7 Mindful Strategies to Advance Your Career

Mindful Career Strategies - Professional Woman Holding Business Card

While there is no substitute for a solid education, many of the most successful people in the world reached their success through other means. Some even pausing academic endeavors to focus on furthering their vision.

Yet, even if you have reached PhD status in your field, how can you ensure success sure is to follow?

Mindful Career Strategies - Professional Woman Holding Business Card

Consistency ranks first at the top of the list, but most billionaires will also tell you that you have to let go of any lingering negativity. Eliminate the negative thoughts that are holding you back and replace them with new, positive habits that support your progress.

As for the practices to cultivate, these should be at the top of your inventory:

1. Practice positive thinking.

Nothing in this life is static; everything is cyclical. So despite what happens over the course of the day, try your best to maintain a positive outlook. Even the most challenging situations, such as losing a job, can be positive in the end. Although you may not be able to see it right away, in retrospect, you may notice that circumstances either allowed you to embrace a new opportunity, learn new skills, or break away from a dead-end situation. If you embrace the changes that come your way, seeing your challenges as opportunities, you will be on your way. A great portion of maintaining a positive attitude is not focusing on past failures and disappointments. Let it go, look forward, and move on.

2. Don’t settle for less than what you need.

While not every offer you receive will be perfect, try to weigh the entirety of the situation beyond just the immediate gains. For example, if you finally earn the promotion you’ve been seeking and the pay isn’t what you expected, don’t rule out negotiating for what you feel you deserve. However, if the promotion offers a stepping stone toward where you want to ultimately be in your career, don’t sacrifice the whole picture for instant rewards. Conversely, if you are an unemployed job seeker and a prospective employer offers you a salary that would cause your wage scale to significantly drop, never feel that you must settle for less than you are worth. Success comes from blazing your own trail and not losing sight on how to achieve it.

3. Model yourself after a successful person you admire.

Keep in mind that, in many cases, if a formula worked once, it’s likely to work again. Those who have succeeded before you have experience that you can learn from on your way to reaching your own goals. If these individuals are in your network, you may find they are very forthcoming with advice and will gladly share their story if you ask. If not, try seeking out books that have been written by leaders in your field. Their experience can be your advantage.

4. Check in with yourself periodically.

Once you have made a plan, be sure to review and reevaluate your progress on a regular basis. Consider a monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual review schedule to assess your growth, and adjust your plans and practices as needed. For instance, if a lack of skills in a certain area becomes apparent, upgrade your education in these areas through an online course or educational program. Acquiring new skills will add value to all of your future endeavors.

5. Embrace change.

The world around you, people, business; everything is in a constant state of evolution. Therefore, it stands to reason that you should be too. This applies to technology as well as marketing trends, and to businesses as well as individuals. Your ability to adapt to your changing environment is synonymous with ongoing success.

6. Believe in the law of physics.

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. This theory holds true for success as well as failure. People who have become successful did not become so by remaining idle, and the same goes for unsuccessful people – they have done something to put themselves in the position they are in. Don’t make excuses for your lack of success; rather do something about it. Don’t settle for less than what you feel you deserve. If you make better choices, your situation will begin to improve in time.

7. Stay curious.

Technology is a perfect metaphor for the constant state of new development in which we exist. For, example, when a new form of technology – or any applicable information – is released, what gives us the desire to learn it? Without our own sense of curiosity, we would never be inspired to learn anything new. Successful people are curious by nature, and curious people are always looking forward and learning new things on their way to achieving their goals.

Mindful Career Strategies - Lightbulb on Chalkboard

In conclusion, your daily routine is the key to your ongoing success. Reinforcing constructive habits and avoiding complacency is the best route to your desired destination. Be curious, be positive, be objective; and above all, stay the course and success will surely be yours.

Fred Coon, CEO

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

Second Interview Tips: How to Show You’re a Great Fit for the Job

Second Interview Tips - Woman and man speaking to professional

Earning a second interview for a position can be even more traumatic than the first. Even though you are moving along in the process, and the employer seems to recognize your potential, the pressure is on to “up-the-ante” while providing clear evidence that you are the right person for the job.

Second Interview Tips - Woman and man speaking to professional

 

Some food for thought:

The job isn’t yours just yet.

You can’t assume that simply because you scored the second interview that the job is already in the bag. Go in with confidence, be professional, but keep your ego in check. Try to get a feel for what it would be like if you actually did work there.

