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The Owl – Seeing Through The Counter Offer

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 17, 2017 in Career Path, Lessons Learned

OwlOwls have excellent vision at night and in low light and are farsighted. When they want to see all around them, they can rotate their heads as much as 270 degrees. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owl

Recently, I read the clearest, most persuasive article on “Why not to take a counter offer” that I have run across in my career as a recruiter. The article addressed 4 areas of interest that you should take into account, and be aware of, including what to do before you resign your current position and what to expect after you resign. It outlined why you should not accept a counter offer, what your Manager may be thinking after you resign, and finally some tactics that your Manager may use in order to try to keep you.

I often send this article to candidates when they are being countered. It gives that candidate food for thought and helps them to see that they need to look forward instead of looking back.

Here is that article for you to read and keep all of your options in sight like the owl:

Do not accept a counter offer!!! Here is why..

When you have received an offer of employment which you are inclined to accept, you must consider very carefully whether it really solves your problem and offers you the opportunity you are seeking before you resign from your current employment.

If you choose to accept the offer and to resign from your current employment, you must be prepared to resist powerful, persuasive tactics which your employer can use to change your mind.

It is invariably a costly irritation for employers to recruit your replacement and often they will do everything they can to keep you. They may offer large sums of money or increased benefits, titles and promises for the future. They can also apply strong emotional and psychological pressure. It can be attractive and tempting to accept.

However, once they know you are discontented, they will regard you as a ‘problem employee’.

Nationally compiled statistics show that nine out of ten people who accept counter offers have left their employment within six months, either because their employers arrange a replacement in their own time, or because the real reasons for wanting to change your job in the first place, have not gone away.

Twelve Reasons for Not Accepting a Counter Offer

  • You have now made your employer aware that you are unhappy. From this day on your commitment will always be in question.
  • When promotion time comes around, your employer will remember who is loyal and who isn’t.
  • When times get tough, your employer will begin the cutbacks with you.
  • When your employer replaces you after six months and ‘lets you go’, it’ll be harder to turn them around than it was for them to turn you around.
  • Accepting a counter offer is an insult to your intelligence. You didn’t know what was best for you.
  • Accepting a counter offer is a blow to your personal pride, knowing you were ‘bought’.
  • Accepting a counter offer rarely changes the factors that drove you to look for a new job in the first place.
  • Where is the money for the counter offer coming from? Is it your next pay rise early?
  • Statistics show that if you accept a counter offer, there is a ninety percent chance you will be out of the job within six months.
  • What type of a company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you’re worth?
  • Why didn’t they pay you that before? It was because they didn’t think you were worth it.
  • Why are they paying it to you now? It’s because it’s easier and cheaper for them to keep you for the time being, while they sort the problem out.

What really goes through a boss’s mind when someone quits?

“This couldn’t be happening at a worse time.”

“He’s one of my best people. If I let him quit now, it’ll wreak havoc on the morale of the department.”

“I’ve already got one opening in my department. I don’t need another right now.”

“This will probably screw up the entire vacation schedule.”

“I’m working as hard as I can and I don’t need to do his work, too.”

“If I lose another good employee, the company might decide to ‘lose’ me too.”

“My review is coming up and this will make me look bad.”

“Maybe I can keep him on until I find a suitable replacement.”

“We’re working with a skeleton crew already. If I lose this one, we’ll all be working around the clock just to stay even.”

What will the boss say to keep you in the nest? These comments are common:

“I’m really shocked. I thought you were as happy with us as we are with you. Let’s discuss it before you make your final decision.”

“Aw gee. I’ve been meaning to tell you about the great plans we have for you, but it’s been confidential until now.”

“The VP has you in mind for some exciting and expanding responsibilities.”

“Your raise was scheduled to go into effect next quarter, but we’ll make it effective immediately.”

“You’re going to work for who?”

“How can you do this in the middle of a major project? We were really counting on you.” (Just a stall tactic)

Let’s face it. When someone quits, it’s a direct reflection on the boss. Unless you’re really incompetent or a destructive thorn in his/her side, the boss might look bad for allowing you to go. It’s an implied insult to his management skills. His/her gut reaction is to do what has to be done to.

DON’T ACCEPT COUNTER OFFERS!

