In addition to providing a low-pressure platform for discussing team projects, Slack provides a forum for sharing non-work-related humor via differently designated channels that employees can choose to join at will.
This communication hub also benefits remote employees by providing a central location for work and non-related communication alike, mimicking the feeling of being physically present in the office while not actually requiring it—a necessity for today’s flexible work-life schedules.
At my place of work, there seem to be almost as many employees who opt to work from home as those who come into the office every day.
Some employees do both, wanting the flexibility of staying home or adjusting their schedule if they have a doctor’s appointment, while staying connected to office culture.
If it weren’t for my office Slack channels, my day would be filled with considerably less joy. Slack emojis seem to have entered our language lexicon with as much gusto as acronyms and emoticons have invaded our text messages.
Although some might argue that the over-digitalization of workplace communication is further eroding our ability to have a face-to-face conversation, I would argue that for the more introverted among us, Slack is a godsend to helping us start those in-person interactions in the break room or during a traditional team meeting.
My content editing team utilizes Asana for all its product management organization, utilizing tasks and subtasks and organizing them by week into a calendar-based planning system.
The app-based nature of this platform also facilitates easy access to progress on project goals for external-facing clients who value having access to our accomplishments at a glance.
It’s simple to download a mobile app in addition to the desktop app, making team collaboration and real-time updates on SEO-optimization projects easily accessible from anywhere—rather than merely the office. Those mobile reminders make it especially convenient to learn the status of a given project, regardless of where we are, at the moment—whether at the office or standing in line at the grocery store.
Though some may view the ever-on presence of Asana as intrusive, it’s always possible to turn off mobile push notifications, if preferred.
Additionally, the optional presence of whimsical creatures that fly across the screen upon completion of a task can practically gamify the virtual workspace.
Who doesn’t want to mimic the feeling of leveling up, à la after-school, childhood video game sessions?
3. Google Docs
It’s fascinating that Google Docs was labeled a telecommuting tool in 2014, because nowadays, it’s simply part of many companies’ work flows—regardless of whether employees are communicating from home or the office.
Maybe it’s simply a reflection of our obsession with digital interoffice communication platforms, but in any case, cloud-based document sharing is no longer considered “high tech,” but, rather, the norm. The ubiquitous nature of Gmail makes it simple to work with Google Docs via desktop or mobile devices, as well.
In any case, I utilize Google Docs on a daily basis for document sharing, writing and editing collaboration, and storage of important work-related PDFs and contracts.
G Suite provides a number of tools that improve staff communication, including Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Sheets. These document-sharing applications have become integral to collaborative teamwork across various operating systems and locations.
It’s also simple to adjust individual documents for limited editing access or privacy so that documents are only available to certain readers, when sharing top-secret information.
And Google Docs is compatible with a variety of operating systems, allowing recipients to utilize Open Office documents, in the event their particular device does not have Microsoft Word or other programs installed.
There are numerous other productivity apps useful for traditional office program and project managers—as well as entrepreneurs and contract workers like web designers and freelance writers.
Some of these apps—like f.lux, which cuts down on excess blue light when dark out—have more to do with quality of life and sleep than work flow. However, the ability to sleep is arguably just as important as daytime productivity, since precious little work is accomplished on no sleep.
Others, like Focus Keeper and Pomodoro Keeper, utilize the Pomodoro technique to encourage short periodic breaks—which, in theory, make the most of the time that you do spend on work, rather than allowing us to lose our concentration through inefficiency or burnout.
Believe it or not, working smarter is better than working harder: it is indeed possible to incorporate breaks into a busy work day and still get everything done; in fact, research has suggested that our brains are more efficient when we take brief diversions, rather than trying to power through when we’re fatigued.
Personally speaking, f.lux saves my eyes from overexposure to blue light due to my early morning work hours and inevitable late-night news binging—since it works for both smartphones and desktops.
And apps like Focus Keeper are the perfect solution to long Fridays when work tends to get away from me unless I can refresh myself periodically with a quick trip to the break room for water or a fast jaunt outside with a coworker.
Our lives have been forever changed by mobile apps and anywhere-access to work documents and communication platforms. However, given the increased flexibility this technology allows us, would we really want to have it any other way?
What apps do you consider essential to your daily workflow? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Hitting deadlines is an essential skill for anyone, no matter what their career is or what level they are at.
Every job has deadlines, whether it’s delivering a pizza while it’s still piping hot or submitting a pitch in time to win your firm a big new client, and the personal consequences for failing to meet them can be equally damaging.
However, there are some of us who really struggle with this crucial skill, and one reason put forward for this is the idea of the ‘planning fallacy’, which is that we’re just fundamentally not set up to accurately predict how long a job will take.
Instead of being realistic, we base our estimations on best case scenarios, ignoring the many things that can go wrong and cause delays. Then they happen, and our estimations are wrong and we miss the deadlines.
There are techniques you can use to improve your ability to meet deadlines. One is to clarify exactly what is expected of you when you are given your brief, as this will prevent you wasting time doing the wrong thing and needing to start again with the deadline creeping ever closer.
The next step is to make sure you have the right resources, information and equipment to get the job done before you start trying to do it.
