January 30, 2012

shaking the public speaking jitters

Some jobs may require you to speak in front of groups on a regular basis, other jobs don't. Regardless of what your job requires, you might just land in a situation unexpectedly where you need to address a group of people - has that happened to you? A spur-of-the-moment speech you need to make spontaneously and all you can think about is how your palms have become sweaty within a matter of seconds!

Here are some links to help you combat the public speaking jitters:
We could all use a little help in this area so I hope you've found a few tips to apply during your next speech or presentation!

Have a great week at work!

January 27, 2012

getting the job done on a tough day

I’m sure some of us are made of steel and never allow a tough personal day to influence our performance at work, but I just have to say that I am not one of those! It might be a girl-thing, or even something to do with my personality type, but the truth is that when I have some personal problem on my mind it’s really hard for me to put on a brave face and focus on my work. How about you?

It might not even be a big issue, but just knowing that I have to spend 8 hours at work before being able to resolve it feels a little gruelling sometimes. Telling the whole office how fragile I’m feeling might not be the best option because I don’t want to send the message that I am incapable of coping with personal stress. But on the other hand just ignoring the fact that you are human might burn you out in the long run. So I have tried the following ways to still get the work done despite my tough personal day.

  • Try using your work to distract yourself: Even though I really prefer to sort things out as soon as possible, the fact is that I need to plant myself in front of my computer for 8 hours, so I might as well try focusing on the work instead of the issue at hand. Time usually seems to fly when I’m focused and working hard, so it’s actually a good way to take my mind off the problem for a while, and very often it helps me cool off and see the issue from a different perspective.
  • Be honest: Trying to hide that you’re not feeling 100% yourself may just make the day harder. If you have a friend or trusted colleague at work, why not tell them not to worry if they see you isolating yourself a little during the day, you just have some things on your mind that you don’t really want to talk about. If they know you’re having a tough day they are likely to understand and give you some space. No need to tell them all the gory details, just let them know you'll be fine and you would like to focus on work.
  • Figure out what works for you: Some find it helpful to put on their earphones and listen to music while working and others need to call their moms before the working day starts to blow off a little steam J. Many people recommend chocolate (I wonder why) while others take a walk outside during their lunch breaks to get some fresh air. Knowing what works for you will allow you to manage your emotions instead of lashing out at a colleague or being rude around the office all day.
  • Embrace the challenge: I try to see a day like this as a challenge to my resilience. I know I don’t need to be made of steel, but being able to cope and perform well while dealing with challenging emotions reminds me that I can be strong and mature under fire. Also, being known for performing poorly because of your personal problems is not something you want to be known for around the office (see more about personal branding here).

We will all have those days when we just can’t seem to get our minds off things happening in our private lives. But, like any other challenge, you can see them as opportunities to practice and show your inner strength. There is no shame in shedding a tear or two at work, but try to keep it from interfering with your productivity (and that of others) as far as possible.

What works for you on a tough day at the office?

January 25, 2012

are you a clock-watcher at work?

Companies approach working hours in whichever way suits them best, and for many of us working 9-5 is standard procedure. This means that work often feels like school and you may find yourself counting the minutes until the final bell rings so you can rush outside to head home. In many ways this keeps us employees in a mode where our goal often changes from performing well to simply getting through another day - would you agree? 

It’s not surprising that “flexible working hours” is one of the most desirable traits employees seek in potential employers these days. Working flexible hours may allow parents more time with their children or give employees the opportunity to be part of extracurricular activities/hobbies without interfering with their performance at work. I'm sure these people will report better work-life balance and employee engagement.

If your job allows you to manage your own hours (or even just adjust them a little), how would you describe your productivity and engagement at work? If you are someone who really enjoys the security and predictability of working set hours, do you think you would ever want to try a more flexible arrangement?

Always remember that it's easy for your boss to spot the clock-watchers, and you don't want to be sending those vibes. Showing that you can create work for yourself when days are slow can really improve your personal brand. Working on a project until it's complete instead of rushing home when the clock strikes 5 will do the same.

If I were forced to sit at my desk from 9-5 I would try to find ways of focusing on "outcomes reached" instead of "hours worked" by listing goals or outcomes for each day and aiming to tick off as many as possible. For those of you who don't have the luxury of bending your working hours, what effects do you think it has on your performance, engagement and attitude towards your work? What are some things that help you get through the day without looking at the clock and wishing the time away?

