Tips for Successful Interviews

January 28, 2017 by  

Today when an organization is looking for a new hire they generally have a large pool of candidates to choose from. Therefore, if you are seeking a new position, it is very important to prepare well before an interview so that you will have a good chance of doing well during the interview.
So what should you do?

Here are some tips to consider:
1. Take a practice run to the interview location so that you know exactly where it is, how long it will take you to get there, and where you can park.
2. Research the company ahead of time so you know their history, their core values, their goals, and their mission statement.
3. Practice for the interview by preparing possible answers for the most frequently asked questions. However, do not memorize those replies or you will sound robotic.
4. Don’t rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you. No matter how qualified you are for the position, you will need to sell yourself to the interviewer.
5. Dress appropriately to suit the culture of the organization. If you are not able to determine that ahead of the interview, it is always better to be a bit overdressed and conservative in your attire.
6. If an unexpected question is offered, one you did not prepare for, you can ask to have them repeat the question to give you a bit more time to compose an appropriate answer. In any event, a short pause is okay, not a long one.
7. Do not appear “desperate” for the position, rather be interested and exude confidence rather than aggression. Be sincere and honest.
8. Be sure to be well groomed, polite, and attentive.
9. Greet the interviewer (by name if you can determine that ahead of time), look them in the eye and firmly shake hands.
10. Good idea to bring along extra resumes, just in case they ask for one.
11. Try to demonstrate how you will be valuable to the organization, not what they can do for you.
12. Prepare a few questions you wish to ask. If the information you are seeking is shared during the interview, you will not need to use them, however, if there are some points you wish to determine, there is nothing wrong with asking.

Remember, the organization is likely interviewing many candidates and if you want to stand out and earn the second or third interview for this position, you want to make the right impression at the first interview. In order not to leave a poor impression, be sure to turn off your cell phone before entering the interview room, make sure to come a few minutes early, and if they require any further forms to be filled out, do it neatly, completely, and accurately.

Finally, never speak negatively about former employers, colleagues, or managers as this will not endear you to a new organization. Best to keep the conversation professional and positive. Always be truthful, to the point, and simple.
I wish you success and your preparation will help you to win that new position so be sure to put in the time necessary to arrive prepared and confident!

Seven Meeting Mistakes

January 20, 2017 by  

Most people think that there are two main problems with meetings: absence of an agenda and a lack of leadership. But the main reason why meetings fail has nothing to do with these usual suspects. Meetings fail because of a workplace model that actively prevents people from having candid conversations. Too many people leave meetings frustrated about what happened and worse yet, what did not happen.

Mistake #1: Vague purpose
The lack of a clear purpose is the kiss of death for any meeting. If you are not clear about the purpose of the meeting you will be unable to select the appropriate people to attend, design the best agenda, select an appropriate process, or determine whether your meeting is successful. Everyone attending should know what is expected of him or her. Because each meeting has a unique purpose, each agenda item will be chosen to suit that purpose.

Mistake #2: Inviting the wrong people
Many meetings have the wrong people in attendance. This is usually because no one asked one critical question: Who really needs to be there? Those invited should include only those who are necessary to the conversation or the decision.

Ask yourself                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Could this person add a certain needed        expertise?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Does this person have a particular interest in the issue?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Will this person actively participate or contribute?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is this person informed enough to contribute actively?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Will this person be directly impacted by the decision?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Once you have answered those questions you will be able to select the appropriate people for this particular meeting.

Mistake #3. Unequal participation
Good decision-making depends on the contributions of many ideas, facts, and opinions. However, people will not participate unless they feel comfortable doing so. This depends on their understanding that what they contribute is valuable to the discussion. If one person in the group is seen as more important than another, the conversation will be impacted negatively. People participate fully only when they can respond as equals. When you are in a subordinate position, you may distrust your own judgment and even sabotage those with more power. When you are in a superior position, you may become arrogant and close yourself off to new information. You may also quit listening and learning and become defensive and hostile if anyone challenges you.

Mistake #4: Commitment varies
For a meeting to be truly effective, each person must commit to the meeting and be accountable to the others at that meeting. In simple terms, this means showing up and participating. Ideally, committing means contributing in a constructive way and being candid and respectful. It includes listening to every person and speaking is a way that promotes, rather than discourages, conversation.

Mistake #5: Lack of shared ownership or leadership
Even if others help in creating an agenda, the control by a few prevents the others from sharing ownership and leadership in the meeting. As a result, most people wait for someone else to take charge. In successful meetings, ownership and leadership are shared and each person contributes to the structure and functioning of the meeting. Each attendee shares responsibility for creating a meeting that meets their needs and maintaining the focus of the meeting.

