Teamwork: Co-Worker Care


It’s at the core of what teamwork is all about; first and foremost. Caring for others on your team with whom you work from the time you greet each other until you part for home.

Teamwork is so essential to working productively and successfully that it’s almost a given in every job posting you’ll read these days. Oddly enough however, when it comes to providing an interviewer with concrete, specific examples of teamwork, many people I speak with struggle. Many tell me that they don’t really have experiences working on major projects, taking the lead on initiatives where they delegated responsibilities etc. While those are examples of working on teams, they are but two ways to demonstrate teamwork. However, there are other, and I will argue much more significant ways to demonstrate your effectiveness as a valued team member.

Just yesterday, one of my colleagues was off work unexpectedly. In addition to her absence, our team had two people on vacation, one working at a second location and we’re currently short one person on our team until a replacement is hired. With our supervisor off for the day, it fell to those of us working to shore things up. As it happened, another colleague and I had a scheduled meeting in the morning on-site, which meant for us both to attend, we’d need a co-worker to staff our Resource Centre for an hour or two with our placement student alongside.

So up stepped one of my valued colleagues; happily and willingly able to set aside the time she’d counted on to do some planning. After our meeting was over, I returned to take my place. While the meeting had kept me away for an hour and half, all had gone smoothly for my colleague. Except, honestly…we’re all stretched a little thin these days, and we’ve been over-extending ourselves for quite some time. As it turned out, that time she gave up to cover was really needed to regain a measure of control and feel prepared for what she had going on later in the afternoon.

As it happened, my colleague started sharing with me just how stretched to the limit she feels. Not only was she stretched thin at work, but a prolonged home renovation is also going on, and I immediately knew that this meant there was no place for her to relax and recharge; what home should be. As she talked, I could see the visible signs of stress; talking rapidly, nervous laughter mixed with big gestures and just venting. This is good; this is healthy, this is sharing a burden and reality with a listener that cares.

Aside from listening, I could really empathize with her because as I say, we’re all feeling stretched and I’ve been through reno’s at home. Throw in the emergence of the Christmas season, decorating a home, taking on a responsibility at work I’m aware of, and I could immediately get a feel for what she was feeling. By allowing her to share, she actually started to feel better. Then she did something I found intelligent and kind. She asked if I wouldn’t mind allowing her to go to lunch when I’d planned to, meaning my own lunch would be set back an hour. How is this kind? It gave me a chance to do something tangible to help.

While gone, I spoke with our placement student; a smart, aspiring young woman who has her own sights set on working in the field and with whom I can see myself working alongside. Here was a teachable moment. Having seen and overheard much of this interaction, I pointed out that this is exactly how to demonstrate care for one another as teammates. It’s funny how many of us are comfortable saying we love our jobs, we love our work, but the thought of saying we love our co-workers sounds odd if not just plain wrong. Well, it’s little things we do like letting each other vent, putting the needs of another ahead of our own etc. that demonstrate care and love for one another. It was important to put a label on this. “Loving” your co-workers isn’t likely on the University curriculum.

While sitting there awaiting her return so I myself could go for lunch, I got a text from my colleague. It was a picture of her lunch, with the words, “Feeling relaxed. Thank you”. I grinned and felt a measure of happiness for her. That’s all it took to bring control back. When she returned, she brought a tea for me, a coffee for our student and I even got a hug of thanks. That too is love and care reciprocated.

Now this isn’t monumental teamwork that saved the company thousands of dollars or brought some new client onboard. This is an example of everyday, small but significant interactions where you can either step up and support one another with genuine care for your coworkers, or you can say, “Not my problem – I’ve got my own problems. I’m going for my lunch now. See you in an hour.”

It’s the little things we do – you and I – throughout a day that over time become our reputation. When you pitch in, cover, listen, empathize, extend help, support each other, encourage each other – these I argue are the testaments of your teamwork.

On every team, some will get it and some won’t. Be one who does.

Regretting The Words Left Unspoken


Remember that special person you never told how you really felt? Of course you do because after all this time you just can’t get them out of your head for very long. You wish now you could go back and tell them how much they had an impact on you, how much you loved them perhaps, and you wonder if/how things might have worked out differently if you had.

