Tag: focus

What I’ve Learned Starting my Career: The Perspective of a Woman of the Millennial Generation

Posted on June 25th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. 3 comments

Let me begin with saying I’ve very new in my career. I’m 22 and I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in May of 2013 and started my current job six months ago.

There were some vital things I’ve learned since graduating. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been laid off from a small internet marketing company, was self-employed for four months and then recruited for my current job. All this, while not entirely knowing what exactly I wanted out of my career.

My current title is SEO Technical Specialist (click on the link if you have no idea what that is, many people I’ve met do not)! I had my first review and first promotion last week. The last six months have been intense and exciting. Also terrifying and frustrating. I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far with starting my career in the corporate world as a young, female millennial.

 

Perception is Reality

One of the hardest things I’ve learned (in a very hard way) is keeping my cool. Working in the corporate environment, being new and being young, it takes me a little bit more work to have my ideas considered. That can be very frustrating.

The most important thing is to be sure you keep calm, both your voice and face. Take a moment to walk away and think about. Consider bringing up the subject in a different way. How you react will either improve or damage your relationship with the person you are working with.

It’s important to build a “brand” around yourself. Create a professional Twitter account, grow your Linkedin profile and watch your posts on Facebook. Building a brand is one way you can control other’s perception of you.

 

Keep Learning!

I work in an industry that changes all of the time. With that, I’m constantly reading industry blogs. Sometimes I’ve even been the first one in my department to share important industry news. This matters. Not only is it important so that you can continue to improve your work, but becoming a person who is clearly knowledgeable will gain you respect and recognition.

Get certification in an aspect of your field. There are lots of options for online learning. I’m currently investigating a Mini MBA in Internet Marketing. I come from a writing background and ended up (happily) in the field of Search Engine Optimization. It’s very exciting but can be challenging because many of my co-workers have more experience in both marketing and the technical side of my field. Want to become a leader in your field? Keep learning!

 

Goals Matter…Sort of

As I mentioned earlier, I read a lot of articles. Not just in my industry though; I want to learn how to develop my career, not just do my job to the best of my ability. An article I read called “How Millennial Women Are Shaping Our Future” had a statistic that stood out to me, “Eighty-three percent of Millennial women say they believe they are expected to be more successful than women in previous generations.” That’s a lot of pressure.

I’m very guilty of two things, being a procrastinator and a perfectionist. I believe many of my peers can identify with this. Getting this job, I’ve kicked the procrastination aspect but I still put a lot of pressure on myself to do it perfect.

In theory this sounds like a great characteristic for an employee! But in reality the pressure becomes so intense your work ends up suffering in the long run. It’s important to keep the big picture in mind when setting out to accomplish something. Whether a project at work or a promotion you’re aiming for.

With that said, I did not plan to have a career as an SEO Technical Specialist. All I knew was that I wanted a job, and a good one. I let the chips fall in place. This is what I mean by the “sort of” aspect. It’s amazing what can happen if you allow yourself to have loose goals with your career. Allow opportunities to present them to you. This can be the most rewarding and exciting aspect of your career development.

 

Ask Questions

I can’t emphasize this point enough! The most important lesson I have learned is to never be afraid to ask questions. I’m not just talking about questions on projects or about your industry. Ask on ways to you can do something better, how you can improve and how you can help.

Volunteering for projects goes a long way. Asking how you can improve makes an impact. Your supervisors or managers will notice if you ask before the review on what you can improve upon.

 

Conclusion

I have so much left to learn. When I think about how inexperienced I will consider myself at this point when I look back a year, 2 years, or 10 years from now. But I feel that I’ve made some key discoveries I wanted to share. Both to my peers and to those wondering, “what’s up with those Millennials anyways?” Most of us are working hard. More importantly, most of us are trying to figure it all out.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Lauren graduated from the University of South Florida in May of 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She now works in the field of Internet Marketing. She loves to write and learn how to be better at her job. Self-improvement, leadership, marketing, social media and SEO are some of the topics she most enjoys writing about.  She also currently publishes her own personal blog sharing gluten-free recipes.


