How to Stop Procrastinating at Work

Procrastination is a common facet of human behavior.  In fact, it is so universal that we wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised to find it evidenced in everyone from a farmer of the mesopotamian era to a corner cubicle of modern times. The basic fact of the matter is:  People have a tendency to get bored and distracted. In the course of your daily grind, you’ve probably experienced some form of monotony and agitation more times than you could easily count. Interestingly enough, this is likely regardless of your profession or income level.

At this point, we have to step back and acknowledge (from both a worker standpoint, as well as from a managerial perspective) that we’re dealing with a near-fundamental trait of human nature. Conversely, this is not to say that we should just throw our hands up, unfettered of any notion of improvement.

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Here, we try to gain a better understanding the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ of procrastination so that we can get a more firm grip on it (and ourselves) for the overall benefit of not only our careers, but the workplace we occupy.

The Two Types of Procrastination

Overload

Becoming overwhelmed is a very common cause for what may appear to the outside observer as simple procrastination. When you are overwhelmed, the mind can tend to shut down a bit. Yet, this isn’t always a bad thing, since ‘shutting down’ serves the purpose of giving your reeling mind time to reassess, reevaluate, and figure out a new (hopefully more viable) approach to the problems being faced.

Boredom

A high percentage of disengaged procrastination very likely results from simple boredom (aside from, perhaps, one would hope: Nascar drivers and airline pilots). However, this is really no great surprise. The typical workday for the average mid-level office worker is a far enough cry from an action movie; but even if it weren’t, human beings have the capacity to turn just about anything into a humdrum habit once it’s been repeated enough.

The Solutions

It all comes down to you. To understand the problem and move to address it, you have to understand your own reasons for doing it. Potentially, the largest single aspect to all of this lies in the observation of your patterns, moods, and behavior; which is absolutely necessary before you can hope to enact any real change in them. After all, that is the entire point. You’re reading this piece in the hopes or interest of understanding how to address your (or admittedly, your employee’s) issues with procrastination. If you fall within the former category, then this piece should speak to you directly. If the latter, then it is not a huge leap to take the material and put together some quick in-office practices that may help.

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Here are a few tips and tricks to remember that can help you minimize excessive procrastination:

  • Acknowledge and identify what’s blocking you; whether it’s fear, financial concerns, tedium, etc.
  • Make yourself accountable, to yourself, first and foremost.
  • Set goals; keep them small and follow through with them, on a daily basis.
  • Actively and intentionally reward yourself for achievements, no matter how small.

Don’t let procrastination hold you back, from either excellence in your career or pursuit of growth in and for yourself.

 

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

How to Let Your Interviewer Know You’re a Perfect Cultural Fit

Let’s say that you’re a top-flight programmer, but you’ve decided that you’re not going to work just anywhere.  After figuring out exactly what you wanted to do, you took the time to do additional research and figure out precisely where you wanted to do it.

The problem remains, however, that even after you know that a prospective employer has an employee gymnasium, quiet rooms where you can grab a quick nap during the day to refresh your mind, an espresso machine, an open-door policy for all executives, and a convivial atmosphere where everyone’s ideas are accepted openly, you still have to convince them that you fit their perceptions of a good employee.  How do you do that?

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Don’t Oversell Your Enthusiasm

The temptation may be to fawn over the company’s product line or services; to gush over the importance it has in your daily life. However, they already have customers who love their product; what they need is someone who is going to extend their product line, enhance the public’s perception, or improve their current offerings.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you use their products regularly; you must demonstrate that you not only desire to improve their offerings, but that you have the skill to do so, while fitting into their community structure.  According to a 2014 survey, HR people are now paying considerably more attention to that last category.

For example, while the CEO of AVON® is Sheri McCoy, 75% of the CxOs, 65% of the Board, and 60% of the Management Committee are male.  AVON’s male-focused product line is relatively small, so why are men overrepresented?  Simple—they persuaded someone at the hiring level that they could integrate with the company in a positive way, and make a difference.

An Emotional Connection

Being passionate about the company’s objectives, and then backing that up with a plan for how you are going to further them, is a key success factor.  If you can describe the challenges an employee is likely to face, and have a plan for dealing with them, you’re already one-step-up on the competition.  By showing them that you’re going to add value, and not require a great deal of handholding, you become a valuable asset.

