Category: Career Development

November 17, 2011

7 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Next Business Networking Event

BusinessPeople Image  Vlado FreeDigitalPhotos.netBy Ali Brown, Founder of
Ali International, LLC

Over the next few months, many job seekers will see plenty of invitations to business conferences and professional networking events. A live event can be invaluable, providing opportunities to learn new skills and develop new contacts who can advance your career or job search. And if you’re thinking about changing your corporate hat for an entrepreneurial one, an event can offer inspiration for a new business idea and connect you with the right people to start your journey.

Whether out-of-town or local, events are an investment in yourself and your career -- one that you can easily offset with new contacts and skills to land that job interview. To get the most from your next live event, consider these tips:

1. Start with the end in mind. If you're attending these events for the connections, make a note of the type of people you want to meet. For most job seekers, you're ideally looking to meet high-level executives in companies within your specific industry -- especially those who may be hiring. If you're attending a seminar to gain skills and inspiration, make a note of what your personal objectives are for the event. If you’re thinking of launching your own business, you could be seeking to discover possible clients, referral sources, or vendors.

2. Research topics, speakers, and panelists.
 Check out the website's agenda for the event, and know who will be speaking and what the topics are. If there are breakout sessions, tentatively decide which ones address your needs the most. By doing your homework, you'll be better informed, and be able to understand the training at a deeper level.

3. Know your strengths and gaps. 
Let's say that you know you excel at your area of expertise and are a top-notch project manager. You also want to be aware of the areas where you need improvement -- for example, your technical skills and sales skills. Just writing these thoughts down before the event will help you stay aware of opportunities presented at the event -- such as unexpected conversations.

4. Know some of your key contributions.
 In the event you meet a hiring manager or high-level executive, you may want to have ready a few relevant examples of how you’ve contributed to your past positions. Keep a cheat sheet handy with your sales numbers, internal improvements you’ve initiated, the number of team members you oversee, or money saved by your cost-cutting suggestions.

(Get tips on creating a personal-branding tagline and a winning "elevator speech," in "Build Your Brand.")

5. Connect with attendees.
 Seek out Facebook event pages or forums that have been created for your event. It’s a great way to virtually meet conference attendees before the event, so when you do meet in person, you’ll be fast friends. Keep an eye out for Tweetups -- impromptu gatherings of Twitter users -- or, better yet, organize one yourself.

6. Plan your travel well. If possible, arrive at your event destination a day or two early to relax, get acclimated, get on the same time zone, and get accustomed to your surroundings. Stay at the hotel where the conference is held to save time going from your room to the event, save money on car rental or cab fare, and increase your potential for connecting with other event attendees. (Your room is also a great place to get a little privacy and get a breather, so it's nice to have close by.)

7. Come prepared.
 Of course you’ll want to bring a stack of business cards, but also consider a thoughtful take-away item that sets you apart, such as a pocket-sized calendar with your professional contact information. Be clever and memorable.

You’re just abou t ready, but here are a few more must-haves: an empty water bottle for being green while you travel, a few of your favorite power bars or snacks, and a method for jotting down lots of notes and your all-important follow-up list of action items when you get back home.

Now get out  there and get to work!

EntreprAlibrowneneur mentor and success coach Ali Brown teaches women how to start and grow profitable businesses and create careers that make a positive impact. Learn more at www.AliBrown.com.


  

Ali Brown photo: www.AliBrown.com; top image: Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted by Charles Purdy on November 17, 2011 at 03:57 PM in Career Development | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 15, 2011

10 Tips: Managing Diminished Career Expectations

Manlookingup-FREE-dwpresoBy Meghan M. Biro for Glassdoor.com

There are lots of people writing about how to do resumes or manage a job search, but not too many who are willing to admit there’s an elephant in the living room. But there is, and I’m going to give you a few tips on how to deal with it.