GPS Your Career: 3 Ways To Enhance Your Leadership Trajectory

Posted on June 19th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. No Comments

We all know how important it is to navigate and manage our own careers. However, it’s not always easy to know what to do or even when the best timing is to do it. Personal circumstances, boss’s opinions of us, and corporate restructurings all play a pivotal part in impacting the success of our leadership and career trajectory. Our tolerance for these external factors and how they impact our lives varies from time to time, but ultimately I believe we are the only ones who know what’s best; even if we have moments of being unsure of what move to make next.

Years ago when I was a corporate employee and ready to come back to work after maternity leave, I decided coming back part-time might be a good option to help me transition after having a baby. My boss saw my entrance back into the work force differently than I did. She actually told me that she did not think it possible to be both a serious career woman AND be a mother and suggested that I think about choosing which one of these was more important to me. After getting over the shock (and the potential unlawfulness of her comment), my tolerance for her navigating my career in this way was, as you might imagine, ZERO! So, I quit. I had no job, a 3 month old, an 18 month old, and was determined my career would resemble something I wanted and NOT something someone else wanted for me.

After managing through this unfortunate set of circumstances myself (ultimately not as unfortunate, as this conversation was the catalyst for starting my own business!), I learned many things. Here are three that helped me, and might help you as well, as you think about how to navigate your wants and your circumstances most effectively.

 

Pay Attention

Even though we believe our careers are ours to manage, if we work for someone else, we often find ourselves at the affect of our boss’s idea as to what career move is available to us or not. Pay attention to the feedback you receive from your boss and your boss’s boss. You need to start reading between the lines, even if you don’t like what you see. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard an executive tell me they gave one of their employees some pretty tough feedback, but when I check in with the employee, they say that nothing unusual or critical in nature was discussed. My conclusion is that most of us really do believe we have spoken straight and clear when giving feedback, but in reality what was said isn’t necessarily heard as we intended. As a result, we have to get better at reading between the lines and asking lots of questions to obtain clarity so we can better plot a course for our next move.

 

Navigate

Map out the path to the promotion, job, or title you desire and feel you deserve. No one wants what you want more than you do and no one will take the wheel for you. You are in the driver’s seat, but beware; this journey is not for weenies. You will need to stay alert, read the signs, and stay focused on your destination. It’s OK to take a detour or two as no career progression is traveled in a straight line. Keep your eyes on your destination otherwise it becomes easy to take too many side streets just waiting for “them” to change their minds and see just how talented you really are.

 

Re-calculate

To be fully satisfied in your work, you first have to decide what it is that you want, and then commit to having it in a singularly focused kind of way. It does happen, although rarely, that the Universe just guides and glides us along without effort towards our dreams and goals. Most of the time however, we actually have to do stuff to make what we want become a reality. It takes persistence, commitment and acting outside your comfort zone to obtain the brass ring you have your sights on. Have conversations with key stakeholders (bosses, mentors and a coach) as to what’s required to readjust your actions, recalculate a misguided direction you may have made, and to understand clearly the gap between where you are and where you want to ultimately be.

 

Summary

As you navigate your career, no matter how old or young you are, you will either head towards something you want or escape from something that’s not working for you, like in my case with my boss. Giving yourself time to think about your career progression actually allows you to work ON your career and not just be IN it. It is a smart thing to do and will pay off by putting you in the drivers seat over and over again.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author:  Wendy Capland is known as one of America’s top women leaders on the topic of leadership development. As Chief Executive Officer of Vision Quest Consulting, Wendy has 25 years of experience working with hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals developing their most important asset, their people. She is the author of Your Next Bold Move for Women: 9 Proven Steps to Everything You Ever Wanted.  www.WendyCapland.com 


Keeping the HUMAN in Human Resources

Posted on April 14th, by Dorothy Douglass in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. No Comments

My smart phone took the plunge yesterday.  Though it was just milliseconds before I fished it from the sink, it was long enough evidently for it to drown and it is now awaiting resurrection in a bag of rice.  Oh, and I’m over age 50 – that might be significant later in my saga.  Or not….

I quickly retrieved my phone, wiped it down, and took it apart, wiping off all the significant parts I could find.  I then had to jump in a car aimed for a full day seminar.  No rice in sight until later in the day.  Much later….

