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Archive for January, 2011

Communication and Your Career

January 31st, 2011 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoCommunicating well with those around you may be one of the most important parts of any career. Whether you are communicating with your family, your co-workers, your managers or the world, whenever you fail to communicate effectively, the consequences are swift and painful. If you are having issues in your career, take some time to think about how you are communicating. I can guarantee you will find something lacking in your approach that might have prevented a lot of workplace angst.

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I was reminded about the importance of communication through a recent event in my own life. It involved a school announcement that the archdiocese (my son attends Catholic grade school) would be adding 20 days to school year, starting with the Fall 2011 calendar. While I personally had no real issues with this, the outcry from other parents was swift and loud. There were a variety of arguments against adding these days, but I believe at the heart of the argument was the presentation of this new policy as a fait accompli (a thing accomplished and presumably irreversible, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).

Almost anyone will chafe and rebel against any policy sent down from “on high.” Especially here in the United States, such pronouncements are likely to be met with anger and often result in protracted angst around the decision. Each time this occurs I remind myself how much easier the process would have been, and how much more effective, had the policy been communicated, evaluated and discussed long before it was ever put in place. Springing a new policy on someone, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, sends signals that the authority figure has no respect, and limited understanding, of the people whom the policy will effect.

Why does this poor communication continue to be the norm in most organizations? I think it is due to a very common fallacy. The creator of the policy thinks that by presenting a fait accompli they can bypass discussion, changes and arguments about the policy. They believe they have crafted the perfect policy and that anyone would be silly to argue against it. To believe this is to deny human nature, though. Even the best policy or the most useful policy will be heartily questioned when presented as a done deal. Instead of facing the limited, well-reasoned discussion of a policy when created in concert with the public, the organization ends up with angry, loud and downright nasty disagreements.

Even worse, such “after the fact” arguments often spill over from the one policy to expose deep divisions in a group. Like a bad marital argument, the complaints about one topic quickly spill over into a litany of complaints about every previous affront, real or perceived. It exposes deep divisions among the members of an organization and, in the worst cases, it can tear the organization apart.

Organizers and executives can have real fears about opening up the decision-making process to those they manage, but if they fail to do so, they will end up fighting a much larger battle later. When there is little or no communication, people will always assume the worst. They will lose any sense of trust in the executives and even the organization as a whole. They will come to see themselves not part of a team, but merely expendable workers that aren’t worth consulting on important issues that directly effect them. Through a failure of the relatively simple act of communication, greater troubles are often created.

The next time you are examining a new policy within your group or company, think deeply about how communication can smooth the path. Early discussions, while sometimes difficult are much less troublesome and confrontational than discussions after the fact. Just as you probably have an innate resistance to pronouncements from “on-high”, those you manage or lead will have the same. The path to greater productivity and harmony resides in early, frequent and respectful communication. Anything less leads to issues and turmoil that need not occur.

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My Quora Answer to : How social network can help me to get a job ?

January 21st, 2011 Comments off

How social network can help me to get a job ?

My answer…

Social networking can provide something very important.

I believe that the most important message you need to deliver in your job search is “What you do and how well you do it?” This can take the for of interacting and (hopefully) helping people via social networking, creating audio and videos to share with others and generally engaging in the wider, social networking world.

You never know where your next job is coming from. You never know who might be important in finding or offering that next job. Therefore, your goal is to put your content, your skills, your values and your work out there, so that as many people as possible may “stumble upon” it.

Reach out to others. Help them when you can. Converse with them about topics that interest you both. Make yourself available. All will increase your chances of finding your next, great job.

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Quora Answer: How do you cope with daily fear of unemployment?

January 15th, 2011 Comments off

How do you cope with daily fear of unemployment?

When working as an “at will” employee with no contract, there is a constant level of uncertainty and stress that any day could be your last day.

My answer…

One method is to do everything you can, every day, to prepare for the eventuality of being unemployed. Then, forget about it.

Worrying about being unemployed can be as bad as actually being unemployed. Making preparations can go a long way towards easing your worries and providing “peace of mind” regardless of what might happen in your career.

