Posts

Healing vs. Achievement

While giving a recent acceptance speech at a BAFTA award ceremony, actress Kate Winslet shared an inspiring message:

Don’t listen to the people who hurt you, shame you, and belittle you.  Believe in yourself and follow your dream.  She ignored the people who insulted her, and made it to stardom.  So can you.

This advice is repeatedly given with the best of intentions.  We hear it at awards ceremonies, graduations, and in Facebook posts every day.  It is reiterated by inspirational speakers, coaches, and business gurus.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I am going to take issue with this message.  First of all, no matter how hard you try, it is not mathematically possible for everyone who wants to be a famous actress to become so.  This same unbending math applies to other endeavors such as writing bestselling children’s books and making it in the performing arts.

I am not saying that people should not follow their dreams or their heart’s desires.  But I am saying this: Perhaps we should be more specific about the dream or heart’s desire we are seeking, and not confuse healing with achievement.

I once achieved a fair amount of success as a musical performer, but it happened for all the wrong reasons.  I worked hard to get there, but my goal was not to provide service to a customer.  I was seeking healing.  I thought success in showbiz would give me the respect, attention, and validation I desperately needed.  But the primary purpose of bass playing, or, for that matter,  of authoring, acting, speaking, or any other business endeavor, is not to get your own needs met.  They are all situations where you have to work very hard to meet the needs of others.  If you are fractured internally, you will struggle to meet the needs of others, and even if you do meet them, you will still be unhappy in your work, and make others unhappy too.  Achievement is not healing.

There is a similar problem with a common sort of encouragement for grandiose leadership.  If you seek success mainly to get the perks of power and attention, and you define success mainly as being better than everyone else, perhaps you need to rethink why you are seeking success.  Maybe you are destined to provide great value to society, but then again, maybe you are just reacting to injuries that are pushing you towards unhealthy levels of grandiosity, disconnection, and workaholism.

Now don’t get me wrong– achievement is a wonderful thing.  For me, playing on major stages with superstars was a glorious experience.  I loved doing it and I learned a lot.  But at the heart of it, the big lesson was this:  achievement is not healing.  The biggest success in it was really something else altogether: It consisted of being freed from the limiting idea that love is conditional upon performance, and external success was the only path to internal harmony.  As it turns out, I had it all backwards.

We often get mixed up about the need for healing vs. the desire for achievement, and let’s face it, many sales pitches for professional training exploit that confusion.  Healing is about what you need, and business success is about providing what other people need.  There are more direct means of achieving both objectives, and they are both so much easier when done in the right order.

photo credit: Beautiful things you can’t touch. via photopin (license)

Want to Be More Successful? Set Goals.

People with goals achieve more and are more successful — a lot more successful — than peers without them, whether they’re scientists, students, or corporate execs. Organizations whose employees are actively engaged in goal achievement have 3x greater operating margins in any given year than companies with lower engagement levels.

If you’re not in the habit of setting and measuring goals for your team, then doing so can seem like added complexity. In fact, just the opposite is true. Goals simplify and clarify what your team should do and provide a common definition of success.

Instead of trying to read your mind, members of your organization know what to focus on and how they’re measured; their decision quality improves and managers spend less time reacting and recovering from ill-informed choices.

The “process” of managing starts with goal setting; when goals are missing or forgotten, disproportionate time is spent on execution triage and the whole team does more work yet experiences less satisfaction.

Want To Achieve Your Goals? Use These 8 Tactics

Goal setting is both art and science; goal achievement results from inspiring and aligning the efforts of others and diligent management. These 8 tactics can improve how you set and how often you achieve your goals:

Difficulty Scale 8 (out of 10): Set goals that require stretch and growth, but are within the realm of possibilities. Science suggests that people make less effort to achieve easy goals, which can undermine achievement. Worse, goals that are perceived as impossible inspire even less effort and demoralize people.

Inspire To Aspire: Use language that inspires people to want to achieve the goals. “Triple revenues” doesn’t inspire nor speak to the heart (except for maybe the CEO and shareholders!). Use aspirational “change the world” language, the equivalent of morning coffee for your organization – energize the team and provide the jolt of progress.

Less Is More: More goals don’t result in more achievement. Limit the number of goals to concentrate action on what really matters, and you’ll achieve your goals more often. Goals should focus efforts and enable people to optimize time and decisions.

Quantify Success: Define the timeline for achievement (a 6-8 week period can be most effective for dynamic organizations) and quantify what success looks like. To help your team map the “change the world” goal to their work and get the right work done, quantify several success metrics for each goal. These might include bug clearance rates, response or consumption targets, revenue or growth targets, quality or customer satisfaction targets.

