23 Aug

10 Tips for Building Effective Workplace Networks

You cannot build a career without connecting with people. Networking essentially determines where you end up in your career. Developing networks will dramatically aid your career development as well as your organizational success and effectiveness. Here are10  tips to help you build effective networks at your work place

1.Visit company hotspots

Frequent the places where people from work congregate. This may seem obvious, but there are plenty of opportunities to make connections with coworkers every day.  If you are currently in the procurement department and would like to move to marketing, then by all means make connections with the people in marketing. Is there a place where people go to during breaks? Be visible and ask the right question at these times as a way to expand your network.

2. Be genuine

Be genuine in your interactions with your co-workers. Don’t try too much. If you do, you may be seen as a bother and end up being avoided by everyone.

3.Attend company events

Attend company events as this is where incredible relationship building happens. Create time to attend as many company events as you can.

4. Schedule time to intentionally network with your colleagues

Networking is not something that you can outsource. You have to create time for it. When taking a break from your work, use that time to build your networks.  This can be during tea breaks, lunch breaks or even in the evenings after work.  However keep it as short as possible because some people may not appreciate you taking too much of their time.  You can also add a few coworkers on LinkedIn or Google+.

5. Be friendly and encouraging to co-workers.

When interacting with colleagues, be pleasant and friendly. Show people that you are a joyful and fun person. No one wants to be stuck next to a gloomy or grumpy person even for a minute. If you portray friendliness people will want to interact with you.

6. Find a mutual connection

Learn to understand how to read people quickly and find what you have in common. With so much public information out there, this is easier to do today. You are more likely to get a response from someone if you have already found a shared interest or acquaintance in advance of introducing yourself.

7. Do what you say you will

If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Do not over-promise and under-deliver, instead, maintain credibility by following through with your commitments.  By keeping your promises, your reputation spreads throughout your network. If you are unable to complete a task for some reason, make sure information is communicated to all team members who would be impacted.

8. If you share an office, be considerate

Find out how your office mate works and be respectful. For example, some people need to work in complete silence, while others enjoy background music. Make sure you’re not inadvertently making your office mate crazy with your personal habits.

9. Understand that people are unique and dwell on their positive qualities, not their negative qualities.

It is acceptable to not be friends with everyone, but try to at least be professional and cordial in your interactions.

10. Rise above office gossip.

Avoid peddling office gossip as this spoils your reputation as a professional. No one wants to be associated with gossips.

What are some of the methods you use to connect with your colleagues? Feel free to share with us in the comments section  below.

11 Jul

8 Easy Ways to Blend Into an Existing Team

Being the new kid on the block isn’t always easy whether you are a new employee or are set to join an existing team from a different department or from a different organisation altogether. With time, every team develops its own culture, with spoken or sometimes unspoken agreements as to how things are done and what the hierarchy of the group is. As the new team member, you need to do your best to blend into the team without causing any disruption. If you accomplish this, you will be able to integrate into the team and most likely have a productive professional experience.

If, on the other hand, you face difficulties integrating, you could find yourself secluded, in conflict with other team members and may even end up underperforming. That is why we have come up with the following 8 tips to help you effectively blend into an existing team

1. Be yourself 

It is human nature to feel a little bit insecure when joining a new group and that can make us try to present ourselves the way we think people want us to be. However, this is not the best way to go about building strong working relations. This is because it is more energy consuming to act as if you are different from whom you really are. This is because you will have to keep pretending so as to maintain this fake personality. Furthermore, many people can tell when you are not being genuine. This may make the team members avoid you as they will think you are not trustworthy and may avoid you or feel you’re not honest. The best thing is to be yourself and remember you are complete just the way you are.

2. Find out who the key players are

Whether the team has hierarchical structure or not, there are usually one or two members of the group who lead, coordinate, or keep the group together. Observe interactions and team dynamics and before long, you’ll see who has the most influence—and by extension, you’ll know whose support you need. Remember they will also be observing to see whether you are keen on how they do their “thing”

3. Get to know your team members both personally and professionally

You cannot underestimate the importance of close personal connections in the workplace. It’s always good to show an interest in others beyond work. You don’t have to be best friends with your colleagues, but you should make an effort to get to know them and what motivates them.

Establishing friendships with your colleagues can make you happier and more engaged in the team. The more comfortable people are with you, the more likely they are to come to you when they need something. Socialize with other team members during breaks, and join them for drinks or dinner after work. However, remember to respect people’s boundaries, and always behave professionally.

