Do you expect too much of yourself?



Just because you have the capability to do everything...doesn't mean you have the capacity i.e. hours in the day, number of staff or arms that you need to get everything you are capable of doing done.

The research keeps telling us that multi-tasking is not efficient. And yet we think we should be able to do it all.

Supergirl, Wonder Woman and Lara Croft belong in comic books and movies. Not is real life.

Be kind to yourself and realistic about what you can do.

Do you expect too much of yourself?

Let's chat...(if you have time)
- Karen

What to do when...you have too much on your plate (at work)




Like the sandwich in this photo - sometimes you can just have too much on your plate to deal with. And it really does require you to sit back and work out how you are going to attack it - rather than the alternative of plunging in and ending up with it all over your face (clothes, floor etc. - you get the picture!)

In the work context you can have multiple requests from your boss, colleagues, and other important stakeholders - topped off with customer issues, emails and your regular workload. Not to mention from numerous other sources!

Because it comes at you from so many different angles - there might not even be anyone else who is aware about how things are piling up for you.

Which is why it's your responsibility, if you're going to get anything done (not to mention, done well) - to call time out and work out how you are going to tackle what's on your plate.

Here's some ideas about what to do when that happens:

Work out what is the most important

When you make what is most most important your priority it will help you decide how best to focus your time and attention.

Brief your Manager

A discussion  with your manager to let them know how much you have on is always a good investment in time - as they can help you manage expectations that other people have of you or even (hopefully) provide some assistance to help you.

It's always good to go to your manager with a solution rather than a problem. So it could be, "I have to focus on these areas and I need your assistance with..." - which is a good approach if it is very clear what the priorities should be. It's also good to ask if they agree with how you have prioritized - as when they do - you know you have their support for your approach.

If they don't and they give you different priorities - this will be valuable feedback. Either way you should end up with a clearer view of what is most important.

If everything seems 'equally' important or it's not within your delegation to make the decision - explain your workload and competing priorities to you manager and ask them, "What are you three most important priorities for me to focus on?"  

As you work through this discussion with them - a very clear view of what you should be doing should emerge.

Negotiate time frames

Sometimes it's not about how much you have to do - but that everything is due at the same time. Discuss with the people who are expecting deliverables from you what is due and when. There may be the opportunity for the scope to be redefined, the work reassigned or the due dates to be moved out.

If you have agreed other priorities with your manager and are not going to get something done for someone else - go back to them and explain why and provide them with alternatives of when you could deliver. Or someone else who could do it for them. Just leaving requests and not managing expectations with stakeholders will have a negative impact on your reputation - as others do not know why you have not responded to them or completed a task.

Manage your email

Avoid  unnecessary distractions from email by turning off the automatic email notifications function so that when you are working on something you are only focusing on that one thing.

If you are working on a complex task or a short time frame - put an automatic out-of-office-response on your email to say that you are working on what-ever-it-is and that you will only be checking your email at whenever-you-will-be. If you do this it is always good to provide an alternate way to contact you (a phone number of text for instance) - as someone may need to contact you about what you are working on... or what is not your priority is someone else's and they need to be pointed in the right direction to get some help.

Simplify your expectations of yourself

Don't expect that you can - or even want - to do everything.

One thing delivered well will do much more for your credibility than many things delivered adequately (or worse!).

Be kind to yourself and realistic about how much even you can actually do!

Have a cup of tea

You don't actually have to have a cup of tea (although I do like the idea) - but stepping away from your desk and taking the time out to boil the kettle, brew the tea and wait for it to cool enough to take a sip - can be just the break you need to step away from a situation and stop feeling overwhelmed.

Time-out can be a very good thing!

These tactics can all work - so if you are feeling overwhelmed I would encourage you to give them a go!

Have you got any more ideas about what to do when...you have too much on your plate at work? Please share...

Let's chat...
- Karen





Just launched...the first Career Chick Chat Newsletter


I've been tinkering with this for ages. How to set it out. What background color to use. What format to use.

But decisions have been made - and the first full Career Chick Chat has been launched [click].

There's 5 Fast Tips for Working in Teams, a featured Career tip, a few questions about your career for you to think about and Chat Catch-Up - with some of the most popular recent Career Chick Chat blogs.

Hope you enjoy it - would love your feedback.

Do you like the pink?

How often would you like to receive this kind of update?

Are there any particular topics you would like to see covered?

Want to subscribe?

Feedback appreciated...then I can tinker some more!

Chat later - I need a coffee to celebrate the launch!
- Karen


Things which matter most (words worth pondering)






It sounds simple.

