Workplace Relationships

Peak Performer’s Life: Here’s How to Build Trust

walterbond_webBuilding trust is an important part of any relationship—personal or professional. Trust and integrity isn’t about being perfect; but rather, owning up to responsibilities and mistakes, and treating others the same way you would want to be treated. This week on Peak Performer’s Life, Walter Bond continues his discussion on integrity—how building trust, doing the right thing, and treating others well builds your integrity.

According to Walter:

“I believe you know people who always make excuses, always justify, and try to explain their mistakes away. And here’s why they do it—they are really under pressure to be perfect.”

 

How do you own up to your mistakes? What have you done to show that despite your imperfections, you are dedicated to integrity? Let us know in the comments section below.

New messages each week!
Walter Bond and Peak Performer’s Life is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals. Don’t forget to check back each week for a new message from Walter Bond.

 

About Walter Bond
A former American professional basketball player, Walter Bond’s NBA career included 153 games with the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, and Detroit Pistons. Now, Walter takes what he learned from his life on the court and translates it into motivational and educational messages for thriving businesses and careers. For more information, visit WalterBond.com.

 

What to Expect From Your Mentorship

what_to_expect_mentorship_webSo, you have a mentor. Whether they’re a personal, business, or school mentor, you’re lucky to now be in a relationship that can help you grow and succeed in your professional and personal life.

Like all relationships, both sides have responsibilities. It’s important to remember that the mentor doesn’t do all the work – you have to put in your own level of effort and time too. Your mentor takes an active role in guiding and helping you, but you also have to let them know about what you want to learn, your challenges, your hopes, and more.

What To Expect From Your Mentor
Let’s talk about what a mentor actually does. A mentor will:

  • Offer encouragement and ongoing support
  • Listen to things that are worrying you and give constructive, unbiased support
  • Share stories and examples of their own failures and victories
  • Provide honest feedback and suggestions
  • Act as a sounding board for ideas and dreams
  • Help with making decisions by offering alternative views based on experience
  • Introduce you to contacts to further your personal and business development

So, that’s what a mentor does. Now, let’s take a look at what a mentor does not do. Your mentor will not:

  • Be your own private counselor or therapist
  • Give you specific business advice, like tax or legal help
  • Provide a free training course
  • Be responsible for the success of your business, schoolwork, etc.
  • Be expected to support you financially

What is Your Role in the Relationship?
Recently, we’ve talked a lot about mentors and how valuable they are. In this type of relationship, you have a role to play as well. So, what is expected from you as a mentee?

A mentee is expected to:

  • Be organized and proactive about asking for advice and sharing needs
  • Come prepared to meetings and arrive on time
  • Follow up with assignments or tasks related to the mentorship
  • Discuss how the mentor can challenge him or her to grow and develop strengths
  • Take constructive criticism in the spirit in which it is given
  • Demonstrate listening skills

Think of mentorships as a friendship. Mentors should genuinely care about how to help you reach your goals or be successful. In turn, your role as a mentee means you make an effort to appreciate the time and care your mentor gives to you.

What are some other responsibilities a mentee has to his or her mentor? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

National Have Fun at Work Day

have_fun_at_work_day_webThese days there’s a national holiday for just about everything. On Wednesday, Jan. 28, it’s National Have Fun at Work Day.

Work is usually a place where we’re serious and focused on deadlines, meetings, and the hustle and bustle of work life. But, having a little fun is good for the soul and productivity. Here are a few ideas to shake stress off and make the day fun!

  1. Dress up.
    No, not in your typical business attire. Pick your favorite TV show or movie characters to dress up as. Maybe don your best 1950s gear. Get creative and clever with it, because this is a day to be silly.
  2. Have a potluck or go out for a long lunch.
    What better way to have fun at work than with a potluck? Each person could make their favorite dish and then there could be a contest for the best recipes. The winners could be featured on Facebook or in the employee newsletter. Or, how about the entire team picks a new restaurant to visit? Take time to really sit and chat. Relax and enjoy getting to share time with your co-workers.
  3. Host games throughout the day.
    Make a day of it with your very own office Olympics. Different departments can compete against each other to see who earns a trophy and bragging rights. And if playing all day is not possible, maybe every hour or every other hour there could be an activity. Get creative and encourage teamwork!
  4. Give back.
    Why not do some volunteer work on this national day of fun? Spend the day with your co-workers giving back and making a difference in your community. Many nonprofits rely on volunteers to help fulfill their missions and would gladly accept the help.
  5. Take pictures.
    Who doesn’t love a photo booth? Plus, they’re very cost effective to create. Usually all you need is a flat wall or doorway and some streamers. Throw in some hats and various props, grab someone who can snap some pictures, and you’ve got a fun way to document the day!

