GAME OF JOBS

We are all familiar with the phrase‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Interestingly, work- life can be made more productive by engaging fun activities on your calendar. Hectic schedules, work- overload, approaching deadlines and frictional communication at your workplace can be exhaustive and stressful. It not only leads to unproductivity but affects your mental and physical health too. Often people lose interest in their work because of lack of the fun element!

A team is the most important asset to any organization. Hence, it is necessary for the team to feel fulfilled and happy at their jobs. According to a study conducted by BrightHR at least 79% graduates feel that fun is essential at workplace.

Here a few tips to make your work environment fun and productive:

1. Team-time and team-building: Team- building is fun and helps in establishing healthy relationships with your coworkers. It improves communication and boosts the team’s morale. Take breaks together. You can play music on loudspeaker and sing along. Watch matches or Youtube gigs and laugh together. Going for lunch as a team is a great way to have fun. It helps in forming relationships outside work. Such relationships inspire collaboration back in the office.
2. Have a games room: In order to keep your team motivated and refreshed, encourage them to take regular breaks. Install a games room in your office. Indoor games like carom, chess, dart, etc are not just for fun. They help improve mental capacity and memory retention. It is a good get away to clear their minds for at least 10 minutes. Playing pool at intervals of time will put a smile on their face. Brainstorming becomes easy and productive with such fun activities.
3. Celebrations: Celebrate company’s and each other’s accomplishments. Festivals like Holi, Diwali, Christmas, etc can also be celebrated at office. You can even decorate your office to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries of your colleagues. Organize team parties to celebrate the company’s successes. Mastermind theme parties with a lot of games and gifts! This provides a sense of belongingness to the entire team.

Co- working spaces are becoming a trend. Interestingly, organisations like Google treat their employees with summer parties and picnics, ski camps, etc. However, it is important to strike a balance between work and fun.

Link to the published article: https://goo.gl/3ZdNYy

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HOW TO MAKE YOUR FIRST JOB EASY

Entering the workforce for the first time is like starting high school. It feels like you’re yet to be oriented, unaware of what the right steps should be. Predicting how others would treat you in this new environment is confusing. However, a first job can be as exciting as challenging if managed correctly. According to a research conducted by the Shiftelearning blog, about 1 in every 3 people leave their organisation within the first year. Yet, for you to fully adjust and build your work toolkit, companies encourage you to stick in your first job for at least 2 years.

Here are some tips that you can follow to make your first job more enjoyable and last for the desired duration:

Communication: Take a business communication course before starting work – both written and spoken communication! Being able to communicate well with your managers, colleagues and staff holds great value at any firm. It speaks a lot about one’s personality, ethics and preferences. Being clear and succinct with your communication helps you get work done efficiently. Intrapersonal and interpersonal communication is crucial. Intrapersonal communication is essential as it refers to self communication – a person can deliver his thoughts better if he can explain it to himself first. These skills helps in building long term relations at the workplace and help build trust and mutual understanding amongst the team.

Culture fit: Every company has a unique work environment- working hours, style, hygiene, dress sense and business ethics. Culture fit is critical for your performance to peak and for the company to accept you fully. Research the culture of the company and once you are there, ask your peers to update you on what is expected. Once you align yourself with the company’s culture, it will create synergy and high performance.

Mentorship: Seek out a mentor to guide you and ensure you are on track in your new job. Ask questions before taking any big decisions and keep him in the loop about any developments. Request for feedback on your performance, or on a specific project. Mentors shape your expectations and guidelines for the future by sharing their experiences and learnings. Having someone you can trust will keep you relaxed and comfortable in your new environment.

Align your priorities with those of the organization – this will ensure that you are on the same page and blend in well. Work hard, seek feedback and build strong relationships with your team. The first job is a transformational time for most graduates. It’s an experience that will stay with you forever. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, but be sure to learn from them and not repeat them again. And when all else fails, just take a deep breath and keep going. Tomorrow will be a new day!

 

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2tiO3Ju

 

Tug of war between Gen Z and their managers

The newest  generation to enter the workforce – Generation Z (born after 1995) are born with the Internet in their pocket! Associated with technology and up to date with global trends, Gen Z is innovative and different. With the world’s largest Gen Z population of ~350 million in India*, organisations need to cater to what the youth of the country looks for in jobs to build an efficient workforce.

Managers are often Gen Xers, to whom these Gen Z traits and ideoloiges are new. Different expectations often create a tug of war between Gen Z and their managers. Based on our research with over 300 Gen Z students placed across 150 companies in India, some of the traits that cause this tug of war are highlighted below.

