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Sink or swim?

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New JobI wanted to expand on my recent video blog post about being thrown into the deep end at work because I’ve had this topic come up several times in the past few weeks with clients. And I was honored to be interviewed by Matt Jones again with Q100 and the Cumulus group of stations here in Atlanta. Having this happen to you, whether it’s a new job or a new role within your company – even a promotion – can be overwhelming and stressful. And it can happen to any of us. In some cases, we take a job even if we don’t feel completely qualified because we really need the paycheck. In other cases we may have sold ourselves too well. One of the toughest things about this situation and you can feel completely out of control. You accepted the job, asked for it (in the case of a promotion or transfer) and it can be hard to admit you’re underwater. What do you do? Here are 7 steps to take – in this order – to manage the situation as best as you can.

  1. Don’t panic. First, don’t freak out. And don’t assume you can’t do the job. Take a step back, analyze the situation and think about what’s going on. Is it a lack of manpower, lack of training or lack of process that’s creating the stress? Write down each thing that is the problem area so to speak and create a plan. Doing so will help you feel a greater sense of control again. And remember – they hired you, they must’ve seen something in you that can do the job. Step into it.
  2. Create your own training program. Define your goals with your boss and create an educational plan even if it will take several months to complete. Talk to your supervisor and your co-workers as well to find out their goals and how yours fit into their or are impacted by theirs. Then start small with manageable goals-for example, what are the top 3 things you need to learn in the next 30 days?
  3. Find classes, online or otherwise. There are so many free and low cost educational options out there, especially on the internet ( is one example). Prioritize what’s most important to your career path and your current position and start there.
  4. Manage up. If you are swamped, there’s a chance your boss is too. It’s imperative to manage up with your supervisor. Ask them what their expectations are of you and how your performance will be measured. When and how will you be evaluated? Maintain open lines of communication with your boss, suggest weekly or bi-weekly meetings, whatever’s appropriate.
  5. Take co-workers to lunch to learn the ropes. Ask for advice, learn from them. Pick their brain about who knows what or who is best to turn to in your organization for specific advice or help with things only people who have worked there for a while would know. Find out the culture of the organization and who to turn to when you need assistance.
  6. Go to HR to find out about education benefits. They may not have any but if you don’t ask, you won’t know. And they may be willing to help in some way or create a new policy to provide assistance. At the very least they could give you time during work hours to attend a course.
  7. Find a mentor. A mentor can be inside or outside the company. You can have more than one but no more than 2. Part of Tip #6 and getting to know who’s who in the organization can be part of your process of identifying a possible mentor.

Hallie Crawford
Career Coach

P.S. Get one of the most information-rich career newsletters on the web delivered straight to your email inbox! Check out our Free Newsletter to help you along your career journey today!

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I was honored to be a panelist at the AEP Conference in Nashville. I wanted to share this clip from my presentation regarding strategic career planning. What you need to do first, and why it is important!

*Go here to view the powerpoint presentation from this event and learn more:

Hallie Crawford
Certified Career Coach

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Co-WorkersGetting along with co-workers can be difficult. Perhaps they play their radio too loudly near your cubicle, or they talk excessively with friends on personal phone calls then leave all the “team work” to everyone else on the team. Regardless of their faults, how important is getting along with them? Very important! Often, your boss rates you on your review based on your ability to get along with co-workers.

To resolve any conflict with co-workers, you have some options, each of which has pros and cons:

  • You can consider talking to the other co-worker about the actions that affect you. This approach could have drawbacks as well since the co-worker could say that you are not the boss. On the other hand, you may easily find a resolution to the problems.
  • You can consider asking other employees if they are affected by the co-worker. This approach could backfire if any other employees tell the co-worker about your conversation without your permission.  Optionally, you may find out other employees are experiencing even worse offenses from your co-worker than you. If others are having problems too, you can jointly decide what if the best approach to handling the issues.
  • You can consider talking to your boss about the issues with the co-worker, but, if your boss isn’t yet aware of the co-worker’s shortcomings, the person who looks bad could be you.  Another possible outcome, however, is that the boss could resolve the issue for you.

In any of these options, the outcome depends on your tactfulness, the receptiveness of the person with whom you are talking, and your company’s culture.  In choosing your option, just remember to protect your own reputation as being someone who is tolerant, gets along with others, and is a team player.  As long as you are careful to protect your own reputation, trust yourself to choose the best method for resolving conflict in the most effective way.

Hallie Crawford and Terry Wynne, Ed.S., LPC, BCC
Certified Career Coaches

P.S. Are you in the ideal career for you? Find out if you’re in the right career with our Ideal Career Quiz.

Part 3: Bored at work? How to recover your creativity

Career Plan We all get bored sometimes at work. I had a job in my twenties where I could have taken a nap during the work day and no one would have noticed. That was worse for me than being too busy! Sometimes we get bored at our jobs because we don’t have enough to do, but sometimes it happens because we have lost our creative edge. And this can happen even if we are not in a creative field. Creative problem solving for example requires creativity. Figuring out how to handle that difficult client requires it. Regardless of the type of job you are in, creativity will be required in some way, shape or form. If you have lost it, how can you get it back?