Moreover, integration is not restricted to day-to-day business.  If part of the company culture involves donating laptops to under-financed schools or toward scholarships for kids to attend college, mention that you’re aware of it.  You can even outline some plans for your own ideas to enhance the effectiveness of their projects.  Make clear to the interviewer that you want to work for the company and further all of its goals.

Fit In

There aren’t many companies that value the lone-wolf approach (if that’s your style, and you found a company like that, congratulations).  Most companies prefer integration and teamwork, so when you’re talking about solving a problem, use the word “we” more frequently than you use the pronouns “I” or “me”.

Nevertheless, if a large part of your job is interacting with customers, make sure you emphasize that a happy customer is a valuable repeat customer.  Without them, “we” wouldn’t even be in business (yes, you slyly included yourself as part of the company team there, helping the interviewer to think of you that way, too).

Don’t be a Drone

You don’t have to toe the party line.  Interviewers, if they are sensible, are not looking for a new best friend.  If you’re in the right sort of cultural environment you are often appreciated if you have a different way of thinking about problems.  It can be a very attractive feature.

Different approaches to problem solving can be a huge benefit to a company.  Getting people to think about new approaches to problem-solving can banish longstanding hang-ups and bottlenecks; it can provide new “Eureka!” moments that could completely change the way a company does business.

Admittedly, it’s the job of the employee to conform to the corporate culture.  Expecting to stand it on its head and make it do your bidding is unrealistic.  But there’s little harm in being different, and often large benefits.

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The Takeaway

Cynics tell us “Sincerity is great; once you can fake that, you’ve got it made”, but the truth is, as Abraham Lincoln pointed out, “You can fool some of the people some of the time…”  Even if you succeed, you won’t be happy, won’t do a good job, and you’ll be looking for something new in very short order.

If you find the place where you belong—the place you truly want to be—treat it seriously and show them that you fit, and not just that you want the job.  Anything else is just self-sabotage.

More from Stewart Cooper & Coon:  Who’s Interviewing Whom: Valuable Tips for Job Interviews

 

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.

Tips for Brainstorming a New Career Path

Time and Change

Sometimes we become so overly-involved in our established paths and daily routines that a day may come when you lift your head and wonder, “What am I doing?” Sooner or later (and sometimes more than once) we most all arrive at such a crossroads. This is a time for reflection if not a stern reevaluation of just what we’re doing with our lives. Beyond the childhood ambitions of becoming a firefighter or astronaut, deciding what exactly you want to do with your career is, most often than not, a rather daunting prospect.

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This is because, unlike our childhood selves, we have come to see that life is a journey of many detours, rather than a singular destination resulting in automatic happiness and contentment. Additionally, personalities and interests and talents may develop with time, and preferences frequently change. Colloquially speaking, you may have utterly loathed broccoli as a child, and it may well now be your favorite food. What changed, other than time and experience?

And so it is the same for professional careers. Naturally, the financial incentive plays a powerful role in one’s decisions of what path to take. There is, however, so much more to that equation if you want a career that is not only lucrative, but fulfilling and personally rewarding. There is no unwritten rule that says you can’t take pleasure in your work; in fact, the most productive and rewarding careers are those that intersect both passion and professional performance.

Strategy

With this in mind, how then, does one go about searching for the career that best suits individual interests and goals? The first good notion is fairly simple: Isolate keywords that align with your strongest professional experience and perform some basic online searches based upon those areas. Extrapolate a little and develop a touch creative. For example, if your work history is in sales, begin searching for and targeting fields which overlap with your technical expertise. If you have some computer skills, you could then try searching for “technical marketing”. The combinations are nearly infinite.

In all, it comes down to a matter of both strategy and approach. To take the refinement even further, consider some of the following questions:

  • What are your ideal work days/hours?
  • What kind of activities would you most enjoy throughout the day?
  • What manner of office or corporate culture most suites your preference?
  • What kind of people do you want to be working and collaborating with?

The answers to these questions will help you continue to filter as well as enhance your professional aspirations. The greater clarity you can put down on paper for your ideal match, the finer the returns will be for the companies that match the profile, and subsequently you can demonstrate why you would be such an excellent fit for their openings.