Then it’s a case of mapping out your priorities and working out the best order to complete the various tasks to get it done. A Critical Path Analysis can be a useful tool for achieving this, and when it’s completed you can set yourself a series of mini deadlines, which gives you less time to procrastinate and you’re putting yourself under pressure to keep on delivering.
When it’s time to get down to the work itself, you need to do everything you can to minimize or eliminate potential distractions, which includes dealing with colleagues who need to know when to leave us alone.
All of these tips should help you get better at managing your time when working on an important project, and you can find more advice in this infographic from CashNetUSA.
Try them out and you should start to see deadlines as achievable goals rather than disasters waiting to happen.
The brains of human beings are questing, curious things, and it’s only natural that our minds wander from time to time.
Sticking to a task for an extended period of time isn’t something the neurons in our brains are good at doing, with recent studies showing that they can only function with their own energy for 12 seconds before needing to refuel, which leads to a loss of focus and competing demands for our attention.
However natural this might be, having a wandering mind still causes problems for us, and researchers have found that regularly losing concentration has a negative impact on mood.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to limit the times your mind wanders off on its own, so doing something like adding a deliberate distraction – like putting on some instrumental music in the background – can get rid of the space in your head for other distractions.
In the same way, giving yourself daydream breaks can also help you be more focused when you need to be, especially if you use the time to do something productive like using a brain-training app or even doodling.
A major cause of wandering minds can be the things that stress us out, so try to clear your mind of these things using visualization techniques, leaving you free to concentrate on what’s important.
Breathing techniques and meditation are also good ways to exercise your mind by cleansing distracting thoughts, and you can add in a naam yoga hand practice to really increase your mind’s focus.
When these techniques fail and your mind does start to wander, be sure to notice that it is happening and try to identify common triggers for it, which will help you avoid it happening as much in the future. Just noticing it is normally enough to get your mind back on track.
Hopefully these will help you start to get control over your wandering mind and find the discipline that is currently lacking, and you can find out more from this infographic from On Stride Financial.
If you can stay focused long enough to take it all, of course.
When it comes to job searching, a little stealth can go a long way.
You’re on a top-secret mission: Get to a job interview without your current employer finding out.
Whether you’re just seeing what else is out there, or actively working to leave your current role ASAP, you definitely don’t want your boss to know.
“This is a great concern for virtually all of my clients who are employed and fearful that their job search efforts will be ‘outed,’” says Roy Cohen, a New York City-based career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.
Follow a few do’s and don’ts to help you accomplish your mission without being detected first.
Don’t: Wear out-of-character clothes Do: Dress to impress, Superman-style
That is, in a phone booth—if you can still find one.
Brian Sheridan, 39, development director at the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Clean Air, notes that it was his outfit that outed him during his last job search a few years ago: “A bunch of coworkers figured out that I was interviewing because it was 100 degrees and I was wearing a suit when I never wore a suit.”
So he offers others this hard-won advice: If you don’t normally wear a suit, but need to for the interview, leave it in your car and change elsewhere,
Change in a bathroom or at the gym to avoid tipping anyone off. Women who dress business casual for work and want to step it up for an interview can hide a jacket, nicer shoes or jewelry in their gym bags.
Don’t: Go completely rogueDo: Work it in around your work
“I tell my clients never to ‘sneak out,’” says Sharon-Frances Moore, president of the New York-based etiquette and corporate conduct coaching business, Shances. “Sneaking causes anxiety, which may then transfer over to the interview.”
Your first step should be to try to schedule the interview before work, in the evening or over lunch—or use paid time off. This is the safest and easiest way to interview with a new employer without having to sneak around or lie, says Moore.
If you have no time off left or those options aren’t possible for some reason, you could simply disappear for a short time, suggests Cohen. But that’s assuming your boss doesn’t micromanage you or sit too close to your desk, or that your company has a loose approach to hours you put in.
Lying can’t always be avoided, but it should definitely be the option of last resort. Rather than getting caught in the web of a specific fib use vague explanations such as, “I have to run out for an appointment”—which is the truth.
Don’t: Leave without a traceDo: Make it seem like you’ll BRB
Even if your boss knows you’re heading out for your “appointment,” you never know when your boss’s boss or a colleague will swing by your desk looking for you. If your office doesn’t have a way to convey your status—such as an “away” message on your IM—you’ll want to evidence to make it look like you haven’t gone far.
“Leave your office so that it looks like you are there or intend to return momentarily,” Cohen says. “Leave your unfinished coffee, a jacket or sweater resting on the back of your chair, a messy desk and your devices open.”
But this, Cohen adds, is the best trick of them all: Leave a half-eaten sandwich on your desk in plain view.
Don’t: Get caught red-handedDo: Have an iron-clad alibi
So you’ve navigated through these first two steps, but you still have one more hurdle to overcome: Your co-worker asks you where you’re going or where you were. Ack!
Ben Ludger, New York-based founder of the online work-life balance community SecretSlacker.com, suggests using the fake excuse of a dental or eye exam. Since everyone should have regular dental and eye check-ups, you don’t need to fake an illness as you might for a doctor’s appointment. Bonus: “Dental and eye check-ups often require follow-up appointments, for cavity fills or contact lens fittings, which you can use for future interview rounds,” he notes.
