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Category: Behavior in the Workplace

Finding Happiness Within Each Work Day

Filed under: ambition, Attitude, Behavior in the Workplace, Best Advice, Career Advice, Happiness, motivation, Professional Development

One of my mom’s favorite stories to tell us as children was the tale of the traveler and the three bricklayers.

In the story, the traveler meets the bricklayers, who are hard at work, and asks them what they’re doing.

The first man responds, “I’m laying bricks.”

The second man responds, “I’m building a church.”

The third man responds, enthusiastically, “I’m building a cathedral!”

Despite each of the bricklayers having the exact same job, their subjective experience varied significantly.

There’s a great takeaway from this parable. When we can see how what we’re doing fits into the whole—when we’re aware that each metaphorical “brick” we’re laying is contributing to something greater—we feel happiness and fulfillment.

And just like that enthusiastic bricklayer, we too can actively seek to find meaning in our work. The “why” behind what we’re doing isn’t always obvious or inherent, but it’s there, trust me.

A recent survey of over 2,000 American professionals across 26 industries found that employees experience more satisfaction at work when their jobs feel meaningful. The same survey found that raises and promotions are more common among employees who find their work meaningful; these workers also tend to be harder working and more productive.

These findings leave little room for doubt that actively finding purpose in our work every day is the single best thing we can do for our careers. But knowing this and actually applying it are two different things. That’s why we need to learn to exercise a little something I like to call the “meaningfulness habit.”

How to Embrace the Meaningfulness Habit at Work

It works like this: Any time you’re starting a new task, take a moment to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What meaning can I give to this task?”

In High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way, author Brendon Burchard shares a similar practice called “Release Tension, Set Intention.” This involves embracing the transitions we experience throughout the day—going from eating to working, writing to attending a meeting, making a phone call to sending emails—as opportunities to release any tension we may be harboring and set an intention before going into a new task or environment.

Building on this habit, if we take a moment at each transition throughout the day to ask ourselves why we’re doing something before we do it, we can inject more meaning into the task at hand and make ourselves more motivated to complete it. This meaning could be something significant, such as furthering a cause you believe in or helping others in some way, or it could be something small, such as peace of mind or development toward a personal goal.

Not every task needs to be connected to world peace—it just needs to give you some positive feeling, identifiable with perhaps a slight smile, a sense of satisfaction, or a heightened ability to focus.

In some cases, like when you’re working on a particularly dull, repetitive task, the meaning you find may just be to keep your boss happy so you can keep your job and continue to support your partner or kids. And that’s OK!

Here are some other examples:

  • Why am I going to give this presentation? To help get more support for this project I believe in.
  • Why am I going to clean up my inbox? To reduce my stress levels and feel lighter before I go home.
  • Why am I going to fill out this spreadsheet? To keep track of our records so our team functions efficiently.
  • Why am going to attend this meeting? To support the people I work with and offer help where I can.

Even if we’re not tangibly building something—like the bricklayers—there can still be meaning behind it. It may be a stepping stone to something greater; it may be an opportunity to be an example to others; it may be a creative outlet; it may be a way to support our retirement. No reason is a bad one.

(If you’re still struggling, try reading this article on finding meaning in a meaningless job and this one on caring about more than just your title.)

Ultimately, whatever we’re doing, there’s a reason why (otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it). Which is good news because that means there’s always meaning (and happiness) to be found.

For the original article: The Muse.

4 Behaviors That Slow Down Productivity

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Efficiency, Focus, Productivity, Strategy, Stress, Time Management
You know that work is supposed to be challenging—but there’s no way it’s supposed to be this challenging.

Even the simplest of tasks take you twice as long as anybody else in your office, and you’re beginning to think that you’re the problem.

Here are four ways that you might be making things way harder than they need to be.

1. You’re clinging to outdated processes

Change is hard—I get it. Sometimes it seems way easier to hang on to your standard way of doing things than to adjust to your company’s new process.

But, here’s the thing: That change was probably introduced because it’s better and more efficient. So, white-knuckling that tired and outdated workflow is really only slowing you down—not to mention frustrating your colleagues.

The Fix

Figure out what you need to do to familiarize yourself with that new approach. Do you need a tutorial from a team member who has already mastered that piece of software? Do you need to write detailed instructions for yourself so you remember what to do next time?

Getting up to speed can take a little work, but I’m willing to bet it won’t be long before you’re glad that you did it.

2. You’re seeking everybody’s stamp of approval

Personally, I thrive on confirmation that I’m on the right track. It not only makes me feel like I’m knocking things out of the park, but it also prevents me from sinking too much elbow grease into something that’s heading in the wrong direction.

However, if your boss has already given you the go-ahead, that should be enough for you to move forward. You don’t need that same affirmation from every department manager, your entire team, and even the UPS delivery guy. Seeking that is only adding unnecessary bloat to your work.