And as we plunged into this training session at precisely 9:00am, I thought, as a ‘mature’ (oh how I hate categorizing myself with that term) professional, I won’t even miss my smart phone.  After all, I have been in the professional world since before the fax machine.  Before the internet.  Before everyone – age 10 to 100 – carried a cell phone.  Heck, I’m of the generation who received resumes and cover letters through the U.S. Mail.  We sent hard copy memos, letters, and correspondence.   I would be just fine, laser focusing in on the seminar message and interacting with 20 awesome coworkers.

10:00. First break.  I reached for my purse to grab the phone, putting it back together in the hopes of that lively Android light would blink back.  Nope.  My colleagues around me kept up with work emails, personal texts, and some even took notes on their smart devices.  Not me.  Pen to paper, I was.  Deep breath.

12:00. Lunch time. Reached back again. “ Stop it, I don’t need that infernal thing,” I said to myself.  But what if there were an “emergency” at work? At home? And whatever would I do having to get through the multiple emails that were, undoubtedly, filling up my inbox? Deep breath, I  can do it.  i can go on without that electronic device.  I think, as a small headache began to come on….

The afternoon was much the same, and I won’t continue to bore you with my internal thoughts and struggles.  It is now the first FULL day without my smart phone.  I am in withdrawal.  Hello, my name is Dorothy and I am addicted to my smart phone.  I’ve had to email colleagues, friends, and family and let them know that in order to get in touch with me – they would have to pick up the telephone, or send an email.  How old-fashioned, right?

I actually got up out of my seat to go talk to colleagues and employees.  How thought-provoking!  Maybe this is my path this week – to remember that in my role as a Human Resources professional, I need to remember that I am dealing with HUMANS. I am HUMAN.  Face-to-face is not always bad, nor does it have to be.  It was not painful to get up and walk around the office and our buildings. Human interaction wasn’t bad.  A few people looked up as I walked by and even said hello.

We all get wrapped up in this electronic world, and a smart phone is really convenient to  keep up with work email,  & stay in touch with family, friends, colleagues.  It is easy to flip through Flipboard for news and Facebook for photos of those cute great nieces. Maybe though, just maybe, we could be better role models in the HR profession if we were out talking to people more.  In person. When it’s not bad news.

Hmmm.  Perhaps one of my future “stretch” assignments for my HR team will be for them to put down their phones, get up from behind their desks, and go talk to employees.  Just because….I’m old.

 

Photo credit

 About the Author:  Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution.  She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University.  She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization.  She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job.   She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.


{Career Advice} Anything Is Possible

Posted on March 27th, by Rowena Morais in Career Advice. 4 comments

Editor’s Note:  Several of our Women of HR writers have come together to share some of the best pieces of career advice they’ve received.  Their series of posts will run over the next couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

 

It came from a slogan I saw on a comic strip. It was a cute little character with a speech balloon that read, “Keep going, anything’s possible”. Maybe this is not what you’d expect in terms of career advice, but it’s what worked for me.

Early in my career, I did the traditional route. I read law and then I entered practice. I had to embark on it, give it a full whirl before I made my mind up about it. I realised very early on that this was not the game I intended to play for the rest of my life. Yet, at that point, I didn’t have a gameplan in mind. I only knew that my path involved exploring what was out there before I made my decision. But I digress.

Throughout my career, I have embraced many different facets of business, many of which I lacked the experience or education in, for that matter. Yet, I never let that deter me. I was curious and that curiosity fueled a lot of exploration – new books to read up on, code to learn, strategies to try out. I simply didn’t let inexperience and lack of knowledge stand in the way of my journey.

In the early stages of my entrepreneurial journey, starting up a professional business services company and then launching a Human Resource publication, I came across this comic. It was cute, it had just the right number of words on it and it made such an impact. I wanted these simple, yet powerful words to be a constant reminder to me of what could be. And so I kept this tiny poster stuck on a wall in front of my desk. It took centre stage and day in, day out, I saw that comic, and it fueled me.

Inspiration, advice, perspective, motivation – these can come from anywhere and anyone. It’s about the place and time you are at and your openness to receive what’s out there at that point in time. It’s about an alignment between the questions you seek answers to and what the universe brings to you.