The elephant is your job –- the one you’re in and want out of, or the job you’re considering taking to get away from the one you have. Chances are it’s not the job you want, or the one you trained for or think you deserve. It pays the bills, but it doesn’t get you excited. It doesn’t use all your skills. The workplace culture or environment leaves something to be desired. Maybe the commute is killing you and the person in the next cube eats sardines every day for lunch. Maybe you don’t even have a cube.

Welcome to the new job reality: diminished expectations.

We all want a great job, but until the economy turns around, a good-enough job will have to do. But no one can afford to treat a job as though it’s just "good enough." To survive – both in the job and in your head -– you’ll have to bring your A game every day. Even if it is a B- job.

Here are some tips for managing in a time of diminished expectations:

>> Use positive affirmations to get yourself through the day. This sounds hippy-dippy but it works. Think positively. Tell yourself a positive story about your job, and it will be survivable.

>> Teach yourself one new skill a month. If you’re not challenged intellectually, you probably have spare cycles. Study statistical analysis -– it will come in handy when making charts, and it also requires analytical thinking. Teach yourself Excel or Powerpoint – the real skills, not just 101. Set up a website.

>> Start blogging. Writing things down makes them easier to process and brings insight. You can rant, but it’s more productive to write about a positive aspect of your job, or the day.

>> Polish your resume. Do this once a month. Frequent updates to online profiles make you more attractive as a candidate.

>> Help a coworker. Perhaps one of your colleagues could use help with a task. Maybe it’s something you’re interested or skilled in. Either way you get karma points.

>> Think about what you really want to do when you grow up. Examine your life, your decisions, your failures to decide, your current status. Be unflinching. This will prepare you for the next tip.

>> Write a job description for your dream job. Then read your resume and look for the disconnects. Now you have new tasks and a new goal.

>> Network with people who have the job you want. If you’ve done the two bullets above, you’ll be better positioned to make this pay off.

>> Seek out a career coach to help you examine –- and possibly reset -– your expectations. Maybe you’re way off. Maybe you weren’t an A student but thought you could bluff through to a big job. Not in this economy, and maybe never again. Be prepared to revise your life plan, at least the short-term version.

>> Do something for someone else. There’s huge satisfaction in helping others. Volunteer and you will become thankful.

Got some of your own techniques for coping with unrealized expectations? Let us know. Share your thoughts in the Comments section.

GlassdoorGuesblogger Meghan M. Biro, founder of TalentCulture, is a serial entrepreneur and globally recognized career expert in talent acquisition and creative personal and corporate branding. Meghan has conducted more than 300 successful career searches for clients ranging from Fortune 500s to the most innovative software start-up companies.


Photo by graur codrin

 

Posted by Charles Purdy on November 15, 2011 at 10:38 AM in Career Development , Job Search | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 02, 2011

3 Secrets to Career Advancement

JOB-bullseye-istockBy Hank Stringer for Glassdoor.com

You’re thinking, "Well, if I work hard, keep my head down and just produce, I will advance in my career and have plenty of internal and external opportunities." ... Maybe.

There are a few other things you can do that will help, and no, I'm not talking about the value of back stabbing office politics to get ahead, in fact just the opposite.

Relationships Matter.
I’ve blogged a few times here on the importance of R.A.D.A.R. –- Relationships established Ahead of Demand that Accelerate talent Results (true for talent and the companies hiring). The fall season offers ample opportunity to get your RADAR up and go to work. There is football talk, holiday events, business planning meetings on and off site -– opportunities to get to know people and to deepen their understanding of you. And the value of these opportunities has little to do with discussing how or when you want to advance your career, at least not directly, These are simply opportunities to deepen relationships, so that you are remembered when discussions about talent needs arise, directly or indirectly. And they will –- they always do. It has happened with you, and will again. The question from a peer or recruiter that starts with "Do you know anyone who can …?" And you want to help, and you do. Establish relationships so others remember you when asked the same question.

Volunteer.
There are so many opportunities through your business, church or community to volunteer to help those in need. It is a chance to meet people who have the same values and desire to help, and they do work in positions or situations that can be of value. I volunteer with a group, and weeks, maybe months after meeting and working, I discovered that one of the other volunteers is a Senior VP of HR for a great company. Our discussions have advanced to business, but are grounded in our mutual desire to help others. We have helped each other in our career needs -– a very rewarding relationship.

