Employers

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Jobs have been secured at a New South Wales coal mine after approval was granted for it to operate for another two decades.

The Rix’s Creek South Mine, northwest of Singleton, will stay open until 2040, after a decision by the state’s Independent Planning Commission was announced on Saturday.

NSW Planning and public spaces minister Rob Stokes said the decision – which will allow the mine to be expanded – will secure almost 300 jobs.

The matter had been referred to the commission due to some local opposition but it was given the green light after what the three-person panel described as careful consideration of “all the evidence and weighing the community’s views”.
Factors considered included noise, visual and heritage impacts.

On concerns around greenhouse gas emissions, the commission said these had been “adequately minimised as far as practicable”.

It added that the approval is conditional upon owners Bloomfield Collieries Pty Ltd taking all reasonable steps to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions over the next 21 years.

Other positives around the application include “economic and social benefits as a result of employment opportunities and revenue to the State”, the commission said in its decision.

Mr Stokes welcomed the decision as “great news for the people of the Upper Hunter and the community of Singleton”.

The publication followed an announcement on the issue being mistakenly revealed eight days ago due to an “administrative error”, the commission said.
Source: https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6434796/jobs-secured-by-rixs-creek-mine-approval/?cs=9397

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Newcastle’s dedicated cruise volunteers were recognised on Thursday 23 May 2019, for their contribution to the success of the Hunter’s tourism sector over the past 16 years.

Port of Newcastle hosted a thank you event for its volunteers on Thursday marking National Volunteer Week (20 – 26 May 2019) and the recent completion of the successful 2018/19 cruise season.

The season saw 16 cruise ships and more than 29,000 passengers visit the port, two records supported by the 35 dedicated volunteers on-hand to provide a friendly welcome to visitors.

Distinguishable by their red shirts and white Newcastle-branded hats, volunteers get to share their love of Newcastle and their expert local advice to ensure passengers get the most out of their time in the region.

Port of Newcastle CEO, Craig Carmody, said National Volunteer Week provided an opportunity to acknowledge this contribution and was particularly relevant given this year’s ‘Making a Difference’ theme.

“Newcastle’s cruise volunteers are passionate locals who are proud of our city and make a difference to the experience of cruise passengers when they visit the region,” Mr. Carmody said.

“We value the time, effort and dedication every volunteer brings to their role as ambassadors for the City of Newcastle.”

Port of Newcastle continues to support the Hunter’s tourism sector by berthing cruise ships in port and coordinating the many wonderful volunteers dedicated to welcoming visitors to our city.

Current bookings for the 2019/20 cruise season suggest another record of more than 30,000 passengers could be set.

Source: https://www.hunterheadline.com.au/hh/business-news/celebrating-dedication-newcastles-tireless-cruise-volunteers/

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Workplace social media apps might make our work life easier, but similar programs can have detrimental effects on our personal lives. So, should we really be using them at work?

Organisations work hard to create connections and collaboration between their employees. Firms are increasingly embracing social media platforms to encourage this with tools such as Yammer’ and ‘Workplace’ becoming ubiquitous. But as there’s an increasing body of research showing the negative effects of social media usage in our personal lives, it might be time to consider whether using these tools at work is similarly damaging?

Social media is a fact of life in most workplaces. Thirty-thousand companies around the world use Workplace by Facebook in the hope it will “promote openness, feedback and diversity to engage employees and drive cultural change”.

Subscribers to Yammer, Microsoft’s rival platform, are harder to spot as the platform is integrated into Office 365, but a 2012 McKinsey Global Institute study found that 72 per cent of companies were using some form of internal social media to promote communication and collaboration.

The plus side

There are plenty of advocates who point to the benefits social media has brought to our workplaces. In the Harvard Business Review, researchers found that employees who used such platforms were 31 per cent more likely to find colleagues with relevant expertise to complete a task, as well as using the platforms to “make faster decisions, develop more innovative ideas for products and services, and become more engaged in their work and their companies”.

Impressed? It gets better: the McKinsey study, which looked at just four industry sectors, argued that maximising the use of social media technologies at work could unlock $1 trillion in value annually.

The benefits are not just clear, they are substantial, inarguable even. Workplace social media platforms are designed on the same principles as their non-work counterparts. Engaging and user-friendly, they provide a constant stream of news, video clips and updates from colleagues across the organisation. Posts can be liked and shared just as they can outside of work.

The dark side

While the above research argues the productivity benefits of social platforms in the workplace, there is an increasing amount of evidence that these exact same features can be very damaging to users in their personal lives.

A 2014 study from the University of Toledo demonstrated the impact Facebook can have, finding an inverse correlation between time spent on the platform and self-esteem; the longer you spend on Facebook, the less likely you are to feel good about yourself.

This is in part because we compare our lives and experiences to those we see online; photos of a friend on holiday can reinforce the fact that we are on the sofa at home, and eating our reheated pasta in front of an Instagram feed of Ottolenghi delights has the same effect.

This in turn is proven to lead to feelings of envy and social isolation, which can be hugely damaging both mentally and physically. And then there’s the productivity issue: social media is addictive – it’s designed that way – and users can easily spend hours on the platforms, feeling genuine symptoms of withdrawal when they eventually log off.

Those cravings can also be accompanied by a fear of missing out, physical fatigue and depression. These are hardly feelings you want to cultivate in your employees.

To cap it all off, a 2018 study demonstrated that the reverse is true; reducing participants’ exposure to social media to ten minutes a day led to a decrease in loneliness and depression.

So, if there is such a large body of research demonstrating the negative impacts of social media, surely it’s time to consider all of these findings in a workplace context?

It’s not hard to imagine employees spending too much time on social media at work just as they do at home, particularly when many companies encourage the creation of online social groups alongside work-related content.

Anxiety can quickly be generated by looking to see whether or not your boss has “liked” your latest post, or when you notice that peers in your team have more followers or connections than you do.

Work platforms are often used to share positive news about promotions, team achievements or company successes. Managers might, post something to provide updates, or to create a sense of shared success and community. But if you’ve missed out on a role you applied for, or feel that your pay rise doesn’t reflect the wider performance of the firm, then this sort of celebration could easily feel smug and self-congratulatory.

Perhaps your colleague has posted a selfie from their trip to the New York office that you see while you’re sitting on the bus on your way to work. Are you going to ‘like’ that? The main social media platforms had a long honeymoon period before academics seriously studied the potential downside of this new phenomenon that was sweeping the world, and it’s only in recent years that this has been comprehensively analysed.

So now it’s time to cast an analytical eye onto workplace social media. Much of the writing to date has focused on the potential upside and benefits it brings – like that trillion-dollar McKinsey bounty – and we are still arguably in that same honeymoon phase.

But if we know beyond doubt that social media can be damaging and dangerous to users in their personal lives then surely it’s time to think twice about how far we should encourage its use in our workplaces?

To go one step further, if a manager insisted their employees perform activities that were proven to have negative physical and mental side-effects then they would be negligent at best, and at worst, culpable. Social media does exactly that, so we should reconsider how we use it at work.

 

 

Source: http://www.hrmonline.com.au/topics/communication-and-social-media/is-there-a-place-for-social-media-workplace/

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A room full of tech start up founders, investors and members of the innovation ecosystem gathered in Newcastle in late February as the Business Centre sought to unearth more local tech talent to become part of its Start House accelerator program.

Innovators and entrepreneurs were given the chance to meet with leaders of the local innovation ecosystem and hear what Start House can offer them.

More Discovery Sessions are being held in Singleton, Wyong and Maitland as Start House builds four region-based cohorts to lead through its unique distributed incubator and accelerator model.
Steve Wait, CEO of the Business Centre, said the Discovery Session gave local intenders or those already with a minimum viable product a chance to meet mentors and experts in residence and understand the advantages of the unique Start House program.

“Start House is a no-equity incubator and accelerator program with the aim of mentoring some of the incredible local tech talent we have in the region to lead them to scale their businesses globally,” Steve said.

“We have the intention of developing diversity in innovation – be it diversity in location or diversity in the age, background or life stage of the founders.

“Not every start up or existing business fits the mould that other accelerator programs may cater for.”

Powered by the Business Centre, Steve said Start House will support 50 start up and globally scalable enterprises across the region over the next year.

“Start House will provide mentoring and business education to entrepreneurs right across our region, working with partners in Maitland, Newcastle, the Hunter and on the Central Coast,” Steve said.

“We will connect more diverse innovators to the opportunities in Sydney while showcasing innovators who are geographically isolated.”

The Business Centre announced recently that it was the recipient of $189,500 in Australian Government funding under the Incubator Support initiative for its accelerator program, Start House.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews congratulated the Business Centre and the other five national successful applicants, which received the funding under the $23 million initiative.

 

Source: https://www.hunterheadline.com.au/hh/business-news/innovators-set-take-part-new-regional-incubator-accelerator-program/

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CAKE and chocolate are two of life’s pleasures that Alesha Thompson has always loved to eat – and create.

She grew up learning the ins and outs of old-fashioned baking from scratch – scones, sponges and gingernut biscuits – from her grandmother Grace on the family’s farm property in the Hunter Valley.

She was hooked from the age of 10.

“My Nan was famous for her coffee sponges in the area and her gingernuts, too, so I started off with those basic biscuits and cakes,” Thompson says.

“All of her cooking was from scratch. She hardly ever used bottled anything.

“She loved creating, and loved cooking for the family and friends, and the community. It’s what she did. It was her passion and she really passed that, and those skills, on to me.”

Two years ago, Thompson decided to leave behind a career in business administration to embark on a career as a chocolatier with the launch of her brand, Madam Cocoa.

She runs the entire operation on her own, moulding and decorating 600 chocolates a week out of her commercial premises in Newcastle.

After studying under master chocolatier Dean Gibson at TAFE NSW Hamilton campus and Melbourne pastry chef Paul Kennedy at Savour School, Thompson ditched the idea of opening a cafe to focus on chocolate.

“Studying and learning to create chocolate, it just really sung to me and my personality, and my perfectionist streak,” Thompson says.

“I fell in love with it, so I’ve run with it since then. The process of making chocolate is just so precise and finite that everything about it has to be perfect. Everything has to occur in the perfect time, environment and space.

“It all has to align for the end product to come together beautifully. It’s a far more intricate process and it resonated with me at a core level a lot more than what a cake does.

“I love the artistic side of it and creating amazing fillings.”

Madam Cocoa’s entire range is packaged gift box-style and features 12 flavours in white, milk or dark using Belgian Callebaut couverture chocolate, including botanical mint, espresso, raspberry splash, Caribbean cherry, salt flake caramel, hazelnut crisp, vanilla smooth, lemon tang, Mrs Jones blueberry cheesecake and creme coconut, which is sprayed teal blue with flecks of white and gold.

Each morsel is meticulously decorated like a piece of edible art.

Another is the Valley Mango which is Thompson’s vision of summer encapsulated into a chocolate.