Don’t make up stories that might cause your boss and colleagues undue concern. A sick grandmother, a death in the family or a serious medical condition could lead to follow-up questions weeks later. “Your co-workers may genuinely empathize with you and feel bad,” Ludger says. “It may cause lasting damage to the relationship if they later find out it was all a lie.”
And lying can get you into trouble in other ways. Cohen says he had a client who was going on a second round interview and told her boss she was leaving the office to buy a gift for a coworker who was about to have a baby. “In fact, she had already bought the gift, one that was relatively inexpensive,” he notes. “Her boss reached into his pocket to retrieve a 20 dollar bill and handed it to her. He wanted to be included in the gift.” Awww-kward.
Have you ever wondered why most employees that have been doing well for years starts to underperform all of a sudden? It could be as a result of burnout.
Employee burnout is an issue organizations irrespective of size must take seriously. It can make a once productive employee unproductive. And this would reflect in the wallet of the organization.
Employee burnout is something one cannot eradicate in a work environment, but you can avoid it in most circumstances.
Factors that lead to employee burnout must be determined, and ways employees and managers can prevent it from happening should also be considered by the organization. Let’s take a look at each one of them.
What is employee burnout?
Employee burnout is a serious problem in the workplace. It is predominant in organizations where employees face tighter deadlines and busy schedules and strikes when they are exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally.
Employee burnout can also occur when an organization is facing several internal problems. It can affect both the morale, productivity, and focus of the employee. Once the work environment becomes unfriendly, employee burnout will not only result, but team spirit will be destroyed.
On one hand, employees can also create this problem for themselves. They create unrealistic goals which if not achieved leads to increased pressure, tension and mental breakdown if not addressed as soon as possible.
Such scenarios often result in employee burnout and reduced-productivity.
In fact, the employee in question may even decide to quit the job at the end of the day, which will result in additional cost on the part of the company to recruit and train a new candidate.
Why does employee burnout emerge?
Humans are not machines. Even machines break down when subjected to too much stress or made to work constantly for an extended period. Burnout could be as a result of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion.
When employees are made to pass through stress repeatedly, burnout can result.
An employee could be in a situation where he has no choice but to meet a deadline and may work the same way for months, non-stop.
Working under such conditions can lead to burnout. It can also lead to a reduction in productivity or make the person in question fall sick.
Working consecutively for long hours can result in employee burnout. It will get to a point where the brain and entire system will not have any other option than to shut down completely.
An employee could break down in this type of condition. And it might cause the company financial losses and loss of productive time.
In a nutshell, over-labouring employees can cause burnout. You will discover in some organization that a single employee would be made to handle tasks meant for three persons.
Again, another reason employee burnout occurs is as a result of the increase in demand placed by customers. Employees working in firms with a large customer-base often face a lot of stress in the discharge of their duties.
Technology, on the other hand, is ever-changing, which means more software to learn. Employees need to learn how to use them to meet the needs of customers and increase productivity.
What to do to avoid employee burnout?
Sadly, employee burnout and stress is still one of the biggest challenges in the workplace. Most companies are taking the right step to avoid this situation because they know how detrimental it can be to their businesses and general health of the employee in question.
The big question for those yet to take a stand is – how can employee burnout be avoided in the workplace?
Here are simple tips to achieve it.
1. Know your limits
It is important not to exceed your limit. Do not overwork yourself to a point that you start feeling sick. In most occasions, employees are the ones creating these problems. They procrastinate, and in an attempt to meet the tight deadline, you will find them overworking themselves up.
Someone who has not lifted 100 pounds of weight before will get into trouble if he does that. Even though that’s his target, there is no harm in starting small.
Start working on your tasks on time and rest when you feel tired. Learn to finish up a day or two before the deadline.
Working under such pressure can lead to burnout. You might also make costly mistakes which might cause more tension and threat to your job.
2. Don’t create unrealistic expectations
One of the things that can lead to burnout is having too many unrealistic targets. So start creating goals you can achieve without over labouring, and make plans for any obstacle you may encounter on the way.
Critical thinking and evaluation of the plan is crucial. Include how you intend to achieve your targeted goals too. But, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve your target.
What shall you do if you already have employee burnout?
There are steps you can take to remedy the situation if you have employee burnout. Don’t wait for your employer or the person above you to fix things.
Start on your own. Here is what you should do to help yourself.
1. Relax yourself
Those who are perfectionists are prone to burnouts. They are never satisfied until they achieve what is on their mind. But, you need to learn to let go and relax. Once you discover that you are already experiencing a burnout, try to relax yourself a bit.
2. Learn to say no
The last thing someone that has burnout wants is stress. So you must learn to reject tasks at this point to clear your head.
3. Take your mind off that task
Most employees with burnouts claim to be relaxing but have their minds fixed on tasks at hand. But if you really want to get rid of burnouts that shouldn’t be the case.
Communicate with colleagues and family members to free your mind. You can even spend more time with your family or people who will not bring up office issues to the discussion.
What can the employer do to help his employees to cope with employee burnout?
There are many things an employer can do to help an employee to cope with a burnout.