Ideas.
Review the website of the company you work for or have an upcoming interview with and focus on the company’s goals. Align your work area with the goal you can most affect, either by exceeding personal work goals or by an idea that your work group or area can adopt to exceed stated goals. This is all about ideas and the willingness to put ‘well thought out ideas forward’.

We can name the cultures of successful companies that state or require a flow of ideas from their talent. Most executive management folks welcome new thoughts, and putting good ideas forward can help advance your career. Remember, align appropriately and take the time to think your idea through. This focus and planning process will lead to a deeper understanding of your company and industry segment ... plus, it can be a lot of fun.

Lastly, and this is a personal note, career advancement can be a focused process for many where doing whatever it takes to move up the next rung or get the next perfect opportunity works extremely well, and I approve as long as nothing unethical is used to accomplish said goal and a level of life balance is retained. Maybe the last technique was used first and as a result, the first three suggestions were learned later in the blogger’s career –- I’m just sayin’…..

GlassdoorGuesblogger Hank Stringer is a member of the Glassdoor.com, Clearview Collection and CEO of Stringer Executive Search and Chief Strategist to Novotus - a professional recruiting agency. In 2006 he co-authored the book "Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business" with fellow Clearview contributor Rusty Rueff. 

 

 

 

Posted by Charles Purdy on November 2, 2011 at 09:25 AM in Career Development | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 25, 2011

Coping with a Job You're Overqualified For

OverqualifiedA follower of @monstercareers on Twitter recently asked for some tips on dealing with a job that she's overqualified for -- and that's making her feel a bit down because she's bored and not living up to her potential.

This is a common problem among workers -- young people entering the workforce and "career switchers" often have to do some time in entry-level hourly jobs, for instance -- and issues of job security often force workers to stick to jobs they don't find engaging or challenging.

Here are some tips on handling a job you're overqualified for:

1. Check your bad attitude. Your job isn't entirely something that happens to you. Ask yourself, "Where can I make some changes?" Think about areas you'd like to grow into or would find more interesting. Take some plans for new projects to your boss or your company's HR department. You may have to take on extra work, but if doing so keeps you engaged in your "not-so-fulfilling" tasks, these resume builders will benefit you in the long run.

2. Do a fantastic job. I think the "this job is beneath me" attitude is dangerous because it makes a worker not care and not give his or her all -- and no manager is ever going to promote that worker. If you're bored at work, challenge yourself to find ways to perform better at it.

3. Make a list of the good things about the job. Make sure you're aware of intangible benefits, and make the most of them. Even consider putting them on a list you can refer to often. Don't overlook things like the personal connections you’re developing, the new skills or technologies you’re learning, and so on.

4. Space out interesting tasks. Every worker has boring days at work, or boring tasks to take care of on a regular basis. Avoid that down-in-the-dumps feeling by alternating them, if you can, with the tasks you find more fulfilling.

5. Have a plan. Dead-end jobs can make us feel stuck. Unstick yourself by developing a clear map of where where you want to go -- in the long term and the short term. Plan definite steps for how you're going to advance your career, and work within that plan. If you're unhappy with your job, having some concrete ideas about how you'll get your dream job will make it more bearable.

Final tip: It’s important to find fulfillment in life, but the fact is that many people don't find all their fulfillment at work. Finding fulfillment in the areas of your life you have more control over (that is, your free time) can help immensely.

Do you need job-search or career advice? What job-seeker topics would you like to see covered? Leave a message for us in the comments section below, or find @monstercareers on Twitter and send a message. Also, get support and great job-seeker advice when you join our community on Facebook.

 

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted by Charles Purdy on October 25, 2011 at 06:55 PM in Career Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 23, 2011

The Monster 5 for Friday -- Careers Edition -- September 23

On Fridays, we take a look back at the week that was, and show you five of our favorite career-advice articles -- tips and news you may have missed during your busy week.