“When you bite into it, it has this beautiful mango jelly and this intense mango puree through that, and then the ganache has Hunter Valley Distillery’s mango liqueur through it. It’s a delicious absorption of summer on your palette,” she says.

“It’s not too intense, it’s just a beautiful blend.”

Thompson, who says she is a “dark chocolate fan, all the way”, is in the process of developing three new products in time for Valentine’s Day which will be available to order online or in-store at Pork Ewe Deli in Mayfield and Cooks Hill (online orders for Valentine’s Day need to be placed no later than February 10).

She already has plans for a Christmas range later in the year.

Her beloved Nan passed away in June last year. Fortunately, Thompson was able to spent time in the kitchen with her earlier in the year.

“She was a driving force behind my career change and she was very encouraging about me taking on a food-based career and being creative, so she was an amazing support. She loved taste-testing the new products and seeing how it all came together. She loved being a part of it, so it was great to have her as part of the initial journey.”

 
Source: https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5842066/crafting-a-new-career-in-cocoa/

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Construction is poised to begin on a landmark 30,000sqm retail centre in Lake Macquarie set to create more than 600 full-time jobs once complete.

Spotlight Group, which owns the Spotlight and Anaconda retail chains, got the green light in September from the NSW Government to commence work on the first stage of a $90 million centre fronting the Pacific Highway at Bennetts Green.

A Bunnings Warehouse and Spotlight and Anaconda stores will anchor the site, with a number of other businesses, including two fast food outlets and a service station, also included in the plans.

Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Cr Kay Fraser, said the centre – the largest retail development in the city since the 2010 expansion of Charlestown Square – would provide an enormous boost to the local economy.

“This is land that has long been earmarked for development,” Cr Fraser said.

“It’s wonderful to see the Spotlight Group backing the potential of Lake Macquarie and investing in a project that will generate local jobs for local families.”

“A development of this size has the potential to significantly boost employment in surrounding suburbs, including Windale. It will further activate the area and, by establishing itself as a retail destination, provide flow-on benefits to other businesses nearby.”

Spotlight Group Executive Deputy Chairman Zac Fried said the development would generate more than 825 full-time-equivalent jobs during construction and more than 600 full-time jobs once open.

“Bennetts Green is a significant development for the Spotlight Group,” he said.

“We are investing more than $90 million in the local community to support long-term job opportunities and growth in the area.”

The Stage One approved by the NSW Government’s Hunter & Central Coast Regional Planning Panel consists of the Bunnings Warehouse at the southern end of the site, the central block of retailers including Anaconda and a fast food outlet, and utilities infrastructure works.

Spotlight Group will improve footpaths and roads around parts of the site, with new traffic lights installed on the Pacific Highway about 150m south of the Groves Road intersection.

The company has lodged development applications with Council for Stages Two and Three. Stage Two includes Spotlight, while Stage Three comprises a service station and second fast food outlet.

These are expected to be processed by the end of the year.

Lake Macquarie City Council Head of Development and Planning Justin Day said the new development was “an exciting time for Lake Macquarie, and specifically for this part of the city”.

“We’re already seeing booming residential development just up the road in Mount Hutton, as well as a $58 million makeover of the Lake Macquarie Fair shopping centre,” Mr Day said.

“This development comes on the back of a record $1.16 billion worth of development applications approved in the 2017-2018 financial year, and really demonstrates how Lake Mac is increasingly becoming the city of choice for investment and development.”

Of the $20.3 million sale price of the land in 2016, $5.58 million was transferred to Council’s Property Investment Reserve.

The remaining $14.73 million went into Council’s Community Land Reserve, to be spent on community infrastructure.

Projects either planned or underway to receive funding through the land sale include:

Windale Skate Park relocation
Windale library and community centre construction
Scrubby Creek restoration (Windale)
Munibung Road extension
Pearson Street Mall upgrade (Charlestown)
Spotlight Group said the new centre was expected to open within 14 months.

Source: http://www.hbrmag.com.au/article/read/600-jobs-slated-for-90m-bennetts-green-retail-development-2895

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Recently, I shut down a project I’d been working on for the last several months. It was a sentimental moment for sure—no longer spending my time on something that had been a big part of my day was certainly a tough pill to swallow. However, it was an experiment from the start, and I knew that once we got the results we needed, it would draw to a close.

Having to end—or in corporate jargon, sunset—an initiative you’ve been a crucial part of is bound to happen in your career, whether by your own accord or someone else’s. Maybe budgeting runs out, maybe it’s a bandwidth issue, maybe goals and priorities shift, maybe someone made a mistake assigning it in the first place.

Regardless, knowing how to wrap everything up in a pretty bow is an important skill—just because it’s coming to an end doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to end it smoothly and professionally. Plus, when done correctly, you can use all you’ve learned and achieved for future career advancement.

Here’s how:

1. Gather All the Facts

Before doing anything, you need to understand why this project is ending. Ask questions, talk it out with relevant team members, and understand what this means for the long-term.

For starters, this could give you both confidence and perspective—especially if you’re concerned that it’s ending because of something you did (or didn’t) do.

This also helps you make more educated decisions going forward. When you know why a project is no longer needed, you can make smarter choices for future initiatives and ensure that you’re on the same page on:

  • whether this is a permanent, trial, or temporary initiative
  • how success will be measured
  • what the timeline expectations are

2. Set an End Date and Prepare

Next, get the little details sorted out. When will this be completed? Who will help in wrapping up loose ends? What’s needed to get done before it is? Who needs to be notified?

Once you know all this, you can start preparing immediately—both for the last day and for what comes after (if anything). You’re going to have more time on your hands after this is over, so figure out how you want to spend your time moving forward and what other projects you might like to start or be a part of. Make sure to talk to your boss to get a sense of what they want you to focus on and prioritize.

Also, take advantage of the time you have to complete this project. Is there an experiment you’ve been meaning to try? Or, a skill you’re looking to build? Use this stretch to test any last-minute ideas or thoughts.

3. Notify Your Team (and Anyone Else Who Was Involved)

This is key: Whoever was involved in some way or another—whether they helped out, contributed feedback, or just followed it passively—should be looped in.

Send out an email or set up a meeting outlining why the project is ending, what this means for each team member and the company, and what the next steps will be. Give your colleagues a chance to ask questions and contribute feedback (and jot that information down for step five).

4. Take the Time to Celebrate Key Players and Accomplishments

This goes hand-in-hand with step three, but it’s so important to acknowledge all the hard work and achievements associated with the project. Make sure to call out and celebrate those who helped and shout out any big positive outcomes that resulted.

Also, celebrate yourself! Whether or not it was a “success,” you spearheaded something and no doubt gained skills along the way (even if those skills are better project management). So, take the time to feel proud of the work you did.

5. Do a Reflective Analysis

Once you’ve closed up shop, gather everything you collected over the course of the project, both qualitative and quantitative:

  • What did you do?
  • How long did you do it for?
  • Who was involved? What did they do?
  • What results were you hoping for?
  • What results did you get?
  • What results didn’t you get?
  • What was surprising?
  • What mistakes were made?
  • What lesson were learned?

Define what success meant for this specific initiative, how you did (or didn’t) achieve it, and what can be learned for the future—and write it all down in a report.

Then, use that report! Having all this information in one place is incredibly valuable for a number of reasons:

  • It forces you and your team to be reflective. Set up some time to go over it all, discuss it, and add to it. Use it as a conversation starter for launching new projects or brainstorming other initiatives.
  • It helps you be strategic in making future decisions and prevents history from repeating itself. Whenever you come across a project or problem that feels similar, look back on this report to decide whether to move forward and how so you don’t make the same mistakes or fall down the same rabbit hole.
  • It’s physical proof of your achievements. You can bring this to your next performance review or reference it in your job search. Also, you can use it to just feel good about yourself—you did all this!

It’s certainly not emotionally easy to end a project you care about. But, by doing it in a well-documented, well-thought-out way, you make it easier for yourself to successfully lead future projects. And that’s a great thing.

 

Source: http://www.americanrecruiters.com/2018/09/14/heres-how-to-gracefully-sunset-an-initiative-youve-worked-so-hard-on/

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WHILE concerns about the reliability of renewables, as expressed by some big electricity consumers including Tomago Aluminium, are understandable, industries across the country are adopting the technology as fast as they can.

At a Beresfield plant operated by pallet maker CHEP yesterday, acclaimed University of Newcastle researcher Paul Dastoor was on hand for the unveiling of a commercial-scale pilot installation of the printable solar cells that he and his team have been working on for the past 15 years.

While conventional solar cells have, until now, been reasonably weighty objects held in solid metal frames, the technology developed by Professor Dastoor at the Centre for Organic Electronics generates power by printing electronic inks onto paper-thin sheets of flexible laminate.

In earlier demonstrations of this technology, Professor Dastoor has described these printed cells as so light that large arrays can be attached to a roof with nothing more than velcro. While the Beresfield installation is a collaboration with CHEP, a Brambles subsidiary, rather than an outright sale, it is another sign that of how much the electricity market is changing, and how far removed from reality the federal government is when it comes to energy policy.

It is, admittedly, early days as far as the government led by new Prime Minister Scott Morrison is concerned.

But his initial comments in emphasising power prices over emissions reduction have been widely interpreted as a sign he has little interest in trying, as Malcolm Turnbull did, to convince the Coalition’s climate sceptics that they should listen to the experts when it comes to energy.

The global weight of investment and research going into renewable energy means the best technologies will find their way to the surface, and elbow aside more expensive and more environmentally suspect means of generating power, regardless of the attitude of the Australian government.

Indeed, given that the Coalition is supposedly the party of the free market, it is difficult to understand why it has such a philosophical opposition to progress.

In turning paint and plastic – with the help of sunshine – into electricity, Paul Dastoor is the embodiment of that progress. And further proof (not that we need it) that there is more to Newcastle than coal.

Source: https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5615937/newcastle-breakthrough-on-solar-cells/

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Research into the Hunter Valley region has revealed there are particular employment growth areas forecast for the region over the next three years, including construction, aged and disability care, child care and cookery.

TAFE NSW’s Regional General Manager, Susie George said the research, which was conducted by Australia’s largest training organisation, revealed that the predicted growth in employment opportunities in the Hunter Valley is thanks to a number of important factors.

“With a number of exciting projects, such as planning for the construction of a new $450 million hospital in Maitland, diversification and growth of the energy sector, the Hunter Innovation Project which aims to encourage ICT startups, as well as a new facility at Beresfield for FLSmidth, an increased demand for skilled workers will continue to be generated by industry,” Susie said.

“The Hunter Valley is the fastest growing area in the North Region, with the population forecast to grow by 3 per cent between 2018-2021, and employment forecast to grow by 4.1% over the same period.”

