Are Your Communication Skills Up to Par?

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Whether employers are hiring someone to make sandwiches, sell shoes, run science experiments, or repair plumbing—communication skills are always on the “must-have” list.

But what exactly do employers mean by “communication skills,” and how can you tell if you have them?

Here are some high-impact communication skills to check yourself on or work to develop, whether you’re looking for work or already have a job.

Face-to-face still matters

Although workplace communications are often online, well-rounded communicators need to be effective in face-to-face conversation, e-mail, on the phone, and—if used by the employer—text.

Communication needs vary by position, but most jobs require some face-time interaction with managers, coworkers, or customers, and employers appreciate an employee’s ability to bring their A game in person.

How well do you connect in face-to-face interactions? Some scenarios include:

Do you greet coworkers and welcome customers?

Extend a handshake at interviews and when meeting clients?

Participate and stay engaged when your team is gathered for meetings or events?

Are your non-verbals showing interest and engagement? Consider these points: Make eye contact, nod or smile when you agree, and use open body language; avoid crossing your arms and turning away from the other person.

Be intentional in your communication

When you start your communication from a purpose of understanding and how the other person might receive it, your communication will be clearer and more effective. When you analyze your job, or the job you’d like to get, consider these points: Who needs to understand what you have to communicate?

Possible targets for your communication might include: your manager, coworkers, the public, customers, students, patients, or others involved in the work you do.

What purpose does your communication serve? For example, do you want:

Customers to buy your product?

Patients to understand their medication?

The public to attend an event?

Your manager to know you’ve accomplished your goals? Once you know your intention, think about what kind of message your audience would respond to. Examples could include: Posting flyers in a neighborhood where your target customers live, writing a fact-filled report that shows how your work performance met job goals, creating a video that patients can re-watch, showing how to use medical equipment rather than to trying to explain complicated instructions repeatedly, texting reminders to students to register for classes.

Treating others professionally = good teamwork

Employers want their work teams to succeed, which typically means that team members get along, participate fully, and resolve conflicts when they do come up. The employer benefits and generally everyone on the team has a better experience. If you make assumptions about a team member, and they’re not the most positive, ask for clarification and clear the air after a misunderstanding to help build trust and keep the team functioning.

Do you let your team know when you need something or don’t understand something? Ask managers for feedback so you know what they need? Share information that would help others on the team?

Respect shows up in what you do and what you say. Do you speak positively about others on the team? Are good manners a priority with customers and coworkers? Do you make room for other people’s ideas?

In your team interactions, do you contribute to finding solutions? A team works better when members look for areas of agreement, and let unimportant differences go so the team can move forward together.

If you’ve decided your communication skills need some work, it’s never too late to brush up.

Source: CareerOneStop

Working from home? 7 smart tips to help you get more done

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As I write this, I’m sitting in my home office in the South End neighborhood of Boston. Since I’m self-employed, this is where I report to work every morning—usually around 8 a.m., or a little later, if I decide to treat myself with something from Starbucks, a short two-minute walk from my apartment. Though work-from-home professionals like myself only make up an estimated 3.4% of the workforce, that figure is about to change dramatically. As the world reacts to the spread of coronavirus, many companies are shifting to remote work.

While this is my normal routine, remaining effective away from colleagues (and your boss) isn’t an easy task for everyone—including my boyfriend, who is currently sitting upstairs at our dining room table. Typically tidy, our apartment looks a little wild: computer screens, laptops, notebooks and power chords scattered everywhere. He usually travels weekly for work but he’s been grounded, and now is figuring out how to meet deadlines, manage others, and host meetings, sans office.

There are many unknowns with COVID-19—from a health to an economical perspective—but if you are stuck inside and still need to do your job, it’s important to set up a productive shop. As someone who has built a lucrative career remotely for the past three years (and counting), I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade. Here, my advice, along with that of other telecommuters and career experts:

Put your bra on

Or, your pants. Or whatever you’d like to wear for the day. Though most of the Instagram memes will praise the ability to answer emails in your robe all day, being overly comfortable will tempt you back into your bed, or to your couch. Today, only a handful of people have seen me, but I’m still fully dressed (albeit in leggings), I brushed my teeth, I put on face moisturizer and even ran a comb through my hair.

It’s important to still do your morning routine as you usually would if you were commuting into the office, since it signals to your brain that it’s time to work—not to lounge. Of all of the lessons I’ve learned as a freelancer, this one is probably the most important and has made the biggest impact on my ability to work effectively.

