OPENING THE DOOR TO SUCCESS
MAGIC PHRASES THAT CAN OPEN ANY DOOR MICHAEL F.K. GAMEDOAGBAO
B.COMUNIVERSITY OF CAPE COAST
2013 THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO MY BELOVED DAUGHTER: JAEL AKOSUA TAMAKLOE-GAMEY
AND MY LOVELY WIFE: IRENE YAYRA DATSOMOR FOR THEIR IMPRESSIVE SUPPORT AND ADVISE THROUGHOUT MY EDUCATION.
MANAGER-BENKUM MOTEL, ATIMPOKU. TEL: 0245864743
Chapter 1 Getting What You Want: Five Magic Phrases that Can Open Any Door If there's one object, resource, option, or opportunity that might help you excel at your job, how can you bring this item within reach? Would you like a more flexible budget, extended deadlines, more information, or more personal assistance? Maybe you'd like to remove a stubborn obstacle that stands in your path or cut through some bureaucratic red tape. Or maybe you'd like permission to adjust the rules regarding where and how you complete your projects. From working at home to wrangling a pay raise, here are a few magic words that can convince others to give you the tools you need for success. 1. "I think this will help YOUR team reach its goals." It's always wise to make any action seem appealing and profitable to the person you're trying to convince, not just yourself. Instead of focusing on how this action, favor, or contribution will help you, stay focused on the needs and desires of the other person in the equation. Even if the benefit to you will be very large and the benefit to the other person will be small and inconsequential by comparison, the second will still carry more weight in their eyes. 2. "I have a problem and I need it to be solved." "Problem-solving" is a well-used but still powerful buzzword in the professional world. In almost every business, problems are everywhere, and those who can provide solutions earn high value across every measurable metric, from the financial to the social, ethical, and personal. Give a person an opportunity to become an excellent "problem solver" and you'll be halfway home. So will they, and you'll each have a reason to be grateful. 3. "This problem is costing the company X Ghana Cedis per year." Or: "This solution will save the company Y Ghana Cedis per year." If you're an HR manager battling high turnover, a sales person who can't get the price points your buyers want, or a shop floor employee working with deficient tools, you can simply state your case to upper management and hope they draw the line between your struggles and those of the company. Or you can attach a clear number to the problem and draw the line for them. How many employees are walking out each year? How many buyers have you lost this month as a result of price issues? How many more units could you produce each hour if you had better tools? Numbers make problems easier for disconnected managers to understand. 4. "Remember when I/my team/my company/my department provided a solution for you a year ago?" If you have favors to call in, now is the time. If you don't, look closer. And make today the day you start building up a bank of favors and political capital that you can call upon when you need it. People are more likely to help you if they feel obligated as a result of previous transactions. 5. "This will help you come off as the (fill in the blank) person or company that you are." Everybody has a boss. And everyone wants to look valuable in front of that boss. By the same token, people like to look admirable in front of their employees, and they like to look competent and professional in front of their customers and the public. Help people uphold the personas they cherish. And if granting you the resources you need can support this effort, let them know. -2-
Don't Take No for an Answer In the meantime, know what steps you'll take if every request is met with a resounding "no." If you simply can't get the budget, help, or timelines you need to do your job properly, it may be time to look for a new employer who respects your level of effort and commitment... Chapter 2 PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS- FIVE BASIC STEPS
The word "success" is overused in our world, and of course this term can suggest almost anything from romantic success to spiritual success to a nice set of chiseled abs. People define their success, or lack of it, on their own terms. But when it comes to professional success, there are a few clear indicators most of us can agree on: Professionally successful and well-adjusted people are those who enjoy their jobs, thrive in the workplace, and earn the respect of those who work beside them. And as it turns out, many of these people share a few common habits and gestures. For example, if you watch how professionally successful people walk into a room you may notice a few of the following things taking place. 1. They look around. Successful people keep their eyes up and they keep them open. When they walk into a room, they take in the whole room with a controlled glance, and they actively process and consider whatever the glance reveals. By contrast, nervous and unhappy people tend to focus on the floor, their own hands, or the one face/single object they're looking for to the exclusion of all others. 2. They acknowledge and make eye contact with people they know. If you're walking into an unoccupied room, this doesn't matter as much. But if there are people in the room, make eye contact with all of them. Even if there are a dozen people standing near you, briefly focus on each of them if they're facing your way. If you recognize any of them, say so with your expression. This gesture can be challenging for those who are naturally introverted, but if it feels difficult, use every entry as an opportunity to practice. 3. They "smile." In the classic film "La Femme Nikita", a young super-spy/assassin-in-training is given lessons on comportment by her older mentor. "Smile when you walk into a room, dear," says the mentor. "It relaxes those around you. And it elevates the features of the face." This is wise and timeless advice, even for those of us who don't live like James Bond. When you walk into a room, smile at those who are already there. If this makes you feel insane, work your way up to it. Start by slightly lifting the corners of your eyes and mouth every time you cross a threshold. 4. They decide beforehand if they intend to shake hands, kiss cheeks, hug, etc. Are you a hugger? When it comes to cheek kissing, are you pro or con? Think about who may be in the room before you step through the door and know what kind of person you'll be (hugger, kisser, waver, arm-toucher, none of the above, or person who lets others call the shots) before contact is -3-
established. 5. They use names. If at all possible, incorporate names into your greetings and acknowledgements. Turn every "Hi" and "Hey" into a "Hi, Michael," "Hey Irene," or "Good morning, Mr. Gamey." Confidence Is Key Successful interaction depends on complex interpersonal chemistry, and the more people involved in an equation, the more complex this chemistry becomes. We've all seen how the addition of one person can change the dynamic of a group, or how the arrival of a new person can alter the mood in a room. Try to bring positive change with you every time you walk through a doorway or enter a conversation.