TAFE NSW is a provider of vocational education in the Hunter Valley and it is evident that residents are upskilling in readiness for the employment growth in these industries. The top five courses by enrolment at TAFE NSW in this region last year included a Statement of Attainment in Foundation Skills Support; Certificate III in Mobile Plant Technology; Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician; Certificate III in Business Administration and TAFE Statement in Youth Engagement.

“TAFE NSW will continue to innovate and develop courses to meet the skills needs of local regions,” Susie said.

“TAFE NSW delivers the skills that drive a strong economy, support vibrant communities and help individuals, enterprises and industries to adapt and thrive.

“With more than 1200 courses available and with current and future job prospects looking bright, there’s never been a better time to upskill or reskill at TAFE NSW.”

Source: http://www.hunterheadline.com.au/hh/business-news/employment-growth-areas-hunter-brings-opportunity/

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If you know you’re capable of doing more than fetching coffee (and I know you are!), then you need to walk into that interview room with the confidence and command that says so. How do you do that? Use these tips when readying yourself for your next interview.

1. Make a List of What You’re Great at

Think about the things that make you feel good about yourself. Are you gifted at organizing or creating systems and processes that improve efficiency? Or, are you great interpersonally and have a knack for making people feel heard and welcome?

Start creating a list of those attributes. This will not only shore up your inner confidence, but it will also give you content that you can relate to what your interviewer is looking for in the company’s next hire.

2. Think Through Your Day-to-Day

So you’re telling me that someone paid you for 40 hours each week plus benefits to only get coffee—and that’s it? Even the most prodigal of companies probably had a few more expectations than that.

When you’re struggling to think of other responsibilities, it’s helpful to talk through your day-to-day with a friend. It’s easy to take for granted the other things you do, and by relaying what you spend your day doing, you’ll be able to come up with significantly more content and depth than you previously thought.

For instance, in addition to getting coffee, did you also ensure the office was appropriately stocked and presentable for visitors and employees? Did you manage the conference room schedule and ready rooms for meetings? Did you liaise with building maintenance staff on the upkeep of the office?

Look at that! You’ve just described the background of a perfect office coordinator or administrative assistant.

3. Unlock Your Potential

Remember, potential is not what you’ve done, it’s what you can do. Rather than fixating on the most literal definition of yourself and what you’ve previously done, use this as an opportunity to think and dream expansively.

What more can you do? What more is within you? Listen carefully to the needs of the person interviewing you and find ways to relate your background or personality to those needs. Your previous job doesn’t define the whole you, nor should it define your potential.

The job search is enough to shake anyone’s confidence—particularly when you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t have valuable skills or experience to offer. But, I’m willing to bet you bring way more to the table than you think!

Put these tips to work, and you’ll tackle your job search with the confidence of someone who’s more than deserving of that open position.

 

Source:https://www.themuse.com/advice/job-search-with-confidence-when-skills-are-lacking?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-1

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The days when you had to put on a mask for work in the name of corporate conformity are over. They died with the wide-and-shiny neck tie, “kitchens” that looked like your dentist’s office, and other bad memories from yesteryear’s workplace.

Today’s workplace trades on inclusivity, empowerment, teamwork, and—in a word—realness.

Whatever your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, it’s not only yours to embrace, but your employer’s. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, 69% of executives say diversity and inclusion is an important issue. And that’s smart—because it’s good for business.

Recent research from Diversity Council Australia found that employees who work on inclusive teams are 10 times more likely to be highly effective than workers who don’t. They were also found to be more satisfied in their work, and studies have proven that happy employees are more productive.

So, it looks like it’s the perfect time to get real. Here are a few tips to make sure you can thrive as you at work.

Ask Upfront for a Diversity Onboarding

If you don’t identify as a white male (no shade if you do), chances are you have questions when entering a new workplace. What’s the policy to ensure women are paid as much as their male counterparts? Is there a mentorship program here and how can I find a mentor whose values align with my own? How can I help this company cultivate and hire diverse talent like myself?

Many reputable organizations will answer these as part of new-employee onboarding in the form of policies, videos, training, and general information. The goal should be to equip you with the knowledge and resources to work freely as your true self and ensure others can do the same.

If your new-hire briefing falls short of these expectations, don’t let your questions stew. Ask them. Doing so doesn’t mean you’re anticipating some sort of institutionalized discrimination (why would you join the company in that case?), it just means you’re curious and you’re looking forward to being part of progressive solutions to today’s workplace challenges.

Phrase questions to show that you’re curious about something meaningful to you and it’ll be easier to start the conversation: “I’m really passionate about women’s issues, I’d love to know what you do here to make sure women have access to leadership opportunities and equal pay?”

Join an Organization, or Start One

Whether you’re underrepresented at work or just have a really niche interest, joining a club—or starting one—is a great way to create space for the parts of you that don’t fit neatly into your job description.

Find groups that empower you—whether they’re creative or career development-oriented. The best part, clubs can fill voids if something you feel passionate about is not already reflected in your workplace. For example, if ladies aren’t exactly running the show (yet), a women’s group can be a great way to find support and mentorship. If people seem clueless when Pride rolls around, an LGBT+ alliance can change that.

If the group you’re looking to join doesn’t exist, consider starting it. Talk to HR or your manager and ask whether there’s a formal process in place to secure funding.

Be Aware of Your Biases, and Wake Others Up to Theirs

For better or for worse, we all carry unconscious biases. They’re woven into our minds from childhood and continue to proliferate in popular culture. These biases can affect our interpretations of and interactions with coworkers.

One of the best ways to be more self-actualized in the workplace is to help others be the same by granting them freedom from even small stereotypes and assumptions. Look into ways you can become more aware of your biases and spread the word to co-workers.

A few places to start: browse YouTube for bias exercises like this one, ask your colleagues for honest feedback, and pay close attention to your thoughts and reactions in groups (are you responding to hard facts and values, or assumptions and emotions?).

Grow Your Social Circle

Finally, it’s easier to be yourself if you’re among friends.

You can find them, but you may have to work for it. That means going to company events, grabbing coffee with new co-workers, switching your lunch crowd every so often, or hopping in new channels on Slack.

And try to connect with a range of coworkers, not just your immediate peers. You can learn from others who are different from you and who are in more senior or diverse roles. You may have to leave your comfort zone, but it’s well worth it—you’ll be more relaxed at work if you have a group of people supporting you.
Work should be inviting—not just because you like your work (although that’s a big plus), but because you can be yourself while you’re there. Whether your workplace is super progressive and has all the diversity and inclusion boxes checked, or you have to do some work to help get it there, use these tips to make your workday—and that of your coworkers’—more real.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/bring-your-whole-self-to-work?ref=recently-published-1

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Making a career change is scary. It may seem easier to stay in a job that you’re comfortable with and good at, rather than taking the plunge into a totally different career. But, those who do take that plunge often end up happier.

That proverbial leap requires more preparation than simply closing your eyes and jumping, though. To be sure that you don’t end up at another job that leaves you unfulfilled, you need to have a plan of action.

Catherine Morgan, Career Transition Expert at Point A to Point B Transitions, sees clients take a variety of different career journeys—doing the same job in a different industry, doing a different job in the same industry, or finding a job that is completely different in both skill set and industry.

And while some people know deep down that making the transition is the right thing all along, others come to the realization after a major life event. Regardless of the catalyst, Catherine advises taking calculated steps once you’ve decided to change industries.

So if you’re ready to take the leap, here’s our best advice on how to set yourself up for a successful career change.
Follow Your Passion, Purpose, or Side Hustle.

If you’re considering a career change, you’re probably not fulfilled with your current role. But, before jumping into another unsatisfying job, take the time to figure out what would make you happy. 1 out of 5 people don’t feel engaged with their job, and we know you don’t want to remain one of them.

Finding your passion can seem daunting, but if you examine the things you enjoy most, it gets easier. When thinking about changing jobs, “people often pull from life experience or something they’ve been doing on the side,” says Catherine.

Think about your hobbies—do you love to cook, or read, or sew? What activities are you best at and bring you the most joy? While not every hobby can be turned into a full-time job, examining your interests outside of work is a great way to discover what type of career might make you happy.

Have a Strategy and Take Steps to Implement It
In most cases, a career change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work and preparation—but don’t get overwhelmed. Once you have your big picture figured out, do the following:

1. Research
We know you know how to do some internet sleuthing. So, instead of stalking your ex online, use those detective skills to start researching potential employers. Check out their social media, website, and any other info you can find so that you can make an informed decision on whether a company is the right fit for you.

2. Network
Make a list of people you know who work in the field that you’re interested in. If you don’t know anyone personally that’s okay. Utilize LinkedIn to expand your search, and don’t forget to ask friends and family for their connections. You can even craft an email to friends explaining that you’re looking to change careers and would love to be connected with anyone they think could help.

Once you have contact information, look them up before reaching out. You’ll want to sound informed so people know their time won’t be wasted connecting with you. Request a coffee, informational interview, or even to shadow someone after you’ve made the first move.

3. Know What You’re Willing to Sacrifice
Before making a big shift, Catherine says, consider whether there is an opportunity to rework your current job situation. “Look at what you want and what would make you happier—less travel, working from home more, boundaries to disconnect,” she says.

If you are set on changing careers, there’s a lot to consider before leaving your current job. Before quitting evaluate what sacrifices you are willing to make in order to find a role that you love—can you take a pay cut, start in a lower position, do you have leverage to leave your job without having your next one lined up?

Knowing the answers to these questions beforehand will set you up for success and help narrow down potential jobs and employers.

The Results
Catherine says “the people I work with tend to be happy with their decisions, they are going into it with the right mindset and finding something valuable to them.” We spend the bulk of our time at work, so being happy with your job can make a huge difference.

So, if you think it’s time for a career change, follow the steps above—do your research, create a plan of action, and take the leap. You may just end up happier than you ever imagined.
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-a-career-change-may-make-you-happier?ref=recently-published-1

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The first 90 days of your new job are crucial to set yourself up for long-term career success. It’s where you make good on the promises you touted during your interview and set the stage for how people perceive you.

That’s why asking for feedback during this time is so, so important. It quickly demonstrates to your new boss that you’re invested, you’re committed to excellence, and that you’re in this for the long haul.

Plus, if done well, you can earn major brownie points that may help you get recognized later for opportunities to work on interesting projects or even advance more quickly.

Easy enough, right? Now that you know just how important your first 90 days are, here are some guidelines for how to ask for feedback to ensure you’re on the right path (or how to get on it).

When Should You Ask?

Eliciting feedback in these crucial first few days is a balance between giving your new manager and co-workers enough time to form concrete thoughts and opinions of you, while also being proactive in prompting feedback that will help you as you get onboarded.

Rule of thumb: Don’t expect a formal review by the end of week one. After that, it’s all a judgement call. How much real work have you actually had a chance to do? If you’ve just completed a big project or finished a tougher assignment, now may be the perfect time to ask for some input on how you did. Regardless of the above, don’t let three weeks go by without making the big ask.