Create a dedicated work space

Though some people are woefully unaware of their surroundings, others are inherently sensitive to dirty dishes, unfolded laundry, and those Amazon boxes that need to be broken down. When your space has to double as home and office, Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume and part-time remote worker, says a dedicated work space is essential.

Ideally, this should be a separate room where you can close the door, since Augustine says this signals to your roommate or partner or kids that you’re on the clock. If that’s not an option, map out an area that can be clear of clutter . . . or at least allows it to be out of sight. This may mean sitting at a specific chair in your dining room, so you don’t see the chaos in the kitchen, or pulling out a folding table in your bedroom, if it’s the cleanest spot in the house.

Set and maintain your normal hours

The first morning my boyfriend and I were working together from our apartment, we overslept by an hour, since it wasn’t our usual Monday-morning tango. Though we both made up for lost time and worked longer into the night, this is an all-too-easy habit to adopt when you’re new to remote work. After all, if you technically don’t have to be up by 7 a.m. and out the door by 8:30 a.m., why not get a few more zzzs?

The issue is the tone it sets for the day, and thus, your productivity. As leadership development and career expert Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker explains, when you’re away from the office, it’s more important than ever to set specific hours—and stick to them. One way to ensure you stay on track is to create time blocks. Whittaker-Walker says this could look something like this: checking email during the first and last blocks of the day, only holding calls between certain windows, and managing the hours when you feel the most alert. “If your freshest thinking is before noon, save meetings or intense work periods for the first part of the day. Cross off the day’s objectives as you complete them for an intrinsic motivation boost,” she says.

Focus on your output

There’s a big difference in working from home randomly one week because you weren’t feeling 100 percent—and being asked to perform away from the office for a few weeks, or more. As Kari DePhillips, the fully remote CEO of The Content Factory and cohost of the Workationing podcast explains, many people will try to hide from their deliverables since they don’t feel accountable in the same way. But, she says, it’s not enough just to “be at work” with a body warming up a seat. “In a remote work environment you’re entirely judged by the volume, quality, and timeliness of your output. In this way, remote work is a great equalizer, and you may find it gives you an opportunity to shine—and snag that next raise or promotion,” she says.

Every morning, DePhillips suggests creating a list of what you will deliver by the end of the day. If it’s helpful, scribble these down the night before so you can dive straight into work in the morning. Everyone functions differently, but I’ve found it helpful to outline the upcoming week every Friday afternoon and Monday morning. I go through everything that needs my attention, schedule time to complete it, and even set reminders that keep me focused.

Eat healthy lunches

During the coronavirus panic that’s wiped out certain supermarkets, you may find yourself stockpiling junk food. Unfortunately, the sugar highs followed by inevitable crashes aren’t exactly the best for keeping your brain focused. Career expert and remote worker Wendi Weiner says if you’re eating healthy at the office, don’t suddenly start eating bowls of chips or ice cream at home, just because you can. Not only do unhealthy food choices impact your energy and mood, but they can also compromise your immune system. “Plan your healthy snacks and lunches at home the same way you would plan for them at the office. Stick to a routine of keeping healthy even if you’re able to wear stretchy pants at home,” she says. “Ask one of your work colleagues to be an accountability partner and keep each other motivated.”

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

You’re most likely to be single at 40 if you have one of these jobs

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People can be workaholics. Sometimes work becomes so hectic that people can block out everything else in their life—including love—in hopes of making a successful career for themselves.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, being single longer is a trending topic in today’s society. There are plenty of benefits of staying single and marrying later in life.

Being financially independent, creating a successful career for yourself, and building a strong network of friends and coworkers are just a few of the things one can focus on if they’re not wrapped up in a committed relationship.

That’s not to say those things are impossible if someone is married, either. There’s just a lot of time that tends to be invested in those serious relationships that could be used for other things by single people.

Still, the thought of one being single later into their life made us wonder—what types of work are these people in that has them so wrapped up? We looked through some census data to see which jobs are most common for single people at age 40.

Top 10 jobs where you’re most likely to be single at 40

  • Bartenders: 74%
  • Tile installers: 73%
  • Food servers, nonrestaurant: 69%
  • Tour and travel guides: 65%
  • Parts salespersons: 64%
  • Personal-care workers: 63%
  • Flight attendants: 61%
  • Veterinary assistants: 61%
  • Postal-service mail workers: 60%
  • Food batch makers: 60%
  • Many of these professions seem to fall within industries with the highest turnover. A possible explanation for this could be that workers are so concentrated on their craft and making their careers as stable as possible that they cannot fit a serious relationship into their personal life schedule.

