Open post Image of Man Searching Sky - Title: Not Sure What You Want to Do? Let's Figure It Out

Not Sure What You Want to Do? Let’s Figure It Out!

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

There’s a good chance at some point, you’ve been asked the following - “what do you want to be when you grow up?” This question may have been fun to think about as a child, but now that you’re an adult and the pressure is on, it can be stressful and confusing.

Whether you’re just entering (or re-entering) the workforce or you have been employed but are looking to take your career in a different direction, the first step to securing a job that you can thrive in is to determine your goals.

Even if you’re only planning for a minor career shift, or simply want to work at a different company, reevaluating your priorities and motivations can help you to go into your next job search with some clarity.

If defining your career goals seems intimidating, you are not alone. The stakes seem so incredibly high. How can you possibly take yourself, your interests, experiences, and dreams, and decide on the one thing you are meant to do?

We’re here to help get you started on that reflection and make it a bit less intimidating. Keep reading for some very simple and fun exercises to help you realize your career goals.

Don’t worry about the “perfect fit”

The idea that your perfect career awaits you and you just need to find it, has been fed to many of us.  The pressure to find the ”perfect fit” can lead to having expectations that are unhealthy and unrealistic.

Take some of the pressure off. Don’t worry about finding the perfect fit, and just focus on coming up with some options that are a good fit.

Also, remember that choosing what you want to do does not mean that you’ll be locked into that career path forever. It’s actually quite common for people to make career shifts. In fact, a recent poll found that over half of middle-income workers are considering changing jobs right now.

Drop the “shoulds” from your life

In life, there are so many things that you are told you should do, in order to live your best life. Some of these are well-supported by evidence, like getting enough sleep most nights. But others, like the idea that you must receive a certain level of education to have a fulfilling career or that your path will be clear and straightforward, are not true.

All of these “shoulds” can cloud your judgment, and make it hard to get in touch with your true values and goals.

Before you go through the following self-reflection exercise, take all of your “shoulds” out of the equation. This might be tricky at first because so many of these thoughts are automatic but stick to it. The “shoulds” are probably not serving you as well as you think they may be.

Career assessments and personality tests

While career assessments and personality tests are not the end-all-be-all for defining your career goals, they are a helpful starting point. Many personality and career tests are not based on scientific method and haven’t performed well on tests of reliability and validity. But this does not mean that they can’t still be useful tools for you to use.

They can help you learn about yourself, your interests, your strengths, and your weaknesses.

Regardless of how accurate you find your results, taking the tests and interpreting them will encourage further introspection. If you find some careers that look promising, it might be a good idea to research those positions. If you find a description of your strengths that really resonates with you, it might be helpful to investigate careers that will require you to harness and apply those skills.

Here we’ve listed just a few free and popular career and personality tests (but there are many more available through a quick online search) :

Career Assessments

•             The MAPP Career Test

The MAPP career test is comprised of about 70 questions in which you are asked to sort your likes and dislikes. It’s supposed to take about 22 minutes. It aims to help you discover careers that would suit your interests and fit with your motivations.

The MAPP test has held up to reliability and validity studies and has been used by many institutions and career counselors.

•             The Work Importance Profiler

The Work Importance Profiler is aimed to assess what’s important to you, and then show you careers that are compatible with your values.

Personality tests

•             The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the most widely used personality tests available. It takes about 20 minutes, and then upon completion, you are given a personality profile.

There are 16 possible personality types, that are presented in the format of four letters. The personality types are determined by whether you’re introverted or extroverted (I vs E), intuitive or sensory (N vs S), thinking or feeling (T vs F), and judging or perceiving (J vs P).

The test will give you a brief description of your personality type, along with a list of strengths and weaknesses. It will also provide you with careers that others of your suggested type are excelling at.

•             The Big-5

The Big Five personality test will give you a score on five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

This test should help you understand some of your tendencies and skills. Providing you with important factors to keep in mind whilst in your career search.

Questions to ask yourself

These questions are all aimed to help you learn more about your specific skills and interests, and how you can match those with careers.

The more detailed and true you are with your answers, the more helpful these tools will be.

What criteria do you have for your life?

To define your career goals, a good place to start is to consider what criteria you have for your life, both in and outside of work. This can include positive and negative criteria: positive things that you would like more of in life, and negative things that you would prefer to avoid.

For example, a positive criterion could be that you want to work in an industry that allows for promotions and career advancement, or you want a lifestyle where you can spend frequent time with family.

Whilst, a negative criterion could be you don’t want to work in a highly stressful environment, or that you don’t want a role that requires you to work during your personal time.

What are your interests?