A good rhythm for how frequently you continue to check-in will hinge on the volume and involvement of your work. That said, a good best practice is no more than once a week, but no less than once a month.

How Should You Ask?

Don’t pounce at the water cooler or in the bathroom while your boss is washing her hands. Reach out to your manager via email or in person and request a meeting directly. Explain what the meeting is for—people will appreciate having a heads-up so they can prepare ideas ahead of time.

Try something like, “I’d like 15 minutes of your time to talk about how you think things are going so far with me. Are you satisfied with what I’m doing, and the work I’m producing? Is there anything I can be doing differently?”

What Should You Ask?

Give your manager suggestions on what you want to hear, such as, “How am I integrating within the team?” “Am I operating at the speed you need me to?” or “How is the quality of my work? Any development areas you have already identified that I can work on?”

This is also the time to coach your manager on what you need in terms of resources. Would you benefit from regular one-on-ones or additional training? Perhaps a tracking system that you and your manager have access to to share what you’re working on?

Who Should You Ask?

Besides your boss, co-workers are also a great resource for feedback. While it doesn’t need to be as formal as with a manager, try crafting an email along the lines of, Hey, I’m loving it here so far, and would love to get some feedback from you to make sure I’m setting myself up for long term success. It’s really important to me I’m doing a good job and making a good impression.

The reality of soliciting feedback is that it may not always be 100% positive. So, prepare yourself mentally. All your good intentions will immediately be nullified if you go into “defensive” mode. Keep your ego out of this conversation and stay open and non-judgmental.

Then, send a follow-up email thanking your manager or colleague for their time and candor, and briefly outline your takeaways and any next steps you plan to take. Implement any areas of improvement right away and follow-up with your boss to make sure the adjustments you’re making are correct and noticed.

We know there’s a lot to learn in your first 90 days. You’ve got new systems, technologies, faces, and names to remember, and so much more. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Incorporating this advice displays maturity and commitment on your part, and will also give you a good indication of whether you’re doing well, or need to make some adjustments before its too late. Regardless of what you learn, it will empower you to excel in your new role.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-ask-for-feedback-first-90-days-successful-new-job

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POWER company AGL has committed to building a 252 megawatt gas-fired power station somewhere “near Newcastle” as part of its plan for life after Liddell shuts at Muswellbrook in 2022.

Chief executive Andy Vesey will be at an AGL facility at Tomago on Friday to publicly announce the decision, which was released late yesterday to the stock exchange.

Although AGL is yet to formally commit to a site, the Newcastle Herald understands that the company is looking at a shortlist of three possible sites within a few kilometres of each other, in and around Tomago.

Macquarie Generation, which AGL purchased from the NSW government for $1.5 billion in 2014, gained approval for a similarly sized gas-fired power station at Tomago in 2003.

The approval may have lapsed, but that plant had a proposed first stage of 260 megawatts.

It was aimed at easing power shortages at the time caused by a rapid uptake of air-conditioners.

Although the new plant will not fully replace Liddell, which can generate 2000 megawatts, AGL is promoting it as part of a broader generation plan submitted to the federal government and the Australian Energy Market Operator in December.

“AGL is committed to supporting the orderly transition of Australia’s electricity generation capacity to modern, clean and reliable energy supply,” Mr Vesey said.

“That’s why we gave seven years notice of when we intend to close Liddell … and we are pleased to commit today to build the gas power station near Newcastle.”

Mr Vesey said the power station would be built near AGL’s Tomago gas facility, off Old Punt Road, which was approved by the NSW government in 2012. It and an AGL substation are close to Tomago Aluminium.

He said AGL had now committed to the first stage of its NSW generation plan, which included a 100-megawatt upgrade of Bayswater power station, a solar off-take to provide 300 megawatts, a “demand response” program that would encourage customers to use the equivalent of 20 megawatts less power, and the Tomago gas plant.

He said they were still looking at stage two, which included another 500 megawatts of gas. With all of the stage one elements in place, Mr Vesey said there was enough power to “address the capacity shortfall that may occur as a result of Liddell closing”.

“We are optimistic that the National Energy Guarantee will provide sufficient policy certainty to enable market participants such as AGL to invest with even greater confidence in cleaner, more reliable and more affordable energy generation.”

“Electricity generation is undergoing an increasingly rapid transition to lower-cost, clean renewable energy and storage technologies.”

 

Source: https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5366930/agl-to-build-400-million-gas-fired-power-station-near-newcastle/

to do list

Let’s face it — life can get really crazy sometimes, especially when we’re trying to balance work, family, a social life, and whatever other real-world obligations come our way on a daily basis. For that reason it’s vital to understand ways to make a better to-do list, in order to keep us organized, understand what things absolutely need to be completed, and to actually be able to finish them in a timely manner.
It seems like an easy enough thing to do, right? Sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and jot down the things we need to get done that day. However, there is really an art to creating the best of the best to-do lists — ones that will truly help us to meet deadlines and ultimately feel less stressed and more accomplished.

I know plenty of people who tell me they never make to-lists because they feel they’re a waste of time. These are the same people I encounter in my life who forget to follow up on emails, or send things when they say they will, or even return phone calls or texts. Their head is always in the clouds, so to say. They live in the moment — which is fine for certain types of work and living situations — but definitely is a challenging way of life for those of us with more regimented jobs and family responsibilities. For those who live for structure, I’ve got you covered in this article. Following some of these tips could be a game-changer for you, as I know they have been for me.

Here are seven ways to make a better to-do list.

1. Consider Quality Vs. Quantity

I am notorious for making extremely long to-do lists. For one, I love the feeling of being able to cross something off the list, so even the little things bring me joy. Secondly, I have a million balls spinning at once all day so without these lengthy lists sometimes I honestly will forget to drop off clothes at the dry cleaner if I don’t write it down.

According to Forbes, a good way to prevent us from bogging down our lists with meaningless items is to remember that by focusing on the big things (quality vs. quantity), we’ll be much more effective at our jobs, and in our broader lives as well. Forbes recommended keeping your list as short as possible, and really weighing a task before considering if you need to write it down. I’m not going to recommend you eliminate a task that you might genuinely forget to do. Rather, if you know every morning you start your day by responding to emails, no need to write that at the top of your list for tomorrow. Try your hardest to focus on the bigger things.

2. Make Your List The Night Before

It’s such a nice feeling waking up and already knowing what you need to accomplish that day, rather than spending the first hour flustered as you respond to emails and scribble a list. To achieve a level of uber-organization, try making your to-do list the night before. This will prevent you from having to waste your energy in the morning figuring out what things need to get done, according to Reader’s Digest. Also, making the list the night before can help calm your mind before you sleep so you’re not waking up in the middle of the night feeling anxiety over little things you might otherwise forget to do the next day.

3. Try To Start The List With The Hardest Task

Have to talk to your boss today about a failed project? Likely you’re completely dreading it, so get it over with at the start of the day. By tackling something difficult first thing you can create a sense of achievement that you’ll take with you for the rest of the day, according to foundr. Also, that hard thing will be done. It will feel so nice. It doesn’t always have to be uncomfortable conversations to start the day, just try to think of which task is going to be most difficult, and move it to the top of the list.

4. From There, Try A Sequential Approach

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve been such a crazy organization freak, but prior to that I used to create to-do lists by writing the day at the top of the page and then jotting down items as they came to my mind, rather than by when they needed to be completed. For a writer, this is a horrible approach because you’re constantly working against deadlines. You need a sequence!

Real Simple suggested a sequential approach to list making that organizes tasks by morning, afternoon, and evening. If you want to make it even more granular, the outlet suggested breaking down whether it will be completed at home, work, or wherever else. Keep our first tip in mind her, though, and try to keep your list of items short and sweet.

5. Include Time Estimates

I have come to live by this tactic mostly becomes it helps me see how many things I can realistically get accomplished in a day, and also because it keeps me motivated to finish assignments in a timely manner. Try adding a time estimate next to each item when you’re creating a list — whether you think it’s going to take you 15 minutes or three hours. Omar Kilani, cofounder of to-do list app Remember The Milk, told Fast Company doing this means “you can make realistic decisions about how much you can really fit into your day.”

6. Try Using An “Other” Section

This tip is a personal recommendation for those like me who despise ending a day without being able to cross every item off their list. I always keep a side list of “Other” items — things that don’t necessarily need to be completed that day, but that I don’t want to lose sight of completely. If I finish my must-do tasks early on a given day, I’ll move to the “Other” section and start ticking those off.

7. Limit The Amount Of Meetings In Your Day

This last one isn’t a tip for writing the list, but rather a way to help ensure you can achieve the items on it. Ever have one of those days where you’ve created an achievable to-do list, as the day goes on you’re pulled into meeting after meeting, then by 5:00 have not been able to complete one of your list items? It happens to us all from time to time.

Where possible, try to limit the amount of meetings in your day. TheMuse.com recommended before you schedule a meeting considering whether the issue could be resolved with an email, phone call, or a quick few minute conversation by the water cooler. If you absolutely need the meeting, try to keep it focused on the fewest number of key agenda items as possible, least number of participants, and the shortest amount of time possible, according to the outlet.

By taking the time in advance to make the right kind of to-do list, you can ultimately be much more productive, deadline-oriented, and overall effective in your work and home life. Take note of these tips, get yourself organized, and start getting things accomplished!

 

Source:  Erica Florentine | https://www.bustle.com/articles/142527-7-ways-to-make-a-better-to-do-list

4 things leaders shouldnt say

When you’re a manager, your employees are constantly watching to see how you behave and what you say. As a result, it’s important to be intentional about your choice of words in any setting.

As the boss, there are certain things you probably shouldn’t say.

You’re probably aware of the more obvious statements, like:

“I’m only doing this because corporate is making me.”
“I really shouldn’t be telling you this, but…”
“I just need to vent to you about [Person]…”
However, in addition to these obviously-nots, there are a few others phrases that, although seemingly harmless, may end up hurting you and your team.

1. “Keep Doing What You’re Doing”

Leaders often say this to their high performers—the low-maintenance team members they know they can count on to deliver. It’s intended to encourage them to keep it up by letting them know they’re doing a good job.

Still, as an executive coach, I’ve heard time and time again from high performers how frustrating this type of feedback is.

Why? Because they’re often ambitious. They want to advance in their careers, and they crave feedback that will help them grow. The absence of constructive criticism sometimes exasperates them so much that they’re inclined to seek out other opportunities where they’ll get the mentorship they need to continue moving up.

A Better Alternative
To maintain your high performers (and keep them growing), try: “You’re excelling with X. Let’s give you an opportunity to stretch by giving you more chances to do Y.” Or, “You’re doing really well! Let’s explore your career goals so that I can make sure I’m coaching you to get you ready for your next step.”

2. “Was That Clear?”

While this might seem like a reasonable thing to say, it might not always give you an accurate picture of whether or not your team understands your intended message.

