What to do when...you haven't seen your mentor in a while..

So you may already have a mentor but you haven't been in touch with them for a while.

Life happens. You get busy. They get busy. Time rushes by and you realize that you haven't been in touch with them for ages. And now you feel awkward because you let things slide.

What do you do?

It may be that the relationship needs to evolve (which will need you to establish new expectations or guidelines with the person) or there are still be real benefits for you in maintaining the mentoring side of things.

Either way, it's your responsibility to break the ice and make contact with your mentor.

The successful person you have selected as a mentor is likely to be very busy or at least very efficient with their time. It's highly unlikely that they need to think of things to do to fill up their time.

If someone has agreed to work with you as a mentor they will (usually) honor that commitment. But they won't want to chase you up. They think it is up to you to get back into there diary.

Send them an email.

Get on the phone.

Contact their assistant if they have one and make a time.

Break the ice with a text - if that's appropriate for your relationship with your mentor.

Make contact!

Don't let your relationship with a valuable mentor meander into nothingness i.e. breakdown through lack of contact.

Love to hear how you maintain contact with your mentor. Let's chat...

- Karen

words worth pondering: a good reason to have a mentor...

It makes sense that if you want to improve - it helps to find others who are already doing what you want to do, well.

Which is where a mentor can be important for your business career.

If you want to improve in an area - a role model or mentor to provide you with expertise and guidance that can be invaluable.

Do you have an area identified in your career plan where a mentor would help you improve your skills? Achieve your goals?

Something to ponder...

- Karen

Resolve Conflict: a key variable of your Operating Style.

How you manage your role in a conflict is important to the way that you are seen to manage yourself and your relationships with others.

Whether you are in conflict with someone else or you have become involved because of tension between team members, your staff or colleagues - how you handle these situations can impact positively (or negatively) on how others judge your performance and skills.

This week's theme on Career Chick Chat has been tips and ideas on how to resolve conflict at work.

This is a skill I have included in the C.O.D.E. to career success as being vital to your professional Operating Style.

Here's a recap of the tips from this week's blogs:

Works worth pondering...JFK and the different ways to approach a crisis...[Read more...]

What to do when...you need to have a tough conversation at work...[Read more]

5 Fast Tips...for resolving conflict at work...[Read more]

Career Chick Hot Tip: If there's conflict at work it's best to...[Read more]

Did you know...the most common causes of conflict...[Read more]

I hope these give you some tips and ideas to add to your career skill arsenal!

Next week's theme will be about Mentors...and why we all need them - so keep an eye out for the daily blogs!

Or Subscribe to the Newsletter to make sure you get a FREE round-up of the topics and tips each week.

Let's chat
- Karen

Did you know? The most common causes of conflict

None of this may be surprising - but a study of Canadian HR professionals found that the most common cause of conflict at work is warring egos and personality clashes- scoring a huge 86%!

The study published by Psychometrics Canada Ltd in 2009 found that other top causes are poor leadership (73%), lack of honesty (67%) and clashing values (59%).

Also unsurprisingly, it found that that the negative outcomes of conflict include:

  • personal insults and attacks
  • people being fired
  • resignations
  • sick leave
Not good for the people involved or the business.

Although there were also some positive benefits reported including conflict leading to the development of better solutions to problems and challenges, major innovations, increased motivation, a better understanding of others and higher work team performance.

The really important finding from the study was that nine out of ten respondents rate the ability to handle conflict as either a very important or critical leadership skill.

But here's the catch - the findings showed that there is a lot of need for improvement in the skills of current managers to do this - with 18% of those surveyed saying that current management and leadership is not at all effective in dealing with conflict and 63% grading them as being somewhat effective.

The good news is that the top 3 behaviors identified that would enable managers to address conflict more effectively are, with some thought and practise, able to be adopted as part of your Operating Style.

The top 3 behaviors identified to developing conflict resolution as a leadership skill were:

1. Be a model of the right behaviors - 84%

2. Identify and address underlying tensions before things go wrong - 83%

3. Provide more clarity over what's expected - 77%

Conflict will happen at work and when it does it's an opportunity to shine by how you handle it.

