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Monday, January 28, 2013

Bored as a Gourd? Not an ideal employment state


I've been struck the last couple of weeks with the reiteration of one of the things that is extremely detrimental to both employers and employees: boredom at work.  

I've recently been working with an adult client wanting to make a career change.  She is an extremely talented individual, and In talking with her about her current employment  she says she is just a "warm body".  One of the main reasons she wants a change is because she's bored as a gourd at work!   She works for a government contractor (the waste of taxpayer money as she sits there bored is a topic for another day) and none of her talents and skills are being utilized in her role. 

Also consider a quote from a book I just finished reading, Tribes by Seth Godin: 

"Consider the receptionist at a publishing company I visited a week later. There she was, doing nothing. Sitting at a desk, minding her own business, bored out of her skull. She acknowledged that the front office is very slow and that she just sits there, reading romance novels and waiting. And she's been doing it for two years." 

Two thoughts come to mind on boredom at work: 
1. What a waste of money! As a leader, why would you pay people to be bored?
2. What a waste of talent!  This may even be more of a shame.  Leaders should be making more leaders, and leadership isn't cultivated through boredom.

What if you are an employee and bored?

Two courses of action exist: 

1.  Change your work environment. You may want to check out these two posts to discover if there is a better fit for you in the workplace: 

2.  Proactively ask for challenging or varied tasks.  Does your boss seem overloaded and stressed, but your reading your romance novel?  Simply ask him/her if there is something you can help with.   If they don't volunteer anything (why they aren't volunteering, is again, a topic for another day) pay attention to what they are spending time on and see if you can help them without being asked.  Prove your worth and your talents by proactively getting things done without being asked to do so.

What if you are a leader and your people are bored? Stay tuned for next week...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Leadership How-To: Combine Communication with Teamwork

To continue our periodic posts on Leadership How-Tos as a suggestion from participants in my last Leadership I class, I'd like to suggest an activity that combines two of the class topics:

1. Teamwork
2.  Communication

In the class, everyone takes a Communication Style Assessment .  You can click the link and order a paper copy like the one taken in the class for $14.00 each or click here to see all the other products that go along with the assessment.  You can order the online version for $16.00 or even order $2.00 blinking pins for each of the four different styles.

To better understand communication in the workplace and build camaraderie amongst your team (and have a little fun while you are at it!)  get this style assessment or another you find that you like and have your team members take it.  Then plan a 30 minute team building session to discuss everyone's results.

Facilitate a discussion that includes:
1.  What each person's style means to them.  Get people to describe a scenario at work that shows their style.
2.  Have a good discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of each style.
3.  Ask members of the team to pair up with someone who has a different style than they do and discuss ways to improve communication between those two types of styles.  Have them share with the group.
4.  Focus on the fact that no one style is right or wrong, but knowing ourselves and knowing others on our team helps us communicate more effectively.

To reiterate the points of effective communication between different styles, if your workplace culture supports it, order some of these goofy blinking pins 
(no, I am not getting a kickback for promoting any of these products :)  and facilitate some fun team building around giving them away when people either demonstrate their style or recognize the style of others in a behavior based example.

Want other example of a teambuilding activity?  Check out upStartHR's post here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Marketing Yourself Must Go Beyond the Traditional Resume

Considering a career change or actively looking for a job?  Just brushing up your resume isn't going to get you where you want to be, most likely.  Even if you are not on an active job hunt, creating a personal brand for yourself that highlights your strengths and expertise can help you get to where you want to be.  In addition, using a variety of mediums or avenues to market yourself is important.   In the days of googling everyone and everything, you need to have a web presence.

