Asking questions? It does not hurt you (much).

Making mistakes is a normal step with respect to the growth of any professional. There are many examples of entrepreneurs that have begun with a career or business plan, but then they have changed their paths.   Making mistakes allows you to make experience and realizing that there is another way or opportunity.

When you work into a positive organizational environment, your mistakes are interpreted as the chances for improvement or just a sign of commitment; there are other contexts where a mistake is stigmatized and who made the mistake is punished in some way.

In both cases, making mistakes affects our self-esteem. In other words, a mistake brings us to feel embarrassed and it is accompanied by stress which is of course not pleasant. We can feel down and inadequate. As I said before it is essential to experiment and make mistakes.  However there’s something we can do in order to try to avoid mistakes if we are not sure about a task/situation.

 

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The self-esteem is the powerful psychological aspect which allows us creating our personality and our status within our organization. In order to defend our status we do not want to show weaknesses to other members of the organization (or even to our colleagues). If this is the case, especially into very competitive environments, we tend to do not ask advice or guidance. It happens because the psychological mechanisms related to our self-esteem stop us in a self-defensive process. Of course, it would be good to ask for help or support before making a mistake.

In other words, it would be better to lower our defensive mind-set (ask for advice) in order to avoid the “destruction” of those (making a mistake). The mistakes have a stronger effect on our psychological well-being than asking questions. Again, making mistakes helps our growth; however, sometimes, you can ask without thinking of being judged.

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.

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.

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.

Job training should not be considered as going to the gym!

Job performances and goal achievement are among most discussed and analyzed subjects when it comes time to speak about work; in highly competitive environments it is crucial improving individual’s productivity and efficacy. There are several instruments aiming to support employees (such as training, coaching or performance improvements plans) which allow companies to work on performances; it is clear that if you have really tailored programs your ROI will be higher than having standardized ones. In any case, programs aim to work on daily tasks’ management and how everyday performance has impacts in the long run. However, these programs (not in all companies) are treated as they were “bootcamps” to achieve optimal levels of performance; in other words, internal or external programs are associated to athletes ‘ training (i.e. preparation for a marathon). But working on job performances is not similar to go to the gym! 

Diapositiva1In fact sports’ training is step by step preparation for a final goal, a finish line;  on the contrary, job supportive programs are run while employees are working on daily targets that need anyway to be achieved.  Additionally there is not judgement suspension on the job… something that happens during sport training.  It is definitely true that also for the marathon’s preparation you evaluate progresses, but your daily training performance evaluation doesn’t not impact the real visible result: the finish line; at work, every day you have one or more finish lines.  Shortly, between job and sport there is a different evaluation’s timeframe that sometimes is not considered.  I’m not writing something special , but is it your manager aware of that? 

Merits vs faults… and something else! (spoiler: not talking about excuses)

Everyone has own goals to be achieved through whole career path or in smaller terms during a single day at work. There are goals that we can easily achieve and others not.

Diapositiva1The main idea that I usually (but wrongly) apply to goals achievement and performance analysis is that they are based only on 2 dimensions: our merits vs our faults.  Don’t you do the same? Actually there is a third dimension that is not always remembered; it is due to events that we cannot control. Let’s make a concrete example: while preparing a presentation based on data provided to me by a colleague, unfortunately I do not recognise errors and I present that as reliable source; the wrong presentation and consequent responsibilities are mine, but is it only/totally my fault? Someone will blame you, for sure; but for the fact that you are the most important and influential judge for yourself, is it right to blame yourself? Do not thinks so. For this reason you have to be able to see this third dimension; keeping this in mind will decrease self-created stress… you have already external pressures, so do not bring you down! We can definitely influence or trying to influence also what is not under our control, but it is not always possible.

Anyway, do not get me wrong; I am not saying that in order to feel better in case of bad performances, we must look for excuses; what I meant is that we have to improve our eye on goals performance analysis and being able to better define boundaries for our responsibilities.  Working hard, learning and will to do are keys (only mine?) to improve… and again, excuses are not considered.

Being ambitious can be a threat!

It is often said that ambition is the aspect that definitely boosts a career and maintain alive career’s expectations. Some say that ambition is element that prevents you stopping internal will and drive. Often the definition of “ambitious” goes against the one of being lazy; well, being in lazy at work , its causes and effects I’ll be maybe discussed in another post.  For me being ambitious means having the natural urge to improve and looking for more.

Diapositiva1Saying that, it is not always positive being ambitious; it depends on case by case. For example, if there is no room in your organization for your professional growth, your ambition (as natural urge to want more and more) is inevitably stopped; in this case your ambition becomes a plastic hammer to destroy a wall;  definitely an useless tool. Having no space to use your ambition it is clearly accompanied by stress and loading of negative emotions that threatens your skill of career’s expectations management. In short, there is psychological heaviness that certainly does not help you in tasks’ delivery. A part from personal threats, there are also organizational ones. In fact, if there is no proper career management which listens to skills and internal drives, there will be surely a talents’ retention issue.   Therefore organizations should be good not only to set short term expectations regarding goals that need to be achieved, but also clarify those who are long-term ones that are linked with ambition. Being ambitious is a push, but you have to know how to manage it and living in an organizational environment able to support it.

Being craftsman? that’s what you need for your work!

When I usually talk about how working tasks are nowadays structured, I usually refer to the fact that we are living a new Tayloristic phase; I mean specifically that often the content of your work becomes a kind of stereo that plays same and repetitive music. It happens that you end up seeing and experiencing your work where your contribution is absolutely absent, due to a strong standardization. Therefore we have to be more creative and interpreting our work in a more personal way, clearly going to achieve required goals.
Diapositiva1In this sense I say that you have to be a kind of craftsman that thanks to meticulous workmanship receives absolutely high personal satisfaction. It ‘s also true that majority of work activities are part of an established process, but also working in this horizon your life has to better. The craftsman works with love because is paid according to what creates and better the quality of the work is better is economic return. Here I think we should learn this kind of attitude looking to this qualitative result; it should not be seen only as an investment for economic reasons; enter into this light also improves the relationship with your work, your mastery and command and linked motivation.