More from Stewart Cooper & CoonWhat To Look For In A Job Posting

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Wrapping Up

When it comes down to it, you have to really consider not only what you want, but what you don’t. If a company profile or history strikes you negatively, think twice before investing your time into it.

More so, remember that any choice you make is just a single step forward, not the whole game. Therefore, don’t become overly preoccupied with the notion that this new transition is going to a ‘forever’ choice. Rather, be aware that it could well just amount to few years of good experience and powerful new networking, or even just a springboard, which is equally valuable. There’s always tomorrow; so make it a good one.

More from Stewart Cooper & Coon: Making Your Dream Job a Reality

 

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

Examining the Humble Mindset in Terms of Professional Success

As complex and complicated as ethics are in the modern world – arguably more so than at any other age in human history – there are still defining virtues in life that seem truly timeless. Among these are the inarguable virtues of patience, good will, generosity, and courage; to name but a very few. Today, however, we consider a virtue that stands among them with no less stature but that comes with a degree of complexity under the modern lens: humility. Humility has been a laudable quality since time immemorial, noted as an aspect of both great people and great deeds. However, just as any other matter, there are extremes in play and overindulgences in anything can see it taken too far into a negative arena. And in no other case is this closer to the truth than in weaving the virtue of humility with the world of modern business.

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Make no mistake, being overly humble has the potential, if not assurance, of severely hindering your career. Culturally, a sense of confidence is the hallmark of our business leaders. While the word carries a certain negative connotation, arrogance is not far from the mark as well; and a certain degree of arrogance can do a great deal for moving professionals up the corporate ladder. That being said, let’s not make the mistake of a measured ‘arrogance’ being synonymous with egotism or excessive vanity. Just as before, the proper temperament is found in moderation and strategy.

As such, we’ll be taking a closer look into both the positive and negative effects of the humble approach in a professional environment.

The Bad

  • Promotion

Being a self-starter, taking the initiative, demonstrative leadership abilities; all of these attributes are congruent with those things executives keep an eye out for promotion and advancement. Preventing yourself from being able to step forward into the limelight when the opportunity arises can be a real issue. This is not about always working to be the center of attention, but rather recognizing when a challenge presents itself that you are confident in your abilities and expertise to handle. With an excessive sense of humbleness or shyness, you ensure that you’ll be overlooked.

  • Labels

Office culture forms in much the same manner as any other, with experience and interaction. Given that the intentional development of humility is not among the most common of pursuits in western culture, certain misunderstandings of your peers and colleagues may arise. For instance, reputations may develop along unfair lines: A humble person runs the risk of being considered unambitious, a follower, or one not to be trusted with managerial responsibilities.

The Good

All of that taken together allows an individual to walk a more careful path, avoiding the pitfalls of too much humility without compromising their integrity. Here are a few ways in which humility may set you apart and enable you to succeed:

  • Self-assurance – A humble person is less likely to accord blame or mistakes to themselves when they know it to not be the case.
  • A humble person generally has a greater sense of others, a compassion toward their peers and superiors that is independent of their status or recognition.
  • Building relationships and strong networks comes most easily to those who don’t have too much overt concern about getting themselves ahead before all else. A strong and viable network of people across the professional spectrum who know you for a genuinely good and caring person is, in a word, invaluable.

A powerful and mature sense of humility is ideal for maintaining an internal balance, not allowing the pressures and expectations of the professional world to wear you down.

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It all comes down to this: As with any virtue, humility is a personal matter of pursuit and growth. Take all things into accord and measure them against your personal morals and ethics. How you live your life and engage in your career is a decision you and no other will have to live with.

Further Reading:  What Business Leaders Can Learn From One Another

 

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

 

Four Proactive Ways to Reflect on Your Workday

We all experience those days at work when we feel we could have reached an additional goal, made more efficient use of our time, or just generally performed better. While we would prefer that every day be a victory, there are always tactics that can help ensure a better tomorrow.  What is most important is that we are realistic with ourselves without being harshly critical. Even after a great day at work, it’s still a good idea to assess the day’s events to boost future learning.

So, how do successful people reflect following a long day at the office? Kat Boogaard is an author specializing in careers and self-development, as well as contributor to The Muse and Inc.com.  She suggests employees and professionals of all kinds identify four basic factors at the end of each work day.

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1.  Recognize what went well for you.