I have one client who TOTALLY gets this.  While we spent time working on revising her resume to reflect the experience she had related to the career transition she wants to make (from technical writing to an HR or administrative role) she already had domain names purchased and spent time over the holidays honing her own website to highlight her strengths and create an avenue to showcase the work that she has done.   The website is her portfolio. She also focuses on blogging about issues related to the field she wants to be in because she has a passion for these topics.  Reading and writing about these issues is fun for her as it should be for anything a person has a passion for doing. You can check out her site here: www.stephaniewhitlow.com

Her website also shows that she has the technical and creative ability to create and manage a website.  It also shows initiative. Although you can hire people to do a website for you without a whole lot of expense, I would recommend trying to create one on your own.  Its a learning experience and a skill that you can add to your resume.

Not ready to create your own website or start blogging?  At least be sure that you have a LinkedIn profile and it reflects your brand.  For certain professions, having a hardcopy portfolio and an electronic copy of it saved on a jump drive is beneficial.

Interested in reading more about this topic?  Here's another good read from the Working Wisdom blog.

What do you need to do to take your personal brand to the next level?

Monday, January 7, 2013

The January 2013 Leadership Development Carnival: Best of 2012 Edition

Our most viewed post of 2013, Pot Meet Kettle, is featured in this month's Leadership Carnival.

The January 2013 Leadership Development Carnival: Best of 2012 Edition

I'm going public!

I spent the whole month of January last year blogging about New Year's Resolution-ish posts tied mostly to goal setting.    You can check them all out here:

Strategic Resolutions
Your Stop Doing List   (The article by Jim Collins linked in this post is one of my absolute favs)
Goal Setting- A Series
Goal Setting- Diminishing Returns
Goal Setting- Feedback

Although I'm not going to spend the whole month of January this year talking about making yourself over with goal setting, (because by the time we get to the end of January we will probably have ditched most of our New Year's Resolutions anyway according to the research) I am going to to attempt to keep myself from ditching mine by going public with my goals for 2013.

In addition to the research driven topics I talked about in 2012 to improve your goal commitment, publicly declaring your goals has proven to help goal commitment and achievement.

Here are mine:
1. Maximize productivity in the morning.  I am, by far, the most productive in the morning if I will just take what seems to be the small but actual a huge step of getting my two feet to hit the floor.   This year, I'm committing myself to get up at 5 AM at least three times a week for a workout, a devotion, no rushed feeling while getting my little one ready, and time in the office early to get started.  I want to spend the hour I get to the office early these three times or more a week writing and reading about career and leadership topics. Long term, I want to write a book and have it published on career development.

2. Grow company revenue by 30% or more in 2013.  I spent quite a bit of time last week looking over the business development activities I engaged in and analyzing what results those activities created. With this, I have come to the conclusion that this a challenging yet reachable goal.  I have set mini goals/tasks in each area of my business to help reach this target. For example, make four initial contacts with a new business prospect each month. In order to keep up with these targets and tasks, I have created a simple spreadsheet (that I actually use with some of my coaching clients).

Here's an example of what it looks like:



I wish I had a way to synch this with my Outlook task list, or something that would let me do both in one system that is inexpensive and coordinates with my email and calendar.  If you know of one, please let me know!

That's it for my goals that are professional in nature.  As far as the personal goals, number one above incorporates some personal components such has health and spirituality, but here are the exclusively personal ones:

1. Cook dinner and sit down as a family to eat at least four times a week. 
2. Be committed (as I have been the last two years) to one day a week at home with my little boy.
3. Express gratitude to those closest to me.  (For more on the why behind this goal, read an earlier post here.)
4. No debt except our house by the end of the year.
5. Read 30 books.

What are your goals for this year and what tools to you find helpful in achieving them?  Go public with yours!


Want more?  Here is a blog I follow who has gone public with her personal and professional resolutions too- Intern Queen



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Managers' Impact on Employee Productivity- Great post from upstartHR

Employee Productivity Post from upStart HR

This is a great posting from Ben Eubanks from upstartHR that summarizes some research on a manager's impact on employee productivity.  Be sure to click the links at the end of the post to see the original source of the info and the YouTube video.