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.

The candidate experience is not only about emotions…

You often hear about the importance of the candidate experience. The candidate experience refers to the dynamics related to the candidate’s journey during a recruiting process; the “journey” involves a few actors (interviewers, recruiter) and interactions (the steps of the interview process, email exchanges etc..).

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Many companies try to understand, analyse and talk about the emotional side of the candidate experience, considering the involvement of different actors (recruiters and candidates for example). In addition to that, they tend to associate the candidate experience with the customer experience; the latter is the result of actions or planned actions/interactions between a customer and a company. Do the candidates need to be considered customers? Yes, twice; they are using a service (= your recruiting process) and they are prospects or already customers for the service(s) your company provides to the market.

Is your company really treating candidates as customers? Or are they doing just an emotions check? There is much more than the emotional side when we talk about the candidate experience. Does your company assess the points of contacts with the candidates (social media, company website, news etc), their tone of voice and the quality of the interactions? If not, they should start looking at the complete candidate journey and not only at the emotional experience.

You need to understand if you are a good cultural fit or not.

The organisational culture creates unique workplaces. Why? Companies are built by individuals. For example, two companies of the same sector and with the same organisational structure are different due to the social component.

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When you think about your career, it’s important to understand to which kind of organisational culture you belong to. Not all organisations are the right fit for you and you are the right fit for them… yes, even if the role your applying for matches your experiences.  You have to think about the type of supervision you want (autonomy in the role vs close collaboration with your manager), the visibility (work in a client role facing or not) and the collaboration required in the team. It is important also to say that these aspects (autonomy, visibility, and collaboration) vary during your career. You need to evaluate these aspects in the specific period of time and in relation to your career development goals and ambition.

Finally, remember that the cultural context in your organisation changes over time. It changes and evolves as you do.

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).

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.

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.

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.

Presenting well? It is not so easy

We often think that a great presenter is the one who always uses a 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).

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.

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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.

Transparency at work? You need it

What is one of the most important value which create a positive organisational culture? Transparency.  Having clarity about the organisational structure, the work streams, the career plans and the recruiting processes is fundamental. Considering that organisations are open systems built by their employees, the transparency is the result of the human interactions and the processes’ implementation.

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You can create  social links with your team members, external stakeholders, colleagues of other departments and your manager. Let’s talk about the importance of the relationship with your manager. We always expect a full transparency from our managers.  We expect transparency; however, are we always direct with our managers? I do not think that it is always the case. If you do not have an open and direct relationship with your manager, I definitely advise having one. Why? It allows you to work with a greater confidence and it makes easier to discuss a mistake. Having an open dialogue enhances trust and empowerment for both sides. Creating this link allows you to manage and think about your career in a more responsible way.