Archive for August, 2011

Promotion women

How to fast-track your career in spite of the economy

Are you wondering how to get promotion? Would you like to be better valued and rewarded at work? Review your mindset and beliefs and follow these ideas to help you get proactive about your career.
The past few years have been an uncertain time for many people, with redundancy and the threat of job losses hanging over businesses in many sectors. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that women manage their careers proactively and are not backward in coming forward. To progress your career, you may need to change your mindset and underlying beliefs to be more like a man’s.

According to Dr Val Singh of the Cranfield School of Management, women’s lack of assertiveness can hold their career back: ‘The way business works is not the way women work. Women believe in a fair system in which the promotional and work structure will work for them if they do their job well.’ This is in contrast to men, who will make sure that their managers know they have performed well and will do more self-promotion.

Nobody likes people who continually blow their own trumpet, but there are lots of ways to be proactive and keep visible within your organisation. The mindset of believing in your own self-worth, what you have to offer and what you have achieved is key, so that you’re motivated to think proactively about your career.

Tell your boss about your ambitions

Firstly, talk to your boss about how you would like your career to develop – he or she is not a mind reader and this can demonstrate your commitment to your work and organisation. Don’t let your boss assume that, just because you have children now, your career ambitions are any less.

Then, stretch yourself. If there have been redundancies in your organisation, the people left will more than likely have to do more. Offer to take on things that interest you and could develop you, rather than waiting to be dumped with something you’re less keen on.

Develop yourself

Developing yourself is vital, too. Employers will always want people who are confident, can communicate well, are technology-savvy, work well in a team and are organised. If you feel you could do better in any of these areas, make sure you take advantage of any training inside or outside your organisation, as well as developing your technical or work skills. This way, if you do need to find another job, you have up-to-date transferable skills to offer.

Be visible

Keep your visibility high by participating actively in meetings, presentations and training. If you prepare well beforehand and research relevant issues, you can ensure you have a good contribution to make. Other ways to get known outside your own team could be to get involved in any exhibitions, events, or charity work your organisation does, to write an article for the in-house newsletter or volunteer for cross-team projects.

Build your networks

Contacts are also an important resource for your career, so build your networks inside and outside your organisation. There are plenty of professional networking groups that are industry-specific, or on-line and off-line networks for women, such as Every Woman, Women in Business, Ladies at 11 and Athena – for more information look at Mum & Career – Networking. Networks can be a good way of accessing training as well. And don’t underestimate the importance of building excellent relationships with customers and suppliers.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel

Make sure your boss knows when you’ve done well. Keep any positive feedback you get and note down your achievements throughout the year, so that when it comes to your appraisal or performance review, you have plenty of examples of successes to draw on. Then if jobs cuts come near, you can demonstrate your value to the organisation, or if the worst comes to the worst, you will know how to promote yourself to a new employer.

Author: Anne Williams has a background in HR and coaching and now works as a hypnotherapist. She helps people overcome fears and negative thinking patterns that hold them back in their work and personal lives. For more information about how hypnotherapy could help you, visit Transforming Health.

Working mother - relaxed face

The guilt trip: let it go!

As a working mother, how often do you find yourself dealing with guilt? Now is the time to learn how to let go of parental guilt and, even better, how to avoid it.

It wasn’t until I had my own child that I understood:  to some degree, every mother wants her children to be perfectly comfortable, perfectly protected, perfectly happy – no matter what sacrifice she might have to make. When we, as mothers, feel we fall short of this ideal guilt sets in.

What is guilt?

Guilt is a valuable emotion; it taps into our conscience, which is our internal guide for what is right and wrong. In case we have done something wrong, the emotion of guilt emerges. It is a warning system. Guilt can be motivated internally; where you know instinctively on a deep level that you have done something wrong, or externally, when the outside world tells you that you have done something wrong. It is important to distinguish between the two, because with the first one you are accountable and responsible, with the second one it’s only external pressure.

When do you feel guilt?

Many of us feel guilty, and some of the most common “guilt triggers” I have heard mothers mention are:

  • not always being there for my children, partner or parents
  • prioritising fun over duty
  • taking the easy option
  • saying “no” at work or at home
  • taking time for myself

Do any of these sound familiar? Is this you?

How to avoid guilt

There are simple techniques that will prevent the feeling coming up. Try to look at the following tips and relate them to your triggers and the triggers mentioned above.

  1. Re-examine your goals and priorities. Once you have decided on these, your decision process will be easier and clearer to all parties involved. ‘”Mum has to go to work now, because we need to pay for the holiday, but remember, I will be with you tonight and read.”
  2. Remember your role as a parent. 
Sometimes, it is hard to be disciplined and say no. But there are times you have to say no for the greater good of teaching your children boundaries and limitations. If you know what you base your choice on, guilt is an inappropriate emotion.
  3. Learn from your mistakes. Discuss the object of your guilt with people whose opinion you respect. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them. Be honest and upfront with your children. There is no harm in admitting you made a mistake and apologise. It sets a great role model example and will benefit them.
  4. Swap the word  ‘Guilt’ for  ‘Regret’. 
A simple semantics swap could make a big difference. Guilt is heavily loaded, and a much better word for it is regret. Regret requires no explanation, it represents you did the best you could at that moment. Acknowledging the regret and moving on is the best way forward.

