How to give Constructive Feedback at Work

When it comes to success, the growth and overall development of a person is the highest calling of leadership. Our growth both personally and professionally depends on our ability to internalize your strengths and weaknesses and plan strategically and objectively for various ways of improvement.

As a business leader, one of the most critical skills about the job will be your ability to give strong and constructive feedback to your employees. Entrepreneurs and leaders have a sense where they want to go and how they want to get there. In order for you to achieve these intrinsic business goals, you have to make sure everyone is on the same page. To do this, you as a business leader will need to provide a developmental conversation. This is a particular conversation that focuses on the skills, capabilities, and attitudes of those around you. It is, in itself, similar to that of an employee evaluation, but still implies a bit of direction and improvement for the betterment of their growth.

But before I continue, I have to speak loudly to the beneficial effects of how strong purposeful feedback can be on an employee. To start, we have to understand and internalize that strong positive feedback is not one that points out the strengths and flaws of a worker. Instead, it often involves having some fundamental objective within the course of the conversation. At any notion, it helps to outline the principles and philosophies of their goals and that of your company. In addition, it very much helps sets up a plan that can track and follow a person’s progress.

As beneficial as it is, many employees and workers are oftentimes hesitant to have these conversations. One of the thorniest aspects of giving this level of critical feedback is that many people feel that they are in the hot seat when it comes to these situations. As frustrating as it can be, having these conversations is an integral part of your growth as a professional within said-field. To optimistically think you are performing at a high ability may be great confidence-wise, but to overlooking areas where you can improve will be one of the biggest hurdles in reaching ay type of success. In addition to the employee’s personal feels, some of the problems of constructive feedback can oftentimes fall on you where many of your comments can be vague and unspecific. When you are giving feedback, do not speak in generalities. Instead, provide specific examples within their day-to-day. Highlight moments where they have succeeded and areas where they can improve for the better. The more clear and precise you are, the better.

pexels-photo-large

Now, as stated above, constructive feedback is very similar to an employee evaluation. Do not make the mistake of not explaining the consequences. Good managers and business leaders are clear about potential consequences if problems are not fixed. Make sure you explain these consequences. Yes, this can build tensions and anxiety for the individual. But if they are unclear about their work or the extreme consequences that can lead to their lack of progress, you will be doing them a disservice as a leader. While it is probably the toughest part of the job as a manager, it is absolutely necessary if you want to see change.

So the question comes down to this: How can you give strong and constructive feedback to your employees?

When giving constructive feedback start with a goal. Every employee works differently and each individual person has their own personal and professional strengths and weaknesses. Because every conversation will be different, make sure you outline a specific and unique goal that they can work on. This can be a positive goal where you want to see them in a more leadership position or a more concerning goal where you need to see progress and consistency. Whatever is the case, make sure that is the one thing they can walk out of when the conversation is over.

Now, as hard as these conversations may be, you want to understand that it is not about the character; it is about the behavior and the work. Many employees in this situation feel that they are personally being attacked. To avoid that type of negativity, tailor the conversation more towards their work. At the bottom line, you need to think about the bigger picture. In order for you and your company to reach their goals, they need to improve their work ethics so that every party can see benefit from the progress.

To help with this process, make sure you are specific as possible. Do not generalize when it comes to your feedback. Be specific and use concrete examples to make your points. Now, when it comes to your goals, try not to ask for too much. Witnessing a day-and-night situation is incredibly rare. Instead, set realistic tangible goals. The worst thing you can do is overwhelming them to a point where they are unable to work. This is a progress. With your guidance, you will be able to shape and cultivate them into a better professional.

That leads me to my last point; make sure you show them your support. Supplying feedback and suggesting a course of action can come off as authoritative. To alleviate the talks, create a plan and follow up with various conversations and steps of how ‘you’ can help them develop within the field.

The Importance of Balance between Work and your Social Life

Various experts worldwide have resoundingly agreed that it is important to maintain a balance between your work life and your social life. For many college graduates and millennials entering the workforce, they tend to make the mistake of overworking themselves beyond the societal norm. While it is great to assume that  ‘go-getter, first to enter last to leave’ mentality, it is imperative for you to understand the dangers that come with this level of work. Now I am not saying that you should not work hard. Investing in your job and your company is incredibly beneficial in shaping your overall career and professional development. But to overdo this can lead to physical and emotional damages.

One of the more popular negative damages many companies and hiring managers are seeing, especially amongst millennials, is the high burn out rate amongst employees. At any job, the position and responsibilities will always be new. Unlike college where you have various breaks in between classes and clubs, corporate, private, and startup culture will always demand more from you. Those senses of responsibilities can eventually lead to self-doubt and stress. But as much as I can fluff around the responsibilities and objective of the workplace, I have to be realistic. Work will always be stressful. There will be times where you will be overwhelmed to a point where you are unable to concentrate at the task at hand. To prevent this from becoming a problem, you need to, of course, gain the much-needed confidence at the office so that you can perform at your best. While some people think this requires more work, this confidence can actually come about through just a simple work-life balance.

Now, finding a healthy balance between your work and your social life is not always easy. There will be days where you will be required to stay late at the office or you will be asked to work weekends answering emails. While those days will come, it is important for you to create and establish a strong and healthy balance between your work and social life. To do this, begin by organizing your calendar. Organization will always be key to this level of balance. Make sure you fill out your schedule in its entirety. This will help you iron out any logistics and provide a stronger sense of open slots and times where you can use for yourself.

As for your social life, keep this one simple idea in mind: stay active. For many millennials, they burn out from work because their life schedule becomes clockwork where it looks something like this:

 

  • Work => Drive home => Watch television => Sleep => Work again

For anyone, this type of lifestyle is simply not sustainable. To prevent you from diving into that cycle, try to join various extracurricular activity groups. Think of any hobbies or interest groups that you enjoy and try and find various meet ups through Google or word of mouth. In addition, look into joining a gym or any extracurricular sports club. The more socially active you are the better. Lastly, to truly ease your mind and refresh your batteries, try planning a weekend or week trip. This will help ease your mind and prevent you from over-stressing about the workplace.

How to Stand Out at Work

In the workplace, your average American is not simply looking to do the norm. Instead, many of these young professionals are looking to go above and beyond the day-to-day operations in order to propel them in a more favorable position. As much as we can attribute the idea of success to their personal and professional goals, many young professionals are trending to this gung-ho work mentality because of the fear of being labeled ‘average.’  

For me, personally, the idea of being labeled ‘average’ or ‘fine’ is not just hurtful, but frankly quite insulting. Yes, you are seen as an individual who can handle the day-to-day operations within the workweek. But to be associated with such a phrase implies a sense of mediocre work and indifferent attitude and work ethics. This phrase not only speaks to your professional abilities at the office, but also overshadows your opportunities to stand out as a leader and game changer.

In order for you to change any preconceived notions as an ‘average’ worker, it is imperative you internalize your strengths and professional goals for your job. Having those in mind will allow you to leverage any opportunity where you can stand out amongst the crowd.

To begin, make sure you know how to do your job and how to do it well. This will allow you to brand your professional skill-sets within the office in a positive light. Now as much as doing a strong job at your position can gain you praise and recognition, you want to understand that standing out as a leader takes more than the standard work responsibilities. To help you stand out at work, try and assume new obligations within your company. Even if these leadership opportunities are limited, try and ask your manager or supervisor for more responsibilities. For many managers, they recognize individuals who are willing to go above and beyond their daily task to help the overall betterment of the company. This can even lead to new and exciting opportunities when it comes to management.

One way to do this is by offering new and innovative ideas and suggestions. Start with what you know. The build upon that with how things can be done more effectively. For many workers, these suggestions can be a huge game changer in how they approach the job in a more optimal manner.

While it may be daunting to put yourself out there, it is absolutely vital if you want to grow and develop within your company year after year. For meetings, try not to sit quietly. Instead, contribute to the conversation on a higher level. Even highlight some of the work you have done with customers and clients that has led to a higher success. Remember, leaders are not silent in meetings. Be purposeful with your listening and act and speak out when need be. In addition, make sure you try and add value. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to repeat or rehash something that has already been said before. The more value you can add to the team the better.

Now, when it comes to your team, do not be afraid to offer help and advice, especially to new workers. You have already developed a strong reputation from the work you have done, even if you are just a few months into the job. This will allow you to develop that ‘go to’ reliable personality that can help elevate you at your company.

Last but not least, you want to make sure you are proactive. Whether it is a new project or an anticipated problem, make sure you are the person your manager and workers can entrust in you. This will allow you to become more a part of the company and diversify yourself from the herd.

