I'm just saying...why does there have to be homework after work?

One of the delights of finishing school was saying goodbye to homework. No doubt it served it's educational purpose but for me it was the thing that stood between afternoon tea and other "stuff" - TV, reading, talking on the phone with friends. The stuff I wanted to do.

And now it seems that we are all expected to still do homework after work.

In Australia yesterday Sue Morphet, the CEO of one of country's largest companies, Pacific Brands, came out talking about the need for a go-home-for-dinner culture being one of the cultural changes that could help women keep on their pathway to executive roles and stay involved in their domestic lives and responsibilities.

The sentiment is excellent and cultural change is needed.

But is this treating the symptom not the cause?

Ms. Morphet was quoted in a number of articles as saying, "Many companies expect management to be there for such late hours. With all the technology we've got, they should go home and work on the dining room table afterwards..."


Why do we need to do homework?

Why are we expecting people to work such long hours that workplace flexibility means burning the midnight oil at the dining room table?

Technology is good. I love it. (I particularly love my Mac Air at the moment.)

But does technology mean that we can't explore the deeper issues that are impacting the lives of workers?

Can companies not afford to hire a few more people to spread the workload around? Or look at practices and processes that mean we get a hundred emails + a day?

Sue Morphett hit the nail on the head when she said companies expect management to be there such late hours.

Perhaps this is the cultural issue that needs to be reviewed?

You don't need to agree...I'm just sayin'

Thanks for the chat

- Karen

P.S. I think it's great that leaders like Sue Morphett are putting these issues on the table by raising them. It gives us something to think about and then hopefully, action will follow.

5 Fast Tips... to negotiate for what you need.

Negotiating is an essential business skill.

It determines the outcomes you achieve for your organization, your department, your team and yourself.

There's a popular perception that women aren't as 'tough' or as 'strong' at negotiations as men. I suspect anyone that has ever sat across the table from Hilary Clinton, Maggie Thatcher or many women who have led successful businesses would tend to dispute this common held view.

It's a skill. And a skill can be learnt.

You just have to be willing to do it, take some time to learn how and then, and this is the hardest part, actually be prepared to try what you learn and integrate it into what you do.

The thought of negotiating can be intimidating, conjuring up images of corporate mergers, industrial disputes and United Nations peace treaties. But it doesn't have to be scary. If you can get control of the TV remote control or influence the choice of restaurant with your friends - you can negotiate - you already are.

Once you recognize that negotiation is just the process by which you reach an agreement - you can develop and apply your skills in business too.

Here's 5 Fast Tips for negotiations at work:

1. Be willing to negotiate - whether it's for sufficient time to complete your work, budget or resources - you won't be successful if you don't get what you need. People aren't mind readers to know what you need or have the time to figure it out. You have to be prepared to ask. In the business world it is expected that you will do this - negotiating is a core career skill in business.

2. Consider the implications of not getting what you need - whether it be for yourself, your team or your customers there will be a cost if you aren't successful.  When you understand the implications it can provide inspiration. And it will provide you with a persuasive discussion point for your negotiation.

3. Negotiate for yourself as you would for someone else - if you don't get the time, resources or whatever YOU need - other people are going to be impacted eventually. If you don't get the time off you need to spend with your family or the money you need - eventually your work and other people will suffer anyway.

There is no reason why your own negotiations shouldn't be your priority. Or that you should need any other justification. But if you reticent to negotiate for yourself and it gives you inspiration to negotiate a little bit harder for someone else and this approach helps - use it!

4. Ask for what you need  - this is normal, expected and anticipated business behaviour. You are entitled and expected to negotiate - so do it! If you don't - others will wonder why.

5. Be confident - there's no need for your approach to be timid, apologetic or uncertain. Be clear, firm and true to your personal style. When you approach a communication confidently it promotes confidence that you know what you need and why. And that confidence is persuasive.

Think about what you need and why and ask for something this week. As they say, Practise Makes Perfect!

Thanks for the chat

- Karen

P.S. See Chapter 10 of "Hot Tips for Career Chicks" for more tips on negotiation including the infamous "pony principle".

Text is a language too ... LOL!

Last weekend I sent a text message to my great friend Heather who lives in London for her birthday (cunning way to hide the fact that I had not sent her birthday card from Australia in quite enough time to reach her by her birthday I thought!)

"Happy Birthday" I text. "You r so lovely...LOL" she replied. Mmmmm

You are lovely - Laugh Out Loud, I wondered?

Am I lovely or was that a joke? Or was it funny that it was her birthday?

Or was the game up and she realised over the magic of a text message that I had not in fact even posted a birthday card at all?

And then I remembered.

Whilst in Australia and the U.S. the abbreviation of LOL is "laugh out loud", in the U.K. it's "lots of love!"

Excellent. Relief. She's not laughing at me across the world but sending me good wishes.

Communication mix ups happen every day, particularly in business.

Choosing the 'right' words can make such a difference to make sure that what what we say is what we mean. I often talk about the importance of knowing the language of your organisation, profession and industry.

This text message exchange was a reminder to me that it's not only about choosing the words you use, it's about taking the time out to think about the words that others use - and making sure we understand the context of what others are saying to us. Even in text messages!

I wasn't really worried about the LOL message - Heather did once catch the train from London to Paris just to have lunch with me - but it was another simple, reminder about the traps of every day communication.

Must go - I need to actually go and buy a birthday card to send (shhh don't tell Heather...).

Thanks for the chat!

- Karen

P.S. Happy Birthday Heather, LOL (English meaning!)

5 Fast Tips... to choose the right words

Dictionary.com has 179 different definitions for the meaning of the word "run", 118 for the word "set" and 98 for the word "go". These are not complex words with polysyllables or requiring the specialized knowledge of an industry or profession to understand.

Yet with so many meanings it is very easy, even for these simple words, to be misunderstood. English is a complex language with nuances and multiple possible interpretations of the same statement.

The words we use can play a large part in influencing how well we are understood.

Words can have very different meanings in different situations. It helps if you can select words that ensure that what you say is what you mean and that this is what is understood by others. Understanding your audience, the context of a discussion and the meaning of certain words to other groups (this can change by age, culture, industry) can help you choose the right words.

To ensure that you are understood, choose words that:

  • simplify what you are saying
  • minimize the need for further explanation, and
  • maximize the impact of your messages.

Here are 5 Fast Tips for the best choice of words. In general they are words that are:

1. Objective

2. Factual

3. Assertive

4. Positive, and

5. Action-oriented

Positive 'can-do' words create positive expectations about your performance and abilities.

When you do deliver to those expectations it will reinforce your reputation and build a positive view of your operating style.

In the business world, people react positively when you use words that demonstrates you can do what needs to be done. That's what they want to hear.

Be confident in what you say and demonstrate this with the words you use.

Thanks for the chat

- Karen

P.S. There are more words about choosing your words in Chapter 2 of "Hot Tips For Career Chicks".