Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Monday, September 14, 2015

"Why you should take a leap at work"/ job advice

Jul. 21 "Why you should take a leap at work": I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Mar. 30, 2015:

 About 10 years ago, Herminia Ibarra created a leadership program for mid-career employees looking to expand their roles or viewed by their bosses as having potential to move up the ladder. Most of the approaches in such situations involve getting them to reflect on their personality and impact in the company, through such features as 360-degree reviews. It seemed to make sense – standard leadership development. “But the self-reflection seemed to be blocking change,” the Insead business school professor said in an interview.

By analyzing how they did their jobs – understanding what they were good at, and why – they fell into what she calls “competency traps.” They preferred to continue to do what had made them successful and what they were comfortable with. “It’s who they had become,” she noted. But to advance, they needed to reach beyond their current strengths, experimenting with new styles and approaches.

It’s common these days to hear we should lead from the inside out: Understand who our authentic self is, and then use that in tackling the external challenges we face. But in her new book Act like a Leader, Think like a Leader, Prof. Ibarra calls for a reverse approach she labels “outsight,” in which an external perspective drives inner development. The idea is that the only way to think like a leader is to act like one first – plunge into new projects and activities, interact with different people who can help you grow, and experiment with different (and probably uncomfortable) ways of getting things done.

The first element is redefining your job. Instead of staying stuck in your current routine, look for ways to expand in a manner that will bring you new skills, ideally giving a broader strategic perspective. She suggests that over the next few days, you start observing somebody whom you consider a strategic or visionary leader, and piece together how he thinks and communicates.

Over the next few weeks, sign up for a project – inside or outside your organization – that will take you beyond your expertise and expand your scope. Over the next few months, watch some TED talks to understand storytelling better or attend a convention that will broaden your horizons.

“Anything that takes you out of your daily routine is helpful. It doesn’t have to be a big step,” she said in the interview.

If you can, study other people doing similar jobs and learn different approaches. Carve out 10 to 20 per cent of your time for these experiments. That might even force you to start delegating more or to eliminate low-priority tasks to find time for the new challenges. All of this is breaking habits – habits blocking you from advancing. “It’s not time to think. It’s time to do novel things,” she said.

The second element is redefining your network, which may also be keeping you stuck in place if those people mirror your own thinking, as is common. She recommends an audit, listing the individuals in the network, as well as its main strengths and weaknesses. Now reach across your organization and outside, broadening the scope of interactions. You can use your existing connections, asking for referrals and introductions to people who would be nice to meet.

Again, don’t spend too much time thinking. She urges you to act. In the book, she suggests over the next three days talking to three people outside your business unit or company, learning what they do and how it might apply to your work. In the next three weeks, reconnect with individuals outside the company who might over lunch shed useful light on your work or industry. Make a list of five senior people in your industry you ought to know better, and figure out how to strengthen your relationship with them over the next three months.

The third element is to be more playful with yourself, breaking away from your self-identity. Perhaps you see yourself as a hands-on manager or an excellent people person. But in trying to abide by that perception, you are limiting yourself from acting in different ways.

Changing will feel inauthentic at first – as if you’re no longer your best self. Indeed, often that feeling of inauthenticity blocks leaders from transitioning into new roles. They cling to the past. “Authenticity can be an excuse. I have no issue with authenticity. But there will be times you won’t feel like yourself,” she said. Just get on with it.

Be more playful, seeing yourself in different ways. “You don’t have to be the opposite of who you are. But flirt with the possibilities,” she said. Don’t feel you are a public speaker? Try it. Maybe you can become accomplished without being the entertainer you fear the role demands. U.S. President Barack Obama has been called a chameleon for the way he adjusts to different situations, and that’s a good model for an aspiring leader.

“You can step up to a bigger leadership role, but you need to act your way into a new way of thinking instead of thinking your way into a new way of doing,” she concludes.


"I'm working 50 hours a week how can I get my life back?": I cut out this article in the Globe and Mail on Mar. 30, 2015:

THE QUESTION

I work at a job I really like, but it is beginning to overrun my life. It’s supposed to be a 40-hour work week, but there’s no way the work can be done in that time. It’s not for lack of competence, because I am experienced and efficient at the job. But there have been layoffs in the past few years. I am now working a minimum of 50 hours a week. The company does not pay overtime, and my boss just says the work has to be done.

I don’t care about the extra money, I just want some of my life back so I can deal with family commitments. I have tried to broach the subject with my boss, but he has insinuated that if someone can’t handle the job, they will find someone who can. I don’t want to make a fuss because I don’t want to lose my job, but I don’t want things to keep going on like this either. It’s a small company, so there’s no dedicated HR staff, just my bosses and a general manager. What can I do?

THE FIRST ANSWER

Julie Labrie
President of BlueSky Personnel Solutions, Toronto

Being busy or overworked is often socially glorified, and some companies load more work onto their existing employees because it’s good for the bottom line.

According to Natalie MacDonald, founding partner of Toronto-based employment law firm Rudner MacDonald, if you are a non-manager, the Employment Standards Act says you must receive overtime pay if you work more than 44 hours a week.

Additionally, she notes, if you require accommodation based on your family status, such as for child care or elder care, you may be entitled to that accommodation if it is a reasonable request. That applies whether you are a manager or non-manager.

If you have attempted to resolve this matter with your boss to no avail, consider approaching the general manager. If open communication is welcome in your workplace, it may be worth having a friendly conversation asking for assistance in reducing your workload.

If there are repercussions, consider how much you wish to stay with the company, Ms. MacDonald says. “Sometimes, fighting for what you are entitled to requires a hardline stance – and for some people the stress is not worth it.”

Be loyal to yourself first. If the lack of work-life balance is outweighing the benefits of a rewarding job, it may be time to move to another job that gives you what you need.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Bill Howatt
President of Howatt HR Consulting, Kentville, N.S.

If you are convinced that an honest and open conversation will not result in any change, there are two things you should do.

The first is to learn your rights. You can read about them online or call your provincial labour department and talk to a representative who can answer your questions. There are clearly defined maximum hours per day and per week and rules around overtime. Labour departments do not take kindly to employers who intimidate employees with threats of firing, pay cuts or other forms of punishment. Of course, you can also talk to a lawyer if there are undue hardships after you take this action.

The second is to take stock of what you really want in life. You can benefit from evaluating whether you could ever be really happy in your current role. If not, you may want to consider looking for other options that may be more flexible and supportive of your life-balance needs.
 
Both paths require action. The good news is that you have options. Employers are always looking for competent employees. It will take courage to get off your current merry-go-round. But the ball is in your court.

 
My opinion: That's some good job advice and tips.  I remember back when I worked at the Office Job.  At first it was 40 hrs a week for the first month of training.  Then after that it was 30 hrs a week, and you can choose to work more.  So I did.  Then I also worked at the restaurant on the weekends so it was like 50 hrs a week. 
 
Fortunately, I don't have kids and I lived with my family.  I didn't have to cook or clean, so I was able to work so much.  I still did have time to watch my favorite TV shows and read the newspaper.  I did have work-life balance.

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