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/do-accept-counter-offer-here-why-lushia-van-buuren

Jake Hanson

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The Quagmire – Limits of Unlimited Leave

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Oct 3, 2016 in Career Path, Lessons Learned

quagmireWhen a company uses an unlimited leave plan to attract people, what’s really going on behind the scenes is a culture that drives the highest performers higher and enables lower performers to fall by the wayside into a professional quagmire.

Webster’s dictionary defines quagmire as: “an area of soft, wet ground: a situation that is hard to deal with or get out of: a situation that is full of problems.”

Companies who have this policy are generally known as high performing companies. Top spots are competitive and expectations are high. Work assignments are distributed to those employees who have proven themselves as reliable, dependable and willing to put in the extra time necessary to get a job done on time and within budget. High performing professionals do an excellent job of prioritizing work and combining that with balancing their personal lives, vacations and family commitments.

Lower performers choose personal life over work, and work to live, not live to work within a balanced framework. Employees who are seemingly unavailable are often passed over for both prime assignments and promotions which often leads to them being laid off or let go for circumstances that are actually easy to avoid.

Having a clear and complete understanding of what the employer’s expectations around deliverables is the number one contributing factor to an employee’s success and to prevent themselves falling into a performance quagmire they most likely cannot emerge from.

Use your performance review process to clearly identify and establish what both meeting and exceeding expectations looks like with your supervisor. Use common language and have both qualitative and quantitative goals that both parties agree to in writing. Avoid using generalizing terms like always or regularly and replace them with terms like daily weekly or monthly which are clearer for both parties.

Should your supervisor change, having these in writing to discuss with your next supervisor will ensure a smooth transition and allow as a starting point for discussions around their expectations as your new boss.

Remember, there is no free lunch, and unlimited leave does, in fact, have limits. Meeting expectations is good, but exceeding them is great.

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The Bosses – Thoughts from the Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 30, 2016 in Building Confidence, Career Path, Job Search

jungle3As a recent graduate starting out in your career, or a seasoned professional looking to make the next move, the most influential person you will interact with in your new position will be your boss. The majority of our waking interactions during the week are going to be at work with our boss. That is a lot of time to spend with one person. A boss has the opportunity to make you feel completely inadequate to the point of wanting to reevaluate your career path OR so empowered and encouraged that you can move mountains with a click of a mouse. Much like choosing a major in college, where often times we end up picking our academic career based on one teacher who changed our perspective, the decision to continue on a career path can be dependent on the bosses you encounter.

A good boss doesn’t just want you to fill a gap or need within an organization. They want you to grow into an employee that is able to do much more than a job description requires. They want you to move towards the tasks that are in line with your interests so that they can see the passion your eyes. They want to challenge you to exceed expectations and go out of your comfort zone so that you are prepared for the position that comes next. A good boss wants to hear your ideas and welcome new perspectives outside of their own while trusting you to accomplish your work unsupervised and without micromanagement.

When faced with a job offer, always make sure you really know who it is you will be reporting to. It may seem like an obvious thing to do but depending on the role, you sometimes only have the opportunity to interview with the head of the department or other members of a team, for example. You want to make sure that before you accept a job, you are able to at least meet your manager face to face. If possible, try to see if there would be an opportunity to shadow a team member in a similar role to you. That way, you are able to see not only how the team interacts with each other but also with the boss. It is important to know your work personality to identify which management style aligns with your needs. There are some people who enjoy the structure of clear guidelines while others prefer flexibility to stay creative. Young professionals believe earlier in their careers that a boss is just someone you will be working FOR to pay rent, but really, it is someone you will be working WITH, day in and day out.

At the end of the day, people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.

Tori Zalewski

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The Howling Sessions – How To Communicate Effectively With Your Colleagues

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 10, 2016 in Self Improvement

HowlingWithin the Job Jungle, plenty of animals work in packs. Wolves, monkeys, many kinds of birds – all of these rely upon group coherence to survive. And the most successful packs are the ones which can work together effectively. In order to work together, pack animals need to be able to communicate clearly and well, without conflict or confusion. If you want to join one of these successful packs, you, too, will need to demonstrate these exemplary communication skills. Here’s why communication is important, and how you can improve your working communication skills.

