Interns: Setting Up For Future Success

Interns: Setting Up For Future Success

So, you’ve got an intern.

You and I know that most interns are hoping that all their hard work isn’t just for nothing. Interns are hoping that when they work their butt off this summer that it provides a job opportunity (or connection) in the future.

But – you may or may not have the opportunity to bring on a new staff member next spring.

Realistically, it’s too far in advance to tell, and you don’t know if your current intern would fit the role you need to fill.

But, your intern has been curious, hard- working, and you see some real potential!

Jodi Gilckman, from Harvard Business Review, has 4 tips on How to Help your Intern get a Full Time Job.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Are there introductions you can make for your Intern?
  • Could you write a great recommendation?
  • Would you have time to talk with them once a month as a mentor, over the next 9 months?
  • Be transparent – talk about what you may be able to provide and communicate what next steps would be!

And, be sure to share with us on your best practices with interns.

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Interns: What to do With Them?

Interns: What to do With Them?

About 4 weeks ago you had a new team member added to your staff.

You could have sworn they were in high school, but this intern is a junior in college and hoping to make some connections before “all gets real” next year.

As these 4 weeks have passed, it’s been nice to have the extra help but you are noticing that you intern is seeming… well – bored?

You can tell they had hopes of what their internship would be and because May (and June) were so crazy this year, you know you could have planned a little better for their arrival.

So, now what?

Here are some tips on how to re-engage with your intern:

1. Start the relationship over – take them to lunch!

  • Get to know them! Where do they want their career to start? What is their dream job? If they could work for any company/ industry, what would it be?

2. Take the time to set the context for upcoming projects

  • Sometimes tasks given to interns seem like the “projects that no one wants”. Make it feel special (in an authentic way!)
  • Take some time to share about why those projects REALLY matter or choose a project that would benefit your team and speak to your interns interests!

3. Have some new resources available

  • You’ve got two goals here: You want your intern to be successful with the new project you’ve given and you want to show thoughtfulness (that you’ve prepared for giving this new project)

4. Offer and ask for feedback – and not too late, either!

  • Give your intern actionable feedback with real examples – it help them to be successful in the future! Make sure to give some positive feedback too
  • Ask them for feedback on what you’ve done well and what else they would have appreciated

Try out these tips and let us know your best strategies for engaging with interns!

Setting Priorities when Things are Crazy

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We’ve all had those moments… you know, those moments when you are happily sitting at your desk knocking things out and then your phone rings and you hear:

“Heyyyy, so we’ve got a new project that we’ve got to get done by tomorrow” YIKES!

Instantly it’s all hands on deck and your to-do list is totally thrown out the window.

BUT – there are still things on that list that you need to get done! You can feel your heart rate start to heighten and your palms get sweaty – now what?!

How do you deal with the fires?

Step 1: Calm it down!

You know you’re not at your best when you are stressed. Nothing productive gets done well when you are in that space.

Do what you need to do to get back to a place of thinking in your logical brain verses thinking from your stress. How do you actually DO that?

  • Take a couple of long (6-8 second) deep breaths
  • Get out of the office for a minute, go walk across the street to grab a cup of tea or coffee
  • Plan for a quick run during your lunch break

Step 2: Take a step back

Make a list of all of the items that HAVE to get done today or tomorrow. Look to see if there is anything that you can push out another day or two, or delegate to someone on your team (need tips on how to delegate effectively? Check out here, here, and here).

Communicate with those around you of what came up: tell you boss that you’ve been handed this last-minute task and you’re prioritizing it, let your team know that you’ve been handed a huge project and that you’ll probably be a little more on edge today. Being transparent with those around you will serve you all well!

Step 3: Set Realistic Expectations

You know you can’t do everything, so start thinking through your to-do’s in buckets.

Bucket 1 – Quick knock-outs: Is there an item or two that you can complete in the next 20 or 30 minutes? Do those quickly – spend no longer than 30 minutes on each. Feeling better as things start to be checked off your to-do list? Great. Move to bucket 2.

Bucket 2 – the biggies: Buckle down and knock out the most important/time sensitive item. Is someone waiting for a piece from you to be able to work on theirs? Tackle that now.

Bucket 3 – Finish it up! Circle back to those important items that take a little longer.

Try these out and let us know your best practices in dealing with fires!

Pace Yourself

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Working from home can come with many challenges—it’s part of the territory! However, there are just as many benefits, and as the world continues to convert to a predominantly digital space, working from home is a new challenge that many people are facing every year.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.52.43 AMOur Team member, Jeff, has some helpful tips:

I used to work from home 1-2 days a week until recently, when I converted to working from home full-time! It has certainly come with it’s challenges, but the benefits outweigh these ten-fold. Here are a couple of ideas and strategies that I’ve used to help this process go smoothly.

Thought #1: Use your Time Smartly

Is there a particular time of the day where your creative juices are really flowing? Maybe there are certain times of the day that you find yourself more self-motivated than other times. Find that time, exploit it to your benefit, and plan your day’s work around those times. Is it in the morning? Do the draining tasks then! Save the motivating work, the work that gives you energy, for the time of day that you’re struggling to stay on-task.

For myself, I’m WAY more motivated in the morning. So this is the time that I save for time-consuming tasks that don’t inspire me, they don’t give me energy, but they simply have to be done. Once the clock hits 2:00PM, my morning coffee is wearing off, and my eyes start to wander to the book on my table, or my mind towards the many pleasure of the Netflix app. This is when I do the tasks that inspire me, that give me energy, and feed my brain and soul. I have meetings in the afternoon, and am re-inspired by these tasks and these people to finish the day strong.

Thought #2 – Pace Yourself

Throughout each day I always remind myself this: pace yourself. Know that every day will not be the productive, butt-kicking day that you want it to be. You’re not a task-churning robot, and that’s okay!