Love to hear any other attributes you think are key to demonstrating leadership in this area. Let's chat...

- Karen

Career Chick Hot Tip: If there's conflict at work it's best to...

The earlier the resolution, the less potential damage.

Relationships stay intact, negative business impacts are minimized and people are more willing to compromise.

And, you are seen as action-oriented and solution focused.

All part of a positive perception of your Operating Style.

Career Skill: 5 Fast Tips... for resolving conflict at work

Conflict at work (in fact, anywhere!) can occur when people are working towards different goals or outcomes, have different understandings of a situation or it may simply be because of miscommunication (amongst many other reasons).

The way you react to and resolve conflict in the workplace is a defining characteristic of your personal Operating Style.

How you manage your role in a conflict is important to the way that you are seen to manage yourself and relationships with others.

Your role may be as an arbitrator in someone else's conflict, it may be with a colleague or between your organization and a customer or supplier. Regardless of the type of conflict or the parties involved, how you are seen to handle these situations can impact positively (or negatively) on how others judge your performance.

Here's 5 Fast Tips for resolving conflict at work:

1. Approach a conflict strategically - it is unlikely that all aspects of a conflict are equally important. Focus on what is most important to you. Review and decide which issues must be resolved.

2. Resolve important issues as early as possible. The saying about 'making a mountain out of a molehill' describes how little things can be exaggerated. A small misunderstanding left unresolved, can grow out of all proportion. 'Nip it in the bud' as my mother would say. (Which according to The Phase Finder means "put a stop to something while it's in early development" - a bit or random trivia for you ☺). It's usually much easier to resolve something earlier than later.

3. Know your facts - speak to the relevant people, ask questions. You won't have much credibility if you go in guns blazing on an issue with the incorrect information. Even the fact that you go to the effort to try and understand an issue thoroughly can reflect well on you.

4. Develop alternatives - as you would for any negotiation. If you can develop options that allow the other people involved to have a choice they'll have a much greater ownership of and respect for the agreed outcome.

5. Look for a win - for all the parties involved. Often whether someone is right or wrong about a business issue ceases to be the key matter to resolving a conflict.

And as discussed previously, have the tough conversation that need to be had.

Your ability to be willing and able to resolve conflict will reflect positively on you, make working relationships a lot easier and ensure you are seen positively in the rough-and-tumble world of business.

Would love to know any other tips you have. Let's chat...
- Karen

What to do when...you need to have a tough conversation at work

They're not something anybody looks forward to - but unfortunately at some time or other - there are some tough conversations that need to be had at work.

They might be necessary because a conflict has arisen, as a manager you need to deliver some negative feedback, or you might have to raise something tricky with your boss.

Whatever the reason, they are not fun. But the consequences of avoiding them may be even worse. Putting them off is not the answer. If you don't have the difficult discussions - the risk is that the problem/situation will get even worse.

It can take courage to initiate a tough conversation, but if you make sure you have the facts and approach it in a business-like and respectful manner, the potential benefits of a resolution can outweigh the initial discomfort.

To make it easier:

Set up the conversation in advance

Send a short email requesting some time to discuss the business issue. The less time you ask for the more likely you are to get,

 or even better,

Take a deep breath, pick up the phone and ask for the time. Practise what you are going to say beforehand if you are really nervous.

Often time - just being prepared to have the conversation will win you kudos from the other person.

Pick the most appropriate venue

Different locations are appropriate depending on your relationship with the person and the nature of the conversation you need to have.

If it is someone senior, and very busy, his or her office is likely to be the best place. If it's a peer or a staff member, find a meeting room where you can have the discussion in private. If it's someone you have an existing relationship with, offering to buy them a coffee and stepping out of the office might take the heat out of the situation and provide a relaxed 'neutral' environment.

Once you're talking,

Approach the conversation from the other person's point of view.

