Out Of Work? Get Involved


When I’m running employment workshops, they can last as long as three weeks depending on the particular class. Even then, there’s a week which follows that involves following up 1:1 with each participant, so let’s call them three weeks and a day. One of the great benefits I hear from those participating is that for three weeks, they felt connected to something, and for most, a connection to other adults.

When you think about employment, work does more than just give you a salary in exchange for your labour. Working with others gives you an identity, daily connections with your co-workers, and depending on the organizations culture, it can feel very much like a second family. It’s ironic actually that while most of us never set out to get a job primarily so we can interact with others, it is precisely the loss of this interaction many miss most when they leave a job or retire.

If you’ve got some recently retired friends in your circle, you’ll probably hear them say more than once how they might not miss the job, but they miss the people they worked with. Some who retire miss the contact so much that they take up part-time jobs, why some even go looking for full-time jobs for another year or two. They just weren’t as ready as they thought they were for the severing of these connections.

Now if you’re out of work entirely at the moment and your prospects are not as many as you’d like them to be, you can still find ways to connect to others, and you might need them more than you realize. If you feel isolated and shunning the company of others more than you used to, it could be an indication of some anxiety that’s taken root and starting to grow. Isolating yourself might sound like the logical thing to do – especially if you feel more comfortable at home alone most of the time. However, isolating yourself intentionally can feed that anxiety of being around others, and if left unchecked, it can manifest itself as depression – and I suspect you don’t want to feed your depression.

Now it’s true that it might take some energy to get outside and connect with others again, but it’s worth it. Beyond working, there are a wide number of groups in your community where like-minded people gather to take part and enjoy whatever it is you find stimulating. For you, maybe it’s a woodworking class, a photography night school course, volunteering with the local food bank to help those less fortunate or even meeting up at a mall to join some indoor walking group.

It’s not so much what you do to get connected, but rather that you do something you find enjoyable that gets you connected. The great thing about connecting with others who share a similar interest in something you find enjoyable is that you have something in common to begin the conversations. And no doubt many of you would be wondering otherwise, “What would I talk about? What would I say? Oh it just sounds like a lot of mental effort to talk with people I don’t know.” Of course the longer you’ve been removed from having such conversations, the harder it may seem to start them. And voluntarily putting yourself in the position of talking with other adults may just seem like a lot of work you’d rather not do.

Your reasons for getting involved don’t have to be solely to engage with others. If that alone was your motivation, it wouldn’t matter what you got involved with. No, you could initially decide to get into some activity solely for the benefit of doing something you’d enjoy, and let the dialogue and conversations with others just happen naturally. So yes, maybe you join Friday night mixed curling because the sport is something you enjoy. Not into curling? No problem, maybe you donate your time reading and recording stories with a literacy group for the benefit of those wanting to improve their language skills,

Volunteering by the way is a great way to feel good about yourself and at the same time this investment is something you can and should tag on to your employment resume. It is experience after all, explains what you’re doing while out of work, gives back to your local community, and improves the lives of those who benefit from your works of charity. Selfishly, it also gives you purpose, gives you somewhere to be, you’re counted on again by others to show up just like a job.

Look there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin and enjoying your time alone. This is healthy actually. However, interacting with other people is also healthy and natural. You don’t have to end up with a best friend, not everyone you meet has to hear your whole life story, and you don’t have to hang around after your class, volunteer shift, game etc. is over. What you do afterwards is your call. However, you might find yourself actually enjoying being involved to the point where you didn’t realize you missed it as much as you do.

Now the benefit to your search for employment – if you are in fact still looking for work – is that not only do you have an activity to fill a gap of time, you might even make some connections that lead to a paying job!

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Career Planning Isn’t Mandatory


So here’s something that might surprise you; long-term career planning and mapping is NOT a mandatory requirement for career happiness and success. Well, that statement certainly flies in the face of the advice some very well-meaning professionals will give. And quite frankly, even the ones that acknowledge it isn’t absolutely mandatory will be wrong if they believe that only a small percentage of people reach career happiness without long-term planning.

Here’s why I believe the majority of people need not stress about the lack of some grand long-term plan.