Boogaard reminds workers that in the midst of our daily chaos and responsibilities, it’s easy to lose sight of the positive. This is why it’s crucial to take stock of even the minor wins you experienced which may have gone unnoticed at the time. According to Boogaard, “Not only will this give you that much-needed time to recognize your progress and achievements, but it will also put you in a much more positive and confident state of mind for the next workday”.

2.  Look for areas where you can improve.

Even the most incredibly productive and successful day at the office can be improved upon. Without being overly analytical of personal flaws, it is still a good idea to pinpoint any areas where you might have been able to improve your performance; and what better time to start than tomorrow?  Boogaard suggests, “Zone in on one – or even a few – areas where you’d like to step up your game the next day, and you’re sure to see constant progress in your productivity levels, work relationships, and overall outlook”.

3.  Plan your first task for the next day.

To avoid becoming overwhelmed, it’s most helpful to view your responsibilities not as one large mission, but rather as a list of basic tasks. “To get some much-needed clarity, think through your current workload and pick the one key thing that you want to work on when you get to the office in the morning”, says Boogaard. She continues, “That way, you can sit down at your desk with a clear head and a targeting plan in place”.

4.  Identify the best part of your day.

While it may be in our nature to focus more on the negative, it’s important to keep your thoughts positive even after a tumultuous day on the job. What’s more, a pessimistic mood can easily spill over into the next day. Boogaard recommends employees conclude by indentifying their favorite part of that particular day. She reiterates, “Whether you received a great compliment from a superior or got to indulge in a delicious piece of ice cream cake during a birthday celebration for a co-worker, thinking about something that makes you crack a smile will cap off your workday on a high note”.

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Further reading:   Five Pieces of Advice Prosperous People Don’t Ignore

 

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

Aiming for Success? Three Notions to Leave Behind

When it comes to achieving true success in any aspect of your life, one fact is consistently true: There is always a certain amount of sacrifice associated with the realization of great accomplishments. However, in certain cases, these sacrifices may simply be the act of letting go of preconceived notions or ideas to move forward with our aspirations.

The author of “Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best” and founder of “The Unmistakable Creative Podcast”, Srinivas Rao, has identified three concepts which are best disregarded when professional success is your ultimate goal.

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1. Let go of others’ definitions of success.

The real meaning of success can manifest itself in various ways for different people.  In regard to other people’s definitions of success, Rao states, “While this is one of the most difficult things to give up because it’s so deeply embedded in our cultural narrative, it’s also incredibly liberating and ultimately leads to the fullest expression of [who] you are, and what matters to you”. You are the only person who must live with the aftereffects of your decisions, therefore, living according to your own principals and value system should be of utmost importance. Rao reminds readers, “By understanding the essence of our goals – what it is that we believe our achievements will bring us – it’s easier to give up other people’s expectations”.

2. Release your fear of judgment.

Feeling as though you must always provide others with an explanation for your plans and actions may actually sap you of your confidence and motivation. It’s crucial to remember that one individual’s path toward success will never be completely identical to that of another.  Rao reiterates, “Once you give up your fear of judgment, your ability to work changes quite drastically. You become more present, productive, and start to gather creative momentum. You focus on the process, not the prize, and you start to see progress toward the life you want to live”.

3. Free yourself of past baggage.

While it’s true that our history helps shape who we are, it’s also easy to remain trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts regarding our past. There comes a time in our lives where we must be confident in the fact that we have learned from our mistakes; and any resentments or grudges we may hold toward people or past situations must also be left behind. Rao points out, “When you give all that up, you end up ditching a lot of baggage. You walk through the world with a sense of lightness, peace, and freedom that makes its way into everything else that you do”.

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The Takeaway

Without sacrificing or giving up antiquated ideas and pessimistic thought patterns, you are not allowing better and more promising opportunities to enter your life. It is up to you to identify your own idea of success and delineate the path and strategy that works best for you.

 

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

Five Career Lessons That Are Commonly Overlooked

There’s no way around it; the truth is, we learn through our past experiences, including our mistakes. This is especially true in the workplace, where very few individuals gain higher ranking positions within their companies without having made a few missteps along the way.

However, from each mistake we make, we have the opportunity to learn something valuable. Unfortunately, we often forget to notice some of the lessons to be gained, not only from our failures, but also through some of the common external obstacles and complications we encounter along the paths of our careers.

