Tag: professional development
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’re down here in sunny Orlando, Florida where the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference has been underway for the past day and a half. This year’s theme is “Transform,” and it’s a theme that has reappeared and been reinforced numerous times already.
Preceding Robin Roberts’ opening keynote, SHRM CEO Hank Jackson took the stage with a call to action to attendees to champion the new and different. With the technology solutions available to us as HR practitioners, we should be able to automate the administration of HR and free up time to think and act more strategically. He also cautioned that out of everything in our HR toolkits, technical knowledge is just the start. It’s what we can do with that knowledge going forward that will make the difference to our companies, and our careers.
Robin Roberts inspired us with her tales of optimism and grit in the face of adversity. She shared with us her belief that optimism is a muscle that gets stronger with use. But she also encouraged us to put ourselves in a position for good things to happen, be willing to make necessary sacrifices to allow the good things to happen, and to dream big but focus small – the day to day details DO matter. But what really resonated with me was the idea that it’s okay to be grateful and thankful for what you do have and where you are, but not necessarily content, and that we should ask ourselves the question, “Am I ready for something bigger?” I believe that question should apply to each of us personally as well as us as a collective profession.
Tom Friedman talked about the marriage of globalization and the IT revolution as the most important event in the 21st century, and how that impacts companies and workforces alike. We gone from a connected to a hyper-connected world in just 7 short years, and advances in technology will continue to change the way work is done and the skills needed to get work done. He reiterated the idea that it’s not what you know or where you learned it that will matter going forward, but rather what you can do with that knowledge that will determine your success. It will no longer be enough to say “I’m non-routine;” we will need to find our “extra” – our unique contribution that justifies our value. As HR professionals, are we ready to guide our companies and employees (not to mention ourselves) through these changes?
As I listened to the numerous variations of this theme over the past couple of day, I have to wonder to myself…..are we, as a profession and as a collective body of HR professionals ready to transform? I know I am. Will you join me?
Stay tuned for more updates from SHRM14 later this week.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This weekend I’ll be heading to Orlando for the #SHRM14 Annual Conference and Expo. Many of you may be joining me; for some of you it may be your first time, others of you may be SHRM Annual veterans. No matter if it’s your first time or tenth time attending, I ask you this question: Are you maximizing your conference experience?
I’ve written about this topic in previous years, but I feel that it’s worth revisiting as I’m not convinced that even the most veteran of conference goers utilize the opportunities available as well as they could. So here’s some of the advice I’ve given in previous years, with some new additions as well.
There is an abundance of information to be learned and knowledge to be shared at the conference, and what you get out of it is largely based on what you put into it. Are you there going through the motions and playing it safe in your comfort zone, or are you making a concerted effort to obtain the maximum benefit from your experience? I encourage you to consider the following.
Take some time to plan out your schedule. Review the list of concurrent sessions available, and target the ones you know you want to attend that you think will provide you the most value. But leave yourself some flexibility to change your mind, and have back up plans in place: anyone who has attended before knows that some sessions will fill up, and you may need to move on to your second choice. Furthermore, if the session you choose doesn’t meet your expectations or isn’t what you thought it would be, don’t be afraid to walk out and join another session! This is your time, don’t waste it in a session that does nothing for you. And don’t feel guilty about it. And don’t forget to download the Conference App to keep information and your schedule at your fingertips.
Sure, you could choose to attend sessions on topics familiar to you and stick with your comfort zone. But with so many topics across 7 different tracks, why not expose yourself to something new? This is your chance to expand your horizons beyond the scope of your everyday job. Why not choose a mix of sessions that both enhance your current knowledge and also stretch your mind a bit?
Don’t Try To Do It All
This may seem to go against convention, but don’t feel as if you have to pack your schedule every day. It’s okay if you decide you don’t want to attend a session during one of the time frames. Allow yourself some downtime to process what you’ve learned and recharge when you need it. And let’s face it, we’re going to be in Orlando where there are a multitude of entertainment options. It’s okay to allow yourself a little downtime to have some fun outside of the conference.
Try Something Different
Sure, the primary reason for attending the conference is for the sessions. But there are a variety of happenings beyond the general and concurrent sessions that can provide just as much value. Visit the Expo Hall and talk to some vendors, or at least get a feel for what types of solutions are out there. Check out the Connection Zone and some of the Smart Stage presentations. Visit the SHRM Bookstore and pick up a few new titles to take home with you. There’s a lot to be experienced outside of traditional sessions!