This seems like an easy question, one you’ve likely answered many times but this time you will need to dig deep. When you were younger, what did you enjoy learning about?  What do you go out of your way to learn more about now? It’s helpful to understand what your interests are to gain insights into what you’d like to have in your life.

What are you passionate about?

The best and most fulfilling work often comes when you follow your passions. What is truly important to you? What are your values? Is there a topic that you could talk about for ages, or listen to others talk about without becoming bored?

What do you excel at?

Everyone has certain skills that just seem to come more naturally to them. This could be a specific technical skill such as coding, or it could be a soft skill, like empathy.

If you’re struggling to come up with answers to this one at first, it can be helpful to reach out to a close friend or someone who knows you well for insight. Taking the career and personality assessments will also give you a solid foundation to answer this question.

Who do you admire?

This question can really get you thinking about the qualities you value in others and can help you to direct your aspirations. It may lead you to think of people you admire for their job-related accomplishments, or simply for who they are as people.

Once you’ve determined the qualities you admire in others, you can begin to institute them in your own life.

How much additional effort are you able to put in to achieve your career goals?

There might be a certain job that you’re interested in, but it requires another degree or certificate, and going back to school is just not practical for you at this point in your life. That’s perfectly understandable, going back to school is a huge commitment of time and money. It just means that you may need to get creative.

Depending on what it is you’d like to do, you may be able to find free courses that you can fit into your spare time. Self-directed learning has become more available and accepted.

Look for entry-level positions for the job you’d like. You may qualify for the position with the skills you have and then are able to gain skills and knowledge on the job.

There are many ways to get to where you’d like to be, they don’t all have to be conventional.

Find people on social media who are in your dream position and follow them. You will learn a ton about the industry, what it takes to make it, as well as potentially make valuable connections that can help you to achieve your goal.

If none of these are available to you, begin to pay attention to the aspects of your current position that you really enjoy. Focus on those. Does your current company have a position like the one you want? Seek cross-training opportunities to learn more and gain skills, after some time you will be able to apply those to the position that you are really interested in.

Conclusion

Ultimately, if you are not currently where you’d like to be, there are many roads you can take to get where you’d like to go. It’s most important that you just take the first step – regardless of how small that step may feel.

You are a wonderful collection of unique skills, experiences, and perceptions and you are at your best when you are interested and invested in what you are doing. If you have it, take the time to truly get to know yourself. It will be the best thing you ever do. Future you will thank you!

 

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Authenticity – Bring Your “Self” to Work

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

“Just be yourself” - you’ve probably heard this throughout your life.  Although cliché, it is great advice. Being authentic helps you to avoid burnout, form meaningful relationships, and even perform better.

But being your true self is easier said than done in some situations. One area where you may struggle to be your authentic self is at work. It can be particularly difficult for individuals with marginalized identities because they too often face consequences for being themselves. Historically, there have been strict written and unwritten rules for how to conduct one's self professionally, with those rules not always being fair to everyone. But it seems that many of those rules are now being questioned, as the majority of us have been working from home for the last couple of years.

In her Ted talk entitled “The Myth of Bringing Your Full, Authentic Self to Work,” Jodi-Ann Burey uncovers some of the challenges she has faced as a Black woman in the professional world. A quote that stands out from her talk is, “Without accountability to examine the systems of bias and power, the call for authenticity fails.”

Nobody, no matter their race, sexuality, gender, age, or any other part of their identity, should ever be made to feel like they must hide who they are in order to succeed in the workplace. We will discuss some ways that leaders and employees can make space for authenticity for all workers later.

But first, let’s get familiar with what it means to be authentic and why it is so beneficial.

What is Authenticity?

What does “just be yourself” mean at work? It doesn’t mean that you must act exactly the same way throughout all of your interactions, as that is unrealistic. Nor does it mean that you need to share every detail of your personal life. At times it may be necessary to protect your boundaries and keep aspects of yourself separate from certain settings or people. And that’s perfectly okay.

Authenticity is simply when our internal selves (our values, motivations, and interests) align with our behavior. This can look very different depending on your preferences and work style. Cultivating authenticity is a lifelong practice of learning about yourself, and it requires experimentation.  You might try something and then realize that it didn’t feel right. When this happens, you learn something new about yourself and might be more comfortable being a bit more open in the future.

Benefits of Authenticity

Avoid Burnout

Hiding your authentic self in the workplace is likely contributing to burnout more than you may realize. The effort you expend trying to control your work image is costly — performing all day at work is exhausting. Once that pressure comes off, you free up so much energy to put into your work. You will also probably notice that you have more energy to spend on developing other aspects of your life, like your relationships. This brings us to the next benefit...

Form Meaningful Relationships

You might think it’s easier to put up a barrier while you’re at work and separate your social life from your work life. But you most likely spend a good portion of your days at work, so being able to have those strong connections at work will be extremely beneficial. The importance of having meaningful relationships cannot be stressed enough. Studies have found having strong connections to be related to better job performance, and even to increased longevity.