It’s wondering, ‘what if’ that tantalizes; because it ignites possibilities of what might have happened had shared your thoughts openly. Ah, but you were scared, nervous and afraid of blurting something out you’d come to later regret. Ironically, after all these years, here you are now regretting the words you left unspoken.

It’s very much like that in other situations too; although the people we neglect to say what’s on our mind to aren’t just potential sweethearts. No, sometimes we find we lose job opportunities to others and later wish we had said a few more things at the job interview. This is often especially the case if we sincerely wanted a job bad. It would have been perfect and you have wanted a job like that in a long time, so when the news came that they went with someone else, it hit like a truck. If only you had said what you were feeling, things might have worked out differently.

Or perhaps there was someone you really valued in your past; that person who made a big impact on you. Perhaps it was their influence that set you on the path you later took or are taking now. A teacher, a father or mother, a mentor or some person who inspired you to think differently, perceive things in a new light. You never said how much you appreciated them and now their gone. Whether they passed on, moved away, have dementia and don’t recognize you, or you moved away yourself, the opportunity to tell them how you feel is lost.

Now the only thing worse would be finding yourself in this situation here in the present. You know, feeling so strongly about someone you see in the here and now daily, but feeling timid, awkward, embarrassed or anxious about sharing how you feel. You’re so worried about ruining things or spoiling your chances that you go on being around them in silence. You wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just open my mouth, pour out how I feel? Tell them?” Of course in your mind you worry about creating a wide divide, making things weird, learning that your feelings aren’t reciprocated and as long as you don’t do anything…you’ll at least have what you have now – which is something.

Opportunities to step up and voice your true feelings pop up every day; but not forever. Take your work environment. You really value the support of a co-worker; they’ve passed on knowledge to you, covered for you when you weren’t at your best, listened to you share your frustrations, applauded your accomplishments and even motivated you when you needed it. There they are beside you every day, and having a real heart-to-heart with genuine sincerity, telling them how much they mean to you sounds both the right thing to do but maybe the weird thing to do.

Really though, what’s so weird? How long have you worked together? All those years and the hours you’ve spent in each other’s company? Why should it be weird to shut the door and say, “Hey listen, I want to tell you how much you mean to me, and I’m being serious.” You’ll likely catch them off guard, and they might use humour to deflect their real feelings, but they’ll likely also be grateful. What they feel in any event is up to them. You’ll feel better knowing you expressed your feelings and took that chance instead of regretting saying nothing. Then they retire, take another job, move or have an unexpected long-term medical leave etc. and you lose touch; opportunity lost.

I mentioned the job interview earlier. How many times have you walked out of an interview and suddenly said in your mind, “Oh, why didn’t I just say _____?Should I walk back in? Should I follow-up with an email or phone call? I really want that job! I’d LOVE working there so why did I find it so hard to tell them how bad I really want it!

Sometimes its convention and decorum that gets in the way. It seems somehow inappropriate to tell someone how we really feel. On the other hand we also hear that employers want people who are passionate about the work they do. So when you do find something you’re passionate about; a job or company you’re sincerely excited to work for and will invest yourself with fully, why not just open your mouth and express that.

Just like that mentor, potential love interest, teacher, co-worker etc., you’ve got a limited window to risk expressing how you feel. They won’t stick around forever, and the time will never be any better than it is now – today. If you’ve waited for a sign, this is it.

Look, hearing someone tell you how much they appreciate your support, your love, your encouragement, the opportunity to work with them etc.; it’s all good. We need to get better at telling others just how much they mean to us. Few things are better.

 

What If You Can’t Find Your Passion?


“Follow your dreams, do what makes you come alive; find your passion.” Sound familiar? Maybe somebody said as much in your valedictorian address in high school or college/university. Or perhaps it was your mentor; Aunt May or your granddad. All well intended of course; with your best interests at heart.

You might be familiar with a saying that goes, “Love your job and you’ll never work a day in your life”. The idea being that when you do something or some things that you love doing, you’re not actually working. This is one quote I’ve never really liked for it then implies that work has to be something you don’t love. If you’re working; and especially if you’re working hard at something, you can’t love it. Well, I just don’t see things that way.

Some of the hardest working people I know love what they do. In fact, it is precisely because they love their work so much that they invest themselves and work hard to improve; all because the end products and services they give will better the experience of the consumer. Their work brings them happiness and immense satisfaction and they love it so much they aren’t interested in changing to do something else.

