G is for… Goal Management

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Goal Management:

A goal or objective is a projected computation of affairs that a person or system plans or intends to achieve.

Being goal-orientated and a good self-starter are key skills that an employer looks for. Employers like employees to be ambitious, driven, in control of their own personal goals and committed to achieving their corporate goals as well.

This is why questions about the companies values, reasons you want to work for the company and long-term goals and aspirations frequently come up in interview. Employers want employees who are self motivated, who will take the initiative and don’t need their hands held while carrying out their job.

Why is it important to employers?

Being goal-oriented and being in charge of your own goal management shows a number of great skills and qualities – many of which are important to employers . Goal-Orientated individuals are hard-working, driven and create a productive atmosphere in the workplace. As a goal-driven individual you will have high performance standards and will motivate others to work to high standards too.

How can you show that you are goal orientated?

At interview you need to show:

  1. Your ability to set and meet goals (regardless of time constraints);
  2. a track record of high performance standards;
  3. that you have a 5 year plan; and
  4. that your 5 year plan include your potential employer and matches their company objectives.

Include examples from previous employment, quote facts and figures where possible and include things like increasing profitability, winning clients, improving efficiency etc. Don’t forget to emphasis how you have achieved your employer’s goals – not just your own.

If you want to develop this skill with a current employer and/or in an existing role  – discuss setting some goals with your employer and continually show that you can meet their goals.

Skill Development Plan

1. Think about your Goals:

  • Write your corporate goals and objectives in your career journal and link them to your own personal goals. E.g. Financial target, personal target, monthly or quarterly figures. Keep a record.
  • Write about your personal goals and how you can incorporate them into your role.
  • Come up with a list of goals and objectives at your next appraisal.

2. Develop a Five Year Plan

3. Write an entry in your Career Journal about what motivates you,

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How to Survive the First Day back in the office.

I love long bank holiday weekends. However, the return to work is not so great. Your inbox can explode on arrival (particularly if you have tacked on a few extra day holiday).

If you find yourself overwhelmed by post-holiday stress here is what to do:

Before arriving at the office

Prior to arriving at the office, prepare yourself mentally for the day. It can be hard to get up after a few lie ins but try to keep to schedule as there is no need for the extra stress of being late, or hitting a traffic jam. Have your regular coffee and wake up routine – read the news and do what ever you need to do to arrive at the office fresh and ready to go.

Morning Routine

Following a simple 30 minute morning routine before getting down to the nitty-gritty can make the work you do the first day back more effective.

1. Filing Pile (10 mins)

Quite a lot of incoming things on your desk will be reading/FYI only/filing. Clear these off your desk by having a filing pile (if you don’t already have one). Take 10 minutes to clear your desk of unimportant items so they are out of your way. If you have a secretary delegate the filing. If not, it can wait until you have a quiet moment.

2. Prioritise. Write a List. (10 mins)

I normally review what is on my desk and what needs to be done today. You should have an idea of your week and should already know what went down on your last day in the office.

Write a list and assign a priority. Note what is a priority and what needs to be done today (and what needs to be done before the end of the week). Use a labelling system, I use:

  • ‘1’ for items to be done today.
  • ‘2’ for items to be done this week
  • ‘3’ for items to be shifted to next week/when I have cleared the 1/2 items
  • ‘D’ for delegation.

If you can include a time estimate. This makes it easier to schedule into your diary.

Do the same with your post and emails and include items on your list as actions (any filing should be added to the filing pile).

Assign a 30 minute slot in the morning and again in the afternoon for dealing with emails – to read and review and assign an action.

If possible keep your out of office on to give you a few extra hours without clients getting annoyed about why you have not dealt with their specific email.

3. Negotiate your to-do list and fill up your diary (10 mins)

Be realistic about what you can do in the hours you have and schedule your to do list into your calendar. Talk to colleagues to see what their priorities are and what measures need to be taken.

For example: ‘Client X wants to complete this deal before the end of the week unfortunately the parties are still on very different pages and we are not where we would have hoped to be. I will need to spend more time on this matter negotiating it through so we are all set up. Would you mind if the application for Client Y until the end of the week. I might be able to fit it in while waiting for a response from Client X tomorrow, but there is no guarantee. If you need it done before the end of the week tell me now and I will arrange for someone else to assist with xyz.”

By the end of your first 30 minutes of the day you should have a plan. Now all you have to do is get to it.

Getting through the day

It can be hard to focus on your first day back but try to:

  • limit chit-chat to waiting for computer to boot up, coffee break and lunch time.
  • go though the morning routine, build a schedule and stick to it.
  • focus on one item at a time.
  • deal with an incoming emails/calls in your dedicated slots where possible.
  • dealing with any incoming ‘urgent’ work by reviewing your list, being realistic about what you can achieve and negotiating with colleagues.

