The Power of Positivity when Job Hunting & Applying

Looking at changing jobs can be one of the most stressful things we can do as an individual, and getting results, while looking for career move is not as easy as it may seem.

The answer may lie in you. Any good salesperson will tell you that people buy from people they like. Similarly, employers give jobs to people they like. Of course, you have to have the skills and experience as well, but when two or more candidates rank equally, the job is more likely to go to the person who formed the best relationship with the potential employer.

To make a good impression, you need to be positive and engaging.  Being positive is a vital pre-condition for your job search: if you feel negative or unenthusiastic, it could come across when you meet people, and they won’t buy you. Even providing any kind of constructive feedback can be received on a negative bias.

We all need different stimuli to help boost morale. For some, a few days break from the grind of job searching will do the trick. Others will find that a good workout in the gym, or regular sport, helps to re-energise and motivate them. Some people will find their positivity through spiritual means, or with the help of friends or colleagues. Or maybe a professional or career coach will help to keep you motivated and on track.

To help stay positive, remember your achievements. You should have a bank of achievements that you keep for your CV anyway, so that every time you apply for a job you can include those which are most relevant. These demonstrate what you do when you are performing at your best and could come from any area of your life: work, family or social. Reviewing this list can help you recall the mood of success.

Another technique to keep you motivated is to listen to your favourite music just before you make an important call, go into a meeting or interview, or even while you are writing a job application. We all know how important music can be for our mood: use it to your advantage while applying for jobs.

But remember, it doesn’t matter how positive you are, there will always be times when things go wrong. Motivation won’t solve everything. It’s important to understand that the current job market is fiercely competitive and, in many cases, a bit of a lottery. If you get turned down, it may be disappointing but it’s not always because there is something wrong with you – it’s just that someone else got lucky.

If you really do feel knocked back by a rejection, however, take a deep breath, get up and do something else to take your mind off it. You can’t always force an emotion to go away; you have to wait for your mood to lighten. Go back to your achievements, focus on what you do well and remind yourself that you are good. If you need to, find a shoulder to cry on – it can help.

Staying positive is not always easy; in fact, it’s the hardest job search technique of all. It can feel artificial and pointless – and trying to stay positive and failing can even make you feel worse. But it’s critical that you don’t get bogged down by job seeking and that employers can see your motivation.

Building Extraordinary Relationships

Professional success is important to everyone, but still, success in business and in life means different things to different people.

But one fact is universal: Real success, the kind that exists on multiple levels, is impossible without building great relationships. Real success is impossible unless you treat other people with kindness, regard, and respect.

What Steps? I hear you ask:-

Take the hit – A customer gets mad. A stakeholder complains about poor service. A mutual friend feels slighted. Sometimes, whatever the issue and regardless of who is actually at fault, some people step in and take the hit. They’re willing to accept the criticism or abuse because they know they can handle it–and they know that maybe, just maybe, the other person can’t.

Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship.

Step in without being asked It’s easy to help when you’re asked. Most people will. Very few people offer help before they have been asked, even though most of the time that is when a little help will make the greatest impact. People who build extraordinary relationships pay close attention so they can tell when others are struggling. Then they offer to help, but not in a general, “Is there something I can do to help you?” way.

Instead they come up with specific ways they can help. That way they can push past the reflexive, “No, I’m okay…” objections. And they can roll up their sleeves and make a difference in another person’s life. Not because they want to build a better relationship, although that is certainly the result, but simply because they care.

Answer the question that is not asked – Where relationships are concerned, face value is usually without value. Often people will ask a different question than the one they really want answered. A colleague might ask you whether he should teach a class at a local college; what he really wants to talk about is how to take his life in a different direction.

A partner might ask how you felt about the idea he presented during the last board meeting; what he really wants to talk about is his diminished role in the running of the company. An employee might ask how you built a successful business; instead of kissing up he might be looking for some advice–and encouragement–to help him follow his own dreams.

Behind many simple questions is often a larger question that goes unasked. People who build great relationships think about what lies underneath so they can answer that question, too.

Know when to Reign it In – Outgoing and charismatic people are usually a lot of fun… until they aren’t. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, still, some people can’t stop “expressing their individuality.” (Admit it: You know at least one person so in love with his personality he can never Reign it back.)

People who build great relationships know when to have fun and when to be serious, when to be over the top and when to be invisible, and when to take charge and when to follow.

Great relationships are multifaceted and therefore require multifaceted people willing to adapt to the situation–and to the people in that situation.

Prove they think of others – People who build great relationships don’t just think about other people. They act on those thoughts. One easy way is to give unexpected praise. Everyone loves unexpected praise–it’s like getting flowers not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but “just because.” Praise helps others feel better about themselves and lets them know you’re thinking about them (which, if you think about it, is flattering in itself.)

Take a little time every day to do something nice for someone you know, not because you’re expected to but simply because you can. When you do, your relationships improve dramatically.

Realise when they have acted poorly – Most people apologise when their actions or words are called into question.

Very few people apologise before they are asked to, or even before anyone notices they should. Responsibility is a key building block of a great relationship. People who take the blame, who say they are sorry and explain why they are sorry, who don’t try to push any of the blame back on the other person–those are people everyone wants in their lives, because they instantly turn a mistake into a bump in the road rather than a permanent roadblock.

Give consistently, receive occasionally – A great relationship is mutually beneficial. In business terms that means connecting with people who can be mentors, who can share information, who can help create other connections; in short, that means going into a relationship wanting something.

