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Perfectionist at work – good or bad thing?

Traditionally, perfectionism is given positive connotations, and rightly so – there are many good qualities associated with the perfectionist. However, in a workplace environment, it may not be the most coveted attribute among co-workers for a few reasons. So, is being a perfectionist a good or a bad thing?

The truth is, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Perfectionism means you have extremely high standards, you work hard and you usually have a vision of what you want and you know when you have reached it.

But the thing is, the standards the perfectionist strives for are their standards, personal to them and therefore they might not share the same vision flawlessness as their colleagues. This is where friction can arise between colleagues and discontent within the individual.

Not only that, not settling until the task is done to standard can cause work to be completed after deadlines, the knock-on effects of which can be far reaching. Essentially, the perfectionist loses sight of what’s really important – getting the task done on time and in full. 

If you find yourself falling into the perfectionist trap, even if only occasionally, then consider the following:

  • Understand that good enough is enough. If you find yourself going over the same piece of work time and again looking for ways to tweak it on the off chance you can make it even better – stop. Sure, review your work but when you think it’s 80 to 90 percent good enough, move on.
  • Accept that making mistakes are normal. They are a standard part of the learning process and that as long as you do just that – learn from them – then there’s no problem. The reality is that reaching 100 per cent perfection is probably impossible so don’t fret about the possible consequences of making an error and don’t concern yourself with the notion that you will be judged if your work isn’t absolute perfection.
  • Consider your priorities. What impact will improving a particular piece of work have? I mean, what will it actually do? What is its value? If you can’t answer these questions with valid reasons then you need to move on to the next task because it may not be worth your while continuing. Don’t let low priority, more trivial things, consume your valuable time, effort and skills when you could be applying all three to something that genuinely requires it.

Perfectionism can stem from anxiety possibly caused by stress at work or perhaps a poor work/life balance. For more information on these topics and to see how we can help you and/or your team improve performance, visit our website by clicking here or to find out about our free Leadership & Management seminars, click here.

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How to overcome procrastination

Most people are guilty of procrastination at work for one of a variety of reasons:

  • The task is difficult or unpleasant so you either don’t want to or don’t know how to do it
  • The task is a small one, it won’t take long and can wait until later
  • The task is huge, it’s difficult to know where to begin
  • The task is low priority, you will do it when you’ve finished more urgent things
  • If you delay the task, it might not need doing at all
  • You don’t want to run out of work; you might look expendable.
  • You do your best work under pressure so let’s wait for the task to become a more urgent matter

To deal with procrastination, focus on the result, not on the process. Think about how satisfying it will be to get that monkey off your back and do this any time you start to feel unmotivated or negative about the task.

If you are tempted to leave the task thinking if you ignore it for long enough it will go away then you are taking a risk. It could suddenly become something that needs top priority and you end up having to start from scratch to get it done quickly – meaning the quality suffers. 

Try the following recommended techniques for overcoming procrastination:

  • Tackle the job you least want to do first thing when you get to work. You will experience a great sense of achievement and the day can only get better after that.
  • If you’re not sure how to do the task, analyse exactly what information you need and where to get it. Seek help now rather than on deadline day when no one is around.
  • The task may be simple but sometimes the unexpected happens and you have no contingency time left. Schedule a start time for the task on your ‘to do’ list and get it done.
  • Break down large tasks into manageable chunks; scheduling each with both a start time and finish time, and tick them off on completion.
  • You may believe you do your best work under pressure, but this attitude can convey an arrogant disregard for others whose input or participation is needed. Set a new earlier, deadline to allow for any unavoidable delays.
  • Promise yourself a reward on completion of the task. This works well if you are a ‘towards’ person – someone who is motivated by moving towards the attainment of targets and goals. This is also known as a pleasure motivator.
  • You may, however, be an ‘away from’ person, in which case, the painful consequences of not completing the task may be so dire that they give you a real kick-start to get it done. To activate this kind of motivator, imagine the worst consequences of not doing the task, and then multiply the seriousness of these consequences 100-fold. Not surprisingly, this is known as a pain motivator.
  • Finally, you could set yourself a challenge. Decide how long you are prepared to work on this task for and then use a digital timer to count down the minutes until it alerts you with a ‘ping’ that your allocated time is up. This works particularly well with mundane tasks such as filing or a housekeeping activity on your PC. You will find yourself competing against the clock to see how much you can achieve before the time goes.

There is an unwritten law around the concept that work expands to fill the time available. However, if you do complete all your workload, this leaves you time to be proactive and seek new opportunities that could enhance your career and professional standing.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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How to build a successful team

First of all, let’s establish what a team is. The Collins English Dictionary describes it as a “group of people organised to work together” which sums it up quite well. Would you define it differently?

Numerous experiments have been performed examining team building and group dynamics, one of which was put forward by Dr Bruce Tuckman in 1965. Tuckman’s developmental model consists of four stages which showing the behaviour and performance of teams in the workplace.

