Resources for Career Exploration

 

So much is talked about on the importance of having a career exploration strategy, which is defined as “the collection and analysis of information regarding oneself and the environment that foster the career management process” (Greenhaus, Callanan & Godshalk, 2010, pg. 49. Doing necessary research as to the field you want to move into, as well as the type of work environment and overall culture you thrive in.

Here are some sites to add to your resource list that can help you do some of the research needed – hope they are useful:

  • job-hunt.org
  • jobhuntersbible.com
  • iseek.org
  • careerinfonet.org
  • bls.gov/oco/cg
  • onetceenter.org
  • salary.com
  • jobstar.org/tools/salary
  • careeronestop.org
  • goingglobal.com

Regarding the environment, you can go on the company’s website to determine the mission, values and cultural feel to see how htye align with yours; Poor’s and Hoovers are other sites, along with using the biggest references available – GOOGLE. These are just a few that can give you needed information on career paths, and all they entail, in order to make a better informed decision about your future work-life.
 
 

Leaders Set the Tone for the Culture – What's Yours?

Have you ever walked into an establishment, no matter what type, and you instantly felt welcomed and comfortable? Likewise, have you ever walked into an establishment but felt turned off or that there was negative energy going on and couldn’t wait to get out of there fast enough? I have on both counts.
When I look at the environments that are created, or the culture of a business, it leads me back to the person in charge – the leader and how they set the tone for how that business is run as well as the tone they want to convey to not just their workers, but to customers as well. The feeling of the overall organization will trickle down to the departmental level, which then keeps trickling to the end-user. This then lends itself to the brand and how perceived by those entities.
A leader, through their ‘style’ and way they view their role, can be open, welcoming, and believe in their worker’s abilities to do to their job, thus empowering them; or, they can have a style that is punitive and looks at employees as ‘workers,’ who much achieve their numbers and goals, not really caring how or when. It all depends on how one’s perception of what a leader is and traits they possess and want to emulate. Yes, one who assumes a leader role actually gets to decide the type of leader they want to be.
Surprised? I don’t think most people who assume a leader role realize they get to decide what leadership style they want to use to get workers embracing the vision and mission set by the organization. There are many styles to choose from (most based off of research): skills approach, style approach, situational approach, contingency theory, path-goal theory, leader-member exchange, transactional, transformational, authentic, and the newest – servant leader style. Each of these view lead from a different frame which sets the tone for how systems and process are set up and how workers are embraced.
For example, situational leaders will vary their approaches based on the situation at hand, as different approaches are needed in differing situations. An authentic leader is based on a leader being real and genuine, working off of high values. A transformational leader works to know their people and focus on their emotions, values, ethics, motivations, and long-term goals and moving them to using those fully.
It is reliant on anyone in a leadership role, or who wants to move into one, to determine the type of leader they want to be: what are the specific traits you possess and want to convey; the values you want to pass on; how you want to be known for/as by followers; what type of overall tone you want to convey for your workers, i.e. open, relaxed, fun, inclusive, bureaucratic, and the like. Being a leader also applies whether you own your own business, as well as for yourself personally, as we are all leaders in some way, mainly the leaders of our lives.
If you are in a leader role, or desire to, I encourage you to evaluate your leader style and the tone you are setting in your environment. A nice caveat is that you can always amend any behaviors and skills needed to step into those leader shoes you desire and be the leader you envisioned.

Do Leaders Really Know How Much Their Employees are Actually Working?

In a post for one of my online classes I teach, the subject of multitasking came up to which I responded to a comment about the ‘myth’ of multitasking and what happens to our brains when we do too much forced and sustained work. It gets depleted, leading to the perils of errors and low performance.
I was quite surprised when another student commented that, while he recognized this himself, he did not believe his company understood as workers are expected to multitask – doing several projects at once, moving from one area to another, while working an 8 hour-shift. He indicated that this was a norm in his industry (IT) and that they have adapted to these intense shifts.
This got me thinking about his leadership and if they really know how much their employees are actually working and spending time in their work tasks. I think of his upline and their awareness, as well as conveyance, that employees need to do multiple tasks at the same time if they want to keep their job. This speaks of the old way, back in the day, when we were caught in the recession and employers having a plethora of applicants to choose from, so the motto became “do or perish.”  But, now?
I also wonder if the up-line talks to employees or observes what is going on and how work is being done. Is this a product of a customer who has high demands, or is this due to the perception that work needs to be done faster in order to get and retain customers by satisfying them with quick turn-around? Could it be that workers put pressure on themselves to show their worth so they get noticed, or even still worry if they will have their jobs? Or is this an ego-fed result from the boss who wants a promotion or is driven by his own interpretation of directions he or she has been given?
As a leader, it is your job to be aware of the daily work-life of those you oversee and ensure they have appropriate systems and resources to do the work, to understand with clarity the work goals needing to be accomplished, and to give them support while they are working to get them completed. These are very easy responsibilities to handle. It means being the silent observer, the listening ear, and the motivator to your people. Having conversations with them is the way to get to know them, their needs, and help them to be more inclusive into daily work life.
It’s being aware of the effects the workplace has on workers, both positively or negatively, as well as the long-term impacts that too much sustained work can have on both the mind and the body. And it’s about doing as much as you can to make it one that employees are happy to go to their jobs and do work involved – it starts by being aware to how, and how much, your workers are doing daily.

