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Most of us have experienced the annoyance of a ‘bad’ boss. But now that you’re a manager, your employees certainly don’t think that way about you, right? Right?? Does any of this sound familiar?

Employees often express frustration with leaders who:

  • Don’t listen to new ideas
  • Don’t communicate openly about issues in the workplace
  • Don’t give feedback at all or do so in a negative manner

If you think any of these might apply to you, learn to be a better leader by focusing on incrementally improving your leadership abilities.

The first step is to undertake a self-analysis to identify the weaker areas of leadership in your skill set. From there, a management or leadership development course, executive coaching, or peer mentorship group can help guide the way and connect you with other professionals to form a support network.

Based on these common complaints from employees, focus on improvement in:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Collaborating with employees for innovative change

Improving in these skill areas can help improve leadership and influence, allowing you to cultivate an innovative environment for workplace improvements, be constructive in feedback and work review processes, and establish trust and rapport with employees across your team.

Keep taking incremental steps and soon you’ll be a leader that your employees love working with. If you’d like some help on the journey, please contact me.

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“Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.” – Carrie Fisher  

If you’ve been with your current employer for a while, it may be time to think about asking for a raise. Just the thought of this can be intimidating, but if you handle things properly, it doesn’t have to be a scary undertaking. Follow these strategies to prepare for the big negotiation.  

Words Matter  

Decide how you will phrase your ask. Will you request a certain percentage increase, a flat sum of money, or for your total compensation to be a set amount? All these are essentially the same, but if you know your boss relates better to percentages versus bottom line totals, use that to your advantage.  

Just the Facts  

Be prepared with data-driven evidence to justify the pay increase. Provide internal metrics showing your contributions to the company. Include anything relevant to the position. Number of hours worked, projects completed, budgetary savings, sales figures, client reviews, etc.  

External data is influential as well. Research salary rates at similar companies for people with comparable positions, tenure, and experience. This gives an idea of current market trends. You can find this type of information through sites like Glassdoor and Indeed or through company job postings. 

Keep it Real

While many people secure an external job offer to use as a raise negotiation tactic, I advise against this. If you stay with your current employer, you’ve already thrown up a red flag that you’re looking elsewhere. If you turn down the other employer, you could burn a bridge that you might need further down the road.  

Remember, no matter where you work or what industry you’re in, it’s a small world. People talk. And no one thinks well of someone who wastes their time or manipulates them for personal gain.  

Dry Your Tears

As with any business meeting, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Yes, your salary is highly personal to you, but to your employer it’s all about the numbers. Showing your anger at not making enough money won’t help your case. And showing your sadness about owing money to creditors will won’t help at all. If you can’t justify the salary adjustment to your boss without yelling, crying, or pouting, it may not be the right time to negotiate.  

 

When it comes to asking for a raise: don’t be scared, be prepared. If you need personalized advice for your salary negotiation, feel free to contact me.  

 

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Writing your cover letter can be tricky for job seekers. You want to keep things professional, you don’t want to come across as desperate, and most of all you want the person reading it to pick up the phone and call you.

Here are some quick tips for you as you work on your next cover letter. And remember, you should be writing a new letter for each job you apply to – customize each one for the position and the company.

Cover Letter Do’s
  • Do know your cover letter’s purpose. It should focus solely on getting the hiring manager to read your resume. The resume’s purpose, then, is to get you an interview. The interview gets you the job.
  • Do address the letter to a specific person. Find out who the hiring manager is for the position. This can be a challenge, depending on the size of the company, but every effort should be made to avoid the dreaded, “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • Do let them know what job you’re applying for. You don’t have to start out the letter with a boring statement (i.e. “I am writing in response to the opening for an assistant manager”), but you do want to let them know why you are contacting them. Find a more creative and interesting way to say it.
Cover Letter Don’ts
  • Don’t rehash your resume in your cover letter. Your resume should list your skills and accomplishments, and so should your cover letter. However, don’t just list the same things from your resume in your cover letter. Instead, expand on some aspect that you really want to highlight.
  • Don’t attach a cover letter to an email – the email IS your cover letter. When applying for a position, you’ll often send an email to the hiring manager or recruiter with your resume attached. There is no need to attach a cover letter as well. Simply use the email you send as your cover letter.
  • Don’t get too quirky. You’ve got a personality and you want that to show through, but it is notoriously hard to express yourself in written form – especially in professional documents like resumes and cover letters. Your personality will come through in your interview, you don’t have to force it into your cover letter.

If you’re struggling to get your cover letter just right, let me know. I would be happy to give feedback and help you get it just right.

