Preparing for Retirement

Sunday, December 4, 2011 9:43
Posted in category HR Horizon

Almost all the advice appearing in these columns deals with those at the beginning of their careers or those trying to progress. However, there are quite a few who will be nearing retirement and this is especially for them.

Ideally, we should start to plan for this important transition as early as possible but are too busy trying to build a career, manage a family, and cope with ever-increasing expenses. There are financial considerations and emotional ones as well and both can be fairly traumatic. I am not qualified to talk about the financial aspect so I will focus on the latter.

First of all, you need to remember that you are retiring from work, not from life. If you have played your cards well, you will actually be looking forward to this new phase of your life where you will have all the time to do what you had always wanted to.

It is the ‘looking forward’ that gets us up and about in the mornings and makes for satisfaction at bedtime. I have met too many people who think that being retired (or a pensioner) automatically puts them at the mercy of society or the system, while only a few appear to thrive in retirement.

You should consult your HR department as well as senior colleagues, who have retired before you, to work out a transition plan. Some companies offer psychological and financial counseling to the employee (as well as the spouse) to deal with the new phase of life. But, seriously, start thinking about retirement in your early forties; fifty and over is a bit late.

Many people find great reward in doing charitable works where they can leverage their time and expertise. Some go and teach while others join boards of directors. You could also take up a new skill, write a book or try and figure out the joys of the internet. Whatever your choice, find your purpose to ensure a fulfilling life after retirement.

The above contents taken from DAWN – Pakistan

Adapting to Change

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 6:05
Posted in category General

People tend to overlook important information when they employ selective perception, habit, and specialization to prevent them from being exposed to ideas they might not want to hear. Although this is human nature, it is not a good strategy for handling change.

Instead, you should face your fears and broaden your sources of information to explore new ideas. By increasing your awareness of change through a willingness to take in new information, you will have a distinct advantage over people who tend to isolate themselves. Flexibility and a willingness to embrace change will make you a more valuable member of your organization – one who can proactively deal with different opportunities and circumstances.

Adapting to change requires the effective use of all your acquired skills as well as skills which you might not yet have mastered or even begun to acquire. In a fast changing work environment, skills become obsolete. If you want to maintain your value in the job marketplace, you must never stop learning. Take the initiative and broaden your reading and knowledge base; read trade journals, attend conferences and training workshops in your area of competence. Look into correspondence or distance education. If circumstances allow, pursue an advanced degree.

You need to take responsibility to educate yourself. Doing so will help you keep your skills current, and it will demonstrate an initiative for growth; and self-improvement that will make you a more visible and viable candidate for a promotion.

Who Do You Work for?

Monday, February 7, 2011 6:32
Posted in category General

How often are you asked the question, “Who do you work for?” Or, when people ask (as we often do in Pakistan), “What do you do?” how do you respond? By telling them the name of the company you are presently with, right? Well, the truth of the matter is that you really only work for yourself (and your family).

It is a fallacy to say “I work for so and so or X, Y and Z”. What we actually do is sell our time and expertise for a commensurate compensation, Period. The famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson is quoted to have said: “Everyone lives by selling something.”

There are two reasons why you need to be reminded of this fact:
Firstly, you will often hear colleagues who have been with the firm a long time say that they have “given their life to this company”. The fact is they were paid just like everyone else did. If not, they would have left. Correct?

Secondly, when you remember that you are basically working for yourself, you will always put in your best effort to do a first-class job. The quality of your work, attention to detail and deadlines, and burning desire to be the best at what you do, will take you to the pinnacle of success.

Remember that you exercise the choice to stay or go. Do so for the right reasons.

The above contents taken from DAWN – Pakistan

How to Negotiate Salary

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 16:12
Posted in category HR Horizon

After having done all the hard work during the job interview, you need to ensure that you bargain well for the product that you have come to sell: yourself. However, you need to be careful that the negotiation is carried out in a tactful manner so that your confidence in your abilities is not perceived as arrogance. Here are some tips:

  1. Timing. Keep the salary negotiation for the end, even if the interviewer repeatedly asks the question or makes an offer during the middle of the interview in a bid to settle on a lower figure.
  2. Sales bid. Keep selling your tangible Unique Selling Point (USP), so that you can then relate it to your eventual salary demand.
  3. Salary range. When asked about salary expectations, ask what the range is; this will tell you whether your demand is within acceptable limits. The standard practice is to seek 40% over and above what you are presently earning. This could vary subject to industry, function and position. Try agreeing on the basic salary first before discussing perks and other non-monetary benefits.
  4. Benefits. Obtain as many details as you can about the benefits. If you are forced to settle for a lower salary, these benefits can be used to compensate for the gap.
  5. Tact. Aim to achieve a solution that suits both parties. In case of an unacceptable offer, decline politely in order to maintain a good rapport with the interviewer.
  6. Be flexible.  Although money is vital, character is more significant. By appearing to be fixated on money, you may appear stubborn or too materialistic.
  7. Don’t rush.  Delay the decision for at least 48 hours to consult with experts, seniors, family members and a mentor.