First of all, when you’re in your teens and making choices about what courses to take in high school in order to eventually end up in college, university or a trade, you’re only basing these choices on the very limited exposure you’ve had in life to the world around you. You’re in your early teens and the people you’ve interacted with, the jobs you’ve acquired knowledge of are extremely confined to the ones you’re going to learn of in the next decade of your life. In other words, excepting some of course, it’s highly likely that with all the jobs that exist in the world – and will emerge in your future that don’t even exist in your teen years – the odds that what you want to do at 15 and 16 years of age will be what you’ll want to do until you’re 65 is very low.

In fact many high school graduates will take a year off before deciding what to do or what school to attend, simply to give themselves a year to make a better choice career-wise. Some will even do what they call a victory lap; another year of high school classes after graduating.

Further evidence are the people in first year university classes who take 5 very different subjects, just praying and hoping the light bulb goes on in that first year, and something grabs their interest. Maybe the first year classes include World Religions, Introduction to Philosophy, British Literature, Introduction to Sociology, and Introduction to Psychology. Oh by the way, these 5 were my own in year one. As it turns out, Sociology caught fire and so I loaded up with future courses to eventually graduate with a degree in Sociology.

In transitioning from a teen into a young adult, it is normal to expand your knowledge of various jobs and careers. As you start interacting independently with the world, responsible more often for things yourself, it only stands to reason that every so often some job catches your interest. Learning about the world around you and the people who live in it, many find themselves attracted to what others do. It follows naturally then that every so often you pause and think, “I could do that!”

Now of course we don’t act on every whim we get, but if we’re unsatisfied, curious, searching for something better or different, open to possibilities etc., we live consciously observing and then assessing pros and cons of various occupations. Sometimes we’ll also have conversations with folks in these jobs, asking them what they do, what skills and education it takes, how long they took to get started, the highs and lows, the good and the bad aspects of the work. Then we look and assess ourselves, what we both have and need if we wanted to head down some career path branching out from the path we’re on now.

This is normal by the way. To stay completely rigid, never varying from the path we imagined and set out on at 15 years old in this light seems the more peculiar. And yet, when we do decide to change our direction, for many it seems so hard to tell our parents, family and friends that we’ve had a change in what we want to do. Yes, we fear they’ll somehow think less of us; they’ll worry and think we’re indecisive and making an ill-informed choice. However, these family and friends haven’t been privy to the thoughts we’ve had – the deep, inner thoughts and feelings we’ve been experiencing for some time. It’s precisely these thoughts and feelings by the way that have acted as our guidance system. The more they cause us unease, the more we believe there has to be something else.

Even into our late 20’s and all the way into our 30’s and 40’s, it’s not uncommon for us to re-examine what it is we want to do with the rest of our lives. And why stop there? People in their 50’s and 60’s often take stock of where they are and what they want in their remaining working days often causing a job change.

When people near the end of their working life, it’s the norm – not the exception – that they’ll have amassed a varied career with several jobs and some career changes. Rather than meaning they fluttered from job to job aimlessly, it means they were wise enough to seize opportunities for change as they came along in life; and in the end they’ve had a diversified career. They may have in fact been very happy overall, where staying in one line of work may have caused them to feel trapped and less stimulated.

Now of course, one can be happy with one long-term career or several careers over a lifetime; even people with many jobs but no single career. Yes, you can win in the world of work any number of ways.

 

Generally Speaking, Here’s THE Problem


It’s not failing to market yourself in a job interview, writing a poor cover letter that fails to grab their attention, fear of initiating a meeting with someone in the role you want or even agonizing over your career path that is the biggest problem for most people. Interestingly however, all these are tied to the fundamental one thing which holds back being successful. That one thing? Positive self-esteem.

Again and again I interact with people who question themselves, who see their abilities and skills as needing improvement. They often show their lack of self-esteem in the words they speak and write, often without even knowing that their choice of words reveals more about them then they realize. Their non-verbal communication also gives away their lack of belief in their abilities. Yes, “Believe In Yourself” is one of the best pieces of advice a person can be given. However, it’s one thing to know you should believe in yourself and quite another to actually do it.

Take the person who, upon sitting down in an interview, starts off by saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m really nervous, I’m going to try my best but…” Or the cover letter that says, “I believe I can do the job”, and not, “I know I can do the job”. Then the body language people use, often folding into themselves in trying to become invisible, or the doubt they reflect on their face as they speak, the weak handshakes, the lack of eye contact etc.

