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  • 2 Words that Hold Your Career Back – and What to Do When You Hear Them

    02/19/19 8:25 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Career Advice | Leave a Comment
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    “Good job!”

    On the surface, this phrase sounds positive – or innocuous, at the very worst. But when your boss uses it to describe your performance, they’re doing you a great disservice (especially when it comes to your career growth).

    Here’s why:

    Throwaway compliments like “nice work” do nothing more than encourage mediocrity and complacency. They’re the verbal equivalent of those participation trophies toddlers get on the soccer field. And if you think the work you’re doing really is good enough, you’re deluding yourself into believing that you have nothing to improve upon.

    How’s that going to help you move ahead in your job?

    So, if you’re hearing generic phrases like, “Good job” or “nice work” – and nothing else from your supervisor – it’s time to ask for something more.

    Three Words that Drive Career Growth

    “Can we talk?”

    These three words can help you initiate a meaningful conversation with your boss to get what you really need to move ahead: specific, constructive feedback.

    Here’s how to get it:

    Be Positive

    Whining that you “never get feedback” won’t set the right tone. Instead, let your boss know that you’re looking for ways to improve your performance and grow in the organization – and that their input would be very helpful.

    Schedule Time

    Asking your boss for feedback will require work on their end. Explain what your goal is (e.g., to earn a promotion), and that you’d like to know what you’re doing well, what you could improve, and how you can prepare to succeed. Schedule a sit-down meeting to speak with your boss, free from distractions.

    Steel Yourself

    You’re asking for feedback – so prepare yourself to hear things that sting, or with which you might not agree. Guard against defensiveness; temper your emotional response and pay attention to the substance of any critical messages. Listen with curiosity and try to understand your boss’s comments from their point of view.

    Focus on Positive Change

    Write down the feedback you receive – both positive and constructive – and discuss how you can use it to learn, improve and grow. Find out whether your manager can help you create a plan of action and/or ways to measure progress. Remember that feedback won’t help your career unless you use it change your behaviors and habits.

    Looking for more ways to accelerate your career growth?

    Check out this earlier post on how to earn a promotion, garner a raise or set the stage for a career transition:

    How to Blow Your Boss’s Mind (in the Best Way Possible!)

    Then contact an Exact Staff Career Agent. With a nationwide presence, we can confidentially represent you to employers who need talented, career-minded professionals like you. If you’re ready for a new opportunity to build your skills and advance your career, apply with your local Exact Staff office today.

A Simple Trick to Dramatically Boost Workplace Creativity

02/18/19 11:17 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Career Advice | Leave a Comment
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Employees struggling to get the creative juices flowing?

Encourage them to fantasize more (stay with us on this one for a minute before jumping to conclusions!). 

Research presented in this Ladders.com post points to some promising links between breaking a sweat and coming up with breakthrough ideas. In fact, fifty-three percent of Americans surveyed use workout time to fantasize or daydream – thinking about books they’d like to write, devices they plan to invent, or even behavior they want to model.

Cardio and Creativity Just Go Together

Although a cardio workout engages your body, your brain is free to wander. And often, to escape the discomfort your body is suffering, your brain distracts itself by focusing on more pleasant, novel thoughts.

Research shows that acute, strenuous physical exercise activates mechanisms in the brain which facilitate information processing. In other words, working out promotes better cognitive function.

As we mentioned in this earlier post, “How Daydreaming Can Improve Productivity,” daydreaming engages the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity, and it’s in this engaged state that you may make sudden connections and have profound insights. Since cardiovascular exercise primes your brain for this type of activity, it’s an ideal time to problem-solve and innovate.

How Can You Apply this Concept to Boost Creativity?

Admittedly it takes a little creativity to combine work, exercise and intentional fantasizing, but here are two suggestions to get your team moving – and your creativity flowing:

Have Walking Meetings

Take a walk outside to discuss an idea with a team member, instead of shutting yourself in a conference room. Build in quiet periods during your walk, so you can each let your thoughts wander.

Try a Workout Brainstorming Session

If it works for the size and culture of your company, head to the gym to develop potential solutions to a business problem. Since employees may be at different fitness levels, make sure the physical activities you choose are safe, appropriate and inclusive.

Looking for More Creative Approaches to Help You Solve Tough Problems?

Our national staffing and placement agency provides a full complement of solutions, across a wide range of disciplines, to help you get the most from your team and your career.