They are simple to implement and could help bring out the best in your employees.
1. Make the workplace less stressful
Amazon’s newly built office is a good example. The multi-million dollar office was created to make employees happy, motivated and relaxed at work. It is not easy managing a growing e-commerce business.
Employees are the ones feeling the pressure the most. If the environment is not conducive, employee burnout might result. It could cripple activity of the company, and reduce productivity too.
2. Find out what causes stress to your employees
There are many ways an employer can make the workplace less stressful. He or she can discuss one-on-one with the affected employee to know what causes stress. And be open-minded during the discussion, and give your employees room to speak freely.
Most of the stress employee faces in the workplace are related to their workload, fear of job security, and the person they are working with. But you can restore their motivation back to the job by talking to them.
Employee burnout can cause the company great losses in revenue, and productive time. An employee who has a burnout will be unable to give his best. He/she might also develop severe health problems which can make him unable to work for days.
Employers need to take the issue of employee burnout seriously. They need to implement strategies that will make employees to avoid burnout and increase productivity.
This four-word question can be paralyzing especially if you’re a fresh graduate seeking to land your first job.
After all, your response to this nerve-racking sets the tone for the rest of the interview and creates the first (and last) impression. You are left wondering what it is the interviewer expects to hear from you, and expects NOT to hear from you.
Is this the part where I boast my school achievements and impressive career background? How about my special talents? Do I have to repeat what I’ve just written on my resume? Or rather, is this the time to tell personal details that have nothing to do with the position I am applying for? Is the interviewer judging me based on the information I disclose or rather the way I deliver these data?
A lot of questions are going through your mind. And when you failed to prepare, it’s easy to mess things up, blab vague, irrelevant answers, sprinkle your statements with filler words, and demonstrate bothersome nervous mannerisms.
So here’s a little tip: The interviewer wants to know how your character and experiences are relevant to the job you’re being interviewed for.
In a nutshell, this intriguing question gives you the opportunity to convince the interviewer that you’re a good fit for the role and you are on the same page.
If you are currently preparing for an upcoming job interview, here are five significant steps to keep in mind.
Step 1: Study the company profile and job description
Chances are you saw the company’s job hiring online so take the time to study the job description to figure out exactly what personalities they are looking for.
In addition, learn more about the company you’re applying for, their history and their culture.
Step 2: Define who you are and what you do
Next, to studying the job description, see how fit you are for the role given your abilities and professional background. You don’t have to recap your professional experiences year by year. Just give a snapshot of your work history.
Highlight about three to five previous experiences as well as three to five strengths (traits, skills, etc) that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Make sure to include the following:
The name of the company/industry you previously worked at
Your job title
How long you stayed in that position
A list of major responsibilities
A list of major accomplishments (awards, promotions, and recommendations)
Any transferable skills you have (which you might’ve gained from your previous experiences)
If you haven’t had any work history, assess your education background and internship and list down the experiences, knowledge, and accomplishments you gained which are pertinent to the job at hand.
Step 3: Write a script
Do tell a story; a professional work story that is clear, concise, and compelling.
You have all the relevant data about the experiences and skills you have acquired. You just have to tell your story in chronological order and detail them in an engaging and organized fashion.
Start with a condensed version of your career history. Include something meaningful from your career trajectory that the employer cannot find from your resume. Then, give a brief summary of a specific accomplishment to capture the interest of the interviewers.
Next, in just a few sentences, let the employer know what you understand about the role.
Psychologically, you are giving the notion that you’re not only aware of your own abilities and achievements but you also acknowledge the company’s needs and expectations. With this, you establish a connection with the employer.
Lastly, convince the employer that you’re the best candidate for this role. You can also conclude a few examples of what you hope to accomplish next in your career which might also be aligned with the goal of the company.
Keep your script brief. Every detail mentioned should be significant. Take out filler words, redundant phrases, and too many adjectives.
Make it sound seamless by using short transitional words when you jump from one work experience to another.
Your story should be achievement-oriented but keep it professional. Never speak in a boastful, demeaning manner. Ground everything you say on the goal of demonstrating competence.
Unless it’s asked, don’t tell about your personal information, like your favorite sports or the number of pet dogs you own.
Step 4: Mind the time
How long do you plan to approach your response?
There has been a debate among career coaches about this. Some people suggest that taking 3-4 minutes to answer this question is fine. Some people think that the duration is too long and you should limit it to 60 to 90 seconds.
One said that long durations tend to kill the interest of the interviewer and you should limit your answer to 15 to 30 seconds.
Personally, I believe 3-4 minutes would set up the interview for success but there are certain stipulations. If you provide an effective, comprehensive, and engaging response up-front, three minutes will not feel “too long and boring” from the listener’s POV.
As a matter of fact, the duration also has the potential to demonstrate preparedness and the ability to structure an answer and to speak in a clear and articulate manner. Oftentimes, having less follow-up questions from the interviewer can be a good sign.
Step 5: Practice your delivery
Practice with your script until you are confident about the things you want to highlight in your statement. Another reminder is the script should only be your guide.
You shouldn’t memorize the script, or your response might sound either too robotic or too theatrical.