Be okay with failing at productivity some days. Don’t beat yourself up. Push through it, and know that tomorrow can be better! Some days I’m extremely motivated; and other days I’m not. Some days, I get 10 hours worth of work done in 5 hours. Other days I get 2 hours worth of work done in 7 hours. And often, these results are no different when working in a traditional office environment.

Thought #3 – Don’t Do it Alone

Lastly, if I’m really struggling to finish a report that has to be done that day, but my Motivation Meter is reading 0, I’ll video-conference a co-worker (or friend!) and ask them if I can “sit” with them while I finish this up. Just being able to have some banter back and forth can help “humanize” the work and get me through that home-stretch.

So let’s recap:

  1. Use Time Smartly – Do the right tasks at the right time of day
  2. Pace Yourself – Don’t expect perfection, it’s okay to fail some days
  3. Don’t Do it Alone – Develop a work from home group of friends, and support each other through motivation and virtual relationships

Thanks so much for listening, and I hope that these ideas help you on your adventure in the growing group of people who work from home!

Get Inspired

Get Inspired

What is your first thought when you look at the picture above?

I’m going to guess that picture made you want to do something.

That’s inspiration.

As the excitement of 2016 starts to fade away and the daily grind starts to sink back in, take a moment to think about how is your team doing.

Do they need a little inspiration back in their day-to-day?

So many times, all people need is to feel cared about to get that little pop of inspiration back.

Take a couple of minutes to think of one question you can ask each member of your team to communicate that you care about them. Think about something that you’ve seen them do recently or you know is important to them.

Here are a couple examples to get those juices flowing:

  • I heard you mention you were going to the game, what was the most exciting part?
  • I noticed you have been really busy lately. Tell me about one accomplishment you’re really proud of?
  • Tell me a little more about your kids/pets! What’s something funny they’ve done recently?
  • I know you were thinking about moving, did you make any more decisions on that?

The next time you find yourself grabbing a cup of coffee with them in the break room, casually ask them the question you’ve thought about.

Inspiration doesn’t have to be some big speech or moment – it can as simple as the moment when you looked at a picture.

How to Survive the Company Holiday Party

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.19.06 AMTHE HOLIDAY PARTY!!!!

Or.

The. Holiday. Party………………

Do the three words ‘company’ ‘holiday’ and ‘party’ in the same sentence make you break out in hives? Or do you look forward all year to being able to hang with your work friends in a pretty cool (or different) location?

Now that you’re here (and lookin’ mighty festive, I might add!) – now what? How do you survive (and thrive!) at your company holiday party? We’ve got some conversation starters, stoppers, and stallers to help!

Starters: Need a topic to talk about? People LOVE to talk about themselves. Try these questions!

Don’t know the person you’re talking to very well?

  • What are you doing for the holidays/new years?
  • We’re trying to figure out what to do for next year’s summer vacation – what’s your favorite vacation spot? Any recommendations?
  • I’m in-between books (or TV shows) – what have you been reading lately that you really like?
  • My cat has been CRAZY this time of year with all of the travel and work hours! Do you have any pets?

Worked with them on a few projects, but want to get to know them more?

  • The holidays are always when I start reflecting on the year – what is the coolest (most exciting / impactful / rewarding) thing you did this year?
  • I’m starting to marinate on what to have as my new year’s resolutions – what are thinking about putting on your resolutions list for this year?
  • What did you learn about yourself (workstyle /personal motivation / personality) this year that was most surprising?

Stoppers:

  • Politics: As the election is coming closer, the candidates (and some in particular!) are on everyone’s mind. While this can be quite the (maybe not so joyous) conversation starter we’d recommend steering clear of this one!
  • Religion: Most people believe something and most people don’t want to hear all about what everyone else believes. If you find yourself telling a story where religion is as essential part, make it approachable. There is a way to present what you believe while not sounding like it is your way or the high way.

Stallers: In the middle of a conversation that’s not going well? Try these!

  • Use the bathroom as your friend. Excuse yourself, head to the bathroom for a quick moment, and then rejoin a different group.
  • Use the dance floor as a distraction.
    • Love to dance? Use it as a way to get you and your friend out of the convo and onto boogying!
    • Don’t love to dance? Not a problem. You can always see who is across the dance floor and remember a topic you have to go to talk to them about!
  • “It was so great to meet you!” or “it was so great to see you again!” is a great line to insert in when you can feel a conversation starting to run dry.

We hope these help you survive (and thrive!) at your company’s holiday party.

Have an awesome time!

Would You Ask For It?

Would You Ask For It?

Feedback.

It seems like so many times we only think about feedback when we need to have a hard conversation with someone.

We gather the facts and then “say what we need to say.”

Can you imagine how different your team would be if they were asking for feedback? If they gave you the opportunity to share what you were thinking or seeing?

Crazy. Right?

Well, to get to that place it starts with us, as Managers, to begin that journey of asking for feedback.

Peter Bregman wrote a fabulous article called How to Ask for Feedback That Will Actually Help You.

One of his tips was to probe more deeply with questions. Asking questions in different ways helps you to get a fuller answer – painting a clearer picture of what the other person is trying to ask for.

Having trouble thinking of a couple of questions to even begin with? We’ve got a couple of ideas:

  • What is one suggestion you have that I can do to better support my team?
  • If your boss were to give me one suggestion, what would it be?
  • What part of my leadership or management style concerns you the most?
  • How well do you feel I communicate? What can I do to better communicate with those I work with?
  • What specifically could I have done better on X project?

Maybe one of these questions sparked an idea!

So, gather up your courage and go ask for some feedback!

You’ll be a better leader because of it!