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MR. BETTER OFF WORKING ALONE

February 28th, 2010 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I’m an introvert.  I prefer to work by myself rather than with others.  In fact, I do excellent work when I work alone to do a task.  As much as possible, I avoid interactions with my fellow workers in our section.  This has been an issue with my supervisor who, in exasperation, now directs me to meet with two co-employees and come to a consensus before I submit any report to her.  They, in turn, also meet with me before they turn in their respective reports.  The problem is most of the time, my two peers don’t add anything of value to what I already know.  In fact, what irritates me is their lack of listening and their constant use of their cellphones when we have our so-called meetings.

So I want to get your advice on how I can convince my supervisor that there is no need for meetings because my reports do not reflect any more value as a result of such meetings.

 

Mr. Better Off Working Alone

 

If you continue with the mindset and attitude you now have, I agree with you that your “meeting” will have no added value to your reports.  In fact, it is not a meeting at all with the three of you not having a free flow and exchange of ideas and coming to a substantial agreement on the content of your discussion.  You have convinced yourself that you are better off working by yourself and that your peers do not contribute anything of value to your reports.  Thus, you have shut them off although you go through the process of having a “meeting” in compliance with your boss’ directives.  You are not aware of the fact that this attitude of yours can be seen in your facial expression, gestures and posture when you interact with your two co-employees during such meetings.  They react by not showing attentive behaviors which in turn, reinforce your mindset of the uselessness of meetings and exasperates you even more.

You should not ever attempt to change your supervisor’s suggestion and to leave you alone.  Teamwork is obviously a corporate value in your organization as it is in others.  You don’t justify your personal preference by reasoning out that you are an introvert.  The truth is that you can change your nature i.e., being an introvert, by changing your behaviors and attitudes, and being motivated to do this.

An effective meeting facilitates the process of discussing issues that require brainstorming of ideas, disseminating new information and getting reactions to them, and gathering information.  As leader of a meeting, you facilitate the traffic or flow of ideas.  A good meeting results in better quality of outputs.  When people work together in teams to achieve common objectives, they achieve far better results than one individual, no matter how brilliant, can do working alone.  This phenomenon is referred to as synergy.  Once you’re convinced of the benefits of a good meeting as a means of having synergy, you can now change your behaviors.  Socialize by talking and going for lunch with one co-employee at a time.  Have positive thoughts about your interaction.  Instead of thinking “I got nothing from my interaction”, think rather “I learned something from talking with _____”.  Repeat the positive thoughts and the social interactions until habits are formed.

To change your mindset and attitudes towards meetings and your behaviors during meetings, try the following:

1.      Recall what your supervisor quite possibly had told you about the value of meetings:  the free exchange of ideas stimulate more ideas such that each of you is able to see things that you did not see before.  You build on each other’s ideas.  This is how synergy is created.

2.      I suppose you are not the leader of the team.  If it is your turn to call your other two co-employees for a meeting, make sure you are prepared with (a) an objective for the meeting; (b) an agenda, which is the framework of your meeting; and (c) a time frame.  The time frame conditions your two co-employees to make use of discussion time well.

3.      At the start of the meeting, take the lead by expressing the norms you will abide by:  (a) that you will listen when the others speak and that when it is your turn to speak, you hope the others will listen as well; (b) you will put your cell phone on silent mode and keep it away to prevent you from getting distracted.  Then state the objective of your meeting, the agenda and the timeframe.

4.      Be a role model of attentive listening.  When a co-employee speaks, listen with interest.  Paraphrase what he/she has said.

5.      At the end of the meeting, wrap up or summarize the ideas presented and conclusions reached.  Tell them that you will use their inputs in completing and enhancing your report.  Thank them and show happiness in your voice and on your face.

We are not slaves of our nature.  We can change our nature by changing our thoughts, our feelings and our behaviors.  Change the negative into positive thoughts, feelings and behaviors.  Reward yourself with a “pat on your back” plus a feeling of achievement when you are able to do this.

God bless you.

 

Josie O. Santamaria

HAVING MORE SENIOR SUBORDINATES

January 31st, 2010 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I’m a newly promoted supervisor with eight people working under me.  Three of them are 5-10 years older and more senior to me in terms of number of years in the company.  It is with the latter that I feel very uncomfortable.  I don’t know how to deal with them especially when they are passive during meetings, or ask me for the basis of my decisions.

Please help me by giving me some useful how-tos.

Mr. Bagito

 

 

You feel uncomfortable dealing with these three senior employees because your being younger than they, and junior to them, is eroding your self-confidence.

The following tips may be useful to you to bolster your self-confidence:

  1. Our thoughts affect our feelings.  To develop your self-confidence in relating with your direct reports, have the following positive but true thoughts about yourself:

-        Though you are younger, you were the one chosen by management for promotion..

-        Management recognized your competencies and your track record of consistent performance.

-        Management recognized your potentials for leadership and your promotion to supervisor is an opportunity to show your leadership and to develop it further.

  1. During your meetings, encourage participation of all your eight subordinates.

-        Solicit inputs (opinions, suggestions etc.) from all of them.

-        Avoid focusing your attention on the senior employees in your desire to impress/please them.  Act naturally towards them and relate to them as you do with the others.

-        If the senior employees remain passive during meetings despite your efforts to solicit inputs from them, just let them be.

-        Before the meeting ends, summarize the points taken up and the decisions made.  If your subordinates were given a chance to voice out their opinions and suggestions, they can’t question the decisions made.  The decisions were the group’s.

You might benefit from reading materials or browsing the internet for more tips on how to handle meetings efficiently.  Added knowledge will boost your self-confidence.

