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As a mother are your talents being utilised?

Mother Utilise Talents

 “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talents in the world”     Hilary Clinton

We know it, we recognise it and we agree with her comment….or should I say, us women do, and many mothers are living as part of this “untapped reservoir of talent“.  As a women with my own business and a mother of a primary aged child, I feel proud and privileged to know the range of talented and skilled women that I do. If you were to harness the abilities and qualifications of mothers in the school playground, you could set up and successfully run a number of hugely profitable high powered businesses, and I’m talking state school here.  However, I feel there are three key pressures that stop mothers doing what they really want to do, and using their talents to their best advantage: financial considerations, job security and expectations of others.

“In this day and age women can just as easily be the main breadwinner as men. Why should they have to give up their careers when they have children?”

 

Ben Foden fronting the Government campaign for shared parental leave.

The most important one that batters this talent into submission is financial issues.  Traditionally men have earned more than women, and as women give birth, it was always felt they should stay at home and bring up the child in Women and work talentsthose important early years, plus if we’re talking traditional, men weren’t allowed in the hospital and were outside smoking cigars!  However, in today’s society a high percentage of women have high powered and well paid jobs which are challenging and engaging.  Their wages make a significant contribution to the household, and so many, when they become mothers, need to go back to work financially.  They may need to work less hours, find they have a reduced or different role in the company, or end up applying for less skilled jobs, in order to balance financial need with childcare consideration, and so feel de-skilled and that their talents are unfulfilled.

 The recent change in paid maternity leave and how it can now be divided up between both parents, may make financial considerations less of a concern, but only if fathers are willing to take on this role.

The second issue is job security.  A National Childbirth Trust survey published in 2014,  commented that:

“Around half of new mothers have to cut short their maternity leave because of fears they will lose their job if they stay at home

 

The study quoted nearly 45% of women as feeling they are being forced back to work sooner than they wanted after giving birth, due to concerns over “job security”.  There are still great issues in some companies over asking for woman in distress Talentsflexible hours, yet remaining in the same role in which your talents were utilised.  This may not always be the employers fault, but also due to their financial considerations as well as staffing issues, yet the “job security” issue for women remains!  It can see them taking a sideways position in the company when they come back from maternity leave, or trying to balance work and childcare considerations to such an extent that both suffer, and it is all they can do to get through each day.  They are too exhausted just trying to keep afloat and get through the daily tasks to show initiative and flair.

The third key pressure, is the idea that women can and should have it all, and most importantly want it all.  Society and other women, make it sound as if it can be nothing but a great thing!  Nicola Horlick was hailed as a superwoman for balancing her extremely successful and high powered finance career whilst raising six children!  This is a fantastic achievement, but does every woman and mother want it, or do they feel under pressure to show they too, can act this way?  I know I did!

My neighbour and I had a really interesting discussion  about the pressures on mothers to return to work, and how much of that anxiety was generated by the women themselves and the media.  My neighbour told me she made a conscious decision to give up work and be at home with her four children as she felt it was important “that I bring up my children my way.  The way I want them to be brought up, with my values”.  She felt women shouldn’t have to apologise for wanting to be stay-at-home mums and choose to nurture and raise their children, but should feel confident in the choice they’ve made.

Will the much needed change in paid maternity leave see more fathers taking paid time off to share the childcare, and allow mothers to go  back to their same challenging careers, and perform well because they are able to?  Or, will companies still feel mothers are a liability and gradually squeeze them out of their positions, into a more mundane role?  Lastly, are women their own harshest critics and feel they should be able to do it all, and that their failing if they choose to stay at home with their children?

Where do you stand?  Are you at the point of returning to work, or having to make career decisions?

Do you feel you can return to work and still perform at the same high level, or do you need a confidence boost and skills audit?

Share your experiences with me on twitter @therealme_PDP or Facebook The real me (Paula Ashby)

Alternatively email me for a free and confidential chat about whether coaching can help you utilise your talents me.  paula@professionaldevelopmentpeople.co.uk

 

7 top tips to help you survive your first job interview!

First Interview

“Nation of awkward teens need help to shake hands and smile”

Antony Jenkins Barclays chief executive, was quoted in The Sunday Times today as saying that Britain will probably have a “lost generation” of teenagers, if we don’t “help them develop the skills they will need for the new world of work”.  Are these your students he’s talking about?  The skills he’s referring to aren’t the academic topics they’ve spent years studying for, but “people skills”.  These are the skills that take the individual from being “socially awkward” and not able to give eye contact or shake hands with someone in authority, to appearing confident in the way they manage themselves, engage in conversation and play their role within the interview.  Below I’ve outlined 7 top tips for you to share with the young people you work with increase their effectiveness in interviews:

Be prepared for the interview

How many of us worry about the interview in private, but shrug it off as “no big deal” in public.  IT IS A  BIG DEAL! Statistics from www.parliament.uk showed that 764,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in September to November 2014, which was up 30,000 on the previous quarter, and the unemployment rate was up 0.9% from the previous quarter. This means that no matter how positively you are viewed at six form, college or university, you are an unknown quantity in the world of work. You will be judged on what you know and how you present yourself, so read up on the company, the position you are being interviewed for, what other similar companies are up to.  Have questions prepared that you can ask the company, and appear knowledgeable. Be very clear why YOU want to work for THEM, as HR and company directors like to know that you have chosen to apply to them for a job rather than a competitor.