It happens to everyone on occasion so you won’t be wasting time or money to prepare today. Put money aside. Reduce your debt or keep it as low as possible. Learn how to live frugally, yet happily.

Many of the things we “want” in life aren’t really needs. Confusing the two can lead to much trouble. Find what makes you happiest and you will be focusing more on the “needs” side of that equation.

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What day is it?

January 14th, 2011 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoAsk anyone you know and I am sure you will hear the same thing, “What day is it? How did it get to be 2011 already? The year is moving so fast!” It seems a simple truth that the older you get the faster the days, months and years seem to pass. We go to sleep in one month and wake up in another, not really recalling what happened in between. This year, though, I am going to try and pay more attention to the passing of time and the things I accomplish along the way. Call it mindfullness. Call it paying attention. Call it “Getting Things Done.” No matter what you call it, let’s commit to noticing and remembering more of each days progress.

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Post your action items using the comments link here on the blog or on the Career Opportunities Facebook Page.

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Looking at the calendar I see that this is the 14th day and 2nd week of the new year. Both weeks have been very busy for me, but looking back over my calendar (a shared Google Calendar, in my case) I see that I had 11 client calls and 2 user group meetings and 1 night of archery practice with my son. We usually think of calendars as forward-looking devices, but they can be just as useful as a tool to remind us of everything we have accomplished. I even have a service that adds my Twitter messages to my calendar so I can see what I was talking about last week or last month.

Look back at your calendar for the last 2 weeks. How much did you accomplish? How much time did you spend with family and friends? How much time did you focus on what is really important to you? Not enough? What can you do this week to change that? Often we can change our future by focusing a bit more on our past. When we really examine what we did, we can make better plans for what we want to do. You can also change or enhance your focus by blocking out time in your calendar for your most important activities. It can be hard to focus on important issues when faced with the host of tasks that confront us. Too often we reach the Friday only to realize we never got around to this, that or the other. Reserving (or maybe the proper word would be preserving) time in our schedules for our most important task is a great way of reminding ourselves, every day. Of course, if you do preserve time in your calendar, you need to respect it as much as you would respect showing up for an appointment with your boss or doctor. Take the commitment seriously, even when you are only committing to yourself.

One important block of time everyone should offer themselves could be labelled Thinking, Reviewing or for some, Praying. Find an hour in your week that is traditionally slower and quieter than the rest. Maybe you rise before your family or stay awake after the rest of the household is asleep. Mark out that hour and think, really think, about what has happened in the past few days and what you would like to make happen in the week ahead. Schedule this time and respect it every week, no matter what else happens. I think you will be greatly surprised with the results.

Sometimes stopping, really stopping our bodies and minds, is the most important task we can accomplish in our week. I love engaging with the Internet via Twitter, email, messages boards and RSS feeds, but I also know that I need some time, every week, to digest what I have taken in — to review what I have done. Without that time, I reduce the usefulness of all the information. Without time, it becomes a glassy river of data flowing through mind, leaving nothing behind but confusion.

Your task this week is to find that 1 hour in your calendar to mark out for your thinking time. Write me a comment or an email and let me know what time of day works best for you. Where did you carve out that hour to help you do more in the week ahead? Share your thoughts and questions with other Career Opportunities readers and listeners. I will be re-dedicating myself to the same goals and report what I find. Together, let’s see what happens as we enter Week 3 of 2011.

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[Tip] There comes a time in your career when you must have tough conversations. If you don’t, everyone suffers, but esp. you.

January 11th, 2011 Comments off

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[Tip] Others may advise you on your career choices, but they cannot decide for you…nor should they. Make your own choices and own them.

January 3rd, 2011 Comments off

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Open Discussion Week 01: What are your biggest career questions?

January 2nd, 2011 Comments off

I want to collect your top career questions and then present them to my “team” of career advisors. In this way I hope do give you a variety of viewpoints on the most pressing issues of the day.

This post is an “Open Discussion” to both collect your questions and also allow you comment on the questions of others.

Got a question that is really concerning you? Add it as a comment to this post. Then, come back and chime in on the questions of others.

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Top Career Opportunities Posts for 2010

January 1st, 2011 Comments off
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