 

  • Preferences of Gen Z:  David Stillman and Jonah Stillman call Gen Z “phigital” in their book “Gen Z@ Work” as for them the real world and the virtual world overlaps, providing a digital platform for every physical aspect. Gen Z leverages technology to maximum utilisation, by reducing the ‘unnecessary’ manual work through mobile-friendly applications and social media platforms. However, their managers sometimes prefer in-person meetings to online chats and email interactions. In certain cases, Gen Z will need to adapt to their manager’s working style and even keep a physical notebook in order to blend into the organizational culture. Stillman also talk about “Weconomists” or Gen Z’s interest in a shared economy. They believe in partnering with their colleagues and peers to solve/ fix the the wrongs in their environment and beyond. This could be perceived as idealistic and unfocused by their older colleagues.
  • Wanting things their way:  Gen Z likes to choose their own methods and means to reach their goals, while prior generations are more willing to work within fixed systems. There is a race amongst Gen Z to customise not only their career paths but also their job descriptions. This has led to a conflict of understanding between managers and Gen Z on the concept of work in a given scenario. They want a flexible environment that allows for work-life balance; the 9-to-5 office environment doesn’t appeal to Gen Z. Their demands of flexibility and constant change make it difficult for their managers to pin their loyalty to one firm.
  • Impatient to see results: Gen Z wants quick results which sometimes creates friction in the workplace. They are less concerned with hierarchy, as what matters to them is their work delivery. Interestingly, Gen Z easily becomes comfortable in the company of their seniors as they master the act of confidence when in a conversation with their managers or colleagues! They are not afraid of following their hearts and making decisions on a moment’s notice. Bending the rules according to their concept of ‘do it yourself’ also make them appear impatient. This requires understanding and empathy on the part of managers and faster reward mechanisms and performance evaluation processes.

 

Since the relationship between Gen Z and employers is hit and miss, it is going to have an increasingly large impact on the global workforce. The tug of war will have to find middle ground as both mindsets and abilities are important to coexist in our constantly evolving economy.

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2r9p9dV

Keeping yourself motivated!

 

Life is a seesaw of ups and downs. Be it your school, college, personal or professional life, you are bound to experience both smooth and rough times toward your journey to success! But remember not to lose hope and be happy even in the most crucial of times!

Norway displaced Denmark as the world’s happiest country earlier this year according to the World Happiness Report 2017. Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government. Let us see how our young students and professionals can learn to be happy in their most crucial times:

 

  • Self awareness: Whether it is your personal life or professional life, self-awareness is an important characteristic to be happy. If you know your tendencies such as anxiety, fear, guilt or regret, you would be able to work on it and drive yourself accordingly. For students, anxiety due to exams leads to stress and reduces the oxytocin level. This has harmful effects on not just the brain but also the body. Once you become aware of your tendencies, you tend to not judge yourself. The best way to be happy is to be confident about yourself and try to work on your development areas. Become mindful, observe your thoughts, and breathe. When we accept ourselves the way we are, we radiate positive energy around ourselves!
  • Flow: Widely regarded as the secret to happiness, Flow (also known as ‘the Zone’) is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized and undeviated focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process or activity. It helps you gain great inner clarity on knowing what needs to be done and how well you’ve been doing so far. Attaining ‘flow’ also helps you achieve a sense of serenity/ nirvana – no worries about oneself, timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present, and intrinsic motivation – whatever produces ‘flow’ becomes its own reward.
  • Meditation: All of us have tough times at our college/ workplace. What matters is how we tackle such difficult situations. Meditation, if practiced for as little as 10 minutes each day, can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation! Through meditation/ yoga, you will be able to gain a fresh perspective during stressful situations. It helps you focus on the present and increase imagination, creativity and patience. There are various forms of meditation that you could practice depending on what works for you – Guided meditation, Mantra meditation, Transcendental meditation, Yoga etc.

 

There will be days when you’ll be required to do work that doesn’t please you. But it’s still important to be accepting and get the work done with a positive attitude! Most importantly, one needs to believe in his/ her own abilities to be happy. If we deal with our troubles and triumph in the same way, we are sure to be happy even in the most crucial of times. Finally, before greeting anyone else with a smile remember to first smile for yourself!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2s5ymVK

College or course – how to pick?