Think about what you didn’t discuss in the first interview.

After your first interview, you will likely have some questions. Think about any details about the position that you need to be clarified or responses from the first interview that can be expanded on. If you took any notes the first time around, review them in detail to see what you can add or append. Think about what wasn’t said and try to fill in the gaps.

Take this opportunity to set yourself apart.

During a second interview, you will be presented with vastly different questions than you encountered in your first. This is a good opportunity for you to demonstrate your character and personality, especially with regard to how you cope with potentially difficult situations.

Some of the areas you might discuss include:

  • How you respond to adversarial workplace situations
  • How you have learned from past mistakes or miss-steps
  • How you manage to rise above conflict

These are all areas that are considered advantageous in the workplace, as it shows you can work with a range of people. Showing that you can look beyond personalities is a strong indicator that you will not use such an excuse for a lack of progress. An ideal candidate is one who is not afraid to advocate for their own concerns but that is also sensitive to those of others.

Find out more about the company.

If this is your dream job, you may already know a great deal about the company, but even so, it pays to do a little research into whom you are meeting with and who the other stakeholders are within the organization. If you already know who you are meeting with, try to find out more about them before you arrive at the second interview. Knowing their professional history with the company shows you are engaged in the process and will impress the right people.

Second Interview Tips - Man shaking hands with professional

Make an impression on everyone you meet.

Your second interview is a chance for you to reinforce the great impression you made on the first. Strive to make a connection with everyone you meet and demonstrate how helpful you can be in supporting them in their own roles. If you are viewed as somebody who can potentially make others’ jobs easier, you will be seen as a team player who is invested in the process.

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Advice for Acing Behavioral Interviews

Acing Behavioral Interviews - three women at interview

Behavioral interviewing is a popular technique in wide use today, one that conceptually states that past performance is an accurate arbiter of future performance. Though it sounds simple enough, if you have never experienced a behavioral interview, it can present some challenges.

Being prepared for what you are likely to encounter will give you a good chance of getting through it with ease.

Acing Behavioral Interviews - three women at interview

In a behavioral interview, questions are answered anecdotally. Essentially, this means you will be telling stories about how you would handle certain situations and challenges as they relate to the position and its required skill sets.

These questions may begin with statements such as:

  • Describe how you reacted when …
  • Give me an example of …
  • Tell me about a situation in which you …

While your skills and experience may technically qualify you for the position, if you can’t back them up with examples of how you put them into practice, they are words without substance.

How to prepare for a behavioral interview

To prepare for a behavioral interview, try to anticipate the challenges inherent in the job itself. Try to identify a few likely scenarios and imagine what your potential employer might like to hear. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes as much as you can.

Go over the job description in great detail. Do a bit of digging into the company and its culture. Look for clues that illustrate what qualities and skills are valued within the organization. Try to think of what questions might be asked that would elicit a response illustrative of these qualities or skills.

What follows are some examples of some situations, along with questions that might be asked in an attempt to bring them to light:

Behavioral skill #1: problem-solving

Problem-solving is a skill indicated in most positions but especially so for management or higher.

You may be asked to talk about an occasion where you used your own judgment to solve a problem or had to make a decision on the fly.

Behavioral skill #2: Leadership

Convincing your team to agree with a new idea or methodology is often a challenge. You might be asked about how you have dealt or would deal with such a situation and whether or not you were successful.

Think about challenges you have had in bringing this type of action to a successful conclusion and what you did to make it work.

Behavioral skill #3: Motivation

Your ability to go above and beyond is a strong indicator that you are invested in the success of the organization as well as the rest of your team.

You may be asked to talk about a time when your actions were well beyond the scope of your job description and how it impacted those around you.

Behavioral skill #4: Communication

Communication is essential, but not all people are easy to communicate with for various reasons. Even when another person is being difficult, you need to be able to make your case clearly.

You will likely be asked to describe an occasion when you had to leverage your verbal or written communication skills to get your point or idea across to such an individual or group.

Behavioral skill #5: Interpersonal skills (aka teamwork)

To demonstrate teamwork, you might be asked to provide an example of how you have encouraged and supported others with whom you work.

You may also be asked to describe a widely unpopular judgment you have made, the end result, and how you handled it. Whether it was successful or not, having insight into how it could have been handled better is always good to mention.

Behavioral skill #6: Planning and Organization

Time management, prioritization, and all the challenges inherent in such activities can wreak havoc on your productivity. In a behavioral interview, you may be asked to describe how you prioritize such tasks and how you handle interruptions to your own workflow.

