The future of work: the tools you use are changing

Article by Belinda Fuller

The future of work: the tools you use are changingYou’ve probably heard it before: the future of work is changing. And dramatic shifts are underway. Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work recently released a report that delves into the most important trends set to change (or already changing) what you do and how you do it, whatever your job.

This month, we look at some of the ‘tools of work’ and how they’re changing – and what that could mean for you.

  1. From thumb to voice: We’ve been tapping keys, clicking our mouse and scrolling for decades. With the rise of smartphones, this changed to thumbs typing and swiping. As devices got smarter, touchscreen interfaces were in cars, restaurants and banks. Thanks to our phone addictions, sore thumbs and ‘text neck’ are now a fact of life. Our vision is declining and our posture more hunched. The hand–eye coordination required to use touchscreens prevents us from doing other things while using them – all driving the need for a new approach. We already have voice-activated devices that listen to us and do things without us touching or even looking at them (Suri, Alexa, Echo, and Google Home) and voice processing technology is getting better every day. Fully shifting to a screen-less, touchless future might return our attention to things that matter most and help us do things like driving more safely. But what does a world of always-on microphones sound like – and how will we maintain privacy?
  2. From microscopes to datascopes: Microscopes changed medicine forever, letting doctors see, at a cellular level, what was truly causing problems. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a “datascope” that is helping to create solutions previously unimaginable. But AI isn’t just a tool that replaces people doing the tasks or completing the processes they do day-to-day; it’s also a way to increase the overall scale of the process. AI will help us better understand the vast amounts of information we now collect. That means that people won’t just be “automated away” from their jobs – AI could allow them to do things they’ve never been able to do before, opening up exciting new opportunities for business growth and employment.
  3. From 4G to 5G: 1G phones let us talk to each other on the move, 2G phones meant we could send messages, 3G gave us mobile internet and 4G made it all a whole lot faster. We use 4G networks to stream music, listen to podcasts, watch live TV while commuting and FaceTime our colleagues – all unthinkable a decade ago. The next stage is 5G. It’ll be 100 times faster than our current 4G phones. Beyond the exceptional consumer experience, the benefits for businesses are huge. Real-time interactions and simultaneous processing will run with no lag whatsoever. Data transmission will happen instantaneously, and you won’t just see your colleague on a screen; you’ll be sitting next to their avatar in a shared virtual office, watching them speak. You could control a robot on a factory floor as you sit on the other side of the country; or you could be a farmer commandeering a fleet of drones soaring over fields, using sensors on the ground to sort, pick, feed and water each individual plant. 5G will revolutionise how work gets done.
  4. From active to ambient: When was the last time you opened a computer manual? A generation ago, a shiny new piece of tech came with a War and Peace–length ring binder. Manuals have all but disappeared, replaced by DIY YouTube videos. But lots of tech that claims to be idiot-proof is still complicated. Roughly 90% of a laptop’s functionality is not used by the average person. Cars are full of tech that’s mostly never used. Apps, platforms, systems and websites infiltrate every hour of our waking day. It’s exhausting trying to figure out what we want from the gazillions of possibilities and understanding how everything works is a full-time job. Now a new approach is emerging: smart products and services tuned to our needs.

Smart things ‘just know’ how we want them to work. These responsive, intuitive technologies are called ‘ambient technologies’, and they blend into the background to drive productivity at work. A future workspace with ambient technology could see co-working spaces that adjust to personal preferences for light, air and productivity. Imagine elevators that automatically take you to the right floor and a hot desk that’s automatically configured just the way you like it.

These personalised, intuitive technologies will free us from the more addictive nature of the apps that rule our lives. We’ll no longer need to figure stuff out — stuff will figure us out.

Work is changing and the way we do our job tomorrow will undoubtedly be different from how we do it today. From technology to business models to demographics, there are many trends shaping the future of work. Are you ready for it?

Worried you don’t have the skills needed for changes happening in your industry? Do you want to improve your future with a new career or job? Our Career Counselling and Coaching Services can help. Or perhaps you’re ready to take the next step and need help developing a tailored Job Search Strategy? To find out more, read about our services.

9 steps to success in your new job

Article by Belinda Fuller

9 steps to success in your new jobYou aced the interview, negotiated the job offer and now you’re a new employee. But now is not the time to relax and put your efforts on cruise control. While it’s the company’s job to help you settle in and learn about office culture, how successful you are in your new role is largely up to you. The first few months are critical and you need to put serious time into showing management they made a smart decision in hiring you.

Here are 9 ways to quickly impress your boss and set your path to success.

  1. Research before your first day: There are many things you’ll need to learn on the job, but some can be learned by reading and researching at home. Review the company’s website and any related media or other information about recent events. Do your homework, and your boss will be impressed when you can add value from day one.
  2. Understand what’s expected of you: Building relationships with your superiors is important, but you should also spend time learning about what they expect from you. This can include the expectations listed in your job description, as well as informal expectations such as networking, helping others, and supporting the broader goals of the company. If you can help your boss achieve their goals, this will be a huge plus for you.
  3. Manage your time well from the start: Arrive at work on time or early, ready to focus. Organise and prioritise your work. Create to-do lists and achieve as much as possible every day. Avoid the temptation to check social media, text your friends or zone out an hour before the end of the day. Do your best to be fully engaged and productive every single day.
  4. Be proactive: You should start accomplishing your goals and making connections as soon as possible. Your first few days on the job are crucial to creating a good impression and understanding what’s required for you to succeed. You may come across some issues that you’ve never encountered before, or tasks that you’re unsure how to complete. Rather than immediately turning to your boss for help, try to resolve the issue on your own. Investigate the problem, think through possible solutions, observe your colleagues, use Google, and then once you have some ideas, seek out the advice of a team member or superior. You should also take advantage of extra opportunities to contribute, such as pitching in on open projects or volunteering for committees. By offering to shoulder more responsibility where it makes sense, you’ll show your boss how committed you are.
  5. Ask lots of questions – but try to answer them first: Even when you try to absorb everything your new boss or colleagues say, you’re still bound to have lots of questions. It’s normal and shows you’re engaged. However, see if you can answer your own questions before approaching someone else. Use the resources at your disposal, such as the company handbook, training guide or your own notes. Observe how others handle similar situations. This way, when you do need to ask your boss a question, you’ll have some background knowledge.
  6. Set realistic goals with your boss: Your goals for your role should be set in collaboration with your boss, so you can find common ground and get their stamp of approval. Your boss can also let you know which goals might need to change and what your immediate priorities are.
  7. Secure early wins: Consider ways you can build momentum right away. Try to identify an immediate contribution you can make to the team. This will ensure people see you in a positive light and show your boss that you’re committed to the team’s success.
  8. Follow through: Dependability is a quality that employers look for, and there’s no better time to prove that you’re reliable than now. Ensure you complete tasks either before or on deadline. Arrive at meetings prepared and ready to contribute. If you say you’ll do something, make sure you do it. If you know you’re going to miss a deadline or not finish something as expected, be transparent and inform your boss early on in the process.
  9. Get to know people: Demonstrate your interpersonal skills by circulating around the office and staff kitchen to get to know people quickly. Not only will this help you settle in and adjust to the office culture, it’ll also help you build a great base for communication and teamwork. Stay positive and friendly, and be mindful of others and their opinions. Getting along with a variety of people can improve your chances for a promotion down the track.

In your first few months of a new job, you’ve got a unique chance to make a great impression and set a foundation for future success. By following the steps above, you’ll make it clear that you care about your job and the company, and you’re serious about making a positive impact.  

Do you need expert guidance to succeed in your new role or take your career to the next level? Are you ready to find a new job or career path, but not sure how to go about it? Our career experts can help you confidently take your next step. See our Career Coaching Services to find out more.

Why interpersonal skills matter at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

Why interpersonal skills matter at workWhen employers are evaluating candidates for a role, interpersonal skills are often one of their top criteria. These skills are also vital for succeeding in your job and getting ahead in your career. Also known as ‘people skills’, ‘soft skills’ or ‘emotional intelligence’, interpersonal skills relate to the way we communicate and interact with others.

There are very few jobs where someone works 100% independently. Even roles you might think are mostly solo require some human interaction and teamwork. And how well you do that is strongly linked to your overall performance and success. Do you have the interpersonal skills you need to be a valuable member of your team and organisation?

Some of the most important skills include:

  • Communication: Sharing ideas and information, building relationships with colleagues and understanding what a customer wants all rest on being able to communicate effectively.
  • Empathy: Relating well to other people requires you to understand their thoughts, feelings and perspectives. Empathy allows you to put yourself in others’ shoes.
  • Teamwork: Almost all jobs have elements of teamwork. To be a valuable employee, you need to know how to work well with others and play your part within close-knit and wider teams.

Here are seven important reasons why you need to develop and keep improving your interpersonal skills – they can help you:

  1. Foster personal relationships: Just as important as building personal relationships in the workplace is maintaining them. This involves a range of skills including dependability, communication and empathy.
  2. Be an effective leader: A leader who can’t connect with their team will inevitably fail in the long term, and in the short term, valuable team members may leave. A leader with great interpersonal skills can improve productivity and general satisfaction levels of staff, customers and suppliers.
  3. Promote empathy: Understanding your colleagues and manager – both professionally and personally – will help you build powerful connections, and can help create loyalty, boost morale and facilitate positive communication.
  4. Increase client satisfaction: Diplomacy is an important trait in the workplace, but it’s not just co-workers who benefit from a tactful approach. Your ability to compromise and quickly find solutions to issues can greatly improve customer service.
  5. Build trust: Demonstrating strong interpersonal skills helps to build a deep level of trust with co-workers. In turn, this creates a solid base for effective teamwork, problem solving and conflict resolution, which is especially helpful during times of change.
  6. Support clear communication: Effective communication is key to the success of any business. Establishing mutual respect and consideration for each other’s opinions and input can also enable you and your colleagues to work more efficiently and effectively.
  7. Expand your opportunities: By truly connecting with managers and colleagues, you may gain access to more exciting opportunities. If you make a good impression on your boss, they might provide good references, give you more responsibilities and perks, or even promote you.

With technology now taking care of many basic tasks that humans once did, interpersonal skills are more valued than ever. And they’re increasingly a non-negotiable for people wanting to progress in their careers. When you’re applying for a role, address the need for these skills in your application and be ready to discuss this in an interview. In the workplace, consider how you can continue to develop your interpersonal skills to increase your value as an employee.

Are you unsure of the best way to present your all-important interpersonal skills in your resume? Or do you need help preparing for an interview? Our Resume Writing or  Interview Training and Coaching Services might be just what you need.

 

 

 

How to boost self-confidence at work

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to boost self-confidence at workWhile it is a generalisation, successful people are often fairly confident people – or can at least find self-confidence when they need it most. But there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and people who aren’t naturally self-confident sometimes struggle with this. Building self-confidence doesn’t have to mean a complete personality overhaul – you can take some small, simple steps to become more self-assured, and this may help you achieve increased career success.

Here are our top tips:

  1. Push yourself: Getting outside your comfort zone is key to improving self-confidence. If you feel you could do your job with your eyes closed, it might be time to stretch yourself. You could do that in your current role by offering to help on a project where you’ll build new skills, or do something outside of work that challenges you while building professional skills.
  2. Visualise success: Having a clear picture of what success means to you is important. Many experts will tell you that the first step to achieving a goal is to visualise yourself doing so. You could imagine yourself working in your dream job or behaving with more self-confidence in an area that’s important to you.
  3. Assess yourself: Take stock of where you’re at and what you have to offer. Write down your skills, qualifications, experience and successes, and how they relate to the role(s) you’d like to secure in the future. Writing down your accomplishments can immediately boost your self-confidence, because more often than not we underestimate ourselves.
  4. Fake it! We never advise clients to lie or mislead, but this tip relates to acting confident to help you overcome your fears. ‘Fake it till you make it’, as they say. Adopting a more positive ‘can-do’ attitude or taking on more responsibility even though it may seem daunting are likely to help build your self-confidence.
  5. Communicate: You need to be able to clearly and concisely articulate what you think and need. If you have concerns, voice them! If you need help, ask for it. If you feel you can talk to your manager about issues – great. If not, seek a trusted friend or colleague with whom you can share your frustrations. Being open and sharing what’s bothering you can help you feel more in control and give you more confidence to determine possible next steps.
  6. Learn to say ‘no’: There are times at work when you should say ‘no’. Unreasonable requests can make you feel out of control. Being assertive allows you to set limits for yourself without being seen as the bully. Learn to say ‘no’ where it is warranted, and you’ll likely feel more confident and in control.
  7. Seek help: Self-confident people often know what they can handle and they delegate the rest. If you’re feeling overworked, talk to your boss and figure out how the situation might be improved.
  8. Get a mentor: Mentors provide a safe space to bounce ideas around and decide which way to go in certain situations. They can also make suggestions to help refine your ideas or point out things you can’t see clearly. This includes successes and achievements that can boost your self-confidence.
  9. Learn new skills: One of the best ways to feel more self-confident is to up-skill. If you’re feeling out of touch with something, find an online course or even just watch a relevant YouTube video. If you take the time to gain the skills you need, you might just begin to feel more confident in yourself.
  10. Accept self-doubt: Even the most confident people sometimes doubt themselves – but they don’t let that self-doubt take control. When you have negative or unconstructive thoughts, acknowledge them but try to analyse if your concern is valid or an over-reaction. Getting someone else’s opinion here can help – the goal is to push past the doubt and move on.
  11. Dress for success: It might be a cliché, but appearances can help you get ahead. Making a little bit of effort with your appearance can go a long way to feeling more self-assured.
  12. Choose your friends wisely: Another well-worn cliché that again is true – choose to spend your time with people who make you feel good about yourself, including in the workplace where possible.
  13. Let go: Try not to dwell on the past or get caught up in what might have been. Instead of worrying about things you can no longer control, stay focused on the future.
  14. Forgive yourself: Beating yourself up about mistakes is not helpful. Self-confident people often learn from their mistakes and move on, knowing they won’t let it happen again.

If you feel like your self-confidence at work could do with a boost, start with small steps. You might like to try just two or three of our tips above to start – but do them consistently and hopefully you’ll see your self-confidence start to bloom.

Is your lack of self-confidence holding you back in your career? Find out how our experienced and compassionate Career Counsellors and Career Coaches can help.

Move more: tips for a more active workday

Article by Belinda Fuller

More more tips for a more active workdayThese days, experts recommend we take at least 10,000 steps a day, and some have deemed sitting ‘the new smoking’. But what can we do if we’re in a mostly sedentary job that involves sitting in front of a computer all day? You don’t need to fit in a hard-core workout every day of the week – and for most of us this just isn’t possible – but a few small tricks and routine changes can make all the difference.

Here are some easy tips for incorporating more movement into your workday.

Tip 1: Change your commute – Run, walk or ride to work, even part of the way if all the way isn’t a realistic option. It’s a great way to get some exercise into your regular day. If you catch public transport, try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, park a little further away. It might mean setting your alarm a bit earlier, but the small amount of lost sleep is worth it.