5. Early this week, CareeRealism posted an article that might be of interest to older -- or, rather, more mature ... or perhaps just overqualified -- workers. Read "How Do I Avoid Revealing My Age in a Resume?"

4. We, too, were sharing resume advice for the worker of a certain age. Read "Five Ways to Rejuvenate Your Resume." 

3. Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail published (via Forbes.com) some very helpful resume advice on jargon and buzzwords that can send your resume right into the No pile. Read "Cliches to Ditch on the Job Hunt."

2. We've just been through the Autumnal Equinox -- there's no more denying that summer is over and fall is here. Monster.com has a great collection of articles appropriate to the season. Peruse "Get Back into the Swing of Things with Your Career.

1. And now to close the week with some advice and encouragement -- U.S. News and World Report is here to help people who spent at least part of this week waiting by the phone for that hiring manager to call. Read "Why It's Taking So Long to Hear Back After Your Job Interview."

Do you need job-search advice? What job-seeker topics would you like to see covered? Leave a message for us in the comments section below, or find @monstercareers on Twitter and send a message. Also, get support and great job-seeker advice when you join our community on Facebook.

Posted by Charles Purdy on September 23, 2011 at 01:50 PM in Career Development , Interview , Job Search , Resume | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 19, 2011

On Leadership: 5 Tips for Improving Communication

In the super-connected times we live in, people can share every aspect of their lives in real time via social media. They can record all their personal ups and downs on their blogs. We can all call, text, or email anyone -- family, friends, coworkers, and managers -- at any time. Are you experiencing communication overload? If not, you're among the very few.

According to OfficeMax cofounder and former CEO Michael Feuer, the author of the new book "The Benevolent Dictator: Empower Your Employees, Build Your Business, and Outwit the Competition," innovations in communication sometimes make it more difficult to get your point across.

"Since we can say as much as we want in multiple forums these days, almost everyone -- including businesspeople -- provide too much information (or TMI) in their exchanges," says Feuer. "In many organizations, the art of cutting to the chase has been lost."

The lessons he has learned have convinced him that a great leader's management style should mirror that of a benevolent dictator. This, he says, is not as scary as it sounds, because the "dictator" side of you calls the shots and makes the difficult decisions, while the "benevolent" side makes sure to put the interests of the organization, your team, and your customers ahead of your own. And part of being a benevolent dictator is requiring clear, concise communication at all levels, so that key decisions can be made quickly and effectively.

Here are five of Feuer's tips for making your own communication more concise and effective, while inspiring the same communication styles in your organization:

Be clear about what you need. The first step in encouraging concise communication is to be straightforward about what you need. Don’t expect your team members to pick up on the hints that you’re dropping. (In other words, if you don't want to read between others' lines, don’t force them to do so with you.) Remember, though, that one size doesn't fit all, so you may have to infuse your cut-to-the-chase request with humor or compliments to soften the message.

"When someone is giving me way too much information, I politely interrupt and tell him that I recognize him as an expert on the subject matter being discussed," Feuer shares. "Then I say that since I know it's a given that this person knows his stuff, I merely need a short sound bite. Usually, this strategy soon leads to more frequent one- or two-sentence summaries."

Talk through conversations. While you can't control every word that comes out of your team members' mouths, you can establish standards of what is appropriate. Tell them that brevity and clarity are key, and point out that these things will set your organization apart from the competition. After all, clients and callers will appreciate the chance to do as much talking and question-asking as they want.

"Also consider asking your employees to end all conversations and messages with a tagline that expresses your organization’s best attribute," suggests Feuer. "Some tried-and-true examples are 'Your satisfaction is our number-one priority,' and 'Getting to the point makes us better.' At Max-Wellness, our branding tagline is simply 'Be well.' I've found that clients respond better to these than gratuitous endings like 'Have a stupendous day.'"

Get frequent updates from key people. (Simply put, micromanage.) Somewhere along the line, "micromanage" has become a bad word. It conjures up images of bosses who can't delegate, who don't trust their team members, and who don't give employees room to do their best work. No, you shouldn't do your team's work for them, but according to Feuer, you should get regular (and, of course, succinct!) updates from key people. These fast-and-frequent communications allow you to keep your finger on your organization's pulse.