Poor or low self-esteem is robbing employer’s of great employees, and robbing people of wonderful opportunities in the workforce. It keeps people in entry-level jobs when they do get them, and can keep people from taking chances because their fear of failure outweighs their desire for success. It’s sad. It’s more than just sad actually and it’s got to change.

Now if you feel your self-esteem is low, it’s likely you’re not to blame. If you seldom got praised or supported as a child growing up – be it from parents, extended family and teachers etc., it naturally follows that these key authority figures in your early life did you a major disservice which now as an adult has you instinctively doubtful of yourself. Now as an adult, you might not believe others when they say you’re beautiful; being overly critical of minor flaws. You might not have the courage to stand up and tell your parents – even as an adult – that what you really want to do in life is ….

Here’s the good news. Just as years and years of never being complimented, encouraged and supported can do a great deal of damage to your self-esteem, the same can be said of the reverse. In other words, you can in fact improve your self-esteem. This is not something however that’s going to correct itself overnight. Just telling yourself that you’re going to believe in yourself isn’t going to undo decades of damage. Damage by the way might seem like a strong word to use, but honestly, if you’ve been put down or never even had words of encouragement from your parents and significant people in your life, they have in fact damaged you whether it was intentional or not.

Building your self-esteem and self-respect back up is something you can do however. When someone gives you a compliment, do yourself a favour and accept their assessment instead of automatically downplaying or disagreeing with their words. What someone has recognized in you as good and worthy of noting is a good thing. The choice is yours to say a simple thank you or deflect those words with your automatic, “What? This old thing?” or “I don’t see myself that way.”

The person you are now is a product of your past, and it’s equally true that the person you become in the future will be a product of both your present and your future. Yes, it takes time, but time alone won’t change things much. You really need a combination of time, surrounding yourself with positive people who recognize and voice the good in you, and a willingness on your part to be open to seeing yourself differently; a change in your attitude.

You deserve a positive future. You are worthy of the good things in life; the very things you want such as a good job, supportive and positive relationships, feeling good about who you are as a person and seeing yourself as a person of worth.

One thing you can consider is removing yourself from the constant influence of negative people; the one’s who tell you that you’ll never amount to much; that you should just settle in life and you’ll always be flawed. You’re so much better than how they see you! When these people happen to be in your family, you might consider telling them how hurtful their words are, and that they’ve got to get behind you or get out of your way. The person you’ve been is not the person you’re going to be.

Build on small successes. Sure it starts with being open to the, “Believe in Yourself” philosophy. When others say good things about you, accept that they see something in you that you yourself may not; and they just might be right, especially if you’ve heard this from others.

Self-esteem can be rebuilt and when it does, it’s a beautifully powerful thing.

Looking For Work In Your 50’s And 60’s


Aging is of course a natural process we all go through. Whether we live a brief or long time on this planet, we start aging right from the moment we’re conceived. When we’re very young, we don’t think all that much about aging, but we do record the passage of time by the grade we’re in at school, the birthdays we celebrate with our family and friends, being old enough to date.

Into our teens we may actually look forward to getting older so we can drive a car, finish high school, perhaps come of legal drinking age. Soon we’re marking time by our College / University graduation dates, entering the world of employment full-time, maybe starting a family, setting up our first home away from mom and dad.

Now time is measured by the quality of our lives. We assess how we’re doing with our careers and our relationships. We contemplate how to make it better, and for the first time many actually start thinking of Registered Retirement Savings Plans, getting our wills together. We’re no longer whispering about doing things while we’re young enough, because we’re hearing it everywhere we go. If we feel the grass is greener, we change employers, maybe even return to school or take some courses to put ourselves in stead to take on new challenges in completely different lines of work.

We eventually settle in somewhat, start evaluating where we’ve been and what might lie ahead. We still might not know exactly how our lives will play out, but there’s more time behind us than in front of us for the first time. Maybe that sobering thought spurs us on or puts us in cruise control; it depends .

Suddenly advancing age is becoming an issue. Jobs have come and gone over our lives; we’ve had six or seven perhaps significant in nature. If we’re fortunate, we ride off into retirement with some pats on the back and kind words from our co-workers, and the next chapter of our lives begins. Or on the other hand, we find ourselves unemployed, still wanting to be productive and work – both for the necessary income and to be productive. Suddenly our age is a problem.

Now yesterday, in a class of unemployed job seekers, I asked those in attendance to tell me about themselves; answering as they would in an interview setting. One gentleman in his 60’s, as part of his answer said that he was in good shape for his age.

