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Do you have a friend at work? It matters to your happiness.

12 Tough Questions to ask yourself regarding Workplace Happiness

According to Gallup Organisation, 71% of American workers (as of 2012) are “disengaged” or “actively disengaged” from their work.  Surprisingly, Gen X are more disengaged than Baby Boomers (above 65 yrs old) and Gen Y (below 30 yrs old).  Those with college education and above are more disengaged than those with High School Diploma.  Perhaps not so surprising, considering that the Gen X and those with higher education qualifications may be caught in the middle management squeeze and unfulfilled dreams.

How do Singaporean workers fare?  According to a Bloomberg report, 2% of Singapore workforce is engaged, down from 6%. Global average is 11%.

Source: Gallup

gallup

Given the strong relationship between workers’ workplace engagement and the company’s positive business performance, employers should care that their workers are engaged.    What can employers do?  After 80,000 interviews with 400 managers,  Gallup narrows down 12 questions that all employees should ask:

Network upwards:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

Lunch-atop-a-skyscraper-631

Source: Lunch atop a skyscraper in New York

Networking sideways: 

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

Looking inwards:

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

From First, Break All the Rules, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman, Simon & Schuster, 1999.

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have gladly paid.
                                                                      Jessie Belle Rittenhouse (1869-1948)

image

Photo: Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Transiting from a technical to a management role, young managers  lack a power base of followers.

Jean Louis Barsoux and Cyril Bouquet in MIT Sloan Review suggest 3 areas to plug this deficit:

  1. Legitimacy
  2. Critical resources
  3. Networks

1. Legitimacy with bosses sends a signal of your credibility to others leading to more visibility and influence, boosting your standing.  Your boss can also connect you to influential people and information.

Research on (LMX) Leader Member exchange indicates that bosses mentally divide their members into “in group” vs “out group”.

How to build legitimacy with bosses?

On the job:Hard work while important is exaggerated to secure credibility.

LMX research suggests that one’s attitude and perceived compatibility with the boss are more powerful determinants of good relationship.

Style:

  • Understand the boss’s style, objectives and preferences. Example: Do they prefer short or long meetings? Email vs face to face?. Brevity vs depth. Adjust your communication style accordingly. Goals and interests to provide the kind of support to help boss succeed.
  • Deliver on those objectives.
  • Seek feedback as appropriate.

Accumulate credits by helping superiors get things done.  Kick start the virtuous cycle of reciprocity by making good faith deposits upfront.

2. Be a resource. Gain special expertise or niche.

  • Find subtle ways to advertise your expertise by publicly volunteering to help colleagues tackle difficult problems.

What sort of expertise ?

  • Identify problems nobody else has noticed especially regarding disruptive trends or that few people are capable of resolving and then work to address them.
  • Consolidate your strengths.  Be so good you can’t be ignored. Don’t just be a generalist.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Co once said, “To be a future leader, one should have a skill that everyone looks at and says X is the go-to person for that skill. Unless you’re really known for something, you don’t stand out from the pack.

One of the risks involved is that you’ll be locked into the position.

3. Build your own network.

A high quality relationship with a poorly connected boss may do more harm than good. Protect yourself from toxic bosses. Otherwise, you’ve to identify escape routes for yourself in the event of sudden organisation shake up.

Cultivate useful allies. Sponsors who know your work and speak up for you during promotion meetings. Look beyond titles and formal roles to discover informal ties and actual dynamics that drive decision making in a group. Real movers and shakers.

How?

Reach out to both internal and external stakeholders. External stakeholders can include government relations, customers and analysts and institutional investors and board members. Ask customers what they really need.

Curate– create forums where ideas and information can be exchanged.  This could be physical, e.g. company dinner and dance or a virtual forum where you help people connect. Gain a reputation as someone who knows how to connect people.

Many of these roles contain risks, acknowledge the authors. So walk a fine line as you may be seen as using the role for your own gain.

Assess the areas of influence which you lack.

Small Talk Topics.

Why connecting is good for our brains but social rejection is not …

9 relationships we need in our network

Career fairs are around the corner. Job search especially networking can be stressful. Why attend when we can read online company info?

