How to Take Initiative Without Being Stuck Doing It All

initiativeAuthor: Kat Boogaard
Source: The Muse

Remember when you were in high school and you were assigned those obnoxious group projects? Well, I was the girl who you crossed your fingers and hoped would be assigned to your team.

I’d come swooping in with my detailed timeline, my color-coded binder, and my already thorough background research and ensure that you had to do almost no work of your own. I’d rather have total control and do most of the project myself—which meant the rest of my team could sit back and soak in the glory of an easily-earned good grade.

That attitude followed me well into adulthood, and I’d often excuse that tendency as a positive trait. I’m being a team player, I’d think to myself. This just proves that I’m a real go-getter. I’m a “get things done” kind of girl and people appreciate it.

But, it didn’t take me long to realize something: There’s a pencil-thin line between taking initiative and simply being taken advantage of. Your desire to knock things out of the park makes it easy for your colleagues to not pull their own weight.

Are you currently stuck in this situation yourself? Well, my fellow doormat, allow me to elaborate on some hard-won do’s and don’ts that have helped me position myself as someone with initiative—without being a total pushover.

Do Offer Your Help

Your co-worker is stuck on their portion of a project and wants your guidance in getting over that hurdle. They know that you have the expertise to help them get that figured out.

You can absolutely be a team player and offer your advice. There’s no need to turn that person away with a curt, “Do your own job” type of response (unless you’re really aiming to make some new enemies in the office).

But Don’t Just Take Over

Remember, there’s a big difference between helping someone figure out the best way forward and taking charge and just doing the entire thing for them.

It all goes back to the classic “teach a man to fish” proverb. Make sure you show your team member your process, so that they’re empowered to do that on their own in the future.

Would it be faster for you to just handle it yourself? Probably. But, that also means you’re putting yourself in a position to always be the one to have to handle that task.

Do Your Best Work for Your Team

You pride yourself on your top-notch work—and that’s a great thing.

Not wanting to be taken advantage of shouldn’t mean having to lower your own standards and churn out lower-quality results, just so you don’t make yourself look like an easy target to the rest of your group.

But Don’t Repeatedly Cover for Others

While it’s fine (and even encouraged!) to help your colleagues improve upon their own work from time to time, that doesn’t mean you should repeatedly step in to cover for other people’s shortcomings.

If your co-workers are starting to get a little lax about a shared project and are only doing half of what was expected from them or are turning things in late, get your portion done to the very best of your ability—and then resist the urge to charge in and clean up their messes.

When your boss or another department is wondering why a certain piece is missing or totally lackluster? Well, you held up your end of the bargain. It’s up to your team member to explain why his own portion isn’t completed.

READ MORE

Advertisements

What to Do if You Have Been Unlawfully Fired

wrongful-terminationAuthor: Megan Purdy
Source: Workology

If you think you have been fired unlawfully from your job anywhere in United States, you should enlist the help of National  Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, which is a federal agency vested with the power to take action against employers who have violated the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, or NLRA. There are certain unfair labor practices mentioned in this act which are prohibited.

NLRB has clearly mentioned here that if your employer has done something that is part of unfair labor practices, you should approach the nearest regional NLRB office for assistance within six months of the incident. Go to this page on NLRB website to find an office in your area.

Continue reading

How to Highlight Volunteer Experience in an Interview

Multiethnic Group Of VolunteersAuthor: Lauren Graham
Source: Idealist Careers

Volunteering can help to boost your skills and expand your network while you are transitioning between sectors, rejoining the workforce after a career break, or trying to figure out how to utilize a degree. And highlighting your volunteer experience in an interview is a great way to show that you’re committed to a cause and that it’s a priority for you on both a personal and professional level.

Read on to find out how to lift up your volunteer experience the next time you’re interviewing for a social-impact opportunity.

Continue reading

The Power of Yet: Keeping a Growth Mindset

booksAuthor: Stav Ziv
Source: The Muse

Carol Dweck preaches “the power of yet.”

If students don’t pass a test, it’s not because they’re inherently stupid, but because they don’t understand the material well enough—yet. If employees didn’t negotiate the best deal, it doesn’t mean all future deals are doomed. It means they haven’t honed their negotiating skills enough—yet.

Dweck, a psychology professor now at Stanford University, is known for decades of work on “mindsets,” or people’s beliefs about human qualities such as intelligence and talent, both their own and others’. She developed terms you might’ve heard before: the “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset.”