    A lot of these positions also offer the opportunity to travel for work, too, so people may believe that they’re better off traveling solo than bringing a partner along.

    Finally, a fair amount of the jobs listed have a commission aspect to them. There may be incentive to work longer hours with the opportunity to be paid more, again decreasing the opportunity workers have to enter a serious relationship.

    A logical reason why so many bartenders tend to remain single is that the majority of their income comes from their patrons’ tips—which can be increased with a little friendly flirtation. That’s definitely not a bad thing. Bartenders in some of the bigger cities are raking in six figures annually.

    Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

    How to decide if your social circle needs an upgrade in 2020

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    You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, motivational speaker John Rohn once said. If you’re not happy with your current situation at work, you may want to take a closer look at your inner circle.

    “We have to be really good at [deciding] who we allow into our life,” says Ivan Misner, author of Who’s In Your Room: The Secret to Creating Your Best Life and founder of the global business network BNI. “Imagine your life is one room and the room had one door. The door could only let people enter, and once they’re in the room, they’re there forever.”

    It’s a scary metaphor, but it’s true, says Misner. “Think about a person you let into your life and then had to let out because they were toxic, difficult, or angry,” he says. “If you can remember the emotions and what they did, they’re still in your head. If they’re in your head, they’re still in your room.”

    For this reason, it’s important to surround yourself with the right people from the start—or they’ll be in your “room” for the rest of your life.

    “When you realize that this happens, you can get better at screening out people before they get in and dealing with the ones you already let in,” says Misner.

    Letting people in

    Opening the door to the right people means getting clear with your values. “If you don’t know your values, you don’t know where to start,” says Misner.

    Start with deal breakers—behaviors that you hate, such as dishonesty or drama. Look for people who demonstrate these behaviors, and don’t let them into your social circle.

    “Pretend your mind has a doorman or bouncer,” says Misner. “Train your doorman—your subconscious and conscious mind—to identify people with these behaviors. By understanding your deal breakers, you’ll be better able to start understanding your values.”

    A common mistake people make when letting others in is weighing too quickly “what’s in it for me” and disregarding the things that go against their values. When we make decisions based on short-sighted gains, we also choose values that don’t resonate with who we are.

    “In physics, resonance is a powerful thing,” says Misner. “It’s a phenomenon that occurs when an extra force drives something to oscillate at a specific frequency.”

    To understand how it works, imagine two pianos sitting side by side in a room. “If you hit the middle C key on one piano while someone presses the sustain pedal on the other one, the middle C of the other one will vibrate on that second piano, without [it] being touched,” says Misner. “That’s resonance. People are like that.”

    When you make a decision based on what you think we can get instead of your values, you invite values that don’t align with yours to resonate in your life.

    “Be mindful about creating relationships with resonance and get your values down,” says Misner. “Companies often recognize the importance of knowing your values, but people don’t always think about them. Values should be at the foundation of everything you do. Otherwise, you’ll create the wrong room.”

    Dealing with people you’ve already let in

    If you have people in your circle that are creating a bad environment, decide if they have to be there or if you can exit the relationship. If they must be there, it’s time to draw a line in sand.

    “Evaluating your social circle means recognizing that someone may be in your life but their baggage needs to stay out,” says Misner. “Draw a line in the sand by saying that you’re not letting their behavior continue around you.”

    For example, if you have a coworker who demonstrates toxic behavior such as frequent gossiping or complaining, establish boundaries. Say, “Starting now, if you start talking badly, I will walk away. I respect you and will talk to you again, but only if you can have a mature adult conversation.” Then follow through. It may take a while for the person to understand the new boundaries and rules, but once you draw the line in the sand, you can eliminate the toxicity from your circle.

    “Stand firm,” says Misner. “Part of that is learning how to say ‘no.’

    Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

    What Women Want At Work

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    Generation Z is set to make up over a third of the workforce in 2020, and the oldest of the generation are settling into their careers, or are already moving into their next roles. At Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women, we took a look at what Gen Z women expect from employers, managers, and companies as well as their general opinions about the workplace and their careers.

    A surprising and significant takeaway from the survey was the value, or lack thereof, that Gen Z places on long-term, professional relationships. Most notably, over half of the survey respondents have never had an internship and almost a third think you don’t need any internship experience to land a job. And once landing the job, over half (55%) of respondents said that they plan to stay or stayed in their first full-time position for less than four years, and almost a quarter (24%) reported planning to stay or staying for less than a year.

