Reflection and Refine

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So it has been a while since the last blog post and for a few reasons.

As many people do at the turn of the year I use it as a chance to take stock and review how the last year went and what the plans for the new year are. This year I decided to extend this period of reflection a bit longer so that I could take advantage of a planned trip to Northern Goa in India that I had had scheduled for a while. For me to take two whole weeks out of my schedule is unusual as I normally have a lot of shorter breaks throughout the year.

There was a specific reason for this trip and if you are interested in learning more take a listen to the podcast episode at Itunes link to podcast  

So against my default programming I didn’t set any new year resolutions with the intention of using the space and downtime while away to decide what the focus of 2019 was going to be both professionally and personally.  I think the trip to India was quite a landmark event as it had been a personal goal for nearly 5 years and the fact that it was actually going to happen was meaningful in itself. My normal  reaction is “so what next” and I know I made the mistake once before in 2006 after completing the Ironman in that I immediately entered another one which in the end I had to pull out of due to injury – the real truth is it wasn’t meant to be I was just meant to do one event like that and originally that had been my intention I just got carried away with post race euphoria and the rest of my team mates rushing to fill in entry forms for the next event.

The two weeks away were soon over and still no obvious new goals were emerging just a few subtle tweaks to what I am already doing and the slow realisation that maybe that was all I needed to do just a bit of refining and refocusing. I fundamentally have the right things in place so there isn’t a need for major changes. There isn’t a obvious new big scary goal or shift I want to make at this time and that is ok what I have is a few areas of focus professionally and personally for the rest of the year , things that I am already doing but just take them to the next level starting with a slight tweak to the podcast in renaming it The Career Tree to expand the exploration of industries/jobs/ways of working to show what choices we all do have in the world of work. So watch this space as we refine what we do as we approach our twentieth year in business as Kudos. Now that is scary where has all that time has gone?

 

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Why Am I Not Happy In My Job?

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When someone initially approaches me to explore coaching the phrase I often hear is “I don’t like my job anymore or a version of this such as  “I think I am in the wrong job can you help?” 

This isn’t a good place to be, wondering whether you are on the right path or worse dreading going into work every Monday morning. I always vowed from early on in my career that if I ever got into this position I would take action to change it as life is too short to be unhappy in our work especially as we spend so many hours of our week doing this.

So if this is you thinking any of these thoughts then it’s time to set time aside to explore what is going on ,either through your own self reflection process or with the help of a mentor or coach who has no vested interest in your final decision. This is why your line manager or a relative may not be the best person to work with on this.

It is not always the case that you need to leave your job ,so the setting aside the reflection and evaluation time doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up job hunting.

Once you have found some dedicated time ask yourself the following questions and note your responses

  • How long have you felt unhappy… sometimes there is a specific date, event or person that it can be traced back too. If you are a feelings person (see some of my posts or listen to podcasts regarding Myers Briggs  personality types ) then there may be an underlying resentment that needs to be processed through so you can move forwards. This might mean your acceptance of what happened or you being assertive enough to have a follow up discussion with those involved to understand what could have been done differently and to make others aware of the impact their actions may have had on you.
  • What is your ultimate career goal short and long term? Is being in your current role helping you achieve this or have you got enough from the role and need to find the next step on your journey.
  • Does the current role match your motivational mix ( again you may need to work out what this is) if it doesn’t there may be other projects or responsibilities you could take on to make it more enjoyable or you may indeed need the challenge of a change in role or organisation or type of employment.
  • Are you working for an organisation or leader that “ fits” with your value set? Do you like what they stand for and can you get behind the overall direction and what you are being asked to do in your role? 

The bottom line is to find out what would need to change to make you happy in your role and is this something in your control or not? 

Sandra works as an executive coach for businesses and also has a private coaching practice for career/life and business coaching. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon Check book out here and a recently launched series of Own It Podcasts which gives inspiration and tips for professional and personal life Own It Podcasts

Career Management Challenges

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This is the first blog post I have written for a while as I wanted to take a break until I felt inspired to write another one!

The many clients I have been working with over that last few months have inspired this reflection on the area of career management and the many different challenges people face at any age and at any stage of their career.

These are some of the thoughts or questions people are having or asking themselves and indeed some I have asked myself over my career

  • Why am I not enjoying my job anymore?
  • I don’t get on with my boss very well is that a good reason to leave?
  • I have been in the same role/company for a few years should I stay or should I move?
  • I don’t feel appreciated anymore – am I valued?
  • I don’t get any feedback at all and other people seem to be getting more opportunities to progress than I am
  • I haven’t got a development plan or any real objectives
  • I need a change
  • What I really want to do is work for myself
  • I need to get back into the world of work after a career break where do I start?
  • When is a good time to retire and then what do I do?
  • I want to do something different but unsure if I should look for another job in the same company or look at different companies
  • Should I get more qualifications?
  • I am having a tough time at work at the moment but is this just temporary or should I start looking for something else?
  • If I eventually want to work for myself should I just be brave and make it happen or shall I set up a “side hussle” while I am still in work?
  • I like what I do but I am not inspired by the industry or the company I am working for
  • My work life balance is out of control can I improve my situation in my current role or do I need to change?