Ask questions to understand their perspective and understanding of the situation. In these circumstances, Steven Covey's "Seek first to understand, then to be understood" habit from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a good approach to adopt!

Once you are talking you're on the pathway to resolve an issue. It might not be the whole answer as many situations are genuinely difficult. But it's a start.

Do you have any other ideas you've tried? Let's chat...

- Karen

words worth pondering: JFK and the different ways to approach a crisis

An oldie but a goodie of a quote to kick off this week's Career Chick Chat theme - a skill that is key to your career Operating Style - the ability to Resolve Conflict.

Conflicts are not only potential crisis points - they are also opportunities to shine in challenging circumstances.

How you approach, manage and resolve conflict influences you business reputation. And makes a difference if people want to work with or for you.

Check back at Career Chick Chat for more blogs and tips on this topic or why not follow by email and have a daily career tip delivered straight to your inbox?

Look forward to more chatting!
- Karen

Career Chick Hot Tip: When there's conflict at work...

If you are in conflict with someone in business - try to think about what's going on from their perspective.

Whether you think you understand the issue or not, talk to the other person, ask them questions to understand their point of view. Once you're talking your on the way to a resolution.

Would love it if you'd have a chat and share your ideas for resolving conflict at work...

What to do when... you are asked to make a presentation

Every week in our careers we face new situations, new opportunities to advance our career and new questions about what we should do.

The "What to do when..." weekly blog posts are designed to provide you with some alternatives and suggestions for those tricky situations.

This is the first in the series and we will be chatting about a huge range of career-related topics in 2012. These will include "What to do when... you get negative feedback", "What to do when... you resign", "What to do when... you can't get a word in during a meeting" and many many more!

But I digress. Today's topic is what to do when you get the call, email or tap on the shoulder and are asked to do a presentation. 

The alternatives for the correct answer do not include screaming no and heading for the hills, making up excuses or saying yes and then scheming how to get out of it. (I have actually tried all of these - no need for you to!)

Presentations can be scary but they are great opportunities to showcase what you know and how much you are contributing to a business and your role.
Instead of trying to avoid the situation take advantage of the request and

1. Say yes!

2. Ask questions - and clarify exactly what is required. 

3. Plan to devote some time to preparing. 80% of a good presentation happens in the planning and preparation stage. And this makes the presentation itself not so scary - when you know the needs of the audience, your key messages, the room, the technology and how and what you are going to present - the actual presentation is the fun bit! 

So if you get asked to make a presentation - say yes - and then think about the rest. Research, mentors, your network - there are plenty of places to get help.

Here's a blog post on 5 Fast Tips to prepare for presentations that might give you some ideas.

Thanks for the chat!  
- Karen

P.S. If you have any questions that you would like covered in this blog series - please let me know - leave your ideas in the comments or visit our new Facebook page or send me a message on Twitter

Great Words from Martin Luther King Jr.

Life, love, fitness, careers.

Whatever the application - these words are wise.

How are those New Year Resolutions going?

If the research by British psychologist, Richard Wiseman, in 2007 was correct - then 88% of the New Year Resolutions we made just two short weeks ago are doomed to failure.

Many of the most popular resolutions are career-related and include; getting a new job, managing stress, improving education and winning a promotion.

It's a bit sad to think that most of these (as well as the lose weight, get fit, give up drinking) resolutions don't get achieved.

Quikology reports that they did an experiment that showed that women increased their chances of being successful by 10% if they told their family and friends of their goals or had encouragement not to give up when there were set backs. (We all know one chocolate does not mean your diet has failed and it's an excuse to give up on your eating plan and visit the closest fast food restaurant! It's the same with other goals). For men goal setting made an enormous 22% difference to the chance of achieving their resolutions.

So if you are wavering on your plans to advance your career in 2012 it's not too late to review your resolutions or even to set some new ones (I can't find any statute of limitations on when resolutions have to be set by!) 

