Are you one of those people? Find your way

There are articles, blogs (like mine), presentations, and speakers that illustrate best practices or suggestions about certain topics. They talk about work, motivation, training etc. Really any kind of topic.

When we read these suggestions, we tend to copy exactly the “recipe” and adopt it as such. If we behave in this way, we make a mistake. Why are we mistaken? We read articles that come from personal experiences or events that happen in a specific context; they are therefore subjective. For this reason, you have to be able to step back, understand the proposed solution and try to adapt it to your context. Of course, you can also adopt the solution as it is; however, you should look at the results as an experiment and not give a final opinion on it. This is true for business or personal decisions; even about your career development.  We need to treat the proposed solution as an experiment and then adopting or modifying it to make it ours.

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I’m not saying that we should stop reading… otherwise this blog would not exist either. You have to take inspiration and look for your solution. Find your way.

Want to work better? Block your calendar!

In most organizations, we manage our own working time around meetings.  In order to make our time effective we try to match our tasks with the meetings requests that we receive; unfortunately, we often end up with the so-called “back to back“.

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We need to find time for ourselves. To do what? Several things. It is true that attending many meetings gives you visibility and allow you to proceed with your work tasks (well, not always) …. however, in order to complete your work, to grow and develop you have to think about what’s really important. You need to dedicate time to training, networking or sorting out your work admin.

 What is an easy solution to reduce your back to back?

Block your calendar! It allows you to handle also any last-minute requests without having to worry too much.  Try it out and you will notice that you’d manage better your work priorities and your needs (=training and work tasks).

Do not say ” I am the perfect candidate”

I am a recruiter and I interview candidates for a living; there are times when the interviews are really positive and other times when they are not.

If you are going to be interviewed by a recruiter, your preparation is fundamental; however, the real difference is made by what you are ready to talk about. Example? Knowing the company’s financial results won’t necessarily help you. So what? Do not memorise the financial results but be ready to talk about your experiences. Considering that you are under pressure while interviewing, you can easily make mistakes recollecting the financial results.

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One of the most asked question by recruiters is: why do you think that you are the right candidate for the job? You can answer talking about your professional experiences, the projects that you have been involved in or the career development path you want to join; these are valuable answers. The worst answer ever? “I’m the perfect candidate”. Let see a few reasons why saying that you are the perfect candidate is not a good idea.

1) You are evaluating yourself …what you think it is not necessarily true.

2) You’re evaluating yourself…however, the recruiter is the one there to evaluate your application.

3) You are trying to impress the recruiter. Interviews are not created to impress but to present projects, your experiences and skills. An interview is not a date!

3) If you have never worked for that specific company, there are definitely things that you do not know about them (processes, tools, the culture).

4) Showing self-confidence is fine.  However, saying that you are the perfect candidate is still not the best way to get started and set the right framework for the interview.

5) If you decide to ask questions to the recruiter about the role or the experiences needed to be successful in the job.. why should you ask these questions considering that you are the perfect candidate? you should know the answers already. The only thing that you are doing is proving that you are not the perfect candidate. You can be a good candidate, a very good one.. .not the perfect one.

Suggestion? Even if you really think to be the perfect candidate (or very close to the recruitment’s needs), well, do not say that.

Interview questions? Don’t talk (too much) about your team

Being prepared for an interview is not always easy. You think about the possible questions, you make a research about the company, you review your resume and you decide how much time dedicate to these activities; I know, looking for a new role is a job.

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In order to be well prepared, you have to think about how/what you are going to answer. For example, you need to decide the level of detail that you are going to provide. When the recruiter will ask you a question you need to decide which details you are going to present… and you need to do it in a few seconds. You need to be ready to present cases or activities that you’ve completed/achieved or that are part of your daily job.

In most cases, our achievements and activities imply teamwork and shared responsibilities. However, even if it is important to show that you are a good team player, you have to present what degree of command you have for your activities. Showing accountability does not mean that you are not a team player. Mentioning only the activities that you are doing with the team is not enough to present your role.

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.

The reason why we still use job boards!

Technology development leads us to think that products or services that we are currently using are completely brand new. In other words, we think that we are using products and services that are a complete revolution in comparison to what we were using years ago. It is definitely true that technology has innovated many things (i.e. SMS vs WhatsApp); but if you think twice about it, the technology has improved services more than revolutionize that.  In other words, it is not change the “what” but only the “how”.

Additionally, it is very important to underline that the only technologies that have been completely adopted are the ones that were already present (but in a different form) in our way of doing things.  Let me give you just a few examples:

– Tablets are the PC evolution

– WhatsApp is the SMS evolution

– Netflix is the old VCR

Let’s say, the biggest technological innovation has been Internet; obviously, I am not considering the science research side.

Diapositiva1There is a similar idea (or misconception) in my world: recruiting.  As said in various posts, Linkedin has brought manychanges (https://hrbreak.com/2014/02/01/recruiters-curse-linkedin/).  But, more than something different on the “what”, Linkedin has changed the relation between companies and candidates, so the “how”. For example, the resume is still the way through candidates apply for a job; Linkedin has (for the moment) only facilitated the visibility and reduced distance between companies and candidates.  For this reason, also the job boards remain very strong as system of application. Why? because they are a common and recognized way for looking for jobs and for this reason companies still use that.  Various sites have disappeared or lost market share because they failed to catch up on innovation; Linkedin has clearly made its job board very useful and easy, but it is not THE Job Board (look for example at Glassdoor and Indeed). When there will be a “routine” shift, job boards might disappear…. but it is not the case, yet.

 

 

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.

Industrial districts? Not only for 200 years ago!

…and If we’re really return to industrial districts? For those who are not familiar with the topic, the industrial district is a cluster of small and medium-sized companies located in a specific territory characterized by interconnections between themselves and social context where they are built. Industrial district is something that characterized industrial revolution,  but do not you think that might be part of the startups or the big tech world? Does it sound like Silicon Valley for example?

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Let me explain why this might seem to be the future.  In recent years there have been various initiatives that move what is the interest of the well-being within the company, going to move more and more to what happens externally. Obviously it is essential to go to improve the internal conditions of your employees:  simply for the fact that they spend most of their time on the farm or in the office; then for the same reason it is necessary, in my opinion, going to move to the outside world are the ones that move (  Organization intrusion?  ). If work life balance agenda is full of topics related to commuting, create lighter careers in terms of presence in the office (simply called flexible hours plan), industrial districts may be the answer. It’s because at the time of the industrial districts, companies also had an impact on such as programs of housing and neighborhood home- office. Designing your own branded – town clearly has costs and must be evaluated in the long term in terms of integration with the territory and daily life; it definitely could have a positive impact on corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Learning from a bad boss? it is possible

Having a good and caring boss means having someone focused on what happens during the day, ready to listen, competent and supportive. For many employees, this sounds like a dream.   With respect to the operational aspect of your job, a good boss manages and supports you to achieve your (daily) goals. A leader, at the right time in the right place. Additionally,  if your boss is a subject matter expert, she/he also legitimizes your team’s political and social presence (recognition, merit, exposure) towards your organization. Apart from the technical knowledge, employees look for a boss with an eye on personal development, training and ready to support (and protect) the team.

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But if your boss has nothing of what just described?  Probably, the relationship with your boss is not based on trust and mutual appreciation.  In these cases, what can you learn from your boss? Many could say : nothing. In my opinion, you learn something:  you see exactly what you do not want to become/be; in other words, a bad example could be a good example for your self improvement/development drive!