Meetings. We all have them. Some of us may dread them, some may love the opportunity to share and see our fellow coworkers. Regardless of how we may feel, meetings are likely a part of your job whether they are in person, over the phone, or virtually with a webcam. So, how do we make the most of these meetings? How do we consistently pay attention to remain engaged? It starts by being intentional.
To begin, we must set ourselves up for success. And if you’re anything like me, this means eating beforehand. As much as I like to think that I do not get “hangry,” without food…it happens. This can also prevent you from getting distracted during the meeting if it were to run late or into your lunchtime.
Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it! What we do and don’t talk about at work these days has changed. We’ve become much more open and willing to discuss things that in our parent’s day and age, they’d never dream of sharing. This is a double-edged sword–both good and bad–blurring the lines of what is considered taboo.
Before we dive into a few of the things that are a bit more acceptable to discuss these days, I’d like to preface with–no matter what is being discussed–the who, how and when of these discussions is still as important as it ever was. Water cooler conversations with peers in a gossiping manner isn’t productive or helpful. Coming in as a new employee and discussing your financial problems and family challenges, doesn’t set a good impression. As we look at my 4 things I think are valuable to discuss nowadays, keep in mind that I’m talking about with productive intentions and with the appropriate person(s).
1. Conflict – Conflict arises, and while it might seem taboo to talk about, address and deal with issues with your manager, colleagues and peers as they happen (Take time to cool down if needed before you address!). There is no value in holding onto negative feelings for prolonged periods of time. Have an open discussion, focus on listening to the other person. Ask clarifying questions. Ask that they hear your point of view. Remain calm and keep the overall objective of business performance top of mind. Work on a resolution with the person with a conflicting view point. Only bring in others when another opinion is necessary, or an agreement can’t be found and is necessary. Most times a consensus isn’t needed and agreeing to disagree is okay.
I don’t know about you but being called lazy is one of the biggest insults I think there is. I was fortunate to be raised where productivity, hard work and accountability were encouraged, which is why I’m sure that I find the term lazy so insulting. But, I do know it is an issue. Talk with any business owner or leader and I bet they’ll tell you that one of their biggest challenges is finding good employees that will show up and do the work.
Are you one of those? Are you lazy at work? While we could blame it on generations or upbringings, the reason really isn’t the important piece. What is important is how you step up and change your approach from lazy to productive. There is so much to gain for those that are on the productive and accountable side, particularly in a market that is screaming for good talent.
Do you find yourself in a new full-time role, brimming with ambition, ready to take on the world but desperately in need of a plan for your career path ahead? The steps below can be a good starting point for those who want to map out their career path or those who would like to proactively find ways to stimulate growth and retention of great employees.
Recognize that everyone has their own list of duties and responsibilities. So even the best supervisors can’t commit as much time as they would like to your development. You have to take ownership of your career path discussions – based on your own interests and planning – and not rely on someone else to start the conversation.
Before you have any discussions with your supervisor, reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Assess which career paths within the organization interest you. Compare your perceived weaknesses with skills needed in the positions you aspire to. Identify those top skills you believe you may need to work on in order to even be considered. Make an outline of this assessment – maybe a clean one after your messy brainstorm – to prepare you to have a clear and succinct conversation.
“The days are long but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin. Time (and hence, life) moves quicker than we realize. If we let life happen to us, we can look back and wonder, “What if?” or feel we let opportunity slip away. If we approach life with purpose and direction, we’re more likely to accomplish personal and professional aspirations. One of the best ways to do this is to have a clear plan that gives you direction, clarity of purpose and allows you to communicate with others what you aspire to achieve! To get started, create a five-year plan. Start at year five and work backwards, setting benchmarks by year or clearly defined goals.
o Know and invest in your strengths.
o Describe what experiences in your industry or organization you believe is important and realistic.
I fall into a unique age bracket where some people consider me to be a millennial and others consider me a member of Generation X, point being, I kept my first job out of college for nearly 13 years and that makes me a bit of an oddity. So, as you can imagine the choice to start exploring other opportunities was a daunting one. Speaking from my experience, below are some things to evaluate when deciding whether or not changing jobs is the right decision for you.
Are You Happy?
Honestly, this made the top of my list because just recently I ran into someone I worked with in my previous career who asked if I was happy now that I have made a career change. My guess is the question came from her assumption that I wasn’t happy which led to my decision to make the change I did. This seems like a fair analysis, but there are so many components of a career that can make you happy or unhappy. Leadership, job duties, compensation, etc.
According to the AgCareers.com Candidate Motivation and Behavior Survey, dissatisfaction with their boss or supervisor has a high level of correlation to the likelihood of that person changing jobs. The same question shows that satisfaction with coworkers appears to have less impact on employees searching for another job. I will say for me, this was one of the things that kept me happy for many years in my career. I felt committed to my teammates as much as I did my supervisors. But when you reach a point when you are no longer happy with the direction of leadership, your compensation, or the day to day tasks of your job, then it is probably time to explore a change.
For some of those that know me, they may find it hard to believe that I truly consider myself more of an introvert. But if you don’t believe me, ask my husband! However, over time I feel like I’ve figured out the extrovert part and can sit comfortably in that space when the timing is right and I’m so glad that I have. I’ve met so many great people and learned so many new things just by getting out there and starting and participating in conversations, whether at networking events, kid’s activities, tradeshows, etc. Getting that conversation started doesn’t always come natural for everyone. You know who you are – don’t worry, you aren’t alone! While I’m not going to claim to be an expert of small talk, here are a few things that I’ve found helpful over time.
1. Look for small groups of people to interact with if possible. If you get in with a group, it can be easier to jump in on conversations that are already taking place. Also, you are likely to have more to talk about and possibly in common when there are several people to contribute to the conversation.
Workplace wardrobes can be tricky, particularly for those employees who do not have a mandated uniform or clearly written (and modernized) dress code policy. However, you may have a few things in your closet that you should never wear to work, regardless of how well the dress code is explained or enforced.
1. Flip flops. The weather is warming up and maybe you have a really comfortable pair. Sorry, put them back in the closet. Flip flops are never quiet and they’re never that nice (no mater how much you spent on them). While some offices may permit open toed shoes, sandals that expose more foot skin than they cover should be saved for the weekend.
2. Leggings as pants. While some dress codes may ban leggings all together, I can justify their presence in the office when worn under a LONG tunic or dress. However, substituting them for pants is not acceptable.
As a millennial myself, I certainly understand the frustration when it comes to the longing for the fast track to career advancement. However, as it’s often liked to say about us, that “entitled” mentality only leaves us disappointed and agitated in our roles. That’s a term I really hate: entitled. Let’s say “energetic” instead. I can definitely say I feel energetic about my career and the possibility of where it could lead. But like all things in life, it’s important to simply enjoy the journey. So join me as I reflect on and give suggestions toward climbing the millennial career ladder.
I LOVE podcasts! They help make a long drive more bearable and keep my mind alert while on the road. Admittingly, my favorite shows are murder mysteries, but I’ve also discovered shows that are beneficial for my professional life (and don’t creep me out when driving down a two-lane road late at night!).
Maybe you’re like me and have a stack of articles and books that would really benefit you professionally, if only you could make the time to read them. Podcasts enable me to gain wisdom during a time in my car that is otherwise spent trying to out-sing whoever is on the radio. They are also free and easily available on a range of devices. Check these podcasts out and download them for your next drive!