Some of the most valuable takeaways from your conference experience could come from the connections you make in the hallways between sessions, in the expo hall, or at the multitude of social events that will take place over the course of the four days. Take advantage of the other HR pros that are there; there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared beyond the official sessions. Talk to people. Make new connections. You never know how valuable they could be some day. Instead of just going back to your hotel at the end of the day, attend some of the sponsored social events; they are a great way to connect with people in a more relaxed atmosphere….and you may have a little fun while you’re at it!
Most of all, enjoy your experience. Good luck, learn a lot, and have fun! See you in the Sunshine State!
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 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.
It’s hard to believe, but the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference is only about a week and a half away. This year’s location is right in the heart of tourist mecca Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center, and runs from June 22nd to the 25th. Once again, I’ll be heading down and reporting in as part of the SHRM Social Media and blogging team.
One would think that the location alone and general ease of travel from most points to the Orlando area could tend to draw quite a crowd, especially anyone with an affinity towards anything Mickey, Harry Potter, or anything else Disney or Universal Studios related. But beyond the obvious entertainment value draw, hopefully attendees of this annual gathering of all things Human Resources will walk away refreshed and recharged with at least a few new ideas and a few new connections in their network.
This year’s general session keynotes, as always, are big name speakers who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends, and how we can be making a bigger impact not only as HR professionals, but as business professionals. I’ll be highlighting key points from each of those speakers: Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, NY Times columnist and author Tom Friedman, CEO of Yum! Brands David Novak, and Former First Lady Laura Bush.
I also plan to hit at least a few of the concurrent sessions. These are where much of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners who are or have been right there in the trenches with attendees. I’ll be sharing some of the highlights of those sessions as well.
One of the new and exciting components of this year’s conference is The Connection Zone, an evolution of what had been known as The Hive in conferences of late. The Connection Zone is a place for attendees to come to well, as the name suggests, connect. Within The Connection Zone will be the Smart Stage where 15-18 minute TED-like talks will be given on a variety of topics. I’ll be joining in the fun and speaking on “So I’m a Time Starved HR Practitioner….Why Should I Care About Social Media?” at 10:20 on Monday morning. Stop by if the topic interests you, or even just to say hi (there will be able Q&A and networking time after the presentations).
And of course, we can’t forget about the networking and social opportunities, which abound at a conference such as this. One that’s not to be missed is the #SHRM14 Social Bash, happening Monday night at the Hard Rock Café at Universal CityWalk. Back by popular demand after last year’s success, DJ Jazzy Jeff (yes, THAT Jazzy Jeff) will be once again spinning tunes at what’s sure to be the highlight of the conference social scene. And what better way to get to know your new connections better than dancing and singing along to all of your favorite party tunes together?
So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you. Tweet along with the #SHRM14 hashtag; last year we managed to trend on Twitter, let’s see if we can do it again! If you’re not able to attend, check back here throughout the conference as I’ll be posting updates on what’s happening, and what’s being talked about. And follow the hashtag on Twitter for instant, real-time updates too!
See you in Orlando!
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 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.
I have great opportunities to attend conferences both near and far from my home and my office and was lucky (pun intended) to fly to Las Vegas in April for a HRIS conference, and I took a few colleagues with me. Plus I had some alone time, and added on a few days for some R&R.
Some lessons learned, and maybe worth remembering when attending a conference, or perhaps to use while at work….
