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Time CAN Fly

1 Oct

Can time really fly?

I’m not a physicist, so tackling such a weighty question is probably above my pay grade. But when you listen to employees who are engaged in their work, who have a passion for what they do and are supported by leaders who care for them and support their development, you begin to wonder if great workplaces begin to break the laws of physics.

I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop on self-engagement recently, and one participant talked about how time really does seem to fly for her:

I just love working here. There are days I get so engrossed in what I’m doing that I look up and can’t believe it’s five o’clock! Sure, there are times that get stressful, but most days time flies by.

I contrast that with other folks I’ve interviewed who are not engaged at work. For them time doesn’t fly. They say:

Work is so boring. It seems like it takes forever. Time just drags.

I know where I’d rather be, don’t you?

If time isn’t flying in your work, may you need to think about whether you’re really engaged. To give you a sense of your self engagement you can complete, at no cost, our Self-Engagement Survey.  You can also download a report that shows how engaged you are compared to employees at hundreds of other companies.

Want time to fly by at work? Get re-engaged.

Post-Recession Re-Start

10 May

Leigh and I were pleased to contribute to this article, presented in the most recent issue of CareerSmart Advisor, published by ExecuNet. We hope you enjoy the article, which is posted here.

Job Loss Emotions– Deal With Them Or They’ll Come Out Sideways

16 Aug


There’s an excellent article in the New York Times about how to deal with the stresses that invariably will face someone when they are in a prolonged job search in these difficult economic times. Some of the advice I found most useful:

Periodically, you may need to “download” all your emotions — to write them down or discuss them with a trusted friend who won’t criticize or judge you, Dr. Molitor said. Then identify which things you can control and which you can’t. Throughout your search, make detailed lists of the things you have done and still need to do, she said.

If you keep your emotions bottled up, “you’re going to have stress symptoms later,” she said. These can include insomnia, panic attacks, and colds brought on by a weakened immune system, she said. (And these will make you perform all the worse during an interview.)

Mentally, stress can distort your perspective. “When we get stressed, the brain is sometimes ineffective at processing things rationally,” Dr. Molitor said. In short, things may not be nearly as bad as they appear, and you have more control over your situation than you think.

Years ago I received advice that stress will always come out– they question is only how– either in a way that you manage or “sideways”.

I’ve been in the job search and have felt these emotions as well– thankfully I had good help at hand.In my professional life have counseled hundreds of people through corporate-sponsored outplacement. I see too many people who keep stress bottled up, only to have it come out sideways at an unopportune time, like a job interview.

I told one particularly stressed out client I advised:

“Employers can sense that something isn’t right in an interview. They may not know what they’re sensing, but that uncomfortable feeling may make them pass on you.”

He took the mesage to heart and eventually got the job. To another client, who was both angry about being laid off and also depressed about the matter (anger and depression are, of course, quite related) I said:

Employers are kind of funny. They already have lots of angry and depressed people on staff. They don’t need one more.

He too heeded the advice and got about the difficult business of dealing with these difficult emotions. This is very serious stuff, and the advice in this article is a good place to start if you are without work and feel like your emotions are getting the best of you.

Engage Thyself

27 Mar


I encourage you to read an article at Talent Management that discusses the importance of engaging yourself in the workplace. The advice is practical and timely:

Correcting the Imbalance
By first accepting some ownership for one’s own engagement, what can the employee do to enhance their own engagement levels? Employees can consider the following 11 tactical tips:

  • Adopt a more positive can-do attitude typically seen among those workers considered engaged, who seem universally appreciated by both peers and management. Try to eschew the chosen victimhood typically exhibited by the actively disengaged and, to some extent, the ambivalent, “quit and stay” or “clockwatching” employee.
    This choice is much like the quote, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” Attributed on the Internet to everyone from Vince Lombardi to Denzel Washington, this sage quote illustrates the point: Why not make your own luck, as opposed to waiting for it to find you?
  • Accept some ownership for being proud of where you work. Certainly, companies can employ measures that build employee pride in the organization, a centerpiece driver and measure of engagement. With that said, an employee can also participate in fostering that pride. For example, the employee might participate in, or lead, a community outreach or volunteer program potentially sponsored by their employers. As another example, an employee could volunteer to act as a sounding board for job candidates considering employment at the organization.
  • Ask for clarification if instructions from your supervisor are somehow unclear. This method is preferred over the behavior of complaining when one feels they are not given clear instructions.
  • Set yourself up to be recognized. Often, managers and supervisors can be prompted to publicly recognize an employee for a job well done if the employee simply asks for feedback: “How do you feel I did on that project? Did my work fulfill what you were looking for?”
  • Request a career planning meeting with your manager. Structure the dialogue such that your job duties are tailored to what you do best, what you are eager to learn and, ultimately, how this can be aligned with your career growth and personal objectives.
  • Get to know your senior leadership. Attend their town hall meetings. Ask questions of them and get them to know you, personally and professionally.
  • Actively participate in, and contribute to, decisions that affect your work environment.
  • Ask for feedback about your work performance and act on it.
  • If you don’t have the tools/resources to perform your job effectively, ask for them.
  • Believe in yourself and in your ability to contribute to the organization’s success, no matter what your job function.
  • Seek learning, knowledge and satisfaction from your co-workers, and most of all, don’t forget to instill Fun into your everyday work activities. Co-worker satisfaction is the unsung hero of retention.

(Graphic courtesy

A Writer Goes Retail– A Lesson In Liking Your Job

17 Feb


I encourage you to read the column written in the New York Times by Caitlin Kelly. The author is a freelance writer, who recently took a part-time job at a department store. In the course of her time she learns about her profession of journalism, about the store that apparently does a good job of creating a friendly, productive environment and, most importantly, something about herself. She concludes her column:

My retail co-workers have chosen this job for many reasons. Some are college students, some already work at two other jobs, and for top managers, it’s a well-paid full-time career. It offers flexible scheduling, can be a lot of fun and — in an economy forcing millions to redefine themselves professionally — its expectations are manageable and clear.

With so many media companies struggling, hundreds of my peers are losing their handsome titles and well-paid jobs. Some of them, too, may have to redefine themselves, temporarily and part time, or permanently. Right now, at our store and for this company, I play on a winning team. It feels good.

“Are you still there?” my friends ask me, month after month. Luckily, I am.

Many of us will need to rethink careers in the midst of this crisis. One thing we should keep in mind is that liking what you do and who you work is important. Ms. Kelly’s journey can be a good guide for the rest of us.