"When you know what's happening in real time, you can accelerate your organization's growth and prevent garden-variety problems from snowballing into disasters of Biblical proportions," explains Feuer. "During the first 18 months of OfficeMax, I required every store to call my home seven nights a week to give me sales figures, which I recorded in a ledger. This ritual helped me to manage our growth by knowing our daily cash flow, with an emphasis on accounts payable down to the last few dollars. This protocol not only accelerated our growth but set a management style for executives to operate in a similar know-what’s-happening fashion. Don't underestimate the importance of remaining aware of the flow of factual information!"

Use your negatives sparingly. Say you're telling your team everything they need to know, but you still aren't getting the results you want. What gives? Well, the problem might lie in how you’re delivering that cut-to-the-chase sound bite. Think about it: How many of your announcements start with a negative, followed by a litany of unpleasant consequences? (For example, "If we don’t increase sales next month, we'll have to start letting people go.")

"Many leaders think that this style is more forceful and expedient, but it's actually counterproductive," says Feuer. "If you make too many of these negative announcements, your employees will be motivated only by fear and desperation -- at least in the beginning. As time goes on (and presumably, a majority of your threats don't come to pass), your team will come to see you as a knucklehead, and they'll start to ignore your message altogether."

Look in the mirror. The Golden Rule -- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you -- definitely applies to leadership and business. It's always a good idea to treat your team as participants and partners in whatever you're doing ... not just as people to blame when something goes wrong. Remember that they appreciate appropriate amounts of respect and praise, and that they also enjoy being given credit for having the ability to grasp the obvious.

"If you’re not getting the results you want, you might be the problem," Feuer says. "Leaders, especially those nearer to the top of the organizational hierarchy, sometimes forget how it felt to be directed. Ask yourself how you'd want to be told to do something important. Chances are it wouldn't be to do XYZ, or face dire consequences without any further explanation. When you're open about what's at stake and use a logical, positive tone, you'll probably find that your communications take root and grow!"

 

Posted by Charles Purdy on September 19, 2011 at 03:47 PM in Books , Career Development | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

September 16, 2011

The Monster 5 for Friday -- Careers Edition -- September 16

On Fridays, we take a look back at the week that was, and show you five cool career-advice articles you may have missed during your busy week.

5. To start, we'll point to a post on this very blog. Did you know that September is both National Preparedness Month and National Update Your Resume Month? The two clearly go hand-in-hand, because having an updated resume is an important way to stay prepared for career emergencies. Read "The Importance of Being Prepared." 

4. The Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy interview with "What Color Is Your Parachute?" author Richard Bolles -- in which he shared his thoughts on new job-search technologies, as well as his outlook on the search for "dream jobs" (which echoes Monster's beliefs). Read "People Are Still Finding Their Dream Jobs." Yes they are!

3. BostInnovation reported on the latest thing in mobile networking -- that is, Monster's own BeKnown application, which is now available on the iPhone and Android. Read "Monster Worldwide Adds Mobile Functionality to Facebook App, BeKnown."

2. About.com career expert Alison Doyle provides some great tips on digital communication in one of her latest posts. Read "How Not to Email About a Job."

1. And now maybe you can end your week with a laugh (while learning an important lesson about the need to proofread your resume). This week, Yahoo! ran a Monster advice article that provides a collection of cautionary tales. Read "10 Classic Resume Bloopers."

Do you need job-search advice? What job-seeker topics would you like to see covered? Leave a message for us in the comments section below, or find @monstercareers on Twitter and send a message. Also, get support and great job-seeker advice when you join our community on Facebook.

 

 

Posted by Charles Purdy on September 16, 2011 at 04:56 PM in Books , Career Development , Interview , Job Search , Networking , New Media , Update Your Resume Week | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 12, 2011

The Importance of Being Prepared

IStock_000015979253Medium September is National Preparedness Month -- all this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Ready Campaign, in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Ad Council, is raising awareness and encouraging all Americans to take the necessary steps to ensure that their homes, workplaces, and communities are prepared for emergencies of all kinds. 