- Plan. Take time to plan out your agenda – whether for a conference, for a meeting, or for your work year. HR needs to think forward and become proactive. We have a continued rep of being very administrative and reactive, when we might possibly more positively affect the workforce when thinking and acting proactively. And sometimes, the best laid plans don’t work out, so gather a colleague, and simply,
- Talk. My coworker & I were in a particularly painful, boring session. I convinced him we needed to take a walk. And we proceeded to the pool area, in our business casual attire. I then pressured him into taking of his shoes and socks and just dipping his toes in the water. And we had a conversation. We articulated our perspectives about HR, about the conference. We coached one another. And quite possibly enhanced our work relationship through that conversation. Which leads me to the opposite of my first bullet point. Sometimes, you just have to
- Be spontaneous. Go with the moment. It’s Vegas. Get out there. Invite conversations with (sane) people. I talked with more one-on-one with conference attendees by striking up a conversation with them while waiting in line – at registration, for the elevator, at the pool, and at the lunch table. And gathered a lot of valuable information. And yes, I AM an introvert. Sometimes someone just needs to break the ice. Good conversation and networking will happen! To do this, you must
- Make eye contact. With the person standing next to you in line, with the hotel staff, with your server. Find out your server’s name, and use it. Smile. BTW, if you get extraordinary service, anywhere, leave your HR business card with the payment, and a short note. “Thanks for the extraordinary service. You were great today!” You may never know how meaningful that was to someone, but isn’t it a great surprise when you are complimented seemingly out of the blue? Pay it forward!
- Network and never turn down the opportunity to connect with an old friend, colleague, acquaintance, a LinkedIn connection, or meet a new contact. Networking is powerful, and connecting with others through work, school, conferences, & social media may not seem important, but it can add value to you, for you, and for others you serve. I met a race car driver and I got to see college friends I haven’t seen in 30 years. I was very blessed on this trip – I feel richer for having made the time to connect.
Hmmm, these all sound a lot like coaching tips when interviewing candidates. Don’t they?
- Plan before the interview – that’s being proactive. Read the resume and application, and plan the questions prior to the interview. Be prepared – candidates can tell if you are not. Sometimes, you need to engage the interviewee through
- Talk. Interviewers should not simply read questions off a page and record answers. Interviewers will succeed by engaging the interviewee and making the interview seem more like a conversation. Engage your team to greet the candidate & talk informally when they arrive. (Don’t forget to get your team’s feedback afterward.) And remember it is ok to somewhat
- Be Spontaneous. HR professionals do recommend using the same questions for all interviews for a position; however, there are times that an answer calls for spontaneity by asking a follow up question. Or waiting, silently, for the candidate to form an answer. And we HR professionals always recommend using
- Eye contact. We observe eye contact from the candidates. We need to be sure we are practicing what we preach. Not in a stare down, but while having a meaningful conversation, er, I mean interview.
- Network. Be sure to find out what the candidate knows about your company. Understand and engage them to determine how well they network! And perhaps they are sitting in the candidate seat because an awesome HR professional (like you) left their card for a great customer servant. How cool would that be?
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.
I have a confession to make: I love coming into a new organization and a new team and knowing that I am not the smartest person in the room. It’s the best feeling. It makes me want to do a happy dance and can’t wait to get to work in the morning.
Sure, it can be pretty sweet to always be the best on your team. Everyone comes to you with questions, your manager trusts you, and you always lead the team in performance. But what is good for your ego is not necessarily good for your career.
When you are the best person on your team you’ve hit the ceiling. You’ve done all that can be done, you’ve mastered the role, and you’ve gotten all the accolades. So what is left to push you forward? What is left to challenge you and make you better than you are today? If you aren’t moving forward, you are standing still while the rest of the world is going by.
To me, it is exciting to know that the people I work with are great at what they do. Just simply being surrounded by competent, creative, and dedicated professionals is thrilling. It means that I have to be my best, I have to push myself, and I have to rise the challenge too because I don’t want to be left behind. It means that I have an opportunity to learn, and that is probably the thing that excites me the most
Even better, especially for all us Women of HR, is seeing strong and intelligent women in leadership roles that we can look up to. You don’t have to aspire to leadership yourself to appreciate how awesome that is. I know a lot of brilliant women in leadership roles who everyday inspire me to simply be better than I am. And needless to say, the more amazing women we have leading not only HR but companies in general, the more positive change and equality all women in the workforce will see.
So the next time you start thinking how great it is to be the big fish, maybe start looking for a bigger pond to play in. Just be sure to start any new opportunity with an open mind, open ears, and a little humility. Even your ego will thank you for it later.
About the author: Shauna is an HR professional with a diverse work history, a Master’s degree, and a PHR certification. She is also a huge geek, social media advocate, and infectious giggler. Besides being a co-founder of the Women of HR she also serves as the current Ringmistress of the Carnival of HR, is the former co-host of the HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show, and blogs at her own site as the HR Minion.