Without Effective Communication, There Is Chaos

Every company, and everyone working within a company must balance the needs of the collective with the needs of the individual. Humans are social animals, and a large part of our brains is given over to working with others. However, we’re also individuals, and our own individual needs and desires often clash with the needs and desires of others in the group. When this happens, conflict occurs. In most cases, conflicts within organizations work to the detriment of the organization as a whole. Conflict can sometimes be an essential precursor for necessary change – but in order for this to be the case, the conflict needs to be framed within civilized communicative boundaries. On a lesser level, failures to communicate effectively can result in tense working environments, frustrations, and even damage to the fabric of the company. A surprising amount of insurance claims result from people misusing equipment etc, simply because what they were supposed to be doing and how they were supposed to be doing it had not been communicated effectively. In order to create and preserve constructive working relationships, companies need people who are good at both talking and listening. If you can prove that you’re good at communicating, you’re more likely to get the job than someone who’s otherwise highly qualified but can’t communicate as effectively as you.

Listening

When people think of ‘communication’, they tend to think of chatter and words. However, a huge part of what makes someone an effective communicator is their ability to listen. This doesn’t just mean staying quiet while someone else talks – your mind really needs to be on what they’re saying, absorbing their words, and considering the implications of them. Listening is as much a character trait as a practical skill. If you’re the kind of person who decides on their line and sticks to it whatever the other person says, you’re not really listening, however much you ostensibly hear their words. Chances are that you’re using the time while they’re talking to think up counter-arguments, rather than critically and open-mindedly assessing what they’re telling you. Listening well does not necessarily mean agreeing with your co-converser. But it does mean giving their words a chance. It’s also worth noting that good listeners tend to be more respected and liked than those who are less skilled at listening A good listener will:

  • Not talk over other people. Don’t interrupt, and don’t finish their sentences for them. If you really feel the need to engage while they’re talking, do so through non-verbal cues like nodding and smiling.
  • Encourage the speaker. They won’t display disinterest or frustration. They will signal that they are interested and focused and wish the speaker to get their point across.
  • The listener will not let their attention stray from the speaker, either visibly or invisibly. They will concentrate on what the speaker is saying, and let their meanings fully sink in.
  • The listener will do their best to understand and empathise with the other person’s point of view. This does not necessarily mean agreeing with them – simply appreciating where they’re coming from, and the experiences or considerations which have led them to this viewpoint.
  • Be patient. Sometimes it can take a while for speakers to get their point across. A good listener will have the patience to wait this process out and remain engaged throughout, even when they feel that they know where the speaker is going.
  • Listen to volume, tone, and body language as much as words. Non-lexical cues can tell a good listener a lot about what the speaker is really saying, and add a valuable dimension to their comprehension of the speaker’s point of view.
  • Work out the bigger picture. Rather than snatching isolated soundbites, a good listener will try to look at the bigger picture which the speaker is painting.

Speaking

Speaking is, obviously, another aspect of effective communication. To properly engage with your colleagues, you will need to be able to talk to them in an equable and clear manner. People who can’t make themselves clear through speech, or whose speech isn’t received well will not be as able to get their ideas or points across as well as they might, which can cause conflict-creating frustrations. Nor will they be as able to make friend and form effective team bonds. If you wish to be a good speaker, try thinking about the following things:

  • The pace of your words. Often, if we’ve grown up with our words marginalized, we may speak in a rush to try and get our points out before someone else speaks over us. There is no need to do this. If someone speaks over you, that is a problem with their listening skills – do not make it become a problem for your speaking skills. Pace your speech comfortably, so that people have time to absorb your words, and you don’t come across as desperate, harried, or panicked.
  • The thought behind the speech. Don’t launch in without thinking first about what you’re saying, and the implications of that. One well thought-out piece of speech is worth a thousand vague and inconsequential words!
  • Get to the point. While a good listener will stick with you while you go off on tangents and beat around the bush, it’s still best to avoid doing this as much as possible. If you’ve thought out what you’re going to say, you should know the point you’re trying to make. Get to the point while talking, and don’t waste unnecessary words. You can explore avenues arising from your point in ensuing conversation.

Also – be yourself. Ok, so we’ve just told you to control what you’re saying, and now we’re telling you to ‘be yourself’. What if the ‘real you’ speaks quickly, beats around the bush, and doesn’t think before they speak? Don’t worry – you can still be the genuine ‘you’ while taking care to make your speech clear and concise. Simply make sure that you’re staying true to your own ideas, and keep your mannerisms and tone natural. People appreciate and will listen to someone with integrity – and staying true to your own self is a great way to demonstrate integrity.

