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Navigating Difficult Conversations at Work
16th June 2021
Dealing with conflict or tough conversations at work. It’s comparable to the ‘we need to talk’ dread all of us have undoubtedly faced at some point in our personal lives. Whether it’s addressing distracting behaviours in the office, challenging your colleague on the accuracy of a report or confronting a long-overdue company problem – these conversations need to happen, and they need to happen for a few reasons: - The problem can’t be fixed if there is no awareness of the problem in the first place. - Get that weight off your shoulders, its liberating! - It’s how we achieve professional and personal growth – your company will benefit from this too. The art of conversation is like any art. With continued practice you will acquire skill and ease. Finding the right words, and the right moment – it is no easy task in the fast-paced commercial world. Step 1) Conquer your fears and just do it. Here are some tips to make the conversation easier… Set a Positive Tone - Mindset matters. Frame the conversation in a different way and put a positive spin on it. Be constructive, not negative. Can you offer an alternative solution to the one currently on the table? Make sure there is an action plan in place when a consensus (or even just an understanding) is reached to ensure you move forward. Keep Your Cool - Don’t forget to breathe! Taking this brief moment to focus on your breathing will allow you to refocus and absorb any information. It’s important that whether you are the recipient or provider of a challenging discussion, that you make a conscious effort to slow down the pace of the conversation, listen, collect your thoughts, and respond rationally. Plan with Emotional Intelligence - Think ahead. What do you anticipate the response will be to the discussion? Put yourself in the shoes of your counterpart to mentally consider their possible responses. You can have some flexible strategies to hand on how to move the conversation forward in a productive way. If you don’t feel confident on the recipients view beforehand, ask them. Be Concise and Direct - Difficult conversations need to be clear and to the point, otherwise the message gets lost in a muddled delivery. To avoid receiving objections, be prepared with concrete examples. Focus on facts, not feelings. Try not to let your emotions get the better of you when you are trying to find a resolution. Make It a Conversation - Feedback shouldn’t be a monologue - there should be two-way communication. Make sure there is an opportunity for an open discussion and questions to allow the meeting to end with unwavering clarity on both sides. Do you fully understand each other and what will happen next? “Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”- William Ellery Channing, American TheologianRead more
Occupational Burnout - Recognizing the signs
11th June 2021
“Self-care has become a new priority – the revelation that it’s perfectly permissible to listen to your body and do what it needs.” ― Frances Ryan Burnout - lets talk about it! It’s one of those subjects that often gets mentioned, but never really discussed. I think it’s time to change that. I am actually quite surprised that in today’s day and age it has not been classified as a medical condition yet, because let’s face it – it is. Burnout is very popular and happens more often than people would like to admit. It’s that state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, caused by prolonged, work-related stress. In order to come up with ways of avoiding it, let’s break down the definition to see how each of the factors can be FIXED! Emotional exhaustion Emotional exhaustion is a state of feeling emotionally worn out and drained. This can be easily improved by ensuring we eat right, take technology breaks, meet with our friends, and of course exercise. Yes, many people could argue that exercise is a suggested remedy for almost everything nowadays, but in this case it is true. Exercise releases chemical endorphins to the brain which triggers a positive feeling in your body. So there, we have proof that going for a run or taking that HIIT class is worth it! Mental exhaustion Mental exhaustion is similar, but the symptoms can be more severe, as the person experiencing this feeling starts to be detached, showing apathy towards their work colleagues and the work itself. The first thing to do if possible is to remove the stressor. If it is an overwhelming task at work, perhaps speak to your Supervisor – see if they could offer you some help. Don’t feel that you have to go through this alone. Again, try to eat well and stay active, but also practice relaxation techniques like yoga, massage, or mindfulness – all scientifically recognized to lower stress and anxiety. Physical exhaustion Physical exhaustion is an extreme state of unrelenting fatigue and sometimes it can be brought on by the previously mentioned mental exhaustion. Being in this state can cause dizziness, chronic tiredness, and headaches, which if untreated can lead to moodiness, slow reflexes or even bad judgement/decision making. Get some sleep! Clocking in your 7 - 9 hours of sleep a night can restore well-being. Set aside some time each day to stretch and try eating foods that improve your energy level, like nuts, fish, and cheese. Magnesium is an essential mineral to promote a healthy nervous system, energy production, and for muscle relaxation. Also, if you ever notice that someone around you is starting to display any of the above signs, see if they are ok, offer them help. Trust me, it will make their day!Read more
How to have a boost in productivity - working from home edition!
11th June 2021
Working from home has become the norm for many of us during the pandemic and it looks like it might just be here to stay for a lot us too! It’s great to have the flexibility that comes with working from home, but it’s also a totally different ballgame and something that we need to adapt to as it certainly comes with its challenges. Whether you’re a work from home pro or are still struggling to get accustomed to this new way of life, here are some top tips and reminders to help keep productivity high on a work from home day without compromising your wellbeing: 1. Try to get into a routine. It can sometimes be tempting to sleep in on a home office day and just roll out of bed and get straight into work, but it’s far more beneficial to get into a routine and have time to mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead. It’s also nice to have some time to yourself before diving into work. Use the time that you would usually spend commuting in a positive way, you could try yoga, meditation or even just spending extra time treating yourself to a lovely breakfast! Did someone say pancakes? 2. Create your designated workspace. Whether you have an office room or not, you should avoid working from your bed or sofa as these should be your spaces for relaxation. Try to create a working space with a desk/table and a comfortable chair and make it YOURS, add items to make it an enjoyable space to be in, this could be your favourite plant or some artwork but try to keep clutter to a minimum because, after all, a tidy space = a tidy mind! 3. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Making a plan for each day can be really valuable and help to give your day some structure but be realistic about the how much you can get done. Make your to-do lists reasonable and be flexible! If you give yourself too many tasks to complete in one day, the thought of even starting the first task can be so daunting that you’ll be more likely to procrastinate and have to rush through your tasks later on. Figure out what works for you for instance, some people like to work to a schedule and adopt time management practices such as the Pomorodo Technique (work for 25 minute intervals, followed by a 5-10 minute break). 4. Take a proper break! When you’re working from home, it can be strangely easy to just keep working through lunch and not step away from your desk for a proper break and change of scenery, but studies have actually shown that taking time away from your desk can directly increase productivity and creativity! Going for a walk or spending time outside is even better for your well-being, soak up that Vitamin D! 5. Hydration, hydration, hydration. Okay, you’ve heard this 100 times before but it never hurts to be reminded. An easy way to ensure that you’re drinking enough water is to buy a time marked water bottle. Fill it up in the morning, set yourself a challenge and make sure that you finish it before the end of the day. You might just notice that your concentration is better, and it will help to keep headaches at bay, particularly when you’re on screens all day! 6. Limit distractions. Of course, we can’t always control everything but do try to control what you can. If you have a particularly demanding project or are under time constraints, you could try removing distractions; let friends/family know not to disturb you, close the door, put your phone on airplane mode or in another room and switch off that TV! 7. Try a productivity tool/app. Utilising productivity tools can be the extra push that you need; they give you incentives and motivate you and there are so many to choose from! Try an app such as Forest, where you plant a virtual tree that takes, for example, ten minutes to grow, and if you can stay off your phone long enough, the tree will finish growing and be added to your on-screen forest, but if you return to your phone too fast, the tree withers and dies. It’s a light-hearted way to avoid digital distractions and gives you a sense of satisfaction! What tips do you have to stay productive at home?Read more
Just accepted an offer for your dream job and wondering how best to approach handing in your resignation? Please read on…
25th February 2021
If you are reading this my guess is that you have just secured a brand-new role, so a huge congratulations are in order – exciting times ahead! Obviously securing a job offer for your dream position is incredibly exciting but, understandably, sometimes that excitement can be overshadowed by the looming prospect of having to break the news to your current employer that you are leaving them. It’s almost never the easiest of tasks to give the news of your departure to your manager but as it’s an unavoidable task on the road to the next step in your career, so here are some tips to make the process as smooth as possible for all parties. Time is of the essence This is key to you, your current employer, and your future employer. Obviously, your new company will be keen to have you join them as soon as possible and get stuck into your on-boarding process and your current employer will appreciate you giving them the courtesy of as much time as possible to find your replacement. It would always be the “dream” situation if they had sufficient time to find a new colleague who could join whilst you are still there so there could be a hand-over process and whilst this is not always possible, ensuring you’ve given as much notice as possible will keep everyone happy! Counter-offers This is a tricky one; sometimes when you let your company know that you’re leaving them they are all of a sudden and (often all too late) desperate to show how important you are as an employee and will present a counter-offer to you. This can be tempting as, after all, increased responsibilities or earnings are always exciting but accepting a counter-offer can actually be extremely damaging in the long-term and set you back further in your career. Realistically, you were looking for a new opportunity for a reason and though the immediate prospect of a salary increase or promotion can be attractive, the long-term reality is that you’re likely to be left with regret for not having taken the new opportunity that provided you with what you were missing. Statistically, 80% of candidates who accept a counter-offer from their current employer actually end up leaving within 6 months after realising that their original reasons for looking are still valid and haven’t truly been addressed. As unfair as it may be, as soon as your company know you were interviewing elsewhere, a level of trust is often lost and your employer may be suspicious that you are interviewing again whenever you take time off work. Lastly, it can also damage your relationship with the other company if you accept an offer and then retract it, putting you in a disadvantaged position if you want to work with them in the future. Honesty is the best policy It can be tempting, and may seem like the easiest option, when asked why you’re leaving to simply say something generic along the lines of “I loved it here but just wanted a fresh challenge” and in some cases this might be true, but often there is a bigger reason behind closed doors. In reality, you are doing your employer a disservice to not share your honest reasons behind your motivation to leave as it can actually help the company to realise areas where they’re potentially not doing so well and their short-comings and how they can better support and retain staff in future. Think about what made you look elsewhere, was it down to the remuneration, lack of training or perhaps there were a lack of opportunities to advance your career? Respectfully and constructively sharing these insights with employers can really help them to improve. That said, be sure to also share everything you have gained from your time there and thank them for the opportunity that they gave to you, which leads me onto my next point... Always be professional Sometimes it can be tempting once you have already secured a new role to let your professionalism go slightly out of the window, particularly if your reason for leaving is down to a negative relationship or unfair treatment in the workplace. This is never a good idea, namely because you never truly know who knows another professional in the industry, negative information could be passed on and come back to bite you in your career down the line so do not burn bridges and always remain professional as it puts you in the best position. Get excited! Once the task of handing in your resignation is complete, make sure you give yourself some time to celebrate your imminent new chapter! When times are “normal”, it is always a great idea to attend any social functions that you may be invited to with your new employer so you can begin to integrate with the team and get to know your new colleagues. That way, the first day will not be so daunting and there will already be a few familiar faces! I hope these tips help in some way to make the process of moving onto the next step in your career as smooth as possible. Most of all, it’s important that you don’t feel anxious or guilty about resigning – always prioritize your happiness, job satisfaction and personal/professional development above all!Read more