Check out this post on changing a culture of clock watching and let me know your thoughts!

January 23, 2012

how to rock corporate events

How January has flown by! I'm sure we're all back in the swing of things with only a few vague memories of the holidays in the back of our minds ☺

Does your job require you to attend workshops, off-site meetings or networking events? Looking professional and acting the part are always important when you are representing your employer at an event, so let's have a look at the links I have selected for you on this topic:

I hope you enjoyed these tips! Have a fantastic week!

January 20, 2012

embracing change at work

At some point most of us will go through changes beyond our control in our jobs. Whether it be a restructuring, a new boss or a change in the company's global strategy, change at work is bound to happen now and then and it has the potential to shake our foundations a little - or a lot!

So imagine your whole company is being restructured and the way you've all been doing things has to change dramatically. Here are some guidelines for you to embrace change at work with a positive attitude:
  • Take a moment to say goodbye: If the change means you are losing colleagues or projects that were close to your heart, take a moment to acknowledge what they have meant to you. Dealing with loss is a little easier when you show your appreciation in some way before moving on. 
  • Put some faith in leadership: Keep in mind that management needs to think of the well-being of both the company and its employees, so even though they are the breakers of bad news it may affect them just as much. Don't assume they make these big decisions lightly and see if you can find a way to show them your support.
  • Explore possible rewards: Coping well under fire or contributing to the solution may just boost your career, so even though the process isn't always pleasant, focusing on goals or outcomes will keep you motivated and open to the experience.
  • Be a change agent instead of a victim: You can play a big part in making the transition as smooth and positive as possible. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself and dragging others down with you, see what you can add to the process. Check out this clip for a few cool ideas:

It's natural to fear the unknown, but if we find ways to embrace changes at work they may just turn into wonderful opportunities to grow in our careers. In the end change is just change and it happens to everyone all the time. Remembering that change is constant always helps me to focus, take a deep breath and then go for it!

Check out these posts I found on 10 ways to embrace change and embracing change at work.

January 18, 2012

over sharing at the office

To be an open book at work or not? To tell your colleague the details of your last medical procedure, your mother in-law's gambling problem or an inappropriate dream you keep having... What do you think, do these qualify as over sharing? Have a look at some more examples of things your colleagues probably don't want to hear from you:

Sharing a few details of your personal life (like the sports teams you love or your hobbies) is an essential part of building relationships with your colleagues. After all, we all find it easier to relate to someone with common interests or opinions. It's a great way to show that you are (also) human and that you are more than what your job title suggests.

Social media platforms are encouraging us to share every detail of our lives to the world. Are you doing the same at work? It might be a good idea to draw some kind of line for yourself to ensure you don't become known at the office for spilling too much (or inappropriate) information.

Let's have a look at some guidelines to keep your personal life (mostly) personal:
  • Train your brain: Take some time to evaluate and train your impulse to over share. Identify if you may be doing it to be liked or to get attention at work. You CAN say no to that impulse and you WILL still be liked even if you don't share every detail about yourself. Give it a try!
  • Friend vs colleague: Some colleagues are actually good friends so be sure to make this distinction before sharing. If John is my good friend and Joey is a pleasant colleague I get along with, it may be OK to tell John about an issue regarding my brother-in-law and Joey about how much I enjoyed the office year-end party.
  • Getting the job done: Are the personal details you share with colleagues affecting productivity by either distracting them or influencing their impression of your abilities? I wouldn't want to disrupt the flow of work with my shocking stories, or for my boss to doubt my focus because I am constantly talking about my personal problems.
  • Remember your personal brand: Ask anyone you know if they have an over-sharing colleague and see how quickly they identify him/her. Building a reputation at work for always sharing too much of your personal life may create the impression that you are unprofessional and this can actually hinder your career growth.

While showing your personality and interests is always a good idea, try thinking about ways in which you may be sharing too much at work. Have a look at these posts on the TMI (too much information) phenomenon and honesty vs. over-sharing - enjoy!

January 16, 2012

a young pro's guide to cultural sensitivity

Working in a multicultural environment is one of the best things that have happened to me career-wise. Getting to know people from different cultures and discovering our differences and similarities really adds to the satisfaction in my work every day.