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With this in mind, it’s wise to refresh our memories in reference to some of the more commonly disregarded, or overlooked, lessons that will actually aid us throughout the remainder of our professional lives.

1. Mistakes are inevitable.

Although we’d rather not admit it, we never stop making mistakes in life; and the same holds true for our careers. Regardless of whether you are just starting out or if you’re the CEO of a company, the time will come when you are involved in even the most minor inaccuracy or slip-up. However, take note that this certainly does not mean you are destined for an ongoing pattern of failure. It just means that you are human, and try as we might to avoid, mistakes are an inevitable fact of life. As the legendary Henry Ford famously stated, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”.

2. Success is not an overnight journey.

No matter how successful you are or how hard you try, for the majority of us, achieving ultimate success is most definitely not an instantaneous achievement. It takes a great deal of time, effort, and dedication to reach your goals; and even when we do, there is always room for further growth. Unfortunately, so many of us overlook this fact, even becoming despondent and discouraged if we do not reach our objectives within a predetermined time-frame. Remember, anything worthwhile takes time, hard work, as well as a pure dedication toward your goal. According to Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch, “There is simply no substitute for hard work when it comes to achieving success”.

3. Managers are not mind readers.

The worst thing for aspiring professional leaders to do is to sit idly and wait for something great to happen. For instance, if you feel you deserve a raise or promotion, you may have to ask for it when the time is right. However, when you do, be prepared to explain why you feel you deserve it. Demanding extra compensation simply because you’ve been with the company for a year, for example, is never a good idea.  Rather, explain what you’ve done to make improvements to your department or the company as a whole (if you can provide samples of your work, even better), highlight your commitment, accomplishments, and anything else that will spotlight your professional growth and worth to the company.

4. Continued education is always an option.

Even if you’ve obtained the position you’ve always wanted, you should still continue to educate yourself. With technology growing at such a rapid pace, it seems there is always something new to learn. It is important, not only for the company, but also for your own professional growth, to keep current on new and improved technology, business practices, as well as remaining in the know on your own company’s newest operations and chief competitors. Educationally speaking, if returning to school and earning a brand new degree is not a realistic option for you, there are many online certifications, tutorials, and seminars that will enrich your existing knowledge, and simultaneously show your superiors how serious you are about becoming — and remaining — a valuable member of the organization.

5. Balance your professional and personal life.

Have you ever heard the phrase “keep your work at work and your personal life at home”? Yet, if you’ve been a member of the workforce long enough, then you know this isn’t always entirely possible. During our workweek, we spend the majority of our waking hours at our jobs, and keeping the two mutually exclusive is not always completely achievable. After a particularly stressful day or week, many find it difficult to decompress and truly enjoy their time with family and friends, outside of the workplace. The same holds true when the concerns and issues of our personal lives become entwined with our professional lives, making it difficult to fully concentrate at work. This SC&C Work/Life Balance Quiz can offer a first step for employees to assess their current equilibrium, and make any necessary changes, going forward.

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In Closing

As our lives and careers continue to progress, it is important to keep these important lessons in mind. Sometimes it’s the smallest, or even most obvious, lessons that are frequently neglected. Nevertheless, their value holds true — not just during a temporary professional crisis — but well throughout our lives.

Further Reading:  Valuable Career Advice From Influential Executives

 

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

Helpful Tips For Composing a Difficult Email

While no one ever wants to be the bearer of bad news, there are times when we must compose a difficult or even “harsh” email. Whether it be sharing honest feedback, a differing opinion, or informing a colleague of a mistake; these instances which may not quite warrant a phone call or personal meeting, are still worthy of a properly written message.

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Often, however, even the most harmless words can be misinterpreted in written form, so naturally those conveying criticism of any kind have the potential to create more unnecessary tension between you and the recipient.

Preventing fallout is the goal when sending a hard email, yet fortunately, Sara McCord, professional advisor, writer, and career contributor, has offered some valuable guidelines for composing those difficult emails.

Line one: Start with a friendly opener.

McCord states, “When you’re writing the opening line (after the salutation that is), it can be helpful to imagine it’s a conversation. If someone walked up to you and dove right into their point, you’d be put off.” Often it’s something as simple and obvious as “Hope you enjoyed your weekend” or “How are you today?” that can get the message off to a good start.

