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Category Archives: Workforce Development

How To Make a Repeated First Impression

confidence-dictionaryEveryone knows how important a first impression is during a job interview.  But after the job is secured and you’ve settled in, does it really matter what type of impression you make on others?  Well, if you want to be effective in your career, then I say the answer to that question should be yes.  Regardless at what level your position is on the organizational chart, you should always be repeating that ‘first impression’ vibe because that’s how you can best display confidence at work.

So, whether you are an entry-level employee, a volunteer, or a CEO…take a look at these suggestions that you can practice every day in order to display the best ‘first impression’ again and again:

  • Clothes – It’s important to convey a polished, professional appearance in the workplace.  Looking the part exudes confidence to others around you.  Regardless of what you are wearing, be certain it is high quality, neat and proportionate to your body.  The old adage is “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  Also – avoid a lot of accessories and busy patterns that will distract others.  So, basically…be sure to look your best every time you step into the workplace.
  • Eye Contact – Establishing and maintaining eye contact with others is your best way to communicate confidence and interest.  When speaking or listening to someone, always look directly into their eyes for 3-5 seconds before looking away or moving to someone else.  This will show them you are interested and involved in the communication process.  If you constantly avoid eye contact, then you are viewed as insecure, anxious and somewhat evasive – which will erode any confidence.
  • Facial Expressions – There are seven basic human emotions (anger, sadness, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, surprise) with scientifically proven facial expressions associated with each.  These expressions are often involuntary and unconscious.  Be aware of what your face is revealing to others and be sure to choose the right expression that matches the message you want to send.
  • Interactions – Initiate conversations with others.  Taking the initiative to interact with others displays confidence in yourself enough to walk up to a complete strange and begin a conversation.  Learning this process will boost your self-confidence and the confidence levels of others around you.

Gaining and maintaining the confidence of your workforce will go a long way when it comes to making tough decisions because many other attributes are associated with confidence – such as respect, loyalty and commitment.  I’m sure there are many other ways to make a repeated first impression, but the ones noted above will get your started on the right track.  Implement these suggestions today and watch how your confidence level increases dramatically.

 

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Honor: Applicable in the Workplace?

honor1Most every school has something they call the ‘honor roll’ and it’s always a distinguished recognition of those students who are doing things right and are successful in the classroom.  But when we move from the halls of academia and into the world of business, it becomes more and more challenging to know when you are ‘doing things right.’  It’s my opinion that even in the business environment, one’s honor can still be utilized as a measurement tool of a managers effectiveness and overall success within the workplace.

In today’s organizations, it’s easy for managers to feel compelled to ‘adapt’ or be everything to everyone.  But being a person of excellence – one of respect, means you must strike a careful balance in all your actions and decisions in order to maintain your honor in the eyes of others.  We’ve all heard the horror stories of those bad bosses that basically take advantage of every opportunity – both ethical and unethical ones – just to get ahead and benefit only themselves.  It’s those scenarios that play out in the minds of workers that create a tension sometimes between various levels in the workplace, i.e. upper management and other workers.  Therefore, to correct or improve upon that stereotypical mindset…it’s vital that today’s managers display honor in the workplace.  How can one maintain his or her honor and still be an effective manager?  Here are five suggestions to consider:

  • Be honest – It’s critical to be honest with your employees whenever they ask direct questions…or even indirect questions.  If you try to lie or exaggerate truths, then you will be found out and your image of honor will be damaged beyond repair.  Always be tactful, but truthful.
  • Trust others – Give others a chance to develop that trusting relationship.  The more you trust others, then the more others will view you as being trustworthy.  Be sure to develop a strong bond with your workforce and always-always-always keep your word.
  • Protect your space – Don’t feel like you have to be a ‘part of the crowd’ just to be liked or honored by the workforce.  It’s easy to be lured into doing things that everyone else is doing.  So be mindful of what is ‘appropriate’ behavior, then guard your personal space to maintain and display that behavior.
  • Operate on facts – Identify and call out others (if you have to) that are spreading rumors, gossip or any information that can’t be proven or substantiated.  Sending a strong message that you’re only interested in facts will show others that you don’t want to participate in the ‘water cooler conversations’.
  • Know the difference – Be able to distinguish between an honorable act and a dishonorable act.  If it doesn’t sound right, feel right or look right…then more than likely it’s a dishonorable action.  So, be cautious and think before you act or before you speak.  Not knowing the difference is probably the quickest way to be out of a job.

These are just a few suggestions to help you in establishing and/or maintaining your honor in the workplace.  Take time this week to practice these and other ideas and see what type of response you get from others.  Have a great day!!

