Asking questions? It does not hurt you (much).

Making mistakes is a normal step with respect to the growth of any professional. There are many examples of entrepreneurs that have begun with a career or business plan, but then they have changed their paths.   Making mistakes allows you to make experience and realizing that there is another way or opportunity.

When you work into a positive organizational environment, your mistakes are interpreted as the chances for improvement or just a sign of commitment; there are other contexts where a mistake is stigmatized and who made the mistake is punished in some way.

In both cases, making mistakes affects our self-esteem. In other words, a mistake brings us to feel embarrassed and it is accompanied by stress which is of course not pleasant. We can feel down and inadequate. As I said before it is essential to experiment and make mistakes.  However there’s something we can do in order to try to avoid mistakes if we are not sure about a task/situation.

 

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The self-esteem is the powerful psychological aspect which allows us creating our personality and our status within our organization. In order to defend our status we do not want to show weaknesses to other members of the organization (or even to our colleagues). If this is the case, especially into very competitive environments, we tend to do not ask advice or guidance. It happens because the psychological mechanisms related to our self-esteem stop us in a self-defensive process. Of course, it would be good to ask for help or support before making a mistake.

In other words, it would be better to lower our defensive mind-set (ask for advice) in order to avoid the “destruction” of those (making a mistake). The mistakes have a stronger effect on our psychological well-being than asking questions. Again, making mistakes helps our growth; however, sometimes, you can ask without thinking of being judged.

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This is not another post about time management!

Our behaviour at work is the result of the perceptions of the reality around us. For example,  the perceptions related to a particular work environment are different amongst the employees of the same organization. There are employees who find the work environment very enjoyable and other ones who hate it.

One important perception is the one related to “time”. Let’s start with a simple example. We usually feel that the time is flying while we’re doing something that we like. On the contrary, we have a completely different experience when we are part of something (task, project, activity) that does not stimulate us and/or does not boost our creativity. As a consequence,  it is difficult for a manager to interpret the individuals’ perception of time. Why? We interpret our roles/task/activities in a complete different ways.

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However, the managerial role is not tricky as for what I am going to describe now. Specifically, what is the perception of time with respect to success or failure?

Well, the whole thing becomes even more complicated and less generalizable than what said about the interesting (or not) tasks . The reaction towards the time spent to a complete an activity can be positive if you have completed something quickly; however, it can be perceived also positive if you have finally completed a task after a lot of time; why? you feel relieved.

 

Moreover, how much time we dedicate to the celebration of success or thinking about failures? Again, another perception and interpretation which depends on personality, attitude and also the work environment.

Yes. lt is very complicated. There are cases, such as in sales departments, where the achievements ( for example new deals) are celebrated. But, as the group celebrates, what is the achiever thinking? Is that celebration perceived as enough? Or is it needed more time for an individual (personal) self-reflection?  

Yes. It is complicated.  Your perception of the time is simply a fundamental dimension of your relationship with your job.

 

What’s the simplest thing to do for creating a collaborative team?

What’s the simplest thing to do for creating a collaborative team? I will tell you in a minute.

It happens often to read several articles about team building and collaboration; the fundamental elements which are usually presented as fundamental to create the “chemistry” are:trust, clear communication , clear goals and having an inspiring manager. In order to achieve this framework, organisations usually invest money for programs or specific initiatives. I imagine that it is happened to most of us to participate in offsites, social events or simple team meetings where your manager defines (or redefines) the team goals and/or the way of working.

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But, are these official occasions enough? Do they really create that needed chemistry? Probably they do, but not completely. The first reason is due to the fact that not all the organisations invest in this kind of initiatives . Secondly, even if they do,  there is a lack of continuous development which follows these events; in other words, there are not initiatives which follows the official event.
So, which is the simplest thing to do? Creating a culture of gratitude. Saying “thank you” when someone is working with you, saying “thanks” to your boss for the opportunities and supports are just few example. Recognition is fundamental in order to creating a good teamwork atmosphere and a needed collaboration…

Do you usually thanks people only when they have done something for you? Better to open up your horizon to create a better work framework.

Lifelong learning.. why is so important?

Lifelong learning is one of the most fascinating topic for HR professionals. Why? It is the mix of the will to grow as professional which is accompanied by “self motivation”. In other words, lifelong learning is the voluntary search for improvement. It is very important to underline that it is not the research of perfection but it is the research of improvement… continuous improvement.

Diapositiva1Many people think that their learning efforts end when they’ve completed a degree or when they participate in official training on the job. That’s exactly how you can stop your growth. With the lifelong learning mindset you can customize your learning goals and your learning curve; for sure, this kind of customization is not possible to do with an official training on the job or at university.