Make your presence felt at these pivotal moments. Practice in small doses to acclimatise your amydala. The ability to ask insightful questions reflects an intelligent mind. 

Ask not questions from available open source material such as company website, Hoover, Bloomberg etc. Demonstrate the extent of your research by asking insightful questions.

Note that timing is important when asking questions. The questions below only serve as a guide. Use your judgment as to when you should ask the questions. Pay attention to the “flow” of the conversation to avoid the conversation sounding awkward and abrupt.

Questions about the company

  1. Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
  2. How will you measure success?
  3. Between two equally-qualified candidates, what’s the deciding factor whom to hire?
  4. How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
  5. What do you want to see accomplished in your team/ department/ company in the next 3 to 6 months? What would be ideal outcome or key performance indicator?
  6. What impact, if any, has Web 2.0 made on your organization or you personally?
  7. What is the biggest challenge facing your industry today?

Questions to the speaker at a personal level

  1. Can you share what insights impacted you most personally as a leader? Was there someone who was a mentor to you? In what way was this person an impact on your life?
  2. Is there any way I can be of help to you right now?
  3. What advice would you give someone going into this industry for the first time?
  4. What do you like to do? (Instead of what do you do?)

Don’t crowd the CEO of the company. Younger company reps may have more relevant advice since they were  in your shoes, not too long ago.

News-worthy events

  1. How do you read the impact of a [XXXX] on your industry?

Questions to the speaker

[Source: http://michaelhyatt.com/20-questions-to-ask-other-leaders.html%5D

Michael Hyatt is one of my favourite gurus. Do check out his website and podcasts.

  1. What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
  2. As an organization gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?
  3. How do you or other leaders in your organization communicate the “core values”?
  4. How do you encourage others in your organization to communicate the “core values”?
  5. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?
  6. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
  7. What is the one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders’ careers?
  8. What resources would you recommend to someone looking to become a better leader?
  9. Could you share some of the resources you use to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
  10. What are some of your go-to resources for guidance in your field of work?

What other questions would you add to the above list?  Pls comment below.

Happy Networking and career success.

How do introverts network?

Next to public speaking, networking must be on the Top 5 biggest fear list.

When asked about networking, most people conjure an image of exchanging namecards at a business networking event, and not seeing the person again.  Meaningless activity.  How often have you gone home and thrown away the namecards?

Networking is done at two levels (i) With people you don’t know, but would like to know and (ii) those whom you know and want to deepen connections. I’ve recently chanced upon Michael Port’s article, which I’d like to archive in my blog.

(i) Reaching out to new contacts

Michael Port in his book “Book Yourself Solid” suggests the following:

(1) Start by creating your List of 20.

20 people that you’d like to know but do not yet know but who can help you do your work.

For example:

If you want to get booked to speak, you might include specific meeting planners.

If you want to get booked to write articles, you might include specific editors.

If you want to meet well-known bloggers or authors, you might include them.

Or, maybe, if there are specific potential referral partners that you’d like to meet, you might include them.

Put these people on your List of 20.  If you don’t have 20 people who come to mind right now, just start with three. But eventually you’ll grow it and keep it at 20. Why? Keeping your list at 20 ensures that it’s a large enough so as to keep your focus expansive, yet small enough that you’re able to focus on each person specifically.

What do you do with this list? Simple. Reach out to one person on this list each day. NOT to ask for a favor or to meet for coffee but to express appreciation for them and their work.

  • Write a blog post about them or comment on a blog post that they wrote.Retweet a few of their Tweets in one day or Tweet about them or to them.
  • Write a short (under 5 lines) email or handwritten note to them telling them why you appreciate their work.

Michael Port’s favorite quotes from Winston Churchill,”It’s a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.” Building relationships work the same way.

So, if there is someone you’d like to get to know and they have a higher professional status then you, don’t call them up and ask to meet them for a cup of coffee. You’re probably not (yet) relevant to them unless they have some prior connection to you. Remember, “Only one link in the chain of destiny at a time.”

After you reach out to the person on the top of the list, put them on the bottom. So, the person that you reached out today goes from number one to number twenty. The person who was number twenty becomes number nineteen and the person who was number two advances to the number one spot.