How to deal with guilt

However, you just cannot always avoid guilt, and when it crops up, you need to deal with it. Often our response is so automatic that we feel unable to change it. It is vital, though to stop and take it heads on, as guilt is the greatest destroyer of emotional energy. It leaves you feeling immobilized in the present by something that has already occurred. In fact, excessive guilt is one of the biggest destroyers of self-esteem, individuality, creativity and personal development.

With the first pangs of guilt, we should take a moment to reflect about the following:

  • Is this guilt externally motivated or internally? Do you hear yourself think: “Do I hear my mother telling me off?’”or “That article I read yesterday was showing I did it all wrong”, or do you feel uncomfortable yourself about your action? The difference between the two is that the externally motivated guilt could be dismantled easily: you will never be able to deal with expectations from others and it moves you away from your own truth. So, park those aside. Tell yourself that this is not your conscience, but someone else’s.

When it is internally motivated, go to the next step.

  • Ask yourself: What is it exactly I feel guilty about? Make a list on paper. Write every small aspect down. By doing this, you break the feeling down and instead of being overwhelmed, it enables you to address every aspect.
  • If your action was appropriate or acceptable under the circumstances. Let go of the situation and refuse to think about it further.
  • If your action was inappropriate, ask yourself: Is there something I can do to correct it or to make amends? Then take the action and accept that you have done all you can to rectify the situation and let it rest.
  • Finally, ask yourself: What have I learned from this experience that will be helpful in future? This way you turn your guilt trip into a positive experience that allows you to change your reaction in future.

Guilt can be a helpful emotion, but if you allow it to be negative, immobilising, demotivating and punishing, it doesn’t offer any advantages. Try to deal with it, learn from it and for the future work out your strategies to avoid the guilt.

Author: Dr Mariette Jansen MBACP. Mariette is a Stress Management Consultant and Life Coach. You can contact her at: mariette.jansen.coaching@gmail.com

women in business

Some good news about the riots

Serenity Law LLP is offering a pro bono advice service to those who are affected by the riots who may require assistance with insurance claims or may have issues with their landlords or employees.

Let me explain a bit more on the Riots Damages Act (1886) and how businesses can move forward.

The last weeks media reports have revealed images and reports of senseless acts of violence and vandalism to small businesses, retailers and residents of local communities. However it has been encouraging to see communities support one another and “clean up” their neighbourhoods.

In the aftermath of the violence, the financial and legal costs to businesses are being collated. The Local Data Company (LDC) estimates that 48,804 shops, pubs, restaurants and clubs have suffered directly or indirectly in the 28 town centres affected by the disorder.

Retailers have asked the Prime Minister to put in place actions to support the rebuilding of high streets wrecked by the riots of the past week. In a speech to the House of Commons, David Cameron announced concessions would be given to businesses and homes damaged by the riots for council tax, business rates and tax payments. He also referred to the Association of British Insurers estimate that payments to businesses impacted by the crime wave was in the region of £200m.

A scheme has also been announced for a £20m pot of money to support businesses hit by the riots under the High Street Support Scheme which will be funded jointly by the Department of Communities and Local Government and Business Innovation and Skills. The money is intended to finance those measures that will get business trading again and meet short-term costs pending insurance pay-outs.

The Prime Minister has also instructed the Valuation Office to remove the most severely damaged homes and business premises from its lists, thereby negating the payment of business rates and council tax.

Other measures that have been put in place to assist individuals and businesses are:

  • The compensation claim period under the Riot Damages Act has been extended from 14 days to 42 days from an individual’s local police authority.
  • Major UK banks have pledged to assist businesses and have published contact numbers to help them deal with the aftermath.
  • Uninsured individuals and business owners who would usually not be able to claim in such circumstances are able to seek compensation under the Riot Damages Act (1886).
  • £10 million recovery scheme to help councils make local areas safe and clean.
  • The Law Society has established a dedicated telephone help line to direct the victims of the riots to pro bono or free legal advice in conjunction with LawWorks and individual law firms. This in particular will be useful to the small independent shopkeepers whose livelihoods are threatened by the impact of the recent unrest.

Despite best support efforts from the government and other professional service organisations the cause for concern is that the international impression that a lawless state existed in London may create a longer term negative perception and impact on inward investment and visitor numbers.

If you have any queries regarding the law on this subject or need detailed advice my contact details appear below.

Author: Avinder Laroya is a partner at Serenity Law LLP. This is a full service commercial law firm offering company and commercial, employment, dispute resolution, intellectual property, real estate and immigration legal services to businesses and entrepreneurs ranging from start-ups to public companies.

You might like to know Serenity Law is also very much a “green” business relying upon modern technology to limit environmental waste and of course encourage flexible working! E-mail: alaroya@serenitylaw.co.uk. Phone: 0800 019 7773