The 5-to-1 Plan for Company Meetings

Red Italic Words and 5 to 1 Numbers
Standard

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

Standard

cropped-img_18951.jpg

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

Are you ready for training camp?

Link

IMG_0819This week across the nation, NFL training camp commences. Players report to camp with excitement and are determined to make the cut.  Here in Cleveland, Ohio, all eyes are on Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, as the veteran defends his quarterback positon over the former Heisman winner and party animal Johnny. College fall athletes are packing up their gear and heading to campus to begin four to six weeks of intense training. It is a time for recommittment. Training camp emphasizes working as a team, and builds excitement for the coaching staff, players and fans to work together toward a common goal, the Championship.

How can you recommit yourself to your profession or employer? I challenge you to recreate a training camp mentality over the next few weeks. Here are some suggestions:

Managers – hold a continuing education day for your team and discuss topics that will emphasize working together, such as collaboration tools or training on new company policies or industry regulations

Employers – Reflect on a specialty within your line of work that you would like to learn more about, and research books, training classes, or conferences that can expand your knowledge base.

Business Owners – rallying the team is most effective when the message comes from the top so carve some money out of the budget for an event that will bring everyone together. How do you want to lead your team in approaching a problem differently, and what can you do to create the pathway?

Football players and coaches will probably never read Business Beyond the Classroom (or at least not until their college or prefessional career is over). But when it comes to training camp, perhaps businesses can learn a lesson from their playbook.

Joyce Mihalik writes for HlpSum1, Inc., an online organization who encourages us to help others through volunteer work, mentoring and christian ministry.  For more information go to http://www.helpsomeone.net or http://www.hlpsum1.net to join the movement.

On Being Polite and Kind

Standard

If you are having a hard time accepting that being polite, professional and kind will result in a successful outcome, I suggest trying the following experiment. Place a call to a friend or plop yourself down in the chair next to your boyfriend or spouse. Greet them by saying Hello. Make a mental note of their response. Most likely they said “Hello” or “Hey”. Ask them a simple question such a “How are you?” Note the response. Most likely the response began with a direct but short answer to this question, followed by a reciprocating question such as “and how are you?” We receive our speech training as toddlers from our parents or guardians through mimicked rote responses. When addressed in a simple polite tone, you will get a simple polite answer.  This applies to negative comments as well.  When you ask a question or make a comment dripping in sarcasm, such as “Is your budget report going to show up late, again, this month? The response that this triggers is likely to be something defensive and equally dripping with disdain, such as “well if you didn’t keep changing the dates for when it is do, I might be able to plan better.”

Sometimes you just meet that person that no matter how hard you try – you can’t stand someone. Your personalities don’t mesh, A change in venue or a different moment in time will not make a relationship with this person any more palatable. If you are going to intentionally burn a bridge, make sure it passes the NIML (Never In My Life do I want to be friends with you) test.

 

How Headphones Killed the Office Buzz

Standard
Silhouette of man wearing headphones overlooking office skyscrapers

Headphones Killed the Office Buzz

As companies look for ways to promote teamwork and a collaborative work environment, the debate about an open-office environment has been on for over a decade.   In an effort to build a creative space where ideas are spontaneously combusting through the work day and profitability is soaring, companies are boosting their capital expense budget each year to allow for a fit-out of new office space.  General contractors are enjoying their new-found job security as they knock down walls and open up space to entice workers into a cozy state of cohabitation.  Surely, this has been seen as a panacea that will improve learning and idea sharing.

It seems like a great plan, but what corporate executives didn’t plan for is how today’s culture has been transformed by the smart phone era to the extent that the workforce would rather text you than speak to one another.  This new workforce is highly adaptable to their new conditions.  One can even download white noise apps. No problems here for these tech-savvy business warriors who have replaced bricks and mortars and achieved isolation with walls made of internet sites, video games and social apps.  The biggest dilemma may be with the next generation that will arrive in the work force.  Ask any parent who tries to extend conversation with their teenager beyond the dinner table, and heads will be bobbing like a buoy in a wake zone.

Enter stage right, a host of electronic products on everyone’s holiday shopping list, and the perfect storm is created that dampens the creative energy amongst a team like the Bose QC15 noise-cancellation head phones muffles the engine noise of a 777 for any lucky passenger who can afford them.  (Love mine BTW).  The silence generated is eerie. So much so that your staff may even be oblivious to the roar of a Walker from the Walking Dead shuffling down a cubicle farm.

It used to be that bulky headphones were reserved for the “hipster” engineer designing the next patentable product while sitting in a darkened cube staring at two computers screens and listening to sports talk radio or 1979 Led Zeppelin songs on their shiny new disc players.    The pillars of industry liked keeping these guys quiet and happy as they built them a library of intellectual property.  But now, everyone hooks on headphones or ear buds.

The outcome is that coworkers may be less likely to communicate with others sitting in the same space than those assigned to cubicles or separate offices.  As a manager, the direct report seems oblivious, becoming the focal point of frustration as they try to engage and get their attention. 

Can managers enforce a “no-headphone” policy?   Likely not, without creating some infringement of this newly established work zone.  Do we have to resort to encouraging communication by sending Outlook invites to plead with coworkers to speak together? Maybe we can create a collaboration goal around it, and reward people for simply talking to one another.

Headphones also inhibit the opportunity for casual networking before and after work.  I observed an executive who entered an elevator and asked an employee how they were.  When the employee realized that he had been addressed, he took one bud out and said “what?”.  The executive shook him off.  Both of them had checked out, and the opportunity for networking had passed.

My advice for anyone who may be reading this while listening to music through ear buds – recognize that someone may want to talk to you right now, but perceive you as closed off – to new ideas and a chance at new responsibilities.  Good communication skills are essential for an emerging manager, but it is difficult to practice them while listening to Spotify or Pandora.  Take them off and initiate a work buzz at your office.  See what happens.

Joyce Mihalik is the President & CEO of HlpSum1, Inc., a start-up company in Akron, Ohio that operates social media sites, with a mission to inspire people to help others and increase volunteering.  As part of programming, Joyce has started a blog site called Business World – Beyond the Classroom, with a goal of providing guidance for young career professionals. 

Common courtesy is the grease for teamwork

Standard

Whether you are a team manager or an individual contributor, there are certain norms that we have learned while growing up that still apply today.  I often loved the book and the expression that everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten.  Not quite – but some common rules apply.  One golden role – say Hello and Goodnight to any of your coworkers you see when you start your work day or end it.   This can take many forms: “Hey”, “how are you”, “did you watch that game yesterday”, “what a commute today”, “sunny day”, “how was the weekend” .  Some form of acknowledgement is required to improve collaboration and support teamwork and camaraderie.  Not only is it a common courtesy, but it tells your coworkers that I am interested in being a member of this team and that I respect you as a person (even if you don’t like their work), and that in turn, I expect the same consideration.  At the end of the day, an acknowledgement is also needed, for those you see along your pathway to the door, and even going a little out of your way to stop and recognize their presence again.  What if you are normally quiet, is this still required?  The answer is Yes!!,  especially in this case.  Coworkers of quiet people need reinforcement to gauge the attitude of their coworkers.   Is there a problem?  Is he or she unhappy with their work life?  Are we good?

On your way into the job today, stop and say “hey”,  you will likely be greeted in the same way, and have set a positive tone for the rest of the day.