In order to grow and improve your skills, you need constantly to reflect on what is important for you in order to improve your way of doing things (for example: soft skills vs technical knowledge). It is fundamental to understand where your learning efforts need to be directed. Clearly, being passionate about something will hep your learning; however, many times, your learning need to be directed to something that you do not like to do or about something that you are struggling with. It is not easy, but this continue reflection and work is what you need to improve.

Employer branding strategy: the reason why you should not lie!

As mentioned several times in this blog (for example here https://hrbreak.com/2015/08/30/are-you-a-brand-ambassador-and-recruiters/), presenting the “informal” image of a company is fundamental to having a good positioning into the job market.

Diapositiva1The company revenues, the job offer with its career’s plan, the compensation and benefits package are not enough to being perceived  as an employer of choice. One of the corporate goal is therefore presenting the working reality; in other words, it is needed a sort of storytelling process with the aim of reducing the distance between “public” and the company.

If your company’s Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is supported by the PR or marketing departments, this effort clearly allows you to work on the emotional side of the EVP; the risk is to exaggerate with an “honeymoon” presentation. In other words, your company should not confuse the employer branding with marketing driven initiatives; in fact, this kind of exaggeration with the aim of increasing the audience will play against the reality’s presentation. Another threatening mistake is related to the personal employer branding (https://hrbreak.com/2015/07/21/personal-and-employer-branding-on-social-media-how/). For the fact that organizations are social environments, creating too strict guidelines for the usage of social media will limit the potential of your EVP.

I’m not saying that companies do not need to keep an eye on confidential information ; but the social side must remain social, so shared… and then, here we are with the most basic rule for a correct employer branding: do not lie!

Do you think that you are the best? Well, do something different!

One of the best thing to do in order to evaluate your job performance is thinking about that on a daily basis. It does not mean that you have to find time to complain or brag yourself but you need to take your time to understand what you need to improve.

Diapositiva1If your idea is to wait for someone to tell you what to do or to assess your performances, well… you had a good idea; in fact, it is fundamental to have a second or third opinion which will be (many times) more objective than yours. But, you need to consider one detail: the amount of time that others are willing to spend with you talking about yourself is less than the one you can give to yourself.

Then, you can do also something else. Although it may hurt, you should compare yourself to others. But, do not compare yourself to whom is doing worse than you only to feeling good. You must look at the ones who are doing better! In other words, as others have said, if you are the best in the room , maybe it’s time to change room. The downside of that kind of change is related to your career path. Proving that you’re the best definitely speeds up your career development; this is due to the fact that you will be promoted quicker than others. But being the best, does leave you to space to think about personal development? Maybe not.  For this reason, you must decide whether it is important for you to progress quickly or improving your skills. The way I see it, even if you’re the best of the room, you should continue improving your skills, because (anyway) the career progression is the natural consequence of your personal development. If you’re the best of the room, find another room…. and learn something else!

What does really mean having a good relationship with your manager?

As always said, every organization is a system based on processes and structures which lives thanks to the energy and inner strength of employees and their social networks.

Among the various relationships that you build at work the most important is probably the one with you manager. This relationship is based on three main dimensions: technical, political and emotional.  The first one is linked to the technical dependency between the role that you cover and your manager’s responsibilities. Specifically, your manager is responsible for your team delivery which is also based on your delivery and your performances.  The political dimension is the sum of strategy and positioning that allows you branding yourself with your manager, your team and other stakeholders. In other words, it is based on how you behave into your work context. The final one, it is the emotional link (called it if you prefer empathy) that you are able (or not) to create with your manager.

Diapositiva1For many, the latter is the most important dimension; I totally agree that is very important, but not the most important. Who says that having a good relationship with your boss is going to set aside performances issues… well, that’s wrong.  While positioning yourself with this mindset , you are embracing a short term strategy for being successful.  For example, working on this dimension allows you to control and diminish the psychological pressure related to a mistake; but, the long term goals (personal and team ones) are related to performances and goals achieved that are not assured only with a good emotional or empathic connection with your manager.   Your manager is not the only stakeholder that you have. Therefore, you should to maintain the right balance between the 3 dimensions mentioned above.

Then, it is very important to say that you should be able to disagree with your manager. The organizational growth and maturity is also the result of a dynamic shifts and sensemaking related to what is happening; so, what happens to you has an impact on the organization itself.  For the fact that organizations are people, your personal growth is clearly related to organization one and the other way round. This does not mean that there must be a continuous battle with your manager, but a mature discussion and evaluation of what’s going on.

Advices to the 28yrs old…me…

This post is a bit different from the usual ones because it is focused on myself; before discovering all the details, let’s start with an introduction.

At the beginning of the year there was on LinkedIn an interesting experiment: famous intellectuals or businessmen were writing to the younger…themselves; for example, we read  about CEOs advising themselves at the age of 18, 25 or 30. Specifically there were “conversations” about studies or careers’ choices or simple comments about their behavior during a specific period of their lives; in other words, a sort of conversation in front of a “special” mirror. I am not going to do the same, but I’d like to “steal” the idea. Specifically, I am writing about what and how I’m doing right now and the possible actions or changes to embrace (the assumption is, of course, that we can always improve on several things; but, there are aspects that I think should be my priorities); therefore, I would speak about 4 topics related to my professional development.