For example, I’ve often seen really bright leaders provide so much information that it overwhelms their audience. In those cases, people might not even know where to begin to respond to the question. Further, if this is posed in a group setting, people are less likely to speak up for fear of looking like the only person who’s confused.

Even in those cases in which your audience thinks that everything’s clear, they still might not be on the same page (like when you’re talking with a peer and realize that you’ve each walked away from a meeting with different conclusions).

A Better Alternative
Instead, say: “Let’s do a quick review of the key takeaways to make sure I articulated it clearly.” (Then, you can review them, or better yet, you could have other people in the room review them for you.)

3. “Failure Isn’t an Option”

While this might be something that’s appropriate for life and death situations, for most leaders this isn’t the sort of phrase you should be using too frequently.

Although it seems like it sets the bar high, the reality is that it’ll likely encourage mediocrity.

Think about it: If people are afraid to make mistakes, do you think they’ll be willing to experiment to see if they can make something better, or do you think they’ll stay safely within the bounds of what they know?

A Better Alternative
You can tell your team, “To be innovative, we’ll probably have to take some calculated risks. I don’t want us to make mistakes on purpose, but they’ll inevitably happen. Let’s make sure to learn from them so we can continue to improve.”

4. “Don’t Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Solutions”

This statement is usually meant to encourage problem-solving and proactivity. I’ve also seen it said by bosses who want to prevent employees from incessantly complaining about issues while doing absolutely nothing to solve them.

But according to Wharton professor Adam Grant, it can prevent people from speaking up about important issues they simply don’t know how to solve. This can result in leaders being unaware of where their team stands.

It can also create a “culture of advocacy” where people come to discussions highly invested in their solutions. As a result, they’re more concerned about selling their ideas than engaging with the group to work collaboratively.

A Better Alternative
To encourage your employees to speak up when needed, try: “To make this place better, we need to be aware of all problems—whether or not you know how to solve them. I’m also open to hearing your proposed solutions, too, so we can collaboratively improve our environment.”

To excel as a manager, you’ve got to be a great communicator. When you’re speaking, keep your goals in mind, and think critically about the messages you’re sending. With that sort of intentional communication, odds are you’ll have a positive impact on your team.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-harmless-phrases-leaders-never-say-at-work?ref=recently-published-1

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Incorporated in 1992, HunterNet is a network of manufacturing, engineering and specialist services companies located in the Hunter and Central Coast Regions.

Formed as a not for profit co-operative, the organisation involves more than 200 companies.

Of course it all started on a much smaller scale in 1991, when 14 member companies agreed on the co-operative structure. There had been a decrease in ship building activity, activity at the BHP steelworks and a recognition that companies needed to diversify if they were going to survive in the region. HunterNet was formed around one idea – “the power of many”.

Watch the story of this Hunter-based organisation.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5320678/newcastle-business-2020-watch-the-story-of-the-hunternet/

1

When I first started working, I never understood why people hated meetings so much. I love people, I love brainstorming conversations, and I love an excuse to not stare at my computer for several hours—how could they not be anything but great?

Of course, over time, I started to understand why they get a bad rap. Take away the fact that most meetings are inefficient, if not unproductive and a waste of time, it takes around 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get focused back on what you were working on before a meeting (which is why we’re big fans of turning unnecessary ones into emails).

As someone who’s (and knows many people who have also) had days of back-to-back meetings, I know how tough it can be to get all your other work done. Here are some tips for how to get through the day the best you can, if cancelling isn’t an option.

The Day Before

Prep for the Meeting
Chances are you know a couple days ahead of time when you’re going to have a day full of meetings. So, use that prep time to get organized.

Make sure you have everything you need to present or run each meeting. If you’re an attendee, go over any documents or agendas your colleagues have sent out to get a sense of what you need to bring and what’ll be discussed (if you have none of this, ask for it!).

Knowing what’s coming up will save you from scrambling day of to find files, or track down information, or waste any mental energy on being shocked at what you’re learning

Get Work Done Ahead of Time
Look at what you have coming up the day after the meeting. Is there anything you can get done in advance? By working through your lunch or staying just 30 minutes later than usual the day before, you can knock off some tasks and not end your meeting-filled-day feeling like you’re way behind.

Plan on How You’ll Take Advantage of Those Bits of In-between Time
Sometimes meetings end early. Sometimes they start late. And sometimes they get cancelled. (And sometimes the presenter spends the first 10 minutes trying to hook up their computer.)

Get ready to use those spare moments wisely.

Make a list of everything that can be done in under five minutes. Then turn to that list (and not social media) when you find yourself with minutes to spare.

Block Off Any Free Time You Do Have
Another no-brainer trick is to physically block off any time you have between meetings on your calendars.

The Day Of

Work in the Meeting (When Possible)
OK, I’m not giving you permission to not listen in the meeting, but I also realize that everyone does this at some point. And I also know that fires come up that you have to address, no matter how important the discussion is.

So, if there’s a lull in the conversation, you’re merely an observer in the meeting, or you’re certain you’re not needed in that moment, I give you permission to tackle any of those low-hanging fruits on occasion—whether it’s responding to a Slack, answering an important client email, or filling out a quick document.

Actually Eat Lunch
If it’s not completely taboo in your office, please eat lunch during the meeting. And, take bathroom breaks, even if it means leaving in the middle or running late to the next one. Oh, and, bring water and a snack with you so you don’t feel famished or dehydrated.

This will help keep your energy up so you can tackle stuff later on (more on that below).

Plan on it Being a Long Day
If your day’s going to be completely packed, then it might be worth getting into the mindset that you probably won’t be leaving when you ideally want to. It sucks to have to work outside your regular hours, but knowing that it’s coming will make it a little less painful.

Cancel Your Plans That Night
With that said, don’t make your day longer by having after-work plans. Not only will this put a deadline on how late you can work, but it’ll also just mean you end the day more exhausted than necessary. Instead, make it a self-care night that’s relaxing and stress-free.

Get in Early
Set your alarm a bit earlier than usual and get to the office before everyone else. This leaves you with plenty of distraction-free time to focus before the day really starts. And this goes for night owls too—even if you get in early and just spend the first hour making a to-do list for the day, you’ll feel better.

The Day After

Avoid This in the Future
You can try following these tips to cut down how many meetings you have to attend in the future.

Or, going back to the whole “blocking off your calendar idea,” you can make sure you block off two to three hours every day for your work. This helps to ensure that you will almost always have time to work. While you’ll of course have to move those blocks to accommodate other people and deadlines, it’s a great start.

No doubt about it that having a meeting-full day stinks. However, it’s not impossible to survive a day like this and still do your job (after all, if I can do it, you can, too).

 

Source:https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-survive-meetings-still-do-work?ref=recently-published-1

1

Unemployment or changing jobs or being stuck in a career rut is stressful no matter how you look at it, but when you multiply it by two, it can really take a toll on you and your relationship.

When my husband and I lost our jobs within six weeks of each other, we were in shock—and found ourselves spending a lot of time together, for better or for worse. During that harrowing period, we attempted to reinvent ourselves as professionals without losing who we were as a couple.

Now that we’re both collecting paychecks again, it’s easy to see many of the mistakes we made as we navigated the rocky road back to full-time employment together. The following is my hard-won wisdom on how to handle joint career stress without losing your peace of mind or your relationship in the process.

Respect Each Other’s Methods

Remember the old “opposites attract?” Well, my husband and I approached our job searches from completely different angles. I regarded it as a numbers games, sending my resume far and wide, while my husband was more strategic, cultivating connections and networking with everyone he’d ever met.

When I tried to convince him to give my way a go when some of his leads didn’t pan out, he insisted his strategy would eventually bear fruit. Likewise, when he suggested I get back in touch with people I hadn’t spoken with in years, I hesitated. Though we were skeptical of each other’s methods, neither of us was right nor wrong.

Respect your partner’s approach to their career, and if you can borrow what’s working for them and incorporate it into your own game plan, all the better. Because, ultimately, both tactics led us to new positions.

Work as a Team

During a rough career patch, you can definitely feel isolated and alone. If there’s an upside to facing it as a couple, it’s that you’ve got a partner who is attempting to overcome the same hurdle, which means your relationship has probably never been filled with more empathy. Use that compassion to cheer each other on and be encouraging on those dark days when your inboxes seem to overflow with rejection emails.

In addition to providing emotional support, you can benefit from having a ready and willing interview partner. Trust me, it’s a lot better to make mistakes in a mock interview with your significant other than with your would-be boss.

Be Gentle With Each Other

When you’re feeling raw and vulnerable during this time, something as small as a sideways glance can feel like a devastating slight.

Though it might be tempting to offer advice, sometimes your partner may just want to vent and know that their feelings are heard and valid. It’s important to keep communication open and figure out what makes each of you feel supported.

When my husband was passed over for a position we were almost certain he’d get, I found myself saying things like, “I don’t understand. How could you not have gotten it?” This ultimately wasn’t helpful for either of us. People process these life events in different ways, so treat each other with care.

Put Away Your Pride and Get Help if You Need It

There’s no denying that a career bump can cause your confidence to plummet while your stress level skyrockets. These factors can wreak havoc on even the most rock-solid relationship. Just remember, you’re not alone.

From career counseling to marriage counseling, if this period is taking a toll on your mental health or your relationship, seek help. Having a professional third party provide strategies for navigating this difficult period can assist you in getting back on track.

Though it may not feel like it while you’re in the thick of it, you will come out on the other side, and when you do, your relationship may be stronger for having weathered this challenging period nobly together.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-deal-relationship-rough-career-change?ref=recently-published-0

1

The Newcastle Permanent is marking 115 years in business. To the uninitiated, give us a snapshot of how it began?

Newcastle Permanent began in 1903 when a group of hardworking people who couldn’t get a home loan from the banks—because they weren’t wealthy—created a cooperative building society. They put their savings together to help everyone in the cooperative access a home loan and eventually everyone did. Fast forward 115 years and this is still the ethos of what we do today – helping people buy their own home.

The biggest milestones for the bank to date?

We now have more than $10 billion in assets and last financial year our loan growth exceeded that of the major banks. This asset portfolio makes us the largest customer-owned financial institution in NSW and the second-largest in Australia.

How many members do you have and what shape is the business in?

We have more than 320,000 customers predominantly in northern and central west NSW with strong growth in Sydney. We are the financially strongest customer-owned banking institution in Australia in terms of net assets.

The toughest moments for the building society in the past decade?

A stand out is the Global Financial Crisis. While Australia weathered the GFC storm relatively well, our government cooperated with an international banking regulatory framework to provide further protections for the global banking industry. This resulted in significant regulatory reform and oversight for Australian financial services operators. Add to this the need to respond to rapidly changing customer preferences for digital banking and it has certainly been an interesting decade.

And biggest highlight?

Reaching $10 billion in assets had been such an achievement, and for a business based right here in the Hunter!