Let’s look at that for a moment. If we go with the interview scenario, his résumé must have been good enough to be considered for employment or he wouldn’t have reached the interview in the first place. The interview is an opportunity to meet, market yourself in person and confirm all the information you’ve provided. By saying he is in good shape for his age, he unnecessarily draws attention to his age. Yes the interviewer isn’t blind and can readily see he’s a mature person, but when it can be a barrier to employment, the less said the better. Best to leave it at, “I’m in excellent shape and up to the demands of the job.”

A subtle but significant change in the answer can either detract or add to your potential value to the employer considering bringing you on board.

Older applicants bring a wealth of experience – both in the world of work and generally in life itself. Life experience should never be underestimated and has real benefit in the workforce. An older person generally has maturity; enough wisdom to know how to react and deal with situations as they arise because they’ve dealt with similar situations before. What a 30ish or 40ish person might find overwhelming and cause drama in the workplace over, a 50ish or even 60ish person has both seen and done. They have the coping skills and adaptive skills to ride through change and come out on top.

Yes older workers tend to have increasing health-related issues that younger workers haven’t experienced yet, but it would be a mistake to intentionally weed out all older applicants based on age alone. A lot of extremely good people who would add productivity to an organization would be missed.

If you are an older person yourself, what is you’ve done – or do now – that you’ve found works to offset or counter this age discrimination or bias? Did you change your approach in some way as you went about looking for work that got better results?

One small piece of advice I’d like to give you is to make sure your voice has energy. I can’t tell you how often I’ve helped people in their 50’s and 60’s who lack not just volume as they speak, but genuine energy or passion. You’re interviewing for a job after all and not sitting back on a front porch having a casual conversation. This interview will need some attention to posture, presentation and the energy you put out has to convey that you’ve still got a lot in the tank left to give.

Now, I’d like to turn things over to you in your 50’s and 60’s who know this phase of life best. You’re the experts out there. What’s been your experience in terms of what’s worked for you – whether it’s to get a job or keep the one you’ve got now?

Thinking Of A Return To School?


So the job search has become a long, frustrating experience of being rejected over and over. You’re over-qualified for some jobs, told you’re not who they are looking for others, and then there’s the ones where they say you were great but they decided to go with someone else. In the end, it’s all the same – no job. So now you’re so frustrated with the entire job search process, you’re thinking of going back to school instead.

A return to school would give you current academic credentials; a big upgrade on your mid-1980’s degree or diploma. Surely some current education and your life experience would be a winning combination! Well the short answer is yes. However, it’s important to consider a number of factors when you’re weighing the option of upgrading your education.

First of all, are you going back to upgrade your education in the field you’ve worked in all along or are you venturing into another field altogether? If it’s something new to you, think now – before you pay any tuition, if and how what you’ve done in the past can in any way be leveraged to help strengthen your job interviews after you graduate. So if you graduate with a Police Foundations Degree, how will your 15 years of Engineering work help? Will you be able to draw on transferable skills or will you have a different kind of answer when they ask why you’re taking this U-turn after looking at your work history?

There’s nothing wrong with changing direction in your life. It is a wise and courageous person indeed who isn’t afraid to stop pursuing work they can no longer do or be hired to do, and venture out in some new occupation. It can be invigorating and liberating to learn a new profession and it can fuel you with energy and enthusiasm if you’ve felt stuck in a rut. Pity the poor person who has come to no longer find joy in their line of work but who pursues it because it’s all they know and they feel they can’t risk going back to school and taking on more debt.

Ah yes debt. That’s one way to look at things of course; going back to school and graduating with a degree, diploma or certificate that costs you tens of thousands of dollars. You might be reasoning that while your out of a job now, at least you don’t have the added burden of all that debt on top.

There’s another way of looking at the money part however, and I always encourage people to see any costs associated with returning to school as an investment. An investment in what though? The answer is yourself. And what can you invest in that is of greater importance and benefit than yourself? Whatever you learn in school, you’ll take with you for the rest of your life. Oh sure you won’t recall some specifics, but you’ll emerge changed and better educated. School changes how you view things, and if you’re like many, you’ll use what you learn in school daily. It’s not so much that you apply a formula to a problem, remember some passage in a book or quote some theory. It’s more about how you think with a broader perspective and interact with the world in a different way when you graduate.