4. Observe processes and incorporate them into your  . 

It is never a good idea to criticize a process. This is because if somebody from the team created it, you could antagonize him or her. In addition, you don’t know yet why certain things are done in a certain way. Find out what the reason is for doing things just so and assimilate established processes into your own habits.

5. Be confident yet reserved.

Don’t be a know-it-all. Ask questions rather than give answers. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood. Do not focus too much on showcasing your strengths: your new teammates are probably already aware of your talents and skills (Even if they aren’t, be reserved and let the group dynamic lead developments) and it will not serve you right to rub in people’s faces. Further, it may be interpreted as some kind of superiority complex.

However, this is not to say that you should not contribute. Just ensure that your contributions are delivered in a respectful manner that doesn’t challenge any other group members personally.

6. Deliver on your promises.

Always make sure that you can deliver on what you promise.  Do not in an attempt to make a good impression promise things that are beyond what you can be able to do. For example, don’t promise to complete a proposal that would normally take a whole day to prepare in one hour. Give yourself ample time to do a good job. Ultimately, the quality of your work will make a positive impact than the speed at which you finish it. In addition, if you need assistance or guidance from someone in the team, just ask. In most cases, your colleagues will be more than happy to help you. This close collaboration help strengthen your team.

7. Respect how the organization got to where it is. 

Seek to understand how the organisation got to where it is now, and what things have been successful or not-so-successful in the past. Assume that past decisions were made for a good reason.  Assume that people made the best decisions they could with the information they had.  This is a great way to start off on the right foot with a new team. As said above, seek to understand before you seek to be understood.  Focus your energy in the present and the future as opposed to the past.

8. Recognize that some of your great new ideas were probably discussed before.

This is one of the most common blunders we make when joining a new team.  We tend to come up with ‘great new ideas’ that we assume no one has thought of before.  It is great to be forward-thinking and to have new ideas, but it makes a lot more sense to first ask if people have talked about things like this in the past, and what has been accomplished upto now.   If you don’t ask these questions, you will look uninformed about the history of the organization and people may think you are trying to take the credit for ideas that people have already had for a long time. Again, always ask.

Keep these eight tips in mind, and before you know it, you’ll be a valued member of the team. Remember to extend a helping hand the next time someone new joins your team!

 

 

20 Jun

Interview Tips- Dressing For an Interview

Last week a fresh graduate asked me whether her outfit was appropriate for interviews as she had worn the same outfit to 3 different interviews and hadn’t been called back for all of them. She was wondering whether her dressing was spoiling her chances of getting called back for a second interview

You need to create the right impression from the very moment you get to the venue of the interview. Your appearance and behavior should convey the same message as your answers to the interview questions-that you are intelligent, confident and experienced in the job you are interviewing for.

It goes without saying then that when you go for an interview you must look clean, well groomed and smart. This will give you the confidence boost you need. In general, you want to present a highly professional appearance in the manner that’s most appropriate for your field. Therefore, the way to look like a professional is:

  • Be clean, fresh, tidy and well groomed
  • Dress for an important meeting or presentation rather than your average everyday dress code
  • Avoid extremes-if in doubt, lean towards a neutral style and colour
  • Avoid fussy accessories-when you are nervous, it’s too tempting to fiddle with them
  • Avoid anything flamboyant or funny when choosing ties, earrings, bags, belts, necklaces etc
  • Dress in a manner that is professionally appropriate to the position for which you are applying. In almost all cases, this means wearing a suit. It is rarely appropriate to “dress down” for an interview, regardless of company dress code policy.
  • Avoid anything that is too tight or too short as this will cancel your professionalism
  • Dark colours convey professionalism better than light ones
  • Plain colours are less distracting than busy patterns. For ladies, wear a conservative blouse with your suit. Do not wear bright colors, animal prints, or anything lacy, sheer, or low-cut.
  • Your clothing should always be neat, clean, and ironed
  • Your hair should be neat, clean, and conservatively styled.
  • Quality shows. Well cut clothes in natural fibres with a good finish are essential

Generally, make sure that the outfit you choose is comfortable and trouble free and that you can sit in it comfortably without it riding up, twisting round or creasing and that you can stand up and shake hands without anything gaping or straining

Remember, dressing professionally shows respect for yourself, the interviewer, and the company!

Have a blessed week!

30 May

7 Important Guidelines to Handle Office Romance

One of the biggest reasons employers tend to discourage interoffice affairs is because they generate gossip—and gossip wastes time and fosters distrust and dissatisfaction. Even those who are not dating superiors become subject to accusations of favoritism from co-workers when it comes to promotions, restructuring of teams, or financial bonuses. They become easy targets for those colleagues inclined to use office gossip as a means to undermine, or get ahead themselves. I t is for these reasons that most employers discourage or in some cases prohibit office relationships.

However, in the modern workplace, it is not uncommon to find colleagues who are romantically involved.  Richard Branson, entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group says, “Work, after all, is the place where many people spend more than a third of their lives, and it’s possibly one of the best places where employees can find a potential mate who shares similar life goals and attitudes.” As a matter of fact, two of my good friends met their spouses at the workplace and I know a former colleague whose wife used to be an intern at our office back then!

If ever you consider getting romantically involved with a colleague, here are 7 guidelines you should keep in mind:

1. Know company policy

This is the most important point. Before launching into an office romance, know the company’s policies regarding office relationships. Some companies have rules against it.the decision about whether to pursue it should depend upon the impact it could have on your career, your co-workers and your responsibilities. If relationships are forbidden, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Check your company policy to know whether office romance is banned

Check your company policy to know whether office romance is banned

If it is, be discreet and prepare for any consequences. If it’s not against the rules, evaluate whether your company’s corporate climate is generally accepting or looks down upon such relationships.

2. Weigh the risks

Weigh the benefits of getting involved with a workmate against the potential career risks. Ask yourself whether your current job is less important to you than finding a life partner or whether your job  is an important stepping stone in your career path that you aren’t willing to risk.  Choose your priorities wisely

The decision about whether to pursue it should depend upon the impact it could have on your career, your co-workers and your responsibilities.

3. Maintain decorum and professionalism

If you decide to go for it, then as much as possible keep your social and business lives totally separate. Don’t let a romantic relationship affect the quality and efficiency of your work.barbara-pachter-quoteIf there’s evidence that your office romance is affecting your work, recognize that you may be asked to end your romance or maybe find another job. I repeat, choose your priorities wisely.

4. Stay in your hierarchy

Avoid dating someone in a higher or lower position. Office politics and hierarchy should concern you. Choosing to get involved with someone at a different seniority level could dramatically affect your salary or movement within the company.

While it is not at all surprising that two people who work closely might fall in love, one should not report to the other. Avoid unwanted scrutiny and drama by avoiding dating those with whom you regularly work.

5. No PDA at work

Do I even need to say this? Save the romance for out of the office. Absolutely no public displays of affection at work. Maintain proper distance.

Avoid public displays of affection at the work place

Avoid public displays of affection at the work place

Keep in mind that in today’s world of blogging, YouTube, Google and Whatsapp, the line between public and private is increasingly getting blurred. Becoming a target of office gossip on such platforms or elsewhere could damage your career advancement and job security.

Obviously, you should keep your romance off official channels of communication. Do not use corporate e-mails or other corporate systems to send private messages. One mistake might broadcast to the whole company things that are much better kept between the two of you!

6. Plan for the worst

I don’t mean to be a party pooper but agree in the beginning of the relationship how you will handle a potential break-up. A messy break-up affects you, your partner, and perhaps the entire office.

You also need to consider another possible and quite serious result of a breakup, especially if there’s a difference in rank between the two individuals involved. What if one party claims sexual harassment and considers a lawsuit?

7. Consider leaving the company

If the relationship does get serious, one member should consider a new position outside the company or if possible organize with the company to be transferred to another branch. Some physical distance may be good for everyone!

After all is said and done,  it is up to you to choose whether a romantic relationship with a workmate is good for your career or not. Weigh your options wisely!

18 Apr

How to Quit Your Job Gracefully Without Burning Bridges

We have all been there at some point. You get hired, you get excited, you have a honeymoon phase, you work hard, and slowly, the glow wears off. You decide to go hunting for a new job. Out of all those interviewed you are the chosen one. You are so excited to start working at the new place, but wait, you have to resign from your current job first! How do you go about this without burning the proverbial bridges? Do you just fail to appear at the office one day and assume your boss got the message that you have quit? No. Such unprofessional actions will haunt you forever. Imagine if your new company contacted your former boss for a reference check and they are told you left in such an ungraceful way? Or they are told how you insulted everyone and called your boss names before leaving?

QUIT Any time you leave one company for another, there are sometimes hurt feelings regardless of how delicately you try to balance the transition. When leaving a job, it is important to remember that what you do and how you do it can stay with you for years and that most importantly future employers will judge you by your past actions.

Here are 5 important tips to help you quit gracefully without burning bridges:

1. Inform your boss in person that you are quitting

Your boss should be the first person in the office to know that you are leaving. You don’t want him/her to learn about your plan to leave from someone else. Even if you swear your colleagues to secrecy, word has a way of getting around quickly. Arrange a meeting with your boss in advance so that you both can talk about details of your resignation.

Sometimes, it is difficult for an employer to accept the departure of a core staff member when the team is already short on people. Their first concern is filling your old position to keep project momentum moving forward. If you know of a qualified person amongst your colleagues who could step into your work, make that suggestion to your superiors. This will make their search for your replacement much easier

2. Explain your reason(s) for quitting

You do not have to go into too much detail.  All you need to say is that you’re leaving to pursue other opportunities. This is not the time to talk about how your coworkers conspire against you, nor should you start crying and apologizing for your departure. Explain yourself rationally and your employer will understand your reason for leaving.

Do not be emotional or hurtful. Bringing up any problems you have with the company is unprofessional and potentially damaging, especially if you plan on staying in the same field. Industries are surprisingly small and word spreads faster than you might imagine. If your boss thinks you’re ungrateful or rude, that opinion could spread faster than you might think, thereby hurting your chances of landing a job.

3. Write an official resignation letter and give notice

Write a letter to your boss and make it positive and personal. Keep it brief and professional, outlining how much you enjoyed your time at the company. Never write anything negative or vent .This reinforces your professional polish and adds to your reputation as a classy person. Remember the resignation letter will be kept in your permanent file .Be careful with what will be in that file in case a future employer calls your current employer for references. You do not want to create a bad impression with potential employers even before you meet them!

Be sure to give your employer notice, be it two weeks, one month or two months, depending on what your employment letter stipulates. This gives your employer sufficient time to plan for your exit and to look for your replacement.

4. Thank Everyone

It is a good idea to thank your colleagues. Be genuine, and let go of any hostilities that you may have held in the workplace. Carrying around baggage from your previous employer doesn’t do you any good and might even affect your work at your new work place.

Let go of any grudges you might harbour, say thank you, then say good bye. It doesn’t cost a dime to say thank you! More importantly, you never know where you might run into your colleagues again especially if you plan on staying in the same industry. Heck you might even find yourselves working in the same company in future. Imagine how awkward it would be if you left without saying goodbye then  two weeks into your new job your former colleague reports to your new work place as your line manager!

5. Stay focused on the job

Concentrate on the job and keep putting in 100% to your work regardless of the excitement that comes with the prospect of a new job. Complete as many projects as possible.  If there are some unfinished projects, provide updates on them that are easily understandable. Also, if there is an urgent matter that needs to be handled in the near future, point it out to those who will be managing your duties when you leave.  Try as much as possible to create a situation that anyone could walk in to your old job and be up to speed on what projects need attention first.

In conclusion, the way you quit your job says a lot about you. Walk the higher road and be gracious. It might have been a horrible employment situation but if you able to depart with grace, class, and integrity, it says a lot more about you than the company. And that’s what matters!

Have a blessed week ahead!

04 Apr

4 Tips to Politely Fend Off a Chatty Colleague

Some of your colleagues may simply be less busy — or less efficient — than you are, and their insistence on stopping by your desk to chat or bombarding you with needless information about projects you’re working on together can quickly deaden your productivity.

I once worked the night shift for a media monitoring firm where deadlines were tight and the work load was huge. As you know, being in the media requires you to be sharp, attentive to detail and concentrate fully on whatever you are doing lest you miss out on small but important client details. This means that everyone was busy the entire time and every minute mattered as we had extremely tight deadlines. Now there was this colleague who reported to work early (by 5pm) unlike I who reported at the beginning of my shift (exactly 7pm).  The most annoying thing is that as soon as the clock hit midnight and he needed a break, he would come to my desk to catch up/chat. By this time he would have probably covered three quarters of his work and I would be halfway through with mine.

Here I was, doing my best to concentrate and finish my work in time and someone was seemingly determined to waste my precious time! To make matters worse, he was kind of my superior. This distraction annoyed me to bits!

No one intends for their communication to be a burden. It’s not like people do this with the sole purpose of distracting you from your most important work. If you have colleagues that are needlessly demanding too much of your time, here are five strategies you can use to politely deflect them.

    1. Make sure chatty colleagues leave with something to do for you

If you’re busy working on a report that’s due in an hour and your coworker demands you give them the time to tell you about the Gor Mahia Vs AFC Leopards game on Sunday, tell them you’re glad they stopped by, and ask them to help you with something you won’t be able to do until after the report is finished. It’s like being in two places at once. If they leave with work, they’ll think twice about coming back again to chitchat, especially when you are so busy!

  2. Be uninteresting

If your coworker wants to talk sports, make sure to tell them you’re not really interested in them. If they ask if you saw the game last Sunday, let them know that you didn’t (even if you did). They will probably still give you the highlights, but they won’t go over the details if it’s clear you are not interested in what they’re talking about. The same applies for other topics of conversation as well. Eventually your chatty coworker will stop passing by your desk to chat, and will go find someone they can have a two-sided conversation with.

A little verbal trickery and body language can go a long way towards making your chatty coworker understand that you are really busy and not available for a chat at work.

  3. Move Your Seat

Sometimes there’s little you can do to prevent a colleague(s) from bothering you even if you say all the right things. In such a situation ask your manager to let you move your desk or cubicle to a new location that hopefully will be less of a problem. This would only work in offices where you don’t have to be in a specific place. Like close to your boss or near a specific team. If you have the opportunity to move across a floor, up or down a floor, or somewhere out of the way for that coworker, or if your problem isn’t so much a single person but that your desk is in a high-traffic area and everyone wants to talk to you, this could be a good option.

For example if your desk was right outside a boardroom, that means that everyone coming in or out of the boardroom would walk past your desk and would probably stop to say hi. If the boardroom was occupied with a late-running meeting and another was supposed to start, the attendees for the late-starting meeting would most likely congregate around your desk until the room was free, and of course they would want to talk. People leaving meetings to answer their phones or chat after a meeting would stand near your desk to talk. This can be all distracting and while you may like talking to people, you will eventually have to move your desk. If you are in such a position, your boss should understand and it shouldn’t be difficult to convince them to let you find a new seat in a more secluded space.

  4. Talk to your workmate

It can be awkward to have a conversation with your colleague about the way you work together, but if his/her chatty behavior is persistent, you’re going to get annoyed — and your frustration will likely start to seep out in unhelpful, passive aggressive ways and might even affect your productivity. Instead, bring it up directly and let them know that you would like to chat but you are a bit busy and will maybe meet up later for a drink/coffee after work to socialize and to catch up. Remember to be polite and choose your words and non verbal cues wisely lest he/she misinterprets your well meaning intentions.  Doing this will let your workmate know that despite being busy at the moment, you don’t want to shut them off completely and are willing to meet up later outside work to socialize and to catch up.

If after doing all these your colleague still insists on chit chat even when you are busy with your work, let your boss know that their behavior is affecting your productivity.  Remember, it really is about what helps you work best, rather than your workmate doing something wrong.

What are some of the things that you do to fend off overly chatty workmates?

 

01 Mar

4 Tips to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking

4 Tips to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking at Work 

At any one time you will be called upon to speak before an audience. Be it your colleagues, managers, supervisor, or even staff working under your supervision. Even if you don’t need to make regular presentations in front of a group, there are plenty of situations where good public speaking skills can help you advance your career and create opportunities.

Don’t be fooled, we all tense before speaking to an audience regardless of how many times we have done it before. It is human nature. Even then, here is a list of five tips to help you overcome/manage your fear of public speaking.

  1. Know Your Subject

Nothing gets you tensed up like the knowledge that you are unprepared/underprepared. On the other hand, nothing builds your confidence like being sure that what you are saying is what you intended to say and is accurate and is clear. Research your topic thoroughly before preparing a presentation. Double check your notes/major points and anticipate the questions you may get asked. Research your topic exhaustively. You don’t have to be smarter than everyone else in the room, but you do have to show your expertise in your chosen subject.

Research on your subject matter until you are comfortable and feel confident in yourself. It’s not that you have to memorize your content word for word but instead outline your main points. Make sure they flow in a logical manner- Introduction, body and conclusion.

When choosing a topic, pick one that:

  • Has had an inordinate impact on you
  • You want to share with others
  • You intensely feel others could benefit from your expertise
  • You can speak about from the heart

When you speak about something you passionately care about you will be more comfortable and feel more confident in yourself

 

  1. Know Your Audience

Every speech you make is geared towards a particular audience. Find out what group your audience will be made up of, and then gear your material to their needs.

Will your audience be made up of experts, or beginners? Will you be addressing your peers, or your superiors? Are attendees all internal staff or external suppliers and vendors? Your target audience wants you to speak at their level. Use the kind of language and terminology that your listeners are accustomed to hearing. Make sure you know who you are delivering to so as to pitch the subject matter at the right level and with the right tone too.  Use comparisons and descriptions that your listeners can relate to.

More importantly, avoid the use of technical jargon unless you are sure your audience understands it. Otherwise you risk boring your audience to death. Well, that’s extreme but, you understand what I mean, right?

Establish a strong connection with the audience through open, accessible body language, inclusive eye contact, and above all be authentic and speak from the heart.

 

  1. Practice

The only way to overcome the fear of public speaking is to force yourself to do as much public speaking as you can. The idea being that each time you do it you get a little bit more confident. To get practice, seek opportunities to speak in front of others. You could also put yourself in situations that require public speaking, such as volunteering to cross-train a group from another department, or by offering to speak at team meetings. Of course this is easier said than done. But there’s nothing to lose by putting yourself out there and volunteering to speak before an audience. In fact, the more you practice public speaking the more familiar it becomes.Ideally, get the early stage of your public speaking practice when you’re starting out in your career so you’re competent by the time you need to do it as a professional.

No amount of experience will hide the fact that you are unprepared. You simply cannot be a confident, compelling speaker without practice. Practice makes perfect. So, practice!

NB- If you will be using PowerPoint to do your presentation, practice connecting your equipment, and using it comfortably.

 

  1. Know Your Objectives In Advance

Set goals for your presentation as this allows you to hone your content. Ask yourself, “Why I’m I doing this?”  Decide first what you want to accomplish. Is it to inform the audience so they’ll have enough to make a decision? Is it to persuade them to agree with your point of view? Do you want to impress your superiors with your knowledge ahead of your performance review?

Regardless of your objectives, a presentation is a piece of strategic communication. You want your audience to do something specific when you’re finished speaking. Knowing your objective allows you to tailor your presentation to match your agenda.

In conclusion, good public speaking can help you get a job or promotion, raise awareness for your team or organization, and educate others. Remember, the more you push yourself to speak in front of others, the better you’ll become, and the more confidence you’ll have!

What are some of the tips you use to overcome the fear of public speaking?

 

 

 

 

 

 

02 Feb

5 Important Points to Help You Prepare For a Phone Interview

Most employers nowadays ask for phone interviews at the initial stages in order to quickly shortlist candidates. Instead of spending the time and resources needed to bring you in for a face to face interview, they will want to see (actually hear) if you give them a reason to eliminate your name from the list. This is your first contact with the company. Therefore you have to work much harder to make sure you portray yourself as enthusiastic, capable and possess the skills they are looking for in a candidate.A phone interview is a pre-screening, so make sure you have all the information you need at hand. Have with you:

  • your CV
  • a copy of your application letter/form
  • the job advertisement/ job description
  • pen and paper to make notes

5 Points to Help You Prepare For a Phone Interview

  1. Take it as seriously as a face to face interview

Even though a phone interview may sound casual, don’t be fooled. It is still an interview. Take it seriously! Take your time to prepare, just as you would for a face to face interview. The interviewer will know if you are not prepared even if they are not seeing you. Ensure that you have the time, concentration and freedom from interruption so as to give a decent performance. When your interview is first scheduled, make sure you set aside time before the interview to prepare for it.

Ensure your phone is fully charged and that it is in good condition. The interviewer will not understand such excuses as…”ngoja kidogo nicharge simu” or “ngoja kidogo nibadilishe simu coz earpiece ni Mbaya” or wacha nitafute network kwanza”. This is because you are expected to be prepared well in advance as you will have been notified of the time of the phone interview in advance. The interviewer expects you to be ready.

  1. Cut out all distractions

Ensure that you are not distracted during the interview. If you are at home turn off the TV and inform everyone that you are expecting a call. If possible get into an empty room and close the door.

Make sure you are in a quiet place and
have a pen and note book to write notes
(Photo: themuse.com)

Nobody wants to ask you about your work history and hear ‘Afrosinema continues shortly’in the background. Interviewers can tell if you are distracted from how you speak. Don’t lay down on the couch either. Find a place where you can sit upright as the wrong posture will have an effect on how you speak.

  1. Research the company

As soon as a phone interview is scheduled, do some research about the company. This is because chances are you have sent applications to more than one company and it is always good to know a bit about the interviewing company.

Read about the company by checking its website.  Google them to see how they are doing and what they do. You can also check their company profile on LinkedIn. This allows you to tailor your answers to fit the kind of person they are looking for.  Remember to keep your answers honest, thoughtful and reflective

  1. Listen

This is a good opportunity for you to show your potential employer that you are a good listener. Just like in a face to face interview, it is the interviewer who sets the pace for the conversation. Do not dominate the conversation as this will portray you as a know-it-all.

Answer the questions clearly and as much as possible avoid one word answers. Stick to the questions asked and do not go off topic. Answer questions in a calm composed manner and avoid being argumentative

Write down notes and questions to ask at the end of the phone interview.

Pause for a second or two between the interviewer asking you a question and when you start giving your answer. This will give you a chance to think about you answer and will prevent you from cutting off the interviewer mid-sentence.

  1. Ask questions

Towards the end of the interview, you will always be given a chance to ask questions. Ask questions that will help you get information about the different aspects of the job as this will help you make an informed decision about the job.
Ask follow up questions as this demonstrates your genuine interest in the company and shows that you were attentive during the phone interview.

Prepare questions about the areas that weren’t covered in the job description in advance and ask for clarifications at this point. However, remember to keep your questions short, clear and above all relevant to the job.

Ensure that you end your phone interview on a positive note and remember to thank the interviewer for taking their time to talk to you and let the interviewer know that you enjoyed the phone interview.

Have a blessed week ahead!

 

02 Feb

5 Professional Resolutions That Will Help You Grow This Year

Happy New Year!!

I do hope your had a restful Christmas and New year holiday season and have started your new year on a positive note. The New Year presents a perfect moment to move your career in the right direction. This being the second week of January, I know you have already come up with a list of things you want to start or improve on career wise this year.

Whether a pay rise, promotion or a new job are among your resolutions, these 5 career resolutions are going to help you grow professionally.

  1.  Build on firm foundations

As a professional, you are a bundle of skills, qualifications and capabilities. When you are job seeking you are selling a product or a commodity. Commit to develop a killer resume that best illustrates your skills, qualifications and capabilities.

Your CV is the most financially important document you will ever own. When your CV works, you work and when it doesn’t you don’t. Your CV is the basic marketing device that introduces you to the professional world. If you write it properly it ensures that future/potential employers see you exactly as you would want to be seen.

  1. Expand on your skills set

Know what your major strengths are and most importantly, look to develop areas which you perceive as your weaknesses. Regularly update your CV so it doesn’t become a hassle when it comes to rewriting when a new opportunity arises. Make sure your CV reflects development and a clear strategic plan of the path you are taking towards a rewarding career.

Examine your weaknesses and look to develop
areas which you perceive as weaknesses

Also develop career management skills such as: how to write an outstanding resume, how to get job interviews, how to turn job interviews into job offers, how to secure your job and get promotions and how to strategize career changes

  1. Network and connect to your profession

Most of us don’t appreciate the importance of having a professional network, until they are in a job search and realize they don’t have one.

Through networking you might hear of opportunities
that you would otherwise have missed

Everyone knows networking is an important skill. Reconnect with professionals in your field, friends, family and colleagues. Through them you may hear of opportunities that you would otherwise have missed. After all, it’s often said that it is not what you know but who you know!

Make networking an ongoing career management responsibility as the people you network with could be holding the key to your dream job or big break in business. Of course, this requires that you build and nurture a professional network.

A good way to build your professional network is to join LinkedIn and become actively involved with profession specific groups. This will help you increase your contacts, credibility and visibility as a professional.

  1. Be proactive and alert at work

Most companies nowadays organize training and professional development courses for their staff. Jump at any available opportunities to improve on your professional skills as such skills will come in handy at some point.

Ensure that that each day provides an opportunity for you to learn something new. Be it from reading up on industry developments or learning from colleagues; don’t let a day go by without learning a new thing. Grow and develop every day.

  1. Be willing to take risks

If an opportunity comes up, take it! Don’t be held back by anything.  Try new things; volunteer to perform duties that you have never done before. You will not only learn from them but you will also get noticed in the process.

Even then, making a list of things you want to achieve in the new year is useless if you don’t follow through.  Have a comprehensive plan on how you will achieve what you have set out to accomplish professionally. Remember, creating an actual plan will help you stick with your career related goals for the year.  Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen.

The entire team at Executive Edge wishes you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016!

What are some of your resolutions for this year? Share with us on the comments section below

02 Feb

8 Etiquette Tips For Your End Year Office Party

The end year office party season is here.  We will digress from our usual interviews series and talk about the end year office party. As we speak most companies are planning to treat their staff to an end of year party this week or next week. Office parties are a chance for you to have fun and to network with colleagues. That is why we have compiled a list of 8 etiquette tips for your to observe at the end year office party.

  1. Ask about the dress code

Choose what to wear to the party carefully. Find out what everyone is wearing to the party and match it to your outfit. You don’t want people talking about what you wore weeks or months after the party. I’m sure you don’t want to be the subject of office gossip in the new year.
As for the ladies, you don’t want to dress seductively; it’s still a business event. Revealing clothing is not appropriate around your superiors. Think beyond the event to the image you would like your co-workers to retain of you in the next year.

  1. Be punctual

This is an office party. Arriving late is not an option and could have you missing out on all the fun. Arriving in time gives you the opportunity to say hello to everyone. It also passes a positive message about you.

Make sure you attend the party as failing to make an appearance at an event you have been invited to is considered to be rude. However, if due to some reason you are unable to attend the party, inform the planning committee in advance.

  1. Mingle and network

The end of year party gives you an opportunity to mingle with your leaders, peers and line managers on ‘level ground’. While the end of year party may feel informal, it is not the time to speak informally to management about . If you have been trying to have a meeting or call with the CEO for months with no luck, this is an opportunity for you to talk to her/him for a few minutes.

Colleagues toasting at end of year party.
Office parties are a great way for you to connect and have fun with you colleagues
(Photo: internet sources)

The end of year party is an excellent opportunity to cement relationships and to get known in a good way. Talk to your co-workers and bosses about work issues in a positive and complimentary light.  Focus on achievements for the year and fun things you remember.

Be sure to acknowledge all your co-workers, and especially your superiors and their associates. Even if there’s someone you really don’t like, like Jane from accounting, it’s best to have a quick chat with them.

  1. Build rapport

Strive to build a positive rapport with your workmates. The end of year party presents you with an opportunity to get to know your co-workers in a more relaxed environment, which in turn can help you build effective working relationships when you return to work.

You may find out that Jane from accounting (whom you don’t like) is not that difficult to deal with after all!

An office party is a great way to relax. However, moderation is important. Remember this is a professional event and getting wild and crazy may not be in your best interest.

  1. Stay sober

This is the most important of all in this list.

Yes, the drinks may be on the company but by all means remain sober. Alcohol lowers your inhibition and it blocks out that inner voice that helps you decide not to do silly things. The end of year office party is not the place to try what you have never done before – from drinks to food. Stick to your usual beer and ‘nyama choma’ if you have to. Well, maybe there will be no ‘nyama choma’ but the point is, do not try out drinks/ food that you have never tasted before. Trust me this will save you from many embarrassing moments.

It is easier to make nasty comments about your colleagues or even your boss/supervisor that you may not have said while drunk. So, always drink in moderation and always make sure you have eaten before taking any alcohol.

Note:  Do not drink and drive.

  1. Be careful about declaring your romantic intentions.

Before you declare your undying love for Suzie from Marketing, remember, you will have to see this person at work on Monday. Take a reality check by asking yourself: Do I really fancy them? How much have I had to drink? Will I regret this in the morning? If you fail the reality check, for which you probably will, then under no circumstances should you make your move.

And when it comes to dancing, please keep it formal.  Do not touch people in ways that can be misinterpreted, or say things that are considered demeaning or sexually provocative. Use your common sense.

  1. Have fun
Don’t be such a bore at your office party. Have fun!
Or at least look like you are having fun
(Photo:huffingtonpost.com)

What’s the point of going to a party and end up getting bored /being the bore?  Get involved in the party. People like sociable people and networkers. The end year office party is a chance for you to relax and simply enjoy the company of those you work with.

Have fun but remember to be in control. Do not embarrass yourself or anyone else. As stated above, keep in mind that this is a professional event and getting wild and crazy may not be in your best interest, especially in this era of smart phones. You do not want a photo/video of a ‘drunk you’ dancing to ‘Ali Kiba’s Chekecha Cheketua’ on top of a table while hurling insults at your boss/supervisor going viral on the internet! Your reputation/ career will never recover from this.  Plus you might lose your job. Imagine the embarrassment you would feel if you walked into an interview and the interviewer says, “You look familiar…I remember you from somewhere….uh huh…aren’t you the drunk guy from XYZ Ltd’s office party?”  Okay, I’m joking.

Have a responsible holiday party season and take care of yourselves.

Happy holidays from all of us at Executive Edge Consulting!

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