The 5-to-1 Plan for Company Meetings

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Whether you are just gaining momentum at work or your energy burst in January is starting to fizzle, your company’s yearly planning meeting can be the time to refocus your work plans, goals and strategy. It’s a perfect opportunity for networking, training and collaboration.  I have some suggestions on how to make the best of it.

Here is a simple plan that you can keep at your fingertips.

Think of five People you want to get to know better. Whether they are coworkers within your group, recent hires at the company, or an executive in a different department, make a point to shake hands and ask, “What interests you most about this year’s meetings?” Be prepared to carry the conversation until it begins to flow, and then go out on a limb and ask a personal question. You may find a common interest to form a bond from.

Avoid the following four No’s: 

Don’t get caught checking your cell phone for messages and emails while a speaker is talking. All of the people who are dutifully complying with the “no tech zone” rule are watching YOU check your phone.

Don’t indulge in too many beverages! Something about all-day exhausting meetings and a “free-to-you” company tab may make whooping it up seem harmless, but, a little self-control at night will help you to be wide awake and ready in the morning.

Approach the meeting without negativity. Often we think we are too busy to spend a day or two strategizing. But this is an opportunity to get creative. Bring a blank notebook with you and write down anything that comes to mind. This will keep you focused on the speaker and presentations, and you may just come up with a new idea , product or process improvement that your company needs.

Remember an old adage – if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. This is a time to support company goals and the people that are helping the company to grow or change. Keep disparaging remarks to yourself. Negative Nancy is not on the invite list.

Arrive with three Goals for the meeting and leave with at least two Impressions. Formulate your thoughts of what you would like to accomplish during this time, and commit to coming away with two impressions of people, ideas or plans. Take a lessons-learned approach and be prepared to answer the question your boss is sure to ask – what was your biggest take away?

Finally, when you arrive back at your desk, begin to execute immediately one Action Item that you promised yourself to do or accomplish as a result of the session. It is important to start on it right away. As time passes, the feeling in your gut may dissipate. Go with your gut – after having a day or two filled with inspiration, be confident that it’s the right move.

How To Choose A Career Book

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There are thousands of career books on the market in the self-help category.  We often read books about how to achieve something we desire: I want to be 20 lbs lighter, I wish I had a high-paying job, or I want to have less stress in my life.   We gravitate to the ideal state and want to read about what it will be like when we get there.  I suggest that the best chance for eventually realizing this dream, is to start from where you are today, taking one step at a time.  The book you need is the one that gets you started.
Many of us are looking for tips  on how to advance in our career, find a new job, or become a better manager. A book with high impact will stress slow but steady improvements, starting with the job or skills that you have right now.

To find the right book, I suggest a quick self assessment:
1) What job do I have today? 
Are you an individual contributor or a manager of others?  How many years of work experience do you have?  What would be the next likely move for you?  If you are in an entry-level position, then reading a book intended for C-Suite executives may leave you confused about how to improve productivity and performance in your cubicle tomorrow morning.  If you are a mid-level manager, then you already come with a set of your own experiences which may go beyond the author’s recommendations.
2) What problems are you having at work today?
Take some time to study your environment at work.  Do you feel your place of employment or the people you are working with are holding you back?  Are you holding yourself back? Often our thoughts about others and our work location can give us the biggest tips on what we need to concentrate on personally.  How can a personal change impact the way I am viewed or treated at the company?   By exploring this line of questioning,  you probably can quickly identify what work skills need improvement.  If your desk at work looks like my teenage son’s bedroom, search for books about organization, productivity and time management.  If you are having trouble connecting to coworkers, search for books on teamwork and continuous improvement.  Identify what appears to be an external problem, and then internalize it.
3) What kind of learner am I?
Do you like short stories or thoughtful reads in small print?  Do you like the theory or fact-based evidence about success, or would you prefer light stories?  Would you enjoy reading about how others achieved success, or do you want the author to talk directly to you? The book that you are most likely to finish, is probably the right purchase for you, even if it is slightly off-topic.  You will retain the material and find something to take away, if you enjoyed reading it.
Congratulations!  Just by doing this short assessment, you have taken the first step  forward in your career.  You have identified what you want to work on, and can begin to search book titles.  I suggest reading a preview for each book where the title appeals to your situation while keeping in mind the type of style you desire.  Most booksellers allow you to read the first few pages for free, and you can determine the style, tempo and subject matter from what the author leads with in the first few pages.  That is how I wrote my book.   If the preview is short and to the point, the book will be to.  If the preview is personable or thought provoking,  so will be the next 20 chapters.
Good luck and connect with me online!

About Joyce Jarek:
Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html