Now if you’re going back to learn a trade, I applaud you. People who have experience and recent education in the trades are not only in short supply, you’ll pick up skills you can use not only in your professional life, but your personal one as well perhaps. When you don’t have to call an electrician or auto mechanic for minor repairs, you’ll save money and feel empowered too.

School isn’t for everyone granted. What is? This doesn’t mean however that because you heard from a friend that it didn’t work for them that it won’t work for you. It can be a welcomed change to a frustrating job search to be connected with other people in a classroom who are interested in what is being taught just like you. You’re also likely to find that it isn’t as bad as you first imagined either. You wake up and you’ve got somewhere to be, at a certain time, and it’s motivating you to get into a good routine. You’re likely to apply your earlier work and life experience in the classroom too, and your marks might just be higher than you ever thought possible.

When you do finish school, you’ll emerge with something new and something current to stick on that résumé of yours. You’ll feel confidence like you haven’t in some time too because your education was rather dated prior to school. Now if you did your homework before you even started by asking some questions, you picked a course of education that has an upswing in employment. There are jobs out there and you’ll feel optimistic about your chances.

Oh and should you be deciding to upgrade your current education in your field, how can that do anything but help you? Now you’ve got extensive experience and learning of best practices, latest trends and you’ve got credentials once more.  Remember, education is never a bad thing, and the investment you choose to make in yourself will stay with you, unlike a purchase you make in a car that loses its value the second you drive off the lot.

Teamwork As A Valued Trait


Looking at job postings these days, teamwork is one qualification that shows up fairly consistently; the ability to work cooperatively and productively with others. It’s a highly valued commodity; an essential quality that employer’s want more and more in the people they bring in from the outside to join their existing workforces.

It’s more though than simply getting along with others. When you work as a member of a team, you’ve got to understand and act differently than you would if you were working independently. A member of a team comes to rely on others and at the same time be relied upon by them to complete assigned work. Good teams trust each person to show up when scheduled, pull their own weight and go about their work in such a way that fits the other employees. When you’re the new hire, you’re being assessed by the employer and your new co-workers to see how you’ll fit in with the existing workforce; everyone is hoping you’ll contribute in such a way that doesn’t disrupt the way things are. This is true unless of course you’re part of an overhaul of how things have been done and the company wants to shift the culture from the way things have been to something different.

Long ago, many job applicants had similar skills and backgrounds. When an employer advertised an opening, they found that the people applying shared common work histories; people didn’t tend to move around much, and people were interchangeable without much need for teams to adapt to new people. These days, things have changed. Because it’s easier to move around the globe, often employees are showing up not just from different parts of the community, they’re coming from different countries altogether; sometimes from different continents, speaking different languages and having different ways of doing similar work. People aren’t as interchangeable as they once were, and now need much more orientation to local methods, specific procedures and company practices.

You find too that friction is inevitable for some when bringing in new people. Whereas in the past the new hire had to assimilate themselves into the culture of the teams they joined, now you find that many existing workers have to gain an awareness and sensitivity to the needs of the person hired as well. This is a good thing, but it requires effort on the part of the existing team in a way that long ago wasn’t such a priority. Employers too have learned to be culturally sensitive to the needs of their individual workforce members. They go out of their way now to train people on how to work better together – and by better, they ultimately mean be more productive.

Many workers are now cross-trained; they learn not just how to do the job they were initially hired for, but they also learn how to do the job of others. When a person is cross-trained, they become more adaptable, can work in two or three different roles if need be, they become more valuable to the employer. For the person, they are increasing their own skills and doing everything they can to stay hired.

Communication skills are essential when working together. It’s more than just being able to talk and write clearly though. It’s all the non-verbal interaction that’s going on too. Even when working side-by-side with someone, it’s anticipating what they’ll do next, knowing when they’ll need to interact with you and knowing when you’ll be interacting with the next person on your team. Doing your work and being counted on by your teammates to be reliable and dependable goes a long way to fitting in.

The thing about a team environment is that each member should understand and buy in to the same end goals. These can be quotas and targets to hit on a daily basis for example, or they can be how a product is delivered to the customers or end-users. Many teams take a lot of pride in what they do, and if someone – a new hire in this case, threatens that mood or feeling, it will need to be addressed.

Sometimes an organization will actually hire more employees than they plan on keeping. What they are doing in fact is having an internal competition to see who among the new employees will fit with the existing chemistry the best. Or said another way, they are determining who is the most disruptive, performing more independently than gelling with others, and who then to let go.