But how often do we get to the end of the day and we are only starting what was the most important thing we had to do for the day?

Our time gets hijacked by email, questions and all sorts of interruptions.

It's all about knowing what is most important and prioritizing.

It sounds simple. But hard to do.

Worth reminding ourselves though.

It's lovely to be thanked


Last Friday afternoon these gorgeous flowers were sent to me by a client.

It had been a very long week meeting their deadline. But we did!

It was so nice to be thanked.

And a great reminder how much it's appreciated when you take the time to acknowledge someone's contributions.

It doesn't have to be as grand as flowers (although I am thrilled with mine!) 

A card, an email, a cupcake, a thank you - they are all thoughtful acknowledgments.

Have you got any tips of you say thanks to people who help you out in business? Please share!

Chat later
- Karen


 P.S. I now have something delightful to look at while I contemplate the next Career Chick Chat blog topic!


A funny perspective on teamwork

Sometimes teamwork can be hard work.

Often we think we can do better on our own without the need to communicate, negotiate or ingrate ourselves with others.

But many times we just can't do it all on our own.

If you've got a spare 34 seconds, here's a funny little advert from bus company De Lijn



and if you've got another 30 seconds...


or if you prefer ants...



You get the picture...teams help us do what we can't do on our own!

What are your thoughts on teamwork?

Let's chat...
- Karen




No matter what type of team you're in...


Formal or informal.

Project focused or based on formal reporting lines.

Teams are a way to organize people and activities, collaborate and solve problems.

Understanding your specific role and appreciating the role of others (even if they don't do it your way) can make a huge difference to the success of a team and it's goals.

It also impacts how you feel about being part of the team and the experience that you have.

What do you think?







What to do when...there are more senior people in a project team



Have you ever worked on a project team?

You get asked to join/help out on a project with a variety of people to launch a new product / solve a business problem / do something out of the everyday?

It can seem either exciting or daunting, depending on your experience, and either a great break from your every day role or an extra workload that you don't really need?

Then there's the issue about how to communicate with people you may or may not know!

How ever you approach it - projects can be an opportunity to show your abilities and capability to others outside of your immediate team. And let you be part of something that makes a wider contribution than you can in your everyday role.

And it can give you the opportunity to work with a variety of people - including some who are more senior in your organization.

No matter how a project team is configured or if you have been given tasks that interact with someone more senior than you on a daily basis; someone more senior than you is, well, still more senior than you.

It shouldn't matter.

But to some people it does.

Some people are very conscious about hierarchies and will not necessarily see themselves as equal team members.

Rather they'll expect to be respected for their position, expertise or skills (or all three!)

If you show respect to all team members - you won't offend anyone - no matter how they see their position in a team.

Some ways of doing this with each team member are:

  • acknowledge people's positions and credentials
  • don't talk over the top of them
  • be clear in your communication (assume they are busy too!)

As my mother would say, "Do unto others..."

Have you got any other tips?

Let's chat
- Karen





5 Fast Tips for working in teams



Teams.

Extremely productive or  time wasters?

Whichever school of teamwork you come from...it can't be avoided in today's business environment.

The ability to work effectively in teams is an essential career skill that forms an important part of your Operating Style.

Your ability to be seen as a team player will form part of how others will judge your performance at work.

The complexity and expertise required in business means that there is little chance that any one person can 'do-it-all' and at sometime, somewhere you will need to rely on the expertise of others.

Here's my 5 Fast Tips for working in teams:

1. Focus on your contribution to the team. There are usually many tasks to be completed by a team. The chances of success are higher if each person concentrates on what they need to achieve. Contributing to the team as a whole but completing your responsibilities.

Don't get caught up about someone who isn't pulling their weight. The only person's behavior that you can truly impact is yours. So make an impact!

2.  Appreciate the role of others and that they may have different approaches, ideas and ways of getting work done.

3. Recognize the status, position and past contributions of your team members (and yourself!). Be aware of hierarchies.

4. Build and leverage relationships. Teamwork is the opportunity to work closely with people and build mutual respect based on the interaction in the team.  The relationships that you take the time to develop may well become long-term career assets that you can draw on for knowledge or assistance in the future.

5. Take and share credit for the achievements of the team. If you have made a strong contribution that is recognized say -  thank you. Not, "It was nothing..." or "It wasn't me..." If you've done good - take the credit. And also acknowledge the contribution of others. Be generous in your praise.

Leverage your ability to build relationships and work in teams - it'll help you do good for the business AND your career.

What are your tips?

Let's chat...
- Karen




This great proverb is the essence of team work...