3.      Learn the science and art of supervision.  Attend a company-sponsored training program on Supervision.  If there is none forthcoming, you can attend one, paid out from your own pocket.  Read a good book and/or browse the internet on supervision.  Know the technical skills of planning, organizing and controlling.  Know the emotional competencies required for effective leadership.  Practice them.  Knowing the skills and practicing them at appropriate times will boost your self-confidence.

Even experienced supervisors/managers always benefit form training and reading if they are open to learning.  Learning is continuous and life-long.

4.      You are now a supervisor, not a “super” worker.  As a supervisor, you produce results through your subordinates.  Know how each of them contributes to the outputs expected of your unit.

-        Clear with your own supervisor/manager the expected outputs/results of your unit and by when.  Know how your unit contributes to the outputs of his/her department.

-        Know how you and each of your eight subordinates contribute to your unit’s expected outputs/results.

-        Be clear about your role and the role of each of them.  Communicate these clearly to them.

-        Monitor the job performance of each one on a weekly basis.

5.      Give immediate feedback.

-        Be quick to give positive feedback for positive behaviors and for results delivered by your subordinates on schedule.  Ex:  “I like your report.  It is concise yet complete.”  When you say this, look at the person and smile.

-        Correct negative behaviors and failure to meet deadlines.  Do this in private.  There might be a tendency for you to turn a “blind eye” to the negative behaviors and failure to meet quality standards by your senior employees, out of fear or favor.  If you do this, you are showing to them that they have power over you.  Give constructive feedback in the form of reminders.  Ex:  “I’d like to remind you about minimizing the use of cellphone during office hours.”  “I want to remind you of our agreement that this report is due every Tuesday of the week.”

  1. Find time to talk to each of your subordinates to know them as workers and as persons.  Schedule a one-on-one with one person a week.  Look for the appropriate time.  Ask them how they find their work:  what they enjoy doing, what concerns they have, etc.  Look at pictures on their table.  Ask about their families. Having interactions with your employees will make you comfortable when you relate with them.
  2. Find time to coach your subordinate in areas where they need to grow.

-        Since you are a new supervisor, you may not know the responsibilities of each one.  Ask each of them what their responsibilities are and what they think of them.

-        Observe their job performance and evaluate their outputs to find out their areas for improvement and where you can coach them.

  1. To enhance your self-confidence, it is important that you give yourself a “pat on the back” each time you do the right things as a supervisor, such as being able to do any of the tips suggested above.

When you make mistakes, learn from them and do not commit them anymore.  Try not to brood over them.  Mistakes contribute to our wisdom.

Your growth and development as a supervisor can be fast-tracked if you know what knowledge and skills you need to acquire/enhance.  In this way your self-development efforts can be focused.

God bless you.

 

 

Josie O. Santamaria

MR. BAGITO

January 27th, 2010 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I’m a newly promoted supervisor with eight people working under me.  Three of them are 5-10 years older and more senior to me in terms of number of years in the company.  It is with the latter that I feel very uncomfortable.  I don’t know how to deal with them especially when they are passive during meetings, or ask me for the basis of my decisions.

Please help me by giving me some useful how-tos.

Mr. Bagito

 

You feel uncomfortable dealing with these three senior employees because your being younger than they, and junior to them, is eroding your self-confidence.

The following tips may be useful to you to bolster your self-confidence:

  1. Our thoughts affect our feelings.  To develop your self-confidence in relating with your direct reports, have the following positive but true thoughts about yourself:

-        Though you are younger, you were the one chosen by management for promotion..

-        Management recognized your competencies and your track record of consistent performance.

-        Management recognized your potentials for leadership and your promotion to supervisor is an opportunity to show your leadership and to develop it further.

  1. During your meetings, encourage participation of all your eight subordinates.

-        Solicit inputs (opinions, suggestions etc.) from all of them.

-        Avoid focusing your attention on the senior employees in your desire to impress/please them.  Act naturally towards them and relate to them as you do with the others.

-        If the senior employees remain passive during meetings despite your efforts to solicit inputs from them, just let them be.

-        Before the meeting ends, summarize the points taken up and the decisions made.  If your subordinates were given a chance to voice out their opinions and suggestions, they can’t question the decisions made.  The decisions were the group’s.

You might benefit from reading materials or browsing the internet for more tips on how to handle meetings efficiently.  Added knowledge will boost your self-confidence.

3.      Learn the science and art of supervision.  Attend a company-sponsored training program on Supervision.  If there is none forthcoming, you can attend one, paid out from your own pocket.  Read a good book and/or browse the internet on supervision.  Know the technical skills of planning, organizing and controlling.  Know the emotional competencies required for effective leadership.  Practice them.  Knowing the skills and practicing them at appropriate times will boost your self-confidence.

Even experienced supervisors/managers always benefit form training and reading if they are open to learning.  Learning is continuous and life-long.

4.      You are now a supervisor, not a “super” worker.  As a supervisor, you produce results through your subordinates.  Know how each of them contributes to the outputs expected of your unit.

-        Clear with your own supervisor/manager the expected outputs/results of your unit and by when.  Know how your unit contributes to the outputs of his/her department.

-        Know how you and each of your eight subordinates contribute to your unit’s expected outputs/results.

-        Be clear about your role and the role of each of them.  Communicate these clearly to them.

-        Monitor the job performance of each one on a weekly basis.

5.      Give immediate feedback.

-        Be quick to give positive feedback for positive behaviors and for results delivered by your subordinates on schedule.  Ex:  “I like your report.  It is concise yet complete.”  When you say this, look at the person and smile.

-        Correct negative behaviors and failure to meet deadlines.  Do this in private.  There might be a tendency for you to turn a “blind eye” to the negative behaviors and failure to meet quality standards by your senior employees, out of fear or favor.  If you do this, you are showing to them that they have power over you.  Give constructive feedback in the form of reminders.  Ex:  “I’d like to remind you about minimizing the use of cellphone during office hours.”  “I want to remind you of our agreement that this report is due every Tuesday of the week.”