Next to rehearsing your script, you should also consider the non-verbal cues that may make or break the deal. It’s always important to maintain eye contact.
Watch your nervous mannerisms such as slouching postures, crossing and uncrossing your legs, playing with your clothes and hair, biting your nails, scratching your head, and unconsciously shaking your legs when sitting.
You should also never put your hand or elbow on the interviewer’s desk.
We live in the information age and technology has revolutionized our lives in unprecedented ways providing many exciting opportunities for anyone to pursue.
One of the places where you can make an extra buck is writing. In the writing industry, there are new careers that have come up like blogging and the old ones like speechwriting have taken evolved to reflect the needs of the information age.
In this article, some of the top writing careers that have remained relevant are discussed. Whether you are an expert or a newbie in the industry, this article has something for you to consider when evaluating your career options in writing.
A copywriter develops and edits content for advertisements. It is an old career that focuses on creating relevant content to target audience in a bid to increase sales.
Lately, in the age of the internet, copywriters demand has increased dramatically owing to the new volumes of content brands have to publish to remain competitive and relevant.
Some copywriters have even specialized in specific advertisement platforms such as social media or mainstream media advertising only.
A copywriter can be self-employed or attached to a specific advertisement firm where he/she can work part time or full time. For self-employed copywriters, they can serve different clients as per need basis.
If you can come up with creative content that can be published in mainstream media, social media, brochures, flyers, etc. copywriting has career growth prospects as one can grow to establish and run his/her advertising firm.
2. Speech Writer
Speechwriting is a lucrative career in writing which is dreaded by many but offers handsome rewards for those who dare venture into it. The speech is meant for public presentation and must consider various variables such as time, the audience and flow.
Be ready to learn especially the appropriate use of rhetorical strategies. Rhetoric is a critical part of this career choice since the main aim of speeches is to persuade or inform and as a speechwriter you ought to learn and master these skills.
You can speech write for professionals or public figures. If you can articulate issues for the public in a simple, clear and concise manner, then you can try your hand in this field.
On the other hand, if you are a professional speechwriter, you can reach more prospective clients on a site like Essay Zoo. Harness the power of the internet and create a powerful portfolio to pitch to prospective clients.
Journalism is not a new field of writing, but it has evolved and gives newbies and professionals a uniform platform to prove their expertise.
Journalism has changed in the age of interconnected computing and rather than the scheduled periodic news published after a specific period; today journalists have to continue writing and preparing news for the masses as they happen.
Almost every story has become breaking news to ensure media houses stay ahead of social media to otherwise they will become irrelevant. Therefore, this has created a new demand for journalists who can write and report stories very fast.
If you believe you are cut out for this, find a way to delving into the profession. It is not only prestigious but also pays well. As a journalist, you can be attached to media houses or agencies and work full time or part-time.
If you are into writing creative stories, you can try screenwriting. It is a career that does not necessarily need formal education but good storytelling skills and imagination.
Mostly, screenwriters are hired on contractual basis. The culmination of creativity and good storytelling is the perfect recipe for this field and can catapult you to fame. The field is well-paying but it requires persistence and adaptability to pen down a script that can be funded for production.
For a start, you can start mailing spec scripts to talent agencies and be ready to learn or work at times for free to build your skill. If your career takes off, it is worth the patience and efforts you put into it.
One more thing, you do not necessarily need to move to Los Angeles to start your career, writing profession is a skill independent of location.
Your writing skills can earn you recognition in Hollywood or any other industry in the world if your scripts are good enough to.
Ghostwriting is an old field which has evolved and remained relevant in the writing industry. It entails people hired to write scripts or presentations for public figures. Academic ghostwriters have to work closely with their clients to establish their needs and they must come up with the content to meet the needs of their clients.
Ghostwriting is not entirely as many people perceive it as long as it does not violate the agreement between the two parties. Since ghostwriting entails being hired to author content that will be passed on not as your own but at the hiring manager’s discretion, many ghostwriters tend to charge their services expensively since they must relinquish their rights.
It is a writing profession like any other, and you should focus on getting your dues rather than publicity for your work.
Writers are the geniuses behind books or play. Authors deliver manuscripts to editors to proofread and publish. The author mainly takes the credit for the work and a percentage of the royalties or as per the agreement.
The process of authoring and publishing a book is tedious and may require months or years of your efforts. You can also find other like-minded individuals with interest in the same field and partner to co-author something.
Although it is an old writing style, it is likely to be around in the foreseeable future so you are not too late for the party.
Succinctly, there are many diverse writing careers, and you can choose one that best suits you best. But whichever it is you choose, you must dedicate your resources and time to learn how to deliver quality.
Most importantly, learn and adapt. It is the only lifeline anyone has in this industry.
The days before an interview are nerve wracking for most people.
Amidst the tension, we each have our strategies for last minute preparation. Some of us revise prepared answers to certain standard interview questions. Others read up about the position and the company, often to get a sense of what to expect during the interview. Yet a third group might look at YouTube videos to get guidance and inspiration from interviewing coaches.
Whatever your preparation strategy might be, I am going to urge you to look at an interview somewhat differently than you might have done before.
I suggest that you look at an interview as an opportunity to demonstrate your fit with a company.