This Guest Post was contributed by Gemma Matthews.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Monkey – Flexibility In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 17, 2016 in Interviewing Skills

BranchFlexibility. Flexible Schedule. Flex-Time. What does that mean? Why does it matter?

Well, if you are a monkey swinging from tree to tree in the jungle, flexibility is key. You need to be flexible in order to grab the next branch to continue on your way and you need the branch to be flexible enough to hold your weight or it will snap.

In the workplace, or during an interview, flexibility is a far different thing. 14 years ago, when I first started in recruiting, I had never heard the term “flexibility” or “flexible hours” or “flexible work schedule” come up in conversation. I did hear candidates ask about the ability to leave work early if there was an emergency such as when a child was sick or the ability to work from home during a snow day.

Today, people think that they are entitled to work when they want, where they want, and how they want. They disguise this entitlement by using the term “flexible schedule” which sounds innocent enough, but is a loaded term. If the employer is not able to meet their demands, then that employer is “inflexible” and the company is potentially labeled as a bad place to work.

This week, I had a candidate who asked the client during the interview if she could work a “flexible schedule”. This question was asked during the first 5 minutes of her interview. The client was quite surprised by her question and asked for clarification. With a straight face, the candidate said, “I need to leave by 3pm each day.” The client was shocked. The client later related to me that she would not have minded a discussion on work hours later in the interview process to address any special needs that the candidate may have, but the timing and the severity of the restriction on time from their core business hours instantly put the candidate in an unfavorable light in her eyes.

Work is just that, work. You are not doing the company a favor by working there. You are applying to a position to gain employment to earn a living. You are offering your expertise to solve a business issue or need for the company. They do not owe you anything. It’s work for pay.

The appropriate time to discuss any special needs that you may have is not in the first 5 minutes of your first interview. The best time to approach the topic of “flexibility” is during the salary negotiation phase of the hiring process. Even then, you need to have realistic expectations and stay flexible yourself. If a company has core hours, see if there are alternative solutions you can explore before asking your employer or potential employer to change their policy to accommodate your needs. See if you can carpool to use HOV lanes or if a neighbor can watch your children for an hour after school so that you do not need to leave early. When all else fails, then approach your employer. Remember that you also earn trust over time with an employer. Often, flexibility is given to trusted employees after they have proven themselves in their current role. You should not expect to be given the same consideration right away when starting a new job as employees who have been with the company for a long time.

Flexibility is a 2-way street. Consider your request for “flexibility” before you ask for it, or you just might find yourself falling from that branch that you were so sure could hold you.

This guest post was contributed by Jake Hanson of the Merito Group.

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The Jungle Weed – Navigating The Drug Free Workplace

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 16, 2016 in Job Search, Lessons Learned

WeedsEmployers who advertise a drug free work place will likely have drug testing in place as a condition of hire. With the legalization of marijuana in several states, this has caused some confusion for job seekers.

There are many kinds of drug tests that are administered for pre-employment checks. The drug test form will ask for all the medications you are taking so have a full list with the proper dosage information handy. If you have a prescription, you need to list it on the form. This should be done for ANY medication you take regularly or frequently. If it is prescribed, and it turns up in your test, your employer will consult their personnel policies when determining whether or not they will hire you based upon their established guidelines.

Some states border others, like in MD, VA and DC, so be mindful of what is legal in each jurisdiction when applying for work. Even if your state has a legalized marijuana policy, the federal government still lists marijuana as a controlled (illegal) substance. Federal laws take precedence over state laws especially if the company that you are applying to is a national or multi-state corporation or if that employer receives any kind of federal funding. This means that a company could still deny you employment for testing positive for marijuana even if marijuana is legal in your state and even if it is being used medicinally with a prescription.

Where we have advised job seekers to be forthright about criminal convictions in the application process, it is not a good idea to overshare about drug use. If you have questions about the company’s policy, ask them anonymously BEFORE you apply. Asking during the process may be detrimental to your application depending on the company, who you speak with, and them not fully understanding your personal situation. Try to get a person on the phone to discuss it vs webchat which may track your email and contact information.