  1. Find time to talk to each of your subordinates to know them as workers and as persons.  Schedule a one-on-one with one person a week.  Look for the appropriate time.  Ask them how they find their work:  what they enjoy doing, what concerns they have, etc.  Look at pictures on their table.  Ask about their families. Having interactions with your employees will make you comfortable when you relate with them.
  2. Find time to coach your subordinate in areas where they need to grow.

-        Since you are a new supervisor, you may not know the responsibilities of each one.  Ask each of them what their responsibilities are and what they think of them.

-        Observe their job performance and evaluate their outputs to find out their areas for improvement and where you can coach them.

  1. To enhance your self-confidence, it is important that you give yourself a “pat on the back” each time you do the right things as a supervisor, such as being able to do any of the tips suggested above.

When you make mistakes, learn from them and do not commit them anymore.  Try not to brood over them.  Mistakes contribute to our wisdom.

Your growth and development as a supervisor can be fast-tracked if you know what knowledge and skills you need to acquire/enhance.  In this way your self-development efforts can be focused.

God bless you.

 

Josie O. Santamaria

IMPATIENT FOR PROMOTION

January 10th, 2010 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I graduated two years ago, with honors, from a very good university.  I’ve been fortunate to have been working since then in a great company where I like the people and they like me, too, and I get a good compensation package.  I know I want to build my career here in my company now.

About six months ago, I was told confidentially by the boss of my boss that I’m one of the high potential young people.  His parting words to me were “You have a great future here in the company.”  You can just imagine how happy and excited this made me feel!

Since then, I’ve been expecting that I’d be receiving training and development programs to prepare me for a good position “up” there.  Nothing of this sort has happened.  What shall I do?  I’m embarrassed to go to my boss’ boss to ask him what I should do to be promoted for fear that I’d be giving him the impression that I’m impatient (although in reality I am).  Some of my peers in the university are now occupying supervisory/managerial positions.  I’m in a quandary.  Please advise me what I should do now.

Mr. In A Quandary

 

 

I can see that you need to manage your expectations so that your impatience will not give the wrong signals to your superiors and to your peers.  In fact your impatience can even affect your productivity now because your mind is focused on the future such that you may be neglecting some areas in your current work that needs your quality time.

Being told by the boss of your boss that you are a “high potential young person” has given you a confidence boost and you are now disappointed that nothing is being done to prepare you for the next level.

I suggest that you stop comparing yourself with your peers because it will only make you bitter or vain.  Also, that you stop looking at other pastures to see if the grass is greener there.  In reality you don’t know the working conditions and the culture in other organizations.  You yourself said that you like the people in the company and they like you in return, and that you are getting a good compensation package.

Since you’ve been in your current job in the company for only two years you should concentrate on doing a great job and learning as much as you can..  This requires that you —

  • know the standards of each task required by your current position so that you can exert efforts to exceed these standards;
  • know your boss’ expectations of you.  To do this requires that you get regular feedback from him on what you are doing right and what you need to improve on;
  • are able to manage your position’s workload as  agreed on with your boss;
  • are able to work well with others in your team and you are able to build rapport with your internal customers, i.e. your co-employees who need your inputs and with your fellow team members whose inputs you need for your outputs ;
  • sharpen your analytical skills to be able to handle problems effectively
  • enhance your communication skills  (written and oral).
  • acquire mastery of technical skills needed in your current job;
  • etc.

Your career goal must be clear to you and this must be stated in SMART terms, i.e. specific, measureable, attainable, relevant to your values, and time bound.  An example of a SMART goal:  I want to be successful in a sales career.  By the end of 2011, I’m occupying the position of District Sales Manager and performing and doing the function of this position according to standards.  After having a clear career goal, you can take a risk by going to your boss to ask him if he thinks that your career goal is realistic and if he agrees with it.  To do this requires that you wait for the “psychological moment”, perhaps during your boss’ performance appraisal of you when he/she discusses with you areas for improvement and your developmental needs.

If you find your boss receptive to your career goal, you can ask him for help in identifying the competencies you need to develop for your advancement to the next level.  He can even offer to be your mentor in his area of expertise.  Don’t ask him to be your mentor;  let him volunteer.

Perhaps you can find the “psychological moment” also to talk with your boss’ boss to thank him for considering you a “high potential young person” and about having told you that you had “a great future in the company”.  You can perhaps ask him what he thinks would be your career path in the company and what you need to do to develop and improve on so that you can match the job requirements.

It’s desirable to have a career goal so that you can have focus and your self-development efforts have a direction.  Don’t wait for the company to put you in training and development programs.  Initiate you own development thru the following:

  • enroll in training programs offered in-house or in public seminars, even funded from your own pocket;
  • be alert to cross posting assignments that may be offered to you.  This will enable you to broaden your work experience and acquire more skills;
  • accept additional workload or additional assignments given to you, if you can reasonably tackle them.  This will reflect well on your positive attitudes as well as a source of additional learnings;
  • observe the work behaviors and attitudes of successful employees in your company including your own boss and your boss’ boss.  They are your role models;
  • be open to coaching by your boss and express appreciation for his time in doing so.

God bless you.

 

Josie O. Santamaria

MR. IN A QUANDRY

January 6th, 2010 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I graduated two years ago, with honors, from a very good university.  I’ve been fortunate to have been working since then in a great company where I like the people and they like me, too, and I get a good compensation package.  I know I want to build my career here in my company now.

About six months ago, I was told confidentially by the boss of my boss that I’m one of the high potential young people.  His parting words to me were “You have a great future here in the company.”  You can just imagine how happy and excited this made me feel!