Plan To Achieve The Plan: The odds of goal achievement increase to 90% when the goals and committed actions are written down. Break the goals down into action and consistently hold people accountable for delivering on those actions – something half of your peers fail to do.

3 Second Rule: Your team should be able to find the goals and see progress against them in 3 seconds. That’s about how long it takes to focus on the last message in their inbox – which is your goal’s competition for their time and focus.

Don’t Drive Blind: Implement a real-time dashboard that shows your goals, metrics, key actions and their status, and make it visible to yourself, your team and your upline manager. You’ll be able to triage priorities to reduce risk and improve achievement velocity. (If you’re the manager, this is essential to your job and success.)

Celebrate Progress: To achieve truly hard goals, science shows it’s often better to focus on how much progress has been made rather than the distance yet to go. Seeing what’s possible and what’s been achieved renews and reinvigorates teams for continuing challenge. Recognizing individual’s contribution pays off even more – 83% of employees rank recognition more valuable than compensation.

Check out this fun goals infographic, get Workboard free to nail the 3 second rule, and go achieve great things!

Photo credit: Bigstock

Photo: Jannes Glas

Achieve Your Leadership Aspirations

Ask most executives and managers if they are great leaders and you’ll hear, “No, but I have every intention of becoming one!” Aligning time, skills and effort to the intention to build leadership skill and capacity is not easy, but it is more important than ever.

Two startling studies reveal that 87 percent of employees aren’t actively engaged in their work and 20 percent of those employees undermine value created by more engaged co-workers.

What’s more, experts put the blame on how managers spend their time and how effectively they lead. Too much time goes to low level details and not enough goes to leadership activities that engage people for great performance, such as communicating goals, shaping strategies, coaching and recognizing strong performance.

While the vast majority of employees aren’t engaged in achieving the organization’s goals, a whopping 77 percent say their performance would improve with more feedback. In fact, regular feedback engages 60 times more employees than none at all. The need for leadership is obvious given the stark contrast between a disengaged, even destructive workforce and a high performing one.

How much capacity do you have today?

How can leaders working long days get operational facts and status needed for execution and find more capacity to lead? Goal achievement requires understanding where you are and where you’re headed so resources and efforts align to desired outcomes.

Facts are often hard to come by and are captured through mind-numbing meetings, conference calls, emails and spreadsheets providing a stale picture that saps managers’ time. Without transparency, time is wasted reacting to surprises. These cycles become habitual and detract from leadership activities like communicating goals, coaching and recognizing contributions.

Establishing a culture and systems of transparency for both goals and current status across the organization provides managers with efficiencies that increase their leadership capacity. Employees have greater clarity on the mission and their contribution to it.

The following quick assessment can help determine out how much transparency you have today, how effective you are at leadership activities and where opportunities for more skill and capacity exist.

Ask each team member to answer these four questions:

  1. Our top five priorities as a team are…
  2. The 10 most important action items and deliverables I’m responsible for in the next 21 days are…
  3. I’m [totally aware] [sort of understand] [baffled] how my actions support our business goals.
  4. My career aspirations for the next year are…    In three years, I’d like to be…

Ask yourself these five questions:

  1. I last communicated our goals ___ [weeks] [months] ago.
  2. I last communicated specific feedback to every team member ___ [days] [weeks] [months] ago.
  3. Our five priorities and strategic initiatives for the next 90 days are…
  4. My 10 most important action items and deliverables in the next 21 days are…
  5. To get status on our progress toward goals takes me [five minutes] [55 minutes] [five hours ] [five days] [six weeks into next quarter]

Build leadership capacity and skills. To give ample time to both engage as a leader and execute on goals, you need tools to more efficiently communicate goals and status for greater transparency. To move from reactive, transactional manager to an effective leader who coaches, enables, empowers and executes also requires new practices and mindset.

This daily framework for balancing time across execution and engagement activities can jump start new habits.

Monday, set your intention. Start with the intention to be a great leader. Get centered on your strategic goals and assess what’s needed to achieve them.

Tuesday, communicate the mission. Communicate or reinforce the mission and ensure team activities align with goal achievement through direct engagement.

Wednesday is for coaching. Invest time in enabling your team members to succeed. Rather than asking for status, ask what you can do to help. And listen to the answers!

Thursday is for execution. Focus on what you need to do to achieve the goals. Guard against diversions on misaligned or reactionary activities (e.g. ignore email missiles!)

Friday, calibrate: Tune into your top, mid and bottom performers and their needs and contributions. Identify career paths for each and allocate time advancing them on it.

Saturday, rejuvenate: Don’t work, even a little. Renew your energy with exercise and enjoyment.

Sunday, reflect: Bring your inspirations and aspirations consciously to mind.