If you pass the initial drug test to be employed, workplaces with a drug-free policy may do intermittent, random, and/or “reasonable suspicion” testing so if you are a prescription holder for marijuana, testing positive for the drug while you are currently employed- even if used off of company property and on your own time- can be cause for dismissal in a drug free workplace.

As more states legalize marijuana, more employers have to take a closer look at their hiring practices and policies. As you navigate the jungle, stay away from the weeds if you can avoid it.

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The Guide – Leaders in the Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 22, 2016 in Building Confidence, Executive Coaching

PRESENCEForest

Successful leaders have a certain “Je ne sais quoi” – an air of authority, trust, confidence and knowledge that inspires others to follow them and move towards the goals they have set. Jungle guides are the most valuable members of the excursion party. Without them, the group may become hopelessly lost, run out of food, or become food themselves. If the guide effectively projects their knowledge and authority, the group will follow the guide safely through the jungle.

As someone moving up the ranks towards leadership, it’s imperative to create your leadership presence early on. In order to be the one that’s tapped to take on new leadership assignments you need to assume the presence of a leader before you can actually be one.

Consider what you say, how you say it and how you look saying it.

WHAT YOU SAY

Leaders phrase things positively. They move as quickly and efficiently as they can through a process to a successful conclusion. Listen to great leaders who choose their words wisely and adjust your delivery to mimic theirs. Researching great speeches of the past is a good place to start to learn to frame your comments positively. Rarely do great leaders talk about all the problems they have had and what they are trying to avoid, they only speak about where they are going and how they are going to get there. Avoid negativity and find the positive in every situation first and only talk about the positive which will eliminate any appearance of negativity.

HOW YOU SAY IT

Contrarians are never the leader – they are the outliers. There are many times you may not agree with something, or have a differing opinion, which is how creativity and growth are often generated. But how you deliver the message is the difference between someone who is considered a leader and someone who is branded as not supportive of the company’s goals. The best way to offer a new idea that may not be in alignment with others’ thinking is to present it as a “brainstorm” by starting off the introduction with something like, “I don’t know if we’ve ever looked at it this way, but what about the possibility of…”, or “These are really important and great ideas, can we brainstorm for a moment here?”. Avoid blurting your disagreement directly out for risk of alienating others in the room. Remember, it is possible that your ideas have been explored in the past and were overlooked or avoided for some reason you are not aware of.

Don’t take it personally if others don’t like your ideas every time. Remember, it takes a village, so do your best to contribute AND collaborate when it’s time for you to support someone else’s ideas that are being adopted.

HOW YOU LOOK SAYING IT

Even if its casual day, a put together look is key. No matter how crazy their morning was, leaders never come in and talk about chaos in their lives, they just manage it. If others view you as unable to manage yourself to be where you need to be and looking ready, you won’t be the one they choose to be a leader. Always putting your best self forward will ensure others view you as a leader at all times. Leaders don’t make excuses, either. They take responsibility for what they do, where they are and their outcomes. They embody this by making it to meetings and appointments on time, dressed appropriately and being organized and ready for the meeting or conversation. Traffic doesn’t keep them from being on time. Their kids don’t prevent them from getting somewhere they need to be when they need to be there. They get it done, consistently and build confidence in others by being reliable and dependable.

Wondering if you are on the right track?  Look at people in the hallway – are they making eye contact with you?  Are they saying hello?  Do the big bosses know you by name?  Take the lead and greet others as they pass you in the hall; introduce yourself in the elevator to someone you know that may not know your name. Leaders are natural connectors, too – introduce others you are with to the people you are meeting to take the lead and position yourself as a leader.

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The Transformation – Caterpillar To Butterfly – Will An MBA Transform Your Career?

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 29, 2015 in Career Path, Self Improvement

CocoonAfter eating a lot of food for a few days, caterpillar suddenly stops eating. It creates a cocoon around itself and, within a few days, magically transforms into a butterfly! Have you been working hard for a long time and are still not happy with your job? Are you yearning for freedom to fly high in your career? Will it help to take a break from your job and get an MBA degree and come out of a business school (b-school) with a more powerful profile?