End of the Day

Well done you have survived the first day back in the office, no doubt you will be tied and your concentration will go before home time. Use this 15-30 minutes to deal with outstanding emails/calls and prepare your to-do list for the next day so you can get stuck straight in on arrival.

F is for…. Facilitation

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Facilitation: The act of facilitating something.

Facilitating: Make an action or process easier.

Facilitation can be described as an ability to co-ordinate and obtain a response/opinions/ideas from a group in order to achieve a goal, make a decision or progress a project, meeting or event. Facilitating combines a wide range of skills.

Why is being a good facilitator important?

A good facilitator will make a good communicator, a good leader and a good manager. Showing that you are a good facilitator can boost your chances of a promotion, being placed in front of a key client or customer and / or taking on more responsibility at work.

It you are applying for a job when holding meetings is important or running ‘brainstorming sessions’ is the done thing – facilitation skills should be on your list. You will need to show that you can set an agenda, plan to maximise time in a meeting and obtain the necessary outcome.

How do you show you have good facilitating skills?

On your CV, in an interview or when developing your career journal you should have a few example of being a good facilitator.

Talk (or write) about a time you led or facilitated a meeting make references to what you did including:

  • how you planned the event,
  • how you got people to engage,
  • how you outlined the agenda,
  • how you encouraged people to make a decision,
  • any problems you had and how you solved them.

Skill Development Plan

If you are not normally in a position where you facilitate and lead meetings – volunteer to take control – even if it is just for a trial run. Ask you boss if you can lead a particular group discussion, whether it is with customers or members or your team. Even volunteer to help out with an internal training day etc.

Facilitation skills need to be practised and developed rather than learnt. Do group work, team work, become a team leader, run a project, take on a position of responsibility – there are so many ways you can do this. Practise where you can, and show off your skills in the public eye (i.e. in front of your boss). 

Action point: Any key events or meetings that your run, host or facilitate should be entered into the career journal.

Are you using these checklists?

Do you use checklists at work?

I do.

When I left my first permanent job for pastures new I was asked to produce a bible. A HOW TO for doing my job. I filled a spiral bound notebook with guidance, top tips and most importantly checklists which I understand was a great success and was used by my successor.

Since then I developed a habit of keeping checklists where possible as they proved incredibly useful (and saved a lot of time at later dates).

The checklists I designed for my job are split into 3 categories:

1. “How to” Checklists and Training Materials

These checklists are mainly used for training purposes and are designed to give the basic information to new starters and trainees that they can refer to or work through Step-by-Step. These also form part of my ‘bible’ for when I move on from a job. These are mainly used for straightforward technical matters where little or no discretion or knowledge is required.

2. Customer, File Or Project Overview Checklist

These checklists are used for the day-to-day job. You can set them up by file or customer or whatever category best suits the job. For example: you might want a checklist for the life cycle of your file / project so you can see what progress you are making and ensure you tick off all the different steps and don’t miss anything out. These are designed so that they can be used by you or another member of your team or anyone doing the same job. These are designed as standard documents but which save time by setting out everything clearly, streamline a process so everyone is doing the same thing or is used as a checking mechanism to minimise mistakes.

A well designed checklist can both save time and ultimately be used as your to do list.

3. Personal Checklist

These are checklists designed for personal use rather than for the use by a team. These include things that YOU specifically need to remember to help you do your job. For example I have a checklist for various documents that I proof-read as I find that both myself (and others) have the same blind spots time and time again. I will keep a checklist for things to double-check when proof-reading. Another example is where I make regular phone calls to various financial institutions. I often note which security questions they ask so that I have that information readily available as each institution seems to ask for different information and I waste time flicking through the file each time (It can also be useful to note the options on the automated service).

All the checklists (however they are designed and used) should be useful. Don’t forget some aspects of your job will become second nature and it is not necessary to keep a checklist for everything as this can waste time rather than save it. The key is finding a balance after all using a checklist should help you work efficiently, work to a high standard and in a consistent manner, prevent common errors or mistake and if your job requires you to –  assist with staff training.

E is for… Enthusiasm

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Enthusiasm: great excitement for or interest in a subject or cause

Does your job excite you? It should. If it doesn’t you should try to make it more exciting. While being enthusiastic is not strictly a skill, employers often employ those who are enthusiastic or passionate about the job or industry.

Why is being enthusiastic important?

If you show a positive attitude and an eagerness to do the required job it can be simple enthusiasm that gets you the job over and above similar candidates.

Why?

Employees who are enthusiastic are shown to provide good customer service, resolve conflicts, work productively with others and stay in the job for a longer period of time. Enthusiasm can drive good team work and make the team as a whole work better together.