In a job interview, it’s not enough to say you’re a team player. Too many other people are making the same claims. What is absolutely critical is to give clear examples from your past or current work experiences where you’ve thrived working cooperatively with others and been highly productive. When you show or prove you’ve worked effectively as a valued team member, you make it easier for the interviewers to envision you performing similarly for them. This is where many applicants fail miserably; they make statements with nothing to back up their claims.

Teamwork is about recognizing the strengths of each person and putting everyone in a position to contribute towards the common end goal. If you don’t know what your teams purpose is, this is something you should immediately ask. And while you don’t need to be best friends with your team, show some interest in them.

Unappreciated At Work?


Thinking about your workplace values, how important is it that you feel recognized and appreciated in your workplace? Where would you put yourself on a scale that ranges from Extremely Important to Totally Unimportant? Being aware of your personal values in general – and how you feel about being appreciated and recognized in this case – is essential to your overall happiness in the workplace.

It’s been my experience in listening to others that there’s a curious irony about how people perceive being recognized and appreciated. When looking for a job, many will say they don’t put much value in being recognized. The same people however will say feeling underappreciated and not getting recognized for the effort they put into their jobs was one of the prime reasons they left their last job.

As much as I try to stay clear of making sweeping statements, I do think it’s a fair assumption to say that most of us would like our contributions to an organization appreciated. After all, if we are going to spend 7 hours a day, 5 days a week working, it only seems reasonable that all our time and effort should be appreciated by an employer. Wouldn’t you agree?

The real question then isn’t so much whether we’d like to feel appreciated or not, but rather HOW would we like the employer to show that recognition and appreciation. When was the last time though that you were asked how you’d like to be recognized?

The organization I work with if I may, has several ways of extending its appreciation for various kinds of service. When you’ve worked 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years, you’re invited to a ‘Years of Service’ Awards presentation. Along with other colleagues reaching these milestones, you’re presented with a certificate from our Department Director. Based on the years you’ve achieved, you get to order a gift of a determined value that rises to reflect your years of service. My last award was at 15 years and being a practical kind of guy, I chose a scale which I use each morning to weigh myself.

My employer also recognizes achievements in attendance. This recognition also comes in the way of a certificate, and the same Director makes a point of coming around in person to our various offices and hand-delivering each one with a few words of thanks. As we are all different, you might not think much of such an award, but to me this is one of great meaning. You see I live 96 kilometres from work, and a lot could happen over that distance to keep me away. The fact that I strive really hard to be consistently at work from this distance and have good attendance to show for it is nice to have recognized. Should I ever want to find a new job and distance be an issue, I’d proudly haul out all my attendance awards to prove I’m reliable and can be counted on to show up each day.

The thing about receiving a certificate from your employer which formally recognizes your work is that it doesn’t cost a great deal but the return can be sizeable. I wish more employer’s would follow this example.

Now, while formal recognition events are nice, they generally happen once a year or in the case of my service awards, once every five. What about more frequent recognition however? Sometimes it’s the pat on the back, the genuine, “thank you, I see what you do everyday and I really appreciate your hard work”. These are the little things that can make us feel good and carry us through a day or a rough patch. We might even get home and tell our spouse about it.

The best kind of recognition however – in my opinion – comes from the end users. Having someone you’ve assisted or provided a product or service to go out of their way to say how much they appreciate your help is gold. Sure, we’re all different and I recognize that we place different values on everything, but I for one feel really good when all the hard work and effort I put in to helping others results in a small card of thanks or a few sincere words of appreciation.

It works the other way round by the way. I mean, if you make a point of recognizing someone you work with for whatever they do, I would hope they’d appreciate both your observation skills and your kind words. It might even make their day. And what does it cost you in the end? Last month I was at the end of a two-week workshop and handing out some certificates to each participant. I was surprised when one of the participants walked up with a certificate he’d made for me recognizing my investment in him and the others. What meaning that holds for me!

So how do you feel about having your contributions recognized? How does your employer go about formally and informally showing its appreciation for your contributions?

It’s not an egotistical thing to want to have your contributions noted and be thanked. Being recognized keeps us aware that our investment is worthwhile, that there is real meaning in the work we do. Without having our contributions noted, we might sooner or later wonder, “Am I making any difference at all?”

You’re worth it.