Since then, I’ve been expecting that I’d be receiving training and development programs to prepare me for a good position “up” there.  Nothing of this sort has happened.  What shall I do?  I’m embarrassed to go to my boss’ boss to ask him what I should do to be promoted for fear that I’d be giving him the impression that I’m impatient (although in reality I am).  Some of my peers in the university are now occupying supervisory/managerial positions.  I’m in a quandary.  Please advise me what I should do now.

Mr. In A Quandary

 

 

I can see that you need to manage your expectations so that your impatience will not give the wrong signals to your superiors and to your peers.  In fact your impatience can even affect your productivity now because your mind is focused on the future such that you may be neglecting some areas in your current work that needs your quality time.

Being told by the boss of your boss that you are a “high potential young person” has given you a confidence boost and you are now disappointed that nothing is being done to prepare you for the next level.

I suggest that you stop comparing yourself with your peers because it will only make you bitter or vain.  Also, that you stop looking at other pastures to see if the grass is greener there.  In reality you don’t know the working conditions and the culture in other organizations.  You yourself said that you like the people in the company and they like you in return, and that you are getting a good compensation package.

Since you’ve been in your current job in the company for only two years you should concentrate on doing a great job and learning as much as you can..  This requires that you —

  • know the standards of each task required by your current position so that you can exert efforts to exceed these standards;
  • know your boss’ expectations of you.  To do this requires that you get regular feedback from him on what you are doing right and what you need to improve on;
  • are able to manage your position’s workload as  agreed on with your boss;
  • are able to work well with others in your team and you are able to build rapport with your internal customers, i.e. your co-employees who need your inputs and with your fellow team members whose inputs you need for your outputs ;
  • sharpen your analytical skills to be able to handle problems effectively
  • enhance your communication skills  (written and oral).
  • acquire mastery of technical skills needed in your current job;
  • etc.

Your career goal must be clear to you and this must be stated in SMART terms, i.e. specific, measureable, attainable, relevant to your values, and time bound.  An example of a SMART goal:  I want to be successful in a sales career.  By the end of 2011, I’m occupying the position of District Sales Manager and performing and doing the function of this position according to standards.  After having a clear career goal, you can take a risk by going to your boss to ask him if he thinks that your career goal is realistic and if he agrees with it.  To do this requires that you wait for the “psychological moment”, perhaps during your boss’ performance appraisal of you when he/she discusses with you areas for improvement and your developmental needs.

If you find your boss receptive to your career goal, you can ask him for help in identifying the competencies you need to develop for your advancement to the next level.  He can even offer to be your mentor in his area of expertise.  Don’t ask him to be your mentor;  let him volunteer.

Perhaps you can find the “psychological moment” also to talk with your boss’ boss to thank him for considering you a “high potential young person” and about having told you that you had “a great future in the company”.  You can perhaps ask him what he thinks would be your career path in the company and what you need to do to develop and improve on so that you can match the job requirements.

It’s desirable to have a career goal so that you can have focus and your self-development efforts have a direction.  Don’t wait for the company to put you in training and development programs.  Initiate you own development thru the following:

  • enroll in training programs offered in-house or in public seminars, even funded from your own pocket;
  • be alert to cross posting assignments that may be offered to you.  This will enable you to broaden your work experience and acquire more skills;
  • accept additional workload or additional assignments given to you, if you can reasonably tackle them.  This will reflect well on your positive attitudes as well as a source of additional learnings;
  • observe the work behaviors and attitudes of successful employees in your company including your own boss and your boss’ boss.  They are your role models;
  • be open to coaching by your boss and express appreciation for his time in doing so.

God bless you.

 

Josie O. Santamaria

MULTI-TASKED AND STRESSED OUT

November 29th, 2009 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I should be happy that I’m part of the 40% that survived the re-structuring of our company last year but this has come to mean that I’m multi-tasked, doing the work of 2-3 employees and reporting to two different bosses.  I’m stressed out.  The price of being retained has been the absence of family/home/work balance.  Going home at 7 pm or 8 pm is now routine and yet there is no additional compensation.  What shall I do to survive alive since giving up my job with four children in school is no option for me?

Mrs. Stressed Out

 

Multi-tasking is a fact of corporate life that employees, of all levels in most organizations, need to accept and around which they need to adjust their personal and family lives.  Survivors of corporate restructuring like yourself may have little or no time for other important things.  They need, however, to be creative and resourceful.

Let’s first tackle the issue of stress.  Several people can be in the same situation but will have different responses to it due to varied stress levels aroused by sources of stress.  If the experience of stress is extreme and intense, and persists for a long period of time, it can lead to serious illness: mental, emotional or physical or all three combined.

Causes of Stress. Stress is caused by either internal or external factors.  It is internal if it is aroused by our mental, emotional and physical conditions.  Example of a mental stressor is your negative thoughts about multitasking.  Emotional stressors are the negative feelings aroused by these negative thoughts.  In turn, these negative emotions lead to FIGHT or FLIGHT reactions, or both, such as complaining about your company’s policies, systems and structures; talking against people; etc.  Very soon you will experience symptoms of illness, such as allergies, diarrhea, palpitations, etc., that will justify being away from work, tardiness; absenteeism, and the like.

Physical conditions include state of health and cramming too many activities within a given time frame resulting in physical fatigue.  Not having an objective for the day, responding to the urgent, inability to say “no” to tasks given by your peers and non-assertiveness to your bosses about your priorities, etc., are the major reasons why you may feel drained and exhausted at the end of a work day.

External stressors are those coming from the environment such as answering 2-3 telephones which are ringing at the same time, demands of two bosses are conflicting; your co-team member’s request that you help her out on a task so she can finish it; etc.

The good news is that you have the ability to manage your internal and external stressors by exercising your freedom to choose.  You have a choice of looking at the glass as half-full or as half-empty.