How to Email Efficiently and Effectively

Email is a widely used tool for business communication. However, because of its overpopulated use, it has caused some tension, confusion, and other negative consequences for many professionals within their careers.

So how do you avoid sending unwanted or unwarranted emails? What is the most effective and efficient way possible to write a professional email that can get the results you want?

In this article, I will go over a variety of strategies that can help ensure that your email is clear, effective and successful. At the end of the day, an average office worker will receive around 15 to 50+ emails each day from administrators, coworkers, and clients. With this amount of volume, you want to make sure your email gets noticed and acted upon so that you can continue with the day-to-day operations at your workplace.

To begin, you want to make sure you are not over communicating by email. As effective as emails are, you want to make sure that the particular person or people receiving this email are not thinking to delete the conversation from their history. To avoid this, make sure you are being simple and precise. Be sure to highlight all of the information without going too in-depth with the content. The worst thing you can do is sending an overcomplicated email that is just rushed through by your receiver. At times, you may even want to consider calling that person to simply explain the overall situation than to send a 500+-worded email.

Now to of course help get your email noticed by your receiver, you want to make sure you are making good use of the ‘subject lines.’ Think of this as a head-title or text feature that can grab the attention of your audience. Overly worded subject lines or one to two worded titles can be overlooked or rejected as spam. Instead, choose a few well-integrated words that can tell the recipient what the email is about. If you know that this is something important, make sure you note it in your subject line along with a date for said-task to be done. For example, if you have an email that simply says ‘meeting’ or ‘assignment’ this can be clicked on very quickly and breezed through. Instead, you want to specify what the meeting is about like ‘Contract Meeting with John Smith, submit at the end of the day.’ Having that type of title provides a holistic understanding of what your recipient should accomplish with your message.

With the actual email itself, you want to make sure you are following the traditional business letter format. As much as you want to stay professional, do not over complicate your emails with jargon words. While it may highlight your professionalism, you want to make sure your message is clear and concise. Any type of confusion could compromise the overall success of the email. In addition, you also want to tailor your writing to the person you are communicating with. For example, if you are sending an email to a client or an administrator, make sure you are framing your message in a professional manner. In comparison, if your email is a nontraditional email to a coworker or friend, be sure to stay personal. The main idea here is to internalize the topic and theme you want to correspond with in order to get your point across.

Now, there will be times where emailing can be taxing and downright stressful. Whatever is the case, make sure you are polite. People often think that emails can be less formal than traditional letters. But in the world of business, you want to reflect your own professionalism, values, and attention to detail. Stay formal and professional. Even towards the ending; make sure you close your message with ‘regards’ or ‘all the best’ depending on the situation.

Last but not least, make sure you proofread the entire message before you hit ‘send.’ Taking an extra five-minutes to make sure your email does not have spelling or grammar mistakes can be a huge game changer for how your peers and clients look at you.

Creating Professional Goals

pexels-photo-90333-large

When it comes to success, having a strong underlying intrinsic goal will always help cultivate and shape your decisions, your actions, and your thought process each and everyday. But what happens when you have already made significant advances within your career? What goals or objective can you create to help motivate yourself in establishing that consistency that you have worked so hard for all throughout your life? For a few very fortunate people, the answer simply comes to them. But for the rest of us who do not wake up with that goal in place, it takes a little bit of planning in order to clarify and execute for our career goals.

No matter where you are in your career, there should always be a vision and goal within your master plans. As much as we can frivolous live our lives day by day without a care in the world, the reality of it requires these guiding and awe-inspiring ideas to push us to be our best. That is why career goals are important. They are simply the things you want to achieve in your career and the person you are meant to be. While these objectives can be broad, and at times uncertain, they, at the end of the day, provide you with that much-needed direction to the end goals of your career. Think of this like a road map. Rather than wander around aimlessly within your life, your career goals can be your destination for your success.

Now, one thing to point out is the various differences within goals. At one ends we have the broad, ambitious, and overarching goals, which are commonly referred to as conceptual or long-term goals. And on the other end we have the more specific day-by-day task related goals, generally known as operational and short-term objectives. As much as you can have one over the other, it is imperative that you have both. Begin with your long-term goal. This can be something you are looking to accomplish a year (five years, ten years) from now. From that goal alone, you will be able to conceptualize various operational tasks that you will need to accomplish in order for you to reach your long-term goal. For many young professionals, this type of mentality can be beneficial in shaping and molding your career. But what happens if you are already a seasoned veteran within your company? What goals can you establish to motivate yourself each and everyday?

