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Kick your career into high-gear with these top 3 tips

Whether you’re actively on the hunt for a new opportunity, or you’re planning to take the next step in a year or two, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to overlook the chance to realign your personal brand with your career goals.

When recruiters hunt for top MBA talent, the most common feedback they hear from employers is that there are skill gaps in leadership, communication and strategic thinking – and unfortunately this doesn’t just apply to MBAs. Smart organizations now realize that soft-skills are vital to top-performing teams – but top talent with strong soft-skills is hard to find.

Below are the top 3 actions you can take now to avoid sitting on the sidelines:

  1. Refresh your personal brand

Social media isn’t going away, and in today’s digital climate where Googling the person who you will interview is the norm, investing in your personal brand on and offline is a must-do. As Shelly Lazarus, the former CEO of Ogilvy and Mather explains, it’s all about style – “not just what you say, but how you say it.”

Remember you already have a brand — but it’s important that you take control of it. Take stock of what people can find out about you, on and offline, and be carefully considerate of what you are putting out there. Don’t reinvent yourself, because that wouldn’t be authentic, but you can refresh your style by giving it focus. Jeff Bullas, named ‘The number on Global Digital Marketing Influencer of 2016,’ lists four steps to begin refreshing your personal brand:

  1. List your passions
  2. Discover the sweet spot at the intersection
  3. Describe your tone – Witty, Irreverent, Inspirational, etc…
  4. Write the 20 word mission statement that distils your purpose

If you aren’t sure where to start, find some inspiration by reading a book related to your field or career goals, learning a new skill or taking a class, or signing-up for a conference that you know will bring major networking opportunities with charismatic leaders.

  1. Find a career mentor who can hold you accountable

Advice columnists and experts often suggest that the benefits of finding a career mentor usually revolve around networking, helping you set goals or personal development. But what is overlooked or understated is the value that a career mentor can bring when it comes to holding you accountable for making changes stick and achieving your goals.

Before you go on the hunt for a mentor, it’s important that you clearly define:

  • What it is that you want,
  • What your goals and objectives are,
  • And what changes you are looking to make to achieve your professional goals.

Once you know what you want, it’s important to find a mentor who will check in with you regularly and will provide you the support you need to stay on track. When you have someone who will hold you accountable to making changes or achieving your goals, you are much more likely to succeed.

Ready to look for a mentor now? Check out this list of tips for finding a mentor from Forbes magazine.

  1. Refine your soft skills

Listen more. Talk less. Under promise. Over deliver.

If you work within a team, are looking to advance in your career or keep up with the fast-pace of today’s business environment, you can’t just rely on your expertise. Companies are now realizing that they can train new hires on their systems and workflows, but it’s not easy, and sometimes nearly impossible for a company to change an employee’s attitude or way of thinking.

The Harvard Business Review recently listed the top soft-skills of great digital organizations. They are:

  • Goal-centric thinking
  • Collaboration skills
  • Communication skills
  • Learning skills
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Playfulness

There is no better time than the present to develop your soft-skills. Focus on improving the soft-skills that are highly sought after – enroll in a leadership seminar, or take a class that requires teamwork. Investing in your soft-skills now will lead to a big ROI later.

Remember – kick starting your career isn’t about fast-tracking it to the leadership table – it’s about refreshing your brand, your goals and your soft-skills so that you are relevant, professionally polished and are ready to confidently take on the next challenge in your career.

  • Young business man meditating

Why You Should Welcome Authenticity in your Employees

Inside the workplace, authenticity can sometimes feel like a double-edged sword. While expressing honest opinions and true personality can be perceived as superior over putting on a front, in some cases, it has the power to harm reputations. If authentic behaviour is taken the wrong way, poorly timed, or controversial, it can be difficult to regain social standing in the office. However, no successful professional has ever blazed a trail by watering down his or her personality. Authenticity is vital for workplaces to continue to innovate and grow, but is often discouraged in favour of order.

Does your company welcome authenticity in its employees?

During the interview process, it’s common for potential hires to be asked to talk about themselves, and to discuss how they handle pressure. These questions are all deeply personal, and can provide great insight into what an individual is truly like. They can also be difficult to answer, as interviewees can often wonder where the line between personal and professional is.

While many think that a professional front is required at all times on the job, what do the numbers tell us? A study has found that the more employees feel they are aligned with their authentic selves in the workplace, the higher their job satisfaction, performance, and engagement will be.

To explore the phenomenon of workplace authenticity, Plasticity Labs got together with Wilfred Laurier University social psychologist Dr. Anne Wilson to survey two hundred and thirteen workers. By harnessing the power of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the partnership gained in depth research on workplace authenticity, job satisfaction, company culture, and more. Here’s what they found:

Authenticity by the Numbers 

  • 72% of participants claimed they exhibit workplace authenticity after an average of two to three months.
  • Within this number, 60% claimed they only became authentic once they reached three months at an office.
  • 22% said they became authentic by nine months.
  • 9% said it occurred between 10-12 months.
  • Another 9% said it took more than a year to act like their genuine selves at work.