Tip 2: Stand up – Research shows you use more muscles and burn more calories standing up than sitting down, so look for opportunities to get out of your chair whenever you can. It doesn’t need to be all day: incorporating just some periods of standing while working is beneficial. Try standing up every time you complete certain tasks – for example, while you’re talking on the phone, when people visit for a chat or when you’re reading something. You could also try a standing desk, or improvise with a high table or counter if your workplace doesn’t offer them.

Tip 3: Talk and walk – We often have to sit through meetings that stretch on longer than necessary. Research shows that walking or standing meetings can be a great way to increase efficiency. For smaller groups or one-on-ones, a walking meeting can allow you to get things done while being more active. The change of scenery may also encourage creativity.

Tip 4: Get up regularly – Take your smallest water bottle to work or use a glass, then aim to drink a certain amount of water every day. Getting up to fill your bottle or glass is a great way to incorporate a little incidental exercise. It also gives your eyes a rest if you’re sitting at a computer, and it’s a great mental boost.

Tip 5: Take the long way – When you need to leave your desk, don’t take any shortcuts – pick the longest route to get you where you’re going. It might not seem like much, but every step counts. If you can, use the bathroom on another floor, take the stairs rather than the lift, and when filling that water bottle, pick the water cooler that’s furthest away.

Tip 6: Track your steps – Activity trackers can be a great incentive to get moving. If you’ve never worn one before, try it and you may be shocked at how few steps you actually take each day unless you make the effort. Wearing a tracker (or using the step tracker on your smartphone) and incorporating even small amounts of walking – such as around the building or the block a few times a day – can go a long way to helping you meet your daily goals. Aim to increase your steps or distance a little each week.

Tip 7: Visit colleagues – How many times a day do you email someone with a question or request then wait for their response? If they’re in the same office as you, walk to their desk and resolve the issue on the spot. Not only is the movement good but the social interaction is also beneficial for your mental wellbeing.

Tip 8: Stretch – Stand up every 30 minutes or so, stretch your chest and extend your spine to reverse the effects of sitting hunched over a desk. You could take a stretch band to work and do some simple exercises. Even interlacing your fingers behind your back and stretching out your chest is helpful.

Tip 9: Don’t wait idly – Turn any waiting time into a movement opportunity. If you’re waiting for a meeting to start, or waiting at the coffee machine, photocopier or even the bathroom, do some exercises like lunges, squats or calf raises – or simply take a quick walk.

Tip 10: Take a lunch break – Instead of eating at your desk, it’s important to take a proper break. This helps boost productivity and creativity, while also providing a good opportunity to move. Take a walk outside for part of your lunch break. Even better, grab some co-workers and do a class or workout at the gym, go for a run or climb some stairs.

Tip 11: Schedule mini-breaks – In addition to your lunch break, schedule a few extra breaks throughout the day and use them to get away from your desk. If you find that you forget to move when you’re immersed in work, set a regular alarm to remind you to get up. If possible walk up some stairs or get outside, even just for five minutes. Again, the physical benefits are obvious but the mental benefits are also huge.

Tip 12: Involve others – Involving co-workers in your physical activity, whether formal or informal, is great motivation. You could organise a small office challenge such as tracking steps to see who can do the most in a day. Or you could suggest training for an upcoming fun run or charity walk together, organise a lunchtime walking group or set a group alarm to stand up each hour to stretch. It’s easier to be more active if you do it as a group – the support makes it more fun and social, and the accountability keeps you motivated.

Many of us can’t avoid spending hours sitting in front of a computer, but our health suffers. Try to incorporate some (or all!) of our tips into your workday and we know you’ll experience great physical and mental health benefits.

Is it time to get a little more active in your career advancement or job search too? Our career advisors are experts in their field and can provide comprehensive Career Coaching. We also have experienced writers who provide professional Resume Writing Services and LinkedIn Profile Writing Services designed for people who want to make employers sit up and take notice.

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