Prepping for Fall

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 2.52.24 PM.pngCa you believe that it’s ALREADY September 1st?

We can’t!

It seems like just yesterday we were talking about You in 2017 and the words you were going to use for this year.

Now that we are jumping into fall, let’s take some time to look at those words or phrases you chose and think about what else you want for the rest of this year!

Step 1: Grab your calendar and block off 30 minutes

Step 2: Look at the word you chose for your professional life. Write down a couple of ways you’ve seen this word show up in you (purposely or not!). Now, write down a couple of opportunities you might have to grow in that area in the coming months (only 4 more full months of the year!!!).

Step 3: Look at the word or phrase you chose for your personal life and do the same reflective activity.

Step 4: Look at the hobby or interest you wanted to grow or expand on. Did you have a chance to? If so, AWESOME! If not, look at what you could do in the next few months to accomplish that. J

We find that just after the fun and chaos of summer is the perfect time to take some time to reflect and reset on what you are hoping for the rest of the year!

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Enjoy Your Vacation (Really Enjoy It!)

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The first day of vacation is here! You’ve already prepared your colleagues and boss with how to fulfill your role while you’re gone, but have you taken the time to prepare yourself for days of fun, relaxation, and adventure?

You’ve developed a routine of staying on top of tasks in the office, but we want you to hone your skills related to personal time.

This guide, in short, will show you how to decompress without all the stress of worrying about work while on vacation.

Timing is everything

Peak season is commonplace in most organizations, so you’ll want to make certain your vacation coincides with the offseason, if possible, to maximize your efforts to unwind. By selecting vacation time outside of when you’ll be in high demand, you are better able to make plans around known information rather than a hazarded guess.

If you’re unsure when the busiest times of the year occur, speak with your boss or forecasting department, whose job includes maintaining appropriate staffing at all times, for guidance. Planning your vacation during a lull will ensure the likelihood that you’ll remain undisturbed with work and fully engrossed in enjoying yourself.

Unplugging from Technology

In today’s world, leaving your cell phone at home induces anxiety of the worst kind. Doh! How will you respond to emails, voicemails, and text messages if you don’t have your trusty device? Easy. You don’t. You’ve become so accustomed to always being “plugged in” that you are no longer in-tune with the most important contact – yourself.

It’s perfectly fine if you elect to bring your cellphone, laptop, or tablet on vacation, but be sure to utilize the “Do Not Disturb” feature when you really do not want to be disturbed. Pinging email notifications can put a real damper on a deep tissue massage. Disabling this feature will allow you to “loosen up” and enjoy the moment while remaining undisturbed.

If completely unplugging makes you uncomfortable, carve out a certain time of the day to devote no more than one hour to checking emails and responding to any urgent requests.

Putting yourself first

These days are devoted to no one else but you, so act like it! In order to be your best self at work, you’ll need to take the time to do all of the things you didn’t have time to do because of daily career demands.

When was the last time you were able to read a book, see the sights, or have meaningful conversations with loved ones? If this question takes you longer than a few seconds to answer, you need to make it a priority to do at least one of these things while on vacation.

You’ll also want to take this “make-time-for-me” mantra with you during your return to work. Pace yourself by using your first day back to catch up on emails and reacquainting yourself with your role. Block some time on your calendar to catch up so your coworkers will know that you’d prefer not to be disturbed while you’re getting back to business.

Now that you’re all rested up and refreshed, you’re able to seize the days ahead at the office!

Prepping For Your Vacation

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It’s Summer! You’ve banked those vacation hours, foregone taking an extended weekend for your birthday, and you’re ready to take some much-needed time off. Relaxation awaits just around the corner.

We’re here to make sure you’re laying out your beach blanket, rather than laying out step-by-step instructions to your colleague, with these tips for a fun furlough.

Cleaning out your inbox

You may never have been able to reduce your inbox to zero, but a good practice is to clear out any messages to the lowest common denominator before bidding adieu.

Go through each email and prioritize with Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Matrix:

  • Important and Urgent – Extremely High Priority
  • Important but not Urgent – High Priority
  • Not Important but Urgent – Low Priority
  • Not Important and not Urgent – Extremely Low Priority

For messages that are Important and Urgent, take time to address those emails prior to your leave. For those that are Important but not Urgent, use the starring/flagging system to ensure that the messages are your first priority upon your return. The Not Important but Urgent emails may be delegated to the person who’ll be covering for you while you’re gone. Not Important and not Urgent emails can be postponed until you’ve made it back to the office.