Women in leadership positions have been a hot topic on the global news circuit. In the US, tongues are wagging about whether Hillary still plans to become one of the most powerful people in the world , while in the UK, the government target of 25% female representation on boards by 2015 will likely be smashed since it’s shot up to 20% for the first time ever.
Yet despite the positive changes, a recent report released on Catalyst.org says that female representation on boards in North America has stagnated in the past few years. While women represented 47.3% of the 2011 workforce in Canada, they only made up 22.9% of senior management position s by 2012.
All the data suggests that the playing field is not even quite yet. So how have the women at the top of the global HR and business community climbed the career ladder to the top rung, and how can you do the same? Changeboard turned to seven senior business and HR professionals to get their advice on the problems they’ve faced, and how they’ve overcome them.
Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyjet, on balancing work and home life:
“You can’t be managing director or CEO of a company and not stay completely involved in the business, but it’s about finding a way of making it work. An important ingredient for me was having the right balance between my personal life and career.
It’s now time for women to keep their head above the parapet. Write a letter to your line manager or HR outlining the flexibility you require and present your business case. You may be surprised to find that you’re pushing at an open door.”
Kate Chapman, group HR director, PageGroup, on developing your own leadership style:
“I’m the same person I was when I started work, and have stayed true to my core values. I’ve got many great experiences to draw on and plenty of people I can reach out to.”
Leigh Lafever-Ayer, HR director of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, on the importance of mentoring:
“Look for mentors in and out of your organization. They can help you develop your skills and knowledge. Studies show that, despite having proven their talent, lots of women lack confidence in their abilities. A mentor can boost your confidence and could encourage you to go for jobs that you would otherwise pass over. Networking is equally as important. Introducing yourself to a wider community can lead you to untapped opportunities.
In my position, one of the areas of special focus is helping women to grasp the opportunity that is there. Many women readily admit that they are more cautious about putting themselves forward for a role than men. Even when their balanced scorecard is demonstrating ability, they may hesitate and wonder if they really are ready. Our mentoring, networking and development programmes are designed to help women overcome these hurdles.”
Fareda Abdullah, VP, human capital and corporate communications, Majid Al Futtaim Ventures, on what it takes to grow in business:
“I do not accept the common misconception that women have no career ambitions. It’s important to be focused and not give up. You must adapt according to your circumstances.”
Jane Bilcock, executive VP & chief HR officer, Pinstripe & Ochre House, on the key to success:
Do something you feel passionate about. Life’s too short to do something that doesn’t excite you.
Ceri-Anne Connelly, HR director, group functions, Aviva, on the value of hard work:
“Roll up your sleeves and get ‘into the work.’ I wouldn’t ask my team to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself. Sitting with employees on the front line is the best possible way of understanding the need for change and defining the most successful people strategy.”
Jeannie Edwards, director of HR, Europe Africa, MWH Global, on being authentic in business for success:
“Don’t try to be anything other than yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t try to fit into a mould. The most successful women I know are comfortable with themselves. The most frustrated are role playing. A very senior woman once told me that I would never be taken seriously if I wore pink. I wear pink a lot, and it doesn’t seem to have done me too much damage.”
About the Author: Katie Richard is the online content editor for Changeboard.com, a global HR careers and content site based in the UK. A Canadian living in London, she’s interested in raising the profile of women in business.
Recently our training manager at Veterans United Home Loans presented management curriculum on Maximizing Value. The focus was on creating added value through customary avenues like time allocation, resource management, efficiency, and process improvement. We also highlighted a critical, yet often neglected area associated with Maximizing Worth. Namely, modeling behaviors that keep your role and team’s contribution an unmistakable ingredient of your organization’s success.
So, how do you become the employee or team that your organization fights to keep? Here are ten behaviors to make yourself more valuable at work.
1. Treat your manager and co-workers as you do your customers.
You know what good customer service is about from your own experience. It’s about being cheerful, flexible, prompt, and reliable. Work at delivering good customer service every day to your manager and co-workers. Give them reasons to want to work with you and not with someone else.
2. Maintain a positive attitude.
Everyone has good and bad days, but the people we appreciate for their consistency and enthusiasm don’t let their bad days ruin ours. They choose their attitude. And they choose to make it positive. You can, too. Here are some ways to accomplish this goal:
- Make a list of the good things in your life or keep a file of accomplishments you’re proud of. Look at it when you start to feel down. Take yourself back to that time of the accomplishment; think about how energized you became, and why. This can help you get back to that positive state of mind. The momentum gained from this exercise should generate further momentum.