Just reading through the list above how many of these have gone through your mind over that last few years? Is there one particular one that resonates currently?

What I am going to do over the next few blog posts is look deeper into a few of the areas and from a coaches perspective illustrate the type of work and further questions you can ask yourself to determine the next steps or possible options you can consider taking to explore further the correct course of action for your personal career management.

Sandra works as an executive coach for businesses and also has a private coaching practice for career/life and business coaching. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon Check book out here and a recently launched series of Own It Podcasts which gives inspiration and tips for professional and personal life Own It Podcasts

 

Leadership Fundamentals – Understand Your Team and Your Customers

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This follows on from an early post entitled  ” Your First 90 days “.

A short cut to success in your leadership role is having complete clarity on who your key stakeholders are, ensuring you know what they expect from you and building solid effective two way relationships with them all.

So, where do you start?

Firstly, set out with the intention of building a thorough understanding of all your team members, regardless of their experience level, seniority, area of responsibility, personality and attitude. Approach this project with an attitude of curiosity to build a complete pen picture for each member of your team. Do it in a way that makes sense to you however insure you consider what makes them tick, what their aims and ambitions are short and long term even if its just to keep doing what they already are that is fine at least you know. What challenges do they face, what do they love doing, are their any people they are struggling with. Capture all the this information per person and design a process whereby you are continually building and refreshing this knowledge of each team member so that over the next few months you know them inside out! Use your regular 1-1’s, times when you are working alongside individuals on specific pieces of work and social interactions to gleam further insights. Cultivating this attitude of interest and curiosity will enable you to adjust your leadership style accordingly and look out for opportunities where you can put the right work their way and design appropriate development interventions to help each person grow under your leadership tenure.

In parallel to building an in depth understanding of your team you need to take a similar approach with all your customers internal and external. Try and put yourself in their shoes and anticipate what they need from you and your team for them each to be successful. Armed with your thoughts check this out with each person at the earliest opportunity to ensure you haven’t missed anything and to identify the priority expectations and requirements of your role from their perspective as customers. Often we are busy doing work that we think is critically important which our customers don’t value in the same way.

For both your team and internal/external customers ask yourself “how healthy and enjoyable is the working relationship between the two of you?” Score each relationship between 1 and 10, 1 being very broken and hard work to 10 being extremely productive and enjoyable in fact it doesn’t really seem like work! Identify the most important stakeholders that have the lowest quality rating 1-10 and then think about what you need to do to make improvements.

Take a similar approach with your peer group and your manager so you can establish what each needs from you and how effective the working relationship currently is.

Its worth repeating this type of exercise annually as people change roles a lot and also business expectations change as strategy changes.

Sandra works as an executive coach for businesses and also has a private coaching practice for career/life and business coaching. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon Check book out here and a recently launched series of Own It Podcasts which gives inspiration and tips for professional and personal life Own It Podcasts

Flexible Working in Practice

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When 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris 4 hour work week book  came out I wrongly concluded from the title that it was going to be about working in such a smart way you only had to ever work for four hours a week. I must admit before reading it I did think even for a mega organised person like myself getting my work week down to four hours and still being able to find my lifestyle as I chose did seem to be a big stretch goal.

When I eventually read the book however it wasn’t exactly how I had interpreted it from the title and Tim was suggesting a more creative approach to flexible working that had instant appeal. It was more about designing your work life so that you were able to take extended periods of time away from work so that in a whole year it averaged out at a four hour work week.

 So I read Tim’s book a few years ago now however the concept he suggested must have resonated in the background. I also listened to a few podcasts and read about other people who had decided to take time away from their work and travel in order to re energise themselves especially if they had been in the work place for many years and had never had more than the annual leave off for holidays.

 It suddenly dawned on me that I had never taken more than 2 weeks away from the workplace and indeed the last two week break I took was over twenty years ago. In recent years especially when initially starting the business the most holiday time I had taken was 10 days, opting normally for 3 breaks a year of about a week plus a couple of long weekends. It wasn’t until I sat back and reflected on this that I realised the short breaks that had become my norm. On the surface this wasn’t causing me a problem I enjoyed the pattern however starting with Tim’s book the seed of an idea began to sprout about taking a period of extended time away from the normal working week pattern.