 Perform Better

When you constantly put on a mask at work and feel like you have to stay silent on topics that are important to you, you will likely feel stressed and disconnected from your work. However, once that mask comes off, you’ll be better motivated to engage with and commit to your work and you can watch your performance soar. In an interview about authenticity at work, Human Resources and Recruitment Practitioner Madison Butler explains “When you empower people to be exactly who they’re intending to be in the world, you get people who are more focused on what they’re doing every day. If I’m not focused on the sound of my voice, I can really focus on what I’m saying.”

In Google’s research on what makes a successful team, they found psychological safety to be the most important factor. Psychological safety means that people are given the space to communicate openly, and they know that they can make mistakes without facing harsh consequences. Psychological safety is directly related to authenticity. When people know that they won’t be punished for being themselves, they are much more likely to act authentically.

How to Practice Authenticity at Work (and Make Space for Others to Do the Same)

Now that we’ve established what authenticity is and why it’s important, you might be thinking “okay that’s great, but how do I actually do it?” Whether you are in a position of leadership at your organization or not, we’ll go over some strategies to help you encourage authenticity in yourself and others.

As discussed earlier, some work settings might not be particularly conducive to authenticity, especially for those with marginalized identities. That needs to change. Both the companies and the employees will see the benefits of more open and inclusive workspaces. When authenticity is encouraged, it has been shown to lead to better employee motivation, innovation, and productivity, as well as much higher retention rates.

Make Inclusion a Priority

The first step in enabling authenticity for all employees is to make workplaces more inclusive. This starts with strong leaders who encourage empathy and a sense of belonging. Strong leaders also take steps to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the recruiting process.

If you are not in a position of leadership, you can still play a major role in contributing to a more inclusive work environment. Some actions you can take to achieve this are to speak up if you see fellow coworkers being treated unfairly and to normalize authenticity by doing so as much as you can (without facing consequences).

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a great way to increase your capacity for authenticity. Through mindfulness exercises, people can become more aware of their own values, feelings, and motivations. The more self-aware you are, the easier it will be to act authentically. Many also report that through mindfulness practice, they have learned to live more intentionally and remain more present in their day-to-day lives.

As the great philosopher, Ferris Bueller, once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. It’s easy to get swept up by your daily routine and miss out on quality experiences. Mindfulness helps you avoid this.

Practicing mindfulness can look really different depending on your preferences. It could be daily meditations, mindful walking, taking breaks to check in throughout the day, or anything else you like. There really are no rules to it; just make it work for you!

Push Yourself to Be Vulnerable

Being yourself can be scary, but once you step out of your comfort zone and open up just a little bit, it will start to be much less intimidating. You can start small, maybe by talking about some of the ways that you’ve had to adjust to the pandemic with your coworkers.

Be a Good Listener

Authenticity is very much connected to your relationships. This means that being authentic isn’t only about being yourself, but also about allowing others the space to do the same. Being a good listener pushes you to be more present in the moment, and in doing so you learn more about yourself and others. This is one of the ways that authenticity helps build meaningful relationships.

Having someone give you their full attention, and really listen to what you have to say is a beautiful thing. When you are a good listener, others feel seen and heard, helping to give them the confidence to be themselves.

Conclusion

The very truth of the matter is that you are a complicated combination of your DNA and your experiences. You have a perspective that only you can have. Bringing your full self to everything you do will only further strengthen the confidence you have in yourself. What you may be dismissing is that your unique perspective is so very important to the rest of us. You will think of things that we would not consider – and we can do the same for you. True collaboration is the only way we can solve some of the really challenging problems we encounter – and we all need to bring our full selves for that to be possible.

 

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The Dark Side of Perfectionism

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

Perfectionism

Do you often find it tough to relax and unwind?  You work hard, but feel like your best isn’t good enough? Worry that people will look down on you if you aren’t performing flawlessly? All of these are sneaky signs that you might be suffering from a case of perfectionism. Suffering from perfectionism? You heard that right.

As a culture, perfectionism is upheld as a positive quality that we should be proud of. So, it’s no surprise that perfectionism is on the rise. But it is not something that should be glorified. In fact, perfectionism can be detrimental to your mental health.

What is Perfectionism?

At this point, you may be confused. How can doing a great job and striving to do your best be a bad thing? Well, let’s back up. Perfectionism goes beyond doing your best. When you suffer from perfectionism, excellence is merely okay, and your best never feels good enough. It proves harmful to your mental health, your wellbeing, and even your relationships.

In a study on perfectionism, two prominent experts identified three main variations which are characterized by the following:

·         Self-oriented perfectionism - when individuals impose unrealistically high standards on themselves.