The person who builds great relationships doesn’t think about what she wants; she starts by thinking about what she can give. She sees giving as the best way to establish a real relationship and a lasting connection. She approaches building relationships as if it’s all about the other person and not about her, and in the process builds relationships with people who follow the same approach.

In time they make real connections. And in time they make real friends.

Value the message by always valuing the messenger – When someone speaks from a position of power or authority or fame it’s tempting to place greater emphasis on their input, advice, and ideas.

We listen to Deming. We listen to Taiichi Ohno. We listen to Peter Senge, The guy who mows our lawn? Maybe we don’t listen to him so much. That’s unfortunate. Smart people strip away the framing that comes with the source–whether positive or negative–and consider the information, advice, or idea based solely on its merits.

People who build great relationships never automatically discount the message simply because they discount the messenger. They know good advice is good advice, regardless of where it comes from. And they know good people are good people, regardless of their perceived “status.”

Start small… and are happy to stay small – I sometimes wear a Newcastle Football Club shirt. At the supermarket the other, the checkout operator said, “Oh, you’re a Newcastle supporter? My team is Manchester United.”

I always engage in little interactions, and I said, “You think Man U can win the league this year?”

He gave me a huge smile and said, “Oh yeah. We’ll crush everyone!” (Too bad he will be wrong.)

Now whenever I see him he waves, often from across the store. I almost always walk over, say hi, and talk briefly about footy. That’s as far as our relationship is likely to go and that’s okay. For a couple of minutes we transcend the customer/employee relationship and become two people brightening each other’s day. And that’s enough, because every relationship, however minor and possibly fleeting, has value.

People who build great relationships treat every one of their relationships that way. (That’s a good lesson we all need to take to heart)

Are you able to improve your Business Processes effectively?

As businesses we are always striving to be better, meet customer’s ever-rising demands, and remain competitive. There are many methods, practices, and philosophies in which they engage to achieve this (Innovation Management, Continuous Improvement, Lean Management, 6-sigma etc.), and organizations invest heavily in tools and consultants to implement these effectively.

One of the often overlooked methodologies is BPM (Business Process Management). Organizations, when asked, will normally state that they feel their processes are under control, but if asked how they make sure they are constantly improved and modified to meet changing needs; their answers get a little blurry.

It turns out; most organizations do improve their business processes, but usually as a reaction to a problem. Even though they engage in some of the above mentioned improvement methodologies, they are usually product and service centric, and not Business Process centric. They lack the tools and culture to proactively engage in Business Process improvement like they would in their manufacturing and service delivery processes.

If we follow the WikiPedia definition for BPM (Business process management is a holistic management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients), we realize that Business Processes actually govern all other processes engaged in by organizations. We actually need business processes to accomplish all other processes in the business cycle.

Most organizations will have tools and procedures to enable their team members to identify and execute on improvement opportunities in their products and services. This is because of tangible gains (normally reflected in the bottom line) to be had with the execution of improvements. The tools used will ensure the improvement is captured (process flows, instructions and standards are updated in central repositories), communicated, and translated to the bottom line. The tools and processes used ensure teams impacted upstream and downstream are in-the-loop.

However, organizations seldom invest in tools and expertise to effectively manage and improve their business processes. A major reason for this is that they do not look at business processes as being equal to, or more important than a manufacturing process.

The benefits of improving these don’t automatically translate to the bottom line, and thus organizations usually do not take a proactive approach to improvement. Problems with poor business processes are usually reflected in wasted time (usually made up by employees working overtime), and are normally not addressed unless they have an adverse and measurable effect on the bottom line – sometimes leading to a real line-stoppage (i.e.: someone did not place an order for parts using the ‘new process’).

These types of line-stopping (and consequently very expensive) events are usually a result of not having well defined standards and procedures to manage the business process lifecycle. This can be quickly identified by two critical missing elements:

a) Business Process Maps:
Just like a manufacturing process flow-chart maps the flow of material and value-add activities at each station in the process, the Business Process Map shows the flow of objects (Usually Information) and activities performed at each step. There are specific sets of instructions, standards, documents, roles and resources related to each process step. The business process map becomes the standard baseline from which change can be made.

The result of not having Process Maps can be illustrated by team members having poor knowledge of upstream and downstream processes and how they fit into them. This in turn makes it hard to identify upstream/downstream areas that will be impacted by change, as well limits the ability to measure and justify change (specially improvements). This normally means Status-Quo is the rule, and change is only initiated after a business ‘catastrophe’ occurs.

b) Effective communication tools;
We have all experienced the occasion when we followed a known procedure, to later find out from a downstream process that we did not follow the ‘new’ process, or used an outdated document, thus resulting in repeating the work. (This specific scenario probably causes billions of pounds in wasted effort every year.)

In a manufacturing process, where a line stoppage can lead to enormous costs, it is imperative to communicate changes to ensure downstream stations are prepared and don’t receive a ‘line-stopping’ surprise. Business processes should be no different, however, seldom are business processes tied to exact execution times, and thus communication is not given high importance. In fact, it is typical to see communication happen reactively like this:

  • Dept. B changed a form, and everyone in Dept. B. knows.
  • Mr. X from Dept. A. uses the old form and submits to Dept. B.
  • Mr. X is told the form is outdated and has to resubmit it to Dept. B.
  • Mr. X now warns his Dept. A. colleagues to make sure they use the new form.

Effective communication tools and methods are critical to ensure everyone relevant to a change is instantly made aware of the change and the impact to their work.

In conclusion, when looking to improve your business processes ask yourself this: Do I have a documented process standard (typically process maps), and the right communication tools in place to ensure changes and their impact are immediately known across the organization?