Overcoming Entry Level Boredom

Monday, December 20, 2010 16:58
Posted in category HR Horizon

Joining a new place of employment is usually accompanied by a sense of anticipation about meeting new people and adjusting to a new environment. Although most companies make it a point to make the transition for new employees as easy as possible, there are instances where they can be left to fend for themselves without much guidance. This can lead to boredom and loss of focus. The best option in such a scenario is to be proactive. Here’s how:

1. Orientation. In addition to attending the formal induction session, assimilate as much knowledge as you can about the company’s history, products, competition, processes, etc., through their website, manuals as well as through discussions with colleagues.

2. Culture Fit. Interact with the ‘buddy’ (HR nominated colleagues) assigned to you to discuss and understand company norms.

3. Network. Meet cross functional colleagues during working hours or lunch and learn about their role and their impact on your job; develop a rapport with them.

4. Role. Understand your role and what is expected of you by studying your job description and clarifying any job related queries with the HR Department.

5. Organize. Organise yourself in terms of computer (loading relevant progammes) and table accessories. Obtain required shelf space, files and begin labeling them. Engage with the hiring process of direct reports if required.

The above contents taken from DAWN – Pakistan

Interviewing the Interviewer

Saturday, October 30, 2010 8:45
Posted in category HR Horizon

The job interview is an exercise  designed to match the right candidate with the job.

Therefore it is only natural that while preparing for an interview most candidates tend to focus on coming up with ‘right’ answer to a variety of questions.  What they tend to forget is that these days most employers provide an opportunity to potential employees to ask question as well.  For interviewers a candidate with no questions is deemed to possess on independent thought process.

Here are some insightful questions that a candidate should ask during an interview:

  1. How does the management view the role and importance of this department and this position?
  2. What are the skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
  3. What is the most important thing I should do during the first 90 days of my employment that will help me understand the work and the organisation?
  4. What is the company’s policy on seminars, workshops and training to enable employees to improve their skills and acquire new ones?
  5. How much opportunity will I get to see the end result of my efforts?
  6. How much opportunity will I have for decision-making?
  7. What steps has the organisation taken recently to show that it values its employees?
  8. Are there any specific criteria upon with I would be evaluated?  And how frequently is formal and informal review completed for new employees?
The above contents taken from DAWN – Pakistan

Be a Most Valued Player

Monday, August 30, 2010 3:35
Posted in category HR Horizon

Becoming the Most Valued Player (MVP) on your team means going the extra mile; even if the rewards don’t seem to be forthcoming effort will pay off in the long run.

To become the MVP at your workplace, consider the following:

  1. Have an opinion. Being the MVP means not sitting on the sidelines. Have an opinion that adds value to any given situation; for maximum effect listen to others with an open mind.
  2. Help others. Lend a hand, an ear or just be there; their trusted and reliable presence makes MVPs part guardian angels, part watchdogs. Remember team cohesion, motivation and inspiration are all directly linked to this.
  3. Be level-headed. Being calm in the tye of the storm is crucial as others rely on your rock solid demeanour to deflect and absorb pressure, giving them the space to perform in tense situations.
  4. Dress well. Look the part. Inspiring people to be their best and representing the best qualities of your team begins with looking your best at all times.
  5. Sharpen that axe. Becoming the MVP is an ongoing process. Add value to your skill-set: read, travel, socialise, cultivate a hobby, seek a mentor and learn to take risks. Broadening your horizons and your mind will ensure that people continue to be inspired by you, and to work towards their (and by association your) goals as well.
The above contents taken from DAWN – Pakistan

