My Day is Craptastic – and yours?

Things don’t go well all the time.  Even when you work really hard to do the right things the right way, shit happens. People who are angry or unhappy lash out and toss around mistruths or accusations. Sometimes the crap lands on people who have nothing to do with the problem.

When this happens, our tendency is to get bug eyed and then close the door and cry.

And that’s okay.  Crying is good.  It gets the shock and awe (how could they say that?) out of the way so you can move on to dealing with the problem.

We can’t control people who throw crap at us, but we can control how we deal with it.

Yesterday, when I asked a good friend how she was, she replied “Well, I spent yesterday crying but now I’m getting constructive.”  Brilliant.

How you react behind closed doors is one thing.  What you do in public, is quite another.

Sure, take moment to vent, cry, swear, whatever, but then sit down and make a list of damage control items.  Consult a trusted advisor.  Take a deep breath and take action.

While you may have to accept that you did not get that job or that your colleague took credit for your idea, you do not have to let it end there.  You can send a gracious note to the hiring manager letting them know that you respect their decision and that you would be open to considering other roles in the future.  You can find a way to mention your contribution to the project while your boss is listening.

But it takes clear thinking and a desire to rise above it, to let the world know that you really do care about what you do and that a little crap thrown your way is not going to change that.

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Today’s Veterans are Tomorrow’s Business Leaders

Do you have any military veterans in your work group?  Are there any in your company?

As we stop and pause on Remembrance Day at 11:00, we need to think about not just  the veterans from the Great Wars but from the more recent wars.

Every year more than 4,000 men and women leave the military and transition to civilian life.  Their average age is 37 and they have a lot to contribute.

Veteran Affairs Canada has a really neat guide  that describes some of the resources that are available to help employers reach these great candidates.

Did you know that a Combat Engineer is responsible for building and maintaining roads, airfields and bridges?  We may think that road work is tough in our hot summers. I bet it is nothing compared to doing it in Afghanistan.poppy

Supply Technicians take care of purchasing, warehousing and inventory control of food, fuel, tank parts, clothing and a host of other items required to keep a large group of people at optimal performance in crappy conditions.

These are big jobs being done far from home with pressures and obstacles that can be daunting.

We would be hard pressed to have employment conditions that are as difficult no matter how fast our company is growing or how much pressure we feel from the investors.

You can check out the Veterans Affairs web page for more details and for information on different programs being offered to employers to help connect them with former military folks.

There is a really cool program called Helmets to Hardhats that is supported by construction companies and unions.  The program works to remove barriers and increase awareness of the skill sets that are available in this remarkable group of people.   You can read more about it here.

We owe to veterans and to our companies to talk more about this.  They have already served us.  Now it is our turn to serve them.

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Say Yes to Helping Out – Here’s Why

I had a lovely retirement party last week.  Yep, retirement party.  Not from my day job.  There are quite a few years left on that journey.  No, I retired from my volunteer gig.

I have been part of the Women in Nuclear board for six years and was on the leading group of my local chapter before that.  The members of our group are men and women in all parts of the nuclear industry across Canada.  It focuses on communicating the benefits of nuclear technology (energy  and therapeutic) to the public.  Our meetings and programs offer professional development and networking.

There have been times where trying to live up to my obligations in my day job, my family/household and the Board seemed impossible.  But you get through.  You work with your volunteer colleagues and get things done together.

And so, as I move to my status as “just a member”, I can step back and recognize that while balancing may have been tough, the rewards are so worth it.

I have a shimmering network of cool, intelligent, giving people.  People that I would never have had the chance to meet, let alone get to know.  I have had the chance to learn from subject matter experts on many of the forward aspects of the business.  When I use this knowledge in work conversations, people really raise their eyebrows as in “wow, you really know what you are talking about”.

Maybe the coolest thing is watching the people who are taking my place.  I have watched them develop as they sat on committees, took on projects and now they are taking the lead.  This makes me feel pretty proud.

I love my real job but I have to say that I have found tremendous value and satisfaction in my volunteer work too.  Together it’s a powerful combination.

The next time someone asks you to sit on a committee or join in on a project outside of work, you might want to say yes.  Don’t let being busy be an excuse.  You might be missing out on so much good stuff.