To sustain new practices, focus on the day’s theme. Week by week, your intentions will get stronger, the mission clearer, your coaching better, execution more consistent and skills stronger. Transformation takes time, but it’s well worth it personally and professionally!

Tools like Workboard, provide a holistic approach to high performance. Its next-generation performance solutions allow HR leaders to help organizations raise their achievement velocity and helps line of business managers share engaging short-range goals, align and simplify execution, and elevate people and performance with continuous performance conversations.

Originally published in Entrepreneur, Copyright 2014 by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

Use OKRs To Achieve Bold Goals

Objectives and Key Results or OKRs have helped hyper-growth Internet companies like Google achieve phenomenal success. They combine ambitious, qualitative goals and quantitative success measures with weekly execution and accountability cadence. When teams institutionalize OKRs, they enjoy clarity of purpose, fast-paced progress, and can achieve game-changing results. Use OKRs to embolden your goals, define how success is measured and achieve execution excellence:

1.  Define Ambitious and Inspiring Objectives
Create qualitative objectives.  The objective is your team’s mission – it becomes personal, inspires people and provides shared purpose.  Objectives should be for a set period of time and achievable by your team (not dependent on others).  To increase engagement, use words the team itself would use rather than corporate speak.  “Launch 2.0 product customers LOVE” is more inspiring than “release v2.0” and puts the emphasis on the impact of the product; the former invites the team on a mission to greatness, while the latter tells them the mechanical process is all you’re after.  Re-think how your goals are expressed: can you frame them to inspire the people on your team?

2.  Quantify Key Results
Key results are the target metrics that prove you’ve achieved the objective and how the team will know IT has succeeded.  What’s unique about the OKR approach is that it focuses on achieving great rather than predictable results.   KRs should be a reach, not a slam dunk.  KRs are quantitative results from your efforts, and there are typically several such as revenue, performance, engagement, quality or growth.  How will “customer love” be measured?  When 25% of customers refer their friends, 40% use the product more than 6x a day, and 30% expand use to adjacent products within 30 days are results that might signal customers love the new product.  How would you define key results for ambitious objectives that feel just out of reach but with real effort, the team just might make it happen?

3.  Execute Like Crazy
Make OKRs part of a weekly execution cadence and give everyone transparency to OKR achievement.  Each week, identify the priority deliverables and who is responsible for them; don’t get lost (or procrastinate) in the minutiae!  Focus on the major outcomes, and constrain the week’s plan to the real priorities.  Use weekly status reports to track and communicate status of these deliverables and confidence ratings on hitting the KRs.  In status reports include the prior week’s outcomes, the priority deliverables for the current week, blocker items, and the priorities you need to address the following week.  If you’re managing the team, use reports to ensure the team is executing high priorities rather than the infinite distractions that tempt us all.

Finally, don’t lower or abandon the metrics when it looks like you may fail; get as close as you can and learn from the stretch.  You’ll find out what the team is capable of when it goes for gold…  And you may even get the gold!

4.  Inspired Culture
Going for gold takes tremendous passion and tenacity.  But it also takes a lot of experience notwinning the gold, missing the podium or just getting the bronze.  Create an environment that inspires people to pursue the gold medal but celebrates the bronze and silver.  Foster and reward champion effort, continuous learning, and the drive to miss the medal but continue to compete.   Setting bold, ambitious goals with stretch metrics means you’ll surprise yourself with greatness but you’ll also miss the mark – so celebrate striving.

Inspired teams with ambitious goals who feel accountable to each other can achieve tremendous results.  Getting the objectives and key results right takes iteration and self awareness from the team, but the effort pays off when the team is full engaged in the mission and striving for greatness.  Try OKRs with your team for Q1 and Q2 and see what you can do!

Startup Leadership: Lessons From a Runner's World

Written by Adii Pienaar

Most of us with entrepreneurial drive have a similar passion for other pursuits. For me, it’s about long-distance running. For example, in a recent month I ran 120 kilometers (about 75 miles), including a half-marathon.

That’s a lot of time on the road — just me, some music, the sound of my (sometimes ragged) breathing, and most importantly, my thoughts.

Lately, I’ve used some of that time to think about the similarity between my progress as runner and how to apply that mindset in running a company. What did I conclude? Here six suggestions based on my experience:

1) Work only when you’re productive and focused

I used to motivate myself in a very threatening, reactive way. I would decide to run a half-marathon, and then “demand” (of myself) to run specific distances in specific times. Regardless or how I felt, I was “forced” to comply with those requirements.

Recently, I decided I wasn’t going to set a rigid, arbitrary goal of running in a specific half-marathon. Instead, I decided to run just because I love it.