Acing Behavioral Interviews - Word Cloud

Developing your story

Now that you have a general idea of what questions you might be asked during a behavioral interview, think about some experiences you have had that are relevant to each issue and develop stories around them.

Keep them simple and to the point while providing as much detail as you can. Each anecdote should include the following:

  • Very specific examples of real situations you have experienced
  • Detailed descriptions of how you were able to rise above the challenge
  • A quantified rundown of the results

Here is an example of an answer that covers all these points:

Question:

Tell me about a challenging objective you achieved and how you were successful.

Answer:

Faced with cuts to our overall program funding, we were faced with losing a significant portion of our marketing budget but could not afford to reduce our outreach as it would have negatively impacted enrollment. As the director of the program, I reviewed our promotional spending and sourced new suppliers who could provide us with the same or better-quality collateral at a much-reduced cost. As a result, we were able to reduce our marketing expense by more than 40 percent. Additionally, our new media partners had a lot more to offer in terms of digital alternatives, so we were able to broaden our reach and improve enrollment by 15 percent while optimizing our budget in the process.

Once you are familiar with the behavioral interview process, you should be able to prepare much more effectively and make sure you won’t be caught off-guard when you are asked such questions.

More from Stewart Cooper & CoonFive Initial Signs That Your Job Interview Went Well 

Fred Coon, CEO

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

Integrating Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

All human interactions within the business world are affected by Emotional Intelligence (EI), from customer service to troubleshooting and brainstorming, meeting presentations, and employee emotional-intelligence-group-of-business-employees-smilingmotivation.

When a staff is emotionally intelligent, they are further empowered to achieve maximum effectiveness through teamwork.  On all levels, an emotionally intelligent workforce warrants a successful business.

The Theory Behind Emotional Intelligence

We have all heard the adage, “think before you speak”.  Instead of allowing our emotions rule our actions, we must learn how to recognize them as they develop, realize their cause and potential effects, and do our best to control how we react.  While our emotions can warrant inspiration and inventiveness, we must be sure to not allow them to trigger a regrettable situation.  Essentially, emotional intelligence can be described as a very important social skill, which is not only critical in our personal lives, but is also indispensible in the workplace where tensions can sometimes run high.

Achieving Emotional Intelligence at Work

According to professors Peter Salovey and David R. Caruso, authors of the publication “The Emotionally Intelligent Manager”, developing a sense of emotional intelligence can be broken down into four basic skills:

  • Recognize your own feelings as well as those of others.emotional-intelligence-smiling-business-woman-with-working-staff-in-background
  • Utilize your emotional mindset to help guide your own thoughts and analyses, in addition to those of others.
  • Realize the variableness of feelings and initial reactions, and how they change and evolve with unfolding events.
  • Remain open to the information that feelings may disclose and incorporate this into your actions and choices.

The incorporation of these practices within a corporate culture can help managers remain empathic to their employees; support healthy and constructive collaboration among team members; and promote a general ethos of patience, logical thought, and staying power among employees and managers alike.

Where to Begin

Of course, attaining a pinnacle level of emotional intelligence within yourself is the first step toward it becoming second nature within your company.  Whether you are a business leader or team member, you can still provide others with an example of emotional intelligence by employing these values on your own.  Achieving this balance will not occur instantaneously, but through practice and perseverance, you and your team will begin to learn how to view the larger picture when a potentially reactive moment arises.

By Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

 

Guidelines for Accepting a Job Abroad

Accepting Job Abroad - Businessman holding laptop with virtual map

Due to the increasing movement toward globalization, more and more Americans are accepting jobs abroad. Nevertheless, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. For instance, if you are considering a job in another country, it’s critical to ensure that the employer presents you with a viable employment contract.

Writer, marketing consultant, and employment connoisseur, Anne Shaw presents a set of guidelines for those planning to take the leap abroad.

Accepting Job Abroad - Businessman holding laptop with virtual map

Your new employer should help steer you through the changes.

A good employer should offer you a quality relocation package by contributing toward the packing and shipping of your belongings, home sale assistance, as well as a stipend for temporary housing. In addition, they should support you in acquiring the proper visa and — depending on your particular circumstance – employment search assistance for your significant other. To bridge language barriers, many companies will even help re-locators comprehend new local laws, tax differences, and leasing regulations.

Get to know the company’s work-life balance standards.