·         Socially prescribed perfectionism - when people feel that others expect them to be perfect.

·         Other-oriented perfectionism - when individuals have unreasonably high expectations of others.

Why is Perfectionism Harmful?

It is not uncommon to struggle with some combination of the three, all of which are problematic for different reasons. Additionally, just because someone is a perfectionist in one area of life does not necessarily mean that they will be in all. Someone may be a perfectionist at work but very forgiving of mistakes at home, or vice versa. But even struggling with perfectionism in one area can have negative consequences.

Self-Oriented Perfectionism

Holding yourself to unachievable standards is harmful because it can not only prevent you from doing work you’re proud of, but it can also seriously hurt your wellbeing. The fear of not being perfect on the first try has the potential to cause you to procrastinate, which can result in undue stress and anxiety.

Procrastination in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, and may even fuel creativity, but in order for procrastination to be beneficial, the procrastinator must not be afraid to fail.

Procrastination due to perfectionism usually prevents experimentation and squashes creativity, and leads to you running up against time constraints. This ultimately causes stress and can compound your feelings of inadequacy, a truly vicious cycle. Living with a harsh inner critic also has severe consequences for your health. Researchers have found perfectionism to be associated with conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Socially Prescribed Perfectionism

Socially prescribed perfectionism is especially detrimental to your mental health. This variation of perfectionism has been linked to anxiety, depression, and unfortunately, suicidal ideation for some.

You are human and as such, a social creature. It is naturally inherent to want to be viewed positively by those you care about. But if you take that to the extreme of believing you need to be perfect to be worthy of respect, the effects can prove crippling mentally and emotionally.

Socially prescribed perfectionism has the potential to harm not only you but your relationships, by causing you to become closed off because of the pressure you feel to maintain unrealistic expectations. An even worse result is that you may struggle to ask for help, fearing it would be viewed as a sign of ineptitude.

Other-Oriented Perfectionism

Other-oriented perfectionism harms relationships in a different way. Working closely with someone who has this type of perfectionism can be exhausting and demoralizing. Other-oriented perfectionists often lack the soft skills that are crucial in a workplace, such as empathy, communication, and adaptability.

Those working with this type of perfectionist deal with a lack of understanding and forgiveness, rather than healthy constructive criticism, when mistakes are made. Mistakes are not seen as opportunities to learn and grow but instead are used to shame and demoralize.

This will cause people to be afraid to communicate openly because they are worried about disappointing the other. All of these factors lead to a toxic and strained relationship that is damaging to both partners, as well as their performance.

How to Improve Perfectionist Tendencies

Recognize when you’re being a perfectionist

The first step in addressing any perfectionist tendencies is to recognize them. You’re off to a great start by reading this article. You can also check out this site for a more comprehensive list of indicators of perfectionism.

Ultimately cultivating more self-awareness and mindfulness will help bring your perfectionism and other harmful tendencies to your attention. Many people improve these skills through habitual practices such as mindful walking, yoga, or journaling.

Prioritize getting things done over getting things perfect

Earlier we mentioned the vicious cycle of procrastination. The only way to break this cycle is just to get in there and start working. Know that your work is probably not going to meet your standards right away, and that’s perfectly okay. First drafts are meant to be rough. The purpose is to get your ideas down on paper, however messy they may look. Iterations are where you can build upon those ideas and perfect them.

Accepting What You Can Control and What You Can’t

Learning to let go of what you can’t control will help address all three variations of perfectionism. Starting with self-oriented perfectionism, when you become more aware that there are factors out of your control, such as resource or time limitations, it helps you to be more forgiving of yourself.

The next step is to learn to base your self-esteem more on the factors that are completely in your control. For example, rather than beating yourself up over your performance, you can celebrate how hard you’ve worked. Instead of being hard on yourself for struggling in your personal relationships, you can be proud of how much effort you put into being a kind person.

In terms of socially prescribed perfectionism, understanding that you have no control over how others see you is crucial. This may sound scary, but it can be quite freeing. You are in control of your actions and your choices, and nothing else. Put in your best effort, and do what you love, and you will be proud of the person you are. If someone views you negatively, that is not a reflection of you. And keep in mind that most people are not judging you as harshly as you may think, so working unnecessarily hard to please them doesn’t benefit anyone.

Additionally, letting go is especially relevant to other-oriented perfectionism. It’s important to give others space to make mistakes, learn, and grow. This doesn’t mean that you can’t offer input and support to help move their process along. But ultimately their work is their own, and there is no need to add to your plate by worrying about things that aren’t your responsibility.