Sometimes at the start of a run, I can feel that my body isn’t responding, or I’m just not in the right mental space. On those days, I cut the run short and go home. On the flip side, sometimes I plan to run 5km but end up running 10km instead, because I feel good. That’s double the return for “doubling down” on that good feeling.

Entrepreneurs are guilty of this. We force ourselves to work, even when we’re not being productive. Stop. Get up. Do something else that’s unrelated to work. But when you discover you are in the zone, double down and you’ll achieve much more, instead.

2) Avoid burnout

Earlier this year, I got greedy and, for about a week, I pushed myself too hard, aggravating an injury. Instead of just stopping, I kept pushing. The result was that I developed a severe case of shin splints that kept me out of running for two full months.

As entrepreneurs, we know how to push (hard), and we know how to use adrenaline to fuel us. However, burnout is a very real threat and should not be dismissed lightly. The problem with injury or burnout isn’t the pain; it’s the frustration. Once you’ve injured yourself, there are no more shortcuts. You have to do the time.

So don’t give burnout a chance to stop you in your tracks. Try getting eight hours of sleep a day. Eat nutritious foods. Exercise regularly and immerse yourself in non-work activities, too. All of this will help strengthen your entrepreneurial fitness, so you’ll have a consistently high level of ambition and drive.

3) Reward yourself

When I eventually recovered, I decided to get a weekly sports massage to help prevent shin splints from recurring. Although these treatments began as preventive work for my muscles, the pampering began to feel more like a reward. I loved this downtime, and it became a motivating factor for me to run even more.

The same is true with work. For me personally, money isn’t enough motivation to work harder or do more. But rewarding myself with experiences does work. On the expensive end of the scale, that translates into traveling as much as I can. But on a more regular basis, I reward myself with a bottle of fantastic red wine.

The key is to connect the dots between the work and the experience, knowing both need to be present to make that connection.

4) Nurture consistency

Running every-other day has become a routine for me. This consistency is one of the primary drivers behind my ability to run 120km in a month. Running has become a habit.

I’ve seen the same scenario with my inbox. All of us get a boatload of email, and it’s probably the number one complaint of busy people. But when I’m disciplined and consistently keep my inbox neat and clean, I avoid the problem. As soon as I lose that consistency, it becomes a mess.

As an entrepreneur, these habits are key to helping you get stuff done, stay focused on what matters, and keep moving forward. Consistency is your friend.

5) Shed excess weight

Running with excess weight is hard work. Now, I’m not obese, but you probably won’t see me on the cover of GQ, either. So about six weeks ago, I started the Paleo diet, and I’ve since decreased my body fat 5%. It makes running a lot easier.

In business and in work, excess weight can take many different shapes and forms. I used to take responsibility for things that either I didn’t need to do myself or weren’t important. I was really bad at prioritizing my time. Now I focus on the most important things every day. I get more done, and I am happier.

Shed the excess weight on your to do list. I guarantee that, afterwards, you’ll run easier.

6) Run your own race

While running my last race, I realized we’re always competing. We’re always measuring ourselves against other entrepreneurs and their companies. We read about how they do things, how they manage to be successful and how we should be applying all of those things to our own lives.

In fact, you’re doing that right now, but reading this post.

But this is your life. In every race, you can only run against yourself, and try to improve on your personal best. What the other runners (or business leaders) are doing shouldn’t influence the way you run your own race.

Do things for yourself — and rely upon your own instincts, for a more satisfying outcome. Be a little selfish every now and again, and remember to invest in yourself.

What are your thoughts? How can leaders apply athletic training principles to run their companies more effectively?

ce07b0f37a0fc570882f6337d7258d9f(About the Author: Adii Pienaar is the ex-CEO and Founder of WooThemes. He has a passion for helping other entrepreneurs, making new mistakes (of his own) and, as such, is working on his new startup, PublicBeta. He is also a new dad, ex-rockstar and wannabe angel investor.)

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from Brazen Life via The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Neerav Bhatt via Flickr

Startup Leadership: Lessons From a Runner’s World

Written by Adii Pienaar

Most of us with entrepreneurial drive have a similar passion for other pursuits. For me, it’s about long-distance running. For example, in a recent month I ran 120 kilometers (about 75 miles), including a half-marathon.

That’s a lot of time on the road — just me, some music, the sound of my (sometimes ragged) breathing, and most importantly, my thoughts.

Lately, I’ve used some of that time to think about the similarity between my progress as runner and how to apply that mindset in running a company. What did I conclude? Here six suggestions based on my experience:

1) Work only when you’re productive and focused

I used to motivate myself in a very threatening, reactive way. I would decide to run a half-marathon, and then “demand” (of myself) to run specific distances in specific times. Regardless or how I felt, I was “forced” to comply with those requirements.