Adjusting to a New Job

Sunday, August 8, 2010 13:43
Posted in category HR Horizon

For many of us, a new job often means new challenges. For the rest of us, it means goose bumps – the kind we had when we switched schools when we were younger. Although patience, attention and caution will get you through the probation period easily, the key to success is that you not only adjust to your new job, but make the most of it.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Familiarise quickly. Get to know your new surroundings. find out the location of the bathrooms, prayer area, fire exists, smoking area, cafeteria, printer and photocopy machines. Also learn to remember your employee ID, your parking slot and any passwords as quickly as possible.
  2. Listen carefully. the most important thing to do at your new job is to listen to everything and remember it. the initial instructions are mostly about your job responsibilities and the do’s and don’ts as an employee.
  3. Ask to learn. The best way to get through rules and regulations, policies and procedures is to ask questions at the appropriate time. Whether it is sending across an email or taking a long lunch break, don’t hesitate to question. lack o information may easily lad you in trouble.
  4. Participate by invitation only. Whether it’s a meeting, a brain-storming session or a discussion, get involved (not un-invited through!). It will give you an excellent opportunity to learn about your new colleagues and about how to deal with them. make some creful suggestions only when your opinion is sought.
  5. Socialise moderately. Do get to know your boss and colleagues. Introduce yourself and learn their names. Find out what their jobs and responsibilities are. It will ease out with your colleagues with no trouble.  Do remember that every job requires a period of adjustment, so be patient.
The above contents taken from DAWN – Pakistan

An Upbeat Job Search

Friday, July 30, 2010 0:54
Posted in category HR Horizon

Searching for a job can be a real energy sapping experience especially if you are jobless and the news repeatedly unfavourable. A very common reaction is to let your spirits sag and lose focus of what needs to be done.

Here are a few tips that will help to lift your spirits while you continue with the job search.

  1. Positive environment. Ensure that you are constantly surrounded by positive vibes, especially when it comes to people you associate with. Try to read books and watch TV shows that are uplifting rather than gloomy or depressing.  Avoid negativity.
  2. Self-talk.  Reframe negative thoughts like “The company didn’t hire me because I am less competent” with “The position did not match my profile”. Use positive phrases like “I am confident to get the job suiting my strengths” or “This too shall pass like before”. Repetition with belief is key.
  3. Stay busy.  An empty mind is the devil’s workshop. Keep yourself occupied. Network, read books or articles on self-development, do apprenticeships/internships, attend seminars/workshops, etc.
  4. Visualise.  Keep rahearsing the interviews with different perspectives and difficult situations. Play “What-If” games through the interviewer’s eyes, repeatedly seeing yourself as the winner.
  5. Numbers game.  Think of giving interviews like selling a product, only it is YOU that you are selling. An interview like sales is a numbers game. With each NO, you get closer to a YES!
  6. Physical needs.  Ensure your body gets proper rest and diet. At least seven hours of sleep and a healthy diet should be maintained especially before interviews.
  7. Stress.  Counter it through positive self-talk, hobbies, physical fitness, etc. Having a physical and emotoinal outlet is healthy.
  8. Read the Signs.  Maybe life is giving you the opportunity to do something completely different. Explore other career options.
The above contents taken from DAWN – Pakistan

The Myths and Realities of Training

Thursday, July 22, 2010 10:21
Posted in category HR Horizon

Most people attend training workshops with a set of expectations regarding what they will gain from the workshop. However, sometimes their expectations are not very practical  or realistic.

Here is a closer look:

  1. I will get to learn everything about the subject, right? Wrong. A training workshop is at best a refresher course that provides an overview of a topic. Most importantly, it provides a roadmap  for your future learning direction.
  2. The training will provide quick solutions.  Sorry, but training doesn’t provide magic solutions as it can only show you the path to excel. It can transform your thinking, but in the end it all depends on you to practice and explore.
  3. Attending numerous training programmes will brighten up my job prospects.  Success in your career only depends upon the skills set you have and how effectively you translate them into results. Training programmes cannot substitute a degree on your resume but they can supplement the strategic direction of your career.
  4. A trainer without an elaborate PowerPoint presentation will be ineffective.  PowerPoint presentations are only one of the many audio-visual aids that can be used to facilitate learning. They are not indispensable for imparting knowledge and when used unimaginatively, they can unsupportive of critical thinking and discussion.
  5. The participants will be like me. Your fellow participants may not have the same level of experience and expertise as you. Drastically slashed training budgets have meant an ever-decreasing number of participants at training programmes making it difficult to ensure a homogenous degree of training participation.

Remember, the ultimate success and effectiveness of a training programme lies with you. Use it as a stepping-stone to enter the fascinating world of knowldege and awareness.

The above contents taken from DAWN – Pakistan