But what of the person – possibly you – who hasn’t found what their passion is? What if you’re talented at something or even several things but the word passionate is just wrong. You might have days where you feel good about your work of course, and your boss is happy with your performance. However, to say you’re truly passionate about your work would be a lie. So you wonder every so often about these people who have apparently found passion in the work they do, and you say to yourself, “I wonder what that’s like; to use such a strong emotional word like ‘passion’ to describe how they go about their work.”

Now you can go to school and take courses to improve your skills on a subject, to expand your knowledge on a topic, to learn a specific trade and if you go far enough you can even get a doctorate and be a professor of something. That is something to be proud of and a significant accomplishment. To become a professor or doctor of something would seemingly make you an expert or at the very least well-versed and informed on a particular topic. Yet, for all that schools share and teach, impart and instruct, teaching passion isn’t in any curriculum.

Can you teach passion is what I’m saying? No, I don’t think you can. You can be passionate about what it is you do but fail miserably in attempting to pass that passion on to others. Oh I’m not saying those around you won’t be inspired by you; for I believe they often are. However, just because you’re passionate about your work doesn’t mean that those coming into contact with you and seeing how you go about what you do will automatically be similarly invested in that passion.

When in fact someone says, “Find your passion!” where do you begin? It can seem like you need to take a few years off and travel to exotic destinations, live in a rain forest, serve the needy in a third world country or scale Mount Everest. On a local and far more accessible scale, maybe that’s why zip-lining, parachuting and taking ax throwing classes are rising in popularity; people are looking to stimulate their emotional passion for something by doing something extreme.

So what of the average person (even saying average seems like a letdown to some of you I know) who has a regular job. The person who pays down their mortgage regularly, buys a car every 5 years and goes in to work 5 days a week, lives a pretty ‘normal’ life in other words? Can one be happy if they do well at their job but the word, ‘passion’ isn’t something they’ve ever used to describe how they feel about their job? Yes of course.

With all the people out their telling you to find your passion, I’d recommend you remember that the only person you need answer to for whether that’s important to you personally is…well…you. If it’s not important that you love your work, you don’t have to. If you don’t love your work it need not mean you hate it. Hate is a strong word. You could be competent but indifferent. So you could like selling but whether it’s clothes, shoes, games, cars or fishing tackle, it doesn’t matter. Equally of interest you might also be good at and enjoy fixing appliances or refinishing furniture.

Yes there are a lot of people in this world doing work they love and many doing work without passion. Of course finding something you love and turning it into your source of full-time work and your source of income might seem like the goal, but there are many who would like to keep their passion and their full-time work separate. After all, the fear of losing your passion for something because it’s become work is a genuine concern.

So if you’ve not found your passion, don’t fret. Yes, and this from someone who loves what he does. It might take you a short time or years to discover passion if ever. You can still be successful, happy and good at many things!

Your Own Northern Star


In our night sky there is a star which sits almost directly above the north pole on the Earth’s axis. From our vantage point it seems to be a fixed object around which all the other stars rotate; making it an excellent stationary point from which to navigate and chart one’s place and / or progress. Given that it’s above the north pole, it has been given the name, Polaris; the North Star.

In days of old, many sailors once out in waters beyond the sight of land would use the stars in the night sky to stay the course as they’d navigate their way to distant lands. By day when the stars were not visible, these same people would track their progress using the path of the sun and pray for a cloudless night by which they could assure themselves they were on course and hadn’t wavered too much during the day.

So ironically, they used this one star in the night sky so very far away to keep grounded. The same by the way is true for travellers who were lost inland. When there was no GPS, no radio’s, cell phone or compasses, those lost in the night would hope for evenings full of stars from which they could get their bearings and stay the course as they made their way in lands where it was too hot to travel by day. Again, the North Star was their fixed point from which to gain their bearings.

Let me ask you then if you have a North Star of your very own. Do you have someone in your life who is always there for you? Someone you can rely on time after time to be there for you when you’re feeling lost and need reassurance? Maybe like Polaris they seem distant but when you look for them they can always be trusted to be steadfast right where you’d expect them to be and that stability is comforting to you and from that you draw self-confidence and can then go on your way.