Chapter 3 Become the Most Popular Person in the Office! Seven Easy Steps No matter the office or industry, there’s always an employee who lights up the room and makes everyone else feel relaxed and energized at the same time. No workplace would be the same without this person. And she/he’s not just loved by his/her coworkers; his/hers is a special kind of popularity, a kind that fosters motivation, productivity, and mutual respect. So he/she’s loved by employers as well as peers, even when he/she isn’t the hardest worker in the room or the one who comes up with the best ideas. How can you become this magical person? The answer lies in a complex web of delicate social chemistry, but these seven steps provide a great place to start. 1. Visit coworkers, but don’t stay too long. Poke your nose into your neighbor’s cubicle now and then. In fact, do this often. And do it with everybody. But when you decide to be a cheerful buttinsky, keep your visits limited to five minutes or less…don’t let the sight of your face signal the beginning of a long interruption. 2. Help, but don’t be pushy. People love knowing they can count on you. And when you do someone a favor, your gesture will be remembered. What goes around comes around. At the same time, if your offer of help is rejected, back away gracefully. And back away from those who take you for granted. Nobody respects a human doormat. 3. Smile, but only when you feel like it. Your cheerfulness relaxes and uplifts those around you. But if you’re not feeling it, don’t force it. Be true to yourself first. If you trust yourself enough to stand behind your real feelings, others will come to trust you as well. 4. Be kind, but recognize when someone needs a break, a word of encouragement, an opportunity to shine, a chance to save face, or an extra muffin from your trip to the bakery. And follow through. It’s one thing to be sensitive to this need. It’s another thing to have the courage, generosity and resources to actually provide the break, the opportunity, or the muffin. Real kindness takes place in actions. 5. Be energetic, but not exhausting. Whatever persona you decide to adopt on any given day at work, go easy. Chill. -4-
6. Be loyal to the company, but put your own human relationships first. Your commitment to the company can inspire others and pave the way for them to follow suit. But if you ever have to choose between supporting the company and doing the right thing, you’ll earn more respect (from everyone who matters) if you do the right thing. 7. Chat, but listen when people are talking and remember the things they say. Remember names, remember stories, and remember details. If someone describes his pending gall bladder surgery, be ready to ask him about it a few weeks later when he returns to work. In the meantime, keep your chats on the up and up. It should go without saying that mean-spirited people, jerks, and gossipy two-faced types don’t inspire others to let their guard down. 8. Build Positive Relationships Everywhere You Go 9. Even the smallest, most meaningless interactions can have a lasting impact. A kind word, a quick lesson, an answered question, or a small favor may be remembered by another person for a long, long time, and this can provide immeasurable benefits to your career. Work hard to build your network, and when you step onto the job market, you won’t stay there for long.
Chapter 5 Five Things Successful People Do When they Fail In a recent set of Career interviews with hiring managers, a software company executive said it best: "We don't want people who never make mistakes. In fact, if we ask a question about failure and the candidate can't describe a time when h/she messed up, the process stops right there. We only want people who take risks, fail, learn, fail again, and keep on growing." Unsuccessful people are those who never stray from their comfort zones, and therefore never earn less than a blue ribbon and never face a real challenge during the course of their working lives. Successful people, on the other hand, are those who step outside of their comfort zones, get flattened, and then get up again, wiser and stronger as a result of the experience. So which one are you? If you look back over your working life and see nothing but unbroken applause, it may be time to adjust your definition of "success." And if you look behind you and see plenty of wrecks and misadventures, you're on the right track…as long as you're learning something. Chapter 6 HOW SUCCESDSFUL PEOPLE HANDLE FAILURE. Here are a few things truly successful people do when they get knocked down: 1. They acknowledge that they've been knocked down If you aren't ready to admit that something is a fail, it isn't a fail. You can only collect glory from failures that truly knock the wind out of you. If you can't imagine a more miserable person than yourself right now, it means you're outside the limits of your comfort zone. And if you're alive, then you made it. Congratulations! 2. They take time to come to terms with the situation After certain setbacks, the progression between crisis and recovery will happen quickly. But other problems, like job loss, work on a different timeline. If you come in to work at nine and have no job -5-
by 10, you don't have to bounce back by noon. It may take a few weeks or months to process what just happened to you. 3. They allow the learning to happen Seizing on platitudes can be helpful for some people. But often, the lessons we learn from a dark experience aren't recognizable from movies, greeting cards, or comforting speeches. Your most important lessons will remain a mystery until you actually learn them. And this will happen on its own time. Don't force the issue…just tune in and stay receptive to the insights that come your way. 4. They remember and apply what they learn Getting knocked down won't be a very useful experience until the next time the broom swings around and you've gained the presence of mind to duck out of the way. If you keep getting hit over and over, it means you haven't yet crossed the bridge between knowing what needs to be done and doing it. 5. They recognize that there's no way out The problems around you won't disappear-they'll only change to reflect your changing level of cleverness. With every new truth you learn, the circumstances around you will change, and you'll be vulnerable to an entirely new landscape of potential mistakes. It's your job to swoop heroically to your own rescue, to learn, recover, and to save yourself when your back is against the ropes. And if you're doing it right, you'll do this over and over again until the last day of your life. Successful people recognize this. They give up all hope of winning, because they know that "winning" is just losing in disguise. Are You Ready to Fail Hard? If your career is stalling out and you're ready for a change, then it's time to find the outer boundary of your comfort zone and step across it. Continue reading and practicing to break out of your safe shell and move yourself to the next level.