Manage Your Thoughts and Feelings. Thoughts and perceptions affect your feelings and emotions which affect your reactions.  Feeding your mind with negative thoughts about multi-tasking, which you are doing now, would have you having these thoughts constantly in your mind:  “I’m so stressed out,” “I have so much work to do in such little time,” “My bosses are too demanding,” “I’m not being paid what I should be getting considering that I have so much to do,” “I have no more time for myself and for my family’ etc.  These thoughts will lead you to be overwhelmed by negative emotions of bitterness, resentment, anger, self-pity, agitation, worries, anxiety, depression, unhappiness, etc.  In turn, these feelings will lead you to self-defeating behaviors that reinforce your thoughts and feelings.  Examples of these behaviors are: complaining to your peers, to your family, etc., about the systems, procedures and people in the office; passive aggression or doing nothing when something is expected of you; etc.  Whatever little time you have with your family is filled with endless complaints, making them angry, too, and pitying you.  What do you get out of these?

On the other hand, your other choice is to look at the glass as half-full.  Wake up each day with joyful and grateful heart.  Upon waking up, thank God that you are alive and well, that you have your spouse who also has work enabling both of you to send your four children to school Thank God that you have a job and you have a company who values you and your service.

Have positive thoughts about multi-tasking.  Fill your mind with these thoughts: “I’m learning more and better skills to make me more valuable to my company,” “Each interaction with my boss and my team members are opportunities to grow in knowledge and increase my Emotional Quotient,” “The many skills that I have enhance my employability,” “God gives me good health and strength to do all the things that I need to do today,” etc.  You are reframing multitasking to see and appreciate it in a better light.  These positive thoughts will fill you with joy and happiness, gratitude, love, optimism, hope, enthusiasm, and energize you to be a positive person your co-team members will enjoy working with and a person with influence.  You will bring these joy and happiness with you in your interactions with your family.

Have Daily SMARTA Goals. Do not cram too many activities in a day.  You will benefit by buying and reading a time management book, and apply what you have learned from your reading.  One of these is to have SMARTA goals/objectives which you align with your bosses’ goals and objectives.  If they don’t have, you can show your objectives to them and get their inputs and/or agreement.

A SMARTA goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (i.e., aligned with your boss’ goal and/or section/team objective), time-bound, and action-oriented.  Example:  By 12 noon today, I have called up 20 clients and have listed down their top three (3) priority concerns.  This work load gives you enough space for comfort room breaks, a 15-minute morning  break, allowance for time to be called by either or both your bosses for their needs, and so on.

Even with many tasks to do during the day, take one (1) minute to quiet down.  Close your eyes, breathe in and out as you relax and connect with God.  Offer what you are doing to Him and ask for His blessings.

Devote your primetime in the office for the achievement of your SMARTA objectives for the day.  Unless these is a meeting to attend, or a rush job given by your boss(es), call it a day by 6 pm or thereabout.  Come to office on time for work and report to your bosses your SMARTA objectives for the day.

Share Responsibilities At Home with Family. Talk over with your husband how you can help each other with supervision of children’s assignments/homework, and what task at home can be delegated to your children during the weekends.  It is important for children to develop good study habits early on so that they become responsible for their own studies later.

Some of the tasks at home can be delegated to your children so that they learn to be responsible for home management.  If you and your family take the same car or you commute together, these are opportunities to pleasant interactions.  Spend week-end wholly and entirely with your family, enjoying your interactions.  You can be creative and resourceful when your resource — time — is limited.

All the above will help you learn new positive behaviors and habits of effectiveness.

God bless you.

 

Josie O. Santamaria

MS. STRESSED OUT

November 29th, 2009 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I should be happy that I’m part of the 40% that survived the re-structuring of our company last year but this has come to mean that I’m multi-tasked, doing the work of 2-3 employees and reporting to two different bosses.  I’m stressed out.  The price of being retained has been the absence of family/home/work balance.  Going home at 7 pm or 8 pm is now routine and yet there is no additional compensation.  What shall I do to survive alive since giving up my job with four children in school is no option for me?

Mrs. Stressed Out

 

Multi-tasking is a fact of corporate life that employees, of all levels in most organizations, need to accept and around which they need to adjust their personal and family lives.  Survivors of corporate restructuring like yourself may have little or no time for other important things.  They need, however, to be creative and resourceful.

 

Let’s first tackle the issue of stress.  Several people can be in the same situation but will have different responses to it due to varied stress levels aroused by sources of stress.  If the experience of stress is extreme and intense, and persists for a long period of time, it can lead to serious illness: mental, emotional or physical or all three combined.

Causes of Stress. Stress is caused by either internal or external factors.  It is internal if it is aroused by our mental, emotional and physical conditions.  Example of a mental stressor is your negative thoughts about multitasking.  Emotional stressors are the negative feelings aroused by these negative thoughts.  In turn, these negative emotions lead to FIGHT or FLIGHT reactions, or both, such as complaining about your company’s policies, systems and structures; talking against people; etc.  Very soon you will experience symptoms of illness, such as allergies, diarrhea, palpitations, etc., that will justify being away from work, tardiness; absenteeism, and the like.

 

Physical conditions include state of health and cramming too many activities within a given time frame resulting in physical fatigue.  Not having an objective for the day, responding to the urgent, inability to say “no” to tasks given by your peers and non-assertiveness to your bosses about your priorities, etc., are the major reasons why you may feel drained and exhausted at the end of a work day.

 

External stressors are those coming from the environment such as answering 2-3 telephones which are ringing at the same time, demands of two bosses are conflicting; your co-team member’s request that you help her out on a task so she can finish it; etc.

 

The good news is that you have the ability to manage your internal and external stressors by exercising your freedom to choose.  You have a choice of looking at the glass as half-full or as half-empty.