Be confident

How do your friends and family view you?  Do they see you as being confident in a range of situations?  Ask them for examples of when they have seen you this way, and what you looked and sounded like?  Check out were you naturally confident in this situation, i.e. discussing a topic around Sunday lunch with your family, or did you have to switch if on, such as giving a speech at college.  Get your family or close friends to describe these situations and coach you, so that you can conjure up these positive words, phrases and mannerisms again, when your confidence is beginning to fade, either before or during an interview.  Also ask them to describe situations where you’ve been over-confident and what this looked like? It’s important to know the difference so that the wrong impression doesn’t come across in an interview.  When we are nervous, over-confidence can easily come into play to cover up nerves.  This is not a good look

Posture and stance

When you go for an interview, you never know who is observing you, so it’s always a good idea to be confident from the minute you enter the building.  What impression are you giving the receptionist who greets you?  At this stage, you will need to show confidence through your posture and stance, so ensure that when walking into the building or interview room, you stand up tall and straight, put your shoulders back and keep your head level with your chin up, as this makes it easier to gain eye contact.  These things extend your body length and give you a presence.  If this is difficult for you to understand, just think of how you view people who are the opposite.  By trying to make themselves as physically small as possible, how do you see them: shy, worried, fearful  or even powerless?  Can you think of someone who has a strong presence on TV?  Observe their mannerisms and how others react to them.  However, as I’ve mentioned earlier, don’t be over-confident and swagger into the interview room thinking the world is lucky to have you.

Eye contact

There is a lot of information out there on whether you should or shouldn’t make eye contact due to cultural differences, gender and age differences and how best to show respect to someone in authority.  The golden rule, is that the person interviewing you is asking you questions and so will usually be looking at you, and so expects you to look at him or her when responding.  It’s useful to do this, as you can generally pick up on their facial cues, smiles, nods show they are listening and are either agreeing with what you are saying or are finding it interesting, whilst frowns or  stares could mean confusion or disagreement.  It IS acceptable however, to break eye contact. You are not in a staring competition, and also ensure that if you are being interviewed by a panel, that you initially look at the person who asked you the question when answering, then look along the panel as you continue answering the question.

eye contact

 

Body language

During the interview you’ll be using a range of body language and the key is to be aware of some of the messages you are giving.  This is why mock interviews are really useful, and preferably with people you don’t know, as they can tell you, without bias, the impression you are giving.  You will be nervous, you might be flustered, you’ll probably be sweating and possibly uncomfortable in the clothes you’re wearing.  If you have excluded an air of confidence before entering the room with your posture and general chit chat, don’t blow it now.  Ask friends and family if you have any ‘poker’ tells, which means what do you routinely do when you are nervous, twist your fingers, play with your hair, clear your throat or jiggle your legs?  Whatever your poker tells are, unless you are consciously aware of them you won’t be able to know when they are happening and stop doing them!  You won’t fail an interview for crossing your arms across your chest or saying erm, but the person interviewing you will pick up on how uncomfortable you feel compared with the person they have just seen, and may choose to give the job to the more confident person, if qualifications and knowledge are similar.

Choice of words

You must know your stuff!  You must use key terminology in a knowledgeable way and also provide examples of things you have done.  Look at the job description, objectives or competencies required and pick out the key points that link your experiences or ‘career/job wants’ and talk about these.  At the very least it shows you have read all the information sent to you and can link the job competencies to experiences you have had.  It also makes you feel comfortable as you are talking from a position of familiarity and therefore are more confident.  It’s like using hashtags, if you want to get hits, use the right tags.  If you want to get the job, use the workplace language! Most interviews want to know about your life experience as well as academic information, so talk about your hobbies and how decision making comes into play, or budgeting, decision making or problem solving…

The open and close of the interview

These are important times and interviewees often feel powerless at these points as they are unsure what is expected of them, so are just usually quiet and waiting for someone to tell them where to go and what question to answer.  Use this time to engage in small time or chit chat, about the company “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to come here today because I’ve heard ….”, the building “What a fantastic old building, what’s it like to work here?”, the weather or any small talk (you can prepare some topics beforehand), so that you give positive verbs to the person meeting you, and it also helps you to relax into the situation.  More importantly, the interviewer sees you smiling and chatting to a member of his or her staff on entry to the room. An excellent first impression! Similarly, at the end of the interview, show some initiative and thank the interviewing panel for their time, give them eye contact and shake each person’s hand if you have the opportunity.  This gives them a positive lasting impression of you being a confident candidate for the job!