The Royal Commission into Misconduct into the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has started and the big four are in the firing line. Will Newcastle Permanent make a submission?

It’s only early days, but at this stage is does not appear that we’ll be asked to participate in the Royal Commission.

Will the findings of the commission, due in 2018, affect your operations?

The Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission are quite broad and inquire into banking, superannuation, and the financial services industry. At the moment it is not really possible to predict what the outcomes and timings of the Royal Commission’s recommendations will be. However, it’s reasonable to expect there’ll be changes that will affect the entire industry, including Newcastle Permanent.

How can the Perm compete with the big four?

Our business model is different because we’re customer-owned. We don’t distribute profits to shareholders (because we don’t have shareholders), but instead reinvest our profits into the business to benefit our customers and their communities by keeping our loan and deposit rates very competitive.

What is the Perm doing via its Charitable Foundation that has a real impact?

This year the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation is also celebrating a milestone, marking 15 years of supporting our community. In this time the Foundation has provided more than $17.5 million to more than 420 life-changing and community initiatives.

Why is there nostalgia for the Perm in the Hunter?

The fact that we are often called “the Perm” says a lot! I think it’s the simple fact that we’ve always been here. Our head office is in the CBD, we employ almost 1,000 staff, we’re active in supporting our community, and at some stage of their life most Novocastrians have had a bank account with us. We’re intrinsically tied to the memories and lives of Novocastrians.

The Perm has had memorable ad campaigns, but did you expect the Sunshine Over My Shoulder song, created by local business The Proverbials, to become so loved?

We knew the 2012 ad campaign was special; majestically showcasing our region and how lucky we are that we can serve our region. But we never thought in our wildest dreams that the song would resonate so well and become a wedding song!

You worked at one of the big four before the Perm. How do the two differ?

At a big four all your work is devoted to lining the pockets of shareholders. At Newcastle Permanent, we’re all about people. Our mission statement is we are “Here for good” and that means for our customers, our people, the community, and the long term. This was a pleasant culture change coming from a big four where the community wasn’t even a consideration!

What innovation is ahead for the Perm?

Our customers are rapidly shifting their preferences to online banking. I think the last time our industry saw such a shake-up was when computers became the norm more than 30 years ago. We’re working towards a time where our customers, if they wish, will not need to visit a branch to do any of their banking—and that day isn’t too far away.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5247429/a-permanent-fixture/

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So, you’ve got a gap in your resume? Maybe you decided to travel, or go back to school, or maybe you looked after a sick relative, or you took time out to be a parent yourself. Whatever the reason, you’re probably feeling like your job hunt is going to be that much harder. Surely any recruiter looking at your resume is going to run a mile away.

Not necessarily.

Most employers nowadays recognize that it’s rare for anyone to stay with just one or two companies for their whole career. Plus, job security isn’t what it used to be (unfortunately).

As a recruiter, I’ve interviewed my fair share of candidates, and if there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s this. Think about how to present your gap. With a little foresight, you can turn a potentially tricky interview situation into a masterclass in personal branding.

1. So, You Lost Your Job
Some people find it embarrassing to talk about being laid off, but it’s unlikely to elicit anything but sympathy from your interviewer. It’s fairly commonplace these days. Just remember not to badmouth your past company or boss. Instead, focus your response on all the positive things you achieved while you were there.

Don’t Say
“That #!&$! company had it in for me from day one. I probably would’ve left anyway.”

Do Say
“Unfortunately, the company had to implement some budget cuts and, due to their ‘last-in, first-out’ policy, I was made redundant. However, I’m proud of what I achieved during my time there, something which can be reinforced by my previous manager, who’s one of my referees.”

2. So, You Quit Your Job and Traveled the World
The key with this one is to focus on how traveling contributed to your personal development, rather than how much fun you had schlepping around the world with nothing but a backpack and a smile. If you took on any paid or volunteer work during this time, concentrate your response on the additional personal and professional skills it’s given you.

Don’t Say
“Well let’s face it, partying in Thailand is a lot more fun than going to work. I’m pretty sure I had an awesome time, but I can’t actually remember most of it.”

Do Say
“I spent a number of years working at a company in a very demanding job, in which–as you’ll see from my references–I was very successful. But I’d reached a stage in my career where I wanted to focus on my personal growth. The time I spent traveling taught me a lot about how to get along with people of all ages and cultures. Now I feel more than ready to jump back into my career with renewed energy and focus and I feel this role is the ideal way to do that.”

3. So, You Went Back to School
This is perhaps the easiest one to explain. Particularly if what you did is relevant to your chosen career. Even if not, it’s easy to put positive spin on something that requires a certain level of intelligence and hard work.

Don’t say
“I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, so I stayed in school rather than getting a job. I am still uncertain if this career path is right for me.”

Do Say
“I wanted to expand my career options by completing some training/getting a qualification in x. Now that I’ve achieved my educational goals, I’m looking forward to using my qualifications to benefit the company I work for. This role is the perfect way for me to do that because…”

4. So, You Took Time Off for Health Reasons
Brevity’s key here. The interviewer won’t expect (or want) you to go into painstaking detail about an attack of depression or a serious back operation. Prepare a straightforward explanation that you’re comfortable sharing. Mention how proud you are that you were able to overcome your health problems and then move the conversation swiftly into the present day by discussing the relevant skills you have to offer this company.

Don’t Say
“Whoa, yeah, things were pretty bad there for a while..”

Do Say
“I went through a tough time emotionally/physically due to… and I took some time out to concentrate on getting better, so I could get back to work as quickly as possible. I’m pleased that I overcame that challenge because it’s made me a stronger person but now I’m fully recovered and ready to focus on the next stage of my career.”

5. So, You Had to Take Care of Your Family
Remember, caring for the sick or elderly and raising a family are tough jobs that require a huge range of skills, which you now have in abundance. No interviewer should make you feel like your decision to prioritize family over career reflects badly on you.

If you had time to keep your skills and industry knowledge up to date, make sure you mention this. End the discussion by telling the interviewer that you’re excited to recommit yourself to your career. And remember, any company worth your time and effort should recognize what an all-round superhero you clearly are.

Don’t Say
“I live the closest to my mom so I drew the short straw in having to take care of her. I just couldn’t handle looking after her and holding down a job!”

Do Say
“After a lot of thought, I decided that my top priority was my child/elderly parent/sick spouse. However, I made sure to keep my professional skills up to date during that time. Now I’m in a position to refocus on my career and I’m looking forward to utilizing all the additional soft skills I’ve learnt.”

Lastly, remember that lying on your resume or in interview is a really bad idea. When you’re asked about a gap in your employment, take a deep breath and acknowledge the interviewer’s concern. Stay composed and don’t get defensive: it will reassure the interviewer that you’re confident and comfortable with your reasons so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be too.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/explain-resume-gap-interview-right-way?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-1

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I feel like I need more than just a traditional resume or cover letter in order to stand out to the tech companies I want to work for. What else can I do to separate myself from the competition that’s applying to these innovative companies?

 

Dear Desperate to Stand Out,

You really hit the nail on the head. Competition’s tough across the board and tech is leading the way.

Your first step to getting noticed is to get in the right mindset. What does that mean? Don’t think like a recruiter, but more like a marketer. Your product is your experience. Here’s how a marketer would sell it.

1. Focus on Presentation
Maybe you’re not a graphic designer, but that shouldn’t be stand in the way of creating an eye-catching resume. There are plenty of tools that make design easy for everyone—many even offer templates designed by experts.

And don’t just stop there. Think of all the other points of contact a recruiter could have with you—including your LinkedIn profile, other social media handles, a blog, an online portfolio, and so on. Make sure they are all polished and contribute to a cohesive personal brand.

2. Spread the Word
A solid resume or cover letter doesn’t accomplish anything if the right people don’t see it. One surefire way to stand out is to proactively put it in front of the right people and to make it easy for them to notice it.

For example, there’s a story of a candidate who used Snapchat geo filters to advertise his portfolio in front of creative directors at the agencies he wanted to work for. You may not want to go that far, but that core idea has some merit. Think of how you can make yourself discoverable.

Don’t be intimidated. This can be something as straightforward as finding an acquaintance who works at the company and asking for a referral, or even dropping a friendly note to the hiring manager on Twitter or LinkedIn.

3. Make it Personal
Anything that starts with the dreaded, “To Whom it May Concern” will find it’s way to the trash can in a hurry. But, it’s hard to ignore a message when it’s highly targeted and personalized.

Start by showing that you took the time to get to know both the hiring manager and the company. Stand out from the competition by finding unique themes, attributes, projects, values, or needs you have in common and then incorporating those into your application materials.

Proving that you’ve done your homework on the role and the company empowers you to present yourself as a seamless fit, while also demonstrating your high level of interest in that opportunity.

Getting the job you want with the company you want to work for can be challenging. But, the right mindset and approach will help you reach your goals faster.

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/stand-out-against-tough-job-search-competition

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Let’s be clear: It’s innovate or die out there.

Ideas are the currency that buys you a starring role in today’s workplace. But too many people prioritize ownership over adoption, and watch their ideas waste away as a result. Truth is, you’ll be more effective if you work collaboratively with a team to turn ideas into action.

Here’s why you should ditch the old ideation silo and give your best thoughts to the group.

 

Team Buy-In Makes Things Happen
Ideas are often the prelude to change, and change generally rubs people the wrong way. So, how to get around the very human—but avoidable—friction that comes from shaking things up? Go out of your way to gain your team’s buy-in on the things that may affect them.

Especially if you’re a manager, inclusive decision-making may not only get you a better outcome by melding more minds during the ideation and decision-making processes, it ensures that the team understands the motives and considerations behind new ways of working. Ultimately that means less pushback, a deeper awareness about what led to decisions in the first place, and a more evenly distributed stake in the outcome.

Whether or not you’re a manager, this is a good way to conquer any resistance to change.

 

Tap Into a More Diverse Range of Opinions
A team brainstorm may be no better than a private one if everyone in the group thinks the same way. You need to mix it up.

Study after study has shown that diverse groups—gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, age, etc.—produce better ideas and make better decisions. Cloverpop, a company that tracks companies’ decisions to help them manage the decision-making process, found in a two-year study that gender-mixed teams comprising a wide range of ages and geographic representations made better decisions than homogeneous teams 87 percent of the time.

Makes sense. People with different backgrounds have different outlooks, motivations and experiences that shape their contributions at work. Hearing their voices and ideas produces a more well-rounded exchange of thoughts vetted by a wider variety of perspectives.

You may have to do some work to get a good mix of people in the room, but it’s worth it. While you’re at it, don’t discount less obvious diversity factors, like years of experience and time at your company.

 

See How Ideas Hold Up Against Messy Human Stuff
We’re all human, and regardless of race or gender or any of the other factors above, we’re simply wired differently.

For example, think about Myers-Briggs psychological types. People have different ways of perceiving and interpreting information, different thought patterns and emotional reflexes. The idealists on your team will have different ideas than the cynics. The process-oriented people will see things differently from the gut-driven types.