Anything’s possible is about motivation, passion, drive and ambition. Just as importantly, it is about hope, in the face of failure – large, looming, desolate and repeated failure.

While we don’t choose what happens to us, we choose, whether mindful or not, our responses to these situations. Keeping this advice close at hand has enabled me to see things differently, to have hope when things looked bleak, and to realise that you have to keep going.

You have to keep going to see subtle shifts in perspectives and to see things you didn’t seem to notice before.

You have to keep going to realise what you are passionate about and what you just will not give up on.

You have to keep going because you simply cannot get to where you want to be by mere proclamation, standing still, or worse, waiting for it to be handed to you.

 

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Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters  Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource  professionals.  She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional  certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as  oversight on client training and corporate functional  areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal  development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two  young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at editor@hr-matters.info.


How Mindful Are You?

Posted on February 20th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

As I was reading a recent issue of Time Magazine, I stumbled across a feature article entitled “The Art of Being Mindful” and it immediately piqued my interest.  The focus of the piece was an exploration of a fairly recent movement centered on learning to shift focus back to the present moment, a remedy for the fractured attention spans and constant multi-tasking that has become not only prevalent, but normal and even expected in our fast-paced, technologically driven society.  Though this idea is certainly nothing new, it seems in a world where there are increasingly more distractions and demands for our attention as a result of devices that allow us to be connected around the clock, more and more people are realizing the benefit of focusing on being mindful.

 

In fact, enough people have begun to see the benefits of mindfulness that there is now a growing industry surrounding it.  The article talked about “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) classes that people regularly pay hundreds of dollars to attend to learn mindfulness techniques.  In 2007, Americans reportedly spent $4 million annually on mindfulness related alternative medicine, a figure that will be updated later this year.  And there is even an Institute for Mindful Leadership, a Wisdom 2.0 annual conference for tech leaders in Silicon Valley, and numerous mindfulness and meditation apps available for our smart phones.

 

This fascinates me.  As I already mentioned, the idea of being mindful is certainly nothing new.  I recently began practicing yoga, and one of the key elements of the practice is focus on being present in the moment, most often by paying particular attention to your breath.  Yoga and meditation have been around for centuries, long before MBSR classes began to be offered.  What interests me most is the idea that more and more people are realizing there is a need to bring more awareness to being in the moment; that too many of us are multi-tasking to the point of complete distraction.

 

As HR professionals regularly interacting with other people and/or dealing with various people related issues, it would seem to be common sense that we would always be mindful in those interactions.  But are we?

 

How often can you honestly say you are totally and completely in the moment in your interactions with others?  Are you really listening, or do you find your mind wandering to the next task on your to-do list, or the next meeting on your calendar?  When you have an employee or one of your team members in your office, do you focus on the conversation, or are you multi-taking by reading or answering emails?  Are you likely to take a phone call if it rings in the midst of that conversation, or will you let it go to voicemail and center your attention on the person in front of you?

 

Mindfulness in interactions with others is important for all leaders, but in HR, when we’re often dealing with emotionally charged situations, it’s even more critical.  If you can honestly say that you are 100% mindful in all of your interactions, great – keep up the good work!  However, if you are like many of us (myself included) and tend to find your mind wandering and your attention everywhere but where it should be, I challenge you to consciously focus on keeping yourself more in the moment.  Bring just a little more mindfulness to the work you do each day.  It may just make you not only a better leaders and HR pro, but by truly giving undivided attention to the person in front of you, may actually help strengthen your relationships with those around you as well.

 

Photo credit 

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

 


Your Business Needs a Vacation, Too!

Posted on January 28th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

The long winter months can inspire you to peruse deals online or phone your travel agent for a vacation away from home – somewhere relaxing and fun (or perhaps warmer) where you can forget the bustle of everyday life and stretch out in your finest resort attire for a few days.

Don’t feel guilty or hesitant about taking a little vacation this winter. Even if you’re a business owner, a little time away from the regular office environment and the daily tasks of running your business and managing your staff can refresh you for the new year and make you see things in a new light. A vacation can even help you brainstorm ideas to make 2014 the best year your business has ever had.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your winter vacation so that you come back to the office mentally refreshed and inspired.