It’s pretty easy in 2017 to find ourselves caught up in the hectic day-to-day. Whether it’s the pursuit of money, prestige, a job title, a house, cottage or yes even a far off destination like those explorers of old, we can get so focused on ‘getting’ things that we might lose ourselves in the process. This is why every so often something happens that gives us pause to think and we find ourselves re-evaluating our priorities. “Is this really what I want? When did I lose my way and become so fixated on making such-and-such my priority? What did I give up or move down my list of priorities by giving primary importance to whatever it is?”

It’s often this one person we see as our sounding board, our voice of reason, our mentor or advisor that helps us put things in perspective. Be it just listening, an afternoon or evenings conversation with them, maybe even just bringing them to mind in some cases; we somehow feel things just make sense when they’re near at hand or near in mind. In short, you’ve got your own Polaris, your own Northern Star.

Sometimes these people are the go-to people we think of first in our moments of need or crisis. When things are bleak, we’re confused or possibly we have a big decision to make, we seek out that one person who can listen to what’s troubling us, rearrange everything we tell them and they give it back to us in a way that just makes sense. Somehow, they make things clearer and without telling us what to do, they just make our decision easier; even when that decision means we’re in for a lot of work and struggle, the decision itself is easier to make.

Stars are by their very place in the universe, always up. Wherever you are on the Earth, you have to look up to see them. You might look down and see them reflected in still waters, but that’s not the stars themselves but rather their reflection. No, to see the stars and find the North Star, you have to look up to the night sky.

The person you see as your own Polaris is probably much the same; you look up to them. Don’t confuse this with meaning they can’t falter now and then, after all you can go a few days with cloudy nights when the stars aren’t visible, or there’s enough passing atmospheric cover that the stars peek out and then disappear. But you and I both know that North Star is always there.  While shooting stars sometimes briefly light the skies and disappear forever in a fiery end, the North Star has always been there.

I wonder if you’ve ever told this person you equate as your personal North Star just how much they mean to you? Is it enough that they should just ‘know’ their value to you? Would it be awkward for you to express your appreciation for them? It’s not hard to imagine however that telling them either verbally or in the written word would be welcomed and appreciated. What does having them in your life do for you? How are you better for knowing them? How much does it mean to have them to go to in your darkest moments for some clarity?

Sounds to me like a wonderful thing to share with your own North Star.

 

Is It Necessary To Love Your Job?


So what do you think; yes or no?

There are people who have as long as they can remember, always wanted to ‘be’ whatever the job is they now hold. They told their moms and dads, aunts and uncles, “When I grow up I’m going to be a ______” and they never deviated from that goal. It’s not that they didn’t learn about other jobs and careers, it’s just that as they did so, whenever they compared the pros and cons of those jobs to their previous goal, they always chose the original one.

If you’re one of these folks, I sure hope that the work you do as an adult is bringing you all the joy and happiness that you imagined it would. It wouldn’t be the end of the world to change your career goal as you mature and possibly discover new interests and develop new skills that lead you in other directions. However, it would be quite sad if for some reason you found the job you’d fell in love with was much more attractive in thought rather than reality and you’ve done nothing to alter your career path.

The experience I’ve described; knowing from a very young age what you wanted to do in life and realizing that dream is the experience of a minority of people I imagine. I mean it’s far more likely that as we grow up and become more and more exposed to different kinds of jobs the likelihood that our interests catch fire with things we previously didn’t consider is high. Yes, for most of the general population, we not only become exposed to different careers and jobs, we imagine what they would be like to hold down personally, and from time-to-time we pursue these because they are more attractive than the jobs we hold.

But love? I mean with a capital, “L”? Is it necessary to Love your work in order to be and feel successful? Is it possible to do a job well and be paid a good wage but not be passionate about the work itself? Sure it is. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that there are a great many people who are good at what they do precisely because the money is good but, love their job? No way. So why would they stay in these jobs they don’t love? Uh, that would be because the money meets their needs and they can do the work required, so like Meatloaf the singer belted out, they’ve come to feel that 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

You have to appreciate and be happy though for the ones that have it all; a perfect 3 for 3. They perform their work extremely well, the money they are paid meets their wants and needs, AND they love the work they do. Boy are they lucky eh? (For my international readers, adding, ‘eh’ to the end of a sentence reveals me as a true Canadian! It’s kind of our way of saying, “you agree with me right?” or “you get it right?”)

