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Monday, December 02, 2013
Thinking about starting a blog and wondering how to make it pay off for your career?
Blogging can raise your professional profile, expand your network, and impress prospective employers. But it’s not for everyone, and you should proceed carefully before launching your site.
Done well, blogging can be a boon to your career. It can help you build your reputation, increase your expertise, assist you in keeping up with what’s going on in your industry, and give you a place to showcase your knowledge. And if you’re blogging about your field, you’ll build credibility as someone who, at a minimum, has an intense interest in and passion for the field.
Blogging can also make you part of a fairly select community of colleagues—people who will trade ideas with you, help you network, and serve as a sounding board.
But before you jump into blogging, ask yourself these questions first:
• How’s your writing? You don’t have to be Hemingway, but you have to be able to express ideas clearly.
• Do you like to write? Will blogging be fun for you, or a chore you don’t look forward to?
• Are you willing and able to post at least once or twice a week, at a minimum?
• Can you picture yourself doing this for at least a year or more? Blogs aren’t short-term projects.
• Will you stay motivated and keep going if you don’t build an audience right away?
• Do you have at least a little technical knowledge (or a comfort level with learning)?
If you answer yes to all of these questions, you’re a good candidate for starting a blog. If you answered no to any of them, you might think of other ways to accomplish the same results. For instance, perhaps you can become a regular commenter on other industry blogs, or contribute the occasional guest post to an existing one, rather than taking on all the work of running your own.
If you do decide to launch a blog, here are four ways to make your blog a boon for your career, rather than a hindrance.
1. Use your real name. Some people blog anonymously, but if you want your blog to play a role in your career or job search, then you’ll need to get the credit for what you’re doing! So you want to have your name attached to your work.
2. Remember that you’re using your own name and watch what you say. You must be willing to stand behind everything you write. Ask yourself how a potential hiring manager would judge your blog … or how your current employer would feel if something you wrote ended up in a major newspaper with your name attached to it.
3. Post regularly. In order to attract returning readers, you’ll need to post a minimum of once or twice a week, and more is better, as long as you’re posting quality items.
Monday, December 02, 2013
Despite common misconceptions, job hunting during the holiday season is actually an opportune time to find your next job.
1. You’ve got more time to search for a job since work has slowed down. If you’re still working while looking for another job, chances are you will have a little downtime during the holiday season. Finding the time to make an interview during your lunch break or taking off a couple hours earlier may be easier for you.
2. Your competitor job seekers may not be looking. With so many people competing for the same job, now is the time to jump in full force to your job hunt. Since so many people think the holiday time isn’t the time to look, your competitors may have taken a break, while you’re out meeting and greeting the right people to get hired. Many companies want to close out their open requisitions and have a new hire start in the new year.
3. It’s a perfect time to meet the people who may be hiring later. Even if the company of your dreams isn’t hiring right this instant, the slowness during the holidays is an opportunity for you to get on the hiring manager’s radar. Introduce yourself via email, phone, or even at a party. You’ll be more likely to catch them in the office when you call.
4. Holiday networking opportunities abound. Holiday parties are a ripe location to meet new contacts. The fact that everyone is in a better mood at these festive events gives you the opportunity to really connect on a personal level, which will help you in the long run.
5. People are more laid back. It’s easier to get to know them during the holidays. Sometimes meeting people is difficult if they think you’ve got an agenda. This time of year, it’s all about being merry and bright, so lay off the pitch and work on personal conversation.
6. End-of-year budgets may provide hiring opportunities now rather than in January. Occasionally, a company’s end-of-year budget works in your favor. If there’s surplus money in the employment category, a company may want to hurry and hire before the year is through.
7. Holiday cards are the perfect excuse to remind hiring managers that you’re available. While sending holiday cards should be a thoughtful and selfless act, it doesn’t hurt to let recipients know you’re available should they be hiring. Make the announcement subtle and not the purpose of your card, and include a personalized note in the card.
Monday, December 02, 2013
For all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean even more.
Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous articles talk about critical characteristics of mental strength—tenacity, “grit,” optimism, and an unfailing ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to “fail up.”
However, we can also define mental strength by identifying the things mentally strong individuals don’t do. Over the weekend, I was impressed by this list compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, that she shared in LifeHack. It impressed me enough I’d also like to share her list here along with my thoughts on how each of these items is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.
1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”
2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.
3. Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear,” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.
4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.
5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.
It takes much practice to hone mental strength
It takes much practice to hone mental strength
6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.
7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences—but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.
8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.
9. Resent Other People’s Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.
Monday, December 02, 2013
Job searching can be tough enough all by itself. There is no need to make it even harder by doing or saying the wrong thing when job searching or interviewing.
Here’s a list of what you shouldn’t do. These tips might sound simple, but, you might be surprised at how many people make a mistake without thinking much about it. Then they wonder why they didn’t get a call or didn’t get the job.
Make a Mistake. Should a typo in your resume or cover letter drop you out of contention? It shouldn’t, but, it might. Employers typically get hundreds of resumes for each position they list. Perfection counts.
Limit Your Job Search. Don’t limit your search by only applying to positions that meet your exact criteria. Instead, having an open mind (remember, you won’t know exactly what the job entails until you interview) when reviewing the job ads will increase your applications and increase your chances for getting an interview.
Expand Your Job Search. Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? You shouldn’t limit your job search, but, there is no point wasting your time or anyone elses applying for jobs you aren’t qualified for. The gentleman working as a child care provider didn’t, and won’t, get called for an interview as a C++ programmer.
Job Search Only Online. Don’t post your resume on Monster and CareerBuilder and hope that your email In Box will start to fill up or your phone will start ringing off the hook. It won’t happen. You need to be proactive when job searching and use all available job search resources - online and offline.
Contradict Yourself. If you are interviewing with several people make sure you keep your story straight. Telling one interviewer one thing and another something else is a good way not to get the job.
Insult your Former Employer. Even if your last job was horrible and your boss was an idiot, don’t mention it. Speaking poorly about former employers is never wise. How does your future employer know that you won’t talk about him that way, next time around?
Underdo It. Don’t be a slob. Candidates who are unkempt, disheveled and poorly dressed won’t get the job.
Overdo It. I once worked for someone who wouldn’t hire anyone he could smell before they walked into his office. He might have been overdoing it a little, but, the candidates would have done better if they had minimized the perfume or the after shave.
Monday, December 02, 2013
Job hunting over the holiday season
Most job seekers think November and December are lousy months to look for work. People are distracted by festivities and family. When potential hiring managers are at their desks, they’re overwhelmed by year-end deadline pressure. Plus, those who have been job hunting for a long time feel like the holidays present an opportunity to take a break.
But Catherine Jewell, an Austin, Texas, career coach and author of the book New Résumé, New Career, says job-hunters who keep at it are actually more likely to find a job over the holidays. Among the reasons: There’s less competition, the season puts people in a receptive mood, and all those parties and family gatherings overflow with networking opportunities.
“People forget what great resources they have in their current networks,” observes Jewell, who worked in advertising and marketing for 15 years before she became a career coach. Family and friends want to help you, and even if you feel like you already stay in touch regularly, seeing them face-to-face when everyone is in the holiday spirit offers the perfect opportunity for reminding them of exactly what you’re looking for. Be as specific as you can during your conversations, Jewell advises. “Tell them the title you’re looking for, the kind of company,” she says. “You’re asking for information.” If you’re lucky, your cousin knows someone at the firm where you’d love to work, and can provide a lead.
If you’re employed and thinking about changing jobs, or if your objective is to make a career switch, holiday gatherings also offer a chance to ask people about their own work. Be inquisitive. “You’re not pushing your agenda,” says Jewell. “You’re a sponge for data.”
It can be helpful to ask a fellow partygoer what’s going on inside her company. Example: at a luncheon, Jewell met a woman who works for a state agency. Jewell inquired about what was new in the training realm, and the woman said her division was focusing on leadership. Since Jewell does leadership training herself, she realized she’d found a great lead, and she arranged to follow up with a phone call the next week. The connection resulted in a contract for Jewell to provide 28 days of leadership training for the state agency.