 As many of my friends began to embark on early retirement patterns and travel or take the gap years they didn’t do back in the day I began to consider a less extreme option and some what of a halfway house solution to test some of the concepts in Tim’s book. This idea formulated into a plan to work based abroad for 4-8 weeks a year initially. In my work as a coach I have helped many entrepreneurs create businesses working remotely from many countries it was about time I actually role modelled this myself and at the time of writing I am halfway through the first month totally based in Palma Mallorca and guess what it is working fine thanks largely to technology.

  

Sandra works as a coach for business and private clients. She is also the author of Own It regain control and live life on your terms available here  Own It book link Amazon 

 

Flexible Working Mindset

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As I was lucky enough to work for a very forward thinking multinational American based organisation in my early career I have always been a fan of flexible working. Even back in the 1980’s and 1990’s working for this company my performance was always measured on the results I achieved not the hours I spent in the office.

When I started a family, I was one of the first senior leaders to return to my role on a part time basis and another couple of my then colleagues were part of a pilot plan to prove a senior leadership role in the Marketing Function could be successfully be carried out on a job share basis (which they did prove!) Flexible working in many forms were supported and actively encouraged as a way of keeping high performers working for the organisation as their personal circumstances changed and recruiting replacements would have been time consuming and expensive.

Since leaving this organisation and having had the privilege of working with many more across a huge variety of industries also supporting SME’s and startups I still work with the ethos of encouraging leaders to do whatever they can to consider individual requests for flexible working/ part time contracts if a few things are carefully considered by both parties.

Firstly, the individual must have clearly defined role, specific areas of responsibility and a plan needs to be in place to cover the times when the individual is not available for work as per the agreed schedule. This is where job sharing can be of great benefit providing the necessary co-cover for each other. If job sharing isn’t an option, then there may be a developmental opportunity for another member of the same organisation to learn skills and provide cover. This ensures continuity of role especially important in client facing roles.

The second thing to consider is that the role needs to be manageable from both a business and a personal perspective using the flexible or reduced hours model. With increased technology this makes life a lot easier with remote access and cloud-based applications the norm now. There wasn’t this luxury back in those early years however we still made it work.

The mindset should however still be the same all these years on – if someone requests a flexible or reduced hour schedule and they have already proven they can do the job well it should simply be “what can we do to make this work from both a business case and a personal standpoint”

 

Sandra works as a coach for both businesses and private clients primarily based in Bristol UK however throughout the year also works in London and Palma Mallorca. More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com.

 

Young Minds

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I have just finished watching a programme on TV where a group of celebrities undertook an experiment where they tried to reduce their physical and mental ages over a period of three weeks 100 years younger in 21 days

It was fascinating to see how the aging process was affecting them all very differently due to either current habits or prior lifestyle bad habits having taken their toll. Throughout the three-week period some individuals needed to focus on their mental capacity while others had more health and physical challenges.

The physical challenges where they were encouraged to exercise more and eat better weren’t surprising as most of us know what we should and shouldn’t eat and that we need to keep moving. What I learnt most were the changes that occurred that radically improved some of the participants mental health scores in such a short period of time.

There were dramatic improvements in mental ageing in fact reversing the effect resulting in three key activities the celebrities were made aware of

  1. Meditation
  2. Learning new skills
  3. The sense of belonging that came from being part of a group

If we take each I turn there were just a few take home messages that I think are useful to us all.

Meditation doesn’t appeal to everyone and certainly in the programme the person that benefited the most initially demonstrated a lot of resistance to even the idea let alone the practice of it. It took another person in the group who had personally benefited themselves from the practice to buddy up with the individual and persist gently through the initial reservations and difficulties to the point where it started to become an enjoyable habit with huge quick positive effects that reinforced the new habit further. The correlation between the habit of regular meditation and improved sleep quality was amazing and without question a good reason to continue.

When it came to learning new skills, the key point was it doesn’t have to be a particular type of skill. Initially the group were introduced to learning a new language however if anyone struggled with this challenge then other more practical rather than cerebral activities were suggested to get a similar result. The key message here aww keep the brain active by exposing it to new challenges.

The final factor was the sense of belonging and the obvious communication involved from being part of a group or team was evident. The mutual support they gave each other at various stages of the process especially when an individual was finding part of the regime tough was an equally important bi product of the process.

  • So, are you continually learning?
  • Do you actively engage in a community/group that provides support and encouragement?
  • Have you explored a meditation practice? maybe just try for 5 mins a day for a couple of weeks see if you find it beneficial

 

Sandra works as a coach for both businesses and private clients. She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms. More info can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com