Recently, I decided I wasn’t going to set a rigid, arbitrary goal of running in a specific half-marathon. Instead, I decided to run just because I love it.

Sometimes at the start of a run, I can feel that my body isn’t responding, or I’m just not in the right mental space. On those days, I cut the run short and go home. On the flip side, sometimes I plan to run 5km but end up running 10km instead, because I feel good. That’s double the return for “doubling down” on that good feeling.

Entrepreneurs are guilty of this. We force ourselves to work, even when we’re not being productive. Stop. Get up. Do something else that’s unrelated to work. But when you discover you are in the zone, double down and you’ll achieve much more, instead.

2) Avoid burnout

Earlier this year, I got greedy and, for about a week, I pushed myself too hard, aggravating an injury. Instead of just stopping, I kept pushing. The result was that I developed a severe case of shin splints that kept me out of running for two full months.

As entrepreneurs, we know how to push (hard), and we know how to use adrenaline to fuel us. However, burnout is a very real threat and should not be dismissed lightly. The problem with injury or burnout isn’t the pain; it’s the frustration. Once you’ve injured yourself, there are no more shortcuts. You have to do the time.

So don’t give burnout a chance to stop you in your tracks. Try getting eight hours of sleep a day. Eat nutritious foods. Exercise regularly and immerse yourself in non-work activities, too. All of this will help strengthen your entrepreneurial fitness, so you’ll have a consistently high level of ambition and drive.

3) Reward yourself

When I eventually recovered, I decided to get a weekly sports massage to help prevent shin splints from recurring. Although these treatments began as preventive work for my muscles, the pampering began to feel more like a reward. I loved this downtime, and it became a motivating factor for me to run even more.

The same is true with work. For me personally, money isn’t enough motivation to work harder or do more. But rewarding myself with experiences does work. On the expensive end of the scale, that translates into traveling as much as I can. But on a more regular basis, I reward myself with a bottle of fantastic red wine.

The key is to connect the dots between the work and the experience, knowing both need to be present to make that connection.

4) Nurture consistency

Running every-other day has become a routine for me. This consistency is one of the primary drivers behind my ability to run 120km in a month. Running has become a habit.

I’ve seen the same scenario with my inbox. All of us get a boatload of email, and it’s probably the number one complaint of busy people. But when I’m disciplined and consistently keep my inbox neat and clean, I avoid the problem. As soon as I lose that consistency, it becomes a mess.

As an entrepreneur, these habits are key to helping you get stuff done, stay focused on what matters, and keep moving forward. Consistency is your friend.

5) Shed excess weight

Running with excess weight is hard work. Now, I’m not obese, but you probably won’t see me on the cover of GQ, either. So about six weeks ago, I started the Paleo diet, and I’ve since decreased my body fat 5%. It makes running a lot easier.

In business and in work, excess weight can take many different shapes and forms. I used to take responsibility for things that either I didn’t need to do myself or weren’t important. I was really bad at prioritizing my time. Now I focus on the most important things every day. I get more done, and I am happier.

Shed the excess weight on your to do list. I guarantee that, afterwards, you’ll run easier.

6) Run your own race

While running my last race, I realized we’re always competing. We’re always measuring ourselves against other entrepreneurs and their companies. We read about how they do things, how they manage to be successful and how we should be applying all of those things to our own lives.

In fact, you’re doing that right now, but reading this post.

But this is your life. In every race, you can only run against yourself, and try to improve on your personal best. What the other runners (or business leaders) are doing shouldn’t influence the way you run your own race.

Do things for yourself — and rely upon your own instincts, for a more satisfying outcome. Be a little selfish every now and again, and remember to invest in yourself.

What are your thoughts? How can leaders apply athletic training principles to run their companies more effectively?

ce07b0f37a0fc570882f6337d7258d9f(About the Author: Adii Pienaar is the ex-CEO and Founder of WooThemes. He has a passion for helping other entrepreneurs, making new mistakes (of his own) and, as such, is working on his new startup, PublicBeta. He is also a new dad, ex-rockstar and wannabe angel investor.)

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from Brazen Life via The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Neerav Bhatt via Flickr

Showing Workplace Competition Who's Boss

“How will I stand out in the crowd?”
“Do I really have what it takes to succeed?”

These classic workplace questions cross everyone’s mind from time to time. No matter where our profession leads us — sales, engineering, consulting, service — we must continually navigate through a sea of highly qualified talent. As our careers progress, so too, does the level of talent that we encounter. (We all experience secret moments of panic.)

Knowing this, I’d like to pause for a moment and pose a different question: “Is the way we traditionally view workplace competition getting in the way of our career progress?” For many individuals, this could be the case. So, let’s take a look at common barriers and consider how to deal with them.