Manage Your Thoughts and Feelings. Thoughts and perceptions affect your feelings and emotions which affect your reactions.  Feeding your mind with negative thoughts about multi-tasking, which you are doing now, would have you having these thoughts constantly in your mind:  “I’m so stressed out,” “I have so much work to do in such little time,” “My bosses are too demanding,” “I’m not being paid what I should be getting considering that I have so much to do,” “I have no more time for myself and for my family’ etc.  These thoughts will lead you to be overwhelmed by negative emotions of bitterness, resentment, anger, self-pity, agitation, worries, anxiety, depression, unhappiness, etc.  In turn, these feelings will lead you to self-defeating behaviors that reinforce your thoughts and feelings.  Examples of these behaviors are: complaining to your peers, to your family, etc., about the systems, procedures and people in the office; passive aggression or doing nothing when something is expected of you; etc.  Whatever little time you have with your family is filled with endless complaints, making them angry, too, and pitying you.  What do you get out of these?

On the other hand, your other choice is to look at the glass as half-full.  Wake up each day with joyful and grateful heart.  Upon waking up, thank God that you are alive and well, that you have your spouse who also has work enabling both of you to send your four children to school Thank God that you have a job and you have a company who values you and your service.

 

Have positive thoughts about multi-tasking.  Fill your mind with these thoughts: “I’m learning more and better skills to make me more valuable to my company,” “Each interaction with my boss and my team members are opportunities to grow in knowledge and increase my Emotional Quotient,” “The many skills that I have enhance my employability,” “God gives me good health and strength to do all the things that I need to do today,” etc.  You are reframing multitasking to see and appreciate it in a better light.  These positive thoughts will fill you with joy and happiness, gratitude, love, optimism, hope, enthusiasm, and energize you to be a positive person your co-team members will enjoy working with and a person with influence.  You will bring these joy and happiness with you in your interactions with your family.

Have Daily SMARTA Goals. Do not cram too many activities in a day.  You will benefit by buying and reading a time management book, and apply what you have learned from your reading.  One of these is to have SMARTA goals/objectives which you align with your bosses’ goals and objectives.  If they don’t have, you can show your objectives to them and get their inputs and/or agreement.

 

A SMARTA goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (i.e., aligned with your boss’ goal and/or section/team objective), time-bound, and action-oriented.  Example:  By 12 noon today, I have called up 20 clients and have listed down their top three (3) priority concerns.  This work load gives you enough space for comfort room breaks, a 15-minute morning  break, allowance for time to be called by either or both your bosses for their needs, and so on.

 

Even with many tasks to do during the day, take one (1) minute to quiet down.  Close your eyes, breathe in and out as you relax and connect with God.  Offer what you are doing to Him and ask for His blessings.

 

Devote your primetime in the office for the achievement of your SMARTA objectives for the day.  Unless these is a meeting to attend, or a rush job given by your boss(es), call it a day by 6 pm or thereabout.  Come to office on time for work and report to your bosses your SMARTA objectives for the day.

Share Responsibilities At Home with Family. Talk over with your husband how you can help each other with supervision of children’s assignments/homework, and what task at home can be delegated to your children during the weekends.  It is important for children to develop good study habits early on so that they become responsible for their own studies later.

 

Some of the tasks at home can be delegated to your children so that they learn to be responsible for home management.  If you and your family take the same car or you commute together, these are opportunities to pleasant interactions.  Spend week-end wholly and entirely with your family, enjoying your interactions.  You can be creative and resourceful when your resource — time — is limited.

All the above will help you learn new positive behaviors and habits of effectiveness.

 

God bless you.

 

Josie O. Santamaria

MS. BEWILDERED

November 1st, 2009 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

After almost one year of job hunting, I was accepted by a good and reputable company and given a job in line with the college course I had taken.  But as I look and observe the people especially my age mates, in the department where I work, I feel inferior for the following reasons:  many of them graduated from excellent universities, are very articulate in their communication in English, are smart dressers (we don’t have company uniform), are very sociable and have a social life after work, especially on Fridays.  In my case, I graduated from a not-so-good school (although I graduated magna cum laude in my course), am plain looking, have difficulty expressing myself in straight English, have no friends in the office, and I’m always by myself on Friday evenings.

I feel I don’t belong to the department.  My boss just talked to me twice after I was hired, and that was two months ago.  She did not even bother to introduce me to the other members of the department.  What shall I do to be “in” and to shine?  Please advise me as I always enjoy reading your advice.  Thank you.

Ms. Bewildered

 

Because you always look at other people, especially your peers, you don’t see your positive points.  Having graduated magna cum laude shows you to be very intelligent, achievement-oriented, self-motivated and self driven (this accounts for getting consistently high grades), good in written communication in English (I made very minor corrections in your grammar), good in all subjects (major and non-majors, academic and non-academic), etc.  The recruitment staff  and your superiors in your company had evaluated your total person, liked what they saw in you, heard you talk and saw how you responded to interview questions, etc.  And they hired you!  Surely, the “good and reputable company” that hired you had very stringent standards which you passed!  Congratulations!  As you read what I’ve written above, stop for a while, pause and smile with joy!  Be happy!  Thank God for creating you and making you what you are now and what you have become!  You have enormous potentials to be a good employee, to be “in” and to be a good person.  You only have to stop comparing yourself with others and concentrate on what you can do NOW to be a better person and start to be a good employee.

What proactive things can you do to belong, to be “in”, as you write, and to shine?

First: Have positive thoughts and feelings about yourself.  I gave you the lead in the first paragraph above.  This will give you self-confidence to approach people in your department and initiate the introductions yourself.  With a happy smile, introduce yourself, look at the name tag of the other person and then at his/her eyes.  Set as a goal to interact with at least 2-3 persons a day.  Get the news of the day from the newspapers or TV so that you’ll know what to say after you’ve said “Hello”.  Once a year on your birthday, buy a cake and drinks and give to your co-workers.  Know the birthdays of your boss and co-workers, and greet them.  These little things can make you “in” and have a sense of belonging.

