage one another, provide advice and they will even help you share the workload if necessary to help you get back on track. I have had a few moments where I have been panicking due to deadlines rushing in and items not working out to plan, and sometimes have even broken down into tears due to a combination of stress and exhaustion. If you have built close relationships within your team, they can sense when something is wrong and sometimes without even asking, a helping hand is held your way.

    3. A competitive drive

    When I refer to competitive drive I’m not referring to competing against one another in your team, I have seen this happen firsthand in previous office environments and I have found it to drive the team further apart rather than draw them together.

    However, you may have a competing business in the same industry or an opposing sports team and the saying ‘strength in numbers’ comes into play. You stick your heads together and come up with new strategies, brainstorm new ideas and overall have a fresh perspective on goals and tasks. Once you have established the outcome you want to achieve as a team you feel stronger, more capable of taking on the odds of any challenges thrown your way. And you play to win!

    4. Personal development and growth

    I have to say over the years I have grown to learn a lot about myself in team environments. Interacting in a team environment involves:

    • Patience – As things may not go according to plan or there are delays. You are all in this together, so losing your cool at someone or having a tantrum in front of the group will not make the situation work more favourably, not to mention you are the one that will feel foolish afterwards.

    • Having an open mind – to new suggestions and perspectives, this also includes not being quick to judge one another if they take on a task differently to you.

    • Having a positive mindset and how it increases team morale – The ability to encourage others and support one another as much as they support you. Try to enjoy the experience and get to know one another, make an effort to be a team player.

    • How to respond in emergency situations – Thinking on your feet but also responsibly to look out for your team and their needs. Again the importance of keeping calm therefore being more aware of what is going on around you.

    • Communication to help solve issues and not to let tension build – especially if you are in disagreement with certain members of the team. Also to speak up when you need help or would like to assist.

    • The importance of being organised and punctual – Allowing yourself to be viewed as reliable within the team. The more reliable you are, the more responsibilities you can also take on amongst the team.

    What has teamwork taught you? When were some of your winning team moments?




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