Ah but wait; is it luck or is it that they’ve put in the work and made the decisions necessary that put them in the right position to take advantage of the opportunities Life brought their way? I suspect it’s the latter not the former. It might look like they got lucky but actually it meant being focused, making good decisions and when faced with problems and challenges they found ways to overcome those through hard work and always keeping their end goals in mind whenever they felt like giving up. Yes, I suspect they’d say luck had very little to do with their success.

So now I pose a question to you; if you’re not in love with your work, are you content to go on with things the way they are or, for you personally is loving what you do important enough that you’re prepared to actually DO something different to bring about change? Change after all is what’s required if 2 out of 3 isn’t good enough.

You can take the position that in 2017 jobs are so hard to come by you should just take whatever you can and love for your work is a thing of the past. If you believe that, I’m sorry to say that I personally feel you’re wrong; your own experiences may have jaded your view of things. The way I see it, there are 7 hours a day in a full-time job x 5 days in a traditional work week x perhaps 49 work weeks in a year for a total of 1,715 hours a year you’re on the job. That’s a lot of time to be occupied doing something you love doing or just endure. If you’re not in agreement that finding work you love to do is worth seeking out, you’re taking the position that 49 weeks of enduring work is a good trade-off for 3 weeks of doing what you love on your vacation. You really buy that?

So do you HAVE to LOVE your work? Absolutely not.

Or, is loving what you do; really LOVING what you do going to elevate your happiness and personal satisfaction making those 49 weeks and 1,715 hours a pleasurable experience? Absolutely yes.

Are you prepared to put in the work to bring about the change from your present circumstances to realize the job you’d LOVE to do? This my reader, is THE question.

 

Happiness At Work. Lost It?


Today is Valentine’s Day; the year 2017. Around the globe, countless numbers of items will be bought and given as gifts; expressions of the love someone feels for another. There’ll be cards of course; chocolates, flowers, plants, maybe even diamonds and pearls if you’re fortunate and desire them.

While the focus for the day will be on the one who holds your heart; has it ever occurred to you to pause on this day and review the love you have for the work you do? I rather doubt it. If you imagine your job or career as a physical entity, would you be writing words of love and passion or would you be acutely aware that the thrill has gone? Instead of toasting your job with a raised glass you’re looking at a bologna sandwich in your cubicle for the 5th time this month.

How long has it been since you sprang out of the house with a bounce in your step at the thought of heading on into the workplace? A sadder question for some is whether you’ve ever had that joy of anticipating what joys your day will bring? If you’re happy, really love the work you do, you my friend are fortunate. You’ve found a measure of success in that how you spend a large amount of your time has meaning for you; you’ve got purpose and satisfaction in abundance.

However, if you’ve come to the point where the job has simply become a daily chore; the work is far from fulfilling and it’s a daily grind or test of your mental endurance, you may be wondering where it all went wrong? That job you once loved, that work you found so satisfying; something changed.

What changed is probably not so much the job but rather you; the person performing the work. Maybe you mastered the skills and job requirements and nothing new has been added to stimulate your need for a challenge. Maybe you’ve changed so much yourself that just adding new challenges won’t do at all and you need a complete change of scenery, a different kind of work altogether. You’re just hanging in there; hanging on and holding on. This you’re afraid to acknowledge, is not how you envisioned your life. Worse still, you always believed you’d have the courage to make some changes if it ever got to this point…but you haven’t.

It’s as if there is a set of scales before you and on the one side you see the job with all its responsibilities and duties. Here’s your security, salary, benefits, seniority, vacation entitlement. On the other side you only see a single thing: happiness. If only happiness were on the other side along with all those other items life would be perfect. Try as you might though, you can’t move happiness over without tipping the scales and throwing off the balance.

So you stand in a state of flux; wanting happiness of course, but paralyzed at the dilemma of risking everything on the one side to seize upon your happiness. The longer you do nothing, the worse you feel because you live in the conscious knowledge that you are unfulfilled and fulfillment is becoming increasingly important t you. Fulfillment you assert, will bring you happiness.

You are faced with this choice; you must either find happiness in the work you currently do, or you must find happiness elsewhere in some new activity. Going on day after day without making a change of some sort is not going to result in anything different and to expect you’ll rediscover or ignite some happiness on a long-term basis without action isn’t realistic.