- Remind yourself that problems at work aren’t all about you. Look at them as opportunities to fix something, not as criticisms of you. Don’t take it personal.
- Spend time with people who have positive attitudes, both to get an emotional lift from them and to observe how they deal with challenges.
- Make an effort to be pleasant and easy to work with, even when you’re not feeling that way inside.
- Avoid the “blame game.” Instead of finding someone to blame when there’s a problem, focus on ways to fix it.
- Be honest with yourself about what’s causing a negative attitude. Watch for symptoms of stress and think about what is causing it. Get help when you need it.
3. Focus on productivity.
Work at becoming as good as you can be at the most important functions of your job. Produce results that are highly valued. Look for opportunities to do work more efficiently, to improve quality and customer satisfaction, and to save the organization money. Make a point of offering new ideas that could enhance the business. Strive to get more work done by being efficient, overcoming procrastination, and reducing interruptions. Try to understand the work style of your co-workers and of other groups you work with.
4. Be an agent of change, not an obstacle to it.
Employees who embrace positive change and help make changes happen are appreciated and valued by their managers. They also have a head start in learning new work processes and finding out how their skills and talents fit into the changed organization. Be an employee who suggests changes to improve efficiency or quality and who helps to figure out how to make those changes happen. Notice problems at work, but instead of complaining take steps to find a solution. Help co-workers accept changes, too, by drawing their attention to opportunities that change can bring.
5. Build connections.
Make friends at work and with people doing similar work at other organizations. Have fun and help others have fun at work. Make yourself the kind of person others want to work with. Help out when your help is needed, teach valuable skills, and share work-critical information. Let people know about interesting articles or studies that you find. Network to make connections with people who can give you new and different work and teach you valued skills. Volunteer for committees or special events as a way to work with new people. Attend industry functions and trade association meetings when it’s appropriate. Meet experts in your field and ask them for feedback on your work or ideas about problems your organization is facing. Know your employer’s policies about online networking so that, if your organization permits, you can benefit from both “offline” or face-to-face networking and from joining networking sites on the Internet.
6. Communicate clearly and directly.
Being a clear, direct, and thoughtful communicator can help you stand out as a valued employee. Share information that others need to know, and share it efficiently. Use e-mail when discussion isn’t needed. Call or talk in person if an issue truly needs to be discussed. Be prepared when you go to meetings so that you don’t waste people’s time. Get right to the point; eliminate unnecessary details. Always thank people for their time and their help.
7. Keep learning.
If you’re doing the same work in the same way you did it two years ago, chances are you’re being left behind. Take the time (your own time if that’s what’s needed) to learn new skills and to stay current with any areas of special expertise. Keep any licenses or certifications up-to-date even if you’ve moved into a managerial or other job that doesn’t require them. Stay informed about the business you’re in. Consider taking classes or professional development seminars. Commit to reading at least one book or professional journal in your field each quarter. As you gain new skills and knowledge, let your leader know. Find ways to use what you’re learning in your work.
8. Seek and welcome honest feedback.
Understand how your manager and others in your organization see your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you improve your knowledge and skills in the way that would help your employer most. Ask your manager, “What is the most important thing I could do to make myself more valuable to our organization?” Or, “What college classes would help most in my current job?” If you feel uncomfortable talking with your manager, consider requesting a confidential meeting with your human resources (HR) department and asking for clarification. Keep in mind that employers often place a very high value on aspects of performance, such as attendance and punctuality, that employees may see as less important.
9. Make your value visible to others.
“Market” yourself to make sure that your value is noticed. Make sure your manager knows what you do, and especially what you do well. Your performance review is an appropriate forum for listing your accomplishments and explaining the challenges you’ve overcome. Regular one-on-one meetings with your manager are another. Make your value more visible by volunteering for high-profile projects, where your contribution will be noticed as part of an important effort. Offer to be a coach or mentor to new employees. Ask to represent your team or department on cross-functional teams. As you learn new skills, teach your co-workers. They’ll appreciate the help in solving the work problems they face, and it will give you a reputation both as a source of expertise and as a valued team member.