Do you need an MBA for a career shift

The relevance of an MBA degree has been widely contested by many. While some firmly believe that the MBA degree can boost the career of any professional and help him reach the top of the corporate ladder, others tend to say an MBA is not a necessity. While it’s true that you don’t necessarily have to be an MBA to be a great manager, it’s a great asset to have in helping you acquire managerial skills if you don’t consider yourself to be a stellar manager. Let’s compare both the sides of the argument and see if an MBA is really worth it if you are looking for a career shift.

Benefits of an MBA for a career shift

Helps in the long climb: An MBA can easily help in climbing the corporate ladder. Employees complain about how difficult it is for candidates who do not have a management background to succeed in the climb. While managerial skills can be learned on the job, and there are many non-MBA managers running the biggest of brands, sometimes organizations have rigid requirements that a manager needs to have a MBA to move into certain roles.

Networking: A B-school is not just a platform to acquire managerial skills and get the opportunity to make a career shit. It’s also about networking. All good business schools have great alumni networks that students can be a part of. The two years that you spend in a B-School can be one of the best ways to expand your network and increase your contacts. Your alumni network can become one of the best sources of opportunities to make the career change you need.

Leadership skills: A b-school can help you to acquire leadership skills that allow you to manage teams and take on senior roles which are currently evading you in your professional life. An MBA can serve as proof that you are capable of managing people and getting results in the most efficient way possible.

Opportunities: Most working professionals who join MBA courses often do it for the potential placement opportunities top of the line business schools can provide. Top performers with work experience often get a huge boost to their careers upon completing their MBA and it makes complete sense for professionals to invest time in developing their managerial skills for a career shift.

It is important to keep in mind that MBA degrees are becoming more accessible and it is not necessary to go for a full time MBA. An MBA degree can acquired through distance mode also. Other options are include part time and executive one year MBA programs.

But the MBA degree does come with some downsides

An MBA can be a huge investment: Most MBA courses are significantly expensive and even though the returns are massive at top B-Schools due to stellar placements, repaying educ
ation loans can be difficult and managing finances often becomes a problem for professionals in the initial years after graduation.

Experience disparity: Even as a working professionals there may be some disparities when opting in for placements. It’s quite likely that top managerial positions available at placement drives will be filled up by more experienced professionals. It’s often a cause for concern for candidates who do have less than 2 years of work experience or no work experience at all. While an MBA is platform to help your career grow, you have to give it time until you get the managerial positions you seek.

An MBA does not prepare you for real life managerial problems: While you acquire the skills needed to solve managerial problems, it’s only in theory. There is a vast difference between learning hands-on and learning in a classroom by working on real life examples.

An MBA is not a must-have for getting help in your career shift. But it does come with solid benefits especially in long term. It allows you to access more opportunities and have great learning experiences that allow you to know more about the intricacies of management. Some get into an MBA merely for networking and come out of the program satisfied with what they go out of it. Finally, each student needs to assess her dreams and financial situation to decide what makes the most sense for her. All that we can say is that it is not a must to get an MBA to have a rocking career!

This Guest Post was contributed by Paresh  of www.TargetAdmission.com.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

Image Source – https://justinahurley.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/522988_10150768096746740_1918938162_n.jpg

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The Competition – Surviving Competitive Workplaces, The Natural Way

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 25, 2015 in Career Path, Self Improvement

CompetitiveCompetition in the workplace is nothing new and if you cannot make your mark in it, you are going to lose in the long run. There will always be someone looking to fill your position and will try all methods to get ahead of you. Doesn’t it sound a bit like the jungle? Yes, a competitive workplace is like a jungle, where everyone competes with each other for their survival.

You will find the strong cats in there sneaking upon its prey, bullish elephants pushing ahead of everyone and the sneaky reptiles slithering its way, biting anyone that challenges them. A competitive workplace is sometimes a good thing for an organization to get the employees motivated and productive. But as an individual you may feel that this is all too overwhelming.

As nature is the best teacher, we can learn a lot from nature about adapting in the cut-throat competition that is seen in some workplaces. Here are some of the acts that can be attributed to the likeness of surviving in a jungle, which will help you to get ahead of the competition:

Survival of the ‘skillest’

This is in analogy to the popular concept of “survival of the fittest” put forward by the great naturalist, Charles Darwin; which states that the fittest always survives and moves forward in the evolutionary ladder. In a competitive workplace, to be fit means to have the skills necessary to remain an important part of it. You will have to learn new skills whenever necessary in order to step up the corporate ladder, as skills are the only determining factor that will make you stand out of the rest. Take time out to learn new skills that you think are connected to your industry. There are various online courses nowadays that help one to gather new skills at your convenience.Just like squirrels hoarding nuts for the winter, you will understand that hoarding skills may help you in the future; if you ever have to face that allegorical ‘winter’ of your career.