When it comes to vacation plans and work-life balance, different countries have different standards and customs. Whereas the U.S. norm is approximately 12 to 15 days vacation time, London for instance, provides approximately double this amount. Be sure to inquire about any possible shifts in work culture.

Think ahead.

Before leaving a position in Europe, it is expected that you provide a full three months notice, as opposed to the U.S.’s mere two weeks. Therefore, if you become an employee in another country – rather than simply a U.S. employee fulfilling an international assignment – it’s important to ascertain how long your position is likely to last. Establishing this from the beginning could prevent a more complicated situation down the road.

Be familiar with your visa specifications.

Since work visas vary from country to country, make sure you research the stipulations surrounding the one you’ll be under. Remember that a reputable employer will assume responsibility for helping you obtain your work visa due to the intricate process involved. Nonetheless, be prepared to complete a copious amount of paperwork. Additionally, be aware that the banking processes and tax laws will also be at a variance, so make note of your specific employment status so you’ll know exactly how your income will be taxed.

Your taxes will still be filed with American IRS.

Bear in mind that even if you are paying taxes in a new country, you’ll likely still have to file with the IRS to indicate that you paid your taxes abroad.

Sort out any banking challenges.

Even if you have an excellent credit rating, getting credit in another country can be quite difficult. To avoid the hassle, open a credit card with an international company before leaving the U.S. Therefore, when you arrive you’ll only have to transfer the card, rather than apply for a whole new line of credit. Moreover, be sure to educate yourself on how to set up a bank account abroad. Research the minimums, fees, timing on transfers, as well as online capabilities. As a precaution, also look into obtaining a reference letter from your bank in the U.S.

Accepting Job Abroad - Luggage and passport

Consider the extras.

While the professional facets of your move are essential, Shaw reminds those relocating internationally to also take the social and personal factors into consideration. The following tips may help make your time abroad significantly more pleasant and contented.

  • Connect with fellow expats for camaraderie.
  • Get acquainted with local popular culture.
  • Prepare for the language barrier with basic conversational skills.
  • Reach out to and learn from your extended network.
  • Begin the visa process as far in advance as possible.
  • Don’t over-pack in the event you have to switch locales.
  • Get to know the driving laws and licensing differences.
  • And finally, don’t forget your visa when traveling between countries!

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Relief for Workaholics

Workaholics - man at desk writing

Work, as a cultural dynamic, has something of an interesting place in American society. Throughout the latter half of the previous century, ‘work’ was the subliminal metric by which we measured ourselves and others in terms of utility, worth, even social status. To this day, we often hear proud exclamations in the realm of:  “I put in 60 hours this week alone!” While a strong work ethic is commendable, there is nothing glamorous about working yourself down to the bone, putting your mental and emotional well-being at risk, and burning out. And that is precisely what happens to those who cannot find a healthy balance between work and life:  burnout.

Workaholics - man at desk writing

So then, how do we isolate the line between healthy and unhealthy? Taylor and Francis, an online repository of scientific journals and academic materials, ran a study on the correlations between ‘workaholism’ and health. Their findings indicated “significant relations between workaholism subscales and SHC, job stress, burnout, and work engagement.”

Rationale

Many psychologists today are of the firm opinion that workaholism is a disease, passed down from parent to child, which values perfectionism and running oneself ragged to achieve, far over and above any concerns of mental health and emotional balance. It is, overall, indicative of a mindset that believes any real value must be earned as a byproduct of economic success, which again, is a largely unexamined hand-me-down from Industrial American culture. It is a paradigm that is doing very few people any long-term favors—although your boss may certainly appreciate all the extra work you’re putting in, depending on their overtime stance.

As far as unexamined paradigms go—and they are often the most potentially insidious of modern influences on society and culture the world over—the notion that “wealth equals happiness” is among the most powerful and pervasive. While it’s understandable, given that so much of the world’s population lives in considerable poverty (in the US alone, over 60 percent of the population makes well under 50k a year), a great many studies have shown, again and again, that once a certain monetary threshold is reached (around 75k in the US), increased income has very little contribution to happiness.

It’s not money, then, that is important—it’s the lack of it.

Manifestation

Given all this, then, how can you determine where you stand? Say you’re a highly motivated professional who genuinely cares about both career and living a full life—where do you draw the line? Consider asking yourself some questions:

  • Have you heard comments in the last month about how much you work?
  • Can you actually take weekends off without checking your email?
  • Do you turn to work when feelings of guilt, concern, or anger rise up?
  • When was the last time you took a few days to pursue something you enjoy but won’t be paid for?