    A crucial part of establishing yourself as a professional in an industry is building a strong network, which is typically something that takes time and requires more long-term professional relationships. Not to say that a person can’t build a network while they’re hopping between jobs or even working for themselves. Many individuals can prove this to be true. But it does suggest a major change in the future of career development for this new generation of the workforce.

    There’s a well-known statement that 80% of jobs are never posted, meaning that having a robust network may help you get a leg up on these “hidden” opportunities and give you a better chance at accessing them. Yet, from our research, we found that the number one way Gen Z women reported looking for their most recent job or internship was through an online jobs board, followed by their college or university jobs board.

    Not to discount the value of a network, the third and fourth most popular ways respondents found their positions were through friends and connection referrals, but when it came to researching companies, Gen Z women still rely on digital sources like the company website (69%), social media (49%), and company review websites (44%) as their main sources of information. To sum it up: Gen Z women don’t believe it’s who you know, but rather it’s what you know that matters.

    While the notion of changing jobs one or more times in the span of a few years is a foreign concept for some individuals, it may actually stand to benefit this new generation of workers. Overwhelmingly, throughout the survey, we found that the aspect of any job that respondents value most is the compensation. Sixty-three percent of female respondents said the most important quality they look for in a company is that it pays well. When asked if they could only have one thing at their next or first full-time job, 53% of respondents said they want a high salary. This may also explain why over half of respondents have never had an internship where the pay is very low or, sometimes, even nonexistent.

    Perhaps changing jobs is the best way to get that desired high salary. Research has shown that when individuals stay in their jobs for too long they may actually lose money, as compared to if they changed jobs. When you accept a base salary for a position, you can only receive raises based on a certain percentage of that salary. If you’re a master negotiator, you might be able to get the raise you want every time, but for many others, the only way to get a 10% or 20% (or more) pay increase is to change jobs where you can ask for a higher starting salary.

    It will be interesting to watch as Gen Z continues to enter the workforce and make up a larger portion of working individuals and see how their opinions change, or if they stay the same. Members of this generation are only beginning their careers, so they’re here for the long haul–although maybe not too long.

    Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

    What kind of questions should you ask at the end of a job interview?

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    It’s a scenario many of us have found ourselves in. You’re nearing the end of a job interview and finally, you can begin to relax a little. Despite the nerves, you’ve come across well and answered all the questions confidently – and with a little bit of luck, you may just be offered the position.

    Before you can run out of the room, however, the interviewer wants to know if you have any questions for them.

    It might be tempting to say no, so you can leave as quickly as possible – but asking questions can be of huge benefit when it comes to interviewing for a job.

    Firstly, it’s important to remember that interviews should always be considered a two-way street. Yes, the recruiter is interested in finding out if your skills and abilities are suited to the role in question. But a job interview is also a chance for you to work out if this is the right job for you – and if you are going to fit in well at the company.

    “As candidates, we can often get caught up in the whole process, particularly as we try to remember the answers we’ve prepared but it’s equally as important to take time towards the end of the interview to ask your own questions,” says Row Davies, HR business manager at the recruitment firm Macildowie.

    While you’re preparing for your interview and imagining the kind of questions you might be asked, it’s also useful to think about any queries you might have too. However, don’t ask an interviewer anything you can find out easily yourself, either online or on the company’s social media channels.

    “It’s crucial for you to assess whether the company is the right fit for you, as just like any relationship, both need to benefit and feel comfortable with the partnership,” Davies says.

    “Not only does the process allow you to show your enthusiasm for the company, asking questions also gives you the opportunity to check your goals and values are aligned with the business. You don’t want to be a year or more down the line and find that the company is heading in a direction that you don’t want to or perhaps can’t follow.”

    So what kind of questions should you be asking as an interview candidate?

    Davies believes there are three key questions that should be on every job applicant’s list.

    “The first, is asking the interviewer ‘is there anything regarding my experience you would like me to expand upon?’. Not only does this show that you are engaged, it also provides you with the opportunity to further emphasise your strengths and how you believe these will be an asset to the company’s objectives,” she says.

    The second is about learning and development – and specifically, whether the company is actively investing in their employees. After all, you want to know that you’re going to move forward in a job.