In addition to parties thrown by family and friends, there are always plenty of festivities hosted by professional associations. If you can cadge an invite to the office party of the company where you want to work, you might get an inside scoop.
“The bottom line is that the best job leads come from other professionals,” Jewell points out. “They are your entry point to the secret job market, which is only available through contact with people.” Out of the 150 people Jewell coached last year, she says, 125 got their jobs via information they found through family, friends or business associates. “That’s where the leads are,” she says, “in people’s heads.”
Monday, December 02, 2013
How to Use the Holidays to Job Search
Are you about to start a job search or are you in the midst of looking for a new job? Are you thinking about waiting to start or putting your job search on hold? If so, think again. Contrary to popular opinion, this is a good time of year to find a job. Employers don’t stop hiring just because it’s the holidays. In addition, the holiday season is a perfect time of year to network your way to a new job.
Why Hiring Continues
Executive Dave Harshbarger explains why hiring continues, regardless of the time of year. “For many of us, the holiday season is a time to sit back and relax, to take a break from business, to focus our attention on friends and family. For businesses, the needs that drive hiring throughout the year don’t change just because the paid holidays are bunched up on the last pages of the calendar.”
He explains that at many companies hiring and personnel activities continue at all times of year, because the needs that drive hiring - competitive pressures, growing markets, strategic initiatives - don’t take a break.
Harshbarger adds, “Hiring during the holidays is sometimes complicated because key decision makers are absent. In the case of hiring, arguably the most important decision companies make, it is common for key individuals to interrupt their vacations (where feasible) to meet with short listed candidates. In all cases, we understand that to meet our goals in the New Year, it is critical that we stay focused on our staffing plans even as we turn our gaze homeward.”
Tips for a Holiday Job Search
As you can see, employers continue to focus on hiring, even though there is a temptation to do otherwise. The same should hold true for job seekers. It can be easier to say “I’m not going to bother, it’s a bad time of year for job hunting.” than it is to move forward with a job search. However, for those who do keep plugging away, the adiitional opportunities are worth the effort.
Don’t Slow Down Your Job Search
Some people give up job searching between Thanksgiving and New Years. Don’t be one of them. Employers are still hiring and there may be less competition from other job seekers this time of year. In addition, companies that budget on an annual basis may have jobs that they need to hire for now.
Monday, December 02, 2013
Beating the system is seldom easy or even advisable, especially when you’re talking about academics in college.
The moment you cross the line into cheating or plagiarism, you’re dealing with consequences way out of your league, which could affect your degree or even job search!
Still, there are certainly a few tricks you can get into the habit of in order to get ahead in classes. While hardly secrets of success, you’d be surprised how often students ignore these four obvious ways to stay ahead of the curve.
1. Re-read while you exercise
Hitting the gym? Why not take an audiobook with you? Perhaps listening to some actors read aloud from that act of Hamlet you just read will uncover new and hidden meanings. Or maybe some supplemental history books could help you on that paper.
2. Arrive early for class
Classrooms are excellent places to study – especially when they’re empty. Arriving a little early not only shows you’re a dedicated student, it offers you the opportunity to review your notes before class in peace and quiet.
3. Find a job that lets you study
This is a celebrated opportunity for students across the country. There are always those coveted jobs (working the library desk, for example) that require nothing of you other than scanning cards. The ideal opportunity to get a little extra studying done.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
It’s time to be thankful, and this workplace columnist certainly is
Gratitude may be the most underused feeling in the American workplace.
We spend ample time feeling stressed and angry and frustrated. We spend some time feeling happy, usually when there are doughnuts in the break room. But grateful? Not so much.
Given the proximity to Thanksgiving, I say it’s time to examine the things we’re thankful for, to consider the good that comes from a pro-gratitude attitude. (“Pro-Gratitude Attitude” mugs will soon be on sale in the I Just Work Here gift shop.)
