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[#WorkTrends] Designing Work to Meet Personal and Professional Goals

We’re all doing more with less. And yet, we continue to work toward the achievement of our personal and professional goals. So how do we find the right balance… or shall I say the right “blend”? 

Even as we learn best how to work from — well, wherever — for most of us, our overarching goal remains integrating a productive, engaging professional life with a satisfying, fulfilling personal life. In fact, as I talk to members of the TalentCulture community over the past few months, one thing has become clear: The blending of personal and professional goals into a comfortable mix is finally gaining momentum. 

That makes sense; after all, attempting to create strict boundaries between one’s personal life and work often meets with disappointment. Especially now, when distancing oneself from personal life while at work — and removing work from our active thoughts while on downtime — is becoming increasingly difficult. 

However, with some concerted effort, we can balance satisfying personal and professional goals. 

Our Guest: Author and Productivity Expert, Carson Tate

Joining me on the #WorkTrends podcast this week is Carson Tate, the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc. — a consulting firm that enhances workplace productivity, fosters higher employee engagement levels, and helps build personal and professional legacies. Carson’s newest book, where she talks about making any job your dream job, is Own It. Love It. Make It Work. Of course, I had to ask Carson if someone, especially now, can really design their work in a way that makes them happy in their professional and personal life. Her answer was both encouraging and inspiring:

“That is the big question, and it often comes with an eye roll or a sigh. Yes, because any job can be a place for fulfillment and engagement for you. Because who defines what fulfillment and engagement look like? You do! So you must own the opportunity to shape and craft your work in a way that works for you. You actually own your piece of the action. So you must identify what you need to be happier, more fulfilled, more engaged, and more excited about going to work.”

I followed up by asking how that is possible given many of us can no longer separate who we are at work and who we are at home. Carson replied, “When our commute is two minutes to the kitchen table, our concept of work is very different. Folks are working more hours. There’s more burnout because of the connectivity. And there’s anxiety around making sure I stay visible; that my boss knows what I’m doing and that I’m adding value.”

“So it’s even more important to be thoughtful about what it is you need, the conditions under which you work best, and also your own levels of engagement and fulfillment.”

Professional Goals: How to Make “This” Job Your “Dream Job”

Carson shared with us many tips on how to stay connected and visible while working remotely. Her tips are sure to help all of us balance our desire to live a fulfilling personal life while being fully engaged at work. My favorite moment came when I asked her about the three most important steps when making our current job our dream job. “Own it… love it… make it work,” Carson said. She added: “When we own our work, we align our strengths to the work; we then do better work. When we love our work, we have a clear idea of where we want to go and the skills we must develop to get there. And when we make it work, we’re designing the work for more meaning; we find purpose in what we do each and every day.”

Solid advice we can all use. But we weren’t done yet. I also talked with Carson about avoiding the roadblocks that interrupt our career journeys (especially in these challenging times), how to ensure we’re getting the recognition and appreciation we all need while working from home, and much more. Be sure to listen to the entire episode!

My thanks to Carson Tate for joining me on #WorkTrends. A thought-provoking conversation, indeed!

 

Find Carson on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

Lemonade Stands And The Cadence Of Two Easy Steps

“So Beatrice, what are you going to make today?”

“Lemonade.”

“And what’s the first ingredient?”

“Lemons.”

“And what’s second?”

“Sugar.”

“And then what?”

“Um…ice.”

“Yes, ice, but also water, right?”

“Yes, and water!”

And that’s how it went on my oldest daughter Beatrice’s final Pre-K share and leader day recently – three easy steps – just like Special Agent Oso from Disney Junior teaches toddlers to do. Actually, four easy steps in this case, only because when Bea makes lemonade, it’s always too warm for her and so she wants to add ice to cool it down, along with adding the water.

Three (to four) easy steps to learning something new. In a fun way. A way you’ll always remember and that helps the learning stick, without much inhibition and a full-throttle curiosity of how things work that can be insatiable. To know is to do, again and again and again.

And the kids, well, that’s where they have us beat. Us being the adults in the room. According to a recent Freakonomics podcast titled Think Like a Child, Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of California-Berkeley and the author of The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life, has done some fascinating research on children’s cognitive processes and development. In this podcast, Gopnik describes how modern research shows that kids are much more than just underdeveloped adults:

Think of the kids as being the research and development division of the human species. And we’re—adults—we’re production and marketing. So from the production and marketing perspective, it might look like the R&D guys are really not doing anything that looks very sensible or useful. They sit around all day in their beanbag chairs playing Pong and having blue-sky ideas. And we poor production and marketing people, who are actually making the profits, have to subsidize these guys! But of course, one of the things that we know is that that kind of blue-sky, just pure, research actually pays off in the long run.”