Disregard smaller tasks for the bigger picture 
First of all, don’t forget the fact that you are on vacation once you lock your office door, pack the car or carry-on bag, and bid farewell for a week. This means giving yourself permission to enjoy the time off – not spending it doing the frustrating grunt work that you associate with each weekday.

Instead, take a few minutes every so often while you are on vacation to brainstorm about the bigger picture and feel creative. The point of brainstorming while on vacation is to invite new ideas, not labor over mundane tasks.

Enjoy a different schedule
If you do things in the same order each day – have coffee, shower, brush your teeth – we are hereby giving you permission to ditch your usual routine during a vacation. You may be pleasantly surprised at how mixing it up a little can affect a creative spark.

Get some fresh air
Fresh air is one of the keys to creative success. If you’re the kind of person who sits inside your fancy hotel room and watches the cable channels – or sits by the fire at the ski lodge the entire time – try to get outside into nature a little more and breathe deeply. You don’t have to necessarily think about work while you do it; just clear your head to let new ideas in!

Take something to write with
If you’re out and about during your vacation and you come up with a fantastic idea, it would be a shame to let it escape. Avoid this by keeping a small notebook and pen with you. Why not just use your smart phone to keep track? Studies have shown that your own handwriting is better than a touch screen for stimulating your mind.

Talk to locals
Particularly if you are going somewhere out of the ordinary, it may benefit you to engage in conversations with the locals or with others on vacation. Don’t be afraid to get their input on new ideas as well as products and techniques your business has used in the past. The perspective of someone who isn’t involved with your company – or even part of your demographic – can be valuable.

Do some reflecting
Reflection during the quieter moments of vacation can be beneficial for helping you return to the office feeling refreshed. What do you want to accomplish this year? In addition to thinking about your own business’ highs and lows in the last 12 months (or whatever time period you choose), you may also want to reflect on other businesses. What are they doing right that inspires you? Keep a list of what springs to your mind.

Share your ideas when you return to work
Once vacation is over and you’re back at the office, share any new insight with your team members and ask for input. Explain why you came up with the ideas, and don’t forget to talk about how the new ideas can be used within your business.

Remember, a vacation is not only essential to your own well-being, it’s also great for your business. Even if you never considered taking a vacation as good for your career, brainstorming for 2014 is sometimes easier outside of the daily grind.

 

Photo credit

About the Author:  Allison Rice, Director of Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, has extensive experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of custom pens and other promotional items such as personalized USB drives, Allison is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses. She regularly contributes to the Small Business Know-How blog.


Gratitude

Posted on November 26th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. 1 Comment

The month of November and Thanksgiving holiday are a natural time to reflect on those things for which we are thankful.  Not that thanks and appreciation should be limited to just one month per year, but it’s when it becomes front and center for many.  Amongst being thankful for friends, family, security, and a roof over my head, there are many things from a professional perspective for which I’m grateful as well.  Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the parts of our jobs that irritate or annoy us, so I thought I’d take a moment to focus on the career-related things for which I’m grateful.   

I’m grateful for parents who raised me to have an appreciation for the satisfaction of working towards something, rather than waiting for things to be handed to me.  That’s a value I’ve carried with me into my adult life, a value which set the stage for me to pursue an education and a career, ultimately allowing me to make a contribution to something beyond myself and support the life I love.  I’m proud that I’m a woman who has the ability and ambition to provide for myself.  I’m grateful that I like to work and enjoy being busy, and that I’ve been taught that there’s a difference between laziness and well-deserved downtime.  I’ve learned to recognize when downtime and recharging is necessary and justified, but that true laziness isn’t productive or an acceptable way to live my life. 

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work for a company filled with employees who understand the value of an honest day’s work.  They’ve taught me what it means to hustle and have pride in a job well done, no matter how simple or menial the task may seem to someone else.  You don’t always need to be changing the world to be proud of what you do; sometimes the smallest gesture can make a difference. 

I’m grateful to work for a leadership team whose actions embody the meaning of commitment.  Commitment to the business, to the communities in which we operate, and to the people who make the company what it is.  They inspire me, every day. 