The Ready Campaign's website lists three key parts of being prepared: "1. Get a Kit. 2. Make a Plan. 3. Be Informed." That's some good advice, and the Ready website has a great many more details.

September is also Update Your Resume month -- and having a well-crafted and up-to-date resume is a crucial part of career-emergency preparedness. So after you've made sure you have a three-day supply of water (for you and your pets!), a well-stocked first-aid kit, and a supply of batteries for your radio, take a moment to think about how you can prepare for a job-related disaster. A first step is making sure your resume is updated.

Of course, updating your resume should happen more than once a year. So consider creating a recurring monthly appointment with yourself to update your resume and other job-search materials.

Stay Alert
Throughout the month, stay alert and keep track of things you can add to your "career emergency kit," which can be a file on your hard drive or a folder in your filing cabinet -- whatever makes sense as a place for you to store your resume builders and career-emergency supplies.

   1. Note major achievements and successes at your current job, especially those that are quantifiable (numbers on a resume are very persuasive).

   2. Record praise from managers, colleagues, and clients (save commendations and letters of praise in a file for future references).

   3. List conferences, seminars, and classes (and so on) that you've attended.

   4. Keep track of industry-related books and periodicals you've read (jot down some quick impressions of each -- these can be great conversation starters when you're in a job interview or at an industry networking event).

   5. Add new contacts you've met to your professional network (and look for ways to stay connected).

Be Prepared
Of course, not all of these things will make it onto the standard version of your resume, but they should be available for when you need to tailor your resume to a specific job you're applying for. And don't forget -- nowadays, updating your resume may mean updating your profiles on your blog, career-networking sites (such as Monster's BeKnown), and other online spaces.

Consider these tips:

   1. Make sure your resume instantly communicates your career target with a descriptive headline and adequately reflects your depth and breadth of experience in a brief, hard-hitting opening summary. (For more, read "Refresh Your Resume.")

   2. Not sure where to begin? Well, you don't have to begin at the beginning. Consider taking a fresh eye to the bottom of your resume first. (For more, read "Five Steps for Updating Your Resume.")

   3. Updating isn't just about adding new things to your resume -- it's also very important to remove old information or information that doesn't support your goals. This resume clutter can distract hiring managers from your relevant skills. (For more, read "Declutter Your Resume.")

   4. If your resume is like those of most people, it contains a lot of deadwood words and phrases -- empty cliches, annoying jargon, and recycled buzzwords that you should cut away. (For more, read "10 Words and Terms That Ruin a Resume.")

   5. Of course, before you can put something on your resume, you have to actually do it -- if you don't have a job that's providing you with new things you can put on your resume, consider volunteer work, an adult-education class, or another resume booster. (For more, read "Fun Ways to Beef Up Your Resume.")

How do you stay prepared for a career emergency? Share your thoughts in the Comments section -- and don't forget to follow @monstercareers on Twitter for the latest career and job-search advice.

 

Posted by Charles Purdy on September 12, 2011 at 05:07 PM in Career Development , Current Affairs , Current Events , Resume , Update Your Resume Week | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 09, 2011

"You're Fired" -- Now What?

The dismissal of Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz made news this week -- not only because she was a very visible chief executive at a huge and influential company, but also because of the way Bartz handled her firing -- in a brief email to the company that reportedly said:

I am very sad to tell you that I have just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with you, and I wish you all the best going forward.

Career experts have been divided on the appropriateness of this two-sentence email -- perhaps because the two sentences are very different. The first second is a pretty clear jab at person who did the firing (over the phone). The second sentence is an appropriate and professional farewell to her former colleagues.

So what's the appropriate response when you've just been fired? Of course, it can be a huge blow, but it's important to make sure you act thoughtfully -- so you don't do something you'll regret later. For most of us, that would mean waiting before sending a company-wide email.

For more tips, read:

"You Just Got Fired, Now What?"