 

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Time Management – Step #4 of 4

time expandedThis is the last step in our understanding of the perception of time and how we can best manage it.  Step #4 is learning how to expand time.  Most us have a narrow view of time – that is, we simply look at the seconds and the minutes that make up each hour…and the hours that make up each day; however, we should also look at how much we can pack into each of those hours…or how we can ‘expand’ our moments within a certain time period.  This final step of learning how to best manipulate time and manage it accordingly requires a great deal of creativity.  Mastering this technique will definitely separate the great leaders from the good leaders.

So, how can you expand time?  Well…it’s all about using all of your senses to experience each and every day.  In other words, become more aware of the importance of each minute and look for ways that you can experience a moment more indepth or how you can have a more meaningful experience regarding a specific time period.  Think of it this way – if time is wider, then you can fill it up with more things and take more from it as well.  Maybe this is similar to multi-tasking, but in a sense that you maximize all of your senses to experience a wider, fuller moment.  One example would be those individuals who enjoy rising early in the morning so that they have time to make coffee, read the paper and just take in the beauty of the morning before they begin the routine of getting dressed and out the door to work.  They are expanding time – using their senses to capture the moment.

Even though we can’t stop time or add extra hours to our days, we can alter how we experience and perceive the time we’ve been given.  If you can your relationship with time into a positive one, then you can experience a liberating life that allows you to focus on the important things.  So…as you can see, there’s a lot more to time management than just prioritizing which meeting you need to attend.  If you learn to measure time correctly, understand how circumstances affect your perception of time, determine how to best control your perception of time and learn how to expand it…then you’ll have a full grasp on how to manipulate the limited time we have so that you can be more productive, efficient and successful.  Try it out and see what happens!!   Also…be sure and follower me on Twitter – @craigholloman.   Have a great day!

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Time Management – Step #3 of 4

time manipulationContinuing to look at how we view the time we are given, Step #3 is about controlling your perception of time.  In Step #1, we discussed how to measure time correctly; and in Step #2, we looked at circumstances that affect our perception of time.  So now, we need to identify ways that we can control our perception of time.  That is – how can we speed it up or slow it down?  So, the saying of “Time flies when you’re having fun” may not be true in all cases because we all have a different interpretation of “fun.”  Scientists have already determined there are ways that we can manipulate our perception of time…to the extent of even conducting research on a new drug that will be able to alter our minds and our perception of time.  I am not certain that I am ready or willing to go as far as popping a pill to modify my perception of time, but there are other ways I believe you may be able to accomplish the same goal without the induction of drugs into your system.  So, take a look at these ideas:

  • Do Something Outside – Taking a walk, going for a hike, swimming, etc.  These allow you to breathe some fresh air (which is good for you too, by the way) and helps you escape from watching the clock.  Being relaxed and focused on the scenery and environment around you will often tend to make time tick by rapidly.
  • Talk on the Phone – Getting enthralled in a discussion with a family member or close friend will also  make time go by quicker than you think.
  • Read a Book or Watch Television – Depending on how focused you are on the book or television show, your perception of time could go either way here.  The more in-depth and involved you are, the faster time will fly by; otherwise, it could slow to a snail’s pace.
  • Listen to Music – Sometimes, listening to music will slow down the pace of time and allow you to truly relax and enjoy a moment.  This activity tends to slow the pace of time down somewhat.
  • Regulate Your Emotions – Research indicates that whenever we put forth an effort to try to suppress or enhance our emotions, then our perception of time is stretched out.  This self-regulation of our emotions is one form of manipulation that can impact your perception of time.

All in all, we must remember that time is relative.  Albert Einstein explained it best when he said, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”  As a manager, if you can master the art of manipulating the perception of time – then a whole new paradigm will evolve related to productivity and organizational effectiveness.  Check back later for the last step related to time management – learning how to expand our awareness of time.  Have a great day!

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Time Management – Step #2 of 4

time fliesIn Step #1, we looked at how we should use both quantitative and qualitative elements to best balance and measure time.  Today, in Step #2, we consider how circumstances affect our perception of time.  We’ve all heard the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  Well, that’s not 100% scientifically accurate…BUT…there is some truth in it, especially related to our perception of time.  According to the experts, time seems to move a little faster when we are enjoying ourselves and are more focused on the details of our work; however, that same time seems to slow down considerably when we are anxious, unhappy or anticipating something.  For example, spending a great afternoon at the beach seems to go by so quickly for me because I am enjoying the scenery and relaxing…but if I am waiting for a call back from the doctor with results of a medical test, then it seems time just stands still.