Of course if you have the ability to stay in an organization but assume new challenges, you owe it to yourself to do whatever is necessary to bring about that change. Talk with the boss, maybe HR, meet with Supervisors in other departments and put out some feelers.

Ah but if there are no options such as those above, you may have to cut loose your ties, free yourself from the trap of the status quo and take that leap of faith by pursuing happiness somewhere else. Your friends, family and current co-workers might not understand it, they will definitely question it, but they might secretly envy you for it too. They might see it as your mid-life crisis but for you its saving yourself; this one chance to finally take a risk and live!

It could mean a return to school to re-educate or update your skills and knowledge. You’ll burn with a love for learning though. It might mean a whole new career doing something others see as a step down but isn’t that their issue not yours? If you know or feel confident you know what will make you truly happy, staying where you will only eventually have you disappointed in yourself. You may grow despondent, become bitter and resent  the choice you failed to make. Following conventional wisdom may be safe but safety has its limitations.

So on this Valentines Day, look around the workplace and give a thought to the work you do. Love it? Feel fulfilled and happy for the most part? Excellent! If you don’t feel passion for the work however, if the lustre is gone and the fire that once fueled you on a daily basis, it might be time to make some changes.

 

 

The Strongest Of The 4 Letter Words


I’m one extremely lucky guy at the moment and I’m smart enough to recognize it. I’ve been touched in a profound way; it came unexpected, came unsought for but I’m so glad it did. I am grateful to have this wash over me and for how it resonates with me.

What am I talking about? Good question. It’s that moment someone enters your life and disturbs it; enriches it; changes you, reminds you of what is best in us. If you know what I’m talking about; if it’s happened to you too then you know of what I speak. If you don’t get it, I’d wish this on you if wishing would make it so.

Now I can’t divulge much in truth without giving away the identity of the person who has had this impact on me and maybe they’d be a little more than surprised to learn I’m writing of this. Their identity isn’t necessary for the telling, for it’s the emotion evoked itself that is essential and the impact on how I move forward.

Ever had that really memorable teacher? That person that ignited your love of learning; they exposed you to music, broadened your vocabulary and fostered a love of reading; nurtured your passion etc. I’ve had 3 of these in my life; Grade 8 and again throughout my high school years. 3 great men; one who turned on my love for words, one for music and the other my love of theatre. How indebted I am to them!

Now as an Employment Counsellor and Workshop Facilitator, I’m the one in a teaching, mentoring and instructing role. Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to work with and assist people who have had varying degrees of an impact on me; some less some great.

I have to say though, I’ve never been moved by one such person in this way. Now, I’ve heard their stories over the years; tales of heartache, despair, abuse, trials and challenges. All real and valid, all impacting on me in varying degrees. So I would have thought by now that my reaction to yet one more person with a story would come with my usual care and concern. However as I say, I’m profoundly shaken; and I love it!

Now it’s not that I love a good story and the story is the thing; hardly! No, the story is someone’s life; fact not fiction. It’s their reality; the good the bad, highs and lows; someone lives that story and pens a new page daily. I’ve found myself excited by the person not just the story; because I’ve been gifted with implicit and unreserved trust; invited in to their private space; shared things and heard words meant for my ears only and I’m so privileged and humbled with that act. It reminds me I’m in the right place; still moved; still alive and attuned. How fortunate I am to be in the right place at the right time. I love it when Life does that!

If you work with people in a helping capacity I sure hope you’ve been touched similarly to the degree of which I speak. It brings out the best in us; our humanity when we get stirred to our core. This feeling is a good thing while at the same time unsettling and disruptive. One moment we’re in control and the next we find ourselves impacted and affected; re-forged and changed for the better.

When you’re trusted by someone who has their entire life been let down, betrayed and given up on by those around them, trust is golden. It’s humbling to be welcomed in, respected and yes the word needs saying, to be loved.

Love is such an exciting and dangerous word isn’t it? Some reserve it for  partners, their children or parents. Ironic that we find it inappropriate to say we love someone we help in our professional life, yet it’s our very love for helping  such people that draws us to our lines of work. We sing in songs to make love not war, write of love in poems as being the very best in us. We put love on bumper stickers, but it’s wrong to tell a person they are loved when you know that’s the one thing in life they need to hear and experience more than anything else. Maybe they haven’t been loved – really loved – all along; maybe they feel incapable of attracting sincere love; without demands; love that can stare at them blindly.

