In this day and age, it is far more common and acceptable for us to change jobs, even change industry or our career path.
The professional landscape is shifting and as individuals and organisations we are forever being challenged to keep up and matchup.
With the internet and technology as enablers and the career possibilities seemingly endless for those of any age and any stage, this makes for exciting but potentially overwhelming times.
But just because we can do something it doesn’t necessarily mean we should. So how can we determine whether our next career move should be on the horizon? Here are 5 signs it’s probably time…
- Motivation is at an all-time low
Are you living for the weekend and filled with dread on a Sunday knowing that Monday is looming? Are you struggling to muster the energy to get out of bed in the morning to go to work? Have you noticed that you’re starting to let things slip because you’re feeling bored, disenchanted or undervalued? The bottom line is most of us spend the majority of our time at work, so the motivation needs to be there otherwise what’s the point?
But it’s important to decipher here whether it’s the job that needs a shake up or you. If you’re burning the candle at both ends and are perhaps having one too many cocktails on a school night– I’m pretty sure not many of us feel like we’re winning at life on a hangover! Or, if you’re burnt out because you aren’t looking after yourself properly in other ways and could really do with a holiday, it’s not necessarily the job that’s at the core of the problem.
Motivation comes from within and it’s our own responsibility to cultivate it. Sure you can hope that exciting projects or opportunities keep coming your way or look to your boss, personal development gurus or business leaders for doses of inspiration and aspiration; but the most powerful thing that you can do is to start paying attention to what makes you tick – what lights your fire, what you are passionate about, where you derive your sense of purpose from and to figure out why you do what you do. For example, to make a difference, to support your family, fund your love of travel or to buy yourself nice new shiny things…
When you know these things, you can start to steer your career and life accordingly, to set yourself up for success and continue to set yourself rewarding goals that you’re excited and driven to make happen.
- Not feeling like the best version of you
So there’s lots of factors that could contribute to this one but let’s focus on you at work. Are you aware that work is the trigger or cause of your stress or anxiety? Are you constantly feeling exhausted and low on energy? Are your ridiculous workload, unrealistic deadlines or pressures causing you to neglect your own needs and well-being? Have you found yourself putting the gym on the backburner and reaching for that evening glass of wine instead to relax after work? Do you feel like the company or your boss don’t take you or your well-being seriously?
There’s nothing more important than our health, well-being and happiness so if you feel this is being compromised then an intervention is required immediately – not after the next big deadline or at the end of a busy quarter – now.
Again, no one can take responsibility and ownership of our well-being other than ourselves so it’s important to recognise whether the company is actually placing unrealistic expectations on you, whether they realise it or need to be made aware, or actually whether it’s coming from you or external factors like personal relationships.
Start to pay attention to your patterns and behaviours and then create some boundaries and positive habits that protect and enhance your well-being; for example, practising meditation before work, diarising your work/meetings and making an effort to leave on time. If it’s the company that’s not respecting your boundaries, then perhaps it’s time to move on and find somewhere that does. More and more companies are starting to place value on work-life balance and employee well-being but for many it’s just buzz words and in actuality the existing systems, practices, attitudes or expectations don’t really support the “vision”. But these companies need to step up and if they’re not prepared to do so and look after their employees then they’re not worth working for.
- Not fulfilling your potential
Do you know that you’re capable of more than you are currently achieving or how you’re performing? Are you feeling under-utilised, held back and frustrated in your current role? Does your boss regularly reschedule or just skip your one to one’s at work?Or do you feel that little care or attention is given to your skills development, career progression and future at the company?
If you answered yes to one or many of the above, then it’s definitely time for some action.
Whilst it would be nice if you’re boss gave you the love you deserve in this department – as great managers and leaders should, it’s not something you can rely on. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that fulfilling your potential requires taking ownership and making things happen for yourself. If you want that promotion then you can’t just expect someone to notice you because you do a good job and show up on time, you need to be strategic – go the extra mile, be aware of your perceived weaknesses and work on them whilst playing to your strengths, put your hand up to do something outside of your everyday remit, start doing the job before you’ve been given the title, give the right people a reason to pay attention to you. You get the gist.