I chose this quote as the introduction to the chapter on working in teams in "Hot Tips For Career Chicks" because it gets to the essence of why team work is important.

So often it's tempting to want to do everything ourselves. Saves all those messy negotiation, communication and other-people-having-their-own-opinion issues.

But we can't do everything ourselves.

And working with others can make us and our contribution better and stronger.

It's why when teams work - they really work. And why the skill to work in teams is integral to career success.

I'm just saying...what do you think?
-Karen


Tuesday was a busy day...


An hour and a half Skype call to collaborate with a business associate in San Francisco. Worked up some ideas for a new book (very excited...more on this later!) Preparation for a client meeting. Client meeting. Email etc. etc. Busy day.

Most pleased with myself that I managed to punch out a few minutes on the treadmill. (Fuzzy pic is proof that I was actually still at walking speed when I took this!).

It's not always easy (like never!) but it's good if you can work in sometime for yourself in your day.

Glad I did that yesterday as I just had an SOS text from a client that she needs some urgent help!

Chat later!
- Karen



Career Chick Chatter Newsletter...what's it all about

I thought you might like to see a sample of the Career Chick Chatter Newsletter that will be going out to subscribers every other week (or thereabouts - I don't want to clog up your no doubt already overflowing email inbox).

I'll be refining it over time - based on your feedback and if there are events and programs to announce etc.

This version included the articles "What to do when..things don't go your way at work" (not that this ever happens, maybe it's just me..oh, and most people I speak to...) and "5 Fast Tips for making introductions at work" ...as this is a skill that can help make a meeting take off in the right direction.



And yes, that is a woman in a fridge (not an actual woman I might add...you need to read the article to find out more!) but the point of the article is that you don't need to go hide if things do go wrong at work!

Would love to hear your feedback, here or on Twitter or Facebook... am thinking of adding a from the desk of Karen section (but with a cleverer name?) so I can ramble on a bit and tell you about what I've been up to!????

Oh, and don't forget you can subscribe! Regular career tips in your inbox can be a great reminder that your career does need to be all about ...you! ☺

Let's Chat...
- Karen

P.S. Let me make it easy for you...click here to subscribe for your free, practical, yet entertaining newsletter here!





How do you present to senior folks?



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The theme on Career Chick Chat this week has been presentations.

A quote by Mark Twain, What to do when you're nervous before a presentation, a Career Chick Hot Tip about knowing your content and yesterday 5 Fast Tips of the must-do's for rehearsing a presentation.

But what about how to write an amazing presentation? Not a good one. A great one. One that will exceed all expectations and achieve all of your objectives?

Today I'm thrilled to share with you a presentation by presentation's guru (and my good mate) Fabian Venter.

Titled, "Presenting to Top Dogs" it provides an appraisal of what "Top Dogs" aka 'senior people' need from a presentation - and then what to present to them and how to do it. The subtitle is 'A Few Tips, Facts and Examples' - which is exactly what it is provided.

The content is rich and relevant.

Whether or not you personally need to present to the big chiefs - have a look at how graphics and stories have been used in this presentation...

Presenting to Top Dogs
If you like Fabian's style, check out his innovative CV - which was made Slideshare presentation of the day when it was first posted.


Hope these have given you a few ideas?

Let's chat...
- Karen




What International Women's Day Means To Me...

By Karen Adamedes





International Women's Day. A great time as a Career Chick to reflect and I'd like to share my thoughts about what it means to me...

Possibilities. 

Because of those women who have come before me (and the men who supported them) and fought the good fight - I can vote, receive equal pay for equal work (as long as I negotiate well enough - but that is another story), have property rights and many other entitlements which are the norm in 2013 in many developed nations. Unfortunately the progress towards these in many parts of the world continues.

One of my beautiful goddaughters was born on International Women's Day in 2000. The turn of the new century where she has unlimited possibilities and opportunities in front of her. I think that is very cool. Many of the possibilities that will be available to her in the 21st century are because of the work that has been done to level the playing field for women in the past.

Choice.

Women now have choices about the lives they live. Sometimes it doesn't feel that way but you don't have to look very far back in history to see how much our choices have expanded.

In World War 2 (before my time, might I add!) it was a job in the factories or in the service to support the war effort, in the 1950's (still before my time!) it was back to the housework so that the men could have the jobs.

Women's Lib., Feminism, Education, Fairness - whatever you want to call it - the evolvement of our society means I, we, have many choices available.

Effort.

The changes in society towards the rights, education and opportunities for women have come about due to significant efforts of many - both women and men. Some of those that made the efforts did not necessarily personally reap all the rewards for their efforts. But we have.