    “Ask, ‘how do you support the professional development of your employees?’. Answers to this question will give you an insight into how the business will support you as you progress up the career ladder,” Davies says.

    “It also shows the interviewer you have aspirations and a drive to succeed in the organization.”

    Finally, it’s a good idea to find out more about the company’s environment and whether they look after their employees.

    “I would encourage any of my candidates to ask the interviewer, ‘what do you like most about working for the company?’ This is great for building a personal connection with the interviewer, giving them the opportunity to share their personal views and the passion they have for the company,” Davies says.

    Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

    5 times it makes sense to include your high-school job on your résumé

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    Whether it was bagging groceries, manning the fast food drive-through, or babysitting, many of us had jobs in high school. Entry-level roles give us our first workplace experience and help shape our work ethic. But do they belong on a résumé?

    According to a report by recruitment software provider iCIMS, 70% of recruiters identified past work experience as being more important than an entry-level applicant’s college major. But there is not a one-size-fits-all approach for knowing how far back to go on your résumé, says Amy Warner, iCIMS director of talent acquisition.

    Think about what you want to convey to the employer,” she says. “Highlight the roles or skills that are relevant.”

    Career experts often recommend going back about 10 years on your résumé. Here are five times when adding your part-time positions to your résumé could be helpful within or even after that timeline:

    1. If the experience is relevant

    If the role is relevant and you can connect the dots to the job you’re applying for, keep it on your résumé, says William Ratliff, career services manager at Employment BOOST, a professional résumé writing and career services firm.

    “For example, a job you had bussing tables or serving coffee in college won’t help much if you’re applying for a marketing management role five years out of school,” he says. “If you’re fresh out of college with no job history, those positions can help showcase your work ethic and customer service skills, but they lose relevance as soon as your professional career begins in earnest.”

    Be strategic in how you present your customer service-oriented roles. Ratliff recommends searching job descriptions for skills and traits that crossover, like team leadership, problem-solving, financial reporting, relationship building, or anything you else you can feasibly connect to the positions.

    “Focus your résumé’s content on those skills, how you used them, and the concrete result of their application,” he says. “That way, your résumé will include the right key terms while illustrating how you benefited your former employers in those roles.”

    2. If the job was in the same industry

    Listing high school and college jobs can be helpful if they demonstrate you’re familiar with the industry, says Dr. Wanda Gravett, academic program coordinator for Walden University’s MS in Human Resource Management program.”Listing that early experience could advocate for your foundational knowledge and learning from the bottom up,” she says. “Coupled with your education, this might be a good sell and get you in the door for a low- to mid-level position.”

    Candace Nicolls, senior vice president of people and workplace at Snagajob, an hourly job marketplace, agrees. “If you’re applying for a role that’s related to an hourly job you once had, list it,” she says. “If you want to get into merchandising, list your retail experience. Mention your restaurant experience if you want to work at their corporate headquarters. Nothing teaches hustle like hourly jobs.”

    3. If you were promoted

    If you started washing dishes and worked you way up, include your experience, says Louisiana restauranteur Chris McJunkins. “If you show growth, such as starting as a busboy and making it to manager, it is something I would want to show,” he says. “Your future employer would see that you started here and were respected enough to keep getting promoted.”

    McJunkins started in the restaurant business at age 15 bussing dishes and now owns his own independent restaurant, eight Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux locations, and one Cantina Laredo. He says if you can do restaurant work, you can do anything.

    “You deal with people on every single level, he says. “If you’re in management, you’re dealing with employees of all different educational and financial backgrounds. And you’re dealing with all levels of people with customers. You learn to communicate with people.”

    4. If you want to demonstrate work ethic

    High school or college jobs often demonstrate your level of motivation, says Dena Upton, vice president of people at Drift, a conversational marketing and sales platform. “These jobs can be a great indication of your work ethic and drive—particularly if you are early in your career,” she says.

    For example, if you were a manager of a restaurant when you were in college, it can speak to leadership experience. Or if you were a retail salesperson, it can demonstrate your customer service abilities.

    If you had a part-time job and participated in extracurricular activities, this can be especially telling, says Upton. “You shouldn’t shy away from showcasing things like sports achievements or volunteering, as not only do they paint a fuller picture of who you are and what makes you tick,” she says, “but they can be a great indication of your leadership, time management, and teamwork skills.”

    5. If you plan to talk about the job in an interview

    Employers often ask behavioral-based questions during an interview, such as “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.”

    Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

    Make the Most of Your Meetings!

