When starting a new job, lay the groundwork for your success
If you want to excel in a new job, you can’t rely on the orientations and meetings that HR sets up for you. Take control of your on-boarding by cultivating connections up, down and across the organisation. Figure out who the influencers are in relation to your role, and get to know them face to face. And don’t make the common mistake of assuming you know what your top goals should be and how best to communicate with your new manager. Ask your boss questions to better understand how you will be evaluated and to identify potential early wins: “How do you prefer to give and receive feedback and be kept informed?” and “What should I accomplish in the next six months?” Keep in mind that the goal isn’t to become a hero by tackling the biggest problem right away. Instead, go after something that can be achieved quickly and that delivers operational or financial results.
(Adapted from “Starting a New Job? Take Control of Your Onboarding,” by Susan Peppercorn.)
Fair managers explain how they make decisions
Most managers dedicate significant amounts of time and energy to ensuring they’re being fair. But it’s inevitable that some outcomes will be perceived as fair by some and unfair by others. Don’t assume your decisions will speak for themselves: Be transparent about how and why you made the call. For example, if you want an equitable promotions process, with certain competencies or styles counting more than others, make your intentions known to the team. If you want an equal sharing of bonuses, to reinforce the importance of every employee, be up-front about it. Remember, as the manager, you have the discretion to make those calls. And if someone accuses you of being unfair, don’t beat yourself up. As long as you have thought carefully about what the business needs, and made your decision as objectively as possible, you have done your job. You’ll always have an opportunity to restore balance with the next decision.
(Adapted from “How to Earn a Reputation as a Fair Manager,” by Liane Davey.)
Talk to your kids about why you work so much
Working parents sometimes worry that they’re letting down their kids by spending too much time at the office. Once your children are old enough to understand, address this concern head-on by having open, honest conversations. Talk frankly with them about the pressures you feel and what you truly want. Don’t blame your company for the times when you can’t be flexible or you’re stressed at home; the last thing you want is to teach your children to despise the idea of work. Instead, model by example. Help your children understand that the time you spend away from them is one way you contribute to the family. Talk about your passion for your work and the skills you’ve developed to excel professionally. And if you’re going through an especially busy time, explain to your children that you want to put them first and that when you can’t, it’s hard on you, too. Feeling sad together creates connection, which will help them learn that your occasional absence is not a reflection of your love for them.
(Adapted from “4 Conversations Every Overwhelmed Working Parent Should Have,” by Joseph Grenny and Brittney Maxfield.)
Bored at work? Try mixing things up
“Am I at the right company? Am I in the right job? Is this all there is?” We all ask these types of questions from time to time. They’re a symptom of career malaise, and one major cause is boredom — especially for midcareer professionals who have been doing the same job for years. To conquer these doldrums, you don’t necessarily need to switch jobs. Try making small changes to your current role: Seek out an exciting and immersive project, or join an internal committee or team that will stretch you in new ways. You could also shake up your routine by asking for a different schedule or a move to another office. Even small changes can have a big effect on your outlook. It’s also important to seek meaning in what you do. Make an effort to meet the people who directly benefit from your work, whether they’re customers, clients or colleagues. Seeing the impact of your job is a great motivator.
(Adapted from “How to Beat Midcareer Malaise,” by Rebecca Knight.)
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, October 29th, 2018