Working through ideas with a mix of personalities will help you find middle ground and flesh out a plan of action that works for everyone.

 

Test Your Assumptions
Idea sharing can be a valuable vetting exercise if everyone’s encouraged to speak candidly. Ask people to poke holes in your logic, to prove why your proposal won’t work, and to name every single thing that could possibly go wrong. The harder to tear down, the better the idea. Use the feedback to reformulate your idea until you’ve patched the flaws.

If you’re a team lead, this is even more critical. Sometimes you have to design new ways of working but you’re not the best person to do so because you’re not the closest to the facts on the ground—the people who work for you are. They can probably see the peril that lurks in a new idea right off the bat, and they’ll respect you more for recognizing that and hearing what they have to say.

 

Turn Ideas Into Action
In some ways, the idea is the easy part. The real challenge is executing.

If you think of ideas not as inventions that come out of thin air but as innovative solutions to complex problems, you and your team will have a better foundation for brainstorming.

And in the end, you’ll have a much easier time activating ideas if they’re vetted by a diverse group willing to provide constructive criticism, even if it means swallowing some pride and surrendering credit for the outcome.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-your-next-big-idea-should-come-from-a-team?ref=recently-published-2

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Newcastle business owners looking for compensation to reduce the impact of light rail construction have instead been offered advice and assistance from a service that’s already available to businesses across NSW.

It was NSW Small Business Commissioner Robyn Hobbs’ main offer of help to more than 120 business people she addressed in Newcastle on Wednesday at an emotionally-charged meeting that ended with shouting from the floor. Ms Hobbs also offered to be part of a new working group to help businesses in the coming months and said Newcastle traders that required mediation wouldn’t face the $750 fee that the final stage usually costs.

 But several CBD business owners spoke of the hardship that they and their neighbours had faced since construction had closed large sections of Hunter Street. They called for better access, compensation and a greater effort to draw people back into the city.

Paul Murphy, who owns Churchills Carpet Court, argued that the state government should make low-interest loans or grants available to businesses, similar to what was offered in the wake of the 1989 earthquake. Traffic engineer Ron Brown said the difficulties people currently faced driving into the city was “a big obstacle”.

Ms Hobbs said the situation in Sydney, where the government was granting rent relief to businesses in the light rail construction zone because of delays, was different from the Hunter’s situation.

While she was “not ruling out” advocating for a grant, loan or compensation program for Newcastle businesses, she cautioned that extensive investigations would have to take place before she would approach NSW Treasury.

“I appreciate the fact that you believe you are going through a disrupted period in your lives – and you are,” she said. “One of the difficult things is you have to live through it.”

Ms Hobbs said business owners were entitled to four free consultations with Business Connect, a support service available across NSW that can help sort out cash-flow problems, give social media advice, provide mediation and contact landlords on behalf of business owners.

Late in the meeting when Ms Hobbs was referring to the expected benefits light rail would bring to the city, an audience member yelled: “if we’re still here”.

Another attendee followed: “Newcastle businesses will be doing great when it’s all done, but they’ll be different businesses”.

Hunter Development Corporation CEO and Revitalising Newcastle project manager Michael Cassel also took questions and gave an update on the progress of the light rail project.

Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said the issue of assistance for businesses was “unresolved and something we are going to have to work on”.

Mr Hawes and executive manager of business advocacy group Newcastle Now Michael Neilson – whose groups organised the meeting at the suggestion of Ms Hobbs’ office – both said the key to getting through the difficult period was working together and “looking forward, not looking back”.

In a statement after the meeting, Mr Hawes said “there was a lot of emotion in the room” and business owners had delivered a clear message.

Call for access, not more advertising

If you ask Bernie Hockings, easing the pain of light rail construction for city businesses isn’t about getting the job done quicker – it’s about doing it “better”.

Mr Hockings, who owns Metro Cycles, was one of several frustrated business owners who made their feelings clear to NSW Small Business Commissioner Robyn Hobbs at a meeting on Wednesday. His comments came after Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel assured the gathering that the job was being completed as quickly as possible.

Mr Hockings dismissed suggestions from the crowd that loans or grants should be available to affected businesses – he said improving access to businesses should be the top priority.

“I don’t want more advertising, I want access. Do it better, not faster,” he said. “If you paid me to get out of my lease and out of the city, I would.”

He told the Herald he had been hesitant to speak up because when he had in the past, internet trolls targeted his business’ Facebook page.

 

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5186506/if-were-still-here-newcastle-traders-tell-small-business-commissioner-of-plight/

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Being stuck in a rut sucks. If there’s one thing I could wish for you, it’s that you never have to deal with a situation that holds you back from being happy, successful, or fulfilled.

That, unfortunately, is an unrealistic wish (even more unrealistic than wishing I could turn everything I touch into chocolate). Because like failure, ruts are inevitable. And the good news about that not-so-fun fact is that they ultimately help make us stronger, smarter, and more successful individuals.

Just look at a few people in your life who you admire—how many of them went through a struggle that forced them to reevaluate their goals or path?

Since I’m someone who doesn’t love surprises (except the birthday kind), I’m going to tell you right now exactly which ruts you’ll find yourself in throughout your career.

 

1. Being Bored
No matter how much you love your job, how many hours you work, or how large the pile of to-dos is on your desk, there will come a time when you will find yourself suddenly underwhelmed, unmotivated, or unstimulated at your job for days on end.

It could be for a number of reasons. Maybe your boss has stopped challenging you. Or, maybe you’re making the mistake of not seeking out challenges, or looking for exciting projects. Or, maybe you’ve found yourself in a new role that isn’t as exciting as you thought it would be.

Whatever the reason, boredom is usually pretty fixable. You can ask your boss for better projects, or see if you can chip in on what other teams are working on, or find ways to keep learning, like taking online classes or attending conferences related to your industry. If that still leaves you no better than you were before, it may be time to move on and find a role that’s more engaging.

2. Feeling Unhappy
Unhappiness is a more serious sign to keep an eye on.

Why is it so much more common than we realize? Because for one, we’re fickle beings—we’re always changing our minds and shifting our priorities. Which means the things we want in our careers now may change one, two, five years from now. That’s OK!

The other reason is because sometimes we’re really bad at recognizing when we’re miserable. We’ll place the blame on other things (woke up on the wrong side of the bed, had a bad commute, a crazy boss) rather than accept that something bigger is affecting us.Figure out what is making you unhappy and use that information to decide what your next steps will be.

Maybe it means transferring roles internally, changing companies, or switching industries entirely. Or maybe it’s even more simple than that. Maybe it’s talking to your boss about an overwhelming workload. Or asking your co-worker to stop talking to you when you’re working at your desk.

Whatever the cause, take the time to identify it and start making moves to solve it.

3. Doubting Your Career Path
Unless you’re very lucky, you won’t find yourself satisfied in the same role in the same industry throughout your entire career.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re unsure about what you want to do next—even if you’ve spent 10 years in your role and are now doubting everything. The good news is that it’s never too late to make a change, whatever that means for you. The even better news is that you don’t have to have it all figured out when you’re 30, 40, 50.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “When you are finished changing, you’re finished.” Don’t be finished.

 

4. Feeling Like Nothing’s Going Right
Ever have those months when nothing’s going right? You keep messing up basic tasks, your manager keeps sending your work back with heavy revisions, your co-workers keep shutting down your ideas?

It could be your fault—if you’re job searching, for example, and getting nowhere, it might be worth reconsidering you’re approach.

But it could also be due to external forces, like a company restructuring or a bad boss. If so, it’s worth figuring out whether these can be fixed, and if not, what steps you can take to better set yourself up for success.

 

5. Having to Deal With a (Big) Change
Your company just went through a huge merger, half your department got laid off, you got laid off, they brought in a new boss, or oyou’ve moved to an entirely new city for a job.

One day, something major will happen that will shake up how you do things and think about your career. While it’s practically impossible to prepare for something like this, remember that it’s common. And, that it’s salvageable. And, that the feelings of loss and doubt and frustration and sadness won’t last forever. And, that you’ll come out stronger and more equipped to handle anything that comes your way. If you don’t believe me, read this.

 

The last thing I want to emphasize is that it’s easy to feel alone when you’re in these ruts, or that no one understands what you’re going through. But I can confidently tell you that everyone experiences these. Why else would I write this article?

So, don’t be afraid to admit when you’re in one—if you don’t, you’ll regret not making a change sooner. And if you still feel like the only one, chat with people just like you (and get some reassuring advice) on our Stuck in a Rut discussions platform.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/career-ruts-everyone-will-get-into-some-point?ref=recently-published-1

 

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Worried what your boss thinks of you—if they like you, trust you, and think your contributions match up to their expectations?

If so, you’re not alone. Considering you’ll end up spending 10 years of your life at work, getting along with your boss is not only critical to succeeding in your career, but matters for your overall happiness and engagement at the office.

With that in mind, here are three easy ways to develop an effective, productive, and mutually rewarding relationship with your manager (even if they’re a tough cookie to crack):

1. Stop Using Email to Have Important Conversations
Is email your go-to forum for everything? In certain cases, it could be hurting your relationship. Even if it’s your manager’s favorite medium, it’s time to break the pattern of always relying on this.

Opt for in-person meetings if the conversation’s beyond a task or agenda-setting item—for example, if you’re asking for something or apologizing for a mistake. Not only is it just polite, it’ll most likely lead to a more productive discussion and help ensure you and your boss are truly on the same page.

“All of us are the worst possible version of ourselves in digital media,” adds Celeste Headlee, journalist and author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter. “We might think we are persuasive in email, but scientifically, we are so much more persuasive in person.”

2. See Your Relationship With Your Boss as a Two-Way Street
Too often, we see ourselves as the executors and our managers as the creators of work, forgetting that our manager is also responsible for their own assignments.

So, if you want to immediately improve your relationship, ask them this simple question: “What can I do for you?” By opening up this conversation, you open the door for them to delegate projects they may not have otherwise considered. And, taking on stretch assignments can improve your visibility and lead to career advancement.

3. Be a Good Recipient of Feedback (and Ask Pointed Questions)

Get in the mindset that you want actual, honest feedback—and be physically ready for it.
Even if the feedback seems insensitive, kindly explain how the approach hurt your feelings, but then ask questions to get at the root of the problem, making it clear you really do want to improve. If you’re a good feedback recipient, your boss will be more likely to share valuable advice with you, which will ultimately help you grow.

And, if you’re finding that you only getting positive feedback, ask your manager to be more specific, or try mentioning something you wish you’d handled differently.

“If you open a dialogue with self-reflection, you give your boss—who might be uncomfortable giving you criticism—the opportunity to go on the learning journey with you,” advises Denise Cox, VP of Technical Services at Cisco Systems.