I’m grateful to have worked for people who’ve invested in me, and allowed me to grow and develop in my career, and for those who saw something in me early on and encouraged me down the path I’ve taken.  I can’t imagine not having taken the path I did or how different my life would be if I had taken another.  I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, for those that didn’t pan out that ultimately kept me on my path, and thankful for where I am right here, right now. 

I’m grateful for the phenomenal network of colleagues and connections that make up my professional network, for those in my network who have also become friends, and for everyone who generously shares their knowledge and experiences and makes me a better HR professional, and better person, every day. 

I’m grateful for a career that allows me to have an impact on people.  I’ll never forget when years ago, a few weeks after one particular training class I facilitated, having a participant approach to tell me how something I said in the class changed his entire outlook on life.  As HR pros, we have the opportunity to have this kind of impact every day, sometimes with just the simplest of actions or a few right words at the right time. 

 

Do you often enough stop to count your blessings?  What are you grateful for today?

 

 Photo credit

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Working from Home: Making Sure Your Work Stays Work

Posted on November 14th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. 1 Comment

While the thought of trading in the rat race of an office building or major corporation, and working from home, may sound highly appealing, the reality is, this transition is often more challenging than most people believe. When you’ve gotten used to the all-work structure of an office, coming home and working in the midst of your kids and home life can be like a splash of cold water. How do you manage your family life, without sacrificing work ethic or the deadlines that don’t slow down?

 

I know from personal experience that working from home is no walk in the park. Whether it’s kids pulling on my arm, ready for a snack, or my husband calling from his office, asking me to pick up the dry-cleaning, remaining task oriented has been something I’ve had to learn as I go. Although I know there are times when I need to remain flexible and allow for interruptions, for the most part, my work must remain a priority.

 

If you’re transitioning from office to home and are worried your work might suffer, the key is balance. Without it, you’ll feel as if you’re juggling ten glass plates all on your own. The following tips have proven helpful in my own work journey and I’m able to keep my family life in order while maintaining my profession.

 

Dedicate a space to work.

There is a reason why office buildings and cubicles exist – they are dedicated spaces where people complete work-related tasks. If one of the reasons you’re considering working from home is to escape the cubicle, trust me – I’ve been there. Although I’m not suggesting replicating a cubicle in your home, I am saying that a dedicated work space in your home is absolutely essential to success.

 

If you have a room you can turn into your office, do so. If not, dedicate a corner of a quiet space to your office. The kitchen table or the living room couch is probably not the best space to spread your stuff out. Papers are easily lost or spilled on and the distractions are numerous. For me, going out and buying a room partitioner when I first started saved me from hours of insanity and distraction.

 

Have all the essentials in place.

The great part of working at an office is that everything you need is right there. A printer? No problem. Fax machine? Your corporation probably has several. When you transition home, however, you may need to go out and buy these essentials. Do this right away, so there’s no scrambling at the last minute when an important deadline comes around.

 

I like having everything in my workspace. That means the printer is right where I can reach it, and my fax machine is just steps away. Even though other members of my family make use of these items every so often, they still remain in my office, regardless of who needs to use them. Whatever your tools are – keep them where you work.

 

If your office is a mess of supplies and papers, then set aside some time to get it in pristine condition. Purchase supplies and containers to keep your things attractively organized. Knowing where everything is helps me keep my cool and manage my work more effectively.

 

Organization is essential.

If you’re a naturally organized person, this tip is like second-nature for you already. However, I know that I need every other tool out there to keep myself on track. When you’re managing work deadlines at the same time as soccer practice and doctor appointments, a planner will become your go-to.

 

Purchase a large calendar and write out all your tasks for the month. Try to do this at the beginning of every month, for as far out as you can plan. When dates are nailed down far in advance, you know what’s coming up and therefore, what you can say yes, and no, to. I’ve found that a daily planner is helpful, as well. Being able to create and check-off items from a daily to-do list makes me feel more accomplished and in control of my day.

 

Set your hours.

Working from 9-5 certainly has its drawbacks, but truthfully, the structure of a workday is often what keeps people successful. The same applies when working from home. Not having a set work time really throws a wrench in your success, something I learned the hard way.