It can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, confuse and disorient. It can be wonderful and validate. It’s the strongest of that which is the best in us. I’m so grateful for this; seeing past imperfections just as others see past my own.

We tell people to search for work they’d love, find people they’d love to work with, invest in professions they’d love to advance in but then fall short when it comes to telling others how much we love them for who they are, how they make us feel, how much we feel loved by them. I do love my job, love many of the people I work with and yes love what this individual brings out in me. Love is layered, strong and complex yet when laid bare it’s simple and vulnerable.

May it happen often to you and you be the better for it!

 

 

Does Your Organization Encourage Risk, Creativity And Failure?


Has your workplace, and the people who work there, created a culture where creativity and risk are encouraged? Where failure – and learning from it – are not just accepted but encouraged? And is there anywhere in your day-to-day interaction where the words caring and love for each other have their place?

I am part of a group in my workplace that has partnered up with staff from another organization in another city, to explore the topic of Human-Centered Design. We’ve been meeting both apart from each other and collectively since the fall of last year, and with each meeting, we progressively understand more about this concept. We’re getting close to our conclusion, which ironically we hope is just another beginning. There would be limited valued in undertaking any project if it were only academic in nature after all. It will begin and spread throughout our organizations with our group, and it will change how we go about responding to and designing for those we serve.

Here today though, I want to explore with you this idea of encouraging and promoting the elements of creativity and risk, where people feel supported and encouraged without the threat of reprisal and punishment; within a culture of love, caring and trust.

So suppose you are passionate about your work. You’re invested in the work you do whether you’re in an Upper or Middle Management, or front-line role. You’re always looking for ways to improve the quality of the products or services you deliver to your customers or clients. Presumably, you’re not the only one who feels this way, so you’re surrounded by others who have some creative ideas; you’re all rowing in the same direction. If you worked in a physical environment that encouraged this kind of culture, you’d likely make many errors as well as have success in designing the programs and products you roll out. While your successes would be applauded and appreciated for improving the bottom line, wouldn’t it be great if your failures were more than just tolerated, they were equally appreciated because of the information they produced and the learning you could extract from those failures?

I’m sure somewhere in your lifetime you’ve read a quote or seen a picture of a working lightbulb with Edison’s there stating how he failed a thousand times before getting it right. How many times would failure be tolerated in your workplace by your supervisor? I’m guessing you don’t have that kind of freedom to fail without repercussion!

Some organizations discourage creativity and risk-taking altogether. Some organizations permit risk-takers, but only for some people and they are segregated apart from others in, ‘the lab’ or at a certain level in the organization. If you haven’t made it up the chain to that level, you’re expected to do things just the way you’re told without deviation or much thought. How then, once you reach a certain level do you flick on the creativity switch that’s been in the off position for 7 or 8 years for example?

Now, let’s be clear; I’m not advocating to the extreme where an employee takes all the firms liquid assets and risks them in Vegas on one spin of the wheel. That’s risk-taking behaviour granted, but the consequences of failure and chances of success don’t justify the risk.

One of the most frustrating things an employee who embraces creativity and risk-taking can experience is to be supervised by an ultra-conservative Manager who crushes ingenuity, punishes failure, and keeps the creative person chained down; especially if the Manager appears to favour creativity and risk-taking in some other employee on their team. We’re talking personality and chemistry; the ‘I like you but not you’ kind of mentality where favouritism is rampant.

I mentioned workplaces where caring and love are embedded in the culture and how employees are often encouraged to care for each other. ‘Love’ however, is for some a heavy, overly-powerful word that seems out of place. What behaviour would be observed to be an expression of love for your co-workers? Okay get that image of those two in the broom closet out of your head; I’m talking love not sexual intercourse. If it’s okay to love your work, why can’t you just as easily love others that love their work too?

Now I’m not talking about some Utopia where it’s always some big love-in. Seriously, there are people with enthusiasm and passion who are drawn to organizations that encourage a culture of creativity and risk-taking; where people are trusted and encouraged to experiment. These environments acknowledge that with experimentation come trial and error, success and failure; and learning from failure is vital to improving service delivery and improving on the experience of the end-user.