If you can honestly say that you have taken responsibility for your own development, that you’ve taken the initiative, spoken to your boss and let it be known that you’re looking to develop and grow and need some support, that you’ve joined that course, shadowed a colleague that you admire, asked for a mentor or coach – basically that you’ve exhausted all opportunity then perhaps it is a sign that you’ve outgrown where you are or that the lack of company investment in you isn’t worth your frustration or blood, sweat and tears.
If the progression that is available isn’t appealing then you probably need to ask yourself if you’re in the right place, profession or industry. Of course, there could be an absence of inspirational role models which makes the climb to the top less appealing but in my experience that was a driver to be one.
Either way, if not fulfilling your potential is your pain point then you need to take action and either step up or move on.
- Company culture and values don’t align with yours
This is a biggie and something that is hugely underestimated. Are you ever left feeling uncomfortable by the conversations, conduct or politics in your office? Do you feel that your work is missing the human element, you know where people are treated like people not just numbers or units of productivity? Do you struggle more with relationships here than you have ever done before and it’s causing you to lose confidence and question yourself? Or do you feel that you just don’t fit in?
Again, if you answered yes to one or more, then alarm bells should be ringing.
Our values are the things that we deem most important to us, they are the foundations upon which we should build our lives and are a bit like our moral compass if you like. So, if something goes against them, for example, say honesty or integrity make up your core values and your company doesn’t operate in that manner, chances are you won’t be very happy there.
Cultures vary incredibly from organisation to teams even, so don’t feel defeated if an organisation doesn’t feel right for you but also don’t be afraid to explore your options internally or elsewhere including different roles. Allow yourself some time to think about what kind of work and environment you’re best suited to and enjoy e.g. fast or slow paced, relaxed or corporate, 9-5, work from home or work all night long! We all have different preferences, personalities, beliefs and values that can determine where we feel happiest.
- Not doing what you love
Ultimately, if you’re not doing what you love then why are you there? OK, I get to pay the bills but if that’s your best answer then I beg you to reconsider your current career choice! I’m sure you can agree that life is just too short to waste time on things that don’t bring you joy, meaning, satisfaction or purpose so if that’s the case then it’s definitely time to move on.
Not sure what else you’d rather be doing? Take some time out to reflect on what you’re passionate about, where your skills and strengths lie, what you’d like to learn and what your alternatives are. You may not have the answers right away and your next job may not be the dream one – Rome wasn’t in built in a day right but boy, will it be worth it when you are doing what you love, tapping into your power and achieving your potential.
Side note, working with a coach can be can be an incredibly enlightening and empowering process that will enable you to gain greater self-awareness, clarity, focus, and to create a vision, roadmap and action plan for your dream career and life so that you can make those things become a reality. Yes, that was a shameless plug but it’s true! If you’re feeling completely stuck then it makes sense to get professional support to help you move forward, onwards and upwards. After all, some of the most successful people in the world work with coaches, Oprah and Leonardo DiCaprio to name but a couple.
By Mikaela Jackson
Mikaela Jackson is a personal performance coach and the founder of She Almighty which provides career, business, life coaching services and events for women.
You can read more about Mikaela, her one to one programmes and events at www.shealmighty.com
Is Digital Transformation the Key to Business Survival in the New World?
After a turbulent year, enterprises are returning to the prospect of a new world following an unprecedented pandemic.
Around the country the way we interact with customers, how consumers buy, and what interests the public has rapidly changed. Successfully managing these digital transformations may be the difference between your success and failure at this stage of continuing economic uncertainty.
Of course, the investment may appear unviable, but the benefits maintain growth and profitability. Digital transformations change the way you conduct your business. It allows you to take a step back and reconsider every aspect of your business. This includes the technology you use, how your staff operate, and how customers interact with your brand.
The World Economic Forum has predicted that the value added by digital transformations across all industries could be greater than $100 billion by 2025. Digital transformations are allowing organisations to rapidly innovate.