The four stages are as follows:

  • Forming – The team is not yet a team, rather a collection of individuals. They start to understand the goals of the team but they are not yet clear on their role within it.
  • Storming – Individuals tend to argue and even get upset about their role as unexpected difficulties arise and it becomes apparent that the task is more complicated than anticipated.
  • Norming – Only now do the individuals begin to work as a team. The ground rules have been established, roles have been defined and there is more focus on the task at hand.
  • Performing – The pinnacle of team building. Individuals understand what the other members of the team are good at and where their weaknesses lie. There is a sense of loyalty and total co-operation to the cause.

Getting from one stage to the next is not always straightforward though; it takes time, effort, perseverance and  patience. Invariably, there will be members of the team who don’t get along, which can be challenging for everyone on the team not just those directly involved.

If there is someone on your team with whom you struggle to get along, consider the following:

  • It might be the role they have to play that you find disagreeable rather than the person behind it.
  • If you have history with that person which may be the cause of the friction, talk it out with them and iron out where any differences lie.
  • Sit down and clarify what your role is what that person and vice versa so you both gain a better understanding of the pressures each of you face.
  • Make sure your focus is on the task rather than the person. Keep it civil and don’t put your energy towards feelings of anger or frustration.

Please click here to visit our website to find out more about how we can help improve your team as well as our other ILM accredited Leadership & Management courses.

 
 

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How do you maintain self-motivation at work?

When things are not all you want them to be in your professional life, motivation is one of the first things that can start to waver. During these periods, there are certain things you can do keep yourself motivated which in turn will make you more productive and, of course, happier.

1. Surround yourself with positive people. You are what you think and those around you can influence your thoughts. So if you sit next to someone in the office who is always being negative, it is bound to get you down.

2. Take on some more responsibility. It could be that you have lost motivation because you are not being sufficiently challenged at work. Ask your manager if there is any of the projects you can get involved with. Even if there isn’t right now, showing willing means you are more likely to be thought of the next time something comes up.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize. Is there something you are working towards either within the workplace or outside of the office? Everybody needs to have a goal – an objective and an outcome they want to achieve. Are you pushing for a promotion or a pay rise? Is there are holiday coming up that you are really looking forward to? If you are lacking motivation, frequently remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing. 

4. Be active. Regular exercise has been proven to help maintain a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. If you are feeling mentally sluggish, this can often transmit to your energy levels and you can feel drained. By actually being physically active you energise your body and your motivation levels can, in turn, increase as a result.

5. Remember why you have it good. When lacking in motivation, it can be easy to fall into the trap of only thinking about all the terrible aspects of your working life. Each day, it can help to take the time to think about all the things you like about your job, the things you are grateful for, and the positive impact your job has on other aspects of your life. Again, it’s all about getting into the habit of being in a positive frame of mind.

These are just five things that can help increase self-motivation and which you might find useful the next time you are staring at your computer screen wondering why you no longer get that buzz you used to get from a job well done.

At Catalyst, we run learning and development courses covering many aspects of management, coaching, people skills and Motivational Insights™. Click here for more information.

I know there are many other tools and techniques out there that work well so please leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

 

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Employee issues – capability and conduct

Capability and conduct should be treated separately and it’s important to recognise the difference between warning someone for a capability matter or their conduct. Some organisations have separate disciplinary procedures for dealing with capability and conduct.

Capability

Dismissal on grounds of capability could be for one of three reasons:

  1. Lack of or loss of an essential qualification to do the job
  2. Lack of ability or skill – this can be repeated minor incompetence or one serious act of incompetence (poor performance)
  3. Lack of capability because of ill health

Qualification

If an employee loses or fails to achieve a qualification necessary to do his job, he may be dismissed on grounds of capability. However, other options should be explored if, for example, an employee whose job it is to travel to clients loses his driver’s licence for a year. Can they work from home or office? Can they use public transport? Can he do another job in the business while his licence is withheld?

Poor Work Performance

It’s the manager’s job to show that poor performance is the reason for the dismissal and that you reasonably believe your employee is not capable of working to the required standard. Rather than dismiss for a minor incompetence as a first offence, it should be something really serious like a life-threatening action or omission.

You must help the employee by doing everything reasonable to help them meet the required standard of performance by using coaching and retraining and giving a reasonable amount of time to improve. You must warn the employee before dismissal of the consequences of failure to improve.

Ill Health

It is not unfair to dismiss an employee who is no longer capable of working because they are too unwell to do so. In cases of long-term ill health, you should concentrate on investigating the medical facts and consulting with the affected employee about the available options.

A person may be disabled if he has a physical or mental impairment which is substantial and exercises a long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

You must consider all the other options apart from dismissal. It may be possible to find an alternative job or change the job content to accommodate the employee’s changed requirements.

As an employer, you have to be seen to be considering all the options properly and going through a fair procedure to avoid an unfair dismissal claim, even if the end result would have been the same anyway, fair procedure or no fair procedure.