 

I find it’s best to plan your work day around your family, especially if you have kids. When your kids are off to school for the day, settle down in your office and get to work. If you work steadily through the school day, that’s a good chunk of time spent on work-related tasks. As important as it is to start when you say you will, it’s equally important to finish on time, too. My kids find it frustrating when I say I’ll be finished by four, and I’m still pounding on the keyboard come 5 o’clock. Stick to your hours. You’ll have a happier family because of it.

 

Make it clear you’re working.

Just because you are home doesn’t mean that you are free. Although one of the hardest things to learn about working from home, it is also one of the most essential. When I began working from home, friends felt free to call and talk for hours, and I often let myself get caught in this trap. However, your friends, and your family, need to understand that work must get done even though it’s getting done from home. Let your loved ones know that you have a job that needs to get done, and you’d love to socialize, but after work. Difficult? Yes. But necessary? Absolutely.

 

At this point, you may be wondering if working from home is really worth it. Let me tell you from personal experience – yes. While it does require a high amount of discipline and time to learn how to manage the balancing act, in the end, you’ll find much more joy in your work and in your family. Begin setting boundaries early, and working from home will become a breeze.

 

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About the Author: Naomi Shaw is a freelance writer in Southern California. As a mom who works at home, she knows how challenging it is to keep a balance and distinction between family and work. These tips have been some of the most helpful when transitioning to working at home, and she enjoys helping other women find success in their work ventures. 


One Of Your Greatest Assets

Posted on October 3rd, by Kristin Kaufman in Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

As an executive, we have two assets which rival as to which is most valuable to us. Both our time and our team are the two most critical components in achieving our objectives, personally and collectively. This article is going to focus on our time and a few suggestions on how to get the greatest return on our time.

As true transformational leaders, in order to accomplish our mission, it is critical we spend our time doing the right things. We know this; yet, we often struggle with what is most important, how to prioritize, and how to keep our eye on the ball when distractions arise which they invariably do.

A few thoughts to consider and discipline ourselves around:

1. Manage and filter the interruptions

I recently read an article which touted that we spend only about 10 minutes on a task before we are interrupted by various issues. How can we curb these interruptions? What if we turned off our phones, asked our team to do the same, and instill a mutual respect for ‘sacred time’ to actually get work done? What if we actually say ‘no’ when these distractions arise? I know what you are thinking, how can we say no to our bosses? I am certainly not suggesting that is the standard answer every time; however, there are scenarios in which we must say no. A book I have found especially helpful, The Power of the Positive No, gives excellent tips on how to say ‘yes’ while saying ‘no,’ while preserving a strong relationship with the other party. Check it out.

2. Stop the multi-tasking.

Many studies actually state that multi-tasking is one of the worst things we can do to maintain brain health. The sad reality is that the trend for multi-tasking is going up not down. With the increase of smart phones, email, texting, working mothers, and the quest for ‘work/life balance,’ the quest for balance has led to just doing more at one time, versus prioritizing and saying ‘no.’ One study has actually stated that our IQ’s can fall as much as 10 points when we are juggling so many projects. Of course, that leads to ineffective leadership, production, and overall results. We need to make a commitment to stop the multi-tasking. We need to focus. We need to choose one project to work on at a time. We need to have one centered conversation at a time. We need to leave our phones in the car or at least turn it off when meeting or visiting with another person. Let’s show them the respect they deserve, and that we would want, if we were in their shoes.

3. Focus and stay disciplined to the chosen priorities.

This is where it gets tough. Everyone is pulling on us to do ‘this, that, or the other’ now! I get it. What I know for sure is that if we allow everyone else’s priorities to dictate 100% how and when we spend our time, we will never get where we want to go. Period. We have to be ruthlessly determined to focus on what we believe we need to do to achieve our goals. We have to plant our flag as to where we are going, determine our plans and our goals on how we are going to get there, and then, publicly state where and how we are going to spend our time to get there. By stating the ‘what and the how’ of where we are going publicly, it makes it much easier to say ‘no’ when distractions arise.