National Have Fun at Work Day doesn’t have to cost a fortune or consist of elaborate activities. A little bit of creativity can go a long way! Let the good times roll!

How do you celebrate National Have Fun at Work Day? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Be a Mentor at Any Age

be_a_mentor_at_any_age_webDid you ever have a teacher or a friend who – no matter what happened – believed in you and wanted you to succeed?

Did that person give you advice, encouragement, and guidance? Did you look up to that person and become better thanks to the attention they gave you?

If so, you are probably one of many people who had a mentor!

Mentors are invaluable, and many people have had one at some time in their life. The best part is that you’re never too young to be a mentor. High school students, middle-school students, college-aged youth, and young professionals can be a mentor to someone else.

What is a Mentor?
A mentor is usually someone older than the person being mentored, who takes a personal interest in the success and well-being of another. They not only share knowledge, skills, and experience, but also discuss new ideas and help the mentee work out solutions on their own and with guidance.

A mentor challenges, protects, offers support, shows patience, and is enthusiastic about helping their mentee grow and be successful.

While those qualities may seem a bit overwhelming, it’s important to know that anybody can be a mentor, no matter what the age. Even students still in high school can start mentoring by reaching out to someone younger. The mentor should ask questions about what is important to the mentee, and above all, should be a cheerleader for that person by boosting their confidence and leading them to success.

What Does a Mentor Do?
Some examples of what a mentor does include:

  • Provides the same type of help that you do in everyday life. If you naturally “help others,” you can use those same practices in a mentorship role.
  • Provides information and advice based on your own ideas, successes, and experience.
  • Encourages others to take positive risks and have a positive and healthy outlook.
  • Offers honest and constructive feedback.
  • Helps with planning or thinking through a problem or challenge.
  • Listens to the concerns, points of view, and dreams of the mentee.
  • Shares different views and ways of thinking.
  • Introduces that person to others who can help and advocate on their behalf.

Why Be a Mentor?
Being a mentor doesn’t just help the mentee. It is also a chance to look at yourself more closely and explore your own opportunities.

You have the chance to become more successful and confident as you instill those qualities in another person. You’ll also become more open to reaching out to your own mentors who can help you succeed in school, college, or your career.

By mentoring, you improve your personal and professional responsibilities as you learn, grow and become more accountable to others. As you model the professional and personal values that others admire, you will teach them how to live up to those values.

In terms of leadership, you can’t go wrong with becoming a mentor. Talk to your school’s counselor or company’s HR department about how to become a mentor. It’s a move that can help you – and someone else – succeed!

Have you ever been a mentor? Did you have someone special who helped you? Share your stories in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Gift-Giving Guide for Your Co-Workers

coworker_gifts_webTis the season! With the holidays upon us, it’s the time of year when office parties and gift giving abound. It can be stressful trying to decide how to approach gift giving with your co-workers, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are six simple tips to ensure the celebrations stay merry.

1. If you decide to give gifts, know you’re doing it voluntarily.

Your decision to give gifts to your fellow co-workers is 100% a voluntary decision. Most people do like to celebrate the holidays, but you may come across someone who doesn’t want to participate in gift exchanges. It could be for a number of reasons. Maybe their budget is tight and they can’t afford it. So, don’t get upset if everyone you give a gift to doesn’t give you one back. Instead, embrace the idea of giving without expecting anything in return.

2. If you plan to give one co-worker a gift, you may have to give them all a gift. 

The simple rule to remember here is that no one likes to be left out. If you give a gift to one co-worker and not another, that person may feel excluded. And you don’t want that to happen. Inclusion is the name of the game. Also, if one of your best friends works with you and you’ve bought that person a more elaborate gift than everyone else, wait until after work hours to give the gift so you can keep all workplace gifts fair.

3. Use kind words. 

Sometimes it means more to a person to hear kind words than receive a gift. Consider giving a holiday card to each of your co-workers with a message about why you enjoy working with them or that you hope they have a great holiday season and you wish them a great new year. Remember to keep it professional and sincere.

4. Avoid giving cash and keep gift spending to a minimum. 

Sure, sometimes it’s nice when your family gives you money for the holidays, because it allows you to purchase what you really want. But, when it comes to work, choose to give a gift instead. It’s more thoughtful and shows heart. And speaking of thoughtful, you don’t have to spend a lavish amount on co-worker gifts. In a 2013 holiday survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 78% of respondents said they expected to spend $25 or less on a gift, 36% said $10 or less, and 10% said $5 or less. For example, does everyone on your team like Starbucks? If so, consider a gift card with a nice message for them.

5. Suggest a department-wide secret Santa gift exchange. 

Why not suggest drawing names and buying a gift for that co-worker? If your department leader will allow, everyone could gather together for lunch or snacks at the end of the day and exchange gifts. This will ensure that everyone gets a gift (at least those who want to participate), and you don’t overspend on the celebration.

Many departments also play dirty Santa, a game where participants bring a wrapped gift and then on each person’s turn they can either choose an unopened gift or steal an opened gift from a co-worker. If your gift gets stolen, you can steal from someone else or pick a new, unopened gift. Just remember with any gift exchange, you are still in a professional environment. Avoid gag gifts or anything inappropriate.

6. Approach a gift for the boss with caution. 

The holidays are not an avenue for you to earn brownie points with management. If you’re considering buying a gift for your boss, it’s best to ask your co-workers if they would like to contribute. Make it a gift from your department rather than just you. While you may have a gift idea in mind and want to volunteer to get it, just remember the importance of including all of your co-workers.

The holidays should be a fun time full of cheer. Remember, if you’re ever in doubt about your company’s gift-exchange policy, always consult your manager first. Happy gifting!

How do you show appreciation to your co-workers this time of year? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Avoid Cultural Gaffes When Dealing in International Business

avoiding_cultural_gaffes_webWith technology at our fingertips, studying international business, taking internships abroad, and learning about today’s global marketplace is easier than ever. Ensuring you know how to recognize and respect business dealings of other countries is an important part of the process, so check out this post from guest blogger Heide Brandes.

Knowing business etiquette for foreign meetings can help make you a job search star.

When the Executive Director of Foreign Affairs for Taiwan presented his business card to me, I took it with both hands, studying the feel of the paper, the type of font, and the spelling of his name.

When I passed my card to him, he did the same. In Taiwan, and many Asian countries, the presentation of one’s business card is a serious event. It deserves respect and the time it takes to really look at the card and study it. Why?

It’s just considered good business. In America, we tend to slide our cards in a casual way across a board room table to everyone present, but that habit would be considered rude and even insulting in other countries.

Luckily, I looked up the business etiquette standards for Taiwan before my trip, so when the opportunity arose, I was able to honor my business associate by behaving appropriately.

In international business, first impressions are vital. To put a foreign partner at ease, you must avoid cultural gaffes, build trust, and know the customs concerning business wear, body language, handshakes, and more.

Clients thousands of miles away are easily reached in today’s society through video messaging, the internet, and email. So, knowing how to conduct yourself in other cultures is vital to having business success. Not only do you have the chance to impress foreign clients and your boss, you can also make yourself stand out on a global scale.

Do Your Homework
In some Asian countries, holding eye contact for too long is considered impolite or aggressive. On the other hand, Canadian businessmen emphasize eye contact as a way of showing respect and interest in what the other person is saying.

The best way to know what’s acceptable and what’s not is by doing your homework.

The acceptable business etiquette for any country can be found on the internet and in travel books, so it’s easy to educate yourself on the common practices. For example, if you are traveling to India, it’s good to know that ordering beef at a business lunch is considered rude since cows are sacred animals in that country.

Never be late to a meeting with Canadian business executives, as they value punctuality. And when dealing with the Japanese, let them initiate a handshake first because sometimes handshakes are not acceptable.

Set Your Ego Aside
In the U.S., Americans take pride in our strengths and our individuality. Holding heads high and portraying confident body language shows one is a capable and successful business person.

But in Japan, for instance, it is common practice to divert your eyes when dealing with a business partner in a higher position than you are. In business dealings, showing respect can mean the difference between a contract or a failure.

