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How To...

April 16, 2018

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In this file photo ta cargo ship passes through the Panama Canals Pedro Miguel Locks on the outskirts of Panama City.Members of the UN International Maritime Organisation on April 13, struck a deal to halve carbon dioxide emissions from shipping by 2050 in a deal that will force the industry to redesign fleets.—AFP
In this file photo ta cargo ship passes through the Panama Canals Pedro Miguel Locks on the outskirts of Panama City.Members of the UN International Maritime Organisation on April 13, struck a deal to halve carbon dioxide emissions from shipping by 2050 in a deal that will force the industry to redesign fleets.—AFP

If your employee annoys people, gently point out how

If your employee is irritating fellow colleagues, don’t let the behaviour go. Start by making your intentions clear — say something like, “I’m always looking for ways to help you grow, and I have some thoughts. When is a good time to talk?” During the discussion, focus on the facts. What exactly is the employee doing, and how is it getting in the way of their success? For instance, if your employee constantly interrupts others, you might say, “In the meeting last Tuesday, you spoke over the end of three people’s sentences.” Then talk about the impact: “I couldn’t hear what they were going to say, which matters to me because everyone needs to feel heard.” Don’t insinuate that the behaviour is malicious, or even intentional.

(Adapted from “How to Help an Employee Who Rubs People the Wrong Way,” by Rebecca Knight.)

Evaluate your current projects

It’s important to challenge yourself with new projects, but taking on more tasks may require you to let go of others. Constantly evaluate your current slate of projects to know what else you have time for. For each task, ask yourself: Does completing this project still make sense? Am I the right person to work on it? Would it be more realistic to push this project out to another quarter? You can also create a chart to help you quickly assess where each project stands. Include columns for activity name, type of project, time required, professional importance, and the personal satisfaction you get from doing it. Use this data to determine which commitments to hold onto and which to let go of, so you can make room to take on new challenges.

(Adapted from “Before You Set New Goals, Think About What You’re Going to Stop Doing,” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders.)

Show how a new skill will benefit company

If you want time off from work to develop a new skill — by attending a class, going on a retreat, or participating in a fellowship — you need to make a strong case to your boss.

— Start by considering the connection between what you want to learn and the needs of the business. How will your company benefit from your new skill? Can you share the learning with your team? Are there issues at work that you could solve as a result of the training?

— Once you’ve answered these questions, prepare for the conversation with your boss. Plot out the best- and worst-case scenarios, and anticipate the questions your boss will ask you.

— Your manager may not be the person who approves the request, so do your homework to understand who else is involved in the decision-making process, and what they care about.

(Adapted from “How to Ask Your Boss for Time to Learn New Things,” by Rachael O’Meara.)

Highlight strengths if your work experience is limited

When you’re starting out in your career, and have limited work experience, it can be tough to gain credibility. Your co-workers won’t see you as a crucial part of the organisation until you prove yourself to be one. Start earning your colleagues’ respect by conveying the value you bring. Think about your strengths: In which areas do you do your best work? What have you been praised for in the past? Don’t forget to consider your personal life—chances are you possess some useful insights because of your geographic or demographic background.

(Adapted from “How to Gain Credibility When You Have Little Experience,” by Andy Molinksy and Jake Newfield.)

Keep communications brief and clear

We sometimes try to be efficient by using as few words as possible to communicate a message. But a one- or two-line email can waste everyone’s time if colleagues have to decipher the meaning or write back to clarify next steps. Don’t assume that others understand your shorthand. Take the time to communicate in a way that’s ultra-clear, no matter what medium you’re using (or how much of a hurry you’re in). But don’t go too far in the other direction, bombarding your team with messages in an effort to avoid any ambiguity. If you’re clear in your original message, you shouldn’t have to follow up. And definitely avoid abusing multiple channels. No one likes a colleague who texts or calls to ask if you’ve read their message.

(Adapted from “How to Collaborate Effectively If Your Team Is Remote,” by Erica Dhawan and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.)

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, April 16th, 2018