Category Archives: Tips

Tips for keeping perfection in check

CriticismsFrom time to time we all get stuck in the endless loop of searching for perfection in our work. Most of us have been there, finalizing every detail, reworking the numbers again and again, and adding that little bit of flair that goes a long way during boring presentations, only to hand in our work a few days late.

In reality, perfect does not equal effective, especially in today’s modern workplace. In a business where middle managers and junior partners are going to revise and edit your project no matter how perfect it is you’ll more than likely face some criticism.

Instead of searching for immediate perfection try to look at your task as “starting the project”. Once you have started the project the rest of the work team will be providing feedback on the project, allowing you to renew your efforts and incorporate any changes that need to be made. Use criticism as a learning experience and the entire process will lead you down a path towards success. Sometimes “good enough” is good enough.

Tips for keeping perfection in check:

Complete the assignment before making improvements!

Spend time completing the assignment to the best of your ability before looking to make improvements. Perfecting the first half of your project isn’t going to mean much if you run out of time before completing the second half. The Pareto Principle says that eighty percent of the effort you put forth should come from twenty percent of the project. Don’t spend long hours perfecting parts of a project that never truly needed improvement in the first place. Plan your project, finish the project, and then improve it if you have the time. Working in that order will allow you the ability to improve while still having a completed assignment to hand in at the end of the day.

From financial statements to flowcharts, every project can be improved upon in some manner. There will always be someone who thinks that a different font would make it easier to read, or some people who prefer images without borders, but the truth is that these are not important aspects of your presentation. Most people in the meeting are not going to care what your font size is, or how you set up your spreadsheet, however, they will care if you do not finish your assignment on time.

 

Criticism is Reality:

No matter what you produce there will be someone who just isn’t going to like it. Why beat yourself up over the inevitable? A successful employee is on who is able to accept criticism and use it has a learning experience. Reaching for perfection on every project and assignment is a waste of everyone’s time and kind of delusional.

Striving for perfection in the workplace is an admirable goal, but not one that is entirely realistic. Even the most studious workers will find themselves being given suggestions for improvement by supervisors. Employees who put out best possible work can still find room for improvement. Successful employees are the ones that can use this criticism as a learning opportunity. When supervisors provide feedback they are telling you what they would like to see. So, next time you hand in an assignment make sure you mention how you incorporated their feedback into the new assignment.

TIME MANAGEMENT

It’s important not to burn yourself out trying to be the perfect employee. Often times the quest for perfection leads employees down a negative path where they start to adapt a “Why bother?” attitude. Just because an assignment cannot be completed perfectly does not mean that you shouldn’t give it your absolute best. Furthermore, employees that ask themselves, “Why am I doing this? Nobody appreciates it anyway.” Need to evaluate their professional priorities (a topic we will touch upon at a later date).

Time management is an essential tool for avoiding employee burnout. Employees who set deadlines and goals, and stick to them, feel a sense of accomplishment even when completing smaller tasks. However, time management is only one tool available to today’s modern employee. Applications and software like; Google Calendar, Pomodoro, and any.do, can help eliminate the stress of having to organize workplace tasks. Don’t try to remember every detail of half a dozen tasks at the same time. Instead, thing smarter, not harder!

There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection. Employees who continue to push themselves and work harder will find success in the workplace, but in order to prevent burnout it’s important to not just work hard, but to be smart enough to know how to work smarter and allow yourself room for both error and improvement.

Networking

networking
Have you ever heard of the “hidden job market”? Well, in all actuality you’ve probably already participated in that market. Employers often fill job openings through the “hidden job market”. So, how can today’s up and coming professionals find work via the hidden job market? In a word, networking.

Here are there valuable keys to establishing a great network.

  1. First, you have to know what a network is, and how to build it.
  2. Next, it’s time to determine who should be part of your network.
  3. Finally, you must understand how to maintain your network and how your individual actions may affect your network.

Building a Network

Networking is, at its basic, getting to know likeminded professionals and using those relationships to build professional contacts. Your own personal network will often consist of many different people from different walks of life. This can include family, friends, school mates, peers and professionals, and more! Everyone has a network, but to successfully network as a young professional it’s all about how you use that network to your advantage, and how that network works for you.

Growing and maintaining your professional network is an important step towards success for young professionals. There are numerous ways to grow your professional network, which is as important as maintaining the network itself. Find ways to grow your network in your own community by joining personal and professional groups and organizations. Getting to know your neighbors is an amazing way to find new members for your network right in your own proverbial backyard. Professional associations, including Home Owners associations, can also be a great way to find common ground with peers that can be added to your network.

Develop Your Relationships.

Having a well-functioning network that works for you is not just about having an abundance of people in your network, it’s about having the right kind of people too.

The list of appropriate people for your network ranges from early mentors that can help guide your career in the right direction, industry professionals that are knowledgeable and have the ability to keep you up to date on new trends and technology, and can even consist of those that you spend time mentoring and help to guide. Each and every person in your professional network is going to bring a unique perspective and tons of new knowledge to the table. Use the knowledge that your network gifts you as a way to grow and improve yourself both personally and professionally.

Maintaining Your Network for years to come.

