Having friends at work? It should not be a rule

Working in a positive environment is fundamental. In order to enjoy your day, you need to feel comfortable and having positive relationships. The culture that surrounds you is important as the content of your job is.

I often say that eight hours of work are always eight hours of work; however, the perception of these 8 hours is different when you feel comfortable with yourself and with your colleagues.

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You have surely heard that you need to have friends at work. Are we sure? As mentioned before, it’s crucial to be in a positive workplace to live it at its best; however, if you do not want to make new friends at work, you do not need to. Forcing yourself means modifying your behaviour and work attitude. The important thing is having positive work relationships. Having friends at work does not have to be a cultural norm (or a best practice) in your organisation. On the other hand, you’d need to have sponsors and allies.

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Defining your career path? You need to work on it

I often write about the importance of collaboration. It has been said that companies should invest and have invested in technology, projects and programs (for example team building or mentorship) to improve collaboration between and within teams. Technology has changed the way we collaborate and exchange information. Conference calls and emails have completely revolutionised our way of working.

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There is an aspect of your work that remains isolated and you should keep it isolated and personal.

What is it? Your career management. Receiving advice from colleagues or your manager is clearly important; however, your career path definition needs to be a personal investment and you cannot rely on collaboration. Managing your career path does not mean undermining colleagues or diminishing other people successes. Managing your career means creating your own path with your efforts. Take risks, join new teams, have different experiences and think about these experiences.

Dear recruiter…

Dear Recruiter,

I hope that you’re ready to start the new week.

There will be new candidates to be interviewed, feedback to be delivered and you will surely have to organize (or reorganize) one or more recruiting processes.

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You have to remember that your relationship with the hiring manager is very important. You have to work on it, you have to listen and you have to understand the recruitment needs; however, do not forget to have opinions. Being available and responsive with a manager does not mean always that you need to agree with her/him. If you do so, well, apart from creating problems in the recruiting process itself, you will always be considered as a support and never as a partner. A recruiting process is only successful if there is a true collaboration between the recruiter and the hiring manager. Remember that having opinions is a good thing; a recruiter without personality or opinions will be always an average recruiter.

Finally, what is the worst thing to tell to your hiring manager? This role is difficult.

What would the answer to the question if I was the manager? Well, what are you doing here then?

Presenting well? It is not so easy

We often think that a great presenter is the one who always uses specialised and technical language. On the contrary, when we use simple words we think that we are showing a lack of knowledge.

In order to impress the audience, we tend to overcomplicate our way of presenting. I did it too, of course. We want to impress the audience and we want to be perceived as subject matter experts. Are we sure that it is the right approach?

When we feel that we are losing the attention of the audience, we change our strategy. Completely. How? We try to simplify our messages using examples and speaking slowly. We need to keep in mind that when we explain a process, we present slides or when we are just telling a story we are appreciated only if understood.

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When I interview candidates, it often happens that they try to impress. However, the result is not always great.  Being specific and giving details is clearly good. Extremely good.  Unfortunately, when we are under emotional and time pressure, we risk losing our focus.  In these cases, the answers result too complicated and full of not relevant details. Answering in a simple way is often much more effective.

It is often said: less is more.

Do you know the magical formula for being a great manager?

We usually hear that there is a magical formula to be a great manager. There are managers who adopt a very sympathetic approach and other ones who are much more demanding; there are managers who prefer to delegate and empower their teams.  On the contrary, there are other ones who prefer a direct and close supervision (the so-called micro –management style).

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Are we really sure that there is the magical formula for being great managers? Generalising is always difficult considering that organisations are made by people, the dynamics between employees, the structures and processes. However, there is something that all people managers should pay attention to.

What is it? As people manager, you need to adapt your managerial and leadership style considering the people of your team.

How can you do it? You need to know your team. Very well. It requires a lot of effort, time and energy; however, you need to discover more about your team members’ needs of supervision, coaching, freedom and collaboration.  Your role as manager is understanding and listening before doing things. For example, if one person of your team is extremely process oriented, is it worth checking if she/he is following the processes? Probably it should not be your priority as manager.

It is clear that each manager adopts one style or approach; however, people managers need to enable and empower their people following different and adaptive approaches. The secret? Before embracing a magical formula, you should know your team.

Swearing while presenting? I will not listen

I attended an event some time ago and one of the topic was about public speaking.  Specifically, the talk was about the tricks we can adopt in order to engage other people and having a focused audience.

Considering that having the attention of colleagues or other stakeholders is fundamental in any jobs, I was very interested in listening to the presenter. He was talking and I was listening. As the presentation continued, I started becoming too “familiar” with the concepts that he was explaining. The tricks and the examples used resonated too familiar How? Why? The presentation was very similar to one that I’ve listened to almost 5 years ago. Fine with it. Being original is not always easy (well, hard to say which of the two presentations was inspired by the other). I was not annoyed about the fact that I was listening to a very similar presentation; however, I started getting annoyed about the content he was going to present because I knew it.

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In essence, among the tricks presented in order to keep the attention of your audience, he suggested to swear. The reason? Swearing attracts the attention of the audience and breaks the status quo.  Let’s say that the goal is understandable, particularly if it is a lengthy presentation; however, in my opinion, it is not the way. The focus falls naturally. Normal. Nothing new. There are several work psychology studies that measure the so called attention span; on average, our attention span ranges between 45 minutes and 75 minutes. As said, after 5 years, I still do not agree with swearing just to keep the audience focused. Call me old fashioned on this; however, I simply prefer techniques which are more intelligent, simple and refined.

Alternatives? Clearly, try to present interesting topics. If you are not presenting exciting subjects, use images, examples or ask questions to the audience. Do not forget to create an interactive environment. Forget the bad words

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.

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!