Chapter 7 Don’t Repeat Your Mistakes: Four Movs to Make after a Career Setback For each small step we take up the career ladder, there will be days when it feels like we're sliding almost all the way back down. After a successful project that takes months to complete, one poorly timed remark during the wrap-up meeting can feel like a puff of wind that blows down a house of cards. And in the immediate aftermath of a layoff or missed opportunity, it's easy to wonder where years of careful effort have actually gone. But don't despair. When career setbacks happen (which they will), remember that giving in to despair won't accomplish anything. ”The world may stop turning for a few minutes while you sit down for a good cry and a stiff drink, but after that brief pause, it starts to turn again whether you're ready to move on or not”. So you may as well be ready. Here are four moves to make when it's time to put the tears and bourbon aside and regain control over your forward momentum. 1. Make these lessons count. Most of the time, lessons and memories are all we're allowed to carry away from the wreckage of a career disaster. Some of them may be intangible, which means you'll only realize the true nature of what you've learned five years down the road when -6-
it's time to apply it to a new situation. But some of them will be easy to access and articulate. These are the ones you should write down. Do this, literally, with a paper and pen. It can be surprisingly helpful to turn your negative event into a clear narrative with a strong protagonist (you). Actually list and describe what you've learned, using words and bullet points. 2. Talk. Choose your audience carefully, and open up only to those you trust, but talk about your experience. You may think you understand the full weight and measure of what you're going through, but sometimes a conversation with another person can put things in perspective and reduce the life-or-death gravity of the situation. 3. Recognize the difference between an excuse and an attempt to move forward. An excuse sounds like this: "I messed up because I didn't have the tools and resources I needed. So I shouldn't be blamed. And I shouldn't have to face any difficult tasks or make any difficult decisions. I'll sit here in a funk until the problem goes away." An attempt to move forward sounds like this: "I messed up because I didn't have the tools and resources I needed. What are these resources and how can I get them?" 4. If you can, make amends. If your actionsâ€”intentional or unintentionalâ€”caused serious problems for another person (or people), make things right. If you undermined your company's goals, embarrassed a boss or coworker, offended a customer, injured a coworker, or made a bad decision, then own the results. This may be difficult, but if you need to apologize or correct the record, be brave and move forward with integrity. Plan Your Next Move Carefully After you've had sufficient time to recap, get a full night of sleep, figure out what went wrong, and make amends if you need to, it's time to decide on your next step. Clear out the last lingering cobwebs and make space in your head for positivity.
Chapter 8 To Advance or Not to Advance: Are you ready for a Management Role? You've been working for your current employer for five years, and you've been immersed in this industry for seven. You've learned the ropes and gained the trust of your managers, and your performance reviews are well above average most of the time. You think you might be ready to move to the next level, but so far, nobody has come over to your desk to sit down with you and tell you that it's time to take action. So what's next? Here are a few considerations that can help you navigate the decisions ahead. i)
Face the Facts
In some workplaces, employees can simply place their careers in the hands of caring, observant managers and sit back, trusting that the system will take care of them and shuttle them forward. But most of the time, managers are facing overflowing inboxes and holding on by their fingertips, just like everyone else. Which means they arenâ€™t studying the moment-to-moment growth of their employers like attentive parents? If you feel like the time has come to take on more responsibility, you may be right. Check the depth of the water before you jump in. ii)
Ask Yourself a Few Questions
Have you mastered the responsibilities of your position so well that you could handle them in your sleep? Do your peers regularly come to you with questions and requests for help? During your -7-
reviews, when your managers bring up "areas in need of improvement," do you usually tackle these issues and resolve them effectively within the following review cycle? When you choose a course of action or execute a task, are you struggling to barely make it over the bar, or are you facing the task confidently and keeping the big picture and the needs of the company in mind? iii)
Experiment with Leadership
Remember, managers and employees face an entirely different set of responsibilities and goals. Simply being great at your job won't help you when it comes to coaching, training, and taking responsibility for the success of others. Before you start gunning for a management position, voluntarily take on leadership tasks to see how they feel. Offer to train new employees, offer to take responsibility for interns, and if your company supports a formal mentoring program, submit your name. iv)
Stop Waiting to Be Approached
Once you've determined that you're ready to take the wheel and assume responsibility for the success of a teamâ€”not just youâ€”you may need to put the gears in motion on your own-I mean with GOD. Don't just wait for your boss to tell you it's time. In fact, you may need to approach your manager on your own-because with God all things are possible, set up an appointment, and provide him/her with a presentation of your case that you'll need to build from the ground up. Even then, he/she may ask a few piercing questions about your readiness. And there's a strong possibility he/she may put you off, or tell you that now isn't a good time to ask for this kind of advancement. Be persistent. Good leaders don't just wait for instructions; they also make decisions and pursue opportunities on their own initiative. v)
Explore Your Outside Options
If you know you're ready to step into a leadership role but your path is blocked by a manager who doesn't agree, it may be time to look for new opportunities outside of this company. Visit any job site to find available positions in your industry and geographic area. Read up on job news and trends, and salary calculators to find out what the market will pay for your services and skills.
Chapter 9 The Golden Handcuffs: A Lucky Career Problem, But a Problem all the Same
Career counselors and employment experts are very familiar with the "golden handcuffs" phenomenon, as are many employees who struggle with it on a daily basis. But what does this term actually mean? And if you're feeling the impact of this complicated problem, what can you do to break out while protecting your career and keeping your life on track?
Defining the "Golden Handcuffs" & How They Hold Employees Back Soon after graduation, when young workers are often bursting with ambition but short on life experience, they step in their first real professional jobs. Most of the time, a first job isn't an exact match for an employee's long term goals, and within a few years, he or she has moved on to something -8-
more appropriate. Eventually, another opportunity arises and the employee makes a decision to stay or go, and then another, and so on. As time goes by, the employee learns more about the world, gains a broad understanding of options and opportunity, and gains a greater degree of control over the direction of his/her life and career. But sometimes this process stalls out, and before they learned how to navigate the complexities of the adult world, the employee find themselves trapped in an inappropriate or stagnant position, unable to escape. The job usually pays well, but it simply isn't teaching them what they need to know to get where they need to be. Sometimes, in exchange for high pay, they may find themselves steered into the wrong area of specialization, crushed with boredom, or even subjected to abuse, disrespect, or job responsibilities that conflict with their personal ethics. Recognizing the Problem The first step to dealing with this common situation is recognizing that it's happening. This isn't always as easy as it sounds, since it can be hard for a person to find sympathy while complaining about the paralysis of a high salary. But even if you have trouble discussing your problem with friends and family, you have an obligation to protect your mental health and the trajectory of your long-term career. It's easy to say that money doesn't have power over us, but reality doesn't always back this up, and the fear of a salary cut can drive otherwise intelligent people into some unfortunate and selfdefeating decisions. Breaking Free Once you recognize the golden handcuffs that are keeping you beholden to the wrong employer, it's time to break out. Start with the following moves. 1. Explore the marketplace and conduct some research. Learn more about the options available in your industry (not the one you're currently immersed in, but the one that matches your goals). 2. Get realistic about money. This may require some outside perspective from a role model who makes an adequate living in your intended field. You'll need to learn that it's not only possible, but preferable to live on less that you're currently making. 3. Get ready to stand up for yourself. When you're finally ready to give notice to your current employer, be prepared to receive a counter offer. That is, expect your employer to try and maintain the status quo by offering you more money. Know beforehand how you'll answer. 4. Don't just create clear long-term goals; actually write them down. Written goals will help you stay focused when you find yourself being drawn back onto a fruitless path. 5. Be brave. Nobody controlsâ€”or even cares aboutâ€”your destiny and your career path except for you. This is one of the lessons that only life experience can teach. Don't wait for someone else to take your hand and lead you where you need to go. If you're ever going to get to that place, you'll have to take action on your own. Start with Research To explore opportunities available in your chosen field, start with a visit to any job site. They offer daily job market news and industry information, and employers post new positions on their job board every day. A rewarding and meaningful future is waiting for youâ€”you just need to find it. Good luck!
Chapter 10 Translation: What You Say vs. What Managers Hear Do you ever get the sense that you and your boss are speaking completely different languages? And do you ever feel like your ability to learn and speak your boss's language may mean the difference between being promoted to the corner office and being fired in disgrace? In some cases, both of these may carry a grain of truth. And in almost every workplace, it's a good idea to take responsibility when communication problems arise and learn how to speak the other person's language instead of stubbornly expecting them to learn yours. Here's a quick employee-toboss translation guide that can provide a simple place to start. 1. There's no way I can get this doneâ€Ś What you say: "I can't do this" or "this task is impossible within the specified timeframe." What your boss hears: "I lack the independence/will power/experience to figure this out on my own." The breakdown: Most bosses and managers are required by their positions to make quick decisions based on limited information. So they often use shortcuts to form impressions and draw conclusions. Sometimes these shortcuts take the form of keywords, and when this happens, they hear only the keywords in an employee's statement and discard the rest. So watch out for toxic, redflag phrases like "I can't," "I won't," or "I'm not able to." Instead, say what you really mean: "I'll need a longer timeframe in order to analyze the data accurately," or "I'll need some support to complete this project according to the standards specified by the client." 2. It's not my fault! What you say: "I messed up because my alarm didn't go off/ my team let me down/ etc." What your boss hears: "I'm making excuses, but the truth is simple: I can't be trusted." The breakdown: When you mess up, there's always a reason. Nobody messes up deliberately. But most of the time, the reasons for your blunder don't matter very much after the fact, and your boss doesn't want to hear them unless they can help him/her prevent the situation from happening again. Tell him/her clearly if he/she can do anything to help you or to keep this situation from occurring in the future. But if the reasons for the failure aren't under his/her control, he/she probably doesn't want to know about them. 3. Can we chat? What you say: "Do you have a second?" What a competent, experienced boss hears: "I need to talk to you about something that may have an impact on my productivity and the success of your business." What a weaker, less experienced boss hears: "I want to bother you about something annoying." The breakdown: A great boss will respond to this question by putting his/her work aside, offering you a seat, closing the door, and giving you his/her full attention. But a weaker boss may not - 10 -
recognize that your words are important to him/her and can have a direct impact on his/her own success. If your request for a moment of time is met with a brush-off or an eye roll, try wording your request in a different way. These approaches may be more effective: "Can I schedule fifteen minutes with you later today to talk about the project I'm working on?" or "I need to get some input from you about the X situation before I move forward with the Y project. Is this a good time?" Communicate Your Needs Clearly Your ability to make yourself understood can have a direct impact on your satisfaction and sense of fulfillment at work. If you're getting your point across and getting the respect and resources you need, make sure your manager knows how much you appreciate this open, effective communication channel. But if your boss simply doesn't understand your words and intentions and this barrier is making it impossible for you to complete your work successfully, it may be time to start looking for another job.
Chapter 11 How to Build a Great Relationship with Your Boss Strong, functional relationships between managers and employees are the cornerstone of successful businesses everywhere. When employees like their bosses and feel a sense of mutual respect, communication improves and money gets made. But if you aren’t running the company, you probably aren’t as interested in the corporate bottom line as you are in your own personal sense of accomplishment and your own mental health and peace of mind. So while your boss does his/her part to boost productivity by getting along with you, make sure you’re doing your part and meeting him/her halfway. Here are six simple tips that can help you love (or at least like and respect) your boss, even if you don’t have much in common outside the office: 1. Recognize that he/she’s trying. Work is hard, and none of you would be here completing these difficult tasks if they didn’t need to be done. So when your boss interacts with you, some of these interactions are naturally going to be of the negative variety (orders, criticism, or correction). But despite how it may sound, he/she really wants you to like him/her, and he/she’s doing the best he/she can to make this relationship and your job as smooth and successful as possible. Don’t think he/she stays awake at night dreaming up ways to make you suffer. The opposite is true. 2. If you need something, just ask for it. The boss-employee relationship is fraught with traditional tension- that’s just part of our culture. But most of this tension is unnecessary and overblown. Don’t hover at the door wondering if he/she’ll be angry at the sound of your knock. Just knock. And when the door opens, be direct with your statement or request. Get what you came for. 3. Chat with him/her. Show an interest in his/her world, and when he/she shares something personal with you, listen and remember. Try to match your level of personal disclosure to his/her’s. These are just good manners and basic social common sense, but in the bossemployee hierarchy, they tend to be overlooked.
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4. Don’t just complete the tasks you’re charged with and move on. Instead, actively follow up. When you finish something, go out of your way to tell your boss you’ve done so and explain how it went. Don’t wait to be asked about it. And while you’re at it, don’t wait to have the ensuing step dictated to you. Make your own suggestions about the next course of action. 5. If you have strong feelings on a given subject, don’t work too hard to hide them. People feel more comfortable around a subordinates and superiors who are easy to read. An ultra-flat robotic affect may seem safe and professional, but sometimes it’s just unsettling. 6. Be nice always. If you have something potentially rude, potentially insulting, or potentially undermining to say to your boss, think twice about the long term cost of your honesty. In the modern job market, terms of employment are loose and every workplace has a revolving door. No matter how large your city (or the world) may be, you will meet this person again. And his/her opinion of you will play a role in your future, even after you leave this company. Don’t just start burning bridges — work hard to build them and keep them strong. Later in your professional life, you’ll be glad you did. What to Do if You Just Can’t Make It Work If you’ve taken all the advice above and no matter what you do, you just can’t get your boss to like you, or vice versa, you may need a back-up plan. An utterly dysfunctional boss-employee relationship might mean it’s time to start looking for employment somewhere else.
Chapter 12 Hard Worker vs. Workaholic: How to Recognize the Difference It's been suggested that here in the Ghana, we put in longer work hours on average than employees in almost every other developed country in the world. But do our long hours actually mean we accomplish more? And can too many working hours per week actually cause more harm than benefit to our health, our quality of life, and even the success of our companies? Workaholics vs. Healthy Productivity What's the difference between a workaholic and a hard worker? Here are a few key signs that distinguish one from another. 1. A hard worker shows up on time, every single day…except when he can't. He stays home when weather conditions are dangerous, when he's sick, and when more important life priorities intervene. The workaholic comes in every day no matter what. Ignoring contagious illness and pressing obligations can hurt others instead of helping them, turning a selfless contribution into a selfish drain. The lesson: Don't be the clueless jerk that makes everyone in the office sick or misses his child's performance in the third grade play. 2. The hard worker plays just as hard as he/she works. When he/she's off the clock, he/she invests his/her full attention in his/her trombone lesson, meaningful conversation, or board game, and he/she moves work to the background of his/ her thoughts. Workaholics view all non-work activities as distractions or wasted time. The - 12 -
lesson: Don't let years of your life slip past unnoticed and unexamined. Be fully present wherever the day takes you.
3. The hard worker puts his/her phone away when he/she's at the table with friends or family and he/she takes vacations at least once a year. The workaholic doesn't take vacations and can't disconnect from his/her phone, even for the duration of a meal. The lesson: If you can't physically separate yourself from the rooms and objects that represent work, you're in trouble. It's time to cultivate a little more independence. 4. Finally, a hard worker is healthy most of the time, and he/she has a strong personality and a balanced life full of interests and social connections. The workaholic has a life tapestry that's pale and threadbare by comparison. He/she doesn't maintain close social ties, he/she has few interests outside of work, and he/she suffers from frequent health problems. He/she isn't happy. And in the long run, his/her dependence and poorly managed lifestyle are likely to make a negative influence and a liability to the company, rather than its savior. The lesson: If you truly respect your employer and believe in the value of your work, take care of yourself first. The healthier you are (physically and mentally) the better you'll be able to serve and support the enterprise that you love. Think You Might Be a Workaholic? Reach Out For Perspective If you still aren't sure where you fall on the spectrum between hard worker and workaholic, try these two moves: First, identify a few role models. Make sure these are people you actually know (not celebrities). Watch your role models closely. If they can cultivate rich lives outside of the office, then you can too. But actually seeing someone does this can make you feel safer about the prospect of stepping away from work. Second, Career satisfaction and career interest tests can teach you a little more about the realities of your industry, and can offer real information about what it takes to succeed. Most of the time, success comes from skill acquisition, social connections, and flexibility-- not relentlessness, extreme behavior, or unrequited sacrifices.