In many ways a network is like a savings account. Everyone knows that making a deposit is better than making a withdrawal. Each action you take, from lending a helping hand on a project, to helping a neighbor with some yard work, is a deposit into your network, and the more you deposit the more your network grows. As you grow your network, treat it like you would a bank account. Don’t make a withdrawal until you make a deposit. These actions may seem insignificant at first, but they add up and show your network the type of person and employee you’re likely to become. Even when you pursue activities that make you smile you can add deposits to your network. Developing relationships and interacting with the people who make up your network should be beneficial and fun. Building a network is the equivalent to building lasting relationships, and nothing builds relationships faster than quality time spent together. As you grow closer to those in your network, the people in your network become more comfortable with you. This is valuable in the long-term when you’re seeking recommendations or referrals, or even seeking advice from another professional in your network.

Simply put, there are few things more valuable than a well-rounded and fully functional network of peers and professionals. Be on the lookout for potential deposits into your network, and make withdrawals when needed based on unprofessional behaviors. At the end of the day your own network should be a wealth of information, knowledge, and advice. Use that knowledge to your advantage and learn from those that have traveled in your footsteps. As a professional you can learn a lot from everyone out there, even if it’s what not to do. Utilize your network and be better off because of it.

How to get ideas from your team

creative idea
Strategic planning can be a useful tool when working to include more than your own partner group. If it’s your very first time, strategic planning can be a bit nerve wracking and overwhelming, but the benefits are worth the effort.

When your team comes together and uses a collaborative model the results can be amazing and beneficial for all involved. Inviting your entire team to participate allows for an open dialog between all parties. Given the opportunity to debate, generate ideas, and openly communication with each other, you’ll discover a few wonderful things:

Your team is all on the same page: Because ideas are being generated by the whole group, there is no separation of management/employee or partner/junior partner, instead everyone has collaborated together to work towards one singular goal.

You will see that by the end of your collaborative planning session the team will be of one mindset and ready to move forward.

Good ideas can come from any direction: I’m sure you won’t be terribly surprised that members of your team have some great ideas. However, giving the team the ability to express ideas in an open forum as allowed everyone to listen, and also be heard. In this type of open forum, where everyone is listening and contributing, ideas can come from staff or partners, and any member of the team.

Positive energy provides positive results: Nothing motivates a team like teamwork. Corporations spend big bucks trying to motivate employees, and this collaborative event is an easy way to enable each member of the team to have a voice, in turn motivating the entire group to one singular event or project. If the team you’re working with has a desire to be heard, and you give them a forum to voice their ideas, you’ve managed to pull off a kind of collaborative magic that CEO’s only wish they could!
It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to pull off this level of collaboration, but you will see that the results speak for themselves. Each member of your team now has a voice and is motivated to reach the same goals.

What makes a great partner

great partner
What makes a great partner? Is it having an unlimited number of connections? Is it being a “rainmaker”? No, being the best partner is about being someone that can be counted on, through good times and bad. The best partners have each other’s backs. Below are 5 attributes that I think make a partner truly remarkable.

  1. Gratitude: I cannot stress how important it is that a partner feels appreciated. This means showing your appreciation in two ways, words and actions. When working with partners I often find that one partner may feel underappreciated, as if their contributions and efforts are not valued. This type of thinking is the biggest factor in the deterioration of the partner relationship. When one partner feels devalued or unappreciated they begin feeling resentment and looking for an exit strategy. Take the time to notice the little things your partner contributes, and make sure that both parties feel they play a pivotal role in the partnership.
  1. Respect: True and equal partners respect each other, their work, and their partnership. Even when partners disagree they do so with a mutual understanding an respect towards each other. There’s no room in the professional workplace for insults and profanity. Nor is there room for yelling and verbal aggression. Partners must respect each other as equals and respect the work that they put into the partnership, regardless of agreement or disagreement. Keep in mind that each partner has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important that partners pay off of those attributes to the benefit of the partnership. Yes, respect is something that is often “earned” and respect in a partnership should be looked at being something that cannot be taken away unless it’s through negative actions, or actions that hurt the partnership, like disrespect and unprofessional behavior.
  1. Amiability: In most cases, partners of a firm have common interests and common goals. Therefore, it’s easy to like each other when finding common ground.  If this was not the case, they probably would never have become partners in the first place.  For a partnership to maintain its amiability each side must communicate regularly, and appropriately with each other, while also working on the relationship in general. Partners that like each other are proud to share their time and expertise with each other. They also treat each member of the partnership with an appropriate amount of respect, both professionally and personally. Amiable partnerships have an easier time working towards a singular goal and share their achievements with each other regularly.
  1. Trust: Trust is the foundation that any fully functioning partnership is made from.  Trust is not typically something that comes freely, instead it is earned over years of hard work and dedication, along with respect. Partners may not outwardly talk about trust, but it is an unwritten rule that trust is a core value that partners must live by in order to maintain a productive and positive relationship. Transparency is a great way of building trust with partners.  A partner that is not afraid to share the inner workings of their business decisions and opportunities is showing the other partners that not only can they themselves be trusted, but that they also trust each other in the knowledge obtained. Partners who have an established level of trust should be careful not to break that bond, as trust is hard to earn back once it has been broken.
  1. Pay attention: There is one common attribute that every successful partnership has, and that is the willingness to listen to new ideas openly and without judgement. This also includes allowing partners to voice their own concerns and frustrations. Partners who have the ability to not just hear, but truly listen to a partners needs are more likely to have the ability to problem solve together, and show a mutual respect for all parties involved. Finally, it’s not just about listening either. Partners who  respect and listen to each other share vital information about clients and the firm, without having to be prodded, coaxed into revealing information that is vital to the success of the partnership.

Being a great partner is more than just the sum of all the parts mentioned above. Partnership is about teamwork, dedication, trust, respect, and the mutual goal of making a firm extraordinary.