Time for yourself? No, you do not need to quit.

Taking time for yourself is not exactly what you are thinking of. No, I’m not saying that you need time off or you have to quit... well, that’s not a bad idea if you hate your job.

I often write about career management, career’s choices and which competencies you should have to be more effective at work. I have always been passionate about these topics and the ones related to the personal development and growth (learning, organization’s support and psychological concepts).

In order understand your career you need to invest time in a self-reflection exercise. You need to be consistent and organized; you can’t improvise.

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Why do you need to plan having this time? If you do not do it, you might end up thinking about your career when you are stressed or when you have done something wrong at work; if it is the case, the negative thoughts about yourself will distract you from having an objective evaluation and you will end up being over critical with yourself. Being constant and focused on this exercise will improve your approach to self-reflection, even if at the beginning it is going to be difficult and painful.

As mentioned before you can’t improvise. Why? You need quiet time and you need to be ready also at the emotional level.  You can’t rush it for 10 minutes in a middle of a busy day at work.  Your emotions, the stress and the lack of time could lead to hasty conclusions.  It is important to create your “lab” when you are alone with your thoughts.  Let’s say, you need at least 30 minutes a week; 30 minutes when you slow down and think. As I said in a recent post about curiosity, you should spend some time researching, studying and understanding. Give space to the curiosity about yourself. Give yourself time to think about it.

This self-reflection time is very important. More than you think. Try and let me know.

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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.

Succession plans? Knowledge sharing helps!

Succession plans are fundamental for the delivery of the organizations’ strategy. Many organizations have (unfortunately) a short-sighted approach in creating or thinking about the succession plans. Organizations often focus their efforts and attention only on the top-level, the management. With this approach, they assume that the technical and social knowledge which is retained at the “lower” levels of the organization is not that important.  I understand that the “top-level” has more responsibilities for the strategy; howeve, the other part of the organization is responsible for the delivery of the strategy.

Diapositiva1Then, if an employee leaves, whatever responsibilities he/she has, a replacement needs to be foundFounding replacements does not mean only replacing the skillset; in fact, it is also mean working on the social network that needs to be (re)-created and the need of maintaining the same level of delivery. Activating the recruiting “machine” with an “asap” approach focused on the technical knowledge/skillset does not really work.

Finally, when a person leaves also his/her knowledge goes away. It happens because the personal knowledge (technical, political and social) is “communicated” but not stored. It is true that technology has changed the knowledge sharing (and retention) processes, but (luckily, in some extent) we still share information in person.

Considering what just mentioned, instead of panicking in order to find who “will be able to do the job”, what can organizations do to prevent this succession plan crisis? The solution is  creating a knowledge sharing culture and work on the implementation of knowledge sharing systems; knowledge is a real treasure for the organizations.  It is so important because many times does not really matter who is going to do something but the how counts much more. If your organization wants to be successful in the long run a more systematic approach for the knowledge sharing is needed.

 

Data quality vs quantity. Find the right trade-off for your (Recruiting) Branding Strategy

An Employer Branding strategy has the mission of positioning a company as employer of choice ( for internal and external stakeholders). In fact, many organizations are presenting data and information about processes and their working culture in order to show their “real” and “human” face. The same need involves their recruiting strategy. Recruiting is a fundamental point of contact with the world outside the organization. Among the various data presented, it is usually possible to find the number of applications for a specific role. This kind of “tracking” is also made public by  job sites like Linkedin or Glassdoor.

Diapositiva1In terms of transparency, there is an important difference between the processes related to the transparency towards internal stakeholders and the one towards the world outside an organization. For the first, the need for transparency aims to work on the organization effectiveness, probably as result of the frustration experienced by the organization’s members. The “external” transparency is (most of the times) related to the image and the brand positioning which can lead to the frustration of the external stakeholders. In other words, the “internal” transparency is the result of an internal auditing process; on the contrary, the external one is the possible cause of frustration  for the external public which leads (as consequence) to an auditing process.

Getting back to the recruiting process, the number of applications for a specific role (often) catches the attention of the “external world”. When the candidates read the number of applications for a specific role, they know how many “competitors” they have; this public information should improve the perception of transparency, but it is not always the case. It happens to read complaints by the candidates that have not been contacted or about the fact that they thought that there were too many applications for a specific role. These complaints are the possible consequences of companies’ search for transparency (for example there is no data about the number of interviews run by recruiters or how many candidates have been contacted for starting the interview process). Thus, showing the number of candidates who applied for a role does not add any value to your brand positioning.  For this reason, before publishing data, the organizations need to understand which one will provide an added value to their brand positioning.  In other words, organizations need to understand if their messaging will be perceived as valuable or misleading.

 

 

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.

Gamification does not sound familiar? Discover why!

Why? You think that your job is only about delivery. Your job needs to have a playful component that changes your perception of your job duties. In this case, I am not referring to the fact that companies necessarily need to have dedicated areas for fun or relax (i.e. table tennis); having those spaces definitely helps, but I am talking about the job’s content itself. The concept of gamification embeds exactly what I mean: gamification is usually defined as the application of typical elements of game playing (for example competition or points scoring) to other activities.

Diapositiva1Your job is not only delivery… if you think that it is, you are underestimating how important is your psychological well-being at work. In a work psychology design (or redesign) perspective you need to balance your mental energies. This balance is the result of trade off between two universes; on one hand you find the mental stress and the environment pressures and on the other hand the satisfaction in achieving your objectives and the pleasure experienced in taking care of your job duties. In order to have this balance (also in the case of repetitive tasks) you need to be passionate and interested in what you are doing. When you are passionate about something you definitely devote more time to that specific activity than for an unpleasant one. Then, you have the feeling that the time is passing but you do not realize it. Additionally, doing something pleasant keeps you in a good mood, reduces mental stress and allows you to recover your cognitive energies.

Besides being passionate about something, being challenged and setup short-term goals keep you focused and motivated. Then, if you do it in a playful way you will break your job routine. With the gamification approach you could challenge yourself, your colleagues, internal stakeholders or clients; then, being more “playful” can ease the pressure and the distance with the other party (i.e. with colleague or internal stakeholders) and helping you to improve your negotiations’ skills (i.e. with a client). For example, for a recruiter, it could be an idea challenging a hiring manager with respect to the time to fill related to a specific position.

Including this playful component does not diminish your workload, but diversifies the mental impact of your work and the perception of the workload itself.