A quick look back at the history of International Women's Day and the major achievements that have been made along the way proves to me that effort is rewarded.

The issues now and in the future for women are different than the past, but a look back at history tells me that if we work together this effort also will be successful.

Pride

That I am doing my little bit with practical career skills education. It might not be world changing but it can be transformational for an individual.

Thankful

That I have and have had many role models, mentors, colleagues, friends and family who guide and support me.

Acknowledgment.

That not all women have achieved basic rights and freedoms.

And that not all of those who still have to fight for these and other opportunities are women. Indeed there are many people, who for many reasons need our support for change.

Celebration.

Of the achievements that have been made by women over the last 101 years (since the first IWD) - our achievements are good for all of society.

And speaking of celebration, due to the aforementioned goddaughter's birthday today I am choosing to celebrate with a birthday weekend with the girl-with-many-possibilities-before-her (otherwise known as the-girl-who-looks-too-cool-for-thirteen). I need to fly (literally!)

Would love to know what International Women's Day means to you...


5 Fast Tips for rehearsing a presentation.



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Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse most people (me included) implore when it comes to the topic of giving presentations.

It can make a huge difference to the quality of what you deliver and helps calm the nerves - because you know exactly what you are going to be doing.

It helps you clarify how you say what you want to say and how you will present - where to stand, where you'll put your notes and how the technology works.

In an ideal world we would do a full 'dress' rehearsal every  time. But in this world everyone is busy and trying to do too much (or is that just me?) - and rehearsing a presentation is the thing that gets left undone.

"I'll just wing it" I've heard many people say (I confess I have done this in the distant past too). But presentations are such crucial moments for your credibility and ultimately your career - they shouldn't be left to chance.

So here are my 5 Fast Tips of the absolute must-do's for rehearsing a presentation:

1. Read your presentation to yourself - at least once - out loud. You'll be surprised when you do this that you might stumble in some places - sometimes the transitions between topics aren't as smooth as you thought they were or something is a bit wordy. Better to stumble over some words on your own than in front of an audience.

2. Prepare your notes - write out the keywords, quotes, statistics - whatever you are going to need to refer to (or at least have on hand) in a way that you can easily refer to them when you are speaking.

If you do want to read something word for word - that's fine. You can introduce that by saying something like, "Now I just want to make sure I get this quote / statistic / point absolutely correct..." as you pick up your papers. No one will fault you for wanting to be accurate.

3. Test the technology - it's essential to make sure you know how the technology works, plugs in or, at the very least, which buttons to press. Seamless integration of technology as you are presenting makes you look professional and avoids the loss of both time and credibility when something doesn't work when you are using it.

4. Know the venue - if it's a team meeting reflect on the best seat at the table so that you will be in the best position to make eye contact with the audience. If you're presenting to a larger audience find out if there is a lectern, where it's positioned on the stage, how you will access the stage and where you will put your support materials (including a glass of water) whilst you are speaking.

5. Have a break between your last rehearsal (even if it's your first one) and the actual presentation. Taking time to clear your head before you do it for real will help you pace your breathing and delivery and put you in control of the presentation.

Be confident, enjoy knowing that you have done your preparation and then...get out there and slay them!

Have you got any other tips you care to share?

Let's chat...
- Karen

Know the content of your presentations - well!!


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No matter what presentation structure you use or techniques you employ - nothing makes the difference to the quality of a presentation than how well you know your content.

It provides you credibility.

It gives you confidence.

It enhances your professional reputation.

It means you can answer tricky questions.

It helps calm your nerves.

It's the reason you are making a presentation in the first place.

I think it's kind of non-negotiable? What do you think?


- Karen

What to do when... you're nervous before a presentation



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I have found that there is no better antidote to presentation nerves than being very well prepared.

When I've done my research, tailored my presentation to the audience, rehearsed and made sure there are not going to be any hitches with the technology - it makes a huge difference to how I feel before I stand up to speak.

However, no matter how well prepared you are - last minute nerves can sneak up on you. You forget you're opening line, get dry in the throat or start to question your entire presentation. Yep - these have all happened to me (and a few more as well!).

There's no one-size-fits-all solution to this but here are a number of tactics that I have found can really help:

1. Forget about the presentation and talk to people about a totally different subject. This can take your mind off the last minute panic worrying about things it's too late to to anything about anyway.

2. Have a cup of tea - or another beverage of your choosing but I've found tea works best for me. The pouring, stirring and sipping takes my mind off the upcoming presentation.

3. Make sure you have a glass of water handy - it gives you something to do before the presentation and you'll have the water if that pesky presentation frog appears in your throat once you stand up.

