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.

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.

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.

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

We often 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;   there are other ones who prefer a direct and close supervision (the so-called micromanagement style).

Are we really sure that there is the magical formula for being great managers? Generalising is always difficult. Organisations are built by people, their relations s, the structures and processes. However, there is something that all people managers should pay attention to.

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What is it? As a 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 to them 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 a 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.

Stop talking only about the candidate experience. There is much more!

Let’s start with a simple statement: the candidate experience is very important. However, we need to broaden our horizons. We need to talk about the customer journey when it comes to recruiting and employer value proposition. The customer journey is very important.

Why?

The first thing to consider is that the candidate experience is related to professionals who are already interested in your company. They might be already part of a recruiting process. If your strategy is focused only on candidates, you are excluding an important part of the “market“. Following the advice of the best marketing or acquisition departments, we cannot forget the prospects (for example, the so-called passive candidates) or our customer base (the employees). Therefore, the organisation must think about providing a service to them too.

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Then, the recruiting processes require the commitment of professionals of the organisation, not just the recruiting team. Therefore, all the participants in a recruiting process (for example the interviewers) are brand ambassadors  https://goo.gl/fBP0zM .  Finally, when a candidate accepts an offer becomes a customer of your organisation. Moreover, the candidate, now employee, becomes also a brand ambassador. Organisations need to be aware of this conversion process and need to work to optimise it.

A prospect who becomes an employee through the recruiting process needs to be treated as unique. Why? The professional can decide whether to become a customer of your brand or continuing to be one of your customers, to convince others that your business and your brand are exceptional, refer friends and spreading the word about your brand…. We know that the word of mouth is still the best form of marketing and proposition. What about the candidates who have not been selected? You need to value them and treat them as the ones that accepted your offers. These candidates can be selected in another process, make referrals, being your customers and brand ambassadors.

A different approach to the candidate experience is definitely needed.

No respect for your time? Your organization has a problem.

We work in ecosystems where people and processes create unique and not replicable dynamics. The culture of an organisation is unique.  In order to understand the work environment, you need to balance your efforts between different dimensions. These dimensions are technical (skills, tasks to be completed, your career progression), social (your team, the relationships with the business) and political ones (the relationship between teams, your manager). You need to find your balance while you manage your time. Your time is critical to complete your tasks and matching your job’s responsibilities: you need to invest time in thinking about your career and your competencies Time for yourself  . 

Your time is a dimension that you cannot completely manage.  Why? Your time is managed and influenced by the business’ priorities, the demands of your manager, unexpected events and your team’s needs. Let’s say that in most cases you do not manage your time, you try to optimise it. You have to learn to respect the time that you have. It is fundamental to think about the quality of your work and the time that it is needed for your job.

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One of the biggest organisational problem is that often there is a lack of respect of other people time. Are organisations ready to facilitate the balance between personal, team and process time management? I do not think so. How many times happens to you to work with a colleague who asks for a meeting that ends with a 5 minutes chat? Or, when a process could be optimised but due to the logic of “we have always done like this” you waste precious time? In how many meetings you sit that are actually the update of last meeting and work to program the next one? Our time is threatened by the lack initiative, autonomy and entrepreneurship of other people or the organisation setup.

When organisations and individuals will begin to be include as one of the main values the respect of the time, your organisation will mature.