 

Those are my girls for sure. But first, there’s a goal. There’s always a goal.

Bea-Lemonade

“Beatrice, do you want to learn how to make lemonade?”

“Yes, I do. It’s yummy.”

There you go. The goal. To make lemonade. Mercy, all we gotta do next is put a lemonade stand together out front and we got ourselves a lil’ business. It is nearly summertime, you know.

The main goal. The three easy steps to reach that main goal, and the goals around completing the three easy steps. A baby-steps business model. A cadence that includes reaching said goals, establishing new ones, and learning something new each and every time that leads to growth and success.

To know is to do, again and again and again.

Unfortunately, this ain’t the case for many companies. Unhappiness and employee turnover are still all too common challenges for organizations of all shapes and size and industries. It’s an overgrown and thorny path that leaders and HR teams walk bare foot daily, with no compass to guide them, no “where the wild things are” curiosity driving the cadence of learning and growing (personally, professionally and monetarily).

This unruly, wild west “talent cycle” can create poor climates and cultures where your people are forced to scramble and hire reactively each time an employee makes a move toward the door.

Listening to Andre Lavoie, CEO and co-founder of ClearCompany, talk about how companies and business leaders need to establish values and primary goals (or reestablish them), aligning cascading goals and developing and managing a cadence to get all the business at hand done successfully and continuously, certainly inspired me to share the lemons-to-lemonade backstory.

Us adults in the room have killed the childhood R&D, and in the same last gasping breath, talent management strategies of the past no longer work. Today people work differently, are motivated differently and are engaged differently, and want their performance measured differently. Millennials may have pushed all the employer flexibility buttons, but now every generation is demanding more.

For example, employees want ongoing growth opportunities, workplace flexibility, tools and systems that encourage collaboration, and commitment to a reciprocal climate of support and encouragement, all of which lead to payoffs in employee retention, satisfaction, and overall business performance. Organizations can no longer afford to simply “manage people,” because the people demand more – they want aligned business goals that they’re part of and that are attainable and evolve collaboratively over time.

We want lemonade stands and the cadence of two easy steps:

  1. Recognize. Organizations need to provide attractive corporate and employee cultures that recognizes the individual, while promoting innovation, learning, collaboration and connections. They need a visionary talent engagement experience that is orchestrated around people and people goals, not processes. The key now is to drive a higher level of contribution, deeper engagement through a better “people management” experience.
  2. Experience. These attributes – the aligned goals, the learning, the development, the sound business model, the full-throttle curiosity of how things work – all culminate in delivering an amplifier effect on talent contribution and success. Organizations that provide a more engaging experience can better gain adoption of the talent initiatives throughout the company, and align individual objectives to business goals to improve performance, retention, and productivity.

This “amplifier effect” of people’s contributions upon aligned, accomplished goals has a rapid and lasting impact over time. Positive business outcomes become the norm.

Just add sugar and ice, right? It’s yummy indeed.

photo credit: InspirationDC via photopin cc

The 'Whys' for Gen Y: Workplace Culture Considerations

Today’s young professionals want different things than previous generations before them. Organizations are learning they need to adapt in order to attract these talented Millennials to their workplaces. What does Gen Y seek in an ideal workplace culture?

Flexibility

Gen Y values a high starting salary and financial security, but they also value flexibility in their work schedule and benefits. According to statistics, about 85% of Gen Y members want to spend 30-70% of their time working from home. In order to attract top talent from Generation Y, an organization’s workplace must provide some degree of flexibility.

Mentorship

Young professionals need someone to help guide them through their first years as entry-level professionals. When choosing an ideal workplace, their number one request was to work with a manager they could respect and learn from. Not sure where to start? Read my previous post about how to create and sustain a mentorship program.

Professional Tevelopment

Members of Generation Y thrive on ongoing learning and professional development opportunities. They typically are already thinking beyond their current role and realize they need con

State-of-the-Art Technology

According to statistics, Millennials rank working with state-of-the-art technology number six on their list of ideal workplace environment. Because young professionals grew up in the age of quickly evolving technology and trends, they expect the same in their place of work.

A Challenge

Although many people peg Gen Y as “job hoppers,” they often leave their jobs because they’re simply bored. Provide a challenge for them in the workplace by giving them more responsibility or the lead on a new project to keep them interested in their work.

Opportunity for Advancement

Show Gen Y employees they’ll have more than just a job if they work for you—they’ll have the opportunity to have increased responsibility, gain new skills and make more money if they stick around.

For more on what Gen Y expects in a workplace, check out this infographic loaded with statistics here.