Diapositiva1Let’s start with the first advice, looking at the mirror: “You need to improve the understanding and evaluation of your goals”. People close to me know that I have the habit to listen to the goals that are assigned and make that as mine as possible (they also know how big is my will to achieve them). The thing is that I do not want only to achieve them, but significantly exceeding them. This attitude clearly boosts my motivation, but I need to remember that these “extra goals” are not my real goals. Let’s say that I should consider them as optional ones; most of the times, it is inconceivable to me and it could lead to frustration; therefore, I should be able to appreciate more the effort even if I have not fully achieved the “extra” goals.

Secondly, “Continue keeping in mind your career mission and frame the real value of the short and long term goals related to your mission”. About this, I think I am very clear about what is my mission; the single most complicated thing is to maintain clear that obstacles which might stop or slower my achievements are not mining the importance of my mission. A mistake or a simple misunderstanding with someone close to you cannot change (or lower) the value of the long term mission. It is similar to the fact that companies have a mission to drive their goals and we should have that too.

Then, “keep observing, imitating and copying actions or the approach of someone who is doing better then you”. In other words, I have to continue to steal as many secrets I can from someone who is doing better than me; feeling good comparing yourself with someone who is doing worse, it is only a pointless recognition and satisfaction (and luckily I am very aware of that). There are 2 difficult things about this: remaining yourself and do not be frustrated if in the short term you won’t achieve the same result of the person you are “copying”.

Finally, “save time to clear your mind”. I do not mean that I need to waste my time looking at the ceiling (even if sometimes might help and it is an easy solution); I need to take the right amount of time thinking about myself. Let’s say that we need the time to stop and then re-evaluate what is the status of our career (for example thinking about these 4 topics). Also, this time it’s also the right way to give you the opportunity to celebrate successes.

That’s about me – Do you think  that they may also be helpful for you?

 

Being pessimistic is not helping you, trust me!

In our work life we ​​face many challenges that see us as “winner or loser” ; therefore, our emotions  are triggered depending on how the successes and failures are balanced (if they are). The particular thing is that our reactions are often the result of interpretations of such situations and not directly related to the result of that; in other words, even in the case we do not know yet the outcome of our action/project/delivery we guess the possible outcome. One thing often mentioned in this blog is that usually the positive outcomes are seen as normal/expected achievements; on the contrary, the negative ones become the only ones which have an impact on our self evaluation and self confidence. This is also why organizations should celebrate more their successes with the aim of improving the organizational culture and performances. Celebrate!

 

Diapositiva1 Recently I started working on changing my point of view about successes and what is the real impact of mental anticipation of work outcomes. When we expect to see the result of what we’ve done, we may incur in anxiety and a “complaining mode”. But why complaining? Is this helping us in what we are doing? Absolutely not; firstly, a complain creates only negative thoughts and emotional overload; secondly, it is true that complaining can help release the tension but the results are only in the short term; what actually happens in the long run is that our negative thoughts create a mental framework based on pessimism. Consequence? We waste part of our cognitive energies.

So why not leave the space to positive thinking? It is an important (mental) framework change;  it does not mean that we will able to change the output of our work thanks to positive thinking; but actually complaining is not helping either. Positive thinking allows you to wait the outcome of your work with less anxiety.  Why would you think that something is necessarily going to be wrong? There are cognitive studies which speak about of self-fulfilling prophecies. Essentially these authors think that our thoughts modify our behaviors and attitudes which consequently impact our outcomes (others speak about faith). You could be skeptic about this , but trust me you will be less stressed.

The invisible skill! but something that you need.

As often said and discussed in the blog there is a lot of literature about what are characteristics and skills that a professional must have to succeed. Leaving aside those technical expertises which are specific for each role, there are some common desirables for all jobs. For example many refer to emotional intelligence, communication skills, dynamism or being a good team worker. A part from those, there is something not often mentioned and consequently underestimated.

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What am I talking about? patience.  Assumption:  patience is not against ambition; on the contrary patience is complementary.  Your will to grow in an organization or in a specific field, it clearly shows ambition; for example you want to demonstrate and ask to your boss which are next steps for your career and that you are ready to embrace new challenges. It is exactly here that patience intervenes with its strength: being able to wait  improves your chances of being successful.

Obviously waiting 6 months more to get what you think it is a deserved promotion, it is frustrating and painful; but, isn’t it more frustrating to get a role before being really ready to take that responsibility ? Then, it is great to let your manager know that you were expecting something; it shows, as said will to do. But also on this being patient , collecting data of your performance and avoiding instinctive reaction is right plan. Patience is real skill.