Think about your workplace. Do you have a colleague that is always pushing the boundaries, experimenting and offering up new ideas? Or do you find there’s a person who is always digging in their heels, preaches the status quo and is afraid of change and innovation? Which of the two are you and are which of the two are their more of where you work? If you find you’re in the majority you might feel comfortable, but if you see yourself in the minority you might not feel you fit in on your team or in the organization the way you’d ultimately like best.

Where do Trust, Risk-Taking, Experimentation, Failure, Creativity thrive in your organization?

Why Should I Hire You?


“My Social Media savvy? My love for technology? My passion for service excellence?”

How indeed do you answer this question? Well, before you jump to possible answers ponder WHY the question is being asked and WHAT it’s designed to reveal about you, the person being interviewed.

Presumably you have arrived as one of the final candidates being interviewed if they are getting around to this question. It might suggest they are narrowing things down to you and one or two others. That’s got to feel good. However I agree there are situations where everybody gets asked this question at the first round of interviews.

This question is really being asked so that you are provided with a chance to sum up and articulate your VALUE and the things that make you stand above the other applicants. In short, what makes you the RIGHT candidate and the BEST person to choose overall. When you examine what it’s designed to reveal about you, it’s purpose is to find out if you know what key qualities set you apart and if you know how those qualities fit with the organizations needs.

It’s a fairly safe bet to assume that your technical skills in applying for a job as a Computer Technician will be matched by at least some of the other people applying for the job. In such a case, perhaps it’s not the most ideal thing then to discuss your technical skills. Oh quickly mention your technical skills meet the stated requirements for sure, but if you stop there you’re opening the door for your competition to outperform you. A number of the applicants have the same hard skills.

You’d be wise to spend the bulk of your time on this answer addressing the intangibles you will bring to the job and this is one area where you must have completed some research to know which way to go with this answer will serve you best. Perhaps you should emphasize your strong skills in not only diagnosing problems, but in your communication skills because you have a knack for explaining technical problems and solutions to people who don’t love and ‘get’ technology like you do. If the job involves a lot of remote assistance, you have to be able to communicate solutions in such a way that the people on the end of a phone line who are agitated can follow your directions.

In the above example your stock goes from a technology expert to a technology expert with excellent interpersonal communication skills. The value of this is reduced time lost, increased productivity and less transportation costs for the technician who otherwise would have to travel to sites to resolve issues. As you point these things out to the interviewer, they follow your line of thinking and the value you add becomes clear in ways they may not have considered.

If your research into the company around the position you are applying for reveals to you that there has been a high turnover in the company at the level you are applying to, you have also identified an area to exploit. You my friend, yes you might be just the person if in addition to your hard skills you address your full understanding of all the components of the position and your own desire for stability. So nothing in the job will come as a surprise to you causing you to quit because it didn’t come as advertised. Your own need for stability and long-term employment will mean less turnovers for them and the costs associated with advertising, interviewing, hiring, training etc. In sharing this, you underline your VALUE to the organization.

The last thing I want to say is something not too many people actually understand. Ever been in love? Infatuated? You love spending time with that one person and go out of your way to do all the little extra things that will develop your relationship deeper? You may have seen the words, ‘love’ or ‘passion’ in job postings. If you don’t love the work described, you’re not going to be the best fit. If you do love the work, YOU HAVE TO DEMONSTRATE THAT LOVE!

So here’s your chance to answer why they should hire you. First off, you don’t want ‘a job’ like most of the competition; you want ‘this job’, and emphasize the word, ‘this’. It’s the fit of the job and the company. Now smile as you talk about the job the same way you get that goofy smile when you hear the name of the person you love. Sit slightly forward in the seat, open your eyes slightly more and sound enthusiastic as words come out of your mouth.

Combine this non-verbal body language with content and you’re on your way. If you really love the work being offered and it’s your dream job, sell that verbally and non-verbally so the message is clearly and fully communicated. Passionate about serving people? Make me believe that. Love crunching numbers and finding cost overruns? Demonstrate that and convince me by looking and sounding proud of your accomplishments.

Pick any item from a group of similar items and something likely attracted you to that one. What caught your eye? Same goes for you in applying for work. You have to determine what will make you most attractive to the company and then stand out so it’s clear why they should hire you!