Accepting this innovative approach to your business right now may spell the difference between company liquidation and prosperity. Here, we look at the benefits of digital transformation and why it’s essential for your business.
Transform your customer experience
The main objective for a business is to fulfil the needs of their customer. A positive experience is vital to retain customers and encourage new consumers to interact with your brand. Likewise, positive customer experience is a core principle of digital proficiency.
A recent study found that 92 per cent of the top 100 organisations have a mature digital transformation strategy in place to improve their customers’ experience. This is compared to all other organisations where only 22 per cent of responding companies have these strategies in place.
One way to achieve this is to recreate your e-commerce platforms to better represent the needs of your customers. A complete rejuvenation can help to identify problems and obstacles in your current system.
SMEs have the opportunity to base their digital transformations on the successes of other businesses. In terms of customer satisfaction, 70 per cent of the leaders reported a significant and transformational value in overall customer satisfaction.
Digital transformation can help you to better understand your market. By tracking metrics and analysing the data that you collect, you will be able to better understand your customers. You can also gain a clearer understanding of how the sector operates under varying circumstances. This helps companies to make better business decisions.
One survey on the use of data in business showed that 49 per cent of businesses believe that analytics are of most use in driving business decisions. Two-thirds of businesses surveyed believe that data plays a pivotal role in driving strategies.
There’s a plethora of ways that businesses can collect essential data. These include surveys, transactional data tracking, social media monitoring, and in-store traffic monitoring.
Greater collaboration across departments
By centring your organisation around digital infrastructure you can create a consistent working experience. Sharing data and information with your staff can promote idea sharing and innovation.
Organisations are beginning to create companies based on a digital culture. This shapes the way that staff communicate with each other and how technology influences the way they work. This culture reinforces their other digital strategies.
It’s important to maintain engagement with staff during a digital transformation. One report indicates that 79 per cent of companies that focus on culture sustain strong performance throughout their transformation.
When organisations are built around a common goal, business transitions will be smoother.
Improved agility and innovation
Digital transformations allow your business to stay agile, in that it is always prepared to and welcomes change.
The most successful organisations do not follow the beaten track. They look to see how their company can diverge from their original mission and build on their successes. Technology allows these new approaches to be developed alongside extending business enterprises.
One survey shows that 68 per cent of businesses believe that agility is within their top three most important initiatives. This means ensuring that every interaction between customer, technology, and staff is meaningful.
These agile interactions can include, for example, the development and improvements of chat-bots. It all works towards helping locate the best possible options for staff and customers.
Frequent technological innovations make it difficult to predict what business will look like in the future. Organisations can prepare themselves for this through digital transformations, allowing any future developments and changes to integrate into their business operation.
Being recognised as a digitally transformed business, customers and staff will recognise your attempts to innovate and provide the best possible service. The ability to create additional revenue also highlights the need to adapt to the digital age. The future is showing its face through technology. Businesses must take advantage of the transformed society to change how they operate and reap the rewards.
Virtual communications: How to handle difficult workplace conversations online
Have potentially difficult conversation at work, like discussing a pay rise, explaining deadline delays or going through performance reviews are hard to do successfully under the very best of circumstances. Now many of us are faced with the additional challenges that remote working presents meaning you need to have these kinds of conversations virtually. A little preparation and advance thought about the direction of the discussion can really help to make the interaction feel more natural and improve your changes of a successful outcome.
Tony Hughes, CEO at Huthwaite International leading global provider of sales, negotiation and communication skills development, shares advice on how to handle difficult workplace conversations online.
Plan your communication airtime
Planning for a call can be an unpopular task, but taking a few minutes to think through the structure and purpose of your conversation can really help you to achieve your objectives – assuming you know what they are! Work out your primary, and also secondary objective as a fall back, so you will not have to rely on pressing for just one outcome if that becomes too difficult to resolve in one conversation.