Put Professional Competition In Its Place

Competition can be healthy. It does have the potential to drive us forward to excel. But if the very thought of competing derails us, we have a serious problem. Ultimately, we must face facts. We are likely to cross paths with individuals that seem more capable or successful than ourselves. (We may actually covet their role or career.) However, the very notion of competition doesn’t have to evoke debilitating stress and self-doubt. We need to remember that successful career journeys are built by capitalizing on our strengthswhile maximizing the opportunities that we encounter.

To master workplace competition, we ultimately must deal with our own feelings (and issues) with the concept of competition, itself. Here are some suggestions:

7 Ways To Deal With Workplace Competition

1) Accept its presence. Competition is ubiquitous. No matter where your career leads you, there will be ample competition to keep you on your toes — and it is ever present. Try to become comfortable and make peace with it.

2) Recognize it’s not a “zero sum” game. Opt for an “abundance mentality.” Don’t take the stance that if someone else succeeds, you are doomed to fail. Another individual’s promotion or good fortune doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be left out in the cold.

3) Identify your “comparison other.” How you gauge your career has much to do with those against whom you measure yourself. Who are your role models? Choose individuals that motivate you and possess skills that you wish to emulate. (This is one of my favorite techniques.) Learn from your competition. Ask yourself: What are they doing right?

4) Be the “best of you.” We’re not required to be all things to all people (and shouldn’t feel pressured to do so). Instead, find a way to acknowledge your strengths and create your own brand. Find a niche that makes you indispensable — create value and build on this strength. Take control of your own career and find paths to showcase your own talent. You’ll find that you focus less on the paths of others when your work aligns with the best of what you have to offer.

5) Build alliances and collaborate. Network without staying too close to the cuff (Use the 70-20-10 rule here.) Spread your wings to develop depth within your workplace relationships — be the “linking pin” between other departments or functions and solve problems.

6) Get a mentor or a sponsor. Many successful people speak of a mentor that has either inspired or guided them. However, you also need a sponsor. This is an individual that will help you gain exposure and facilitate “stretch assignments” that test your abilities.

7) Be aware. There is no greater confidence builder than becoming your own advocate. Of course, there is a dark side to workplace competition. Watch for individuals who “fight dirty” and have an unhealthy relationship with competition. (Remember, there is no shame in protecting your own interests.) Document your accomplishments, if you feel it is necessary — and take credit when it is owed to you. If an environment causes you troubling levels of stress, seek a change.

How do you handle the pressure of workplace competition? What has worked most effectively for you and why? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome. Learn more…)

(Also Note: This article originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer post. It is republished with permission.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Showing Workplace Competition Who’s Boss

“How will I stand out in the crowd?”
“Do I really have what it takes to succeed?”

These classic workplace questions cross everyone’s mind from time to time. No matter where our profession leads us — sales, engineering, consulting, service — we must continually navigate through a sea of highly qualified talent. As our careers progress, so too, does the level of talent that we encounter. (We all experience secret moments of panic.)

Knowing this, I’d like to pause for a moment and pose a different question: “Is the way we traditionally view workplace competition getting in the way of our career progress?” For many individuals, this could be the case. So, let’s take a look at common barriers and consider how to deal with them.

Put Professional Competition In Its Place

Competition can be healthy. It does have the potential to drive us forward to excel. But if the very thought of competing derails us, we have a serious problem. Ultimately, we must face facts. We are likely to cross paths with individuals that seem more capable or successful than ourselves. (We may actually covet their role or career.) However, the very notion of competition doesn’t have to evoke debilitating stress and self-doubt. We need to remember that successful career journeys are built by capitalizing on our strengthswhile maximizing the opportunities that we encounter.

To master workplace competition, we ultimately must deal with our own feelings (and issues) with the concept of competition, itself. Here are some suggestions:

7 Ways To Deal With Workplace Competition

1) Accept its presence. Competition is ubiquitous. No matter where your career leads you, there will be ample competition to keep you on your toes — and it is ever present. Try to become comfortable and make peace with it.

2) Recognize it’s not a “zero sum” game. Opt for an “abundance mentality.” Don’t take the stance that if someone else succeeds, you are doomed to fail. Another individual’s promotion or good fortune doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be left out in the cold.

3) Identify your “comparison other.” How you gauge your career has much to do with those against whom you measure yourself. Who are your role models? Choose individuals that motivate you and possess skills that you wish to emulate. (This is one of my favorite techniques.) Learn from your competition. Ask yourself: What are they doing right?

4) Be the “best of you.” We’re not required to be all things to all people (and shouldn’t feel pressured to do so). Instead, find a way to acknowledge your strengths and create your own brand. Find a niche that makes you indispensable — create value and build on this strength. Take control of your own career and find paths to showcase your own talent. You’ll find that you focus less on the paths of others when your work aligns with the best of what you have to offer.