Admit Ignorance or “The Power of Apology”
If you do commit a cultural gaffe while dealing with foreign clients, apologize quickly and make it clear that you were unaware of your mistake.

Like you, foreign clients are on unfamiliar ground when doing business outside their home country. Apologize quickly and sincerely if you make a mistake and ask your client what the proper etiquette is, giving him or her the chance to explain.

The Importance of Food
In many societies, food is a ritual. With business dealings, the same theory applies. If you are invited to a lunch or formal dinner with foreign colleagues, brush up on the local dinner table manners. For instance, never put your chopsticks upright in rice, as it is reminiscent of incense sticks burned at a funeral in many Asian countries.

While eating with your hands is acceptable in India, it’s strictly taboo in other cultures. In France, politeness dictates that you rest your hands on the table instead of your lap.

Never Assume
Every society has its rules and quirks. It’s important to know or at least attempt to know the different customs of the clients you deal with in order to maintain a level of professionalism in your career.

How about you? Share your stories – both good and embarrassing – about dealing with foreign clients in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Five Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss

never_say_to_boss_webSaying the wrong things to your boss can damage your career in ways that are hard to recover from. It’s important to think before you speak, even when you are upset or passionate about an issue. It’s the first step in keeping a positive relationship with your boss, and while it might sound easy, you’d be surprised how many struggle with this idea. Throwing away certain phrases that most bosses hate is the second step.

So to save you from sticking your foot in your mouth, here’s a quick list of five things you should never say to your boss.

1. “I can’t” or “That’s impossible.”
Never tell your boss that something cannot be done. Choose to speak about what can be done instead, and always think of how you can solve problems instead of falling victim to them.

“It can’t be done by Friday” can be turned into, “This may be difficult to complete by Friday, but I know it can be completed by Monday,” or, “We could meet this Friday deadline, but we may need to bring in extra help to do so.”

If you can create solutions for what seems like an impossible situation, your boss is more likely to help you achieve it.

2. “But, we’ve always done it this way.”
Don’t get stuck in the past. If you have a new boss who wants to do things a new way or an old boss who wants to try something different, meet the challenge straight away. If you say, ”But, we’ve always done it this way,” you run the risk of looking stale and combative.

Be a part of the brainstorming process and be open to new ways of doing things. If you are gravely concerned about a new process, present it as a challenge by saying, “In order for this to work, we may have to…”

Don’t kill your boss’ idea with a stubborn or negative attitude. Show you are open to growing as an employee and willing to work with your boss, for better or worse. Who knows? You may just learn a valuable new skill or find a better way of doing something.

3. “That’s not my job” or “That’s not my department”
If your boss comes to you with an assignment or a request, don’t shut him or her down with, “That’s not part of my job description.” Your boss needs your help and has come to you, because he or she has faith you can do that task. If you’re concerned a new assignment is out of your regular responsibilities, ask who you can turn to for help.

By taking on an outside responsibility, you have the chance to not only shine in your boss’ eyes, but also learn a new skill set. It’s the perfect opportunity to show those in charge that you are a team player and a bold employee who rises to the challenge.

4. “It’s not my fault” or “It’s so and so’s fault, not mine.”
If you make a mistake, own up to it. If you didn’t make a mistake, explain that fact without pointing fingers or sounding petulant.

Never point fingers at another coworker or someone else. This is not only in poor taste, but makes you look unprofessional. If you believe someone else could clarify the situation, refer your manager to them directly.

Bosses know that mistakes happen. The sign of a confident and professional employee is one who can honestly admit to a mistake – and offer solutions to fix it.

5. “I don’t know…”
No one expects you to know everything, but saying “I don’t know” and leaving it at that can be a career-killer. If you don’t know the answer to something your boss asks, say instead, “I’m not sure, but I can find out.”

By offering to discover the answer to whatever question your leaders have, you show them you are eager, curious, a problem-solver, and committed. You’ll learn something new too, and by volunteering to find the information, you’ll end up as a vital resource to your company.

Saying the right things at the right time
No employee is perfect all the time. Everyone sticks their foot in their mouth in front of their boss now and again, but avoiding the career-killer phrases above will help minimize any damage.

Do you have phrases to add? Did we miss anything on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.