Here are 5 ideas to help you get started on the right foot in January 2014:

1) Reach out – Get out of your office and get back to networking. Attend an association meeting this month. Meet new people or learn a new skill there by attending a presentation or workshop.

2) Connect and brainstorm – Leverage your colleagues in meetings, formal and informal. Bounce ideas off of them. Walk into their office and ask them if you can think out loud with them for a few minutes. Often, sharing with others helps us solidify an idea, or come up with a new one.

3) Journal or doodle – Keep a notepad handy where you can draw your ideas or simply write them down. Come back to them later. Seeing things in black and white, outside of our head, can help us not only be more objective about them but can also help us generate new ideas about how to handle them.

4) Step away – Writing them down and coming back to them can give us a fresh perspective. In the meantime maybe you spoke with a colleague and that gave you a new idea. Either way, that time off from the idea you have been struggling with can make a big difference in how you see it when you come back to it.

5) Do the same thing a different way – Mix up your routine. If you come to work at the same time every day, try a half hour earlier. Eat at the same place almost every day for lunch? Go somewhere completely new for a week. You don’t always have to change the task you perform in order to break the monotony, sometimes a different way of performing that task can do the trick.

Hallie Crawford
Ideal Career Coach

P.S. Are you in the ideal career for you? Find out if you’re in the right career with our Ideal Career Quiz.

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Part 2: Make it great

Career PlanI enjoyed this article in Forbes and I wanted to share with you: The Single Greatest Piece Of Advice Steve Jobs Gave ‘Frozen’ Executive Producer John Lasseter. It is important food for thought in the new year as we think about. Not just career planning for that next step, but what we can do now to improve our performance in our current position

We get so caught up in the day to day of our jobs, multi-tasking, feeling the thrill so to speak of checking things off our list, that we too often lose sight of the big picture. Are we doing the best job that we can? Are we serving our customers as effectively as we are able to?

Take a moment before the new year, 30 minutes is enough, to reflect on each aspect of your job. Complete these steps:

1) Write down each task you are expected to perform each day. The major pieces, it doesn’t have to be every single small thing you do. For example, marketing strategy, financial reporting, data analysis, customer service.

2) Break each of them down into the steps required for each task. Customer communication, problem solving, creative thinking, team meetings with co-workers, etc.

3) Then for each one ask yourself:

a. Are you producing the best results possible?

b. Are you leveraging your strengths for each task?

c. What do you need to change to make it better or “make it great” to use the language from this article.

Big picture thinking and planning is a critical piece to your success at work. As you plan for 2014, include these questions in your process. It will not only improve your work performance, but it will enhance your motivation and provide a continued sense of challenge in your work as well. Revisit the exercise every quarter this year. Mark it on your calendar :)

Hallie Crawford
Ideal Career Coach

P.S. Be sure to check out our LinkedIn Consulting Program where you can learn how to effectively leverage your LinkedIn account for your job search and ongoing professional development.

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Part 1: The importance of getting along at work

Career PlanWas the company office party awkward because there is a colleague you wanted to avoid? Is there a relationship at work that went sour this past year? This is great food for thought for the new year to help you consider how to turn over a new leaf with your boss, a co-worker or anyone else in your office. Why it is important to nurture not just your talents and skills but also those relationships with your colleagues…. Thank you to Terry Wynne, one of our associate coaches, for this post!

*This is the first in a series we will do over the next few weeks to help you develop your career plan for 2014!

How important is getting along with colleagues, customers, and managers at work? Getting along is very important and can mean the difference in getting a raise versus being asked to leave. Getting along with “difficult people” is not always easy however.  “Difficult people” include those who are argumentative, controlling, excessive talkers, criticizers, or other traits you’d simply like to avoid.

The issue is that avoiding such people altogether may be unavoidable. So how do you get along with them? Learning effective coping skills is helpful. Two excellent books that explain detailed coping methods include Coping With Difficult People by Robert Bramson, Ph.D., and When I Say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smith, Ph.D.  Both books explain exactly what to say to that oh-so-difficult person.  For example, one technique Robert Bramson recommends for dealing with an explosive personality is to calmly say, “I want to hear everything you have to say, but not this way.”  On the other hand, in a situation where you work is criticized, Manual Smith would recommend asking for more information such as inquiring, “What is it about this report you don’t like?”

Learning effective coping techniques doesn’t mean “difficult people” don’t still aggravate you. Surprisingly, you may find that they become your friend or that you become a model for others in your organization to learn how to deal with them.  Just think how surprised your boss will be when you say, “Feel free to send difficult customers to me – I know how to handle them!” So take control, learn coping techniques, and earn the reputation for being the person in your organization who is able to get along with anyone – even people you really don’t want to be around!

Hallie Crawford and Terry L. Wynne
Certified Career Coaches

P.S. Get one of the most information-rich career newsletters on the web delivered straight to your email inbox! Check out our Free Newsletter to help you along your career journey today!