To do so, think of yourself as a piece of furniture that needs to blend into other furniture that have already been placed in a room, which is the organization that you seek to join.
Use the interview to explain why you indeed belong in that room. To make your case, use the following four parameters.
A politically loaded term, colour is used as a qualifier in many contexts such as skin colour and furniture colour.
In this case, I am referring to furniture colour as the organizational culture of the company that is interviewing you. To understand the colour of the furniture in the room, research the company. Start with the founders and read about their work and lives. Apart from the company website, read articles published about the company.
This will lead you to other key players in the company, including the people running the division that you hope to join.
Key questions to ask, while researching organization culture include:
What is the gender profile of the directors, vice presidents and senior executives? For example, mostly men, women or somewhat equally mixed?
How are these people dressed in publicly available photographs, on their website or other press outlets? For example, mostly formal and traditional or trendy business casual or a mix of formal and casual wear?
Does the company support any public interest groups, charities or political parties? If so, what does this support tell you about their political views?
After you have done your research, portray your colour as a piece of furniture based on your understanding of the company culture. This may not be easy, because there might be a conflict between certain innate traits that you possess and the culture of this company.
So, how can you become blue when you are red? The trick is to highlight certain aspects in your profile that make you look bluer than red.
Most rooms have a variety of furniture sizes. A full-sized living room will typically have a few larger ones and some small or medium sized furniture.
Think of an organization as a big living room or even bigger. There are the large pieces of furniture in this room, such as the directors and senior vice presidents.
The medium sized furniture could be the senior managers and project managers. Small furniture are typically the new hires and various executives of the company.
Based on the position that you are interviewing for, your profile (including innate strengths) and the existing structure of the interviewer’s organization, you should create a strategy regarding the size that you would like to project during the interview.
You may be interviewing for a vice president position, for example, but if this company has a top-heavy structure, they might prefer a candidate who is more of learner than a leader. This is because, that would allow the existing leaders to groom you into a future leader.
So, even though you may have an impressive leadership record, you could choose to present that indirectly–perhaps as an achievement rather than a marker of seniority.
While interviewing for a project manager position at a company that has only a few managers and a high turnover of entry level executives, you could project a bigger size. So, emphasize your leadership experience to demonstrate your ability to lead junior team members.
The general idea here is that you want to come across as a size of furniture that can fit into the existing room, given the presence of other furniture of diverse sizes.
If the room already has quite a few pieces of large furniture, they will probably not want another large one.
The shape of furniture refers to the personality that they project, although literally it might mean square or round shape. I might like boxy furniture with square edges, while you might like your furniture to be circular in shape and preferably with flowery and oval patterns.
As a job candidate, you need to assess your shape and judge its fit with the personality that the job demands. This self-assessment may also be an opportunity to think about your attire and other nonverbal cues that you transmit during an interview.
If you are interviewing for a position at a renowned management consulting agency, do you fit into the mould of this position?
This is a more nuanced assessment than judging your colour and size. It is also more impactful during the job interview, because the interviewer will recognise your personality more easily.
Your colour or fit with company culture and your size or the seniority/experience you bring in are going to register later, when he or she has already formed an opinion about you.
Also, just like furniture needs a carpenter, you might need to visit the barber and men’s clothing store to create a shape that you want to project. Of course, being superficial is usually a short-sighted strategy, so don’t try to change your personality drastically.
Such major changes should be a long-term strategy that you work on, rather than for an oncoming interview.
4. Functional Value
Finally, the functional value of furniture refers to the hard skills that you contribute as a new hire. While this seems straightforward, it may not be. As a database architect, you could be contributing a lot more than designing and maintaining a database.
How you present your functional value will depend on the job description and the company or specific department that you are joining. Once again this requires some planning and background research.
A sofa-cum-bed can be used to sit as well as sleep. If you are selling it to a family that has a shortage of sleeping space, you will probably highlight the comfort and convenience of the sleeping experience.
As a job candidate, similarly, you should to identify valuable functional needs associated with the position. Even better, locate needs that are beyond the obvious requirements outlined in the job description.
A good example is knowledge of Mandarin or Hindi, while interviewing at a company that outsources to China or India respectively. This may not be mentioned explicitly, but you could be given the job because you will be able to communicate with vendors in these countries.
So, the next time you walk into an interview have these four parameters buzz inside your head. Every time you answer a question, utilize the homework that you have done regarding these four parameters.
It will probably not be as neatly structured as it seems in this article, but your background work will offer guidelines that you can follow.
More often you interview, greater will be your familiarity with this way of thinking about your suitability for a job and your profile as a candidate.
Although you will need to do fresh research for every interview, the overall familiarity will make you more fluent at using the four parameters – colour, size, shape and functional value.
You will also learn to use the furniture metaphor in your head when you look at a job posting and debate whether you should apply.
Go ahead, think like furniture before your next interview without giving up your human qualities!
First things first. Before we start getting into the practical information, let’s talk a bit about what really means to be a real leader. Even if we are in the 21st century, there is still a huge deception on this matter.
First of all, a leader is that particular person of the team who always takes initiative, works the hardest, believes in his vision, and inspires the rest of the team to prosper to greatness and success.