4. Feng shui your office and your mind.

This is probably the single most effective way to help clarify where to spend your time. Recently, I spent time (yes, the asset in which we are discussing) completely clearing out my office, my outdated files, and my next month and second half plans for the remainder of 2013. I found myself struggling to keep up with all the projects I have underway, and my ’piles’ and ‘folders’ were simply not working for me anymore. I was frustrated, stressed out, and was working every weekend trying to keep up. Sure, we all have our way of organizing, which is up to you. My point is to just do it. Organizing papers, searching for contacts and not having a clear way to find information can simply exhaust and zap our mojo. Recently, I revisited Stephen Covey’s First Things First to develop a leadership development workshop, and it was a fabulous refresher.

At the end of the day, it takes guts to make the hard calls as to where to spend our time, and when to say ‘no.’ It is all about declaring where we want to go, deciding what are the few key things we must do to get there, and prioritizing how we will get these things done. Then, we must continue to verbalize this to ourselves and our troops to keep us focused, committed and to avoid the distractions which are guaranteed to present themselves.

 

About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.


Breaking Into Human Resources Management

Posted on August 13th, by a Guest Contributor in Career Advice. 5 comments

Professionals in the field of human resource management help to contribute to the success of any business by strategically managing its human capital. Moreover, as a potential career, it is gaining in popularity and increasing in stature. In fact, in 2006, Money Magazine listed the role of the Human Resource Manager as being at number 4 of its best jobs in America list, based on factors such as difficulty, flexibility, creativity, and future job growth in the next decade.

Getting into the field of HR will require the right level of education and training for the role. Since the profession is expected to grow in the coming years and according to Business Insider the salary is also likely to increase, the competition for these jobs will become more fierce, meaning more and more students entering higher education courses specific to this field.
Education and Training

HR People from Monster.com has found that HR employees come from a wide range of backgrounds from an educational standpoint. However, while the subject and content of your degree program won’t necessarily limit your ability to gain access to an HR job, it is recommended that you complete a full University degree to be considered for many jobs in this field. For the best possible training and preparation for a career in HR About.com advises a bachelors degree in HR will be best. This will give you a foot in the door, and will invariably be more highly looked upon by hiring managers than other unrelated subjects. Regardless, most degree programs will open the door to potential employment.

It must be noted, though, that many highly successful HR managers will not have gone through higher education or got a degree. A recent article by the NY Times addresses the increase in demand for job candidates with degrees, suggesting that in a majority of the cases where these successful employees did not obtain degrees first, they will instead have developed their successful career before the post-grad landscape became too highly populated and competitive. These days it is increasingly difficult to obtain an HRM job without having completed a degree first, so this should be your first port of call.

Those who are keen on pursuing a specialized career in HR or a managerial position will want to consider enrolling in a business degree that has more of a specific focus. If you do a more generalized degree to keep your options open, focus on taking extra courses to make you more employable. You can do this after completing your degree, or even during it if possible.

In addition to completing a degree at college, many HR professionals will look to become certified in various disciplines. HR Daily Advisor published an interview based on a survey that revealed HR Certifications are providing many advantages. If you do complete a professional certification, this could lead to higher earning potential – the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHM) and Professional in Human Resources (PHR) are two examples.
Finding Work

Finding work within this field isn’t really any different from looking for a job in any other industry. Using online career search websites is a good place to start. However, these online career sites are fairly general in nature, and so looking for specific HR related work is more appropriate and targeted. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is one option that is designed for this specific field.

Bear in mind that some companies will tend to recruit from within as suggested by an article about the benefits of internal hiring published by Forbes. If you are working within a larger company and are interested in moving into HRM then keep an eye on any internal job boards and network with HR managers to see if any potential jobs come up. Networking outside of your company at industry specific events is also a good idea.

As with most professional jobs, however, the easiest way in is to complete your degree and then seek a professional certification via a reputable company. This will give you the best head start in the industry.

 

Dee Fletcher is a freelance and ghost writer. See also enjoys guest blogging, and does it as often as she can to build her online presence. Dee writes mostly about current trends or events relating to business and technology, but will occasionally write about various industries as well. She works from her home in Southern California and loves to visit the beach as often as she can.

 

Photo credit iStockphoto