Then, tomorrow, reach out to the next person at the top of that list. Do this every single business day. This way, each day you are connecting with, at least, one person on your List of 20. And, over the course of one month, you’ll have connected with every person on your List of 20.

How long should this take you? About 5 minutes a day.

Of course, if you develop a strong connection right away and your relationship starts to build quickly then you take them off your List of 20 and add them to your Network of 90.

(ii) Networking with people you want to develop deeper relationships

(2) Michael suggests to keep a Network of 90 – a specific, managable, number of relavant contacts. Again, these are people you already know (or have met) that you’d like to stay in touch with and continue to build stronger relationships. If you focus on the most relevant ninety people in your network along with the twenty people on your List of 20, then you stay below Dunbar’s number of 150 which is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.

You don’t need to know a million people, just the right people who can put business opportunities in front of you. Your job is to earn that business.

Now you’ve got your Network of 90. And, as you might remember from the beginning of this article, I suggested that you do four things each day to build your network and get booked solid.

The first was to reach out to one person on your List of 20 each day. The second, third, and fourth daily action steps will bring you closer to the people in your Network of 90.

(3) Introduce two people in your network who do not yet know each other but might find each other relvant (personally or professionally) and appreciate the introduction.

You might have two people in your Network of 90 who are scratch golfers and they live close to each other. Golfers are always looking for a 4th but they want somebody at their own level. So you might introduce them.

If you are nervous about whether or not you should make the introduction, you might ask each one individually, “I would love to introduce you to a good friend of mine who is also a scratch golfer, would you like me to?”

Or, maybe you know two people that are in the publishing industry or two people in the real estate industry. Both would present excellent opportunities for making an introduction.

Generally, business owners and executives want to continue to move forward in their careers and, to do so, they know it’s essential for them to meet new people. As a result, 9.9 times out of 10 they are going to say “Oh, yes, please do introduce me. Thank you!”

Note: when you make the introduction, share only professional, public contact information unless it’s requested that you share private contact information instead.

(4) Share information

Next, each day, share some useful or helpful information with at least one person in your Network of 90. The easiest way to do this is by reading articles in online magazines, journals, and blogs every day, the ones that are most relevant to your network.

When you see an article that is relevant to one of the people in your network, send it to them via email and say, “Hey, Jennifer, I just read this article and I immediately thought of you. It was about ‘this’ and I know you’re very interested in ‘that’ so I thought you might find it valuable. Have you read it? What do you think?” And, now you can get into a conversation with her about the subject matter and, as a result, develop your relationship.

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Nature vs Nurture: Inside an introvert’s brains in a cocktail party

How understanding my introversion helped me wake up at 6am

Photo: Coffee at Pottery Tsuboya, Naha, Okinawa, 2017

Topics:

  • Art/ Apps
  • Business/ Books
  • Current Affairs/ Charities
  • Disruptive Tech/ Dream Destinations
  • Family/ Fun
  • Good food – Cooking/ Restaurant
  • Family
  • Here and Now/ Host/ Hobbies/ Holidays
  • Internet of Things
  • Job
  1. How are you related to the host? Are you related from the bride’s side or groom’s side? (At a wedding)
  2. Does your family have any “secret” or famous recipes?
  3. What’s your favorite restaurant that others don’t know about?
  4. How’s the family?
  5. What do you usually do on weekends?
  6. I am starting a book club, any good books you recommend?
  7. Any books you recommend to get into your field?
  8. Do you prefer city vacations or relaxing on the beach?

Job

I am/ My (niece/son) is interested to get into this [profession]. Do you have any advice for me/ I should pass on?”

“ How did you decide to get into [X field]?”

“I read about +++++ [Y detail about job] in +++++. Has that held true in your experience?”

“Which skill do you use the most in your work? Was that what you expected?”

“What’s the stereotype of a [job title]? Does it hold up?”

“Is there anything you didn’t anticipate about this role starting out? Do you like or dislike that?”

“What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? How about the worst?”

 

More tips on small talk or ice breakers for your next event: