4 steps to increase your happiness at work

Drawing showing stickmen leaving work.

When I started to work in Corporate Malaysia, I heard this expression : “ let’s make the boss happy”.

It triggered my mind. First, I never considered that I could be “happy” in the workplace before. Happiness and work did not belong to the same sphere. I needed to earn a living and working was not an option but a must. Then, I surely wanted to “do a good job” like most of my colleagues, and not necessarily please the boss in the first place…

How to increase your happiness at work ?

Making the boss happy, at any cost, might lead you to say “yes” even if you want to say ”no”. We then do overtime (not being paid or rewarded) or things that are not aligned with your values.  Worse, you may end up in a long medical leave because of a depression.

If you are not happy, it will affect your motivation, your productivity and your relationships at work.

On the contrary, if you are happy, you tend to be more creative, you show initiative and enthusiasm and you are eventually making your boss happier ! Let’s go through the 4 steps to increase your happiness at work.

Step 1: measure your happiness at work

Here are a few questions that I ask to my clients. On a scale from 0 (unhappy) to 10 (happy), where are you now ? What percentage of the time are you doing things that you really enjoy ? What are you missing to be happy at work ? What will happen if you stay longer in this situation ?

Step 2: surround yourself with positive and supportive colleagues

You want relationships that are energizing you, that make you feel good about yourself. You need to get the support and the feedback of constructive people to do your work and to grow.

Step 3: know your limits and respect yourself

You do not want to over-commit and feel bad afterwards because it is too challenging. You do not want to say “yes” all the time and feel overwhelmed. Let your boss know about a realistic planning that you can honor. Speak up when things do not go right and get help.

If you reach your limits, let your boss know. He/she shall find a solution. And if you do not get heard or feel stuck, then that might be the right time to initiate a change of career.

Step 4 : development plan

Your current job is most probably not the last one. Know what doors your position can open afterwards. Keep your professional end goal in mind. Does your job is supporting you in getting closer to where you want to be in 10 years from now ? If your company does not provide any development plan, then manage your own career.  Find a mentor, take online training , read books, hire a coach…

We can help you design your action plan and increase your happiness at work. Get in touch !

Fight, Flight or Freeze : what is your response to career change ?

Drawing showing a stickman facing a career change.

Fight or flight response to a stress has been identified and named as such many years back. Recently, a third word has been added to those : “freeze”.

A career change is stressful

It is stressful when you are forced to move from your comfort zone and it is also stressful when it is your own choice to initiate a change. It can be compared to a threat : humans, like animals have different ways to response to a threat.

What is your natural way to respond to a professional transition ?

Fighting:

This is the idea of fighting against the movement which pushes you in a different direction or another. Some people cannot help fighting to remain in the same position, even there is actually little chance to do so. The energy is at that moment spent on fighting. It is a way to survive to the event which is considered as a threat. The one fighting believes oneself can win and get what he/she wants.

Is the fight a desperate way to respond ? Is the fight worse it ? There are some cases where been laid off has been beneficial to some of my clients. It has opened new doors, giving them new perspectives of growth.

Fleeing:

This type of response is when you are willing to escape from the situation as fast as possible. Some people will find a way to move away at any cost from a situation. Leave the company, leave the corporate world, change to a completely different job description…The one fleeing hopes to find a safer place elsewhere.

There are toxic situations where it is better to leave, resign to keep one’s sanity. However, I would recommend to take the time to think of “What’s next ? ” instead of jumping on anything else with no real plan or goal. You deserve a fulfilling career !

Freezing:

The “freeze” response is when you are paralyzed by the event. You might not have seen the change coming and you are panicking: no more job, no more income, no more colleagues… The person can be so overwhelmed by the transition that he/she does not see any way out.

The energy level can get so low that it would require the help from the beloved ones and eventually professionals to restore and rebound.

Knowing how you tend to behave in a particularly stressful situation will help you adapt your response to a professional transition and thrive into it.

For a deeper dive into your own change of career, contact Anne for a discovery session.

Top 3 tips for professionals running a “sprinted marathon”

Drawing representing an employee making extreme efforts at work.

How to survive a high intensity workplace?

If you are a professional and a runner, then your body knows by experience what it takes to run for a marathon or a series of sprints.

If you are a professional and not so into running, then you still know what is your preference between endurance (making a continuous effort) or strength (repeated intense effort).