Meaning and Purpose: How to Find It in Work

02/15/19 6:02 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Career Advice | Leave a Comment
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Know someone who has an incredibly fulfilling career? A person who never seems to have a bad day, is passionate about their work, and truly enjoys their job?

Don’t envy them; be them – by finding the meaning and purpose in your work.

In this earlier post, we explored this concept in depth, citing neuroscience research which demonstrates that meaningful work fuels long-term fulfillment on the job – and can increase your engagement by an astounding 250 percent!

And in this recent SmartBrief article, Rodger Dean Duncan shares tips from prominent thought-leaders on how to discover real fulfillment in your work. Here are a few of their best ideas:

Live Your Personal Core Values at Work

Instead of trying to live up to others’ expectations, commit to acting on your core values every day. While you may not always be able to control what you must do each day, you can always stay in charge of who you are and how you behave – especially when work is challenging.

Treat Every Day as the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

We all get the same 24 hours in a day, and none of us can change what’s happened in the past. But by renewing your commitment to doing your absolute best each morning, you greet the day with a clean slate and a fresh sense of purpose.

Connect the Dots

Clarify for yourself how your work affects your department, your organization and the world at large. When you envision the impact of your daily routine in this larger context, you find greater meaning in performing otherwise routine tasks.

Focus on Your Gifts

Make a list of things you’re good at and look for patterns: What energizes you? What do you naturally enjoy most? Identifying your strengths, and then analyzing how those talents benefit others (e.g., fellow team members, clients, customers, vendors and beyond) amplifies the meaning of what you do.

Team Members Lacking Passion or Inspiration?

Give them more time to focus on meaningful, purpose-driven work. With a full complement of national staffing and placement solutions, Exact Staff is here to support your core team’s success. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.

Smart Tips for Improving Workplace Relationships

02/8/19 3:30 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Not feeling camaraderie, goodwill and teamwork in your office like you used to?

Might be time for a workplace relationship reboot.

Like all interpersonal connections, sustaining healthy relationships in the workplace takes consistent effort. Left unaddressed, small disagreements, miscommunications or slights can do more than just irritate your staff; they can destroy teamwork, corporate culture and trust – and drive great people out the door.

Go on the Offensive!

If you’re seeing unnecessary drama or are sensing that employees are mentally checking out, be proactive and positive. Use these simple tips from our national employment agency to improve relationships in your workplace:

Be Direct (but Kind).

Too often, tension builds because someone wants to avoid having an awkward or unpleasant conversation. But without honest communication, the offending employee may never even know that their behavior is causing issues – and the elephant in the room will only get bigger.

Speaking the truth is the best way to help another person understand and adjust. Before approaching someone:

  • Clarify your intention. Think of what you want the positive outcome to be – and use that to guide the conversation.
  • Don’t wait. Initiate a conversation as soon after an incident as possible, as long as you’re calm.
  • Be discrete. Never bring up a sensitive issue in public.
  • Be kind and empathetic. Consider the other person’s feelings when making your case.

Try Role-Playing

If two employees are having trouble getting along, ask each to view the situation from the other’s perspectives by pretending they’ve been asked to resolve the problem. By broadening their perspective and asking for their help in developing solutions, you effectively break the cycle of pettiness and negativity.

Train Your Team in Active Listening

Role-playing is much more effective when participants employ active listening techniques. This key communication skill demonstrates that participants understand, and are concerned about, the other’s point of view. In this earlier post, we review active listening fundamentals and explain how to use the technique to guide difficult conversations at work.

Stop the blame Game

When problems crop up, some people naturally go on the defensive. If this is a pattern in your office, bring up the topic for discussion. Remind employees that pointing fingers fuels drama, and that responsible employees own their mistakes, focus on developing solutions, and try to learn from missteps so that they don’t happen again.

Share Resources

Quite honestly, some people are not great at developing healthy workplace relationships simply because they haven’t been taught how to. One remedy is to give these employees resources they can use to curb negative thinking, communicate in constructive ways, and model positive behaviors.

For example, share and discuss these earlier posts as a team:

Happy People Have These Habits

Effective Ways to Approach Conflict and Difficult Conversations at Work

How to Prevent Negativity from Creeping into Your Corporate Culture

Need More Positive Relationships in Your Workplace?

Hire smarter. Strive to systematically replace toxic employees with more positive high-performers. Look for individuals who communicate directly, respect others and are upbeat even in tough circumstances.

Exact Staff’s recruiting experts are here to source and refer candidates with the personality traits and soft skills to help you build healthy workplace relationships. Contact our national employment agency today to get started.

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