The Fix

Perhaps much of your desire to get a stamp of approval from a dozen different people is the fact that you aren’t sure who has the final say on whatever project you’re working on.

When starting a new task or assignment, figure out exactly who is the key decision maker. That will give you the confidence you need to move forward—without hearing from absolutely everybody involved.

3. You’re forgetting previous feedback

You’re beginning to feel like you have to complete every assignment twice. There’s your original attempt, and then your second one after everybody has torn your work apart with a red pen.

Revisions and constructive criticism are inevitable. But, you might be adding extra hassle by not remembering or implementing feedback that was offered previously. There’s nothing more frustrating for you (and everybody else!) than needing to change the same thing time and time again.

You can continue reading this article on The Muse.

How to Boost Productivity During the Dog Days of Summer

Filed under: Attitude, Behavior in the Workplace, Distractions, Focus, Good Habits, Organization, Productivity, Quick Tips, Strategy

You may have loved your job when you started, but it’s not unusual to get in a rut. If you’re experiencing burnout, changing your mindset can bypass it, says Daniel M. Cable, author of Alive aWork: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do, during his interview with Stephanie Vozza of Fast Company.

“Our brains are not wired for routine and repetition at work,” he says. “Disengagement isn’t a motivation problem; it’s a biological one.”

Cable was a professor at the University of North Carolina when he says he lost his zest for his own job and slowly descended into boredom. After being diagnosed and treated for Hodgkin lymphoma, his perspective changed, and he found a sense of gratitude for his job. He stumbled on research about the part of the brain called the ventral striatum, also called the “seeking system,” and its role in being your best self.

“This part of our brain urges us from the time we’re babies to explore what we don’t know,” he says. “Little kids can be given an awesome toy with noises and buttons and they’ll be really into it for a week or few days. Then they find something else that hadn’t seen before, like car keys, and they find that way more interesting. It wasn’t because the thing is cool; it’s because the thing is new.”

When we succumb to these urges, our brain delivers dopamine to reward us and that makes us feel more alive, and the same thing can happen at work, says Cable, currently a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School.

“When we’re in the rut of routine for the 502nd time, this part of the brain shuts off,” says Cable. “Your brain is saying, ‘You’re better than this. We’re not built of this. We’re built for bigger things.’ Then the brain stops the release of dopamine, which makes it seem not only boring but that it takes forever.”

There are three ways you can trigger your brain release dopamine, and get out of your rut, says Cable.

1. Play to your strengths

Identify your signature strengths and the impact you can have by using them on a daily basis. “How can you bring value to the team by using your unique strength?” asks Cable.

When he started tapping into his strength—humor—Cable says he regained an appreciation for his job. “It made me feel good and I saw my students lean in when I used humor,” he says. “As a professor, it was something unique to me. I decided to bring it when I teach class instead of leaving it at home.”

Think of your job as a flexible vehicle and determine how you can bring your strength to it.

2. Be willing to experiment

Avoid the risk of routine by shaking things up. Cable decided to develop new classes instead of teaching the same class over and over.

“A sales manager who was promoted and never got a chance to get out in the field might start going into the field again to talk to clients,” suggests Cable. “It’s just a way to refresh and learn new things.”

Activate that seeking system by going outside of your comfort zone, suggests Cable.

3. Tap into purpose

Finally, analyze cause and effect in your role. We all want to see the impact of our actions, says Cable. Leaders can help employees personalize the purpose of work by providing direct conversations with the people who use work as well as internal decision makers.

“Try to think about the story you want to tell yourself about why you do your job,” says Cable.

You can read the rest of the article on Fast Company.

How to Introduce Yourself in a Way That’ll Make People Care Who You Are

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Communication, Confidence, Quick Tips

Like you, I attend my fair share of meetings. As a consultant, I’m often meeting with people I’ve only laid eyes on for the first time just moments before and, almost always, I’m asked to introduce myself to them.

“Lisa, tell us a little bit about yourself.”

Ugh.

Why is this little question so hard to answer? Perhaps because we are complicated and we’re being asked—usually on the spot—to make ourselves sound simple. Or maybe because there’s an element about it that always makes me feel like I’m supposed to be selling myself.

Meeting introductions are easy to master, though, so today we’re talking about how to do it well.

Tip #1: Communicate Your Contribution

 

Click here to read the rest on The Muse >>

The Positive Trait That Holds Talented People Back at Work

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Career Advice, Communication, Confidence

In a perfect world, your completed assignments would speak for themselves. You’d work on friendly, collaborative teams with fair-minded co-workers, and each person would be free with praise and full of self-effacing humility. You’d never have to worry about self-promotion or navigating office politics to get your due.