Those are two different exercises : if you try to run a marathon the same way you sprint, then you might injure yourself. Burn-out is a risk when you work very hard for a long period of time. Burn-out does not reveal a weakness. This shows that a person had been strong for too long. And the body says : “STOP” ! Does this sound familiar ?

1. Take breaks

Whatever the way you prefer to do your work, you need to refresh, to take short breaks regularly. It might sound trivial, still not everybody is committed to do it.

Some people like to go get a coffee, others go out smoke a cigarette. It is not so much the coffee or the cigarette by itself which is beneficial. What is beneficial for you is standing, walking, disconnecting from what you are doing, changing  air, taking a deep breath, talking to someone, joking…

After that, you will be more focus, efficient, creative and relax. Consider to do it every hour.

2. Organize your day and your week

Know your limit. After spending  8 or 10 hours a day in your office, how is your energy level and concentration ? And after you have reached 40 working hours during a week : how do you perform ?

Knowing that, you can organize your day and your week. For instance, you can start your day and your week by performing more challenging tasks. Then keep some easier tasks for the afternoon or for the last day of the week.

3. Work/life balance

You might not be an athlete, and I am definitely not. However, we live in a world which requires to be enduring and strong. It is more global, complex, unpredictable and faster every day ! So we are easily caught into a “sprinted marathon” before we realize it.

Tips 1 and 2 will help your productivity. That is not enough to thrive nowadays professionally :  work life/balance is key. You need something to look forward to once your job is done : family, friends, hobbies. They are worth investing your time and energy in. Indeed, they will support you when things do not turn the way you expected.

If you want to find an effective and lasting solution to your current professional challenge, contact me for a free discovery session.

Career management, feeling like engaged in a pinball machine game ?

Drawing of a pinball machine game to illustrate employee’s feeling about its career.

In the pinball machine, there is a ball.

And at the command of the machine, there is a player.

What does it look like for you ? Do you visualize it ?

Are you the ball or the player?

The question is for you to know where you see yourself most when making decision for your career : the player or the ball.

There is no right or wrong answer. Each role has its advantages and drawbacks. The purpose is for you to reflect and gain awareness on how you handle your career choices, and what you want to do next.

The ball

It goes where the player tries to send it. If you are identifying yourself with the ball for most of your career choices, you have little control over your direction. Your main resource is your gravity ! You eventually rely on others to decide where, when you shall go and do. You tend to take opportunities as it arises, with no longer term planning.

Taking advantage of an opportunity is a good idea, and this way you keep doors open. You get to explore jobs that you would have never thought off. It sounds like you are having several lives in one.

The risk is that it might send you far away from your dreams, from what you really want to achieve in your life in general and in your career in particular.

The player

He/she has a certain control over the game. If you are identifying yourself with the player for most of your career choices, you are focus, you anticipate and you need endurance !

Are you enjoying as a single player ? Do you get the score you want ?

At one point, you might want to increase your score or get a more consistent result. You will need to change the way you play in order to get a different result. You might need the feedback in the process from someone who listens to you without judging. It takes courage to be the lead of your own career. Having your shorter and longer term goals in mind will help you make the right move.

To gain clarity on where you are in your career patch and what is your new action step, start a free executive coaching discovery session.

The triple-filter test for effective communication

Picture representing the three filters of communication, Truth, Goodness and usefulness.

The very first time that I was told about the Triple-filter test, I was a student. A coach and trainer was teaching communication to Master’s students.

What is the triple-filter test?

The Triple-filter test aims at having an effective conversation with a person, when answering a question or talking to someone. It is a method to step back and think before saying anything. It is also powerful when interacting on social media.

Its origin is not proven : it was most probably inspired by Socrates, classical philosopher (469-399 BC) in the ancient Greece.

Before you answer a question or tell something with which you are not 100% confident, consider taking the following test.

How can this test lead to better communication?

Filter 1 : TRUTH

Is what you are about to say true ? Is it a rumor, a gossip, a hoax or is it true ?

If it passes the first filter, then go to the next one.

Filter 2 : GOODNESS

Is what you are about to say good ? positive, constructive, empathetic ? Is this something that you would like to be told yourself ?

Again, if it passes the second filter, then go to the third and last one.

Filter 3 : USEFULNESS

Is what you are about to say useful ? Is it necessary to communicate what you have in mind ?

If your sentence or answer passes those three filters, you are safe to speak up. If not, you might want to re-frame it and be tactful when delivering it. Else, consider keeping it to yourself !

I have been applying this Triple-filter test for many years. It helps to have constructive personal and professional relationships.