Think about how you will show empathy
It can be difficult to observe someone’s body language over a virtual camera call so tone of voice is more easily interpreted. Listen carefully for clues to how the conversation is going from their tone and note that nerves tend to make the voice higher and this can be very noticeable – a warm drink may help to relax your vocal cords and deepen your voice. Smiling when you speak (if appropriate) will also help to relax you and the other person. If you need to get it all right first time, practice makes perfect. Practicing with a friend of colleague can help to produce the relaxed tone of voice necessary to sound sympathetic or authentic.
Active listening is essential
Listening is what separates skilled communicators from unskilled and using active listening is key to ensuring the conversation goes well. We demonstrate active listening by acknowledging statements. Acknowledging is not the same as supporting, by acknowledging we show we are listening but do not necessarily show agreement. Using phrases such as ‘I understand’, or paraphrasing statements show that we are aware of their opinion and their thoughts without necessarily agreeing with them. Taking care to allow people to fully express themselves, especially if they are agitated or excited, is key to defusing the situation.
If we must disagree with them, we should take care to make a positive statement before and after the disagreement. This means saying things like ‘I fully understand what you’re saying, and will do my best to help. However, I will need some time to investigate the situation. Let me come back to you in X time’.
Remember counter offers can be counterproductive
Communicating online can bring a sense of urgency to get the conversation over with quickly, especially if people are not used to virtual communication methods. This unnecessary pressure can cause people to make hasty, often ill-considered counter offers or proposals in a bid to reach an agreement about the difficult conversation they’re having or to tick the task off our list. Whether this is agreeing to workloads for the week, or discussing a pay rise – rushing conversations and making hasty proposals can be counterproductive and may show you’re not really listening and intent on pushing your own agenda. Good communication is about listening and understanding the needs of others, whilst maintaining a strong stance.
Avoid irritating verbal behaviours
Having a difficult conversation in the workplace is hard enough without the added complication and tensions that communicating virtually may present! Try to avoid adding to this by keeping the conversation free from irritating verbal behaviours. This means avoiding self-praising declarations by using words such as ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable’ when talking to people. This can cause tension as they can undermine the person you’re speaking to and may cause lasting damage to your relationship.
Other verbal behaviours such as telling someone you’re ‘being honest with them’ or ‘that you’re trying to be frank’, can indicate that you may not have been completely honest in the past, or that you may be suggesting your counterpart is being intentionally dishonest. Steer clear of this use of language. It can lead to tension and a breakdown in communication further down the line.
Remember to show emotion
Perhaps surprisingly, skilled communicators show their emotions and indicate how they are feeling towards a situation more than the average communicator. This skill is particularly important what dealing with a difficult online conversation. For example, phrases including ‘I am pleased we are making progress’ or ‘I’m worried that this won’t work out’, can be used as a substitute for an outright agreement or disagreement as it’s difficult to argue with someone else’s emotions. This verbal behaviour also reveals something personal, which is likely to encourage trust within a conversation. If someone expresses that they’re concerned a deadline won’t be achieved – it’s then difficult to retort with ‘no you’re not.’ When used in the right context, showing emotion is a highly effective way of deescalating confrontation.
Ensure you avoid defend/attack spirals
Defend/attack verbal behaviour is when the focus shifts from the problem to the person and the conversation becomes personal. Skilled communicators avoid this behaviour during a difficult conversation, as it can generate frustration and end very negatively. Usually, involvement in a defend/attack spiral is a heat of the moment reaction and it can be tricky to avoid. Difficult conversations tend to be high pressure, so to avoid this behaviour communicators should aim to understand and resolve, rather than react. This allows the conversation to become open and a solution to be achieved harmoniously.
If you want to learn more about how Huthwaite International can help your team develop a highly effective virtual communications strategy visit: https://www.huthwaiteinternational.com/business-performance-solutions/delivery-options/virtual-learning
Brand guidelines: the antidote to your business’ identity crisis
By Andrew Johnson, Creative Director and Co-Founder.
How well do you really know your business?
Do you know which derivative of your logo to use on a pink background? Have you got a preferred font for PowerPoint presentations? Would you be able to look at a range of social posts and pick out the ones from your brand?