5) Build alliances and collaborate. Network without staying too close to the cuff (Use the 70-20-10 rule here.) Spread your wings to develop depth within your workplace relationships — be the “linking pin” between other departments or functions and solve problems.

6) Get a mentor or a sponsor. Many successful people speak of a mentor that has either inspired or guided them. However, you also need a sponsor. This is an individual that will help you gain exposure and facilitate “stretch assignments” that test your abilities.

7) Be aware. There is no greater confidence builder than becoming your own advocate. Of course, there is a dark side to workplace competition. Watch for individuals who “fight dirty” and have an unhealthy relationship with competition. (Remember, there is no shame in protecting your own interests.) Document your accomplishments, if you feel it is necessary — and take credit when it is owed to you. If an environment causes you troubling levels of stress, seek a change.

How do you handle the pressure of workplace competition? What has worked most effectively for you and why? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome. Learn more…)

(Also Note: This article originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer post. It is republished with permission.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Where's The Love? Recognition DIY

Written By Ritika Trikha

Overworked. Undervalued. Now What?

You’re working your fingers to the bone – extra hours, extra projects, extra everything. And yet no extra appreciation is coming back your way. No one seems to notice your hard work. What to do?

No matter why or how you found yourself in this situation, you can turn it around. It’s time to take back control.

As Roxanne Peplow of Computer Systems Institute notes, “You cannot seek praise from others—it has to come from within.” Rather than waiting to be recognized and praised by others, choose to be proud of your accomplishments in their own right. Give yourself the credit you deserve. Shed light on your achievements when appropriate. And look for ways to acknowledge the efforts of others who contribute to your success — those on your team.

“If you feel that you are doing more than what is expected of you and it isn’t being recognized, you are making yourself a victim. When you victimize yourself, it’s impossible to be positive,” Peplow says.

Try these 5 steps to find the recognition you deserve:

1. Look Closer — Then Speak Up

If it seems like you’re swamped, first reexamine your workload. You may benefit from smarter ways to prioritize and minimize work. If that’s not enough, don’t be a hero. Talk with your boss.

“Many employees mistakenly believe their job is at stake if they say they can’t handle one more project. More projects equal less focus and lower quality,” says Steve Duffy, president of ListHere.com. Like many other managers, Duffy would rather have an employee deliver great results than take on too much and fall short.

Tell your manager. He wants to know. After all, his success depends on your ability to perform.

2. Do Something You Love — After Hours

Balance in other areas of life can make or break your workplace happiness. Fast Co.Create suggests that professionals develop a “passion project” outside of work.

Firstborn Creative Director Adam Rubin is also a children’s book author. He told Fast Co.Create that having a side project is not only personally gratifying, but also translates positively back to his work. For him, writing children’s books as a sideline “is an excellent exercise in simplicity and rhythm. It has helped me improve the brevity, clarity and pace of my writing.”

3. Stop Taking On Extra Work From Slackers

If you’re overworked because you’re picking up slack from one or more colleagues, enough is enough. Don’t wait until you’ve reached a boiling point, says Joseph Grenny, co-author of New York Times bestseller “Crucial Confrontations.”

Grenny led a study that suggests 93% of employees work with others who don’t pull their weight — yet only 1 in 10 of us actually confronts underperforming colleagues. If you feel uncomfortable speaking directly to offenders, you have two alternatives: 1) Just say no to helping in the future, or 2) Discuss it with your boss (see suggestion #1).

4. Get Enough Sleep

When you’re overworked, sleep is probably the first thing to go. “Work can keep us up at night, worrying about what is next or staying up because work still needs to be accomplished,” says Chris Ohlendorf, Partner at Versique Search and Consulting.

Realize that the more sleep you lose, the closer you are to burnout. And burnout won’t advance your career.

5. If All Else Fails, Start Searching For The Next Job

If your boss is simply not budging, you have no time to balance your life, and you’re surrounded by slackers, it may be time to reward yourself by jumping ship. Just make sure you’re not job hunting on company time, warns Lida Citroen, personal branding and reputation management expert at LIDA360.

Her advice: “Networking — online and in person — and studying industries, companies and business leaders will help you become more proactive in your career.”

Chalk It Up to a Lesson Learned

ListHere.com’s Duffy also offers some final words of wisdom for those who have reached the point of no return – treat any company the way it is treating you. “Remember that a company only hires you because you can add value to their bottom line.”