Respecting others despite your differences is a crucial skill you'll need if you want to make it in the big leagues or work for a global organisation. Here are your weekly performance links to get you tuned into workplace diversity:

Enjoy your brand new week!

January 13, 2012

bring on the discipline!

I have a good friend who LOVES being super disciplined. She gets excited about sticking to a reading plan or exercise routine the way I get excited about, well, other things ☺. This is one of the reasons I appreciate her so much, because she is always showing me that difficult things CAN be done if I really apply myself. Getting up for a jog at 4:00 in the morning isn't hard for her because she is always keeping the end-result in mind (beating her personal best in the next big race). I always find it very inspiring to be around her!

Every job also requires you to do some things you're probably not very excited about. You know, the filing or the shredding. The things that take 80% of your time leading to only 20% of the outcomes you want to reach. If you don't apply some form of schedule or accountability system, odds are that you will delay them as long as possible until you eventually drown in the paperwork.

Here are some tips for being disciplined at work:
  • Know yourself: Try to connect chores you dislike to your personal goals and core values. If I believe in giving 100% at my job, that includes doing the mundane chores even when I don't feel like it. Some people take time to write out a personal mission statement, which adds meaning to all the things we need to do but don't always enjoy. Check out this Mission Statement Builder on Dr. Covey's site.
  • Establish a routine: It helps me to know that Friday afternoons are set aside for filing. The week has reached its end and I have a fresh pile of documents to file. I have completed all assignments for the week and the office is quiet. I have time to do it on a regular basis so it doesn't pile up to much.
  • Tell someone: Telling a friend that I'm starting a new discipline keeps me in check. When they ask me how it's going in that area I would like to give them a good report. Knowing that someone will be checking on your progress will motivate you to stick with the program.
  • Show some grit: Hard work is hard work. We all sell ourselves as "hard working" on our resumes, so here is where we need to put our efforts in line with our words.
  • Give yourself a pep-talk: Our negative self-talk is very effective. "These chores are so depressing" can get you demotivated in a heartbeat. Why not try some positive self-talk? "What doesn't kill me makes me stromger" and "I can do this!" are personal favorites of mine ☺.

Are you ready to pump up the discipline at work? Keep in mind that being disciplined will show others that you are reliable, professional and more than capable in your job. Here are some more posts on discipline at work and self-discipline as foundation of success.

January 11, 2012

reading list update: change anything

If you read this previous post, you’ll remember that I was the lucky winner of the book Change Anything (Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler). I really enjoyed reading it during the holidays!

The theory is that anyone can improve their ability to achieve hard-core goals in what the authors call “the new science of personal success”. We have all tried living healthier, saving money or kicking a bad habit, and in this book we look at some other factors that play a role in achieving (or failing to achieve) hard-to-reach goals.

Focusing on some very basic skills anyone can master, you can increase your odds of achieving your goals. Some of us enjoy blaming their failures on "being born with less will-power than others", but there are practical skills that can help us succeed despite our potential lack of will-power. I found the principles very easy to understand and apply in my personal life. I look forward to also try applying them in my job!

I experienced the book as being very encouraging. It trains you to identify things that pull either for you or against you in your pursuit. Once you can spot them, it becomes easier to customize your plan of action and implement changes that actually aid your progress. I really enjoyed the experiments used to determine some of their theories and outcomes, and when you buy the book you also have a limited period of access to their online content (including videos of some of their experiments – fun!)

This book can help readers excel in their careers, but also in many other areas of their lives. Great ideas I can implement in multiple areas of my life for the price of one book, I think it's a bargain!

If you've also read it, let us know your thoughts!

January 9, 2012

getting that promotion

You know it - it's a new year and we all have a new opportunity to show what we're worth! Depending on the type of company you work for, great performance is one of the best ways to get a promotion or raise.

I have selected a few posts to get you motivated:

Having some performance goals for the new year will help you steer your actions into the right direction, so put on your thinking caps and write them down. Your manager will be quick to notice your focus and efforts so let's hope it pays off!

Enjoy your week everyone!

January 6, 2012

don't sweat the small stuff at work

Are you your own worst critic? Constantly giving yourself a hard time when things aren't 100% perfect? Finding it hard to allow yourself a mistake or two once in a while?