While creating goals as a veteran within your company can oftentimes be challenging, they are, like they were in the beginning of your career, absolutely vital. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to stay stagnate within your job. To prevent this from happening, you need to recreate and articulate a vision statement for your career. The first step is to look back and reflect on all of your success. There is that famous saying: “Sometimes you have to take two-steps back in order to move ten-steps forward.” By having an intrinsic understanding of your career path, you will be able to connect the dots and establish that end goal. Go ask far and question why you made particular jumps and what you want to achieve out of your company.

Now for those who have not reflected, it may seem impractical to start now. Let me tell you, it is never too late to reflect. Reflection, at the end of the day, is the key to learning. This type of thought process will allow you to analyze your experiences and make the necessary changes and modifications to push you to your intended success. For some people, that success is simply getting on the right path. But for others, that long-term goal can require drastic changes and alterations within your life. Whatever is the case, make sure you know what you want. The worst thing you can do to yourself is waste and suffocate your knowledge and talents at a job you distain. Instead, create your goals and most importantly live your dreams.

Young Professionals Looking into Graduate Schools

red-school-blur-factory-large

For many young professionals, graduate programs such as a Master of Business Administration or a Masters in Finance are seen as viable options in proliferating and diversifying their professional opportunities. While many seasoned professionals may question the two-year hiatus, having these graduate programs as a stepping-stone can oftentimes help you shape and mold your own personal and professional goals. Now before you make your decision, it is imperative that you reflect and internalize these overarching questions below.

Before I begin, I have to note that unlike undergraduate applications, graduate programs like MBAs and Masters in Finance require you to do various preliminary work and research before making the leap into the deep end. In fact, the arduous and elongated process requires a lot of time, dedication, sacrifice, and money before you even reach the finish line of graduation. If you are a young professional who is seriously considering leaving the securities of your already established career, make sure that this is what you want to do. The one situation you do not want to find yourself in is leaving your company without an actual game plan in mind. Now, if you have done your research and feel like now is the time to get one of these degrees, make sure you can ask the following questions:

Why do you want to go to graduate school?

While simple in it’s phrasing, knowing the ‘why’ can be one of the most convoluted answers you will ever respond to during your graduate school application process. In fact, to make sure you are ready to take that leap of faith, you want to solidify strong concrete reasons why graduate school is your best (and only) option. Do not limit yourself to the generic ideas of networking and job opportunities as your explanation. Instead, incorporate your goals and think of various ways of how that specific graduate degree can get you to where you want to be in the future.

What do you want to do with this particular graduate degree?

With an MBA, PhD, or Masters in Finance degree, you have the option to do really anything you want. But before you get those degrees, it is absolutely imperative that you understand what you want to do five, ten, twenty years down the line. To answer this question, go back to your professional goals. Your goals will allow you to create a strong and tangible step-by-step plan that you can implement each and everyday.

What program are you interested in?

There are a variety of graduate school programs that you can go into. While PhD in liberal arts programs can eventually lead to a tenure job at an elite university, you want to make sure your degree can hold a strong amount of value within the workplace. Just think about it. Education is not cheap. Because of this, you want to make sure that your degree can work in your favor. Make sure the program you are interested in is not just something you are passionate about, but also something that is attractive to the job market.

Where do you want to go?

For some people, they go by the name. For others, they go because of the city. Whatever is the case, make sure you are able to consolidate a strong list of schools of where you want to go. While it is nice to have various options, having a list that is oftentimes too large can be incredibly detrimental to your process. Instead limit your list from five to ten schools that adheres to your personal and professional preferences.

Are you financially capable of making this move?

Money, like anything in this world, will always be a factor in whether or not you are able to go to graduate school. Now, depending on your situation, you may be in a position where leaving your job and your financial salary may not be the right decision. You may also very well be in a situation where you do not have the financial funding to make the leap into graduate school. Whatever is the case, make sure you understand the financial cost and financial sacrifice that graduate school is ask from you.

What is one thing that can prevent you from going?

This is an incredible question that not many applicants ask themselves. At times, life can throw you various situations preventing you from reaching your personal and professional goals. If you know there is something that can potentially hold you back from graduate school, make sure you are able to confront it. Otherwise you may find yourself at a dead-end situation.