If you’re no longer moving forward in your career, accept the lessons learned from this experience, and find a new employer. But avoid repeating past mistakes. In interviews, be sure to ask questions that will help you determine whether or not that company will be a better fit:

  1. How would you describe your management style?
  2. How did this position become available?
  3. What kind of recognition system is utilized here?
  4. Can you tell me about the growth opportunities available to employees?

Take back control. Embrace and celebrate your achievements, while helping others see your value and respect your contributions. You have nothing to lose!

Ritika-Trikha(Author Profile: Ritika Trikha is a writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. When Ritika’s not writing, she’s obsessing over social media (and listening to Jay Z!). Connect with Ritika on Twitter!)

Republished with permission from YouTern.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Where’s The Love? Recognition DIY

Written By Ritika Trikha

Overworked. Undervalued. Now What?

You’re working your fingers to the bone – extra hours, extra projects, extra everything. And yet no extra appreciation is coming back your way. No one seems to notice your hard work. What to do?

No matter why or how you found yourself in this situation, you can turn it around. It’s time to take back control.

As Roxanne Peplow of Computer Systems Institute notes, “You cannot seek praise from others—it has to come from within.” Rather than waiting to be recognized and praised by others, choose to be proud of your accomplishments in their own right. Give yourself the credit you deserve. Shed light on your achievements when appropriate. And look for ways to acknowledge the efforts of others who contribute to your success — those on your team.

“If you feel that you are doing more than what is expected of you and it isn’t being recognized, you are making yourself a victim. When you victimize yourself, it’s impossible to be positive,” Peplow says.

Try these 5 steps to find the recognition you deserve:

1. Look Closer — Then Speak Up

If it seems like you’re swamped, first reexamine your workload. You may benefit from smarter ways to prioritize and minimize work. If that’s not enough, don’t be a hero. Talk with your boss.

“Many employees mistakenly believe their job is at stake if they say they can’t handle one more project. More projects equal less focus and lower quality,” says Steve Duffy, president of ListHere.com. Like many other managers, Duffy would rather have an employee deliver great results than take on too much and fall short.

Tell your manager. He wants to know. After all, his success depends on your ability to perform.

2. Do Something You Love — After Hours

Balance in other areas of life can make or break your workplace happiness. Fast Co.Create suggests that professionals develop a “passion project” outside of work.

Firstborn Creative Director Adam Rubin is also a children’s book author. He told Fast Co.Create that having a side project is not only personally gratifying, but also translates positively back to his work. For him, writing children’s books as a sideline “is an excellent exercise in simplicity and rhythm. It has helped me improve the brevity, clarity and pace of my writing.”

3. Stop Taking On Extra Work From Slackers

If you’re overworked because you’re picking up slack from one or more colleagues, enough is enough. Don’t wait until you’ve reached a boiling point, says Joseph Grenny, co-author of New York Times bestseller “Crucial Confrontations.”

Grenny led a study that suggests 93% of employees work with others who don’t pull their weight — yet only 1 in 10 of us actually confronts underperforming colleagues. If you feel uncomfortable speaking directly to offenders, you have two alternatives: 1) Just say no to helping in the future, or 2) Discuss it with your boss (see suggestion #1).

4. Get Enough Sleep

When you’re overworked, sleep is probably the first thing to go. “Work can keep us up at night, worrying about what is next or staying up because work still needs to be accomplished,” says Chris Ohlendorf, Partner at Versique Search and Consulting.

Realize that the more sleep you lose, the closer you are to burnout. And burnout won’t advance your career.

5. If All Else Fails, Start Searching For The Next Job

If your boss is simply not budging, you have no time to balance your life, and you’re surrounded by slackers, it may be time to reward yourself by jumping ship. Just make sure you’re not job hunting on company time, warns Lida Citroen, personal branding and reputation management expert at LIDA360.

Her advice: “Networking — online and in person — and studying industries, companies and business leaders will help you become more proactive in your career.”

Chalk It Up to a Lesson Learned

ListHere.com’s Duffy also offers some final words of wisdom for those who have reached the point of no return – treat any company the way it is treating you. “Remember that a company only hires you because you can add value to their bottom line.”

If you’re no longer moving forward in your career, accept the lessons learned from this experience, and find a new employer. But avoid repeating past mistakes. In interviews, be sure to ask questions that will help you determine whether or not that company will be a better fit:

  1. How would you describe your management style?
  2. How did this position become available?
  3. What kind of recognition system is utilized here?
  4. Can you tell me about the growth opportunities available to employees?

Take back control. Embrace and celebrate your achievements, while helping others see your value and respect your contributions. You have nothing to lose!

Ritika-Trikha(Author Profile: Ritika Trikha is a writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. When Ritika’s not writing, she’s obsessing over social media (and listening to Jay Z!). Connect with Ritika on Twitter!)

Republished with permission from YouTern.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng