Career | Collins McNicholas

How to Change Culture, Deliver an ‘Out of Office’ Message and Reclaim Time For Yourself

How to Change Culture, Deliver an ‘Out of Office’ Message and Reclaim Time For YourselfQuestion: I am a manager in a high-paced media company. While I enjoy my job, the pressure is relentless. There are just not enough hours in the day to get all the work done and even when I get home, there is the pressure to be ‘always on’ and answer emails right up to bedtime. There is never a chance to recharge the batteries and I am in danger of burning out. How can I carve out some ‘me time’ without coming across to my bosses as being unavailable?   Answer: We will spend a third of our life working and that does not include the extra hours we clock up between overtime, skipped lunches and answering emails after hours. Many employees feel compelled to put in that extra time to impress their employers, while others feel their company culture encourages working outside of office hours so the pressure is there to be ‘switched on’ constantly. In this fast-living environment many feel there are just not enough hours in the day for ‘me time’. It is very easy for the needs of the business to spill over into your personal time and you end up prioritising work over other parts of your life. Many organisations may overload employees, contacting them outside of business hours and making last-minute requests. Often the employees and managers feel the need to put in the extra hours to deal with these demands – arrive early, stay late, come in at the weekends and have the mobile and laptop ready to respond 24/7. But the reality is you cannot be available 24/7 and you should not be always on call. It is important to remember that company culture is instilled from the top down, so employers and leaders should be conscious of this when they send emails or messages outside of work hours. If there is a culture of extra-hours demands from your workplace then you as a manager should be taking the lead to ensure this is changed before you and your team reach the ‘burn-out’ stage. This does not mean you are less committed to your job, but it does mean you are taking a proactive approach to health. Certain people will believe they need to be available night and day to get their work done or to be noticed for future promotions. This mindset is difficult to change, however, you must consider certain steps to ensure that you – and your team – achieve the downtime you deserve in order to recharge and be ready for the next challenging project. Here are a few things you can do yourself to ensure you are getting the downtime you deserve: Don’t add work to your phone: How often do you justifiably receive emails outside office hours that require urgent attention? If you are waiting on something urgent, surely you can log-in at home for that one rare occasion? Put on your ‘out of office’ in the evening: This may be difficult to do at first but if you are adamant you want this to work then let those who do email you know that you are gone for the evening and will be back at your desk in the morning. Be consistent with it as you want to set a definite trend and people will get used to the idea. Use ‘do not disturb’: Good practice is to mute your emails so you don’t jump up to review every email that hits your inbox. Do not take phone calls outside office hours: If you’re not expected to work beyond your office hours, don’t feel obligated to answer. The person calling can leave a message or you can return the call in the morning. Keep work discussion at home to a minimum: You need to be able to switch off once you leave the office so refrain from long discussions at home about work. You are effectively reliving the situation and adding to the stress levels. Develop an evening routine: If you are serious about ‘me time’ then ensure that you have something to look forward to in that time – take up a new hobby, a new class or discover a new exercise. This is always a great way to ensure that you leave the office on time to fit in your new regime. You, as a manager and leader, can start to change the mindset by practising these techniques and advising the company to make a firm commitment to avoid excessive workloads and unpredictable hours so employees can plan other non-work activities in their lives.             Michelle Murphy Director Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group This article was originally published in the Business section of the Sunday Independent, July 23rd, 2017. The original article can be...

Read More

What’s the best way to manage a colleague who is also a friend, now I have been promoted?

Q. I have moved into a senior position in the medtech company where I have worked for seven years. My new role sees me managing people I have worked alongside for many years. I am confident there should be no issues with the majority. However, I have already identified that I will have an issue with one person. While I have a good personal relationship with them, their work practices need a lot of improvement. I feel I need to confront them on a number of performance issues – such as their timekeeping and productivity. How do I do this without losing the personal relationship we have? A. A workplace promotion is to be commended, so you should feel empowered and confident about your capabilities to lead, and direct a team. As a manager you are expected to know and administer company policies and procedures in order to build your credibility with your team and other members of the management team. The rules cannot be bent for certain co-workers, so this must be made clear from the outset. You need to become an authentic role model to gain loyalty and respect from your new team. Set the parameters immediately through individual conversations in order to acknowledge the recent change. The relationship has changed on both sides, so it is just as awkward for them. If you have an emotional connection you will have a hard time setting those feelings aside when needed. Friendship shouldn’t influence decisions on performance, pay or dealing out assignments. Nip the situation in the bud. You might be tempted to put off the awkward chat...

Read More

Experience, not age, is the factor that helps older candidates stand out in job interviews

Q: I am a senior manager in a telecommunications business and have decided to take the plunge and move careers. I am excited but a bit nervous. My last interview was 20 years ago, as I was headhunted for my current position. I am concerned that – as a person in my late 40s – I am going to stand out among the younger candidates for the role. Do you have any advice on how I should prepare? A: I agree that you could stand out at interviews, as employers might consider you too experienced or expensive – even a little out of touch. However, don’t lose sight of the things you do have that others might not – including excellent work experience, a valuable skill set, a strong network of contacts and a solid track record. The secret is to be prepared for all those issues that might be considered weaknesses and could be brought up during the interview process. You are experienced enough to know how to create a good business case for yourself and highlight how you can move your skill set. Demonstrate your willingness to learn, to keep growing and take risks. Many candidates I meet have the same fear about their age – but I always say age should never be a factor. Focus on your strengths around your work experience and qualifications. Ask yourself truthfully ‘What value can I bring to this new role’ and ‘Can I sell myself as an expert’? Will they think I have less energy? We all slow down as we age. However, in the workplace, sometimes the less-experienced person...

Read More

How to successfully resolve conflict between staff members before it poisons morale

Question: I hold a senior role in a large software company and manage a team of 20 software developers. Managing a growing team can be a challenge but I enjoy it most of the time. However, I have a situation where two of my more senior team leaders do not get on. This has been obvious since the most recent hire joined the team. While neither has done anything that would cause me to discipline them, the morale of the team has definitely been affected by the tension between them. How do I resolve this? Answer: Conflict resolution is an issue a lot of managers have to face and it can be unsettling for everyone. You need to take the right approach as early as possible to ensure it doesn’t grow out of proportion. Conflict can cause a toxic environment within the workplace so you need to totally understand the situation and act responsibly. Management is not about popularity or avoiding a negative reputation but about ensuring you act in the best interest of the team and the organisation in an ethical manner. All managers and leaders must expect to have to deal with a conflict situation at some point so here are some pointers to consider. Timing is key Avoiding the situation or putting it off until another day will not wash. You need to take action where you have evidence that there is a situation, which is negatively impacting others – and that there is a pattern to it. Striking too early without proper information will lead to possible confrontation. But the other team members need to see that...

Read More

I’m in my 50s and desperate to quietly upskill to keep up with my tech-savvy younger staff

I am a female in my late 50s and am enjoying my work at my job in the media sector. There are a lot of younger employees coming into the workplace with IT skills that are far superior to my own. While I am their manager, sometimes I feel like my lack of tech skills is putting me at a disadvantage. I wonder are there ways in which I can quietly upskill, without drawing too much attention to my own lack of knowledge to newer employees and bosses? It is important to be aware of the area you are working in, as many sectors change rapidly – information technology in particular. This requires employees not only to keep their skills updated, but also learn new ones. Upskilling is a personal endeavour, as everyone has unique interests and talents that align with certain skills. Tackle one skill or skill set at a time, instead of trying to build several skills in one go. Although many employers offer on-the-job training and the chance to take more formal qualifications, it’s still up to you to keep your skills sharp. This is particularly true for a manager or leader, as by keeping up to speed your team can see how committed you are to your role and the company will see you as a leader and expert. By refining and updating your expertise, you can ensure that you always stay relevant. It puts you in a more competitive position in your industry, makes you more valuable to your company, provides job security, and highlights your desire to learn and grow, illustrating a great...

Read More

How Can I Best Break the Cycle of Being Constantly Passed Over for Promotion

Question: I am in middle management and have been passed over for promotion on three occasions. I am not in a position to leave the company but I desperately want to progress in my career and I feel that I am stuck in the role that I am in. Is there some way that I can approach my boss and find out where I am going wrong? Answer: I understand how frustrating it can be not to get a promotion. you are probably feeling a lot of emotions including disappointment, humiliation, resentment and, maybe, anger. It is impossible not to feel personally offended. However, it is important for our own sanity to understand why this has happened and, of course, leave you in a position to improve so you can go forward for future opportunities. It is important to organise that ‘dreaded discussion’ with your bosses promptly so you are getting fresh feedback. ask for specific things you could work on to improve your chances in the future. However, when you ask for suggestions, be ready to listen and be prepared ti make those changes. It Is Not Yours Because You Expect It Some employees feel entitled to be promoted because they have been in the organisation for a long time, but tenure is no longer a key consideration. Contribution will be the ultimate decision maker. Performance Is Not Everything Employees are often under the misconception that promotion decisions are based solely on performance in their role. Success in one area doesn’t always translate to another. You need to become familiar with the requirements and competencies needed. Could It Be Your Softer Skills?...

Read More