If your answer to any of the above is no, it’s probably time to think about your brand guidelines. Whether you’ve already got a set but feel they need a refresh or you’re starting from scratch, it’s crucial to have a firm grasp on your marketing do’s and don’ts.
Consistency makes you memorable
Before we get into the details of what to include, why do you even need brand guidelines? The simple answer is consistency.
Consistency is arguably the most important element of marketing. It makes your brand recognisable and helps you become known for a certain look and feel. Having a consistent brand also builds familiarity with your audience. People want to know what to expect from you. If you’re persistently using the same logos, imagery and tone of voice (TOV), people will start to take note and, over time, become fond of your brand. This is how brands become household names.
What’s more, just because you think you know your business inside out doesn’t mean everyone who joins your team does. For anyone creating marketing materials for your business, brand guidelines are an invaluable tool to ensure everything is in line with your desired look and feel.
Building your brand
Having a set of concrete brand rules will help your company look its best at all times. So, what type of things should you include in your brand guidelines?
- Define your vibe with TOV
Tone of voice is your brand’s personality coming through in words. Do you want to appear funny or serious? Casual or formal? Cheeky or respectful? Enthusiastic or matter of fact? Your TOV will be a blend of these different elements and work on a scale.
In your brand guidelines, you should clearly state “we write like this” and “we don’t write like this”. Are there any words you don’t like? Can you use casual contractions (“you’re”, “it’s”, “can’t”) or would you prefer to take the more formal route and avoid them? Are you comfortable shortening your brand name from, say, “Hyped Marketing” to “Hyped” or should the full name be used at all times?
These are all important things to consider if you want to make sure anyone writing marketing materials for you is on the same page.
- Pick (and stick to) your colour palette
Colours have a remarkable way of evoking certain feelings. For example, blue is often associated with trust, which is why you’ll see banks and hospitals use it a lot. Once you’ve chosen your colour palette, it’s important to stick to it to create a cohesive feel across all materials.
Your brand guidelines should contain CMYK, RGB, Pantone and Hex colour references for each colour in your palette. These references make it easy for anyone producing or printing materials for you to ensure they have an exact colour match — rather than just taking a wild guess!
- Learn your logos
Your logo should reflect what your company does day-to-day and marry together your colour palette and TOV into one little emblem.
Most businesses have derivatives of their primary logo, which should be used wherever possible. Your choice of logo will depend on where it appears. For example, you might use a white version of your logo on a solid colour background or a black version when colour printing isn’t available. Icon logos (with no accompanying text) also tend to be more suitable for social media profiles.
It’s also important that your guidelines include the correct proportions, opacity, colour usage and exclusion zone so that your logo always appears as intended. No one likes a squashed, off-colour logo!
- Tune into typeface
Selecting one or two fonts to be used across all materials is vital for maintaining consistency and expressing your brand personality. Do you prefer serif or sans serif? Sans serif is becoming increasingly popular (particularly for online materials as it’s easier to read on a screen) but serif still has a more formal effect.
In your guidelines, define where these fonts should be used. For example, you might use one for internal communications and another for external or different ones for online or offline materials. It’s also worth choosing one font for headings and another for body copy or sub-headings. Make sure you note which colours from your palette should be used as well.
- Include the right imagery
Elegant copy, snazzy colours and a slick logo are all essential for your brand’s identity. But what about images? It’s key to include a section in your guidelines about the kind of imagery that should be used across your marketing materials.
Do you prefer photographic or illustrative imagery? Should your images feature people? Will you take the photos yourself or are you sourcing them elsewhere? If so, where are you sourcing them from? Get it all written down to ensure all imagery used is in line with the look and feel you want to create.
It’s never too late…
You may be reading this and thinking it’s too late for you to draw up brand guidelines for your company — but it never is.
While it may feel daunting to overhaul the way you produce your marketing materials, progressing with more consistency only cements what works for your brand and helps dispose of anything that doesn’t.
Are you looking to refine your brand and ensure it’s instantly recognisable? Get in touch with us today to learn more about our branding services and how we can help create brand guidelines and a TOV document for your business.
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