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    Typical managers spend nearly 40 percent of their work hours in meetings, not to mention the time spent preparing (and recuperating).

    A survey of business leaders showed:

    -33 percent of time spent in meetings is unproductive.

    -75 percent of the respondents said it is “almost essential” to have an agenda, yet they use them only 50 percent of the time.

    -Only 64 percent of meetings achieve their intended outcome.

    A disciplined approach to making the most of meeting time will help to maximize team effectiveness.

    Set an objective:

    Answer these three questions.

    What, ultimately, do I want to achieve by this meeting?

    What, specifically, has to be accomplished by the end of this meeting?

    When the meeting is over, how will I know whether the meeting was a success?

    Use your answers to define your meeting’s objective. Then make participants aware of the objective up front. Make sure the key people attend are the key people and are the ones with the knowledge and experience needed to accomplish the meeting’s objective.

    Arrange for the proper facility: Little things (how the room is arranged, the room temperature, or whether there’s coffee or not) can make a tremendous difference in the success of a meeting.

    Write an agenda There are numerous ways to accomplish this task. Have a planning committee set the agenda, or send out a pre-meeting survey asking people to list one to three topics they want to discuss. When writing an agenda, put the most important items at the beginning. The agenda should be distributed far enough in advance so participants can adequately prepare for the meeting. The agenda should state the date, location, start, and finish time, topics to be covered, the expected outcome (information only, discussion, or decision).

    Make the Most of Your Meetings Advice for achieving successful business meetings time allotted to each topic. Studies show that productivity decreases sharply after about an hour and a half of meeting.

    If you must have a long meeting, provide adequate breaks.

    Keep the meeting on track Consider using a facilitator or getting a team member to serve as timekeeper. If a facilitator is not used, the meeting leader is responsible for keeping the meeting on course and adjourning on time. You could also assign meeting roles to facilitate progress such as chairperson, note taker, timekeeper, or observer.

    You might also allow the participants to suggest agreements for the meeting before the meeting begins, like those listed below.

    – One person speaks at a time
    – No side conversations
    – Everyone participates
    – Listen as an ally
    – Set time frames and stick to them
    – se a consensus decision-making model

    If, as the leader, you notice that only a few are contributing, you can direct a question to others, such as “What do you think about . . .?” Should discussion stray from the agenda, you should ask, “Is this subject relevant?” and have the group determine if it should be added to the agenda or saved for a future meeting.

    Summarize the meeting In closing, the leader should summarize the group’s accomplishments, review action items (including who, what, and when) and, thank everyone for their participation. The summary of the meeting should be appropriately documented and distributed to team members and key stakeholders.

    Reprinted with permission: The Lindenberger Group, LLC.

    First-time leaders need to stick to these 4 truths to succeed

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    Congratulations! You have just been promoted to a leadership role in your company. You have aspired to be a manager and leader throughout your career, and you have finally achieved it. Now, here’s the bad news.

    Research conducted by CEB shows that 60% of all new managers fail within the first 24 months of their new position. And the main reason they fail is that they were not trained properly on how to manage other people and be an effective leader in the first place. You don’t want to add yourself to that statistic, do you?

    As a first-time manager, your job is to focus on building trust, engagement, and culture within your team of direct reports. Effective management is about a lot of other things, too, but at the end of the day, culture and the way people work with each other on your watch is what has to come first. The people you work with have to trust you and believe in the culture you are building before they can believe in and ultimately execute the strategy you are giving them.

    In my own career, the people I looked up to the most or learned the most from were individuals who cultivated that sense of trust. They engaged with me, and other team members, on a personal level. They welcomed a direct connection. And they took it upon themselves to get to know me and see me as more than just someone they were managing.

    This past year, I took on a new role within SAP as head of Partner and Small and Mid-Size Business (SMB) Marketing. I am responsible for a team of 100 people across four or five levels within the organization, spread across four continents.

    After reflecting on what I appreciated most about my own managers, I wanted my new team to know I was always available for a one-on-one chat, whether the conversation was work-related or not. My belief, and what I have learned from my managers before me, is that in order to build trust if someone on your team needs to talk, that relationship needs to be a priority.

    Once you have trust as your foundation, you can begin helping your team adopt these four things necessary for them to be successful.

    Show (don’t just “tell”) people how to have an urgency for change

    Companies that succeeded in the past oftentimes struggle to find their next big leap forward.