Time to take a break and consider that you (yes YOU!!) might be the biggest obstacle to your personal and career growth. Here are a few things you can do to get out of your own way:
  • Ban the limiting thoughts and convictions: Constantly telling yourself that you "won't ever make it" or that you will always be just another average employee will get you nowhere. Believing that you are not allowed to make mistakes will drive you nuts. Take a moment to evaluate your self-talk, the things you believe about yourself and your abilities.
  • Find better measures for your success: e.g. Aiming to learn as much as possible through the process instead of delivering flawless outcomes. Becoming an expert in your field rather than chasing promotions.
  • Celebrate the good stuff: Are you acknowledging and enjoying your strengths or constantly beating yourself up about your weaknesses? Have you spent some time figuring out what your strengths are and how to embrace those? Being human means that none of us are perfect, but also that no two of us are alike - there is something only you can bring to the party!
  • Cut yourself some slack: For each one of us this might mean something else, but allowing yourself to take a break or make a mistake now and then is crucial (for some reason "Don't Worry, Be Happy" just jumped into my mind ♫). What helps for me is remembering that life does not revolve around work, and that no matter how good or bad my day was I can always go home to other things that are important to me.

Tell someone about your plan to relax a little and ask them to check in on your "progress". I have a friend who asks me every now and then what I'm doing to destress and break my addiction to constantly performing - works like a charm! I used to think the world would end if I made a mistake or didn't perform at 110% all the time - no more.

Here's another handy post on worrying about things you have no control over. What are some of your tips for other over-performing eager beavers out there?

January 4, 2012

there is no substitute for good manners

It doesn't matter where you come from, what language you speak or what your cultural background is - good manners will open doors for you. People will connect with you more openly, co-workers will respect you, seniors might just recommend you more often - all because you take the time to show respect to those around you.

Do you consider yourself to be someone with good manners? Or do you tend to shove them to the background when you're in a hurry or a stressful situation? We often justify our own rude behaviour when the pressure is on and "there's no time" to think about being nice. But there is really no excuse to be rude to others, even when you're having a bad day. In fact, showing respect and courtesy towards others when you aren't feeling up to it may just be an opportunity to show your character and build your personal brand (I don't want to be known for being rude when I'm under pressure, do you?)

Obviously this is easier said than done. We all grew up in different settings, with different parenting styles and values, and ways to show respect may differ entirely between different cultures. So here are a few things you can do to improve how you show respect to others at work:
  • Working in a multicultural environment will give you wonderful exposure to people from other cultures and backgrounds. Once you get to know people who are different it becomes easy to value and acknowledge them, and you can see the unique contribution they bring to the workplace more clearly.
  • Think about how you would like to be treated. If you would appreciate someone holding the door for you, why not try doing the same for others. Placing yourself in someone else's shoes is what drives acts of kindness, and your ability to do so will strengthen your relationships at work.
  • Check your ego at the door. When you walk into your office, make an effort to view yourself and your co-workers as equals. Treating all groups with the same amount of respect says a lot about your character and is sure to leave a positive lasting impression with others.

Forget about the rat-race and getting to the top for just a moment and think about how you are getting there. Reaching your goals and getting that promotion is bound to be much more satisfying if you didn't get there by stepping on others.

Have a look at these posts on Why Manners Matter at Work, Good Manners in the Office and Why Good Manners Mean Less Work for Everyone.

January 2, 2012

romance at the office

What a hot topic we have here today! Do you think it's a good idea to get romantically involved with someone from work? I'm sure there is no way to completely avoid it as we spend the biggest parts of our day with our co-workers, but what are the effects it can have on your career growth?

So many people, so many different opinions - let's have a look at a few of them:

You are certainly not breaking any laws by getting romantically involved with someone at work, but it's important to calculate whether it is worth the risk. If you do fall in love with someone at work, there are many ways to go about it in a professional manner.

The one thing I would always try to keep in mind is how a romantic relationship at work will affect my personal/professional brand:
  • Does it look like I am giving my partner preferential treatment?
  • Are we known for our public displays of affection and advances around the office?
  • Are we creating the impression that we bring our personal problems to work everyday?
  • Does tension or friction between us affect how well our team works together?
What are your thoughts?? Yay or Nay?