Appreciate Difficulties

A huge cause of perfectionism is failing to appreciate the amount of effort it takes to achieve greatness. You can’t expect yourself to be an amazing athlete never having trained before, or to have Nobel-prize-worthy ideas at the drop of a hat. Great results take time and effort and are usually experienced during iterations of the original idea. Expecting perfection on a first try is setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Everything is a process, and trusting your process will allow you to be more creative and gain confidence in your abilities. Practice makes perfect, so just keep practicing – and you will reach perfection, instead of chasing perfectionism.

Imperfection is what makes us human, it’s a beautiful thing, and it allows you to discover things that you never would have imagined.

 

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Employee Motivations – What’s Important to You in 2022?

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

The landscape of work has been forever altered by what we've collectively experienced over the last two years, and with it, employee motivations. Many have taken the time to reconsider what is truly important, both at work and at home. Values have changed, and people are making concerted efforts to craft a different experience. Finding employment aligning with your values may feel like a daunting exercise, but the benefits to your mental health can not be overstated.

If you’re like most employees in 2022, you want to work for a company that grants you autonomy – keeping you engaged and motivated. The flexibility to support a positive life-work balance is also shown to be very important, quite often, even more so than compensation. Additionally, you would likely prefer to work for a company with a great culture: one which supports your wellbeing, helps you stave off burnout, and aligns with your values.

All these requests are perfectly reasonable, and fortunately, it is currently an employee’s job market. Employees are continuing to quit in record numbers. Employers are scrambling to fill positions, and workers are no longer settling for positions that don’t meet their personal and professional needs.

Keep reading to learn how you can secure a position that meets all your requirements.

Flexibility on the Job  

Autonomy

Having autonomy at work means you have the freedom to decide when and how you work. This should not suggest there is no oversight from upper management. It simply means when you are told what needs to be done, it is left to you to decide how you will meet the goal.

In some companies, you may be allowed to determine when you choose to work, setting your own schedule. In others, you may be allowed to decide how your work is done based on your education and talent. There are varying degrees of autonomy that could be offered, familiarizing yourself with them will determine how much you think you may need.

Studies have shown employees experiencing more autonomy in their job results in increased job satisfaction, in addition to improved productivity. Autonomy is also responsible for increased motivation and happiness and decreased employee turnover.

With all the positive outcomes that result from autonomy within the organization, both for you and the company, one would think it would be standard practice. But finding a company operating this way can prove challenging, although more companies are considering its importance.

With how important this one aspect of work is, it would behoove you to do your research to ensure the company you’re eyeing trusts their employees to do the jobs they were hired for. Determining the level of autonomy offered by a company during the interview can feel intimidating. Keep in mind, that their response to your inquiry should give you the information you need to make the right decision for you.

 Flexible Hours

You are complex, multi-faceted. You have a lot going on in your personal life; you have a family, you have passion projects, you have a life. You need a work structure that accommodates these responsibilities and any others you determine.

Prior to the pandemic, you were expected to fit your personal life into your off-hours without question, and you did. The pandemic changed everything, including what you believe is important. With a forced reevaluation of life, it should surprise no one that overworking while missing your life ranks poorly.

The pandemic has helped to normalize more flexible work arrangements. It has also brought forward conversations about work structure. During an interview, you can get an idea of flexibility by asking questions about how the organization has shifted its expectations to meet the challenges of the pandemic.

It’s important to note though, that while general conversations about structure are probably to-be-expected, it’s not a great idea to bring up your personal situation right off the bat. If you do have a specific need for flexibility, don’t give too much information about the situation, as this can bring out unintentional biases. Additionally, make sure to emphasize how you’ve previously been successful in your roles while managing your other demands.

Remote work

After several false starts, companies are starting to seriously discuss a return to the office. What that looks like will depend on the company; some are happy to remain remote, while others are toying with hybrid options, and still, others institute a mandatory return to the office.

Some employees aren’t ready to give up the autonomy and freedom they have gained over the last two years of remote work. In a survey of 1,000 workers, over half indicated that they would prefer to work remotely, permanently. If you are one who is strongly opposed to a return to the office, you may be able to work with your supervisor to gain more flexibility. You can try to do this by showing them that your productivity has flourished during remote work.

Otherwise, you may wish to pursue opportunities that allow more flexibility in this regard. There is still uncertainty going forward, and some companies have yet to make decisive plans. However, if the option for remote or hybrid work is high on your priority list, you’ll want to know what a company’s return-to-work plan looks like.

Pay attention to how the company justifies its future plans, and what factors they consider in determining whether to be in-person, remote, or hybrid. If they have not indicated plans for remote or hybrid options, it can be assumed they will expect employees fully in-person. But if they have adjusted for long-term remote work (such as starting a hoteling policy, where workers can reserve desks on an as-needed basis) they will likely provide more flexibility.

Salary

More workers are asking for raises or increased starting salaries. With the increased demand for employees, employers know that they need to provide appealing wages to remain competitive. If you’re looking for a salary increase at your current job, check out our tips on how to ask for a raise. If you’re looking for a new job and want to know how to negotiate a higher starting salary, read on.

  1. Do your research

Before you begin negotiating your salary, it’s important that you get a preliminary idea of what is reasonable for your position. A great place to start is to use tools such as glassdoor, Payscale, and salary.com. These sites can help you explore the typical going rates for your role.

An article on salary negotiations by the Wallstreet Journal features some expert advice from workplace consultant Lindsey Pollak. She suggests asking company-specific questions on areas such as typical wages and salary negotiations. This will help you better grasp what wages you can expect, as well as help you better prepare for negotiating your salary.

  1. Rely on your performance to justify why you deserve a raise

Prices of everything from groceries to gas are up, and inflation is at play. It makes sense to use the higher cost of living to justify your request for a higher salary, as that seems only fair. However, compensation experts advise against it. It is suggested to be better to focus on your specific performance and achievements, rather than outside influences. Inflation impacts everyone, but your performance and contributions are unique to you.

When asking for a higher salary, it’s important that you find a way to stand out. You should emphasize your value as an employee and explain why you are worth the investment.

  1. Don’t be the first to suggest a number

While it might seem like being the first to suggest a number would be advantageous, negotiation experts advocate against it. The reason for this is that you risk anchoring yourself to a lower salary range. If they offer a salary that is lower than you expected, that is when you should reveal your expectations, and let them know you had anticipated a higher rate for the role.

Company Culture

Another element that has become a deciding factor for many employees is company culture. You spend a great deal of your time at work, and you want to work in a place that feels good and allows you to grow. A big part of this depends on upper management’s style of management, as this affects employee motivations. The management style of the person you report to will have a great effect (for good or bad) on the company culture, but most importantly on you. Having a great boss can enhance your quality of life at work and at home. Make sure to be on the lookout for these qualities when you are interviewing your prospective employers.  A company with great culture will show concern for its employee’s well-being and will take active steps to curtail burnout. Ensuring your values are in alignment from the start will save you from much stress and regret in the future.

Wellbeing

In a recent survey, 68% percent of Millennials (50% in 2019), 81% of Gen Zers (75% in 2019), and 50% of all respondents (34% in 2019) reported having left roles for mental health reasons. The survey noted here was conducted prior to the pandemic, and mental health issues have only compounded. Mental health matters and you deserve to work for a company that recognizes this. Whether or not the company you work for actively plans mental health initiatives, it is a good idea to maintain healthy boundaries, in order to maintain your own peace.

It should not be difficult to get a sense of whether a company takes mental health seriously. Many companies have implemented some mental health support such as access to counseling apps and company-wide mental health days. These are good indicators that a company is making progress toward mental health awareness.  Most important, however, is to pay attention to the overall culture, and how much empathy and flexibility they make space for.

Avoiding Burnout

Burnout is real. And considering everything we all have been through over the last two years, many are feeling it. Check out our blog on avoiding burnout for some tips you can take on an individual level. You’ll also want to make sure that your current or future job is conducive to fighting off burnout.

One way you can do this is by looking into attrition rates. If there has recently been a high number of departures, this could be a bad sign. It indicates there are factors driving workers away, and the workers left behind are tasked with picking up the slack.

Additionally, if you get a sense that an organization is desperate to hire you, be careful. This could mean that you’ll be overloaded with work as soon as you join on and may not receive the training needed to be successful.

Values

Values matter. Working for a company that doesn’t share your values makes it difficult for you to stay motivated to bring your best to the job. In a recent survey, 71% of workers indicated that they would be willing to leave an organization whose values didn’t align with their own. So, how can you get an idea of a company’s values?

You can start by doing some research. Look at a company’s website and the language that they use. Pay attention to whether they list specific actions they are taking to reflect these values. Also, read laterally by examining other sources and see what they might have to say about your potential company’s history and values.

Furthermore, you can really get a sense of a company’s values by making them a central topic in your interview. This article by Harvard Business Review has some great strategies for conducting a values-focused interview. Start by identifying a few of your key values. Then ask open-indicated questions that give your interviewer a chance to reveal how important these values are to the company.

Conclusion

There is much to think about while looking for your perfect position within the perfect (for you) company. Having a strong sense of self and solid goals will help you find what you are looking for. It is easy to let your excitement drive your decision-making but taking your time to do your research will pay off with a perfect match. Just think of how happy future you will be when you are working in the position you have been striving for, within a company aligning with your values. Flexibility and well-being should not be considered perks of a job, they should come as standard. The life-work balance you agree to for any company can be to your own detriment if you are not careful. Make sure you are able to fit your work into the life you want, and not let your work take up too much of your life. You only get one life. Never forget that you are human first and you deserve a beautiful one.

 

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Open post Hand holding a heart-shaped rock. Title-Soft Skills: A Testament to Your Personal Development

Soft Skills: A Testament to Your Personal Development

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

When building your resume, you may naturally place emphasis on your technical skills—those relating directly to tasks you’ll be performing on the job. Technical skills are undoubtedly important, as they can demonstrate your experience and capabilities. They show what you can do. However, it’s also important to include soft skills on your resume. Soft skills are attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with others, and they are crucial for workplace success.

Soft skills are often related to your attitude and intuitions. They are less about qualifications and more based on the status of your personal development. As technology advances and jobs become increasingly more automated, having interpersonal skills that computers can’t match, such as empathy, becomes even more essential. In this article, we will discuss six of the most important soft skills, and how they can make you more successful not only in your workplace but within your life.

Organization

Organizational skills can include attention to detail, persistence, and time management. The ability to maintain organized and efficient operations is extremely important. If someone has great technical capabilities but is frequently disorganized, they will be unlikely to live up to their full potential at work. Strong organizational skills demonstrate a commitment to carrying out tasks and duties in a timely manner, with a focus on quality.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills involve using creativity in order to resolve issues or perform tasks more efficiently. Problem-solving is an ability much valued by employers. A workplace full of strong problem-solvers is likely to run smoothly and remain unharmed by any minor hiccups. Problem-solving also means being innovative, and new ideas are valuable to any workspace.

Teamwork

Most employees work as part of a team, and even those who work ‘alone’ need to collaborate with other employees at some point. Being able to engage in productive collaboration is extremely valuable. If you’ve ever worked on a team or group project where some of the members were clearly not eager to work together, you have seen how difficult it can be.

People who are skilled at working in a team appreciate the value of joining forces with others in order to accomplish shared goals. They know when to delegate, and how to allow each person to contribute in ways that play to their unique strengths. Strong teamwork skills will make your life, and the lives of your team members so much easier.

Communication

Whether verbal or written, good communication skills can help you in all aspects of your career. Being able to communicate well means being skilled at delivering your message to others in a wide range of situations. Sometimes, you may need to communicate ideas that are uncomfortable or unpleasant. Conveying these messages tactfully and without creating conflict is an extremely desirable attribute that employers value.

Also essential to strong communication is the ability to listen actively and attentively. Being a good listener is crucial because it will help you respond more appropriately and will also help your co-workers/employers/employees see that you value and appreciate their ideas.

Adaptability

Being adaptable means being able to adjust and perform well under a variety of different conditions. Flexible employees often refine processes and identify new ideas for a business to explore. In any job (but especially in technology-driven fields or startups), changes occur unexpectedly. Being able to work with these changes and adjust quickly is extremely desirable for employers.

Adaptability can even make up for a lack of technical skills in some situations. For example, if you have never worked with the computer system that your job uses, but you are adaptable, employers may disregard your lack of experience because they see that you are motivated to learn, and know that your technical skills will follow.

Empathy

Empathy is simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. With that insight, you become better adept to support others through challenging situations. Empathy is an essential human characteristic, and can also be very beneficial in the workplace, as it can enable you to resolve conflicts, build more productive and collaborative teams, and improve relationships with co-workers, clients, and customers.

If after reviewing this list, you are concerned that you may not be as strong in some of these skills as you could be, don’t worry. Even though soft skills are not taught formally in a course or class, they can be developed and fostered through self-reflection and the observation of others. Remaining proactive with your personal development will increase your emotional intelligence which will significantly impact all your relationships for the better, not only the ones at work but across all facets of your life.

 

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Open post Zoomed in on the corner of lines drawn on a basketball court. Text: The Absolute Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries

The Absolute Importance of Healthy Boundaries

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

Maintaining healthy boundaries is essential for your mental health, and overall wellbeing, as well as avoiding burnout. Unclear or unenforced boundaries can often leave you feeling depleted, taken advantage of, or resentful. These feelings can be extremely harmful to your sense of self-worth and your relationships. Learning how to establish boundaries will ultimately protect your wellbeing, and help you to be happier and more successful, both at work and in your personal relationships.

What are boundaries?