Become a Successful Hospitality Employee What does it take to succeed in the world of hospitality? To put yourself on the fast track from entry level, to management, to upper management, consider these tips. Simple guidelines like these will also help if you plan to open your own hospitality establishment someday. Climb the Ladder of Hospitality Management 1. Know your customers. The people who are likely to stay at a large four star hotel in Accra probably have a few expectations in common with those who frequent a Motel in Akosombo. But not always. And the needs of these clients will differ in many ways from those who stay at a small town bed and breakfast in Akosombo…but for every difference, you'll also find a long list of similarities. Understand the kinds of travelers who patronize your business. Research your market carefully, and open your ears when your customers offer both praise and complaints. - 13 -
2. Anticipate your manager's needs. Do what you're told, especially at the entry level-but don't stop there. Take care of the tasks in front of you, and then learn to anticipate these tasks and show additional initiative. For example, if a customer needs something, don't wait for your manger or supervisor to point you toward the problem. Learn how to take action on your own. 3. Pay attention to detail. Detail is everything in this field. If there's one visible stain in the middle of the carpet, it won't matter that the rest of the room has been cleaned to the point of sterility. The stain is visible. The immaculate corners are not. This is a metaphor for much of the hospitality business. Don't do any job or complete any task halfway, no matter how small the task may seem. 4. Take personal pride in your company's brand. If the company succeeds, you succeed. That means every satisfied customer reflects well on you, and every dissatisfied customer can undermine your future in this business. Take the quality of each visit as seriously as if your career depends on it. Because in many ways, it does. 5. Demonstrate high levels of social energy. Recognize that your smile is an amazing thing. It's beautiful, and it has the power to make people relax, to make them feel safe, and to restore their energy after a long and tiring day on the road. It isn't just a smile; it's your greatest personal asset and your company's most valuable form of capital. Use it often, and while you're at it, polish your conversation skills. Master the art of warm, personal, competent, and friendly interaction. 6. Find a mentor. Success in the hospitality business is largely a matter of nuance, and it's easier to show you the path up the ladder than it is to tell you. Once you settle on a mentor or role model, watch this person closely. Pay attention to how he/she follows through on his/her promises, how he/she learns from his mistakes and sets things right, how he/she goes the extra mile to make visitors feel welcome, or how he/she pays close attention to changes in the target market.
Chapter 14 Quick Answers to Common Workplace Questions Below, I've provided three work-related questions I hear all the time. These inquiries apply to just about every job, in every industry, so read on and be better prepared to overcome any potential workplace struggles. Question #1 Yesterday my boss called me into his/her office to provide feedback on a recent project I completed with my team. The project wasn't a failure, but it wasn't a smashing success either. And the tone of the "feedback and coaching" session was unclear. My boss used lots of euphemisms and careful diplomacy, saying things like: "Our relationship is positive, mostly, and I want to make sure it continues." Have I been coached? Or have I been warned that I'm about to lose my job? Answer Take these statements at face value and recognize that you've been coached. But also recognize the level of gravity underlying this session. In other words, follow these coaching tips to the letter - 14 -
and don't give your employer any additional reasons to question your performance. Sometimes budgets flow easily, deadlines relax a bit, and managers can afford to grant employees a little slack. This doesn't appear to be one of those times. So take the hint, and don't be the one standing under the axe if and when it happens to fall.
Question #2 I haven't received a pay raise in three years. This is my first professional job, so I'm not sure how to manage this situation or ask for a salary increase. I guess I just assumed that each year, my employer would raise my pay without me having to ask. How should I handle this?
Answer Yes, in fact, it's quite standard for your employer to re-examine, re-evaluate, and raise your salary every year. But in some workplaces this just doesn't happen, and wishing won't make it so. You'll need to take action on your own and approach your boss with your request. Prepare beforehand by knowing how much your skill and experience worth or using the salary calculator to determine the market value of your work based on your skill sets and geographic area. Then set an appointment with your boss and make your request clearly, supporting your case by listing your most valuable contributions to this company. Question #3 At this time last year I requested a promotion and I was turned down. This year I made my request again, and I'm sure I did everything right. I made a clear case that I've excelled at my job and demonstrated the loyalty and skill sets I need to take the next step. But I was denied again. And my coworker, who is not as strong as I am, was given the promotion instead. I feel underappreciated, betrayed, resentful, and confused. What should I do? Answer Start looking for another job. Being turned down for a well-deserved promotion should be a onetime event. The first time you're passed over, accept your rejection with grace and recognize that you just weren't ready. The second time this happens, start polishing your resume and exploring other options in your area.
Chapter 15 Winning Over a Tough Boss: Six Tips Your boss is a tough nut to crack. Some managers make an effort to befriend their employees, and some even go out of their way to be liked, thanked, and admired by those who work for them. Yours, unfortunately, falls into another category altogether. He/she doesn't seem to care if you like him/her or not, his/her rules are the only rules, and if you show even the slightest sign of less-than-perfect performance and devotion to the company, he/she makes it clear that your next stop isn't coaching â€” it's replacement. And yet, despite his/her tough exterior, you respect his/her commitment to the enterprise. He/she stays later and works harder than everyone else, including you, and he/she genuinely seems to care about this company's customers and its - 15 -
stakeholders. He/she may be hard to work for and impossible to impress, but you like him/her. And instead of polishing your resume and looking for work elsewhere, you'd rather stay, stick this out, and do whatever it takes to win him/her over. Here are a few ways to start: 1. You're on the right track. By showing stubborn determination and digging in your heels on this issue, you're revealing an approach to your job and a level of commitment that reflects his/her own. So you're off to a good start. Leverage this, and at least once a day, ask yourself this: "Is this what he/she would do?" If your boss faced a situation like the one you're facing, what steps would he/she take to solve the problem? You'll impress him/her more if you review your options and choose the one that best reflects his/her own values and standards. 2. Take credit seriously. If you work hard on a project and go the extra mile, your boss won't know what you've done until he/she's told (or sees the evidence with his/her own eyes.) Don't just assume he/she'll know how far you went. Give credit to your teammates and supporters, but make sure you also get the spotlight time you deserve. 3. Let your boss know that you're a person. When you get a chance, chat with your boss and engage him/her in friendly conversation that doesn't have to be work related. Just knowing that an employee has a pet, a hobby, a family, or a health issue can sometimes humanize that employee and place his/her contributions in a clearer and more visible context. 4. Tackle your boss's job, not just your own. Instead of simply executing orders and managing an overflowing inbox, think multiple moves ahead and keep your boss's larger goals in mind. When you're told to do something, back up and consider why this needs to be done. See if you can find a broader mission behind the order you've been given, and attack that mission instead. 5. Be willing to laugh at yourself now and then, and accept that as hard as you try to be perfect, you aren't. There will always be measurements and standards that show you're coming up short. You're a human being, and if you can accept your foibles and shortcomings while still celebrating your strengths, you'll be more comfortable in your own skin and people will relax more when they're around you. 6. Don't forget yourself. Be careful not to get so caught up in a campaign to impress someone else that you forget who you are and what you stand for. If you find yourself doing anything demeaning or out of character in your quest to please your employer, pause and regain your perspective. Remember that all jobs are temporary, and this workplace doesn't define the borders of your world and your life. Earn What You Deserve Meanwhile, while you try to impress your challenging boss, make sure you're being compensated for your extra effort and determination. Before you invest more time and energy than this position is worth, visit any job site and use their salary calculator to make sure your pay rate is inline with industry standards for - 16 -
your position, your level of education, and your geographic area.