Conduct

Dismissal for a reason relating to the conduct of an employee will be fair, provided the procedure is properly followed. Examples of misconduct:

  • Poor timekeeping
  • Poor attendance

Gross misconduct is a very serious breach of conduct by the employee. It may be an act or an omission, but it is tantamount to a fundamental breach of contract by the employee. Examples of gross misconduct:

  • Theft
  • Fighting, abusive or intimidating behaviour
  • Consumption of alcohol while on duty

Your procedure must list the offences you consider to be gross misconduct in your organisation.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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How Coaches Can Help Get Your Business Off The Ground

If you’re an entrepreneur or small start-up, developing your business plan can feel like an overwhelming task. Often, entrepreneurs will be the big visionaries behind a business – the charismatic individuals who can start a business from scratch, spot an opportunity in the market and have the drive, energy and resilience to make it happen. But they are unlikely to be the ‘details’ people.

Successful business planning requires a variety of skills. Marketing input is needed to formulate a strategic route to market, understanding the product’s features and key selling points, its distribution routes, pricing, promotional routes and marketing channels.

Financial input is required to project sales, revenues, costs and margins. Purchasing input is required to understand raw cost of materials, production costs, labour costs and overheads. Operational specialists are needed to advise on the means to get products to market and deliver to time and budget. Additionally, the HR input will be needed to work out what resources are required to deliver the company’s objectives and ensure the right talent is in place.

For a small start-up or SME, this requires input from a range of perspectives, knowledge-sets and experience levels. This is where business plan help comes in. There are a variety of sources for getting planning help; you can pay for consultancy support from a specialist provider, get in a contractor with a specialist planning skillset, or look for a mentor or coach to help you through the process.

Experienced coaches or mentors are ideal, as they will help lead you through the process and develop your own skills as you learn, rather than doing it for you and charging a commercial fee. Many mentors are also offered on a subsidised or even free of charge basis, through schemes run by local economic partnerships.

These ‘business angels’ volunteer their time to help small start-ups and SMEs to grow and they will usually be experienced and successful business people in their own right, with plenty of experience to pass on.

Get in touch with your local business services provider – business link is a good place to start for advice or your local chamber of commerce can help too. There is a regional network of providers that use a mix of government and private funding to offer business services such as mentoring and coaching to local businesses and help them grow and develop the regional economy.

Often, these organisations offer a raft of complementary business services too at subsidised costs, such as training, business advice, apprenticeships, regulatory consultancy and accreditations and alternative business finance access. Networking is usually a big aspect of these services and a great way to swap knowledge and experience with other businesses, meet new contacts, potential suppliers and potential contacts.

So get in touch with your local services provider today to find out what services are available to you to pin down a competitive business plan and take your business forward to the next stage.

Article brought to you by Rob who can recommend contacting Grow Cornwall for free business advice if you are a Cornish based SME.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Coaching, Management

 

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How do YOU create a happy workplace?

We’ve all been in jobs where the atmosphere is, shall we say, less than harmonious. People grumbling, gossip flying, unmotivated individuals and conflict galore. Nobody wants to spend eight hours of their day in a place like that.

While it’s not so straightforward to create and maintain a happy working environment but there are certain things that can be done to help cultivate one. The result is a more productive workplace with motivated personnel and a happy workforce.

There are so many factors at play so here are just five things that can help. We encourage you to let us know what works for you in the comments section below.

1. Be Positive

Show that you are positive, approachable and willing and able to lend a hand if asked. Even things like smiling and pleasantries convey a positive demeanour and people will remember you for a simple, ‘hi, how are you?’ Also, be respectful; do not engage in tittle-tattle or gossip, and ask questions before making assumptions – particularly when talking about other people.

2. Be Sociable

Ask you’re colleagues how their weekend was, chat about whatever sporting event took place the previous night. Does your company have a football team? Join it! 

Be the one to buy someone a birthday cake or get the morning coffee and don’t be afraid to suggest a quick drink after work. Getting to know the people behind the job titles you see day in and day out can really stand you in good stead should problems arise.

3. Personal Space

Don’t invade personal space whether you are talking to someone at their desk or sitting next to them spilling paperwork everywhere. If you share a desk or workspace, come to a mutual agreement as to where the boundaries are and stick to it. This shows a mutual respect and means if there is a pre-arranged agreement both parties know where they stand.

4. Be Honest

Be ethical and do the right thing. Don’t promise things unless you know you will be able to deliver them. Whether that is a reward for a completed task or saying you will have something delivered by a certain time.  If you say yes just to appease somebody then this will only lead to trouble further down the line so be honest about what you can and cannot do and don’t feel pressured into taking on too much responsibility. 

5. Don’t Assign Blame

Or at least, don’t vocalise this even if you do think someone else is at fault. This normally leads to snippy remarks, arguments and a general unproductive and unpleasant atmosphere. If you are the one to appear only too happy to listen to the other person’s point of view and willing to show empathy then the person with whom you have a problem will likely be much more receptive to negotiation. 

 

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