With the admission season finally arriving, many students are currently either preparing for competitive exams or filling up admission forms for different colleges. While making this transition from school to college, students often tend to give more importance to college over course (or vice versa). Ideally you want to get the perfect course in your dream college, but many a time this doesn’t happen. You might be caught with the dilemma of picking either a reputed college or a course that really interests you. While there is no fixed formula on how to decide, we suggest you keep a few things in mind.

 

  • Plan depending on your path post college

 

What are your long-term aspirations? In order to choose the perfect path for yourself, it’s essential to know yourself – your likes, dislikes, strengths, development areas and motivating factors.  Do you know what you want to do? For specialized courses such as Medicine or Engineering, choosing a relevant course makes more sense. Before getting too specific on the course, understand the job opportunities the course will lead to and whether those interest you!

If you want to enter a mainstream career, or you’re not sure, then choosing a college environment that you can relate to is probably better. If you have a family business, placements are less critical. However if you plan on sitting  for placements during your final year, getting into a reputed college for your graduation would take precedence over studying a very specific subject. With today’s job market, you can probably switch companies and career tracks more easily than in previous generations!

 

  • Seek advice from your mentors

 

If you’re still figuring out what course you’d like to pursue, make sure you are in touch with your teachers and mentors. They are the ones who can help you raise awareness about your likes and dislikes and gradually narrow down to which course or college would appeal to you the most. They would also keep in mind the latest trends in the industry, while helping you make this important decision. Make sure you are honest about what drives you personally with them. Take their input since they may have more background knowledge on the college environments and the exit options from each course.

 

  • Do your research

 

Compare course outlines and study facilities between universities to make sure you make the right choice for your educational needs and preferences. If possible, visit the university and attend some of the lectures to get a feeling of what the subjects and faculty will be like! Go through college websites, research about the quality of the faculty and get a better idea about the clubs and societies on campus. You could also try speaking to some of the alumni of the college to know more about their experiences. You could also do your research on the companies that visit campus for placements and be better prepared.

It’s impractical to pick a course you really want to do from an anonymous college, and in the same sense, pick a really reputed college for a course you’d never want to do. It’s all about striking a balance. And that balance can be achieved by your own determination! Make sure you’re working towards your dreams and all will be well!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2rbwjCd

 

How to ensure a smooth transition from school to college

 

At this time of the year, many students in India are either seeking admission into colleges in India or eyeing foreign universities. While making this transition, it is crucial to know what skills colleges are looking for and how to match them with your interests. Only then can you proceed to narrow down to the academic program that you want to pursue.

Once you have decided where you want to go, start preparing for the transition! According to a study conducted by the International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, nearly two-thirds (63.5%) of the students reported stress due to academic pressure.

Here are some tips that will help you ensure a smooth transition:

 

  • Do your research: Make sure you are doing your research on the college culture and some dos and don’ts on campus. For example, some colleges follow a strict dress code for students! Reach out to your seniors to get a better idea about the course you’re applying for. Look up the college website to identify professors and drop them an email if you happen to have any queries about the course structure. You could also reach out to senior students/ alumni at the University to get a better idea about campus life and how you can make the most of your time there! You can ask them about which societies they were a part of and how it helped them during their transition from school to college!
  • Learn how to prioritize tasks: A college life brings with it a lot of freedom. As a result of this shift from life at school, a lot of students feel overwhelmed. Their sports, hobbies and friends cut so much into study and preparatory time that they end up feeling stressed. There is a large amount of unstructured time which can go totally waste unless you’re properly organised. There needs to be a sense of balance for academic work, extracurricular activities, family, friends and relaxing. A daily/ weekly timetable is the best place to start!
  • Social interaction and communication: While schools tend to not put a lot of emphasis on this aspect, effective communication is a crucial part of life at college. Whether it is in the form of written communication (for taking notes, writing an essay, project presentation, research work, thesis work) or verbal communication (approaching a professor, reaching out to a sponsor for your fest),  each of these requires the knowledge of how to communicate effectively. You need to keep in mind the audience and structure your communication accordingly. Finally, be open to meeting new kinds of people from various backgrounds; it’ll be a whole new learning experience!
  • Be open to trying new things: College is the perfect place to experiment with your likes and dislikes, irrespective of the course you intend to pursue. Unless you’re absolutely sure of what you want to do post college, make sure to use this time to figure out where your interests lie. Take up different kinds of internships to see where you fit best, participate in college fests and activities and be proactive! If your college offers electives, make sure you sign up for a course that you have genuine interest in and make the most of it! College is the best time to explore and learn more about yourself – make sure you’re using this time wisely!