Second of all, a leader is constantly learning. He has to be up to date with the newest strategies, news, and trends, so his team training is always the most effective. Even after experiencing how success feels like, a true leader never lowers his guard. In order to thrive, they keep themselves curious and focus on doing the best for the team.
Anyways, being a professional leader means so much more. You need to know how to handle various situations, how to manage the conflicts, and how to operate with different types of personalities. Besides that, you need to keep your cool and be patient. If not you, then who else?
All in all, it’s mostly the leader who can create the perfect work environment for his team to thrive. With no more further ado, let’s get into the practical things and see how you can become a true leader.
1. Earn Your Trust and Respect
In order to earn your team member’s trust, you need to maintain your honesty and integrity. Always give them both the good and the bad news. They need to be kept updated with all the information that may affect them on a personal level. Only this way will they able to respect and trust you.
But to earn people’s full trust, you have to be more than honest. As a matter of fact, you need to show them you really care. How can you do that?
Well, simply start by involving and helping them solve their problems whenever they seek assistance. Pay extra attention to the team members who have a harder time understanding a task and be extra patient.
By genuinely caring about your team, you’ll spark both respect and trust and so your leadership figure will earn more power.
A good idea would be to meet your team outside the work and bond with them personally. Show them that you don’t look at them just as your employees but also as people worth spending time with. When you do this, pay caution and don’t be intrusive.
No one likes an intrusive “boss”. I should not even mention the damages that can be caused if a private, personal conversation is not kept confidential, so always respect your secrecy promises.
2. Become an Excellent Communicator
Keep in mind that great communication skills are made and not born. They are also the key to your success. I mean, how can you be a real leader when you use a tone of voice that makes people feel uncomfortable, when your writing is full of mistakes, or your messages are not spoken clearly?
That’s exactly why you’ll need to pay special attention to the skills that help you better communicate with your team members.
a) Clear Verbal Communication
It is very important for your message to get through correctly. In order to express your ideas properly, speak your words crystal clear, don’t use fancy words, and do not lose your point. Here is some piece of advice on how to improve your communication:
Prepare your speech in advance
Read more to richen your vocabulary
Watch public speaking material on YouTube (debates/ speeches/ presentations)
Talk in front of the mirror
b) Voice Tone
The voice tone you are using while speaking to your employees can have a huge effect on the way the message is received. You can use the exact same words, but with a different tone, and the message will be completely different.
Imagine you are saluting someone by saying “Have a good day!” once with a happy and friendly tone, and once with a cold tone. I believe you can tell the big difference.
c) Body Language
A person’s body language is always sincerer than the words he speaks. As a leader of a company, knowing these non-verbal signs will give you lots of benefits. You will be able to tell if someone is honest or not, if he or she is feeling comfortable in the discussion, and so on.
Besides recognizing the meaning of other people’s body language, you should work on your own body language aptitudes.
Well, here are some tips to help you develop a better-suited body language while dealing with other professionals:
Use hand gestures while talking and you will become more credible
Always make eye content while you’re engaged in a conversation
When you agree with a point, move your head up and down to express that you resonate with your interlocutor’s ideas
Never keep your arms crossed. It’s a defensive position and puts you in the “defense mode”
d) Writing Skills
Writing skills are crucial for a leader to become great. You will need to make presentations for your team, write convincing emails to partners, and deal with a lot of official papers.
Therefore, if your writing is full of grammar issues, misspelled words, and out of context sentences, your credibility and reputation will drastically fall.
Not to mention that very few people will perceive you as a professional entity. Writing daily helps a lot if you care to improve your communication skills.
3. Develop Strong Relationships with Your Employees
It’s very important for you to develop a strong relationship with your employees, and you can do this by showing that you care for them as human beings and not as robots. As the relationship grows stronger, the respect they have for you will grow too, and this means they will work harder to never let you down.
One way to establish a more personal relationship with your employees is through team building activities.
Think outside the box and create a pleasant environment where all of you can have a great time getting to know each other, with the single rule being to “never judge each other!”
Furthermore, your communication with your employees needs to be frequent and close rather than rare and distant.
Pay attention to both their achievements and their failures and provide constructive feedback every time you have the chance.
4. Always be Decisive
Your team needs someone who can make a decision at the moment. By showing an indecisive behavior, your credibility in front of your employees may suffer greatly. When you are under pressure, don’t overthink the chances of failure.
Make the decision based on what you know and believe at that specific time. Strive to show your team that you are in control in all situations, so they’ll keep their cool.
Also, keep in mind that it’s always the leader’s job to take risks. A real leader is in a constant search for innovative ideas and solutions.
Therefore, playing your safe cards all the time might not be the best solution. Use your reason, logic, and intuition and create a balance between them.
5. Work Hard and Smart
In order to become a great leader, you need to work both hard and smart. There’s a big difference between the two terms, and I’m going to explain them in just a bit.
Note that in order to become exceptional, you need to develop a healthy balance between hard and smart work.
Work more than others
No procrastination and excuses
Sense of responsibility
Plan in advance
Predict upcoming challenges
Outsource time-consuming tasks
Use all the available resources
Stay updated with the new trends and news in the niche
Quality over quantity. Always.