    I have been at SAP for 14 years, and I have witnessed moments (just like any other company) where new strategies and changes are adopted immediately and effectively and other moments where new strategies and changes are forgotten and tossed by the wayside. When changes don’t get implemented, it is not necessarily because they are more difficult to execute. It is often because the environment, the team, is not prepared in order to internalize that change.

    In a metaphor, “change” is sort of like planting a tree.

    First, you have to prepare the ground (your team’s culture), so that it has the best chance of growing and flourishing the way you would like it. Second, you have to show people how and why the changes you are proposing matter. People need to see and understand for themselves the long-term impact—not just be given a task with minimal visibility of the larger strategy. And third, you as the manager need to make each and every person involved see how they fit into the bigger picture. Human beings need to know why their part matters, and how their individual efforts impact the efforts of the group.

    What tends to happen instead is new leaders take a seed, throw it onto rocky ground, and say, “Here’s our new strategy.” They offer minimal explanation into how or why it matters. They don’t help people see how their individual efforts matter. And then they get frustrated when nobody feels a sense of urgency to implement the changes into their daily responsibilities.

    You have to put people first, always

    The only asset we truly have is our people. Our people are who keep the company moving forward, our people are who keep our customers and partners engaged, and our people are who collectively create the entire energy and culture of the organization. This means it’s my job, and the job of all the other managers, to ensure our people feel happy, motivated, and like they’re making an impact. It’s our job to make sure they don’t feel like they are being lost in the shuffle of the company’s fast-moving environment.

    Celebrate as a team. If one person or a small group of people accomplishes something, allow everyone to be part of that milestone. This will make the success more meaningful for those involved and stand as motivation for everyone else.

    Support the efforts that don’t succeed. When team members go outside the scope of what is “normal,” try their hand at something new, and fail, their courage to be wrong is the quality that should be highlighted—not the failure itself. It’s the Thomas Edison principle. Your team might fail nine times out of ten, but that 10th time, you all may invent the light bulb together.

    Hold people accountable by acknowledging their intentions. At the end of the day, people are human beings. Sometimes, we’re wrong. The manager’s job then is to create a space where being wrong is okay—but to also hold people accountable to ensure the idea was given its best effort.

    Create a culture of openness and sharing

    Oftentimes, the best ideas will come from your team—not you.

    As a manager, you have to be the one to set the bar higher for your team. I’m not just talking about the goals team members set for themselves, but how they go about achieving them in the first place. Effective leadership is not just about “knowing the answer” but being able to facilitate conversations in a way that allows the best ideas and “answers” to unfold on their own. Every project and initiative your team takes on, ask yourself, “Have I raised the bar enough? Did we go beyond what was expected, and do something we can be proud of?” The more your team can lift itself because of the culture you have built and the expectations you have set, the less you will have to continually do it for them.

    Unfortunately, a lot of first-time managers (and even seasoned managers) don’t allow their teams to achieve their full potential, because they get wrapped up in their egos.

    They feel like unless they are the ones to come up with the idea, they aren’t going to have a job anymore. Or, they need to feel like they’re running the show and being seen as the leader, instead of taking a step back and letting the best idea (from whomever) emerge on its own. They say they want to collaborate but, in reality, they want to be the center of attention. As a result, the team reciprocates and feels like their efforts don’t really matter. They learn to just sit back and accept things as they are, instead of helping push the bar higher and uphold the team’s standard for excellence.

    As a manager, your number one job is not to be the smartest person in the room. Your job is to essentially organize the room, and make sure the right people are working on the right things, together. From there, your job becomes about having an open mind, listening, and deciding who needs who else in order to be most successful.

    Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

    Hot job! Taco Bell offers $100,000 salaries and paid sick time

    LinkedIn
    woman restaurant manager with clipboard inspecting kitchen

    Wanted: Restaurant manager. Competitive salary: $100,000.

    The six-figure sum is not being offered at a haute cuisine location with culinary accolades, but rather at fast-food chain Taco Bell. In the increasingly tight U.S. labor market, the company is betting a higher salary will help it attract workers and keep them on the team.

    The Yum Brands Inc.-owned chain announced Thursday that it will test the higher salary in select restaurants in the Midwest and Northeast. It will also try a new role for employees who want leadership experience but don’t want to be in the management position. Current salaries for general managers at company-owned Taco Bell restaurants are between $50,000 and $80,000, according to the company.

    Workers at company-owned Taco Bell restaurants nationwide will be offered at least 24 hours of paid sick time per year, the company also announced. According to a spokesperson, Taco Bell previously offered paid sick time only to managers and is now extending that offer to all employees at company-owned restaurants who have had their jobs for at least 90 days.