How Comparing Yourself to Others is Detrimental to Your Health

One of the biggest roadblocks most of us experience, and which causes us to feel anxious or depressed – or even angry, is comparing ourselves to others. ‘I’ll never be as good as they are’ ‘They’re so much prettier than I am’ ‘The boss likes him better than me.’ Having thoughts such as this can hold you back from achieving your goals and stepping into your greatness.
I remember a story I heard a while back of a woman who was feeling very sad, unable to sometimes get out of bed to go to work; it seems the woman did not feel she was valued at work, reporting that other coworkers seemed to get all the accolades. She constantly worried about losing her job. Ultimately, she did after her performance lagged in her constant comparison and worry. She actually took herself out of the game, so to speak, by not believing in enough in herself and her value to show them to her organization.
Frankly, I see this over and over again – a business owner who is suffering as they tried an approach someone else did but was a ‘fit’ for their type of business; a job candidate who never goes after a promotion as they don’t feel ‘good’ enough; the manager who is overbearing to his workers, who he feels inadequate from some of his employees.
Feeling less than comes from comparing ourselves to others, which we learn early in life. It can start with a parent ‘encouraging their child to get all A’s in school as their sibling was able to, or we get scolded for something but then see our parents do the same thing. The typical brain response is to attribute an event to ourselves when we can’t make sense out of what we are being told, since our young brains are just learning how to process and sort information. Right and wrong are also just developing. Over time, we tend to believe these thoughts which seem to embed deep in our psyche.
We then feel inadequate, not good enough, and worry about any type of criticism. The results can include a host of emotional problems that may not be so transparent to others but leaves us dying inside. That little voice inside is always there for some, while for others it rears its ugly head during times of high stress or when confronted with situations that make us uncomfortable, such as when going for that promotion or even in our daily work-life. Cognitive dissonance comes into play as we search out for ‘evidence’ of those thoughts, so the coworker who walks past now becomes the person who doesn’t like us.
So how do you overturn these detrimental thoughts and stop the comparisons? I’m going to say that it won’t be so easy as these types of thoughts are deep in your brain and are now a habit. It’s the unlearning that will take time but there is hope – all is not lost:

  • Begin by assessing your situations for when you find yourself in a comparison mode; pay attention to your feelings as those will appear before thoughts  in our awareness. By paying attention to what areas you feel inadequate or not good enough, or your self-esteem drops, this will allow you to go back and reframe both mindset and actions and will feel more capable when you are faced with these emotionally trying times
  • Work to resolve past hurts, as it was hurtful when you were compared to someone else, even when done in a positive manner. Parents, other family members, and even teachers – those early influencers – want to motivate and have the best intentions but may not realize the impact of their words. Take ownership for how you feel, forgive, and let go. You will feel free and so much better
  • Validate yourself – you have a lot of good within, i.e. skills, interests, abilities, passions, etc. Brain research shows that for every negative thought we have, we need three positive thoughts to override it so take a cue and write down at least three positives attributes about yourself; these can include: your physical appearance; hobbies or aptitudes you have; passions you pursue; compliments others give you; actions you took to enhance someone else’s day or provide help; or when you were able to figure out or fix something on your own (a process at work, changing the oil in your car, etc.), or when you stepped outside your comfort zone and took action.

The key to unlearning and changing behaviors lies with being committed to the change and then being consistent in your new actions so that new habits will begin and then become the new habits embedded in the brain. Make a vow that this is one habit you will stop right now (the ‘next’ 30 day challenge?).
 

If You're Unhappy in Your Job, Please Keep it to Yourself!

One of the biggest irritations I find is when I go in to a place of business and hear workers complaining about it – the company, their boss, systems, etc. It happened just today: I went in to buy lunch at a fast food restaurant, which had two workers – one cooking, one waiting on customers. There was one customer waiting for her order; while I was getting checked out, the phone rang. The worker told the cook, who was going to answer, to let it ring, stating “That’s what they get for leaving me with one worker.”
Now, first off, I did not need to hear of her unhappiness with the schedule; I was thinking, however, that it wasn’t like they were busy or slammed with customers. I also thought how sad that she could not handle her job or appreciate her work – after all, she did apply for it. Another thought was that she did not thank me for coming in or buying their product – she was too busy complaining and being in her own ‘stuff.’
Jobs are not going to meet everyone’s needs and not all the time. However, others don’t need to hear the complaints or know that information. All it does is breed negative energy, which can spread like a virus. Others will either avoid you due to the negativity or join you, creating a very unhappy workplace that only they want to be in. It also puts customers off, who could make a complaint against you, or a coworker could as well. The result? Not good.
So, to those workers who are dissatisfied with their job, please keep those comments to yourself. Take some action on changing your outlook and perspective (only you control them) by focusing on an aspect you do like, whether that is ‘making the donuts’ or helping customers. Think of how your actions affect others. Bring your concerns to the one person who can do anything about them – your boss. If those don’t work – look for another job!