Boundaries are limits or guidelines that you set for yourself on how others can behave towards you, in order to protect your physical or emotional needs and sense of peace. Setting and maintaining boundaries can be challenging for some, but like any skill, it can be improved with some practice. Boundaries can be different for everyone and will come in many different forms. Here are some common categories that they fall into:

Emotional

Maintaining emotional boundaries can be challenging but proves very important. Stating and standing up for your emotional needs can feel frightening, especially if it is not something you are used to doing. This just means you need to practice more until you get quite good at it. An example of setting an emotional boundary would be, for instance, if you stated to a confidante “this is a very vulnerable subject for me, and I would really appreciate it if this information could stay between us”, prior to sharing personal information. This makes your expectation of privacy very clear to those with whom you are sharing and provides the receiver with the opportunity to agree or disagree with the expectation. Additionally, a great way to show respect for the emotional boundaries of others would be to ask your confidante if they have the capacity to support your emotional needs at the moment and be understanding if they decline.

Time

You want to be helpful. It is customary and understandable – whether at home or at work. You often fill up your schedule because you may feel if you can help, there is no good reason to say no. But what you will rarely hear is that you don’t need a good reason to say no; all you need is the desire. In order to be truly helpful to others, you need to be in a good place which means you need to protect your time. Filling up your schedule to the point where you have no time for yourself or activities that energize you is how you become depleted. If you spread yourself too thin, your personal happiness will suffer.

It’s important to remember that your time is extremely valuable, and finite, meaning you only have so much of it and need to spend it wisely. One example of protecting your boundaries regarding time would be to identify the time you need to do the things that make you a happy human and create a schedule that makes sure those needs are met. You need eight hours of sleep. You need exercise. You need to eat. You need to spend quality time with people you love. You need to write or read or (insert your favorite thing to do here). You have needs, and you are the only one who will defend or enforce them – so build them into your schedule and make them unmovable. Once you have your list of non-negotiables, you’ll be able to determine how much time you have leftover to assist others with their needs.

Physical

Physical boundaries are those having to do with protecting your personal space, your privacy, or your body. It’s essential, especially during a global pandemic, that you stand up for your needs with regards to your own personal space, and that you respect the needs of others. Requesting and maintaining your own personal space has never been more acceptable or understandable than it is currently and could be used to your advantage. The pandemic has gotten you out of hugging strangers and awkward high-fives, so with the bad comes some good, but you will still need to state any other physical boundaries that make you more comfortable. An example of asserting a physical boundary could be walking away from your workspace to grab some lunch, in order to clear your head or get some fresh air. It may also look like keeping your personal space organized in a way that helps you feel at ease.

What boundaries are not?

Boundaries are not selfish. Protecting your well-being is not selfish. Sometimes setting boundaries might mean declining to give help or your time to others, and this may, at first glance, seem selfish. However, ultimately, it’s exactly the opposite. To understand why, consider the oxygen mask principle. When you’re on a plane, they always advise you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, even if you are flying with small children. And why is this? Because if you don’t put on your own mask, you will run out of oxygen, and then you will be no help to anyone. The same idea applies: if you don’t look out for your own needs, your ability to function and realize your own happiness will suffer and you will be of no help to others.

How to start protecting your boundaries:

Start paying attention to your needs.

Sometimes when life gets busy, it’s easy to forget about your own needs, but a little bit of self-reflection goes a long way. Your emotions are a very powerful indicator of what your needs are. When a situation causes you to feel a strong emotion, take note of it. You could be feeling upset that someone used a rude tone with you, stressed because you don’t have enough time to complete a project before a deadline, or happy that someone asked you before sharing an emotionally charged story. These emotions are all tools that you could use to help you understand what’s needed to support your own wellbeing.

Determine what your boundaries are.

Once you’ve gained a better understanding of what your needs are, you’ll be well-prepared to determine what boundaries you should implement in order to support these needs. You will likely know that a certain boundary is necessary when the idea of having that boundary provides you with relief. For example, if you’ve noticed that being pushed for time is causing you distress, this is a sign that you should implement some time boundaries. Maybe this means being more disciplined about staying on track, letting colleagues know that you won’t respond to work calls or emails after a certain time, or saying no to meetings or projects that are not essential.

Assert your boundaries.

This is arguably the most difficult component of setting boundaries. While it’s sometimes easier in the moment to just “let things go”, it’s much healthier, in the long run, to advocate for your needs. Being firm with your boundaries will ultimately have positive effects on your life and your relationships with others. For the best results, make sure that when you state your boundaries, you do so from a calm and grounded place. Additionally, make sure that you are being direct. If you aren’t direct and firm in stating your boundaries, it will be difficult for people to understand what they are and whether you are serious.

Remember that being assertive and instituting boundaries does not mean that you are being rude or mean; as long as you are being respectful of others, you are well within your right to stand up for yourself. Advocating for yourself can be very difficult, especially if you’re not used to it, so it may be helpful to start with smaller boundaries until you feel more confident. The more you start asserting your boundaries, the more comfortable it will become for you and those around you, allowing the peace you deserve in your life to be realized.

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