With that, America’s most-beloved workplace advice columnist will transform into America’s workplace thanker-in-chief. These are a few of the things for which I’m thankful:
Doughnuts — I realize I mentioned these already, but the doughy wheels of sweetened bliss that roll through our work lives can never be over-thanked. Please take a moment next time you see one and express your gratitude by devouring it — it’s the only language they understand.
My job — I’m grateful, beyond words, for this column, which for more than two years now has introduced me to fascinating people and helped me better understand the world inside and outside work.
But beyond that, I’m thankful just to have a job. If you have one, you should be too.
There are still millions of unemployed people across the country, people who fight day in and day out, hoping for even a nibble of interest. I hear from many in that situation, and it can be grim and maddening. Usually the best advice I can give is: Do not give up.
The unemployed deserve all the support and encouragement we can give them. They deserve respect and fair treatment. Please keep them in your thoughts, and hope for better days ahead.
Good workplace books — I receive approximately 754,000 workplace-related books a week and, as I’ve said in previous columns, most of them are dreadful. But there are some wonderfully intelligent authors writing books that are pragmatic and inspirational, and when one of those comes along, I feel most thankful indeed.
A few of the books I’m grateful for this year are: “Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success” by Dan Schawbel; “What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential” by Robert Steven Kaplan; “The Truth About Lies in the Workplace” by Carol Kinsey Goman; and “Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads” by Chris Lowney.
Bad workplace books — I’m thankful for all the bad workplace books because I’ve used them to build a really neat — and remarkably sturdy — fort outside my cubicle. It’s a perfect place to hide and eat doughnuts.
People who say thanks — Would it be too meta if I said I’m thankful for people who say thanks?
We’re all busy, and we’re all wired up and receiving near-constant input via phone, text, tweet and email. And the rush, rush, rush of all this makes it easy to forget one of the first things we were ever taught: Say thank you.
The good will that can come from small gestures is staggering. People remember those things, even if they seem incidental at the time.
Remember to thank the co-worker who gets a file for you or answers a quick question. If you didn’t say thanks in an email, send another quick note saying, “Oops. I forgot to thank you for this. Thanks!”
If you’re a boss, take a minute and say thanks to someone you know has been working hard. Bonuses are hard to come by these days, but expressions of gratitude still go a long way.
My editors — I have the good fortune of working with editors who not only tolerate my silly jokes and catch my dumb mistakes, but also help me sort out column ideas, then take what I write and, with the precision of surgeons, make it considerably better.
They’re also very funny, and they share my obsession with ice cream. And probably doughnuts too. I’m thankful for them, week in and week out. (I’m also hopeful they won’t edit this out!)
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Are you bad at gratitude, just like Jeremy Adam Smith? He has some lessons for you from people who know how to say “Thanks!”
I’m terrible at gratitude.
How bad am I? I’m so bad at gratitude that most days, I don’t notice the sunlight on the leaves of the Berkeley oaks as I ride my bike down the street. I forget to be thankful for the guy who hand-brews that delicious cup of coffee I drink mid-way through every weekday morning. I don’t even know the dude’s name!
The GGSC’s coverage of gratitude is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation as part of our Expanding Gratitude project. The GGSC’s coverage of gratitude is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation as part of our Expanding Gratitude project.
I usually take for granted that I have legs to walk on, eyes to see with, arms I can use to hug my son. I forget my son! Well, I don’t actually forget about him, at least as a physical presence; I generally remember to pick him up from school and feed him dinner. But as I face the quotidian slings and arrows of parenthood, I forget all the time how much he’s changed my life for the better.
Gratitude (and its sibling, appreciation) is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff. It’s a lens that helps us to see the things that don’t make it onto our lists of problems to be solved. It’s a spotlight that we shine on the people who give us the good things in life. It’s a bright red paintbrush we apply to otherwise-invisible blessings, like clean streets or health or enough food to eat.