Chapter 16 Six things Successful People Do When They Argue Arguing isn't easy, and conflict is generally recognized as one of the most dreaded and unpleasant aspects of daily social interaction. But even if you'd do almost anything to avoid it, occasional conflict is a necessary part of a healthy and well-balanced life. And in our complex modern world, navigating arguments can be a vital survival skill. So what are some of the moves that highly successful people make when they find themselves facing a disagreement or trying to win someone over to their own point of view? 1. They stay calm. No matter how high the stakes may be, successful people recognize the value of emotional control. This doesn't mean they have no emotions. It simply means they control how those emotions are presented on the surface. A red face, a tense jaw, tears, stammering, and shouting are all signs that a person is losing control of what they may say next, and therefore their words are dismissible. When you bring a difficult point home successfully, people tend to notice and focus on your words more than your body language. But when body language takes center stage, the emotion becomes the whole message ("I'm sad," "I'm angry," etc.) and the actual words are often ignored or forgotten. 2. They concentrate on what the other person wants. Dale Carnegie said it best: "What matters most is what matters to the other person. Not to you." If you'd like someone to grant you a favor, see things your way, or take action on your behalf, get out of your own shoes and get into the shoes of the other person. And remember that "what the other person wants" may not be a material thing. Your opponent may be trying to save face, to do her job correctly, to uphold a public persona he cherishes, to get out of painful position, to solve a problem you may know nothing about, or simply to be heard and acknowledged. 3. They listen and they make it known that they're listening. If two participants aren't listening to each other, arguments are just noise, and the process becomes fruitless and awkward for both parties. Really listen and give your partner the benefit of the doubt. And show that you're doing this by nodding, asking for clarification when you need it, and repeating the person's statements back to them in your own words. 4. They stay focused on the big picture. Successful people aren't willing to "win" at all costs, and they know how to recognize what's really happening in the room and what the long term outcome of the argument will be in the event of either victory or defeat. Even if they are focused on winning, they recognize that winning doesn't happen all at once. If you can simply plant the seed of possibility on your opponent's mind, or open the door to your point of view by just a crack, it's okay to walk away for the time being.
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5. They watch out for specious reasoning. Weak arguments are built on a foundation of ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments, card stacking, references to unsubstantiated "studies, "attempts at distraction, appeals to false forms of authority, and dozens of other thrusts and jabs that are easily countered. Watch high-level political debates and observe how the candidates work hard to avoid these questionable tactics. 6. They demonstrate respect. Most important, successful people know that the only way to gain respect is to give respect. When they decide to enter an argument, they do so because they respect the subject at hand and they respect their opponent and his or her point of view. And they let this show. For more guidance on how to step up to the plate and deliver a message that you can stand behind on a subject you care about.
Chapter 17 Reasons to Enter Healthcare If you’re standing on the threshold of adult life and trying to choose a career direction for the first time ever, the healthcare industry may be calling out to you. And if you’re in the middle of your career journey, you may be thinking of making the leap from another field into this one. In either case, you just need one final push, or a clear list of compelling reasons that can assure you that this is the right move for your personality, your life plan, and your long term goals. Start with these. Great Reasons to Enter the Healthcare Field Here are the top four reasons to get your career started in healthcare: 1. There’s plenty of substance behind the myths TV and movies feed us constant images of healthcare professionals swooping to the rescue and saving lives. We’re all familiar with the vision of the strong, clear-minded, brilliant healthcare worker with a heart of gold that will do anything to save her patients. But while the media version of some industries differs wildly from the reality, the image in this case is actually pretty accurate. Healthcare is challenging, and it’s not a field for those who lack focus, compassion, and commitment. But if you’re up to the task, you can — and you will — step into some big shoes and play a very important role in your patient’s lives. 2. Healthcare is stable Like all businesses, clinics and medical facilities suffer occasional budget problems, and cutbacks aren’t unheard of. Layoffs happen, even among physicians, surgeons, RNs (Registered Nurses), and emergency response teams. But unlike workers in many other professions, great healthcare professionals don’t tend to stay on the job market for very long. Your chances of stable, continuous employment in this field are very high, especially if you’re willing and able to travel and move across state lines in order to accept available positions. 3. Healthcare is fairly lucrative - 18 -
Of course, world renowned surgeons with twenty years of experience will command much higher salaries that medical billing pros or admins stepping immediately out of a two year training program. But no matter your specific position or level of experience, it won’t be difficult to find an employer who will pay a fair rate for your time and investment. Why? Because your job is both difficult and important. No matter what role you’re filling, you won’t be easy to replace. 4. Healthcare is rewarding This is a no-brainer. Even though healthcare workers sometimes lose sight of their impact on individual patients and burnout is a stubborn reality in this field, there are very few jobs in our society that offer more meaning than this one. You can make an honest living by moving boxes, making belt buckles, or trading stocks on Accra Street. But when you work in the healthcare field, you can go to sleep every night knowing that you’ve made a real difference and that you were there for those who truly needed you. Still Not Sure? Try a Free Career Test. As rewarding and stable as the healthcare field may be, it isn’t the right place for everyone. There are plenty of challenges to this industry that may simply be a mismatch for your personality, your approach to work, or your learning style. Healthcare workers put in long hours on their feet, for example. They also maintain close, intimate contact with suffering people, and they obviously need to be comfortable with the sight of blood.