If you are in the process of making this transition from school to college, now is a great time for you to make the most of! During your summer holidays, try getting in touch with other students who are going to the same college. Having a relative or a friend can be a major help while moving to a new city – they make you feel much more comfortable while making this major transition. Even though it might seem like a big change, your college years will be some of the best years in your life, so don’t be anxious about the transition and make the most of it!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2r7N4h9

Is your team efficient?

 

In this competitive and challenging work world, having an efficient team is extremely crucial. Efficient teams help you achieve more and leave you with a feeling of satisfied accomplishment at the end of each day. Be it an inter-college competition, a college society or a strategy meeting at your workplace, having a great team reduces stress, saves time and helps you achieve more!

According to a study conducted by the University of Phoenix, 70% of respondents cited being part of a dysfunctional team. How can a leader create an efficient and productive team?

 

  • Leadership: It is important for a good leader to stand by and support the team in order to help each individual reach his/ her maximum potential. It is particularly important for the team leader to identify the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates and delegate work accordingly. It is the leader’s responsibility to bring out the best in his/ her team by guiding and mentoring them on the right path and providing support wherever required. This helps bind the team together, which in turn leads to an increase in the team’s overall productivity and efficiency.
  • Motivation: To increase the enthusiasm level at the workplace, it is important for the team to feel motivated and encouraged at all times. Motivation is the key to allow for creativity amongst the team. It can be achieved through positive feedback by managers and colleagues. Bonuses on excellent work, time-off when required, fostering a collaborative work environment and providing opportunities of self development can help keep a team motivated at all times.
  • Culture: The culture of the company also has a vital role to play in the efficiency of a team. Various check-ins through the day help a team grow by inculcating a sense of teamwork and collaborative working. Other important aspects of having a good team culture include transparency at the workplace, lack of politics and a transparent appraisal/ review process – something that employees from all age groups can appreciate. Thus, such cultural interaction improves communication within the team.
  • Team time: Retreats help improve a team’s working style and ideologies. They are a great way to take a step back and do some self reflection collaboratively. The team can devise their action plans and strategize targets for the year to come. Problems can be tackled easily in a pressure free environment. Similarly, stepbacks and team lunches are an important informal cultural setup that help a team bond with each other outside the office. Such semi-formal set ups helps the team to build a sense of unity among themselves.

 

Apart from the traditional methods used by companies such as strategic planning, goal setting, streamlining operations, perks and monthly incentives, the points cited above will lead to a team feeling more connected with each other and hence performing better at work!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2qUWuc4

Be a problem solver!

 

Last week leaders from across the world met at the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings. Leaders met to discuss problems in development and their solutions. There was a session led by McKinsey on Government Productivity where Finance Ministers from different countries discussed current issues faced by the countries and possible solutions. The session got me thinking about how even at the most senior levels, brainstorming and problem solving is a critical skill. Without breaking down issues and discussing them, even the most senior people struggle to find solutions!

As a student, you may be facing issues in college. As you transition to the work world, the nature of the problem may change. However, you can equip yourself with certain tools and methods to solve issues that will hold you in good stead in life!

  1. Identify and break down the problem: In order to solve a problem it is necessary to first identify and break down the problem. Issue trees are an effective way to structure the problem you are dealing with. Breaking down the issue into simple parts that can each be solved systematically is critical to solving it!
  2. Root cause analysis: According to Harvard Business Review, in surveys of 106 C-suite executives representing private and public sector companies, about 85% felt that their organizations were bad at problem diagnosis. Root cause analysis is an often used technique that helps one answer the question of what the root of the issue is. It first seeks to identify the origin of a problem and then proceeds to find its primary cause. The ‘5 Whys’ technique has proven to be particularly useful for this purpose. It helps you break down the problem by repeatedly asking ‘why’ until you arrive at its root cause. Once you do this, you can solve for the real issue rather than at the surface level.
  3. Lateral thinking: Lateral thinking is solving problems with an out of the box and creative approach. Try flipping a particular situation or problem to perceive it from different angles. Edward De Bono’s 6 thinking hats technique proves to be extremely useful here since it helps you consider issues, problems, decisions and opportunities systematically. According to this theory, there are 6 hats, each differently coloured, symbolising 6 distinct directions that you can take while discussing a problem. This is an excellent tool for critical thinking!

