Friday, July 30, 2010

Hello - Goodbye - Let's keep in touch!

The job market isn’t always a friendly place for recent university graduates and as a recent graduate myself, I can attest to this fact. I can relate to the struggle of trying to become situated in the work world while still holding on to the ideals of school – e.g., doing something you love, related to something you studied. Sometimes we may wonder why we are in a job seemingly unrelated to all those years of study. This can make the transition from university to the workforce difficult, jarring even. Although a university education prepares us for the specific field in which our interest resides, we cannot rely on the increasingly outdated conception that a B.A. is a guaranteed ‘in’ to a job in that field. Continual upgrading is a crucial benefit; for example, being a certified Personality Dimensions facilitator gives you an edge over other graduates.

Although I’ve only been at Life Strategies a short time, I’ve greatly enjoyed being here and can see it as a phenomenal foundation for my career. It has given me unique and invaluable experience that I would not have found elsewhere, even though on the surface it is not exactly what I had studied in university. More importantly, working at Life Strategies has given me the opportunity to see how my education and career choice interrelate so harmoniously. That being said, being accepted into grad school to complete my M.A. was an opportunity I could not pass up. I will be going to Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario to complete my Master’s in Sociology, with a focus on Internationalization, Migration, and Human Rights. Recently I have been given the task of researching diversity in the workforce. The research has reassured me that I have made the right decision to pursue my education at a higher level. Yet is has also shown me again that so many of my interests are deeply embedded in organizations such as Life Strategies.

Whatever opportunities come your way, take them!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Roast Beef

"A young woman wanted to cook roast beef for dinner but had never done so before, so she called her mother to ask for instructions. Her mother told her to cut a chunk off both ends of the roast before placing it into the roasting pan. The roast beef turned out wonderfully. The next day the woman called her mother again and asked "Why is it so important to cut the ends off the roast." The mother thought for a bit and replied "I'm not sure, but that's how my mother taught me to cook roast beef, we'll need to ask grandma next time we see her." Several days later the woman and her mother visited grandma and asked her why it was so important to cut the ends of the roast off to ensure successful roasting. The grandma replied with a smirk, "because that's the only way I could fit it into my roasting pan".

We so often do things the way we do because that's how we've always done them. We're not quite sure why we do things that way...but it must be the "right way" because that's how it's always been done.
Perhaps there are other options that make more sense for the ways things are today.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fitting Learning Into Your Life

Most everyone understands the importance of engaging in lifelong learning. The world of work is incredibly fast paced resulting in the need to keep up with advancements in technology, changes in business focus, new funding opportunities, and the need to maintain certifications / credentials – the list likely goes on and on. In reality, however, it can be exceedingly difficult to incorporate learning into already busy lives; juggling work, family/friends, community, and health can be challenging enough without the added stress of “getting to school.” Perhaps engaging in lifelong learning would be easier if we took a more creative approach to the notion of “learning.”

Learning can occur anywhere, anytime – it isn’t just about driving to a local community college to take a course or meeting co-workers at a company-sponsored training event. Even universities recognize the importance of offering a wider range of options for adult learners; I’m, for example, completing my PhD in Organizational Systems via a distributed learning model…there is no need for me to visit the university campus. Learning can also be informal such as reading, sharing technical tips with colleagues, and attending lunch ‘n learns.

Here are a few tips for fitting learning into your life:

§ Keep a reading box – journals, magazines, and books can be popped into a basket or box and grabbed when time permits or the mood strikes. Fill your briefcase before a road trip or flight

§ Form a topical discussion group – meet with team members and/or colleagues for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly sessions, perhaps over lunch or coffee. Rotate who is going to share an item learned relevant to their work

§ Share a tech tip – come to each staff meeting with a technical tip (i.e., did you know CTRL+Z is a keyboard shortcut for undo)

§ Take a short e-course – we recommend for inexpensive, quick, self-paced training. With over 830 courses ranging from web development and digital photography to MS Office and Adobe there is something for everyone

For more formal education (i.e., college-level courses, certificate and degree programs) don’t overlook the benefits of distance education – it can easily fit around other life activities and, in some cases, can offer a better educational experience than face-to-face training.

Most importantly, remember that

Learning is a treasure

that will follow its owner everywhere

~Chinese Proverb

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away – Thriving Through Difficult Times

Although the West Coast of Canada is well known for it’s rainy days, by July we’re usually basking in the sun. Unfortunately, we’re currently under siege with April-type showers and it’s beginning to get hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Will the rain ever stop? Will we ever get a stretch of sun for longer than one day?!

With work, visualizing an end to a particularly difficult or busy time can also be a struggle which can impact the engagement of your team members and overall company morale. It’s especially important in times such as these for team members to band together, support each other, and collectively rise to the challenge. Be sure to recognize the challenge at hand and distribute work to those most well-suited. Planning and prioritizing are essential to ensure what needs to get done is getting done, no balls are being dropped, and work-load isn’t overwhelming the team.

Difficult times can be due to one large challenge or lots of little ones that just never seem to end. At Life Strategies Ltd. we often use “ticky” contests to keep track of those smaller tasks we get off our plate and give us a sense of accomplishment. At the end of a specified period, the one with the most tickies wins!

Remember, when the skies clear and the sun emerges, don’t forget to reward you team. It’s the perfect conditions for a summer BBQ.