Chapter 18 Salary Matters: When to Accept a Lowball Offer, When to Negotiate & When to Say No You have a job offer! Finally! All your hard work and countless resume submissions are finally paying off. But don’t close the book on this chapter just yet. Your efforts may be paying off in validation — It’s always nice to hear that we’re wanted and our skills are valued — but are they paying off in money? You may love what you do, and if so, that bodes well for your long term chances of success and happiness. But money is serious and important. And no matter how ambitious and eager you may feel right now or how much you love your work, you invested heavily in the training and skills that allow you to do this work, and you need to pay your bills. So before you accept this new offer, make sure you’re getting paid what your time and labors are worth. When Should You Accept a Lowball Offer? If your employers provide you with a number that falls below your expectations or below the standard market rate for this job in your geographic area, what should you do? Start by keeping these considerations in mind:
1. Don’t immediately say yes. Ask for at least 24 hours to think this over. - 19 -
2. Ask yourself why the offer may be low. Is the company a fragile start-up or a nonprofit organization operating on a shoestring? Or is this an investment bank or a global corporation? If the company is healthy and financially secure, then a lowball offer either means the employers don’t respect your work enough to pay for it, or they expect you to negotiate. In either case, don’t accept this rate. 3. Say yes to a lowball offer only if: (1) you know this kind of opportunity won’t come along again, and (2) you’re sure this job represents a boost for your long term career. Remember: If the company’s local competitors can offer more, then neither of these things are probably true. When Should You Negotiate? If any of the following circumstances apply, then a lowball offer doesn’t have to end the conversation. Simply ask for a higher number and see where your proposal takes you. Let the negotiations begin if: 1. You’ve completed careful research and you know exactly what the number should be. 2. You know you can land another offer, but you’d rather stay with this company if possible, and you’re hoping they’ll find a way to accommodate you. 3. You’re prepared to stand your ground and remind your employers of your unique skill sets, training, and credentials. When Should You Simply Say No? Under these circumstances, a lowball offer should end the conversation immediately. Politely turn the offer down if: 1. You have a better offer pending or in hand. 2. You were on the fence about this job to begin with. If you already had reservations about this company or this position, continuing this negotiation can turn a small mistake (accepting the wrong offer) into a big mistake (accepting the wrong offer for an absurdly low salary). 3. You feel the low offer may be the result of bias, a disregard for your credentials, or disrespect for the effort, hard work, and investment you plan to offer to your prospective employers once you’re brought on board. In any of these cases, this opening move doesn’t forecast a positive long-term working relationship. Get the Salary You Need & Deserve Regardless of your circumstances as you head into a salary negotiation, remember: Desperation shouldn’t play a role in any of your important life decisions, especially your job search. If you’re skeptical about an offer, then have confidence in your skills and recognize when it’s a good idea to walk away.
How Much Money is Enough? Most of us like to believe that career decisions should not depend on salary alone. People are - 20 -
often driven to accept lower salaries and wisely so for work that matches their skill sets, personalities, family needs, and personal values instead of taking inappropriate jobs in exchange for a few extra Cedis a year. But at the same time, money is serious and important. And no matter how much you love your work, if you’d like to make the most of the hours and days of your life, it’s necessary to make sure you’re getting paid what your labor is worth, and your paycheck should match your lifestyle and long-term plans. So…how much money is enough? How much should you be saving in order to retire comfortably? How much are your peers and coworkers making and saving? And how much does it matter? Read on and find out. How Much We Earn According to census data, the median Ghanaian salary falls roughly around 6,000 Ghanaian Cedis per year. This means that half the individuals in the country are making less than this amount and half are making more. Note that this is a median, not an average; the highest salaries fall far above this rate, and the lowest can’t fall too far below since it’s impossible for an annual salary to drop below zero. Wealth distribution remains an important problem in our country, and if we measured salary data by averages, the resulting number would provide a skewed picture of real income. But if we start from an assumption of a GHS6, 000.00 annual median, we can make more informed decisions about how much money is "enough." How Much You Should Be Saving After retirement, most of us would like to live on at least two thirds of our current annual income. So ideally, if you’re making GHS6, 000.00 per year at the age of 65 and you decide to retire, your savings and investments should be strong enough to provide you with at least GHS1, 000.00 per year on which to live for the next ten or twenty years. This looks simple enough, right? But in fact, if you’re like most Ghanaians, it isn’t simple at all. For example, if you plan to live for twenty years after retirement, this means you’ll need roughly GHS20, 000.00 in savings and investments to cover the final chapter of your life. Social security may account for a portion of this total, but if stocking away this amount of money sounds like a stretch, it’s time to start asking some tough questions and getting some outside help in order to protect your financial future. Need Guidance? Ask Yourself These Questions First Simple questions like these can provide a place to start as you look for balance between the personal and financial benefits of your career choices: 1. What does money really mean to you? For some, money may represent freedom or security. To others, it may represent status, personal comfort, the ability to care for others, etc, etc. 2. Is it time for you to start investing, and if so, how closely would you like to monitor your investments? Do you want to check in every day, or would you rather put a system in place and then leave your system alone? 3. Do you love what you do? If so, you can turn your attention away from salary issues - 21 -
for the time being in exchange for greater rewards. But if not, it's time to make some changes, and salary issues should play a role in those changes. 4. Do you dislike what you do and are you ready to move on? If so, don’t let concerns about salary hold you back? The only thing worse than not making “enough” money is making enough, but doing so while trapped in a miserable job at a mental and emotional cost that you can’t afford.
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