4. Take a deep breath - pace your breathing and the speed that you speak at - it will help you sound in control once you start presenting. If you slow down the pace before you start your formal presentation it will help you transition into your content.

5. Visual the end of the presentation and see yourself being given positive feedback. One of my favorite habits from Stephen Covey's '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' is "Begin with the End in Mind" and it certainly applies to presentations!

6. Smile - this is said to send positive chemicals through your body. If nothing else it keeps your mind off the presentation!

7. Take some time out to focus just on the presentation and not the gazillion other things you no doubt have on your plate that day as well.  A couple of hours before a presentation I like to get my hair blow-dryed - it gives me time away from everything else and I can either forget about the presentation completely or rehearse it mentally without any other distractions. And I feel more confident when I stand up - as at least I know my hair looks good!

They're a few of my techniques. Please share any others that you find work!

Let's chat
- Karen

Mark Twain's quote on the time required to prepare a 'good' speech





Every time you make a presentation it influences someone's perception of you.

Can you afford NOT to put the time into thoroughly preparing?

Or not to make a "good" speech?

Self Promotion: It's not about you...



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"What's In It For Me?"
WIIFM?

What's In It For Me?

This is the question that good sales people and marketers think through - from the perspective of the people that they are selling or marketing to - as they formulate their key messages.

I say it's good from the perspective that it means they are thinking about what their customers want.

They do this because when people are presented information, even whilst they are still listening (hopefully, they are still listening), they are processing the information and thinking through the implications and what it means for them.

I remember standing in front of a large team that I was managing and announcing that I would be leaving for a new role... as I spoke I could see the thinking happening in front of my eyes...10 seconds of "Good on you" and "Congratulations, Karen" quickly followed by, "What does this mean for us?" "Who is the new manager going to be?" etc. etc. Fortunately, I was equipped with answers to many of their questions and was able to let them know exactly what it meant to them.

You can't blame others for their thought processes - we all do it too! An "I'm going to be late home tonight" call inevitably leads to a quick recalculation of dinner or other plans. "I'm going for a run" means I get control of the remote control for an hour (Happy Days!)

So what does this have to do with self-promotion? Letting your accomplishments be known?

It means it's much more powerful, much more effective if you can present your accomplishments in terms of what it means for them.

Does your new sale help your manager achieve their target?

Will the time saving that you made add to the efficiency of the department?

Can you help reduce the workload for someone else through your achievements?

If you can think in terms of what your achievement or contribution means to others - the WIIFM question will be very easy for them to answer - and will ultimately help you be appreciated.

What do you think? Let's chat...


- Karen

5 Fast Tips...to 'be seen' and raise your career visibility



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For your career to develop, it's essential that you are visible.

People need to know you are there to promote or reward you. Or even to say thank you!

Often we think that our work should 'stand on its own two feet' and that we shouldn't need to 'play the game' of self-promotion.

However, work doesn't work that way.

Even the best intentioned managers are busy and can 'miss' the contribution that you are making.

Help them out by being 'visible' and letting them know about who you are and what you do. Visibility keeps you 'top-of-mind' with time poor managers who must make decisions (like who to promote) in a hurry and often under pressure.

Being visible also helps make you known to people in your company or industry - this allows them to consider you in their plans. If they know about you, what you do, and what you are capable of, there's more chance that you will be on their radar when it comes to making business decisions.

So, how do you step out from behind your excellent work to build your profile and be seen? Here's 5 Fast Tips to 'be seen' and raise your profile:

1. Let people know what you have achieved by always having a positive one-liner ready that quickly explains what you are working on and what you are contributing. Check out this blog on What to do when... you want to gloat (without being sickening) for some ideas on how to develop this.

2. Speak up at Meetings - if you've been invited to a meeting you are there for a reason. Developing a reputation for making positive contributions helps you get noticed.

3. Spread your wings and step out of your day-to-day role. Get involved in a one-off business project, an inter-departmental initiative or even with a sporting or charity activity that your organisation supports. You'll make new contacts and it will allow more people to get to know you and your work.

4. Be on the lookout for opportunities to present. This might include volunteering to chair a meeting, present to staff or customers or to represent your company at an industry or trade event. A knowledgeable, articulate presentation that is relevant to your audience can do wonders for your profile.

5. Contribute to company or industry publications. Many companies have intranets and internal blogs. Contribute a story about something you and the team you work with have achieved, write about a topic within your expertise or even add insightful comments to blog posts.

This tips will help you stay 'top-of-mind'.

When you achieve and contribute...don't hide...shine!


What do you think? Let's chat...
- Karen