Professional Development People have worked with schools, universities and companies in coaching people and developing their communication skills.  We were most recently involved with #DavidCameron’s #Employability programme in Surrey, helping the long term unemployed get back into work, through training them in a range of qualifications, CV writing and interview skills.

Let us help your young people!  Call or email Paula or Richard via our website to arrange a free consultation over coffee. Follow us on Twitter Paula or Richard
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Motivation Part 1

motivation part 1

This blog entry is one of three. In this one, I am going to look at one theory of what motivates us to work? The next blog will address what motivates us to work hard willingly and well and the third what demotivates us at work?

Having been involved in the professional development of people for nearly 30 years, I can categorically tell you that if someone doesn’t want to be motivated by external forces, they won’t be. I can also be pretty certain that the KITA school of motivation (Kick in the A***), will get a person to do a task, but not without resentment, and certainly won’t encourage them to do it of their own free will.

Previously we have looked at how power might be played out at work. The KITA approach can be used with Coercive Power, as well as Positional and Social Power abuse and can therefore be unpalatable to the receiver. These approaches will get the job done, but won’t necessarily encourage someone to continue to do the task of their own free will, or empower them to do able to do it.

So, what will motivate them? The saying “the door to motivation is locked from the inside” is true. As managers and colleagues in the work place, we have to understand why different staff members do their jobs. There must also be recognition that what may motivate one person, may not do so for another. This is obviously complex, but the premise we will examine in this article, is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in which five levels of human need are portrayed as a pyramid.

In today’s society, most people go to work because they need the money. I read recently that many people are “only four months of no income away from the breadline”. If that is true then Maslow’s ‘Physiological/Biological’ first or most basic level is probably achieved in 2014 by having a steady income, which allows us to buy food and pay for a warm shelter.

The level of income may well then allow his second stage to be achieved, where we need to address ‘Safety/Security‘ needs. We will have the money needed to pay the mortgage or rent, be able to keep our home secure, and perhaps be able to save to allow a monetary buffer, if work becomes unstable or the cost of living rises.

I come across many colleagues who are quite financially stable, mortgages paid off, kids flown the nest, to whom money is not the main driver to come to work. So what is? Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of school. What was the motivator to go? Well, the basic two reasons as discussed above, were met by your parents (or whoever provided for you). So, apart from going to school because it was compulsory, what else motivated you? The majority of us went to see friends, to socialise, to build social networks and perhaps find a relationship (help with that @therealme_PDP).

Similarly, many of us go to work because we like the social aspect of it. The third level in Maslow’s hierarchy focuses on ‘Belonging and Love‘, in which the majority of people need, and relish, being part of a team, belonging to a group, having the camaraderie that can come from working with the same people each day. I meet colleagues who are working far longer than their paid working day. When this is examined, it is not always because they are genuinely overloaded, but more about being part of something that has a purpose.

If your life has that social aspect away from work, you might need something else to motivate you in the workplace. In my expanding work with graduates, on Graduate or Government based Fast Stream programmes, I see this more and more. Financially these new entrants may be reasonably secure, socially very active and happy, so they use work to achieve something else. Maslow’s fourth level of the pyramid focuses on ‘Self-Esteem and Sense of Achievement‘. This is where the workplace is used to gain status or respect, as an individual becomes recognised for being really good at something. People may want to be seen as being the fixers, the experts, and to use work as a place to begin building professional reputations, which in turn will enhance their self-esteem and confidence.

Maslow’s highest level is described as ‘Self Actualisation / Self-fulfilment’. This is when your behaviour is driven by your desire for personal growth and fulfilment, rather than external factors or pressures. Many people will spend most of their lives striving to reach this level, and maybe there is something to be said for retirement, in which people feel they have the time and financial resources to really engage in the activities they wish to do, regardless of how crazy they may sound!

If you agree with Maslow’s theory, then each of these different levels will need to be understood, in order to motivate yourself or others at work. To paraphrase Ricky Gervais “you can’t learn the cello when you are eating out of bins!”

Next Blog – What makes us work hard, willingly and well!
Richard

Notes from a party

How awkward is it walking into a party as a couple when you don’t know many people? Do you smile manically at anyone looking your way,or ignore everyone and begin an animated conversation between yourselves and make it appear interesting to anyone looking your way? How much more difficult is it if you go to the party alone?

Alone at a party