Email me: westcoachingandconsulting@outlook.com

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A new year is upon us! Why not make some resolutions that will help this be your best year at work?

Think like a boss when you make your resolutions – what will make you a happier, more productive employee? How can you be more involved in the community and your company at the same time?

Try the following things over the next year and see if your boss doesn’t throw some appreciation your way:

Work Resolution: Be Engaged

Endeavor to have and exhibit a positive attitude about your work and your company. Volunteer and participate in office events, committees, and activities. Develop working relationships and friendships with your coworkers. Stay involved with what is going on at work – read company newsletters or memos, ask others to take part in projects, and speak up in meetings with ideas and constructive feedback.

Work Resolution: Grow Your Network

Many of us think about growing our professional network to make connections that might lead to a new job opportunity. However, your network is an opportunity for business growth. New clients and referrals are built through connections made in a variety of ways – alumni groups, volunteering, social interactions, chambers of commerce, industry associations, even sporting events. Any chance to meet someone new is an opportunity to introduce them to your company and what you do.

Work Resolution: Brand Yourself

You are a brand, just like your company. The better your personal brand is, the better it reflects on the company. Any time you attend a conference, business dinner, trade show, association meeting, or social event, make sure you are representing both yourself and your company in the best ways possible. Share your expertise on LinkedIn, speak to a business group about your company’s products and services, and maintain your professional reputation when using social media.

Work Resolution: Be an Innovator

Being an innovator doesn’t need to be as extreme as creating a totally new product or disrupting an entire industry. Just look for simple ways to make things work better. For example, reducing redundancies in paperwork or developing a better way to catalog network files. Innovations like these can save time and money and increase productivity.

Whatever your resolutions this year, best of luck in keeping them and making long term improvements!

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Applying for an out-of-state job can be tricky, but will it hurt your chances of getting the job? Here are some tips to compensate for the distance between you and your future employer. 

Click to view slideshow.

Be ready for an interview.

You have to be ready to take an interview if offered, and to make it work. If the company is flexible and willing to do a phone or Skype interview, make sure your technology is working perfectly. Test it, test it, and test it again! The internet connection cutting out and freezing your screen during a video chat will not help you in an interview. If at all possible, offer to travel to the interview in person. That is always preferable to a phone or video interview.

Talk relocation.

You will also want to address relocation in your interview. Let the hiring manager know that you are willing to relocate and are flexible to working with them on start dates. However, be careful when mentioning things that will complicate a move (housing, school districts, spouse employment, etc.) until you have actually received an offer.

Be realistic about your expectations regarding relocation expenses. If you are only willing to relocate if you receive compensation to do so, and the company is not willing to offer that compensation, you may be wasting time pursuing a position there.

Know your worth.

Being an out of state candidate is not necessarily a red flag for most companies. Many times, companies (especially large ones hiring for multiple positions) have exhausted the local talent pool and are actively searching for ways to bring more candidates into the area. Finding someone that is willing to move is often like a needle in a haystack for recruiters.

If you are ready to make a move, don’t be afraid to put in applications and contact a local recruiter or LinkedIn connection located in your chosen state.

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While reading the recent article, 6 Key Career Move Questions, from Ellen Huxtable on the Business 2 Community site, I started wondering, how DO you know when it is time to start job hunting?

Sometimes this can be an easy question to answer – if you’re moving to a new city, facing a pending layoff, offered a promotion, etc. But often, I think people keep an eye on what’s out there while not really committing to the job hunt. There is a difference between the passive and the pro-active job search.

Passive searchers watch for something better to come along, but are pretty comfortable in their current job. Pro-active searchers already know they are leaving their current job and are now actively applying and (hopefully) interviewing for a new position. How do you know when to make that transition?

For me, I was given some advice once that no one should dread going to work. Sure, there are particular days you might dread – days with boring meetings or terrible projects that you just have to ‘get through’ – but we shouldn’t dread going to work in general every day.

Based on this, I made a rule: If you dread going to work every day for two weeks straight, it’s time to find a new job.

When I say dread, I am talking about that feeling where you wish you had the flu just so you could stay home from work. If that is happening consistently, and you can’t find any reason to look forward to your job, then start your job hunt. Life is too short to spend every day at a job where you’re miserable.

Take note, though, if your sense of dread comes from some specific issue that, if resolved, would cause you to enjoy your job again (disagreement with a coworker, unrealistic expectations from your boss, lack of support or flexibility) then you should try to resolve the issue if possible. Talk to your manager or an HR representative to see what can be done.

If you’re still on the fence, the article above can provide some more decision making help, or check out, Should You Stay in Your Job? Here’s How to Know, from Harvard Business Review.

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