Second: Understand your job description.  What are expectations of you in terms of standards of quality and quantity of outputs, to whom are these to be given and by when?  The  people who use your outputs are your internal customers; they are the ones whose needs you must satisfy.  Get feedback from them about your work and how it can be improved.  Your boss is your #1 Customer.  She is the one who assigns tasks to you, appraises your performance and your contribution to her team, and to your company.  She will have a say in assessing your potentials for career advancement.  Ask for suggestions from her on how you can improve.  Follow her suggestions.

Third: Meetings are an important part of corporate life.  Be sure you are prepared for your presentation if you are given the role.  Participate actively and listen to others as they talk.  Never use your cellphone during meetings.  Put it off completely so as not to be distracted and not to disturb others.  Give positive feedback to those whose ideas informed, enlightened and clarified you.

Fourth: There is absolutely no excuse nowadays for any girl to be a “plain Jane”.  There are so many affordable cosmetics that you can use to make you look good.  For a starter, go to a cosmetics counter and have the saleslady do a make-up/make-over of your face.  If you like the job done on you, that’s the time you buy the foundation, powder, lipstick, etc.  Go to a beauty parlor and have them give you a new hairstyle and improve your eyebrows.  Buy women’s magazine and read articles on beauty tips and follow those that you can use.

As for the attire, you can look smart using affordable clothes.  Go to the ladies section of a department store and try on those appropriate for office wear and which looks good on you.

Fifth: You can profit from taking a personality test that will identify for you your strengths and your areas for improvement.  Validate the results by asking people who know you if they observe the traits and behaviors of your personality type.  Read self-help books such as the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.  Read other books to improve your personality, character and leadership.  Write down doable actions you can do to apply what you have read.  Give yourself a pat on the back when you get a positive result from your application.

Finally, since you say that your present job is in your chosen career, I suggest you continue your education by reading books and articles and surfing the internet in your chosen field.  Share the ideas your get from your readings if asked and if given a chance to share.

The above are proactive ways you can do to achieve your personal and career goals.

God bless you.

 

Josie O. Santamaria

LOYALTY IS EARNED

October 4th, 2009 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

Is there such a thing as loyalty nowadays?  I know I’m a good boss to my employees.  I develop my direct reports and I expect them to develop also their direct reports.  I think of what’s good for them.  Despite these, however, I observe that most of my employees are not enthusiastic about their work; they do their duties because they “have to” not because they “want to”.  I get the feeling that they are on the lookout for a better job offer elsewhere and then get out.  This frustrates me because I want my employees to be loyal to the organization and also to me.  What can I do?

Ms. Loyalty Trademark

 

You are frustrated that your employees:  1) are not enthused about their job as much as you are about yours; 2) do not show signs of being work engaged; 3) are just waiting for an opportunity to get a better job elsewhere.  For the things you are doing for them, e.g. developing them and looking our for their welfare, you expect them to be grateful to you by being loyal to the organization and to you.

Most of what you say about your employees are all perceptions i.e., your interpretation of their behaviors which are colored by your biases, expectations, needs and values.  This is true to all of us.  In my Ask Your Career Counselor advice, published in the Job Market section of the Sunday Inquirer, July 5, 2009, in the Working People, page 4, I defined employee engagement as one in which the employee is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about his or her work.  He/she feels a strong emotional bond to the organization they work for, and feel connected to the company that values their contribution

Researches have cited five factors as causing employee disengagement:  (1) job dissatisfaction because there is no job-person fit; (2) employees don’t see how their jobs contribute to their section’s, department’s and organization’s goals; (3) lack of feedback and coaching from their supervisors;  (4) incompetent and poorly trained supervisors/managers; and (5) employees are not given opportunities for growth and development.

Research has also shown that the one most important factor that contributes to employee engagement is a strong supervisor-employee relationship.  This is rated higher than “opportunities to excel”, “good work-life balance” and “competitive compensation”.

To validate your perceptions, I suggest you spend time to talk to each one of your direct reports and ask broad questions to show your interest in them.  Questions like:

1.      Are you happy with your work?  Probe further with:  What is it about your job that you like?  What can be improved?  How can you improve it?   How do you want me to help you?

2.      How do you see yourself growing in our company?  What career path do you have in mind?  How do you want me to help you?

3.      How can we improve our systems and procedures?  What should I do more of?  What should I do less of?

In doing this one-on-one conversation, it is important that your verbal and non-verbal behavior (i.e., what you say and how you say it) are conductive to their opening up. Keep silence as you listen with interest to their responses.  You will learn much about them and about you from them.  However, getting information from your employees is one thing; acting on their feedback is another.   It’s important for open communication that they are not afraid of any negative backlash, resulting from what they say.

Self-awareness. There is so much that you need to know about yourself, your attitudes and behaviors when you interact with your employees that could point the way for you to improve.  If they do not open up to you, are fearful or hesitant to approach you, etc., these are signs that you might possibly are directive, task-oriented and controlling despite your good intentions to be a “good boss”, and a good coach.  Intentions and actions are two different things.  As the author Aldous Huxley wrote: “If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasure of illusion”

No doubt you know that loyalty is never deserved; it is earned.  Loyalty is strongly driven by the connections employees and managers feel with one another at work.  Building loyal relationships professionally and personally always begins with honest and valid self-assessment.  Improving connections with others invariably begins with improving oneself as a leader, as a manager, as a colleague, and as an employee.

Instead of being concerned about gaining your employees’ loyalty, I suggest you concentrate your efforts on building strong positive relationships with your employees.  Research from time  immemorial has shown that the most productive, most innovative teams within companies are built on strong relationships.  Even satisfaction with and happiness at work are in large part a function of the bonds at work.