10. Be flexible.
In an up-and-down economy, employers may place a higher value on employees who have the skills and mental flexibility to do more than one job. Be ready and willing to take on some or all of the tasks of a co-worker who is absent or on leave or who has been laid off or furloughed. If your current skills or knowledge wouldn’t allow you to do this, make it a top priority to gain a few new ones.
We know that in today’s workplace, hard work and effort are no longer enough to assure success or even to guarantee continued employment. Advances in technology, innovations from competitors, and changing customer needs have pushed organizations to be adept at changing focus and direction. This almost always means changing requirements for employees. Accomplishment at work is no longer just about working harder. It’s about working differently, and ensuring your continued value. Modeling these ten behaviors is a great way to build your workplace security and team’s success.
If you’re interested in reading more on this subject check out a book called, “Getting the Job You Want” by David Roper.
About the Author: Amanda Andrade is the Chief People Officer for Veterans United Home Loans – Fortune magazine’s 21st best medium workplace and one the fastest growing companies in the United States according to INC magazine. Amanda has led human resource organizations in both public and private sectors. She also has a doctorate in Environment and Behavior, focusing on highly profitable, employee-centric work environments. Connect with Amanda on Google+.
We all know them. The inspiring leaders of our time who make us want to do, say, feel and ultimately, be more than we are today. It’s not just their many successes that catch our interest, in fact, many times it’s just the opposite. Their real-life, relatable traits are what make us stop and realize that just like you and me, they’ve made and will continue to make mistakes, but come back stronger in their wake. The fact is, that these leaders are all imperfectly perfect. They share multiple characteristics that contribute to their success in ways you wouldn’t expect. While developing a few of these may not make you the next Cheryl Sandberg, it can certainly help you find your way to becoming a better leader in the office, at home, or any time you find yourself in a leading role. To give you a better idea of what these characteristics include, we’ve created a list of the five most prevalent we’ve seen in today’s top leaders. Check it out!
Getting to know your team and welcoming, questions, comments and ideas can help you become the leader they’ll remember for a lifetime. Whether this means getting more involved in projects or simply sending an email asking for feedback, letting your team know that you are open to their input is not only a great way to build trust and camaraderie, but also the most beneficial tactic in making sure that your company is achieving the best work from a diversely talented team.
2. Ability to Delegate
Knowing that you can’t possibly be the best at everything and delegating work to team members based on their unique talents and abilities puts you leaps and bounds ahead of the average leader. Once again, get to know your team and determine how and when you can best utilize the strengths of each member to most effectively move the project forward. Throw bias out the window and understand that every hard worker deserves a fair shake at showing you what they can do.
3. Willingness to Learn
Great leaders understand that they can learn anything from anyone. Whether it be the CEO of their company or a child they met at the store, top leaders make the most of every opportunity by listening to what others have to tell them. Rather than shut down the next time you encounter criticism, really listen and take each point into consideration to create opportunity for growth. Also try to pick up on both verbal and non-verbal cues from your team to understand how you can best reach and motivate them.
4. Quick Thinking
The ability to think and act on cue is invaluable as a leader. Your team is looking to you to make decisions quickly and effectively at the moment they’re needed. While making a mistake at some point in your career is inevitable, quick thinking sustains project momentum and keeps your team on track regardless of speed bumps. Don’t get backed up waiting for a complete strategy when time is of the essence. Consider your options, inform your team members, and run with your decision.
5. Effective Communication Skills
Carefully considering your expectations and effectively communicating them to your team will help you achieve the best possible end result. Reminding your employees of your company goals, objectives and standards will help them stay on track and rise to the optimal level of quality. Be sure to relay your expectations in a way that is respectful, effective and consistent. Also try to relate to your individual team members to better understand how they can be motivated and inspired to produce their best work.
About the Author: Taylor Cotterell, Executive VP of NaviTrust Search & Recruitment. Since starting in the recruiting industry in 1998, Cotterell has become uniquely skilled at identifying top performing candidates who are currently employed and not actively looking to move. Cotterell joined the NaviTrust group in 2004 and currently manages a recruitment team, dedicated to local searches. Their focus is on permanent placement, contract, and contract-to-hire roles, mostly in the Utah market. NaviTrust holds a spot as one of the top Utah executive search firms, while also extending to achieve international, reach and recognition.