“My research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life,” Dweck writes in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, the 2006 book that pulls together years of psychology research for the general reader. “It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”

Well, that sounds serious. Here’s what you need to know. Well, at least the basics. Continue reading

The 4 Step Method to Managing Your Anxiety at Work

anxietyAuthor: Nisha Kumar Kulkarni
Source: Idealist Careers

A 2009 New Zealand study found that one in seven women and one in 10 men in high-pressure jobs reported clinical levels of anxiety though they had no mental health history to speak of.

This may resonate deeply with those engaged in mission-driven work, where balancing workplace demands with self-care can feel like a tightrope act.

This piece will explore a four-step method for what you can do if and when you suffer from panic or anxiety in the workplace brought on by self-talk, self-doubt, or insecurity. If, however, you feel your anxiety is disrupting your daily life, there’s no shame in seeking help. Resources like the NAMI HelpLine can be a great resource for finding affordable mental healthcare near you.

Continue reading

How to Know if You’re Ready to Be a Manager

managerAuthor: Kat Boogaard
Source: The Muse

You’re interested in stepping up into a management role with your current company, but there’s just one question that keeps nagging at you: Are you ready?

Sure, you’ve produced consistently great results in your existing position and have forged some solid bonds with many of your colleagues. You’re proud of that—but, you’re also unsure of whether or not that truly means you’re cut out for a step up the proverbial ladder.

Fortunately, there are a few other telltale signs you can keep your eye out for that will help you figure out whether or not you’re actually management material.

Continue reading

The Best Career Advice from This Year’s Commencement Speeches

commencement_speechAuthor: Jenna McGregor
Source: Washington Post

This year’s headline-grabbing commencement speeches have been high on thinly veiled critiques of the Trump administration and big on dire warnings about the state of American democracy.

Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson cautioned graduates at Virginia Military Institute about the end of American democracy if Americans don’t “confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders.” Michael Bloomberg talked at Rice University of the threat from “our own willingness to tolerate dishonesty in service of party and in pursuit of power.” And 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, raising a Russian ushanka hat as part of a Yale University tradition, said Sunday that “we’re living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy,” telling students “to stay vigilant, to neither close our eyes, nor numb our hearts or throw up our hands.”

But not all of this year’s graduation speeches are quite so political or cautionary. A few — though not many — seemed to remember that they were speaking before a group of people who were about to embark upon life as adults who will have to navigate the politics of the workplace, the complexities of new relationships and the decisions of adult life. (Oprah Winfrey to USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism graduates: “Invest in a quality mattress. Your back will thank you later.”)

Here, some of the best advice offered by this year’s commencement speakers so far that graduates — or anyone — can apply to their work and careers:

Oprah Winfrey, chair and CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California

Winfrey, whose past speeches have drawn speculation that she might be planning a run for president — a rumor she has squashed — got plenty of attention for her calls for graduates to vote in her speech at USC on May 11. But after offering a litany of practical wisdom (“Eat a good breakfast,” she said. “Pay your bills on time. Recycle.”) she also added some clear advice for graduates’ time in the workplace.

“The number one lesson I can offer you where your work is concerned,” said the media titan, “is this: Become so skilled, so vigilant, so flat-out fantastic at what you do, that your talent cannot be dismissed.”

She also countered the typical “do what you love” advice that fill so many graduation speeches with something else. “You need to know this: Your job is not always going to fulfill you,” she said. “There will be some days that you just might be bored. Other days you may not feel like going to work at all. Go anyway, and remember that your job is not who you are. It’s just what you are doing on the way to who you will become. With every remedial chore, every boss who takes credit for your ideas — that is going to happen — look for the lessons, because the lessons are always there.”

Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani

The founder of the popular Greek-yogurt business, which has been caught in partisan sparring over Ulukaya’s history of hiring refugees, spoke at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School about the growing societal expectation that CEOs speak up on social issues.

“We are entering a new era, when the center of gravity for social change has moved to the private sector,” he said on May 13. “It’s business, not government, that is in the best position to lead today. It’s not government hiring refugees, it’s business. It’s not government cutting emissions, it’s business. It’s not government standing up to gun violence, it’s business.”

But he also had some advice for the business school grads.

“It’s great that you are a Wharton MBA. But please, don’t act like it,” he said.

That advice came from his employees, he said, after he asked them what he should say in his speech. What they meant was not to treat people like the stereotype of the heartless, number-crunching business school grad.

“Don’t let it get in the way of seeing people as people and all they have to offer you, regardless of their title or position,” he said. “Acknowledging the wisdom and experience of a forklift operator or security guard with 30 years on the job doesn’t diminish your own experience. Acknowledging the sacrifice of others that enabled you to be in this position does not diminish the sacrifices you made on your own.”

READ MORE