These questions may seem basic, but they should, and their answers matter. If you find yourself shying away from this kind of topic, that is also a good indication you need to sit back and give some careful reflection to the subject: How much better a job can you do if you’re healthy and balanced?

Workaholics - Scale with Question marks

Improvement

To be clear, the difference between a healthy work ethic and a tendency toward “workaholism” is typically quite vast. However, if you feel you fit the latter demographic, all hope is not lost. Chances are a shift in perception and a proverbial “letting yourself off the hook” may be one of the first steps toward a positive change.

Work smart (not hard).  Perhaps you can put your penchant for hard work to use by maximizing your knack for efficiency. Remind yourself that being highly productive for a shorter time is an accomplishment in and of itself. Setting reasonable limits is vital to ensuring that your work doesn’t consume all other aspects of your life.

Look at the “big picture”. Viewing your life as a complete entity can help you realize what may be missing from it. Although somber in nature, imagine what those closest to you will remember most. Will they recall pleasant and fulfilling memories of time shared? Sometimes we must take a glimpse at ourselves from a different perspective in order to improve and make the most of the life we’ve got.

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

Building Skills at Your Own Pace: Online Courses to Improve Your Career

Online Courses - Woman at home computer

Regardless of whether or not a course generates a paper document to hang on your wall, if it enhances your skills, it is undoubtedly worthwhile.  Some paid courses might give you a certificate of completion, for whatever that is worth, but you should know that some free courses do provide diplomas, too.

With this in mind, there are some rather distinct advantages to learning online, especially when you are also maintaining a full-time job.  Leading among them is the sheer convenience of learning within your own time allowances.  Night school (for example) can affect your work, disrupt your family, and even limit your social activities.

Online Courses - Woman at home computer

For instance, when working at your own pace, you’re free to decide that Tuesday and Wednesday will be your “school nights” with the rest of the week free.  However, if your daughter happens to have a recital scheduled, or your son has a school play on one of those days, you’re free to skip that particular night, or move it to a different day.  Catching up, or merely lengthening your schedule, is entirely up to you.

Here’s another valuable reason to consider online learning:  If you’re one of the many living in a location frequently affected by extreme weather conditions, you can still “get to school” if it is online, with no regard to the conditions between you and the school parking lot.

Furthermore, you’ll even save on gas driving to school, and reduce your carbon footprint; you’ll save on transit costs if you don’t drive; you’ll save the time and frustration of fighting traffic, and then finding and paying for a place to park, meals out, and even laundry (if you’re content to work at home in your pajamas).

The New Normal

Some believe that attending a brick and mortar school of any sort may be going the way of the Dodo.  It’s outrageously expensive and seriously inconvenient.  Unless there is practical work required (e.g., medical interns need to perform physical examinations, police scientists need to know how to take a fingerprint, etc.), then a significant portion of it is often just a social occasion.

Our society has evolved such that video can replace what was formerly direct interaction.  The very word “interactive” evolved because our technology pushed us apart from each other.

Once upon a time, everything was interactive; so much so that we didn’t have a word for it.  You went to a play, or you acted; you listened to live music or you performed; you learned how to dance, or you taught people to dance.  It was only in the late 20th century that we began to spend more time with our machines than with other humans.

We were numbly staring at computer screens, sending texts to someone in the next cubicle instead of talking to them.  Our devices became surrogate people.  Society has come around finally, and we’re starting to accept being interactive as normal again, albeit through our machines.

Just a taste

Here are a few online courses that could seriously alter your future career trajectory:

  1. Data Science A-Z™” (Udemy)
  2. Introduction to Computer Science” (Harvard)
  3. Competitive Strategy” (Coursera)
  4. High-Impact Business Writing” (Coursera)
  5. Writing for the Web” (OPEN2STUDY)
  6. Introduction to Programming in Java” (MIT)
  7. Introduction to C and C++” (MIT)
  8. HTML and CSS” (Codecademy — an excellent choice)
  9. Adobe Photoshop CS6 Essential Tools” (ALISON)
  10. Diploma in Social Media Marketing” (ALISON)
  11. Become a Networking Master” (The Muse)
  12. How to Start a Startup” (Stanford)
  13. Academic and Business Writing” (edX)
  14. Chinese Language: Learn Basic Mandarin” (edX)
  15. German Course for Beginners” (Deutsch-Lernen.com)

MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, were invented in Canada in 2008 by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island.  The objective of a MOOC is to engage with an unlimited number of people through the web where lectures, videos, problem sets, and discussion forums can be delivered to the widest possible audience.