Evolve to adapt

I will give you an example of the Darwin’s finches here. It is a group of finches which shows highly developed beaks to adapt to the different environments they live in. If you feel that remaining the same person in this competitive workplace is not going to help you, then you should know that it is time to evolve into something which no one is expecting. Be unpredictable and along with the new skills that you might have learned as mentioned above, you will become an eye-turner. Today’s world is dynamic and change can happen any moment. You will need to learn to evolve in accordance to the environment you work in.

Mimicry

You may not be aware of the fact that corporate culture is developed upon the theory of mimicry. What is meant by when one says we have a typical work culture? So where did this work culture actually start from? It all started one face at a time from emotional contagion. Emotions are highly contagious and before you realise anything, you are mimicking the posture of the person in front of you to receive his attention. Someone smiles, you smile back unconsciously; this is what mimicry is all about. You can use this mimicry in order to survive a competitive workplace. In nature, animals mimic their surrounding in order to not arouse any suspicion among the preys or attackers. Even though it is not highly recommendable, you can always mimic your way to be accepted in a working environment.

Pounce upon opportunities

In a competitive workplace there is no place for chivalry. This may come hard but it is true. Just like in the jungle where every moment is a struggle for existence, a competitive workplace is a continuous struggle for leapfrogging ahead of others. No big cat is chivalrous enough to give a deer a head start. If you are the deer in this environment, you will be wiped out of the workplace’s existence.

Remember to pounce upon any opportunity to show that you are superior and that your work is valued. Volunteer to do things that no one else does and gets noticed by the right people in your organisation. If you let others do it, you might have well lost one great opportunity to show your competence.

Territory master

What happens when a dog enters into the territory of another dog? All hells get loose and the second dog viciously protects his territory. No, I am not asking you to bite or kick anyone; just learn to protect your territory (aka position). If anyone tries to give a challenge to your position, use your experience and the skills to know who the alpha-professional is.

You can no wonder learn a lot from nature and if you use the lessons provided by nature to get the most out your professional life, you can cruise smoothly through all the competition. Instead of going through job sites to get out of the competition, try following the tips mentioned above.

This Guest Post was contributed by Hasib. Hasib is a professional writer working with the job portal –naukri.com and often writes articles related to career and education. He is an avid reader and lives for two things – football and food. If he is not involved in any of those, you can find him contemplating existential issues. Follow him @ twitter, Google+, LinkedIn

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Cat – Herding vs. Teamwork

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 11, 2015 in Executive Coaching

Cat3You may have heard the phrase “managing [x group] is like herding cats.” While a group may exist with shared goals it, like the territorial cat, may not collaborate as a high performing team even if they are familiar with its members. The essence of high performing teams is collaborative independence and participative leadership but the wild cat, while independent, is not known for its teamwork.

All teams are groups, but not all groups are teams. Next time you find yourself herding cats in a group, use these characteristics of cohesive, high performing teams:

  • Members of a high performing team have complementary, yet unique, skills.
  • The team as a strong group identity which can be underlined with special names or methods of identifying the group (such as uniforms/shirts/pins/Internet groups).
  • The members maintain a clear understanding of both the importance of the work, their individual role, and how it relates to overall goal achievement.
  • Members have the authority to act autonomously and with discretion to complete their necessary tasks. This doesn’t mean they aren’t supervised, rather it means they are properly empowered to take risks.
  • Members believe success is achievable as a group and are individually passionate about the results and accountable for their own performance.
  • Members treat each other with respect and sidebar conversations that are dissenting or subversive to the goal.
  • Underachievement, or social loafing, is not tolerated in the team. They establish minimum standards for performance or level of effort and members who are deemed ineffective or disruptive are eliminated.
  • They set their own goals, rules, schedules and norms for behaviors and follow them.
  • Use democratic decision making and leadership is participative.
  • Evenly divide the work space and level of effort.

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