But the reality is that you need to speak up. Generosity and a humble nature are great attributes to have, of course. They help you keep a team-first attitude, improve your leadership abilities, and generally endear people to you as a professional.

However, if you think you can just let your work speak for itself and never stake out that territory yourself, then being “the humble one” is hurting your career.

Here’s how:

1. It Makes You Invisible

Imagine this: Your team just completed a complex, innovative project, and you feel proud of your contributions to the group effort. But when the boss stands up at the company meeting to praise your team’s work, others are singled out for individual contributions while you seem invisible.

Click here to read the rest on The Muse >>

Office Organization Tips to Help You Work More Productively

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Good Habits, Organization, Productivity

More than half of the people surveyed in an Express Employment hiring trends survey said they lose nine work hours a week due to lack of organization; 57 percent said they lose six work hours a week because of a lack of time due to disorganization, reported Corp Magazine.

Clutter happens to the best of us you get a report in and it goes on your desk (on top of the several papers already awaiting your review).

You attend a trade show and all those gadgets from the exhibitors you couldn’t resist taking home pile up in the back of a drawer.

What you may not realize is, clutter affects the brain. When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus, cited unclutterer as a paraphrase to a Princeton University study.

Organizing your office does not need to be a big project it’s quite simple when you keep up with it. Here’s how to get started.

Click here to read the rest on Business.com >>

7 Character Traits That the Best Employees Share

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Personality, Professional Development

The difference between success and failure in business usually comes down to one thing: good teamwork. If someone is going to be an employee, he or she needs to work well with me and other team members. For that reason, it’s important to identify and hire based on the qualities that predict teamwork and success.

Here are seven qualities that the best employees have in common.

1. Reliability
Your employees are only as good as they are reliable. But, how do you determine how reliable new hires will be before you work with them? The value of credentials has all but vanished in today’s economy, so you have to look elsewhere.

Click here to read the rest on Entrepreneur >> 

 

17 Email Etiquette Rules

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Communication, Good Habits

US employees spend, on average, about a quarter of the workweek combing through hundreds of emails.

Despite the fact that we’re glued to our reply buttons, career coach Barbara Pachter says that plenty of professionals still don’t know how to use email appropriately.

Because of the sheer volume of messages we’re reading and writing, we may be more prone to making embarrassing errors, and those mistakes can have serious consequences.

Pachter outlines the basics of modern email etiquette in her book “The Essentials of Business Etiquette.”

We spoke to her and pulled out the most essential rules you need to know.

Click here to read the rest on Business Insider >>>

How to Convincingly Fake Confidence, Happiness and Other Necessary Feelings in the Workplace

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Career Advice, Communication, How To, Strategy

We fake it in meetings. We fake it over email. We fake it when we’re envious of someone else’s success. We fake it in the elevator when we ask Kyle if he has any weekend plans. The professional world’s a stage, and we’re all actors pretending to care about how Kyle spends his free time.

The question is: How much do the roles in which you cast yourself differ from who you actually are? Because if they differ a lot, you’re going to cause more problems for yourself than if you’d just behave authentically. But if they differ just a little — if you can fake it in a way that tempers your real feelings and allows you to present yourself as calm or deliberate or enthusiastic or charged up or any other situationally virtuous behavior (SVB, as no one but me refers to it) — then you are giving yourself time to let the negative feelings pass. And they will pass.

A few words on self-presentation
You think that’s you going to work? Heading into a meeting with a client? That’s not you. That’s you, plus your self-presentation tactics.

Click here to read the rest on Entrepreneur >>

Why do Employers Expect More of Entry-Level Employees than Ever Before?

Filed under: Behavior in the Workplace, Career Advice, Communication, Hiring, Societal Shifts

When Grinnell College senior Ham Serunjogi began his first internship at an environmental technology accelerator in 2013, he was shocked by how much was expected of him in his first days on the job, and how little school had prepared him for entering the workforce.

“In my first meeting with the executive director, he was asking me about what classes I had taken, and he asked if I had taken a database class in college, and I did, and he said, ‘Okay, good, then you can oversee this project of designing and implementing a new communication database for us,” he says. “That was the first time I was ever brought into a project I had little or no knowledge about, and was expected to deliver results.”

Serunjogi soon realized that there was an expectation for him to learn on the fly, and to make a meaningful contribution early on in his internship. And this past summer, Serunjogi began an internship at Facebook, where expectations were even higher.

“Facebook is a very fast moving culture,” he says. “There’s an expectation that you come in and you learn how to catch up with everyone else, otherwise you slow down the entire organization.”

According to a recent study by Harris Poll, commissioned by education-technology company Fullbridge, 27% of the 319 executives surveyed said they form an opinion of entry-level employees in less than two weeks, and 78% decide in less than three months whether or not that employee will be successful.

Click here to read the rest on Fast Company >>