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Career Heroes – Sallie Krawcheck

I just read a really fantastic interview with Sallie Krawcheck the founder of Ellevest.  She has been recognized as an icon but I think there are some really good lessons for regular people in regular jobs too.

Prior to creating Ellevest, a company that encourages women to get educated and participate in the investment market, she was fired TWICE and each time, it was splashed all over the Wall Street News.

She left her small town to go to New York City to start her career in finance but for the first eight years, she felt like she was floundering. She said it took quite a while for her find her way to doing analysis and research where she found her niche.  When asked why she stuck with it, she said that she was never going to go back home and tell everyone that it just did not “work out”.

When she found herself between jobs, she said her energy was fueled by anger and determination.  She told herself to move on.  She said that there are a thousand opportunities for success every week, every day, every month.  That’s a lot of drive.

You can read the full article here – it’s got a lot of good juicy bits – including how spending time with her kids actually added value to her role as opposed to being a distraction.  You can find more about Sallie on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

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Your Personal Highlight Reel

How was your summer?  Seriously.  How was it?  What did you do?  What did you learn?

When asked this question at a cocktail party or an interview, many people go blank and it is a big missed opportunity.

Don’t even think about saying “same old, same old”.  Not only is it probably not true, it just shows that you are too lazy to think of something interesting.

If you did something big like change jobs, then it’s easy.  You can ride the “new job” train for about nine months and then it’s not new anymore.  For everyone else, you need to actually spend some time looking at back at your calendar from May, June and those other months you can’t remember.

All the memories will come flooding back: that awful conference, that great presentation, the month your boss was away and you got to take over.  Those are the things you need to be able to talk about.

You might even want to work them into your resume.  At the very least, practice telling the story about the things that you did.  I am not suggesting that you bore your neighbours to death by telling them the minute details of how you implemented a new quality assurance standard.  Just distill it into a couple of sound bites.

So flip through Outlook and make a list.  You might be surprised.  Maybe it was a pretty good summer after all.

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Get Loud for Mental Health

It is Mental Health Week and the Canadian Mental Health Association is running a week long awareness campaign. We are being encouraged to #get loud – a trendy way of telling us to stop being embarrassed or callous and get on with learning about the issues.

Mental illness is difficult to understand.  If you have never suffered from depression, it is hard to understand that someone cannot just “snap out of it” or “get over it”.

It is so easy to joke about a colleague’s behaviour instead of taking the time to try to understand what they might be going through.

There are many resources available to help us with this.

http://www.mentalhealthworks.ca/employees/what-i-wish-i-knew

http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/Pages/home.aspx

https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/

These sites offer free resources to employees, friends, colleagues, managers and HR Departments.  There is a lot of good stuff here to help you get familiar with different types of depression, anxiety and other forms of mental illness.

I am not saying you need to become a psychologist for your cube-mate. There are Employee Assistance programs for that. But you can be more empathetic and understanding towards people who are having difficulty. You would hold the door for the guy with the crutches, right?

You know what would be a good start?  If we took negative mental health references out of our everyday conversations. “That guy is crazy!”  “My client just went nuts.”  I think that would go a long way towards helping our friends and colleagues feel like there is more support and that they are not as alone.

So, read up and be nice. We are counting on you.

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Humour in the Interview – Tread Lightly

I had a good discussion with one of my friends this week about using humour at work, especially when you are new in a group or organization.  That got me thinking about humour in an interview setting.

An interview is like a first date.  You are listening and answering to see if there is a fit, to see if you get along.  Do you relate to the same things?  Do you share a common language or way of speaking?

There certainly can be some shared laughter in that kind of conversation but be careful it’s not nervous humour.  High pitched giggles and bathroom humour are definitely out.

If you are going to say something that you think is funny, check first – is it respectful and professional?  There is definitely no room for sarcasm in an interview.  Even if the hiring manager seems to be okay with it or throwing out some barbs, don’t do it.  Sarcasm is mean and even if it’s delivered in a funny way, it can still hurt someone’s feelings.

If the interviewer says something that’s funny to you, check their face before you burst out laughing.  If their eyes and mouth are not warm and smiling, perhaps it is not funny to them.  Definitely avoid laughing if they are not laughing.  This can be very awkward.

So tread carefully and pay attention.

And disregard this whole thing if you are interviewing at a Comedy Club.

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