Gratitude doesn’t make problems and threats disappear. We can lose jobs, we can be attacked on the street, we can get sick. I’ve experienced all of those things. I remember those harrowing times at unexpected moments: My heart beats faster, my throat constricts. My body wants to hit something or run away, one or the other. But there’s nothing to hit, nowhere to run. The threats are indeed real, but at that moment, they exist only in memory or imagination. I am the threat; it is me who is wearing myself out with worry.
That’s when I need to turn on the gratitude. If I do that enough, suggests the psychological research, gratitude might just become a habit. What will that mean for me? It means, says the research, that I increase my chances of psychologically surviving hard times, that I stand a chance to be happier in the good times. I’m not ignoring the threats; I’m appreciating the resources and people that might help me face those threats.
If you’re already one of those highly grateful people, stop reading this essay—you don’t need it. Instead you should read Amie Gordon’s “Five Ways Giving Thanks Can Backfire.” But if you’re more like me, then here are some tips for how you and I can become one of those fantastically grateful people.
1. Once in a while, they think about death and loss
Didn’t see that one coming, did you? I’m not just being perverse—contemplating endings really does make you more grateful for the life you currently have, according to several studies.
For example, when Araceli Friasa and colleagues asked people to visualize their own deaths, their gratitude measurably increased. Similarly, when Minkyung Koo and colleagues asked people to envision the sudden disappearance of their romantic partners from their lives, they became more grateful to their partners. The same goes for imagining that some positive event, like a job promotion, never happened.
This isn’t just theoretical: When you find yourself taking a good thing for granted, try giving it up for a little while. Researchers Jordi Quoidbach and Elizabeth Dunn had 55 people eat a piece of chocolate—and then the researchers told some of those people to resist chocolate for a week and others to binge on chocolate if they wanted. They left a third group to their own devices.
Guess who ended up happiest, according to self-reports? The people who abstained from chocolate. And who were the least happy? The people who binged. That’s the power of gratitude!
2. They take the time to smell the roses
And they also smell the coffee, the bread baking in the oven, the aroma of a new car—whatever gives them pleasure.
Loyola University psychologist Fred Bryant finds that savoring positive experiences makes them stickier in your brain, and increases their benefits to your psyche—and the key, he argues, is expressing gratitude for the experience. That’s one of the ways appreciation and gratitude go hand in hand.
You might also consider adding some little ritual to how you experience the pleasures of the body: A study published this year in Psychological Science finds that rituals like prayer or even just shaking a sugar packet “make people pay more attention to food, and paying attention makes food taste better,” as Emily Nauman reports in her Greater Good article about the research.
This brand of mindfulness makes intuitive sense—but how does it work with the first habit above?
Well, we humans are astoundingly adaptive creatures, and we will adapt even to the good things. When we do, their subjective value starts to drop; we start to take them for granted. That’s the point at which we might give them up for a while—be it chocolate, sex, or even something like sunlight—and then take the time to really savor them when we allow them back into our lives.
That goes for people, too, and that goes back to the first habit: If you’re taking someone for granted, take a step back—and imagine your life without them. Then try savoring their presence, just like you would a rose. Or a new car. Whatever! The point is, absence may just make the heart grow grateful.
3. They take the good things as gifts, not birthrights
What’s the opposite of gratitude? Entitlement—the attitude that people owe you something just because you’re so very special.
“In all its manifestations, a preoccupation with the self can cause us to forget our benefits and our benefactors or to feel that we are owed things from others and therefore have no reason to feel thankful,” writes Robert Emmons, co-director of the GGSC’s Gratitude project. “Counting blessings will be ineffective because grievances will always outnumber gifts.”
The antidote to entitlement, argues Emmons, is to see that we did not create ourselves—we were created, if not by evolution, then by God; or if not by God, then by our parents. Likewise, we are never truly self-sufficient. Humans need other people to grow our food and heal our injuries; we need love, and for that we need family, partners, friends, and pets.
“Seeing with grateful eyes requires that we see the web of interconnection in which we alternate between being givers and receivers,” writes Emmons. “The humble person says that life is a gift to be grateful for, not a right to be claimed.”