Course materials are always available, on demand so that a genius could complete the course in days or weeks, and a traditional learner could take months or even years to obtain a Ph.D.  Colleges and universities are often “full” with no available space for new students.  This solves the problem.

Some charge fees, but places like MIT offer all of their courses online, for free, under the OCW (Open Course Work) badging.  People might see it as altruistic, but in truth, it is merely practical.  We haven’t enough graduates to fill all the new tech roles that are evolving.  As the last of the Boomers retire, there will be a dearth of qualified employees.  Online education is essential if we are going to keep expanding our knowledge and enhancing our standard of living.

Aside from the advantages mentioned previously, there are unrealized advantages as well.  Take someone who is reticent, or simply shy, and suddenly they can become successful in expressing themselves because they are not overwhelmed by the presence of others.  Many students have reported the ability to focus more thoroughly on the work; they indicate that the distractions of a classroom detract from their learning experience.

Online Courses - Home Office

The Takeaway

Everybody stands to benefit from online learning.  It removes walls and barriers based on wealth, geography, gender, skin tone, religion, or ethics.  When I say “everybody” that is exactly what I mean.  Specifically, I leave you with this thought from Ken Goldberg:

“Our robots are signing up for online learning. After decades of attempts to program robots to perform complex tasks like flying helicopters or surgical suturing, the new approach is based on observing and recording the motions of human experts as they perform these feats.”—Prof. Ken Goldberg, UC Berkley, Roboticist

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

Stress-Free Ways of Taking on a New Project at Work

Stress Free Ways of Taking on New Work Projects - Group of professionals working at laptop

The Origin of Stress

Stress is a state which developed during our early evolution to keep us alive.  When a situation presents a potential threat to our survival, we express the hormone cortisol (made in the adrenal cortex) which helps raise our blood sugar levels partly by suppressing the function of insulin, so that we are ready for action (fight or flight).

It prepares the way for the release of adrenaline if there is an actual emergency.  To maximize available energy, it also turns off our immune system, stops bone-growth, activates anti-inflammatory pathways, making us more vulnerable to disease.

Stress Free Ways of Taking on New Work Projects - Red writing_STRESS

Aren’t all these things bad, you ask?  Not for the brief period that they are meant to be activated, no, they’re just fine.

The problem arises when we are always stressed, constantly producing cortisol, because it makes us weaker and increases our tendency to get tired or sick more easily. Too much cortisol also results in proteolysis, or the breakdown of protein in our bodies (muscle mass), when we can’t keep our blood sugar elevated.

In our modern society, there is little need for stress anymore.  Most of us live relatively safe lives, not hunted by animals, with sufficient food, acceptable medical care, clean water, and proper sanitation.  Frequently unsatisfied with how good our lives are, we often create artificial stress for ourselves with deadlines and pressure.

We deal with stress in different ways.  Some thrive on it; others collapse under the weight; some forbid it.  We must step back for a moment and determine if our stress is making us sick; if it is burning us out; if it is robbing us of our quality of life.

Stress Free Ways of Taking on New Work Projects - Busy female employee at desk

Responsibility

If your boss hands you a new project and says, “Pick your team members and let’s get this show on the road!” you might be a bit nervous.  Before you become hypercritical of yourself, just stop and think for a moment about why you were chosen.

Does your boss want you to fail and then have to explain your failure to bosses higher up?  No.  The most probable answer is that your boss has confidence in you, likely based on previous work or some ability you’ve demonstrated, and fully expects you to succeed.  Stress factor: zero.

Pick Smart People

Maybe it’s a new area for you, and you’re worried about your ability.  Remember, you’re creating a team, so pick people that have the talents required for the project.

You’re not there to do all the work yourself; you are there to manage the team.  You must choose people with different skills than yours; create a talent-range, so all the bases are covered.  A wise person selects people with skills beyond their own because if they are less capable than you, you’ll never accomplish anything better than what you can do right now.  Stress factor: zero.

Pre-planning

You can eliminate most worries about a project by speaking to those involved before the project starts.  That includes the team members you’ve selected, of course, but it also includes the stakeholders.  Everyone has constraints, whether they are ability, availability, responsiveness, technique, integration, or something else entirely.