Finally, don’t wait for periodic reviews to get constructive feedback. If you can, ask your manager to schedule time to meet one-on-one weekly or monthly.

Research by Gallup shows that 50% of employees leave their job “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career,” which means building the right kind of relationship with your boss can make a real difference to your job satisfaction and career progression. Plus, it’ll make your friends and family find you much more enjoyable to be around outside of work.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/tips-creating-productive-relationship-boss?ref=recently-published-0

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The prospect of returning to work after years away from my career was daunting. I faced a host of challenges: a lack of recent and relevant experience, outdated corporate skills, and uncertainty about my Baby Boomer place in a Millennial-focused world.

I still thought, however, based upon my early career success and an advanced degree in my field, that I’d get a great offer in no time. It didn’t happen. My strategy—jumping into a role that was the wrong fit (and later leaving), followed by picking up consulting gigs here and there and then trying to explain it all in a resume with gaps and changes—was failing. I needed a strategic shift.

So I changed everything, from how I was approaching the job search process to my end goal. As a result, I applied for and landed a returnship, with Goldman Sachs. (If you’ve never heard of it, a returnship is an internship for people returning to the workforce.) It enabled me to add current and substantive experience to my resume, and reset my career path so I could once again move forward.

Here are the six most important lessons I learned in my quest to get back on track.

1. Update Your Online Presence
Being a somewhat tech-savvy boomer, I had a LinkedIn profile.

But too many people have ones that are lackluster or outdated. If that’s you, place this at the top of your to-do list. Both recruiters and hiring managers use the site to find and screen candidates.

I left off dates for my degrees to minimize age bias, and truncated my experience to the past 10 to 15 years (I recommend you do the same!).

2. Network—Always
You may think that networking is just for young professionals who need to meet new people. That’s simply not true. It’s beneficial regardless of your age.

For example, I had a friend put in a good word for me, and I know that helped me to be considered for the role at Goldman.

Here are four things you should start doing (if you’re not already):

Periodically touch base with professional contacts. Be memorable by sending a personal note and an interesting article once a month.
Let the other person know that you respect their time by being specific when you have an “ask.” Say (or write): “I’d really appreciate your perspective—can we speak/meet for 15 minutes?” And then stick with that time commitment.
Extend your network. Ask your contacts to connect you with their contacts.
Follow-up with a thank you note, every time. Take it to the next level by offering to be of help if they ever need your perspective or expertise.

3. Make it Easy for People to Help You
If you’re asking someone to refer you, give them everything they need, so they can simply send along your details.

So, if you’re applying to a role at their company, this includes the job name, job number, your resume, and bullets outlining what skills and experience you’d bring that match the requirements for the role.

People are busy, and so if you give them a complete email they can simply forward, it’s a lot more likely it’ll get passed on.

4. Refine Your Elevator Pitch
When you’ve had a lot of experience, it’s important (though often hard) to be clear about your objectives.

What are your areas of expertise?

What type of role are you looking for?

It’ll be tempting to rattle off everything you’ve done in the past, or say, “I can really do anything.” But a long speech can be overwhelming for listeners—and can make you look overqualified—and unfocused. So, cut it down and zero in on one thing you want the other person to come away with. My rule of thumb is that it should be no longer than 30 seconds.

5. Practice Self-Care
Unreturned emails, closed doors, and rejection all sting. But, it happens to pretty much everyone, especially when you’re outside the “sweet spot” of hiring prospects.

There’ll be surprises for better and worse: People that you’d have bet would be right there to help aren’t; and people you barely knew will do all they can.

So, it’s all the more important to be kind to yourself: go the gym, meet friends, and see a movie! That stuff may seem frivolous when you’re job searching, but it’ll help you feel happier—and keep you from letting your identity be wrapped up in your professional life.

6. Pay it Forward
Once you’ve landed in your new role, do what you can to help a colleague or friend of a friend. It could be at work, like offering to mentor junior employees.

Or, it could be that someone contacts you seeking your advice. Remember how you felt when you were job searching and do your best to find the time!

And of course, when you’re hiring in the future, give those who’ve had winding career paths a second look.

After my 10-week returnship program ended, I was asked to stay on for another year—and I did, happily. When my role recently came to an end, leaving Goldman Sachs was bittersweet.

But one thing that made me feel better is that I knew I was ready to find my next, more permanent position. On this search, I have not only a solid and recent accomplishment to leverage, but all of the lessons I’ve learned the last time around, as well as some new and treasured Millennial friends.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-6-best-job-search-lessons-i-learned-after-10-years-away-best-of?ref=the-muse-editors-picks-1

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Whether you consider this fact disheartening or motivating, you can’t deny its truth: You probably spend more time with your co-workers than you do with anyone else.

When you’re in the office at least 40 hours per week, the people you work with become a big part of your life. So it pays to have solid relationships with them.

Not only does that give you a strategic advantage in the workplace (hey, it never hurts to be well-liked!), it also makes work that much more enjoyable.

If you don’t consider yourself particularly close with your colleagues, don’t worry—cultivating a more caring and supportive atmosphere at work doesn’t need to be a complicated undertaking.

Here are four super simple things you can do to show your co-workers that you care and, as a result, make your office a place that you look forward to spending time in.

1. Offer Help

Think of the last time you were struggling at work. Maybe you were swamped and overwhelmed, or perhaps you were stuck on a challenging project.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone had stopped by your desk and provided some advice? Or even offered to take something off your plate? Wouldn’t that alone have made you feel so much more valued and supported?

Absolutely. So, why not do that same thing for a colleague? When you see someone who’s stressed or confused, just ask: Is there anything I can do to help?

Even if your co-worker doesn’t actually take you up on your offer, just the fact that you recognized the challenge and wanted to do something about it goes a long way in fostering a more empathetic culture.

2. Get Personal

No, you don’t need to get too personal—after all, you’re still in the office.

But, even though you’re in a work setting, aim to forge a relationship with the whole person—not just a job title.

This means that the more you can get to know about your colleagues’ interests and passions outside the office, the easier it will be to connect with them on a more human level.

Whether it’s asking about his marathon training or admiring her desktop background featuring a photo from her recent vacation, don’t neglect to strike up the occasional small talk. Doing so will demonstrate your investment in them, while also giving you common ground that you can use to connect even further.

3. Provide Recognition

Everybody loves to get a pat on the back for a job well done—that’s universal. But gratitude and adequate recognition can easily fall by the wayside when we’re wrapped up in the chaos of our everyday lives.

Step up and be that colleague who always applauds the hard work of your team members. Maybe that involves sending a quick Slack message to let her know how much you enjoyed her presentation. Or, perhaps it means highlighting your co-worker’s contributions when your boss commends you for your own hard work on a recent project.

These sorts of comments might seem small, but they can make a huge impact when it comes to helping others in your office feel valued.

4. Do Something Nice

Little acts of kindness won’t go unnoticed—particularly in the office. So, when’s the last time you did something nice just because you felt like it?

Go ahead and pick up some bagels on your way into work one morning (when in doubt, free food is always effective). When you’re heading out for lunch, ask that colleague who looks insanely busy if you can get anything for him.

Your co-workers are sure to appreciate those little niceties and treats that you sneak in every now and then. Plus, as an added bonus, doing these sorts of things makes you feel good too!

These four strategies are great for showing your co-workers that you actually care about them. And they’re incredibly simple and take almost zero effort on your part.

So, if you’re eager to forge better, more supportive relationships with your colleagues (and if you aren’t, you definitely should be!), put these four tips to work. You’re sure to become one of the most-liked people in your office—while simultaneously cultivating a more positive atmosphere for your entire team.

 

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-easy-things-you-can-do-to-show-your-coworkers-you-care?ref=recently-published-1

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For Tourism Hunter chairman Will Creedon, the Newcastle 500 Supercars event was a success before a single race was run on the weekend.

“People are starting to see the significance of events,” Mr Creedon said, “and the emergence of the visitor economy. That is really, really satisfying. A lot of people in our region have been harping about what tourism can do. This is one of the events. It doesn’t matter if it is Supercars. It is how we have set ourselves up.

“A lot of people have worked hard. Some will never be known. I want to thank them. By having such a major event it allows us our next step.”

He offers a bevy of events in Newcastle and the Hunter over the past 10 years that have proved the region has the infrastructure in place to hold a major event like Supercars. He reels off a list of acquired strengths – volunteers, police, business support and industry. And the events that preceded Supercars: Special Olympics, World Youth Games, Asian Cup and home-grown festivals like Steamfest in Maitland.

Mr Creedon’s busy mind is already focused on the next big thing.

“Our first major event just happened to be Supercars,” he said. “The thing is, it’s the first major event. That is really important. For me, it is about where do we set ourselves up for in the future.”

One creative idea floated by Creedon: why not take advantage of the massive temporary infrastructure and road closures put in place for the Supercars event, perhaps as early as next year. The concept: immediately after the Supercars host a convention around engineering technologies and other smart technologies, drawing the best from Asia and the Hunter region.

He is also an advocate for the property along Newcastle’s foreshore from Nobbys lighthouse all the way to Wickham coming under separate management.

“I believe we need an authority to program and drive that area,” he said. “I’m not talking buildings, I’m talking about activities, events, things that enrich our everyday lives. By default, it will enhance cruise activities. It will enhance the reason to live here.”

Mr Creedon envisions it as a “global playground” capable of drawing 400,000 visitors on a weekend.

Turning the old Newcastle train station into a vital tourism drawcard is essential, he said. “It’s not about the built form. You can be really clever there.”

He said the location could be “our Statue of Liberty”.

So many changes in the past five years have already contributed to Newcastle becoming a buzz city to others around the nation and world, he said.

“We don’t know how great we are, and how great we can be,” he said.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5079077/supercars-are-one-giant-step-for-hunter/

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Meetings are expensive. Not because you’re charging people to attend (obviously), but because they use people’s time; time that could be spent doing lots of other revenue-generating things. In fact, one study found that a recurring meeting of mid-level managers was costing one company $15 million a year!.

$15 million a year!

Not to mention, you also need to take into account the prep time as well as the context-switching time. Professor Gloria Mark at University of California, Irvine found that it takes an average of 25 minutes for a worker to return to their original task after an interruption.

Knowing these stats means that when I’m debating whether I need to call a meeting, I ask myself what it’s worth (literally). Is this the best use of everyone’s time, mine included? And not so infrequently, the answer is “nope.”

So, what to do then? Easy! Send a simple but critical email to keep everyone informed and on track.

What to Include

There are three key things you need to cover:

Logistics: why the meeting was canceled and, if it’s a recurring meeting, what to expect for next time
Action: any critical action items completed or pending
Information: any updates or general FYIs for the group

Note: Don’t fall into the trap of putting the action items and logistics last. Having the most critical information higher up ensures that it’s seen when your colleagues skim their email. Oh, and a bonus tip for you: Put people’s names in bold if they need to do anything to make triple sure they notice.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/turn-meeting-into-an-email-template