4. They’re grateful to people, not just things
At the start of this piece, I mentioned gratitude for sunlight and trees. That’s great for me—and it may have good effects, like leading me to think about my impact on the environment—but the trees just don’t care. Likewise, the sun doesn’t know I exist; that big ball of flaming gas isn’t even aware of its own existence, as far as we know. My gratitude doesn’t make it burn any brighter.
That’s not true of people—people will glow in gratitude. Saying thanks to my son might make him happier and it can strengthen our emotional bond. Thanking the guy who makes my coffee can strengthen social bonds—in part by deepening our understanding of how we’re interconnected with other people.
My colleague Emiliana Simon-Thomas, the GGSC’s science director and another co-director of our Expanding Gratitude project, puts it this way:
Experiences that heighten meaningful connections with others—like noticing how another person has helped you, acknowledging the effort it took, and savoring how you benefitted from it—engage biological systems for trust and affection, alongside circuits for pleasure and reward. This provides a synergistic and enduring boost to the positive experience. Saying ‘thank you’ to a person, your brain registers that something good has happened and that you are more richly enmeshed in a meaningful social community.
5. They mention the pancakes
Grateful people are habitually specific. They don’t say, “I love you because you’re just so wonderfully wonderful, you!” Instead, the really skilled grateful person will say: “I love you for the pancakes you make when you see I’m hungry and the way you massage my feet after work even when you’re really tired and how you give me hugs when I’m sad so that I’ll feel better!”
The reason for this is pretty simple: It makes the expression of gratitude feel more authentic, for it reveals that the thanker was genuinely paying attention and isn’t just going through the motions. The richest thank you’s will acknowledge intentions (“the pancakes you make when you see I’m hungry”) and costs (“you massage my feet after work even when you’re really tired”), and they’ll describe the value of benefits received (“you give me hugs when I’m sad so that I’ll feel better”).
When Amie Gordon and colleagues studied gratitude in couples, they found that spouses signal grateful feelings through more caring and attentive behavior. They ask clarifying questions; they respond to trouble with hugs and to good news with smiles. “These gestures,” Gordon writes, “can have profound effects: Participants who were better listeners during those conversations in the lab had partners who reported feeling more appreciated by them.”
Remember: Gratitude thrives on specificity!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
So, you don’t have the corner office yet. That’s OK. There are a ton of things you can start doing today to be a leader within your team and organization – even if you spend 9-5 in a cube farm like me.
Here are 4 ideas you can implement immediately to show your leadership skills and boost productivity.
1. Prepare for meetings
Before you go to a meeting, read through the official minutes from the last meeting. Gather up relevant drawings, code, pictures, site notes, etc. and bring them with you to the meeting. Also print off a copy of the meeting minutes and bring those too. Make sure you’ve done everything you committed to doing and be prepared to share the results. This doesn’t have to take any more than 30 minutes tops.
2. Before You Ask For Help, Come Up With Solutions
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking your colleagues or your boss for help on something, so long as you’ve actually put some effort in first. Don’t go to your boss and say “I can’t figure this whole widget project out.” That’s not going to go over well. Before you go for help, stop a think why exactly you need help. What specifically do you need help with. My rule of thumb is that you should be able to tweet (i.e. 140 characters) your problem, and the problem needs to be specific. Then, you need to have possible solutions to present. Your request for help then becomes something like “I’d like some help in chosing a widget vendor. I’ve researched Acme and A-1 Widget Supply, and I’m wondering if you have experience with their lead times on their 3000-series widgets.” Specific questions get specific answers, and have the additional benefit of demonstrating some cognition on your part.
3. Keep Incredible Notes
If your company is like most, you probable have a number of projects on the go, and they all drag on for months or even years. There’s no way you’re going to remember why you chose a funny torque value for your bracket hardware three years after the fact, or why you added an extra line of code. You need to take good notes. If you do, you’ll always be able to answer questions about your work when people come to you, which makes you look like a star. Alternatively, you look pretty dumb if you can’t answer for your own work. Bad times. (Protip: I use Evernote on my laptop and my iPad when I’m in the field/ on the shop floor. It’s incredible and its free.)
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