Here are 5 Tips to give you the best chance to achieve your resolutions:

1. Review and ensure that your goals are what you really want to do - that when you achieve them you will have what you want and be, on a daily basis, doing something you actually like. In his book, "The Strongest Life", Marcus Buckingham says that talking with other people who are already doing what you are working towards is one of the best ways of understanding whether you will be happy when you are doing it. If you're really certain about what you want, it makes it so much easier to go from the grand planning / great idea over a glass of bubbles phase to the hard yards of implementation.

2. Focus on one or two really important goals - if you make too many resolutions it is unlikely that you will have the capacity to do them all. One goal, implemented, is more beneficial to you than a long list of fabulous ideas that never get off the ground.

3. Write down your goals when you do it makes them real rather than just a fleeting thought. It also helps validate if this is what you really want. And it becomes the start of your plan to achieve the goal.

4. Develop an actionable plan of specific steps that will help you achieve your goal. For example, if you decide you want to "network" more in 2012 - your action plan should address what you want to learn from networking (or who you want to get to know), who you are going to network with and when. If you schedule in one new coffee catch up each month - that's 12 networking opportunities by the end of the year. And most importantly you will have achieved your goal.

5. Break down larger, ambitious goals into smaller steps - write a list of the steps required and actually assign due dates - so that you don't lose track of the bigger goal. Putting these dates into your calendar with a reminder for each action a week before it is due will help keep the big goals on track.

The best resolutions are those that you know in your heart you are going to follow through and pursue!

There will be plenty of ideas and tips to put you in charge of your career throughout 2012 here on CareerChickChat - so feel free to follow the blog, subscribe by email or connect with my on twitter (@KarenAdamedes), Facebook or Linkedin .

I look forward to the chats! 

- Karen

words worth pondering: the time it takes to write well

Short. To the point. Impactful. Captures the attention of your audience. Says exactly what you mean. These all make good communication - effective.

The ability to write well provides an opportunity to demonstrate the best of your knowledge, skill and expertise.

It does take some time and effort though...

Career Chick Hot Tip: In business meetings and discussions...

Before you respond/share your ideas/talk!

People hate being talked over the top of - they think it means you're not listening.

I've never gone as far as using tape (I probably should have some times) but sitting on my hands or writing down what I want to say are two techniques I use...

- Karen

Welcome to 2012 on Career Chick Chat!

Get organized. Lose weight. Make exercise a habit. Quit drinking. Find a new job. Just some of the most common New Year Resolutions that make the list every year. Any of these sound familiar?

At least a few of these are on my list. And I want to blog more often to make Career Chick Chat a truly valuable career development resource - well that's one of my big goals for 2012!

Hopefully, my goal will help you achieve your career related ambitions (or at least help you set them!)

On that note, I'd like to welcome you to Career Chick Chat for 2012 - where there will be lots of Career Hot Tips, ideas and tactics to help you get the most out of your career - for both this year and to set you up for your future goals and aspirations.

With the right plan - 2012 can be a year of growth for your career, your business skills and the achievement of your goals.

'Experts' seem to agree that the economic outlook for 2012 is uncertain (which means they don't know?) but there are signs that there is jobs growth in the U.S., with 200,000 jobs added to the economy in December 2011, which is a positive.

Whichever way the economy goes - if you have skills, plans and contacts you are going to be in the best position to either take advantage of job opportunities or ensure that in a declining market you are a valuable commodity.

These are the variables that form part of the C.O.D.E for career success - a formula to unlock your career success - which will be the subject of many blogs this year!

I would love to hear about the topics or areas you would like discussed here - so please feel free to add a comment, send me a tweet (@karenadamedes) or visit me on facebook www.facebook/careerchicks - and I'll do my best to make sure we cover the topics requested!

Later this week I'd like to chat about how to stick to those career New Year's resolutions you might have made or want to make now (I don't think there is any statute of limitations on resolutions - and anyway, it's still January!) Right now though - I'm off to the gym - 'cause that get fit/lose weight resolution has appeared near the top of my list this year!

Look forward to lots of chatting in 2012!

- Karen