Oh, and don’t forget to turn on your out of office reply.

Daily tasks

You have job duties that must be done on a daily basis, and you’ll want to ensure that those duties are fulfilled in your absence. Find out if you’re able to pass your everyday responsibilities along to one of your colleagues. If so, carve out some time to meet with your backup to list and thoroughly explain what must be done and when it will need to be completed.

  • Provide your backup with your passwords to any applications that he or she will utilize daily
  • Leave contact information for important connections (e.g., tech support, clients, and vendors)
  • Identify the location of reference materials that will supply the answer to any routine questions that may arise

Since your colleague will be holding down the fort in your absence, you’ll want to make sure that the transition is as easy as possible. Leaving a detailed list of things that must be done and how to do them will eliminate your need to check your phone a trillion times while you’re away.

Organize your workspace

You know the Rockford files are underneath a pile of papers tucked inconspicuously in the paneling of your cubicle, but your colleagues might not. Taking time to tidy up your desk before you leave will guarantee an easy search.

A clean work area allows peace of mind during your trip. Put to rest the pangs of wondering if your coworkers saw all the crumbs in your keyboard or dust bunnies in the corners of your cube with the gift of tidiness. Double bonus – you’ll return to a desk that’s spiffy enough to be on HGTV!

Now that you’ve taken the time to prepare, get your motor running, head out on the highway, and enjoy your vacation!

So, You’ve Got a New Job- Part 2

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 9.39.29 AMPreoccupied with the exciting possibilities of your new role, you’ve totally forgotten that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step – your first day. But not to worry – we’ve got your back! These tips are sure to keep you cool under the pressure of what to do when you’re new.

The Commute

During the interview process, your trusty GPS guided you to your new office in just 15 minutes. However, your route may have been contingent upon the time of day and weather. A drive at 1 pm on a sunny Wednesday could be much shorter than one on Monday at 8 am during a torrential downpour.

A good practice is to take a trip to the office beforehand to make sure you’ve accounted for traffic and detours. By testing your hypothetical drive, you can feel confident in the fact you’ll arrive at work early rather than late.

If your preference is to crank up Pandora while you get ready for work, you may have to put down the air guitar and devote a few minutes to listening to your local news or radio to find out if there are any road closures, accidents, or inclement weather that could impact your driving time. You and Pearl Jam can thank us later.

The Attire

You know those papers and/or booklets you received when you accepted the position? It serves well to read them, as these documents are often the keepers of clandestine information related to your new role.

Read your employee handbook thoroughly and carefully to ensure you’re in-line with your organization’s expectations. Of course, you’ll dress professionally, but your interpretation of sandals may be Birkenstocks, while your company’s expectation of sandals is open-toed dress shoes.

The Layout

While interviewing, you parked in visitor parking and stopped at the front desk to indicate your arrival. Easy, right? But now that you’re “official,” you’ll have to park in the fourth deck and ride the elevator to the 17th floor. Yikes!

No sweat. You’ve gained an extra fifteen minutes from properly planning your commute and can navigate your way to your new desk like a boss. An east and west elevator, or stopping to ask for directions from passersby, will be a breeze rather than panic-inducing since you’ve got time to spare.

The People

During your interview, you were congenial, charming, and attentive. Let’s let the good times roll! You’ll be inundated with new names and faces all day, so be just as authentic and personable as you were when getting the job as you are in keeping your job. Scientific research suggests that our facial expressions influence our emotions, so smiling and being pleasant when meeting your coworkers will serve both you and your new crew well.

Displaying a positive, can-do attitude not only signals to those around you that you are receptive and capable, it also breaks the ice when asking job-related questions. Those gray skies of uncertainty will clear up when you put on a happy face.

Well, look who’s survived the first day? Go you! You’ve given yourself a head start on fulfilling the expectations of your new role just by putting your best foot forward on day one.

So, You’ve Got a New Job – Part 1

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Whether you’re leaving to pursue a new career, trek across Tibet for sheer adventure, or take same personal time off from the workforce, leaving your current employer as respectfully as when you came in has benefits.

Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t jump ship until you’ve secured your anchor.

The Beauty in the Two-Week Notice

Even if your boss wasn’t the most gracious in giving deadlines, your ample notice of resignation will be a gift to your coworkers who’ll likely have to shoulder the load in your absence if a replacement isn’t found before your departure. Remember, there is no “I” in team.

Established a good rapport with those you’ve shared a parking deck with during your stint at your company? They’ll likely want to celebrate your new beginnings. A last hurrah after work is a networking opportunity in disguise, as many of your coworkers will likely want to keep in touch with you (added bonus – LinkedIn buddies!).