6. Lead by Example
Your team should be your second family, which would mean that your team members would become your “other kids”. Obviously, you always want to set a good example so you can to be the one person they look up to and admire. Leading a team by example truly means to be a real leader.
Keep in mind that being an example to others is just like working another full-time job, as you have to be careful not to damage your image and reputation. Furthermore, both you and your team members need to acknowledge failure.
As Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”.
Every innovative idea comes with a bag of risks. If you never risk, you will never win.
One thing should be clear by now: leadership is one of the most complex activities in today’s professional sphere. There’s a big difference between a leader and a big leader, and that lies in the standards, knowledge, expertise, and mindset of the professional.
Treat leadership as a beautiful yet challenging journey, give your one hundred percent to everything you, stay consistent and persistent, and you will soon understand what it takes to be an exceptional leading figure.
Success isn’t something that can be measured and definitely not related to wealth, as many people mistakenly think. Success is about achieving something great that sets you apart from other people.
It’s about following your own path and being fulfilled in day to day life.
I like to think that life should be lived with a sense of purpose, to fulfill one’s existence and attain happiness and fulfillment. To go through life randomly without wanting to achieve something significant will lead you to live a shallow and uncertain life.
Those who have found their life purpose and strive daily to reach and surpass their goals are on the right track when it comes to attaining success.
While there is no “magic recipe” for success, there are things that you can do to boost your chances of making it in life. More than that, there are certain negative habits that successful people know to stay away from:
You might have heard about the discussion between the two titans of international literature, Stephen King and George R.R. Martin about writer’s block.
Stephen King’s approach to writing is a good example of a “just-do-it” attitude. He doesn’t believe in “waiting for the right moment” and he prefers doing something rather than waiting for it to happen.
The secret is to focus on doing, regardless of your mood or creative flow. It may sound odd, but you can’t actually do something unless you get started. The faster you start, the less time you will have spent.
2. Blaming others
It’s easy to blame others for things that have happened in your life. People play the blame-game when they feel their ego threatened and cannot deal with the shame. The first step in fixing one of your issues is admitting its existence.
Blaming others for your faults is counterproductive for your own growth. Also, blaming others for your own faults will make you look untrustworthy.
There is one thing about perfection that many people fail to realize: it’s not real. Anybody telling themselves different is deluding themselves. In the same sense, if you’re working on something: a business, project or work of art, it’s unwise to refuse to accept mistakes or flaws.
Being overly critical with your mistakes will make it very difficult for you to get things done.
Thinking about your problems, exaggerating outcomes and counting the hardships of life will drain you of your energy. Even if you reach a depressingly low point in your life, drowning in self-pity won’t help. It will only keep you grounded in a state of uncertainty and helplessness, which is certainly not the ideal problem-solving state.
Everyone has problems, yet some handle them better than others. Whenever you see yourself surrounded with problems, try to be grateful for the good things life. It’s the only way to spot that silver lining.
5. Giving up
Some people have so little self-confidence that they spend their lives avoiding failure. The problem is that full potential can’t be reached if you give up after failing.
Loving what you do can make it easier to keep on going. That way, even if you did fail, the activity also held some positive aspects to it, like feeling energized,
The life of every successful person is full of ups and downs. Bill Gates’ first company went bankrupt and when Walt Disney tried to negotiate with MGM to publish his Mickey Mouse cartoons, he was rejected. Minor failures shouldn’t discourage you. They are your best teachers.
6. Stop learning
It’s easy to stop growing physically and mentally when day-to-day life already seems too much. Successful people know that work isn’t everything. Investing in yourself is necessary for growth.
Reading helps you gather new information and opens your mind to new ideas, opportunities and opinions. The knowledge that you accumulate will have a lasting effect on the choices that you make.
A charismatic person doesn’t underestimate the power of knowledge. Being knowledgeable means that you can relate to more people, which will open many doors.
7. Get distracted
In today’s world it’s easy to let yourself be distracted by the multitude of information that bombards us on a daily basis. Indeed, it’s easy to check your e-mail or Facebook account when you hear your phone beep.
Even if you’re distracted for one minute, the time and energy that it takes to shift focus back on the activity simply isn’t worth satisfying such trivial curiosities.
Distraction comes in many forms: from friends, family, or other activities that take up your time. Being involved in many activities can enrich your life in so many ways, but it can also distract you from your true purpose.
Successful people know how to prioritize activities to now lose sight of what’s truly important.
8. Let stress get the best of them
Successful people know the importance of taking the time off to blow some steam and recharge batteries. Also, they don’t get stressed out when small things don’t turn out as they had expected.
Successful people know that life is full of unexpected twists and turns. They go with the flow and handle the unknown with confidence.
Surely you’ve been guilty of at least one thing on this list at some point in your life. We are human, after all, and striving to be successful oftentimes goes against human nature.
Laziness can be considered the main obstacle in the road of success, yet people are inclined to feel lazy.
Doing things that aren’t necessarily pleasurable is one of the main driving forces of success, yet people are inclined to do only that bring them pleasure or immediate gain.
These facts are a clear indication that attaining success is hard and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
How did you surpass your obstacles? Which other habit would you need to give up to ease your road to success?