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Office PartyWhat do you get your boss this year for the holidays? How do you handle gift giving but also the donations so to speak your office requests for gifts etc, now and throughout the year. Here’s how you can handle what your office asks for during the holiday season, with grace and greater comfort… Thank you to Terry Wynne, one of our associate certified career coaches, for this article!

‘Tis the season for holiday time at the office and the office wants you to contribute more money than ever. For the office party, gifts for the boss, gifts for co-workers,  gift wrap sold by co-workers’ children, the homeless, the needy, the less fortunate,  and the monthly birthday club. You want to be a team player but if you have more bills than you can afford already to pay, what do you do?

First of all, decide which requests you think might be “noticeable” or “trackable.” For example, the Human Resource department contacted one young bank officer saying his monthly pledge to their company-wide “combined giving” charity was less than any other officer. Of course, he was humiliated. Hopefully, you won’t be humiliated if you give something, however small, to any “noticeable” or “trackable” requests so you will  be considered a “team player.”

For all other requests, ask co-workers the amount they plan to give and to which requests. You’ll probably find you’re not the only one who does not plan to contribute to everything or who needs to make small contributions.

Lastly, ask yourself how you can cut back in order to afford the contributions you do need to make. For example, could you bring your lunch to save money from eating out, not buy the new clothes you wanted, or take the bus instead of driving to work?

Under the best of circumstances, budgeting can be difficult, but your goal is try to be a team player, be discrete, choose when to say “no” to multiple requests, and if necessary, volunteer your time instead of money. For example, offer to help plan the company office party if you can’t contribute to it. After all, giving of your time counts just as much as money – and in some cases, even more so!

Hallie Crawford and Terry L. Wynne
Certified Career Coaches

P.S. Be sure to check out our LinkedIn Consulting Program where you can learn how to effectively leverage your LinkedIn account for your job search and ongoing professional development.

Office PartyThe holiday office party is coming up, and whether you dread it or look forward to it – you can actually use it to your advantage instead of having it just be a chance to blow off steam. The party can be an opportunity to schmooze with higher ups, get noticed, or develop new relationships or smooth out rocky ones. Here are some things to keep in mind to be pro-active about your party and use it wisely to climb the corporate ladder…

1. Connect on the personal level. I believe stronger connections can be made when we connect with someone personally as well as professionally (without crossing the line of course!) Think of topics to discuss – a recent movie you saw, a local art exhibit, something new about your kids – something personal to share that shows a different side to your personality. This could also be something you use to find common interests with someone you’re speaking to at the party, to connect on that personal level as well.

2. Define your goals. In advance, determine your goals for the party. Yes, your goals. Do you want to meet a specific person who can help you with a project you are working on? Interested in establishing a firmer connection with your bosses boss? Need to smooth out that rocky relationship with Ramona on your team? This can be your chance to do so. Determine what you want to accomplish and, think about work-related points you want to bring up as well. Is it an idea about a new project, an apology you need to make, an invitation to take someone new to coffee so you can brainstorm project strategy together or just a comment on a recent contract they won just to get the conversation started? If you want to open the conversation by asking advice, ask a question even if you already know the answer. Find a way to stay in touch with them by asking them to lunch, or connecting with them on Linkedin.

3. Prepare for shop talk. Yes many people will be talking about work, so in addition to determining the personal things you can share, think about work related topics as well, including things outside the company within your industry that show your intellect or interest in your field as well.

4. Show your softer side. Sometimes the party is a chance to demonstrate your soft skills like your sense of humor, communication, or another side to your personality like personal interests. You may need to be more buttoned up at work you can let loose a little and socialize with people allowing them to get to know you on another level but also learn that you have these other soft skills so to speak.

5. Follow up. Don’t let the connection go to waste. Be sure to follow up. Connect with them on Linkedin, shoot them a quick email saying great to meet you, can you meet for coffee next week? Or if there is no specific action step needed, a simple, great to meet you hope we can work together soon. For someone higher up, consider a handwritten thank you note or holiday card dropped off at their office. Do something afterwards to solidify that connection.

6. Don’t dread it. See the party as an opportunity to further your career in some way, even if the results are not immediate. Someone may approve you for raise or help you with a promotion – great. But at a lower level, they might give you recommendation on LinkedIn or help you on a project. Either way, it can be a positive career move.

7. Act professionally. We all know this, but some people still end up being the story from the holiday office party for 6 months after it’s over. The whole time you are there, keep in mind, people are always evaluating you even if they are not doing so consciously. Whether or not you know it, or they do, they are thinking about what you are like professionally; whether you should be promoted, whether you’re a reliable person to work with, etc. You’re always on.

8. Don’t be a brown-noser. Yes you can try to make an impression on higher ups in order to get that next promotion but, don’t over-do it. Be authentic and be yourself first. Find a way to make that positive impression in a manner that fits your personality.

Hallie Crawford
Job Search Coach

P.S. Get one of the most information-rich career newsletters on the web delivered straight to your email inbox! Check out our Free Newsletter to help you along your career journey today!

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About Create Your Career Path

Our team of career coaches help people of all ages nurture their career, identify their ideal career path, and navigate their career transition. We offer group and individual coaching as well as self-directed learning products. Schedule a free phone consultation with Create Your Career Path today.