Problem solving is not just a skill but a systematic frame of mind that drives people to bring out the best in themselves. It becomes easy when you know how to approach a problem effectively – seek and approach them in an unbiased manner without any prejudice. Every individual, whether a student or a professional, faces various ups and downs in different phases of life. Problems can arise anywhere and at any time. It can be a task, a situation or even a person. Focus on defining the problem, keep yourself calm and poised and you will find a way out for sure!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2qxhq9S

Workplace communication

 

According to a survey about 74% people (including college graduates) have speech anxiety.  The work-place requires a certain level of communication skills, irrespective of what the job is. Good communication skills are a great way to make a positive first impression on your new boss and team. There are various aspects of communication and different situations require different scripts. Being prepared for these situations can take you a long way. Being prepared also helps you overcome anxiety and ace that first interaction!

Here are some communication scenarios that you can prepare for when starting your first job:

 

  • Introducing yourself: Preparing an introduction about yourself can be critical. Having it prepared in advance is useful, especially if you’re asked to introduce yourself to senior people at your firm or colleagues. You should talk about your background, your qualifications, your experience and your interests. Since this is an introduction in a work environment, focus on your professional qualifications and end with some personal interests.
  • Informal conversations: One of the tests of whether someone will be hired and grow at a firm is if you blend in outside work as well. As an employee at a firm, you’ll be required to travel from time to time with your team. You might also have work events and meals with your colleagues and manager from time to time. Be prepared with relevant topics outside the work-world that your manager and team will find both interesting and engaging.
  • Speaking to your manager: If you want to have a formal conversation with your manager, request him well for a time slot in advance. Before speaking to your manager, be clear about the things you want to discuss with him/ her. Keep your tone subtle and the content succinct. Make sure to listen actively and take mental notes about the conversation. While discussing a problem with your manager, break down the entire situation and be honest about your perspective.
  • Presenting in front of an audience: There may come a time that you are required to give a presentation to a team or a client. Prepare your presentation in advance with enough buffer time to get it approved by your manager. Work on talking points for each slide. Rehearse in front of a mirror or with a colleague a few times. Ensure you reach the event venue well in advance so that you feel familiar with the room and can make sure if everything required for the presentation is in place. Make eye contact with all those present instead of just one person. If questioned on your work, don’t get nervous. Instead either try and provide an answer or calmly let them know that you will get back to them. The important thing is to be calm and composed and your confidence will shine through!

 

Make sure you are clear on the different types of audiences you might have to interact with and the difference in communication in each setting. Tweaking your tone and preparation according to the situation will help you succeed in your early days at work and beyond!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2pZv5WI

Leveraging technology to enhance your performance

 

Comfort with technology is becoming a necessity at the workplace. It’s no longer a matter of choice. If you are not comfortable with technology, you will end up taking a lot more time than required to complete a given task, thereby limiting your value as a resource to the company. Interestingly, highly successful people achieve things in less than a third of the time it would take an average person to complete the same task.

Technology has a huge impact on the way modern day businesses operate. Certain technological tools that could enhance your performance at work are:

 

  • Excel and PowerPoint: Excel and PowerPoint are 2 tools that are used in almost every office today. Excel is required for data management, analysis and strategic decision making. Make sure you are comfortable with Excel features such as pivot table and formulae. PowerPoint is more creative and is used to present your thoughts and analysis. Make sure you are aware of the formats your company expects on PowerPoint. You can acquaint yourself with tools such as Slide Master, wrap text and format painter to save you time on your PowerPoint presentations.
  • Collaborative work tools: Applications such as shared calendars help you view day-to-day schedules of your colleagues and hence ensure that you are setting up meetings at times suitable to all. Google sheets can help a team collaboratively manage and analyse data, hence making working as a team more efficient. Email and Skype conferencing help you quickly communicate in situations where in-person meetings are not possible. They help you save both time and energy. Webinar tools such as GoToMeeting can set up online conferences and presentations for your team trainings and customer interactions. This is an effective way to make your work more productive, especially for organisations with customers and employees spread across locations.
  • Research and marketing tools: Knowledge of tools used to design surveys (such as Survey Monkey), E-invitation tools (such as Paperless post) and Emailer tools (such as Mailchimp) can save both time and money! Paperless post helps you design personalized online invitations and cards while Mailchimp helps you create emailers with a personal touch. Survey Monkey helps you create detailed surveys and conduct analysis, saving you from conducting door to door surveys! It also helps you maintain a record of the responses and lets you play around with that data that suits the theme of your survey.

Technological advancements have reshaped the everyday workplace and productivity of employees. It has helped us improve our communication and networking processes and also manage time effectively at the workplace. Figure out the latest trends and tools and how to go about them and keep yourself up to date. Make sure you are working to the best of your abilities by making the most of the tech facilities available today!

Link to the published article: http://bit.ly/2pw7Wey