Find out who can do what, areas where individuals excel, who they work best with, and scheduling conflicts.  Identify tasks clearly and delegate appropriately, with milestones for each task.

Consistency and Support

Once a schedule is created, your people must understand the interdependencies, and although it is possible to adjust for slippage, the expectation is that all work will be completed on time.  Don’t forget to make it clear that your door is open, and if something is falling behind, you want to know about it right away.

Emphasize that help is available and you’re willing to commit resources to a problem to get it back on track.  You do not want to know one day before something is due that it’s going to be delayed by four days.  Make sure they understand that you are willing to pitch in if someone is in a tight spot.

Assuming an Existing Project

Being asked to take on a project that is already underway is a good indicator that you are a trusted team member.  It can also be a daunting experience because you’re faced with the task of taking on processes and policies which are already in place.

First of all, don’t jump in with both feet!  Take an hour or two to read through the details of the project.  Review the Project Calendar, Project Schedule, Gantt chart or whatever methodology has been selected, and understand the current status.  Write down questions you need to be answered as you are reviewing (so they’re not forgotten).

Call in someone from the team who is likely to have the answers you need.  Question them to fill in the blanks in your knowledge.  Perhaps speak to more than one person, if warranted.

After you are up-to-speed, consider having a stand-up meeting and invite people to tell you about their current status.  There is no need to issue orders at this point, to establish authority.  Take your time to get comfortable; people expect a certain margin of error before you are integrated.  The only person holding you to an exceptional mistake-free standard is you.  Stress factor: zero.

Stress Free Ways of Taking on New Work Projects - Group of professionals working at laptop

The Takeaway

Team members will support you if you support them.  It’s simply common sense: If you trust your people, they will trust you.

If your team is managing their responsibilities well, if they’re making their deliveries on time, or even early, reward them.  It can be individually, or collectively.  It might be something as simple as sending them and a spouse out for a fancy restaurant meal or letting them leave the office as soon as the work is done.

When people know you’re a “good boss” they will work harder for you; they’ll produce top quality material because they seek your approval and want to encourage you to continue to also be a “good boss”; they will want to keep working for you.  They’re being paid to accomplish tasks, not to sit at their desk until 5 pm, despite having completed all of their work.

Being a good boss leads to a stress-free existence because people will trust you to deal with problems.  They won’t be reluctant to tell you about something going awry.  That means you get a great deal of leeway to deal with problems when they are tiny and easy to fix.  And that makes it all worthwhile…  Stress factor: zero!

More from Stewart Cooper & CoonBoss Redefined: What Makes a Great Modern Business Leader

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

For Better or Worse: How Being Impatient Affects Your Career

Effects-of-Impatience-on-Career-Employee-at-laptop-with-stopwatch-and-smartphone.jpeg

Patience is a virtue.” As most of us, you’ve likely heard this motto frequently throughout your life. Yet, while patience as a trait, is laudable, we are here to explore the various ways that this particular characteristic (and its polar opposite) can affect our career: for better or worse.

Alyse Kalish, writer and associate editor for The Muse, further researches this concept.

Effects of Impatience on Career - two people watching presentation

When Impatience Can Be Detrimental

Expecting results too quickly

An overly eager mindset can be detrimental if you’re expecting extreme results in a very short time-frame. Goals are important, but unrealistically high expectations can often result in disappointment. It’s important to remember that our most significant goals take time as well as a process of trial and error. Additionally, Kalish states that “[when] we’re impatient that something’s taking too long to get off the ground, or our careers are moving too [slowly], we never fully appreciate the small strides we make along the way”.

Reacting abruptly

When presenting coworkers and team leaders with information, it’s important to allow them enough time to process and respond accordingly. No one wants to be perceived as a “nag”, so be sure to wait a reasonable amount of time before following up.  As Kalish affirms, “In the day to day, being impatient in how you communicate will only lead people to ignore you or dislike working with you.”

Insisting on a promotion before you’re prepared

Kalish reminds employees that there are, unfortunately, certain realities of our careers that must be accepted. While we have all heard stories of a friend or colleague that received a promotion three to six months into a new job; remember this is the exception, not the norm. Kalish reiterates, “…for the most part, you shouldn’t expect a raise or promotion or some other big career opportunity before you’re truly ready for – and you’ve earned – it”.

When Impatience Can Be Helpful

You know a negative situation has dragged on too long

We are often acutely aware when something is taking much longer than it should. Perhaps you have addressed a less-than-ideal circumstance at work which was never properly resolved. Long-term issues that involve inefficiency, outdated systems or even unfair treatment will surely benefit from an increased sense of urgency. Kalish reminds readers that “…even if you can’t directly change them, you can often start productive conversations on ways to do things better”.

It leads you to take action and be helpful

If your impatience sparks you to get involved and proceed proactively, this can actually be a good thing. According to Kalish, “The people who spin their impatience into a positive thing do so by focusing on what they can do rather than what they need from others”. If you find yourself growing intolerant when a colleague seems to be lagging, consider what systems you can create — or what you can do on your own — that will help the job get done quicker.

You find ways of challenging yourself

Those who are willing to challenge to themselves are more likely to master their job duties and even take on more responsibilities at quicker rate. In this sense, as Kalish agrees, impatience can actually double as a sort of ambition. You may even find yourself learning new skills that allow you to resolve more issues on your own.

Effects-of-Impatience-on-Career-Employee-at-laptop-with-stopwatch-and-smartphone.jpeg

In Conclusion

When channeled properly, a healthy sense of impatience can drive employees toward a more rewarding and successful career. Just remember how and when to draw the line between motivation and intolerance.

 

Fred Coon, CEO 

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

 

 

 

3 Actions to Avoid When Working With Job Recruiters

Recruiting actions to avoid - professional woman in meeting

Job seeking, whether at a higher career-progression level or the more common job hunt, is an old (and often tedious) hat for most of us. What used to entail sitting in appointment waiting rooms, going door-to-door from one business to the next, hand-delivering resumes and perusing the “Hiring” sections of local newspapers has evolved into scouring craigslist, Linkedin, Simplyhired, Monster and a half-dozen other mass-mill job-hunting websites. Face-to-face networking is still a powerful tool, but success typically calls for already knowing how to go about the process of attending local business networking meetings and presenting yourself both professionally and approachably.

Recruiting actions to avoid - professional woman in meeting

There is, however, another route one can pursue in addition to your own personal efforts. That is, of course, where job recruiters and agencies come into play. And there are several things that you should be aware of before considering working with them, many of which fall into either a pro side or a con side, although we will say right off there is an odd flow between the two. In other words, one can sometimes lead to the other.

General Overview

Recruiting companies have one goal: to find and fill positions for their client. Their primary client, however, is in most all cases not you (the job seeker) but the companies seeking talent to fill positions in their employee chain. The flip-side of this – the one that you can utilize to your advantage – is the fact that recruiters deal with the companies (specifically the hiring departmental personnel) which you most want to be noticed by. This is the key point to remember in dealing with recruiters and why they are worth engaging in the first place: They possess the connections and relationships vital to getting noticed. It is with this fact firmly in mind that we go into the following section of Do’s, Don’ts, and contextual Maybe’s.

Forest for the Leaves

As with the cultivation of any relationship, especially a professional one, there are certain fundamental ground rules that, if crossed, can sour what may have been rewarding soil. Some of these are essentially boiled down to very common sense ways of interacting decently with other human beings, while others are highly specific to evolving business cultures, which can vary widely between industries and individual companies. Nonetheless, we can deliver some general, yet solid actions of which to steer clear when dealing with job recruiters:

  1. Being Indirect. Don’t play games. This seems fairly simple, but too often in the business world people play odd, subversive games. For instance, using the agency to get in touch with a company that has caught your interest, and then going around your recruiter to apply directly.
  2. Being Dishonest.  If you’re not willing to consider a position below a certain income threshold, don’t tell your recruiter that you’re open to lower-paying positions. This just wastes time on both sides, as well as making your recruiter look bad with their contacts, potentially damaging their relationships with companies. If you’re not willing to relocate, don’t say that you’re open to position beyond a reasonable commute.
  3. Being Unprofessional. Again, one that may seem beyond obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people will dissemble, get overly personal, be rude or aggressive with and even outright lie to the very person they’re engaging to find them a job.

Recruiting actions to avoid - businessman at desk

Again, simple and concise: Be upfront and professional every bit as much in your job hunt as you would be on-the-job and advancing your career. Remember, you’re dealing with a professional who is as serious about their career as you are; treat the relationship accordingly.

Further Reading:  Behind the Scenes of Corporate Recruiting

Fred Coon, CEO

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with LinkedInSecrets.us. Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.