Additional Findings from the Study 

Workplace norms such as dress codes were found to limit employee’s freedom to feel comfortable in behaving like their honest selves. Furthermore, employees who did not adhere to a dress code believed that authenticity is crucial in the workplace. Employees who claimed that they felt authentic at work reported much higher job satisfaction, a strong workplace community, higher levels of inspiration, and lower levels of job-related stress.

Additionally, 80% of workers who claimed they behaved authentically believed that it improved their productivity, performance, and lessened the burden of having to censor their true personalities. The employees also stated that authenticity allowed them to form genuine bonds that were based on trust with fellow coworkers and clients.

However, it is worth noting that not all respondents reported positive feelings towards behaving authentically. In fact, 10% thought it to be potentially harmful, as differences in personalities could have a damaging effect on the ability to produce effective work between team members. Characteristics such as sarcasm or assertiveness were claimed to be dangerous, as coworkers could misunderstand them. Within these inauthentic participants, 30% believed acting genuine would make their workplace better, but 64% thought the opposite. The latter group claimed that in their work environments, showing stress and emotion was judged negatively by their peers. They also believed that authentic employees run the risk of overstepping their boundaries by saying offensive things in the name of being honest.

The research showed that those who felt authenticity to be inappropriate in the workplace worked at companies where it was not encouraged. This finding only highlights the legitimate importance of fostering inclusive work environments. Overall, it was shown that authenticity does have a major impact on workplace satisfaction, and every CEO knows that content employees perform higher.

To encourage authenticity in your workplace, start from the top. Leaders decide company culture, and by performing their duties in an authentic manner, those in positions of power can set an example for other employees. By ensuring that employees feel comfortable staying true to themselves, you can empower your workforce and watch job satisfaction grow. On the other hand, if you’re currently seeking a new highly coveted job, learn more about how authenticity and transparency can help you during the interview process.

  • Businesswoman At Desk With Belongings In Box

How to Stop Turnover in the First Month

While many companies do their best to formulate their interview strategy in a concise and time-efficient manner, others allocate a plethora of resources dedicated to recruiting top talent. Regardless of the intensity of your respective process, after the papers are signed and new employees are embedded into their new office space – turnover can greatly affect any business, regardless of size.

Although it’s unfortunate to see long-standing employees leave to expand their horizons elsewhere, it’s additionally ill-fated when new hires check out before they’ve been able to fully grasp what a company is all about, and how they can add value.

In fact, the risk for turnover is at its highest during a new employees’ first six months on the job. According to a study by Equifax Workforce Solutions, more than 40% of turnover occurs in the new hires’ first month. Furthermore, an additional 10% call it quits in the first year.

These startling numbers can provide a glimpse into the state of many companies – and their outlook on employee retention. As workers walk out the door, the question becomes increasingly important: How can companies work to engage new hires from day one?

Here are 5 key areas to target from the get go to help keep top talent from departing for the exits.

Onboard like a Champion

Effective onboarding programs can do wonders for employee retention. Companies that have an onboarding program in place see 91% of their employees retained, as opposed to the 50% retained in companies that do not. Furthermore, if a new employee leaves, the cost of bringing on another one ends up costing employers three times the original employees salary.

Fuel Excitement – Before they even start

Walking into a new job where you don’t know anyone can be nerve-wracking for many types of personalities. One way to increase engagement, ease any anxiety, and advertise your company culture is to invest in a videographer to produce a video about your office that you can send off to new hires. You can additionally benefit from the video by using it as a channel of information that can inform new employees of what they should be expecting, and what will be expected from them on day one.

By giving new hires a taste of what’s to come, they can assess how to harness their unique skills to best perform their jobs, so everything can operate smoothly from the get go.

How to Handle the First Day 

Little did you know as a child that your first day of school jitters just might prevail into adulthood. The initial day of anything can feel daunting, but once a new hire sets foot into your office, it should be your mission to make them feel as comfortable as possible. The first day shouldn’t be too taxing, because in order to retain, your company must have a welcoming atmosphere. Give your new hire an office tour, and have someone fill them in on its little secrets, such as which coffee machine makes the best cappuccino.

The first day is a fresh start for new employees. At no other time will they be more willing and eager to soak up any information than day one. Your business can utilize this to its advantage by ensuring to inform any new hires about what your company brings to the table in the industry that you’re working in.

Take it Slow

Yes, the first day should be about encouraging excitement in your new hire, but that does not mean that you should bombard them with mundane paperwork on day two.

The first week is the ideal amount of time to slowly provide new employees with the information they need to know. By taking your time, you allow them to fully digest what is being said, so they can retain any necessary knowledge. Use this time to ensure that new employees understand the company’s goals, top-performers, projections, objectives, and strategy.

The First 90 Days 

After your new hire has begun to settle into his or her position, it’s vital that someone at your company is consistently checking in on them to ensure everything is going smoothly on their end. Ask them questions about the job, such as if it is what they thought it would be, or if they need assistance understanding anything. By maintaining an open dialogue, new hires can feel comfortable navigating their position and performing it to the best of their abilities.

By implementing an onboarding process, your company can nip any turnover problems right in the bud, cut turnover costs that are associated, and increase overall engagement.

Learn the 4 primary reasons why individuals with a naturally inquisitive outlook on life make for better employees.

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