    It’s another example of how stubbornly low unemployment is changing the face of fast food, which for decades has been seen as the quintessential low-wage job. Restaurants including Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants Inc. and Shake Shack Inc. have recently reported that labor inflation is hurting margins.

    In November, the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching the lowest since 1969, while average hourly earnings climbed and exceeded projections.

    Continue on to the Los Angeles Times to read the complete article.

     

    This is the most essential trait you need to land any job

    LinkedIn
    Hiring manager interviewing potential candidate for a job

    There’s no denying the value of having relevant experience and a winning personality when you’re looking to land a new job. However, a recent study conducted by TopResume confirms there is another quality that employers find even more attractive when making hiring decisions.

    When asked “Which of the following is most important in a candidate?” nearly half of the recruiters and hiring managers cited potential as the number-one factor, beating out experience (37%), personality (16%), and education (2%).

    But what, exactly, is potential, and how can you demonstrate this trait to prospective employers during your job hunt? While there are various definitions floating to describe a “high potential” (HiPo) employee, it ultimately boils down to two qualities: problem-solving skills and a willingness to learn.

    SOLVE PROBLEMS CREATIVELY
    Managers are always looking for people who will bring solutions, rather than problems, to their departments. These are the types of hires who will provide the most value to the company, no matter if the position is in customer service, public relations, or engineering. Employers across all fields want to find workers who will face challenges head-on and seek creative solutions, rather than avoiding the situation or ignoring it entirely.

    DESIRE TO LEARN AND GROW
    Thanks to the fourth Industrial Revolution’s rapid pace of change, expertise has a shorter shelf life than ever before. In fact, according to Dawn Graham, PhD, author of the book Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success, most of us will be forced to become career switchers at some point in the future because of these constant changes. No wonder employers are interested in candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances and challenges in the workplace. The best employees are lifelong learners, people who actively seek out new experiences, knowledge, and feedback to increase their skills and add value to their organizations.

    THREE WAYS TO DEMONSTRATE POTENTIAL
    Our research confirmed that most employers evaluate these qualities in a candidate based on what they find on a person’s résumé and during the interview process. Here’s how you can show hiring managers you’ve got the potential they’re seeking in their next top hire.

    PREPARE PROOF POINTS
    Anyone can declare a knack for tackling problems or a love of learning on their job application or during an interview. However, if you want to convince recruiters you possess these desirable skills, you need to offer proof.

    Start by brainstorming a list of examples in your career when you demonstrated creativity in order to solve a problem, learn a skill, or meet a goal that benefited the company. For example, perhaps you gave yourself a crash course in blockchain technology to prepare a pitch for a potential client that your team successfully landed. Or maybe you delved into YouTube videos or took the initiative to complete an online course to quickly learn a new skill that was required to successfully complete a work assignment.

    Spend time fleshing out the stories that best illustrate your skills. Then, determine which of these stories can be woven into your résumé or your interview responses.

    MAKE SURE YOUR RÉSUMÉ LEADS WITH RESULTS
    Review your list and flag the stories that resulted in an achievement or a contribution that benefited your employer, such as lower costs, safer operations, greater profits, happier customers, etc. These will be the most appropriate examples to incorporate into your résumé.

    Use the bullet points under your résumé’s Work History section to highlight these successes. Where possible, begin each bullet point with the result of your efforts and then describe the actions you took to achieve such a result. This is known as the “result by action” format. The “action” part of this bullet point is your opportunity to specifically demonstrate how you leveraged a specific skill to provide value to your former employers.

    In the cases where you completed training programs, courses, or certifications to expand or deepen your skill set, be sure to include these professional-development activities in your résumé’s Education and Professional Development sections.

    PREPARE FOR BEHAVIORAL-BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
    Employers often ask candidates to describe how they behaved during a particular situation in the past in order to gauge how they might perform in a similar situation in the future. The sample behavioral interview questions below are designed to help interviewers assess your ability and willingness to adapt, to think creatively, to solve problems, and to take initiative—in other words, your potential.

    Describe a time where you had to solve a difficult problem. How did you handle it?
    -Tell me about the first job you ever had. What did you do to learn the ropes?
    -Give me an example of a time when you had to think on your feet in order to delicately extricate yourself from an awkward situation.
    -Tell me about a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do? What was the outcome?

    Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.