Building a loyalty-driven organization doesn’t just happen.  It requires questioning some practices of managers, being open to self-confrontation on their part, and changing some long standing behaviors.

Believe me, change must always start with the boss, or the leader.  It’s always a top-down approach.

Get and Give Feedback.  It is just as important that you get feedback from your colleagues/peers, from your own manager on how they see to be your areas for improvement.  Thank them for their feedback.

When you coach an employee, it is for the purpose of helping her/him become a winner and contribute to team victory.  Give credit to the contribution of each person in your team, not merely to the success of the whole team.  One of the strategies to getting employees engaged is when each one sees how he/she has contributed to the success of the team in achieving a goal.

Positive feedback always has great impact when it is personalized and specific.  Look at your employee straight in the eye, smile, shake his/her hand and say with a tone of sincerity, “I am so happy with the way you responded to Mr. Customer’s objection about the higher price of our product.  You were so convincing!”  Or, “I am very proud about the way you got Dr. X to prescribe our product.  When I was covering him as a Med Rep, I couldn’t get him to prescribe our product.  But you did it!  Congratulations!”  Then follow this up with a written memo of congratulations for his/her achievement, forwarding a copy to your own boss and to your employee’s 201 file.  How do you think their affirmation will impact your employee?  What a boost this will be to a strong positive relationship between you.  Sad to say many Filipino managers are remiss in the area of affirmation and recognition.  Is it because they don’t experience receiving it themselves?

My advice is for you to develop strong positive relationship with your employees.  Their loyalty to you and to your organization will follow.

God bless you.

 

Josie O. Santamaria

MR. DI BILIB IN TRAINING

August 16th, 2009 | Posted by josantamaria in Articles - (0 Comments)

I know you are in the business of training people and you would probably be amused by my concern.  I have acquired the reputation as being the manager who never sends my subordinates to attend training, whether conducted in-house or in a public forum.  To me training is a waste of time of employees who do not show any improvement in the performance of their tasks, and of course a waste of company money.

There is, however, pressure on me now to release my employees by groups, to attend a training program that our HRD has scheduled for them.  My reasonings are no longer acceptable to HRD and to my own boss who has scheduled me several times for training for the past five years I have worked in his department but which I never attended.

What can be done to get some benefits for the company from this training?

Mr. Di Bilib in Training

 

Thank you for expressing to me your skepticism and doubts about the value of training to employees and to the company.  There are managers like you who are TOMs (Task-Oriented Managers) and who believe that employees should focus only in getting their tasks done and that any kind of training keeps them away from performing their tasks.  If employees encounter difficulties in their task performance, what do they do? They consult each other or solve their problem thru hit-or-miss, or approach you.  TOMs don’t believe in people development and in training as an effective tool for development.

Because you have never attended training yourself and resisted any attempt to make you attend one, you don’t see or appreciate the value of training.  If you did attend one, you most possibly have done so with a closed mind, and dropped out after the first day for more important tasks to do.

There is not only pressure on you from HRD and from your boss to release your employees for scheduled training, but also pressure from your own employees whose development needs you have long ignored.  Most employees of all levels have a strong need to improve themselves:  to update/enhance/retool their skills and knowledge  and learn new ones, especially in these times of stiff competition among companies to get the better and best people from the workforce.  One of the reasons for employee turnover is the lack of opportunities for self- development and career development.

The reason why you hold such strong anti-training bias is that you mind is set on seeing training as having no value and that those who underwent  training didn’t show signs of improvement.

Since you brought up your concern to me, I suggest the following:

1.      Discuss with HRD the following:  (1) content of the training programs for your employees.  See if the content and process to be used will improve the competencies required of your employees to perform their tasks better; and (2) expertise and reputation of the resource persons who will conduct the training program.  Competencies could be cognitive (knowledge), affect (attitudes and values) and psychomotor (skills).  They relate to both the WHAT and the HOW of getting a task done.

2.       Once convinced of the relevance of the training to improve the competencies of your employees, have a meeting with your employees.  In this meeting, you (1) tell them about the objectives of the training program for which they are being scheduled; (2) communicate your expectation that what they will learn from the training program will improve their competencies, resulting in better job performance; (3) assure them of your support for their development.  You will show this support by not calling them out of the training to go to the office and do some tasks; (4) expect them to write down specific things they learned from the training program which they will apply when they return to work; and (5) express your positive expectations that they will apply their learnings.

3.      Release your employees on the scheduled training dates.  I’m sure they will have different schedules so as not to impede your section/department’s work flow and outputs.

4.      Once they return, meet them again, individually or by batch, and have them report their learnings.  (1) Have photocopies of what they had written down as doable actions; (2) Tell them that you will be monitoring their applications; and (3) Express again your positive expectations that they will show improvements in their performance.

5.      Reinforcement of learning.  This is the challenge to you but remember, you are concerned about ROI, i.e., return on investment for your company.  Many people return to their work settings with a sincere commitment to apply what they had learned and/or to change their behaviors and then go back to their old habits.  The reason is lack of reinforcement. Do your utmost to do the following:  (1) Catch the employee showing improvement in performing a task as a result of his/her application of what he/she has learned; (2) Immediately give positive reinforcement.  Ex: “I see, Joel, that you are now doing ___ ___ ___.  I like that.  Continue doing it.”; (3) Continue the positive reinforcement until the behavior has become a habit.

If the employee has not shown any improvement on a task, ask him/her what the reason is.  Let him/her work out any difficulty.  Give positive reinforcement when you observe improvement. Do this on a continuous basis until the habit is formed.

If you do the above, the investment of your company in the training of your employees will pay off.  In addition, your use of positive reinforcement will develop/strengthen positive relationships between you and your employees.  You also enhance the self-esteem of your employees who will now be motivated to be innovative and creative in the performance of their tasks.  Try it but do so with expectation of success.

God bless you.

 

Josie  Santamaria