Mistake #6: Poor facilitation
The biggest mistake meetings chairs make is to forget that their role is to facilitate a dialogue.
The skill of facilitation is much like that of hosting an event. The facilitator’s responsibility is to ensure that the meeting functions properly and the participants participate in and benefit from the proceedings. The facilitator is essentially a process person.

Mistake #7: Lack of curiosity
Many attend meetings because they feel they must.  Others come simply to watch and stay out of the way. If each person came to the meeting with curiosity the gathering would be much more interesting and effective.   Curiosity as one of the fundamental principles of any good conversation. This curiosity is essentially an open mindset or the sense that you are seeing something for the very first time. It is a sense of wonder and rarely one of judgment.

As you can see, these 7 mistakes are driven a domination model – where one person takes charge and the others follow. The best way to improve your meetings is to adopt a process that promotes collaboration and conversation and stops domination from entering into the exchanges.  An open, honest and inclusive process can help by making the purpose crystal clear, inviting only those essential to the meeting, creating a more equal climate that encourages dialogue, asking each person to commit to the meeting, sharing ownership and leadership of the meeting and requesting that each person stay curious and involved.   Your workplace culture may not shift overnight, but at least you will have more effective and productive meetings which will result in desired outcomes for the group of attendees .

9 Tips for Workplace Conflict Management

January 10, 2017 by  

Organizational conflicts usually arise when there is a disharmony between co-workers or between managers and employees. People often vary in their perceptions of situations; react in different ways and may also espouse differing views due to cultural differences. These differences can cause emotional clashes which may result in conflicts. Conflict does have some positive effects, such as developing new ideas for resolution or learning more about another’s point of view, however, more often it has a negative impact on the welfare of the organization’s workplace environment.

In any organization, it is usually the managers who have the responsibility of handling those conflicts and they need to find creative solutions for doing this.
Here are some factors that managers should keep in mind for successfully resolving a conflict.

1.Address the conflict directly: Effective managers should intervene whenever a conflict comes their way. Unresolved conflict may trigger the growth of more conflict because they rarely go away if ignored and can easily escalate if not addressed soon after it arises.

2. Try to meet concerned people together: In this way you can listen actively to both sides of the conflict and mediate accordingly. You want to appear neutral, fair and consistent in how you deal with any conflict. The manager should also use his/her best persuasive skills to bring both parties to common ground in order to resolve the issue.

3. Encourage both parties to share their perspective & concerns: An effective manager will engage in conversation with both parties, allow them to share their viewpoints and then suggest specific actions, which are acceptable to all concerned. In this way, you can collaboratively explore ways that will result in a win-win situation for everyone.

4. Communicate the message clearly to avoid any misunderstanding: Communication barriers between employees and employers can easily create a wide gap in understanding which can result in miscommunication, confusion, resentment, and disappointment. If not monitored properly, this sort of exchange may lead to mistrust amongst employees. Incorrect or misunderstood information can create fear in the minds of employees. Thus it is important to communicate in a clear, honest, and concise manner so as to minimize any ambiguity which could arise. Basically one must employ active listening and encourage others to do the same.

5. Take a proactive stance whenever possible: Managers must be able to identify any potential conflict which be likely to cause problems and then take any action necessary to ensure that the conflict is diffused as soon as possible. With sound reasoning ability, a manager can attempt to influence both the parties so that they will agree to the terms he/she suggests. Managers must try to create an environment where employees trust the management and are reassured that their interests will be protected and respected.

6. Make sure that employees are accountable: An effective manager should delegate work to the appropriate employees and clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities relative to their job descriptions. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their work and any mistakes that are made.

7. Build cordial, trusting and respectful relationships with employees: The manager should foster a sense of belonging in the team. It is important for the manager to set the tone for his/her team by being positive, upbeat and supportive. The employees need to know that you have their backs in any situation and take responsibility for your work as well. You have to “walk the walk” not just “talk the talk”.

8. Conduct meetings with all employees: Conducting personal meetings increases the transparency for any organizational issues. An effective manager discusses plans for the coming months and shares a status report showing the accomplishments achieved so far. This gives the employees a clear idea of how they fit into the organization’s big picture and why their roles are so key to the achievement of the common goals of the team. When an employee fully understands how they fit into the organization they are motivated to fulfill their part to the best of their ability….a win/win for everyone.

9. You may want to set up an employee “suggestion box”: this can be a powerful tool for collecting “honest” feedback and suggestions from employees.

Conflict and negotiation go hand in hand, so with growing complexity in the business environment, small issues pertaining to employees can often go unnoticed by the top management. If ignored for a long period of time, this may create some conflict. Therefore, again, the onus is upon the manager to diffuse any potential conflict-causing situations by addressing them right at the start.

If you follow these tips you ought to be able to handle any conflict that occurs with your employees and create a positive outcome.