When applied to social media, this test would certainly reduce the noise online and in the meantime, increases dramatically the quality of the contents.

If you feel like elaborating further about effective communication in your current position, contact Anne for a free discovery one-to-one session.

Leadership style: What we can learn from the Marines (Part II)

In a previous article, I emphasized what we can learn from the Marines to better communicate at work. This time, let’s focus on the leadership aspect : either your own leadership or the global leadership style in your organisation.

If you feel like assessing one’s leadership skills, have a look at the following characteristics which make a successful and effective leader as per the Marines.

JJ DID TIE BUCKLE or the 14 leadership traits

Here are the Leadership principles by Marine Corps (source : manual RP0103). The fourteen leadership traits can be remembered with the acronym “JJ DID TIE BUCKLE” :

Justice
Judgment
Dependability
Initiative
Decisiveness
Tact
Integrity
Enthusiasm
Bearing
Unselfishness
Courage
Knowledge
Loyalty
Endurance

As a leader, if you want your team members to be at their best, you need to be at your best first and be a role model. You can do this exercise for yourself : rank each trait on a scale from 0 to 10.

Among the fourteen traits above, which one are you more concerned about for yourself or for the leader in your organisation ? What are your/their strengths ? What are some areas for improvement ?

How to assess your leadership style ?

Let’s compare a leader to an athlete. An athlete, to be able to perform, needs to master a technic, to have the right strategy and to have the right mindset. If this athlete masters the technic and the strategy but does not have the proper mindset, then the limiting trait in this case will be the mindset.

Similarly, a leader is limited by the trait that he/she masters the least: each trait is worth working on. Executive coaching can help you assess your leadership style and make it even better. You can be very specific and decide to improve one aspect in particular.

For a free discovery session, contact me.

The magic and benefits of coaching

Picture of a lightbulb showing how coaching can be enlightening.

Get someone to listen to you without judgment

When was the last time you talked to someone who gave you his/her full attention ? Someone who listened to without judgment ? Someone who truly understood your issue and helped you find a way to solve it without telling you what he/she would do ?

Each time I coach someone, and each time I am being coached, I am amazed at the outcome.  Indeed, I see my client moving forward and I move myself forward much more than I had expected !

Gain leadership on your career plans

My clients become more intentional about things and stop procrastinating. They are more enthusiastic and confident in the future. They take the lead and decide the direction they want to go.

Coaching is a powerful process to learn, change and progress.

Time is money. If you hire a coach, you will save months of procrastination, dissatisfaction or frustration. You can get rid of your fears, self-limited believes in a few coaching sessions.

That is the best investment you can do for yourself.

Some companies are already using coaching for some individuals rather than training. One-to-one coaching sessions are eye-opening and transforming.

Try a free executive coaching session to experiment the power of coaching and start your transformative journey.

Relationships in the workplace: what we can learn from the Marines (Part I)

Drawing of a navy captain.

It has come up recently to my mind that the words relationship and leadership finish both by the word : “SHIP”. Professionals who work on ships for a long period of time with a limited number of people can teach us a lot about relation-ship and leader-ship. The ultimate example are Marines. They not only work on a ship, but they also face stressful situations.

Know at least two facts related to your coworkers…

A friend reported to me the following about a marine’s experience. He has joined the Corporate world and shared with his colleague an interesting story. When he was a Marine, he was asked to learn two facts about each peer. The requirement was that each Marine should be able to easily engage a conversation with any other member on board when they met.

What if each professional within a team knew two interests of their peer? What if each leader knew at least two topics of conversation with each team member ?

… because relationships are necessary to build success.

Relationship in the workplace are key for the success of an organization. The social sensitivity of group members is actually one of the three criteria which increases the performance of a group. The Marines seem to know this by experience. Check the following study “The Collective Intelligence factor in the Performance of Human Groups”, published online the 30th September 2010 (reference DOI: 10.1126/science.1193147) to get to know more about this topic.

After I did a quick search on what we can learn from the Marines, I found out that they can teach us many things not only about relationship but also about leadership.

If you face a challenging relationship at work, contact Anne to discover what can be done to help you.

Top 8 tips on how to rebound after a layoff

Picture showing a sad unemployed stickman and one who’s bouncing around after a lay off.

#1 Recognize that it is a number game

You are not targeted personally and there is no conspiracy : this is a head count optimization by your ex organization. It is not related to your performance nor to your person.