But being more enthusiastic about your job also benefits you as an individual:

  • Enthusiasm can lift you up – you will be happier in your job and your enthusiasm will also inspire and lift those around you. Enthusiasm can be contagious.
  • Enthusiasm can drive you to work harder and achieve more – in the longer term enthusiasm can put you in line for a promotion, pay-rise and make you attractive to other potential employers.
  • Enthusiasm can potentially make you more creative, as you strive to make your job, company or projects better through your enthusiasm you can actually come up with ideas to make things better for everyone.

How do you show Enthusiasm?

Enthusiasm at a job interview:

  • body language: smile, sit up straight and make eye contact;
  • engage and discuss things in an upbeat/positive manner;
  • show an interest in the job.

Enthusiasm in the workplace:

  • show up to work on time;
  • show an interest in the job;
  • show an interest to develop the job by listening, learning and trying new things;
  • be proactive in quiet lulls / downtime;
  • actively seek work or support others.

An Enthusiastic Employee is someone who is seen to want to be at work and who is willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

Skill Development Plan

Enthusiasm can be a bit black and white. Something either gets your passion fired up… or it doesn’t. However being enthusiastic is not just about being passionate. It also includes:

  • being grateful
  • being positive
  • being proud of what you achieve
  • being creative
  • being proactive
  • evolving.

Action Point: Create a gratitude list and achievement list as part of your career journal.

How to Plan for when you are on holiday

Before you go away try to leave your work in a ‘tidy’ state and leave comprehensive holiday notes for anyone covering your job while you have a few days off.  Where possible try to schedule in advance or circulate things early.

Depending on the turnover of your work try to start your holiday notes a week in advance to make sure you have covered everything. If you rush something together in the final moments before freedom you are more likely to omit something important. Start too early and the ‘current position’ will have changed by the time you are leaving the office.

I have created a #flashfreebie as an example of the template that I use for my holiday notes which could be adapted to suit the needs of your job.

Flash freebie: Holiday Notes

Whatever form you choose to complete your holiday notes in, just make sure your colleagues are aware of the following:

  1. Urgent Items – what deadlines must be met, what bills must be paid
  2. Items you have left with another colleague  – be clear about which of your colleagues you have left work with, and brief them before you go. All colleagues who have been allocated work to cover should be emailed a copy of your holiday notes (and your secretary should have a copy too).
  3. Which items can wait until your return
  4. Any phone calls, post or emails you are specifically expecting.
  5. Note the “Current Position” in case a client or customer phones ‘for an update’.

and before your leave the office don’t forget to:

  1. Tidy your desk and leave files in the proper place so people are able to find them in your absence.
  2. Make sure anyone actively covering your work knows where relevant files and documents are.
  3. Turn on your Out of Office.
  4. Change your answer phone message if this is company policy.
  5. If you need another member of staff to ‘sign things off’ make sure you ask them first and don’t just assume. Have a workable system in place.

Once you have done all this you can rest easy and have a stress free trip (and hopefully not get any emergency calls or emails).

D is for… Decision Making

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The thought process of selecting a logical choice from the available options.

There are many different decisions you may have to make: you may have to make a good decision, an effective decision or a difficult decision. It is important to remember that there is not always a right choice but the key is to have a method for reaching a decision and justification for making that decision.

How do you show you can make decisions?

The IMPORTANCE of your decisions will depend on the role you perform, nevertheless it is a useful skill to have as all roles require some form of decision-making. You can be noticed for making decisive and effective decisions (and not have a leg to stand on if you make poor decisions).

So an employer will require all it employees to have effective decision-making skills. Perhaps more importantly it is an essential skill if you are looking to ascend the food chain ( after all the higher up you are the more decisions need to be made).

You can show off your decision-making skills to your current employer in your day-to-day job. However, to show a prospective employer that you can make effective decisions think of examples of where you have:

  • made a difficult decision;
  • made a decision which ‘went wrong’ and explained how you solved it (and importantly what you learned from it);
  • how you cam to a conclusion in a particularly complex decision.

Skill Development Plan

1.  Add a few examples to your career journal of decisions you have made (or start thinking what things you could put in your journal in the future). When you write an entry include details of:

  • the problem (and the context)
  • why you need to make a decision
  • the available options
  • the reasoning/justification
  • the decision/outcome
  • improvements for the future/learning points.

2. Have an established decision-making practice.

A structured decision-making process should include the following steps:

  • reduce complicated decision-making down into simple steps. clearly identify the decision to be made
  • Make a list of the possible solutions/options
  • discuss the problems with others (if appropriate), get any necessary feedback and try to have a full picture by gathering the information together
  • Have a deadline!

When making the decision you should:

  • evaluate the risks
  • decide on the values/items of importance
  • consider the pros and cons.

Action Point: think about your own decision-making process – how are you making your decisions? Do you need to improve?