"Fire Up Your Post-Firing Job Search"

"How Do I Explain Getting Fired?"

What do you think about Bartz's firing, and about her response? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.

 

 

Posted by Charles Purdy on September 9, 2011 at 05:16 PM in Career Development , Current Affairs , Job Search , Networking , Women at Work | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 01, 2011

Making Friends at Work: The Key to Career Success?

The-Happiness-Advantage-9780307591548 You may think that workplace socializing is a waste of time -- you're too busy with work for water-cooler chit-chat (and you're too busy with your life for after-work drinks with the team). But a new study by Harvard researcher Shawn Achor, the author of "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work," says that employees who are most unwilling to develop workplace friendships are the least likely to get promoted.

He divided employees into quartiles on the basis of their willingness to initiate work relationships -- such as inviting coworkers out for drinks -- and the results may surprise you:

> Of the bottom quartile (those least willing to initiate work friendships) only 5% were extremely engaged in their work.

> Only 7% had been promoted in the past year, while approximately 40% of employees in the other quartiles received promotions.

So having friends at work pays off -- but what if you're shy, or what if you don't much like the people you work with? We asked Achor for some tips on workplace relationships, and here's what he had to say:

Monster: If you're working with people you don't have much in common with (or don't like much), do you think there's value in "faking it" -- that is, initializing social relationships simply for the sake of your career?

Achor: If you're faking it, then people aren't going to like you anyway. But if you make a conscious effort to learn what does connect you with your coworkers, then the payoff is huge. My new research in the Harvard Business Review reveals that if you provide social support at work to your coworkers, it correlates with a 40% increased likelihood of a promotion. 

In addition, when you make an effort, your brain actually starts liking the people around you more. And my research shows that people who initialize relationships find significantly more engagement at work.

(For more advice, read "5 Tips for Making Office Friendships Work.")

Monster: You describe the positive effects of going out for drinks with your coworkers. What are some ideas for building relationships inside office hours?

Achor: On the way into work, pick up bagels for everyone. Usually only the boss or manager does this (if anyone does), so very quickly people perceive you as someone who is willing to sacrifice to connect the team. At UBS, one of the managers I worked with did this with his team, and he said that despite being a professional investor, it was one of the best investments he ever made because of the long-term effects on performance.  

In addition, we feel more connected to people who recognize our worth. Find something that a person is doing at work and praise them for it. You don't have to be the manager to give praise, and the resulting effect is that others perceive you and your work more favorably as well. For this to work, the praise must be authentic and specific -- our brains are wired to detect deception. But our brains are also linked with mirror neurons, so if you smile more at work, so will your coworkers.

Monster: Any special tips for people who are shy?

Achor: At Adobe, I suggested that some of their introverted employees make a game out of raising social engagement. With each person you meet, try to learn one piece of new information: what they're working on, kids' names, what they're doing this weekend, what movie they saw last. By creating a goal out of the conversation, it makes your brain focus less on forcing being extroverted. In addition, we feel greater social support when we are known and when we know other people, so by the end of just a week, it will be even easier for you to strike up relationships and conversations with coworkers.

(For more advice, read "Networking Tips for Shy People.")

Monster: What are some practical things a busy person can do (daily or weekly) to improve his or her outlook and attitude, to start reaping some of the benefits of positive thinking?

The research in "The Happiness Advantage" proves that happiness is a work ethic. Not only do we work better when our brains are positive, but we must work at being happy, just like we exercise our bodies to get fit. Pick one new habit such as writing down three new things you are grateful for into a journal, or meditate for two minutes watching your breath go in and out, or write one positive two-minute email each morning to a friend before checking your inbox. All those habits take less than two minutes a day at work.

If you keep it going consistently for 21 days in a row, you will create a life habit, and our research has shown that will significantly improve optimism scores and business outcomes even 6 months later! 

How do you develop friendships at work? How do you maintain a positive attitude? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.

 

 

Posted by Charles Purdy on September 1, 2011 at 03:56 PM in Books , Career Development , Science | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)