In my last position as an engineer, HR met each department of the organization I was working for. They gave the same speech to each department : many of us would be laid off in the coming weeks. Some employees would not be able to log on to their computer one morning : they would get a letter from HR and would be asked to leave the office by the end of the day. The selection was based on a head count per department…

#2 You are not alone

There are people out there who can help you and there are many people in your situation. Do not get isolated and depressed in front of a computer at home.

Why not join networking groups of job seekers to get support, share your experiences and help each other rebound ?

The one I know and that I recommend in Houston is Job Search 101. They provide free workshops conducted by professional career coaches, and they facilitate networking meetings. http://www.jobsearch101.org

#3 Financial concerns : get help from professionals

You might be worried about your income for the coming months and your financial situation. This shall not drive you crazy when you are in transition. Get help from professionals (financial advisers, mortgage professionals…). The preliminary discussion and diagnosis shall be free of charge and you have the right to ask for a second advice.

#4 Keep connected / Reconnect with people

Take advantage of your redundancy to get in touch with professionals who liked working with you. Ask them to write a testimonial for you or ask them to be a reference of yours. This will be good for your positivity and will help you go through your professional transition.

Similarly, if you have been in transition for a couple of months, then consider to reconnect with people who could help you. Have a coffee, invite them to join you at a networking event. Do not be shy to reconnect on LinkedIn for instance and ask them to endorse you for your skills or write a testimonial for you.

#5 Take the time

There might be things that you have delayed for months: meeting with family / friends, spending more time with your kids, fixing your home / car, do photo albums, work out, etc.

It is rare in a career to have a couple of months off. Was there a moment when you thought : “I wish I had the time to…”

Then, do it now ! It will keep you busy, get a sense of accomplishment and reduce your stress level when it comes to the future.

#6 Set your end career goal

Have a clear vision of what you would like to have accomplished as a professional.

You might have been working for many years, jumping from a position to another one, as the opportunity emerged, with no real plan.  On this topic, check out the following post : Career choices, feeling like engaged in a pinball machine game ?

You have the time to think and prepare for your future. Have a direction, a dream in mind : think big !
The more people will roll their eyes when you share with them your dream, the closer you are to the right track !

I like to ask the following to my clients : What accomplishment would you be proud of telling your kids about your professional career ?

#7 Competency assessment and personality assessment

Have you ever done a competency assessment yet or a personality assessment (MBTI, DISC, ICS…) ? If not, that might be a good investment of your time and money.

Step back, analyze your strengths, your area for improvement, gain clarity on what energizes you a work before taking the next step.

#8 Hire an executive coach

Executive coaching offers multiple benefits. Indeed, a coach will empower you to reach your desired goal. You will be encouraged, energized, challenged, supported and you will move forward faster and more efficiently.

This time and money investment in you, will avoid you to go out there desperate to find a job. You will be focus, motivated and proactive. Your coach will also hold you accountable for moving forward.

Contact me for a free exploratory session.

How to get unstuck ?

Picture illustrating the fisherman parable

The parable of the fisherman…

A Bajau fisherman, in Indonesia, was diving with an air compressor. He knew it was a risky practice. However he would earn more money to support his family.

One day, he wanted to catch a big fish which was getting inside a cavity.

What happened is that he got literally stuck at the entrance of the cavity. His buddy tried hard to pull him  off, with no effects. The diver knew that he had two remaining hours to live, based on his air consumption.

He fought hard with the rock to get unstuck, he felt rage against himself and he even cried under water. Getting no result, he ended up calming down, accepting his fatal situation.

The moment he accepted, his muscles relaxed, and his body got finally freed from the cavity !

Since then, he went back to fish the traditional way and appreciated his second chance in life.

… and the benefits of acceptance in professional life.

When I watched this news, I was uncertain about my professional future within my company. And that ultimate experience of acceptance which leads to survival and life had triggered my mind. That was a coaching moment !

A few months later, I finally got laid off, like so many off my colleagues. And I did this journey of ending up accepting the situation. There was no other way for me. No blame, no guilt, no excuses anymore. There was no other way for me. No blame, no guilt, no excuses anymore. I had freed my mind and was able to move forward through 6 steps, I presented in another blog post.

Are you feeling stuck right now ? What have you done so far to get unstuck ?

Where are you in the process of accepting the situation ?

A coach can help you get unstuck, find your own solutions and eventually accept your situation faster and move forward in a direction that you choose. Get in touch to discover how I can help !

To know more on the topic of acceptance, check out the post on how to deal effectively with a professional transition?