Line two: Thank your recipient.

When appropriate, recognize your reader’s efforts. In short, always acknowledge the positive before the negative. Thanking your recipient for their efforts, time, work or thoughts on the issue at hand, can help to soften the impact of the rest of your message.

Line three: Show that you understand your reader’s perspective.

Of course, you don’t want to waste too much time before getting to the main idea, but pointing out a possible strength within the recipient’s work, standpoint, or input, will help them keep an open mind to the actual point you are trying to make. As an example, McCord suggests, “…you might tell a direct report that you can see how the strategy they implemented would help the team operate better [or] you might tell a colleague they did a great job addressing the client’s main concern”. However, what is important here is to keep your comments honest and sincere, as most people notice when they’re being “softened up” for something negative. Also, be sure to keep the praise related to the issue at hand, and don’t overdo it to the point where your main message becomes muddled in the process.

Main body of email: Provide structured explanation.  

While you may feel that your recipient does not particularly care to read the details of why you are heading in a different direction, in actuality, it shows your reader that you have enough respect for their input and intelligence when you do provide ample explanation. Nevertheless, you do want to avoid over-elaborating on the problem, so try to keep your sentences as clear and concise as possible. McCord suggests the examples, “We decided to go a different direction because we needed a strategy that prioritized cost-effectiveness, due to budget constraints”; or perhaps, “… I’d love to see [these] changes carried through other aspects of the presentation because we’d like them to be consistent”. If you are offering multiple changes, McCord advises the use of bullet points to clearly delineate your ideas. However, the key is to include the reasons for your change in each sentence. In this case, budget constraints and/or consistency throughout a presentation are the desired results.

Concluding line:  Offer your assistance.

McCord advises that, as the writer, you should “[always] end by asking if you could clarify anything or answer any questions”. While it’s commonplace to remind the reader to contact you with any questions, there is an important purpose for including those words. Ending your email simply with your critique provides a very one-sided approach to the subject. Offering your help, not only shows your concern with the reader’s response, but also upholds a collaborative spirit wherein you convey the message that you plan to solve the issue together.

Of course, the sign-off consisting of a simple “thank you”, “best”, or “sincerely”, is all you need for a closing.

Subject Line: Choose words carefully

While the subject line is reliant upon the content of the email, you should still keep the tone non-confrontational and constructive. Some even suggest that for emails of this type, avoiding words like “urgent” is a good idea. Also, be sure not to offer too much information directly from the body of the message in the subject line.

Email Envelope On Mobile Showing One Message Received

Integrating these tips the next time you must compose a difficult or potentially negative email may just make the experience less uncomfortable for both you and your recipient.

Further reading:  The Importance of Skilled Business Writing

 

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

What Should Employees Never Discuss at Work?

There is a marked difference between tiptoeing around an office of eggshells and being blatantly, even obnoxiously, offensive. In most cases, that line is pretty wide and not terribly difficult to manage. Granted, there are certain areas where words get muddled or a misunderstanding occurs, however, generalities aside, there are pretty clear markers on what is, and what is not, acceptable workplace conversation.

Even for those with the best of intentions and quality social skills, there looms a danger that occasionally just happens: the dreaded miscommunication. While most often not anyone’s actual fault, the best strategy for managing this is one of containment: Disengage, do damage control, and be liberal with apologies as called for within the particular situation. Certain individuals, especially within a professional setting, can seem prone to not only take offense, but doggedly hold on to it. The best advice is to make your position of an honest mistake clear; things may be slightly awkward for a time, but it beats an open ticket with HR any day.

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Having covered a few generalities, we’ll now go on to compile a more specific list of common, and easily recognizable, subjects to handily avoid in the workplace.

The List

Let’s discuss a few of the following items, taking a moment to go into a little bit of exposition even though many may seem ubiquitously obvious.

  • ANY Political or Religious Topic: This one is right on the edge of such common knowledge that they hardly bear mentioning. We do so, however, to say this: Political issues aren’t limited to actual politics. It can easily encompass any degree of social or economic issues, even the most seemingly innocuous.
  • Money: Discussing your individual financial arrangement with the company, be it right-to-work or contracted, is generally considered extremely taboo, justified by an attempt to circumvent conflict within the ranks.
  • The Compulsive Contrarian: Many offices have that one individual who, despite the topic or subject, simply can’t speak positively about virtually anything. Do yourself (and the company) a favor and don’t be one of these people. Moreover, do your best to avoid engaging in conversations with these types individuals as well.

Now that we’ve covered the primary trifecta, here is a short-fire list for further consideration:

  • Personal life “drama”
  • Relationship details and sexuality
  • Personal orientations
  • Gossiping about the boss and/or other coworkers

Group of business partners communicating at meeting in office

Covering the Bases

The plain fact is that poorly considered conversations have the potential to genuinely harm your career. Regardless of the legitimacy (or even maturity) of the resulting fallout reactions, you really have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Is the risk worth the expression? Most often, the answer will be a resounding “no”.

Conversely, the end result of this culture of personal and professional preservation may potentially result in something of a lifeless-feeling workplace, with you and your coworkers hesitant to genuinely open up and make any real connections. How to balance this equation is a task that’s going to be relative to you, specifically, and your particular environment. In the end, only the individual can really assess the ins and outs of their own professional culture, determining what is and what is not acceptable.

Our advice is to proceed with caution. A single unintended misstep can have repercussions that can last a lifetime.

Further reading:  Tips For Being a Great Coworker

 

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 Evaluating a Job Offer

Getting a new job offer is both exciting and nerve-wracking at once. The excitement goes hand-in-hand with any step forward in your professional career. The nerves come into play as they do with any major life transition. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, let’s settle in and keep a cool head while we examine the preceding step to all this: receiving a job offer and how to properly evaluate it while keeping your best interests in mind.

A solid job offer provides a glimpse of what individuals should expect from their future employer, even beyond compensation and job description. New hires just need to keep their ear to the ground to pick up on all the details, such as the seriousness of the proposal and hints toward the culture of the company, itself.

Job offer

Perhaps most importantly, new hires should not feel compelled or pressured to decide immediately. Let the initial rush settle before you reply so that you can take a clear and level head, with your own interests and career goals firmly in mind before you engage with their overture. Even career-veterans sometimes allow themselves to act with a bit too much spontaneity; and understandably so. After all, at its heart, an offer is an open acknowledgement of your value and talent.

Step by Step

There is a superfluity of guideline compilations out there, yet many of them reiterate similar notions.  We’ve drawn together some of the best (and occasionally overlooked) items for you to take along as you consider if a new position is right for you.

  • Salary. Your primary and most obvious consideration: The compensation must be within your acceptable range.
  • Benefits and Perks. There can be a lot to unpack here and not all of it is going to be glaringly obvious. So make sure that you review the list carefully. Consider (and ask, if they don’t mention) whether the position offers savings, health care, relocation compensation, leave, vacation time, profit sharing, reimbursements, etc. The list can go on extensively, so write out those that matter the most to you in descending priority and tackle them in order.
  • Ancillaries. These can range extensively, and may include items such as child care, specialty insurance, hazard pay, travel allocations, and so on. The list may be extensive, so be sure to cross-check the position you’ve been offered with the company background and the types of duties they’ll be expecting you to perform. As with any perks, if you don’t ask directly the matter may never come up.
  • Job Title and Description. Is your role congruous with what was decided upon during your final interview and/or verbal agreement?  Be sure that there are no surprises in your listed title and responsibilities, as far as your written job offer is concerned.

Do your Research

This point cannot be overstated. Before responding in any way to the offer, get online and do some sleuthing. Look up the company, look up consumer reports, employee reviews, media events, and so on. The insight and data you’ll glean will be absolutely invaluable towards making the right decision, and will arm you with the surety to ask for more than you may have previously thought you could.

There’s another aspect to all this that you shouldn’t forget to think about: the nature of the company itself. In your professional career, as in all things, your core values must come into play. Your life is the sum total of what you stand for and who you are as a person; and your career is not magically separate from that equation. People often have to make moral compromises to their values and personal ethics in their line of work, but what to remember is that there is a line, and it’s never comfortable to cross over it.

Young businesswoman sitting at workplace and reading paper in office

Do your best to ensure that your next professional steps will be in line with your core values and the things that matter to you as a human being; or at the very least, don’t compromise you to the point of feeling irredeemable.

Further Reading:  How Job Seekers Can Identify Their Best Company Culture

 

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.