Marney Makridakis explains in her book about Creating Time, that “time moves faster when something else supersedes our inherent attention to time.”  Therefore, for me – when I am more focused on relaxing and enjoying a vacation, time tends to move super fast…or when I am up against a hard deadline and I am so focused on the details of getting things completed, time slips away very quickly.  So – how can we better manage these circumstances that affect our perception of time?  It’s not easy.  It may help to begin by simply making a list of those circumstances in the past where it seems time moved quickly for you…and a list of those events when time moved very slow.  This will help you to better understand those moments and/or events that allow you to be more relaxed or focused, versus those times that you are overly anxious or full of anticipation.  Then maybe you can take steps to grasp how you are viewing the use of your time each and every day.

Personally for me, when I take a road trip of any significant distance, it always seems that the travel time to get there is much longer than the travel time to return.  This is because I am in a state of heightened anticipation when I am going, more-so than when I am returning. So, I look for things that will relax me or keep me focused – like listen to music or mentally plan out work items – so the drive doesn’t seem so long.  Make your lists and consider those circumstances that impact your perception of time – then adjust it as you wish.

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Time Management – Step #1 of 4

timeMost of us at some point have said “I wished I had just a little more time.”  Time is that all important factor for us in getting things accomplished.  It’s stable, unchanging, consistent, dependable – yet we still repeatedly think that the clock moves at lightning speed on some days, and at a turtle’s pace in other moments.  So within this posting and the next 3 postings, I want to share with you four critical and different steps in how you can manage time and be a little more effective in your daily routines.

Step #1 – Measure Time Correctly

For the most part, a majority of us tend to measure time in a quantitative manner – like the numbers on your clock; but, time can also be measured in a qualitative manner, as well.  It’s those qualitative measurements that will be the most important in the long run.  So, instead of looking at how long it takes to accomplish a task, look more closely to see what qualitative measurements were accomplished, such as:

  • How much did you learn?
  • How much satisfaction did you feel?
  • How focused were you on the details?
  • How did the productivity affect your attitude or outlook?

I know this idea may seem a little strange, but remember you don’t need to completely abandon those quantitative manners to start measuring in qualitative terms.  It actually takes a combination of both – quantitative and qualitative – to balance the measurement of time in a way that you feel as if you have maximized every single second of the day.  Let’s take sleep for example:  I would much rather have 5 hours of good, sound sleep than 8 hours of tossing and turning.

It’s similar when evaluating our time – even though we are aware of the passing of each minute and hour, it’s the quality of those moments that really make a difference in how we perceive the passing of time.  So, what adjustments do you need to make to start balancing how you measure your time on a daily basis?  Check back this week for Step #2 for suggestions on what circumstances may be affecting your perception of time.  Have a great day!!

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4 Simple Ways to Encourage Your Employees

encouragementMost of us do have a life outside of our employment.  Sometimes our work gets in the middle of our life events – such as kids ballgames, doctor visits, school plays, graduations, etc. and we have to adjust to participate; however, sometimes, our life events creep into our workplace, as well.  Given the current state of our economy, increased home foreclosures, difficult relationships, challenging family members and more, it’s easy to understand how workers have these things on their mind even while at work.  Most times, we never know what’s going on in the personal lives of our employees or those around us.  We never know when just a simple word of appreciation or encouragement might be the highlight of someone else’s day.

So, here are a few quick tips to implement into your managerial regime while you’re at work…and maybe, just maybe, you will make a huge difference in the life of at least one employee:

  • Be Attentive – Watch for signs from your employees that something is going on.  Things like tardiness, lack of performance, bad attitudes may be just a symptom of a deeper issue.  Also, be certain to really listen to your employees when they come to you.  Listening will help you determine in what areas your staff needs encouragement.
  • Be Positive – Focus on the positives instead of the negatives.  If you always expect the worst, that’s probably what you’re going to get.  So, look for ways to highlight the positive aspects of projects, employees, and teams.
  • Be Genuine – Don’t give ‘canned’ encouragement to your employees.  Saying ‘Way to go!’, ‘Good job!’ or ‘You can do it!’ can come across as a bit insincere and meaningless.  Find other ways to encourage your staff by asking follow-up questions like “how were you able to do that?  I knew you would.”  These types of responses tell the employee that you are really listening and are in-tune with what’s going on with them.
  • Be Real – You owe it to your employees to be direct and straight-forward without glossing over reality.  Every day can’t be all roses and rainbows and unicorns.  Make your employees aware of specific hurdles they may be facing at work, but then give them the tools to overcome those hurdles.  Being in the loop of what’s going on within the organization and knowing how it may affect them will give your employees more encouragement than you may realize.

Applying these four simple tips will help you to become a better person, a better manager and a better encourager to those around you.  And…just maybe some of that encouragement they receive at the workplace will carry them through those life events when they need just a little nudge to make it to the next day.  Have a great day and go mark your spot!!  Catch up with me on Twitter too – @craigholloman.

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