Archive for June, 2008

Do you live to work or work to live?

Do you live to work or work to live?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but it may help you clarify what’s important to you in life.

In a recent issue of Recruiter Daily, life coach Sophie Robertson said we all need to determine what life balance means to us.

“For some people, they really live to work, which is fine. I heard a radio interview with the late Bing Lee and when asked whether he regretted not having spent more time with his family, he replied ‘No, my work has always been very important to me’.

“So there is no right or wrong answer. However it is important that you live according to your own values.”

Robertson suggests people divide their lives into 10 different areas:

  • Health
  • Knowledge and Learning
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Family
  • Partner
  • Spirituality
  • Career
  • Giving to others
  • Giving to self.

Then assess your level of satisfaction in each of these areas.  It will rapidly become evident where your life is out of balance.

Managing your life effectively means balancing each of your priorities and pursuits.  If one significant area of your life is neglected, the whole wheel of life will eventually give way and the road will become bumpy.

There’s no denying that work life balance is a challenge.  John Howard called it a ‘barbecue stopper’ in 2007.  Keeping your career on track, your family happy, your social life buzzing and your bank account in the black often seem adversarial goals.  Life just seems to play an “either/or” game at times. 

In my book, Selfscape: Success through balance, I remind people that we are all busy.  Henry David Thoreau once said: “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants.  The question is, what are we busy about?”  If you are able to spend the best part of your time on the things that really matter to you – that speak to your highest values – then life slides along on an even keel.  And what do you get?  Work/life balance.

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Project manage your career

New research reveals that half of all workers “fell into” their careers. 

A survey, commissioned by recruitment firm Chandler Macleod, finds half of all workers did not plan their careers, and instead left their career paths to chance.

Interestingly, the survey found three-in-four workers reported being pigeonholed by employers because of their current jobs or careers. The university-educated (86 per cent) were more likely to feel pigeonholed by their career than those without a tertiary degree (70 per cent).

The top three reasons why respondents chose their current jobs were:

  • they felt ‘able’ to do the job
  • the job was available at the time of their search
  • the job was linked to subjects they were interested in at school.

Involving some 648 workers aged between 18 and 64 years, the study also found that 20 per cent were actively looking for a new job or career and 44 per cent were “keeping an eye out”.

So, not only do we have an escalating skills shortage, but we have millions of people who are unhappy, unsuited to their position and unsure of how to approach their next career move.

In What color is your parachute, the world’s best selling career hunting book, Richard Nelson Bolles says that finding a “life-changing” career involves:

  • Wanting to basically put a sense of mission into your life
  • Looking for a place where you (like a flower) can grow – even if it means you have to talk organisations in to creating a job for you
  • Learning as much about yourself and what you want .

So, here’s my piece of advice: manage your career like you’d manage a project.  Think strategically about your strengths and weaknesses.  Ask yourself: what kind of work do I find both energising and challenging?  Analyse your skills gap and look for education or knowledge to close that gap.  And look for opportunities that complement your skill set, your values and your life ambitions.

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Playing buzzword bingo

BBC.co.uk has posted a great collection of comments from readers about management speak.  In their campaign against office jargon, they’ve listed 50 of the best worst examples, including:

  • product evangelist
  • incentivise
  • let’s touch base about that offline
  • forward planning
  • granularity
  • leverage
  • cascading down information

Anyone who’s worked in a corporate office environment will get a laugh out of these.  One commenter said that his employer had advised staff they were no longer allowed to use the phrase ‘brain storm’ because “it might have negative connotations associated with fits. We must now take idea showers. I think that says it all really.”

Coming from the ICT industry, “not enough bandwidth” was a particularly popular piece of jargon that grates.  What about you?  What’s your best worst piece of office jargon?

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Partnerships in a borderless world

The race has never been more intense to acquire, develop, and retain long-term client relationships as the e-business evolution continues to redefine corporate models.

The last 10 years has spawned such buzzwords as: customer-centric, customer loyalty and client relationship management. While many companies are ‘customer-centric’ as a core value, I know of few that have ‘partner-centric’ as a core value.

And yet, partnering has proven to be one of the most powerful business tools for dealing with fast changing markets, technologies and customers. As the global economy speeds up, partnering is becoming the weapon of choice for today’s successful competitors.

There are, of course, many variations in partnering arrangements, from informal arrangements, through teaming agreements, outsourcing and joint ventures. Partnerships exist within and between industries and sectors – and are crucial in Australia’s highly competitive recruitment sector.

Being part of a globalised economy means doing things faster, cheaper and at world’s best practice. In order to be successful it is no longer enough to work within an organisation, we need to think outside in and develop relationships with key partners.

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Time to update your skills

YouTube has a great video – one of my favourites – of the world’s first IT help desk professional.  It’s a timely reminder of why we all need to update our skills!

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Education is more than just algebra and alliteration

Is our education system rapidly becoming archaic as we plunge headlong into a world where people trade their DNA on eBay? Where virtual supply chains and on-demand products rule? And where people conduct virtual romances with people they’ve only met through Cyberspace?

Thought leaders in education are now suggesting that the top ten in-demand jobs for 2010 did not exist in 2004 (see Karl Fisch’s The Fischbowl). If this is the case, how do we prepare the next generation of workers for technologies that are not yet invented?

This question is vitally important to business leaders, educators, parents, politicians and recruiters in today’s world. Together, we must examine the way we are educating our kids. Ensuring our young people receive the best education possible is not so much about algebra and alliteration, but arming them with the knowledge and skills they will need to enter the workforce.

Young people today seem to be born with an innate ability for text-messaging and gaming. And while they may not be able to spell they can tell you their life story on MySpace, entertain you on YouTube, muse philosophically in the blogosphere, contribute to knowledge on Wikipedia, create cutting-edge art on Flickr.

But they learn very little of this in school.

The need for creativity in all aspects of economic and political life is beginning to be recognised. Creative talent is now gaining economic as well as symbolic currency.

Charles Leadbeater, author and Senior Research Associate with the independent think-tank Demos, says that “our children will not have to toil in dark factories, descend into pits or suffocate in mills, to hew raw materials and turn them into manufactured products. They will make their livings through their creativity, ingenuity and imagination.”

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Tapping into a new pool of workers

Technological innovations are closing the gap between physical limitations and productivity and a significant, untapped workforce is looking for job opportunities.

There are many wonderful assistive-technologies now available that ease access and increase productivity.  From video-descriptions to screen readers, technology is encouraging people with disabilities into the workforce and integrating them further into society.

Accessibility experts and executives from corporations such as IBM, Yahoo, Internet Speech, Deque Systems and e-ISOTIS are already telling us about new products such as the latest and greatest speech recognition software, assisted-listening devices, real-time translators, keyboard filters and alternative input devices which enable individuals to operate computers without using standard keyboards or mouses.

These tools, which are designed to enable employees with disabilities to overcome barriers in the workplace, can help those with hearing, speech, vision and mobility impairments.  Coupled with this, mainstream technology, such as word processing software and operating systems, also have features that can benefit people with disabilities.

And of course, the more companies move toward the paperless office, the more it opens the workplace up to people with mobility impairments.

One of the greatest perceived barriers to implementing assistive technology is cost. But a study by the US’ Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has revealed that 15 percent of assistive accommodations cost nothing, 51 percent cost between $1 and $500, 12 percent cost between $501 and $1,000, and 22 percent cost more than $1,000.

The digital divide still exists between people with disabilities and those who are non-disabled, but the Web has the ability to be even more accessible than other parts of society.

Let’s work together to ensure that accessible technology continues to advance and that our workplaces are flexible and open enough to consider using the tools to harness the untapped potential of a new pool of talented workers.

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