Giving two-weeks’ notice graciously can also allot time to speak with HR to find out about things like: payouts for unused vacation days, COBRA benefits to bridge your coverage if there is a lag in the time for open enrollment at your new gig, and implementing your suggestions for improvement via the exit interview.

Training the new “You” 

Now that you’ve submitted your notice to separate (in writing), use this as an opportunity to add to your repertoire and resume!

You may not realize how much you contributed to your organization until you’ve created the training agenda for the new “you.” Listing all of your responsibilities not only validates your capabilities (GO YOU!), it can also be used as leverage for a counteroffer at your new employer or a great incentive to update your resume. Another plus – this list may highlight areas where there are gaps in your skillset that you can, ideally, develop in your new gig.

You are the expert when it comes to your role so be sure to impart this knowledge to the person replacing you. Remember all of those times you wanted to bang your head into your desk from frustration? Be generous in doling out the metaphorical Excedrin by providing thorough training to your proxy.

Perks of professionalism

Who doesn’t love having proof of how fantastic they are? Good news! Your willingness to work out your two-week notice and train your replacement, just might move your former boss to pen you a letter of recommendation that will last throughout the ages.

ASK for a letter of recommendation as you are closing up shop if your boss hasn’t mentioned it – chances are they will be happy to write one for you!

Don’t be the person to eat and run. If you apply good manners at a host’s dinner table, be sure to apply the same courtesy to your employer when quitting your job.

So, I’ve Got a New Direct Report

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You are so excited because you (finally!!) have someone new you are bringing onto your team!

You’ve been waiting a LONG time for them – and want to make this transition as smooth and seamless as possible.

As you are prepping to bring them on, we’ve got a couple of tips on things to think about!

First, they don’t know what they don’t know. You’ve been here for a while. You know the ins and outs of the company. You know that Bob never has matching socks and that on Friday’s, everyone goes to happy hour at 6.

Take a couple of minutes this week to really think about those things. Reflect on your days and weeks and think about those “things that you just know” and try to capture them.

Next, identify your expectations—because you’ve got ‘em (we all do!)

Schedule some time in your calendar this week and think about this:

  • What are the “shoulds” that you think of for this person?

That is, when you think about them, do you think “they should know this”, or “they should be ready for their first client call by X date”, or “their primary resource for questions should be Sally”.

Write all those out and then think about what is the best way (and time) to communicate all those to your new direct.

We’d recommend to not do it all at once, and also to make sure you ACTUALLY communicate all those expectations.

Last, consider the experience you want them to have.

Yes, this will all be new and it will likely be overwhelming. And in the midst of that, what do you want them to remember or experience?

Maybe you want them to know that they’ve got you as a support, so you’re going to coordinate team lunches once a week for the next few weeks to help the whole team get to know each other better.

Or maybe you want them to know that you really value their opinion, so every couple of days you’ll set up structured time to ask them what is going well and what else they would like or need.

You have the opportunity to create the experience you want them to have. So think about what that overall experience is and then a couple of practical ways that you can make that happen!

We’re excited for your new direct and would love to hear your best ideas in on-boarding someone new!

So, I’ve Got a New Boss

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You got the job!!!! Congrats!

Which also means you’ve got a new boss. And there is that question in the back of your mind… what kind of boss will they be?

Micro-manage-y? Super hands off? Some type of balance between the two? Way too invested? Kind of aloof?

You know there is a chance for all of them.

And some people are great at expressing their expectations and others are not.

So, with that in mind, we’ve got a couple of suggestions on some types of conversations you may want to have.

First, learn about how you guys will be meeting.

  • Do you have weekly standing meetings?
  • Do you have meetings as things come up?
  • What’s their preference for how to schedule meetings?

Next, learn about their expectations on hearing about how things are going.

  • Do they want status updates? How often?
  • Do they only want to know when something has been completed?
  • Do they want these updates in meetings … or via email … or do they just want to be able to see what they need to in the tracking system you guys have?

Then, learn about how they want to be communicated with as issues arise.

  • Do they want to know as soon as you know there is a problem?
  • Do they want you guys to strategize on how to fix it together?
  • Do they prefer you to come to them with a strategy on how to fix it and they confirm?
  • Or, do they want you to try to fix it first and then come to them?

Let us know how these questions help you structure your new relationship with your boss- or if you have any additional tips you’ve found helpful during this exciting / fun/ and stressful transition time!